This is hard to write. I feel like since I have stepped foot in Uganda I have had a wrestling in my soul. I have had lots of thoughts all along this process, but they never seem to be complete thoughts. Last time I was here I felt like writing was so helpful for me. I spent the first many weeks here not even being able to answer people's emails and messages because I did not know what was going on inside my heart and mind to even be able to communicate that to others at all. I still don't feel like it makes sense in my mind, but I do feel very strongly that God has asked me to glorify Him through sharing a brief overview of the struggle in my soul, even though I am not to the end of the journey and everything is not packaged up nicely with a pretty bow on it like I would like it to be.
I have been in Uganda almost 2 months now. I have been away from Matthew, Andrew, and Jonathan for that long, and away from Adam for about 1 1/2 months. That is a long time. It was not the original plan when I left my house July 3rd, but when we laid eyes on our son we knew we could never leave him. So I stayed. Benjamin is amazing. He is sweet, happy, wants me to hold him all the time, and is getting ridiculously fat. All of these are miracles. I know other people will never know the true transformation of him because they did not experience his first days with us. I think that is sometimes what makes the friendships we form in country so special. They have seen the process, and even though they were strangers before this to us, they are not some sort of family because they share miracles with us that no one else has been able to. To watch the fear melt away from children is an amazing thing to be able to witness. To watch them accept love, and then thrive in it, and even learn to give it back. Even though this process is hard, I would never not want to know this kind of miracle and restoration.
Before I left Florida they were doing a series at church called Bless the Lord. Basically it was saying that we choose to bless the Lord no matter what our circumstances because of who He is, not what is going on around us. If I wasn't so dense I would've seen the perfect set up in this series for my time here. I am thankful for the foundation it was building in me though, even if I wasn't aware. To know that God is worthy of praise because of who He is, and His salvation of me alone is something my mind needed to be reminded of, before it even needed to recall it and cling to it with every last bit of hope.
God made very clear provision on our road to finally getting to Uganda. We started the adoption process and not soon afterwards received a job offer from South Florida. We interviewed and ended up taking the job. A month before we moved we received a referral for Benjamin. We had a lot of paperwork to complete in the craziness of moving. We needed a lot of money to be able to ever even get to him. We were in a new place where we didn't really know anyone, and community is so important in the adoption process. God was so faithful to provide sweet support from our family and friends in Jacksonville before we moved, and then He quickly provided a sweet community down South. Our church has such a focus and mission for the fatherless and it is was the perfect place for us to be as God knew what our story would hold and the support we would need from Adam's job as he took care of 3 boys by himself and still works. He has provided so many sweet babysitters and meals from people I've spent less than 3 months knowing! He provided $40,000 in a very short time and a large chunk of it from someone we have never met. These people continue to encourage us and pray for us in a way I didn't even know we would need. Multiple blessings. The journey to the leaving was very clearly God moving. The entire timeline to even be able to get here was a miracle. There were a few times Adam and I looked at each other and said, "Are we sure this is where God is leading? It seems impossible." But He would show up each time and we were so thankful that His guidance was undeniable and it was no one but Him leading us.
Since landing we have experienced delays (nothing dramatic, but still you don't want any delays when your family is on two different continents), lack of communication, and the pain of being separated from each other and the stress that causes on every one. Like I said, from the beginning there has been a wrestling in my soul. I have continually asked God to calm that and make it well with my soul. I keep asking Him to cut away whatever it is that keeps me from knowing Him more fully. I feel like there are things that He is trying to teach me, but no matter how willing I say I am and try to listen and watch I can't seem to figure out what it is. It's hard to say I want to know Lord, and have Him delay in showing me what it is.
