Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Beautiful Mystery

Lily's adoption was finalized today.  Today!  June 27th, 2012. 

I wasn't there, actually.  I had showed up for the last 4 court appointments, the last one being yesterday, and the judge didn't show up.  The clerk said to come back today.

But today I didn't have anyone to watch my kids, and I was feeling like they needed me and I had been leaving them too often.  And since I don't really need to be there for the ruling, and since I had already gone 4 times with nothing happening, I decided not to go. 

And of course, as Murphy's Law would have it, today was The Day.  So I am bummed that I missed hearing the ruling myself, but not bummed that I would have had to sit for 4 hours in the court house waiting with my kids in order to hear it. 

Our lawyer Brooke told me that hearing a judge grant an adoption order is like being in the delivery room when the head pops out.  So yesterday, when we were discussing whether or not I would come to court today, she told me, "Well, just look at it this way.  For your first two, you had natural births.  This time, if you miss it, it's because you had a c-section and they had to knock you out."

So since I wasn't actually present during the ruling today, she texted me, "At 12:40 pm today you had a c-section under general anesthesia.  Lily Zawadi Medina is now legally all yours.  You might be sore for a couple of days." 

Brooke's pretty awesome like that.

She said that the judge was pretty dramatic when he made the ruling, and he made sure to tell Brooke that this adoption must be full of "love and tenderness....not just love."  And then proceeded to tell everyone present the difference between love and tenderness.

Well, Mr. Judge, we will do our best to give Lily both love and tenderness. 

I am struck by the contrast of how profound the event was that took place today, and yet how oblivious Lily is by it all.  She really hasn't a clue.  Grace gets it; she shouted with joy, "The judge said YES!  Lily is my sister forever!"  But Lily?  Just gave me a long stare and went back to the Legos.

Grafted in.  My history is her history.  My name is her name.  Bound not just by love, but by law.  Her past, present, and future all re-written.  Inextricably linked.  Her identity determined without her permission, without even her knowledge.  And it all came about by the declaration of one man.  What a beautiful mystery.




Makes me wonder about the Divine Transactions that have taken place without my full understanding, while I am just interested in the Legos. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Class of 2012

The Family Graduation Dinner.....








...and the Ceremony on Thursday.

I've been on the graduation committee for....forever (long story how that started), so I wasn't too pleased with the interesting decorations this year (a job we hire out) and the fact I ordered the wrong color tassels from Jostens.  But since Jostens is a continent away, what could I do?  Eh. 

(Note to self for next year:  Tell decorator we want flowers, not birds' nests.)



This amazing husband of mine was chosen by the students, for the second year in a row, to be the commencement speaker.  And he was awesome.  Really and truly.  I've got to get that speech from him and post it.  



Jessi and her (Swiss-German) family.  Jessi won the Christian character award, and this is the kind of family that keeps churning out remarkable children.  All three older kids were on Student Council this year. 


And this one's off to Harvard. 


 German--Finnish/Zimbabwean--American--Greek/Dutch
Our four "Lifers" this year:  All 13 years at HOPAC!

Our Executive Student Council this year


HOPAC Class of 2012:  Off to change the world!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mom's Favorite Words: Go Play Outside!




4 1/2 years old, only 30 pounds.  All muscle.  Energy coming out of every pore.  Got to get that kid some gymnastics lessons.   


There are a few advantages to having lots of blown out tires.  

Daisy says, I'm getting too old for this.... 



He's not saluting Hitler or Black Power.  It's all about Superman these days.   


 See?  Superman.



Friday, June 22, 2012

Joy and Grace

A couple of weeks ago, we had the privilege of attending the wedding of a friend from HOPAC, our drama and music teacher, who happens to be named Grace.  Gil was invited to be the lead photographer--his first time shooting a wedding.  He had a blast, and so did all of us HOPAC friends who got to attend.  It was a very, very joyful day. 

And didn't he do a great job?  (Some of these pictures were taken by Jessi, one of his photography students, who was his assistant that day.)







This wedding (as most Tanzanian weddings) was seriously one big dance party.  The bride and groom danced their way from the chapel to the reception, the guests danced at any opportunity they got, and my favorite?  When everyone formed a line and danced their way up to the bride and groom, holding their gifts over their heads as they presented them one by one.
Makes an American gift table seem downright boring. 







My Grace loved it....she always takes any opportunity to dance! 

HOPAC friends (that is not Josiah, in case you were wondering...he and Lily stayed home)


My wonderful Gil with very tired eyes....after shooting pictures for 8 hours straight!




Sunday, June 17, 2012

Middles

We see but middles.

So wrote Andree Seu, one of my favorite-ever columnists. 

Things that seem good can end up bad. 

Things that seem bad can end up good. 

We see only the middle. 

Things appear opposite of their true condition for a while, she writes. 

There are people who think things are going badly for them, when actually things are going quite well, but they do not perceive it yet.

Think of the life of Joseph.

The favorite of his father:  That's good!

Jealous brothers sell him as a slave:  That's bad.

Top of the heap at Potiphar's house:  That's good!

Sent to prison for something he didn't do:  That's bad.

And so on.  So is the story good or bad? 

What was evil, God used for good. 

