Friday, October 29, 2010

Radically Dependent

From Jim and Denise--in a Minneapolis hotel room following numersous flight delays yesterday.

The two of us love this quote from David Platt's book Radical.
"God delights in using ordinary Christians who come to the end of themselves and choose to trust in his extraordinary provision. He stands ready to allocate his power to all who are radically devoted to making much of him." (pg. 56)
These two ordinary Christians have seen many instances of God allocating his power on our behalf and that of our 12 children in the past eight days. He is a good, kind, generous and mighty God.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Update on "Operation Liberate the Fatherless"

Home to the Supreme Court of the Chuvash Republic in Cheboksary, Russia
From Denise:

Other people add to their families through time spent in a hospital. The Lord has ordained that our family grow through time spent in court rooms.

The building pictured above is less than ten years old, although the city of Cheboksary which sits on the banks of the Volga River 400 miles due east of Moscow dates back hundreds of years. The building houses the court room in which a judge pulled and tugged and stretched and yanked and shoved and poked at every aspect of our lives, every detail of both our history and our dreams for our family's future. Our particular judge is renowned for his meticulous and sometimes critical scrutiny of the hundreds of pages of documents submitted by both our family and representatives from their orphanage. While we understood that his close examination of our lives was born of a desire to protect the children, at times we wondered whether he could possibly rule in our favor after finding our weaknesses and proding them with such tenacity.

However, God was and is faithful! At about 10:00 yesterday morning, after more than a full day of stretching questioning that at times felt more like an inquisition than an adoption hearing, the judge declared that the 15- and 6-year-old girls and the 11-year-old boy with whom our hearts have been knit since we met them in January could become members of OUR family. Praise be to God! We are now the parents of TWELVE children. Who would have ever guessed that a couple declared so utterly barren by doctors after years of infertility would be Papa and Mama to a dozen dear blessings?!? God is so good!

We wish we could show you photos of our newest kiddos! However, a 10-day wait is mandated by Russian law. Until that period ends we can't bring the children home, and we can't publish identifying pictures. You'll just have to trust us for another couple of weeks that these three former orphans are beeeeeeauuuutifuuuuuuul! (Yes. We are already QUITE biased! : ) )

There's much, much more we hope to share about the past few days, and we'll make every effort to do that as we can.

As I finish this post that officially annouces the success of our adoption effort, let me say an enourmous thank you to all of you who have been praying for us this past week and over the many months that the process has taken. Adoption is truly a group effort. Those of us who add family members this way are deeply in need of the support of friends and family. Thank you for being so faithful to the cause of caring for God's precious orphans!

May God be glorified!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

View from one side of our apartment

From Denise on our last full day in Russia:

Just as Jim (aka Mr. Beaver) and I suspected, this second portion of our trip has been demanding and grueling and tiring and sometimes trying. But what we can see through the current extremes we face is that God is WITH us. God is providing sufficient grace for our service in His name in this place. He is caring for the two of us. He is caring for our nine children at home in America, and He is tenderly cradling our three new children here as they battle the emotions of fear, saddness, and even some anger at a system that will, Lord willing, join us as a family but then require we separate for more than ten days.

This morning I flipped in my Bible to Psalm 62 and read three of my all-time favorite verses:

My soul wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength,
My refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.
(Psalm 62:5-8)

My hope is not in my circumstances. My hope is not in people--not in our interpreter, not in our adoption facilitator, not even in the judge. My hope is in God, and in Him I can rest as we sprint through yet another stretching day.

I thank God that He has placed me in a position in which I cannot rely on myself that I might more fully learn to rely on Him. If there were no other benefits to adopting, this blessing alone would be worth all of the effort and sacrifice. However, our God is so good that growing in our understanding of His care is not the only benefit of our effort to adopt. Three beautiful, charming children will soon be OUR children. What joy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reporting from the Home Front....

