Monday, April 29, 2013

We Are Headed To China!!!!

After a LONG weekend wait and SEVERAL HOURS on the phone trying to work out flight plans for our trip to China.  I am thrilled to say,  we have our tickets booked and two weeks from today...we will get to take our first photos of our family of 6 all together!!!

We cannot BELIEVE it's so close.  The last 15 months all come down to these last two weeks.  We are filled with so many different emotions. So many highs and so many lows, but this little boy is worth every high, every low, every penny, and every sacrifice.  God has a special plan for him and we get to share with him just how special he is.  We get the opportunity to let him know just how much God loves him and has a special plan for his life!! This is PRICELESS!!  And each and every one of you are a part of this! Thank you all so much!!! is our Itinerary!! We'd still appreciate all your prayers for all the details of things to work out.  We still have a few kinks to work out. Thank you for continue to cover us in prayer concerning these things!!!

Wednesday, May 8th - Flight leaves from Atlanta
Thursday, May 9th - Arrive in Beijing, China
Sunday, May 12th (MOTHER'S DAY) - Arrive in Shepards province - Chongqing, China
Monday, May 13th - Gotcha Day!! This is the day we will get Shepard!! 

We will stay in Chongqing a week and then we will travel to Guangzhou.  Our CA (consulate appointment) is  the 22nd.  

We will arrive back home in the US on afternoon of Saturday, May 25th.  We are still waiting on the exact time. We are HOPING we can fly back into Huntsville, instead of Atlanta.  We will keep you posted on this as we get info!!

We promise to keep you all posted!! This week will be filled with lots and lots of preparing for travel. Again, there have been SO MANY of you that have given to help bring Shepard home.  We WANT you to follow this journey and know that you are helping to change the life of a very special little boy!! Love you all!!! We will post again soon!!
Mark & Buffi

Friday, April 26, 2013


YES...we do!! We were THRILLED to get the news from our social worker this afternoon. This means that we will hopefully solidify our CA (Consulate Appointment) early next week and book our flights!!!

I'm not going to lie.  While we are so excited...for the first time this whole process I was all of a sudden overwhelmed with emotion.  I hope I'm not a basket case the whole trip there!! I vividly remember having an emotional break down in Carrefours last time we went.  I've been wondering when those emotions would show up! Well...guess today is the day!! Ya'll pray for me...and pray for the whole family as we are all experiencing lots of emotions as we prepare to become a family of 6!

We do have some specific requests.
1. Travel Prices. Skymiles are not going to help us... :( We THOUGHT we had a good bit...but it has turned out to not be very much that would help...and we don't have time to get any transferred to us.  SO....please pray that financial provision and good ticket prices will show up for us ASAP.  We will have to book our flights early next week!

2.  Pray for our family as we travel.
Yes...our family that is going with us...but I'm specifically thinking about our family staying.  Mark's parents live on our property with his brother and sister in law will be staying at our house while we are gone to help with them, and to help watch our house and take care of our little dog Pretzel!! - We pray for health for Mark's parents while we are gone.

Pray for my mother and her husband as he has to have open heart surgery soon...possibly while we are gone. Please pray for his health, healing and peace for my mom.

Pray for my dad as he also is helping to take care of our property while we are gone.  He has been dealing with kidney stones for several weeks...and we thank you so much for keeping him in your prayers.

We want all our family to be kept safe and remain healthy and full of peace while we are gone! It's easy to get worried when your family is on the other side of the world.  We just pray that the Lord keeps us all safe and in HIS hands!!

3. Our Travel Companion.
We are SO blessed that our dear friend Tonya Bohlinger is going to be traveling with us to help us with our kiddos while we are gone. (They are adopting as well...and hopes to get their little one later this year).  We cannot tell you what a blessing it will be to have Tonya with us...but we KNOW her family will miss her greatly. Please keep her family in your prayers as well.  Health and Peace over them all is what we desire!!! Pray a special blessing for Tonya for taking two weeks out of her busy schedule to go with us!! We know God has a great plan in this process...and we know He has something good for her too!!!

The next time we will be to give you our schedule of our trip!! We are overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness at God's hand, and how far He has brought us on this journey.  The last 15 months have been an immense time of growth for us.  We are so grateful for God's leading and for His provision!!

