Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Over a Month!

It's been over a month since Josiah Jett Turner joined our family. What a wait we had for him to become officially ours, but oh, the joy that he has brought to all of us in such a short time. Here's what's happened lately:

  • Jett wakes up at 7:00 every morning (his internal alarm clock coincides with Kaitlyn's) and comes into the kitchen rubbing his eyes to say "Good morning, Momma!" and "Good morning, Poppa!" What a joy! He immediately wants to help set the table for breakfast and finds that using napkins at every meal is entertaining!

  • When the girls are having school, Jett likes to find anything and everything in the school closet to play with. He especially loves the counting bears, the phonics tiles and the Connect Four game.

  • Jett loves to answer the telephone and speak to anyone...including perfect strangers. We have to be careful with this. He will, however, use a play phone to make calls throughout the day. He loves to call Bo, Jason and Regan.

  • He still takes a 2 hour nap every day and insists on using the blanket Regan and Brittan made for him.

  • Jett loves music and will sing at any given opportunity. Sometimes we understand him, and sometimes we don't.

  • Playing outside is awesome...riding his "motorcycle" (thanks Jason and Jenny) is a highlight.

  • He loves to go to church and to see the pastor on the big screens.

We are all enjoying just spending time together as a family. Right now, we are praying for other families who are waiting for their children to come home. Feel free to click on any of the blogs to the right and pray with us!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Superman and Chefs.....

Jett frequently plays "Superman" at our house...not sure where he got the concept as I'm fairly certain he didn't watch any Superman shows at his orphanage. Anyway, he knows he's supposed to "fly" and zoom around the house making swishing noises. So, being blessed with creative older sisters, he got his wish on Sunday. Kaitlyn wrapped a cloak around him, made the "S" for his chest and cloak, and even fashioned some kind of mask for him. Jett zoomed around the house thinking he was "Mr. It"...it was adorable.

At the same time our home was invaded by Superman, we had our friend Janie M. come over. She was bringing us dinner, but she didn't just bring it, she cooked it here too! What a huge blessing. She got Kait and Madison involved, and they made very yummy chicken quesadillas. It was so much fun to see the girls being chefs in the kitchen and to enjoy the fellowship of a friend.

In other news, Poppa has a flight home tomorrow, but the group he is working with is flying out today. So, he's going to try and fly standby to get home tonight. Oh, what a joy just to see him again. We all miss him terribly and can't wait for our family to be whole again!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snow in Alabaster, Alabama!

Yep, it's snowing today...in Alabaster, AL. For you northerners, this may be an every day occurence. Down here, not so much. I haven't seen it snow here in probably 4 years (and that was a dusting). Now, take it for what it's worth but everything (and I mean everything) is closed today. The South shuts down for snow....we're in awe of something we've never seen. To our credit, people here can endure quite a lot....tornadoes, hurricanes, and 100% humidity to name a few....snow is not one of those things we endure. We enjoy it, and we use it as a great reason to close down all known businesses!

Jett took a few minutes today to stand in awe of the snow as well. He didn't even know the word for snow, so when I told him it would snow (nevar), he looked at me like I was saying he should eat a monkey. So much for Spanish when a 3 year old is involved.

He warmed up to the snow quickly, finding out that it is just cold water, and it can be consumed. Anything that can be eaten is delightful! Jett called his Poppa and told him "it nowing" (yes, there's no s's where's he's concerned). He loved it, and we're sharing these pictures with you to show you just how much!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Musica Like Jim!

Here are pictures of Jett pretending to sing. He says "musica like Jim" meaning he's pretending to be Jim Houston singing on the vocal team at church. Isn't that amazing that he already has that concept?

Jett is fitting into our family without a hitch. It's like he's always been a part of the Turner clan. He does miss his Poppa something fierce. I explained to him tonight that Poppa was coming home in 5 days....I forgot that 3 year olds don't understand time. So, when we walked into the house, he thought Poppa would be home. I could've just said 5 years or 5 decades in his little mind. He broke out in tears and wanted to call Poppa right away. JT talked to him and prayed with him before bed, so the tears went away. Poppa makes all things better!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

First Day of School

This is Madison working on handwriting, leaning back in her chair (the photo is not sideways).
Kaitlyn on the first day back to school working on math...what a genius!
Jett's favorite job was holding the Christian flag...he was an expert in that department!

