Back in Addis

We left Austin at 11:45 Wednesday morning and arrived in Addis 26 hours later.  After obtaining a visa and reuniting with all our luggage, we met a Gladney driver who took us from Bole Airport to the guest house.  As a bad traveler, I am always relieved to arrive anywhere, but I felt a different peace as we cruised the evening streets — like I was home.  I don’t think that feeling came out of an affinity for Addis, although I do like it.  Rather, in coming in faith and obedience, God welcomed me to him with a peace that can only come from him.

We got about seven hours of halting sleep.  I awoke at 6 a.m. to send an email to the CIS office in Nairobi who we need to approve Aseres file to bring her home.  We did not come to clear Aseres case by the coming, but simply to be with her.  Still, on the chance that our presence is an action God can work through, we mine as well let them know we are here.

It is now late morning Friday in Addis.  Owen, Roni and Connor are eight hours behind in Texas.  I hope they told the grandparents Thursday was pizza night.  We are praying for them during our separation with the same force with which we prayed with them for Aseres during that separation — almost as if God prepared us for the leaving.  As I wrote that last sentence, Ambes calles to say he is bringing Aseres to us in two hours — all glory be to God.

Should we stay or should we go now

Since we left Addis 113 days ago, Marissa and I wanted to return immediately to be reunited with our daughter –this time forever.  The reunion will bring indescribable joy, and we will get to start the long process of walking with Aseres into love, light and freedom.  Our own desire to go for the joy of the reunion and to start the work ahead has been almost irrepressible.  However, we didn’t want to go until God called us to go.  We have faith that he has been a perfect father to Aseres and that she has not lacked during this separation, as he promised us.  And we have faith that God can handle freeing Aseres without our help.

Still, in prayer, we have listened to hear God tell us to “go,” but instead, God has called us to feed the hungry, pray with widows, fight for the imprisoned, minister to the fatherless, visit the sick and pray for healing, and loosen provision for the oppressed.  God’s call on our time left no lull and the call to mission where we live was the only call we heard from him.  Instead of “go” we were asked to trust him.  This week, things cleared out and we began planning how and when we would go.  We hatched a really smart plan where Marissa would go in advance and I would stay with our big three kids.  Once CIS cleared Aseres’ case, I would join them to bring her home.  Yet, we felt no peace in our smart plan.  This morning I awoke at 2 a.m. and couldn’t sleep.  When I got on my face before God to push back for 113 days and counting, I kept hearing that it was time to “go.”  Finally, I heard what I had waited for but only after I started planning instead of waiting; maybe God hadn’t heard about my smart plan to stay instead and send Marissa.  Did “go” mean “stay and send?”

We decided it meant “go” and that God knew who he was talking to, so we will go on Wednesday morning — together.  We will take placement of Aseres on Friday — together.  And we will begin the process of walking with her in love to light and freedom — together.  Together, we will wait at the wall Satan has built around Aseres’ entry to the US, and we will wait for God to win the battle and unite our family.

I am aware that some of you will second guess — you are leaving your three older kids, your approval is uncertain, the timeline could stretch, you can’t pay for an extended stay…. True, but we are going to trust God to finish the fight for his glory and take care of us along the way.  And we are not going to allow an earthly, flawed government to tell us when it is time to be present in our daughter’s life.  God guides that decision, not some nitwit at the embassy.  We really don’t care what people may say, except a much older Aseres when she asks what we did when her entry was uncertain and delayed, to which we will reply “baby, we waited and waited until it was God’s time and we ran to be with you forever, and to love you — together.”

Dear God, thank you for providing and caring for Aseres while she was trapped in separation and thank you for the joy we have seen in her pictures — as your word says “you have been the helper of the fatherless.”  Now please, “break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account until you find none” (Psalm 10) and free our baby to come home.

Next post from Addis with new pics…

100 Days of Refining

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?  For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.  He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.  Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.  Then I will draw near for judgment.  I will be a swift witness against he sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 3:2-5 ESV

We heard God’s call to the orphan more than two years ago now.  We responded, but we made every decision with an eye towards fitting God’s call into what worked best for us.  This is how we understood adoption decisions to be made:  domestic or international was about your ability to handle potential discrimination — bring it — international; country of birth was about the availability of children and the smoothness of the system — lots of orphans and refined system — Ethiopia; child preferences were about what you were already prepared to handle — we had lame insurance and wanted to preserve birth order — young and healthy.  The first step of obedience was a big step for us at that point, so I didn’t even notice the practical and reasonable way in which we approached it.

Over the course of a wait of more than a year and a half, God started to strip away a lot of what we entered with.  The job which provided the steady check to pay for the added expenses of the new baby — gone.  The house with plenty of room to accommodate the new baby — sold.  The lame insurance which limited the health challenges we could take on — replaced with no insurance then lamer insurance.  And with each step, we felt more prepared and more liberated — refined by the fact that we were ever more dependent upon the one in whom we can always rest.  And we spent less time reasoning how decisions fit into our plans in favor of simple obedience, so that as we traveled to Addis we felt closer to the face of God than we have ever felt in our lives.  When we said goodbye to Aseres, we told her we would be back real soon because we felt a heavenly wind at our back.

