Monday, April 28, 2014

The Slow Death

So as not to make ourselves crazy this last week in India, we have been intentional to pace ourselves with the packing.  Because it's more than just packing up every item in our home.  We are so grateful that our company will pay for us to ship a container of furniture and personal items home, it is such a blessing.  But we are restricted to the amount of space we can fill up!  We have more stuff than is allowed, so we're shedding.  Some of our stuff is being donated, others sold.  So the house is dying a slow death.

Last week, we had a "garage sale."  Maybe it was the first one ever in Jaipur. : )

The kids made strawberry Lemonade and plain lemonade and sold it to the guests! :)  

We laid out all our unwanted items on table cloths on our terrace for others to come and take home.  It was a lot of work, but a lot of things left that day.  We are blessed to have sold all our larger items, furniture, and appliances very quickly and easily.  They are all getting moved out slowly, one or two things at a time.  Each day, our house "dies" a little more.

Meanwhile, I have been shopping. :)  I love to shop in Jaipur.  There are so many beautiful handicrafts in Rajasthan, and they are so affordable here, that when I go shop, I can usually actually buy some things!  It's so easy to change the table cloth, or bed covers and curtains, because it may cost me $30 to do a bedroom makeover!  I'm definitely going to miss that, so I've been going around collecting special things.

I had my rugs cleaned and repaired, and did a little shopping while I was there.  Most of these rugs are less than $100! I got a small 3x6 entry or hall way rug for about $10.

This man is carving my custom designed block!

One of my favorite things about Jaipur is the block printing.  It's amazing to see block carvers actually making the wooden blocks, and even more amazing to see those block turn into beautiful patterns and prints on paper and fabric.  Last year, I was privileged to work with a block maker for our stationery.  Since I had the relationship, I had this vision one day of him making me a giant letter "P" with henna designs inside, as a display keepsake from Rajasthan.  Well, I did it, and I LOVE how it turned out! 

I've really enjoyed my last rounds of shopping in Jaipur.  That's going to be one of the things I miss the most.  India has changed me in a lot of ways... I always hated shopping in the US, but I have grown to LOVE shopping here, and will just miss my shopping days in Jaipur so much!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Unloading life

Okay.  The past two months have been pretty tough.  Right after Recess (homeschool conference in February), we had a group of friends arrive to help us with some medical camps.  Paul's sister was part of the group, and we had such a great time with them!  We had three different camps running for three days: a dental clinic, a First Responder training/CPR, and the third was a Fetal Development class for ladies.  It was a long week, out to villages, all over town, but a lot was accomplished, and we had such a good time hanging out with other Americans.

Before they came though, Paul and I both were feeling tired.  We knew we were pretty run down, and just not ourselves. I kept telling Paul, "I just feel like we're not really living!"  I knew my thyroid/autoimmune stuff was still an issue.  The anti-thyroid drugs I'm on were managing my physical symptoms well, but emotionally and spiritually, we were both struggling.

After our friends left, another couple arrived to do some sight seeing around Rajasthan and we served as their base.  Again, it was so wonderful to have fellowship with other Christians and Americans.  But by the time all three of these major events was finished, we were wiped out.

Since last fall, we have been talking off and on with some counselors to help us figure out why we seem to be in a funk we can't get out of.  We've done everything we felt we knew to do.  They helped us explore what gives us power, vs. what is a drain or load for us.  They had us examine the things we're involved in to determine if our load was greater than our power, where we have margin or don't have margin.  Those were good activities, and we made some big changes as a result.  I dropped most of my out-of-the-house responsibilities, including working with our business, Ergon Handicrafts.  I have loved doing that the past three years, but I'm in a very different place as a mother now, and just need to focus more on home for a season.

Those things all helped, but we were still feeling stuck.

