We mentioned these 2 little sweeties in the last post (Milagra & Yulisa) and the impact they had on our lives...
You see, we set out on this trip knowing that God had plans for it... to spread the gospel, to love on some children without parents to call their own, to serve the widow, to encourage some teens from desperate situations, and to make an impact for the Kingdom. We also had asked the Lord as we prepared for the trip to show us how He would have us get involved long-term. Short-term mission trips are fantastic, in fact many salvation testimonies include a seed that was planted by someone on a mission trip... however, we knew that God would have us advocate for these precious lives after we returned. He gave us SO many opportunities to share the stories of these precious lives, to talk with a non-profit who eventually took over Yulisa's orphanage and gave them the sense of security in a future that they needed (thank you Ronne)!
As I returned home and TRIED to process all I had experienced, I quickly noticed that not only was I lying awake at night crying myself to sleep thinking about the brokenness I had witnessed..... but Dan was too! He could not get enough of the stories and the photos... something was different this time!
God gave Dan this BEAUTIFUL song that he put to the video below which allowed us many opportunities to share and advocate for these precious lives -
Did you listen to those words? She's got no one to tuck her in at night... does anyone care? Father, please, stir in me, OPEN my eyes to see.... GOD was doing just that.... opening Dan's eyes to the plight of the orphan... and it was INCREDIBLE to witness!
I told a friend today that I don't feel like the words in these posts are giving God the glory that He alone deserves... that I wish I could open up my heart and just pour out every detail of what happened... but our human words are just not sufficient for how Jesus grips hearts... and breaks them... and redeems them!
We were BOTH so broken... people would ask us to share about the trip and we'd both break down... it was ALL we talked about.... we were physically ill thinking of doing anything but going back!
And although I had been praying that God would allow us to adopt one day, I had no idea it would be this trip that would make the impact. As we left Guatemala, our team gathered around in the airport, held hands, and asked the Lord to break Dan's heart the way that mine had been so beautifully broken that week. We asked God to show BOTH Dan and I how HE would have us respond and how we could serve TOGETHER defending the cause of the fatherless. That spot in the airport is so overwhelming to me, even today!
Over the next 3 or so months, we sensed the Lord calling us to adopt. We contacted every agency, every missionary, anyone we could get our hands on to try to pursue these 2 sweet girls... and door after door was closed. We made a covenant with the Lord, something that should not be taken lightly, that we WOULD adopt these 2 sweet girls... whenever He called us to, whether today or 5 years from now. We hung their pictures in our homes, we gave their photos to our parents, and we all pray daily for both of them. The Lord has even given us the incredible opportunity to sponsor sweet Yulisa, which means that we are honored to receive updates on her frequently!
As the doors closed, we finally received the news that ALL adoptions from Guatemala to the U.S. were closed... that we could do nothing, but pray, at this point. And pray we did. Fervently!
As we continued to call these girls our own, stare at their photos, and share them with everyone we knew... God made it clear that He was still calling us to adopt, even though these girls were unavailable right now.
WHAT? You break us with this trip.... we FALL in love with these girls... we call them our own... we are BROKEN that we can't get on a plane right now and bring them home... you want us to put ourselves out there again, knowing the same thing could happen again? Really God?!?!
Trust in ME, I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE!
So, we took steps in obedience. We started talking with agencies, social workers, the whole shebang of people... we always shared our hearts for what had occurred, that we knew the Lord would have us adopt these girls some day, and that He was calling us to move forward, not knowing what age, how many children, the location, nothing.
Over the next few months we began praying over every country on the map... we'd take a few days to focus on each one and ask the Lord to open or close doors as He saw fit.... and He did! I still remember looking over this overwhelming list wondering how we would ever know...
On Christmas Day 2009 on the way to a family gathering, I asked Dan to grab the mail that I had forgotten to retrieve the prior day... and as we drove down the road, I read aloud about the Ethiopia program through All God's Children International and their amazing transition home, Hannah's Hope. We pulled the car over both overwhelmed with emotion and prayed right there that God would make it clear.... and He did!
As you can imagine, I was all but focused at the family gathering... thinking only about the child(ren) that God had for us thousands of miles away!
The feelings of a piece of us missing started immediately!
The thoughts of whether or not our child was being taken care of were intense!
The guilt of doing anything BUT paperwork every second of every day took over!
Dan constantly wondered if our child(ren) were safe!
I constantly wondered if they were being loved!
We moved forward in faith not knowing what would happen if Guatemala opened back up and not knowing what would happen if it did NOT open back up. January 2010 the paperwork began and we tackled it with great joy knowing that God was in control of each piece of paper, each approval, each social worker visit, EVERYTHING... that HIS timing was perfect! By April we were ready to be matched with a child, which we thought would be quick.
Quick it was not! Easy to smile and look back on now, but HARD in the midst of it. Side note - if you know someone going through the adoption journey, their emotions are REAL, RAW, and need to be validated! Do not discount that they are expecting, whether you can see it in their not-so-growing belly or not! This journey is HARD... people do NOT understand... you get STRANGE comments... and everyone somehow thinks they all of a sudden are open to ask any personal question regarding your sex life and your uterus that pops in their head! Assumptions should NOT be made... just because someone is adopting does NOT mean that it was plan B for their family... adoption is OFTEN Plan A, just like it was for OUR family!
As we waited, we prayed... we shared our hearts... we advocated... we served... we told everyone we knew... we fundraised... we fundraised some more... and then we asked our friends to fundraise for us... to ask their friends to support us... it was humbling, it was overwhelming, and it puts you under a microscope. However, it is truly a MIRACLE to see the Lord work IN and THROUGH so many to bring HIS plans to completion! Again, our words do not do this process justice... we experienced miracle after miracle... we had people we did not know sending money and praying for us... encouraging us... and investing in the life God was about to reveal to us!
One year ago TODAY, February 17th, 2011 we received the call that would change our lives forever!
To read the details of the call, see this post!
Here's a little excerpt from that post that I just love -
"we wait, click refresh, wait more, AT LAST we see an email with 6 attachments..... we grip each others hands tighter (as if they could get any tighter).... and we see his sweet face! We both burst into tears and shreak out how precious he is!
He's so sweet!
Look at those eyes!
He looks ornery... like his daddy!
Oh, I said 'daddy'... you're a daddy!
Look at those feet... those little toes... and those little fingers!
Look how tiny he is.... oh, I need to hold him! And smooch him! (I'm totally gonna smother the kid in kisses!)
When Dan loses it, I seriously lose it! The. BIG. UGLY. CRY.... you know, the one where you're uncontrollable... but this is a joyful cry, and we're laughing.
Here it is folks - the first look at his face - yes, we're sweaty, yes-we're in Dairy Queen volleyball tshirts, yes-I have no makeup left at this point, what other details should I share with you? :)"
Here's the video we put together to capture this sweet moment -
"Jesus we praise You and thank You for allowing us this opportunity... thank you for breaking our hearts for the fatherless... and for allowing us the opportunity to say that as of February 17th, 2011, there's ONE LESS orphan in this world!"We walk through the rest of the process, fly to Ethiopia twice, and return home on Father's Day 2011 with this bundle of joy!
Stay tuned for Part 4!