Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Surgery week

I think everyone we know already knows this, but just wanted to update a little.  Samuel will be having heart surgery on Thurs, July 18.  I am running around trying to make sure everything is in order.  Ha!  That's kind of funny if you know me very well.  I'm mostly just running in circles and doing things that are pretty much meaningless ;)  Surgery is scheduled for 7:15 a.m.  The surgeon said 4-6 hour surgery.  They said if everything goes perfectly, Samuel will be in PICU for 5-7 days.  I won't try to explain the surgery, just suffice it to say that the surgeons just kept saying "high risk."  There are lots of details that could be prayed for, but I think asking God for a perfect surgery with no complications before, during, or after will cover it.  For all those who have told me you're praying, thank you.  We sure feel them, as will the surgeons and Samuel.  We will post updates on Facebook as we can.

He is ABLE!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A prayer journal of sorts

So I've been thinking A LOT about Samuel's upcoming surgery.  Surprised, right?  Those thoughts include not only the surgery and Samuel's health, but the effects on the rest of our family.  I will admit that worry is probably a better way to describe a lot of those "thoughts."  We're all familiar with the "what if" game, right?  I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit's intervention in my thoughts  worries.  My thoughts turned to prayers already answered just in Samuel's adoption journey.  I went back through this blog and looked at the prayer requests and reminded myself of the answers.  Here's a synopsis.

1) Got our pre-approval from China, even when we didn't meet all the qualifications.
2) Home study and medicals complete.
3) Hotel was available during Canton Trade Fair.
4) God's financial provision
5) Good timing for travel
6) Good health for everyone
7) Good flight arrangements
8) Samuel would know we love him and trust us
9) Samuel's health would be strong enough for stress of meeting us/getting him home
10) Smooth paperwork process in China
11) Samuel had a negative TB test
12) 31 hrs of travel home went well
13) Heart cath went well

I KNOW there has been many more answered prayers, but I found these in a five minute scan of the blog.  Yesterday, I picked up a Mark Batterson book (for $5 at Mardel) called The Circle Maker.  My friend Kim H. had mentioned reading it and I thought, why not?  I'm just a couple of chapters in, but it's about powerful prayer. 

So friends, I am committing to praying big prayers about Samuel's surgery, recovery, and our entire family during it all.  Because I know that my stalkers' prayers were a big part of all of the above, I will share my specific requests yet again.

  • completely successful surgery and recovery with NO complications
  • doctors say 5-7 day minimum hospital stay - let's pray for 5
  • my girls will be safe and happy while Matt & I are so occupied with their brother
  • Matt & I will have all the physical, emotional, and spiritual energy we're going to need
Lastly, a personal request.  I need to make some big changes personally to improve my health.  I can't do it.  Pray for me to submit my will to His and do what it takes.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."  Eph 3:20-21

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I'm so dizzy, my head is spinning

Anybody recognize that song? 

Matt & I met with the pediatric cardiac surgeons yesterday.  They explained, again, the problems with Samuel's heart.  I think, again, that I understand mostly.  They also explained what they need to do to repair things.  Then they explained the dangers.  And there are plenty.  From my very surface understanding, the dangers are not really in the surgery itself, but how Samuel's body reacts to the repairs.  God made our bodies in such a miraculous way that our bodies adapt and modify when something is wrong.  Samuel is still alive today because his body has adapted.  Those adaptations, however, complicate things when it comes to repair.  One crazy thing we learned is that Samuel's hemoglobin is twice what it should be.  Most people's blood is the consistency of water.  His is more the consistency of oil.  Most people's blood oxygenation level is 100.  His is 76.  His body is used to these things.  They have to be careful not to change either too quickly or his heart will shut down.  There are more issues, but honestly, I can't even explain.  Matt looked me when we left there and said, "I think I would have rather been uninformed."  We laughed,  nervously. 

