Somehow I’ve known this day would come, even though I really hoped it wouldn’t. When we first felt God asking us to spend more than a week in Nicaragua, we wondered how we would make it happen financially. “We absolutely can not ask people to give us money,” was my answer. My husband didn’t want to raise support any more than I did, so he asked his employer to let him work from home, and then eventually to work from abroad for a period of time. Thankfully, they agreed and we were off the hook.
Or so we thought.
I think the idea of raising support was more scary to us than actually living abroad. We’ve watched my in-laws raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year — for the past 50 years — to support their work in Maine and Nicaragua, and it just looked exhausting. I would much prefer to do the work — or any kind of work! — then raise money for it.
But last fall, we started to realize that our current arrangement isn’t exactly sustainable for very long. We are each, my husband and I, working our “real” jobs to pay the bills and then also running a growing ministry of adoption care that we call FIT (Families in Transition) in Nicaragua. We sold off most of our remaining assets in the U.S., in order to continue supporting the ministry.
Then my husband’s employer decided they could not longer have a full-time employee working abroad and switched him to a contractor. That meant we lost health insurance and soon found out we are “uninsurable” without the backing of an employer or group health plan. Add in our recognition that the need greatly outweighs the number of available hours we have in a day, and we soon understood we could no longer do this on our own.
So we started praying God would bring us a partner in the U.S. who could handle the administrative side of the ministry, to start an actual non-profit, raise funds to continue the work, and handle the Stateside communication with families.
By January, my husband suggested, “Maybe we need to go back and be the partner we’ve been looking for.”
“No way! I love this work!” I responded, “Besides, that’s pretty prideful to say we are the only ones that can run the U.S. side of things…”
When May rolled around with no partners in sight, I headed back to the U.S. to attend a conference where we thought surely I could find some help. Instead, we were told that no one had ever heard of a ministry like ours. Send missionaries abroad to work with North Americans? Why on earth would we do that?
Because it’s not really about the North Americans. It is about making the adoption process easier, so more kids can find forever homes.
Which brings us to today… while God didn’t bring us a U.S. partner — at least not in the way we imagined — He did bring us another missionary couple to take over the day-to-day in-country support of adopting families. Our friends, Carlos & Sharla Martinez have agreed to move into our home, so we can return to the U.S. to be the partner we’ve been looking for. Carlos is from Nicaragua, Sharla is from the U.S., and together they have four children. They have unique teaching abilities (in the areas of music and early elementary education) that we’re sure will be invaluable for the adopting families. They also have much better Spanish language skills than us, and know their way around the country “like locals.” We are so excited for what they will bring to this ministry.
This means we’re now preparing to return to the U.S. to do stuff we never wanted to do in the first place: start a non-profit organization and raise funds to support a ministry in a developing country. Just writing that sentence makes me nervous… which means I am likely headed in the right direction. It’s funny, because after two years in Nicaragua I have finally started to feel like I sorta got this.
- I find joy in the work God has given us here.
- I know where to get most of the stuff we need on a daily basis (hint: it requires multiple trips to multiple stores over multiple days, but I can usually find it all).
- My body has adjusted to the heat well enough that I grab a light sweater when the temps dip below 80°.
- I’m no longer completely freaked out when something strange is in my food/hair/soap/shoe/whatever.
- I can mostly navigate the roads without getting too lost (which says a lot considering there are no street names or physical addresses).
- I can usually figure out what someone is saying to me even though I took 5 years of French instead of Spanish.
- I can’t even remember the last time I dreamed of a trip to Target/Trader Joes/Ikea (OK, I do. It was
in Mayyesterday, but… oh whatever, scratch this one).
In other words, I’ve found a comfort zone of sorts even though I’m far from “home.”
And as I read in my Facebook feed the other day:
I feel like God is once again asking me to step outside my comfort zone to do what He needs me to. I really can’t complain because the last time He did this I ended up here. And I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I have been stretched and grown in ways I didn’t even know were necessary or possible. It’s like I went back to Kindergarten only to realize I never really experienced it the first time around.
Where will we go? Well, we want to be within roughly a two-hour-drive of a direct flight to Nicaragua, and yet as close to family as possible. This led us to put Greenville, South Carolina (or somewhere in that general vicinity) at the top of our list.
When? As soon as we can raise the monthly support of our guesthouse in Nicaragua, and then get the Martinez family moved in. We have been funding our work here mostly on our own. However, we will not be able to continue to fund this ministry while also maintaining another household in the States. And — as self-supported missionaries — Carlos & Sharla do not have the financial resources to support this work on their own. We need to raise $5000 a month to keep the 15-person guesthouse running at no cost to adopting families. This amount will also enable us to hire a full-time driver for our van, and to make that service available at minimal cost to all families, regardless of whether they are staying at the guesthouse.
We have big plans for the future, if God allows, including offering more pre-adoption counseling and education, plus encouraging community involvement for adopting families through adoption-showers and post-adoption support. And in the long term, we want to build a facility dedicated to serving these families, because we believe in-country adoption-care needs to exist in every country where families must spend several weeks or months to adopt!
So… this is me stepping outside of my comfort zone to tell you that we officially need your monthly financial support. We’ve partnered with a non-profit organization that is accepting donations for us until we can start our own. That $5k sounds crazy to me. But my husband says it is just 50 people giving $100/month. Impossible, right? I came up with a few other variations on that, but it all feels ridiculous to my human brain.
Thankfully it is God’s job to raise it. We just have to say yes to our part, and then ask you: Will you join us?