Monday, July 31, 2006

Same Story, Different Perspective

I have always enjoyed hearing stories from more than one perspective, particularly if one or more of the stories come from our own children. Tessa, for instance, has a phenominal memory. When she talks about things that happened when she was a small child, it is fascinating for me to remember the same incident and compare her perceptions to mine. Time after time I have discovered that her reasons for doing a particular thing or acting in a specific way had very good reasoning behind them, although she did not have the communication skills at that age to explain herself.

Along those same lines, I would like to share one of our daughter's story of selling our house last week. My tendency is to get caught up in the emotions of a situation like that and not pay as close attention to our children as I should. Stated as simply and matter-of-fact as it is in this writing, I find myself feeling ashamed for having made such a huge deal of it and continually putting the kids off while I tried to deal with the challenges. Hindsight is indeed 20-20.

Here is the story, as written by Anna, age 14. I have left the essay exactly as she wrote it, as the mistakes tend to give it more of a sense of childlike wonder and innocence.

Selling Our House

Selling our house in Owens Cross Roads was hard on my mom. She spendid a lot of time on phones and we the kids had to be patient because we wanted to talk to her right away. Then one day she and grandma needed to go to New Hope which is past Owens Cross roads. So-next day she took some kids with her so she could drop them to our old neighborhood to visit the horses, Johnsons, and the place. While we vsiited the Johnsons grandma and She-She went to New Hope. When they came back She-She and Mrs. Comton waited for the termite guy. While we all waited we played with Mrs. Comton's pets and went through our house that they are trying to buy. The house looked OK execpt they chanced some things inside the house. We waited to long and got tired so we went back home. The next day She-She went back to Owens Cross Rds and the termite guy was there so he looked around the house under the house and they or he signed or did something with the paper sometimes at 11:something. Which in fact that paper needs to return to somewhere at 12:00. If not it is still our house. But She-She returned it in time and WALA we sold our house. It is the Comton's house. She-She went out to eat with couple of people to celebrate. I am happy that it went well.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tessa's Writings

Tessa has discovered a company that will allow her to post some of her writings on their website so that people can either download the files or order them to be printed. The site is . From there you can type in Tessa's name in the search box and it will show you the two files she has on there already.

We welcome input on this site. Please let us know if the process works smoothly for you or not.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Back in AL

This was the last photo taken of Naomi, Abby and Maddie, in Seattle. We ate at the same restaurant we had back in 2003 and it was fun reminiscing. Overall, neither Naomi or I can think of much of anything that could have made the trip more enjoyable. She had a wonderful time with Abby and Maddie and they seem to have enjoyed her, too. It was a true delight to meet all of their family and spend time with them.

As for me, I was overwhelmed with God's handiwork that was so prominent everywhere we went. From the Cascades to the Olympic mountains, to the rain forest on Vancouver Island to the huge open expanse of the water, to sunsets over Lake Washington watched from the Greene's deck. Oh, and the cool weather was a wonderful bonus, too! We sure wanted to bring that home as a souvenir, but somehow it would not fit in our suitcases. Mine was already overweight anyway...

Thanks so very much for all of the prayers on our behalf. God was so very gracious to allow us such a wonderful trip. Our travel went well and my dystonia did not flare up like I was afraid it might.

Of course, like happens with most every trip, it was good to be home with our family once again. The kids were "downloading" all of their stories and questions today, and I am sure there will be some to carry over to the next few days.

I tried to post more photos at a time, but it did not work. I will put them on Snapfish, so please let me know if you would like to look at them.

Again, thanks to each of you who were a big part of this trip, even if it was behind the scenes and on your knees.

Thankful for Hospitality

Naomi and I made it home safely yesterday afternoon. I will post more on the trip later, but I wanted to share this email that I sent to some friends:

I was initially going to just email this to Dennis, but then I realized that it could be helpful to others, too. Three years ago my husband and I adopted Naomi from Seattle. Trying to keep the costs of the adoption reasonable, we asked Dennis if he knew of anyone that could help us get around in Seattle and perhaps recommend a good place to stay. (Since then, our motto has been, "Dennis knows someone everywhere!") Dennis gave us the names and phone numbers of a couple of pastors he knew in the area and we made contact with them. Rather than giving us local information, both of the pastors offered their own homes for us to stay in. We stayed with one pastor for a couple of nights and then realized the other one was much closer to Naomi's current residence (as it turned out he was not a pastor, but a member of the church congregation).

