Saturday, December 31, 2011

We are home!

We are home and so thankful for the prayers of so many that have sustained us! Derek’s stomach bug decided to hitch a ride home and also invade Andrew in the process.

Andrew did great on the flights, sleeping twice about an hour and a half each time. Cherish was a trooper and chose to stay awake and entertain Andrew and the other babies traveling home with us. She did fall asleep twice on the international flight, sleeping about 30 minutes each time.

Derek was sick and slept little. I couldn’t sleep as my blood has a tendency to clot, so I had the privilege of walking the plane and keeping vigil over all the other sleeping travelers.

George and Carileen took several catnaps and drank lots of caffeine. When they arrived home, they were the ones speaking in coherent sentences.

When we arrived home last night, we were feeling extremely nauseous and like cold/flu germs had invaded our bodies. However, we are feeling quite better this afternoon—thanks to the prayers of so many faithful prayer warriors and the homemade meals my mom had made and left in our refrigerator!

We have been taking naps since returning home, as Cherish seems to be quite wired. She slept last night until 11:30 p.m., then up again at 12:15 a.m., then up for good at 2:30 a.m. Derek got up with her and Andrew, and I went back to bed. At 5:00 a.m. Derek made breakfast, and everyone had breakfast together. Then, I put the children to bed around 5:30 a.m., and Derek and I hit the bed. Cherish slept a total of about two hours—getting up and down during those two hours.

So, we spent the day trying to stay awake. We unpacked, sanitized our shoes, washed about four loads of laundry (and have about 5 loads left), took a walk in the sun, and ate several home cooked meals. We played with the children and gave then both a bath. It feels like we accomplished a ton—when it comes to dragging from not having a night’s sleep since Thursday daytime (local time).

What we didn’t do is clean up much after the meals, and we left the unwashed laundry on the floor in sorted piles. (I have about 5 loads left, as we have to wash all our coats, gloves, etc., and the sheets from the beds of the ones who were sick with fevers and bronchitis before we left home.) Also, the children’s toys and snack Cheerios have found their way to the floor—resting comfortably, I might add. It looks like a tornado hit our house. Oh, well. Tomorrow’s another day.

All in all, we have witness the amazing hand of God as He protected Cherish from illness—as she normally gets sick within hours of exposure. And, yet, with all the flights, team illnesses (fever, etc.), Andrew’s bronchitis (and she kept hugging him, kissing him, and sharing food with him), and the stomach bug, not. once. did. she. get. sick! It truly is a miracle.

Also, God helped Derek in his illness and weakness to be able to travel and carry our luggage. He was a trooper—though he was ashen and obviously weak and sick.

God has been
Our Sustainer.
Our Help.
Our Comforter.
We know we could not have endured this tremendously hard trip without the faithful warriors who held us up in prayer. God bless each one of you!

Before I sign off, I’d like to give a special shout-out to Dr. Fink for picking us up at the airport, my mom for cooking us meals specifically geared to nausea, flu, etc., and for my neighbor, Cheryle, who mowed our lawn and got us milk from the grocery store. We have felt carried during this time of sickness and transition. THANK YOU!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Back to Blog-land

We have been having a bit of trouble with stomachs. I began having trouble with my abdomen about 3-4 days ago, and I thought I had pulled a muscle. Actually, I thought I had a hernia from holding Andrew and the backpack diaper bag, but Aleve never touched the pain. I was doubled over and could not stand upright, because the pain was so intense. About 24 hour into the pain I thought it may be from a virus, so I took some Slippery Elm (herb), which helped. So, I kept downing the herb whenever the pain had me doubled over.

This morning, Derek YELLED in the hotel room: "I think I'm going to die!!"

He had the stomach bug--much different from mine. And, he. had. it. bad!!!!!

I woke up Carileen who had Immodium and started administering it. Derek. had. it. bad! Did I mention that?

Hours and hours later, he was weak, pale, and bedridden. The problem was that we had to get all our luggage and check-out, carry all our luggage 4 flights of stairs into the train station...through Customs, and then back down about 2 flights. The other problem? George and Carileen have balance issues, so Derek was going to be the strong one to carry everyone's luggage up and down all these flights. Then, the stomach bug hit. He was in bed. Too ill and too weak to get out of bed.

Fast forward, after he took all Carileen's Immodium, other team members gave him their medicine that they didn't use. Plus, antibiotics for stomachs.

