Well here we go again! We are about to be “Cheaper by the Dozen”, although it is certainly not cheaper by the dozen. More fun, more messy, louder and happier but not cheaper!
We are in the process of adopting precious little Wen Hong from China. She is a 2 year old little girl from the Henan Province of China. This is the same province where her two big brothers are from.
We are naming her Sophie and she has a minor heart defect and a brain injury. We are praying that we can travel to go and get her in January and the latest February before the Chinese New Year.
For this trip I am going and taking Emily age 13 and Christian age 10 and Tim is staying home with the kiddos. The trip is only 2 weeks. We are getting excited about traveling.
Please pray that God would have favor on us and allow us to travel before the Chinese New Year. Also please pray that we are able to raise the needed $20,000 before we leave. We will keep this blog updated while we are traveling. Thank you for all of your encouragement, and prayers. May God alone be glorified!
KIARA This sweetie remains happy and content most of the time. She blends in so well into our family. We are so thankful for how well the bonding is going! We can’t wait for you all to meet her!
VISA Yippie Kiara has her passport and visa and is all approved to travel to the USA! We are all super excited!
MALL All of the younger kids were able to take pony and zebra rides at the mall! What an innovative idea!
KFC just came to Tirana recently! It is funny we have never eaten at KFC in the States but since it is familiar food we decided to try it. While it is not Chick Fil A it was a yummy dinner the other night!
BUS RIDES Lauren, Megan, Emily, Kiara and I all rode the bus to the mall for a girls afternoon of shopping. We had a lot of fun!
TURKEYS I saw a man herding his turkeys through the streets of Sauk. He was kind and let me take a photo of him with his turkeys. He had about 30 Thanksgiving dinners with him!
HALLOWEEN Because of Western influence some Albanians now celebrate Halloween, a day to celebrate death! How sad that our nation shared this tradition. May we share the love of Christ instead. Conner and I passed out gospel tracks at the mall and at the park today. Please pray for these seeds of truth to reap a harvest of righteousness!
SPECTACULAR VIEWS High hills equal beautiful views! Lauren and I took a prayer walk yesterday and we made it to the highest hill near us. We enjoyed God’s beautiful handiwork of the sculpted mountains! The view reminded me of Matthew 17:20 “He said to them, because of your little faith. For truly I say to you if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain move from here to there and it will move and nothing will be impossible.”
MIRACLES In over 22 years of adoption in Albania the adoption team here has never seen so many miracles for one family!
LAKE and LADIES We enjoyed a beautiful walk near a lake today with Bob and Cathy our Bethany hosts. We also enjoyed letting the kids play on a truly innovative playground! The USA should take notes…it was a very fun park! While at the park three park employees engaged in a conversation with Cathy and I had the opportunity to tell them why we adopt and to clearly share the gospel with them. Two curious medical students joined in the conversation and they have already become friends with Lauren on Facebook. Lauren hopes to have continued opportunity to share Jesus with them. We shared a track with all of them. Oh how we pray that our journey here with so many kiddos and our love for Jesus would reap a harvest of believers for the kingdom!
HIS LITTLE FEET The other day Wyatt asked me if he could take a photo of Kiara’s feet and text them to His Little Feet a beautiful choir of international orphans. We saw this concert perform this summer and Wyatt thought it would be really neat for them to know that our family adopted two more little feet!
SEA SHELLS We were blessed to visit the Adriatic Sea! While visiting we had time to dig in the sand and wade in the water. I even had a chance to take Kiara and Juliana on a short walk searching for seashells….she found the prettiest whitest shells ever! It was so nice to have some one on one time with just Juliana!
PRAYER REQUESTS Thank you for praying for us so far in this journey! Please pray for the following as the Lord brings us to mind.
Just two more nights and one more day and we will be on our way home!!! Yippie!!!
