Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Future Family

I can remember taking a walk around my neighborhood with Chris when we were dating and he asked me, "What are some of your goals?" Without hesitation, I responded with, "to be a wife and mother."  Pretty simple, right? Well, that's what we thought, too.  But if Chris and I have learned anything, it is that each and every child is truly a miracle and a gift from God.

Most of you know that Chris and I have been struggling with infertility for over two years now.  We have been desperately wanting to start a family.  We have been through specialists, shots, medicine, tests, a many procedures.  We did everything that Chris and I felt comfortable doing and finally we had enough.  To say that these past two years have been hard would be an understatement to say the least.

While I was in Hawaii God placed two incredible women in my life. The first one is my friend, Cyndi. She had also struggled with infertility. She and her husband adopted three precious children and then she became pregnant! She would constantly call and check on me after appointments and would meet with me just to see how I was doing. Once while we were talking she started to cry, just because she remembered so vividly experiencing what I was going through and I knew she was hurting for me.  And the second is my wonderful mentor, Berit.  I would love that Berit would always tell me and still does, "I'm praying for your future babies."  Berit once asked me what were my thoughts about adoption and I said, "I'm not ready to think about that right now, I want to have my own kids."She immediately told me she understood, but she also challenged me to start praying about adoption and that God would soften our hearts towards that option if that is something He wanted us to do.  So I did.  She told me that over a year ago.

About three weeks ago, I was listening to Steven Curtis Chapman and for some reason his adoption agency came into my thoughts. I came home and immediately sent off for a packet.  When it came, I couldn't stop reading the couple's testimonies... they sounded just like me and Chris.  Then, the next morning, I was doing my Bible Study and in it Beth Moore wrote, "Jesus died to say yes! Does this mean He doesn't say no? He certainly does, but His no is given only so that He can say yes to something better." I knew right then that God was speaking to me.  So the next day in Bible study I briefly shared what Chris and I were going through and that I loved reading this part. The leader told me that I really need to watch last week's dvd (I missed it because I was in Thailand with Chris) and that I would love it.  Now, I took this same study four years ago, and all the way home I kept thinking... what is so special about last week's lesson? I don't remember anything about it.  Boy was I wrong! The whole lesson was about Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, and that they were childless. This lesson was unique in that the whole study is and has been about the tabernacle, this lesson had nothing to do with the building of the tabernacle!  It was amazing. Now if you know me, I hate to miss a week of Bible Study, but I know that God planned for me to miss this study on purpose.  I cried for the whole hour and I had to pause it several times and rewind it just so I didn't miss anything. Throughout the study I learned that no trial is ever wasted and that God is concerned with the details of our life. She also pointed out that God's plan is better than the short sighted one we choose for ourselves.  It was an amazing lesson and she concluded it with two powerful statements.  The first one was, "Everytime childlessness is brought up in the Bible, it is always because God is about to perform a miracle, " and the statement she closed with was, "Maybe you were chosen, and picked out, not picked on." Oh my goodness!  I immediately knew that God was preparing my heart to being open to adoption.

I immediately emailed Chris as he is still on the ship.  As I was writing him, I was crying again.  I know that there is no one else in the world I would rather walk through this with.  He has been so amazing through it all and being there for me despite my many emotions of sadness and anger.  Chris has always been ready to adopt, he's just been waiting patiently on me.  Chris loves kids! He is always asking to hold babies and he never wants to give them back to their moms!  I know without a doubt Chris will love any child as our own. He is an incredible man!

All this to say, that Chris and I are now open to adopting.  We are at the super beginning stages of a very long process.  Right now we are researching agencies that we are able to use even though we are located in Japan and praying about the child God wants us to have.  We are also starting to save our money, as it is very expensive.

Why am I telling you all this in my blog that is normally about our life in Japan? Well, because we love all of you and the whole point of this blog is to let you know what is going on in our life, and this is what is going on!  Also, we would very much value your prayers throughout this long journey and if any of you have any advice we would greatly appreciate it, too!

All we know right now is that we want to be parents. We are leaving the rest of the details up to God as to when this will happen and how.  We know without a doubt that God is in control of this entire process and that He has the perfect child in mind for us!  We can't wait to meet him or her!  We truly trust what First Corinthians 2:9 says, "What no eye has seen, nor ear has heard nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him!"

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hina Matsuri

Today I went to a Hina Matsuri (or Girls' Day) celebration with some other Navy wives and some lovely Japanese women who hosted us.  This display greeted when we walked in...

Then we walked into the dining room area where they had the tables set for us and a huge table full of delicious homemade food.  Not only did they make this food for us, they also served us!  They were so very kind and generous.

As we were seated at the tables (like we are used to), the Japanese ladies sat on the floor, like they are accustomed to doing.

The room was decorated with traditional Girls' Day decorations, beautiful mobiles. They are made with kimono scraps and each item symbolizes something different. Such as the chicken represents having several kids.

