Saturday, February 13, 2010

Learning to Be Thankful

Everyone who read Kristie's post from last week knows what a hard time we had two Mondays ago as we attempted to apply for passports for our bio kids and to get our medical forms notarized at the doctors' office. If you have not yet read about this, you really should, partially because I am not going to revisit those events in detail, and partially because it is an excellent blow-by-blow account of how that day unfolded. I don't think that I have ever been through a day quite like that before, and even though it was extremely trying, I'm grateful that we went through it all. And that's not something that I would have said that Monday evening. Allow me to explain.

As the number of roadblocks continued to pile up, I became increasingly frustrated with the way that the day was going. It seemed that at every turn we were being prevented from accomplishing what we had set out to do, and I was getting angry. By the end of the day, I had became rather irritable and a bit withdrawn, convinced that my frustration was justifiable. Looking back over everything that happened, however, I don't think that it was. Monday wasn't the first time in the past few weeks that we have encountered opposition in our efforts to bring Mikaela home as soon as possible. The obstacles might have been more intense and more numerous on that particular day—though perhaps they seemed to be more intense because of how many things happened within those eight hours—but we had already been through several roadblocks by the time Monday morning dawned. In fact, we had to overcome a few more obstacles later in the week, and that got me thinking about how I was handling myself. As far as we can tell, the opposition that we have felt since we began Mikaela's adoption six weeks ago has been satanic in origin. This makes sense, as we are seeking to follow God's lead onto a path full of potential setbacks and dangers that we cannot foresee, all for the sake of rescuing a little girl from a poor orphanage and from life in an institution, a life lived outside of a covenant family and thus perhaps a life spent without ever having heard the Gospel. When I considered more carefully what all this meant, I realized that I had been wrong to stay so frustrated with how frequent the setbacks had become. In Acts 5:41 we read that the disciples rejoiced that they had been persecuted because of the Name of the Lord. Not only had these disciples been told to cease their preaching of the Gospel, but they had been beaten for sharing the wonderfully Good News of salvation through Jesus. And their response was not anger or frustration or withdrawing inside themselves to avoid feeling more pain. No, it was to spend every day, both in the temple and in various houses, proclaiming the very thing for which they had just been beaten—the Gospel. They continued to follow God's command to spread the message of Jesus Christ, no matter what it might cost them, and they did it joyfully.

When I take a moment to compare their situation with ours, I cannot help but feel a bit foolish for reacting the way that I did. Even though both we and those early followers faced opposition, their situation was much more dire than ours. The danger of physical harm was obviously present for those men, and it takes no great leap to imagine that the threat of death was not far off, either. Such persecution of Christians was common at numerous points in the first several centuries A.D., and given what happens to Steven at the end of the seventh chapter, the possibility that they could be killed for what they were doing might well have occurred to them. And yet, in spite of that, they pressed on in open defiance of the command given them by the religious officials and continued to obey the Lord, apparently either without fear or with so much joy as to overshadow their fear almost completely. In our situation, we were merely faced with having to run all over town as we had to clear one hurdle after another. There was never any threat of physical danger, and certainly not of martyrdom, in this, and yet I responded with anger and not joy. The day was frustrating, and I will not deny that, though my frustration should have given way to the joy of being in God's service. Rescuing a child from a desperate situation is one way in which the cosmic war between the forces of the Lord and the forces of Satan is being played out in the world around us. Although the war's outcome has been decided, the battles between now and the end are ongoing and fierce, and it is a privilege and an honor to serve the Commander of the heavenly armies in some small way as He works to redeem His creation, and I thank Him for enlisting me. Soli Deo Gloria.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An awful Monday

Wow, it seems like we aren't very good at this blogging thing. Either we are so busy that we don't have time to write, or things are so calm that there is nothing to write about. Monday was certainly a day to write about, and this is the first opportunity we have had.

