Saturday, December 29, 2012

Home

This morning, I am stirring my coffee (with spoons that someone dropped off at my house because they overheard me saying we don't have enough spoons for this huge family) and I can't help but smile.  We are home, in our house, with everyone sleeping and we are incredibly blessed.  You can't look around this house and not see something that someone cleaned, revamped, fixed, or changed to make our house perfect for our arrival.
The last 48 hours have been crazy.  Really!  I woke up Thursday morning with butterflies in my stomach.  Or maybe birds.  They were violent!  We knew that Thursday was crucial if we were going to get to leave.  And we were starting to get nervous that if that ID wasn't there Thursday, we weren't going to get out until after the first of the year.  I wasn't real sure how Logan or my mom was going to survive that so I didn't let my mind wander there too far.
We all drove to the US Embassy Thursday morning, knowing we didn't have everything they wanted without the oldest's passport.  When we got out of our 2 taxis, Scott already had news.  The ID was done!!  Scott's exact words were "Praise God from whom all blessing flow."   I was jumping up and down!  I couldn't believe it....the key to getting us home that day.  1 piece down.  I very large piece.  
Immediately, Scott and the oldest had to head to the ID office and then take it to the passport office.  The passport office knows our faces well and that should be fast.  Uh huh, right.  Like anything has been easy!  While the guys were there, the important people requested things they didn't request with the other 4 and took as much time as they could possibly muster! Several hours actually.
Meanwhile, I was at the US Embassy, being told that even if we had the passport, they weren't sure we could get Visas.  I got scolded by more than one person for having plane tickets.  But if you've ever purchased round trip tickets, you need a return date!!  
The other kids and I waited for several hours at a McDonalds (which I now have a love/hate relationship with after 37 times there in Peru) and I just kept praying: God, you are the only One that can pull this off.  No one here wants to cooperate.  Everything feels like walking through mud!  But if you want us to leave today, You can make it happen!  Please make it happen!
I'll skip some parts and just say we didn't have 5 Visas until 4:00PM Peru time.  We were finally going home!!  The kids response, "Solo Dios".  Only God is exactly right!  We had one hour left before the offices would close and God is letting us go home! 
We had our lovely last dinner of chicken and french fries and packed up to be on our way!

I wish I could convey how fabulous it is to be home.  Home awesome it was to lay in my bed last night with all 7 of my kids safe and sound.  Most of them sleeping in MY house! And I really can't tell you how many people have made my home so awesome to come home too--my tree is up with wrapped gifts under it (some that we bought and some that my mom and Logan had to help with), rooms are set up and look awesome, new pictures are framed, hot food was cooking in crock pots, everything was clean and organized.... I could go on and on.  Our friends and family worked SO hard for 5 weeks; I cannot adequately say 'Thank You'.   I also need to mention that Delta was fabulous to us.  They let us change dates more than once and never charged us a change fee!  They gave us a "special" rate for the 5 kids coming home that saved us thousandS of dollars!  I want them to get credit!  And Emmanuel Cleaver's office played a large role in us getting Visas that day.  After our time in Peru, I was seriously never more proud to be an American.  Cheesy, but true!

This story is about God changing and stretching hearts, about His faithfulness, and obedience.  It is not about the Sterlings.  So many of you have been obedient and been as much a part of this story as us and we are forever grateful!  It takes a village.  THANK YOU for being our village! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Situation We Are In


Today was the first day, "back to business" in Peru after Christmas.  Our attorneys were hard at work first thing this morning.  The situation is this...We are waiting on an ID (like a driver's license) for the oldest of the 5 kids.  We have to have this to get his passport.  Tomorrow, we are going to the US Embassy to do as much as we can with the 4 kids passports.  During that time, we are hoping the ID office will hand over the ID that we need so that we can get the final passport.  THEN, we could finish up with the US Embassy and say 'Peace Out!'.


Our tickets, that we had to change last week, are for Friday morning at 1AM (it will feel like Thursday night).  Delta has already graciously moved them once at no change fee and has been fabulous to us.  We would LOVE to not have to change them again.  For many reasons: we want to be home, every day we are here costs us more $, we are weary and I could go on.  I thought I would share the logistics so that ya'll could be praying with us!


While we wait, we eat things like this (raw things like octopus): 


And play skipbo.  We're really doing okay.  Just homesick. :)  Thanks for praying with us! 

Happy Birthday to This Kid!

15th Birthday Breakfast, bed-head and all! Someday he'll love this picture! We got him a frozen mocha because they all love coffee and he opened gifts at breakfast.  What he really wants is to paintball with Kevin Guier, but that will have to wait until we get home!  This kiddo is so much fun!  He makes us laugh every day.  He has the greatest attitude, even amongst struggle and teaches me things about perspective and perseverance.  He is smart and silly, so he'll probably work for Apple someday and make more money than any of us! :)  Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dios conmigo

