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Monday, March 26, 2012

family details :)

Quickly while I have internet access I will write as many treats as I can think of to give you a vision of our wonderful gift of a family;

We are beginning to see their personalities very clearly already! It's fun to see each of them uniquely emerge. Lydie is the light of the family, bringing joy and mischief. Kerene is sensitive and adorable, quick to obey and follow. Ornela is simply beautiful. She is a servant at heart and strong in mind. Chance is hilarious. She is constantly saying things that we exchange for a laugh and I know she will charm many as they enter our home. Fiston is respectful and gracious; quick to help and eager to learn. Belise...she is amazing. She is a strong woman, considerate, bold, willing- truly a beacon indeed.

We often wake up to find the youngest girls singing and dancing in their bedroom. I am doing my best to learn as many key phrases in swahili as possible. I am trying to learn to cook food they like and they are trying to eat things they don't like. :) We go to the park, hang out at home, watch Footloose and Mary Poppins, read books, and are becoming a family. Of course we have hiccups, but I am so thankful. I see that God has been preparing me for this my entire life.

The other day the kids voted Matt as the Kizungu family President :)
I am the First Lady, Fiston the Vice President, Ornela the minister, Chance the radio???!!!, Lydie the "first born", Kerene the "last born", and Belise the cook :)

The 2nd day they were here we went to the beach. Lydie and Kerene were terrified of the water. We built sand castles and ran into the ocean, collecting rocks. When Matt and I went to put our shoes on and leave the sweetest moment happened.
Lydie took our shoes back off and began to clean our feet from the sand. They she put our shoes back on for us. She didn't speak much English at this point and it was such a precious sign of respect. When Kerene stepped off the plane, she didn't speak any English at all. They are learning so fast. They are so happy too.

Pray for continued bonding! I've finally updated our needs list:

more stories to come later...


Of course the story continues :)
The timeline blurs now, so we will switch to events and praises.

I'm sure you are all waiting to hear about the house...
Our friend went to view a bunch of houses in the areas that I mentioned. I didn't go to see them with her as I had a million things to do, but a friend that did told me what happened.
She looked at Belmont and San Mateo and decided that we needed to live in Redwood City. She went to visit 2 houses that were no longer on the market, both in RWC and decided that it was between the 2 that she would make a move. She would pray and wait for discernment before moving forward. One was downtown, and one within walking distance to the church.
My heart was not in this debate as I was full of doubt and fear and contended with the Lord that I did not deserve this kind of provision and was sure it would fall through.

But alas, God is big. and powerful and loving.
She chose the house on Virginia Ave (within walking distance to the church)
She put an offer in and the owners accepted.
WE HAVE A HOUSE!!!!!!!! We have to wait awhile to move in, but we have a place to stay.
What a huge that God did. And there is absolutely no way for me to take credit. I didn't even know this woman :)

With the help of urgency from the realtor, I had purchase agreement in hand and was able to push my way to get my kids into Redwood City Schools.
We have had to commute for the time being, but I prefer it over another transition for them.
It was on Thursday that we finally had them all enrolled and Matt and I took our first date as parents that morning to a museum and bookstore for an hour :)

Ready for another Miracle?
The commute is obviously very hard on us all. It takes about an hour from house to school. With all of the different schools and class end time, we have to wait in Redwood City starting at 12:40 until 4:40 for the last bell until we go home. And try getting your kids in a schedule when you live in a house with 17 people. Throw in lots of different cultures, a dislike of all American food, a million doctors appointments, and lots of homework and what do you get? An exhausted and overwhelmed family. Needless to say this isn't the best situation as a transition to America :)
It's definitely been a blessing in many ways, but I knew that God had healthier provision in store for us. Although I was told that it wouldn't happen, we began to brainstorm about a temporary place to stay in Redwood City until our new house was ready.
A few days ago another woman I don't know contacted a friend of ours saying that she would like to host us in her house.
She has 4 open bedrooms and will allow our dogs to stay. We request a temporary exception the bedroom rules. A verbal exception is granted.
Can you believe this? God is AMAZING!!!
We are awaiting more legal jargon, but should be moving there in a few days hopefully.
I am overwhelmed at God and His Love. Jehovah Jirah indeed.