You might be thinking that we knew this was serious and we knew what was coming before we ever went to get Samuel.  You are right.  We now know some of the technicalities, but we knew this heart defect was not a walk in the park from the beginning.  It feels different now because we know and love our son intensely, inexplicably, just like I gave birth to him.  The thought of them splitting his chest open, messing with his heart, putting him on a bypass machine, trying to keep him alive during and after that and all that entails feels way different now.

Now that you're all depressed...the good news.  One of the surgeons kept talking about how shocked he was at Samuel's energy.  He said he expected us to carry in a very lethargic little boy.  Samuel ran around the office, getting into things, talking, busy as usual.  He could not believe it.  His partner said there is obviously some serious strength in this little guy.  Both surgeons also very naturally referred to how God made the heart, mentioned the grace of God, and how we would pray that certain things are or are not the case.  They know the Lord and pray over their patients.  That is an incredible, incredible comfort.  Also impressive was that the cardiac nurse went out into the waiting room while Matt & I talked to the surgeon and explained things, complete with diagrams and a heart model, to Courtney & Cassidy.

Samuel's surgery is currently scheduled for July 18.  The cardiac team will keep researching and keep consulting other surgeons around the country to learn all they can before that.  We will be trying to prepare for Samuel's hospital stay.  It could be a week or weeks.  Our family is tight.  We don't like to be separated.  We will have no choice while Samuel is hospitalized.  Emotions are running high in all of us. 

Here's some specific prayer requests...that the cardiac team will find the perfect information, perfect action plan for Samuel; that we can make good arrangements for our whole family during the hospital stay; that God's peace will replace fear in all of us (extra measure for Cassidy, please); that we will be physically, emotionally, and spiritually ready for this.

Who needs toys when you have paper, pens, and paper clips?
 I was trying to get this ornery little boy to look at me to take his picture.  He did eventually, but this picture shows his personality better.
I was trying to get a good picture of us going to the VBS Friday night program/carnival.  It seems this group can't do that, so here's the real us.
"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."  Ephesians 3:20


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Boundaries, updates, stalkers

So here we are, almost 7 weeks from Gotcha Day. Things are kind of a blur to me.  Have 7 weeks really passed?  It's amazing at how far we've come and a little daunting that we have so far to go.  Samuel is communicating with us very well.  I really don't know how well others can understand him yet, but we're getting new (and appropriate) use of words every day.  His sense of humor is sure evident.  Yesterday, the kids and I were visiting with my dad.  I told Samuel to point at his sisters and say, "Courtney is a goober.  Cassidy is a goober."  He complied.  He then turned his pointing finger to me and said, "Mama is a goober."  Yeah, well, he's figuring me out too. 

As for other adjustments, our little guy is testing boundaries every day as well.  If he doesn't stop rearranging and hiding his sister's stuff, we may have WWIII.  As a matter of fact, we are going to put a lock on his closet because he's doing the same thing to his clothes and I am struggling with the daily adventure of finding socks, underwear, and clothing for him to wear.  Unfortunately, he seems to want to test to see if Daddy is just a big playmate or if he really has any authority.  You see, Samuel has a lot bit of a temper, and he saves it for his Daddy most often.  He'll figure that one out for sure. 

On the "think we've got it" front, Samuel is sleeping well and not waking in fear hardly at all.  It's good to sleep through the night and be greeted with a chipper "Hi!"  in the morning instead of tears.  He is also figuring out that his family members do leave at times, but they always come back.  When one of us is away, he asks about them often, but accepts the answer pretty well.  Now, Courtney & Cassidy will both be heading to camp/mission trip in a couple of weeks.  We'll see how that one goes...

On the medical front, we are waiting.  Matt says I need to be patient.  Both Matt and God and anyone who knows me KNOWS that one is a toughie for me.  We have done scans and a heart cath.  The doctors have seen what they need to see.  However, the very capable surgeons have never done a surgery of this kind on a child as old as Samuel.  The typically repair kids when they are about 6 months old.  The cardiologist is researching and consulting other surgeons for their opinions and expertise.  I realize this is a good thing.  Overconfidence can result in mistakes.  They want to do it right.  Got it.  Not patient.  I guess the longer we wait, it's just sinking into me that this is a complicated, risky surgery.  I knew that.  Now that I have Samuel in my arms and see that smile every day, the reality is harder than I imagined.

