Friday, November 30, 2007

Old-Fashioned Fun.


Apparently, Nia has teased Clive one too many times about seasoning his food with red pepper. Today at lunch all the red pepper had mysteriously disappeared. Nobody knew anything about it. Nia searched the kitchen over, even the fridge for her Precious, but it was no where to be found. I continued saying, "Hmm. That's so odd. The pepper was right here on the counter all morning." Finally, Clive fessed up. He had HAD it with the pepper threats. We talked things through and Nia agreed to stop teasing him about adding it to his food. He retreated to his room and came out holding all the red pepper.

I was just about at the end of my rope today from general stress of having 6 children between the ages of 3-8, one of which is particularly trying lately. I had considered walking out the front door and locking it behind me so the kids would be safe inside whilst I drove away as far as my gas tank would allow. But God had a different plan in mind. I stumbled onto another mom's blog about being unplugged from TV and all electronic games. Wow, I thought. What bliss....except for all that time I'd have to come up with things for them to do. She just so happened to have many resources and suggestions for play. I took her advice and pulled out some boxes, markers, and crayons and just let the kids go to town with it all. I put on Erin O'Donnell's jazzy Christmas CD, and there was peace at 315 Hancock for about one hour. I've wanted to go Unplugged for several years, but it just seems like an insurmountable task. I think we'd all go through some withdrawal for at least a few weeks before we figured out we could read, play games, and even talk to each other. We don't have Xbox, Wii, or other games I know nothing about. We don't even have cable. However, I still find that we all manage to congregate a little too much in front of screens for mindless entertainment. I'm not poo-pooing TV, so don't go there with me.

So what started out with me wanting to bail on my family this morning ended up as an Okay Day. They even played outside together, and Nia finally wore the little brown tennis shoes I bought her. I guess climbing a fence is daunting in soccer slides. She even tried on the tights and leggings I bought, too. Never mind that she laughed her head off (the Throw Back Your Head kind of laugh) the entire time she wrestled with the tights. At least she tried.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Our Family- ALLLLL 8 of Us

Matt Here: This is us at Thanksgiving in East TN at Angel's mom's house. Kids Left to Right: Jacob (8), Hudson (5), Clive (6.5), Nia (8). On the fence Left to Right: Eva (3), Isabel (3.5)

Hot Pepper

It's been a week since I've posted. We had a good Thanksgiving at my mom's, with all my brothers and their families. My brother, Jeff, let Nia use his digital camera for the day. She took about 400 pictures in a matter of hours.

I bought Nia some powdered red pepper that lasted about 5 days before she finished it all. She covers her food with it until it's all red. I ate a small bite of food with that stuff and my mouth was on fire for 1/2 hour. My sinuses, however, were cleared for the day.

Nia has moments of moodiness, pouting, and outright defiance. It's very difficult when she gets mad at us and won't tell us why. She just pouts and ignores us. Personally, God must be pouring out extra mercy and grace on me to keep me from tearing into her when this happens. Amazingly, I've been fairly patient (so far). It's one thing when a 3-yr-old won't get out of the car at church, but another when your 8-yr-old won't budge.

Nia has experienced one nightmare that has brought her into our room in the middle of the night with pajamas soaked from sweat. It was the first time she came to us for any comfort. She said that a large black dog was speaking to her and trying to steal her spirit. I asked if she was talking about Ox, and she said, "No. It wasn't Ox." I truly feel that this child is being tortured by demonic spirits at times. Witch doctors and curses are prevalent in Liberia. If we think that America isn't plagued by demons, then we are fooling ourselves. The enemy has us so pre-occupied with TV, computers, sports, fashion, etc. that he doesn't have to be as blatant with us. Anyway, she refused to go back into her room even in broad daylight without me the next day. She now sleeps with a lamp on. We pray over her every night for protection against harm and fear.

In spite of our difficult times, I am blessed that for several mornings in a row she has come into our room around 6am and climbed into bed with us. It gives us some cuddle time that we don't get throughout the day. She still resists our hugs and kisses (ever tried hugging a tree? They don't hug back). God has really been showing me that it's not Nia's job to give me positive feedback or hugs to fill my tank. It's my job to keep loving her (with His help) and to look to Him to fill my tank.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Nia has been terrified of Ox, our Chesapeake Bay Retriever/Rottweiler, ever since she first laid eyes on him. She has essentially been a prisoner in our home, watching the other kids through the window while they play outside. This morning one of the kids accidentally let Ox in the house and I heard a shrill scream. I ran to the kitchen to find Nia standing on the table while Ox ate her precious boiled eggs that she had labored over (peeling, chopping, seasoning). After we got him outside she stood at the window and stared longingly for the great outdoors. With much coaxing and reassuring, I was able to get her outside with me. I told her not to run (he'll think she wants to play Chase), and not to scream (he'll think there's a reason he needs to attack her). Just stand still. In a matter of 10 minutes she was throwing his tennis ball, telling him to Sit, and saying Good Boy to him. Amazing. Free at last!