Their arrival...and we are changed

:) a long awaited post....
It's almost been 3 weeks since the arrival of our new children and it's without saying that we have been busy, but also without internet- making it very hard to keep everyone apprised of the many miracles we have recently witnessed.
So, let me start with a very big one...
The kids arrived on a Wednesday. Let me take you to the Saturday before;
I had started to panic about where we would live. A lot of people were telling me to find a place in Fremont. I started looking a few days before and visited a few options out that way. I even pushed hard to some landlords to get us into their places, but to no avail. It was like God was closing doors for us. Matt told me he no longer wanted to consider Fremont on Friday night as he felt that a body of water separating us from our community was not what God was leading us to.
On that Saturday I was foraging Craigslist for possibilities on the peninsula. I would not compromise price, as I knew we could not afford more. I had been sent a possibility in Daly City by many people that was $10 under our budget, 5BR, and seemingly perfect. I anxiously called the number and set up an immediate viewing for 45 minutes later. We drove up to see it and were overwhelmed with excitement. It was very small, but adorable. It was of humble means, which is something that I love, and very out door oriented, with 3 of the bedrooms leading to the backyard. Close to the schools, an easy commute for Matt....check, check, check.
We talked to the property manager about our story and he said we could move in immediately, probably on Monday. That would ideally give us enough time to prepare for the kids' arrival a few days later. It was the first time walking through a house that I was moved to tears, imagining our family living in that space. I was overwhelmed and for the first time in recent days of panic, had some hope.
The next morning we woke up and ventured up to church. I finally had some good news for our community. I finally can feel safe and stable. We are sitting in the pew together singing some worship songs. I look over at Matt. To my surprise, he is not joyful, but distressed.
I ask him what is wrong and he says, "The Daly City house doesn't feel right for some reason."
Down, down, down goes my hope and fast my heart starts to beat as my thoughts begin to roll. I am angry, confused, unwilling. I begin to cry. I am asking God, "WHY!!!???" I sit with this bitterness and fear all day, now unwilling to jump.
That night I get an email.
A woman I do not know....
She has heard about our story and feels like God may be leading her to buy a house to rent it to us. "and you’d have a Christian landlord with a heart for refugees (and pet-owners)"
Keep in mind it is Sunday. The kids are arriving on Wednesday. It takes 30 days to close a sale. And what if something goes wrong? Where will we stay? What about schools? "I don't want to wait!!!!", I tell God, "I want to feel stable and in control!!!" I remember that God asked me to jump. I can't decide at this point if my heart is willing. I give the reigns to Matt to follow up and lead our family in this risky endeavor of a decision. Thankfully, he is full of faith and joy and has the strength to take on this weight. He phones the woman, followed by a realtor, and then we wait. I tell him I don't have the strength to turn down the Daly City house and that if it's offered to me "tomorrow morning," I think I will have to take it.
Monday call from Daly City. Remember the property manager had assured me we would move IN on this day.
Meanwhile, the ball is rolling with our new friend and realtor. Together, they start looking at the market. They are zooming in on houses in Belmont and San Mateo, with options in San Jose.
I ask God, "Why would you have this great opportunity for us, only to still compromise on location? Why did you tell me Redwood City and then NOT provide!?" I am confused, angry, and scared.
I feel strongly against living in a hotel, but realize at this point that we will not be able to move into a house in time for their arrival.
My social worker calls with great news. There is a house in San Jose that we can temporarily stay in for about a month until we find a place permanently. It's a large house with 5 empty bedrooms. There is another Congolese family living there and will be able to speak Swahili with the kids as well as talk about culture and transition with them.
AHHHHH!!!!! Some hope, Lord! Thank you!!!! I am depleted at this point and needed this dose of provision.

Tuesday comes and we start to move into our temporary place. We forage through our 3 randomly packed storage units for what we may need for a month, searching for things that we have been saving for the kids. The ball keeps moving with our friend, but my heart is not ready for more hope.

Wednesday comes...
We don't know what the future holds for our family, but I tell God that I know He will provide. I am honestly angry that I don't have more control and that He has not yet revealed this secret to me, but I know I can count on Him. My worries start to get buried by the pure excitement and anxiety of meeting our children. We don't even have time to shower as we scurry around trying to make their bedrooms perfectly inviting with every last detail we can think of. Eventually, we have to agree that we did as much as we could and we switch clothes into something halfway decent and grab the keys to drive to the airport. We pray and laugh, and shake with the wait.
We walk into baggage claim and there they are; beautiful. I'm nervous, excited, insecure, hopeful, and not quite sure what to do!!! :) It's as awkward as a first date. We pile into the car and drive home, asking as many questions as we can think of at this point with our brains on overdrive. We show them around, give them space, start our meetings and then everyone leaves us to be a family. We have dinner, go to sleep, and it sets in. We are forever changed.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Not what I planned and that's okay :)

<p>Just a quick update before I try to get a few hours of sleep.<br>
We found a temporary place to stay down in san Jose and do not have to stay at a hotel. Yay! :)<br>
The home owner is another refugee foster parent who also has a boy....from Congo! Ha! They live in a second house a few blocks away. This house is NINE BEDROOMS! And temporarily has space for us. We can stay here for about a month while we look for a permanent home. Another cool thing is that there is another family currently living in some of the rooms and they...are ALSO FROM CONGO! wow God, very cool. They speak swahili so we can have on site translaters and they can talk to our kids about their experience. <br>
God has been shutting doors all over with the housing, which I'm very thankful for. I have a hard time saying no to options, so I'm grateful He's not really giving me the option. I know He will lead us to the right place.<br>
We are super excited, scared, overwhelmed, you name it. I can't believe its tomorrow! Folding their clothes and putting them in dressers really got to me. I can't wait to see them. <br>
Another amazing thing, tonight all 3 of our mattresses were supplied! We have all of our mattresses! Praise God. We have tons of food in the cabinets, transportation for the entire family, lots of adorable clothes, sheets, school stuff, books...we have surely been blessed.
It doesn't feel real yet and I doubt it will until I'm at the airport waiting for the flight to arrive, full of every kind of emotion.
Life is crazy and full and God is leading the way.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Moving, Waiting,...Jumping

