Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Knights in Ethiopia...finally.

As I type, we are without power. This common place of Ethiopian life doesn't bother many. In America, it would shut down cities...but here it just means a few moments without light. Now, on to our travels... After an "easy" 20 hours of travel, our families were exhausted and famished. The kids really did well on the flight. I got a little sick. But all in all, the flight was great, no problems. We didn't have any issues with baggage or customs. To each of you, who prayed for our bags, we are praising the Lord with you that He was faithful. We spent about an hour getting our visas, but it was very simple to enter into the Addis Ababa airport. Our driver, Solomon, was waiting for us with Travis Norwood. Solomon will be a driver for our family for the month we are here. And seriously, I think he will be more like family by the time we leave. He takes us everywhere, suggests places to visit, navigates the market places, and even gets water for us. We need him. This is a different world. The city is very safe. The people are very friendly. And the smells are very strong. But, there is undeniable disparity all around us. From the Sheraton, which is surrounded by European decadence, where we are staying to the palaces of past emperors to the shanties which cover the city, I cannot cease to be amazed. It's hard to be a part of this disparity and not allowed to affect it because of laws regarding to handing out to beggars. The friendliness of the Ethiopian people takes my breath. I am also surprised when most everyone we encounter understands English and tries to speak English. In America, we would be offended is a foreigner tried to speak to us in their native tongue. Here, the people are thrilled to offer any bit of English exchange with us. Ann says we are like celebrities; I think we are a bit more like a walking zoo.

Today, we visited the Ethiopian Museum of National History. It was very rich in information. How grateful I am that I read up on this prior to coming. It's nice to be able to have exchange over history, beliefs, geography, really, anything, which will allow us to come together with nationals. We saw info regarding "Lucy", the oldest discovered homosapian, artifacts back dating Christ's birth, pre-axum period tool (before Christ), and many artifacts from each Emperor. We also went to the Lion Zoo, which was founded by Halle Sallase, the last emperor of Ethiopia. Although much different from an American zoo, with it's animal rights and protections, this zoo was wonderful. We saw a few lions and baboons and lesser kudu. Quite an experience. As Preston and I are really struggling with jet lag, we thought it best to come back to the hotel to rest. Now, we are up and at it again and trying to decide on dinner. For a curry protester, this might be one of the harder tasks at hand.

Please, continue to pray for our safety, for our time to be used according to His will and way, and to godspeed the days toward the meeting and holding of our Mezekir. We are excited to experience his country, but it is difficult to be so close to him but not within reach. Tomorrow, we head to Mekele to meet his birth mom. Pray for wisdom, sensitivity, and Holy Spirit leading.

Also, email me at hunterbknight@gmail.com as my email is not accessible at this time.

Our Love...The Knights

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blessings Along the Way

Blessings Along the Way:

1. Prayer of the Righteous
2. Provision for our needs by friends and family:
snacks, meals, packing helps, errands, more meals, gift wrapping, donated humanitarian aide, phone calls, more meals,packing supplies and travel supplies, fellowship, relationships with low expectations, tears together, bill paying, setting up nursery, picking up our car from the airport, encouragement, more meals, watching kids at CC so I could finish errands
3. Clarity in thought and action during preparation
4. Finances to go abroad and spend time in country with our son
5. Friends/companions for a month abroad
6. Parents to care for our home while we are abroad
7. A place for our dogs to stay and be happy
8. Mezekir's mom's gift handmade with love (lots of love)
9. Notes from friends and family to encourage our hearts
10. Flexibility of Husband's job
11. Taxes completed (thanks to a great CPA)
12. Audits completed (thanks to a great CPA)
13. One more day to prepare, think, and pack
14. God's grace
15. Friendship
16. Ebinizer as a reminder that thus far the Lord has been faithful
17, Finished packing and all bags are under weight
18. Second set of eyes to check and recheck all documents and contact ###s

T Minus 2

T minus two is hard, really hard. Really, if the I wrote this entire post in caps, you might have a small glimpse of my emotional state. I'm so raw. Vulnerability does not suit me. When my own vulnerability is revealed, I tend to crater. So, I have cried too many times to count today. I've yelled at my husband. I've been angry with what I still need to complete. I'm stressed about what I'm forgetting. I want to spend time with my children and my family and friends, whom we are leaving behind. I want to be efficient. I'm ready to depart. I'm not ready to depart. I want to sleep, but I can't. I love my baby. I'm scared my baby won't like me. I don't think we are prepared for a month abroad. We AREN'T prepared for a month abroad (but I speculate another decade wouldn't prepare us). All the while, in my soul, the Holy Spirit whispers softly, "I'm all you need. I won't leave or forsake you. I am your provision. I am your strong tower. I am steadfast when you waver. I don't need your strength or perfection. I came to you when you were broken, weak, and imperfect. I loved you then; I love you now. I am all you need. I've prepared the way...just walk." For moments, I can hold on to this truth. And, then, like a small child, who needs constant reminders and training, I forget, run scared, and try to fight a loosing fight. I choose to remember truth. I choose to trust Him. And I know He is worth trusting.

