Last night our aunt asked for a detailed schedule of our trip so that she could pray specifically. We love that our people are not just praying us TO China but through China and beyond. We have no idea what hard things we will encounter, but we do know the power of the praying family of believers. So, to those of you who have faithfully prayed us here, we thank you in advance for the prayers you'll pray over us as we travel.
I won't elaborate too much on precise locations - something about that makes my insides scream - a little unwise. BUT we can talk about general activities - some days we know will be super critical.
Remember, China is 13 hours ahead of Michigan :) So, it never hurts to pray ahead (or pray over us as we sleep!!)
This weekend and into Monday - pray over the hands that will care for our girls - pray for their teachers, their coaches, their grandparents (definitely those grandparents), pray that love and care and protection and peace will surround them all.
Please also pray for Jinhua. As far as we know he has little to no understanding about what is about to happen. He has no idea that life as he knows it will change (nor any idea just how much it will change). Pray for his heart. Pray for supernatural peace for him. Pray for the friends he leaves behind. Pray for his caregivers, the ones who have loved him and cherished him, and who are also experiencing a loss this week. (Adoption is so so hard). We ask that you pray for God's presence to hover over his entire orphanage and over the Civil Affairs Court as we (and several others) prepare to meet our children.
Tuesday, March 7th: Today we say goodbye to the girls and head to the airport city. This parting will be difficult for all of us.
Wednesday, March 8th: Traveling mercies as we are in the air most of the day
Thursday, March 9th-11th: Traveling to major tourist stops (this was strongly advised as we recover from jet lag and rest up ... preparing for the high high emotions and events of the next few days). Benjamin is (providentially) studying The Forbidden City right now in school. He will see that in person, the Great Wall, The Temple of Heaven, and the Terra Cotta Warriors. He will get to ride on a bullet train (many times actually). As he experiences all of this excitement and connection to the learning he has done in school, pray for our big girl at home. Her learning heart craves these opportunities, and she will know, acutely, that she is missing out.
Sunday, March 12th: We arrive in Jinhua's province. We check into the hotel that we will bring our son back to. We prepare to meet him the next day.
Monday, March 13th: We meet our son, Yang Jin Hua. We've been told he's shy (a shy Van Dyk? This will truly be new!) and that he has really good friends at his orphanage. Today (and the days that follow) we are asking him to do some really hard things: to trust us, to have so much courage, to travel with total strangers, to explore places that are completely new and probably scary. The best I can ask for is God's abiding presence among us all. We so desperately want to do the right thing for him - to say the right things (through our 6 year old interpreter), but our words and our efforts will fail unless the Father is present in them.
Tuesday, March 14th - 16th: We stay in our son's province, visit parks, shop for supplies, begin to bond and learn about each other. We ask God to bless this time.
Additionally, back at home, the elementary school musical takes place on the 14th. Kayleigh and Benjamin were both SO EXCITED about this event. The timing of the trip means we miss watching Kayleigh, and Benjamin doesn't get to participate (after months of work). We promised Ben an opportunity to sing any songs he wants at full volume, as solos, in any park in China :). (Something about him shouting "If we don't go, how will people know" from Great Wall in China kind of makes my heart soar). I'm sure he will give it his best effort.
BUT, it also mean our daughter will feel the keen sting of not having her parents at the musical. This grieves her. Pray that God gives HER his overwhelming presence, that he fills HER up ... that he lets her know that He sees her and cherishes her and loves her even if we can't.
Friday, March 17th - We travel to Guangzhou with our boys. Traveling mercies on the inter country flights - and on Joshua's first airplane ride.
Saturday, March 18th - Today is medical testing day. Our biggest prayers are for our new son. Physicals can be rough anyway, but having check ups with people you only just met in places you have never been ... I can only imagine the thoughts and challenges that this will bring for him. God's peace ... God's presence ... Pray that His love and His might prevail.
Sunday, March 19th - Monday, March 20th - This is two days of sightseeing - zoos, parks, islands, shopping, bonding. Pray that it goes well, that we have fun, that we laugh, that we continue to learn more about each other.
Tuesday, March 21st - Our appointment with the consulate. This is a big day. Please pray that all is in order, that it goes smoothly, that there are no delays.
Wednesday, March 22-23 - More sightseeing - and VISA PICK UP (on the 23rd). Pray that, again, all is in order and we will be allowed to leave without delays. We trust that the God who provided for our every need up until this point has this process well in hand too. But, my anxious heart may not be resting in that. Help me boldly surrender control.
Friday, March 24 - We begin the process of home going. Again, I can NOT predict or imagine how this journey will look. We have three flights to catch - two boys who will be tired and maybe irritable, emotional, and we ourselves will be exhausted. Prayers for feet for the path. The presence to simply put one foot in front of the next and keep on keeping on. Health for all of us is another wish - with so many places and so many people and so many things that could happen. We ask God for his provision in our health.
Upon arrival we hope to see our parents and our girls at the terminal. We ask for presence over that first meeting. That God would be there - that He would bless it. That He would clearly hover over our first moments all together as a family of 6 and an extended family of 10.
There are so many tall orders and challenges on this prayer list. But we know we serve a big God. A God who saw this journey not 1 year ago, not 2 years ago, not even as we were gazing at Kayleigh for the first time, but He saw it as our parents were gazing on US for the first time (and before that too). That's the peace I cling to.
Thank you, friends for your love and your prayers in this huge huge journey.