This adoption, for anyone who follows either of my blogs, has been eye opening in so many ways. God has revealed Himself to all of us, especially to my children, in ways we, as Americans rarely see because we are raised to feel so self-sufficient and with an attitude of "I can do anything I put my mind to". It's not a bad thing, really, until it blinds us - or rather makes us fearful - of stepping out in faith and allowing God to be God; especially in the area of finances.
This post almost one year ago reveals only the beginning of our journey for Elli. During this journey I have picked up some trinkets along the way meant just for me, left lovingly placed, lovingly timed and always obvious (praise Him for that) on the path for me to scoop up and keep hidden in my heart. Actually there were some trinkets that I knew needed sharing. HUGE and SHINY ones that shouldn't be placed in secret but mounted on a mantle for all visitors to rejoice in with us. More like trophies than trinkets.
Trophies like I spoke about in the beginning. An $8,000.00 check. A gift so shockingly large that not even an imbecile like myself could miss what He was shouting at us. Then came little surprises on Sunday mornings, cash pressed in the palms of our hands with a little wink and a squeeze. Returning from the alter after prayer to find an envelope with money enclosed mysteriously appeared on my seat. The occasional check that arrived in the mail enclosed in a card or letter of love and encouragement, almost always from a church member who we barely knew. A check sent by a loving brother and sister-in-law, they themselves paying thousands to medical professionals as she continues to battle a cancer that has ravaged her body for over 7 years. These are trophies He's given me along the way as encouragement to persevere, press on and fall into His arms as he carries me to Elli.
Then there was Operation Elli, our gigantic yard sale where more than 50 friends came together to raise money for our adoption fund.
Another enormous blessing that has been much larger than even a trophy has been a new and very powerful friendship with Arturo and Jessica Blanco and their 3 children. They were instrumental in helping us pull off the largest yard sale known to man (certainly it was). Jessica even coined the phrase "Operation Elli". It's hard to believe that we first knew Jessica when she was Josh's age. Now we have a friendship that will last through eternity. There are not words in this world to express my thanksgiving for this precious family. Between their time, Jessica's many organizational skills and Arturo's medical expertise (as well as much more) they are fully invested in Elli. (There has been mention of a shared custody agreement).
Another trophy on our mantle has been a surprise that truly knocked the wind out of me. The story is long and I must one day blog about it because it speaks to God's ability and desire to change the hearts of men who don't even love Him in order that His will be accomplished. It's an amazing story of young strangers sacrificing for something so much bigger than themselves that I am not sure they fully understand exactly what they have done.
To summerize... On August 24th, 2012 we joined a dear friend at Trustmark Park to watch the Mississippi Braves (MBraves as they are affectionately called) play... well, to be honest, I cannot remember who they were to play. I got to know one of their players through friends in Jacksonville, AL where he went to school with our oldest son Drew when we lived there. (although the boys didn't know each other). His name is Todd Cunningham. Watch for him next year in Atlanta. I am SURE he will play in the big leagues soon.
At the end of each season the players pull together their "pot of errors" as I call it. The money that has been collected as fines from each of them throughout the year from mistakes they've made like being late to practice etc. Now these guys make next to nothing and their fines are quite large. Obviously the hope is that they will work harder NOT to pay any fines. Typically, at the end of the year they collect their pot of money and throw a party. This year it equaled close to $600.00. Those boys could have quite a party with that. But for some reason, there was a thought to "doing something bigger, more worthwhile" with that money. Todd, the precious child of God that he is, had the perfect idea.
Under the guise of a surprise for his host home parent who is a dear friend of ours and the opportunity for Kate to yell "Play Ball" at the start of the game we came out on the field that evening as Todd jumped up, out of the dugout and grabbed a mic. Amongst a photographer and videographer, we waited for Todd to present Pam with a special gift when he began to talk about a familly that he hardly knew, who no one else on the team knew, but who was in the process of adopting a little girl from China. Needless-to-say, this had nothing to do with Pam and everything to do with us and Elli. When the shock wore off, I watched Todd hand Michael a check for almost $600.00 as the dugout exploded in applause and smiles. I turned to them and applauded THEM. A whisper from the Holy Spirit to a young ball player became a sacrifice of praise that most of the rest of the team didn't even know they were making. That trophy is, by far, the largest on my mantle.
We were also blessed by a gaggle of giggling teenagers all whispers as they designed and sold Tshirts for Elli's adoption fund. Kids I teach on a regular basis caught up in the drama and delight of being on the precipice of adulthood yet somehow dug deep down to come up with an amazing fundraiser. They alone paid for our Visa's to China - 4 of them - not a little accomplishment. They too have a part in the life of a little girl on the other side of the world.
Between precious friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, total strangers and a few family members, (as well as a very timely tax refund) we have been able to cover all of our adoption agency fees, US Gov't fees, and Chinese gov't and orphanage fees. We have never been late with a payment, we have never had to put the adoption on hold because we lacked the necessary funds to move forward. God has been faithful to move the hearts of many. Now He has given us one more opportunity to meet the needs of our travel expenses which are quite large. Airfare alone will amount to almost $10,000.00. We will be staying in China for 12 - 14 days most of it with Elli in tow as we try to build a relationship beginning in an atmosphere that is familiar to her. The length of stay is a requirement of the Chinese gov't, one we cannot avoid.
Our last fundraising effort is through our church's adoption ministry called Hearts of Compassion in conjunction with Lifesong for Orphans, an organization that makes available matching grants to families that are adopting enabling donors to receive a tax deduction for their financial gift. We will be matched by Lifesong up to $3000.00 (although if more is given it is not matched but still available to us). If you or someone or business you know searches each year to find a way to increase their tax deductible status or if you have desperately wanted to be a part, in some way, of our adoption of Elli or any adoption, no gift is too small.
If it is on your heart to help us with our adoption costs consider being a part of this grant.
Make your checks payable to Lifesong for Orphans
Put in the memo area "preference Farhart/#3056
and send it to the following address:
Lifesong for Orphans
P.O. Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744
Please continue to pray for Elli, for us, for our travel, and keep abreast of our journey here. As the days draw close to our "Gotcha Day" when Elli will be ours, I will continue to post words and pictures detailing all the great works God has done. We hope to travel in January. We should know our exact travel itinerary by Christmas.
Feel free to forward this post to anyone you think may be remotely interested in our adventure.
PS... and the other trinkets you are wondering about? They are deep and personal precious gems that have altered my heart and mind and relationships with God and people in ways I could not have imagined a year ago. Maybe, as time goes on, God will allow me to reveal those as well. But instead of putting them on a mantle they will be placed gingerly on soft pallet and only displayed for a very short time. After all, they were really meant for my heart.