I've been brooding over what really causes me fear and how in the midst of this fear, I can still have peace. I think I'm fearful of everything unknown, change, and failure. I'm fearful of missing the mark. And I think I can still have unfailing peace in the midst of this because I know the truth. (Ready???) I am a failure. Life will change. I won't know what to expect. God intends this. When I "know" all of the answers, I depend on me, not God. When I can manipulate my environment to stay the same, I remove the blessing of allowing God to change me and mold and remake me. When I fail, God prevails. He shines because I am out of the way. Truth be told, I would far rather walk in the middle of His perfect will, which at times bring heartache and discomfort than to continue on a path of ease simply because that set of difficulties is comfortable and known. My hope is writing this and reading this provides me with another level of accountability to walk where He calls, not where I want. Tonight, I'm going to keep walking.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

T Minus 3

This is the sweet face, which keeps me going. If you haven't heard, exhaustion is traveling's bed mate; I am sure. We have all become the best of friends. Although I am exhausted, God is providing new strength and restoration every morning. I wish, instead of rushing about and working from rise to rest, that I could pause time and enjoy these last few moments as the family we are, before we add in our missing Knight. As much as I am longing for Mezekir's life with us to begin, I am also a creature of routine. I love the nature of the ease of things as they are and knowing what to expect. With God at the forefront, I am trudging forward and allowing Him to fight the mighty foe of trepidation. When my eyes are set on Him, trusting in His perfect love, all fear is cast out. What a mighty fortress. These last few weeks have felt like a marathon. I've been hit with a lite case of shingles and found a lump on my chest. My doctor is also a sweet, wonderful friend. He has taken much care and time to assure me there is no reason for alarm. I couldn't be any more grateful for his kindness. All the training I thought I'd done is proving to be a little less than what was indeed needed for my own strength to be sufficient. But His sufficiency never fails; another opportunity for growth and change. Thank you, Jesus!

One of the things, which we didn't get notice of until the last week, consuming time is collecting humanitarian aide for organizations other than Gladney. All you PAPs out there, who want to do more humanitarian aide while in Addis, start pursuing it NOW. When you are told you'll be updated closer to time or that you can just find out after you arrive, go ahead and start collecting the items you wish to distribute. Just last week, a friend told us about the Luke Society. They service the poorest of the poor with medical needs. THIS fits the type of organization we wanted to assist from the get-go. I wish I'd had a month to have a medicine drive in our church, school, and community of friends. Many friends and neighbors have donated items to add to our supplies we purchased. What a great way for the body to come together and be the hands and feet of Christ. On a side note, if you are planning a trip to Addis these are other organizations we will visit and assist (you may want to check them out ahead of time): World Vision (to see a child we support), the Fistula Hospital (read the book Hospital by the River), Sabahar, HopesChest orphanages, the leaper colony, Luke Society, Young Life Africa, AHOPE, and all of the Gladney foster care homes and orphanages they support (and the business developed to help aged out orphans). Getting a response from in country personnel is a lengthy process, so don't wait until the last moment. As time is of the essence, I must get going. Cheers!

Monday, March 22, 2010


We are at T minus 6 days to take off. And, OKAY, I'm in pack chaos! Thirty days in 10 suitcase for 6 people, near miracle I say. We do have all of our official documents packed and prepared. Our travel is all booked (thanks to Susan Parr Travel). Mezekir is packed. Our humanitarian aide is purchased, but it is awaiting distribution to suite cases to correct bag weight issues. I have started pulling clothing for the children we are taking with us. My counter tops, which are usually spotless and clean, are covered with a variety of items. My list ebbs and flows in a way that could make the best seafarer weary and sssssick. With the help of some dear friends, I'm determined we will finish before by Friday. My comrades have been "copy makers", list makers, errand runners, counselors, suggestion givers, encouragers, snack providers, shoppers, babysitter, and prayer warriors...and a sermon this Sunday on the theology of adoption. Just in the nick of time, someone will arrive with an offer of an extra hand or a hot meal. Truly, without these friends, we would be drowning.