I blabber on and on. Sorry.   You want to see pictures, right?  Here we go!

Samuel and his animals have a TV watching party.
 Courtney is training up the child in the important things.
 Samuel wants to ride this scooter like his sisters.  He mostly turns it over, but he still likes it.
 We went to visit my mom's grave on Memorial Day weekend.  This pic doesn't show Mom's grave, but two of my precious ones.  She sure loved our girls and she would have loved our Samuel.
I laughingly told the nurse in the recovery room after Samuel's heart cath that I needed to post something on Facebook for the benefit of my "stalkers."  She replied, "They love you all."  I just about cried.  I love my "stalkers" and am SOOOO thankful for you.  We do feel the love.  Keep stalking :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Crazy thoughts

Update on Samuel's medical:  He will have a heart cath next week to take a look at a few more things.  It is rare in this country for a child of Samuel's age and heart defect to not have been repaired yet.  They are being extra careful to know exactly what's going on in there before scheduling surgery.

More than two years ago, Matt & I both felt God calling us strongly to something.  Maybe in the adoption world.  Nothing more specific.  We said yes, God, whatever it is, break our hearts for what breaks yours.  Later, we realized he was calling us to adopt a son.  Later, we saw Samuel's picture and profile and knew he was ours.  Yep, I have asked God several times, "Are you sure?"  What sane forty something aged people would adopt a child at a great financial cost knowing he has big health issues?  We've never told ANYONE that we were sane.   Think about it with me, though.  I read somewhere that most kids who have Samuel's heart condition have a life expectancy of 5 years without surgery.  We gave God a pre-yes.  How could we do the sane thing?  It was time for crazy!

Now think about this with me...Samuel is a 5 year old boy.  He has all the mental and emotional energy of any 5 year old boy.  The problem is that he cannot go outside and run around until that energy is somewhat released.  He can't breathe that well.  So that energy is pent up inside him a lot of the time.   He channels that energy any way he can.  So for example, he now knows exactly how much toilet paper it takes to make the toilet overflow; that his bathroom step stool helps him reach lollipops on the kitchen counter and that he can eat three before mom finishes her shower and catches him.   I now know that Samuel has a temper and doesn't like his plans to be thwarted.  To this mom of girls, crazy!

Some other (better) things he knows...He is loved.  Hugs and kisses are welcomed.  Baba, Mama, Courtney, and Cassidy will all come running when he calls our names.  He will always have plenty to eat and drink.  He has lots of clothes and toys to call his very own.  He has lots of good (and bad) things left to learn, but I pray he will always "hang his hat" on the he is loved part. 

We also learned quickly that Samuel has a good sense of humor.  Here's something that happened in the car yesterday.  Samuel was saying Mama over and over again.  Matt decided to help me out.

Samuel:  "Mama"
Matt:  "Samuel"
Samuel: "Mama"
Matt:  "Samuel"
Samuell:  "Mama"
Matt: "Samuel"
Samuel:  "Hey!"  (Matt turns to look at him.) "Shhhhhh!"

Too funny.   Here's a couple of pics.

 Afraid of the bath no longer!
Corn and carrots are the favorite veggies.  Corn is the most fun to eat.
Blessings to all!
"Every decision we make will be driven by fear or love. Who we toss the keys to determines a lot about where we end up."  Bob Goff

Monday, May 6, 2013

So how are things going?

In a nutshell, things are going remarkably well.  Perfect?  Nope.  Too many people involved. 

