Dear friends and family,
I send you our warm greetings on behalf of my husband Darwin, our motley group of foster teens and our dedicated ministry staff at the Living Waters Ranch in rural Honduras.
I humbly ask for your earnest prayers during these coming weeks and months, as our patchwork family has been immersed in a very difficult season with many lasting ramifications. In the following paragraphs I will share with you a small glimpse into some of what we’ve been going through:
In November 2021 we reached a breaking point with one of our beloved daughters (age 19, having lived 4+ years in our home), as her incessant stealing, lying and unhealthy behaviors were tearing our family to pieces. Her exit from our home came after months (and, to be honest, years) of immense levels of distrust and rebellious incidents in the home. We had taken every measure possible to correct her, encourage her, pray for her, teach her and walk with her along the “straight and narrow” path of Christ, but to no avail. Her departure from our home in November brought relief but also prolonged heartache, as she was an integral member of our household and was deeply loved despite her flaws.
Then, two months later in January 2022 two more of our beloved daughters (ages 18 and 17, having lived 4+ and 8+ years in our home, respectively) decided to leave our nest completely out of the blue, one of them giving us an hour’s notice before she packed up and disappeared from our lives. In Honduran culture, it is very common (and economically necessary) for young adults to continue living with their parents well into their twenties and/or until they get married (even as they work, go to college, etc.), so our teenage daughters’ sudden departure left in its wake many broken dreams, damaged relationships and things left unsaid, undone. We had many admirable goals and plans with both of them for 2022 (and beyond). We were knee-deep in the process of legally adopting these two when they decided to sever all significant ties with our family with little-to-no explanation, so the sting of rejection and broken family ties cuts even deeper.
In the midst of it all, my husband and I are having marital issues that oftentimes go untended-to, as our many other responsibilities and commitments oftentimes receive the largest part of our time and energy. Our marriage is left on the backburner. We are coming up on 9 years of marriage in June of this year, but we still have many areas that need urgent attention (and too little time and energy to tend to them). Please pray for our marriage.
It is not my intention to complain or to hang our family’s dirty underwear out where all can see; I simply ask for your honest prayers during this season, as our family has gone through many devastating storms over the past few months, some of which have caught us completely by surprise and left us speechless and hurt. (And, in the midst of the pain, life marches on and we still have 1 daughter and 3 sons at home, needing our attention, prayers, counsel and love in the midst of their own struggle to accept many of these painful new realities.) In many ways my husband Darwin and I are carefully and painstakingly re-evaluating our family life as we wonder silently before the Lord just where to go from here.
In August of this year I am planning a month-long trip back to the United States for the first time in five years, Lord willing, and during my stay on star-spangled soil I have a 2-week-long retreat scheduled at a Christian counseling center to help me work through much of the traumas that I’ve experienced in this decade of living and serving in the trenches of the third world. We’ve weathered many painful, dangerous storms over the past several years – my husband’s violent kidnapping by a local gang, countless robberies (more than half of which have occurred within the walls of our home by our own children), the murder of several people who were close to us, betrayal/slander, the devastating breakdown of many of our key relationships, and others.
Living in close context 24/7 with abused, abandoned children and teenagers whose biological parents taught them many destructive, anti-social behaviors in their early childhood brings about enormous levels of stress and compassion fatigue in the lives of foster- and adoptive parents like us. There is a very hazy line between what is work/service and what is personal/family time. On a normal day we arise at 4:00am and go nearly non-stop until about 7:30pm, oftentimes with little-to-no personal time or down time.
If you know a local foster family where you live or in your church congregation, I encourage you this week to reach out to them with a word of encouragement, offer to serve or help their family in some way, or simply lend them a listening ear and a prayerful heart, as foster- and adoptive families face incredible challenges that many “normal” families could not even begin to imagine.
Thank you for your honest prayers and continuing support, and please let us know how we can be praying for you as well, as the Lord has called us to bear one another’s burdens in love.
Sincerely, Jennifer (for Darwin and family/ministry)