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To Arbegona and Back

I can’t begin to express how appreciative I am to all of you for your love, prayers, and support.  I honestly believe the reason Eli has had such an easy time bonding with me is the huge amount of prayer warriors joining us.  You’re amazing!

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The last two days have been some of the longest of my life.  I have traveled in some rough conditions in 3rd world countries, but nothing was like these last two days.  We left yesterday at 6am, drove 4 hours on a highway, then took a turn for 3 hours up a dirt, rocky mountain road full of kamikaze cows, goats, sheep, and a handicapped man who throws rocks at foreigners (originally, the translator called him Saw Man because he threw saws at you if you didn’t pay the toll at his bridge, then to come find out he was only Soil Man who throws rocks – we were kind of disappointed).  

Along the way, I saw some of the most beautiful, lush scenery and some of the most stifling poverty, but the entire 3 hours was like a roller coaster on steroids.

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Once we got to Arbegona, Eli’s uncle was nowhere to be found.  Since we had four families traveling to this area and one translator, I went to a restaurant to sit for a few hours.  The 3 families had their meeting, and we were about to have to go down the mountain with a meeting with Eli’s birth family when finally his uncle was found in the city.

Without going into a ton of details, the meeting was tragic yet revealing.  I encountered an alcoholic man who did have care for his nephew but was in no shape to take care of him.  They found him at a bar.  While he was very kind to me, he is not in stable condition to take care of children and a lot of things concerning Eli’s state made sense.  

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While I cringed at thinking what Eli might have been exposed to for a while, I rejoice that he is no longer in that negative environment.  I felt anger, pity, and disappointment towards this man all at the same time.  All the while, he told me that Eli has another young brother living with him and another brother who died recently.  I am burdened for his brother today.

I began to share with him why I came for Eli because of the love of Christ.  At that, he held his head in his hands, got teary-eyed, and said he feared me because he is a Christian too but not acting like it and he could no longer look into my eyes.  As I tried to explain love, grace, and holiness through a translator, my circumstances and timing were working against me.  I told him I promised to take care of his nephew, but he kept interrupting me to ask down to the minute when I would come to visit him again so next time he would be sober.

After a 3 hour dangerous trip back down the mountain – in the pitch black dark with dim car lights, we finally arrived at a hotel.  After a four-hour trip back this morning, I pulled up to see Eli standing up in the crib waving at me in the car – his demeanor is so different since two days ago.  I felt so much more concern and protection for him today.  I just wanted to provide stability for him so much!

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I got to play with him for about 3 hours this evening (finally).  It was great.  The pictures of him playing in his pajamas are in the afternoon.  Due to the large task at hand, the nanny puts the children in their pajamas after nap time and a bath at about 3-4.  They eat at 6 and are asleep before 7.  He also got to watch a video of Amanda singing to him on my computer.  He was mesmerized.

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One thing I notice about Eli is he is very scared of new environments.  Change freaks him out.  He has lived in 3 orphanages so I understand it, but we made progress this evening.  Going up to a car, walking up stairs, going down an unfamiliar hallway, it scares him really bad and he starts to whimper and hold onto me tight. I am so happy we will bring this child the stability he needs, but that plane ride is going to be a beast.

Tonight, one of the nannies asked me what I did, once they found out I was a minister, they began to yell, cry, and hug and kiss me.  They said that they pray these children get put in Christian homes and one of the nannies began to dance around the room with Eli saying, “Praise God, Eli, your father is a minister!  A minister!  Hallelujah!  He is full of the Holy Spirit.”  One nanny told me that is why his uncle could not look at me because the Holy Spirit was working through me.  Sweet, humbling time.

Sorry this is so long, but trust me – it is the condensed version!  If you don’t mind praying, here’s what I would ask you for:

  • Eli’s Uncle – pray that the his conviction lasts longer than his hangover and he changes his life
  • Bonding Time – continue to pray that we bond – I have almost nothing to do the next two days but play with him.  This afternoon, he seemed bothered and really tired (see next point), he would start to cry and at least he cried the same with me as he did the nanny. He didn’t find anymore comfort with her than me necessarily – so that is real good news!
  • Sickness – one of the boys in Eli’s room just came down with chicken pox last night.  He has been quarantined, but Eli had a cough tonight and seemed more irritable than usual.  Some of the other kids seemed to be acting funny too.
  • Plane Ride – sickness or not, this plane ride is going to be difficult.  A sick child would make it much worse, so please pray he will sleep for most of the trip and feel safe in my arms.

That’s all I have time for right now, sorry for the long post, but thanks again for the prayers.  I am so honored to have 2 precious boys and the best wife in the world!