We are the Snyder family and ... we are different

This is the story of our journey to our daughter in Ethiopia. God is preparing our family for her and preparing her heart to come home to her family. We chose the difficult road of trusting and obeying God. It is worth every step!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

the countdown is on

The countdown to our court date and when we travel has been going on for quite some time now but I just haven't felt composed to blog about it yet.  I figure since it is early Wednesday morning and we leave Thursday night for Chicago I should probably write about it soon :)  For the past couple of weeks we have been collecting donations and slowly getting things ready for travel.  It feels like you have so much time and at the same time it feels like you have so little time to prepare.  Almost all of hte donations are packed now and Dustin and I have packed all of our clothes and personal items into our carry ons.  I wasn't sure how much room we were going to have but now that we have most of it packed I think we will be able to take a few more donations.  We have been blessed by so many people that we actually don't have enough room to take everything this trip but can take the rest of us when we go next time for our embassy hearing.  We have also been blessed with money to buy formula for the transition home and the orphanages when we get there.  Our friend Tara from Galesburg is over there right now and she has also been giving us ideas of what they need there and gifts for some of the people we will meet.  It has been so awesome to have the inside scoop.  It always seems like you are never well enough prepared so having her helpful hints makes it that much easier.  It's also nice for her because there are a couple of things that she needs that we can bring with us when we go.  Their court appointment is tomorrow so we are praying that they pass when they get there and can take their precious baby boy out of the transition home and into their arms forever.  We pray that we all pass the first time around and that the embassy will have favor on us so we can ALL get our children home.

In the whole frenzy of packing I have noticed that the closer we get to our travel date the grumpier I have gotten.  I'm not exactly sure why or where it is coming from but I have been more quiet and just down right crabby.  Church on Sunday was especially bad for me and I sort of feel bad about it.  I had spent the previous two days at a scrapbook retreat (which was wonderful and I got so much done) but had a migraine when I woke up on Sunday.  That never helps my mood.  In fact, Dominic said "mommy is always crabby when she has a headache".  True.  Anyway, I was very short with people and if I had to tell one more person that we don't get to bring her home this time and we don't know for sure when we do I was probably going to literally rip someone's head off.  Of course it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me.  People are very well meaning and they don't know everything about the process but I cannot tell you the number of times people have said, "oh is it going to be hard to leave her?"  YES!  It is going to be very hard.  Every time someone says that to me I have to hold back the tears so I don't start bawling on the spot.  Once in a while when I'm by myself (for some reason lots of times when I'm driving) I start to think about it and just cry.  If you are one of these people please don't feel bad, again it's not you it's me.  Being the choleric temperment that I am, every emotion in me comes out as anger.  Not something that I like to admit but something that is definitely true.  For the next two days until we leave I'm trying to do my best to keep it together.  Some of the other mothers that are travelling with us have posted on our facebook page that they have had meltdowns already so I'm sure mine will come...very soon.  Please pray for me, you may also need to pray for Dustin and ALL the people I come in contact with for the next couple of days :)

Well I think we have almost everything we need.  I printed out our flight itinerary, our travel package information, a couple donation letters from our agency, and a medical release form in case our children at home should need some medical attention.  Our passports are ready to go and on my list to do today is to make out a schedule for our parents so they know where the kids go and at what times.  Also on my list today is to buy our daughter a camera because apparently she LOVES them.  She is already a little ham, which is perfect since she will probably have enough pictures taken of her in the next couple of months to wallpaper our house :)  Tara also mentioned that if we wanted to buy coffee grinders for a couple of the people who work at the transition home they would probably appreciate it because they grind all of their coffee beans by hand.  I still need to borrow a friend's luggage scale and I'm borrowing some magazines from another friend for the lengthy plane rides.  I don't know where I would be if I didn't have our church family and my friends, they have been essential in this whole process.  So as prepared as we are yesterday morning a thought jumped into my head, "have we paid AWAA for our travel package yet?"  Then answer was no.  Duh!  Needless to say we got that taken care of tonight. 