In the grip of His grace,
One week ago we arrived at the Bethany Christian Services compound in a town just outside of Tirana Albania, for the very last leg of our trip! It is a huge house with 20 beds, two levels and lots more room for the little kids to run around and play. Being here allows us to be closer to the places that my mom and Kiara need to go, like medical appointments. Also, being near Tirana allows us to be able to go on some field trips with two very nice missionary families. We all really needed a change of pace and moving here provided that. We only had 5-6 hours of notice to pack up in Elbassan. This also included washing and drying the linens of the apartment, washing the dishes, and cleaning. Also amid the chaos of all the packing and cleaning Conner was working on making a gospel tract in Albanian with the help of our Grandmother and a missionary friend here in Albania. We wanted to give them out to all the people we bought fruits, vegetables, and food from for weeks and all the people we walked past on our way to and from Kiara’s orphanage.
There wasn’t enough room in one van for all of us to go together, so Megan, Juliana and I went on the first trip with a lot of the luggage. The rest of the family stayed back to finish up with the apartment and take a walk to give out the gospel tracts. Please pray for the people who received the good news, that seeds would have been planted!
This morning a big frozen bottle fell on my mom’s toe and caused her a lot of pain. But she still went on her daily morning walk for exercise! It was a bit bruised and swollen when I looked at it. Please pray that it wouldn't cause her any more pain. She is doing fine now!
This afternoon we had a bit of trouble with the police. Conner was innocently flying his drone outside the house we are staying in. But little did he know, the palace of the president of Albania is practically in our back yard, and he was flying his drone by it! 13 police and security came and surrounded him. They came from every direction, even climbing over the fence. Thankfully one of the missionaries here and a man who works with Bethany came to explain and translate. Conner had to go for questioning and they took his drone too. My mom couldn’t go but the man who works with Bethany went with him. The police are keeping his drone for a couple of days. (Since the writing of this they have had the drone for 1 week and they are continuing to investigate, we had to give power of attorney to someone to handle this once we leave) Please pray that they are gracious and give it back within the next 40 hours! We are trusting that this happened for a reason, that God will get the glory, and that many will come to Christ through this!
We enjoyed two sightseeing trips (see our next blog post) with two very sweet adoptive missionary family here in Tirana. We are very excited to be coming home soon! Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and support, it has made the time go by sweeter and quicker!
Why do we sit on our phones, drink coffee , buy toys, and receive presents only to complain that we need more to be happy. I think most of us are selfish, including me and my family. We have so much, too much! We don’t take the time to think of the poor and helpless. At least before this trip I know I didn’t! May God move all of our hearts to compassion.
Day after day and night after night babies cry longing for human interaction, asking for love and attention. Three newborn babies are locked away behind doors, crying! Nobody holds them. Their bottles are propped and they only get held when they are changed. The one to two year olds are left in a big empty room with only a few blocks and old stuffed animals. They have nobody to play with them or to stop fights or to love them. The 3 to 6 year olds go to school in the mornings and get to play on the slides and swings in the afternoon but what they really want is to be held, to sing and to play. Some speak a little English and we have taught them songs like this little light of mine, wheels on the bus and head ,shoulders, knees and toes. The hard thing is that some of the children have parents who visit them on the weekends and when their parents leave they cry.
A little blind girl rolls on the floor looking for the sunlight. She loves to be held and she smiles when we talk and sing to her. It makes me so heartbroken! Today Conner and I went to the orphanage to play with the kids. Oh what they all need are moms and dads. I believe that we as the church have failed. Many of us, our family included care more about ourselves and our families rather than caring about the poor, needy, and helpless.
God commands us in James 1:27 to visit the widow and orphans in their affliction. How many of us do that? I know until this trip I didn’t. Adoption is one way to do this. We listened to a sermon by Francis Chan and he said, “Unless God specifically tells you not to adopt a child you should adopt.” I think that that is a great idea. Please consider adopting a baby or child today. There are orphans waiting all over the world for a home like your home. I am glad that my parents chose to adopt Kiara and in the process they have instilled the idea of adoption in my heart.
