Adoption Update (We’re home!)

Dear Friends,

I wasn’t able to keep the blog updated while in China. As you read, you’ll understand why. I am going to copy the Facebook posts that April and I posted while in China along with the dates. I’ll add very little commentary from this side, I believe the posts will clearly communicate all that we went through to bring these boys home. If you didn’t read the previous post, my 17 year old son, Jake, was involved in a head-on collision the day before we left. He was to go with me and be my helper – everything from managing the luggage to managing the children when I needed to attend paperwork meetings that last several hours. There are also times where supplies need to be picked up from the Walmart and it’s best to have someone stay with the children while the other adult goes and get necessities or lunch etc.

He broke his collarbone in the accident, we’re very thankful to the Lord nothing more. Both airbags deployed and the paramedic on scene and doctor in the hospital both said he was fortunate to be alive and that his seat belt saved his life. He is healing up, still unable to bear any weight with his left (and dominant) hand. He is to be X-rayed soon to make sure the bones are healing correctly.

Having an adult (the obvious preference is your spouse) with you is vital, particularly if you’re adopting two children. April and I learned that lesson well when we adopted the girls. We had our 14 year old (at the time) daughter with us and we were exhausted for most of the trip. But we had each other and Grace was instrumental in the bonding and attachment process.

I spent most of Monday, December 15th in the ER at U of L hospital. Jake was released in the late afternoon (the person he hit was released a day later and is doing fine). We spent the final couple hours rushing to pack, changing travel arrangements, etc. We had our Christmas with the children that evening and then Ryle and I were off to the airport at 6 a.m. Tuesday, December 16th.

This blog picks up on 12/18 as 12/16-12/17 are in a previous blog post.

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December 18th

Tiananmen Square / Forbidden City / Hutong Tour on rickshaw with lunch / International Market in Beijing for ‘delicacies’ in the evening. Ryle, with his blonde hair, was quite the star. Numerous people had their picture made with him and there was much staring and pointing at him while we were in China.

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December 19th

We had a good day at the Great Wall, a nice lunch with a tour of a jade factory (still can’t bring myself to purchase it due to price) and a lot of fun at the Acrobatics Show. Ryle really enjoyed it.

We are up at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning and need to leave the hotel at 7:45 to catch our flight to Zhengzhou – the city where the boys live.

We are all packed up. The airlines in China only allow 44 lbs per person (something I had forgotten) and we are over – way over. Hopefully the excess baggage fees are affordable. I miss April quite a bit but particularly when doing something she usually takes care of like getting all the packing squared away, or dressing kids, or bathing kids, etc. I prefer the pack mule, errand boy role – mostly because it’s less work! Much love to all back home.

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Entrance to Great Wall

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December 20th

Ryle and I arrived safely in Zhengzhou with no problems. We received the final updates on the boys answering questions that April and I sent to China over a month ago.

It is encouraging that the boys get along well with others. Their lack of fear of strangers is not really a good thing – it just means they aren’t attached to anyone and will go to everyone. I’m not too excited about that 2 am cath schedule! Hoping to adjust his schedule to something better suited to our home schedule. Either way, he needs to cathed every six hours – no matter what. 

Ryle and I had lunch at a delicious noodle restaurant across from the hotel. The little boy in the picture is eight and wanted to have his photo with Ryle and practice his English. Very sweet.

We have made our trip to Walmart and purchased supplies for the days ahead. Of course, I forgot to buy wipes. April would not have made such a rookie mistake. It’s like I’ve never had little ones before!

Excited and nervous about tomorrow. I have a great sense of my own frailty and am trying to be more intentional about praying continually and leaning more heavily upon the Lord. He has been so kind in so many tangible ways to this point. Thankful for His many mercies.

I miss my wife terribly. I miss her companionship, steadiness, gentleness, smile, touch, willingness to laugh at my silly jokes and on and on the list could go. Technology has helped immensely but for her not to be here for Gotcha Day is exceedingly difficult…more so on her because of her great love for these boys and her desire to be with them.

We are winding down and getting ready to turn into bed. Thinking of many of you as begin your Lord’s Day. Of course, the RBC is singing many of my favorite hymns in our absence. Trusting that the Lord will meet with them as they worship.

