We returned to Okinawa victorious. We were thrilled to be reunited with Zoe and Abby Grace. They were mostly unscathed, though I will say that the Rathmell's son did his best to corrupt my adorable and completely innocent (wink, wink) Zoe Anna.
We awaited word from our lawyer as to the actual pending court date. We understood that at the coming hearing, we would stand before a panel of judges, along with all our kids and Rebekah and her grandma, and ask for special permission to pursue adopting Rebekah.
While waiting, our lives were full and fast, as they tend to be in full-time ministry. Living at the Harbor is sorta like living at Grand Central. And we love it. It was surreal during our three-year adoption journey to feel incredible pain over the wait and uncertainty, while at the same time answering the phone, inviting in people who drop by, feeding the masses, teaching women, counseling weekly, chasing my kids, and more. It was a dual-life. Emptiness and heartache on one hand and sweet fullness on the other.
We ended up returning to Thailand just one month later. Here are a few of the things that happened in between:
We sent a Harbor mission team to the Im Jai House (Rebekah's orphanage). Here they are just prior to departure. See the tall guy in the back? His name is Scott and his wife Ally (below) birthed their first baby while he was gone!
I was so privileged to be with Ally when she had her sweet baby girl. We had Scott on the phone from his hotel room in Thailand. The baby was a little bit early. Scott and Ally had an amazing eternal perspective on him missing the birth. When asked about it they said that while they were disappointed that he missed his first moments as a father, he was loving on kids who don't even have a father. They both felt confident that he was right where God called him to be. Ally couldn't have been happier to have him blessing orphans the day she became a mom and I was so blessed to witness all of it!
We took between 60 and 70 people to a neighboring island for a Memorial Day camping trip.
We watched our BFs, the Rathmells, baptize their oldest daughter.
And then, we got the call to come back to Thailand for the hearing. This time I didn't have to leave any kids behind, which was a huge relief. It was also a joy to finally be introducing Zoe and Abby Grace to Deer. While they had known her through letters, pictures, and gifts exchanged at each visit, they had not yet actually seen each other. Our friends and colleagues who had hosted us each time we visited were going to be out of the country. They generously loaned us their home and their vehicle, which was a great blessing. Once again, we made our way over, picked up Deer, brought her home, and prayed our hearts out for God to take care of the details.
This is our family at the Im Jai House the night we picked up Rebekah. No matter how the hearing went, we knew we were in for a special couple weeks and we wanted to do everything in our power to bond with her and bless her.