Monday was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right at all. We had two tasks to accomplish in addition to our daily routine. We wanted to apply for Josiah's and Gabriela's passports, and we wanted to get our medical forms notarized by our doctors. We thought we could accomplish those two things and still get some work done in the morning and Greg would still be able to teach most of his Latin class in the afternoon. We left our apartment about 9:00 in the morning to drop our computers off at my parents' house and pick Josiah up, because he had spent Sunday night with them. Once we got to my parents' house, we realized that we had left the passport applications and birth certificates at home. We were a little frustrated, but the post office is pretty close to our apartment, so we didn't think it would be a big deal. After getting Josiah ready to go, we drove back to our apartment and picked up the applications. When we got to the post office, we were encouraged to see that the lines weren't as long as we had expected. We waited for a few minutes, and both kids behaved perfectly. Gabriela slept the whole time, and Josiah chattered at us, and smiled and waved at the other people in the post office. Everything seemed to be going so well. When we got up to the counter, the postal worker looked through our application and said that everything looked good, but we needed copies of our driver's licenses. There had to be a copy of the front and back of each license for each application. We asked if we could make copies at the post office, and he directed us to the copier. It cost 15 cents per copy, and the machine only took change. We couldn't find any change, but we did find a 1 dollar bill and a 20 dollar bill after digging through the car and all our pockets and wallets. By this point, the line was a lot longer, but Greg went and stood back in line to ask them to change our money. Once he finally got to the front of the line, the postal worker told him she could break the 1, but didn't have enough change to break the 20. That left us 20 cents short of being able to make all the copies we needed. The only thing we could do was to drive back home and make the copies at our apartment. Once we did that, we drove back to the post office and got in the line again. Once we got to the front of the line for the third time, the worker began processing our applications. He got all the way through Gabriela's and was just beginning Josiah's, when he noticed one more problem. My driver's license had expired last month on my birthday, and he couldn't process their applications until I had a new license. We drove back to my parents' place and dropped the kids off so they could get some lunch and take their naps. Then we drove to the nearest BMV to get a new license. On the way we ran into road work and the consequent detour, and one of the slowest trains I have ever seen. We finally got to the BMV, and after waiting in yet another line, we renewed my license. The only complication was that the laminating machine jammed while trying to print my license, and they had to do it twice. Then we drove back to the post office, used the copier to make copies of my new license, and finally finished the applications for the kids' passports. Needless to say, we didn't get any work done that morning.

We were supposed to meet a friend of ours who is a notary at the doctors' office at 4:00. The doctors have been difficult to work with from the beginning, so we were both a bit concerned about this meeting. Our friend showed up right on time, and she helped us by notarizing a few other forms while we waited for the doctors. We were trying to move quickly, because Greg's Latin class also started at 4:00. He had given the quiz and answer key to the students' parents, and they were covering the class until he could get there. After a few minutes of waiting, Greg's doctor called us back. He was just about to sign the form, and we noticed he had the wrong one. We had dropped off a form with a mistake the first time, and I had gone back the next day with the correct one. Somehow, the form had never been switched in Greg's chart. The doctor was very irritated, and told us outright that it was all our fault. He grudgingly agreed to fill out the correct form (fortunately I had brought an extra copy of the correct form, because we never did find out what had happened to the one I dropped off earlier), and told us to go back to the waiting room while he completed it. Shortly after we sat down, the nurse told us that my doctor was ready, so we went back again. She made it clear that she thought it was stupid for us to ask her to sign in a blue pen, but did agree to do it, as long as we had one for her. (We had 3) About the time my doctor finished, Greg's doctor called us back over to his side of the office. He signed the form quickly, and left to meet with another patient. As soon as he walked away, we discovered that he had not signed one of the forms he was supposed to sign. The notary finished all of her work, and we all stood in the office and waited for more than 15 minutes for the doctor to come back. We were so afraid he would fight us when we told him that he had forgotten to sign a form, but we had to have it. Once he finally came back out, he did agree to sign the form with little more than an irritated eye-roll in our direction, so that was a relief. Then, our notary noticed that there was one line on the form that asked for the office or doctor's seal. She asked us what that was, and if we needed it. The doctor responded, "We don't have a seal," threw our pen back on the counter, and walked away. We decided that since the form was printed on their office letterhead, that would probably count as the office seal, and we left for Greg's Latin class.

He got to class just in time to answer a few questions, give them an assignment for next week, and dismiss them. Fortunately, the students and parents in the class are very, VERY understanding and supportive, and they were not upset at all.

Yesterday, we found out that Greg's doctor had made a small mistake on his form, and it will not be accepted by Mikaela's country at this point. After all that, we have to re-do it. Today, Greg made a few phone calls to try to find another doctor. Neither of us has any desire to go back to the doctors we had been using.

In the midst of all this frustration and discouraging news, there have been a few bright spots. Both our bio kids have been great through it all. Naps and feeding schedules have been chaotic as we have run all over town trying to take care of things, and both of our babies have nasty colds. Even so, they have remained cheerful and pleasant almost the whole time. My parents have been willing to help us out with anything we have needed. They have fed us, kept our kids, listened to us complain, and helped us figure out the complicated mess of adoption paperwork. Perhaps the most wonderful and encouraging thing that happened this week is that we got new pictures of our beautiful baby girl. We will post those soon.