Samuel continues to adjust day by day, moment by moment really.  His language skills are blossoming one word at a time as he realizes what these crazy English words mean.  He's been repeating words since day 1, but he is starting to use some words and even phrases appropriately.  He definitely has "eat, drink, more, all gone, dog, Courtney, Cassidy, Baba, Mama, hey, okay, I love you more, hey buddy, uh oh" and probably a few more I can't remember.  This morning, I handed him a snack and he said, "Thank you, Mama." 

Sleeping pattern is not bad, but I do look forward to sleeping through the night again some day.  Most nights, he wakes up crying once or twice.  He just needs to be comforted and he goes right back to sleep.  I remember getting up twice last night, but I think I'm mastering the skill of not completely waking up while going to his room, giving a hug, and tucking back in.

As far as our little guy's health status, we don't know a whole lot yet.  The cardiologist pretty much confirmed his diagnosis as tetrolagy of fallot.  Samuel was NOT happy with the testing done last week, which prevented a completely good echocardiogram from happening.  Next week, they will do a CT scan and another echo until general anesthesia so they can get some good pictures.  I will admit that when Samuel gets totally out of breath after doing very little, it's disturbing to all of us.  I don't look forward to surgery, but I so want him to be able to breath without the struggle. 

In learning to keep up with this busy little boy while everyone else is at school and work, I haven't taken many pictures to share.  By the way, I failed to mention Samuel's most familiar words are "Samuel, no."  He may think that's his name....hmmmm.....He's also completely comfortable enough with his family to show us a temper when things don't happen in his plan and timing.  Yeah, that's not so cute, but it's a good sign ;)

I had to show the kiddo that the basketball goal was indeed not intended for hanging clothes on!  (I'll post about his clothing/hangar craziness later).
 Slam dunk!  Gotta enjoy this now, cause I don't think he's going to be exactly NBA height.
 The cutest nerds you will ever see!

Friday, April 26, 2013

For the blog deprived from the sleep deprived

I apologize in advance if this blog makes no sense.  I feel like I'm in a fog and cannot completely think clearly.  Jet lag is stupid.  Matt & the girls went back to their regular stuff today.  I hope they are faring okay.  If you see them and they look lost, help them out, will ya? 
Our flights home were pretty uneventful, which is good.  It seems Samuel's only relief from the torment of sitting in a seat that long was to go to the bathroom.  We did that A LOT.    For an incredibly long trip, we could not have asked for better.  Actually, for the whole two weeks, we could not have asked for better.  Our prayer warriors were faithful, I know that without asking. 
Samuel is adjusting really well.  New scenarios are very scary and the only way he knows to express that fear is to cry.  The vast majority of the time, he is happy and content.  He is completely goofy and likes to make us laugh.  I can report that he thinks looking at our dogs through the window is really funny and getting close enough for them to touch him brings on hysterics (the bad kind).  One step at a time. 
Nighttime has been a bit of a challenge.  He likes his bed and doesn't have a problem getting in it and going to sleep.  A couple of times each night, he wakes up and he is very scared.  Once he knows we're here, he's good.  The parents going back to sleep after that is the tough part ;)
I will admit that my camera has not yet been unpacked, but here's a couple of cell phone pics.  He does like his Lincoln logs, but he only sorts the pieces by size.  No building necessary.  He also has plain wooden blocks that are three colors.  He sorts them by color.
 The Tonka truck carries lots of things out of his room - cars, blocks, whatever.  He'd love it if he could figure out how to ride in it. 
For those of you who will be meeting Samuel in person soon, I will warn you that he has a bluish color to his skin.  Because of his heart condition, he just isn't getting enough oxygen.  We have an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist on Monday for tests.  Hopefully we will have him doing better soon.

I took a really cute video to share.  Too bad I can't figure out how to get it here.  Forgive me, but I'll work on it later.

Now, in completely random order, here are some things that I enjoy that I had completely taken for granted before this trip.