We video chatted briefly with our parents (Oh the joys of technology!) about 10 p.m. their time. They have been with our new siblings, and said, "On a scale of 1-10 [of how wonderful the day has been], today has been a 15." The joy of being with the children they have prayed for so long shone from their faces.

We do ask for prayer for our official court date tomorrow; for our parents' wisdom and stamina, and that they would represent Christ; and also for the judge's wisdom and favor upon our family.

Praising God for His grace and faithfulness...

Waiting to Meet Our Children

After a good night's sleep on our 12-hour train ride east, we arrived at our destination about 9 a.m.

Waiting for the train to come to a stop

A train-station sign proudly proclaims the town's name

Mr. Beaver balancing luggage near the door of the apartment building
in which we're staying. Behind him is a common sight in Russia--
an older woman using a whisk broom to keep the outdoors tidy.
The broorms are not full length; they require constant stooping.

Once we got settled in the bedroom in which we're staying,
we were treated to an incredibly delicious breakfast of "cheesecakes,"
cheese sausage and bread.

Our hostess, Luda, is oh-so accomadating and gracious. She speaks enough English for us to be able to get along well.

I'm going to sign off now so that we can Skype our kids back home. Meanwhile we're awaiting the arrival of our new threesome...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Moscow at Her Prettiest

Before boarding the train bound for the region where our kids are, we've had the opportunity today to walk to Red Square one more time (with a working camera this time). Never has there been a more beautiful autumn day; all of Moscow was out enjoying the rare treat with us. We only have the time to post one photo now before our driver arrives to take us to the train station. More of Moscow's beauty later...

~Mr. and Mrs. Beaver

Waiting for Their Peaches

Last Saturday night we enjoyed an evening with a family from our church that is waiting to adopt. They hosted us for dinner and a few hours of fellowship in the evening. There were lots of laughs, good conversation, and all-in-all, a wonderful time!
Cassandra with our host, "Big Daddy"
"Dingleberry", our friends' dog, loves it when anyone will play tug of war with him over this stuffed Pooh Bear!

I found out during a game of two-hand-touch football that "Big Fella" is sweet option for the short pass route!

"Big Daddy" and "Bo" taking some time to catch up with each other

Although "Sunshine" (center) was disappointed that Tessa couldn't be with us, she found a distraction in entertaining the little ones

This entertainment for the little ones soon turned into entertainment for all!

Jaynie and twins "Rye Bread" and "T-Bird" provided us with some praise music later in the evening

We dearly love this family, not only for their love for us but also for their deep love for Jesus and those who are hurting in the world. They long for the call that will bring the news of which little girl God has chosen for them. Because of the depth of their desire to care for this little girl (whom they have affectionately nicknamed "Peaches"), the wait has often been painful for them. We continue to pray that they will receive their good news soon, and that until then, God will wrap them in His comforting arms!

(Our friends are the authors of the blog Room for More. Please consider following their blog and praying for them as they seek to follow Jesus in the area of caring for the vulnerable and in all areas of life!)

This row of shoes at our friends' front door is missing one small, special pair!

On the Other Side of the World

On our way to dinner last night in Moscow we passed by this store window. Little did we know that by the time we had finished our pizza, we would be looking at these gowns from a different perspective. 

While we were waiting to order our food, Tessa called from the other side of the world with the news that she will need a white gown. Aaron, who has been courting Tessa for several months, had PROPOSED to her during a walk on the beach as she vacations with his family in Hilton Head, South Carolina!

Needless to say, Tessa said "YES!" while Aaron's knee was still sandy.

For years and years we have prayed that the Lord would bless our precious Tessa with a God-fearing man who would love her sacrificially as Christ loves His church. We could tell she was grinning from ear-to-ear last night when she called. Likewise, we're grinning from ear-to-ear today as we revel in God's goodness to our daughter and thus to us!

Aaron, we're so pleased that we'll not only be adding a son to our family through adoption in the near future, but that we'll also be adding a son to the family through marriage. Welcome to our family! We love you!