Something in our life most of you are not aware of is that we have been involved in a federal investigation into the adoption agency that we used to adopt Meryn.  I will not get into all the details. However, this goes back about a year and a half.  In February, we received word that indictments had been handed down for three employees of the agency on federal charges, and they had been arrested.  At first, I felt such an immense sense of relief and validation.  We knew that things were not right through our adoption process.  We told anyone who would listen, and eventually wound up talking to an FBI investigator.  Thankfully, he actually did something about it.  (We were so not alone in this, not by a long shot.  This was a massive group effort, mostly led by one woman who is my hero).  I felt so relieved.  For one, because the agency would not be able to act this way to any other innocent adoptive families or children. And I felt so relieved that we had actually been right.  We only had suspicions, strong hunches, and very little evidence.  But we were right, and it was over. As sad as it is to see the employees lives ruined, it pales in comparison to how many lives were ruined by their deceitfulness through the adoption process.

Then, a couple of weeks later, I received the full 31-page indictment, detailing the charges, and some of the evidence against the employees.  Oh my, it broke me.  Things were so much worse than I had ever anticipated.  Some of what I read answered a lot of questions and seemed to have a direct impact on how Meryn came to be in our family. I felt angry. I felt bitter. I felt heartbroken.  I was in tears for days.  This was now a part of our permanent family history. A part of Meryn's story.  How could I possibly justify this to her when she begins to ask questions? What do we tell her? We don't really know her story and never will, but we know how bad it could possibly be.  Do we go with best case scenario, or worst?  Oh, I was so very broken.

I was washing dishes about a week later, and listened to a Tim Keller sermon, called "The Wounded Spirit." He walked through the different Psalms and Proverbs that talk about the characteristics of a wounded, crushed spirit, how a spirit becomes crushed, how it's not just spiritual, but it can be physical, relational, situational, all of the above.  I felt like he had been watching my life, and was just describing what he was seeing.

Sobbing, I sent an email to our counselors, asking if there was any way I could have regular counseling to help me just get through this season.  It is such a difficult season of life.  The deepest valley I've been in.  Spiritually, I'm a parched and dry land.  Physically, I'm not well, and my hormones are messed up thanks to my thyroid and messing with my mind.  Situationally, I'm dealing with all this on my own.  We are in a situation where we have very few friends, people we are in a give-and-take relationship with.  On the mountain tops, we can trek on alone, but in the valleys of life, it takes others walking beside us to carry us up and out sometimes.

Our counselors finally said, enough is enough.  They encouraged us to take a good long look at ourselves, and decide whether we should stay in our current situation any longer. Could we really get the support and help we needed here? Could we really recover and heal to a point of health spiritually, relationally, physically, where we are right now?  They didn't think so, and we began to see they were right.

That decision was made the first week of March, and it has been ... challenging... since then.  We met with all of our colleagues across two states to give them the news.  That was not easy.  I love all these folks so much, I feel like I'm leaving family behind.  We are in the midst of packing, sorting, selling, and donating.  We are saying hard goodbyes as we leave Jaipur, at least for a very long while.

We sense that God may be closing a big chapter of our life.  We've been in India for the past seven years.  We've been married for ten years, and seven of them have been in India!  We have never really done anything but cross-cultural work.  We've never been "adults" in America!  We are going home to .... we don't know what.  Family.  And that's it.  No home. No job.  No idea.

It is taking WAY more faith to go home than it did to come to India seven years ago.  Loads more.

But, God has been real the past two months.  He has met with me, comforted me through his word.  He IS reviving me (Psalm 143), which has been my prayer.  I know I have a very long way to go.  I am confident we are on the right path, as difficult as it is.  India is a part of us. It always will be. Our kids have never lived anywhere else.  I'm pretty sure we don't even know what we'll miss yet.  We won't know until we miss it.  I don't know how to prepare them for that.  But we're doing our best, saying goodbyes, taking lots of pictures, making memories before we go.  We only have about ten days left!

Please pray for us.  We are entering a challenging chapter of our life as we come home and focus on healing and revival, and seek the Father for the opening of the next chapter.