Wednesday, July 9, 2014

June-July Update: Foster Youth Graduation, Adoption Celebration, Car Accident, Fireworks Booth, Dossier Prep...Nap.

So the last four weeks have been a bit insane. "A bit" is an understatement. Super-duper insane is more accurate. As you can see from the title of this post, we have had our hands full with some pretty intense events.

Here's the recap:

Foster Youth Graduation

As the Program Coordinator for City Without Orphans, Tulare County, I get to do some really cool things with some super cool people. Case in point = Attend the ILP Foster Youth Graduation Dinner with thousands of dollars worth of donated raffle prizes in hand.

Each year the Tulare County Independent Living Program (ILP) hosts a graduation dinner for foster youth who have completed high school. Traditionally, there is a raffle but this year, due to budget cuts, the county did not have the funds to purchase the prizes. Three local churches stepped up and committed to providing the raffle gifts. The county couldn't believe the generosity of the faith community and the value/quality of the gifts. Not only were there 15 rad raffle prizes, but each graduate was given a devotional and $50 Target gift card as well.

It was such a great event and so fun to get to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these amazing and deserving kids.

Adoption Celebration and Banquet

 June 22nd was our church's 2nd annual Adoption Celebration and Banquet and, just like last year, we SOLD OUT! We had over 90 items and services donated for our raffle and silent auction and had to combine many of the donations so that it would all fit on the 20 plus tables we set up. We enjoyed an evening of delicious food, Hutsells Homemade ice cream (if you are in the Valley you HAVE to try their ice cream!!), amazing raffle and auction prizes, and, last but not least, the wonderful Gospel Whiskey Runner's concert. It was a fabulous evening, with our final amount raised of $17,775! These funds will be divided between our church's Lifesong for Orphans account (to be available in the form of grants for our adopting families) and our "Post-Adoption Support" fund. 

Some of our amazing donated raffle items. 
Tables, linens, chairs, decor = all donated!!
The Lord brought the masses! Every seat filled!!
Tim and our dear friend, Deborah, selling raffle tickets.
The amazing banner made by Kim Rico. The perfect theme for this adoption process. 
We are so grateful for all the volunteers who donated countless hours helping organize the event and the over 250 people who attended and celebrated with us. So, so blessed the generosity of our church family.

Car Accident

Just a few days after the wrapping up the banquet and before launching into the fireworks booth, I was picking up Tim from work (because our Pilot was at the transmission repair shop...yea.) when we were hit by another driver. Though all the people involved were ok, our car was not. The front left tire took the brunt of the impact and the axle was broken as a result. The car was towed from the scene and later pronounced "totaled." Since our Pilot was still in the shop, we had a day or two as a "no car" family until we could pick up a rental and snag the Pilot back (unfixed) from the transmission shop. The rental is now returned, the insurance check has been cashed, and we are living life as a "one car" family as we search for vehicle number two.

Fireworks Booth

I spent much of May and June prepping to sell fireworks. Having never grown up in a city where street fireworks were legal, it was a whole new world for me. Our church recently merged with another church who had dibbs on a fireworks booth. The city of Visalia only allows 27 fireworks booths so there is 12 year wait to work one. One of our pastor's generously offered the booth to the three families of our church adopting internationally as a means of fundraising. We all eagerly jumped in, knowing that this was a huge opportunity to make some money. Because none of us had every managed a fireworks booth, we had little to no idea of how much work was actually involved. Let me put it this way, we sold over $29,000 worth of fireworks in 4 days and we earned every. single. penny. Of course, the week of July 1st through the 4th was record breaking heat. Sitting in a plywood box on top of asphalt in 107 degree heat is not something your average person would volunteer for, but guess what? We had over 36 volunteers over the four days who did just that. Many of the volunteers I had never even met before and there they were, sweating next to me, so I could get money to bring my baby home from China. What a gift. What a picture of the body of Christ.
Unpacking 2000lbs of fireworks.

Setting up the booth.
Ready to sell!!
The Lord showed us so much favor through the entire process. Our original location fell through and so we scrambled to find a spot for the booth. We landed in a Walmart parking lot. FAVOR. When the fire marshall came to approve our set up, he asked me how in the world we landed in such an amazing location. I think he called it "prime." He was right. By 6:30 pm on the 4th we had SOLD OUT. Completely cleared the booth of all fireworks except a few bricks of Ground Blooms. The next morning when Tim and I went to our drop off appointment, the fireworks crews couldn't believe we were only returning a single box. FAVOR.
S O L D  O U T!!

We are still calculating expenses and sales tax but we are hoping that each of the three families will be able to walk away with about $4000 from the fireworks booth. So much work. So worth it.

As if the sweet location, amazing volunteers, and incredible selling out of fireworks wasnt enough blessing, God had the wife of a local news channel drive by our booth and call her husband to tell him to share our story. On Friday morning ABC 30 showed up and did a great spot on our fundraiser. Follow the link to check it out:


With the past few weeks being as crazy as they were, we are now finally entering what feels like "summer vacation." The kids are enjoying VBS and swim lessons this week, I actually went grocery shopping, and our laundry is getting washed AND folded!

As far as the adoption paperwork goes, we are hoping to have all of our dossier documents completed and notarized ($10 per signature) by July 23rd (our 9 year anniversary) and will then mail them off to be state certified ($20 each document) and then mail them off again to be authorized by the Chinese Consulate ($25 each document). Our prayer is that every step will go smoothly and we will be ready to send it to our agency in the first week of August and they will be ready to mail it to China on August 22, the Friday after my 30th birthday!!!

Please join us in thanking God for the amazing ways He continues to provide the finances for this adoption. He is so faithful. Every check we've written has had the cash in our adoption savings account to back it up. Pray that our faith would continue to increase as we watch our Father provide.

Also, please pray that all the final details needed in finalizing our dossier would fall into place so that we are ready to send everything to China mid-August.

Lastly, pray that we find a car soon. Tim has been diligently searching, test driving, and praying for the exact car that the Lord has picked out for our soon-to-be family of five. With three car seats in our near future, a mini-van is on our radar. Pray that we would be wise in making the purchase... and that our Pilot's transmission would be healed.

God could do that, you know :).


  1. Thanks for the updates Amber! It is so exciting to see how God is providing to bring these kids home!

  2. That is a really nice bunch of chronicles that you've got there in one place. You seem to have lots of good days, except for the accident you got involved in, of course. Well, at least you've been able to get the proper compensation for the whole ordeal, which is what anyone should ought to demand from such an unwanted situation. Take care always!

    Joanne Krueger @ Kurtz And Blum

  3. It sure looked like an eventful month for you! As for your accident, it's great that no one got hurt. It's too bad that your car was totaled and could no longer be used. Let's just hope the other car that was just fixed doesn't meet the same fate as this one. Stay safe!

    Jaime Mcgee @ Michael's Auto Body

  4. It seems like a lot of remarkable events had happened on those two consecutive months! And it must’ve been great, though the car accident did put a damper on things. Thankfully, it still ended well for you, and there were no further injury and such afterwards. Thanks for sharing!

    Jerry Brady @ Lambert and Williams