Fast forward 10 years to 2010. Through God's mercy I had experienced significant spiritual growth. I was certainly not perfect, but on the right track and picking up steam. The blinders were off. The material things had been exposed for what they are, distractions. I was eagerly searching for God's will in my life. God knew I was ready, even though I didn't know what He had planned.
In the spring of 2010, for the second time in my life, I signed up for a mission trip to Haiti late that summer. Just like the first time, I didn't really plan to sign up, I just did. I seldom watched the news about Haiti following the earthquake. I was heavily involved in local ministries at the time and was even planning to start a new ministry project locally. But, I developed a curiosity with Haiti that I couldn't quite put my finger on. So, I signed up to go without knowing why, not knowing what to expect, having no real purpose in mind. I just had this strange feeling deep inside that I was supposed to go to Haiti.
Leading up to the trip several people asked me, "why are you going to Haiti?" I responded, "I don't really know. I hope I'll find out". A few people asked me, "are you going to adopt?" I quickly responded with a heart-felt, "no, never, I assure you that is not for me". My wife and I had talked on more than one occasion about the fact our kids would soon be out of the house. The month before my trip to Haiti we vacationed in Hilton Head Island, SC. We have vacationed there for many years. We talked about retiring there one day. We even looked at property while we were there. Adopting was not even on our radar, it was for other people. Clear!
Then God hit me with His spiritual defibrillator. On August 20, 2010, I stepped off the plane in Port au Prince. I rode through the streets. Block after block, mile after mile, I witnessed the poverty. I saw the devastation. I smelled it. I met the people. I looked into empty eyes. I sensed the hopelessness. I was surrounded by hundreds of children at a school and church that meets under a tarp in the midst of a slum. They touched my arms believing they might be blessed. I served in a medical clinic treating hundreds of people that waited in line for hours for our help. I felt their suffering. They hurt for months and years with infections we cure with 2 pills a day for 7 days. They have no access to basic medical care and medicines. I was broken by the sight of people living in isolation and starving in mountain villages. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of embarrassment for how I live.
One year ago this very day, August 26, 2010, I walked onto the porch of an orphanage high in the mountains of Haiti and for the first time laid my eyes on beautiful little Jesula. I still vividly remember my first glimpse of her like it was yesterday. She was sitting alone in thought, watching the other girls play. I wondered what she might be thinking. I wondered what the experiences of her life might reveal. I wondered what her future might hold. Then I walked over and met her!
The more I have learned over the last year about Jesula's past, the more honored I am that God has entrusted me with her future. I know that God planned for Jesula to be my daughter long before I was ready.
This last year has been very long and hard. It seems like we are watching Jesula and Redjina grow up through cherished photographs that other travelers take between our trips every few months to visit them. They have both grown so much in the last year. They are both growing into beautiful young ladies. And with new found hope their personalities are blooming like wild flowers.
Over the past year, I've had plenty of time to think about just how radically our life has changed since that day, a year ago. While our arms are still empty, I can honestly say that our desire and love for our precious girls has intensified a thousand times over. I pray now with a new intensity and focus that our arms will soon be filled. And I remind God every day that I am ready!