God Doesn't Have a "Plan B" (Part 3)
“God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.”
Part 3 of 3
I love this song. It was actually written and first recorded in 1994 by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, was re-recorded and became a hit in 2004 by Rascal Flatts. Even the song had a broken road to success! It came out 18 months after Phil and I were married and has become “our” song because it speaks of the many wonderful, horrible mistakes we both made in our younger days that were all important steps to ultimately bring us together in the end.
It also describes how we feel about our time serving here in Guatemala. We came three years ago with a plan. We all know how the Lord feels about our plans, yet we keeping making them- 5 year plans, 10 year plans. It is culturally ingrained in us to make them starting in high school – ”What’s your plan?” everyone asks as you near graduation. Now, I am a planner at heart, a list-maker who will even put stuff on the list just so I can check it off. I even like to color code. Don’t judge me! I know I’m not alone. I have found that lists are essential for my success as a parent, wife, teacher, principal, otherwise important things get forgotten, like whose turn it is to pick the kids up from school. Lists are good. Plans are good. Dreams are good. But it’s important to learn to listen to the Lord and hear His plan for us. Even harder, is to WAIT (not one of my spiritual gifts) for His plan to be revealed to us because it never comes in one big, satisfying lump, but rather it dribbles in on an as-needed basis.
So we came to Guatemala to open an orphanage. Our original contract was for two years so we told people we were coming for just two years, though we hoped it would be longer (sorry people). We wanted it to be forever and it seemed like we had the perfect set-up, but after two years the cracks began to show and there were signs that it was time to end our partnership with the church that sent us. After two years of living and serving with them we realized that our visions for the orphanage no longer matched. It was a sad and painful time last summer when we left this ministry because we love the children and staff like family. We had been through the fire together- through the pain of losing a baby girl to pneumonia because she was a child of incest and had poor health from the beginning. We celebrated birthdays and worshipped together but most of all we served the Lord together and loved on all those kids like there was no tomorrow.
We almost went home. Almost. Since our plan to be here in Guatemala for years seemed to be crumbling I did what I had been trained to do and started making a new plan. I got into plan-mode and applied for teaching jobs back home and since school was days from starting, and principals were getting desperate, I actually was hired to teach music, something I am incredibly unqualified to do. They were desperate and so was I. But then something happened that stopped me in my tracks. My husband dropped to his knees and prayed for the Lord to give us guidance. He prayed, he cried (don’t tell him I said he cried) and while I was scrambling trying to rely on myself he was reaching out to the only one that could really help us. Dear friends, fellow missionaries, came and prayed with us, for us. Many of them had experienced the same kind of separation from a ministry with whom they thought they would be forever. In all this craziness came peace and we made the decision to stay. We had no idea how we would pay the rent or what we would do, but we knew the Lord wanted us to stay, and I am SO glad we did.
Thus began several months of waiting on the Lord (did I mention I am not good at waiting?). I went back to my job as principal (that paid the rent) and the church, our former ministry partners, were good to us financially. But what would we do for our ministry? What was our new plan?
And this is where I can now see the Lord’s hand in all of it. He got us here because both Phil and I wanted to work in orphan care. We still wanted to open our own children’s home but didn’t have the money to do so and we were feeling gun-shy about partnering with anyone else. I continued to have a love/hate relationship with my job as principal but am so thankful that I was able to return to it to be 100% certain that it is not my dream to be a school administrator, at least not right now. I have grown a lot professionally this year but it’s not why I came to Guatemala. I came to work with children, and specifically, with orphans. It was my dream to serve in an orphanage and I feared I wouldn’t be able to make it happen again. Remember the broken road?
Rewind to those days last summer when we were separating from our original ministry. We were at church one night for tacos, worship and fellowship when we met a couple from Seattle visiting Guatemala on something like their 20th short term mission trip. They were interested in our work with the hogar and asked a million questions about how we did it. Turns out the Lord had placed on their hearts to open an orphanage too, but we didn’t know it at the time. Fast forward several months, and the Lord (through our Pastor at Access Church) has choreographed a new partnership between us and this couple and their church in Seattle, to open another orphanage. We are so excited and blessed to have this opportunity to fight for the neglected, and abused children of this country we now call home. We are also excited to be partnering with other ministries to build homes, improve schools, support feeding programs for kids all while sharing our love for the Lord and his love for us.
But while the Lord has been opening doors for us and providing opportunities for ministry he has been doing something else in our lives. He had placed adoption on our hearts a long time ago but as long as Phil was the legal representative of the orphanage the law prevented us from adopting. Since we were in our mid-30s when we met and married I was only able to have a couple of kiddos before this old body gave out, though we wanted a bigger family. Now that Phil is no longer the legal rep and we have become permanent residents of Guatemala we qualify to be adoptive parents.
There’s that broken road again.