August 31, 2014

At just the right moment

We got a puppy :)

Her name is Osa (she bear) or Osita (little she bear) and she truly couldn't have come to us at a better time. She was given to us out of the blue and has been a great source of joy and fun these last few weeks!

This has been an emotional summer. These past two months have been all about passports and visas and schools and US consulates and paperwork and visa denials... a lot of disappointment and a lot of hope, many tears and countless hours spent in the car traveling from one appointment to the next.

I'm exhausted. Both physically and emotionally.

Last I left off, I was coming off of a hard week. It then turned into another hard 20 days making that one full hard month. We've applied for student visas a total of 4 times with 3 1/2 denials. One of these days I'll try to come up with a timeline. But honestly, I think it would only be full of complaints which really doesn't do any good.

As of right now, one of our boys has been denied his student visa once and the other has been denied twice and the third time was asked for more information about us. We were so relieved it wasn't a no, even though it's not quite a yes. We are going back to the consulate on Tuesday in hopes of finally obtaining two student visas for these boys. Our deadline is Friday because at that point, they will have been two full weeks behind at school.

Each consulate visit, we have encountered a different problem, which has made it really hard to find a solution. This last attempt, they asked for proof that we are who we say we are (i.e.: Missionaries) because they can't understand why we would want to host these boys and take on such a responsibility. I get it. The only answer I can give them is Jesus. My prayer is that this will be an opportunity for gospel conversation to happen in the US Consulate.

The boy who was denied last week was simply told: "hoy no" (Not today) which, as you can imagine, is pretty frustrating!

To help keep the boys from getting too far behind, I've been getting lesson plans from their teachers and holding "class" each day in Mexico. I actually have three students, as one of their friends is waiting on a paper he needs to enroll in his own school in Mexico. I always said I would NEVER homeschool because I didn't think I was capable to teach but, as it turns out, Ive really enjoyed it.

We're hopeful that the boys will be joining us and starting their real classes by the end of this week. If it doesn't work out, they will start back to school in Mexico.

One thing I know about all is this: God is Sovereign. He has been bringing that exact phrase to my attention these past few weeks. Through sermons, songs, bible studies, and conversations. Those exact words: God is Sovereign. He is sovereign over the lives of these boys, their families, us, and the officials. He loves those boys more than we ever could. More than their families ever could. We can trust in that.

Keep us in your prayers! We have a big week ahead of us and it will surely be a trying one. Pray for rest, peace, confidence, and grace. Thank you!

August 10, 2014

I'm trying to stay calm in the midst of the crazy (crazy good)

Aren't those flowers lovely?    

**sigh**    

I feel more calm already.
(ok that's a lie. I haven't been calm in weeks.)

Last week was emotional. I shared here about this amazing possibly life-changing event and then the next day we hit a big fat wall. Or, that's how it appeared at the time. Now that I'm a few days past, I can see that it wasn't quite a large as I thought. Sure, it was a delay, but even so the Lord is showing me that there is still time. As of right now, we have one boy with his passport and the other will hopefully have his by the end of the week. The craziness that this process has entailed has truly been unbelievable.

BUT. We're trekking along. Once both boys have their passports secured, we will go for the school visa and that will be the final step. Whew. I've been consumed. The boys are all I think about: they'll need this in their room or this and that for school, How can I cook healthy food that the boys will like? What do I send in their lunch box? What if they are scared at school? Or picked on? What if they get frustrated by the language difference? How can I ensure that they feel encouraged and driven? How long will it be until they know enough English/I know enough spanish to really teach them gospel?

Add that to the fact that I was raised in a house full of girls and know next to NOTHING about boys...I'm clueless here.

I'm also really excited. Like really really excited. I'm excited to be more involved in their lives and in the lives of their families. I'm excited to build a deeper bond with their mothers and with Wade, as we will definitely face struggles together (one of the boys is already a teenager and I hear it's inevitable ;)

Pictured: an instagram shot I shared after a particularly difficult day | A happy selfie after hearing the youngest boy got approved for his passport!! | Pallet art from my friends at Buffalo Union. Such a beautiful reminder to me.

