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Home Sweet Home for the Holidays

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The bells of joy are ringing loud at the Bergler home!!   We are catching Christmas just in the nick of time and I’m so unbelievably grateful to be home.  This is probably my favorite sight from the past two weeks…. IMG_1260

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I had those puppies ordered the minute I knew we were going to Africa, and oh the tears that flowed as I hung them at long, long last.  But more on that later….here are some other favorites…

Two sweet littles snuggled in their room for the first time…be still my heart.

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The snow, oh my word they LOVE the snow—who would have thought?!?

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And probably the most poignant was coming in the house that first night and Sol (who was the only one awake!) walking through their room and all around upstairs just exclaiming over and over, “Oh Wow!  Dad, look it—oh wow!”  Home, finally home.

After two weeks now back on US soil, we are all settling in and finding our way….I will be honest and say it has not been easy, not by a longshot.  Frankly, week one was unfortunately similar to your classic horror film….close your eyes and just imagine…after being quickly whisked home from the airport Friday night and arriving to a warm house, with welcome banners, oodles of goodies and a refrigerator and freezer completely STOCKED full of hearty goodness by loving and generous friends, Saturday dawned brilliantly with fresh inches of snow and a happy family of six hunkered down, enjoying a little sledding, long naps and continued togetherness….the only hint you have of the terror ahead is the foreboding music in the background that begins as they go to sleep on Sunday night.   Monday morning, it hits…the wheels come off….Brian returns to work, Zach and Mason return to school….we are down to three….the endless questions begin, most of which I can’t understand….naps come to a screeching halt….there is laundry for miles….there are crying jags (mostly mine)….and children up in the night….Mason comes home from school sick on Tuesday…there are bills to pay and mail to sort….oh and by the way you still own a business and guess what?  It’s Christmastime!!….LIFE settles in and we are a M.E.S.S….completely undone.…and you wonder as the shower curtain is pulled back and the knife comes down “how could she not see this coming?”  (Sidenote:  Brian thinks this is a bit of a dramatic analogy, but I’m sticking with it…)

However, things have improved exponentially since week one….some good sleep and a little routine go a long way!  I did feel completely blindsided by that first week I must say.  I really thought we had worked through most of the ‘adjustments’ during our time in Africa.  But hello…this new reality is quite different from what we were experiencing together while traveling.  As I hung those stockings, I wept once again…I felt ashamed of having longed for something so desperately and then being completely exasperated by its arrival.  Oh how I continue to be confronted by my weaknesses…my selfishness, my overconfidence, my deep distaste for needing help…just my plain old stinking pride.   It’s not pretty, but nothing like having a mirror held up by two sweet littles who need their mom to pull it together!!  They are a reflection of God’s mercies to me….new every morning….fresh and forgiving.  The tide has turned and time is now our friend…each day brings further progress, more words, deeper patience and bigger love. 

I woke this morning thinking about how God did not send His son to this world to make things easy.  He was sent so that we may have LIFE and have it more ABUNDANTLY.  And if there is one thing I can say about today, Christmas Eve 2013, it’s that LIFE is ABUNDANT for the Bergler Six….crazy, fun, joyful, hard, beautiful abundant life.  We hope and pray the same for you and your family this Christmas and through the coming year.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Goodbye South Africa

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Bittersweet

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Our final days in South Africa are flying by…it all of a sudden feels like the end of vacation where the once languid days seem to be gone in a flash.  We made one last trip up to Johannesburg to obtain Sol & Coco’s visas from the U.S. Embassy, enjoying the Drakensberg mountain region on our way north over the weekend.  This country is astounding in its beauty and we feel so blessed to have been able to cover so much ground in our time here. 

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I am a jumble of feelings right now—on one hand, coming home feels like we can finally start our lives together as family, and I can’t wait!  I have a thousand pictures in my head dreamt over the past three years of the six of us at home, just living life…the mundane little daily details…Sol and Coco asleep in their beds…the three of us walking Zach and Mason to school in the mornings…which toys will be their favorites…six of us around the dinner table.  The past six weeks has been an adventure of grand proportions, but home is where our hearts truly are. 