Our other big YAY is teaching her some computer. I've got her on , which not only teaches her some reading skills, but also gives her a chance to learn how to use the mouse, etc. She's really caught on quick to both.

Tomorrow is the big Thanksgiving Day at Grandmama Peggy's. Looking forward to introducing my family to my daughter.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Isabel and Nia doing a puzzle


Life with Nia in the house means I'm on my toes as long as she's awake. Her curiosity draws her to test any and all new things, like the DVD player, microwave, stove knobs, dishwasher, door alarm, light switches, toilet handle, and so forth. It's like having a very tall toddler, not just in this curiosity, but developmentally, as well. She just can't seem to get enough of teasing her brothers and sisters. I remember when my brother told me not to cross the carpet line that separated the hallway from his bedroom. Like any good little sister, I edged my toe ever so slowly across that line. Nia is the same, just looking for opportunities to get under someone's skin.

That said, tonight she put herself to work in the kitchen. There is nary a dirty dish nor countertop to be found. When asked at supper what her favorite part of the day was, she replied, "washing the dishes." I have the shiniest kitchen sink in town tonight because of my daughter's relentless scrubbing. Thank you, God! If it were not for these moments of blessings, like how she sings when she does a puzzle, I'd be on heavy medication this week. Fortunately, I've only had to partake of a few glasses of wine so far. (Hi, mom. I'm not an alcoholic.)

I think Nia has a creative streak in her that I am eager to see flourish. She has great attention to detail in her drawings and penmanship. Getting to know her is like de-riddling Clues to a Secret Hidden Treasure Chest. A jewel worth pursuing.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Daughter is a Christmas Tree

I'm letting Nia have some freedom of expression with her wardrobe. For Sundays I insist on her picking between 2-3 outfits that I've pre-approved, but for other days I've decided to let her throw caution to the wind. Today she looks like a Christmas Tree. She has managed to combine yellow, green, pink, and a sparkly red t-shirt together. She just needs a star on top. My only consolation is that people will think she's my foster child when we're out in public. Just kidding - please don't send me flaming responses.

I've also given her a little freedom in the kitchen....adding coffee to her milk, etc. We're still hiding the salt (behind the peanut butter, remember?)

Yesterday was a good visit with our friends, The Allisons, who have umpteen number of bio kids and Liberian children adopted from Nia's orphanage. Per their daughter who interpreted for us, Nia doesn't understand a lot of what we say, but she is happy to be here. Whew!

I bought a beautiful notebook to record things that Nia would tell us about her 8 years in Liberia. You know, things she'll forget over time. The notebook is still empty. I'll just have my pen handy when the time comes.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Out in public

Matt here:

The Pregont clan made their first public appearance today. We went to church
and then tested the waters even more by going to the mall.

The looks we got at the mall were funny!!! Mouths open wide in surprise
type reactions. Then when we met the Allisons who brought 7 of their 13
children; 4 of their girls are from the same orphanage as Nia. It was nice
for Nia to see some friends. It was nice for us to get encouragement from
parents who've been there done that.

It was a cold shoulder morning and afternnon from Nia. She cried all the
way to church because of the dress Angel picked out.

She is doing much better now. What a roller coaster!!! Never dull.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Today has been better. I was doing a 100-piece puzzle on the floor with Nia and she started singing to herself. My heart lept! or leaped, whatever. I didn't say anything about her singing for fear she would stop. It meant so much to me that she was relaxed and comfortable enough to let go a little.

We've also discovered that Nia is no stranger to a drum. She gave us a small demonstration on the one we brought home from Liberia. She's like an onion that we keep peeling back new layers on.

I was flipping through a toy catalogue we received in the mail and found "NIA" written on quite a few of the babydoll toys and the bicycle. Made me smile because I used to lay in the floor, pen in hand, and mark up the Sears Christmas catalogue when I was a little girl. I guess some things are universal?

She makes this clucking or clicking noise with her tongue sometimes when she wants to say 'no.' I suppose there's no use wasting breath on words when you can just cluck.

I can't remember if I've mentioned her Salt Craving. She adds salt to everything, even pretzels and popcorn. We actually caught her with a handful just going to town on it. She put it in her water, too. I'm certain there's a deficiency in her body that accounts for this extreme craving. We don't have a doctor's appointment until Dec 10. Until then, the salt shaker is hidden behind the peanut butter in the pantry. I write this more for my own benefit when I forget where I've put it, so I can read my blog and find out.

