Leaving on A Jet Plane (And We Need Your Help)

“V” and I at her Sweet Sixteen party the night before she had to leave.

I did a lousy job blogging and updating things during our hosting adventure this Summer- but Holy Cow have we been busy. I did write this one here that should give you a little background, and this one that laid out some of what our plans are to bring V here on a student visa.

V had to go back to Latvia this past Sunday. To say that it was a rough Goodbye at the airport would be quite the understatement. The only thing that made it better than our hosting journey this past winter was the hope of a quick return for V. What made it hard was the unknown. We had all of our paperwork submitted to the lawyer in Latvia, but we did not have a court date set yet for her return. With all of the unknowns surrounding everything it made it rough, really rough, to say goodbye at the airport.

Our boys took it especially hard- our oldest one the worst. He was pitiful the night before we had to take V to the airport. KP #3 even set a place at the table the other night for her…because Daddy was going to get her soon. It broke my heart to have to tell him that she wasn’t going to be there for dinner, and we weren’t sure when exactly we would be able to bring her home because we were waiting to hear from the lawyer.

But all that has changed now…

We’ve heard from the lawyer. Continue reading “Leaving on A Jet Plane (And We Need Your Help)”

She said Yes…

We had “the talk” the other day at my house.

No, not that talk.

We had the “student visa” talk with my Latvian Princess this week. It was a conversation that we had to have sooner rather than later to make sure that something could happen this school year. Nervous does not even begin to describe my emotions as we sat down on the couch to talk. After all, she had been here less than a week and we were going to ask her if she would like to stay here for several years.

Things went well, even better than what I would have hoped for. She immediately said that she would like to come here on the student visa. Her one concern that she brought up was the opinion of some of her family in Latvia (long story there). So it was even a bigger relief to us when the phone call to Latvia went exceptionally well and her family that she talked to strongly encouraged her to pursue the student visa, and wished her all the best in her journey.

Now things get crazy for us… Continue reading “She said Yes…”

What A Girl Wants…

We watched “What A Girl Wants” the other night at my house. My boys were already in the bed so it was my two Princesses and myself watching it. You might have seen the movie before, but this was my first time watching it. It was a really bad idea for me to watch it.

The basic idea is there was a girl in the U.S. living with her single Mom. Her Mom sang at weddings and the daughter helped with the catering and such. The girl always hated when they did the “father daughter” dance because she didn’t have her Dad to do this at her wedding. Her Dad was actually a prominent politician in England, and she decided to go and meet him for the first time. Continue reading “What A Girl Wants…”

And We’re Off: A New Adventure

Brandi and “V” last night at the airport.

It has been a while since my last post- April 27th to be exact. To say we’ve been busy at the Parker house would be an understatement. There has been a lot going on, and my blogging has been pushed to the side a little bit.

But something happened last night that left me no option but to return to the blogosphere.

Because last night we welcomed a Latvian orphan into our home for the next five weeks. If you’ve read any of the things I have posted in the past you’ve read about how hosting two Latvian orphans this past winter completely changed our lives, wrecked them even (in a good way).

They were not able to come back for the summer hosting so we hosted another girl- a 15 year old from Latvia (she’ll actually celebrate her sixteenth birthday while she is here- I’m voting she gets something along the lines of the MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen party, but that’s another story, for another day).

This particular young lady (or Princess as I call her) met a group of people from our church who were in Latvia on a mission trip with The Hope Epidemic. They fell in love with her and were extremely hopeful she would get hosted this summer. As “luck” would have it, she will be here with us for the next five weeks (at least).

There’s just something about this girl. I can’t hardly watch her playing with my boys or doing something with my wife Brandi without tearing up. I don’t know all of her background, but what I know breaks my heart. It’s only the first day with her (which means she’s still trying to decide if she likes us/me), but I want to be her defender, her protector. That someone in her past has hurt her breaks my heart. That there is the risk of someone hurting her in her future is even worse.

Her best hope for her future is coming here on a student visa. That’s an option that we have been looking into in the weeks ahead of her arrival, and it’s something we will  probably be having to make a decision on in the very near future. It would be her choice, and there would be some hurdles we’d have to cross to make it happen. But it’s worth it, because she’d be safe, loved, and have the best chance of a successful future in the days and years to come.

I had a friend ask me a month or so ago after I had the pleasure of teaching to his student group on a topic close to my heart, “Why? Why host? Why desire to adopt? Don’t we have enough going on with our four boys, one of whom is special needs?” He was setting me up, because he knew the answer already, and I think it was important for his group to hear it. The answer to why we would do something like this is simple, and could probably be reduced down to two main reasons.

1) The Gospel. The Bible is clear in its teaching about what the Gospel is. We were without hope, dead, with no hope, when Christ paid our price for our sins. The Bible teaches we were “justified,” a legal term that basically means “made righteous.” That’s more than a little amazing, but it doesn’t stop there. The book of Galatians talks about that we were adopted into the family of God. We are given the legal rights and privileges of a child of God.