Well we said our final goodbyes to most of the children and to the orphanage staff and to the Sisters. It was quite a party! To start Kiara had been running another fever. I choose not to give her any medication because by the 4:00 party start time her temperature was around 99 degrees. Needless to say she was not in the best of party spirits. She was feeling lousy. We played with the older kiddos up on the rooftop terrace at the orphanage and then the kids came to the courtyard for a demonstration of Conner’s drone. They loved it! I think that the Sisters and orphanage workers were almost more excited then the children to watch it fly and to see the video that it was making! After watching the drone we went upstairs to celebrate. They hung balloons, and we brought cake and ice cream, juice, carrots and dip and oranges. We purchased party hats, horns and balloons for each of the children. The kids thought it was so fun, all the kids but Kiara. Wyatt kept blowing his horn at her and she kept crying! She was totally afraid! By this point the Sisters noticed that she was not feeling the best and they took her temperature and gave her some medication. Everyone was singing to her, hugging her, holding her and trying to feed her. She was completely overwhelmed! She fell asleep on the walk back at 6:30! All of the children, Sisters, and workers prayed for her and sang to her. It was a sweet time. They gave us a little photo album and a few parting gifts. It was difficult for the one worker (who came in on her day off) to say goodbye! We found out that this worker was her God Mother and she felt especially close to Kiara. It was bittersweet to say goodbye. On the one hand it means we are getting closer to being home and on the other hand it meant saying farewell to all those sweet sweet children!
Today Kiara woke up fever free! Praise God. I took her into town today to get the official notary papers that transferred her care from the orphanage to me. By law I had to have a translator. The sweet man from our first 3 court appointments who was our translator again. We were so moved that he would not take any payment for his time. Today I insisted on paying him and he only charged me 1000 lek. That is only $8.33 for at least an hour of his time! What a sweet man. We then went to the police station to pre apply for the passport. Usually this is done in two days. Day one pre application and Day two actually apply for the passport. May God be glorified. As I was standing at the police station I prayed that God would allow us to do both things today and guess what we got special permission to do just this! Our Albanian guide said that never has this happened before and she has been working on adoptions for over 20 years. We are thankful to God! They said that the passport will be done on Thursday but I can stop back on Wednesday and check on it! Please join me/ us in praying that we are able to get the passport on Wednesday. Thank you all for praying for our family!
Yesterday while I was doing my 2 mile morning loop one of the men who runs a coffee bar stopped me by saying good morning and wanting to know my name. Oh how I wish I could talk with him. Conner is working on translating a gospel tract into Albanian. We will give them out to all of the shop keepers and others that we say hello to on our walk back and forth to the orphanage. Please pray that more seeds would be planted and that all of those we have met will respond to the gospel!
We have enjoyed sweet time the past few days with our missionary friends Fiona, Joel, Joshua and Timmy. Today we enjoyed gelato, the park, and some little kiddie rides. Hands down the bumper cars were the favorite. Oh you should have seen Wyatt’s face! It was priceless!
Please keep praying! We love you all!
Did we tell you that we live in a third floor apartment? We get tons of exercise everyday just by coming and going! Our landlord owns a fish shop in town and the first floor of our apartment building is used as storage for his shop. Our little complex does smell a bit fishy at certain times of day!
Living in a fourth world country we experience times of no water and no electricity. We almost always lose water for 12 or more hours over the weekend. The longest that we have been without power was just for a few hours.
The one thing that I have been surprised by is the luxury of getting a hot shower every morning. What a blessing! This is something I don’t take for granted. However adjusting to taking showers with no shower curtain has been a bit interesting.
Stray cats and kittens join us for every meal that we enjoy at both outdoor and indoor cafes! They wait around looking for scraps. It reminds all of us of the picture book Papa Piccolo !
Lauren found avocados at the market yesterday and she made us delicious guacamole. What a treat!
Last night the young newlywed couple had all 10 of us over for dinner. Their apartment is small (and they share it with the husband’s parents) but their hearts are big and generous. They made us a delicious meal of tomato and onion byreck, rice stuffed peppers, and tomato curried chicken. A delicious meal with sweet believers. We are so thankful for them and pray that somehow our time with them last night allowed his mother to see Jesus! We are praying that his parents would come to faith in Christ. We told them that a lot of people in the states are afraid to have us all over because their are so many of us! We told them they were very brave. We will certainly miss them when we leave!