We should be getting the boys around 9:30pm EST on Sunday night. Pray that the live feed will work through FaceTime so that April and the children can see in real time. Pray for Ryle’s camera recording skills… Pray that the boys will come to me willingly, attach quickly, sleep soundly and cath easily. Pray for my sweet wife – her missing this is very tough. Pray for me.

Much love to you all.

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December 21st

Leaving to get the boys!

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(We were able to livestream the moment we got the boys through Facebook messenger. My oldest son piped the feed into his computer and then projected it onto his flat screen TV at his house. All of the family was gathered around to be a part of Gotcha Day. Below are two pictures that my son Jake took of the boys from the screen. Technology is amazing and made the distance more bearable at times. There were countless times where seeing my wife’s face and hearing her voice were such an encouragement!)

His post:

The two newest additions to the Kelley family. Say hello to Silas and Benjamin!

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Pictures from Gotcha Day in China.

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My first view as I walked in the door.

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The boys were at the SWI before we arrived.

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Benji wasn’t happy to come to his new baba!

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Bribing with a sucker

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Bus ride back to the hotel

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Bus ride back to the hotel

December 21st Afternoon

April writes: My poor hubby. Silas is already grieving, but Rick can’t “make it all better with food” like we did with the girls because of some gastrointestinal issues. Benjamin is a quiet delight, and for now, I’m grateful. It seems that Rick will have to focus quite a bit of attention on Silas. Please continue praying for Rick and Ryle. That incessant crying can wear one down quickly. And I feel acutely the inability to be of any help at all.

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December 21st Evening

I was unable to cath Benji during the evening. I spoke with the head doctor of the Show Hope unit (an American) by phone. He walked me through what I supposed to be doing. It was quite nerve racking. I had to have two people hold Benji down as I tried to do cath. I couldn’t make it work. He was screaming, I was sweating profusely, my Chinese guide was helping but after all that – I still couldn’t make it work. So we had to hire a vehicle and travel back to the orphanage at 10:30 p.m. The orphanage is 40 minutes away. The driver got lost. We arrived back at the hotel well after midnight. We spent over an hour at the orphanage. The nurse trained me on how to cath (there was very little training earlier in the day when I got the boys). I was also quite sick to my stomach as I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. The orphanage gave me a glass of water and a banana and I felt much better after that. It was a rough first day.

April wrote the following post the next day:

Update from China:

Last night was a rough night for Rick. After four attempts, he was still unable to cath Benji. Thankfully, a fellow travel group member was willing to come stay in Rick’s room with the other sleeping kiddos, Ryle and Silas.
So, at 10:30 at night, with a traumatized child that he’d only met a few hours before, Rick and his guide Vivian traveled the 40 minutes back to the orphanage. Once there, an American doctor with Show Hope was able to spend some time giving Rick some extra pointers on cathing. He was also able to gain some additional insight into Benji and his temperament.
They returned back to the hotel some time after midnight. All were exhausted, but thankfully, Benji went right to sleep and slept the rest of the night.


Today has been a bit of a better start to the day. Rick WAS able to successfully cath Benji, and the boys seemed happy and content when we Facetimed earlier. Praising the Lord for His new mercies.

Immediate Prayer Requests:

1. That all would get some much needed rest and sleep.
2. That Rick would continue to know success in cathing Benjamin.
3. That Ryle would take social cues better and be able to be a bigger help to Rick.
4. That they would continue to know the Lord’s help as they “gut out” the rest of their time in China.
5. For Silas and Benjamin’s grieving, and for their attachment to begin to Rick.

December 22nd morning

Orphans no more. Adoption finalized this morning. Pray for a single lady in our Travel Group that is really struggling and considering disruption. I have been able to speak with her quite a bit and encourage her that it gets better. She delayed her decision until tomorrow which gives me hope.

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December 22nd Afternoon

Dear friends,

Thank you for praying. I don’t know that I could have envisioned this being more difficult than it is. The boys are sweet but busy. Faith (sort of) and Hope would obey a stern voice or look. These guys – whew! My Chinese vocabulary for the girls was basic. Hello / No / Stop it / I love you / thank you. Check out my new vocabulary!

I am struggling terribly from a sleep standpoint. Pray I sleep tonight (your Tuesday morning/afternoon).

