Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Recap from Nepal with Pictures

It all started with a dream, BANAU, on January 16, 2009...

2 Years, 2 Months and 14 Days later on...

March 30, 2011, 3PM EST, Dulles Washington DC...

our son, Trek FINALLY became a United States Citizen!!!!!!

What a journey the Lord has taken us on! We have now been home for week and three days and Trek is doing wonderful!

For those of you who checked in for updates in Nepal, I apologize for not doing them. I'll try to fill you in on what we did. For starters we stayed with the PUMA girls and Mary and Fran. While there we were subject to the infamous KTM load shedding schedule, which meant we had up to 14 hours a day with NO power. This is part of the reason I didn't update.

Yup, we learned a lot on this trip. For starters....we take for granted being able to flip a switch and have lights any time of the day, use a microwave to quickly warm something up, bake something in the oven, use the computer at any time and have hot water when you feel the need to take a shower. These are just a few things that come to mind. PUMA boys and girls minus Mary and Fran. We LOVE these kids! We need to go back and spend more time with them.

Okay so I don't know how much of this you all want to read, but I want to journal as much as I can remember so I most likely will break this up into several posts. We'll see how it goes.

We began our second trip on March 6 by driving down to JFK in New York. We had dropped the girls off with our wonderful friends (who happen to have 1 child and 3 teens...bless their hearts for taking our two) the night before so we could get an early start but we forgot a couple major items and needed to see them before we left. So on our way to NY we made a pit stop in Carmel. We forgot to leave some money with Linda and Robin forgot her coffee. We finally hit the road around 9ish with everything we needed in hand...the most important being my anxiety medication and scripture verses to meditate on.

When we landed in Kathmandu Nepal on March 8th after about 35 hours of uneventful traveling (thank God) and were greeted by Padam, Mary, Fran and Trek!! It was so wonderful to be back in Nepal to see our little boy, visit our friends and hear the honking of horns in Kathmandu!

Trek was all smiles and came right to us and even rode back to the house with us from the airport and didn't cry! That just confirmed the work the Lord was doing in his little life the time we were gone.

For the first week and a half we stayed at the boys home at night, but spend our entire days with the girls. Fran happened to be heading back to the States for a well deserved break and she offered us her room at the girls house once she left, which we took her up on her offer. We were much more comfortable in her room. We were sad to see her go, but did enjoy staying there. She is still in the US and is coming to Maine the end of this month and she'll be staying with us for several days! Can't wait to see her! Mary will be coming as well in a couple months!

Once we got settled in our room our first line of business was to get Trek seen at the IOM (International Organization for Migration) this is where he had his medical check/clearance to enter the US. Because he was over two he had to have a TB test which he hated, but passed. His paperwork was sent to the US Embassy on Monday the 14th and then it was just a matter of waiting for his visa approval. I guess this is a good place to talk about his visa. Just in case any of you were wondering....I was convinced that his visa approval was going to be waiting for us at the Embassy when we landed. As a matter of fact as soon as we got settled into the house I sent an email to them letting them know we were in Nepal and gave them our in-country cell phone numbers and was sure that they were going to call us that day with approval. At the end of the day when we didn't get a call, I didn't worry too much and just figured it would come the next day or Friday at the absolute latest! Anyway I was pleased that we had his medical appointment over with and knew on Monday the 14 we would be good to go (literally)! I even called my mom and we talked about the possibility of trying to change our return tickets home so we could leave early. Well Thursday came and went with no call, Friday came and went with no call so I was pumped for Monday! Monday came and went with no call.

There were other families under us that began to get approvals while we sat there waiting. Up to this point the blog that was set up for pipeline families had been pretty 'spot on' as far as order of approvals, but for some reason once it became our all changed. I think now the Lord was teaching me again that everything is in His time. Not mine.