It's official...we started school yesterday. God was so gracious to us and allowed us the time to get back into the groove of school. What a blessing! The girls are a little "rusty" on some basic math but that just comes back with practice!

Kaitlyn is enjoying reading more than ever and does fabulous with anything relating to math. Madison is our quick memorizer and learns things that Kaitlyn is supposed to know. She loves to read as well and drama is her specialty!
Jett got to hold the Christian flag yesterday and began some basic phonics. He thinks it is fun to "go to school" even if it is only for 30 minutes or so (it may have been more like 20 minutes). He played a lot and seems to enjoy the outdoors the most of all.
JT will be in Arizona until the 23rd...we all miss him terribly. It is a tough time for him to be away, but we all know that his sacrifices are for the Kingdom (we've learned through the years that it is not always a matter of convenience or our feelings but it's about God's timing). We are so thankful for the way JT leads our family, and when he is gone, we all feel a little lost. We can't wait for him to get home!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Settling In!

Here are some more pictures of our family getting settled in....the girls are performing on the trampoline (a musical of course), Jett digging up dirt in the backyard, Jett's static hair on the trampoline, Jett in the bathtub and Jett eating pancakes for breakfast.

We are amazed at how well he is adjusting to family life here (and how we are doing as well). We are all having to get used to a boy....lots of dirt, noise and jumping! He has learned lots of new words and is using them daily. We are so proud of him!
Thank you all for checking in on us, your encouraging emails and phone calls and all the wonderful gestures of love and support!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Home At Last!

We made it home on Tuesday, January 9th (as planned) although we barely made our last flight. We had almost 2 hours in between landing in Atlanta and leaving for Birmingham, but with customs, immigration and security, we made it onto our 2nd flight with only 10 minutes to spare (and no dinner at that). We were greeted at the airport by many of our amazing friends and family! What a treat.

I was personally determined to hold it together and not cry all over everyone. Well, that thought was smashed to pieces as soon as I saw Pansy Merriwether. She has been like a mother to me, and I admire her SO much. What a joy to have her in my life! She and her husband Jim are mentors to us, and they have walked this 2 year journey with us. It was truly a blessing to see them there!

We got home about 10:15 that night with 3 very sleepy children. However, the moment Jett walked into the house, he was totally revved up and ready to see it all. He ran from room to room saying "oh wow" and "look"...it was awesome! Then, he finally got to his room, and he ran and jumped on his bed....."mi cama!" He was SO excited. He even slept in his bed all night (until 7:30 the next day). What a joy!
He is learning so much already, and he amazes us daily with his excitement over little things....how a recliner works, the noise of a vacuum cleaner, the buttons on a dishwasher, the thrill of a trampoline and so much more.
He's napping now, so I have to get ministry duty done. Thank you all for your prayers. We will continue to blog (moreso when JT returns from his Arizona trip) and keep you up to date with our family. We love you all.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Flight Plans and .....In Honor of Bo!

This is our last post before coming home tomorrow. How exciting for all of us. Just this evening, Jett watched an airplane depart from the GC airport (we have a great view of the runway from our room) and said "Ayer, Alabama" (Tomorrow, Alabama). We couldn't agree more!

For those of you family and friends who wish to meet us at the aiport, here's the flight plan! We will come into Birmingham on Tuesday at 8:03 on Delta flight 1607. We are SO ready to be home....we long to commune with our family and friends again!

And, in honor of our friend Bo, I've posted a picture of JT and Jett playing the new Guatemalan drum that was bought in Panajachel! Bo, it was a mini drum circle right here in GC. You would be so proud!

