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going home for the first time

The past two days have seen very significant milestones in our lives, and the transitions have been smooth and joyful as we move from one phase to the next. Now is a time of rejoicing and looking to the future.

We thank the Lord for His guidance and love as we turn the page on two significant parts of our lives:

First, we are VERY happy to announce that our adoption is final. Valerie is now officially a Cantrell! We received the final court order today.

Exactly two years ago, on December 28, we picked up Valerie from the orphanage.

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on her first day with us

When she came to live with us, she was three and a half years old and spoke just three words. For the past two years, Valerie has been under our guardianship but still a ward of the state.

No longer! She is now Valerie Evelyn Cantrell, a member of her forever family.

We are so very thankful for the many prayers and other support that people have given us over the years as we’ve dealt with lost pregnancies and infertility. It’s great to be a part of the body of Christ and receive blessings from God through His people.

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Valerie today

Also, there are changes at MIR. Twelve years ago I moved to Russia as part of a team to open a Russian charity named MIR. Through this work I met my wife and have been blessed with abundant life.

For the past twelve years I’ve been the president and director of MIR. About four years ago I stepped down from the day-to-day leadership of MIR when I became the executive director of Stoneworks International, and a couple of years ago MIR started a transition toward having fully Russian leadership.

Last night we had a MIR board meeting and finished that transition. I have resigned my position at MIR and no longer have any official tie to the organization.

Sergei & Kristina Tovstopyat

The new chairman and director is my good friend Sergei Tovstopyat. Sergei has been on staff with MIR for a few years, and he’s been the Executive Director since September. You can read about Sergei here.

We’ve agree that I’ll be the ‘grand-dad’ and continue to advise and help as much as is needed, but Sergei now is the leader and carries the responsibility for the direction of MIR. I happily hand over this role to Sergei. He’s a good man who loves the Lord and is laying his life down for the gospel.

Many people deserve thanks for their years of service to MIR: Mark Browne was the visionary who started the process, and founding board members were Alexander Kotenkov, Maria Mikhaylova, Dimitry Rozet, Mikhail Moshkov, David Hulley and Dan Wilson. Other board members have included Lyle Thomas, Zhenya Koltakoff, Larry Heller and Arkady Bizyanov.

In my role at Stoneworks, I’ll continue to support MIR in every way I can.

I’m very glad that MIR will continue beyond me as Olga and I look forward to the next chapter in our lives.

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