We then began what ended up as a three week stay with this wonderful family. They opened their hearts and home to us and we have been great friends since then. We communicate on a regular basis and Naomi and I just got back from a trip north to see her biological sisters. Once again we stayed with these folks for a while and it was just like a reunion for us. We have also done the same kind of thing with other families who came through contacts Dennis made.

Those folks remain good friends, also. One of the most delightful aspects of this kind of relationship is the impact it has on others, though. I have had a number of opportunities to talk to folks about Christian friends who love to share their home with brothers and sisters in Christ, whether they have met them previously or not. I was able to explain how these people were like family to us, through our common relationship with the Lord. My own parents have been puzzled more than once over how Dennis and Naomi and all of GBC open their homes to us when we travel back for a visit.

I am not sharing this with you to shine the spotlight on Dennis. Rather, I hope to encourage all of you to not be hesitant to share your own home with travelers and others, as you share God's love with them. Also, consider finding Christian friends in cities you plan to travel to and experience the joy of getting to know them once you arrive. When others seem incredulous about this arrangement, take that opportunity to talk about the bonds Christian brothers and sisters share. And be sure to ask Dennis, because he DOES know someone everywhere.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Saturday's Canadian Adventures

Today's Canadian adventures involved taking a short ferry ride to a little island called Protection Island. I think the premise of the name is that it protects Vancouver Island from something (weather or enemies?). There is one restaurant on the island, called Dinghy Dock Restaurant. The restaurant was nice and we sat at tables on the dock. They had a little fishing hole for the kids, but none caught any. The food was good and we got to watch all of the comings and goings at the harbour.

Some of the interesting sea creatures we saw were starfish, (see photo above - they were even my favorite color - purple), some kind of mussels or something all over the docks and we even saw a jellyfish! I would have never recognized it as that, but one of Pam's daughters pointed it out. It was very small - probably only about three inches. It was in the middle of a school of small fish, trying to get a meal, but it was not successful.

We then walked just a bit on the island. It is a very unique place and folks do not have cars there. They use golf carts to get around, as it is a small island and there are no businesses allowed there except for that one restaurant. Knowing the price range of the homes there, I was quice surprised that the lawns were not manicured like they are in AL. It was quite pretty, actually.

I am now resting while Pam has taken Naomi and one of her daugthers to that unique store called....WalMart. We will start early tomorrow, as we will take the ferry back over to the mainland (over an hour and a half ride) then drive around Vancouver a bit. Pam has a friend close to Vancouver who wants to meet me, and I am also looking forward to meeting her. She and her husband have 25 kids at home, all of them adopted with special needs. I just can't figure out why she wants to meet me....

From there we will drive down to Seattle. Please pray that Naomi is able to get back into the US without any problems. Some people have had problems getting back in when they were not born in the US. I have lots of documents and a passport for her, so I can't imagine too many problems. I will spend the night with the Greenes and Naomi will stay with the Skeldings at a hotel. Then, our outing for Monday will be Chuck E Cheese, where we will have lunch and say goodbye to the Skeldings. That will be hard for Naomi, so please pray for her in this respect, too.

I am eager to get back home, but not looking forward to all of the travel. I am very thankful that my spasms have not gotten too bad while I am here and I pray that I won't crash physically when I get home.

Friday's Notes

Today was another beautiful day on the island. We got a late start, as I spent some time showing our photos to the Skelding kids.

We had lunch and then went to see an art gallery/old church that Pam is in the process of buying. Ollie, you would have loved this place! It was built in 1912 and is of Scottish architecture. I took lots of photos and will download them tomorrow. It was lots of fun and I got to find out the name of some beautiful purple wildflowers in the meantime (snow peas, of all things!). Pam has promised to send me some seeds when the pods get ready. The gallery is close to a lake called Shawnigan Lake, so I thought of Shawn a lot while we were there.

After that, we drove down to Victoria (first photo above), which is the capital of BC and on the very southern tip of the island. It is a beautiful English-y town on the coast and we saw tons of wonderful homes and flowers. We saw a seal very briefly, but he went under water and we did not see him come back up anywhere.

There are lots and lots of deer here - blacktailed rather than whitetailed. This is an eagle mecca, although the only one I have seen so far was in Seattle. Oh, and the bunnies.... Bunnies, bunnies everywhere! Not just your ordinary run of the mill brown bunnies, though. They mostly look like domestic bunnies - blacks, whites, tans, and a few brown ones thrown in for good measure.

Naomi and the girls continue to enjoy each others. I think they were all kind of tired today, but they are still having lots of fun.

We don't have a lot planned for tomorrow. There is a small and remote island that we may ferry out to for lunch. No cars are allowed on the island - doesn't that sound quaint?

