My mind has been swirling since last night, mulling over all the things I wanted to write. I am sad to say I don’t have many photos because although I brought my camera, I forgot to make sure there was a memory card in it!!! So I only have a few photos that Brian took on his phone and a few others I stole from the Tueller’s post on Facebook.
So when we arrived, the concert was going full blast. The place was seriously crowded and the energy was just awesome. We had invited a wonderful family from Mountain Home to come to the drawing to celebrate with us. They happen to be in the process of adopting sweet Marena from Reece’s Rainbow, who is in the same country as Arnold. They have visited her once, and will be traveling soon for their court date. We had a little something up our sleeve for them and wanted to surprise them It was so great to get to actually meet another Reece’s Rainbow family in person! I hope soon there will be tons of us in the Treasure Valley, and we can have a get-together every summer to catch up with each other. Gretchen and Chris were super nice and their kids just adorable. They were so great to drive the 45 minutes and put up with the sweltering heat.
We also got to meet Bill and Jan Gage, the owners of the Edwards Theater Complex in Boise and the ones who made this all possible. They are just the nicest, most genuine people you could ever meet. They are expecting a sweet grandbaby in a matter of days, but managed to still come out for the big drawing. How awesome is it that a big company like Edwards can still have heart for their local community???!! They were so accommodating to the whole process, offering any help needed, suggesting ideas and allowing ticket-selling on their big free concert nights. They came up and made a large personal donation while we were there, but little did we know what else they had in store for us that night.
There were other wonderful people we met that night, Chelsea and her friend-I just really enjoyed talking with you both-and Erika and her husband, who have a sweet child with Down syndrome too and have been learning more about Reece’s Rainbow. This has been the best part of the whole adoption experience: getting to meet people like you who have these huge hearts. Thank you for being a part of our story.
Okay, so the concert is winding down, and Bill says it’s time to go on stage and do the drawing. This awesome band, Pilot Error, was so gracious to give up their stage and host us for the drawing and a few other shout-outs during the evening. Christy got up and told the audience what we were doing, then asked me to come draw the winning ticket. Talk about pressure!!! I swirled my hand around a bunch and reached in to draw….”Arnold Preece” for the winner. OH MY GOODNESS. That’s when the tears began to flow. Christy told me that probably 50% of the tickets in the drawing were written out to Arnold. I’ll say it again: OH MY GOODNESS. Can you even imagine??!! So many people, as they were buying tickets, told Christy that they thought it would be so great to see Arnold win the house that helped bring him home. I definitely wanted a ticket-buyer to win the house; I can think of so many who deserve it-my sweet niece who has been selling blackberry jam door to door in Utah to raise money for Arnold; my cousin-in-law who sent a generous donation (and asked us to put half in Arnold’s name); a gentleman I don’t even know from Homedale who emailed me the night he saw our story on the news to ask where to mail a check. So, so many people deserved to win that beautiful little house. Well, when I saw Arnold’s name I was overcome with gratitude, but quickly informed the audience that we would be turning around and using this house to help another family in the adoption process. However, when I got back to the house I was informed by a few people that we would certainly not be giving the house to someone else. As Mike Tueller posted on Facebook today, “The winner was destiny: “Arnold Preece”. When the little guy gets to his new family, he will have a play hosue and his parents will be able to look out back and be reminded of the caring and generosity of others.” Oh my goodness, the tears were flowing.
|This is me saying, “I don’t want to be the one to have to draw the ticket!”
I thanked the crowd as best I could, being so overwhelmed with gratitude, and was heading off stage when Bill Gage stopped me and said, “hold on, we’re not done up here!” Okaaayyyy…..so I’m standing there and he says into the microphone: “we are just so touched by what has happened here, that on behalf of Edwards Cinema we wanted to make a donation of two thousand dollars to this adoption.” That is the moment I, as Oprah would say, did the ugly cry! My head was in my hands and I thought my heart was going to burst right out of my body. I have tears running down my face again just writing about it. It was a moment I will never forget, ever. In that moment, I knew that our adoption was fully funded. We have every penny we will need to bring Arnold home. Without going into debt at all, without borrowing from our own small business, by our own savings and the incredible generosity of others, many complete strangers, we now had this giant obstacle moved out of our way. The feeling of relief was more than I even knew was possible. I don’t think I realized how much I had carried the emotions of worry and fear on my shoulders until I felt them be released in that moment. But even more than that was the utterly overwhelming feeling of love I felt inside of me. It was like all of the good thoughts, prayers, and wishes of every single person in this journey-hundreds of you, if not more-were all at once poured into my heart and my body just couldn’t contain it all! I was literally sobbing right there on stage! And I didn’t care!! I wished, in that moment, that I could have hugged every person who has been there for us in any and every way. I have never been on the receiving end of so much love and support before, and the feeling was absolutely amazing. I couldn’t help but think, “I can’t wait to do this for someone else!”
|With the Gage’s and Christy (where were you, Aubrey??)