We have been separated from our daughter now for 100 days; the weirdest 100 days of our life — pain and mourning but joy.  Suddenly, we see the fatherless in our neighborhood and town who we used to miss on our way to “bigger” things, but the fatherless, here and there, is a single call.  We participated with a group from our church engaging at the local elementary with many children without homes, fathers or food.  As one part of a group, we provided food for them over the Christmas break when they might have gone without, tutored our new friends during the week, and provided sack lunches for them on Saturdays.  Now, we know their names and we are present for what God would have us do with them to break the generational cycle of poverty and fatherlessness.  As those in our church have been obedient to God, more and more opportunities have come and with it opportunities to share the gospel.  Some food over Christmas started a snowball which God will use to repair the breach and restore the streets.  Instead of leaving it for others at our church with more time to give, we heard God’s call and have gotten to be a part of his glory.

At work, my cases have suddenly taken on the theme of our mission.  I have new adoption cases where former orphans have found homes, I represent a widow oppressed by her neighbor, I am fighting for a client from the wrong side of the tracks who the powers that be would prefer to ignore, I am trying to protect a little boy no older than Conner from an abusive father threatening him from jail, and on.  This is not the empire of wealthy clients which I set out to build, but even my work has been refined as one act of obedience leads to another.

At home, we are closer than we have ever been.  We miss our daughter and little sister together and we grieve together.  The kids pray for Aseres every night.  Roni almost brought the roof down last night with her honesty, her inflection and the urgency of her plea “in the name of Jesus.”  There was nothing left for me to pray.  I have been looking for fruit before I agree that she is ready for baptism — now I am just waiting for the next day at the river.  Marissa and I are closer than ever and our relationship has grown as we transition from a life guessing what the others want to both pursuing the God who will provide what each of us needs.

All to say, the more God tears down what we were, the more what he builds back reveals his glory.  It is painful some times — it was at first hard to let go of the steady paycheck, the big back yard, and other luxuries.  It was at first tough to trade date nights for time sacking lunches for fatherless kids, or time watching basketball for time praying your daughter can come home.  But each time we pass through the old life and die to something we thought mattered, we emerge with less weight of burden and we are freer.  I know the things we have given up are just the beginning and that God has a lot of refining yet to do, but I don’t know if the process would have gotten such a kick-start if we had the smooth adoption we set out after or if we hadn’t endured 100 days of separation.  We pray that we don’t look back at this time as a spiritual high water mark, but one chapter in a lifetime of sanctification.  And God, we promise we will keep chasing after you, even if you decide 100 days is enough for this type of refining.

The amazing joy of parenting from 8,000 miles

On November 30th, the judge in Addis asked who was there to be a parent to Aseres.  Marissa and I told her that we were, and Aseres became our daughter forever.  We spent the next morning with Aseres before returning home without her to wait for the US to allow her to join us.  [There has been no change on that front] Every time we meet someone who asks about our family, we tell them that we have four children because we do.  We try to avoid explaining unless they ask.  Some likely assume one of our daughters is away with friends soon to come home, and that is true.  Aseres is at a transitional home in Addis and shares a room with seven or eight kids about her age — many of whom she has known most of her life.  One little boy has shared a room with Aseres for 17 of her 18 months and is waiting to join his parents in San Antonio.

We receive monthly updates on Aseres growth and development along with pictures.  Since we returned to Texas she has mastered walking and cut some teeth we can see in the pictures.  She has begun vocalizing more but she does not say “mama” or “dada.”  It is the only “x” on her development chart, but we think she knows how to use these easiest of words and is merely reserving them for me and Maris.  She is our daughter forever and that forever started 94 days ago — all glory be to God.

I hear long waits like ours are discouraging some families from adopting or adopting from Ethiopia.  Oh what a shame that we are such a fearful people.  The walk we are on with all of its delays is the most amazing of our lives and is to be desired not avoided.  The God who spoke the world into existence and brought us out of death trusted us to walk through his rescue of a beautiful orphan from a land of kings.  God moved mountains and obstacles and rained provision to take us to her and brought favor through a foreign court of suspicion.  Now, we care and love Aseres with all of our heart.  She now has hundreds interceding to fight spirits on her behalf.  She now has parents who pray for her daily needs and her soul.  She has brothers and a sister who look to every day with giddy anticipation of coming joy.  And that is while we wait, but there is no doubt that God will bring his rescue to a conclusion.  That day is coming and it will be beautiful, and we are merely to wait.  If the wait is hard, it is only because the coming joy is amazing.  The pain is daily broadening the bounds of the joy, and God will bind up our pain and build upon it and use it to advance his kingdom.  There is no better time in a  day than when I am brought to tears for my daughter.  God has compassion on her and I get to be an earthly vessel to cry that compassion down so he can redirect those streams of love into her heart and bring a smile to her face in those pictures we treasure.

That is not something to avoid — it is something to run to.

Many of you have joined our story as it has gone and I don’t know who most of you are.  What I know is that there are 140 million orphans who God wants help in caring for.  I feel that God wants some who read our blog today to be his vessels of rescue.  If that might be you, we want to pray for you and connect you to resources to help you.  That God would bless you with a chance to cry in anticipation of amazing joy,

The McGlothlins  (forthecity@river-stone.org)