Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Journey to Home... Part One

I know I am way over due in sharing how we finally got to little Maida. I am very sorry.! It has been, well.... Busy lol!

No matter how "prepared" I thought I was both practically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually prior to leaving when it came down to departure day we were scurrying for last minute things to pack, adding items to our donation tubs,and dealing with a host of emotions. I think the best way to clue you, the reader, in on all of that; is through pictures:)

     We took only one check-in suitcase between the two of us. It was filled with mostly food and toys for Maida to play with while at St. Annes. We took jerky, Lara bars, dried soup cups, sardines for Maida (who loved them!), nuts ect. The plastic rubbermaid tubs were our other allowed checked in luggage. They were filled with donations of school supplies, formula, baby cereal, clothing and some toys. We each carried on two carry on bags. We had everything we would need in them for the most part in case something happened to our suitcase. I'm a mom. You plan for the what if's! We flew out of Los Angeles into Dulles Airport. Onto Brussels, then into Angola for a refuel, then back up to Kinshasa. We left LAX early morning on October 31st and arrived in Kinshasa about 9:45pm November 1st.

My Traveling Companion! Gabriella. She is my fourth child, third daughter. Her heart is for the orphan and hopes to minister to North Korean orphans along the northern Chinese border someday. We shall see... a part of her heart is now in Congo:)
She learned a lot of lingala before we left and picked up a great deal while in country.  She has a gift of language that I am sure God is going to use someday. It certainly was used in-country and has been a great help since being home in communicating with Ida.

Saying good by to my husband. I was homesick before I left and had many weepy day prior to leaving. We had decided to use our agencys in-country co-ordinator as a family escort. For several reasons; mainly she was familiar with the country, the contacts in country, and the country itself. That proved to be a very wise decision! We met up with her and two other families at the Dulles airport and traveled together the rest of the way. It was great getting to know everyone before we arrived in Kinshasa.

At Dulles Airport
Meeting Julia, our family escort. We both loved her, but she and Gabby created quite the friendship:)

A traveling parent. My girls and I gushed over the cuteness of her little boy over the months of getting pictures of Maida and the children in her orphanage. He was more adorable in person than even in pictures. It was so exciting to get to meet his mom and know he would have a good home and be loved lots!

                               Another parent. We fell in-love with his sweet little girl while in Congo.

 Brussel Airport. It was very nice. And yes we bought chocolate but not until we came back through on the way home.

This is St. Annes. We stayed here for eleven days and we loved it. Mosquitoes, cold showers and all. It is an old convent turned into a guest house. Many adoptive families stay here and NGO workers along with traveling nuns, priests and volunteer Drs. and Nurses. We arrived late at night so it wasn't until the following day we were able to go to the orphanage and pick up our new daughter.

           Mine and Maida's bed. It was a full sized bed. Gabby had a twin bed next to us. The mosquito nets are invaluable. Our room would be full with mosquitoes by nightfall. It was a great comfort to crawl into bed and drop those nets and fall asleep. Malaria is the number one killer of children in Congo. They said the mosquitoes were very bad while we were there and just days before we were to leave Maida contracted it:( more about that later.

This is the view of the orphanage when you drive up. Notice the tall walls and barbed wire at the top. It is a very narrow road. The car almost touches the walls and gate and you have to scootch out your car door carefully into the door of the orphanage where you are met by a man who is hired for security.

Walking into the orphanage. Julia is infront of me and she is talking with the nannies. They then take us to find Maida:) All the children were sleeping as we arrived during naptime.

                         The moment I've been waiting for! Seeing my new daughter. She was sleeping soundly, was wet and sweaty but I didn't care. I scooped her up. She didn't know what to think being woken up by a strange white woman. The nannies took her from me to clean her up and put on a clean dress.

Getting acquainted.


We were told she was tiny, but surprised on how tiny. Her arms and legs and buttom was no bigger around than an infants. The pictures do not pick that up. Her feet were the skinniest feet I've ever seen.  She was weighed at the Drs. office the day after getting home and was 22lbs. We believe she had gained some weight while we were in Congo so not sure how much she weighed the day we got her.