We went to a church Sunday that was truly my home church (Gateway) of Peru.  You could not have convinced me how much it would feel like home until I walked into a gym-like room, bleachers included!  I smiled all the way in the front door.   We had been told Friday that we wouldn't make it home for Christmas and a good friend gave us the suggestion to go to this church.  I needed the encouragement and the taste of home.  It was good for my soul!
I understand quite a bit of Spanish--especially if it's written or spoken very slowly!  Fortunately, a gringo was the preacher, and although he has been in Peru for 30+ years, I understood most of what he said.  And the main idea was a needed reminder for me--Emmanuel, God with us.  
My mom reminded me in the last few days of what she's been learning too.  Christmas isn't about good food.  Or a feeling.  Or cold weather.  Or even family.  Those things are the bonus for me that "feel" like Christmas.  That make me motivated to decorate and listen to songs I've heard 5 million times.  And that help me celebrate what it really is about.  But ultimately, it is only about Jesus.  It is only about God choosing to send His son to Earth as a human to complete His master plan.  So that I can have a Savior!  God with us.  God with me.  Dios conmigo.
This year, that has never hit closer or been more needed.  It's 70 degrees and I live in a hotel.  Our 19 year old is home and we are here, eating Kraft mac & cheese and bread with Nutella on it.  On Christmas Day.  But I will say, in the last 2 years and in our time in Peru, I cannot imagine doing this without Christ.  I am so grateful that God chose the crazy plan of Himself in human skin and so grateful that when He left, He left the Holy Spirit.  When it has been hard or confusing or just infuriating, we are grounded in a peace that I know you can't know without God with you.  It's just not possible.  
We still plan to celebrate, God with Us, with good food, and my decorations (that I might leave up until February just because I'm home), and our family and friends!  But I won't forget this year's Christmas, that is for sure.  And I won't forget what I learned!
Tomorrow, the Peru world should be opened again and the craziness will recommence.  We are praying to get one thing that we need that should help us get all 5 passports.  We currently have 4.  More info to come as we have it! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Our Christmas Hug

To Our Family & Friends,
We would very much love to hug you in person! But given the 5000 mile distance, our arms just don't reach that far.  This will have to do until we get home.  We are so grateful to everyone who has prayed for us, sent us encouragement, gone above and beyond at our house, dropped by things, and SO much more!  We have received so many timely messages of Scripture on the perfect day for the perfect situation. We feel a little bit like Paul writing letters from prison (though not quite the same) in the New Testament--we have heard stories of faiths that have been stretched and strengthened and are blessed and encouraged by everything everyone is doing for us!
Hebrews 3:13 tells us to encourage one another daily so that we won't be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  Many of you are the reasons that we are not hardened and that each day brings new joy and determination.  Although this faith journey has been tough at times, it has been so worth it.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  And God isn't just making 5 lives new because they get a family, he is making our lives new because of what He is doing in us and through you.  One of the many timely messages included an excerpt form a Christmas devotional written by Jennifer Kennedy Dean and it says this:

You come to call us to tasks so big we could never accomplish them and would never dare to undertake them on our own.  You come to assign us a place in Your plan.  And with Your command comes Your power.  You preface Your call on my life with the same statement "Do not be afraid." You are not sending me out on my own to muddle through the best I can.  You are inviting me to be the vessel through which You will work.  You are inviting me to let You impregnate me with Your desires, gestate your vision in me, and then bring it into the world through my life.  A big call, but Your words introduce it "Do not be afraid".
Zechariah 4:6 Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.

Scott always says that there is no better place than where we are being used by God.  To all of you who have been invited into this story with us, thank you for answering that call.  We love you very much and will see you very soon!

~Scott and Lauren




Saturday, December 22, 2012

He chose differently

Well, we were waiting this week to see what God would choose to do.  Would all the running around and walking in faith land us on a plane home Friday night?  Very unfortunately, no.
Today would have required some miracles.  But we thought it just might happen.  Yesterday, we were able to get 4/5 passports with the (newly required) ID receipts...not the actual ID.  The ID takes days to print.  So Scott and the oldest went early to get his ID, since we had been waiting on the piece of paper that came on the donkey, remember?  It arrived yesterday so they went to get the ID this morning.  I thought the ID and passport were a piece of cake.  For whatever reason, they would not give us the ID.  It's a long story that makes no sense to a sane person so I won't even get into it.  The moral of the story is that we are not leaving tonight.  We won't be home for Christmas.  We are pretty crushed.
In the big scheme of things, it's no big deal.  Just a few more days.  Both extended sides of our families are waiting to have family Christmas with us.  Which I feel horrible about but love that they love us that much!
Today it's hard because we don't understand.  Why didn't God display His wonder by overpowering "rulers" here and making people say, "I've never seen that before!".  Why didn't he show off?  He chose differently, and that's okay.
We will have Christmas later and it will be fabulous!  And my God was busy working all things for our good. (Romans 8:28)  That's all I need to know right now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Crazy Story Alright!

