We have some exciting news to share with all our blogger friends out there :). Many of you who know us well, know all about what we are going to share in this blog, but some of you don’t. For personal reasons, we were unable to post anything about Leeann until now. My husband Derek is going to be the one posting Part 1 and 2 of “Our Precious Leeann!”
Our Precious Leeann – Part 1
Last November Renee and I were waiting anxiously for an invitation to travel to Ukraine and begin our adoption of Sasha, Ethan, and Silas. At that time I was traveling three weekends a month, speaking and leading worship at conferences, churches, and houses of prayer. Because of that, I was home only one Saturday a month on the weekends. My rare and precious day to sleep in and kick back ... Ahhh. Well I got out of bed and went into the kitchen with the words “french press” on my mind. In a lifting fog, I groped for the coffee beans and grinder. As the the grounds met the boiling water in that urn of life and delightful caffination, the aroma began to rise and awaken my senses. I was inhaling this celestial mist when Renee and her mom entered the kitchen with suspicious looking grins on their faces. I’ve seen that look before on Renee’s face. It always means she is plotting to sneak another child into our family. I looked at her and said, “What are you up to?” She said, “Honey, just listen to me before you react”. Uh oh. That never sounds good. She proceeded to tell me that her brother Terry had called her from the Marshall Islands, and that there was a beautiful and precious 13 yr old girl that he knew who was in a very difficult place. Terry wanted to get her out of the country and to safety. He wanted to know if we knew any family at IHOP that may be willing to take her in. Through a nervous laugh Renee asked, “Honey, why don’t we just bring her into our family?” I reacted through a more nervous laugh.... “Are you crazy?” We are about to go to Eastern Europe and bring in three boys with special needs. Stop it! Leave me alone. I haven’t even had my coffee yet, and besides this is my one Saturday off every month and you’re meddling with my serenity.” She laughed and said I could drink my “joe” in peace and she’d check back later. As I sat drinking my coffee I started thinking about the fact that we did have one child who had their own bedroom, and we could easily put bunk beds in that room and have two kids in there. I thought about James 4:17 - Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. Man, that James guy is always messing with my life. I guess that comes with being the brother of God in the flesh. I believe that when we know that we can act and do good, and the way is clear to us (not easy, but clear), then if we don’t do it, we are in sin. I could see how we could bring in Leeann, make her our daughter and help her ... if I didn’t act, it would be sin. Within 10 minutes, I called Renee into the kitchen and said, “Ok, let’s call your brother and tell him we want Leeann. If he can get us custody, I will buy her plane ticket and get her here.” We then called Telma into the kitchen and welcomed her to the ministry. After some pastoral care (ha), she was onboard and willing to share her bedroom. :-) We called Terry and told him and he excitedly began to work hard on getting the proper paperwork in order. Well, three weeks later Leeann was on her first airplane flying over the Pacific ocean bound for Kansas City, IHOP-KC, and her first forever family. We were all very excited about this precious new daughter of ours!
Our Precious Leeann – Part 2
After purchasing Leeann’s airline ticket and making all the arrangements for her to come and be our new princess, we received our invitation from Ukraine and our appointment with the department of adoption in Kiev. Leeann was scheduled to land in Kansas City on December 3rd. We couldn’t believe it when we saw that our appointment date in Kiev was set for Dec 5th. This meant that we had to fly out of Kansas City on the morning of Dec 3rd. I thought, “Man Lord, You are bringing us children so fast, we can’t even meet them at the airport.” This was hard because we so badly wanted Leeann to know how excited we were to have her, we wanted to welcome her with a big celebration and a million hugs and kisses, flowers and chocolates. Fortunately, Leeann knew Renee’s mom and our daughter Telma. We also have lots of family in KC and they did a great job of meeting her at the airport, welcoming her into the family and making her feel loved. Our first trip to Ukraine lasted three weeks and we arrived home on Christmas eve. What an awesome Christmas present was waiting for us! An amazing, sweet, precious, and beautiful new daughter! It doesn’t get better than that. It has been such an incredible joy to have Leeann in our family. She has blended right into our crazy family and all her sisters absolutely adore her. Less than two months later we returned from our second trip to Ukraine with the three boys. What is so amazing to me is to see the way Leeann loves on them. She is an incredible big sister. It blows me away to look at our children who were suffering abuse and/or neglect in totally different parts of the world and see them together laughing and dancing and loving one another. It’s like catching a glimpse of that day when all tribes, nations, and tongues will be gathered together into one family, and they will sing together of the great love of the Father, who redeemed them from the ends of the earth. Now that will be something!
Below, are some pictures that Leeann's Aunt sent to us of Leeann! Thank you so much Mina! They are just beautiful! I also, want to thank my brother-in-law, Terry, and his wife Amy, along with Leeann's Aunt Mina, for all they did to care for Leeann and to help get her here to us. You guys are amazing! We love you and pray for you daily as you work so hard to help the people of the Marshall Islands! God bless you guys!
Leeann (on the far left), singing in a Christmas program at her church
Leeann with her friend and her cousin, dressed in uniform, preparing to sing in a program at church
Standing in front of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean
Just look at those beautiful eyes!!!!