I'm sure there are many many more things I could write about but it's very early in the morning and I need to see if I can get a little sleep tonight.  We will post pictures of our luggage before we leave because it is quite a bit.  Hopefully the internet will be working well once we're there and we will be able to update.  I am excited, nervous, literally nautious and anxious about the trip.  It will be the trip of a lifetime.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Random Ramblings :)

This is going to be an extremely random post with many facets to it because it seems like there has been a lot going on lately.  Anyway, let's go backwards in chronological order starting with another fundraiser today.  My best friend's mom goes to the same church that we do and thought that after the egg roll fundraiser she could help with a salsa fundraiser.  She makes excellent salsa and it's quite economical and easy to make.  During the Sunday school hour, before and after service we sold the salsa for $5 and $10.  When she approached me about this I thought it was so wonderful for her to help but also thought that we could use the money for something else besides our adoption travel expenses.  It's still very hard for me to accept that and I feel like we're always in front of the church asking for money.  Now granted when we are raising money it is almost never for us, but I don't want our congregation to moan everytime they see us.  Back to the salsa, we decided to use the money to buy donations for the orphanages.  We haven't decided if we are going to buy things here or take it with us and buy formula once we get there, but it will certainly be put to good use.  We were thinking that it would make about $100 (it wasn't going to be as big as the egg rolls) and ended up with $180!  God is so good and kind to us and His love is abundant!  Praise be to Him!

This weekend was the Hearts at Home convention in Normal, Illinois.  It's a Christian moms conference that houses about 4500 moms over a 2 day period of time.  Last year was the first time I've gone and I just loved it!  The conference has amazing speakers, workshops and worship.  If you add in a group of girlfriends and good food it's a perfect weekend.  There were several ladies from our church that went for the first time this year and lots from our area that went.  Our group was 4 of us because we went for 2 days and 2 nights where most just went for one.  This weekend happens to fall on my birthday every year as well which is sort of bittersweet for me.  I love having this girlfriend/mom weekend but also miss being with my family for my birthday.  During the conference I heard so many wonderful ideas and practical solutions to parenting and marital problems.  There seemed to be one overlying theme for the workshops that I went to though...relax!  I am definitely a type A extrovert personality but not a perfectionist, with that said I still have a tendency to struggle with putting too much on my plate and then getting stressed out about it.  When I get stressed out I yell and get angry so much more than any other time.  My poor family :(  This weekend reminded me that "just because you are able does not mean that you should".  It also reminded me that not everything has to be "perfect".  I know what you're thinking, "didn't she just say she;s not a perfectionist?"  I am not a perfectionist but I am very competitive with myself and others so have a tendency to be an over achiever or at least want to be an over achiever.  Jill Savage also reminded me that saying no to things is okay, just say "I don't think I can give that my best right now".  I love that!  If you hear me say that to you it's not because I don't want to help but because I really do want to be able to give my best to whatever project I'm on and to my family.  Too often my family gets "left" with whatever I have left after I have given to everyone else and all my other commitments, they deserve so much more than that.  With this adoption I have already warned people that I am cleaning my plate next year and that I will not be volunteering in nearly as many capacities as I have in the past.  Thank you to Hearts at Home for making me feel better about this and giving me tools to implement it.  Now at H@H I took my camera for some girls' weekend pics and of course took none, oh well.  The girls and I had lots of fun and probably laughed more than we have in a long long time.  We also talked about some really deep theological issues and got real with each other.  Overall it really was a great weekend.

The morning we left for H@H Dustin and I had to go to Iowa City for our travel vaccines.  We had already gotten our Hepatitis A and B shots plus the menningitis shot in town but there were a couple that we had to go to the travel clinic for.  Dustin and I drove up separately because I had about 7 errands to run on the way there and he had to drive over to the qca afterwards.  We initially thought we were getting just the yellow fever shot and walked out getting 4 and 5 shots.  Dustin got one extra shot because he decided to go ahead and get the flu shot where I decided to walk on the wild side and opt out ;)  The doctor talked to us for a lengthy time about all the different things we needed so we got yellow fever, typhoid, polio and tetanus.  Let me just say that a couple of those really HURT.  In fact, my arms still hurt some today and that was 4 days ago.  Plus Friday and/or Saturday we were both having back pain, a little achiness and some joint discomfort.  Good thing once we get these done we'll be good for quite a while.  If you're doing the math I ended up with 7 shots and Dustin got 8, ouch!

