First, we wanted to let you know that South Bay had an INCREDIBLE day yesterday at church! We had a record high attendance of 410 people (that number does not include the mission teams who are in town to serve with us)!! God is doing unbelievable things in our midst and Andy & I are rejoicing on the other side of the globe. We are so thankful to have an amazing staff team who is able to lead in our absence and are blessed with wonderful, servant-hearted volunteers and mission teams who desire to make a difference. It is SUCH A JOY to be apart of the work of God!
Over the past few weeks we have had misison teams from Pleasant Valley Church, Northside Baptist, and Lake Pointe Church. Their efforts have literally propelled our church forward. They have passed out countless door hangers, done servant evangelism, helped with a huge, community-wide July 4th festival, hosted a festival/cookout after church yesterday, and so much more.
This week we are heading into our first annual week of Kid's Games. Kid's Games is a similar concept to VBS, including Bible study, but it is much more oriented around sports and games. It looks like we will have over ONE HUNDRED children participating this week, most of whom do not attend South Bay Church. In fact, we have had several families indicate other religions including Buddhist, Wiccan, and atheist. What an awesome opportunity for the Church to bless these children/families, to love them, and to have FUN with them! We get to be the hands of Christ to these families this week...pray that we represent Him well. We are praying that many families would get connected to South Bay through this event and that this would lead them one step closer to a relationship with Christ!
OK, on to the Ethiopia update...
This week has served to confirm in our hearts what the Father knew all along: Wondimu is absolutely the PERFECT FIT in the Wood family! Andy and I were talking yesterday about his age (20 months) and how that will be a great span between him and Caedmon...almost exactly 2 years. His personality is sweet and playful. He is all smiles and games. It is really staggering to see how much attachment and bonding has already taken place in the 6 days we've had with him. He now cries every time we leave or someone takes him from us. This is unusual (and a great sign) for a child who has had many caregivers. This week with him has been priceless and we have made so many wonderful memories with him.
Today is our last day in Ethiopia and there are several things we would love your prayers for.
1- We have to say goodbye to Wondimu today. Some of you may not have realized this, but we do not get to take Wondimu home with us at this point. Ethiopia has a two-trip adoption policy. The first trip is to meet the child and go to court. The second trip is for your US Embassy appointment and to bring him home. That Embassy appointment could be scheduled anywhere 4-8 weeks from now. That is when we will come back to get him.
As you can imagine, it is VERY difficult to leave a child who is legally ours and with whom our hearts have bonded in a third-world country orphanage. We are comforted in knowing that Wondimu is well-loved there by the nannies and well-fed (actually overfed). But, Wondimu has major chest congestion right now and at least 11 of the infants there have chicken pox. We are specifically praying that God will protect Wondimu's health during this time apart and that He would protect all of our hearts as we long to be together.
2- Our flight leaves at 11:40 PM Ethiopian time which is 1:40 PM California time. We will travel approximately 32 hours to Salt Lake City where we will be reunited with our precious son, Caedmon. We are missing him SO BADLY and that is our only relief in thinking of leaving Ethiopia today. We will spend the night in Salt Lake with Andy's sister and then will leave the next morning for California. If everything goes as planned, we should be home Wednesday afternoon. Please pray for smooth travels and a very sweet reunion with Caedmon.
I know that the day we are able to bring Wondimu home and have all four of us together will be one of the happiest days of my life. Until then, whether we are in Ethiopia with Wondimu or in California with Caedmon, a piece of us is missing.
THANK YOU for joining us on this journey through your prayers. Your emails have encouraged our hearts and brought me to tears. There is nothing like knowing that literally hundreds of people are praying for us. We are deeply appreciative of you!