We are eager to see you all. We love you and thank you for your encouraging words and support!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Some Additional Pics

Papa's Heart

I know Sheryl posted a great blog about our day already. I thought though I have not posted very much and everyone else is in bed. Sheryl took some meds and went to sleep early tonight after another succesful dinner out using our newly learned language. Jett and I watched a Pooh dvd and he slowly wound down...that takes a while these days. Kaitlyn and Madison watched a dvd and then quickly hopped into their sofa bed and are already out. Jett is still tossing around a bit but will be out soon. I on the other hand will be up for a while. Two cups of coffee at dinner tonight and a heart full of new stuff is keeping me up.

I first must again share with you all about how amazing Sheryl is. She has been the driving force behind the paperwork and all the necessary stuff for the adoption. She somehow is able to keep it all in order and complete. Tomorrow we face the last of the Guatemala side of this process as we receive Jett's visa to the USA! Sheryl has also been the constant example of open and willing to learn as her Spanish has come so far in such a short time. She is able to communicate with most anyone here. It is rough broken words but they all seem to understand and respond. I am learning as much as I can but she has overwhelmed us all with her ability to pick it all up.

This whole language issue has been on my heart for some time. Last August while in Africa I felt the Lord impressing upon me to open up to the world and learn languages. I am a very slow learner and need lots of practice and practical application. Well, boy did I get my wish. Right in my own family now is a language teacher! Jett is so good with helping us work out words. I have already learned so much from him and am eager to learn more. I have been humbled by this little boy who seems to already know more English than his father knows Spanish. Each night to hear his little voice call out to me "Ora Papa, Ora," my heart leaps as he asks me to pray before we sleep. Today he asked me to pray before his nap and I left the bed feeling as if I were really extending the love of the Father to this amazing little man whom God had placed in my care.

Wow, never before have I fully grasped the truth of our role as parent until today. I am the extension of the Heavenly Father and here to teach and lead as one who is pointing to the One Father who can provide all that we need. I am so overwhelmed and humbled that the Father would choose me to be His example to this most extrordinary child who will one day reach the nations! We as parents have but a few short years to pour into these precious lives given to us to train and teach. The father then will lead them out into the world to extend to the rest of man the hope and peace found in the personal relationship found only in Him! WOW...I am so thankful for a Heavenly Father who knows what He is doing...Lord please help me do as you would do, speak as you would speak and love as you would love!

In the midst of it all I am coming full circle with the adoption issue. I am beginning now to grasp the lesson of adoption in relation to my own personal relationship with God. The two years of working out this adoption have given me time needed for developing my own heart and mind to know and understand how a loving perfect Father chose to scoop me up from the abandonment of sin and deliver me to a home of hope found in His hands. This entire process has opened my heart up to the fact that I am orphaned and alone without Him...lost and undone...fighting to survive against the odds and somehow, God smiled and opened His arms of love and welcomed me in when He had no need for me...simply love that comes without end or condition.

To all of you who are reading this who are wondering where I am going with all this...well here is the point. We are given clear indication in James 1:27 that the Father's heart is bent toward those who are following after His heart in caring for the orphans. Yes, I know that orphans are only part of those mentioned in this passage, yet orphans are those who have no other person to care for them. I would challenge each of you reading this blog to consider how you can care for the orphans of this world? Two years ago I was fine with foster parenting. Before that I was completly fine with the two precious girls we had been given. Now, 2008, I realize we are all orphans seeking a family to call ours. The only peace that will come is that found in the peace provided through a family grounded in the truth of His Word and a Father who will never disappoint or forget. I will follow His heart to adopt every time He opens the door from every country I step foot in as long as I live. There is no reason why I should not open my life up for the blessing and the opportunity to bless by raising the next generation of world changers in my own home. If I believe this world needs a great spiritual awakening, and I do, then I need to be about providing an avenue for those who will bring it about. Let's work together to raise up a new generation of warriors in the Kingdom that speak the languages of the world and reach the least of them in His name until He returns!

I appreciate so much the prayers offered up to the Father on our behalf and would say to each of you who have been and are continuing to pray for us, Thank you! I have felt the prayers each night as I rest with confidence in my King who is watching over us. I feel them every time I wonder am I doing the right thing with this child as we teach and grow. I feel them every day as we walk the streets of this city and know that My God is a shield about us because you are interceding for us! Thank you for your support and encouraging words. Thank you for praying even when no one knows it is you who is lifting us up. For all of you who daily call our names out to the Father and never tell anyone, not even us, thank you for keeping us going and strong in His strength.