Romans 8:28.  It's all good for those who love God.  But now, we see only middles.

I've been thinking about that a lot with Lily's story.  The timing of when we brought her home, last summer, is still affecting us now.  We went through delay after delay after delay.  Unnecessary, ridiculous delays.  And I knew then that those delays would affect us now.  As they indeed are.

We want to go home this summer.  It's been over two years since we've been home.  The only family members who have met Lily are my parents.  We want to go home! 

But the delay in bringing her home meant a delay in getting her adoption finalized.  No finalization means no passport.  No passport means no bringing her out of the country.

And now, I am seeing only middles. 

All those delays last summer:  That's bad.

But in April we got assigned a great judge with a reputation for being pro-adoption, and getting court hearings done quickly:  That's good! 

We got our first hearing the very next week:  That's good!

Even though the social worker, Gil [who was in Kenya], and the paperwork were not at that hearing, the judge still started the adoption process:  That's good! 

The next hearing was set for June 6th.  The judge, the social worker, the paperwork all showed up:  That's amazing

At this point, I started thinking, Yes!  God's going to do it!  He's going to fix all those problems from the delays last summer and get us through a lightning fast court process! 

At the June 6th hearing, the judge heard our case, but put off the ruling for another week:  That's.....disappointing, but not too bad.

So we went back June 13th--last Wednesday.  And he said that the ruling still has not been made, so come back this Tuesday:  That's getting kind of bad.  We are running out of time. 


From a few months ago, we thought our chances would be slim to take Lily home this summer, so we made plans to take two separate trips:  Gil and Josiah would go for two weeks in July, and Grace and I would go for two weeks in August.  We bought plane tickets....hoping that we might have to change them.  And then when we got this great judge, and he brought us in so quickly, I really got my hopes up.  Yes!  It's going to work out.

So I wonder:  What, exactly, is going on here, God?  Are you making this happen, or aren't you? 

But I have learned:  He is making something happen.  It has purpose; it has meaning, and there is rhyme and reason to it.  I just can't see it, and I might not ever see anything but the middle for a long time. 

And that's okay.  Because even the good stuff won't necessarily last, and I know the bad stuff won't. So circumstances don't really matter, do they?  What matters is God, and His promises, and that one day, when we see the End, it will definitely, utterly, be All Good.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Kindergarten Grace

So this is really a grandparent post.  For those of you who are not Grace's grandparents, forgive me.  But since I also make this blog into a memory book each year, I want this stuff recorded. 
So if you really are not interested in the details of Grace's kindergarten year, then please go back to your previous activities.  :-)

One more week of school left....and my sweetie will be a first grader.  She has had such a great year! 

 
Grace had the teacher on the far right until Christmas, and then HOPAC's regular kindergarten teacher (who had been on maternity leave) took over for the rest of the year.  Both were fantastic, dedicated, talented teachers.

Outside the kindergarten classroom

 
One of the things I love about HOPAC's elementary school is that each class puts on three assemblies each year....full of singing and dancing and presenting.  I remember when I was teaching at HOPAC, I thought, You've got to be kidding...you want me to do what each term?  But I got the hang of it and loved doing asemblies with my class.  So it was so much fun to see Grace do assemblies this year.  One of the major advantages is that the kids get so used to performing that they have no stage fright by the time they get to the upper grades.

 

Grace was a break-dancer in this assembly....oh yes, she was! 



Assembly #2 



Grace and three of her best friends, wearing their "outside" hats.  All elementary students are required to wear hats outdoors.  I think this idea came from Australia.  Who knows?  We are an international school! 

The day our puppies visited kindergarten......

The day the fire truck visited kindergarten.....



 Grace with her kindergarten teacher for the second half of the year, on Sports Day.  This teacher is British, which means Grace comes home with all kinds of expressions like, How sensible!  and Well done!  and I put a full stop on the end of my sentence! 
I love it (full stop).   


 When I was little, Sports Day was my worst day of the year.  I would cry every time.  I would be last in everything. 
Not this sweetie.  She was running against the first graders, and was the only kindergarten girl to place in any of their races. 




 
Second Place in the 400 meter!


She's reading and writing like crazy.  This story made me particularly happy because she did it at home, in her notebook, totally on her own.  I discovered it one day and am not even exactly sure when she did it.

Here is the translation, with fixed spelling, but everything else hers:

The Turtle and the Monkey
Once upon a time there was a mean monkey.  The monkey lived in the tree.  And a little turtle that lived in the water.  The monkey be so mean to the little turtle.  The turtle had an idea  he wanted challenge the monkey to a race.  They raced.  The monkey was going so fast one of the branches broke and the monkey fell in the water with an AAH and with a splash.  Turtle was still swimming until he saw the poor monkey.  He felt sorry for the [monkey].   The monkey was sad.  The monkey said he was sorry that he had be mean to the turtle.  He promised to never to be mean again. 
 The End. 
aaaand....the illustration. 



But this is what made my whole year.
Yesterday was the Kindergarten Awards Ceremony, when each child in the class was presented with an award.  Grace received hers for "kindness and thoughtfulness towards others."
Not much else I would rather her to receive an award for! 

Onwards to First Grade!