She blew out her candle in her smash cake when it first began. A love relationship a world a way–that I needed far more than one that needed me.
I had everything a girl could dream of. Yet…there was something missing. MORE.
A beautiful marriage. A boy. A girl. And running a photography business where I made my own hours so I could be a stay-at-home mom AND use my passion and talents while getting a little break from diapers and Barney. What more could there be? Oh–there was MORE.
And in just a few weeks–we were about to meet MORE without even realizing it. We would go in thinking we were helping. That they needed us. But we were mistaken. It was us that needed them. And our little girl would never know life any different–without these precious ones in our lives.
THIS…is how it began–for us–and TOMORROW…I board a plane-with our little girl. For the first time, she will come face to face with the precious ones we have poured our hearts and souls into for the last 8 years of our lives…almost her entire life.
I put her to bed after she turned one–a Santa party that December full of fun and friends. I rented a Santa for entertainment–BAD idea;). Think of those babies crying on Santa’s lap at Christmas–and imagine THAT for your very first birthday party. Thank you mom;). I remember rocking her that night (hoping she wasn’t completely traumatized;)…and feeling my heart pulled for MORE. Oh–I was DONE having kids. My first two babies just 14 months apart–I was certain our family was complete–but…He was calling us to more.
Just weeks later–we met Kevin at a missionary fair at our church where you can learn about ministries to get involved with. He was there–behind a table wearing an awful Zambian hand-made shirt with zip-zag patterns and shared about his recent trip to Zambia. I went home that night and couldn’t sleep–so we invited Kevin to our home to share more about Zambia.
We felt led to give what the Lord was blessing our family with through my photography business–and just 4 months later–Richard and I hopped on a plane to Zambia with Kevin and his son to see the place we were investing in. At the time there were 200 kids showing up to a mud wall church–for school each day. When it rained, school was cancelled because the roof leaked so badly they needed umbrellas inside to keep dry. But still, it was an amazing thing to see with 200 children who were orphans off the street showing up each day to learn. (It was also here that the Lord opened my heart to growing again…and through adoption. I knew when I held these children that it wasn’t blood that bound us–but love. And I longed to grow again for the first time when I held her. Thank you sweet one for opening my heart–oh how I needed you far more than you needed me. You changed me and because of you–we grew again…and again…and again.)
Back to the beginning…
I will never forget the next day what happened. We were sitting in a business meeting with Kevin, his son, me, Richard and Labstone (our precious friend who is now in heaven–my husband held his hands in his last breathes and had the honor to bury him…oh the lives we lived together since then!) We had just finished Labstone’s bar-b-cue over a small grill–surrounded by a stone wall with barbed wire and broken glass secured on top. We huddled together going over numbers and how we could help in new ways–who in the world funds this–200 kids coming each day…what large organization is Wiphan connected to??
“It’s us. The four of us.”
Talk about grassroots–and…SHOCK.
Kevin knew that if he had told us in the beginning it was just him that we might not have joined him. But after holding these precious children and knowing their faces–we were 100% committed…for life.
Our worlds were completely changed. I was certain the Lord would care for them without us as He had thus far–but my heart was pulled…and I knew…they were our MORE.
We needed them far MORE than they needed us.
And so–our journey began.
For the rest of our lives everything would be filtered through these eyes…these faces…their stories–and our lives…together.
We came home–and asked my sister and her husband to join us. They did–and they have been running faithfully with us–YET my sister and I have NEVER stepped foot on African soil TOGETHER. That will change THIS week too.
As our hearts re-entered America, we shared with all my photography clients more and more–and one of the couples I took pictures for–the Bowens–joined us in helping building the first school complete with 4 classrooms, a kitchen and library. So much has changed in the last 8 years through countless families joining Wiphan and 200 faithful families supporting these children. (Thank you for being a part of the Wiphan family!) Today-Wiphan operates 3 schools. We have 750 orphans attending our schools AND 150 widows in our trade school.
It’s truly amazing to see all that God has done.