Hudson is forever trying to do everything by himself. His favorite line is “I do it.” Well today while I was reading a historical fiction book aloud to the older children, Hudson found Juliana’s school scissors. He hid and when we found him he had cut a huge chunk of hair off of the top of his head. I about cried. His hair is (was) so thick and adorable and he cut it down to the scalp. I know that someday I will laugh at this but for now all I can see is Christmas card photos with a little boy who looks like a war refuge. The dear missionary who lives nearby came to the rescue, she brought over her hair clippers and allowed me to cut all of his hair to try to even things out a bit. He may look a bit worse now that I am done!!! We are thankful that Megan and Lauren found him a cute baseball hat to wear!
Conner took some drone video on our way to the orphanage today and he was the talk of the town!
Kiara ran a fever yesterday but felt better today! Please pray for tomorrow (Friday) that all of the paperwork will be done to make her an official Haines who can stay with us permanently. We will post lots of pictures once it is official!!!
We welcome your emails! We are homesick for home and we would love to hear from all of you! Thanks for for following our blog!
Human touch, eye contact, a soothing voice. This is what we all crave. The least of these especially the babies and those with profound special needs crave these basic human needs. These three things are denied to these precious souls to these dear ones made in the image of God. They stay for hours in their cribs or on the floor. They are only picked up to be changed and when it is time to eat all bottles are propped and the babies feed themselves. Little “J” struggles to give eye contact. Little “A” with Down syndrome never cries, apparently he has already learned that crying does not do much good. Rarely if ever does crying bring any relief. Little “B” just arrived a week ago. Her parents dropped her off. They are poor gypsies who can’t afford to feed her or to buy her medication for her pneumonia. Apparently they daily beg for food in the streets. Now she is fed daily but is in her crib for hour after hour alone behind a closed door. She needs her mothers arms. Her mother just needs food to feed her. A mixed up system of help and hurt. The special needs daughters of the King of Kings include little “D” who is blind and little “N” who has epilepsy. They are both left alone with utterly no interaction except when they need to be changed or when it is time to be fed. They need to be held, to be rocked to be prayed over and to know they are loved. They need me, they need you, they all need the church to be His hands.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me”. If He were here he would hold them all, touch them all and love them all. But then I remember that He is here because His Spirit lives in me and I can be Him to the least of these today. May my children and I be Him to them or may we minister to Jesus by ministering to the helpless and defenseless ones.
Please visit a lonely widow, become a foster parent, go to Planned Parenthood to share the truth, share the gospel with someone you meet today, go on a short term mission trip to visit widows and orphans, visit those in prison, feed the homeless at a homeless shelter or take someone homeless into your home. May I, may you, may we the church all live lives that demand an explanation. We only have one life to live, so may we all live our lives fully to the LORD!
I looked into the face of hunger today and I saw Jesus! Matthew 25:40 “And the king will answer them truly, I will say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
This morning I walked to the orphanage alone, something that I have done less than several times. I was finishing up listening to a sermon by Francis Chan (if you have not listened to him please do so because he preaches truth in such a powerful way). When I arrived a gypsy mom was at the gate with her baby and through gestures she explained that the baby was sick and hungry. When the Sisters arrived at the gate they explained to her that it wasn’t food distribution day. As if her hunger and the hunger of her child could be relegated to a specific day and time. This mother was persistent and rang the bell again. Finally as I was leaving she was being sent away again. I prayed as Kiara and I were walking down the street that if the Lord wanted me to feed her that she would follow me so that I could buy her something to eat. God directed her steps to follow me and he directed me to get her two apples and two homemade rolls which cost me less than one dollar.
As I placed the bag into her outstretched hand she thanked me by blowing me a kiss. I fed Jesus today because His Spirit living in me directed me to. I obeyed today, but how often do I fail to obey to spiritually feed a hungry soul. Jesus said that “But he answered, “it is written, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 Oh how I wish I had the language to tell this mom about my Savior, the one who is the bread of life! Oh, may she have seen you in me today! May I be quicker to fill the needy souls of those who may not be physically hungry but who are spiritually hungry. Please open my eyes to those who need you. May your spirit cause me to obey and may I see those around me as if they were you, because you said that they are! Amen!
