Message: "Adoption Story- What We Have Deeper Learned about God"
Watch the message I gave "Adoption Story" online www.crbcnow.com
48 hours ago we landed in Charlotte as we finished our 16 day trip to China to bring Madelyn home. We are exhausted... physically, emotionally, and mentally. Accept for Madelyn, the rest of us have slept at night all of about a total of 6 hours. It took us 10 days to get adjusted to Jet lag going over, and really never did completely adjust as we all woke up at 3:30a.m. every day we were there. But now, coming back and gaining 12 hours has really hit us even harder, plus the fact that 2 weeks of running on full adrenaline from the seat of our pants has now run empty. Today, we briefly stopped into the worship service at my church to let people see that we are home and to thank them for their prayers, on the way back I nearly fell asleep driving home (as I did from the airport a few times) and Amy said her eyes were about to close when we were standing on stage addressing the church.
Many people probably can't fully understand what we have done and been through over the last 16 days, let alone 18 months. From the pictures, it might look like just one big vacation. Though this has been an amazing time, it was no vacation. Behind every picture is a profound, complete outpouring journey of heart, soul, and body. God is faithful, and we give Him all the glory. We pray for your understanding and patience.
We are so excited for people to meet Madelyn and to share time with all of you! We have missed so many of you and can't wait to catch up.
Please understand, it may take us a few days or so to even mentally and emotionally recover to a place where we can fully reconnect with our lives here at home and yours as well. Please don't mistake our distance as a lack of love or desire on our part to minister to you or share our lives with you and our new daughter. We can't wait, but right now, every time we go to push the emotional, physical, and mental gas pedal, there simply is nothing there. Furthermore, we want to make this transition as smoothly for Madelyn as she is entering into a whole new world and life completely foreign to her. Again, we know this may be hard for people to understand, but we are praying for your understanding.
Right now, we sense the Lord wanting us to be still and to be refreshed by His renewing presence and power. He is our one desire, has been our one source of strength, and is the one place we know we can find rest and renewal. At His feet and collapsed in His arms is where we need to be.
Please call, email, facebook us etc. Meals, prayers, and hearing how God has impacted you through our journey so helps to refresh our lives.
We love you deeply and dearly,
Chris and Amy
As you might imagine, this journey has been filled with unexpected moments, as a matter of fact, more unexpected than expected if I had to do the stats. Yet there have been a few that caught us by surprise in unique ways. First, was in the train station in Guangzhou. Every time you travel anywhere in China you have to show all your passports and papers, often 2 or 3 times at different check points. Everything in China in terms of airports etc. is very matter of fact, efficient, cut and dry, formal, very clean and well organized (something American airports could learn from for sure). The people in China are much the same in general, people stay very much to themselves (except when they stare at you) and go about their lives with little perceived emotion (joy and a sense of meaning). Yet, that was not the case when we went through one of the checkpoints at the train station as we were headed to Hong Kong for our last night in China and flight home the next morning. Amy went first with Cailyn and Madelyn, the person behind the guarded glass window finished looked things over with the usual emotionless face, and then as Amy went through she said to him, "Thank you" (Sheh-Shen) to him. To that, looking at Madelyn he said back to Amy in English, "No, thank you" Next it was my turn with Harrison, again he looked things over and knew we were an entire family as we all went through together, and then as I passed through he said to me "You are a good man" Wow, that was totally out of the box and unexpected. What a special moment for both Amy and I. Hats off to him, he recognized and appreciated more of what we were doing than some of our own family members and was willing to go against protocol and express it. Two unexpected, and memorable moments for sure. The third came on the flight home from Chicago to Charlotte. After 16 days in China, 20 hours of travel that day, and the 6th and last flight of our trip still in front of us, we were all fried. We had just gotten off our 14 hour flight from Hong Kong, spent an an hour in customs/immigration, we finally find the gate for our last flight, and then we start seeing the weather reports of tornadoes and storms lined up along our flight path home. The plane was boarding in a 1/2 hour or so and none of us were too excited to go through yet another bumpy ride like we had from Fuzhou to Gaungzhou, and this time it was looking like it was setting up to be worse. As we boarded the plane, one stewardess could tell we looked like we had been through war, she had seen from our boarding passes that we had been traveling literally all day across the world. She also could see we had three upset, frazzled kids, and one of which that clearly wasn't from America. She started putting things together and quickly figured out our story and state of mind. Was the flight bumpy? Oh yah, just like the pilot said it would be, though he rerouted us around most of the bad weather. However, you can't reroute your take off nor your descent down before landing. And let's just say, the take off was "all over the place." Yet as we trusted, God had us by His hands and we landed in Charlotte. Just as we did, that same stewardess handed Amy a note written on a napkin with a $50 bill which read, "So inspired by your family, I know this has been a rough day, here is a little something for you guys to have dinner tonight with on your way home" We serve and amazing God who blesses and rewards just because He can! All glory to Jesus, He did it all!
