Monday, December 31, 2012

The End Is Just Another Beginning.

And so it goes... something is coming to an end. Funny... as I thought about this blog post the end of 2012 didn't even enter my mind and yet, as I write about the end of Operation Elli it happens to be the last day of 2012... a year that will live, at least in my mind, in infamy.

The phrase Operation Elli was
first coined by my dear
friend Jessica Blanco. 
I have learned a lot in 2012, more than I ever expected but since I lean on my Lord for guidance and wisdom and direction, I'm not surprised that when I just let go and allow Him to run things He has let me in on far more than I could have ever imagined. That's just how He works. I'm so thankful that He is so much bigger than me or anyone or anything else around me. It's impossible to fully trust in someone or something that's just as big as you are.

Which brings me to the end of "Op Elli" as it's affectionately called around here. It's the end because we leave in almost exactly 72 hours from this writing for the airport here in Jackson, MS. We will then fly to Atlanta to wait for 4 hours to board a flight to Seoul, Korea. Fourteen and a half hours later we will deplane only to wait another 4 hours to board a plane to Guangzhou, China which is I think about a 6 hour flight. Once there, we will wait another 5 hours to fly the less than one hour trip to Haikou, China, the home of Elli's orphanage. All in all, I think the Gman estimated 22 hours flying and 13 hours or so waiting. Every bit of it totally and completely worth it because Elli is worth everything.

My reason for writing is to thank you  - all of you - who did any thing to help bring Elli home. It was an operation that lasted for a year and that included hundreds of people and the result will be an itty bitty 5 yr old girl who knows no one, doesn't have a clue what love is (they do not tell each other they love each other there), and who really is mostly excited about her dog that she is coming to America to see. But to all of us, it doesn't matter because we know what she will discover once here... a forever immediate family and a forever church family. I also believe she will discover a loving and sacrificial heavenly Father who sent His son to not just raise $35,000.00 and take an incredibly long plane flight to rescue her from a hopeless situation but a son who gave up a royal life for a time to come to earth and give his life sacrificially, enduring agony and pain... all for her. THAT is why her middle name is Hope... more than anything, we want her to know the hope that she has in Jesus Christ.

write your name and a verse address
for Elli's adoption box.
So many of you committed to wearing the red "Elli" bracelets we had made up months ago. You have been praying for her consistently and she has stayed on your mind for months. Now, as we begin the process of boarding a plane to bring her home, I have one last request for your bracelet. If you would, after January 7th, 2013 (our Gotcha Day), take off your bracelets, write your name inside and a verse or message to her for her "box". I've made a box for her, a box full of letters and notes, and all kinds of goodies that have been given to us this year as we waited for her. I want her to know exactly what her presence in our lives means and that it's not just us but US... our family in Christ... that have loved her so dearly. If you want to write more, a letter or card just for her for when she's old enough to read it and understand it, then by all means, please do. She spent more than 5 years not understanding or hearing the words "I LOVE YOU" that is not all made up in one or two days, weeks, or even years. How much love will she see when she opens that box and realizes all the days of prayers and sacrifice and love that went into the year we all waited for her?

My posts will have to be small. I'm having a hard time keeping my composure lately. I have waited a long time to hold her in my arms, to promise my love and devotion forever, to see Kate become a big sister... and I have a hard time looking at all of this without seeing God's great "giving" to me (as He did to Job) after his "taking" from me in 1996. The parallels are just too great not to see His hand in it all and I do have such a difficult time not falling apart when I see Him work his redemptive power not just in the lives of people but in the situations that occur in every day life. This past year was such a year of redemption in so many ways. 2011 was very disappointing and sad for me. He is gracious - always - to do a work that we just cannot comprehend if we are willing to wait on Him for it all.

Please keep up with us here - hopefully our VPN will work in China and typing on an Ipad won't be more than I can manage. It may cut down on my long posts which will probably make most of you happy since it's the pictures that we all care about anyway! :)

We will return on the 17th and will most likely be sequestered for several weeks as we seek to build the security and trust with Elli that she needs. We hope to see you all in February.

I came across these pictures which reminded me of all the new things I learned about and new experiences I had in 2012. I have to say, 2012 was an amazing wonderful year personally in the lives of our family. I'm thankful that our lives personally don't have to reflect what we see around us. God is on His Throne regardless of who is in power in any country, state, or city of the world. I am thankful that History is really His Story and we know the end of the story already. May your 2013 be one of seeing HIS handiwork in your lives. Keep your eyes open lest you miss something big. It's the end of 2012 but the beginning of something new, 2013. What's He got in store for you?

This was the day we got our notice that
we were accepted by China to be Elli's
forever family. We officially went from
being a family of 6 to a family of 7. 
After 29 years of marriage we finally had our
marriage license.
We had no idea we never had one. 

Our fundraiser at Sweet
Tree Yogurt for H of C was
 such a success it even shocked
the owner.

One of my favorite ministries
is the youth ministry at our
church. Solid Ground is made
up of a bunch of awesome kids.
They wanted to help bring Elli
home so they designed and sold
these t-shirts and made enough
money to pay for our China Visas.

Our church chose to begin
a new ministry in 2012. Hearts
of Compassion was born from
a desire to help bring children
home to their forever families
regardless of where they come from.

One thing every adoptive family
needs to do is raise money. Very
few families have the money to
pay outright for their adoption.
I decided to make a little business
Many of you were gracious enough to
help bring Elli home through
Kate 'n Elli's
Thank you.

Haikou City, Hainan Province
is where Elli is from. We had never
heard of this city until Elli was
referred to us.

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