I tried to not worry too much and just knew that it would be there in a couple of days at the longest. Well the entire week passed and Friday the 18th came and went with no word from the Embassy. At this point, I was an emotional mess. I did not understand what was taking so long, why we continued to sit there waiting, wondered if our paperwork was missing, if maybe in was going to be an intent to deny.....I was totally 'fleshing out' (my sin nature) and not putting my faith into practice but instead I was letting the worries and what ifs fill my mind.

All I can say now is....

poor Mike.

He was so good and patient with me. He kept encouraging me to take some time to get alone with the Lord and read and pray and of course he also prayed with me all the time. He kept telling me everything would work out and to not worry. He reminded me in scripture that we are not to worry but take every thought captive. Even though at the time I probably didn't act like it, I really loved the strength he displayed and the certainty that the Lord was going to bring us through this.

I did begin to make phone calls and send emails to our attorney and someone in Washington who was working on these rebuttals/approvals to find out if they could at least tell us where our paperwork was and maybe how close they were to making a decision. I didn't get any real good feedback from anyone, so all I could do was wait. You know I've always had a bit of a problem with being patient, and thought I learned that lesson when we adopted Noelle. But the Lord showed me I hadn't learned that lesson and He was continuing to teach me.

I knew we wouldn't be getting approval over the weekend so I started looking at the calendar and knew that if we didn't get approval by Tuesday the 22nd at the latest, we would have to extend our trip. So we prayed hard over the weekend and again thought okay on Monday we'll be sure to get the approval. Yup, you guessed it. Monday came and went with no word! So with nothing left to do and having power so I could use my computer... I got on facebook and asked a couple of my friends to add this visa issue to the prayer vine at church. We knew we needed at approval the next day (Tuesday) or we were looking at more money to change our return date and being away from our girls even longer.

Tuesday, March 22 came and I decided in the night (because I couldn't sleep) that I was going to contact the Embassy to ask them some questions, like IF we got approval that day or Wed. would they be able to Trek's visa so we could leave on Monday the 28th as planned. I wanted to know if they knew where our paperwork was. I wanted to know if they would call or send an email with approval and what time of day did they make their calls.

I talked with April at the Embassy and she told me that IF we did get approval (which they didn't know anything about our case) we would need to be in country for another 8 to 10 days....which meant we would have to change our tickets. She told me she would call with approval and that if I didn't hear by 5:15PM it hadn't come. She tried to encourage me to sit back and just wait, because that was all I could do. They knew nothing. It was all up to USCIS and Washington at this point. So we tried to keep busy that day and Mary and I went to several places and did some shopping and came home around maybe 1ish or 1:30.

I was putting some of our stuff away in the room when my phone rang. I answered and it was April from the Embassy. I was not overly excited about her calling because I had spoken with her earlier and I had emailed some paperwork to her and thought she was calling about that. She asked me how I was doing and I said okay. She proceeded to say...."well, I'm calling because I have some really good news to share with you...." I began to trembled, tears started flowing as I sat in Fran's room and listened as she told me that Trek's visa was approved!!!


I composed myself and then reminded her of our earlier conversation that day about us leaving on Monday the 28th at 8:30PM and wondered if there was anyway possible to get it by then to save money. She looked over our paperwork and saw that everything was there and said she would do everything in her power to have it for us before we left.... even if it meant picking it up on the way to the airport. AHHHH!

Well my kids want to eat so this is where I will end todays entry. I'll post more tomorrow about all the fun things we did while we waited for the coveted visa along with more pictures and how we got the visa.

Philip and his wife and daughter.

Fran & Mary (I can't believe I didn't take more picture of them...with Trek...ugh!) Daddy & Trek The store across the street had some soda and snacks. We visited them occasionally :)

Houses next to the girls home. A little boy Trek's age lives in the house on the right. Cute little guy (wish I had his picture too). I'm telling ya, my mind was not focused on anything but his approval over there.