When you realize what incredible implications the Gospel has for your life, it changes you. It changes your motivations, aspirations, priorities, everything. It’s the natural flow from that that you would care for the orphan, the poor, the widows. In fact, I’d point out that it isn’t a “super-Christian” who does these things. It’s not the mark of a person with a “Master’s degree in Christianity,” but rather it’s Christianity 101, elementary school stuff. James 1:27 states it pretty clearly, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

2) A Changed Life. The second main reason is actually a byproduct of the first, most important reason. It’s simply that one experience with caring for an orphan changes you. It completely wrecked mine. I couldn’t see my family passing up the opportunity to bring in an orphan and love on them. It has cost a significant amount of money, it has meant sacrifices in other areas, but it has been completely worth it. Not because we are some sort of super Holy sort of people, but because our lives have been forever changed because of the Gospel, and because of the orphan.

I’ll likely be blogging more frequently during this, the next chapter of our “Great Adventure”…there’s definitely more to come.

Could You, Would You Help?

It’s official. We know who we will be “hosting” this summer. 

Unfortunately that means we also know we will not be hosting “our” two Latvians.

But we’re excited nonetheless. We’ll be hosting “V” a 15 year old Latvian Orphan that friends of ours met when they were in Latvia during a trip with The Hope Epidemic a few months ago. (That’s her picture at the top of the post). They fell in love with her and have been advocating on her behalf to get her hosted for the summer. When things with our Latvians fell apart we turned to our friends to ask if they had someone they were wanting to be hosted. They immediately told us about “V.”

In case you are not familiar with what I mean by “hosting” allow me to explain it to you. There is an amazing agency (Project One Forty Three is the one that we use) that works to find families to “host” an orphan from Latvia or Ukraine for four-five weeks during the summer and also during the winter. My family had our first experience with this hosting process last winter, and if you’ve been reading my blog you know how much it impacted us. There are several purposes for this hosting process: to show an orphan what it is like to be loved, to show them what a family is like, to show them the love of God, and to help find them a family. Continue reading “Could You, Would You Help?”

Where in the World Are My Latvians? An Update

I realize that I am long overdue in updating you on everything that has been going on with my/our two Latvians. If you are new to the blog and have no idea what it is I am talking about you should take a quick time out to catch up. Head over here to read a few of the blog posts from late last year that will catch you up.

Seriously.

Go read them.

It won’t make sense to you if you’re not up to speed…

Now that we’re all on the same page we can continue. Continue reading “Where in the World Are My Latvians? An Update”

The Hope Epidemic

Unless this is your first time reading any of my mindless rambling, you know that our hearts are extremely burdened for what the Bible calls “The Least of These,” namely orphans. (Especially two particular Latvian orphans…but I digress).

Some friends of ours have started an organization called The Hope Epidemic. The goal is to connect an American Evangelical Church to an orphanage in a foreign country for “sponsorship.”  Their calling and desire is to make the Biblical mandate to care for orphans (James 1:27) a personal and passionate pursuit in the life of the local Church. The body of Christ is hopeful and this hope should spread to the life of the orphan. The primary motivation is the Glory of God. Every move the Hope Epidemic makes is birthed out of a desire to be obedient to God and glorify Him.

Here is a little information about The Hope Epidemic: Continue reading “The Hope Epidemic”

Mr. Thief: You Failed, Because in The End Love Wins

It has been almost exactly six months ago that all of my lawn equipment was stolen during the night. (Read a post about that here). It goes without saying that I was incredibly upset when this happened. I had worked very hard to purchase (and subsequently pay for) all of this equipment and to have someone sneak in and take it all away from me in the middle of the night was extremely upsetting.

I cannot stand a thief. Straight up cannot stand them. If you want something work hard to get it, do not take it from someone else who has worked hard to get something.

But you know what- the thief that stole my equipment failed. He (or she) may have gotten away with all of my equipment, but he failed in the end.

How did he fail you ask?

Because I was overwhelmed at the offers of people to help me when this happened. Offers to let me borrow mowers, blowers, trailers, etc. until I could get my stuff replaced. It was literally mind boggling to receive all of the comments, messages, calls, and texts from all of my friends offering to help in any way possible.

While that was amazing, it was not the biggest gain for me out of the experience. Because it was through having my insurance money from my equipment being stolen that I was able to host and meet two Latvians. Two Latvians that I fell in love with. Two Latvians that I now call my own, even though there are now thousands of miles between us.

Without my equipment being stolen we would not have had the money sitting around to pay the fees necessary for hosting. We were able to raise some money, but not near the amount that it took to host. It costs $5,000 to host for the four weeks. I am not sure the last time that any of you checked the salary level for a Firefighter, but trust me- it is not a whole lot. I am thankful for what it provides for, but I do not have thousands of dollars sitting around to pay for hosting and such things. But thanks to some random person stealing all of the equipment I had worked hard for I did have the money.

The thief got my equipment.

But I got two more kids.

I win.

Where To From Here

It has been a few days since I posted last, and for that I am sorry.  I am trying to post something most of the days during the week, but last Friday (the day after our Latvian Angels left us) I just could not manage to put enough thoughts together to form a post. Besides, it would have been a huge pity party post and no one would have wanted to read that… Continue reading “Where To From Here”

Goodbye My Angels

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Today is the day…

The day I have been dreading for weeks now…

The day I was hoping would never come, and yet it seems like it showed up much too soon.

Today I will take two of my kids (because that’s what they are in my heart, even if they are not mine legally) and place them in an airplane to go to the other side of the world. I have no idea (and no control) over what goes on in Latvia.

This is part of what makes it so hard for me… Continue reading “Goodbye My Angels”