                   Maida meeting Gabby, Gabby meeting Maida. She (Gabby) was so excited I let her hold her. She was worried I would take the whole coccooning thing too seriously and not let her hold her lol.
The nannies and some of the children. They all were so much smaller than what we expected and more beautiful.
Leaving for a new life.
She didn't cry while we were leaving just very quiet. I knew it would take time for her to trust me and know that her tomorrows were meant for good and not for evil. We have the rest of our lives to convince her of that.
When we got back to St. Annes I gave her a shower for a thorough cleaning and to look her over from head to toe. She has never had a warm bath or shower so she took it like a champ. I slathered her in lotion and lots of love and put on a clean outfit and met up with the other families and Julia for a night out to celebrate.

                  Meeting up with friends with their new families in the foyer of St. Annes.

We all had much to celebrate. Additionally, Papa J, who works with Julia in Congo and does a great deal for us family's and our children prior to travel and while in Congo celebrated his birthday with us this night too. It was a wonderful night and the food was great. It was Italian believe it or not!

                                                The end of day one as an ex-orphan.

While we were in Congo it was easier for me to update thru facebook. All my first thoughts and impressions were journaled there. There is wifi at St. Annes, but electricity comes and goes as does wifi, and we found it easier to upload pictures from my phone and write on facebook than to blog. I will eventually post those journal entries here.
There is SO much to tell you. I am very impressed how other families with blogs convey their thoughts as they have journeyed through the paperwork, the traveling and transistions at home in such poignant yet condensed writings. I am still sorting through the emotions, the practicalities of adding a new member to the family,  all the things we saw and felt while in Congo along with moving forward with a big  decision we made while in country, I don't have a clue how to give you an organized, meaningful expose of it all but I will do my best.

Much love and thanks from all of us as you have prayed, supported and followed us along on this journey. I will continue more of the story...so come back soon.





Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We Are Home...

We have come home with a daughter and a love for a country that is horrible and wonderful. I will update soon and post many pictures. There is much to tell.

Maida is doing wonderful....


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Wait is Over... We Are In Congo

I no longer am wondering who this new daughter of mine is! I have been getting to know her since the 2nd!

We were scheduled to leave on the 30th but hurricane Sandy prevented us from doing that, so we left the following day and arrived here in Kinshasa the night of November 1st.

I am very behind in my posts and am sorry for that:(
As the days got closer and closer to leaving I was very overwhelmed mentally and emotionally. We were making a risky decision to travel prior to having Maidas visa issued, then getting word that DGM, the office here who issues the required exit letter would require at least a seven day stay in country. Everything we had planned for at this point, ( a five day stay) was becoming obsolete and we were now having to make new plans and it was all very unsettling as we tried to figure out what was best to do with the new information.

Several others families were traveling at or around the end of the month so we decided to jump on board and go then too. We decided a two week stay would be as safe as you can predict here for getting the needed papers in order. It is looking like that was a wise decision as our visa has been issued but we are still waiting on our exit letter. Today is Thursday and we are scheduled to leave Monday.

I was homesick before we even left. I cried about leaving my family and was crying with joy and excitement at the thought of being so close to meeting my new daughter. I as a mess but here I am now sitting next to this new treasure from God!

We met up with two families at Dulles airport and our in- country co-ordinator.  We all were able to fly together all the way to Kinshasa and are staying at the same place which has been wonderful and comforting.
We have been able to watch other children from Maidas orphanage be united with their families. To be sure you know who "we" is, my daughter Gabriella is my traveling companion. Her heart is for the orphan and has been my right arm in this whole process. One day she hopes to be in northern china working with the North Korean orphans along the border. This was a great opportunity for her to experience a third world country and help out in the orphanages.
My husband and I decided to use our in-country co-ordinator as a family escort so he could stay at home with the rest of the family knowing we were in safe and competent hands as long as we were with her.
She and Papa J are invaluable. Both do a great deal of work for this process. She in the states, and he here with the children. While in country he is our driver and translator. We are so thankful for them.