On a side note: Private school is expensive. Did you know? I didn't. As are passport/visa fees. As are school supplies (what?!) SO, I'm going to be doing a bit of fundraising in the coming weeks. Join me on instagram @kerrielwilliams and @lifeonamission for an instagram sale on my scripture prints, coming soon! You can also donate via paypal at kwilliams@discoverlifepoint.com if you prefer, but you might as well get a print out of it!

Honesty time: I don't like asking for money if it is AT ALL related to us. And even though all donations would technically go directly to the school and be for the boys, I feel weird that I just put our paypal address out there. I'm trying to be a little bit more humble in admitting that this new life will be a bit of a challenge, financially. But, there it is. 

We also want to say how thankful we are to the overflowing excitement, support and prayers we received from you all after sharing last week! We would love your continued prayers for these boys and us and their families in this time of transition. 

August 05, 2014

It Takes A Village || A Life Update


shirt // Sevenly for Mocha Club.  Fun fact: a group of "our kids" from the village passed by on the upper road while taking these photos, so this "look off to the side and smile" was totally real. As in I was real embarrassed. hah! Um, hey guys! Don't mind me; just taking some photos...

I'm not sure if you've noticed but I've been a tad quite on the interspaces lately, primarily here on the blog. See, the thing is, when I write, I write about what I'm experiencing in that moment. So when life changes super suddenly and I'm not quite sure how to put it into words, I wait. 

This is my attempt to share the fun, scary, vulnerable and awesome thing happening in our lives right now. Now if I could just figure out where to start.

Eleven months ago, my husband and I moved to the Rio Grande Valley where we split time between living/working in Texas and living across the border in a small, poor colonia. This is the same colonia where we first met almost 8 years ago. It's a special place for us.  A place where God has done significant things in our lives: from meeting one another and falling in love to suffering a miscarriage. This colonia has been an epicenter for things both good and difficult.

As you might have noticed, we have a wonderful group of kids in our colonia whom we've had the privilege of watching grow up over the past eight years, and even more so since we've been living here. It's been a long-running topic of conversation that several of the children, two boys in particular, want to go to school in the USA and live with us in "Alabama" (even though we live in Texas now.) 

It's been said and joked about and often wished for, but when this summer approached, things got real. Both boy's mothers approached us, asking us if we would truly considering hosting their sons so that they could have the chance at a better education. We told them we would look into it and see if something like that is even possible, and three weeks later we had two boys enrolled in a Texas private school. Whoa.

There has been a ton of paper work and appointments and checks written as we pursue this possibility which is super scary and stressful and, well, exciting! I currently have a stack of boy's uniforms on my dining room table and the boys are working on passports and school visas and I'm pinning "how to pack a school lunch" and talking to lawyers and life has just gotten crazy! Crazy good. And crazy CRAZY.

I now know what "nesting" feels like (the bedrooms have a fresh coat of paint) but I'm also working to guard my heart and theirs should everything just totally fall through. They are so excited, as are we, but I can't help but want to guard us all from disappointment. That, above all, is what has really kept me from sharing. It's scary to share something that's not yet 100%. So, for now, I'm sharing this much. No photos, not yet. Not until it's all lined up legally (much like an adoption I imagine) but I do want to make note of everything God is doing in our lives and this is by far the biggest thing in a while. 

Here are some of the FAQs we've already received:
Will the boys live with you? Yes. We will be staying in Texas during the week so we can take the boys to school and pick them up, help them with homework, give them private tutoring, etc. What is wonderful is that we are so close the the border and will be going back to the colonia most weekends so they can see their families and we can continue ministry there as well. 

Do they speak English? Nope! But they will have to learn, fast! They actually do know a little and we are able to communicate with them just fine, but their schooling will be in English. We've got some plans to help them along.

Are they brothers? No. They are best friends though, even though there are three years between them. They are at our house in Mexico every minute we are there and often stay the night. Their parents are friends of ours and are the ones to approached us about this, so we have their full support.