Tomorrow, I plan to hit the store for the remainder of our necessities. Although, I can't imagine taking one more thing. From the sounds of things, it is easy enough to acquire anything you might need in Ethiopia. I'm putting many things back in the drawers, up on hangers, and on the shelf. For the first time in travel history, this family is going with the "less is more" motto. Yes, I am the worlds biggest overpacker (awarded 2007 trip to NYC and last 2 years at Kanakuk family kamp). We will make US diapers fit into our bags. Story has it the diapers there leak a great deal, and that is NOT the re-entry into baby stage of which I dream. Mezekir will have the privilege of continuing on ET formula until hitting state-side. 30 days of formula, not a chance it makes the list. Plus, it's one less thing in his little life to change in the beginning. We are taking only the essentials of clothing, which I assume we will have laundered along the way and in the end leave there.

Confession of first failure for the trip: my AA ticket hold expired while I was waiting on travel confirmation from our agency, Gladney. In a matter of 24 hours, the tickets went from $154/ticket to $670/ticket. The drive from Tyler to Dallas is looking better and better. Well, the good news, I am not obsessing. Instead, looking back at each set back in this journey, it's simple to see God's plan. At each failure, His plans have been perfect and timely. Why would this be different? Today, I may not know the reason He allowed this to progress accordingly; but I'm sure with some God-granted-hindsight, it will be clear that He orchestrated even this.

I haven't made it to bed before midnight in the last week. Thankfully, my loving MD introduced me to a new love...Ambien. That is a good sleep, my friends. So as the Ambien is seeping into the veins, I must bid adieu. I will update before we leave.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'll take any excuse to be barefoot, but this is a GOOD one!

April 8th provides an opportunity to remind others the impact a pair of shoes can have on those in need. Really, spend one day barefoot. As you walk through your daily life without shoes note the difficulty it adds to your tasks. According to TOMS, a whopping 40% of the world’s population lives without shoes. 40%! The statistic is mind boggling when you think about how benign slipping a shoe on your foot can be. In some countries it’s not so benign- shoes are a precious commodity, and the people who go without have to endure walking miles barefoot for basic necessities such as food and water. Not only is walking barefoot uncomfortable, but there’s also a high risk for all kinds of nasty infections and diseases such as podoconiosis, which can cause extreme swelling, ulcers, and deformation in feet and legs. Yet a pari of shoes can prevent these hardships. It’s amazing how much change a simple pair of shoes can make in a person’s life. Join me. Advocate April 8th and a day without shoes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

From Love to Law...Mezekir Ayers Knight

Finally, we can say you are ours. You've been in our hearts for too long. We can not wait to hold you in our arms. We love you, Mezekir Ayers Knight. Enjoy a glimpse of our precious gift. Turn off the music a the bottom of the screen prior to watching!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tomorrow, tomorrow...we're waiting till' tomorrow...it's only a day away!

We are waiting again. Our caseworker called. She shared that the judge "was unable to get around to signing off on our case." Everything is in order, and we really don't have any hangups. But we are not dealing with the westernized world here, friends. Things in Ethiopia (and I'm told all of Africa) are far more laid back. They don't stress about the details. It seems our case falls into the category of "details." Supposedly, we are to hear in the morning if the judge was able to get to our case. So tomorrow, tomorrow, we'll hear something tomorrow, IT'S STILL ANOTHER DAY AWAY! Thanks to all of you, who keep lifting us up in prayer. We will be glad to make room for others on your prayer list soon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

ThumP, ThUmp, THumP...go the fingers

SO, I'm up thinking that it's 8:33 a.m. in Addis Ababa now. At this moment a judge is preparing to hear our case, a mother is relinquishing all ties to a child she loves very much, a little boy is unknowingly acquiring a new identity, and a family anxiously hopes for the fulfillment of a wish long overdue. I can't stop imagining what's going on in the hustle and bustle of Addis. I wonder if the midst of the traffic, the comings and goings of workers, and the students heading to school, if ANYONE realizes what is going on at this moment, on this monumental day? Just one person, please, who realizes today changes so much. Today, the life of a birth mom, a baby boy, and a family permanently change. Is there anyone who's memorializing the transition of an orphan to a son? Is there anyone sitting next to my son, explaining to him what is transpiring, how his life is going to change? And what of his birth mom? Who is holding her? I'm praying for her. I pray that today, God in His gracious, loving way puts an encourager in her path. I pray He gives her an Aaron to hold her up as she is warn and tired and must choose to persevere in this path. I pray she knows God as her sustainer and strong tower, as He has proven to be! I just can't put to rest all of the thoughts in my mind. There is no way to capture the emotion, the love, the fear, and the pain that co-exist. But I can say, "I am ready, Lord. Bring him home. Thank you for the extra time You took to prepare our hearts."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Headlines: Darling Baby Boy is within Reach!