Building a new wall at the girls home.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Just shy of 7 months from the referral of our son....we have an approval to bring him home!!
Thank you Jesus!!
Trek loves to point at the airplanes flying over head and will get all excited and pat his chest.
Trek, buddy...less than a week and you'll be on one on your way home...finally!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Last Update State Side

We are leaving for Nepal on Sunday, so this will be our last update state side.

Visa approvals continue to come in almost daily praise the Lord! We currently are 4th in line and have been waiting 12 days so far. This means we're likely to get our approval next week! Who knows, maybe his approval will come tonight....wouldn't that be wild!

Trek is doing fantastic! We Skyped him the other day. Of course we know he doesn't really understand what's happening, but Fran & Mary have been telling him Daddy and Mommy are coming to get him. He loves to look at the airplanes flying over the house and point to them while saying dada! Isn't that sweet.

So I'm going to throw out some specific prayer requests....

1. That his visa approval will be issued ASAP!
2. That the Lord will protect us while traveling and staying in Nepal and keep our girls healthy and happy while we are away.
3. That the Lord will prepare Trek's heart for the transition to come in the next week.
4. That the Lord will provide ALL we need financially before we leave.
Let me share what I mean by this....

As of right now we have $812.00 to bring with us. Out of that we know we need to pay...

$404.00 for Trek's visa
$100.00 for his medical appoint (hopefully not more)
$200.00 for our visas to enter Nepal for a month and all three exit visas
$250.00 for a rental car & gas to get us to JFK in New York

These are just the necessities that we can think of and as you can see....we're running short. This is not figuring the cost of food while over there or leaving money for our girls while we leave...nothing extra. The Lord has always provided and we are believing He'll do it again for us. This is our final sprint to the finish line. Please pray with us about these things!

So please pray with us that He will provide.

Mike & Tonya

PS. Once we receive Trek's approval, we'll open our blog again. Stayed tuned. Oh yeah, IF we get his approval before we leave....I'll let you know! Grace & Peace

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Okay, here's the update.

Well, girls, I hope I don't disappoint you with this blog update : )

Mike and I have been throwing around travel dates, airlines to travel with, and it's been so hard as to know when to leave. We had been praying we could take the girls with us and if we could this would all be so much easier. I'm tired of having my kids be on opposite sides of the globe. But we don't have enough $ and so just Mike & I are going back. We have some friends that are coming back to Maine and they will be staying with the girls the entire time we're gone.

I think most of you know how much I dislike flying. The strange thing is I can talk about going back, and I say all the time..."If I could bring the girls, I'd jump on a plane tomorrow and go over...." Well, talking is one thing, purchasing tickets is another. Last night after looking at several flying options we settled on our flight. That is why I'm feeling happy, excited and sick all at the same time. Girls, I'm just saying that once we made that final decision and I knew when I'd be flying my stomach started turning...for makes me sick. My body just responds in a weird way and it's completely out of my control. It's the weirdest thing. I wish my body would stop behaving in such a manner...I mean good grief. Fear is an awful thing. Especially when we are fearing something that hasn't happened. This morning I decided it was time to dig out one of my books again. I took it with me last time we traveled to Nepal. This is one of the first entries....

When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life. Can the safety-lover do anything great? Can the risk-averse accomplish noble deeds? for God? for others? No.

The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky.

They cannot give to the poor. Benevolence has no guarantee of return.

The fear-filled cannot dream wildly. What if their dreams sputter and fall from the sky?

The worship of safety emasculates greatness. No wonder Jesus wages such a war against fear.

So with that we are flying Qatar and are leaving on March 6 at 10:50PM from JFK and we'll have one stop in Doha. We'll arrive in Kathmandu on March 8 at 11:45AM. Our return flight....leaving KTM on March 28 and with a stop in Doha, Washington D.C., and will land in Boston on March 29 at 8:30PM. I'll start picturing this photo in my mind and listen to her words of wisdom : )....

Did a little research and wanted to share it with you.