The last week or two my poor husband has been very irritated with my sleeping habits.  I have been waking up between 3:00-4:30 EVERY morning, without being able to go back to sleep.  Today on the yahoo group a couple of other people listed the exact same thing, then more people added to that and one family's Ethiopian son was also doing it.  We have all been called to intercessory prayer for what's going on in Ethiopia with adoptions lately.  The agency in Ethiopia that is in charge of writing all the letters for adoptions is doing some cut backs on processing them and other agencies are doing investigations into unethical adoption practices.  This can be very scary news in the adoption world because it may mean that wait times increase and that the country's program could even shut down.  You just never know the world of international adoption.  Many many people have been praying about this situation and apparently many of us have been praying at the same time early in the morning.  I told Dustin that he was going to have to take it up with God about this whole sleeping thing, lol :)  With this recent news we have been worried about the families in Ethiopia right now for their court dates.  I prayed to God for these families to pass court so that everyone could see His faithfulness to us and so people would stop worrying about it.  Not that God needs to prove His love for us but sometimes people just need a miracle or reminder and I thought that this could be it.  They passed!  Praise the God of the universe that He would think so much of us to give us this hope.  Amen!

Thank you to all the families who have blessed us by taking care packages and sending us photos.  We have gotten new photos 3 weeks in a row, 2 from other families.  They have meant the world to us :)  We are excited to have received our first photo consent to take with us and pass this blessing on to other families.  I will close with this...WE ARE LEAVING FOR ETHIOPIA 2 WEEKS FROM THIS FRIDAY!  just a little excited about seeing our little girl.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Egg Rolls!

Well our first real fundraiser if over and done with.  We sold over 120 dozen and made them all in two days, whew!  We made about $1700 with the fundraiser which was more than I had anticipated.  I asked God for at least $1000 to make it worth our while and God provided above and beyond.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Lord!  It was a great time and I had the help of many wonderful ladies.  It was so amazing to feel the love and support from those who helped in the kitchen and for those who helped support us by buying or donating.  Thank you God for humbling me and being able to receive that gift.  So here are some picture of us making the egg rolls, of course I didn't take any pics when everyone was there and the kitchen was crazy because....the kitchen was crazy :)

Yesterday morning we also got a wonderful email from the Munn family that took our first care package.  We have pictures of our little girl opening her very first care package and holding the paper with our pictures on it.  So precious it made me cry as I looked at them and saw her hands on our faces.  She is so stinking cute (just a little biased).  They also said they have a little video of her when one of the workers is telling her about us.  Now a lot of people have been asking if she knows that we are coming for her and if she's being prepared.  Normally that would be the case and they would sort of understand what was going on in the months to come and who it is that has sent her things and who the people in the pictures are.  In our case I'm not sure if that is happening or not because we found out the language she speaks in Wolaitigna and most people in the capital city of Addis Ababa speak Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia.  Her language only makes up about 2% of the population there so she is actually learning Amharic while she is at the transition home waiting for us.  Who knows if she understands that this family is going to be HER family or if she just thinks, "hey more stuff from these people, yay!"  At least we have a care package going to her every week until we get there and a picture in each one of them so hopefully she will be familiar with us when we come.  Cute story about the latest pictures we got yesterday:  Dominic saw I was sending pictures to pick up at Walgreens online and asked if I had already sent the order or not.  I said that it wasn't submitted yet and asked what he wanted.  Well he asked if he could have a picture of his sister to put in his photo box that he made.  He is so sweet and I'm so glad that he is excited about his little sister.  Since she is so much closer to Christian's age I wasn't exactly sure what level of enthusiasm Dominic had about her.  It's nice to know that he is anticipating her arrival just as much as we are :)

A few posts ago I promised to have picture of the quick re-do of the office I did.  It's not much but it was enough to keep me busy for a couple of days.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ordinary Hero

We are so excited to be partnering with Ordinary Hero for a t-shirt fundraiser.  They are having a special to kick off the adoption fundraising promotion with a great little contest.  Now for those of you who know me, know that I am a little competitive.  It's not that I have to win at everything but competition gets my blood pumping and gets me motivated :)  Anyway, the first one to raise $300 will get a matching grant from Ordinary Hero to go towards their adoption expenses.  That would be so awesome to get that money to help towards our upcoming travel expenses.  With that said, please click on the picture to the right and check out the awesome men's, women's and kid's shirts!

