As you can probably tell by the title of this post, Jess and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary yesterday. I am not going to get into the “share personal things about how much you love someone else on Facebook or other social media” kind of thing because I got to tell Jess all of those things face-to-face last night on our first date since Elijah was born (on a side note, I highly recommend the Melting Pot). What I do want to share about this particular anniversary is how much things can change in 2 short years. For some reason the number “10” is really important when it comes to the passage of time (10 year reunions, 10th anniversary, 10 years is a decade, etc.) and this got me thinking about where we were 2 years ago on our 10th anniversary. On March 12, 2015 here is what we were doing:
- We were getting ready to go back down to Haiti to be there with 2 upcoming teams.
- One of the teams built some really nice lockers for the kids to keep their stuff locked up because we had no idea that we would be moving in a month.
- There were 34 children living with us at the orphanage (many had parents close by).
- We were still driving up to Audancin’s (the old orphanage if you are new to us) every morning to get the kids because that is where they were living.
- Jess and I did not have children and a birth mom had not yet chosen us.
- We were still living at the house at Christianville.
- We had not even spoken to Hope Rising about the kids moving onto their campus.
I could keep going, but the things that I just listed are amazing when you think about where we are now and all that has happened in just 2 short years. These are some of those highlights:
- We have moved the kids twice and they are now in what we hope is a permanent rental house.
- We have 2 kids of our own.
- Only 18 children still live at the orphanage and we were able to reunite 10 with their families.
- While the lockers are gone (and probably sold), I am actually heading down to Haiti on March 27 to prepare for 2 more teams so I guess that hasn’t changed.
- We still partner with Christianville and Hope Rising for a lot of things but we no longer live on either campus.
Again, I could keep going with all of the things that have changed over the past 2 years, but I will stop there as our anniversary just reminded me of a few of them. GOD is so good and so faithful and it is good to have milestones like anniversaries and birthdays to get your mind thinking about how quickly things can happen and change. With that said, it is also important to remember to always pray and seek after GOD’s guidance and counsel in all that we do because you never know how much He will change us in just a short amount of time. Here are some of the things that I have learned over the past 2 years as GOD has changed our lives in ways that I could have never imagined:
- Having kids definitely changes your life, but you cannot let it take your focus off of GOD. People ask us all of the time, “Are you taking your kids to Haiti?” This is a really strange question because, of course our kids are coming wherever we go. The truth is, we cannot wait to get down there as a family even if it is scary, hot, and a little dangerous. When GOD calls us to something, He calls us to pour our lives into it.
- The past 2 years have been the busiest and most stressful 2 years of my life. In fact, even being back home right now for a few months while we wait for Elijah’s paperwork to go through we are changing the organizational makeup of ATN (read this blog for more information about that) and we are trying to do at least a year’s worth of work in a few months. As I type this, however, I would not change the past 2 years for anything. All of the stress, fatigue, busyness, etc. have all been worth it as our family continues to grow and the ministry of ATN continues to strengthen.
- Things rarely happen on your timetable and in the way that you planned it. On March 12, 2015 we thought that it would still be a couple of years before we could find a place to move our kids. On April 25, 2015 circumstances dictated that we move into Hope Rising with every single one of our kids leaving the old orphanage! Our plan was to update our home study and hopefully be chosen by a birth mom sometime toward the end of 2017. On February 3, 2017 Elijah was born and he was created to be our son! When you try to live your life (please notice the use of the word “try”) asking what GOD wants it to be, you just never know when He will change His plan or completely mess up your timetable.
- The last thing that I will mention is that He taught us very clearly how important community is to our life here on earth. Our community, family, friends, and supporters both here and in Haiti have played a huge role in this ministry. The truth is that it is easy for us (for me at least) to focus on ourselves and what we hope to accomplish at the expense of the other people in our lives who are there to support us, encourage us, pray for us, and just be there for us no matter what. Over the past 2 years I have learned this lesson maybe to a larger extent than anything else I have learned. Living in Haiti can be lonely, having 2 babies can be lonely, and having 2 homes in 2 different countries can make it feel like you don’t belong anywhere at times and I can have the tendency to be selfish and try to do everything on my own. This is NOT how GOD created us, and He has made it crystal clear how important it is to have people who love us and who we love. People who would do anything for us and who we would do anything for. GOD has also showed me that we have been incredibly blessed in this area! You guys have prayed for us, encouraged us, asked about our kids, had us over to dinner, visited us in a 3rd world country, and made sure that we never had to do ministry alone.
These last 2 years could have been unbearable, but they have been so encouraging. If we can make it through rescuing our kids from a terrible place, being taken to Haitian Court, adopting a daughter and taking our baby to a 3rd world country, adopting a son 15 months later and preparing to take him to a 3rd world country, figuring out how to live and minister in Haiti, moving our kids 2 times in less than a year and then into a rental house in Haiti, figuring out how to make the 2 houses livable, trying to figure out how to fundraise/rest/run our organization simultaneously, and all the while trying to make sure that our marriage and our relationship with GOD was maintained…Then we can make it through anything. I believe that GOD is getting ready to use this ministry for something big and I have no idea what it is. Please stay faithful with us and we will stay faithful in this ministry as GOD continues to bless us and take us to a new level of ministering in His Name.