Friday, February 29, 2008

On the Ground in Addis Ababa

We have passed an important milestone! In fact, yesterday we passed nearly 6000 milestones in almost 18 hours of actual flight time. But the most important milestone was the one that said, “Addis Ababa” on it. When the kids and I went to Kenya last year we went via Zurich on Swiss Air, and Ethiopian Airways is no Swiss Air, I assure you. Yet, the trip went without a hitch, on time, and all bags arrived unharmed. And despite being mostly unconscious the last few hours of the trip as we dozed in and out on the plane, we were all able to get a good night’s sleep last night – a real blessing since we turned out the light at about 2 PM back home. We all slept soundly – in fact, as I write this, Luke is still sleeping.

I’ve never been to the Red Sea, and I’m not going to get there this trip either. But it struck me this morning as I was reading about how God delivered Israel from Egypt and took them out to camp by the Red Sea, that I’ve never really been any closer to the Red Sea than I am now. Ethiopia is land-locked, but it is separated by a couple of small countries from the Red Sea and really it is the dominant country in what is known as the Horn of Africa which is comprised of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia.

There’s really no dramatic point to be made about this, except that in my Bible reading this morning I read some powerful words, which were delivered by Moses to a fearful nation of Israel as they had just experienced the 10 plagues and the Passover that had led to their release from 430 years of bondage and slavery in Egypt and were now camped by the Red Sea. Pharoah was on his way to kill and/or re-enslave them all and Israel had already forgotten the power God has displayed in delivering them just hours earlier. So Israel turns on Moses with its characteristic “whiney negativity”, and when I say “characteristic” I am thinking about how it characterizes my approach to hard times as much as I mean it in reference to Israel. “Bu Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today…The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent” (Ex 14:13-14).

Perfect! LORD, we are standing by…

Sunday, February 24, 2008

From the Transitional Home Director

Today we received some neat comments from the director of the transitional home that describe each of the kids. We thought we'd share them with you, so you too can get to know them a little as we are.

"Behmnet is described as strong-willed, independent, and spirited…to say the least! She is always ready to get into something, and always wants her way! She is always on the go; playful, active, and fun. She is also sweet, and if you make her sit still long enough, she realizes that it feels great to be held. She is VERY attached to her brothers, especially Yoftahe, who is very much her “mother.” They sleep in the same bed together every night."

"Sammye has a wide-eyed, innocent look on his face all the time, which is precious! He is said to be very smart…his birthmother reported that he was the best at academics. The nannies and others that have come into the transition home to give lessons to the children have also reported him to be very smart. He is playful, fun, and all smiles. He only gets upset if something is taken from him, or one of his siblings hits him."

"Yoftahe is ALL BOY! He is very active…always running, jumping, and doing karate moves. Yoftahe, the oldest child at the home, shows great leadership skills. He is responsible, and assumes the role of the caretaker for his younger siblings. He loves to practice his English, proud to say new words he has learned!"

(front row - Yoftahe, Behmnet and Samuel from left to right)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Here "I AM"

"When the LORD [YHWH] saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here I am!'" (Ex 3:4)

Talk about experiencing a flood of emotions. What do you do when God calls to you from a burning bush? What is proper etiquette or proper religious form in this setting? YHWH helped Moses out a little by telling him to take his shoes off because he was on holy ground - as if he didn't realize something sacred was happening. Moses was scared - "Moses hid his face, for we was AFRAID to look at God" (Ex 3:6b). I guess it is no small thing to really meet with God or to find Him in an unexpected place. Right now I am really scared to death about the responsibilities of being a father of eight kids and about the uncontrollable nature of so many of the things that his family expansion brings (language barriers, the kids family, education and religious history, the disruption of our present family birth order, the cultural/racial implications of a racially mixed family in our society, and even how to care for African skin and hair).

It's comforting to think that Moses was a chicken too. "Who am I that I should go to Pharoah? Who should I tell them has sent me so that they'll believe me? How do I know that they'll believe me if I tell them that? I'm really not competent to do what you are asking me to do".

"I AM" (YHWH)!

That's the answer to all of Moses' questions! I AM. Not who you are, but who I AM. You are not driving these plans, I AM. You are not responsible to convince or compel them, I AM. And, you are right, you are not competent to do what I have called you to do, but guess what, I AM.

The glory in this journey does not come from the frightened little man or woman who are barely able to say, "Here I am". No, the glory in this journey will all come from the one who is "I AM".

"The Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

God Is Waiting

This is a story about how our family found God in northeastern Africa. We haven't even been there yet, but we know that God is waiting there to meet with us and we can't wait. Although most of the story has yet to unfold, we wanted to briefly let you know how we got where we are today.

In early 2007 we got the clearance from God, through a number of circumstances, to begin the process of expanding our family one more time through adoption. We had such a positive experience with our adoption agency, America World Adoption Agency (AWAA), when we went to China to get JoHanna in 2005, that we looked to this agency again to explore our options. China was closed to us because of the size of our family already. After a brief investigation, it became clear to us that Ethiopia was the optimal program for us because of the cost, the ages of kids available, and the short travel requirements. We also were drawn to the fact that we could adopt more than one child and decided that we would pursue the adoption of two babies, 3 yrs old and younger.

We sent our dossier to Ethiopia in June and the wait began. In October, about the time we were expecting to get our referral, the agency announced to all the families who had dossiers in Ethiopia that they had a sibling group of three kids available and they were requesting that we all prayerfully consider whether we would be willing to give a home to these three kids. Our hearts were moved by the hope of keeping these kids together, so we threw our name into the hat as "willing". AWAA was then going to review all "willing" candidates and select the best match for these kids.

About a week or so later, we learned that we were the best match and were asked to pursue the adoption of these three beautiful kids, Yofatahe (9), Samuel (6) and Beimnet (18 months) - the ages were as of May of 2007.

We started through all the paper processes needed to gain final approval to adopt. We had to get approval from our case worker, the U.S. immigration office, and ultimately the Ethiopian government. On February 6, 2007 we received official confirmation that our court date was successful - the kids were officially ours.

Today we are frantically preparing to travel to pick them up. We are leaving on February 27th and will return March 9th. Although we expect to return with three new Wegner kids, we also expect to return with stories about the provision and greatness of God and with a deeper sense of how wonderful He is.

This morning in our Adult Community at church, Delisa was sharing how scary it is to follow God into a place where He has to show up "or else". We feel that this is exactly where we are right now and we have every confidence that He will show up in a grandiose way. She also shared how, once you have followed God into that place and seen Him show up, you never want to go back to how it was before you obeyed and followed Him there. God is waiting in northeastern Africa for all of us to find Him. We really can't wait!

Thank you for joining us in this journey.