That's pretty much it for today. I'm very well spent emotionally, physically, mentally. I would include Spiritually, except that God has given me special treats these past few days, just for me. Little things that He knows mean something to me. I love how He knows me so well, and how He cares enough to lift my head when I am weary.


Friday, November 16, 2007

My "gift" to Nia

My "gift" to Nia wasn't exactly what she expected. It was Discipline. It's been a tough week with her challenging my authority at times. I've given lots of grace and lots of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances. Finally, this morning, I had to take some action. It was mild action, but it brought her to tears. I held her and told her I loved her. Told her that I'm glad she's here. She was very cool to me afterwards, but she did start obeying me.

A dear friend (Donna Fulkerson) offered to give me a much-needed break this afternoon, which I jumped at! While I was out, I worried how Nia would receive me when I came home. I walked through the front door and she was the first one to run down the hall grinning from ear to ear, with arms outstretched. It was almost like the first time she ran to me at the orphanage. Thank you, God, for this greeting! I struggle between wanting to be both a Friend and a Mommy. I want her to like me (Friend), but I need her to obey me (mommy) and I can't be all fun and games and ice cream and candy all the time. So hard! With my other 5 kids I'm not overly concerned if they like me or if they want to go live with friends. With Nia, I catch myself wanting to please her and win her affections. But God didn't call me to be her best friend; He called me to be her mommy. I have had to remind myself of this numerous times these past few days. I'm having lots of "Help Me, Jesus" Days. It's only with His help that I can even remotely parent any of my children. But this child who probably feels so alone and misunderstood in this new world......And this mommy who longs for a relationship with her...... We both need to be cradled by The Father.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nia's Gift to Me

Angel here. Yesterday just went from bad to worse for poor Nia. We brought our dog, Ox, home from friends who kept him while we were gone. Ox's name is a great description of his size. He's a black Rottweiler, Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix. He can easily rest his chin on a kitchen table without straining. Anyway, when we put him in the back of the van, Nia scrambled out of her seat, up to the front, and out the door. She was screaming from sheer terror and clinging to me. It took no small amount of explaining that he wouldn't come near her in the van and that he was a Good Boy. Once we got home, any sight of him peering through the back door sent her racing to the front of the house screaming for dear life.

Last night she lay on her bed with tears streaming. Again, no audible crying, but the tears were there. I "spooned" with her for a while before asking if she'd like to come sit with me in the living room. When she agreed, I had to control my excitement! We both layed on the couch with her in front of me, leaning back against my chest. What a GIFT! She ended up sleeping between me and Matt in our bed all night.

As for Ox, well, that will just take time. She doesn't know he'd tear a stranger apart for her if he thought Nia would be harmed. So many things in this process have reminded me of how God wants to give us good things, but we so often settle for mediocre or even less. Ox is scary to her, but he would protect her with his life. Leaving the familiarity of the orphanage to come with strangers to a world of total differences, all for the sake of being part of a family.... So much trust.....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hard Day for Nia

Angel here. This morning has been so crazy. Nothing in particular, just seems like everybody is running around like chickens with heads cut off.

Someone came to re-braid Nia's hair because most of her African braids had fallen out. I noticed that tears were running down her face while she sat there. No crying, just tears. Then, of course, my eyes welled up, too. I just got down on eye level and held her. Told her it's okay to be sad, to miss her friends, to miss her familiar food. She never said anything to me and didn't return the hug, but that's okay. I knew eventually emotion would have to come out somehow. I'm sure there's enough tears stored up in her heart to fill a tank. Hopefully, as she learns to trust us and gets more comfortable having a family she will open up gradually. I ended up calling a friend who adopted a teenager 2 years ago from Nia's orphanage. I asked the teen to talk to Nia and reassure that everything will be okay, it just takes time. The phone call seemed to help for now.

Please whisper a prayer for her today, and for me to know how to love her well during this HUGE life transition for her.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nothn' Like a Big Sister

Nothn' like a big sister to do your hair!! Yes, this is the art work of Nia. Eva sat for 1.5 hours as her new big sis corn rowed her hair. Nia's new doll also got corn rows.
When I got home from work and saw Eva I wanted to get out my Jackson 5 Greatest Hits.
Today is one of those rare "my kids are so talented" days. Since this is my blog, I'm going to brag on two in particular. Nia- holy cow can she braid hair. For an 8 year old, she has talent!!!
Secondly, Jacob wrote a piano song. He wrote down some notes he is learning and created two lines of music. It actually sounded good. Because I can't read music, I'm not sure the notes he played are same as what he wrote down (Angel just confirmed that they are).
Gotta go and get Clive out of the bath tub. With Nia home the boys can no longer run nude around the house, me neither :-)

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Pictures

This is Nia this morning. She didn't want to wear pants today, she really likes dresses.

