Anniversaries of a Sort– Miss E. and Sonia

While last week was an important week for Haiti and for those who care about Haiti (the 12th of January was four years since the quake), I want to share with you two special anniversaries that occurred this week.    One of them is a 4 year anniversary and the other one is a 3 year anniversary.

At 3:00 PM today, Eastern Time, I was finally able to track down one of our adoptive Moms.   This was a Wednesday afternoon and we had just gotten word that all of the US adoptive parents needed to be in Miami.   Not some time, not in 4 days, but in 24 hours!

I got in touch with Jayne while she was in Toy’s R Us attempting to get the stuff she was going to need IF her little girl could come home sooner.

Let’s just say that when I got on the phone with Jayne, I think the entire store heard our conversation.   She started screaming, crying, jumping up and down and just sort of, well, let’s just say it’s one of the most deeply moving and incredibly joy filled phone calls I’ve ever made.   I consider it an honor to have been the one to tell her to get on a plane.

Wednesday, I’m going to post a LOT of pictures from the 4 year anniversary of that homecoming.

The second anniversary actually happened yesterday.   3 years ago yesterday, I got a message from Dixie.  It went something like this,  “Tom, I have a project I want you to work on – we have a 4 month old who is going to die if we don’t get her out of Haiti and get her heart surgery.”

Gulp.  I had been on the job full time for less than 3 weeks and suddenly this little girl’s life was in my hands!  The first thing I did was call my good friend Rebekah – she’s done a number of medical visas before and said, “I need you to help  – I’ve never done this before!

We walked through it and began figuring out what it would take.   To say she was a big help is an understatement.

I’m going to quote Lisa on the next part –

“3 years ago today, January 19, I received this email that changed our lives forever, “We’ve got an urgent situation with Sonia, a 4 month old who has been at GLA since she was 6 days old. The short story is that our pediatrician said she needs to get out of Haiti for medical treatment or she will probably not survive.”

I still remember getting an e-mail from this lady by the name of Lisa who was so insistent on helping Sonia.   We talked, we e-mailed, we researched, she talked to hospitals, she talked to the senior pastor at her church, I talked to her senior pastor, we both talked to hospitals.   Lab reports were translated and scanned, X-rays were taken and sent.

And throughout it all, countless people were praying for Sonia.

And little by little, the details started falling into place.

And then Lisa (and Al)’s senior pastor talked to a friend of his.   Oh and that friend happened to be on the board at Miami Children’s Hospital.

God opened doors and a travel date was set for her to come to Miami on a Monday with surgery tentatively scheduled for later in the week.

The Saturday before that, I got a message from one of our nursing staff – “Tom, Sonia has a fever.”

Uh oh.   But they decided to send her anyway – and it’s a good thing.   She ended up spending 21 days in the hospital for a bone infection.

It’s an infection that would have killed her in Haiti.

Long story short, she had the surgery, it went well and she returned to GLA.   Her host family became her adoptive family and she will soon be coming home permanently.

Oh and the icing on the cake?   Since then, her adoptive parents have moved back to Michigan and I’m going to be able to meet them at the airport when they come home.

Here’s a picture of Sonia from when she first got sick and then one from earlier this month.

God is good.  Life is not easy, nothing is easy, but God is good.

And I’m blessed to play a small role in making a difference for these kids.


1533933_10151952418202809_48374477_nMiss S

Moses had a Speech Impediment

As part of my daily devotions, I’m doing the “read through the Bible” process again.   My goal is to do it more quickly than the 2 1/2 years it took me the first time.

Part of my reading today was from Exodus 6-8.    It’s the story of Moses, Pharaoh and the 10 plagues.   We’ve all heard it many times (at least most of us have).

The thing that struck me today is that Moses had a speech impediment.   He says a couple of times in these chapters,  “But I can’t do that, I stutter.”

Guess what – God used him anyway.

God took a man with a speech impediment and used him to lead the nation of Israel out of slavery and out of a really bad situation.

If God used a man with a speech impediment, how much more can He use you and me?

Are you open to God’s leading?  In spite of whatever “impediments” you might have?


Being Vulnerable

I had a life changing opportunity today – and it happened at my desk in my office.   I had a chance to listen to Bob Goff (Google Love Does)as he spoke at the January Series at Calvin College.   I didn’t have time to drive over and hear him in person, but I did listen to him online while eating lunch and working.

Here’s a collection of the quotes of his that I shared on Facebook while listening.   I’ll have more thoughts at the end……

“Most of the things I was afraid of never happened; most of what I hoped for did. Let your hopes trump your fears.”

“It’s called the book of Acts, not the book of opinions. So let’s do that.”

“Don’t call it ministry, just call it Tuesday.”

“Stop keeping track of what you’re doing that is good. Be available and see what God is up to.”

“If we keep telling people that they are thirsty when they aren’t, they won’t know who to turn to when they are thirsty.”

“If we have a guide we can trust, we don’t need to worry about the path.”

There’s a couple of things/questions that I’m wrestling with after listening to him.    And all of them swirl around the idea of being vulnerable.

We are too worried about what happens – instead we should be vulnerable and go after our hopes and be vulnerable to God changing them.

We are too busy talking about it and attending Bible studies – we should be vulnerable and be out there doing what God wants us to.

Don’t worry about getting credit, don’t worry about keeping track, just be vulnerable, be open to what God wants and be available for it.   As my friend Carolyn Twietmeyer’s Project Hopeful T-shirts say, “It’s Not About Me!”  (By the way, I now have 3 of those t-shirts – very powerful reminders)

Don’t worry about where the path is, don’t worry about where you’re going – just be vulnerable and trust your guide.

In my opinion, there are too many people in the first world church who are too concerned with looking nice, looking pretty and looking like they know it all and have it all.    That’s not what God wants.

That’s not what the unchurched of the world want.   They want us to be vulnerable.   They want us to be real.   We shouldn’t pretend to know what they want, we should just love them.

Who is them?   Anyone who is hurting, who is lonely, who is struggling, even someone who appears to have it all together.  

I’d be willing to venture that of the next 10 people you see, at least 8 of the 10 are facing significant troubles and challenges.    And that 9 out of the 8 won’t admit it.  Smile

Don’t be the 9, be the 1.   Be the one to say, “It’s a fallen world and I’m hurting.”   Be the one to say, “I wish I could say I’m doing good but I need help.”   Be the one to say, “How can I help you?”   Or “What can I pray for?”  (But don’t say that if you don’t mean it.)

Be vulnerable, reach out and love others and watch what God can do.


Prayer–Yes, No or Not Now

I was reading through my personal devotions this morning and came across this verse in Job 33:14 (The Message): 

God always answers, one way or another,  even when people don’t recognize his presence.

Think about it.   God always answers.  

God always answers.   He always answers.

Sometimes the answer is yes.

Sometimes the answer is no.

Sometimes the answer is, “My child, I need to do more work in and through you before I can answer that question.”

But God always hears and always answers.

Hold on to that thought……

I am.