We made it to Hong Kong with the help of God and our team mates. Derek is ashen and weak, but he was able to make it here!

We head to the airport for our international flight in about 8 hours.

Cherish is having a bit of tummy troubles now. I gave her medicine, and she's sleeping now.

We shall make it! Dragging, perhaps, but we will make it!

So much to update, so little time. Perhaps I'll write an update on the plane and simply upload it in Chicago.

THANKS FOR PRAYING for us!!!!!! You have carried us along!

THANK YOU, JESUS, for family and friends who care!!

-Julie (for the family)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


We love watching Andrew walk. When he walks he propels himself forward by swinging his arm and leg forward at the same time (the arm and leg on the same side of his body). This pattern goes back and forth as he walks.
When we first got Andrew he was too weak to even stand. Thus, now that he has gained health and strength, it is with great joy that we see him stand and walk.
When we received Andrew his shoes were over an inch too long for his feet, and even with the Velcro fastened on as tightly as possible, the shoes kept slipping off his feet. So, we waited until he was well enough to go to a store to be measured for shoes. He received his first pair of new shoes on Christmas Eve. When I placed him on the ground he was startled—because the shoes squeaked (we got him squeaky shoes). However, he liked them pretty immediately as he learned that he could make noise as he walked.
When Andrew is put to bed for naptime or bedtime, he will not roll over or stand up…at all. at any point. The way he is placed on the pillow to sleep is the same way/position he wakes up. I think his limbs are too weak to lift up his head and rib cage—which, of course, contain most of his weight.
We’ve marveled how much older and healthier Andrew looked in his updated pictures from Maria’s Big House of Hope. However, he was moved back to the orphanage in August, and I guess the shock and change were very hard on him. He must not have eaten much, because he went down to skin and bones. Looking at some of his previous pictures, he actually looked chunky compared to how he looks now. The picture of him standing on the play set shows his bare arms and legs, he had meat on his limbs then! Oh, well. We are faithfully feeding him, and we know he will “bounce back” soon.
Andrew has been having bad dreams the last two nights. He cries without opening his eyes—and his cry is one of terror. He shakes in fear. When we lift him up, he opens his eyes, looks at us, smiles, and then nestles his head as closely as possible into the crook of the neck of whoever is holding him. He keeps lifting his head and replacing it into the crook of daddy or mommy’s neck as if he thinks he can get closer and possibly feel safer.
“We are here for you, little guy! Perhaps no one was available to comfort you in your nightmares before, but from now on, WE. ARE. HERE! We will comfort you the best we know how. You are ours. You are our son. You belong! You need not go through trauma alone any more. WE. ARE. HERE! That’s what family is for. So, get in as closely as you’d like, because we are hanging on TIGHT!
Andrew is very strangely quiet. So much so, that George, Carileen, Derek, and I have all had the same thought: “Is he mute?” However, it turns out there must be a reason he chooses to be silent. Was it because his voice and cries weren’t “heard” before? Was it because action didn’t follow the audible requests? I. don’t. know. However, yesterday I found a way to make him laugh. Belly laughter that is so full. I “lizard lick” his neck—which seems to be his tickle spot. I can do it once, and after that, just my head moving toward his face makes him verbally laugh so strongly. It is wonderful to hear.
Also, we know he cries in his dreams and when he was at the hospital getting needles…. However, he doesn’t protest, whine, whimper…. He never lets on when he is hungry, tired, wet, uncomfortable…. But, as he learns that we are here to hear when he has needs and wants, he will learn that his voice will be heeded. He will know that we care and we will act!

Until then, we will wait for him to blossom and cheer on each time his little quiet shell cracks. We know there is a glowing, vibrant child hidden below the surface.
Thanks for caring about our family, and thank you for all your prayers!
Julie (for the family)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Photo catch-up

Cherish and Andrew fell asleep holding hands.

Andrew 'signing' his part of the agreement ;-)


Sweet love:

How Andrew prefers to sleep-with something touching his face.

Christmas Day photos:
Cherish's new outfit from Pappy and Nanny.

Pappy and Nanny:


Trying new things.

That’s all for now.
The transition is going very well.
Thank You, LORD!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We have been so blessed! We have a Savior Who was willing to put on skin for us!

