Relocation Plan…no longer a theory

Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea for us to publish “plans”. We’ve made a lot of plans over the years, and not that many have come to fruition. Funny thing is, that’s not really a problem, it’s just how we roll…surrendered to the Lord’s will and working in our family. He’s given us a heart for certain things to be sure, and led us in and through some amazing adventures we never could have accomplished on our own. We haven’t posted all that much lately because…we’re just allowing time for things to unfold, and trying to get a better sense of where He’s leading.

Upon returning from China with Bethany, my work was already in transition and relocation plans were still lacking. The plan to rent a coworker’s house in Prince Frederick, MD was in place, but the timing for him wasn’t great & the company still wasn’t sure if they would move us or send me to another contractor. We knew for a year the project would be relocated to Owego, NY but went to China & still weren’t sure when things would fold up in MN. By the time we got back in December, most of the work was already taking place there & it was clear I needed to travel for a while. That being the case, we figured it was much easier to travel from our current location & we didn’t need to be in a hurry to relocate to MD.

This has actually worked out really well for us, as I set up a home office and travel out to NY Mon-Friday about every other week. We figured as long as it lasts it would allow time to get Bethany adjusted and figure out what sort of surgeries/therapies/etc. she would be needing, get a post-placement visit or two done (since we already paid for three), and get the other kids through the school year. So…we figured sometime in the spring things would firm-up & we would undertake the move. Besides, though we were really looking forward to the milder climate, we weren’t having that much of a winter to escape.

Now it would appear that spring is nearly upon us (expecting 50′s tomorrow, though still in the 20′s today), and indeed there is something of a plan taking shape. I may jinx the whole thing by sharing it, but a lot of folks have been asking & wondering why we’re still here. Details are still pending of course, but the company and our future landlord are on-board with the plan to move in June. The main objectives with that time frame are that Bethany will get to know her extended MN family better, we’ll be able to complete another post-placement visit, and the kids will be done with their school work for the summer. As it turns out, this has also given us additional time to prepare our house in MN for rental, though we’ll assess the market & might prefer to sell.

I must say that through all of the change in family dynamics & moving plans, everyone has dealt with it really well, and of course we have the Lord’s presence to thank for that!

 

Merry Christmas from Brandon!

WOW!, What a year this has been. So many events, things going on, and getting gifts and it’s all gone very fast, but it’s been worth it. Waiting for Bethany Yan Rengert was one thing worth waiting for because she has changed our lives, and it’s a good change because were a bigger family now and we love her dearly. I don’t know about you, but adopting a new kid is something that’s very special and will always touch you in the heart forever because you’ll always think back about that blessed day.

To me, this year (2011) has been a great memorable year for me because I got to experience what it means to be loved by your AWESOME parents and by our Counselor, Wonderful and Mighty God. So many things have been accomplished this year and it feels good to have them accomplished. This summer, Ben and I put some hard work into fixing up our yard by moving rocks, dirt and digging too. We took about 4 or 5 days on that and I’ll tell, when you have about 3-4 days worth of rocks to move from one part of the yard to another, it gets tiring and you wonder if you’ll ever finish. But hey, it was worth it by getting some bucks from dad into an allowance…that and not giving up. So it felt good after doing all that hard labor.

Another thing I’m proud of that I kept going with and not quitting was Taekwondo  because on December 10, 2011 Ben, Christianna and I were awarded with Black Belts and that felt good. Having self-discipline and focus was the key in those 2 years of Taekwondo we did to get our Black Belts.

Health wise this year I haven’t been to bad. My mom has been making sure we eat good food and stay away from food we can’t tolerate or digest. So maybe about 2 weeks ago we all found out our blood types from these blood type kits and we all know each other now. My dad, Christianna, and Bethany all O+. Ben B+ and me B-, and Mom left all by herself being A-. So my mom is trying to get us the the right food for each of our blood types so can maybe expect better health. With better health, you have better feelings about life (I think).

Been getting together with a lot of friends from Church and Bible Study and friends down in Winona, or Wabasha. Both Ben and I pretty soon maybe in a week or something be going back to our friends to hang out some more and have fun. Hope y’all having a great rest of the year 2011 and I hope it turns out to be a memorable one. Merry Christmas and have a Happy “Healthy” New Year of 2012!