Kiara is absolutely darling! The girls are enjoying dressing her up in the clothing we brought. She looks so incredibly adorable that it is difficult to not post any pictures of her. We have given her 2 baths this week and she absolutely loves to splash in the tub. She gets so mad at me when I take her out. She will love the pool next summer. We took her out for lunch this week and out for a snack today. Feeding her is a challenge. She is used to eating totally pureed foods. We have tried some healthier pureed foods but she is not crazy about what we are offering. Please pray that we can figure out how to feed her and that she learns to eat food with texture. We still have about one more week of having her from 9 to 6. Hopefully by next Friday she will be legally ours and not need to go back to the orphanage at night. It is so different from all of our other adoptions. It is so hard having her go back each day. It feels like she should remain with us, perhaps because she should!
During all of the recent rain it was so interesting to watch the snails come out and go down the street and climb the walls. They are such interesting creatures. God is so incredibly amazing!
We have gotten to know a lovely newly wed Christian couple who were brought up Muslim and who now love Jesus as their Savior. They are incredibly sweet and they took us to church with them twice. They speak great English. They own a byrek shop that we frequently stop at on the way to the orphanage. Byrek is a thin dough that has been dipped into a lot of oil. It is then filled with cheese or tomato and onion and then baked in the oven. Conner and sometimes Emily will purchase one or more for breakfast for only 30 lek each. This is only $.25 in US money. They sell about 170 to 180 a day. They are such hard workers up early to make the byrek. Lauren even got to go over yesterday to watch them make them. A truly hands on education.
The unemployment rate is high and many of the men sit at the coffee bars drinking coffee, smoking and playing dominoes. They keep score and the games appear to be competitive. It is sad to see so many able bodied men just sitting for hour after hour at the same spot day in and day out. Such a different culture.
Each morning when I walk I see the man who bring milk from his farm in big plastic containers. The people from the town walk to his car and pick up their morning milk. They bring empty soda bottles, water bottles or any other recycled bottles that they can find. It is so interesting to watch them put the milk into the bottles with a funnel.
Each morning when I walk I also see the school children heading off to school. The children are always accompanied by either a parent or a grandparent. Their parent or grandparent always carry the children’s backpacks. This is a cultural unspoken rule and it is just what they do.
Due to al the walking I have reached the weight that I was before we were married. This is the first time I have ever done this in 26 years. It feels good to be lighter. :) Although if I keep eating gelato I will gain the weight back! Tim lost over 50 pounds. I am so proud of him!
Last Saturday Lauren, Conner, Megan and Emily were able to go to Macedonia to walk where Paul walked and to shop! They had a wonderful time visiting another country. We are all looking forward to taking some day trip field trips once Kiara is ours with the court decree and new birth certificate.
Termites! We have termites in our apartment. We have not met them yet. Thankfully! But we hear them eating up a storm! They are so noisy at night. Glad they seem to only be living in the kitchen table and that we have not met them. Please pray it stays that way!
Fresh meat is available in little corner stores all over town. In fact Tim and I saw a live tied up goat being dragged through the town to be served as someones dinner. It is not uncommon to see whole skinned animals hanging up for sale. The girls and I really are having a difficult time eating meat. In fact we all think we could become vegetarians after this trip. Auntie Kim and Kaya would be proud!
We all love Italian gelato! We have been enjoying eating it every few days. We are the only crazy people to buy it from the local gelato store….it is fall here (although they act like it is winter) and no one wants frozen gelato except us! The main worker at the shop practically knows us by name. In fact we passed him in the alley today and Wyatt said, “Hey that is the ice cream guy!”
Wyatt and Hudson are a huge hit here. Total strangers think nothing of staring at them, pointing at them or coming up and pinching their cheeks. They love that they are Asian. They are a real novelty here. The boys have been tolerating the attention pretty well.
