This weekend we went on our annual fall retreat with our youth kids. We've been at the church for five years and when we first started, this trip, affectionately named TSC (Team Survival Challenge) we had around 25 kids and adults. This year we brought 72!!! It was awesome. The kids are broken up into six teams and basically all weekend they compete against each other for 10 pounds of candy and the opportunity to "sign the box" forever immortalized in youth group history. The concept of the trip came about for our former love of the T.V. show Survivor and how after every challenge we would say...."We could totally do that with the teens!" So we did- over a long weekend we play crazy games for points and then each team build a boat out of trash (yes, trash-bamboo, plastic bottles, cardboard, duct tape, rope, twine, milk jugs.....) and then we have a boat race on the lake. So not only do the boats float, but at least one rider must use a trash made paddle to row to victory! It's the funniest thing you have ever seen and the boats are amazingly, well, boat like. Anyway, we have such an amazing group of young people at our church- I am so thankful for them and the opportunity to be a part of their "youth years". It really is a privilege to serve.
Yesterday, we had to be at USCIS at 8:00 IN THE MORNING. Oh, did I mention the closest USCIS is an hour and a half from our house? Since it is downtown in a huge city we left a half hour early as well because we DID NOT want to miss the appointment it took me fighting tooth and nail to get. I am fairly certain that my BFF at USCIS did that on purpose after I called her such *nice* names. It was probably her way of "giving back" for my lovely tirade on her agency, our government, and her personally. When I woke up at 5:00am on Tuesday morning, let me tell you, I fully understood what they mean when they say what they say about "payback". But we did get to see a spectacular autumn sunrise about an hour into our trek. Fingerprinting was uneventful. The same nice lady that did my fingerprints 14 months ago (!!!) did them again yesterday. She asked if it was her fault if our prints were "rejected". I told her it was Russia that has been doing the rejection. I told her about Charlie. It's always difficult for me to "start from the beginning" and tell a complete stranger about our misfortune. It seems to be that the "condensed version" of our situation always makes my heartbreak a little more. She promised that she would pray for us, and for Charlie. She said "I am going to be rejoicing with you when you bring him home" It was nice of her to say. She promised me that she would NOT be taking my fingerprints in another 14 months, unless we were, indeed, adopting another child. I told her not to count on it- that this one was just about to kill me. She told me "God has a funny sense of humor" and I guess he does.
Today we learned that our case manager here is taking a two week trip to Russia, specifically to our region. She hopes to have some more news for us when she returns at the end of the month. I asked her if I could send our mini scrap book of our first trip- pictures of Chad and I rocking Charlie, us playing together. She is going to bring it to the judge. It might not do us a lick of good, but then again, a picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe she'll see his face gazing into ours when she rejects us the next time. Maybe she'll see a picture of me rocking him when she recaps the days' events or decides to pass on another family. Maybe she'll she "us: the family" before she says no again. Maybe.....We are also sending the album I made of his room, bathroom, and playroom. Maybe she'll see the love and care we have put into making his home a home and think "A signed document is not going to make these people love this child any more or less" We'll see. We have nothing left to give.
On an unrelated side note: Happy Birthday Mom! Today is Chad's mom's birthday and my post wouldn't be complete without saying- WE LOVE YOU!!!