This is Nia right after her braids were put in.

Sorry, no pictures of the entire clan yet.

Gatcha Video

This is the video of Nia and Angel meeting for the first time. Nia ran so fast to Angel that I didn't have time to film it.

A Stranger in My House

Angel here.

I just wanted to make sure I'm not presenting an overly rosy view of adoption, and thought I'd comment a little on how I'm feeling about things.

In many ways I feel more like an auntie or nanny than a mommy. There's so much to teach her. The list is endless. I figured out today that she can write her name, but she can't read. Not a lick. It helps me know where to start with homeschooling. Don't know about math, yet. But schoolwork aside, there's just so much to teach about practical everyday things. From using a toilet that flushes to taking a bath. She insists on standing up in the bathtub and splashing herself with the water. BRRR!

Anyway, if you've seen Anne of Green Gables, you'll understand when I say I feel more like Marilla. There's a girl in my house that I don't know, but desperately WANT to know. I'm trying to give her some space to trust us and learn how to be a daughter. Being a sister is coming easy for her.....she's already helping Eva get dressed and holds her hand when we are in a parking lot. Our other children are unknowingly modeling family behavior for her, and I suspect much of what she learns will come from observing them. In the most insecure place in my heart, I want to know that she's glad she came home with us. She's still self-protecting, which is understandable. I can't even imagine the bravery it took to board an airplane with us. It's this same kind of spitfire and courage that has probably kept her alive these many years.

So, I'll just end by saying that adoption is a big commitment. It's a terrifying leap of faith. It's a journey of trusting God to lead me and give me wisdom. It's more about the child, than about me. It's not about trying to do something noble. It's all about what God wants to do through this experience to show Himself off. He wants to Be Big in our lives! He wants to Be Big in MY life.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Friends, Angel here. We are finally at home in Nashville, TN after traveling approximately 40 hours since Friday. We came home to Welcome signs, a cleaned house, and yummy food! Thanks to our friends who gave themselves away to us. We feel so blessed to have you.

Nia got her hair braided with extensions on Friday. It's the equivalent of an American girl getting her first pair of earrings. Such a long-awaited for event for her. After 5 hours of sitting for her braids to get done, she finally emerged a beaming little girl.

A few things about Nia.... She's still not talking, only to answer Yes or No. I'm sure she's more than overwhelmed. Still, I'd like to hear what her voice sounds like! She really doesn't need to ask many questions since Isabel (3yrs) has given her the low-down on being part of the Pregont family and living in America.

She endured many Firsts on the way home....escalators, automatic faucets in airport bathrooms, toilets, flushing, airplanes, spaghetti, pizza, chocolate cake (which did not go over well), magna-doodle, play-dough, and on and on and on. She approaches all new foods with much caution and trepidation. Sweets are not high on the list, which thoroughly confuses me, having been quite the conisseur for years myself. Apparently, it only takes a mouse-sized bite to gain her approval or be rejected forever. Favorites so far include chicken, rice (of course), potatoes, chicken nuggets, french fries, apple juice, hot dogs, and any/all forms of bread. Rejects include muffins, chocolate cake, milk, veggies, fruit, corn, salad, spaghetti.

I forgot to mention this story on her first night with us....We were laying in bed and she was playing with a pink teddy bear that Isabel had sent her. The bear had a bandana around its neck, which Nia promptly untied and made into a Dew-Rag (sp?) for the bear's head.

Another funny....I told the boys that they needed to talk slower to make sure Nia understood them. So, when Clive wanted to show her where Aunt Stacey kept the toys he said, "Nia.......... Come..........Here.........." He cracks me up!

Anyways, she is sleeping soundly in her new bed. We are trying to keep her from freezing to death since she's not used to the colder weather.

If you're still ready our blog at this point, you are to be commended. We will probably put a few more posts on, as well as some pics.

We in the States!!!

We are here in Chicago. We stayed the night with my sister. Nia has met 3 of
her 5 siblings- Jacob, Clive and Izzy. Izzy hasn't stopped talking since we
arrived. Clive keeps saying "Nia doesn't talk to us much." This is true for
the whole trip.

Nia was a great traveler. She slept and played with her toys. We got through
Immigration and Customs easily.

We finally had good movies on our flight. Evan Almighty had me gut laughing.

As I type this it is 10:08am CST and we just stopped at a Starbucks in
Maryville, just South of Chicago. We are still on schedule to arrive between
6pm and 7pm.

I almost forgot that I can now use credit cards. Dang what happened in the
Middle East while I was gone? Gas prices are crazy. It is $3.19 a gallon in

Friday, November 09, 2007

Picture of Nia

Yes, China Reunion friends she is wearing last year's reunion shirt. She loves red.