We are in the process of trying to plan the last few days. Pam has a good friend in Vancouver that wants to meet me and I would like to meet her, too. She also has a few more kids than "normal", all of them from African countries and all of them disabled. We could see her on the way back to Seattle, so we will plan that tomorrow.

I am missing everyone and looking forward to being home!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vancouver Island, BC

Well, I am having problems getting photos on here. I will end up with either no photos or a dozen photos, but I will go ahead and give an update in the meantime.

Naomi and I arrived as planned in Seattle, meeting our friends, the Greenes at the airport. We had a chance to rest up a bit, then Betty took us driving around the area. Naomi wanted to go by her old house and we actually managed to find it. She said that a lot of things looked different, though. We went to a lake near her old home where she used to spend a lot of time, too.

I had not realized how much travel was involved in actually getting to Vancouver Island from Seattle! We left Seattle at 9:30am in order to catch the 3:15 ferry. The ferry ride was two hours long and very nice. We saw Pam, Abby and Maddie waiting for us at the terminal and Naomi started running towards them. Of course this brought tears to my eyes, as the reunion was so very sweet. I am hoping the photo I took them ends up on this post.

We were greeted by the Skelding kids holding up a welcome sign at their home and lots of smiles. They live in a rural area, on ten acres with two of them waterfront property. Their house is very interesting, with 16 bedrooms. They recently bought the top portion of a house on the mainland and had it moved to their property. It has been wonderfully connected to the original house, bringing their sqare footage into the 6000's.

Today we went to a tourist area in Coombs, shopping at a store that had a grass roof with goats living on top of it. From there we went to a heavily forested area, very similar to a rain forest. The beauty was breathtaking. After that we ate at a restaurant on the beach and then came home.

Naomi has greatly enjoyed being with her sisters again. They are inseparable at this point. They have grown a lot in the last three years, of course, and they are darling girls. The other kids are also a lot of fun to play with. They are a few kids crazier than we are, as they have 16 at home.

I am very thankful to be doing OK so far physically. Thank you so much for your prayers.

This is an absolutely beautiful area and I hope to share more photos with you later.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Trip update

Ramona and Naomi arrived safely in Seattle. The plan for today is for them to take the ferry to Canada and meet Naomi's sisters. They will spend most of their stay there. We miss them already.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Long Awaited Trip

This coming Tuesday, July 11, Naomi and I are embarking upon the trip she has been waiting for and working towards for a long time. We adopted Naomi in September of 2003 and she has not seen her biological sisters since then. Leaving them was most likely the hardest thing she had ever done in her life, but she had no choice in the matter. The family that disrupted the adoption of the three of them would not allow us to adopt Abby and Maddie, nor would they allow the other family to adopt Naomi. They insisted that these sisters be separated, for reasons not clear to us.

Ever since the day they were separated, one of Naomi's greatest desires was to see Abby and Maddie again. Last summer she asked us if there was anyway she could work to earn the money for a trip to Vancouver Island, BC, where they live. I don't remember if she came up with the idea of raking leaves or if we did, but she soon had signs written up and posted all around our neighborhood.

Calls started coming in for her on a daily basis - sometimes more than one a day. Raking and bagging leaves was a hard job, but she proved herself to be a good strong worker and in no time she had built up an excellent reputation among our neighbors. Folks who had never even heard of the Edwards family knew of Naomi. She had calls coming in for other odd jobs, too, which she often did in addition to her raking.

Many weeks Naomi worked six days a week, often raking more than one yard a day. I sometimes had to go and find her as the sun went down so that she would not walk home in the dark. She wanted to get every last minute of work done that she could. She hired her brothers and sisters to help her, paying them part of what she earned. Some yards yielded 75-100 bags of leaves and no one had a word of complaint for the work she and her siblings did. On the contrary, they often called her back to rake more later, as the leaves continued to fall. These raking jobs lasted into the middle of winter, finally coming to a halt in January.

We gave Naomi a certain goal to work towards, since she would be paying for two airline tickets (we would not allow her to travel alone). Even with paying her workers and buying supplies, she eventually reached and exceeded the amount we suggested she save for the trip.

Tickets have been purchased and Naomi and I will be leaving soon for the long awaited trip to see her biological sisters. I only hope the neighbors can do without her for a week.

We would greatly appreciate prayers for this trip. We will fly into Seattle and then our good friends there will drive us to the ferry depot where we will catch a ferry to Vancouver Island. The week will be gone in a flash and the hard earned money well spent.

God has brought this young girl so far - from a rural village in Vietnam to a highly respected hard working young woman in Huntsville, AL. To Him be all the glory!!