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Welcome home little Allie!

Nine months ago, Allie was born.
Last night, she came home…
…from Ethiopia…
(yeah, just grab the tissue…)
Her Ethiopian name, Almaz, means diamonds. And what is more precious than a diamond? Nothing- as far as stones go. It is the most precious, hardest and most expensive.
But, Allie is more precious…to God…and to Joel and Naomi  Johnson.
Joel and Naomi’s adoption journey officially started about two years ago. But their hearts have been set to adopt for many years. They’ve planned and hoped and dreamed and saved for it.
This summer they received their first photo of four-month old Almaz. 
She was just so beautiful and I remember thinking  
I cannot wait to take pictures of that baby girl!!!
They had her photo…and there was…
and then there was waiting…

for months…

and apparently, somewhere along the way, all hell got the memo
that this little girl had 
a home and a mom and dad
and a brother 
waiting on her…
After a last-minute, whirlwind trip in October that involved Ethiopian court and a special meeting with Allie’s birth mother, Joel and Naomi were officially Allie’s parents…
but Allie was still in Ethiopia…
Their three-year old had stayed behind with his aunt and uncle. 
I think a lot about how Naomi must have felt on the journey back home…
without Allie…
and without Luke…
her heart torn between two halves of the world…
Once they returned they would be waiting on word that they could come get her and finalize
the adoption through the U.S. embassy.
In December, they got the phone call. Naomi would leave Christmas Eve for Ethiopia.
But, alas…
just days before she was to leave, the trip was canceled because 
the embassy required paperwork that didn’t exist.

Naomi was crushed. 
We were all crushed. 
It might be months…
and we waited…and ten days later….(after a whole lot of praying)
She posted on facebook…
“I am going to get Allie…TOMORROW!!!!”
And you could hear the hollerin’ across facebook. 

But the worst was not behind her…

From inclement weather, canceled and delayed flights, to a layover with failed alarm clocks…Naomi barely made her flight to Addis Ababa.
In her words,
“I finally got a hotel room and a new ticket for the next morning, 
I collapsed in bed after setting two alarm clocks which both failed to wake me up. 
Miraculously, I made it on the flight even though I arrived at the airport 15 min before departure, 
but God is faithful, and here I am.”
She arrived at the orphanage to find Allie had been sick for three days with vomiting and diarrhea. 
The embassy appointment was scheduled for the next morning.
And that appointment was canceled… 
and a whole bunch of people were praying…
Last week Joel and Naomi celebrated their 7th anniversary…a world away from each other…
 This was how the Johnsons looked seven years ago… 
and this is how the Johnsons looked last night
She finally got an embassy appointment. It was finally official. But, Naomi did not receive Allie’s visa until moments before they were to leave Ethiopia for home. The plane Naomi and Allie were supposed to be on was hit while parked at the airport in Addis Ababa. 
I know…and this is just a small snippet of the obstacles Naomi faced and surmounted while on her trip…
But home they came…
 The first moment Luke saw his baby sister and all four Johnsons were together!

can you feel the excitement?!
Welcome to our little corner of the world, Allie Grace Johnson!

We are so happy and thankful you made it!

Luke holds Allie for the first time
And this is the first attempt at the first family photo…

 It was pretty easy to see that Allie remembered and knew her daddy! And that Joel had dearly missed her…

 And that Naomi missed Luke…

(let me insert here- that if any of these photos don’t look tack sharp, it’s because I was shaking to try to keep from weeping uncontrollably…)

Allie met Aunt Heather for the first time!

 And Allie knows her brother…and Luke so loves his little sister!

Allie met lots of new friends last night!

Thank you Joel and Naomi for letting us be some small part of this very long journey for you all.

I knew, seven years ago while I watched through my lens as you took your vows and your dear parents prayed over you, that your journey would be a very special one.

Happy 7th Anniversary, Joel and Naomi!

 Welcome home Allie Johnson! (which was Jan. 7th)
(I’m noting all the sevens as I type!)
You can follow their blog The Johnson Journies and read more of their story. 
God is good!
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Cindy DeGroot - January 9, 2011 - 1:12 am

Oh my….all I can do is cry!! God is SOOO good; praise His holy Name! What a beautiful family–and all by God's precious design!

Doug & Cindy DeGroot


Elizabeth - January 9, 2011 - 2:13 am

what a wonderful homecoming. looks like she was welcomed with a lot of love!!!! and how awesome that you were able to capture it all. great post! i love when you post.


Debbie - January 9, 2011 - 3:16 am

Congratulations!! Joel,Naomi,Luke&Allie what a beautiful family! Thanks Lizzy! for keeping yourself composed to share this precious time in the Johnson's life………awesome! :)


Paul - January 9, 2011 - 10:12 am

Thanks a lot Liz, for this post! I wasnt able to be there, but I got a glimpse of the emotions, no doubt (snif snif…)

These pictures are amazing, and they will be cherished for a very very long time.



Nathan Inge - January 9, 2011 - 2:30 pm

Dear Liz,
Your pictures and comments made us cry too.
Thank you so much. We know that this was a victory not only for Naomi and Joel, but for the body of Christ as a whole, since we were all a part of the intercession team that brought breakthroughs several times in the process of bringing Allie to the USA. May God bless your ministry. You have a way of capturing the moments that are so moving.
We are so happy for the group of friends that could come to the airport for this special welcome.
I also noticed that in God`s timing, the visa papers came through just on their 7th anniversary date, Jan. 4th, even though Naomi didn`t actually have them in her hands until the day the airplane left, Jan 6th.
Naomi`s dad, Nathan Mikaelsen
Dear Liz,
Thank you so much for capturing this very special moment through the lens, and put it together in such a beautiful way! As Naomi`s mom, I really would have liked to be there, but in a way I feel I have been able to experience THAT moment through your presentation. Thank you so very much! The Lord bless you at home and in your work!
With much appreciation, Inge


Abbie - January 9, 2011 - 8:56 pm

Wow, that's all I can say! :)


Elizabeth - January 12, 2011 - 3:19 am

Thanks everyone for your comments- I love comments. Nathan, Inge & Paul…as her family members, it means a lot to me that you would take so much time to write me a note here. I'm so glad that I could be such a small part of something so big. You all have such an amazing family. -Liz


Yanet @ 3 Sun Kissed Boys - January 14, 2011 - 3:37 pm

What a terrific story. So glad it has a happy ending. I love Luke's sign. And I LOVE the "now" shot of the Johnsons.

Yanet of 3 SKBs


Laurie J - January 14, 2011 - 5:07 pm

I absolutely LOVE this story of God's goodness! YAY! Thanks so much for sharing :)


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