Angel just showered her and now she is back coloring. Still not talking much.

Oh, by the way we did meet the birth mother yesterday. The birth mother also wants to say good-bye to Nia today. We have mixed emotions about this. Nia saw me downloading a picture of her mother and said "that's my ma." We asked if she wanted to say good-bye to her and she does want to. I just asked her again to be safe. Granted she is so young I'm not sure if she would be honest with me.

We are excited to be packing our bags this morning. Our flight leaves at 6:50pm tonight.

Going to eat breakfast and have coffee.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

mom's phone number

Paul Sanderson,
Here is my mom's number.... 865-382-8800. Her name is Peggy.


We Have Her!!!!

Matt here.

We have her, she is sitting right next to me coloring in her coloring book. We have her VISA and Immigration documents. I can now sleep knowing that we have what we need to bring her to America!!!

When we pulled up at the orphanage she had my Red Sox hat on. She was carrying a little plastic wrap bag of pepper. The hat the pepper was all she wanted to take with her. We went to her room and kept asking her if she wanted to take anything home her her. "No, Dah noothin." As Americans we can hardly believe that living in a place for over 5 years and you have nothing to take with you? How free is that!?

Nia talked to her brothers and sisters and grandmas tonight. Isabel talked to her non-stop, I took the phone and Isabel was still talking non-stop not even aware that someone else was on the line, then said, "Okay. I'll talk to you more when you come home."

It really is like having a daughter who speaks a foreign language. She doesn't always understand us. She is sooooo quiet. She ate spaghetti tonight, but we are not sure if she liked it.

angel here. Picking Nia up at the orphanage was harder emotionally than I imagined. Right before we left, her friend just stood next to her and started to weep audibly. That's when I lost it. Nia just looked at the ground and dabbed her eyes with her shirt. It was very, very difficult to leave those kids.

When Nia took me to her room I asked what she wanted to take home with her. Nothing. I asked again to make sure she understood. Again, nothing. So she left that place with only the clothes on her back, flip flops on her feet, and Matt's Boston Redsox baseball cap on her head.

Her hands rested on our legs the whole ride home, and her eyes were glued to the scenery. She said nothing and showed hardly any emotion other than an occasional grin. It's a little awkward now that we are all 3 in our room. We're trying just to go about our business and not make her the center of attention. Nobody feels comfortable with other people staring at them. I was able to ascertain that her favorite color is red, which makes sense she's clad in red from head to toe.


Can you tell me if Saide gave you my daughter's birth cert yet? Also possibly the DiMaria's also.
Are you leaving on Fri?
Have a wonderful trip. Pack clothes in your carry on incase of delays at airports!!!

Rain and Waiting

Angel here. We have been sitting around all day waiting for the call that the Visa is in hand and the time has come to visit the orphanage. I'ts 1:45pm here. I've paced, read, slept, played solitaire, eaten, sighed, fussed, etc. I will go mad soon if there is no activity. The overnight and early morning rain will make some of the roads impassable. There's a chance we may have to park and then walk the rest of the way.

Just as I'm typing, Matt got a call that the birthmom is on her way here. More to come later today.....


(angel here)

Friends, Before I tell you about Jackson I'll answer some questions that have been posed.

We are going to make Nia's 8th birthday fall in the month of November. Her birth cert says she is 11yrs, but she is the size of a 7-8yr old. There's no need to put unnecessary pressure on her to feel like she has to perform at an age a few years older. She will end up being 2 months younger than our oldest son, Jacob, who turned 8 in September. I asked her the other day how old she is, and she answered, "8." So it won't be a big deal to her.

Also, we fly into Chicago on Saturday, and then drive 10 hours home on Sunday. I expect us to arrive between 6-7pm. My mom will have Eva and Hudson there at our house on Sunday afternoon.

Now, back to Jackson. Jackson is a Liberian man who reminds me of Joseph (coat of many colors). God has put him in circumstances that have lifted him out of the desperation of most Liberians. At a young age he was hired by a Swiss family to escort their child to school and play with him. He was then referred to other families and eventually ended up being placed in the same school as the Swiss and other families who were in Liberia working for a foreign company. This alone, is a miracle. During one of the Liberian wars, he took 125 children across the border into the Ivory Coast because they were in his care for a soccer game that day. He has managed to reunite all but 10 with their families. He now does ministry in the bush with children, teaching them the bible. One of the ways he teaches them is through childrens' DVDs of bible stories. He is in need of a new DVD laptop and would love to receive more DVDs. We have asked the missionaries here about him, and they say that he would be a good Liberian to support in terms of ministry. So, I'll just leave it out there for anyone who wants to consider helping Jackson with his children. He hopes to move his family (wife and 4 children) deep into the bush once he completes bible school here in Monrovia.

