I gripped tightly with white knuckles as we landed at the infamous Tegucigalpa (Tegus), Honduras airport. The death grip I had wasn't from a Hollywood worthy, death defying landing we were about to make. Which, if you research and know enough about the world's most difficult airstrips to land on, Tegus ranks at the top of that list. We cheered the pilot as he brilliantly and so smoothly landed the plane that day. It really was spectacular, especially for those who were conjuring up all sorts of scenarios in their minds and preparing to meet their maker right then and there. All in the name of the Lord! I'm feeling a bit like Braveheart now! But back to my white knuckle grip... it wasn't from fearing of dying or crashing. I'd flown numerous times before and even had some horribly terrifying moments. No, my fear was of the unknown. I'd been out of the country several times before on vacation and passed by poverty as we made horrific bus rides (which are far worse than any flight I've ever been on!) to our resorts. But this wasn't vacation. This was a mission. This was a true third world country. All of it. No resorts. No lavish pools or turquoise waters. Only dust, water that you can't even brush your teeth with, toilets are scare, roofs that barely existed. There were teams and teams of us landing there - difference makers.
We were there to fulfill the words of James 1:27 and look after those that had been orphaned by the rest of the world. From all over the US, mission teams arrived to provide medical and dental assistance, work in orphanages, and perform construction projects. You name it. We came to spread the love of Christ in practical ways. Whatever the need, we were there to meet it. We came to make a difference in lives. Lives we would likely never see again nor have any way to communicate with again. We came to make a difference if even to just one.
I had arrived on my mission soil for the week. One that had been nagging in my heart for about 5 years to be a part of. God had led me there. I hesitated. I made excuses. I said NO WAY year after year. And if you have read my Adoption Journey post then you know the full story of what happened as a result of my finally saying yes – our son. My obedience brought us a miraculous adoption story. I can’t say with certainty that this trip is why we were blessed with our son, but I can say with certainty that the details surrounding his story has everything to do with my obedience. So if you haven’t read that post yet, then follow the link to know the “rest of the story” (a little Paul Harvey influence there).
Our team arrived and met our host missionaries at the airport and drove over two hours to their home in Danli. We set up camp at their house, which actually did have a roof and indoor plumbing. By Honduran standards that is rich. Our mission work for the week would be the men constructing a roof for a church in Santa Maria (another 1-2 hour drive each day) and the women assisting with vacation bible school. More dirt roads and dust that I can still taste when I close my eyes. And lots of sweat from the baking heat each day. My stomach churned as we set out for our first day in Santa Maria. I could not fathom the poverty that I had already seen and more to come. The smallest of children walking beside the dusty roads, barefoot and some without any clothes to wear at all, no toys, barely enough food. Tired eyes of elders who had endured this life, the only life they’ve ever known, year after endless year. “Homes” without complete roofs, without beds, without anything. Tears welled up inside as we passed mile after mile of destitution. We arrived in Santa Maria and the men were welcomed by Pastor Pedro, a young man who walked with a cane after an accident that he couldn’t afford to have surgery or even the travel back to Tegus (“the city”) to repair. But he welcomed us with the brightest smile and open heart I’ve ever met. A man with nothing by our standards. All I could think was how could he be so happy? He then led the ladies to his home across the street where we met his family and others from the community who also met us with bright smiles and open arms. Still holding back tears I couldn’t wrap my mind around their joy. They lived in a dust filled village with little to no transportation and virtually no modern conveniences. What did they have to be so joyous about? I was already beginning to break the pain and
bitterness buried inside me on Day 1.