Late Sunday night, we arrived in the last and final city of this journey.  We were so excited to get a change of scenery.  The kids have never flown before so they were excited/nervous.  The flight was short and sweet which was good practice for our flight home.  We got in extremely late and went straight to bed, anxious for the week to begin!
In my mind, this week was supposed to be the quickest and best part.  Lots to do...passports and visas to get.  And outta here!  But the week here hasn't exactly gone as planned.  Our attorneys believed we had everything we needed to take the new birth certificates (with our names on them) to get the kids passports.  First hiccup, something extra is needed before the birth certificates are certified.  That issue got resolved Tuesday morning, just to run into another hiccup.  The law has changed (which is does way too often here) and now to get a passport, all 5 kids need a new Peruvian ID with the Sterling name on them.  Their life story and new birth certificates are not enough.  We ran around like crazy people, trying to have exactly what we needed to get these ID's before the office closed at 5.  5:01, the employees are rushing out of the building, pushing us out as well.  No ID's.  Apparently, the kids home towns, where we had to chase down the new birth certificates last week, also needed to send some other piece of paper.  4/5 are easier to obtain.  1 truly requires a man to ride a donkey again to the nearest city with internet!  Yes, we have gone back in a time warp. We still don't know if the donkey rider moved at warp speed or not and got this document scanned.  And by this point, I had lost my sense of humor.  I cried.  And had it not been for 5 faces that hadn't seen me melt down before, I would have cried harder. There is this feeling of complete frustration when you have no control over the inefficiencies and ridiculous rules! I can't even control when we eat.  I just drag my 6 kids that are here all over the city with me!  It's a little bit like running around with your eyes closed!
And I could go on and on.  Today wasn't exactly the most productive day either.  In the midst of trying to get some things done so that we can do what we came here to do....the attorneys got in a rush and sent our 2 taxis to 2 very different locations.  I know when my car with the boys arrived that it wasn't where Scott's car was going.  But knowing that and knowing how to get where I needed to go was a whole different thing.  No phone.  No kind person or business willing to let me use their phone.  No taxi that knew where the street our hotel is on is located.  It's a big city people, buy a Garmin!  Fortunately, a Peruvian/American overheard me and offered to help.  She walked with us to a Starbuck's to get Wifi and we had to show a cab driver a map to get us to our hotel!  Scott had been waiting outside the hotel for over an hour, making up crazy stories in his head about what happened to us!  I've never wanted to leave a place more in my entire life!
So here's the real deal--we need some miracles for this week to turn around.  We need people to move fast and have customer service that is out of their norm.  And maybe that is part of the "Sterlings Crazy Story" that God is writing.  Maybe it isn't!  Honestly, I have no gut either way.  I am truly walking with my eyes closed, prayerful that some part of this is teaching my kids what it looks like to really trust God.  Like really believe Him.  We know that He is capable of the things we need done this week.  They are a cake walk for Him in fact.  We just don't know what He will choose.  And that's okay, He is still God.  And He still writes the best stories.
His stories are so good in fact, that we came home tonight, emotionally exhausted.  And Scott looks up and sees this picture:

There's that document we need!  Right there, in that lovely lady's (I think it's a chic; look at the feet) satchel.  What are the odds that this beautiful piece of artwork has been adorning our wall this week!?  We had a good, much-needed laugh!  Our "fate" is on a donkey's speed this week, to set the dominoes into motion that will get us out of here.  But my trust is not in that donkey.  Or man.  Once again, I don't know what is going to happen.  Even tomorrow!  But God is writing a crazy story.  And I trust Him.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The truth

I want to preface this post with the statement that I haven't been dishonest.  And I don't even think I've misrepresented the truth.  But what I am going to say today is a different kind of honesty.  The kind that isn't overshadowed by the good stories and all the laughter.

Parts of this journey have been very hard.  And not just the year and a half past....some of those moments were terrible.  Many of you heard me cry or listened to our frustration.  I'm talking about the being here part.  I'm talking about sitting around day after day in a hotel room that seems to never be able to get clean (refer to a picture on facebook of Laney's feet!  Oh my!).  In a city that isn't overly friendly to us.  Among people who are hard to understand, even knowing a decent amount of Spanish.  Working with some higher-ups that don't care if we leave here in a hurry.  It isn't home.  And the unknown is very difficult.  Difficult any time if you have any kind of Type A planner personality at all.  Even more difficult with a family of 7 kids.  5 new to us let alone the idea of family.  One not even 3 years old.  And one in college, wanting to be a normal college student but wanting to be with us too.

There have been nights when Scott and I have sat on a balcony, overlooking what looks like a scene out of Law & Order SVU, because it's the only "us" time we have, and thought, 'I wonder what's going to happen? What's the plan?'.  But last night, as I looked at the scene, thinking about how maybe we should take a clue that we are the only people who sit outside at night...thinking about prayer and asking for things.  And I struggle because I am a person who really believes God is able to do humongous things!  We took this leap of faith to adopt because we believe that.  And I do believe that God is the same God in Scripture that parted seas and took down walls with a yelling army and shut lions mouths and healed and changed.  But this journey has sometimes changed my prayer life in a way I wish it hadn't.  I want to pray boldly, without wondering IF he will do it.  I wondered last night if that isn't James praying (but when you ask, you must ask without doubt).  So I waffle, like if I don't pray the exact right words, I could mess something up.

Fortunately, God is bigger than my human over-thinking brain.  And bigger than officials here.  And bigger than a plan.  My plan.  God has stirred many people to pray confidently on our behalf (while I waffle with how to pray) and changed other people's faith as he stretches mine.  And this morning, when some paperwork got signed (that they could have sat on if they so chose), God whispered gently that His presence is so much more important than my precise words.  And that He knows my heart and whether or not I'm doubting or praying confidently, before I even think or speak.

Psalm 16 was so good for me today:


Keep me safe, my God,
 for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
 apart from you I have no good thing.
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
 I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
 you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
 surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
 my body also will rest secure because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
    
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Today, we are just goofing around.  And we're doing good.  I just wanted to paint a piece of the picture.  There's a million pieces a day so be glad you're not inside my head. :)  But it's good here; we are doing well.  And hanging out with God, trusting that He is up to things all the time and has us in his hand.  Apart from Him, I have nothing good.  But because of Him, this story is fun and full!