Our agency sent another update yesterday. Can I just say, the moment I don't think our little guy can get any cuter, he goes and does it? I mean C-U-T-E! I love the unexpected pictures, which they have been attaching. It makes the update all the sweeter. So, this time, "BabyOpia" is reaching for the camera in front of him. We couldn't believe how much he is changing, growing, and developing. Our last report, at four and a half months, he was not reaching and following items. So this is exciting on many fronts.

Our agency reported, "—It’s been fun to watch _________ grow over the past few months. He’s now got quite the curly little coif growing just on top of his head. His little body has filled out and he’s nice and chunky. However, he still seems like the same laid-back little guy. Today, when I visited with him, he enjoyed chewing on his little pillow and playing with the toys hanging from the top of his crib. What a delightful little guy!"
Ummmm, by the way, Dear Sirs and Madams, he's not just chunky...he's fat! And we love it! Keep up caring for him until we can get there.

Baring any more mishaps, we will be "BabyOpia's" parents soon. We should pass court next week, March 10th. This week, there was one item missing; it is said this is just a perfunctory measure. We believe it's true. From the sounds of things, there is no reason for concern. God's giving us an immeasurable amount of peace in the midst of unknown. This is where your jaw drops and you say to self, "What, Lori, not anxious? No fear, no tears, not pacing, needless organizing...sleepless nights?" Nope! He is proving to be our portion and peace as He has always promised.

Now, we are still navigating the re-fingerprinting issues. Our case worker was able to contact the U*CIS office yesterday. U*CIS said they were holding Josh's prints, while they waited on mine to arrive. WHAT? This was striking for a few reasons. 1. Josh and I re-printed together. My prints were taken literally seconds after his. 2. My prints will not expire until June. Why wait if my prints are still valid? 3. We had a similar issue with our original prints, which delayed our dossier five months. 4. Holding the prints means delaying our visa appt. in ET. Ugg! Things never work easily for us. Our case worker was quick to encourage the U*CIS office to send them to the Nat. Visa Center without further delay.

If you aren't familiar with this process you would need to know a few things: After we pass court next week we are legally "BabyOpia's" parents, and we can take placement of him as soon as we arrive in country. However, we cannot travel back with him until Josh's prints arrive in country, because our son will be immigrating to the US. The prints must be there with days to spare. If they arrive the day before our Embassy appt, we must wait for the next Embassy date...April 22. We have a few choices. We can travel, believing the prints will catch up with us in country, allowing us to travel back as originally planned. 2. We could delay travel and try to book tickets last minute and pay the optimum price. 3. We can travel knowing there is a possibility I would end up staying in country until the April date. We are choosing to move forward. We will travel on March 20th and hope for the best, but we are comfortable with the alternative. For us the bottom line remains; our son is there. We are here. We are ready for him. The sooner he is integrated into our family, the better. We can't stomach the thought of him remaining an extra month in an institution, while we could be holding, loving, and cuddling him.

It seems like the end, or beginning, is just within reach. Our son should be in our arms within the month. Two years, many tears, lots of prayers, and much support are culminating into the son for whom we have longed. Come home, "BabyOpia", come home!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

One More Time, More Opportunity for Growth

Court did not work in our favor today. MO*A ruled in our favor, yay. But the birth mother's picture ID was not available. This is not good. It's not awful, either. We pray the new ID is in by next week, when our case would reappear before the judge. In the meantime, we are moving forward with our plans to travel on the 20th of March. Risky or not, our hearts are in ET; and we are determined to move forward. God has granted us peace in the midst of this set back. Pray we remain securely planted in His goodness as the reality of not having legal custody of our son sets into our hearts. We will wait for one more opportunity for our case to move before the courts.

Today is the Day

I can't move right now. I'm stuck by the computer. I'm sitting by the phone. I'm anticipating the call, while I stare at my sweet boy. Hoping, praying, trusting, believing that he's not just ours by love but also by law. It's time. He belongs. Our love has taken him in. Please, Lord, one last prayer before your throne; please, make him ours. Last night our case went before the federal courts for a second time...today is the day he should be ours. We are waiting to know.