PAUSE. So you’re reading this and thinking…what does this have to do with anything and where is she going with all of this? What does this have to do with infertility or adoption? Or maybe you are just wondering what this has to do with you at all if you are brave enough to read anything that I post! It has everything to do with our adoption story and the mending that took place in my heart after 5 years of harboring the disappointment from failed pregnancy tests, answers that were lacking, resentment that begin to build against my life’s plan for a family. I had lost my joy – the joy that can only came from God – along the way. I faked it so many times. Inside I was bitter and torn. My heart needed mending in a way that only He knew could happen. I had to see and experience what true joy was by traveling thousands of miles to an impoverished nation. I had to sweat out all that I held inside and open my heart for what HE had planned for us. So back to the trip…
We had an interpreter, which thank the Lord for because my two years of Spanish from high school had been long gone other than a few words that I knew and could say in my southern Spanish voice! Pastor Pedro’s son, Oscar, came inside from playing and we all feel in love with the most handsome and full of life 4 year old we had ever laid eyes on. It was as if he and I immediately became connected. Oscar clung to me as if he knew what I was missing and aching for – a child of my own. And although we could barely communicate verbally with one another, we had our own love language. I could see the love and adoration in his eyes, just as he could mine. Now looking back and having a son of my own, I see so much of Oscar in him. They share that same bright eyed look – the one that is in love with life and the one that God has marked them with to do great things as they become men. They are playful, energetic, and captivate you within seconds with their eyes and smile. God placed me with that very family at the time I needed it most in my life. It is mind blowing at how He orchestrates things so perfectly!
As vacation bible school started and children from all over were picked up along the way in a cattle truck. They were dressed in their best – clothes that didn’t fit, shoes that were mended, or no shoes – to learn about Jesus and hope for a better life beyond theirs on earth. Smile after precious smile. My heart overflowed with a hundred smiling faces full of joy just like the others we had already met. They clung to us and literally some wouldn’t let go of us. It was amazing and beautiful. The week went on and each day I forgot a little bit more about all my pain of the past 5 years. I was focused on these beautiful people who exuded joy from every ounce of their being and I was aching for what they had. I wanted the dust and the sun scorched skin, and all that came with their way of life. It was a simple life. They just loved God and loved life. They have such a deep appreciation for the one thing that really matters – God. The one thing I knew in my mind all along I needed to mend and move forward with our infertility – joy. The kind of joy that can only come from our Heavenly Father. The kind of joy that that is overriding no matter the trial or pit that you find yourself in. I was on my knees with the Lord, with renewed joy and hope for our future.
So there we were that last week in Santa Maria, difference makers ready to fulfill our mission duties. By the end of the week, that joyful family became my own flesh. I fell in love with them and I believe if my husband had agreed to it, we would have stayed there with them. We went there to be difference makers to them, yet they became the difference makers to us. They gave me my joy back and a hope for all that God had planned in our lives. It was such a foreshadowing of what our life was about to be like just 6 months later. To be continued...
I shared this not just for those who have or are facing infertility, but for anyone who finds themselves in a trial. You have suppressed your feelings, put a smile on your face, and your joy is stripped away. You are going through the motions, yet can’t feel your body move. It’s so hard to see the forest for the trees. Sometimes, just sometimes, you have to take that leap of faith and hold on tight with white knuckles to receive the answers and give you the hope you’ve been longing for.
I posted this verse earlier in the week knowing what God had put on my heart to share this week. And just as I said then, God never forgets us or leaves us abandoned and broken. While it may feel like that in the midst of a struggle, keep your heart and mind fixed on this truth. He KNOWS the plans He has for us. His plans, not ours. His way, not ours. His timing, not ours. All of those to give us HOPE and FUTURE. He promises to take care of us, but it is on His terms and not ours. When we can wholeheartedly grasp that in our hearts, He transforms us and our lives in far better ways than we could ever have imagined.
I don’t know who you are, but I know there is at least one person out there that God meant to read this. Someone who desperately needed to see hope renewed. And even if only one person is touched by it, I have fulfilled my mission. It’s for His glory alone that I write and bare my soul. Know that I am praying over you – praying for God to renew your joy and to give you the hope you are deeply longing for. I’m praying for that difference maker in your life.