Our connection here is very very slow and unpredictable but if possible will post more updates and try to upload some photos soon.

She is wonderful. Smaller than we thought and spunkier than we thought lol!


Monday, October 22, 2012

One Day At Time Little One...

Today is embassy day. I have been feeling a wide range of emotions:


As each day gets closer to traveling, I am understanding more about the losses my little daughter has faced, and know more is to come when I pick her up.

She has already been through so much. She has lost home and family, and now she is about to loose her country, and the familiar surroundings of the orphanage and the workers whose faces she knows. Whose language she speaks.

This isn't a post of regret but a post about acknowledging the pain and hardship my daughter has gone through and will continue to go through until she begins to trust in her tomorrows with her new family.
My arrival most likely will bring more pain, more hardship for her. For awhile anyway and that grieves this mothers heart.

Adoption is a good thing. For families, for children. But it's a hard thing too, because it stems from loss.

My hope and prayer is that my family, myself and my God will be a healing salve to her broken heart and life. My hope and prayer is that I will be the momma she needs and deserves and we will keep her connected to the culture she came from while at the same time giving her a new country to grow up in. I don't want to take any more from this sweet child. I only want to add to her life. The Congo will always be a part of my daughters life and it will always be a part of this family's future.

Thank you for this new child of mine. Be with her today as she sits and wonders about this appointment she goes to. An appointment that will change her life for ever. Use this day to usher in blessings from your heart to hers. Keep her for me. Prepare her heart for her new life. Give me the ability to understand her heart and needs. And allow me to be a gracious momma that will always care for her first mom, the one who gave her life. Help me to be a sweet blessing to her all the days of her life. Teach me how to teach her of your love and goodness. Change me so that she will know you through me.
Allow her to receive my love, our family's love. But most importantly your love. Help me to love her as you do.

Thank you God for Maida. Thank you for creating her and allowing me to share in her life.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Counting down to Embassy Date....

                                                               Embassy Date!

We are in the last stretch. The agonzing, terrifying, can't wait any longer stretch. Will this day be the day we hear all is right regarding Maida's final paperwork and we can go and meet our daughter and bring her home?

If they accept her paperwork, we could get her visa very soon after and travel by the end of the month. If they ask for more information... it could drag out for who knows how long. Not knowing which direction it will go until we get there is SO difficult.

Sometimes reading the blogs of others who are or have adopted from the DRC can add to my already anxious heart. There are examples of visa's being issued days after the embassy appointment and examples of visas not being issued after MONTHS of the embassy appointment.
Wondering what will our story be? When is she going to have a home and family?

One of the reasons (not ours), that people adopt from Congo is the short adoption process. Well that is true for some, but not for everyone; and irregardless of that, in my book six months is too long for any child not to have a family. A mother and father who know them and care about them and share in their day to day life.
Six months of Maida's life I know something about... that she has been without family. And that breaks my heart and I want that to end for her.

Every morning I wake up and acknowledge another business day is over in Kinshasa. Has the needed work been done today so that my daughter can have a family this month? A forever mom, dad, brother and sisters? I hope so. I'm praying so. Please pray with me....


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Heart, Health, and Hair

On the ride home from church last night I was trying to sort through priorities in caring for Maida. You know, things to focus on.

 I am a goal setter, a task driver my kids would say;), but I like to know what the need is, what needs to be done, and then get busy in meeting those needs.

I've determined for Maida, initially, it is her:




                                                                                       and Hair    

So much could be said about the heart of this precious child.
 Not enough could be said on how important it is to nurture and care for it.

 Every childs heart should be a priority to its parents. Parents need to live intentional lives, and make decisions that show their children they are loved and how to love. Too often it seems, parents are focused on what their children become in regards to an occupation or accomplishments rather than focusing on who they are, and who they will become as an individual; a person.