Something I love so much about the Mexican community is how they work together to raise their children and how they truly live in community. They watch out for each other in a way that is almost lost in the states. We are excited to join in and do what we can to give these boys opportunities that they might not have otherwise. We've still got a lot of details to iron out so we would so appreciate your prayers as we continue to the process!

July 14, 2014

What does it mean to be a PeaceMaker?

I just love it when I'm doing my morning Bible study and suddenly my note taking turns into the outline of a blog post. It's my natural instinct I think, to think in blog post terms: Lists, How-To's, Storytelling. It's part of who I am.

I am working through the Sermon on the Mount from She Reads Truth with two of the new friends God has blessed me with since our move. One of the focal verses is Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

I've had the verse on my phone all week, a constant reminder to be a peacemaker. But then, I found myself wondering: what exactly does it mean to be a peacemaker?

Enter: The List.

What Does It Mean to be a Peacemaker?
to make peace; to be peaceful

1. Don't Gossip/Stir up Drama.
Something I started praying about many years ago (and still have to pray today) is that God would make me uncomfortable with gossip. I've always heard it's a girl thing (and I have no experience as a male to say otherwise) but the temptation to dive in to a juicy piece of "did you hear?" is a very real and present struggle. But never have I given in to the temptation and left thinking, "yeah. That was worth it. I feel so much better now that I know blah blah blah about that person."  No. I always feel guilt and yuck thinking how much it would hurt if I knew two people were saying those same things or telling those same stories about me. Regardless of them being true or false. One thing gossip doesn't do is create peace.

2. Apologize When You Do Wrong.
When I first moved to Texas, I joined a praise team with my church. We have this app called GroupMe which allows us to text eachother in group form constantly. I love the community it has created. It wasn't long before I noticed these puplic apologies happening there. Someone would say a snarky comment (usually in partial jest) and then, without being asked for it, they would later apologize for said comment, worried it had hurt the person it was directed at. Within this group of friends, we have made it a point to make amends even over the smallest things. I'd never really encountered anything like that before and I'm not going to lie, at first, it was a bit uncomfortable for me. But, over time, I saw the grace that is extended when friends humbly ask one another for forgiveness. It is so freeing and actually helps bond relationships even tighter, especially when the apology isn't asked for.

3. Take a Second. Breath. Count to Ten.
If someone says or does something that just downright bothers you, Take a few seconds. Stop. Look at it from their perspective. Something that bothers me is when I'm asked a million questions. I admit this to be a flaw and something I really need to work on.

Also, I totally do this to others which I find really interesting/annoying. I can actually feel myself annoying others (aka my own self) when I do it. But I know that my asking questions just means I want to be involved. And so when I am feeling frustrated by someone else doing that to me, I need to stop. Remember their heart/motivations. Remember that I do the exact same thing. And treat them how I would want to be treated: with love and affirmation that my questions/opinions are valuable. (I'm still working on this one...)

4. Flesh It Out.
If you feel angry, hurt, or offended by someone or something, first: Complete steps 1-3. Skip the "venting" to your closest friend (try talking to God instead!) Ask yourself, what should I be apologizing to THEM for? And take a few moments to collect your thoughts so that you don't get off topic or say things you don't mean when the time comes to confront your transgressor.  Next, calmly, humbly and respectfully bring it to their attention. Let them know it hurt you and why. Then, listen. That's often the hardest part. Enter the discussion with the goal of making peace and finding understanding or forgiveness.

5. Then, as Frozen teaches us, LET IT GO.
Don't hold on to that thing which bothers you, hurt you, or the things you've done to hurt others. Once the apology is made or discussion is had, let it go. Don't bring it up the next time an offense is made. That never makes an argument end more peacefully. And if it's you who's done the offending, dwelling on something that's already been addressed and forgiven will only trap you in your own guilt which God says is gone. There is no condemnation. He has forgiven you. Erased your sin.

Accept/Give Grace. It is freely given to you by the Prince of Peace Himself. He makes us peacemakers because His Holy Spirit lives in Us. 

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