I have successfully cathed Benji twice for which I praise God. Last night I tried four times with help from a NICU nurse in our travel group and we couldn’t get it.

Had to travel by van at 1030pm back to the orphanage, the driver got lost and got back to the hotel at 1215am. It was so tough but the Lord was kind in sustaining us. Thankful for my little travel group. They have been so incredibly gracious and helpful. My sense is that I could not do this without them.

So thankful for the Lord’s new mercies each morning. I have been singing to myself the line in the hymn “strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.” When I consider the length of the trip (11 days), it really does seem unbearable. But – by God’s grace I can manage and press through an hour at a time. It helps me to think of it in those terms.

My pastor has said that the difficulty in trial is often not the intensity but the unknown duration. My duration is only 11 more days and my trust is that He will carry me each day. Thankful for the Rock that is higher than I.

Psalms 61:1-2
Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

I miss my wife. I miss my children. Please continue to pray, I know the Lord hears and is answering.

Much love to you all.

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December 23rd 

April writes:

“With the Lord’s help, we can do hard things.” That just might be the over-arching theme of this adoption. Rick put both boys to bed at 8:15 tonight. He was, in his words, “bone-weary”, and yet the boys screamed for 30 minutes before finally going to sleep. I remember how difficult nighttime in China can be.

Cathing continues to be a dreaded and trying process. Benji thrashes, screams, and crosses his legs to prevent access…all while poor Ryle holds him down. I.Can.Not.Imagine. Sometimes distractions work (apple juice, suckers, etc.), sometimes not. He even fights taking his medicine. This little peanut is such a fighter! And though difficult to navigate now, we know that these kids from unimaginable circumstances develop this resiliency, in large part, out of survival. These are all trying things that we pray will get better after we get him home, and he begins to know the love and security of a family. 

And now, some much-needed GOOD news. The lady in Rick’s travel group decided to NOT disrupt her adoption! YAY!! That situation had weighed heavily on both of our hearts, and I know many of your all’s as well. I’m so thankful the Lord answered our cries in such a powerful way.

Tomorrow, which is our evening tonight, Rick is planning to go back to the orphanage to visit. He has wrestled much as to whether this is a positive thing or not. On the one hand, so much more insight can be gleaned about the boys’ pasts, temperaments, likes/dislikes, friends, medical histories, routines, etc. On the other hand, Benji will see his nanny and friends; Silas will be taken back to a place that, because of the abrupt removal from his foster family, only recently was a source of much grief for him. This trip will likely reignite the grieving process all over again. But at this point, Rick believes the positive outweighs the negative, so back to the orphanage they plan to go. Please pray for them in that regard.

Immediate Prayer Requests:

1. That the Lord will continue to uphold Rick and Ryle, and supply strength, sustenance, and SLEEP in full measure.
2. For a positive outcome to the orphanage visit.
3. That Silas and Benji will feel safe and loved. Also pray for them as they work through their grief. These little guys truly have and continue to endure so much in their short lives.
4. Be in prayer for Rick today at 11 a.m. as he again caths Benji. Pray for success.

Thank you, friends, for helping us shoulder the load. We have been so grateful for your prayers, your positive thoughts, and your words of affirmation and love. It’s been a great blessing to me personally to have so many reach out and help with things that have made this process so much easier on this side of the pond. You guys are the oft overlooked and unsung heroes in the big picture of adoption.
We thank you and love you, each and every one.

Some pics of the boys…nothing too great because I have to snap them on my computer while I’m talking to them. Poor Rick doesn’t even have the energy or time to take pictures.

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Silas is blocking Benji’s way and waiting for him to notice…

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He noticed…LOL

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Silas giving Baba a kiss.

December 24th Morning

Heading to the orphanage. A few pictures from this morning.

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December 24th Evening

Merry Christmas Eve U.S. Friends! Ours is winding down as you wake up. We went to the orphanage where Lian Min (Benji) was cared for by Show Hope’s Medical Unit. They care for approximately 50-100 orphans at the orphanage. Pictures will follow after I’m able to upload and sort through them.

Silas is running a fever this evening and coughing a lot. Ryle has vomited numerous times and struggling with some constipation. He is currently on the bathroom floor. We would appreciate your prayers as we move into our evening. 

Benji is proving to be a tough little one, for which I am thankful. He has had three difficult surgeries in his short three years and more to come. He is going to need that fight in the days and months ahead.