Home at Last, now to sleep! More in a few days!
Lesson on Going with the Flow
So much of this process is just laying back in the arms of Jesus and going with the flow. There is so much that you simply can't control, predict, nor calculate. I can imagine how stressed some families might be that have a hard time with the phrase "it is what it is." Oh yah, there have been some stressful moments for sure, but at the end of the day, Jesus is at the wheel and we have decided that life is best when we become o.k. with that. Sometimes we do better with this than others. There is so much to take care of that is within our control that to try and take care of stuff beyond our control would be overwhelming.
Whether it comes to how we are going to pay for this all, how Madelyn is going to manage in her new home, or what God might call us to do next, we are learning new levels of doing our part and letting God do His.
How is it really going?
There are many families with us here in Guangzhou that are also adopting, many through other agencies than Holt. There are around 13 families with Holt. The spectrum of how things are going for each family is widely varied. Some adoptions of older children are going well, others, not well at all! Some adoptions of younger children and infants are going well, others are very challenging. We have all been supporting one another while trying to navigate our own families through this wild, involved and challenging process. Praying does amazing things.
So how are we doing? Things have gone so very well. Oh yes, we have had our challenges with Madelyn, but not the kind we expected. The challenges we have had have involved more of just coming to an understanding of each other as a family, the language barrier isn't easy. Specifically, there have been a few behavioral moments in terms of basic child behavior issues and how she relates to Cailyn and Harrison. The great news is, Madelyn is a quick learner and has a loving, happy spirit. She is a lover, and extremely smart! Issues are resolved very quickly, maybe a few tears or a time out, than we are back to being our fun lovin family. Lots of praying and love have made the difference.
We are ready to come home, especially since everything is getting finished up here with things that need to be done. We miss our friends, church, and our home.
Madelyn gets most nervous when it seems to her like she might be getting taken to another family, she stays very, very close to mom and dad, and won't leave our arms for anything.
U.S. Consulates Meeting
Yesterday, we had an appointment at the U.S. Consulates in China to submit paper work and take a vow on Madelyn's behalf to make her a U.S. citizen. Now, in the eyes of China, Madelyn is an American. Today we get visas and passports for her and then take a bullet train to Hong Kong later in the afternoon. Go Jesus!
TB Test and Results // Safari
As you might imagine, there are a lot of hoops to jump through in the process of getting Madelyn cleared to leave the country. One of them was a TB test that she didn't enjoy taking at all. This morning we travel back to the medical center to get the results, from what we can see on her arm, there is no reaction, so we are expecting a good result.
From there, we travel to the second largest zoo in China for the day. It's cold and rainy, but that won't stop us from making it fun!
Other than a lot of free time and waiting, everything is planned for us, including hotels, travel, etc.
Madelyn is doing splendid, she loves to eat just about everything. She is very, very smart intellectually and emotionally. She is fun loving and already learning some English. She responds to our correction well and is fitting right into the Kratzer family flow, vibe, and dynamics as if she has always been with us. It's all a God thing for sure!
Harrison and Cailyn are also doing amazing, we couldn't be more proud of them and how they have been so patient, cooperative, and so loving to Madelyn.
