Meet Mr. Kenneth LaJoy
New Kyrgyz Ambassador to the United States of America
What a weekend! We arrived in Washington, DC at 11:00 PM on Thursday evening and we were off and running. We didn't stop until 3:00 PM today when we arrived back safely in Grand Junction. I think we got a grand total of about 12 hours sleep in three days. We had an amazing 3 days filled with meeting many extraordinary people, seeing God at work in the most powerful ways, and hopefully accomplishing our intended group goal of changing hearts.
In many ways, we participated in a story that is not ours to tell, we were bystanders at moments and minor players in a grander plan that included 5 waiting moms with very large hearts whose passion for their waiting children was boundless. Being present to witness these women willingly lay their hearts on the table as they pled their individual cases and reminded everyone they were there not only for their children but for 65+ others was an honor.
I will not share the details of the meetings here, but instead will try to give you a sense of what we experienced.
We were picked up at the airport by Tom and Rebecca with the Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS), where Kenny was greeted warmly with a sign just for him, like a regular VIP!
The sign reads "Kenny LaJoy (and his Mom)
We were very grateful to Tom and Rebecca for coming all the way out to Dulles Airport that late at night, and it was very nice to finally meet Tom in person and see Rebecca again. We were dropped off at our hotel which was the Embassy Suites and we felt quite spoiled.
Our day started with a visit first thing Friday morning to the Kazakhstan Embassy as we attempted to resolve Matthew's passport issues. We have struggled with this for several months, and in fact his paperwork has already been all the way to Astana and back. The Embassy staff are extremely overworked and have been unable to directly address our concerns. We have had our personal very poorly paid interpreter (Hey LV!!!) go out of her way to wake up at 3:00 AM on several occasions as we called Kazakhstan to try and gain an understanding of what was happening, and we figured it was worth a shot to try and see what we could do while I had this surprise trip to DC.
It was also an odd feeling to stand in front of the building where our children's journeys to us truly began, where hundreds of documents have been processed through the years...it is sort of a touchstone for us and it was nice to stand there for a moment and look up at the Kazakh statue and see the country symbol displayed over the entrance. What a debt of gratitude we owe this country and this Embassy staff. In some ways, I think I had as strong a sense of pride standing there as I did in front of our own US White House the next day, which for some might sound odd but others of you might just understand.
We walked into the Embassy and a feeling washed over me of familiarity despite never having been there before. I quickly realized it was the joy of seeing Kazakh faces that made me feel so surprisingly comfortable. We were assisted by a very handsome (Is there even such a thing as an unattractive Kazakh or Kyrgyz man??? I sure have never seen one!) and helpful young man who went out of his way to take care of us. While we waited he invited us to see the formal part of the Embassy, and he gave us a brief tour of the rooms at the front of the Embassy where traditional Kazakh items were displayed. He then brought us back to the waiting area and surprised us by presenting us with a gift of a beautiful hardbound coffee table book. We waited while some of the passport documents were corrected, and we left with the necessary items in our hands and we hope this will lead to a quick issuance of Matthew's new passport.
We then caught a taxi to get to the location where the first meeting with the Kyrgyz delegation would take place. Kenny was well received, and he was able to present the delegation with a photo of his friend, Amir and ask that they help him get home to his family. Kenny had brought along a Kyrgyz story book and he asked the Kyrgyz delegates if they would be willing to sign it. This brought smiles to their faces as they graciously agreed to do so and went well beyond merely signing their name, but in fact each wrote a personal message to him in Russian which we will get translated. This will make this special book an even more treasured keepsake. As the meeting drew to a close, it was picture time for everyone. What a set of "keepers" for our family scrapbook!
We spent Friday evening fighting our way through traffic the likes of which even this SoCal girl has never seen! We were given a ride by another waiting mommy to the home of another where we sat around recapping the day, visited with one another, had a lovely meal and then we all went outside where we had a candle lighting ceremony and tied strips of cloth onto a newly created "prayer tree" in remembrance of not only the waiting 65 children, but in recognition of children in need of homes all over the world. I found myself remembering many children that have crossed our paths during the past 10 years...the 18 year old foster son in transition that we offered a home to for a school year, I could see the faces of each of the children we received in referral videos, replayed in my mind were those orphanage visits I have had over the years where small hands grabbed at my own. So many children in need, so little we can do in the long run. If you focus only on the sheer numbers of children it can seem incredibly depressing.
The next morning Kenny and I found ourselves in the unexpected situation of being invited to have breakfast with the delegation. There, over tea and pastries, what I had hoped would happen this weekend became a reality and we all became simply moms talking about the future of care for children in Kyrgyzstan, sharing stories about our kids and of our love for these parentless children who are so helpless and whose futures are so hopeless without the intervention of caring adults who are willing to act. These particular Kyrgyz women have dedicated their lives to helping the "least of these", and their dedication and sincere concern was palpable. I was touched to be there amongst this special group of women.
We then headed back to the hotel where we anxiously awaited the arrival of our friends, Amir's/Isaac's hopeful adoptive mom and her son, also adopted from Kazakhstan, and a long time internet adoption buddy of almost a decade whom I had never met but long communicated with along with her two Kazakh children. While I so enjoyed being with the mommies-in-waiting the night before, this was very different for me as this was a joining with two spiritually connected and like minded mommies who have already walked the same road as I, who have continually been there for me in ways that they could to offer encouragement when I have struggled to keep my hopes up, who have reminded me Who is in charge. After hugs all the way around and a too short gab fest we were off to hit the monuments of DC with 4 Kazakh and Kyrgyz 4th graders leading the way. I don't know what I enjoyed more, my mommy friends or their terrific kids!!
Sadly, I didn't get a decent pic at all of the moms. With kids handling the cameras I doubt any of us came with much in the way of usable images! We walked the mall, took plenty of photos, and then our group had to split up while some went home while the rest of us went to dinner. We parted feeling as if we had been hanging out together all our lives, and I was restored in spirit by the companionship of being with these Mentor Mommies of mine.
There were so much going on this weekend, and much behind the scenes that I will not be able to share, but what was the most meaningful for me was seeing and feeling God in every single step. This was one of the top 3 or 4 spiritual experiences of my life, it brought me to a new understanding of what we are walking through right now...that the roadblocks just might have nothing at all to do with whether or not God wants our adoption to move forward or not, but might have everything to do with allowing circumstances to occur in order for me to have a better understanding of how Mighty God really is. It is to strengthen my faith in ways that might never happen without such difficulties to walk through. I had a sense that this is my own personal crucible, and a necessary one at that. I also see that the adoption process is the tool, but it really has nothing at all to do with the adoption at all.
Were we all successful in our venture this weekend? Yes, I actually think we were. I think our message was heard, that 65 children were spoken for loud and clear and that there is a much better chance of forward momentum now.
And NOW maybe our summer will officially begin. After so little sleep over the past weekend Kenny and I plan on sleeping in late tomorrow and hanging out doing absolutely nothing. Our work is done.