On the other hand, I have some MAD love for South Africa—tormented, crazy, overwhelming love for this country that birthed our lovely littles.  I know for certain we will be back one day, but I don’t know when and that makes my heart hurt a bit.  We drove through Inchanga tonight, where Sol & Coco were born and spent their young lives and I can only hope that one day we can take them back there and walk those streets together. 

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But even more so, going home means returning to our busy lives where the six of us are going different directions five or more days a week.  It is hard to express what an indescribable treasure these six weeks have been….there has been no other time in our lives, nor will there probably ever be again, where we have had this amount of time just to be TOGETHER.  That in and of itself is sweet….so very, very sweet.  My heart hurts A LOT knowing our time is almost up and that soon life will once again resume its daily tide.

So we are soaking it all in, storing up these treasures in our hearts, resolving to let this trip change us on every level…gearing up our hearts for the long journey HOME.

Thankful

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As you can imagine on this Thanksgiving our hearts are so thankful…..simply chalk full of gratitude.  I thought about those words this morning quite a bit and finally decided to look up the definitions just to make sure they accurately described how we are feeling….

thank.ful
adj: 1. Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful
 
grat.i.tude
noun: 1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness

 

Yep—nailed it!  I love this….we couldn’t be more aware or appreciative of the massive blessings bestowed on us in the past several weeks and are simply cannot wait to show appreciation and return kindnesses.  My brain goes wild thinking of the hundreds of daily blessings too numerous to count.

We spent our day at the beach—a Thanksgiving first for us.  It wasn’t super sunny, but warm, nonetheless. 

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We enjoyed a traditional turkey dinner—believe it or not—with our American friends, Zach & Kylie Crandall and their sweet littles.  It was lovely. 

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Our Thanksgiving tradition inherited from the Bergler family is to circle the table after dinner while each person expresses what they are thankful for, which we did tonight.  It is still surreal to be sitting here in Africa celebrating the culmination of so many years of waiting…sitting around the table with our family complete at last….aware and appreciative.  A few notes on what I’m thankful for tonight…

Brian Bergler—if you didn’t know it already, this guy is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  He has covered the gamut in these last few weeks, from rock solid husband to superdad to world explorer to crazy dedicated employee.  He is stellar in every respect and he belongs to me!

Zachary Bergler—I dig this kid.  He made me a mom and just makes me so proud every day.  I’ve seen the biggest change in him over these last few weeks…really, really cool changes…accepting the mantel of oldest child with grace and diplomacy. 

Mason Bergler—this one makes me smile…like big time—ear to ear.  He has had a BIG adjustment and it is not easy, but you know what?  He has the biggest heart of all and just doesn’t give up.  Sweet and affectionate, he has my heart forever.

Solomon Bergler—my little wonder boy.  So fierce, so strong, so determined–I can’t wait to see the plans the Lord has for him.  His little sense of humor is starting to come out and his smile and laugh can seriously light up the room.  There is something about the way he says “I love you mom”….oh man, I’m a goner.

Colletta Bergler—my baby girl.  Pure beauty and joy this one.  I still can’t believe the Lord saw fit to bless me with a girl…not to mention this one in particular.  She makes me laugh every day with her sweet silliness.  She has already brought a new world of wonder to my life…I’m completely enamored.

The Crandalls—an unexpected blessing.  Zach, Kylie, Zoe and Sefo have brought such joy and camaraderie to our world here in South Africa, we couldn’t be more thankful for their friendship.   We have forged a crazy strong bond in these unusual circumstances, especially in this past week as they have occupied the cottage next door and and I have no doubt we will be lifelong friends. (They are seeing progress in their process, but need one final miracle to return home on the 9th, so please continue praying!!)

You—our lifeline and support.  Our dear family and friends who have carried us on your shoulders, with prayers, comments and emails of support—we have felt you every step of the way, and would never have made it without you.

What is hardest for me to properly articulate is my gratitude to my precious Lord and Savior who has walked beside me patiently and unconditionally for oh so long, raising up my faith, moving mountains and parting seas.  When I think of the tapestry He has woven out of ALL the details of my life, including the list above, I am moved to tears…He is so good and I am so unworthy.           

