Saturday, March 21, 2009

After 9 months of waiting, surrounded by pictures of a loving family, this morning it becomes a reality for Camille.

It took a while for her to warm up to Mark and Regina.

In each picture she kept ootsing closer and closer, until she rested her hand gently on Regina's leg.

It wasn't long before she was on Regina's lap....

...and then eating with us.

Finally, when we got up from the table, she put her head down on her Forever Mother's shoulder, and gave her a big hug.

The next step is obviously Skyping! with grandma and grandpa, brothers and sister in LA, right?

They're staying at Las Brises, nearby, and Aubrey took this picture there. It makes me think of Psalm 23 as a prayer for Camille:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside still waters,
He restores my soul.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Today is graduation for the ladies who have attended the prenatal seminar at Shiphrah Bahay Paanakan (Birthing Home).

Besides just being a lot of fun, it marks a major accomp- lishment of having taken respons- ibility for their own birth.

All of our seminars are designed by the women themselves, around their questions about birth, family, and nutrition. When they ask the questions, work out the answers, and then share with one another--the education becomes very much their own.

A blessed volunteer, DiAnn, provided the gifts for each graduating buntis (pregnant woman). This Maybell and Johanna, daughters of two of our midwives--Floribell and Lorni.
Aubrey got very quiet yesterday when I read him the text that Deborah was on her way home from matching and that Jan Michelle has found a new home.

It's not that we don't want her to have a Forever Family, but we are sad to see her go. She has been a special baby for Aubrey.

Her family is from right here in Manila though, so maybe we'll be able to stay in touch with her as she grows up.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Today would have been Fr. Thomas Green's birthday; it came just four days too late. But it was also my day to pray Psalm 16, so I prayed it for him: Keep Tom safe, O God, on the journey he has before him now--for in you he has taken refuge (1).

A couple weeks ago, knowing how much I have appreciated my relationship with Fr. Green, Steve asked me to summarize three things I have learned from him. I post my response here as a way of having/sharing it.

Prayer is 90% God's Work

I am not a very good pray-er--not by any standard. But experiencing God as the Lord of the Dance has been tremendously helpful to me. Not that I can blame him for my lapses, but I know that he is working prayer in me. It is Jesus who intercedes on my behalf, and if it happens that I sometimes enter in--this is neither drudgery nor decisive. It is pure joy.

Consolation is only Constant as Self-Satisfaction

I sought out Father Green in the early 90's as a tortured soul. I had made the global commitments I thought I needed to make in order to experience closeness to God. And of course there were moments of great promise. But the pattern of guilt, repentance and decline persisted. I read When the Well Runs Dry at the same time as J.C. Pollock's biography of Hudson Taylor--and the two books might have saved my life. It was either spite or a deep consolation to learn that the great archetype of missionaries ("The sun never rose on Hudson Taylor's China without finding him on his knees") struggled with depression and even thought of ending his life. Green's introduction to Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross spoke in concert with Taylor's discovery of the rest we find in the sheer goodness of God. Neither my ability to secure God's blessing nor any emotional sense of consolation in prayer indicate a genuine relationship with God, but a growing sense of his goodness--quite apart from and prerequisite to any growth in virtue.

Dryness is the Ether of the Lord

I have shared the four stages of prayer's growth from Teresa's biography, Chapter XI with I don't know how many people. And of course I learned them from Fr. Green. If I am a teacher, that does not mean so much that I have a particular set of skills as it means that, when I learn something I can pass along to others I feel like it is the greatest possible kind of possession a person can have. The surprise of Teresa's analogy is that maturation in prayer does not mean greater proficiency. A mature pray-er does not know how to pray at all. That is beginning prayer--when we pray by wrote, with an acquired pitch and vocabulary. And dryness in prayer is not the failure of these strategies. Technology should be honored for how far it can take us. But their "failure" is actually the Hand of an Operator, shutting off the valves we otherwise learn to trust in. The final image in Teresa's beautiful analogy--from a bucket and a rope in the garden of virtue, to an artesian well and then flood irrigation--is a face turned expectantly and desperately toward the heavens, hoping for rain. In mature prayer, it is not that the 90% of God's work becomes progressively more and more our responsibility, but that we learn more and more to depend on him as he takes away every consolation that comes from our own industry.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kind of a wild night. I think we had been asleep for about an hour when the call came in for a birth in Makati. Deborah spent an hour on the phone talking Tiferes through contractions and then decided we better go down there to support her.

We asked one of the careworkers at the little children's home, Len-Len, to stay with Aubrey and Auden while I drove Deborah to the home.

Just as we were ready to leave, we got a call from the birthing home, Shiphrah Bahay Paanakan, that there was a transport to a nearby hospital. A mother we have known for a long time, accompanied by her probably 13 year-old daughter we delivered, had blood pressure that was too high to deliver safely with us. That took a little while to arrange, and then we dropped them off in Pasig on our way to Makati.

I hurried home after leaving Deborah at Yosi and Teferis,' because especially if Auden had woken when he didn't know we were gone, that would not have been very smooth. Fortunately, he was still asleep.

I studied for an hour 'cause I was too wound up to sleep, and when I went to bed at 4, Auden woke up. When I told him where Deborah was he said, "I want my mom back right now!" I was still getting that sorted out at 4:30 when my alarm went off to take Camille to the embassy for her visa interview.

Both the boys were awake now, so I could hardly leave them without trauma. I loaded them into the back of the Crosswind and made a bed for them. They thought it was great fun, and we headed off down the road again. The streets start getting pretty blurry when you have traveled them more than once in the same night.

Camille has been matched to a Filipino heritage family in California for 9 months now. It has taken that long for the government to process her immigration. But the interview is the last hurdle, so her family will be here on the 20th.

The boys actually slept quite well in their impromptu camper, but when I got home I was exhausted. I told them I was going to go to bed and asked them to play quietly. They gave me about an hour.

Deborah, though, wasn't quite so lucky. Tiferes had a hard time of it and ended up delivering cesarean section in the hospital three exhausting nights later. She and Yosi have a healthy little girl though.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Today we celebrated Jekie's birthday. Mike and Andrea are good folks with the US embassy who have take a special interest in her.

They invited the whole gang of us down to their compound and arranged a day of activities, food and presents.

Jekie's mom, Phoebe, was there--and, while that wasn't without its necessary awkwardness, it was a very good day for her.

Of course, a first birthday party is more about the people who throw it than the celebrant herself--but she had a lot of fun with the cake.

The event was very caringly put together, and we will all remember it fondly.

For the older kids it meant invaluable exposure to activities they don't get in the home.

Camille will need some coaxing to enjoy the water as much as Deborah does.

Volunteers really fill out the tlc care try to give to the children while they wait for their Forever Families.

Just an outing to the park or a trip to the mall helps to prepare them for "normal" life in a family.

Speaking of which, Senon is ready for local matching now (on the 14th), and will very likely go on to inter-country adoption. We are praying for a very special family for him.