What's traveling, adopting, and all of this like? It's overwhelming and wonderful, we feel God's presence every moment and are so humbled by it all. Our faith has grown deeper with each step and we sense God is opening up amazing doors for our future. We have become friends with people from around the world, and look forward to see what God has next. What a Jesus adventure!
We are enjoying China, but look forward to getting home to see all of you!
Dark, Rainy, Bumpy Flight
After a delayed, dark, rainy and a bit bumpy flight, we arrived to Gaungzhou late Friday night. It was Madelyn's first flight and she did super, playing with mom in her seat while Harrison, Chris, and Cailyn were seated across the aisle. The flight was packed on Chinese Southern Airlines which basically was a greyhound bus with wings. We had been spoiled by the excellence and newness of Dragon Airways which was our flight from Hong Kong to Fuzhou. We won't mind one bit that last night was our final domestic flight in China. We take a bullet train (150 mph) back to Hong Kong on Thursday.
We are here and praising God, and the Hotel is even nicer than The Lakeside in Fuzhou, at least this one allows you to control the room temperature. :)
Love to all of you, we love seeing your comments!
Everything is Going Great!
I am writing this as Madelyn is singing in Mandarin and "playing Uno" with Cailyn. We serve an amazing God. Madelyn is adjusting very well and Cailyn and Harrison have done an amazing job as the big brother and sister. We just finished another great breakfast and are going shopping this morning. We have a breakfast buffet every morning and there is a mix of western food and Chinese food.There's everything from fried rice to french toast. I even saw sushi this morning. All juice is freshly made. Madelyn is a great eater. She will eat anything you put in front of her. She really likes congee ("rice oatmeal") and drinkable yogurt. Today we also met two families at breakfast that were going on a heritage tour with their daughters that they had adopted 10 years ago this week. Really cool!
After a meetings with Civil Affairs clerk and then a Notary in the city of Fuzhou where we signed many papers and records, Madelyn is officially and legal our daughter in the eyes of China! There was an incredible moment where Madelyn was sitting in Amy's lap and a worker from the orphanage that Madelyn grew up knowing gestured to Madelyn to come into her arms. Madelyn refused to leave Amy's arms to go to her, starting even to try cry at the thought. Wow! Within 12 hours Madelyn doesn't want to even think of leaving us even when given the opportunity. This is truly amazing, it is like we have always been a family and Madelyn has know it from the very first moments we met! A bond has been formed as if it has always been there. God has been at work, we feel it and know it for sure!
After those meetings, our guide and translator took us shopping downtown for a few things for Madelyn at of all places "Walmart" Yes, there are Walmart's in China, but trust me, they are nothing like the one's in America.
So much to write about, but will close with this, God's hand is so clearly upon all of this and we are overjoyed, humbled, and in awe of His presence. Your prayers our felt deeply.
Over 18 months of prayer and hard work all came to one moment on Sunday at 3:30p.m. It began in a conference room on the third floor of the Lakeside Hotel in Fuzhou. First, we met with an adoption representative to verify some paper work and sign a guardianship agreement to take care of Madelyn overnight until our adoption is official the next day. Just as that was finished, within a minute or two, without notice, Madelyn came into the room appearing from behind us as we sat at large conference table. She was escorted by a couple representatives from the orphanage that oversaw her care even while she was in foster care for a majority of her life. The moment was quick and overwhelming. She knew us immediately, with smiles and openness to our presence. We quickly began to make affectionate contact, it was smooth and natural for both her and us. In the same room, another family was being connected with their daughter as well, lots going on at the same time. For record and documentation purposes, a photographer quickly gathered us for a picture of Madelyn and myself and Amy. It was all so surreal. Later after Harrison and Cailyn began to play with her, in Amy's arms, Madelyn began to sing a song with the words in Mandarin, "This is my momma, father, brother, and sister." We could tell she knew who each one of us was for sure. After further signing some papers, the gathering was over and time came to take Madelyn with us to our room. After coming to the room and settling down, Madelyn realized things were different and that she was going to be with us. A few moments of tears and crying, but then with some words of assurance from me in Mandarin, some cuddling with Amy, she calmed down and began drawing pictures with me. After coloring in a coloring book together, I first showed her how to draw a smiley face, then a cross. She repeated. Not another tear since those moments, but much the opposite with smiles and even a kiss for Amy as she held Madelyn in arms. It literally seemed like we have always been a family together, no exaggeration. Then again, why shouldn't it seem that way, we always have been in God's eyes. The night closed with us ordering up some french fries to the room, which Madelyn loved, lots of smiles, going potty, and being a family together. Bedtime was easy, she slept in between Amy and I and never woke up once before the morning. All I can say is we are overwhelmed with God's presence and favor, and sense His work in all of this like never been before. It is truly supernatural and humbling to be in God's will so clearly and deeply.
