I am so thankful for Dan's new updates which communicate details regarding what is happening with NCA; in Nicaragua; and with our family on a more regular basis. I am also thankful for the opportunity today to write to you again as it truly is a joy for me to do so.
As you know, much has happened recently and it has often felt like we are in perpetual transition. Earthquakes; school suspension due to the earthquakes; the adoption process which included Daniel being placed in our home on May 6; and most recently, on May 17, I fractured the bone above my ankle (the fibula). My ankle is healing slowly, and I continue to wear a splint on this leg as the doctor said it will take months for the ligaments that were torn around my ankle to heal.
Our lives have pretty dramatically changed with the addition of Daniel to our family. He is in the process of learning what trust is and how to trust us. It has been a bumpy ride and we all recognize that we are grieving the loss of a life that did not involve such daily intensity at the same time that Daniel works through his own grieving process. Your understanding and grace are appreciated as we try to stay on top of communicating with you and following up with requests. And your prayers are very much needed – especially for Dan and I to have wisdom in parenting our older kids through this transition while also learning to parent a child who has many needs and requires a great deal of time and energy. I am attending an adoption support group and also have a friend who adopted two children 5 years ago who is available to mentor me through this transition. I am very thankful for those who have gone before us and are making themselves available to support us through this transition.
This update includes some excerpts that I sent to family and to our friends here in Nicaragua during the month of May. These writings will give you a bit of a picture of some of the things that have been happening in our lives and in my heart. We have also included some pictures of Daniel at the end.
This first excerpt is from an email we sent to our families describing the day we picked Daniel up at the orphanage:
(written on May 7) Yesterday we had a meeting with Mi Familia to turn in our translated Stateside paperwork. Dan and I were not sure what would happen in terms of whether Daniel would be released to us after we handed in the paperwork or not. It was possible that we would need to wait for a meeting in order for us to be officially approved which could have meant another several more weeks of waiting.
So when the social worker asked if we would like to take Daniel home yesterday at 3:00 PM, it took both Dan and I very much by surprise. There were instant tears of joy for both of us and an atmosphere of celebration among the social workers at Mi Familia like we have never experienced before.
When we arrived at Los Cedros Center to pick Daniel up, there was definitely a heaviness in the air. The kids did not greet us like they usually do and everyone looked very sad. We stayed for awhile to see the kids and to reconnect with Daniel. Everyone was very sad to say "good-bye" to Daniel. We also figured out that the kids thought that our family was never coming back to Los Cedros Center now that we have Daniel and so it was good to be able to reassure them that Rebekah, Will, and I would be back weekly (although without Daniel).
Daniel struggled a great deal with leaving the orphanage as he cried as we left – this has been the only "family" that he has known and so it seemed normal that he would struggle. However, when we pulled into the gate of our neighborhood, he seemed excited and could not get his seat belt off quickly enough. Our neighbors, who had no idea we would be bringing Daniel home all gathered to see him including Daniel's special friend, Nya, who had lived with him at the Los Cedros Center. It was such a beautiful picture of how Daniel is not just embraced into our family, but into a much greater family of people who will love him and influence his life.
We are thankful for your involvement in Daniel's life as well through your prayers and through your love for our family which now includes him!
The next excerpt we will share with you is something I wrote to friends here in Nicaragua when I was struggling with contentment following my fall and fracture. God constantly draws my heart back to giving thanks regardless of my circumstances. The following list is an intentional effort to see what God is doing right now in the midst of our circumstances and to give Him thanks.
(Written on May 21) 1) I was thinking today about how women 100 years ago would stay in bed for a couple of weeks with their baby after giving birth. I thought about how healthy that time was for them to begin bonding with their child and focusing just on them. I can see now how I have been given this gift of time with Daniel. All I do all day is sit with him in our bed with my leg elevated and we play cars and read books and watch Dora and eat snacks and tickle each other and give each other zerberts and we are working on new words (his word for today was "blue" thanks to Dora) and a shape puzzle that he has now mastered. I've given him more eye contact in these past four days than I think I had in the 2 weeks prior to my fractured ankle.
2) I am watching Daniel bond with Dan. Prior to my injury, Daniel just wanted me and did not really want to go to Dan. Now that he knows he has no choice, he easily goes to Dan. He gets excited when he comes home and wants to kiss and hug him a lot. I see Dan gaining confidence with him too and really enjoy watching my middle age husband be silly like a 3 year old again. One of his activities with Daniel is to give him a good whisker rub when he gets home from work with his 5:00 shadow.
3) I am getting to see my kids serve in our home like they never have before. I ring them on the cell phone when I need something. Will really likes to take care of me and so he brings me my breakfast and anything else that I need. Rebekah is in charge of taking care of Daniel's needs like feeding him/bathing him/and putting him down for naps and bedtime. It is not always easy for them and there have been tears and frustration, but I see them working through it.
4) Being in a position of needing to ask for help and then receiving it is always good for growing in humility. And it is beautiful to experience the love of Christ through others.
5) I have thought a lot about what it must be like to have a disability as I use crutches at home and spent the day in a wheelchair at the hospital on Monday. I never realized how uncomfortable crutches are. I have bruises on my hands from lifting myself all the time and it was probably quite entertaining for people to watch me try to navigate the wheelchair. And trying to go to the bathroom and take a shower often feel like a major accomplishment to me. I have a new appreciation and respect for those who live their lives daily with these challenges.
6) This situation has given me the opportunity to live in the moment rather than rushing off to the next thing. Sometimes I just sit and look at Daniel and study his little face. Or I love it when my big kids come into the room to talk. Tonight Dan and I had a good talk too. And also got to talk with a friend on my porch and a neighbor today. Slowing down does facilitate a richness that I just can't experience when I am running off to the next thing.
7) Our guard and gardeners stop by to ask how I am doing. The guard gives me lots of medical advice. And every time he comes to talk with me, Daniel will act out when happened to me, sometimes falling down and always including the words "boom" and then "ow". I've come to enjoy this new part of my relationship with these people as I see in them compassion and concern.
8) I do more emailing now and am catching up on some writing and correspondence as this is one thing that I can do in bed during Daniel's naps.
9) I am thankful too for the gift of God's timing. Both kids finish their on-line class this week. These classes have been an incredible blessing in terms of how much the kids have learned. They have also been a great deal of work. And so I am thankful that we no longer have the pressure of due dates after Rebekah's class tomorrow.
10) I am picking up some more Spanish from the Spanish books I am reading Daniel along with all of the Dora episodes in Spanish that we are watching. Not sure how knowing "Swiper no swiping" in Spanish will help me communicate with others, but you never know.
I've thought this week about how God so often seems to "break us" in order to reveal more of His love and beauty in our lives. This fractured ankle has been something that God has used to reveal His love and beauty.
Thank you once again for your love, encouragement, and prayers. We are so thankful that we are not "alone" as we have our God and we have many who accompany us on this journey.
Peace and love to you, Lisa (Dan, Rebekah, Will, and Daniel) Van Zoest
Here is Daniel sitting on his trike thinking. He will do this from time to time.