To get to the rest of the story, I first need to go back to the story I told in my last post about that morning that I felt God put Uganda heavy on my heart and in my head. The part I left out because I wasn't quite ready to share was this: the night before that happened, I had a dream. Although I wish I were different about this, I rarely remember my dreams. I sometimes start to faintly remember a dream I had, but then usually everything gets fuzzy and I can't really remember any details. Well, this time was similar, except that there was one distinct detail that I remembered as soon as I woke up. And it kept playing in my head over and over that day. I can still picture it in the corner of my mind's eye. It was a big number 2. It was black, like a house number. At that point in our journey, this wasn't really that shocking to me. I had begun to feel strongly that maybe we were supposed to be adopting more than one for several months. Jonathan had been coming around to the idea too. Just a couple of weeks before I had this dream, in the week leading up to our benefit concert, I prayed a lot that week for God to make it clear to us if He wanted us to get more than one. I was feeling more and more like He did, but the only catch was that according to the adoption laws in Madagascar, they would not let us adopt more than one child since we already had three children living in the home. This was something we hadn't realized until we were well under way with the process, because when we first started we were definitely not thinking about adopting two children. He provided abundantly at Pickin' & Pies, and at that point we were pretty much fully funded for what we needed to adopt one child from Madagascar. I wasn't fully convinced that this was an answer on my question of two, but with a couple more fundraisers that were already in the works, it seemed to me that He was telling us, "Do not worry about a thing. I've got this totally covered." Then what we thought we knew about the Mada program started to fall apart, and in comes (after looking back on it now) some clear answers from God. A dream with a big black "2" and then "Uganda" playing over and over in my head the next morning while I was praying for God to give us guidance. I wasn't sure how He would work it all out, but I trusted that He would. We just had to be open to whatever His plan was.
Fast forward to March. About a week after we found Lulah and started switching everything over to Uganda, our new agency emailed me to let us know that there were some other kids at Lulah's orphanage that were available and to let them know if we were interested in getting more information about any of them. I opened up all of their pictures and info; there were five little boys and one little girl. When I saw her, I just had that feeling. The feeling I had read about people having, but had not experienced myself. With Lulah, it happened differently, because her name is what made me know it was her first. But this girl. Her name was Jovia, and her precious face just looked like she embodied joy. I immediately looked up the meaning of her name and it means "happy" or "joy". Of course it does. I emailed our agency back and asked about her, but the reply I got back made me think that she had already taken by another family. I emailed back again and said to please keep me updated. Then later I got another email from the agency asking if we would please consider Jovia, since she was at the same orphanage and of similar age to Lulah. (we have since learned that Lulah is four and Jovia is five) Later that day, I showed Jonathan all the pictures and info of the kids that the agency had sent me. The boys caught a glimpse of Jovia's picture on the computer and started yelling "Yes!! We want her!! We want two sisters!!!" All three of them were jumping up and down and getting so excited about the possibility of TWO sisters. Jonathan needed some time to process it all, so we agreed to pray about it and see if God would confirm the same child for both of us. In the next week we both prayed fervently- that God would make it clear to us which child He wanted us to bring home with Lulah. During that time, two of my closest friends, both very Holy Spirit-centered, told me without a doubt that they felt like Jovia was the one- and they had some hair-standing on your arm kind of stories of why they felt this way. A week went by and I felt more and more confirmed that Jovia was the one. After a couple of days of trying to ask Jonathan how he was feeling about it all, I decided I needed to shut up about the whole thing. This is not something that I wanted to convince him of. God needed to help him come to a conclusion about it all on his own. One of those same close friends suggested that I change my prayer and to start praying for God to soften Jonathan's heart. Within two days I saw this happen and he started bringing her up to me and asking me questions and what I was thinking. Towards the end of the week we had a conversation with our agency, and we got more information on each of the girls. The next day, we were in a cute little coffee shop that had a gift shop in it. Literally everywhere we turned, there was something that said JOY or HAPPY on it. Later that day I discovered on my phone (I think I saw something on ig) that it was International Day of Happy. Seriously. I don't make this stuff up. When we got home, Jonathan sat in the living room by himself with his computer and pulled up all the kids pictures again. After a few minutes, he called me in the room and said, "Okay. It's her." I squealed and thanked the Lord.
Lulah and Jovia. Our two daughters that God has been weaving into the threads of our hearts for so long. Oh, how He is faithful and so full of grace.
"Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting JOY will be yours." Isaiah 61:7
So what now? Paperwork, and lots of it. Since finding Lulah, we have basically had to start everything over. I actually can't think of one single piece of paper that we have been able to reuse for this new process for Uganda. We are so thankful to have found a wonderful and quick case worker to do a new home study for us, and we received our new completed last week. While waiting for that, I have been focused on gathering documents that we will need for our dossier to send to Uganda. If Madagascar's dossier requirements seemed hard, Uganda's seem haaaaaaarrrrrrrd. Four copies of everything, certified or notarized. Bank statements, house deed, medical reports, employment letters, references, college diplomas, high school diplomas (I'm pretty sure if we have a college diploma, then that means we would have graduated high school?!!?), birth certificates, marriage certificates, fingerprinting... (oh there's lots more). I'm pretty sure they could just say, "Every single piece of paper that you've ever touched in your entire life." and be done with it. But, I am making progress. I sent off our I-600a application to get approval from the USCIS yesterday (although I forgot to enclose a check. oops. I'm literally losing my mind) and once we get that back (hopefully in a few weeks) we can send off our dossier. After our dossier gets to Uganda, we have been told that we should travel soon for our first trip. We will meet the girls and apply for court, then travel back for our second trip whenever our court date is. The way things are going, I am hopeful that we would be going on our first trip by the end of the summer. We really have no idea, though. After what we've already been through, we know not to expect anything quickly. What we do know is that God is working it all out. And that's all that matters.
Mother's Day is tomorrow and I know it will feel different this year. Besides relishing in the sweet hugs and kisses that my three precious sons will undoubtably give me, I will be looking at the pictures of my beautiful daughters and praying that the day will come quickly that I can be hugging and kissing on them. I will be joyful and oh so thankful that God has entrusted me to mother these five little ones that are only mine because He is gracious. But, in the midst of the joy I will also grieve for the mothers that my daughters have lost. I will grieve that they are sitting in an orphanage, with no family- no mother to hug and kiss, no mother to make a handmade card for, no mother to give flowers to, no mother to call their own. They need a mom. They need love, and hope, and joy, and Jesus. Soon, sweet girls. Soon.
Thanks for sticking with us through this journey. We are so incredibly appreciative of those who continually pray for us and our girls and want us to keep you updated on what's going on. Later this week I'll give a fundraising status and be sharing about our upcoming feature week on the Give1Save1 blog- which starts Monday, May 19th! We will have lots of opportunities that week to help, including lots of crosses and map scripture prints for sale here on the blog. Stayed tuned!