Apologies for the long delay between posts, with so little news (yes, we’re still in the black hole of no-news!), I haven’t been feeling motivated to talk about the wait. So instead, today I’ll share briefly about our trip to China, to help you understand one of the many ways that God opened our hearts to growing our family through adoption.
As we were planning out our Christmas gifts for each other in the winter of 2014, I came up with a brilliant idea that instead of a physical gift we should plan a fun trip in February or March to warm up and relax. We had gone to Punta Cana the year before and really enjoyed ourselves, and were looking for a repeat!
We began researching locations, but within a few days, Eric received an email from Show Hope , an organization that we had been supporting since hearing about it at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert in 2008. The email included “last-minute sign up” information for one of their upcoming trips to China to visit with and learn about orphans. Eric was inspired. Applications were due in January and I was totally against the idea. I loved children so much, that the thought of spending a week fully immersed in the lives of 150+ precious orphaned children sounded like it would be the most painful experience imaginable. The thought of the flight there freaked me out as well. I shot down the idea quicker than you can say “mashed potatoes.” I believe I said something along the lines of “if I can’t bring a child home, why would I put myself through that torture?” Eric, wisely, asked that we pray about it.
In the last few years I’ve been exposed to God’s sense of humor. It’s as if he listens for when I say “I would never”, and then he makes the very thing we are avoiding, unavoidable.
We filled out the application minutes before the deadline, and I was certain they wouldn’t take us. I made sure that we wrote “we have no experience with overseas mission work.” I really wanted God’s providence to be the only way we would go. OK honestly, I also wasn’t convinced that I wanted to go either.
Sure enough they took us.
Fast forward to June and I was finally cautiously excited to go and we arrived at Maria’s Big House of Hope – which looked like a beacon of hope amidst a dark, smoggy, grey landscape.
I don’t know if I had ever been in a place with so much hope. So much joy despite circumstances that we can’t understand. So much tenderness despite unimaginable pain. I experienced some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows as we spent a week at Maria’s, just playing, singing to, snuggling with, and praying over these precious children with a bunch of other inspiring people.
Rather than detail all the sweet memories, home-cooked Chinese meals, laughs and tears, snuggles and kisses, lessons and playtime – I’ll share some of what Eric and I learned, and how it sparked the fire that led us to where we are. (I’ve included a few pictures with permission from Show Hope)
- Children want to experience love and play, no matter their physical limitations.
- It is so easy to love and have fun with people, young and old, despite a language and cultural barrier – it’s worth pushing through your own initial awkwardness
- Life as we know it does not appear to be fair, but we don’t know the whole story
- I’m not sure what it means when I pray for “healthy children”
- I have nothing to complain about in my current circumstances
- It is so easy to love the most vulnerable kids. Instantly.
- We can’t be heroes
- It is possible to experience the most joy among the deepest pain
- Show Hope is just an incredible organization that is doing so much good….
- Not everyone is called to adopt, but we are ALL called to do something
Oh and #11 – Watching Eric love on these kiddos made me love and respect him in ways I never experienced before.
Of course it hard to leave Maria’s. We left part of our hearts there – but we also left with an exponentially increased capacity to love. If that makes any sense at all.
Eric and I left committed to keep praying about the orphans and discerning our role in caring for them. As Christians, we have a moral obligation to care for widows and orphans. It comes up dozens of times in the Bible to care for orphans and widows.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
We knew we had a role to play and that we had been changed for a reason. So we prayed about what that would look like for a month, and felt strongly that adoption was in the plans for us. We began the adoption process for China, but were quickly turned away for not being 30 years old yet. It was heartbreaking, to feel that we were responding to a calling from God and a deep yearning to move forward – but that not being the case.
In hindsight, we can see that God had a different, perhaps more difficult, plan in mind. We still hadn’t learned to be patient and wait on God’s timing. I’m sure we were still in “hero” mode – and had to learn that it was not our role to play- that God would have a plan for each child, that He would do the rescuing.
It’s coming up on 2 years since the trip, and we are still waiting… but we now know who we have to wait for, and that he is worth the wait and the pain and so much more.
Here are a few more pictures of some of the sweet children…I miss them…I thank God that we had the privilege to play with them and love them. They are permanent pieces of our heart.