Your chances of being involved in an aircraft accident are about 1 in 11 million. On the other hand, your chances of being killed in an automobile accident are 1 in 5000. Statistically, you are at far greater risk driving to the airport than getting on an airplane. However, the perception is that you have more control over your fate when you are in your car than as a passenger traveling on an airplane. Experience shows otherwise, considering that over 50,000 people are killed on the highways every year.”

So, Miss Tonya… I want you to know that I will be ESPECIALLY praying for you on your DRIVE TO THE AIRPORT… but once you’re seated ON the plane, my mind will be at ease, knowing that you’re safe and sound!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also, I wanted to share a mental picture with you that really helped me on my 1st flight…I just kept envisioning the ENORMITY of the ALMIGHTY GOD compared to our teeny little plane and even our WORLD (which He holds in the palm of His hand)…. And I pictured Him gently gliding our plane along its path (which HE IS! Because He alone is in control of all weather, all gravitational forces, all EVERYTHING!!!!!) and it calmed me to just imagine His mighty hand lifting us along through the air towards our child. (kinda like this picture I’m attaching)

I think one of my biggest reasons for being a bit unsettled, besides the flying and leaving the girls again is the fact that we still don't have his visa. So this is again another step of faith for us. Some probably are wondering why we would we go before we get it. Well.....because as soon as we do get it we want to be there so we can bring him home and ticket prices are high already. If we wait and purchase within a couple of days it will be LOTS more. There is a blog for all the Nepal pipeline families and it has lists of all the families and where they all are in the process. So far everyone who received an RFE (request for further evidence) and has submitted their rebuttal has gotten their child's visa approved. Well there is one family who didn't get approval, but didn't get denied either. USCIS needs some more info from them. The lawyer and investigator team we are using has won every case to date! We are just trusting and believing Trek's will be approved once it's reviewed.

Originally we thought our rebuttal would be sent the 21 of Feb. well, the investigator got his work done quickly and our first draft of our brief has been written and it's in the hands of our attorney now. We have been told they plan to mail it out by the end of this week or first of next week. Praying for this week! Every day counts!

Once our brief leaves her office it takes about a week to get to New Delhi and then possibly another day or two to be assigned to an adjudicator for review. There are a handful of officers and most cases are being approved at day 13,17 a couple at 23 days and one as early as 8 and one at 10 days. So it's really hard to know just when we'll hear. But based on that information we are thinking we may hear something by the week of March 7th. Wouldn't it be wild if we hear before we even leave?! That's what I'm praying for!

So you can imagine all the emotions running through my body.

We got another picture of Trek the other day with a message from Mary saying that he "LOVES being silly!" Here's the picture of him soaking in the sun :) His cheeks are looking chubby! Oh, I can't wait to squeeze him and kiss him!
Keep those prayers coming!

Oh yes, one more thing. We've had people wondering if we are collecting items to bring back to the orphanage or what our plans are. It's too hard to bring items with us. While we were over there last time we saw the huge need the children's home had. If anyone wants to help them with practical needs such as clothes, shoes, a sink for the home, etc. please use the Chip In on the top left side of the blog. We need all the money by Feb. 28 so we have time to get the cash to bring with us.


Monday, February 7, 2011

You girls are too funny!

Just so you can all sleep tonight, I can tell you we did not get his visa yet. So be praying about that still! Okay, I'll post tomorrow and get you all up to speed.