Monday, December 10, 2012

Things I Don't Want to Forget

Good Morning from Peru!  For some reason, the littlest one is up bright and early today, after being up very late last night!  I actually don't mind the little bit of time before the big kids are up, to get my coffee and figure out the plan.
My age, or my inability, or both is speaking loudly this morning as I can hardly walk after my last few days of futbol.  I do things with my muscles that are killing me!!!  I hope we are going to a beach today just so that I don't have to kick a ball! :)

I laid in bed last night thinking of all the things from the last 10 days or so that I was afraid I might forget.  I'm writing them today as my "journal" to keep that from happening.  Happy Monday!

-Playing soccer and the laugher and competitive drive.  Lots of trash talk!


-6 kids piled on a twin bed trying to watch a movie together


-What it looked like for the girls to run to us the night they met us

-The 3 girls running away the tide coming in.  Over and over again...laughing the whole time.

-The oldest didn't want to have more than 3 pairs of pants because that was plenty.

-Facial reactions and crazy laughter playing Skipbo

-Laney's voice saying "vamos", Where's my sister?" and other made up Spanish words the girls have her saying.

-Scott's reaction when his 14 year old ran to him one morning, after having to be carried to bed just the night before.  *That kid inspires me.  Things are harder for him and he is the silliest, funniest, kid with the greatest attitude.

-The night we asked what their highs were: Meeting us, Scott laughing hard, Playing cards together.

-Their Goodbye Party: unforgettable in many ways.  The mothers that loved them so much and are excited for their opportunities.  The kids displaying their new clothes with pride.  How affectionate they all are, even when they could have been sad or uncomfortable.

-How it felt to literally feel my attitude or my fears change, like I could feel people praying for us and God answering immediately.  The peace that we feel, even in hard moments.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  THEN you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will."  Romans 12:1-2

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Futbol y el cine

The last few days have had no agenda.  So we knew that could make for long days if we weren't careful.  There is a little park in walking distance from us so we have made a point to use it often!  It's not like parks we have.  We are in a busy area with buildings squashed side by side and cars flying by day and night.  Oh, and don't forget, the guy riding a bike with a megaphone announcing his fruits or tv's to sell.  Interesting.  So the park is a gated futbol/basketball court with soccer goals and a small area with a slide and swings.  It's a great way to use up everyone's energy for 8 soles ($).  Yesterday was the first day I experienced Scott's great futbol skills!  He kept up pretty well, though the boys are pretty good!  We found a good grocery store that's close so that we can keep enough peanut butter and jelly around and got some extra things.  So for lunch, some of the kids tried lunchmeat and cheese on a sandwich for the first time.  Of course, we add aji sauce to everything.  It's like putting mustard on a sandwich so it's not that weird.  But we eat aji with everything!!  Chicken.  French fries.  Salad.  I've already looked on Amazon to make sure I can get some at home.  I'm actually kind of addicted myself.
We spent a little bit of time that day working on English as well.  Our attorneys encouraged us to use some of our free time wisely.  I was hesitant because it's hard to put down the hammer at this point.  It's the honeymoon phase, ya know.  But I got out some worksheets, a book to read, and some flashcards and gave it a try.  They were gems!!  They flew through the worksheets, proud of showing off what they know in English.  And then they did a competition on the flash cards--math in English, telling time.  Anything with a winner is fun with this group!  And I had fun too!  They are eager to learn and eager to get back home.  It makes me even more excited too!  We obviously still have some work to do.  At some point yesterday, the oldest was watching his sister's choice of a movie and he said, "I am boring".  He meant I am bored but we will work on that. :)
Today, we were all slow to get up!  We are spoiling them.  I found out today that they're used to getting up at 5:30-6 am every day.  I had no idea!  We headed to the park again to play.  I told them they had to speak English the whole way there and while they played.  That didn't work so well; they just didn't talk as much :)  They do a great job understanding us.  They understand most everything Scott says and he is barely speaking basic Spanish at this point.
Our big event today was to go to the mall and see a movie!!  Amanecer parte dos.  Breaking Dawn part 2.  Some of the kids have never been to a movie theatre at all!  And most have not been more than twice.  We ate there at the mall and shopped around.  While they are troopers at the mall, I do not plan to shop with 6 kids just for fun in the future!  Making sure you don't lose someone is a chore. :)
B was so excited about the movie she jumped up and down when she realized we were going today!  I had told her this morning but she admitted "I not listen".  At least she's honest!  They LOVED the movie!  I on the other hand struggled.  I was told it would be in English with Spanish subtitles; that's how the kids had seen the other 4 movies.  But not today.  They talked and giggled and guessed what was going to happen.  B clapped at the end!  How fun to be a part of that first!!
Sidenote: cabs are a funny thing here.  I ride with the boys and Scott rides with the girls.  So that I have a fairly old Peruvian male with me.  But today, I got charged 2 soles more than Scott for the same trip by the same company!!! When I realized what happened, I was peeved!  I joked about talking back, shaking my fist.  G asked me what 'tranquilo' means in English....he was telling me to tone it down!!!  I laughed!  I guess, here, I have to let people take advantage.  I'm not a fan of that!  The boys made sure we only paid 5 soles on the way home.
These kids make us laugh every day!  They are funny and happy and silly!  This morning, things started slow and no one was anxious to listen....but it is redeemed as the day goes and they are sweet to Laney and each other.  I am crazy about them!  I find myself staring at them in disbelief that we're here in this phase.  I am SO anxious to get them home!  But for now, we will enjoy the park and having nowhere to be.
*Sorry the posts are long.  I write them for the people who want to know what we're up to.  If you don't want the play by play, just look at pictures. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Doing life together