*drinkable tap water   *ice cold drinks  *my house  *my van  *my bed  *food that doesn't involve rice or noodles  *my shower that has a not so slippery floor  *familiar, pleasants smells  *clear blue Oklahoma sky  *traffic laws (one car per lane, slowing down for pedestrians crossing the street, use of blinkers, etc)  *QuikTrip, Reasors and even Walmart  *people who apologize if they almost run you over *two daughters who totally roll with the flow and always rise to the occasion  *a husband who puts my needs above his - two different guides looked at me during our trip and said, "He loves you very much."  *the POWER in prayer  *family and friends who really care about my family

There's probably more, but the brain is shuuuutttttingggg doooowwwwnnn.

I promise I'll get my camera out soon.

Ta-ta for now.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Coming Home!!!!

A couple of signs at the Guangzhou zoo today that amused me. 
 Matt wants to live in a carnivore zone ;)
This precious lady has helped us every step of the way.  Grace is appropriately named.  Samuel really enjoyed talking to her in Cantonese about the zoo animals.
The zoo had statues of all the Chinese zodiac animals.  Matt & Courtney were both born in the year of the ox.
 I was born in the year of the rabbit.
 Cassidy the year of the horse.
 And Samuel, the year of the rat (I remember seeing Mickey Mouse a lot for this year).
Now, for a couple of zoo animals.  We were disappointed to find that the pandas who normally live in this zoo had been transported to the big panda facility in Sichuan for fertility stuff.  Sorry, y'all, no panda pics. 
 If you have a weak stomach, you may not want to look at the next picture too closely.  The giraffe was giving birth.  We found this absolutely fascinating.  Well, Cassidy just kept hiding her eyes and saying, "Disgusting."
There were several groups of school children at the zoo.  When they passed us, they all smiled and waved and enjoyed saying hello to us in English.  So cute.
We just got Samuel's Visa to enter the US!  It's 4:30 p.m. Tuesday here and I am fighting the urge to head to the Hong Kong airport right now and see if we can catch an earlier flight.  I'm not gonna, but I sure wanna.  We leave the hotel at 5:00 am Weds morning China time to take a 3 hour drive to the Hong Kong airport. We arrive in Tulsa on United 1690 at 10:37 p.m. Weds night (No, I don't expect a welcome home party at that hour, folks).  Did the math on the time changes.  That's almost 31 hours travel.  Needless to say, your prayers are very much appreciated! 

~ Martha

Parting thoughts:

Martha Elaine Meadors, it doesn't matter which side of the world we're on, when I'm in your arms, I'm home!!!  You are a beautiful, amazing woman and I'm so proud of you.  You have been spectacular in this trip.  You've been called to be a mommy again, and you're awesome at it!!!  I love you!!!

We have no room for complaint, whatsoever when a car gives us trouble, or a washing machine or refrigerator, or whatever other creature comfort we have goes out.  If China is any comparison, the standard of living is far superior in the U.S., even for us middle-classers, than anywhere else on this planet.  We are so blessed to live in the country we live in.

The metro Tulsa area, and Sand Springs fit me just fine!!!

I'm sick of rice.  Ready for a big juicy steak.

Kids are remarkable, and Martha and I are blessed with three of the greatest kids ever!!  Cassidy amazed me with her resiliance, and Samuel is doing the same.  He is just as smart as Courtney and Cassidy, and his capacity for studying a situation and figuring out what's going on is nothing short of amazing.  Courtney showed remarkable grace when Cassidy came into the family.  As a matter of fact, she showed more grace than many of the adults around her did.  I remember seathing at times whenever an adult would abruptly end a conversation with Courtney in favor of Cassidy.  Courtney always seemed to take it in stride.  Courtney now is more like an adult figure to Samuel, and Cassidy is faced with extending the same grace to Samuel and so far she's been incredible.  I'm so proud of both my girls, as well as my son!!!

Oklahoma sunsets are breath taking!

I'm sick of noodles.  Ready for some Mexican food!

I'm tired of keeping my mouth shut in the shower to make sure I don't swallow any water.