I've told my children repeatedly that who they are is more important to me that what they do. I am the first to brag on their accomplishments and achievements. But their greatest achievements and how I measure how they are doing in life is this: Do they know they are loved? Are they secure in that?  Do they love others? Will they give their shirt off their back when someone else needs it? Are they committed to family?  To their faith and Creator? Can they forgive? Do they have empathy and compassion and have the courage to act upon those sentiments for the sake of another? Are they courageous to stand up for whats right, and for the rights of others? Are they kind, and caring to not only those who are easy to love, but those whom it takes effort to?

All of those traits are important for a healthy society, a healthy community, a healthy church. We do need carpenters,pastors, politicians, Dr.s, nurses ect. But if all we have is people providing a service without those traits, without healthy hearts we have an empty society. Empty homes, empty communities, empty churches and empty people.

My first job as Maida's mom is to convince her I love her, and that she can trust me. Thats what we do with children who come to us through birth. Responding to their needs. Showing them through the expressions on our face we think they are amazing and wonderful. Again and again and again. For birth children it doesn't take long to gain their trust if you are responding to them and their needs with love, enthusiasm, compassion and faithfulness. But it will be our job for the rest of their lives to prove to them that we love them, that we can be counted on being there for them when they need us. That responsibility never ends.  Because we will always be their parents. We will always have a job to do towards our children. Things do change and should change as they get older, and get married and move on with their own lives and families. But we will be their parents for the rest of our lives. And we will always need to take the time to show them we love them based upon who they are and what their needs are. Not our own.

For Maida, it will most likely take much longer for her to trust me and our family. She has learned at a very early age that life is hard and unpredictable and grownups come and go and her needs are not important to anyone. She has learned something that no one should ever have to learn:
 I have no one for me.

That is a terrible thing, and nothing any child or any person should ever have to feel. When people don't have healthy hearts they have nothing of great value to offer another. The greatest gift Maida can ever give to someone else is her heart. The only way that can ever happen is if she gets a healthy heart and that responsibility is mine. My husbands. Our family's. Our God.
I am HUMBLED beyond words that God would give me the privelege of pouring out His love for me into the heart of another. His first opportunity to show He loved me was through the love of my own parents for me and my brothers and sister. How cool is that? He always has set up for us provision for when we need it. At birth was my first opportunity to know what love was. For many, too many, parents abdocate that responsibility and the first opportunity to develop a healthy heart in their child is gone. That is not God's fault. That is peoples fault. Parents fault. Families fault. All my children were and are gifts. Gifts that come with responsibility. If we are faithful to that responsibility we are blessed immeasureably with a mutual loving relationship with our children.
Maida most probably was loved by her birth mom. I will believe that Maida was allowed to be adopted because her mom loved her and wanted whats best for her. I know she wanted to protect her. Otherwise she would of been left on the streets. She wasn't. That is a good start for Maida. Since then though, she has experienced the loss of family and being a special someone, to someone. There may be many obstacles that we must face as a family to build a bridge of trust in Maida towards us, so that she will allow her heart to feel, and grow, and regain lost ground in having a healthy, trusting, loving heart. Maida's little heart has been handed from one momma to another. I take that job seriously and with joy, humility and appreciation.

Next in line, which is just about as important to me as her heart;
Her health.
She will need first and foremost to be checked out by a doctor or several doctors to assess her overall health. No one  who lives in the DRC has an optimal diet. Without proper nutrition over a long period of time there are sure to be ramifications somewhere. We need to know if and where those ramifications have manifested in her sweet precious little body. So this mama is all gung ho to do everything in her power to heal her  body of it's deficits nutritionally. For anyone who knows me, you know what myself and my family eat and drink is EXTREMELY important. Again, if you love your child you do whats best for them, and commericial pre-packaged food is not food! Yes it takes more time, more thought and more preperation which equals more work, and sometimes more money if it's completely impossible for you to grow your own food in order to feed them with God's provision, rather than the quick heat and eat solution our multi-billionaire food corporations hand out to you.