Jackson went with us today to help us buy some African gifts without being ripped off. He haggled with the locals for our price and saved us quite a bit of money. He's really just a joy to be around. Reminds me a lot of my dad.

Nia's birthmom did not show up yesterday. It's still a possibility, but our time is running out.

***We are going to the orphanage today to bring Nia home*****!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Birth Mother

We are sitting here waiting for the birth mother to come by. This is our first real experience with Liberian time; namely they have no urgency around time. The birth mother will come when she arrives, not at a certian time. Our agency has taken the iniative to set this up. This is not something we necessarily wanted, but we will make most of this opportunity.

The cynic in me is just waiting for a request for money, but I have hope that this is just a mother who needs reassurance of her daughter's welfare. We'll keep you updated.

The next two days we are in search of a drum.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

No Kenny So Far

Ok, I'll stop beating the Kenny horse. Angel doesn't think its funny anymore (as she now laughs)...

We are sitting on the porch feeling the cool breeze, watching the lightening, and listening to the thunder roll. This is the first time we can remember not sweating. When you are here you manage sweat like you manage your email inbox- it is always there, sometimes you get a break but it always comes back and most the time in a mass onslaught. Not to mention sweat, like your email, builds up overnight and makes you wish you never woke up.

I don't know about you, but all the tension around the Visa appointment has been exhausting. I know many of you are living vicariously through us and we appreciate you joining in on our journey. We can all sleep better tonight :-)

Times like these make me question why Angel and I put ourselves through this, wouldn't it be easier to do nothing? I don't blame most of you for asking the same question of us. I feel right now like you feel after a good workout- tired, exhausted, hurting, but you also feel good about what you did and that is bettering yourself. I know we've bettered our family for adding Nia to it, and I wouldn't change a thing.

Rest assured we aren't pursuing another adoption in the near future (aka Eva in college). We are putting the proverbial vasectomy on adoption for the Pregont's. The next chapter for adoption with Angel and I is to help families choose adoption and to support them through every facet of the process.

Both Hands Ministry is a ministry that helps orphans and widows. They will be working with us to help raise money for the costs associated with this adoption. We are excited what this will do for us, but even more excited what it will do for families who allow the cost of adoption to prevent them taking the step. To see a video about Both Hands, go to and choose the "Putting Faith in Action with Both Hands" video. More to come on the blog about our Both Hands Event.

Lastly, as we were going in to the Embassy with Nia, a Liberian man using crutches because he had one leg, asked if we were adopting her and taking her to America. We said "yes." He simply said "thank you." A very sincere thank you. Life in Liberia is rough and not easy. It surprised us that he wasn't jealous, but that appeared very happy for Nia.


Above is a picture of the newly renovated football (aka soccer) stadium.

This is the market/mall that I posted about before.

I may or may not have a picture of the former war lord's house?! I hear it is illegal to take a picture, so there is no admittance of guilt here, just a possibility of a picture that may or may not be able to be viewed from a certain Canon PowerShot SD400.

Visa Approved!!

Angel here. As we were pulling up to the embassy this morning, I noticed a row of people sitting on the curb out front. One of them was all teeth, smiling from ear to ear. I said, "Matt! She's here! They brought Nia!" She ran to the taxi before we even got out. It was so good to see her smile and hug her tight.

The consular brought us all into a small room, asked a few questions, did a few formalities, and said, "Come back Thursday for her Visa. She's such a pretty girl...looks like her new mommy." Matt and I nearly fell apart right then and there. Almost as if we've finally exhaled after 18 months of holding our breath. She's ours!!!! It's done!!! Nothing to do but pick up the Visa, then we'll fly out on Friday night.

We had to let her go back to the orphanage, but looked her firm in the eyes and said, "We'll come for you on Thursday. Have your things packed." The children for all 3 families interviewing today had traveled since early this morning to come, which meant they missed breakfast. I passed gum 'round to all 8 of them and broke up 2 granola bars. Just like the loaves and fish... God please let this food go farther in their hungry tummies.

Nia doesn't talk much, hardly at all so far. We're hoping she opens up more as time goes by. She has an infectious smile, which speaks volumes. She probably has mixed feelings of being elated to have a family, yet sad to leave friends behind who will probably never have a family. We can't wait to have her here with us, give her a good scrubbing in the shower and feed her til she can't eat any more.

Here's where God took me this morning when I was the only person awake....Nehemiah 4:14 Do not be afraid of them. Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome, and then fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Mercy Ship

Dang it, Kenny's back tonight. "know when to hold 'em, know when fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to ...? do you know?
Sorry this post just got up, got kicked out the internet right before I was about to post.