The best part of the day was the dancing.  They did a traditional Japanese dance for us and a few of the wives joined in. I was taking pictures! :)

I loved that a few of the women wore their kimonos .

Then, the ladies wanted us to do a dance for them... so what did we choose, but the famous "Hokey Pokey."  We had a super fun time and they loved doing the dance with us!

We had a wonderful time and the ladies were so sweet. Their food was delicious and it was so fun to celebrate a traditional Japanese holiday with them!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Port Visit to Thailand

Chris has been gone from Sasebo for about a month and his first port stop was in Thailand. I was fortunate enough to be able to go visit while he was there and we had a wonderful time!  Just a warning... this blog is long and there are a lot of pictures, so you might be here for awhile!

Our (I traveled with some other wives) first stop after we arrived was at McDonalds... we were starving, and this was the first place we saw.  I loved the Ronald McDonald that was there to welcome us!
On our first full day there we took a day trip to Bangkok to tour the Grand Palace.  After being involved in "Perspectives" (a class on worldwide missions) in Hawaii, Chris and I were really interested to see and experience what we studied in the class.  Even though the palace was beautiful, elaborate, and so meticulous,  it was so sad to see.  It just broke our hearts to see so many beautiful people worshipping the buddha.  We just pray that soon the truth that is only found in Jesus Christ will be revealed to them.
In front of the Reclining Buddha, it is gold plated and 46 meters long.

At the other end... notice the footprints on the toes!

These were all mosaics, decorated by using broken pottery.

A close up of the mosaics

Chris being silly

And again, he just can't help himself!
After the Grand Palace we took a boat ride along the river to eat lunch at a Thai buffet.  I had my first taste of real Pad Thai, and it was delicious!
The river was crowded with boats that had huge motors.

Floating Market... they would come up to the boat to sell their wares.

Something that Thailand is famous for is having fabulous suits and other articles of clothing tailor-made. It is quite inexpensive and they finish in about two days.  The tailor also came to our hotel for a fitting.  It  was a pretty amazing process.  Chris had a suit and shirt made and I had a coat. 
Chris' measurements and fabric choices.

Chris getting measured for his coat and shirt.

Our finished products!

One of our favorite things we did in Thailand was our elephant ride.  When we first arrived at the village we were able to feed some elephants (they ate whole bananas, who knew?) and we saw a four month old baby elephant.  To get onto our elephant, we climbed onto a tall platform and stepped onto the chair that was on the elephant's back.  The driver of the elephant was sitting on his head.  

Feeding the elephant

We also saw wild monkeys in the tree!

We were fascinated to learn how our driver "steered" the elephant... by lightly tapping his  ear with his foot!

I love that our elephant's trunk is up in this picture, it's like she's smiling!

That night (after we cleaned up) we went to a fancy restaurant for a delicious meal.  We just kept raving the whole time! Everything was perfect!
My crunchy shrimp and avocado salad with passion fruit dressing.

Chris' lamb (cooked three different ways)

Chris' crab and parmesan salad

I know this doesn't look appetizing, but it was the most delicious soup ever,  smoked artichoke.

 My rock lobster skewers

 The next day we did something so fun... this is going to sound crazy, but we had our feet nibbled at by small fish.  This was all around Thailand.  The fish actually eat the dead skin off your feet and after twenty minutes your feet are incredibly smooth.  The only down fall is that it was incredibly ticklish. We were laughing so hard!

It was SO ticklish and such a weird feeling!

The fish nibbling at our feet.
Then after our "fish pedicure" I was thrilled to find my favorite treat, mochi ice cream!  I found this yummy snack in Hawaii and I have missed.  When I realized what it was, I practically ran to the vendor.  We tried the mocha chip, blueberry, and vanilla lime.  I felt like I was back a Bubbie's in Hawaii Kai!

On our last night together we took a Thai cooking class.  It was so fun.  We cooked prawn soup and two chicken dishes.  I was nervous to touch raw chicken for the first time, but to my surprise, the chef provided me with plastic gloves, yay! After we cooked our meals, we had dinner!  We thought we did a great job!
All the spices we used for our meals.

Chris stirring the soup and adding ingredients.

Our finished products!
After a sad good-bye, Chris went back to his ship and I went with some of the wives to Bangkok for the weekend.  We did a ton of shopping at the night markets, which were very exciting to say the least. On our last night there we ate at the tallest building in Thailand, Baiyoke Tower.  It is 85 stories high.  The top is revolving and they had an international buffet on the 75th floor.  
A view of the Grand Palace from Baiyoke Tower.

After a week in Thailand, it was time to head back to Sasebo.  I had a wonderful time visiting a new country, but my most favorite part was being able to spend a few days with Chris, who I miss like crazy!  Hopefully, there will be more port stops in the next few years that I will be able to meet him at.  

The airport did provide me with one more picture... the ceiling in the terminal was lined with umbrellas that were decorated by Thai students, they were spectacular!