Love you....good night!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

May God hold you in His hand until We can be with you

I'm glad most of you are able to still follow our journey to Trek. It probably seems weird to go private just weeks before this part of the journey is over, but we felt it was the right thing to do until we have his visa in our hands. I usually don't get too many comments, so I was kind of surprised to see so many requests for invitations we got. I'm happy you're here :)

So last Saturday we had our benefit dinner and auction. We were just amazed, humbled and blessed by all those who came, baked yummies, and donated auction items and food! We could have never done it without all of you! So thank you!!!! We were so blessed to have Mike's cousin and wife do the emcee & auction for the evening. If you guys read're amazing....we love you....thank you! Kathy, a sweet lady at church, offered to do all the cooking! She wanted to help take some stress off of me and thought by preparing the food and having it served would DID!!! Thank you! I talked with her on Sunday and she thinks we served about 280 people! We had families coming an hour after we started. We had to ask people to give up their tables after they finished eating to make more room for others. What a blessing. The Lord is so awesome in that He is in every detail. We had been given 60 pounds of spaghetti and had about 13 gallons of sauce and we used every last drop with none left over, but had enough to feed everyone! We ended up with about 1200 roll, bread sticks and enough salad to feed 400!!! Crazy! Okay, I know you all want to know what we raised...some of you already know but for those who don't....once all the money is in we will have raised........$6200.00!!!!! Praise God!!!!

Now you're probably wondering what does this mean for us and what's next. Good question. We had been praying for 10,000 which I know is a HUGE number, but the reason was so we could pay for the attorney, investigator, replace our travel money we needed to use to secure the A&I and bring our two girls with us to Nepal and wait there until Trek's visa is issued. Here's what we know now.....
1. The Lord abundantly blessed us with 6200.00 to work with!
2. Yesterday we mail the final pymt to our attorney. As far as we know she is PAID IN FULL!!!!!
3. We found out Sunday morning that our investigation is 100% complete and will be on our attorney's desk Tuesday morning (TODAY)!!! He had quoted us $3500.00 and he told us our investigation would only cost....$2600.00!!! Praise the Lord again!! I just have to say how blessed I am by this mans honesty and integrity. I'm just saying that he is a local Nepali and Nepal is one of the world poorest countries and he gave us a quote that we agreed upon and he rightfully could have charged us that amount, but is doing it for less. That impresses me. We wired his payment in full yesterday!!!
3. We have begun pricing tickets and with needing to pay for Trek's visa, medical appointment, our visas, Trek's plane ticket home we have just enough money almost to the penny for just two people to go. There are 4 of us. So know the conversations begin as to what two go. It's either Mike and I or Mike and Robin (our 16 year old daughter).

We had been praying all along to have the opportunity to go over as a family and serve in the orphanage until his visa was approved at which time we'd come home. We think the only way Robin can be away from school for 5 weeks or so would be for her to home school the remainder of the year. She not digging that at all! She wants to go, but does not remotely like the sounds of home schooling. Noelle wants to go, but if Robin stays home, would it be easier for her to stay with her. We have some wonderful friends who have offered to stay with our girls the entire time we would be gone whether it is two weeks or five weeks.

Unless the Lord provides in a way that we are not expecting it is looking like Mike and I will be the ones returning to Nepal, just not sure as to how soon to leave and what date our return date should be. One thing is final....we are no longer 'fund-raising' for this adoption anymore. Period. The Lord has been so gracious and faithful and we feel it's time to be done. If he lays it on someones heart to do something, that is between them and the Lord.

So please be praying with Mike & I as we seek the Lord in making our travel plans.

Trek is doing great! We got another update yesterday and he is doing wonderful. We can't wait to hold him in our arms again! We are so excited to have our family complete, all living together! What a ride this has been! We are thankful and excited to see another rebuttal approved yesterday! I really believe it won't be long now! Here's praying to a speedy rebuttal and approval!

KISSES IN THE WIND (The Waiting Child's Lullabye)

I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams.
You are here each day with me, at least that's how it seems.

I know you wonder where we are... what's taking us so long.
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.

Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin...
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God hold you in His hand until I can be with you.
I promise you, my darling, I'm doing all that I can do.

Very soon, you'll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.

--- © Pamela Durkota, written for Josh

I'm not a fan of Dixie Chicks, but I do like this song and it seems appropriate.

