Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Weekend

Cadet Fritz & trampoline games

Best street ever! Love the Barry Rd Easter Egg hunts!

Confetti eggs & an afro don't mesh so well

Smashing confetti eggs on his own head...cause that's what 2 year-olds do!

Cruisin' in Cadet Brendon's truck

Family pic at church

Rock throwin' & donut eating at Daddy's North Dock hunting spot

Making our pre-Easter morning resurrection rolls

Love getting to see Jessie!

Uncle Kyle & the chaotic Good Friday NYC trip

Central Park Carousel

I can hardly keep up with these rock climbers

NYC with friends!

Julianne, Saedi, & Avery. 5 year-old besties

My super-hero friends rocking WP to NYC via public transportation.  4 Moms & 15 kids. 

Boys 1st choo-choo ride

Egg coloring 
One of the best Easter's I can remember. Thankful for friends, family, & salvation that is our hope!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Solar Panel Team Effort


The reason we went to DRC 2 weeks ago was to install solar panels. That was possible because a group of people came together & made it happen...

Engineers Jess & Chris
Remember 6 months ago in September when we launched our 1st Heart for Congo fundraiser? With an expectation of raising $5,000 to install a solar panel in the orphanage we held the Congo Carnival. We came away with $12,000! That money was enough for solar panels plus launching us well into our 2nd goal of feeding an entire orphanage for a year. And, this was just the beginning.
Diligent Jess at the box & brave Stori 

Jumping a head to now, it was an honor to be a part of the team getting to install those solar panels in DRC. Meet the team- 2 engineers from Portland- Chris & Jessica- volunteered to do the installation. They did the prep, ordering, drafting, & teaching the rest of us what to do. Along with engineers Chris & Jessica, there was Ryan (an adoptive Father of 2 Congolese children), Stori (an adoptive mother of 2 Congolese children), Jim (Deacon of a church in Portland who’s building & starting up a school in a rural community outside Kinshasa,  Ms. Jacky- originally from DRC, now living in the US- translator & woman extraordinaire, & Jilma & Nathan- founders of Our Family in Africa & the vision & drive behind making a difference.

Getting ready to lift panel onto roof
3 entire days were spent installing 3 solar panels in 2 locations- 1 at an orphanage & 2 at a future school for village school.   The solar panels will charge cell phones, a fridge, & provide roughly 5 hours of light every night in a place where flashlights, the sun & the moon were the only sources of light. Check out the awe-inspiring pictures! 

Stealing the words in an email from one of the engineers, Chris… 
“I wanted to take a moment and give credit to where it is due. As you all know, it took a significant amount of work and a combination of all of your skill sets to make these projects happen. Each person accomplished so much in a short period of time. There is no task in these installs considered glamorous. It was so easy working with everyone since we all had the unified objective of doing our best for those kids. You should each be very proud of your contribution..."

Deacon Jim (blue) & Ry (on roo

Chris on the blazing hot tin roof at 3pm

And my personal message to 
Heart for Congo:
Your perseverance inspires me daily. Thank you for going along with my crazy ideas & for sending words of encouragement my way. So many of you ask me, "What's the next project Michelle? Sign me up to help...I want to help..." Thank you for each of your individual contributions- giving, hugging, writing, selling, sewing, motivating, baking, cheering, talking, painting, pottery-making, laughing, etc. I love each of you & your heart for Congo.

Installed by sunset


Sunday, March 24, 2013

DRC Adoption Update/Process

Gideon (L) & Josiah (R)
 We had a fantastic week in DRC & many more blog posts will be following.  Until then, here is a summary of what we know, where we are in the process of adopting the boys, & what we THINK will happen next.

Adoption in Congo, like most foreign adoptions, can really be broken into three sequential parts: 1) US immigration checks on the parents via a homestudy and background checks, 2) Congolese courts assigning custody of the children to parents via adoption decrees, and 3) the US embassy in Congo granting a visa to the boys that will allow them to enter the United States. 3 days ago (finally!) we received our adoption decrees from the Congolese courts. Although we are still working on getting a few parts of those decrees in hand, we know that we have been named the parents of Josiah and Gideon!

You might think that would be the hard part, but the biggest hurdle in this entire process will be obtaining their visas from the US embassy. Once we have the complete decrees and other supporting documents like their birth certificates, mother's death certificates, etc... either Riley or I will be flying to Kinshasa, the capital, to submit the visa applications. We are praying that we will make that trip in the next 4 weeks. Upon receipt of our application, the consular's office in the embassy will launch an investigation to validate the authenticity of our claim to the boys. Primarily, they want to interview the birth fathers to ensure they willingly gave their sons up for adoption and that they were not coerced or deceived into doing so. This is problematic because the fathers live about 1,000 miles from the embassy and have no means to come to Kinshasa for an interview. We were told that the embassy MAY be sending one of their interviewing personnel to Bukavu, near where the fathers were last known to live, some time in May or June. If we can get the fathers to them, they MIGHT interview them out there and be able to wrap up the investigation. To make this happen, we are considering hiring a man that worked in that area, to find the fathers and arrange for them to link up with the embassy rep in Bukavu. 

If all of the above happens as planned, the interview could be complete by May/June and the investigation wrapped up sometime this summer. Once the embassy is satisfied with our case, they will contact us for a visa appointment in Kinshasa. Either Riley or I (likely not both) will then fly out for the visa meeting. From that meeting, it should take about 3-5 days for them to issue the visas for our boys. Visas in hand, we will then turn to the Congolese Department of Immigration and request a letter of release for the boys. We need these letters for the boys to make it through the airport customs check in Kinshasa. The letters can take from 7-20 days to secure. We will likely stay in the country waiting for those letters. Once we have our visas AND the letters of release, we will be free to bring the boys home. Since we have already met them, they will come home on an IR3 visa which means they will be US citizens as soon as we touch down in NYC. That, my friends, will be a wonderful day!

From our perspective, we see a few critical pieces that should be the focus of your prayers. 

1. We need the remained documents as quickly as possible so that I can get the visa application to Kinshasa PRIOR to their trip to Bukavu. 
2. We need to find those fathers AND they need link up with the embassy interviewers in May/June. If we miss this shot, it could be several months before we can arrange an interview.
3. We need that interview to go properly so that the embassy does not doubt the intentions of the fathers

afternoon/evening meal of water & rice & beans
And finally, I hope having these pictures helps you think of and pray for the boys and the children they live with in the orphanage. They are loved by the orphanage Mommas, but there are 20 children and two workers. Nutritious food is lacking and they get very little emotional stimulation. We know God is gracious and loves those boys, but we also feel a burden to get them out of there as quickly as possible. 

Sorry this update took so long but I hope it helps clarify things.

p.s. We do not have birth certificates but the court documents indicate that Josiah was born in October 2010 (date UNK) and Gideon on 10 Sept 2011. That makes Josiah a couple months younger than we thought and Gideon a couple months older. Once they are home, we will have four boys born within 13 months of each other. Should be fun!