Since we arrived to our latest destination, we've had a lot more time on our hands and not as much paperwork to sign.  We visited a botanical garden of sorts that is similar to Powell Gardens, though not nearly as big.  I just don't have anything else to compare it to.  That's where the picture of the peacock are from.  Really pretty place and good place to get outside.  Which after some time in 2 hotel rooms is going to be very needed!  Teenagers are content to sit and play video games sometimes but I am not!  The walls will close in!
We've done quite a bit of shopping the last few days as well.  There are basic needs to get us through our time here that were needed. And the weather is strange here so we really needed jeans and shorts for everyone.  The first evening of shopping, we focused on the girls to begin with.  Which is fun and a little easier we found.  While the girls were shopping, the boys found a balloon at the mall.  Endless entertainment for them and Laney!  Laney had them running all over the place, chasing the balloon, about knocking people over!  They were laughing hysterically and having so much fun!!  I wish I could convey how much fun it is to watch boys laughing so hard playing with a 2 year old they met days ago!  I feel so fortunate for how things are going interpersonally, I'm almost afraid to type it, like I might jinx it.  Pure joy!
Shopping with this many people is quite a chore!  We wear out fast!  So when I asked the boys who were waiting in line for the dressing room if they'd rather come back the next day, they jumped on it!  Another night back at the hotel to mellow out.
Day 2 of the shopping extravaganza was easier and we got everybody taken care of.  We also realized something we take for granted.  When I watched the kids get on the escalator and freeze...I realized they hadn't been on one before!  Hilarious!  We had to demonstrate how to get on and off!  I can't wait to see what else they get introduced to for the first time!  I mean the good things!  We'd love to protect their innocence and not ruin them by America as well!
Last night, we ate peanut butter and jelly and played cards.  We went through an extra large loaf of bread in about 10 minutes.  And I didn't even eat!  Had I had enough bread, they each would have eaten 2 sandwiches but settled for 1.5.  I am grateful for their appetites; as they ate and laughed you could see the peace.  They are comfortable.  And Scott was having a great time watching them compete with each other, try to cheat, etc.  Because he's a competitive cheater too. :) 'Tramposo' they call it.
This morning we had a few errands to run but it took us to a plaza area for good pictures and a little shopping.  Any pictures you see where the boys are walking arm in arm or someone is hanging on someone else...not posed.  These are the most affectionate, loving kids on the planet!  And they welcome Laney in and are fabulous with her!  Often, you will hear them ask where she is like Scott and I do, knowing that we have to keep our eyes on her.  The boys are constantly offering to carry bags or carry Laney; they are a mother's dream come true.  Truly.
Tonight we ordered dinner in.  We're not in a terrible part of town or anything but it isn't wise for gringos to be wandering around at night with all these kids.  So we are eating like they think Americans eat all the time--pizza and Coke! :(  I fast from dinner just about every other night :)
But as we were finishing dinner, we asked the kids what their favorite part of the last week has been.  Any favorite moment.  Here are the 5 answers: 1 answered Scott laughing so hard last night while they played cards.  A kind of laugh you can't help but join.  1 said walking at the botanical park.  Another said playing cards last night.  And 2 said when we arrived!  Sweetest conversation!  We laughed hard tonight about the sleeping arrangements.  About who talks in their sleep.  About Laney falling out of bed or taking up the ENTIRE bed to herself!  Just funny, family around a dinner table, talk.  We are only missing Logan!
As I type, 4 kids are on a twin bed watching a movie.  1 is playing a video game and 1 is out cold asleep!  And we're in a 12 X 14 space.  Our house will feel like a mansion!  Things are going great!  Now if we could just fast forward home!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What's New Here?