Quick update on the egg rolls:  We got way more done today than I had ever anticipated.  We also ran out of supplies :(  I think our eggrolls were too fat and took too much stuffing so looks like I will be headed back to the store to get some more supplies.  It may turn into a blessing though so we will just have to wait and see.  I had the help of some amazing women today that really worked long and hard for me and I wouldn't have been able to do it without their help.  Tomorrow is E-day (egg roll day, lol) when we have to get the rest of them done and pickup starts at 4pm.  I am confident though, God has provided and I know that He will continue to.  I took a few pics today but of course not when everyone was there and we were elbows deep in egg roll mix.  I will post tomorrow.

Wednesday morning at Missional Mamas we had the pleasure of a speaker come and talk to us.  She did this wonderful devotion with us about putting God in a box and how we as humans will never release Him from a box but that box can at least get bigger and bigger.  It was a great reminder because I know that there are often times I struggle with that and don't even realize it.  In fact, I had a post about that very thing just a few months back.  Anyway, I didn't realize that I had God in this little box about the egg rolls.  I had a conversation with God about how many egg rolls I would like to sell.  The conversation went a little something like this, "God I would really like to sell at least 50 dozen, but it would be even better if I could beat how many Missional Mamas sold (we sold 70 dozen cookies to go towards Project Rescue).  That would be really cool to sell 100 dozen, but that might be more than I can handle, but that would be REALLY cool."  Well we sold 107 dozen and I had more people calling today to see if they could still order.  WOW GOD!  Now here's the part where I put Him in a box...AGAIN.  God gave me exactly what I asked for and I never expected it.  Who am I to think that God of the universe will not provide for one of His children.  I didn't have enough confindence that He would provide 100 dozen to go towards our travel expenses.  Not only did God provide the orders, He also provided the helpers.  The lesson here is:  Don't ask God for anything unless you're ready for Him to provide it to you, He will!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

HAPPY Anniversary!

Today marks the one year anniversary when we first started this crazy adoption adventure.  Exactly one year ago today America World called us and said, "Congratulations you've been accepted into the Rwanda program."  Needless to say our journey has taken many different directions, including a different country, but God has provided for us the entire way.  Well today is a very exciting day! 

Be prepared for many many !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We received our court date today!  Yesterday I got completely pysched out by a phone call from our agency approving a fundraiser that we are doing with Ordinary Hero to make sure that it was okay they share our information with them.  That was all they wanted :(  Well today as I was heading out the door to pick the kids up from school the infamous (703) area code popped up on my phone again.  I just knew this had to be it.  We have a court date of April 6th!  We will leave either the 1st or 2nd to head to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and then we will FINALLY get to meet our daughter.  I am over the moon excited!  We have exactly one month to plan our trip, pack and collect donations.  Just this morning while I was at the store I picked up a big box of wipes that were on sale to take with us plus several boxes of granola bars.  I will probably head back for some more granola bars because they were such a good deal.  Well I feel better having a date now and not living in the land of limbo.  Looks like God put all this "nesting" in me for a reason :)

Today is a day where I cannot say "THANK YOU, GOD!" enough.  I kept saying it over and over and over again as I was picking up the kids.  Not as exciting but still definitely a God thing; Scentsy had a glitch yesterday in the computer system so they are letting us put in orders today to count for February.  I just saw this morning how I had missed my minimum to get paid on my downline and missed on a lot of commission.  Well now I can order enough to make my commission and get paid much more, Hallelujah!  God is really looking out for me today.  I kept saying to myself that this was going to be a good week for all the waiting families in our yahoo group and that it was going to be a good week for us.  Boy was I right.  Way to go God!

Okay I promise to be done with the exclamation marks now :)  Still rejoicing though.