Mothers (or dads), were meant to feed their children with Gods provision. NOT C.O.R.P.O.R.A.T.I.O.N.S! If you are too busy to feed your family well, shuffle busy to the bottom of the list of priorities when it stands in the way of doing whats best and needed. It can be done! Your talking to a mom who had five children (all homeschooled) to care for without a husband or the helping physical hands of extended family because they lived out of state for most of the 9years I was a single mom. Start a community garden project in your neighborhood if you don't have the room to grow some of your own food, and buy from local farmers instead of giant food chains. Trust me, their money and time is not with the health of you and your family in mind:/

There are common ingredients in almost all commericial food that is the underlying cause of cancer, diabetes, heart diesease, allergies, and mood/thought impairments and obesity. Seriously, pick up something from the soup aisle then go to another aisle and another and see what ingredients are listed commonly in them all.! TIP: they sometimes change the names of ingredients but if you study you will find out it is the same thing!
 As a mom I wanted to know what was in things and why they were there and are they truly healthy if they are not a direct food source but an ingredient that has been heated up, blown up and made in a lab rather than a kitchen and then synthetic additives added to ensure a long shelf life, addiction and cheap commodities so that people will think they are getting a DEAL. NOT.

So with much enthusiasm... food and nutrition is a priority in preparing for Maida:) I am trying to keep the type of foods she is currently eating (fish, rice, beans), available to her, but a little more healthier and cleaner and slowly add in some good fats, like avocado, cod liver oil, nuts and protien from free range meat and wild caught fish. Greens, greens, greens, is the super food, and will juice for her kale, and spinach, beets, ginger, celery and carrots with apple. Very slowly.
 I hope to limit her completely from any sugar, but know many parents will take lollipops and treats as a means to foster some willingness to walk off with strangers when they are picked up from their orphanage.. (ugg doesn't that sound horrible?)
I am SURE I will have some on hand  if the need arises. I do have conflicted feelings about taking it and giving them out to the other children while visiting her orphanage. It's so hard! I wish there was a better way and healthier way to give them a sweet special treat. Their health is already so compromised and then to throw sugar on top of an already compromised body... hhmmmm..... I think I will look to the advice and thoughts from others who have gone before us on this one...

Last that leaves us with Hair!

I am studying up like crazy! Even though my children are biracial I still have much to master so that Maida will not be embarassed by her white mamas incompetencies regarding her hair:) I aim to not humiliate her or myself, so I am learning a great deal at www. chocolatehairvanillacare.com. I want her to like her hair, and be proud of it and not be annoyed with me or herself for the care it requires.
I am working on getting educated, and geared up with products but I am hoping for some grace time to grow into it when she first gets home. I think that shaved head she was sporting a couple of months ago may be a good thing after all!


Monday, September 17, 2012


Last week we were told our i600 approval could take 75 days! I was so heartbroken I spent the day in bed.
Our file had not even been assigned to an officer yet when I made that call. Well guess what people?!

 God stepped in...


 We got our approval today! Five days later! Not 75!

Our last fundraiser in Palm Springs over the weekend was a miracle in itself. So much planning and preperation and sacrifice from the musicians and their families. Hardly anyone came, and one of the groups who volunteered to play who are very  special to us had one of their cars loose a transmission on the way down to Palm Springs and they still came to play and almost NO ONE but a couple families showed up! I was heart broken but mostly for them. You do not know how much you missed by not being there to listen to amazing young talent that God has given to these kids.

Event tho it was a flop attendence wise, $1500.00 was raised by the few who came! Talk about humbling.

Moving on... with this new development we have an URGENT need of $5,000. Someone has stepped in and contributed for our air fare. $5,000 is all we have left to raise. We have come so far and are so close, but we must raise this money and soon!

A thousand of that five is Maida's ticket fare!

Please, tell your friends to come to this blog and donate! Just click on the button at the top left. $5, $10, $20, $50. Any amount helps!

We also have six boxes of candy bars left. They are $96. each. You could buy one and turn around and sell them each for $2 and not of lost ANYTHING. Please pray for us and help us in anyway you can.