Silas is something else! I believe that Faith is going to be butting heads with him quite a bit. He is quite a bully. We ran into his nanny’s daughter-in-law at the orphanage today. She said that Silas was quite dominant over her five year old son. He’s only two! He has already needed some loving, um, correction – something we didn’t have to do much of with girls while we were in China.

Visiting the orphanage was one of those life changing experiences. My heart is so grieved for how many orphans there are – 800 at that orphanage alone. By mistake, we exited out where the aged out boys live. These are boys who are over 14 years old and can never be adopted because China won’t allow it.

Our Chinese guide hurried through the atrium as the 10-20 boys came swarming to her. They spooked her a bit I think. I lagged behind with Ryle and stood there for 2-3 minutes and told Ryle to take it all in. I told him, “Look around. Look at their faces. Smell. Look at the boys drinking from a pipe outside. This is it for them. Apart from Jesus, they have no hope in the world.” That realization hit me very hard – I wept. Right there in the open in that place.

Very sobering day. I need to move toward bed – I may be in for a long night with sick little and big ones.

Merry Christmas from the Far East.

Love to all.

December 25th Morning

Christmas breakfast with these two. I told Silas to make a monkey face and that’s what he did. 🐵 Ryle is not feeling well and stayed in the room. Hoping he feels better by lunch. We’re going with our Travel Group to the Little Chinese Restaurant at 12:30.

The boys slept well. Had a successful cath at 3:30am but the little one stirred shortly thereafter. We watched cartoons on TV (just to buy me some time) and were the first to the breakfast buffet at 6:30.

Last full day in Zhengzhou. We all fly tomorrow to Guangzhou. The logistics of that should be interesting. 

Missing my family right now knowing they are all celebrating together at this hour.

Love to all. Hope to post more later.

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December 25th Evening

Pillowing our heads Christmas night as you begin your day. The boys went down quite easily this evening. I made sure to make a big deal of them helping me turn off the lights, gave drinks, meds, etc and put them in their beds with very little resistance. SiJam is coughing quite a bit so we’ll see how that goes.

Behold the Lamb album is quietly playing while Ryle reads by a dim light. My family is half a world away and I’m missing them terribly. I’ll miss our 2nd annual tradition of the Chinese food feast for dinner. I’ll miss seeing the kids open presents. I’ll miss the slowness of the day. I’ll miss reading Luke 2 and a host of other things we do on the day.

All of that is helped knowing that I’m right where God would have me. I know that I’m here to adopt the boys but I believe God also had me here to in some small part encourage a single lady who was strongly considering disruption (where you send the child back and cancel the adoption). So much to be thankful for…

So thankful that the Word became flesh. So thankful for redemption. So thankful to be adopted. So thankful that one Day the word orphan will no longer be a present reality-it will be a distant memory of what we once were before Christ. So thankful that the Day is coming when the Son returns, rights every wrong and brings all Father’s children to Him.

And thankful for so many of you who have prayed and encouraged. My heart is full. This has been hard but Lord willing, it will be a distant memory. In two months, no one will want to hear how hard it was-they just want to see the boys. Like childbirth, I don’t want to hear how hard the labor was…just show me the baby! In the meantime, please continue to pray. We still need it!

Love you all. Good night.

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December 25th Midnight
April writes:
Friends,
I know it’s Christmas morning, but I have a somewhat urgent prayer request. Silas is very sick. It is nighttime there in Zhengzhou, China, and Rick is supposed to fly to Guangzhou in the morning. I’ve heard that if your child is running a temperature, and Silas is, they won’t be permitted to fly! Please pray for healing for his little body and wisdom for Rick in how best to proceed. It complicates matters that Silas is allergic to Penicillen. Thanks all!
December 26th Morning
April writes:
Friends and family,
Thank you so much for your prayers for our family. Rick was able to call while riding the bus to the airport. He was happy to report that Silas is feeling some better this morning….Praising God for this answer to prayer!
They will fly now to Guangzhou where the boys will have a medical checkup. This is also where the American Consulate is located. This is the last leg of the journey. I’m so excited to tell you that Rick is feeling strong and is optimistically looking forward to this final part of the adoption process. The Lord is sustaining and we are so grateful! He says both Silas and Benjamin are very sweet and quite a delight. I can’t wait to get my hands on them!
December 26th Evening

April writes:

Adoption is such an emotional roller coaster. Though the girls have been home almost two years now, we still deal with issues that seemingly come out of nowhere. And we deal, and deal, and deal. Patience and long-suffering are endless requirements…Oh to possess those fruits in greater measure! It is a constant, prayerful request to be sure.