Samuel will be blessed to have such incredible family surrounding him.  His Pappy is the smartest man I've ever known.  I love him dearly and the greatest compliment I can give him is that he has my utmost respect.  Samuel's Aunt Cheryl is pretty cool too (even if she's a Poke)!  I think the world of her.  His Uncle Joe might be a bit tough on the outside, but when it comes to Courtney and Cassidy he's always been like a teddy bear, and I think the same will apply to Samuel.  Cousin Jacob was always a protector to Courtney, and Samuel is going to be loaded with sisters and cousins, including Ryan, who will watch after him.  They can mess with him all they want, but anyone else better lookout...  Samuel's Memaw is one of the strongest individual's I've ever know.  I have so much respect for my mother and I love her more than words can say.  She is an awesome example to Samuel of the ability to persevere and overcome!  His Granny was one of the most kind hearted, faithful ladies I've ever known.  He never got the chance to meet her, but she's watching over him from heaven along with his Great Grandma.

The Soul'd Out family he is joining is nothing short of remarkable!  The lives of Todd, and especially Mark and Lisa and their families have been so intertwined with ours, that there are very few memories I have over the last 20+ years exclude them.  You guys have been friends that stick closer than a sister or brother, and Samuel is going to be able to enjoy not only the music we make together, but the honor and privilege of having his life intersect with theirs.  His life will be richer for it, just as Courtney's, Cassidy's, Martha's and mine are.

His first Sunday in the USA he will step into Olivet Baptist Church and be introduced to many prayer warriors who've helped him find his family.  They will love on him, just as they have loved the rest of us.  They will help Martha and I teach Samuel about the love of Jesus Christ, and, who knows, might even help lead him to Jesus!  (Amie Taber, I've always been a little mad at you - not really!)   They will be friends, mentors and brothers and sisters in Christ to Samuel.  He doesn't know it, but he will be blessed beyond measure with the OBC family - the greatest there is.

Thanks to our family, church family, and China friends for helping us.  We will never forget how you've blessed us.

I don't necessarily prescribe to the notion that it takes a village.

But it's sure nice to have the right ones there to help!

All our love!

~ Matthew

Monday, April 22, 2013

The US Says He's Ours Too!

Big Day!  We cleared our consulate appointment.  The US agrees with China that this little fellow is a Meadors.
A visit to Shamian Island was so nice.  They have little shops with traditional Chinese wares.  So many less shops than 8 years ago.  Made us kind of sad that so many have gone out of business.
 Statues on Shamian are so fun.
 Lucy's Restaurant serves American food!  We all enjoyed. 
 Samuel has a hilarious imitation of Cassidy.  You'll just have to see it to appreciate it :)
 The evening held a river boat cruise on the Pearl River.  It was a wonderful change of pace.  Isn't Courtney pretty?
 Out on the deck looking out on the lights.  Beautiful.
 Entertainment inside - no, it wasn't Matt, but Samuel thought his balloon on Dad's head was funny.
The family on the river boat.
The Canton Tower view from the boat. 
The adoption is DONE!!!  So glad to have the U.S. consulate appointment behind us!  I was kind of surprised at how nice it was to see a full sized U.S. flag upstairs in the consulate.  Guess when you're this far from home anything from there is nice.  After the consulate appointment we enjoined a visit to Shamian Island, where the U.S. consulate used to be, and where we stayed when we got Cassidy.  It was nice to be someplace where there was less hustle and bustle.  The Island is like a peaceful retreat for us Okies who aren't used to a city of 15 million.  Martha and the girls enjoyed their shopping.  The riverboat cruise was nice.  I wouldn't recommend it for the cuisine alone, but we thoroughly enjoyed the sights.
The family dynamic is still developing.  Samuel is so smart, he's learning quickly.  He can identify your nose, ears, mouth - becareful with the eyes!  It's remarkable to think that when we pass through customs in San Francisco he will become a citizen of the USA.
One day left in China.  All we're doing tomorrow is to visit the Guangzhou zoo.  Once that's done we'll be preparing for our very early departure Wednesday morning.
I would like to thank, again, everyone who has prayed for us and helped us in any way.  I can never thank you enough!  It's amazing to think back to 17 years ago when we were doubting we'd ever have a child and now look at us.  We've got a Courtney, Cassidy, and Samuel!
Thank you Lord for your goodness!
~ Martha and Matthew
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Good day