I haven't blogged since early in the week and I apologize.  I can explain later. For now, I will try to catch you up on the week.
After the meeting Tuesday morning, we did indeed get on a plane and go to the city where the kids are. It was like a dream all day!  You can't really be prepared for it, now matter how much time you've had to think about it.  We flew about an hour and then had to drive another 2, on 2 different vans.  Pretty far out.
We arrived to Casa de Paz which is different than I thought, even after I had seen pictures.  It is a big place land wise, pretty far out of the city.  Painted on the outside is a big picture of "Baby Jesus" as Laney says (though he is a grown up) and 2 big Scripture passages.  It is immediately evident that God has planted and used people to train up the kids that live there in His ways.
We got told immediately that the oldest had fallen down at the river that day so he wasn't there.  But when we walked toward the girls side of the living area, the girls saw us and came running.  They hugged us like they knew us.  Pretty emotional but more fun!  Then we walked around and the boys found us too.  They were a little more, playing it cool, but hugged us too.  We spent a little bit of time there that night and with help from the attorneys that are escorting us around, talked to the kids about things.  It was good.  Just good.  Not sure how else to describe it.
The following day was a day full of the kids! We walked in the next morning to more hugs.  These kids are very affectionate. They walk around holding our hands and Laney's.  We played around at the volleyball court for a little bit and then we left for a bit.  We knew the "goodbye party" was coming up so we needed to get some new clothes.  We went to our hotel and had them try on some of the things we brought; some worked and some didn't.  So we made a trip to the local market to buy just a few things to get by; we will be in bigger cities to buy more.  Our hotel was on the beach there so we all played in the sand and goofed around.  It was one of the things the kids wanted to do the most they said.  We did a TON of walking that day and wore the kids out!  But no one complained.
The following day, we heard there was going to be games at an arena so we met the kids there in the morning.  There were volleyball games with the girls first and then soccer games.  It was great fun to see the kids with their school friends in their element!  They were proud to show us around and Laney ran around like she knew everyone too.  There were lots of questions, to us and to the attorneys, about who we were and what was going on.  Very sweet.
Later the attorney told us that 2 teenage girls had very specific questions about Americans adopting.  One of them mentioned that she heard that Americans adopt kids to use for their organs.  But now that she has seen it happen and be a good thing, she wants a family too. Wow!
We left the arena and came back that afternoon for the goodbye party.  We were kind of dreading the party because we were expecting it to be brutal!  All of the kids walked in with new clothes on and smelling so good!  They were so cute and proud.   It started rough because a house mom opened up the party and got choked up, which got the tears started in both of us.  But to hear the moms and their friends talk was very sweet.  And the kids were champs; Scott and I were the ones a mess.  It is so humbling to stand around a room full of people who loved and cared for your kids, like their own.  There are many people there who really love these kids!  We took lots of pictures of them with their friends.  The boys with lots of girls I might add!!  And ended on a good note!  They met us the next morning to trek to another city.  That van ride was quiet and heavy.  Especially for the oldest.  He is loved by many and loves some of the younger ones like he was their father.  It was a long ride.  (On a lighter note, I was truly thanking God for no vomit on that ride!  We had been warned that the younger boys get very car sick and I had horrible images of me joining them if that happened!)  That was a long day of logistics and waiting.  Lots of waiting which isn't fun at any age.  We were grateful to find a place to land that night and order pizza in.  Today was a new day!  I will tell about it later! :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday AM Meeting

On about 4 hours of sleep, we are up and at 'em!  Our attorney called this morning to confirm we have an 8:00AM meeting with the DNA.  This is the first step in Lima before we can go see the kids.  Our kids live about 12 hours from Lima but a short little plane ride away.  The attorney also confirmed we are getting on that plane today!!  This means it is very possible we get to meet the kids TODAY!!
Please pray for our kiddos as this has got to have them as anxious/scared/excited/freaking out as it does me this morning!  My stomach is in complete knots!!

"No eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him." Isaiah 64:4b

"But now Oh Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay and You our potter and all we are the work of your hand".  Isaiah 64:8


Monday, November 26, 2012

Arrived

Hola all!  We are in our quaint hotel room in Lima, Peru.  2 twin beds for the 3 of us.  I'm not complaining; I would sleep on the street about now!
We flew out at 12:50 from KC and I've never been more grateful for 2 things: that we weren't on a 6AM international flight and my parents! My parents drove us and helped us carry our ridiculous bags. 2 of our 'to be checked' bags weighed 60 pounds each so we had to re distribute 20 pounds into our carry-ons.  Our flights were on time and very smooth!  Even the long one from Atlanta to Lima felt short.  Laney did really well!!
We just checked into our hotel and carried the bags one last time for the day.  I'm pretty sure my body is broken but tomorrow is a new day! :)  I was so tired, chatting with Logan online, that I didn't even look when the phone rang in our room.  Strange--we know no one and it's 1AM here.
But the call was to tell us that our attorneys are picking us up at 8AM sharp.  What that means is Here We Go!  It is very possible that we will get to meet our kids for the first time tomorrow!  That makes me want to cry and yell and jump up and down!  I can't even believe it!
Please continue praying for us; we don't want to be tired and miss a moment of this great story!

Sidenote: all the buttons on the blog are in Spanish to me which is funny. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

BIG NEWS

Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh!!  We are finally leaving!

We came down to my grandparents for late Thanksgiving Friday afternoon, a tad frustrated that we still didn't know much about leaving for Peru.  We've been waiting the past couple of weeks for the last piece of paper before we travel called the Article 5.  We got an email Wednesday night about 9PM saying the Article 5 had finally been issued.
But it wasn't until Saturday that we made the decision... We are flying out for Peru Monday afternoon!  It's FINALLY happening!! 

I will keep this updated so that folks at home can follow when we arrive, when we meet the kids etc.
Please please continue praying for the kids, the transition, etc.  And that the process goes smoothly.  We would LOVE to be home by Christmas!!

Talk to you soon with more info!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Birth Certificates

For a year and a half, we have talked to 5 kids in Peru like this (below).  I love this picture because it's the only picture of "all" of us that we will have until we're all in the same place for the first time.  If it's too hard to see, they're talking to us on the computer. :)
We've learned what foods they like and don't like, who likes pets and who doesn't, who fights with who, who their best friends are.  They like to flex muscles with Scott and show off their dance moves.  It seems crazy that we've gotten to know each other this way and that they chose to come live with Americans that they've never actually seen in real life.  It's like a drawn out arranged marriage!

But today, I received their history on paper. Nothing terribly thorough. Their names written out and actual birthdates.  Their places of birth and their parents name.  Mother's Name.  Father's Name.  Ages.  All of the kids were born at home.  Their mom has such a pretty name.  Their parents were somewhere between 16 and 18 years apart (the documents don't all match up perfectly).  They were real people.  Of course I knew that!  But to see their birth certificates, I remember getting Laney's and how it felt to hold my newborn.  And I remember that their parents loved them too.  I want to think that they would be pleased to know that we chose their kids and will love them like our own.