To our family and friends, this is a road that is just beginning and will be a life-long journey of trust and character building. Thank you for your patience and understanding as well as your unwaivering support. For those who stand firm in the gap and never let down your guard, for each of you who continue to step in and fill the needs and handle the issues along side us, for all of the encouraging words and listening ears...Thank you and I pray God's richest blessings on you all!

Until tomorrow or until we are all home, good night all!

In His Grip,

JT "Big Daddy" better known these days as PAPA!

Animals, Animals Everywhere

God has amazed us with His lessons to us through an adopted child. We are learning so much about His plan for us as believers....what a love He has for us (we can not even fathom the extent of it). God's pursuit of us overwhelms us, and we find ourselves so unworthy (and very aware of our unworthiness). Our family is forever grateful for God's redeeming love!

Today, as we share the love of Christ to our new son, we took him to the zoo. He had never been and had never seen animals so close (except a dog or cat). He was shocked...the smiles were everywhere. He especially loved the monkeys, the kangaroos and the talking parrot. The parrots spoke Spanish of course (except for "Polly want a cracker"). It was a great time for us to be outdoors, get some much needed exercise and enjoy our time together as a family.

Jett has NO idea what's in store for him back in Alabama. But, he does already know people there. We've been showing him pictures of his friends and family, and he repeats the names (his pronunciations are humorous). Just yesterday, he asked for "Past-ur Keep" (that's Pastor Keith Stanley at Brook Hills). This morning, he saw a picture of Jim and Donna Houston, and he said "No go Tigers Jim. Roll Tide"...that's from a week of Jim trying to convert our child to be a LSU fan......

We are eager to get our visa for Jett tomorrow afternoon. Then, we will pack up all of this stuff ....it is amazing how much a 3rd child adds to the luggage. Thank you Lisa Mitchell for the loan of an extra bag...we've needed it! We'll board our flight after 1:00 pm on Tuesday and be headed home. We will have some extra work to do in Atlanta, as we will have to deal with a Guatemalan passport for JT, adoption paperwork and a visa. Pray for favor as we pass through customs and immigration.

Our girls miss their friends desperately, and they are ready to get home to their own beds. They have been such troopers, never complaining during this entire trip. We are SO proud of them. Just this year, they have spent 14 weeks away from home either in Arizona, Africa or Guatemala.....what awesome children we have! God has blessed us with girls that we are so proud of....girls who follow after Him!

I've posted several pictures from the zoo today - enjoy!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Day in Antigua

Today, we were able to sleep a little bit later (okay, 7:00). Then, our tour guide, Freddy, picked us up and took us to Antigua (about 45 minutes away). It is the former capital of Guatemala - around 500 years old. The streets are cobblestone, and the monastaries, convents and churches are still visible. It is a gorgeous city rich in history.

The children enjoyed the visit especially to the jade factory. We were able to see all different colors of jade (who knew there were so many), watch jade being chisled down to manageable pieces and even jade jewelry manufactured. However, I think they liked the candle factory the best. We were able to observe wax being melted, wax poured into forms, extra wax stripped off the forms and the final product. One of the workers was generous enough to give a new candle to all of them - they were so proud!

Jett napped some of the way back to the hotel because it was right in the middle of his naptime. He likes to sleep and the times are pretty set in stone right now. However, if he gets woken up during that time, he doesn't sleep well after that. So, the nap was cut short today, and he's already off to sleep tonight. He was tossing and turning for the first week but has calmed that down somewhat. He even stayed under the covers and on a pillow last night...that was a huge improvement.

We've seen so many changes in Jett over the past 10 days. God is working in and through him (and us) to mold our hearts and minds to be more like Him. Jett has a lot of adjustments to go through, and we'll blog more about those when we get home. He was not treated well in the first orphange he was in (in Guatemala City) so we're dealing with some deep issues. God is using this time to teach us unconditional love, patience and perseverance. I'm blessed to know women who have walked this road before me and will walk along beside me.

