“God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible. What a pity when we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.” -A.W. Tozer
Seven years ago, I watched Brad Pitt travel to Africa on Primetime Live. It's kind of silly. That this special feature with Diane Sawyer, in a region I didn't much think about, would alter my heart so profoundly. But it did.
If Ryan was scared his wife was going all missionary on him, he never let on.
But the seed was there. I felt inexplicably pulled to a continent I knew very little about. To a whole race of people I'd never officially met.
Looking back, I can see that God puts His plans in motion long before we have any clue.
It was around this time, during my Africa-fever, that I found out my church would be traveling to Nairobi, Kenya for two and a half weeks to do HIV/AIDS outreach. They were gathering a team to go. And I knew, with absolute certainty, that I wanted to be on that team. I wasn't a doctor. I didn't have much to offer in the ways of medicine. But I had two hands and a heart that yearned to help.
So I went. A year after hubby and I got married, I boarded a plane with several others, flew across the Atlantic ocean, and landed in Nairobi. I spent two and a half weeks meeting women I'll never forget. Two and a half weeks with a flock of little black children swarming around me, rubbing my skin, calling me Mzungu. Two and a half weeks driving around in a Matatu learning random words in Swahili.
But life did what life does. It took over. And the leaves turned colors and eventually fell away.
I still thought about Africa. My heart broke for what was happening in Darfur. I taught my 5th grade students about the civil war ravaging Uganda and the Congo. Where Joseph Kony and his rebel army would raid villages and do unimaginable things to the men, women, and children. Oh Lord, especially the children. Africa was still in my heart. It just didn't pulse as strongly as it once had.
My obsession with Africa morphed into an obsession with writing. A dream to be published, to share my stories. Which, as any writer can attest, is incredibly time consuming. So time consuming that I couldn't be the wife and mother and writer I wanted to be while working full time. So after much prayer, I left my job. I left behind my salary. We knew God was calling us to step out in faith. Would we trust that where He leads, He'll also provide?
I won't pretend it wasn't terrifying. But we listened and obeyed. And God has provided. In amazing, amazing ways. We've experienced His provision.
But something I'm learning about God, is that He likes to keep us on our toes. The Christian life isn't meant to be comfortable. So I shouldn't have been surprised when a couple months into our new routine, with me as stay-at-home mom, something started to happen.
A slow and steady stirring in my heart. A slow and steady stirring in my husband's. A soft whisper that sounded something like this, "I have a blessing I want to give you. It's not going to be easy. Will you trust me? Will you follow?"
I'm not one to say God speaks audibly. That's just not my experience with faith. I'm a gal who thinks God speaks through His Living Word and through other believers. But this nudge we were feeling in our spirit was undeniable.
We couldn't push it away.
God was asking us to adopt.
I wrestled with Him. I argued, "What if I can't love an adopted child as much as my biological one?"
God replied, "Don't make this about you, Katie."
I wrestled with Him. I argued, "Do you know how much adoption costs? It's insane. I just lost my salary. There's no way we'll come up with the money."
God replied, "I provided before. Don't you think I'll do it again?"
He put people in our lives who could never be coincidence. He gave our pastor words that spoke directly to our situation. We could not deny it. We no longer wanted to. God's love for the orphan had penetrated our hearts until they broke for the fatherless.
So we started to research. Foster care. Domestic. Private. International.
And that tree in my soul? That African tree that had lost its leaves? It grew buds. And the buds turned into vibrant green. Africa came back. With a passion, it came back. And I was left in awe that God was at work in my heart long before adoption was even a blip on my radar. At work in my heart through a Diane Sawyer interview with Brad Pitt. That even then, God knew His plans for my family. That although I never moved to an African orphanage, perhaps I could bring a child home from one.
We've signed the papers and sent in the first payment. And now we start our journey.
This crazy, insane, beautiful journey.
I'm holding on to this loosely. At least I'm trying. The Congo program is new. The country is at war. AIDS is running rampant. Nothing is a guarantee. We still have home studies and fundraising and all number of other things to pass through. But there's a very real possibility that in a year or two, I will be returning to Africa. This time with my husband. This time to the Congo. This time to meet our son or daughter.
Thank you Holly for sending me these pics! I can't believe that trip was over six years ago!
*Update: We are officially on the referral list! Hopefully this fall, we'll get a picture and the name of our son or daughter!