The Garden Hotel lobby has beautiful fresh flowers that are brought in every week.  They are arranged differently each week too.  They are so pretty and make the lobby smell wonderful.
Hee hee, have you seen the movie "Up?"  Look at Cassidy..."Squirrel!"
Big smiles from the little man.  He loves his stroller.
Courtney's beautiful smile.
The weather in Guangzhou was perfect today.  Lower temps and humidity made for a great day to visit a local park.
Cassidy had to practice her gymnastics jumps.  An older lady came by to ask our guide about our curious family.  She commented that Cassidy was very graceful. 

 Man made lakes in the park.
We enjoyed a little shopping today, but we were much more in the mood for the serenity of the park.  It was a good day!  Consulate appointment tomorrow.
~Martha & Matthew

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Good News on TB Test!

Good news for today...Samuel's TB test was negative and we got his passport.  Now we've gotta wait around for the Consulate appointment and for his visa to be added to that passport. 

We had a long day of not doing much.  Samuel continues to grow and test.  He is like a little parrot, repeating so much.  I love the way he says Cackidee (Cassidy) and Courtmee (Courtney), but he doesn't really call them by name yet.  He just yells, "Hey!"  As far as using appropriate words, he says Baba (Daddy), hey, and thank you.  He volunteers kisses, they are like lipless mouth pops, but the sentiment is there.  This evening, he started using the sign for all done.  That was fun.  He gets those little boy impulses to throw things at his sister's head and such.  That's not working out great for him.  He's also learned that when he mimicks, even if he is being told no, that he can sometimes make us laugh.  Tonight at dinner, he wagged his finger back and said no.  It was too funny to keep a straight face. 

In some ways, little Samuel acts like a five year old.  In some ways, he acts older.  In some ways, he acts younger.  Samuel simply cannot stand for things to not be in their proper place.  After we finish eating, he wants the dishes all stacked.  All the shoes in the room have to be together.  He has reorganized the books and papers on the desk many times.  Trash has to be promptly thrown away.  I can tell he has learned to be a helper.   He is not socially where most 5 year olds are because he simply hasn't had the opportunity to learn.  He seems to catch on very quickly, so I am anxious to see where he will be as his English language skills improve and he is exposed to more situations.

Samuel has thought Courtney to be quite funny most days.  He was treating her like a naughty little brother today.  This picture was taken yesterday.
 This is also a pic from yesterday.  This is the view out of our hotel window.  This bit of blue sky as the sun was setting was the first we had seen in days.  I really can't tell half the time if we are seeing clouds or smog.  This is SUCH a huge city.

 ~ Martha

Quiet today.  Got out a couple of times, but not a lot of sightseeing to be done within walking distance of our hotel.  The schedule, however, picks up from here on out.  I think we're all at the point where we're pretty homesick, but we're avoiding talking about it.  I can report that we've had discussions on whether we'd eat Mexican food at Chimi's first, or steak at Outback when we get home.  Right now I'd guess it's fifty-fifty.

The girls are awesome!  They're so good with Samuel, even when he's being a little toot.  Courtney gets frustrated with him, but I can tell she also feels a certain level of responsibility for him as well.  The family dynamic is forming, and it's fun to watch it develop.  I just continue to pray that it develops in the manner the Lord would have it.

Hopefully more to talk about tomorrow.  Thank you to everyone for your kind words and support!