The Lyles Family


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Music Benefit Concert

Tonight is our last Music Benefit Concert in Palm Springs!
Here is a sneak peak of some of  the musicians you will be seeing...

My daughter Kadeeja featured at 0:30

and friend/teacher (playing on the left):

a flautist friend James who is playing the flute at 1:14 in this David Choi music video!

And some new friends of ours with a wonderful testimony: DeliverUs:

Hope to see you there!

Our Saviors Lutheran Church
1020 E. Ramon Rd.
Palm Springs, Ca

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Digging In and Getting Serious

Everyday we are closer to bringing home a little girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo! Not just any girl mind you... our girl:)

Our family and friends are feeling the excitement and we are all working together very hard to raise the remaining funds to bring this precious little gem home.

(Maida eating rice and cassava leaves)

We are out almost daily selling candy bars and promoting the next Music Benefit Concert which is coming up this Saturday at Our Saviours Lutheran Church in Palm Springs, Ca

We need your help! Please share our story and our need with your friends, family, co-workers and church. At this point not a day can be wasted! We are running out of time. We must have the final funds sent to our agency and the money to book our flights for when that call comes.

Our goal this week is to sell 20 boxes of Helen Grace candy bars by Friday! A box is $96.
There are 48 in a box and each box contains a variety of flavors. If you would like to help but can't afford to buy a whole box, ask some friends to go in with you and you can divvy them up, give them away or use them for all the harvest festivals that will be coming up.

All you have to do is contact me and say YES! I want to help you bring home Maida! Send me a box!
Payments can be made with just a click on the paypal button on the top right hand corner of this blog. Email me how many boxes you want, your address and phone number and make the payment here on my blog! Easy Peesey Right??

My email is: lullabiesacrossthesea@yahoo.com

I need 20 people, businesses or churches to send me an email saying YES! by Friday night at midnight. Will you be one of those people?


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Updates on God's Blessings

You all need to know how God has blessed us these past couple weeks!

1. We have Maida's passport so we were able to send off our 1600! It is a form that asks our U.S. government to classify her as an immediate relative. Once we have that, it will only be weeks before we can travel to be united with her.

2. First music fundraiser was amazing in so many ways! Our family has been blessed beyond measure by many wonderful and gifted musicians who have collaborated with our daughters to give of their time and talents.

3. Yard sale was a success! Thank you everyone for your help and contributions!

4. Total raised:$3000.00. Praise the Lord!

I'm waiting on video and photographs from the first fundraiser. As soon as I get them I will share with you too:)

Until then, enjoy a picture of our sweet little girl across the sea...


Friday, August 24, 2012

This Is For You Baby!

                                   Tomorrow is the big day!

Everyone has worked so hard these past few weeks practicing and preparing for this night.  You will be so blessed by so many young talented classical musicians. Come support them and our adoption!

Here are some photo's of some of our practice days:

Bella and her best friend Bethany will be singing "Truly Scrumptious"!
Bella correcting me when I messed up on the words lol:)
Mom and Grandma... can't wait to add Maida to this mix!
Grandma's heart melts with this precious gem.
My son Andrew, Rylie's Daddy:)
Aunt Bella with her niece Rylie
Tia and Eunice
There are so many more wonderful photo memories we have made and I will be sure to share on another day. My daughter-in-love Amy handles most of the photography and after the concert tomorrow night I will get them posted.
I would like to take the time to mention the group DELIVERUS. We have only recently met them and they volunteered to play at the fundraiser. They have such a wonderful testimony and we have loved getting to know them. Their website is: deliverusensemble.com. You can also find them on youtube.
Another special mention is a talented young vocalist Rebecca Lopez. We can't wait to hear her sing tomorrow. Her website is rebeccalopez.com
Check them out to get a taste of what tomorrow's performances will be like. You won't be dissapointed!
To end the concert all 30 musicians will be singing the song by Josh Wilson: I REFUSE