The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Psalm 37:23-24
Almost five years ago our pastor challenged us to “GO”. I liked the idea and believed in missions but never accepted the challenge for myself. My career was new and my responsibilities were to my family. I became busy with “life” and the routine of being a wife, working, and raising our daughter. Committing to serve internationally was not on the forefront of my mind, but God was already orchestrating a trip that would change my life forever.
In October 2015 I purchased tickets to a Princess Tea Party. Mollie and I enjoyed a mother-daughter date surrounded by beautiful decorations, dancing ballerinas, and of course the famous princesses. Towards the end of the event, Jenny Blount, a girl I recognized from church, shared about some kids who lived somewhere far away, and needed sponsorships for school… at least that is all I heard that day while selfishly taking in my child’s every smile and reach for another cookie.
A year passed and tickets went on sale for the 2016 event. We invited friends, dressed the part, and attended another beautiful tea. I found myself listening to Jenny speak passionately about Eagles Nest International, an orphanage in Guatemala. That vague presentation from one year ago now had more details and most of my attention. I went home and researched Jenny’s foundation, The Orphan Door. I even “liked” her pages on social media. I read about the mission work in Guatemala and smiled thinking “that’s a good cause, we should do the tea party again next year.” (Insert note-to-self here: I MISSED IT… AGAIN!).
The story did not end there. A seed was planted in my heart that eventually bloomed. November 18, 2016 while mindlessly scrolling Facebook, I came across a post. It read “…we are still looking to add occupational therapists to the team…”. I reached out to Jenny for more details and over the course of email conversations, I had enough information to at least ponder the idea.
So, remember how self-consumed I was at the first tea party? Well as of this point, I had not really changed at all. Jonathan and I decided over the summer that we were ready to have another child. As we approached December, I became hyper focused on calendars, ovulation kits, and pregnancy tests. Month by month went by resulting in more frustration and tears. We did not have these issues with Mollie, why was it so hard this time? About that same time, Jenny reached out to me about an interest meeting for Guatemala. I kindly responded with the reality of my situation and told her if we were not pregnant in January, I would attend the meeting.
On January 24, 2017 I attended the interest meeting with my friend Stephanie. We sat in a room full of strangers and heard the details. When the meeting ended, Stephanie and I rode home on a high, proposing therapy ideas for the trip. I dropped her off and cried the rest of the way home. God kindly began to break my heart for the children and I knew in those moments that it was time to finally “GO”. Jonathan supported my decision and we began making plans. All the while, I was two days away from another pregnancy test.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Negative. But this time, I wasn’t as upset. Jonathan and I finalized our plans at home and I contacted Jenny to officially commit to the trip. From that moment, things begin to fall into place. My bosses supported my decision 100% and within a few weeks, my co-workers jumped on board by fundraising for therapy and medical supplies. My family and friends supported me as well through prayers and financial needs. My mom also jumped on board and committed to fill a spot as a pediatric nurse.
Fast forward a few weeks to May 20, 2017 where a God chosen team of medical professionals and volunteers arrived in Solola’ Guatemala.
(from my journal) Day One: Finally through rain, sunshine, honking horns, and animals in the streets, we made it to the orphanage. The kids welcomed us shouting “Hola”. We didn’t see them long today, but oh how my heart is ready to love them tomorrow. We all left Mississippi as strangers, but amazing relationships are already forming.
I would wake up early in the mornings and prayerfully sit on the balcony. There was something special about the property on top of that mountain. Among the beautifully kept landscapes and buildings filled with workers and children was pain that surrounded us in the form of poverty, abandonment, heartache, and illness. However, when I looked out in to the vastness of the morning horizon, I was reminded of how God spoke it all into creation (Genesis 1:31; Psalm 139:14).
We had what would seem like a hectic schedule. Over the course of three days, the medical team would screen, evaluate, and treat every child in the orphanage. As we combined our skill sets, God continued to answer prayers. Schedules ran smooth, the Mommas were receptive to our work, and the entire team worked seamlessly together to problem solve and provide care specific to every child’s need.
Trust in the Lord and do good. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him and he will help you. Psalm 37: 3 & 5
As we met the needs of the orphanage, our own hearts began to stir and heal. What was originally a random group of mission minded people, were now relational minded friends. We shared our own struggles, good laughs, and stories over meals and during our evening debriefings in good ole’ apartment six.
Every person and every child had a different story about how they arrived at Eagles Nest. God created each one of our beginnings and knew how our paths would cross. We were scattered and he brought us together at a specific time to share life and grow relationally.
He has made everything beautiful in its time… Ecclesiastes 3:11a
In the same way, no matter our circumstances, through Christ alone, we can have hope, we can serve, we can love, and we can be loved. That truth is something to hold onto whether in Guatemala or at home. I pray that we dive into the word and seek the plans God has for us. May our desires parallel with what God has in store and that we do not miss the B I G G E R picture.