By Jill Work

A half a world away
Sometimes it seems we’re so far apart
But a half a world away
Is not too far for a journey of the heart

My little one, my bundle of joy
I’m waiting for you
My precious son, my baby boy
I know you’re waiting too

A half a world away
A child waits for a family of his own
While a half a world away
A family waits to come bring him home

My little one, my bundle of joy
I’m whispering a prayer
My precious son, my baby boy
I hope to soon be there

I hope that we
will no longer be
a half a world away.

I think he likes ice cream :)

Brain Freeze

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Did you miss me?

It's been weeks it seems since I've blogged. It's been busy around here and if we're friends on facebook you know why.

I am in the thick of planning a benefit dinner and auction to raise the money needed for the legal fight we are in to get Trek's visa.

I will tell you, I'd rather have a yard sale any day over this! There is a ton of work involved especially when you're doing 98% of it yourself. But I won't complain the Lord is faithful as always and He has provided all the food! We have Olive Garden providing 500 bread sticks and salads for 100 people, Angelo's is a local Italian restaurant and the are providing 60 pounds of spaghetti, Texas Roadhouse is giving us 400 rolls and their sweet butter....yum! We have another restaurant that is providing all the sauce and last but not least a small local pizza shop is going to pick up any slack in salads and or sauce!! Oh yeah, Pepsi is giving us 25 cases of soda :) So the food is looking and sounding great! We even had a group of ladies offer to prepare and serve the dinner! Yahoo!!!

So I went back and forth with some of my friends on what to 'charge' for tickets. We settled on $5.00 a ticket and children under 4 are free. Do you know how many tickets one needs to sell to raise thousands of dollars??? I mean people, friends we are trying to raise in the vicinity of $10,000.00 dollars! Oh my...that's a LOT of tickets! So far we have raised about 670.00 in tickets, which is wonderful! Many from people who live out of state and even the country but want to show their support. We love you guys and couldn't do it without you!

The auction is what I'm focusing on now. We are praying for large items to draw in the public. Also we are having a dessert table and hoping to raise lots of money there. I'm trying my best to not get too freaked out about what we need to raise and rest in the Lord and believe that He'll provide again like He has in the past. All I can do is what seems logical and leave the rest to Him. I know He is able!

So for any of you out there that has not bought's not too late!

Now for an update on Trek's case....

We have heard that the investigation is complete and now we wait for our attorney to get all the information and wait for her to write our rebuttal. Praying that she gets it finished ahead of schedule, which happens to be Feb. 21.

Trek is doing wonderful! He looks like he is filling out. I think he's gained a little over 2 pounds! He is saying dada and mama! We were skyping him Sunday night and he was trying to rub Mike's cute! As wonderful as he is being taken care of, it's so hard not being the ones to care for him! We are praying everyday that the Lord will provide so we can go over as a family in February and stay there until his visa is issued. So far every rebuttal that has been submitted has been approved thank God! Some people have asked how we could leave and not work....this is the neat thing.... the type of work Mike does allows him to do it anywhere in the world as long as he has the Internet. So as long as the Lord provides the means for us to get back over there Mike will continue to work. The other 'issue' people ask about is Robin's schooling. We would have to home school the remained of the year (I think) and she seems willing to do that or see what ideas her teachers might have. What I can tell you for certainty is... we are ready to be living together as a family the way the Lord intended us too! We think of the verse Psalms 68:6 often... "God places the lonely in families.... " I don't mean to be a broken record in saying we are so thankful for PUMA, but that is not his family. He needs to be with his daddy, mommy and two sisters who all want so desperately to be with him!

So, I'm reading another great book, Radical (taking back your faith from the America Dream) by David Platt. I liked this particular quote I just read today...
This is how God works. He puts his people in positions where they are desperate for his power, and then he shows his provision in ways that display his greatness.
We have seen this time and time again through Trek's adoption and I believe He will continue to display his greatness! Please keep praying with us and for our little boy!