I REALLY DO need to go now. It's lightening really bad and my laptop is plugged in!! LOL!! I'll be in touch soon! We are SO grateful for you all!!! Have a wonderful weekend.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Brief Update

Hey guys!! We are still some what in the waiting game...but we did have a little movement this morning.  We received the info that our TA (travel approval) is on it's way from the CCCWA to our agency. This is great news!! Once we get is only a couple of days until we get our CA (Consulate Appointment) solidified.

Our social worker told us today that she anticipates us needing to be in Shepard's province the weekend of May 11th.(Mother's Day Weekend) This is of course as long as everything goes as expected with no delays.  Since we'd LIKE to take a couple of days in Beijing before we go to Shepard's provincial city...this would have us leave around May 8.  HOPING this stays solid.  We can't book flights though until it is solidified.

We were however able to begin checking on airline prices having this info.  With this in mind...we need prayer.  The ticket prices are MUCH MORE than we were anticipating. (see the fundraising progress to the right side of post) God knows and He provides. But we would appreciate prayers for God to work out all the details and provide the rest of the money.

It is VERY HARD for me, Buffi, to refrain from doing more fundraisers.  When we finished the family photo fundraiser...the Lord placed it on our hearts to not do any more fundraisers after that. We did 1 or 2 and they failed miserably.  He wanted us to trust HIM to take care of the rest of it.  As a Type A..."control" type of person...this has been SO HARD for me. I want to take care of everything myself.  We have had a long list of fundraisers that would have been a great to do.  But yet we never felt the Lord release us to do any of them.  Struggling to obey....we have though...and have done all we could to not do any other type of fundraisers.

I wanted to share this with you all to let you know WHY we have not been doing more to raise additional money. To is just an issue of obeying what God has placed on our hearts.  Obeying in this way has placed us totally at HIS mercy to provide where He guides.  And we trust Him that He is going to take care of it.

We SO appreciate the prayers for provision for these airline tickets.  God knows exactly the way things should work out.  Pray that we would be led to the right travel agent to book the flights and we go When and How He has planned for us!!

Didn't mean for this to get long...but just knowing you know where our hearts are helps us feel better!! This whole adoption journey is a journey of obedience for us...from beginning to end.  More than anything...we want to please the Heart of our Lord. Sometimes obedience places us in situations where we feel the pressure....but God is strengthening us to learn more deeply that HE is our provider and to trust HIM in crunch time and not to sweat the details ourselves!!!

Thank you all SO MUCH for your friendship and your prayers.  It will be less than a month that we will be able to give Shepard a big hug and welcome him into our family.  We daily pray for him and talk to our three kiddos about praying for him.  God is preparing us all. We have ALL been experiencing personal stretching in this preparation.  We anticipate daily the new things that God is going to do.  We will keep you posted.  We love and appreciate you all so much!!!
Mark & Buffi

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

When Faith & Fear Collide's almost time!! We have officially finished all the necessary adoption paperwork to adopt our precious little boy from China! All we are waiting on is our TA-Travel Approval now!

 Where has this year gone?!? At has seemed like it would never pass. But today, as we stare about 3-4 weeks in the future...we will be a family of SIX! Our minds cannot fathom the greatness of God.  How HE got us here..and where HE is leading us! We are just so grateful that we said YES...and didn't let the negative "What ifs?" deter us from stepping out in faith.

This last week has been an incredible challenge for me (Buffi) personally.  I have felt pressure all around me. Mainly mental pressure.  The enemy sure knows where to come at you...doesn't he? What is it with women and fear or worry?!? GEESH!

For real, my husband has banned me from watching the news.  I'm TRYING not to read it either.  But information slips out there.  As we begin this amazing journey of faith to China in a very few mind has been bombarded with thoughts of worry and fear.  Aside from the thoughts of how adding another child to our family will change our family dynamic...the thoughts of how this world seems to be FULL of instability and uncertainty come to the forefront of my mind.

