Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What is Anya Rashi up to?

Anya Rashi is now three and a half, and is delighted with anything outdoors. She loves to swim, play in sand, look at leaves and bugs (and pick them up, too!), go to parks, and ride her scooter and tricycle. Unfortunately, we have set a record this summer for rain -- over 17 inches since June 1, with lots of flood watches, hail, and more -- so she hasn't been able to swim as much as she'd like to.

One morning, Anya Rashi woke up and asked me to make her little teddy bear into a knight -- so with some foil and a toothpick sword, her wish was my command. The sleeping photos document her new habit of wrapping her beloved blankie around her head while she sleeps! She wakes up with some crazy, sweaty hair most days.

One funny thing you'll hear a lot at our house is "I have the dots!!" For some reason, Anya Rashi's hands, legs and feet fall asleep often. When she has the pins-and-needles sensation, she calls it "the dots." The first time I finally figured out what she meant, it was the middle of the night, and I went back to bed laughing so hard I woke Peter up.

She is very perceptive about emotional things, and can read facial expressions and moods very well. If I am feeling impatient with her and trying to hide it, she can sense it immediately and says "Laugh at me, Mama." If I explain that I still love her, but I don't feel like laughing, she will follow up with one of her own jokes: "Why did the penguin climb the tree?" Sometimes, right after she's done something naughty, she will flutter her eyelashes and say, "I love you, Mama." What a stinker!

Over the summer, she has made great strides with playing organized games. Last month, instead of just playing with the cherries from Hi-Ho Cherry-O, she became more interested in actually playing the game. This month's obsession, however, has been Go Fish! She will play many, MANY games each day if she can wrangle us into it. Luckily, there are four family members she can con into playing -- we all take turns, and Aaron and Nathan are so sweet about playing with her.

She went to the dentist yesterday for the first time and did very well! She was very cooperative, with one condition -- she wouldn't sit in the chair alone. So, on my lap she went, and sailed through the appointment with ease. The Dora sunglasses (to shield her eyes from the light) were a big hit. She's very literal right now, and the hygenist was complimenting her by saying, "You get a star for being such a good helper!" So, naturally, after it was all over, Anya Rashi said "Where's my star?!" (Side note: Our dentist is an adult adoptee who was born in Korea -- I've had some good conversations with her about her experience being an adopted child.)

Something else that is unique about Anya Rashi the way she plays with dolls. She usually doesn't pretend she's the mommy -- instead, she most often plays dolly hospital. I wonder if she will pursue something medical as a career? Last time, our dollies had H-1-1-1 (H1N1), and cavities. Interestingly, she always calls her smallest cloth dolly Baby Rup. Her other dolls have made-up names like Keeney, or are named after people in our lives -- but her India cribmate Max Rup has a special spot in her heart, so one tiny boy doll is his namesake.

Something Aaron and Nathan didn't prepare us for was squealing and screaming. A variety of reasons -- happiness, glee, frustration, anger, excitement -- all cause high-pitched noises that we never heard before having a daughter in our home. Yikes!

She is very interested in her baby sister. Almost every day, she brings up the topic of the little one we're waiting for. She will often remind us, "When I'm 4, then our baby sister will get here." Last week during bedtime prayers, she said "Please bring my baby sister home so I can hug her and give her a bottle." We have been running our short list of baby names by her (that's one thing I seem to obsess over every time a new child enters our family!), and she has a few favorites of her own. We are waiting until our referral to make a final decision, though -- we want to see what she looks like and hear her orphanage name before we can choose.

She is very bright, and often cracks us up with her questions. This morning, we saw monarchs and cabbage butterflies flying by after the boys' baseball game. Anya Rashi asked, "Mama, can butterflies hatch out of raccoons?" Why not? Sounds like coccoon, right?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Please consider helping rescue ten girls in India

Updated 24 hours later: Great news! Enough money was donated to fund the rescue operation -- any funds that continue to come in will be used provide counseling for the girls as long as possible. $6,000 would be enough to provide a full year of counseling for all ten of them.

So many of you who read this blog care about the children of India. We have the chance to help ten of them.

These girls are being held against their will and forced to do unspeakable things, all while officials who are supposed to protect them look aside or profit from their suffering. You can read more about it here:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

An Indian wedding & teens from Mumbai

There have been lots of Indian happenings in our corner of Wisconsin. First, my cousin Dale's daughter Bonnie was married in fine Hindu style this weekend -- they literally stopped traffic on the main street of our city as Vipin led a baraat, a traditional horseback procession to greet his bride. Their wedding was photographed and written up in the newspaper:
My cousin Dale and his wife Marcia are in the photo to the left of the groom. One fun thing that the newspaper didn't say was that the horse belongs to Dale's brother, Chuck. My mom and dad attended, and gave me the lowdown afterward. (Dale is one of over 40 of my first cousins on my dad's side -- my Dad is one of 11 children!). :o)

Last week, our church welcomed 13 boys from Mumbai, India. They led worship at our services, and are all learning music from a Wisconsin native who left a promising New York music career to serve with Bombay Teen Challenge. One young man shared his story in front of the church, and it left us all in awe of how he survived, and how God longs to draw each of us to Himself.