We are so blessed to have a God Who is all-powerful, all-knowing, completely in control, and completely good! We stand in awe.

We have been having a wonderful day of celebration. It is indeed a Merry Christmas here!

We have a son(!) and this is the first day he is not in the hospital or visiting a clinic.

We have a daughter who is head-over-heels in love with her baby brother. We have been marveling at the fact that there has been no jealousy on her part—with so much attention being on Andrew’s first smile, giggle, standing, walking, etc. Cherish joins in the cheering and laughter as we enjoy Andrew’s transition into family life.

There are SO MANY things we are thankful for. We will try to list some of them below:
1. We are now in Guangzhou, and we have a hotpot that boils for 5+ minutes. Thus, we can brush our teeth and make bottles for Andrew without having to purchase bottled water.

2. I (Julie) have figured out how to keep Andrew and me dry. Because he is so tiny, he has been peeing out of his diapers, through his clothes, and through mine as well. Derek and I have tried size 3 diapers (which are for his weight—but which is all in his head and rib cage), size 1 diapers, and now “newborn” size diapers. All the diapers are too big for him. Thus, I now put on a “newborn” sized diaper, cover that with as size 1 diaper (perfect fit over the other diaper), cover those with a size 12-month plastic diaper cover (which is too big), and cover all that with his onesie. In so doing, everything is held up close to his body, and he and I now have clothing that as of today is remaining dry.
3. We are thankful for a tub with super-hot water and shampoo for washing out clothes. Sometimes, when you are in desperate need and can’t wait for 2-3 day laundry service, you are so grateful to wash clothes by hand.

4. We are so thankful for the McDonald’s Christmas Eve dinner we had and for the Papa John’s Christmas dinner we had. (George and Carileen are not too big on Chinese food, so they got their cravings filled the last two days.)

5. We are so thankful—beyond words—for the working of God in Cherish’s life. She has caught 0 germs during all this time and had 0 asthma attacks! With her auto-immune disease, she usually catches everything that comes near her, and she expresses the illness within hours of exposure. She has been exposed to so many illnesses from our group, as well as Andrew’s bronchitis, etc., and not once has she contracted anything. This is HIGHLY unusual, and we KNOW it is God’s hand of protection on her.

6. We are thankful for all your prayers and e-mails of concern. With so much going on, we have not had much time to respond, but do know we are reading your e-mails and comments and feeling your prayers!
7. We are so thankful for my sister Jen who is updating our blog—since we do not have any access to our blog or Facebook.

More later…with pictures.

But for now:

Bye Bye:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

We are blessed

I thought I was seeing with eyes wide open. I. was. wrong!
Today as Andrew was in the hospital, he had an emergency situation. I had to pick him up while the nurse held his IV container, and we had to speed walk between hospital buildings, taking Andrew from the pediatric ward to the ER, and then to the inpatient building.

Oh. my! In the past, each time a doctor had said Andrew had to be admitted into the hospital, our agency rep continually fought the doctors to have Andrew go home at night. That way he could continue his treatments in the “outpatient” buildings.
I thought I had seen all the shocks. But, then I saw the inpatient building of the hospital. I had been so wrong.
I cannot write what I saw, but I will say, I cried after leaving there. A lot.

Our agency rep said that she had only had to take two other patients to the inpatient hospital--as she works hard to shelter the Westerners. She said that no one understands China until they have seen the inpatient hospital at this place.
I am so disgustingly spoiled!
I have heat.
I have food.
I have restrooms available to me.
I have blankets.
I have coats.
I have a place to sleep.
I have dry clothes.
I have water to drink….
Survival. That’s what it is about for them. Survival.
I am so disgustingly spoiled! My eyes have seen with even further understanding.

God, please keep me this sensitive. Help me to value what really matters!

Just as information, God helped Andrew pull out of his emergency, and we were able to go “home”. We have to go back to the hospital in the morning, and we fly to Guangzhou in the evening. We received meds so that Andrew will be able to fly.
It is recommended that we continue the hospital visits while in Guangzhou. I pray we will not have to.

No matter what, though, we are blessed.
We have life.
We have each other.
We are family and will look after one another.

Blessed beyond measure,

P.S. Derek stayed at the hotel with Cherish today. He will update on his orphanage visit as soon as things calm down.

Thanks for all the prayers and for caring about us. You’ll never know how much you have done for us!