My husband and I were reflecting recently on how God works. How He uses places, things, people...to change us. We have no idea what is going on at the time, but it is pretty great to look back and see what He did. And why would we go through it, then keep it all to ourselves??? That would be pretty crazy...so here goes. :)
Our Uganda story started in 2008 when Josh (firefighter/paramedic, all around everyone’s favorite, nice, funny, sweet guy) felt lead to go on his first mission trip. Our family was struggling at the time…holding tight to the promises we made to one another, but not enjoying life together. When I heard that Josh felt lead to go to Uganda…I thought…maybe God would wreck him while he is there. Not because I didn’t love him, but because I knew he needed to be broken. We both did…though I wasn’t aware of my need for brokenness at the time. My hope was that Josh would leave for Uganda and come back a different man. I wanted it to happen in 2 weeks. Ha! When he returned some kind of different, but the same person…I was heart broken. Though Uganda affected him in a big way his first time there... it wasn’t the way I wanted. He was able to work with the hospitals and people of Uganda and make a difference in their lives. It changed him. But…what we didn’t realize at the time was that the change taking place was only the beginning of a very long, broken, and beautiful journey.
It was the very next month after he returned that I decided I could no longer live with his alcoholism. It wasn’t good for our family…and I was done fighting. So, I hired a lawyer and pursued a divorce I said I never would pursue. The decision wasn’t one that I took lightly. I had wanted out for years to be honest. I struggled with it and fought with it…but felt like it was what needed to be done. I prayed and pleaded with God and felt like the only way we could reconcile our marriage was if he went to treatment and got real help. Did I think he would do that? Of course not!!! Was I going to tell him that if he went, then I would stay??? Of course not!!!
So, when he called me a couple weeks later to tell me that he had checked himself into an inpatient rehab facility…I was pretty irritated. I was finally out! But, I was reminded of my promise to God…and forced myself to be thankful…thinking it wouldn’t last. When Josh asked me to come to a family session with his counselor, I forced myself to do it. And when I got there…I saw a different person. A broken person. One who really wanted to change and one who felt God move in his life. A man who was fighting for his life…who wanted to do any and everything he could for GOD and HIMSELF first. Part of me knew he was different the first time I saw him, but I didn’t want to seem foolish so I told myself to be cautious. Reluctantly, week after week, I visited with our little girl. And, week after week I saw the same, new, broken man. So…I started to take my focus off of him and place it on myself. What I saw was a broken woman. One who needed help just as badly.
After lots of work, prayer, growth, and pain…I was able to surrender my life to the Lord. A God that I knew very well…and had walked with for a long time prior. But, until then…He was a God that I was afraid to trust. I lived life differently now.
After 3 months of treatment, Josh was ready to join the “real world” and get back to work. He moved into an apartment and we started dating again. It was so much fun! Like falling in love with him for the first time. With counsel and lots of prayer, we renewed our vows on the day he celebrated one year of sobriety. Josh struggled with the decision to miss going to Uganda again at about the same time. He felt like the Lord was tugging at him to go back, but he had just gotten hired on with a new fire department and we had a lot of rebuilding to do, so he stayed home and we spent more time together as a family…the 3 of us. It was a beautiful thing!
With more work, counsel, prayer, and growth we came to realize that our lives were a direct result of the grace of a powerful, amazing, beautiful God. Slowly, but surely, we lived as much for Him as we could. And we started to feel called by Him to move forward with growing our family. After lots of discussion (and more prayer), we decided that the way we would do this is through adoption. I felt like God wanted us to adopt from another country. Josh was very sure that it was from our own. So we prayed for guidance. And then it was time for the Uganda trip again. God made it very clear that He wanted Josh to go this time around. And we did all that we could to make sure it happened. When he left, he was so excited to see it through his new eyes. And I like to think that God was too.
When he left I started to pray. Not really sure what it was for…but I knew that He had something for him. When the phone rang and I was literally journaling prayers for Josh…I was awestruck. I wrote the prayer “Move in Josh so much that he won’t be able to deny what you have for him.” Not a minute after I put the period on the sentence, the phone rang. It was Josh…standing at Sanyu Babies Home in Uganda…letting me know that the Lord told him clearly that our next child was in Uganda. And I knew that he was right! It was exactly what I thought too!
It wasn’t 4 months later and we were standing in that same babies home preparing to bring our son, Owen, home. This 4 months was full of twists and turns, pain, fear, trust, and so many other emotions. God made it crystal clear that Owen was our son and that he always intended it to be this way.
After my own experience in Uganda…and Josh’s 3 trips…it’s as if a part of our hearts reside there. We have grown to LOVE this country and it’s people. Not only is our son from there…but we truly believe that God has used this place to teach us things that we could not have learned anywhere else. We both hope to go back soon. We collect medical supplies and ship them to the people of Uganda…to help the people who have helped us so much more than we could ever give them.
So, as you can probably see…in 2011…our hearts are still being changed and effected by Uganda. It will forever be a part of our family and our hearts. We can’t wait for the day we get to take our whole family (whatever that may look like) to this place that has blessed us so much.