Merry Christmas from Ben!

What a wonderful year this has been! There has been plenty of blessings from our God that brought joy to the hearts of the Rengert family. Excited to finally have a new critter in the family! Bethany has been just a wonderful blessing that God made an opportunity for.  Can’t wait to see her grow up into the child that God has a plan for.

It’s been wonderful timing for Taekwondo as well. Achieved a black belt on December 10th, 2011 which brought smiles all around! Glad to have that now and keep up on the Martial Arts adventure. School has been going pretty smoothly this year. My studies involve dealing with Forensic Science/law enforcement which I’m pretty excited about. Not sure on the exact field of work I want to get involved in, but soon will with the help and support of two awesome & loving parents!

This Christmas year has not been as white as expected, but I’m sure the snow will makes its way down to our neighborhood eventually to enjoy another wonderful season God has provided for us. Seems like Mom has a new technique for staying healthy this year. We recently did a blood test to figure out what types of food would be best for our diets and it seems to be working. Mom seems to be the oddball by being the only type A in the family. Brandon & I are both B’s, while dad, Bethany, & Anna are all O’s. Switched to different diets, but nothing too major.

Still looking forward to another growth spurt before or by my birthday. Brandon’s pushing about 5’10″ while I’m about 5’7″. Waiting to be at least just as tall or possibly even taller! Nothing I can’t be thankful for this year. God has been so abundant this year with gifts of blessings & joy. Looking forward to a new & refreshing year of 2012 & all the more blessings!

Merry Christmas 2011!

Click here to open our Christmas 2011 Family Letter

Bethany Yan Rengert (Zhu Yan)There’s simply no way to adequately express our gratitude for the blessings we’ve received this year, but all praise goes to our Lord and Savior! No family is without challenges and trials, though our response to them is a witness…for better or worse. A phrase we encountered over ten years ago, “A gem cannot be polished without friction”, reflects the truth in God’s word that we should rejoice in the face of trials; not a natural human tendency.  In those trials He can show Himself though, whereas we tend to take personal credit when things go well. We’re certainly not the examples of this that we’re called to be or desire to be, but being human we are a work in progress.

2011 was not a year of extraordinary trials for us, though it probably sounds that way. It was however a year of extraordinary blessing, in many, many ways! The trip to China in November to adopt Bethany was awesome, though at times pretty exhausting. This particular adoption (our third) wasn’t exceptionally difficult compared to the others, but was once again an opportunity for God to work in the way only He does. We were clearly led to this particular child, for what purposes we have yet to fully understand. We do understand however that by trusting God in His leading and provision, His work is accomplished. What a joy and privilege to join Him in it!

Please read and enjoy our Christmas letter, and we will endeavor to fill in details and events here and via other correspondence as time allows. The last few weeks have been fairly hectic, but Bethany is doing great and we’re really excited to share all about it in the upcoming weeks. Just this week she had her first screening visit at the International Adoption Clinic at UMN in Minneapolis. The folks there were great, and quite impressed with her! Another interesting thing we noted just in the last few days: she has started nodding or shaking her head in response to us, indicating that she’s understanding much of what we’re saying even though she can’t say much herself yet. We are more and more convinced that she’s smart, hungry to learn, and probably far more capable than anyone thought.

The thing is, all the kids are so special to us in so many ways, that we could go on & on about each of them the same way. How we have come to be so immeasurably blessed by this experience is hard to grasp. We certainly haven’t earned it. That’s God’s grace.

Please also enjoy these recent pictures!

 

Homecoming

Upon arrival home Welcome home Bethany Yan! Overall the trip wasn’t too bad in terms of fussing/meltdowns, but there’s always some of that when you’re traveling 20+ hours with young children.

Our journey home started on Wednesday in Guangzhou, with a morning meeting with the Holt staff & families to review what to expect and address any questions we had. That was very thorough and helpful…and once again it strikes me that Holt really has this process refined well for families. Since we would be receiving Bethany’s visa and immigration package just prior to leaving for the train, Mama wanted to get a good nap in before the journey began.