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you...". (Jeremiah 1:5).  God had their story written long before all of this.  And He knows what He's doing!

I sent the immigration paperwork to our agency today so it's all out of our hands.  Now, the timing is up to the Lord.

Busy weekend ahead with a wedding, Logan coming home (and almost her birthday) and more!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Electronic Cartwheel (As promised)

Around 30 days ago, we were told we would finally be on the awaited list in September.  And I got teary eyed.  It was finally happening!  But there was still a part of us that, due to the psychotic roller coaster of the last year and a half, was afraid to get really excited and be let down.  It wasn't on paper yet at that point and we would have to wait a month.
The end of September was coming and we got anxious.  No news on Monday.  Nothing again on Tuesday.  And then nothing on Wednesday.  We knew as the week went on, it meant the odds of traveling before Christmas this year were getting slim.  But we were okay with that.  We just wanted to see "the list".
Thursday morning, I woke up and grabbed my phone.  And there was an email from our agency "The kids have been assigned to you!!".  It means in Peru's mind, they're ours!!  This is HUGE!!
Now, we have pages of immigration paperwork to fill out.  Like 45+ pages!  We have to wait on some of the information we need to be translated into English.  So....the odds of things getting back and them letting us travel before January are not super high.  BUT if I've come to learn anything at all in this process, it's that God certainly knows what He's doing.  And if He wants to make miracles happen in the immigration office, He will.
For now, the when doesn't matter.  It's on paper: they are assigned to us and us to them.  We get to go get them!  That is good stuff!
Tonight, we were waiting to get all 5 of them in the same room to Skype with us.  While we waited on the girls, we figured out that a house mom at the orphanage had told the kids the news!  They are definitely excited with a tad of nervous.  It's definitely a different thing adopting older kids who have existing relationships and people in Peru that they love.  Please be praying for our kiddos.  All 7 really. Everyone will have an adjustment.  And the 5 Peruvians will be saying goodbye to friends and people they love dearly.  All good stuff, but still hard.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all who have prayed, cried, and celebrated with us!  The journey is only beginning so stay tuned!  Lots more fun to come!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

God Worked While We Stood

In the last post, I told you about having to start some pieces of the process over.  Our psychologist and social worker were both rockstars and wrote new reports that were fabulous!  Friends and family wrote amazing letters on our behalf and we felt confident.  Once our new docs were translated and in the hands of the SNA, there was nothing we could do but wait.  And that's what we did.
Meanwhile though, things were happening in Peru.  We had previously been told that our 5 kids in Peru would not be interviewed until the very end if absolutely needed.  Well without our foreknowledge, all 5 got interviewed by a kind social worker that was working on our behalf.  They wrote letters requesting to be adopted specifically by us and spoke of wanting to come live with us.  This is good for so many reasons, but it was pretty cool to know this happened in a way that I couldn't worry about ahead of time.  It happened in the purest form--the kids not knowing it was coming and us not knowing it was happening.
Our friend Kevin was in Peru during this time as well, when normally he would have been working in the States.  There was NO coincidence that he was there at this exact time and he was able to provide additional resources to the SNA including conversations we've had on Skype or Facebook with the kids.
Each time I heard of a social worker, someone in the orphanage, or a friend fighting on our behalf, I was so humbled.  There was not a thing left that Scott and I could do.  But God provided others to fill in each gap as it was needed and He worked while we waited.
It's so interesting to me that there is a word in Spanish, esperar, that can mean both 'to hope' or 'to wait'. I had never thought of these words being synonymous in the English language before.  But as we waited on God to work and do His thing in Peru, it was also hopeful.   I was hoping in the Lord (like Isaiah 40:31 says) which was also waiting.  Maybe something you smarter folks had thought of before, but not me until it was real life!
As a result of everyone's hard work, the SNA showed favor on us!  While we are not officially assigned to the kids yet, we will be soon (as promised) and there will be a big, exciting blog post (in lieu of an electronic cartwheel) that you will all see when that happens!
Thank you if you are some that have continually prayed for us.  Thank you for being excited with us and sad with us.  There is MORE of all of that to come, I'm sure.  But I have to remember to continue to wait/hope, no matter what the issue is.  How quickly I forget that, time and time again, God has showed Himself to me in powerful ways!  I am asking that He continue to stay close to me and my family and speak in a way that we can follow right behind!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Take 2

Sorry it's been a little bit since the last update. Just nothing significant to report.  Since then, we've revisited with the psychologist, the social worker and our agency numerous times!  Crazy process and a new stack of paperwork has been sent to Alabama before being sent on to Peru. Whew!

Which brings us to today.  We were expecting our new paperwork to arrive in Peru today but unexpectedly, it arrived a few days ago and is already in translation!  Gotta celebrate the small stuff.  Not very often has something happened sooner than expected so I'm excited! Plus, it's hard to continue to see clearly, the positives, when it seems like things should have been different.  In my plan and my time that is.

Instead, we are trusting in God's plan and God's time.  I am asking God, who is the only One capable of changing the hearts of men, to break into the heart's of Peru's leadership and change their hearts to a unanimous YES in favor of us!  I am asking God to hold our kids, His kids, and help them to continue to hope and be patient.

I just read Kisses from Katie and I almost believe that God is closer and more real to the orphan than He is to us anyway.  I mean, they're His kids.  He hasn't abandoned them.  He still has a plan and purpose for them and it's better than mine.  So I know He's holding my 5, just like a Mama holds her babies to keep them safe.  And we will keep standing.  When we got bad news last month, Scott kept thinking about the verses in Ephesians 6 (about the armor of God) where is says:

...and we've you've done everything to stand. Stand firm, then...

