Well, I've been waiting all day to write this post...and in that wait came the terrible attack in Boston. It almost seems wrong to write a post rejoicing in answered prayers in the midst of such tragedy, but I must praise my God, regardless of circumstance.
Lord, thank You for answering prayers! Thank You for answering them in Your time, even when it didn't match up with my time!
Almost three years ago Kevin and I went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at church. On one of the first nights they showed a video of a couple who had completed FPU and were so excited to say that they had been able to almost fully fund the adoption of a couple they met. I almost couldn't breathe. In that moment I knew why we were in this class. I knew why the Lord was asking us to keep better track of our money and how it was spent. I wanted to be like that couple in as many people's lives as possible. While we are open to the idea, neither Kevin or I feel like God is asking us to adopt, but we both want to help as many others as possible. God has answered that prayer in many ways in these last three years. Sadly (to me) the first few couples we knew that adopted we weren't really able to help financially, but with prayer and other support as we were able. In the last year or so we've been able to help in many creative ways as the Humiston family works to bring their son David home. Sometimes we have been able to give money, other times our stuff for a yard sale. It has been so neat to watch as God has opened these doors for us, in many different ways.
About a year ago, God really laid on my heart the orphans of the world who are unable to be adopted, whether because of overwhelming government rules or because there is still a living relative who is unable to care for them, or because of any other reason. I just wasn't sure how to go about getting connected to organizations that do this. So, off and on for a year I kind of looked and did what I could through other orphan and widow organizations, still praying that God would open a door. And boy, did He! In just the last two months, I have had 4 opportunities to help those orphans who cannot be adopted. Wow!
The first opportunity came from Romania and two local missionaries who travel there each summer. Not only are we working with the Humiston family to collect 300 pairs of glasses to help all of those in the community where they will serve, but we also have the opportunity to give to them out of the abundance of our closets. We can take the kids t-shirts that don't fit and send them with Cristi and Michelle so that these children can get ONE new piece of clothing for the year. Can you imagine only getting ONE new piece of clothing (whether brand new, hand-me-down, yard sale, basically anything new to you) in a year? It breaks my heart that we have so much, they have so little, and on top of that they'll never know the love of a forever family. It makes it that much more important they know of the Father who created them and loves them more than they could ever imagine!
My second opportunity came when the amazing and sweet Ben and Megan Craig were obedient to God's call and headed to South Africa to work with an orphanage there to see if that's where God wants to move their family indefinitely (He does, by the way, and I can't wait to see the awesome, only-God-could-do-that things He will do to get them there). We were able to take the kids shopping and get some small items to send with them that the director there could use as birthday presents for the kids throughout the year. Oh, how it brought tears to my eyes to have Megan tell me how excited the director is to see the kids flying their kites later in the year! Man, I would love to see a picture of that!
The third opportunity is to help undocumented orphans in Haiti when a friend (who I've actually only met 2 or 3 times, but I worked for her husband on Bibleman and have been able to keep in touch with through Facebook) sent a letter letting me know that she and her son are headed to Haiti this summer. Due to the earthquake and the total loss of government buildings and paperwork, there is now no birth certificate for the majority of the orphans there (not to mention there's probably no death certificate for those whose parents were killed in the earthquake). Then, as I was emailing back and forth with her to see what we could do for them, she let me know that she is now going twice, once in May to do a dental mission trip, and then again later this summer with her son through their church. God opened the door for us to take our kids to the store once again and fill our basket with every travel toothbrush and toothpaste the store had (and I am not exaggerating when I say that!), fingernail polish, hair bands, brushes, etc. that would fit into the basket. The kids are still talking about all the toothbrushes going to Haiti. In fact, instead of doing Easter baskets for the kids this year, we filled a blessing basket as a family for Mrs. Kim and sent all of that stuff her way.
Our fourth opportunity came just this past weekend as the Watoto Children's Choir came to our church. I am not sure that anyone who was there left the same (well, except for maybe Ethan, he doesn't like loud noises and he just kept asking if it was time to go home) after seeing the joy of Christ radiate from this group of children. God has truly changed their lives and the people at the Watoto centers are doing what they can to raise these children to be the next leaders of Africa. They are working to raise them to be leaders who love the Lord, love others, and rebuild Africa. Wow! So, none of those children will be adopted and moved out of Africa, but they can be sponsored in order to attend school and university to become true leaders. Right now we are not in the position to commit to another monthly sponsorship, but we were able to give to them that night, and I am hoping to be able to go visit their baby center and do a mission trip there (as do several of the ladies in my church....and have no fear, I have already emailed them and am anxiously awaiting a reply!)
Lord, You are good! You know all and You see all and You provide all. I have no idea where this journey will lead us or how He will have us continue to support, advocate for, and love on this particular group of orphans, but I am ready to step out and do it. In my own little dream world, our family would head out together once a year and go to a different place to get hands on to love on and minister to these kids and those who work with them...but I know that may not be what God is calling us to. Lord, whatever it is you want me and my family to do, give us the strength to say, "Not my will, but Yours be done." Thank You for these answered prayers on a day that seems so dreary and sad and hopeless. There is still reason to praise You!