But you know...I can choose worry and fear and look at the instability of foreign relations, the flu epidemic in China, the airplane safety over and back, or the potential for terrorism or natural disasters. If I did would stress myself completely out. Instead, I can choose FAITH and know that the spirit of fear does NOT come from God (Timothy 1:7 NLT).  That there is no need to be afraid...that  he is with us to guard us and protect us. (Jeremiah 1:8 ).

In the Scriptures Christ told us, "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." John 14:27 NLT - HIS gift to us is peace of mind and heart, I shouldn't be troubled or afraid!

I don't have to fear bad news, I can confidently trust in the Lord to care and protect us! (Psalm 112:7 NLT)
And I know these things...not only because His Word tells me...but because as our daughter reminds me daily...God has a special plan for us and for Shepard and they are GOOD plans, not to harm us but to give us hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

So these next 2-3 weeks as we prepare to travel...I'm not going to be asking myself  fearfully - "What if this happens....or what if that happens" .... but I will be saying "what if I say YES and step out in faith...what amazing things is God going to do?!?"

So at this part of our journey...where our faith collides with fear...I choose Faith! 

Thank you all SO MUCH for continued support and prayers. They mean the world to us all!!  Please continue to pray for good ticket prices and provision for those tickets!! We will keep you posted on when we leave and all the details!! Have a wonderful week!

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Amazing Hand of God

Having to wait until tonight to post and share with you guys the amazing things that have happened the last few days has been so challenging.  We could not wait to tell you what our Amazing God has done!!! Why do we even doubt or worry?!?! He NEVER ceases to amaze us!!

First...this week we had some donations come in for several thousands of dollars.  What a blessing that was to receive and for the people that so sacrificially gave to us...thank you so much!! REALLY...every single person who has given toward our adoption expenses has just blessed us more than you will ever know!!! You truly are carrying God's heart out by caring for the orphan!! Your sacrifice has been such a blessing.  Thank you so much!! 

Second...just this evening we got the most wonderful email from the JSC Foundation.  Instead of me telling you myself...let me share with you a portion of the email we received!!

Dear Mark and Buffi,

Congratulations! You have received a grant from JSC Foundation for your upcoming adoption. The check has been sent to Lifeline and should arrive shortly. It has been a pleasure to learn about your heart for adoption. We would love to have a picture of your family after you bring Shephard home. God Bless!

AHHHHHH!! Isn't that AMAZING!!! We haven't listed the amount of the grant from the foundation at their request. But it was such a blessing!!! With all that has come in this week, we are SO THRILLED to share that we have officially reached the $16,000 goal we needed to wire to China in the next couple of weeks! AWESOME!!! God is so good!!! Is that the most amazing news or what?!?! I mean...look at that fundraising thermometer to the right!! Isn't that awesome?!?

Now all we have to do is focus on airline tickets.  We have a couple of things we are praying that God works out right now for good prices.  Please pray that God some how provides us with really great deals on those airline tickets!!! We will keep you posted!!! This is just SO AWESOME to share!! Isn't it GREAT?!?!

Please keep the North Korea/US Conflict in your prayers.  We are praying that things will calm down and and blow over.  I have to admit...I've been trying not to watch the news. Ignorance is is! I know I, (Buffi), have really struggled this afternoon with worrying about it.  I can't though.  God has taken care of things so far, and we know He has a plan to take care of us all the way there and all the way back.  We would just really like to see all these heated foreign relations simmer down!! :) 

I have asked our social worker if it will affect families traveling to China for adoption.  She said she is monitoring the situation and they plan to keep all of us informed.  I will keep you all informed on what we find out!! We are praying things calm down and stay calm until we can go and get our little Shepard boy!!

Our article 5 will be picked up this week in China. We will receive our Travel Approval in two to three weeks after Article 5 pick up!! YAY!! It's getting so close!! We will keep you posted. 
That's all the info we have now!!! We just couldn't wait to share that amazing news with you!!! Please don't ever doubt God's provision and don't let worry or "what if's" stand in your way of stepping out into whatever it is that HE is calling you to! He is faithful and where HE guides...HE PROVIDES!!! Be encouraged and step out into what God is calling YOU to do!! Let HIM work out the details!! 

We will be in touch soon!! Thank you all again for your prayers and encouragement. It means a TON!!!