I spoke briefly with Rick a bit ago, and he was wearily pillowing his head after a long day of travel. They arrived safely in Guangzhou, for which we’re very grateful. But it was not without its own struggles with delays, lugging boys and baggage, and long fits with Benjamin. 

Rick’s most pressing prayer requests are these:

1. That he would get some much-needed sleep now.
2. That his back would not go out. He’s been feeling like it’s on the verge, and that would definitely be a catastrophe.
3. That he would be given wisdom from above on how best to handle Benji’s fits. Apparently, they are something else…and can last as much as 30 minutes! We’ve not had much experience in the area of tantrums. But looks like plenty of soul-sanctifying “practice” is heading our way! Definitely need prayer for that.

I apologize for the bipolar-ness of my posts. But that, my friends, is the roller coaster ride of adoption. Blessing and trial all bound into one expansive representation of our own adoption into the family of God.

Thank you for your continued prayers for our family. We are upheld! Much love to you all.

 

December 27th Morning

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your prayers but we need still more.

We had a rough night. Ryle was up most of the night vomiting and struggling with diarrhea. He still hasn’t been able to keep anything down this morning (7-UP, apple juice, water and Pepsi). I have messaged an ER doc friend in the U.S. – he said that if he’s not able to keep anything down in the next few hours, we’ll need to take him to the hospital. (There is a western hospital/clinic 20-30 minutes from the hotel.)

I have given him meds to stop the vomiting (he couldn’t keep them down last night). PRAY that he’s able to keep the pill down so that we can slowly begin rehydrating him.

I am tired but otherwise holding up (or being help up) with the Lord’s help.

Love you all.

 

Here are some pictures from bath time and feeding time.

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April writes regarding the same issue:

Back on that roller coaster again. Please pray for my sweet boy. When I was Facetiming with Rick earlier tonight, Ryle looked so pale. He was weepy and obviously miserable. To think of adding a hospitalization onto this trip is so heavy, I can’t carry it. Thankful for One Who can. And is.

December 27th Evening

Dear Friends,

I am very thankful to the Lord that Ryle stopped vomiting shortly after I posted earlier and you all began to pray. He started feeling better a couple of hours ago and has taken in a good amount of liquids in the past three hours and is eating crackers right now. Please pray for his sleep tonight.

We have the clinic tomorrow where the little ones will go through a medical check up. That was a long process last time. Please pray that Silas and Benji will check out okay, that Si’s fever will not crop up as this can cause some issues in getting out the country. 

I am so indebted to you all for your prayers. They have meant the world to me and April. I have debated on whether to continue to burden you all with prayer requests – I feel so unbelievably ridiculously needy. Sometimes I think, it can’t get worse. And maybe that’s one of the many lessons that the Lord is teaching me.

Finally, I would really appreciate your prayers for my sleep tonight.

December 28th Morning

Great night of sleep for all. Heading to the medical clinic.

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December 29th Morning

Thank you so much for your prayers. We have had a good couple of days. The clinic went fine yesterday. There was some fussing after having their blood drawn but they were both so brave. We have been able to wrestle and tickle quite a bit. It is a delight to feel well enough to start to facilitate the bonding and attachment process. For so long, it was just survive and limp through the next item on the list. So thankful the Lord has given rest and strength.

The boys are a lot of fun! Typical toddlers in many ways. Benji throws several fits a day lasting 15-30 minutes. After awhile, I engage him with loving but firm redirection and correction. Praying that the Lord gives grace in dealing with those times. The most difficult is when he does it during cath time. Speaking of which, the Lord has given much help in that area. By God’s grace, I am more confident going into the process and have a better sense of his anatomy and where to push the cath a little harder to get it into the bladder. He fights me two of the four times per day. 

We played at the playground in the afternoon and went on the Pearl River Cruise in the evening. It was only yesterday morning that I finally felt somewhat decent after 7.5 hours of sleep (with a cath in between).