We have almost 200 sponsors AND we have some pretty amazing friends who have stepped up to run hard with us…the Elphicks, the Davis crew, the Wirths and so many more. Oh how we need each other. The last couple of years after bringing home Zeke has been a season for me to send Richard to pour into Wiphan and I’ve had to step back a bit to really be where I needed to be as a mommy. Zeke, our youngest, has now been home for two years and is 4 years old and able to understand mommy does come back now—so it’s finally time again. Richard has been going for us–and I’m getting my feet wet all over again.
And I’m beside myself to return. Because this time–I’m taking my daughter…
She has dreamed of meeting Beatrice–our precious sponsored daughter and who she refers to as her only sister. Beatrice is in the 8th grade now–and they’ve been writing letters to one another since Laney could only make a handprint. (below: Richard and Beatrice together looking at family pictures when he was there last month)
Our little Laney has watched us travel back and forth for so many years–and I can only imagine what it will be like for her putting faces to the stories we have told…the only life she has ever known with Wiphan being a part of it.
One of my favorite family Wiphan stories…
Because of Wiphan–Laney knew that she was going to be a big sister again before her daddy even did!
I’ll never forget the spring break I was heading to the beach to be with my sister and nieces because my brother-in-law and Richard had gone to pour into Wiphan together. I got 30 minutes into the drive and Laney threw up in the car–and then I joined her. Little did I know I was 8 weeks pregnant!!! I tried to call Richard for DAYS to tell him the news–and service to Africa was so spotty we could never talk, and Laney was so worried about me being sick that week. We prayed together and I shared the news with her–and finally I got in touch with Richard. I made him promise not to tell anyone but before he said OK–I heard him shouting the news to our 250 kids…following by shouts and cheering. I shook my head and laughed realizing they probably weren’t going to share our news with anyone locally so I was safe;)
Our children have loved being a part of Wiphan–and they have dreamed with us ways to love bigger there–and in just days–this little girl will be dancing with our other children for the first time…and I’m so excited to see how God will use it. She was stubborn enough to tell me she was going and would buy her own ticket—and God was graceful and amazing to provide her way through 25 amazing friends who bought art in her online art auction which single-handedly funded her ticket. I’m still amazed at that!
And did I mention my sister is going too? Yes I did! Eek! Can you believe almost 8 years running alongside Wiphan together and we have NEVER been together?! Along with 3 other amazing women–our team makes 6! I can’t believe I get to be in Africa with the girls I love—for the first time…and tomorrow we leave! It makes my fear of flying or the fact I’m allergic to anti-malaria meds not that big of a deal at all:).
The bags are almost packed…the prep for home is pretty much done–and Nana is keeping my baby Zeke (the one little bug that still needs to work on swim skills) so I can rest easy while we go. (Pray for her!! She’s keeping Z baby and my nieces–and Richard is rocking the boys! Thank you Lord for art camp:).
Please pray for us that we will be safe, well and that we will be open to the reasons the Lord is asking us to go. I believe that the Lord asks us to go for many reasons–and I believe it’s also so important to pick a place to plug into and not give up.
While the story looks beautiful from a quick article–it’s been a long, hard journey and one that some days I’ve wanted to run from. But isn’t anything worth it like that? Where ever He calls you–don’t give up even if it means stepping back for a bit and then re-engaging. Ask Him to guide you to a place where you can visit over and over and over again–so you can develop forever relationships and begin to really see what He has for YOU…as you do life TOGETHER. #weneedeachother And you see that when you choose to invest in the same place…forever–or as long as He calls you there.
I’m so thankful to go—to run with you–and oh how we would covet your prayers as we go! We would also love for you to pray about joining us. With 750 kids and just 200 of our loves sponsored–we would love to have you on Wiphan’s team.
I’ve been terrible at blogging these past few years–but these next 2 weeks as we journey and trust the Lord on this adventure–I’m going to do my best to bring you guys with us:) Thank you for your prayers as we go!!!