Tonight we visited the Mercy Ship. Go to to find more about them. Quick and dirty is they provide medical care and other outreach things to poor port cities. We got hooked-up with a denist on board from a family in our church and they hosted us for dinner. We took a tour of the ship, it was a little city, it even has a STARBUCKS!!!!! I had a double latte so I'll be up late tonight :-)

The cool thing is the denist lived in Nashville so we are planning to get together when they are in town at the end of the year. It is crazy the small world moments we've had here in Liberia. The missionary wife, Nancy, lived in my home town in WI and were best friends with people in my home church, and her twin sister lives in the same small East TN town that my mother-in-law lives in. Crazzzzyy.

OK, my latte is really kicking in. Doubtful that we would get much sleep anyway, very excited, nervous about tomorrow. By this time tomorrow we will have a better understanding if we will be able to bring Nia home.

Morning Migraine

Matt here. Angel woke up this morning with a migraine. She was close to tossing her flat bread (no cookies). She is now over it, so pray it doesn't come back.

Angel and I finished our first books of the trip. With sporadic internet connection, no TV and no children to care for, all there is to do is read.

Many of you may be wondering if we've seen Nia again since Thursday. We have not. It was a hard decision. Saturday and today (Monday) would have been the only days we could have gone to the orphanage. It is an 1.5 hour trip through some of the worse roads I've ever seen. Also, when we left Nia the first time she was extremely sad and I felt like she didn't believe we were coming back. To leave her two and three more times, knowing that we can't say with 100% certainty that we will be taking her home, is tough. We long to be with her, and know we will see her in the next days. By Tuesday we should know if we can take her home. This waiting is heavy on the heart, full of fear of the worse, and feeling like this counselor will see some fault in us that will cause her to deny the Visa.

Know we wait till our trip to the Mercy Ship.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


MAn oh man i cant tell you haow many timesw this blonde headed friend of yours has tried "blogging" to you.... i feel like i am finally hugging you somehow!!!

wait a minute, while i dry my eyes, and blow my nose   ok then... we will gladly be the recipients of ANY letter titled to "any mom and dad"!!!!   maybe we can just buy that big ole church on meridian st and start our own fee free adoption mission!!! 

angel.  i cant even imagine the holy spirit collision you and nia had!!!!  praise the LORD for arms to hug.  noses to smell their stinky little bodies.  ears to hear them cry, and laugh.  and the holy spirit to share!!!!

matt.  keep on bloggin.  it sure makes this an awesome, as close as we can get to sharing, experience.

see you in a week!

God Speed~

Emil and/or Jo Justian

Triple Cross Ministries, Inc.


Kenny Rogers in Africa

Matt here. The last two nights we had the pleasure, actually we put-up with it, of listening to about 3 rounds of Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hits coming from one of the resturants near by. Angel and I would look longingly in each other's eyes and sing Islands in the Stream to each other. It was so romantic :-)..... Why in the world did the Eagles agree to let Kenny sing Desperado; it is a horrible re-make. But of course, who doesn't love the Gambler?!!!!

Tonight is the music in the air is some Afri-Pop. I swear all the CDs are burned copies because every hour or so the song starts to skip. Neadless to say we wear ear plugs to bed. Oh yah, another 10am sleep in!!!! It is great.

Hope all is well in the states, I'm now going to quickly see if my Packers and Titans won today and if my Badgers won Saturday.

Church and the Beach

Angel here. This morning we went to church here in Monrovia. Church started with a choir singing on the front porch and entering behind us singing acapella, all the way to the front of the church. Their singing was absolutely beautiful. Wish I could hear it every week. Last Thursday was Thanksgiving in Liberia, so the focus of the service was on being thankful. The pastor began by saying that today in Monrovia we can be thankful that our head has not been separated from our shoulders. (Liberia was in a 14-yr civil war that "ended" a few years ago). I thought, now there's something we don't think to be thankful for in America.

Late this afternoon the Sheppards took us to the beach. Most of it was populated with UN people and crew from Mercy Ship. There's something about seeing the crashing waves of the ocean that puts you in your place and makes your problems seem not so big at that moment. There is such a stark contrast between this beach/ocean and the trash-laden sidewalks in town. I don't understand it, but Liberia is really beautiful in terms of palm trees, beaches, natural resources, etc. But the city itself leaves much to be desired. Lots of trash on the streets. In fact, another irony to me is seeing women dressed to the hilt in their traditional African "suits" and high heels walking through trash in town. The Liberian culture dresses up whenever they leave their house (men, women, and children). They are a beautiful people.

Tuesday we go to our Visa appointment, please pray that all goes well.


