God has changed my plans many times over the course of these last few years, and this is a story of one such time.
Darwin, Jenae, and I were waiting anxiously for the first two children to arrive at the Ranch from Honduras’ child protective agency. Weeks passed by, phone calls and visits were made, emails were sent, and we were getting nowhere. Every time we spoke with a representative from the agency, they said there were no children available, all the personnel were busy in custody cases, or that we had to come back another time because they were swamped with work and didn’t have time for us.
One afternoon, standing on the empty porch of the Ranch’s small education building, Jenae laughed and said, “There are orphans in the whole world, and here we are, three people called by God and ready to take care of them, and supposedly there aren’t any available.”
More time passed, and finally we received a call from the agency: there were two sibling groups available, but each group had three members, which is more than we were originally planning for. The agency told us the first group had kids ages 2, 4, and 6 years old, and the second group composed of children ages 4, 7, and 9. All along we were intent on receiving children between the ages of 2 and 7 years old, because the older a child is, the more baggage he or she has and the more difficult it is to impact their lives.
Or so they say.
Upon hearing of the older sibling group, with a nine-year-old boy who fell outside of our 2-7 range, God spoke to my heart and said that we should take them. Everyone wants the little ones, so if you don’t take the older ones, who will? Isn’t that your purpose — to raise children that no one else wants? I prayed during the night for confirmation regarding this decision, and the following day received unquestioned support from both Darwin and Jenae.
The next day Darwin and I were in the city of La Ceiba, near the government agency’s office, and called repeatedly, almost desperately, to tell them that we wanted to at least meet the older sibling group. After several calls they finally answered, very unexpectedly telling us that that day was ‘visit day’ for all the foster homes and orphanages, so all the kids from the surrounding area would be visiting the agency’s main office that afternoon. Darwin and I looked at each other with a joyful panic in our eyes, rearranged our plans for the afternoon, and began walking briskly to the run-down, bright pink government office that had been such a source of frustration and confusion for us during the previous months.
This time we arrived with hope and anticipation bursting forth in our hearts, thinking Today we may meet our future children. As we approached the office, seeing dozens upon dozens of children in the dirt playground, swinging on old metal swings, or sitting idly waiting for parental visits, I looked at each child, wondering in my heart Is that him? Is that her? Are those — or those over there — our future children?
We entered the rusty gate, and there, sitting all three in a row — biggest, middle, then smallest — were children that seemed different than the rest. I made eye contact with the oldest, a girl, and I think she smiled — or maybe only I did! — and God spoke to my heart, “She will be your daughter.” I thought — How? The government agency said that the oldest child, the 9-year-old, was a boy… — but I stopped the thoughts and chose to trust God’s plan. We were immediately whisked into the director’s office, and then he quickly left to bring us the three children he supposedly told us about by phone. In the depth of my heart I knew, or perhaps only hoped, that she and her two younger siblings would be them, but I knew from a rational point of view that my hope was foolish.
Soon enough the door to the office swung open, and there they stood, her and her two younger siblings waiting somewhat awkwardly, the middle sister stealing shy grins at us. We were encouraged to find a somewhat private spot on the small, concrete property to get to know the kids, and it was quickly established that the oldest one was the spokesperson for the younger two. Not having a script and being filled with all sorts of intense emotions, Darwin and I began asking them basic questions to get to know them — their ages, what they like to do, etc. When the oldest one answered that she was 13, I nearly gasped as I thought, “God, how could we possibly take in a teenager? She’s only ten years younger than myself! We’re looking for kids who are between the ages of two and seven…” But those thoughts quickly disappeared as I sensed God was calling us to obey, to have open hearts and fulfill what He had promised me — that she would be our daughter.
After an hour of talking with them individually and with their foster mom, Darwin and I said our goodbyes and began leaving to supposedly go home and pray about the situation. The children stood behind their beloved foster mom, a Christian widow in her sixties, and watched us with intense interest and we waved and smiled. Before exiting the complex, I looked at Darwin and said, “I want them. I know we said that we were going to pray about it, but I don’t think we need to. Those will be our children.” He immediately agreed, saying that he also had God’s confirmation, so we slid into the director’s office and asked what we needed to do to bring them home with us.
The three of them became part of our family the next day, November 1, 2013.
Diana, our eldest daughter, is a tremendous blessing for both her siblings and us, and she is a powerful example of purity, joy, deep faith, and selfless service. We are so proud of her and daily give thanks to God that He had plans different from our own.
“Don’t let anyone look down upon you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12