Saturday, March 19, 2016
Those three smiling faces are my grand nephews and my new grand niece. Actually, she's not "new" as we've been anticipating her arrival for nearly 3-1/2 years now. They are out and about on their first family errand, but that's just the current chapter in this story. I won't write a novel about it, but I will tell you how Liam, Noel and Mikey ended up in this picture ... because it's a story worth telling and it reflects the heart of our Father so very much.
My niece and her husband have a heart for orphans. In fact, some 4 years ago, they started down the path of adopting a brother and sister from Congo. We were all very excited to welcome Timothy and Annalise into our extended family. That hope wasn't just deferred - it turned to deep sorrow as both of those children died from a variety of things those of us in the first world don't think about much at all. Lisa and Ken were devastated, but their hearts still longed to love another Congolese orphan. What they didn't count on was God's timing and then a rather long wait.
Noel was born to young parents and the mother didn't survive. The father, after consulting with his village elders, chose to give his little girl a chance at a different, perhaps better life. Lisa and Ken (still somewhat in shock from the loss of the first two children) were approached and agreed to adopt Noel. All went well and the family took up some hope again that she would be with her forever family right around Christmas 2012. Then the unthinkable happened ...
The Congolese government basically shut off the "adoption faucets". Time continued to pass with Lisa and Ken supporting their little girl anyway they could, but nothing seemed to budge. While none of us forgot Noel (certainly not Lisa), we didn't talk much about her for whatever reason. For my part, I figured she'd be raised over there and continue her connection to our family until she was old enough to make her own decisions. Then a simple Facebook message ignited a bonfire within the family.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Lisa and Ken heard that some 150 children were given exit papers from Congo. Hope was rekindled brightly and, over the course of some calls and other communication, they learned that Noel was on that list. When Lisa first shared the news on a family group thread, I read it and cried. Could it be our long deferred hope was to be fulfilled? Well, the picture above speaks all of it ... one big happy family ready for their new adventure.
As I write this post, tomorrow is the first day of Spring. It's a day to celebrate new life ... but it's also the beginning of Holy Week and the time when our Lenten thoughts will lead us back to the Cross. Yet that Hope - the one that journeys with us on the Crooked Path - never is truly deferred and never darkens. In just a week, we celebrate Easter and, as the late Brennan Manning called him, the glory of the Easter Man rising up and shutting out death and despair. Quite the time for Noel to join our extended family ... and a wonderful reminder of what Hope means and what Love does.
Welcome home, Noel! It's a big, goofy family, but you are loved so very much.
Posted by Mark Moore at 5:41 PM