~Mr. and Mrs. Beaver

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Moscow: Day 3

Denise: I'll start this post with yet another photo of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building that is just outside our hotel's front door. I don't know that you can make it out but there is a giant hammer and sickle near the top. Since I am a child of the Cold War and have also read numerous books about what life was like for Soviet Russians, I'm a bit cowed by this edifice. Most of the buildings in central Russia are about six stories tall, while these seven buildings--which are probably 25 stories high--tower over their neighbors. Stalin was making a powerful statement as they went up one by one in the 1950s.

Once again this morning we slept way later than we ever do at home after a slightly better night's sleep than we'd had the night before. We haven't pushed ourselves during these two days of "leisure" because when our "work" begins as we embark a train for the region where our new children's orphanage is and for the capitol of the region where we'll go to court, the rest of the trip will be all work and no play. The gift of rest now is helping to prepare us for what is to come.

When we were finally up and going, we revisited the Arbat (pedestrian mall) for lunch at MacDonalds (spelling intentional--it's the way the Russians say it).We have continued to be amazed by what a hot spot the restaurant is for the young adult crowd. Mr. Beaver waited in line with about 50 people to place our order. I scouted for a table but the only seat I could find was a stool at a counter which I shared with six strangers. When Mr. Beaver arrived he stood next to me as we downed our first meal today. I took a couple of photos before I was asked by a security guard to stop--security guards are plentiful here! Yesterday we got lost in an underground mall as we were trying to find a Metro station in the Red Square area. Again, the location was swarming with young people and guards were visible everywhere.

Here are a couple of photos of the MacDonalds (Mr. Beaver is on the far right in a tan coat in the second picture):

After lunch we went shopping for gifts for all our children. All of us have come to appreciate the beauty of hand-painted and hand-carved Russian crafts. We are a family that is truly dual-cultural, and it is a joy to the two of us to be able to bring some bits of Russia home in the form of gifts for all of our children in the U.S.

Many of the shops on the Arbat that sell Russian handcrafts employ high pressure sales people but we found a beautiful shop with helpful-but-not-pushy saleswomen.  Natalia (right) and Anna (center) were great to work with. When we told Anna that we have nine children, she said that her mom has given birth to five and has cared for 20 orphans.

While Mr. Beaver checked out, I took a few photos of the museum-like store. Color is everywhere in Russian handicrafts!

The mythical figure "Father Christmas" is prevelent in Russian fairy tales and children's stories. Although I'm no fan of Santa substituting for the baby Jesus at Christmas in our country, I loved this giant carved and painted version of Father Christmas that sported a sweet family scene.

After shopping we retired to our hotel room. Again, we're trying to conserve energy for the next stage of this unusual trip. Our hotel, the Golden Ring, is the tall building in the center.

The hotel's lobby looks like this:

Across the street is a small shop open 24 hours a day that sells juices, yogurt, bread, meats, cheeses, and the ever-present alcohol.

It's sort of like a cross between an outdoor market and one of our convenience stores without the gasoline.

We investigated the store in case we end up staying at this same hotel when we return to the country to bring our adoptees home in November, Lord willing. The three children will be brought to Moscow rather than us traveling on the train back to their region to gather them. The five of us will then spend 8-10 days here in Moscow waiting for offical paperwork to be processed so we're eyeing the city for the kid-friendly spots. This is truly a concrete metropolis that has given little attention to what would make travel easier for kids and parents. Thanksfully, we know we'll have God's grace surrounding us and His wisdom to guide us as we navigate this mega city that has it's roots in pre-medieval times.

Once again we finish the day tired, but exhilierated by the knowledge that we are never alone or forsaken while so far from everything familiar. God IS with us!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Party Time!

Our dear friends the Henns generously offered to throw a party for our Tatiana since our parents could not be with us to celebrate. The Sowers family and the Nordstrom family also joined the group. The party was last night, and what fun we had!

Good friends "Bugg" and Tatiana.