And last but not least tonight we are SUPER DUPER thankful that we have a confirmed trip HOME next week!  Our last documents were processed yesterday allowing us to proceed to the consulate for visas next week and fly home.  Praise God!!  We will depart next Thursday and will be back in Bend Friday night, December 6th!! 

Our thoughts are with each and every one of you as you start your Thanksgiving Day….praying that it is full of sweet family time, good food, great memories and moments to be thankful.  This is one we will surely not forget!

Berglers on Safari

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Around the block and back….

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Oh me, oh my—so sorry for our long silence!  We’ve been quite busy since our last chat, lots of amazing places full of remarkable sights and sounds, but not great internet access, so it has been difficult to communicate.  We left the beach a week ago Friday after filing our first round of paperwork, headed north and spent four days up in the game reserve area (a full “safari” download is on the docket for this week—so stay tuned!), then went to Johannesburg for three days to complete immigration medical appointments, filed round two of paperwork back in Durban on Friday, filled our housing gap with two nights back at the farm and arrived back at our beach house today!  Phew—it makes me tired just writing that.  Traveling as six is an adventure for certain, but we really had a ball!  Turns out that moving location every couple of nights is not ideal… despite my best efforts to consolidate us for the week of travel we spend a lot of time packing and unpacking.   

We all felt a sweet and unexpected giddiness driving back down our bumpy road to the farm on Friday—to be back in a familiar place was unbelievably comforting.  After a relatively crazy week and also marking a month since our departure, it was a delight for us all…as we crested the hill and the house came into view, Sol exclaimed “YAY!”  My sentiments exactly.  We hadn’t planned to return, but I honestly think the Lord paved the way for us back there for a moment of encouragement…a respite before the home stretch.  It was the perfect time and place to reflect on how far we’ve come since our first couple of weeks in that country cottage…the list of small victories…the bonds formed…blossomed personalities…how DIFFERENT we all are already in just the few weeks we’ve been together.  So humbly overwhelmed by the Lord’s provision.  In a million years, we could never have predicted what we would need in those first couple weeks.  I’m not going to lie—it was TOUGH.  But the simplicity of our life there, free of distractions with room to roam and no fear of disturbing anyone else, allowed us to focus solely on our little family.  Now that we have been around the block and back, I can honestly say, that every other place we have stayed, while perfectly lovely, would not have afforded us the same opportunity.  One of the many, many altars of remembrance I will build in the midst of “the process”.

Another blessing–a sweet couple from Colorado we met a couple of weeks ago that is also here  adopting through our agency.  They have been a breath of fresh air and fellow warriors in the paperwork battle.  Would you pray for them?  They are facing some incredibly frustrating obstacles in taking their sweet baby boy home and could really use a miracle.  So far our process has been amazingly smooth, so we know your prayers are powerful and hope to share the wealth! 

You’ll definitely hear more from us this week—lots to catch up on and hoping to have a definitive return date by the end of the week to share with you!  But for now, here’s a song from the road…

A Week in Pictures

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It was a good week…really good and actually more relaxing than anticipated.  Our adoption order didn’t arrive until Thursday so we were not able to begin filing our paperwork until Friday, which left us with time on our hands.  We had beautiful weather and the perfect beach setting, so we took full advantage!

There was swimming….lots and lots of swimming.  The floaties have provided super fun independence in the pool.  Swimming lessons to commence immediately upon return!

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…oh and jumping…again, and again, and again.  They are fearless!

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We visited some crocodiles and learned some interesting facts

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There were awesome car naps….(please note Coco’s sweetly folded hands–too cute!)

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There were amazing African sunsets…..

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There was delicious coffee at our new favorite spot…..we may have visited multiple times in one day.

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There were also monkeys in the back yard…always thought that would be kind of cool, but oddly discomforting when they are after your food.  I know three boys who thought it was pretty rad!

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And yes, we did file paperwork at the Home Affairs.  New birth certificates are in process!!

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Oh and beach time…did I mention that the Bergler Six L.O.V.E. the beach?

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On the move across South Africa this week, so more to come!  Happy Monday to you all!

Jen Hatmaker

to south africa and beyond.....

Flower Patch Farmgirl

to south africa and beyond.....

wonderment, etc

babblings, babies, and broken hallelujahs

the berglers adopt

to south africa and beyond.....

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