I'm sorry I have been off the grid, as it seems, for the past few days.
Here's what's been happening.
Friday Matt went to work like it was a normal day. A couple hours after he left, I got a call that the kids were coming. We had 11 days notice to prepare.
At first, I just ran around the house screaming. Literally, I ran back and forth from living room to the bedroom screaming, "AHHHHHHH!!!" :) My dogs were so confused!!!
I called my landlord for our 1BR apt to give notice, but without the 30 notice, I would still have to pay for March. They said that if I could find someone to live there that I might be able to avoid that.
We started packing. And praying. Lot's of praying. For a house, for direction, help surrendering, wisdom, discernment, provision....I'm sure you can imagine.
We tried to get the word out to as many people possible so that we could turn on all resources for support. Even in a matter of hours God started to show us that He was in control and more than capable of being Director and Master of this adventure
Saturday Matt was a bumbling bee, full of anticipation and excitement. We started to take turns, as if on some kind of schedule, freaking out and calming the other down.
We went to see this house in RWC that was labeled as a 4BR with a possible chance to make it into a 5BR. It was a 3BR :). So we kept packing and praying and following the "freak out" schedule.
Sunday was much the same as we went to church and met up with different people to pray and touch base and then home again to pack more.
On Monday we went down to San Jose to meet up with our team at Catholic Charities. We came up with a contingency plan for what to do if we do not have a place by the time the kids arrive. We will make the call on Sunday/Monday. So...last case scenario; we stay in a hotel in San Mateo until our place is ready. It feels good to have a back up plan. I really don't want it to come to that, but I keep trying to surrender my own perception of what's best-to God. Maybe that's what's really best for us. We are doing are best to just let go of ANYTHING we might be trying to hang onto. We want EVERY single aspect of our life to be something that God has breathed into it and not of our own fleshly agenda.
Monday night we found someone that wanted to live in our apartment as soon as possible.
This was a huge miracle that we haven't even been able to boast in the Lord about yet.
We were so consumed with everything else going on, that we had not yet done our part in trying to get a renter into our place so that we could avoid paying for March. Lo, and behold our Loving Lord had it all in His hands.
A co-worker of Matt's had been looking for a place and was not sure what to do about not finding a place yet. She was talking about it at work and Matt, jokingly, offered her to live in our place...and she said YES!
So on Monday night, we realized we needed to move Wednesday.
Tuesday we put it into high gear. We woke up to begin moving in serious fashion. We had asked at 11pm on facebook if anyone was willing to wake up at 6am the next day to help us. I was doubtful we would be joined, but to our surprise a loving servant called to say she was coming soon and what was our coffee order! What a blessing! I was so scared and overwhelmed and then God answered that need with a huge amount of encouragement and tangible support...and with practically no notice! Last minute decisions kept rolling in. I decided it was best for our puppy, Rogue, to be boarded during this stressful time and for Gambit to stay with us. I drove to Pacifica to drop her off and was having a conversation with God on the way back. I was telling Him how scared I was and how I just wanted Him to direct me in whatever way He wanted to go.
This is what I heard him say, "Jump with will be fun"
I told Him I was scared, and that I wasn't sure if I was ready, that I wasn't sure I could trust Him. I had that whole ride back home to wrestle and decide that I was ready to trust Him, whatever the outcome might be.
I got home and we continued to pack. Then God sent a faithful army to join us.
Not one, but 2 of my friends had other important plans where they last minute felt peace from the Lord and decided to leave to help and support.
So, people came and helped us pack everything up, a truck last minute was provided and we moved every big piece of furniture out by the end of the night.
We only had the kitchen, all of the random items around, and cleaning to finish on Wednesday. By Wednesday I was emotionally exhausted. Loving friends hosted us the night before and although I had their whole house and my whole apartment I could have camped out in, I decided to do my work in my car outside Matt's work. I just didn't want to be by myself with my emotions going in so many directions. With so much left to do still and fear a tempting persistence, God brought people in my path to pray for me that morning. I went home feeling stronger to pack up the kitchen and all of the randomness. After the car's battery dying at 2am and a call to AAA, Matt and I finally had finished moving out of our apartment.
We walked upstairs to take it in and thank God for the season we went through in that place, and then we left.
This morning (Thursday), we woke up and drank in the new step of the journey with our breakfast, followed by a meeting with our support team at PCC, our church. We gave an update and then off to work and do errands we went...waiting and jumping :)

Logistical Updates:

*Their arrival is Wednesday, March 7
The first notice of travel is often not very clear and so we found out Tuesday that the 6th is when they arrive in the US (JFK) and that they will arrive in San Jose at 3pm on the following day.

*We are now expanding our housing search to Fremont!
As well as the entire Peninsula and San Jose
Pray for God to lead us to the exact spot He wants us!

Happy Birthday Belise!!!