And that's all we can do.  keep standing firm, knowing what He called us to and trusting that He is still in His seat and still has a plan.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The List

Sometimes I blog because I've told some the latest update, but know there are others who would rather read or who are far away.  But sometimes I blog because I can't physically get my mouth to say certain words over and over.  Today is the latter.
We are not going to be on the July 1st list.  We ran into some hiccups (for lack of better words and the avoidance of profanity) that have us delayed.  Our agency and their attorney are continuing to work on our behalf.  But I won't lie, today was a rough day.  I have a million questions that will probably never get answered--why do they wait to tell us things until we're sitting around waiting for good news?  Why do they decide this or that?  Even if I had Peru's ear, it wouldn't matter.  They're not really in control anyway.  And while today still feels like they are frustrating many lives (because more than our disappointment, I hate how long this is taking for the kids)... we know that God is still ultimately in charge.
So you probably won't hear me chatting too much about the details of this.  I'm going to do what I'm told and keep walking.  But I will continue to pray--that God would work hard behind the scenes.  I know He loves these kids more than we do and He knows what is best for them and when.  I will continue to pray that God would hang onto the Peruvian 5 and help them to trust Him and His time.  The waiting has to be hard on them!!  
And I will continue to pray that He is glorified.
In the process.
In the Sterling family's lives.
In me.
We are grateful for all of you that have been praying with us.  We are humbled by the amount of people  involved in our story, cheering for and backing us.

"But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved."  Hebrews 10:39

Sunday, June 24, 2012

You Hold Everything Together

"You hold everything together.  Everything together".  We sang these words at our church this morning and all I could think was, "Yep, you're the only One holding this thing together".  And I'm so grateful that the God who holds the universe together (Colossians 1) is holding our story together too.
This week is the last 5 days of June before the consejo is supposed to come out.  We are still praying super hard that our dossier can get approved this week AND that we can be on that consejo.  It's asking a lot, but I'm asking BIG.
The picture is our kids wrists.  The Guier girls got them bracelets and gave 2 to Scott and I.  We will wear them until they get here.  More hope (like my previous post).  Universal God.

Please pray with us this week!  I found myself praying today, "Dios, necesitamos un milagro! "  We need a miracle.  And we do.  But that's the beauty of relying on God...only He can pull this off!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hope

For several days, I've been praying something specific for our kids.  Our friends, the Guier's, are in Peru right now getting to pick up their 2 girls and bring them home! Their girls live in the same orphanage as our kids.  A big party was thrown and their going home was celebrated!  But I knew this could potentially be super hard on our kids.  Not to mention the Guier's. :)  So I prayed and prayed (not knowing which day exactly would be goodbye day) that God would supernaturally implant a feeling of HOPE in our kids hearts instead of grief or sadness.  That the Guier's leaving would be a huge sign that they are going to get to come home too.  Hope

A few days after the big goodbye, Lisa e-mailed me a quick email telling me that our oldest had given their oldest his mp3 player.  This is his most prized possession--possibly the only thing he owns of any value.  And he gave it to her to travel with and use "until he gets to the United States".  Hope!  He believes he will make it here to retrieve it from her...or get a new one!  Whichever...he believes.  My prayers are being answered!

In other news, it sounds like our case is being discussed in Peru and going well.  Please keep praying!  I have a friend who is committed to praying for us at 9AM each morning until July 1st--if you'd like to join her and I in the mornings, that would be great!
Enjoy your Sunday!

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pressed but not crushed

Yesterday was May's consejo.  Our agency doesn't let us know but we hear through the adoption grapevine.  So although we try not to be this way, we are somehow crazily hopeful all day that the list will come out and our kids will be on it, making them officially ours.
We found out that was not going to be the case, even before the list was on the internet.  I'd be lying if I said we weren't disappointed.  As of yesterday, we didn't know why.  We didn't know what stage our paperwork is in.  It's hard to explain to people why we are in this position, when our kids are older and in a sibling group which should make them top priority.
After a little pushing, we got some information today.  Apparently, our dossier is not yet officially approved.  If you read the history, you've read that our adoption requires "special consideration" for my age.  Well....the group of folks that originally said they would make an exception for my age are not all still working for this governing body in Peru.  ONE actually remains which has to be a God thing!  We will call her The Doctor.
I am asking all you praying folks to please pray that The Doctor would be diligent in presenting our case and fighting on behalf of our kids getting a family, our family!  That you would pray for the others involved in the process (social workers, legal and psychologists) to have our kids at the forefront of their minds and to make a decision to make an exception for our special circumstances.  We don't want to be a forgotten pile of paperwork on the corner of a desk.  We need that big YES on our dossier and then a "match" made on the consejo so we can travel!
Please, please pray with us from now until the end of June.  That gives us around 5 weeks to get the dossier approved and still be on the next consejo.  It requires God movement and I believe it is possible!  The next consejo is July 1.
In the next few weeks, our 5 are going to watch 2 of their friends leave the orphanage to go live with a fabulous family in the U.S.  We are so excited for them!!  My prayer is that it provides hope to our 5 that this thing really is possible.  And that they aren't far behind!
Isaiah 1:17
Learn to do right.  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
We will continue to defend their cause!  Thank you for those of us that will pray with us and our fighting on their behalf as well!