Our Ethiopian children are living their lives 10 hours ahead of us. I constantly find myself thinking things like…
“I am eating breakfast right now, but they are eating dinner.”
“I am just lying down to go to bed, and they are just waking up to another morning.”
Last night as I lay in bed, I was thinking about those unknown lawyers and judges in the courts in Ethiopia. Because last night while I lay in bed, they were supposed to be assigning us a court date. I kept waking up and looking at the clock. Wondering. Have they gotten to our paperwork yet? Have they given us a date yet? What is the date that we will finally become a family of 8?
It turns out that what they say is true. The only thing you can expect in international adoption is the unexpected.
This morning we emailed our agency at 5:50 am. Because by then, most of the court’s work was done for the day. We called at 6:45. I checked my emails and messages at 8:00. And finally, at 10:00, we got the call we did not want.
We were not assigned a court date.
Instead, the courts looked at our paperwork and said that something was not right. One of the pieces of paper that we have been waiting on for the last 4 weeks was completed incorrectly. It needs to be re-done and re-submitted.
This was VERY hard news for me to swallow. Our airline tickets are on hold. Our children’s teachers know when their last day of school is. Our jobs know that we are leaving NEXT FRIDAY!!! We have plans!
And now, we don’t.
Before I get to the silver lining in this cloud let me say something here. Just yesterday I was having a conversation with another adopting mom. She was telling me how hard this waiting is. How she feels like she is being emptied of her desires and her plans and her wants. How every time she expects something to happen, it doesn’t. I listened with empathy and told her what I believe to be true. That in order for God to fill us up with Himself, He first needs to empty us of ourselves. If we are full of our own plans for our lives, where is the room for God to do His work? I believe this! I shared this with her! But secretly, way down deep inside, I felt smug in the knowledge that my waiting was over. I knew that today I would get my court date assigned and next Friday we would be flying off to Ethiopia.
Instead, God had to remind me again that His plans are better than mine. That He is all-seeing and all-knowing and sometimes I try to step out in front and lead the way. Why do I do this over and over in my life? I say that I believe in the goodness and providence of my God, but sometimes, I believe in my own plans just a little bit more.
And now for the silver lining. This time around, the wait for the needed documents is expected to be much shorter. (There is that word again. Expected.) Our agency says that we could hear something in a couple of days, but most likely no more than 2 weeks from now. So what do we do in the meantime?
Scott and I have both said that this trip to Ethiopia is about so much more than our family. It is about the opportunity that God is placing before us to work among His people. To serve. To give. To step out of our comfort zone in faith that He will provide. And just because we don’t have our court date, does that mean that there is no longer the opportunity to serve in Ethiopia? No!
We are still going to leave next Friday. We don’t know exactly what this is going to look like just yet. We might fly out to Ethiopia next Friday. We might leave Redding and spend a few days together as a family somewhere re-charging our batteries, and then fly to Ethiopia the next week. These past few weeks have been wonderful and exciting and full of anticipation, but they have also been exhausting! Maybe this is just another little blessing from God. Time. To recover. Before we jump into this next adventure with both feet. But whatever we decide, we are heading to Ethiopia to see what God would have us to do there. We can wait for our court date while we love on God’s people in whatever way we are most needed.
I wanted to share this prayer with you. Today when I got the news about our court date, I messaged 2 ladies whom I have never met. They are both moms who are waiting for their own court dates for their Ethiopian children right now. I “met” them online and we share a lot of the same struggles and joys. When I sent them a message, I received this prayer back. It ministered to me greatly.
“Father, I come to you right now and ask for your peace to just overwhelm Natalie. Please let her know that what she is going through is not in vain. Help her to be patient once again. She can’t do it on her own. Supply her every need, and Scott’s, too. Be with her children as they wait for her and she waits for them. Help them to know that mommy and daddy are coming as soon as they can. Please show yourself to her children in Ethiopia. Thank you for her witness and her friendship. Thank you that there are people she can call on who understand how she feels. Please just be near today and every day during this wait. Quicken the hearts of the people in Harar who need to redo the paperwork and let them be understanding of how desperately this needs to be done faster than last time. I also ask for all of our families to pass court before the closures this summer. This is the desire of our hearts, and we plead for this to be done. In Jesus precious name, Amen.”
Yet another blessing of this adoption journey. New friends. Who love me and pray for me even though we have never met.