Exactly five years ago this month, we had dinner with some friends who had traveled to Nicaragua with us twice for family mission trips. We were feeling like God was prompting us to spend more time in Nicaragua, although the thought sounded crazy. We figured our friends would help talk some sense into us, but instead they said, “Let’s all move to Nicaragua!” We spent the next 16 months meeting together for dinner and prayer twice a month, to seek God’s will for our families.
I won’t lie. That was a very difficult year and a half for us. We faced some extremely challenging struggles and it felt a bit like God had abandoned us in our search for his will.
And yet… four years ago this month we got an amazing answer to prayer that left us no doubt where God was leading us. A few months later, we rented our house and took our family (along with our friends and their family) on a year-long trip to Nicaragua.
Three years ago we were starting to plan for our return to the States. Then, one month later, we were told a story that turned our lives upside down. That story made us realize that God had an amazing plan when he brought us to Nicaragua. It started almost ten years ago when we took our first step in caring for the unprotected child (James 1:27) by becoming foster parents. We thought that would eventually lead to adoption, but instead it equipped us to create an adoption care ministry, where we walk alongside adopting families to support them through the process and ensure their new family bond is as strong as possible.
Two years ago we had an average of 12-15 people living under our roof on a daily basis, and drove just as many around each day, in our adoption care ministry. The ministry was growing so much we could barely work our jobs to support it and care well for all of the families. We realized we needed help, but God’s timing for proving that help felt a bit long for our tastes…
One year ago, we moved into a new-to-us home back in the States, leaving another family to take over the day-to-day support of adopting families. I now advocate for, educate, and support families Stateside, as well as run the administrative and financial side of the ministry (and work full-time in communications).
This week, I received a photo of all of the families currently being supported by FIT Nicaragua. They were sharing a meal in the FIT home – 30 people! I can’t show you the photo yet, because the adoptions aren’t yet final, but if I could you would see 12 beautiful faces of children who are orphans-no-more! TWELVE! And, as if that weren’t enough, by the end of February, when two more families arrive, that number will be 14!
When they sent me the photo, the caption read: “Look what a great thing you started!”
I just stared at it. And stared. And stared. It’s not me. Well, it sort of is. But not really. The thing is: we just said yes. We didn’t seek this out. We didn’t want to go start some crazy ministry in a developing country. In fact, we tried to say no a ton of times. But then finally we said yes. It wasn’t a resounding yes, but probably more of a “OK, I guess so” yes. (And, in fact, we tried to reneg on that yes a few times.)
That didn’t matter. (Thankfully.) God took our tiny little hesitant yes(es) and created something only he could accomplish.
[Sidenote: we’re growing so much, we need more help! If you know of an 18-25 year old female who is interested in an internship in Nicaragua, please send her this link!]
From forgotten to filled
On an average day now, I get up, eat breakfast, get the kids off to school, go to work, work, come home, eat dinner, clean up, watch an episode of something with a British accent and read or write (or both). I’m normal, just the same as everyone else. It’s easy to feel like nothing I’m doing matters, and God has forgotten me (or worse, that he doesn’t need me). It’s easy to think I’m just going through the motions, putting one front in front of the next… especially on days when my focus is lost in the details. Like the messes to be cleaned, the bills to be paid, and the work to be done.
In November, FIT Nicaragua was offered a much-needed $11,000 matching grant. We’ve been slowly inching our way toward that $11k over the past 90 days, and then I receive a message that read, “How much do you need to meet your goal?”
Gee, I thought… only almost three thousand dollars!
“We’ll give it to you. All of it.”
Are you kidding me? Wow! That family said yes, and our entire ministry is blessed because of it. But, you’re probably thinking, most of us can’t offer $3,000 to someone just like that. Well… keep reading.
Saving for a purpose
And then I get a message from someone saying she and her husband have been saving a little bit each month since last summer. It’s not much, she told me, but they felt God was prompting them to give it to FIT Nicaragua to buy a new washing machine.
Well, I said, I don’t think we need a new washing machine. So I wrote to the Martinez family to ask, “If someone gave a donation specifically for an appliance or piece of furniture, is there anything we need?”
The response was swift: a new washing machine.
I should have guessed! For months God was prompting this couple to save, and for months they said yes. They could have easily pushing the thought out of their minds, saying, “it’s such a small amount, it won’t ever be enough to mean anything…” And yet, what they gave us was exactly what was needed to purchase a new machine that will help wash the clothes of so many orphans-no-more.
It should probably go without saying, but if God cares enough about whether we have a washing machine for adopting families, doesn’t he care that much more about me… and you?
Five years ago when we first considered what it would look like to say yes to living in Nicaragua, we never imagined what God would do with that yes. But now, having lived through it all, I realize we should have not only imagined it, we should have expected it!
Remembering and trusting (and remembering and trusting)
We humans are so silly. We easily believe in stuff like onions charging phones (or absorbing illnesses overnight when placed on your feet) or that the US is requiring RFID chips for all public school students, but somehow we struggle to believe that the Father who created us might actually have a really great plan for us… if only we trust him.
At least we’re not alone.
The Israelites watched God literally part a body of water so they could walk across without getting even their pinky toe wet, then used that same water to swallow up the Egyptians who were following them: “Because of the mighty power he had used against the Egyptians, the Israelites worshiped him and trusted him and his servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:31) A mere THREE DAYS later, they are complaining because they have nothing to drink. And shortly after that, they say, “We wish the Lord had killed us in Egypt. When we lived there, we could at least sit down and eat all the bread and meat we wanted. But you have brought us out here into this desert, where we are going to starve.” (Exodus 16:3)
So not only do we struggle to believe that God knows what’s best for us, we have a very short memory with regards to how he has taken care of us in the past.
Our devotional for adopting moms has a whole chapter on Remembering. My friend, Melissa, wrote such important words about the importance of reminding ourselves of God’s past provision, to encourage and inspire us to keep trusting him with our yeses. I guess it doesn’t matter how old we are, or what season we’re in, we must continually remember and trust—and remember and trust—and remember and trust some more.
What do you need to remember about God’s goodness and provision in your life? What miracles (small or large) do you need to take note of, to help keep you trusting him?
Thank you, God, for planning and providing for our every need, from washing machines to vehicles, and from encouragement to reassurance (and everything in between).