Keys, keys, keys. There seem to be keys everywhere. Keys to get in and out of our gate. Keys to lock the front door and keys to lock the bathroom doors.
Devotions from afar. I am thankful that Tim is choosing to lead us spiritually despite the distance. We have been able to study the scriptures together Tim and Kayla at 7 am and us here at 1 pm. I am grateful to have a husband who not only chooses to lead us spiritually but he also chooses to apply the word by being obedient and adopting yet one more child. We only have one life to live and we are choosing to live a radically set apart life. A life that demands an explanation. To God alone be the glory.
Greetings from Elbasan Albania. We have been here for 3 full weeks already and most likely have about 3 or more to go! Kiara now gets to come to the apartment every day from 9am to 6pm. It is bittersweet having her with us all the time. It is sweet because she belongs with us but the bitter part is that every day we have to take her back to the orphanage at bedtime and usually she cries when I put her to bed. I can’t stay because that would mess up the routine. She is so adorable and easy going. She loves to explore the apartment and play with all her siblings. She is dearly loved by us all. We will Lord willing get to keep her with us all of the time in about 10 more days. We can’t wait! She is so beautiful and charming and we absolutely can’t wait to share some photos of her.
Apparently Tim took the sun with him when he left for PA early Sunday morning. It has been raining since he left and has turned a bit colder….Lauren even broke out the space heaters to get warm and I am wearing my tall boots. Glad that we have only a 10 minute walk to the orphanage!
Because we don’t have a dryer and we need to hang all of our laundry the rain has put a damper on getting anything dry. We are trying to dry things inside on drying racks but that is proving to be unsuccessful. We realize just how blessed we are at home to have a dryer. We realize that there are so many things that we take for granted. We are thankful for the opportunity to see how people on the other side of the world live.
The one thing we quickly noticed is that people throw their trash on the ground all the time! The streets and alleys are covered in litter. For such a beautiful country it is covered in trash…so so sad! Also there are Roma gypsies in the town who daily stop at all the dumpsters on the side of the roads. They pick through the garbage which includes wastepaper from the bathroom since toilet paper can't be flushed. They pick through it with bare hands in search of plastic bottles and plastic bags that they can use to sell to earn a few cents to buy some food. They are very poor people. Conner had the opportunity on Sunday evening to share our adoption journey as well as the gospel at a church for the Roma people. Praying for seeds to have been planted.
There are stray dogs absolutely everywhere. They are so pathetic. Covered in fleas, lacking fur, walking around looking for a drink from a dirty puddle and some leftover trash to eat. The other night one was hit by a car. He seemed to survive. Not sure how they stay alive. They are not aggressive, and they don’t bark. I told the kids only the fed dogs bark…those are the watch dogs. The strays don’t have nearly enough energy to bark. Last night Christian noticed a kind old man with 3 strays around him. He was giving them some bread and they were all wagging their tails so excited by his kindness toward them. I even shared the end of my dish of gelato with one of the dogs!
Believe it or not we are kitten sitting! A sweet missionary family who minister to the Roma gypsies has headed off to a mission conference and we are kitten sitting their tiny orange kitten, Ginger. He is adorable and Juliana is thrilled to have a pet for a few days!
Now that Kiara comes to the apartment for the day we so miss spending time with the rest of the orphans. We have decided to have the 4 older kids go over in groups of two for 2 and 1/2 hours every afternoon to spend time loving on these precious children. Over the past 3 weeks we have taught them Wheels On the Bus, This Little Light of Mine, and Head Shoulders, Knees and Toes. They are quick little learners and have caught on quickly to learning English. They are always anxious to share what they have learned with us.
We are continuing to homeschool our kiddos while we are here in Albania. Part of our homeschool day includes shopping at the fruit and veggie market, hand washing dishes (we miss our two dishwashers) and visiting orphans. We are thankful for the opportunity to get to know Kiara’s culture and all of the kids are keeping journals of the trip!
We thank you all for your prayers for Kiara, and for our family. Please keep praying that God (Zot in Albanian) would strengthen us during these final 3 or more weeks. Thank you!
Mother of 13 and writes this blog.