We have had some incredible experiences at church here. When you are thrown into another culture with no idea what anyone is saying and you feel so out of place and so lost, it is very comforting to know you can go to church and feel the same spirit of the Lord that you feel at home thousands of miles away. It doesn't matter what language you are hearing because the spirit is the same. The people are good people who love and serve God and it is an incredible experience to witness.
We have been able to attend the local branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, here for the past 3 weeks and so today as we said goodbye to the missionaries and members who have helped us and been kind enough to translate for us during some of the meetings, we felt so much gratitude to our Heavenly Father for continuing to place people in our path to help us on this journey.
(we had to take some photos of Mia for her passport)
As we sat in this chapel today listening to the hymns in the native tongue, we were overcome with emotion. We knew the songs we were singing were "Lord I would Follow Thee" and "I know that my Redeemer Lives" because we sing them often at home, but to sit and listen to the beautiful music and to hear the message of these songs in the Russian language was incredible. The spirit bore witness to us that it doesn't matter where we are, or if we can understand the words, our Father in Heaven is still there. He still speaks to us and He knows our hearts.
As this was our last sunday here in this city, I felt such love come over me during these songs, as if Heavenly Father was saying "You are in the home stretch and I will not leave you. You are almost there"
My friend Heather, who has just recently been through this adoption experience sent me a message that explained exactly what I felt today and have felt many times throughout this journey. She said "Don't you just feel like Heavenly Father is wrapping His arms right around you and saying, "Thank you?" I love when he does this through human connection. "
He did this today at church...
He does it through each of you who have prayed for us, loved us, and supported us...
He does it through your sweet comments and words of encouragement....
He did it when we needed the funds for this adoption and people rallied together to make it possible....
He did it when we were unsure if we could take the leap of faith needed to save this little girl by placing people in our lives to help us to know that if we said yes the rest would work itself out,
He has wrapped His arms around us through the human connection of many, many, many people.....
All for one little girl and one big miracle.
We chose to follow the Lord's promptings in the beginning as we stepped out in faith to bring this little girl into our family and we were scared. We had no idea what was in store and no idea how we were going to accomplish such a thing, yet every step of the way we have felt our Father in Heaven reassurring us that if we just keep following Him it will be ok, and it has been. It has been more than ok, it has been amazing and it has been a true miracle. One that has forever changed us and I feel inadequate to be a part of. A miracle that part of me doesn't want to end, because it has been more life changing and incredible than words can express.
We wanted to give the caregivers at the orphanage a thank you note so we wrote what we wanted to say and then asked the missionaries here to translate it into Russian and put it in a card for them. They were working on it after church and we were talking to another missionary and this lady came up to us (she was not a member of this congregation and was attending with the missionaries to learn more about the church here) She told the missionary she wanted him to translate to us what she was saying. She had been told by the sister missionaries that we were here to adopt a child, so she asked us why we chose Ukraine, and why we chose this child. We told her about how our youngest daughter has down syndrome and so through the connections of the down syndrome community we found an orphan ministry that helps place children with special needs, we found Mia's picture and the Lord led us to this little girl.
She proceeded to say something, and the missionary got hesitant and said he didn't want to tell us what she was saying. We assured him that it was ok, we understood this culture's feeling about the children with special needs. So he went on to tell us that She said "why don't you take 2 healthy children home instead of this one handicapped child? You should take 2 healthy children and leave this child to lay by my parents (meaning leave her to die)"
On the one hand I wanted to retaliate with words of anger and defend my child and all other children with special needs, but on the other hand I felt so sad that this is really how this lady thinks. I was overcome by a peaceful feeling that assured me not to take this the wrong way, but to use it as a teaching moment and seeing this lady, I knew that she did not mean it as harmful as it sounds, she just lives in a culture where she can NOT fathom why we would do this and why it would be good for this child. She literally thinks it would be better for children with special needs to be left to die. It is so beyond my comprehension that she would feel this, but as we have learned it is how it is in this culture. I really felt like she was not being mean, she just simply did not understand any differently. She has no idea what these children have to offer and no idea that they are worth saving.
We told her "that our home and our country has many opportunities for these children and that she will live a full and happy life and that we felt very strongly that she was meant to be part of our family so we came specifically to find her and bring her home." I could see in her eyes that the spirit of the Lord was working on her heart and softening it and she then said "well than take one more child with you" We kindof laughed and said "we wish we could save them all, but right now this ONE child is who we can help and this one is meant to be in our family so we are taking her home" She pulled me close to her and kissed my cheek a couple times and said "spaceba, spaceba" (thank you, thank you) and she went and sat down.
We stood there for a few more minutes talking to the missionary and telling him that we understood why she would ask these things because it is so different here in her country with regards to special needs. He said "yeah, and this culture is much more blunt about their feelings"
We continued to talk and a few minutes later this same lady stood up from her seat and came over to me again. She had a different countenance about her this time and she pulled me and this missionary aside and asked him to translate.
She said "do you want more children?"
I kind of laughed because I thought she was trying to convince me that I needed to adopt more children here, like she had been telling me earlier, but before I could respond she went on to say, "I feel strongly to tell you that you will have another healthy child born to you. You will! Just keep trying and don't give up. You WILL have another healthy child born to you"
I didn't know what to say.... I was speechless.
As I teared up I tried to explain to this missionary to tell this lady that we indeed had been trying to have another biological child for the past 3 + years and that indeed we hoped to have that opportunity again. It was an incredible moment because this lady had no idea what we have gone through in the past few years...an ectopic pregnancy, multiple miscarriages, years of trying to get pregnant and then this past year to miscarry again at 14 weeks along.....she didn't know any of this.
She didn't know that we still hope that we get the chance again to add another child to our family through pregnancy. She didn't know any of this, but the Lord did. And He placed her in our path to remind us that He knows. He knows each of us and He knows the desires of our hearts. He was yet again reminding me that if we follow Him, we will be blessed. Even if it is not in the way that we think it will be.
When we were having all of these infertility trials, we did not realize that we were being prepared to find little Mia and to do what was necessary to bring her home.
Mia Kareen was the answer we didn't know we were looking for.