All of the boys come from harrowing backgrounds, and ended up in the loving care Mr. K.K. Devaraj, the director of Bombay Teen Challenge. In one evening, I was able to hear the stories of two boys -- they both fled abusive homes, only to face danger, hunger, and drugs on the streets of Mumbai.

One of the young men poured out his amazing story to me . . . just one small part of it was being healed of deafness. He'd previously had an unsuccessful surgery on his ear, and after he was healed, he went back to tell his doctor that Christ had restored his hearing. The doctor became a Christian because of this young man's testimony -- he saw the impossible became possible. I had goosebumps as he showed me the scar from his ear surgery -- he was positively glowing with joy as he shared his story.

On Saturday evening, we had the privilege of providing dinner for them, including Chicken Makhani and jasmine rice. It was truly astonishing to see how quickly the food disappeared -- all the rumors about the appetites of teenage boys are true!

They were all very interested in Anya Rashi, and depending on their degree of proficiency in English, asked or commented about her. My heart broke a little bit as they asked how old she was when we adopted her -- I know how difficult it is to find adoptive families for older children, and I wondered if they were asking because they wished they had a family to call their own. It made me grateful to have the chance to "mother" them for one day at least. She was a little overwhelmed by all the attention, not to mention the houseful of boys, and spent most of the time glued to my side.

Please keep these wonderful young men in your prayers. Several of them want to spend their lives serving and sharing the Good News in India. I keep remembering singing "Yeshu" together . . . that's Hindi for "Jesus."

Friday, July 9, 2010

North and South

Well, for the past 2 weeks, we've driven three hours north, two hours south, then another 8 hours south.

We spent our first week of vacation at Fort Wilderness in northern Wisconsin. Peter was the speaker for a children's camp there. He taught about sixty 8-, 9-, and 10-year-olds about Jesus in the mornings and evenings, and the afternoons were filled with all sorts of outdoor activities. Peter has spoken there before, but this was the first time our sons were the "right" ages for the camp. They had a blast, got dirty, spent lots of time outdoors, and got to see their Daddy in his element.

Part of the reason Fort Wilderness is so special to us is that Peter and I have visited during each different stage of married life. He spoke to a high school youth group's winter camp when we were first married, and to another high school retreat when Aaron was our only child. We brought both boys there when they were 2 and 3 for a boys' camp, then again three summers ago while we waited to travel to India to bring home Anya Rashi. This time, we were waiting for baby #4 -- and we hope to go back again in two years with four children.

We stayed in a sweet little cabin nestled at the bottom of a hill that leads down to the lake. The boys LOVED the loft they slept in. Hope no one is squeamish about rodents . . . because we found out when we were packing to leave (ICK!) that some mice called the loft home.

Anya Rashi started out in a cute built-in wooden toddler bed, but graduated to the pack & play next to our bed after the first (sleepless) night. Poor thing -- she was so excited about the bed, but it was just too different from home.

After our week at camp, we drove down to Milwaukee. After cooking out with my sister and her neighbors (who have sons the same age as Aaron and Nathan) it was time to walk down to the lakeshore. We watched amazing fireworks over Lake Michigan, and could see them reflected in the tall buildings along the shoreline.

Then, we drove south to visit some friends in Kansas City. We spent some time at the International House of Prayer with them, which is such a restorative place to be. One night, I spent two hours in a prayer gathering devoted to praying for victims of human trafficking. We were praying specifically for children in Rio de Janeiro, which is the 2nd most-frequented city for s*x tourism in the world. It was painful and glorious at the same time to know about the depravity that happens there, but be united with others who share God's concern for these forgotten children.

For anyone who is interested, they have a ministry called Exodus Cry that is devoted to praying against and ending human trafficking. They will debut a documentary (scheduled for December 2010) about trafficking called Nefarious: Merchant of Souls.

That last topic isn't exactly "vacation-y", but it's something I'm passionate about. It goes hand-in-hand with my passion for adoption, since many children who "age out" of orphanages are easy prey for traffickers who promise legitimate jobs, then send children into hell on earth. The Red Letters blog on the sidebar is also devoted to trafficking, if you're interested.

Now, we've spent two nights in our own beds (but I'm not caught up on laundry!), and my kids are getting used to regular life again . . . and being forced to shower and bathe a little more regularly again. :o)