~ Matthew

Friday, April 19, 2013


Another quiet day in Guangzhou.  We had no official appointments today and our guide was busy with another family.  We spent the day in our hotel for the most part.  We did walk over to the Starbucks for a sandwich and drink for lunch.  It was really good.  Matt found the fitness center for a work out while the rest of us visited the children's playroom.  Samuel enjoys the change of pace and playing in a place where there's not so many "no's."  Courtney found a couple of NHL games for her and Matt to watch on her ipad today.  That was fun for them.  We've been watching the two Addams Family movies this afternoon.  Not great cinema, but kind of amusing, and it's in English. 

New discovery today - the reason for Samuel's temper tantrum with his sisters yesterday was that they messed with his backpack.  We packed a few little toys in that backpack and gave it to him a few minutes after we met him.  I noticed today that he wasn't playing with the toys in it.  Matt picked it up and starting rummaging through it to find two little cars that were in the bottom.  Samuel came completely unglued.  Sad reality of orphan life.  He's never had his own "stuff" before.  He would rather keep it packed up and safely his than to take the toys out and play with them.  He did finally calm down and play with the cars with Matt, but then he promptly packed them back up and hasn't gotten anything out since.  Makes me sad.  Can't wait to get home and let him see all the toys in his room that are all his. 

Tomorrow is another slow day.  Results on Samuel's TB test will be in tomorrow.  Praying for no news, which is good news.  Our guide will pick up his passport tomorrow as well.  Sunday is a shopping day, much to Matt's chagrine.  Monday will be very busy - go to US Consulate to take oath, go to Shamian Island for shopping, followed by a river boat cruise at night on the Pearl River.  Tuesday holds a visit to the zoo (Cassidy can't wait to see the pandas), then getting Samuel's visa so we can head home with him on Wednesday!  Sorry for the long diatribe - I needed to progress to the coming home part ;)

I want to end my part with thanks again for prayers.  Our guide just keeps talking about how incredibly well Samuel has handled everything.  We know that's because of answered prayer.  We are here because of answered prayer.  So I continue to request, knowing that He is listening.

Requests:  Continued health and safety for us all, negative TB test, smooth finish to paperwork, for Samuel to physically and emotionally handle that long trip home well.

Now, for the pictures...

Mr. Samuel is a slapstick kind of kid.  Finds the physical play hilarious.
 Any boy who has ever played with Matt know that the shirt over the head is always involved.  Samuel thinks that's funny too.
He thinks Matt's funny in general.  Wish we had a video of Samuel trying to do the Donald Duck voice like Matt.  Too funny.
~ Martha

Martha mentioned our realization today of Samuel's hangup with the backpack and it's prized contents.  Totally floored me.  Possessions are something we take for granted.  Our kids take them for granted.  How many cell phones are in your household?  We have 4.  Computers?  Four laptops and an iPad.  Three cars, three TVs, clothes, jewelry... Well, you get the point.

So much stuff we've collected, while Samuel treasures a $2 hot wheels car.  Makes me wonder what else I might take for granted in my life.  Close friends?  Family?  Freedom?  All of the mercy the Lord pours out in my life on a daily basis.

Samuel will learn that his cars and backpack aren't going to be taken from him.  But our job is to teach him the truly important things along the way.  We want him to discover that a true friend is more precious than gold.  We want him to learn that he has the love of a family that will never give up on him.  He'll never lose our love.  No matter what.

Most of all, our desire - no, our responsibility, is to introduce him to the only One who loves him more than we do.  To the One who laid down his life so that Samuel might live. 

From the day Courtney was born Martha and I felt this weight that she know the Lord.  She accepted him during VBS at our home church of Olivet Baptist Church.  From the moment we met Cassidy, the heat was back.  We had to know that she belonged to our gracious God.  Martha had the priviledge of leading her to Jesus one afternoon in our home. 

Then we felt that the greatest assignments in our lives had been completed. 

Now it's back.  The niggling in the back of my mind.  That need to know that Samuel will live forever.

If I could, I'd give him mine, cause I know where to go to find it.  But I can't.  He has to find that for himself.  But I can, and we will, do everything possible to introduce him to the Lord.

It's the greatest possession he could ever have.

~ Matthew

"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Matthew 6:20-21