What a beautiful party! The Henn kids even painted birthday pictures for Tatiana.

The party table.
At the beginning of our party, we ate the delicious dinner Mrs. Henn served up; a hearty beef-stew she had "quintupled" (We decided that was the word to use when multiplying a recipe times five).

Some of the toughest, handsomest men I know: Joe, Bear, and Eddie Joe.

Everyone's favorite girl: "Squeakers" Henn.
 Squeakers is the youngest Henn, nearly four months old. She has big squishy cheeks that are a delight to kiss, and her cuteness is universally popular.

Eddie Joe Nordstrom and Erna Henn.

Mr. Henn knows how to serve up ice cream! He even got the best kind...Blue Bunny.
After dinner, cake, and ice cream, all kids-minus the baby- went out for a major game of  in-the-dark hide and seek. When it got too late for our loud game to be polite, we migrated back inside for present opening time and then wrapped up for the night. Tatiana beamed the entire way home!
Thank you Henns, Sowers, and Nordstroms, for making Tatiana's birthday special! 

And then this morning...

I found Sunshine just like this, a nonchalant expression on her face. For a time she just stood there; then all of a sudden began to dig wildly. After that, the photo shoot was over!

Miss Sunshine in need of a bath. She keeps us laughing!


Day 2 in Moscow: Another Blessed Gift from God

While this post is titled "Day 2" it's actually more like a continuation of Day 1, as we both had jet-lag-induced insomnia last night. The picture to the left is a 2am view from our room of a beautiful, Stalin-era building (yesterday's blog incorrectly identified it as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but that is actually a different building). It's even more striking when the weather is clear. As Princess Bink would say, it was 'drooling' here last night.

Nevertheless, what better to do when awakened at 2am than spend time in His Word? We both spent significant time savoring His Word, and despite our fatigue, found sweet sustenance from the Lord in the middle of the night in this city that has become precious to us.

Our day was a fabulous blessing from beginning to end! We walked up the Arbat, a fun pedestrian shopping street, to the Kremlin and Red Square. The photos below show the Arbat, which houses fancy shops, tourist traps, and yes, you guessed it, a McDonald's. Here in Moscow they serve 'fish rolls' instead of the beef and chicken snack wraps to which we've become accustomed. Of note, the Arbat also has two Starbucks, a Sbarro and now, it even has a Cinnebon! Guess where we're going for breakfast tomorrow!

Address and street sign - "53, Arbat Street"

Once we reached Red Square we visited GUM (Gosudarstvenny Universalny Magazin - Russian for state department store), a huge, 3-story shopping mall bordering Red Square. Is it only me, or does it seem ironic that one of the world's largest and most expensive shopping malls borders Red Square? When I visited the Soviet Union on a student trip in the late 1970's, GUM was a picture of Soviet failure... "long queues and empty shelves, bar a few drab goods. A remarkable transformation has taken place since Perestroika and today GUM is a bustling place with more than 1000 fancy shops." (Lonely Planet, Russia, p165).

While in GUM, we found a great little cafe serving one of Mrs. Beaver's favorite foods, blini. Blini are a delicious cross between filled crepes and pancakes. We tried ham and cheese blini, and couldn't resist dessert blini with fresh strawberries and vanilla sauce inside.

Unfortunately, we don't have many pictures from today because we discovered that our camera wasn't working. But we were able to find a decent camera shop in GUM and should be back on track tomorrow. Denise tells me the shopping and purchase were very interesting, and very good practice, as the clerk knew very little English while I knew very little Russian. We essentially used what we call "Ringlish"... but it worked out. While we didn't plan on this particular expense, we felt it was imperative that we have a camera... it's not every day that you find yourself in a foreign country adopting three wonderful children.

Even though the journey and the rigors of court are likely to stretch our faith, we can't wait to be reunited with our new children. Please pray that we will be salt and light to them and to everyone else we meet along the way. Let HIS Name be praised!

~Mr. Beaver