We made our way back down to the play house and tried to clean things up and get ready to leave. We stopped to talk again with the Gage’s about all the little miracles that made this little house possible. Thankfully we were able to snap a quick photo of all of us together. One of my favorite stories about the play house so far:
When Christy wanted to put this idea into motion, she put out an ad on craigslist, letting people know what she was looking for and why. She got a response from a sweet woman in Nampa who offered to sell her their old play house for a great deal. Christy said they were such a nice family and were so happy to be helping another family in this way. They thought Christy would fix the house up, sell it for a few hundred dollars, and put a dent in our last costs. Earlier this week, when Christy had added up her totals and it was in the thousands, she thought it would be nice to call this family and let them know just how much it was going to help us. When she talked to this sweet woman, she was beside herself to learn that it had earned us over seven thousand dollars toward our adoption. You see, this family were the owners of a small christian book store here in Nampa that closed down in April due to the economy. They had been out of work since then. Their store had been their way of sharing their testimony of God with others, and since closing down they had felt a great loss at not being able to do that as much as they had before. That very morning they had prayed that God would somehow use them for good, to bless others. I am still in tears thinking about this too! When Christy called them with this news, they knew it had been their answer to their prayer. Talk about helping others!!! This little house has blessed so many lives, and who knows how many people have now visited Reece’s Rainbow and been made aware of the plight of these helpless little children because of them? I know that many have, because they have talked to me about it. I know of at least one family who is now adopting a little girl because of learning about Reece’s Rainbow from our blog! Amazing!!!
I have not had the pleasure of meeting this family in person yet, but I hope they know about this blog and I hope they realize just what their seemingly simple act of kindness has done. They made an offering and God magnified it 10,000.00 times!!! This little house raised the final $10,000.00 we needed to be fully funded. What a miracle, there is no other way to describe it.
As we made our way out of the courtyard and toward our van, Kennedy just kept saying over and over, “I can’t believe we have all the money we need now! Mom, this is so amazing! There are so many nice people helping us bring Arnold home! I don’t know if I want to cry happy tears or sad tears!” At that, little tears streamed down her face and I just stopped to hold her and whispered in her ear to always remember this moment and how she felt. I told her she was feeling all the good there is in the world. I told her how we always hear about all the bad, sad things going on in the world, but that there is still so much good. I just held her for the longest time and we both cried and once again felt overwhelmed with love.
Lastly tonight, I just wanted to publicly thank Christy and Aubrey (and their devoted husbands who sacrificed time with their wives so many times on our behalf! I know there were many dinners you made for your kids, many times tucking them in to bed alone, and I can’t say thank you enough. You are my heros too! Thank you guys!!) Oh my goodness, will these tears ever stop??! Christy and Aubrey, you are honestly angels disguised as cute young moms. I know you will never take credit, butI know that you are more than the average person. You have something that is incredibly rare in an individual-you were willing to sacrifice so much personally for the sake of a complete stranger and a child you’ve never met but felt great love for. I know you haven’t told me of all of the times you’ve run yourself ragged doing errands, painting, selling, begging, pleading, stalking news channels, corporations and who knows who else to make this play house raffle a huge success. You dreamed bigger than I could have ever imagined and you have changed my life, my family’s life, forever. I hope that every time you see sweet Arnold, you will be blessed to feel the magnitude of your role in bringing him home. I hope you plan on seeing a lot of us, because I consider you family. I honestly feel as if I’ve known you forever. I am sure I knew you before this life and I am so glad we finally found each other!! There will never be words enough to thank you, but since you are mothers, I know that you know what a mother would do for her child-go to the ends of the earth if necessary-and you have carried me there to rescue my boy! I know you can imagine what I must feel toward you! For now I will just say, with all sincerity, Спасибо, (pronounced “spa-see-ba”), thank you.
Finally, an update on the adoption itself:
Our dossier was submitted to officials this past Tuesday!!!!!! This means we should get a travel date next week!!!!! Our visas arrived this week also, so we are all set to go, just waiting for the magical date so we can book our plane tickets!