Mom wanted me to email you and ask if you want her to use your debit card to fill your van up with gas and get the oil changed to be ready for your trip back?
Your Isabel is a worker.  We were raking leaves and she said "Aunt Stacey, we have to work all day picking up leaves."  She loved doing this.  We all jumped in a big pile and took pictures.  We have all had lots of fun this weekend. 
Can't wait to see you!!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Time Well Wasted

To take a phrase Brad Paisley, this morning was "time well wasted." Don't worry, Brad Paisley is the only country singer I really like.

Angel woke up around 9:00am and yours truly woke up at 10:00am!!!!!! It was great, no guilt at all.

I went upstairs to the Sheppard's home to have my coffee and granola. Angel, Nancy and I sat around and talked about parenting, the stickin' thinkn of needing to please others, and a host of other topics. It is so great to see the Sheppard's humility. They have every right, in human terms, to be proud of serving Liberia for over 20 years....for working the refugee camps during the civil war, for raising 5 great kids while in Africa. They are thankful, not is a great reminder for me. I so want to please others. It is easy for me to get prideful when people comment about our adoptions. The truth is, there are many times I wanted to stop the adoption because it was too hard emotionally, financially and seemed the logical thing to do. After seeing my daughter, there is no doubt she is meant to be a Pregont. She is meant to be my daughter.

Otherwise we are reading our books. On weekends the power is off most the day. Will post tonight.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Long Day

Here is Nia with the tootsie pop, see my story in the comments section below to understand the story of the tootsie pop and ban dana.

Sorry it took so long to post today. Had internet issues and am just now able to connect.

Today was one of many days of waiting. We met with the leader of ACFI to say hello. We hung out by the ocean for a little while, and then toured downtown Monrovia via taxi. In the year since I've been here a lot has changed. They now have gas stations where people go inside the store to pay, most gas stations are young men by a pump with gas in glass containers.

The change I noticed right away was that put a huge wall around the cemetery with locks on the gates. Last year you could literally see casket on top of casket, yet people would still bring their loved one there. The Chinese have come in and built a huge soccer (football) stadium and are in charge of fixing the roads- it is about time. I won't get political, but how convenient for the Chinese to get a good foot in the door of a country who is rich in natural resources.

We have enjoyed catching up with the Sheppards, the missionary family we are staying with. We had good discussions about the culture and impacts of a society with very few older men. Liberia is the 4th lowest male life expectancy in the world. The radio and billboards talk about men not raping women. The radio is constantly talking to parents about not abusing their kids, and sending them school to allow them to have an education and a childhood. I do see progress and right now that is all you ask from a country who experienced such a long civil war and who is just now getting more foreign aide to build their infrastructure.

Lastly, we showed the Sheppards our videos and pictures of Eva and they just cried. They nursed Eva back to life. Eva came to them being 9lbs and 15 months old. It is great to see people experience the fruits of their labor; for missionaries this is rare because they do more planting than reaping most of the time.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

More Pictures

She loved wearing my hat. She is smiling because the Red Sox won the world series!!! Just kidding, she wore that smile and hat all day.

I know many of you are happy for us, and thank you, but know that if you feel called to adopt please stop wavering. When I get home call us, invite us for dinner, take me out to lunch, take me to breakfast, any place to just talk about how you fit into the adoption process. I'm not like some friends, you know who you are (Angel), that say everyone in America should adopt. I do believe there are many who are called to and are ignoring that small voice (aka God) in their heart that pings them about adoption constently. Seeing all those children who want to have homes was tough. Mind you, many were older children that have years of orphanage baggage that will take special families to be patient with the lying, stealing and other issues that crop up when little parental control is in place. There are also many younger children, for example, Erik, age 9 who quietly asked Angel if we could adopt him and take him today (see photo above). If any of you want to read the letters to "any mom and dad" please let me know. It is really hard to walk away from them knowing most of them won't get adopted. They all wrote their names in Angel's notebook, almost like they were validating their existence; that they are worthy of being wanted.

We are tired, going to bed now wishing we had Nia next to us. We are sad, we so wanted to hold her and be with her.

Gatcha Day - Kinda

When Nia saw Angel today she ran with full force, nearly knocking Angel down when she jumped into her arms. She wrapped her arms and legs around Angel so tight like a child clings to you in a swimming pool for dear life.

Nia held our hand and gave us the royal tour of the orphanage. I felt like Cliff Claven from Cheers because everyone gave me letters to take back to the US. Some letters were addressed to specific families, many were addressed to "any mom and dad." Many many children asked us to find families for them.

I will post some pictures soon, electric is soon going down for 3 hours.

Embassy was closed today, so looks like Tuesday we will be going. Today is Thanksgiving Day.

As we drove away, our last glimps was of her waving good-bye wearing my Boston Redsox hat. Chris Martin, if you're reading, I need to have OPT send me another one :-)