Sunday Morning Worship at hotel before Madelyn delivered
Gathered family together for worship this morning to praise Jesus who adopted us all into His family through our faith in Christ. Go Jesus! Thank You from taking us from orphan to overcomer! Worship involved Kari Jobe, Kj-52, Jesus Culture, James 1:27, Ephesians 1:5, Psalm 34:4, Jeremiah 29:11, family talk, a Cailyn worship dance, and prayer. Kratzer family firmly positioned hearts are knelt before the throne of Jesus. ("Jesua" in Manderine Chinese)
Tomorrow we meet Madelyn
It's now 9:30p.m. Sat. and tomorrow we will meet Madelyn at 3:30p.m. God is so amazing, we feel His hand upon us in ways like none before. We are all set up to Skype at CRBC on the big screens at 11a.m Sunday. If your faith is lacking, trust me, trust what we are experience, all things are possible through Jesus! God is alive and well, throughout the world, and most importantly, in your world! Trust Him, trust His every move, His plans and purposes for you are far beyond your imagination. Pray for us as we meet Madelyn, for God's peace, calm, and assurance to overwhelm her heart! Love and miss all of you!
Finally we are here!
After a day delay in Chicago, our 15 hour flight to Hong Kong went well, arriving Friday around 1p.m. Hong Kong time (still Thursday USA). We haven't been very tired, we slept a good bit on the plane, and made several friends. We are disappointed our delay caused us to miss our extra day of downtime and tourism in Hong Kong, maybe on the way back before our flight to Chicago from Hong Kong
Today, Saturday, we had an early flight out of Hong Kong to Fuzhou where we will meet Madelyn at 3:30p.m tomorrow. Flight was fine, met out guide/translator, were taken to Lakeside hotel. Pics coming within the next few hours. Love and miss all of you. -Chris
Flight into Chicago from Charlotte went well, but spent 2 hours on tarmac on flight to Hong Kong, and they eventually canceled the flight because they couldn't get a fuel pump to work. Spending the night in Chicago, flight to Hong Kong in a.m. tomorrow. Glad they canceled the flight after trying two fixes. Have met some nice people on flight as some of us are staying at the same hotel.
Thanking God today for a church that prayers for their pastor and family. Taking care of final details and making sure we have everything ready for our trip. Spending time in God's Word and remembering to stand on His promises. Getting my listening and study plan together for the 17 hours in flight on Wed. MP3 player is getting filled up with Joseph Prince, Irvin Baxter, Joyce Meyers, etc. -Chris
The Last Saturday
Today is the last Saturday will will spend a world apart from Madelyn. Can't wait!
A Powerful Thought
Today, I have been reflecting on how God has graced us with a deep sense of peace and courage about our upcoming travels to China as we bring Madelyn home. There is so much to think about, prepare for, and bring to the Lord for prayer, yet God has given me an amazing sense of of assurance through it all, it is supernatural. Psalm 34:4 has been a verse that I have tattooed on my heart for this adventure.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Today I had the thought, "This Sunday will be the last Sunday I spend physically separated from our daughter Madelyn."
Keeping my eye on the prize for the glory of God!
Reflections on the privilege of adoption
Taking some time to reflect on the amazing privilege it is to be called by God to adopt. To be able to participate in something so close to the heart of God and His Gospel is humbling and mind-blowing. -Chris
Be sure to view our travel calendar! (press "Calendar" above)
We are getting ready!
10 Days from now we will be traveling to China. Please keep us in your prayers! We will posting updates and pictures daily before, during, and after our trip to China!