God has been so good to us, and we are daily thankful for His provision and His timing. There were times when we just didn't understand and times when we wanted to give up the process. However, as He declares in 2 Timothy 2:13, He is faithful even when we are not. Thank you Father for your unfailing faithfulness!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Shaking on the 16th floor....

Today was another first for all of us...our first earthquake!!!! JT had just finished giving Jett a bath and the girls were beginning to watch a movie. I was on the computer, and all of the sudden, we felt the room sway. Seriously...we are on the 16th floor, and the entire room began to sway. Not just a slight sway...but almost a foot in either direction. It was like we were all of surfboards on top of a hotel.

I told JT that I thought it was an earthquake. He looked out the window and felt the room sway again...not very comforting at that moment. We heard yelling (in Spanish) in the hall and ran to the door. A hotel employee was directing us to the stairs with other hotel guests. A teenage boy told us in Spanish that it was an emergency and so we had to evacuate. So, in our pajamas and with no shoes, we all ran down 16 flights of stairs. Exercise for the day...done! (On a side note, Kaitlyn was coherent enough to take her favorite stuffed animal...bad memories from the fire I guess).

We get to the lobby where the front desk employees assure us that this happens all the time. Then, why evacuate???? Anyway, we were told that everything was okay and to return to our rooms. We find out that the earthquake was a 5.6 on the Richter scale. Can you believe it? We survived an earthquake.

We are grateful to our Heavenly Father who protects our every step. He has certainly guided us to this point and has protected us during this time. We are so thankful! Please pray for our girls as they tend to scare easily since the house fire....they are a little wired and worried at the moment. Pray for their sleep and peace of mind. (Side note...Mommy and Daddy were fascinated but now tired from the 16 floor hike).

Embassy Day!

Today, we all got up early and met Freddy in the hotel lobby to get to the Embassy. We stopped first at a nearby photo "shop" and got some visa photos made. Of course, Jett looked adorable and even smiled so early in the morning!

Then, off to the Embassy where there was a lot of waiting. First, we waited in a line outside just to get in to the Embassy. We had to go through security. Since we've traveled a great deal, we knew not to take anything other than what was necessary. So, we had a notebook, some money, our passports and some important documents. We saw several new parents with stroller, gigantic toy bags plus diaper bags...it took a while for them to get through the screening. We are grateful for the lessons learned along the way.
Then, we waited inside with about 20 other sets of parents for the 7:15 am appointment time. About 8:30, we were asked to come into a room with a lady behind a glass pane. She asked us three questions and that was it. Then, more waiting. We were assigned number 13 in line. At about 10:20, we finally got called. Just a few more questions and some signatures. No change in the visa's readiness. So, our original plan stands. We'll be home on Tuesday around 8:00 on a Delta flight out of Atlanta.
Tomorrow we are going to Antigua to explore the city. The children are all looking forward to being out of the hotel for a while. Then, we'll go to the zoo on Monday. Then, home on Tuesday! Praise be to the Father who has guided every step of this process. He has been and is in control. We submit our will and desires to His. To Him be all the glory!
PS The first picture above shows Jett's ability to be dramatic. He can make so many faces, and they melt my heart. He is amazing!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Time for Firsts

A 3 year old boy in the house changes things for all of us. We are going through a great deal of adjustments, and Jett is learning what it means to live in a family. He continues to say that we are his new family "siempre y siempre y siempre y siempre" (for always and always and always and always). I love that!

It is a time for firsts for all of us. For Jett, we have watched his first time to....

  • experience the love of a family

  • have a Poppa to play ball with outside

  • play "fort" with his sisters

  • ride an elevator

  • eat in a restaurant

  • get a brain freeze (this was quite humorous)

  • go to a grocery store

  • ride in a taxi

  • wear new clothes

  • take a shower (he loved this)

  • watch a movie with his sisters (see photo above)

  • ride a boat (he did NOT like the "balco")

  • feel air conditioning on his head (see photo above)

  • sleep in a hotel

  • know the love of The Heavenly Father through an earthly father

Tomorrow is our appointment at the US Embassy here in GC. Our appointment is at 7:15 am (can you believe the government operates so early?). Freddie is picking us up at 6:30 (that will be a treat to get 3 children to get ready and eat breakfast and be ready by that time), taking us to get photos of Jett for the application and on to the Embassy.

