In November 2007, God first spoke to me through prayer about a little boy named Gabriel who lived somewhere that had to do with angels, somewhere around El Salvador, Honduras, or Guatemala. He also said the name Ana. That was it. We started praying fervently, trying to find out who this little boy was. The name Ana was there, but didn't seem as prevalent. We searched, and we found a little boy who the Holy Spirit lead us to pursue. Some people have assumed that I was going on a hunch and that because we didn't adopt Gabriel from Guatemala, I was wrong in what I "thought" I heard from the Lord. I certainly don't claim to be right even most of the time, and I don't claim to know all the Lord is doing in my life, but if you've ever been convicted of doing something and there's a burden in your heart, you know what I mean. I had a burning desire to find him, this little boy. We prayed for him. We pursued adopting him. Ultimately God's plan was so much better. He reunited him with his family.
After Gabriel returned to his family, we still had a burning for Guatemala and adoption. We knew God had laid adoption on our hearts, but we didn't know from where we would adopt. We considered waiting for Guatemala to reopen it's doors to adoption (they closed in Dec. 07 to the US and adoption remains closed at this time), and we started praying about where God would lead us. He lead us to Ethiopia. He also gave us the opportunity to begin planning a trip to Casa Bernabe, in Guatemala, the orphanage where Gabriel once lived.
On July 11, 2009, a team of 20 people from First Lutheran Church, boarded a plane to Casa Bernabe. A full continent away, a baby boy was being born at about the same time-our son, Gabriel. I was SO nervous to fly. It was my first flight. My friend, Kristin, sat beside me, calming my fears, telling me what to expect. She made me laugh, and I needed it. There was a point when she fell asleep, and I was sitting, just letting my fears get the best of me. Jim was sitting a few rows in front of me because our seats got mixed up at the airport. He called back to me and asked me to come up to him. I was seriously thinking, "You must be nuts if you think I'm getting out of this seat." But he beckoned me to come. I reluctantly unbuckled and went to him. He handed me his journal and told me I was to read it. As I sat back in my seat and started reading his journal entry from months beforehand, the tears rolled. He spoke of Gabriel in Guatemala, and he spoke of adoption. How could I be fearful? The God who orchestrated all of these events knows the number of hairs on my head. From that moment on, I calmed down and enjoyed the flight. I'll never forget our reactions when we flew into Guatemala. It was joy mixed with amazement. Kristin was about to meet the little girl her family sponsored, and I was about to meet the people who cared for Gabriel, the little boy who God used to lead us on the path to adoption.
The week at Casa Bernabe was just so amazing. If you have a heart for orphans, and you don't know where to serve, check them out HERE. They receive many many visitors from the US. Most of the staff speaks English, and it's just a wonderful place to be.
On January 29, 2010, my husband and I, along with two of our friends, boarded a plane to pick up Ana and Gabriel. I was nervous on the plane but nothing like Guatemala. I had the babies on my mind, much more than I did the plane. I had also had some lessons the few months prior in God being God and me not being God, so my heart was a bit different this time. I can't explain seeing the babies for the first time. I will just say that you know the moments that God gives you here on earth when you can't believe you are part of something so beautiful? It was one of those moments.
Today we are celebrating the birth of Gabriel. Today we celebrate God's goodness. His love. His mercy. And yes, His amazing Grace. For there is nothing, absolutely nothing, we could have done to orchestrate such a life as the one He's given us. There is nothing good in us, yet, He chose us, through His son's death on the cross, to be holy and blameless in His Sight. And this is all to the praise of HIS GLORIOUS GRACE.
Ephesians 1:4-6 For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.
This is Gabriel, in his daddy's arms, for the very first time. Oh my how he has grown since this day. He is now pulling up on things, saying da da, mom mom, clap, e-i-e-i-o, and hi. We are so very blessed to have him as our son. Happy Birthday, Gabriel. We love you.
(I hope to update with recent photos soon.)