Right now, we are waiting in the room for the TB test results. It’s not often that the test comes back positive but if it does, there will be additional steps for us to leave China. Please pray that we get the all clear.

Tonight we have the Maccao dinner as a travel group.

Tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. we go to the US Consulate to take the oath swearing to be good parents, to not abuse or abandon our new additions – may God give grace to do so.

On the horizon we have our trip home. That is a looming reality – we will wake up on 3:00 PM EST Thursday and arrive back in Louisville at 9:00 PM EST Friday. It makes my heart sing that April is going to be able to join us in Detroit for the six hour layover. It will be wonderful for her to be able to spend some time with the boys before we get home.

It is very sweet when they hear April’s voice when we FaceTime, they both holler for “Mama!” whenever we connect.

Again – thank you for your many prayers. The Lord has used them and answered them to carry us through. I certainly feel like we’re in the home stretch. Looking forward to being home with my family.

Love to all.

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Our guide from Guangzhou had this shirt on yesterday. Unbelievable. She said that she has a U of L shirt but that it is short sleeved and only wears it in the summer.

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Where Ryle and I ate lunch yesterday. They cook the food outside and flush the water from the dumplings (which were delicious) down a drain. I can assure, this wouldn’t pass the health department inspection in the US.

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Boys – look at the camera… boys? Boys?

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3rd largest building in the world in the background.

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Bath time fun! They both like the water but is there any harder than bathing toddlers? Thank you April for being the primary bather of our children all these years. You’re amazing!

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December 30th Morning

April writes:

The roller coaster saga continues.

Just got through Facetiming my dear loves in China. My poor Rick is very ill. Today was the Consulate Appointment and he couldn’t even stand up for it. He couldn’t push his own kids in their strollers or carry his own bags. The only thing in his hands? A throw-up bag.

This trip has been viciously relentless. It reminds me…remember the one that stowed away on the plane? The one who specializes in all manner of hijinx and tomfoolery? He’s still there wreaking havoc and trying desperately to stop a process, over which, he ultimately has no control. Our God is Sovereign and mighty…He reigns forever and ever. And He loves these kids so very much. I know because His Word tells me so. 

Therefore, we have set our face as flint, myopically focused on getting these two precious boys home. Will you once again pray with me? Rick has to board a plane in 48 hours. The hours prior will be filled with meetings, a group picture, managing the needs of small children, and packing, packing, packing. And all while he is very sick.

Please pray for healing, endurance, and strength for this last leg of the journey. Also for supernatural patience…illness often breeds impatience. And everyone’s nerves will be raw by the time they cross the finish line. It’s just one unfortunate-but-true aspect of this exhausting race.

We have seen the Lord’s good hand. We’ve been upheld in the midst of great trial. We believe him to be faithful and true. We’ve read of his love for the fatherless and for us too when we were but mere prodigal wretches ourselves. He will bring us through.

Friends, keep your eyes on the ashes….He’s making something beautiful in His time.

December 31st Morning

April writes:

Finally got a few minutes to chat with my loves tonight. Silas was calling for his Mama and I was all too happy to oblige him with my oohs and aahs, funny faces, and loud exclamations of “Ni hao!”. Benji had his face stuffed in a bowl of noodles, so he didn’t have much interest in the crazy lady carrying on on the screen. They both are already such a delight to my heart.

There were lots of happy children here at home who were excited to speak to their big brother Ryle.  Our previous phone calls have taken place so late into the night, that the children were typically asleep. They’ve missed their big brother! Ryle is looking forward to being home. He assures me he has a big hug waiting for me. I can’t wait. 💗

The best news is that Rick is feeling quite a bit better and the Lord was pleased to bless him with 8.5 hours of sleep last night! Wow! Thank you, Lord! Things often look better in the morning, and today’s morning seems to be no exception. Once again, His mercies were new.

(On that note of mercy, please do pray for sweet Benji to have a BM. It’s been almost 24 hours since his last, and for his special needs, that’s troubling news. So please pray for poo!  😜)

Rick was intending to spend some time on Shamian Island today. We were both hoping to get some Bibles for the Quads that are written in both English and Chinese, as well as, a few souvenir-type gifts for the other kids and Zade. But he’s wisely decided to not overdo anything and allow his body to rest, heal, and conserve energy stores for tomorrow’s long journey back home. Instead, he will use this time to get the boys bathed and ready and attend to the tremendous job of packing up. After taking down and setting up in three different cities, I’m quite sure he has competently earned his certificate and title of Packing Pro.