As a special prayer request, we would like to ask you to pray that the Embassy will issue our visa that afternoon. They are scheduled to release it on Monday but occasionally they make exceptions. We would love to come home earlier but are not counting on it. However, if we get our visa tomorrow afternoon, we will change our flight as soon as possible. It would be wonderful for JT to have an extra few days to be with Jett at home.

We will keep you all posted on any updates. Again, thank you for your kind words on the blog. They mean the world to us. We are so encouraged and blessed by your love and support.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It's a New Day

First, we are excited about being back in Guatemala City where the computer is ours, and we can figure out the keyboard easily! Praise God for the small things. Also, we have computer access again and are eager to keep in touch with our family and friends back home!

We were sad to leave our faith family at the airport today...they have been such a blessing to our family. What a HUGE blessing they were to us at Eagle's Nest. We are so thankful for Jim and Donna Houston, Brianna Labello, Keith Stanley, Robin Roberts and family, and the Mitchell clan (Rick, Lisa and Spencer). They blessed our socks off every day, and we are forever indebted to them.

Speaking of indebted, we have AMAZING friends. Just yesterday, we sent an email asking them for help undecorating our house. We've learned that Jett needs things kept simple for a while....the more simple, the better. So, our friends, the Waltmans, Hardys and Irelands trudged to our house and undecorated it all.....how amazing is that! We love you guys and can't thank you enough for your friendship.

I'm posting a few pictures today and will have even more tomorrow. We took Jett to the mall today, and he was amazed. His eyes were SO big as he took everything in. He was especially captivated by the escalator. He also loved the huge bathroom in the lobby of our hotel. He wanted to continue to flush the potty just to watch it....how funny! It's amazing to see what God is doing in his heart and ours everyday.

We love him so much, and he is a perfect fit for our family. God has molded us all together in a special way, and we have never known such a completeness. Praise be to the Father who is the author of all good things.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Our Last Day In The Mountains

Fireworks on top of the mountain with Mama and the family was a great time of fun and laughter. Jett seems to really like fireworks, especially Spencer Mitchell and his crazy firecracker dance!

Today is our last day at Eagle´s Nest with Jett. Last night was amazing as we watched the fireworks over the lake at almost 7,000 feet! I am overwhelmed at the goodness of the Father as He continues to bless us and show us His ways. The amazing sounds of a small voice calling "Papa" is more than my heart was prepared to handle. Jett's little voice sounds through the night in my head as I sleep each night. The words of this precious gift from the Father are amazing to hear and even more amazing to hear in English. Yes, he is picking up the language rather quickly and so is Mama. Sheryl is incredible with her ability to pick up the language and the way she is communicating is simply a miracle to watch and listen. Toay we are shopping in Panajachel and Jett is seeing so much of the world he has never seen before. Watching his little eyes as we walk and interact with the locals is priceless. His eagerness to help and offer his words to Mama is such a blessing to watch. I am here writing knowing that I cannot express our feelings enough or share all that I want to with you all. We feel the prayers from all of you as we work together as a family to bond and grow. There is no doubt whose child he is now. He longs for as meat as we will give him, lots of outside time, and always asking for more food! His eyes carry a message that so many others have already seen. Just yesterday as our interpreters left us one prayed for the future of his life to be what she has seen from the Father as one of ministry and bridge between the best of the Latin world and the best of the US. She felt impressed by the Spirit that his life will be one of incredible significance for the Kingdom of God. Simply confirmation of his Papa's prayers already! Tomorrow we will be back in Guatemala City and able to update with so much more. Thank you to all of you for praying and supporting us while we are establishing an amazing new chapter in our journey. We look so forward to seeing home soon and watching as God raises our children up to be His messengers to the world! In His Grip, JT PS I am sorry I am not able to update more...this keyboard is really throwing my finger typing for a loop. The keys are not in the same place and even though I do pick out with one or two fingers at a time, it is still very hard for me...sorry!