I have had many spiritually entitled times in my life. By this I mean that I thought God should've acted in a certain way and when He didn't- I chose not to trust Him. I got angry. It was at different levels, and God was sanctifying me with each one, but I remember some of these times very clearly. An accident of a friend in high school, a death of someone from home in Indonesia, when my childhood house was burned to the ground in Indonesia, when loved ones were not cured from diseases and died etc. There were ones that wrecked me. My decision to not trust in the sovereignty of God and the truth of who He had revealed Himself to be in scripture and what He had promised to do lead regretfully to many wasted years of my life that I sought out a sinful lifestyle. The adoption process and all of it's probing into every area of your personal life has multiple times made me cry out THANK YOU GOD FOR YOUR MERCY AND GRACE! My life should look a lot different than it does today because of the reckless life I tried to live, but God's grace covered me and protected me. It is humbling and makes me praise Him each time I think of it.
I am thankful for the work God has done on my heart and in my mind through each of those circumstances though. I was sanctified a little more each time something rocked my world. I remember the moment clearly when I heard God say, not audibly, but it was screaming in my heart, "Allison, I am at work in all the world. You don't have to be a part of it, but that won't stop me. I want you to walk with me and not fight against me." I am thankful that in that moment He made it very clear to me, and replaced my heart of stone with a heart of flesh. I obviously have in no way arrived, but the way that disappointments and tragedies effect me now is far different.
I believe that God can do all things. I think that as I have studied scripture over the years I have a better understanding of what His will is and the promises I can hold God to. Through this I believe I am learning also to pray in a way that God intended our communication with Him to be. Not for Him to be just a vending machine God to me, but for prayer to be worship as I know who He is, trust Him in that, and relinquish whatever the situation is that I am praying about. I feel like I have mountains high and oceans deep worth to still learn about prayer, but I do think I am mindful of how I pray now and attempt to have it line up with the example of Jesus.
I say those things about myself not as prideful because if you could see the struggle in my heart and the way my mind races and my heart cries out in protest every time I read something about me being a good example on a facebook post, or how my obedience is challenging to others you would know that I in no way think I have arrived or if I'm even anywhere even on the right map most of the time.
The things that have been playing continually in my mind though as I try to continue to walk in trust are these things:
In Matthew 8 the centurion solider has a son that is sick. He tells Jesus that he knows Jesus can just speak and make him well, and that He does not need to go see him for that to happen. I echo that with our adoption story. I know that Jesus is able to just speak and everything could be done. I do believe that.
Mark 9:23-24 talks about another story of healing. "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us! And Jesus said to him, 'If You can? All things are possible to him who believes.' Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief." I also live in this reality. I do believe that Jesus can do anything, but there is always unbelief in this un-glorified heart of mine. I wish I had counted how many times I have prayed help my unbelief since I've been here...
Then I go to John 11 and the story of Lazarus. Jesus knows his friend is dying and needs Him to come heal him. Jesus intentionally delays. He could just speak from a distance like He did with the centurion soldier's son, but he delays. He says, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it." So my experience will not be wasted. God's glory is the end goal.
So that is where I am. I believe Jesus can speak and the missing pieces of this adoption can come together. I know even in that I waiver in unbelief and I need Him to help that in me. I also know that Benjamin and I getting home to the rest of our family is not the ultimate goal for God here, it is His glory.
I also know that I can continue to pray for Benjamin to no longer be an orphan, but for God to allow him to be fully made a son. This happens after we return home. I can pray this because God sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:8) and because He is the helper of the orphan (Psalm 10:14).
So even though I don't see the full picture of God's glory in this situation yet, and I may never see the whole thing this side of Heaven I choose to share this struggle of my heart with others so that He may be glorified through it however He chooses to move. If just by speaking, or by waiting to arrive days "late." I really would've rather not have shared these wrestlings with everyone, but it is what I felt like God was telling me an act of obedience would be. Was I willing to glorify Him even if I don't have a solution yet?
Hebrews 2:12-13, "I will proclaim Your name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise." And again, "Behold, I and the children who God has given me."
Psalm 10: 17-18, "O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed..."