Rick and the boys start the long journey back tomorrow at 3 p.m. EST. They are scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Friday evening at 9:08 p.m. Some have asked about the airport. YES!! ALL are invited and PLEASE do come. I remember well my excitement of seeing all the familiar and loved faces once we stepped off that plane. Our mission was accomplished and it made our hearts all the more full to see so many from our Village there to greet us at the finish line. No doubt Rick and Ryle will feel the same way, so please do come out and join me in welcoming them HOME.

Thank you for your prayers for our family these last couple of weeks. Not much longer now! Much love to you all.

December 31st Evening

Thank you for your prayers for us! Silas is already asleep in his bed and I’ll be putting Benji down after his 9:30p cath. My day will begin at 3:30 a.m. (2:30 PM EST 12/31) when I get up to cath Benji. Lord willing, I’ll be able to put him back to bed until we leave at 5 a.m. I’ll stay up and finish getting everything together, put the bags out for the bellhop at 4:30a so that we can be in the lobby at 5:00a.

We fly Guangzhou to Shanghai (Flight DL 6712 7:30a-9:50a [6:30p-8:50p EST]). Then we fly Shanghai to Detroit (Flight DL 582 12:30p-1:30p [11:30p EST]). April will meet us in Detroit and then we’ll fly Detroit to Louisville (Flight DL 5762 7:40p-9:08p). 

Thomas Watson once said, “The angel fetched Peter out of prison but it was prayer that fetched the angel.” Dear Friends, if I could put my own personal spin on that statement – The Lord sent relief to us in China but it was the many prayers of His people that moved His heart to do so. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Your prayers to our Great High Priest, who sympathizes with us in our weakness, has heard and answered at every turn. I don’t have the time now to list the many ways in which He heard your prayers, but there were numerous times where relief would come when I knew that one or more of you was praying for us at that very moment.

As difficult as this has been, I have never felt abandoned or alone. I have certainly never thought we shouldn’t have done this. In fact, the case could be made that the difficulty that we have experienced justifies the necessity of taking this road. To keep things in perspective, it’s only been 11 days since we’ve had the boys. 11 days – that’s it. There are many more people that I love who are walking a far more difficult road and their trial has lasted much longer than 11 days.

Good night and Happy New Year from China.

January 1st Morning

Surprise! There’s trouble in China. LOL.

Rick just called to ask that we all please pray for his flight situation. Apparently, he only has 2 1/2 hours between flights and they wouldn’t allow him to check his luggage all the way through. So first, there can’t be any delays from Guangzhou to Shanghai.  😁 Once they land, they have to get off the plane with both boys and no strollers. Rick would be okay, but that will be a difficult task for Ryle, to carry one of the boys a pretty far distance. Then, they have to go to the luggage area, wait for it to come out, gather it up, and check it back in again. From there, they go back through security. All of that has to be accomplished in 2 1/2 hours, or they don’t make it back on time to meet me in Detroit. Please pray for the Lord to work all these things out. Thank you, friends! 

January 1st Midday

Our January 1st began at 2:30 pm EST Thursday. The picture below is how the boys slept some of the time on the plane. They took all three seats and I had to stand. The flight from Shanghai to Detroit was 13 hours, they slept for 5-6 hours of that. The rest of the time they ate and whined. 🙂

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January 1st Midday (still)

We landed in Detroit, waited for customs and made it to the gate before April arrived to help during the six hour layover. These boys have no idea of the love that is in store for them – from all of their siblings but especially their wonderful Mama!

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First pictures as US citizens! These were taken moments after touching down in DTW.

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Waiting for Mama’s plane.

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January 1st Evening

We’re home!

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My crew from L-R back: Elijah, Silas (in stroller), Kaylynn (daughter-in-law), Christian, me, April (holding Benji), Jake, Gabe, Rachel (daughter-in-law to be 5/14/16). In front of me is Ryle (my awesome traveling partner) holding Hope, Micah, in the foreground is Graceann holding Faith

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