Being His Hands and Feet; My Journey With Orphan Ministries {Introduction}

Who of us looks back on life and says "things turned out just as I expected"?

Three-year-old me.

As children we hope and plan and see a future with all our dreams fulfilled: true love found, a beautiful wedding and magical honeymoon, houses bought, babies easily conceived and born, fulfilling jobs, and relationships with loved ones that never end.  And then our sweet visions fade passed what our young minds can picture into an empty yet warm place of "we'll just have to see when we get there."

At 28 years of age all semblances of childhood have faded. Though I'm still a young adult, the innocence of my youth is gone and the reality of what growing up is really like has set in. Three years into marriage, one year into motherhood, and nearly eleven years into a journey I most certainly did not dream about as a child, I am learning what it is to be me. I am finally "what I'll be when I grow up."

You see, I've just come home from a long journey. A journey I did not ask to be on, but yet I did. Those prayers of a young girl to be used by God, to learn what it meant to be wise, to sacrifice self for the least of these, to love like He does... God heard those prayers and he answered them. Though it happened in a way I could never have envisioned, certainly not in my warm childhood daydreams.

I can't believe it's really been eleven years. In a way it feels like half of that.

Yet in another way it's been a lifetime. How could it not be when the person I am today is so different than who I was when it all began, and the stories I could share would fill volumes? When I've carried burdens so great, heaved deep sobs for ones lost, and my heart broke a thousand times for those in desperate need? When if heartbreak really bled I'd be soaked in crimson. When God promised he'd be there for me, yet at times it seemed he'd forgotten who I even was. When he said "my strength will sustain you" but all he did was give me the strength to keep breathing. When he said he loves the least of these, but I watched some of them die.

Yes, it has been a lifetime.

It's impossible to not grow from experiences like this. And thankfully it was not always this intense.

I am taking the time to write about my journey for my own memories; so I never forget how God worked in my life.

Because today I can look back and I see things I couldn't see before and I know things I didn't know then, and it's obvious that God's hand was behind it all. 

Life is complicated and faith is hard, and so much doesn't make sense. So when something hard happens and later God shows me some of the "why",  I always want to remember it. Because God doesn't promise his ways will always make sense. Despite how it seemed many times, I know God has always been faithful.

I am also writing this out because I want you to read this. So you know me better. So you can see through my eyes a glimpse of what it is really like working with orphans and adoption ministries. And for you reading this who thinks faith is too hard and your difficult trial evidence that God is not there. So you can maybe see from my story that he is real and he is good.

Abraham, my foster baby, and me at ELWA beach, 2006.

This is my testimony. It's a story of God using an inexperienced and overly confident girl as His hands and feet to minister to the least of these and even save lives. It's a story of following God but not trusting him at the same time. Of staying faithful when it was not sweet to trust in Jesus. When taking him at his Word was all I could do because at times it seemed the God I was serving was nothing like who he claimed to be in his Word. Of spending years with deep unresolved issues with God, praying for answers and healing. Of coming back from Liberia in 2010 in shock, looking back at the burnt pages of my life, feeling as though I'd walked through fire, and being sure of only one thing; I survived.

And now, finding healing. Finding answers to my questions, and learning to trust God with the questions that never will be answered this side of Heaven.

But above all, growing into the new me and realizing that who I am today is so much better than anyone I would have become apart from these experiences.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let 
steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, 
lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4.

 I wish I could fit this whole story into one post. Actually, I wish I could sit with you in my living room with a cup of coffee and a couple of hours. This story is so deep, so crazy, so amazing, so unbelievable at times, I wish you could hear me tell it first hand through the tears that would inevitably come.

Allow me share how God used me to be his hands and feet.

Part 1 {Growing Up in Africa}
Part 2 {Lord Move or Move Me} My first opportunity to work in an orphanage.

The stories within the story:

Beatrice's Blessing