Papa & Anna went out to get some last minute gifts from the Dong Fang shops next door, then decided to explore the area a bit, and enjoy the warm weather by going for a walk. We went to the left from our hotel, and around the block where we encountered several interesting restaurants (that we would have tried if we knew earlier), then a nice park across the street. One of the other Holt families was just telling me about their walk through a nearby park, so we decided to take the time to walk through (and maybe get ourselves some needed exercise before travel). It turns out to be a very large park, and we fortunately just decided to go around the one lake. This is a park you really want to check out late in the day when the amusement park is running. We had fun, but were indeed tired out & sweaty when we got back to the room, with just enough time to pack up our gifts and get the baggage ready for the concierge to take down. Walk in the park

We tried to have a big lunch in the hotel cafe, but the kids weren’t that hungry and given the cost of the hotel restaurants we would have been much better off grabbing something from the nearby 7-11 (VERY affordable and friendly). Live & learn. As the girls finished what they could of lunch, Papa met the Holt staff in the lobby to get Bethy’s papers and review the travel plans. Since we had already checked out, we were ready to board the bus to the train station, which at the time seemed daunting to keep track of everything. Families have the option of using a porter to help move their bags upstairs, or even to check them through (the easiest, but more expensive option). Given the size of our party and a bit of confusion we decided to just haul our own bags up and with us on the train as carry-ons. With just a couple large bags on wheels, and a carry-on each it was pretty easy to get the bags up the escalator and onto the train. Immigration/customs and boarding was also easy & the train had plenty of space. The two-hour trip to Hong Kong was pretty uneventful and gave us time to chat with the other families.

When we arrived in Hong Kong we were met by the Lotus travel guide, and got all our stuff loaded on the bus. The ride to the hotel was a longer one, and most of the kids were nodding off by the time we got there. We were all staying at the Regal Hotel since it’s adjoined to the airport & departing the next morning would be as easy as walking to the ticket counter. This hotel however wasn’t the best experience; check-in was extraordinarily slow, leaving us exasperated & ready to climb into bed by the time we got to our tiny room (about 10pm). Between the four of us we had two twin beds to share, and Anna’s cough was much worse by now. Papa tried to use the “free internet” to post an update, but would have had to call tech support since they didn’t set up the account when we checked in.

The next morning I decided to just drop a check-out slip in the box since there was another 40-minute line at the reception desk. The Hong Kong airport has free WiFi and plenty of restaurants to choose from, so we just got up, packed up & walked over. None of us got much sleep, so we knew it was going to be a long day. Airport security screening throughout China was simpler than we’re used to in the U.S. these days, but we were surprised by an additional TSA-level screening on the jetway was we boarded the flight to Detroit. I guess that makes sense, as TSA wants to ensure their “standards” are met, but other countries have their own. What it meant to us was discarding the two bottles of water I just bought from the newsstand for over $7. Good thing I’m not a duty-free shopper!

It seems odd to skip details at this point, but there isn’t much to add about the flight(s). Bethy didn’t want to be put down for a nap, so after hollering/crying for a while we gave up & let her sit up. A few hours later she was dozing off sitting up & still did not want to lay down. Some travel notes: The seats were supposed to have a power-port, and/or USB port for charging devices but did not…so the laptop got run-down even though the iPad held up. I brought a Mophie juice-pack to keep devices charged on the trip, but the flight home was the only required use of it. The hotels all had adequate resources for keeping things charged since I had brought the converter plug. The hotel TVs all had HDMI ports, so we could plug in the iPad (with adapter) and watch our movies.

By the time we hit Detroit we were really starting to feel the effects! Poor Anna was so sleepy at that point we couldn’t get here to eat the breakfast meal they served before landing. Bethy didn’t care for much of hers either, but we expected that. Arrival at DTW meant Port of Entry procedures, and going through immigration and customs. To us it meant standing in no less than SIX lines, and nearly two-hours. To Bethany it meant U.S. citizenship, and somebody better be holding me or I’m gonna lose it!

We were blessed to be met at the airport by Pastor Joe, (who recently adopted a son from Jamaica) to give us a ride home. Once home we were met by Coleen’s folks who brought the boys home from their friends’ where they stayed, her sister Shari, and the Alzen Family (who we followed through their Ukrainian adoption of two boys this past summer). It was a real blessing to be home & share our overflowing joy with everyone. Bethany did very well, and was excited to meet new people, especially her brothers!