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I am a wife, daughter, mother, bilingual teacher, poet, author, women's Bible study teacher, world traveler, orphan advocate, and an adoptive mother.  Our adoption journey has been filled with a lot of hurt and loss, along with even more hope, grace, and healing.  Through it we have experienced more of God than we ever bargained for and have watched Him miraculously redeem our story when we surrendered all the broken pieces to Him.

Surviving the Valley Series

Surviving the Valley Series
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Friday, July 6, 2012

The places you'll go

 Well, we are home now, and let me tell you, coming down from the mountain is never easy.  So far, I'm not going to say it's been hard, it just feels very weird.  Good to be home, but not sure where to go or what to do next. (Especially since my bank account is not on speaking terms with me right now).  We've been going, going, going for 30 days straight, and now suddenly life has just stopped and all the whirlwind of activity has ceased.  I can hear this gentle whisper in my ear saying, "It's time to rest now and just take it all in."  So, I'm sitting out on my front porch trying to do just that.

I don't really know where to start to fill everyone in on our Colombian adventure, but I decided to break it into three categories....the places we went, the things we did, and the people we met.  So today I will briefly write about the main places that we went.

One of our first outtings was to take our new friends up to Montserrate, a place that I wrote about in my book.  It was a very monumental place in our journey to Colombia a year ago, and we were so thankful for the clear, blue skies so we could get an even better view of the incredible city below us and the amazing landscape on the other side. Last year we didn't spend any money in the little shops there, so this year we got a few little souvenirs to take home with us.
Our third weekend in Colombia, we had made plans with another family to take a little vacation from our vacation in a place called Villa de Leyva.  We were very excited and looking forward to getting out of the city for a few days.  However, at the last minute, our plans changed.  Our friends told us that a family from the school had decided to lend us a vacation house for the weekend in a small town near Anapoima.  All we knew was that it was in the "hot country" we'd heard about and that there was a pool.  We didn't have any idea what kind of sleeping or living arrangements this would mean since there were ten of us going, but we were just going to "go" with it.  The weekend came, and we met up with the group at 5:30 in the morning to embark on our 3 hour drive (or 3 hour tour).  The drive was basically just going down and around the mountain (around...and around...and around) until we'd reach an altitude much, much lower than Bogota (much closer to our own altitude in Dallas).  We finally got to a little town called Apulo, and we found ourselves driving down a little dirt road that seemed to lead to nowhere.  Then we pulled up to a gate, gave them our names, and soon found ourselves driving up to a beautiful resort-like place that pretty much resembled paradise.  We each had our own private bedroom and bathroom that had windows and doors that opened up to the beautiful surroundings, we had a pool and a jacuzzi, a community kitchen and dining area, a community living/reading area, eight hammocks all around the place, and we felt like we were in something that you only see on "Survivor".  It was the most beautiful little place, tucked so neatly away with mountains surrounding it on all sides, a golf course to one side, a river to another side, and orange trees where we got up in the morning and were able to pick a fresh orange to eat for breakfast.  It truly was a gift that we will always remember and be grateful for.
Another unexpected "highlight" of our trip was to a very familiar place from our past, one that we nearly had memorized the address for but had never had the opportunity to come to in person.  Yet before we knew it, we found ourselves in the Bienestar Familiar office in the presence of a lawyer, a social worker, and a psychologist with our complete "unapproved" dossier on the table before us.  I've never shared this before on my blog, but our sweet "Juan's" second adoption opportunity did not ever go through.  For the last several months we have known that he was once again without the hope of a family, and his brother was convinced that he still belonged with us.  Very shortly before we left, we got in contact with a lawyer to find out if there was any possibility of getting his case reopened.  Before we knew it, he'd gotten us an appointment to meet the very men who had made the decision to not approve our first adoption attempt.  It was not an easy meeting at all, but by the end they saw that we were determined and united as a family in this desire, so they presented our case to the main lady over all of the adoptions, and we are waiting to see if this can legally be done.  What we are attempting has never been done before in Colombia, or so we've been told.  We are very aware that this is a completely different situation now, and that "Juan" has been through much more loss now that when we had met him years ago.  We are also aware of what the risks are to our own family unit because of the age difference between him and our only child.  I'm not going to say we are not nervous, but we also see that God has opened many doors before us that we never imagined being opened.  We are still waiting on a final response, but we were told that we will know soon.  If the door closes again, we are okay with it because it looks like we still may be granted an open place in his life again, no matter what.  We got to spend four days with him at the end of our trip, and we enjoyed every minute of having him back at our side.  I told him that I never thought I would see him again, to which he responded by putting his arm around me and saying, "I always knew we would see each other again some day." If the door does reopen, once again, we don't have a clue where the money will come from to go through the entire process again.  But we know that God is God, and if this was always His plan, nothing can stop it or thwart His plan.
Then there was the "not so great" highlight of our trip....to the dentist.  Mike woke up on Father's Day with incredible pain from a toothache.  We found out that he'd gotten an infection, so he was out for the count the entire day, while I was busy trying to contact anyone who could help.  Thankfully, the school takes amazing care of their missionaries, so we had the opposite problem.  Instead of not having any help, we had help coming from all directions.  We got an antibiotic over the counter at the pharmacy next door, and finally Mike found some relief.  Two days later, a dental assistant whose child was in my class checked Mike out in the morning and said that the tooth was pretty much beyond repair.  She said she could perform a root canal and do a crown, but she wanted to be honest that the crown would not last and it was not a wise use of money or time.  She suggested just having the whole tooth pulled.  Mike called his dentist at home, and he agreed that pulling it was likely the best thing to do.  So, the next day, we headed out after school to the dentist's office so he could get his tooth pulled.  A new translating experience for me!  Thankfully, Mike recovered quickly, though it wasn't exactly the highlight of his trip.
The main place that we went every Tuesday through Friday in the mornings was El Camino Academy.  We found this school to be amazing, mostly because of the network of support that you find when you serve there.  We took a bus to the school each morning at about 7:30, worked from 8:00 to 12:30 every day, had lunch at the school, and then went home between 1:00 and 2:00 every day.  I taught a class of 4-6 year olds, Mike helped out with painting (not his favorite thing to do, but they sure appreciated his work), and David got to help with the gym classes, using his very natural athletic abilities and passions.  Julian came with us twice a week and helped me out however I needed.  Being able to work at the school gave us some sort of life and routine to model to Julian, it gave us a chance to raise some financial support for our trip, and it gave us an amazing network of support and family.  We will really miss everyone we met and had the opportunity to work with, and we look forward to planning our trip back next summer to work with many of them again.
David's favorite part of the trip was the place we found last year where he could ride the go-carts.  They go much faster than any go-carts around here, and they're really not that awfully expensive.  We took Julian and another friend one day, and then we went back again to take "Juan".  I think it will be a yearly thing, something that David will always expect.  Of course we went to many other places, as well, including a nearby town called Chia, three different churches, the house where Julian has lived since he got out of the orphanage, the mall across the bridge, a good Mexican restaurant, our favorite little bakery, etc., and we were invited to have dinner with several different missionaries and families.  But these few places were the main places that we will always remember.

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