Babe of my Heart » Our Family's Journey

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We made it safely to J’burg!

Too tired to write more. But sweet friends and family we are safely in J’burg!

It’s been eventful. And we are thankful for His help along the way! Now rest and another flight to central Africa tomorrow to Zambia!!

Updating this from my phone:) just added some pics to Instagram;) Can’t figure out how to do that on a blog from phone;)

sleep tight! 1:30 there…means 9:30pm here…and I haven’t slept in over 24 hours. Night!!!!

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Waiting to board!

Today has been a rockstar experience zipping us right through! Instead of making it an hour check in like yesterday–Delta rocked us right through and even checked our luggage all the way! This was our hold up yesterday and if they had asked for documentation for adopts Africa right when we checked in–we could have gotten it back in time. But Yall–we are resting that this is His perfect timing!

We only got stopped by TSA because the lady thought I was Rachel McAdams and wanted to talk about The Time Traveler’s Wife…hilarious! See–told you today has been a rockstar experience so far;)

So we are set–waiting to board…and ready for what He has for us! Let’s do this! #lanetgoestoafrica #welovewiphan

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Test Post for Trip:)

Does this work?

Hoping so!

Momma would love to just take her iPad instead of her laptop:)

God’s timing is always perfect! Our delay led to this snail mail with a check for Loo’s trip. A little friend named Joy across the country sold brownies to be a part of her trip and Laney reminded me had we left in our time we would have missed this! We are in this together. Every part just as important and valuable. Such a sweet reminder. Thank you Joy for going with Loo in this way…

I’m TECH challenged! I can’t figure out how to upload pics from my iPad so if you would like to see those…just zip over to Instagram: andreapyoung

We are all ready for round two today!

Africa flight confirmed. In-country flights rebooked. The last thing to add was a new hotel for tomorrow night in South Africa. I love God’s sweet provision! GET THIS.

The new hotel kept closing out when I would enter my card and the last option was Paypal to pay for our hotel in S.Africa. There was ONE room left…and I was holding my breath. With all the changes–I was already hitting my head at fees and losses. THEN…that Paypal button was another option. I thought I could route it through checking. But then…I see credit there. Hmmm. Did we forget about something? AND The new hotel for our South Africa when we land was the SAME exact cost as what was sitting in Paypal…because the VERY LAST delivery of Laney’s art–when she came to Atlanta…she just happened to forget her checkbook…and she told me she’d just sent it through Paypal instead. And we forgot about it because others had surprised Loo with unexpected gifts making her flight paid for. BOOM. God just wanted us to see He provides and He wants us to keep our eyes on Him.

Your art work just got sweeter Mary Alice Duncan:) Love to see God in the details and how it’s not just about them–or us–but about us all being a part of something bigger than we can imagine:)

#weneedeachother #slowdownseethedetails #Heisalwaysinthem

Okay…hoping and praying that our next update is from the runway! His time–not mine! I need a shirt with that!

Together,

Andrea

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We say “detour” – God says “my plan” – Day 1

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Laney and I should be sitting on a plane right now. Righhhhhht beside these awesome two girls–Kristen and Elizabeth. I say should be–as in…those were OUR plans.

I think I should be on aisle 37, seat B–snuggled in and watching a movie before falling asleep on the 16 hour flight to South Africa…some where over the Atlantic Ocean about now.

But.

Our should be’s–are not always His plans. What we see as detours–are often His devine appointments. They never feel great at the time because we want our plans…but DO WE REALLY? Some times we just have to step back and open our hands…again. Trust bigger. And wait. On His perfect timing.

We have been crazy. This momma has been retreat planning, hosting playdates, chasing 5 kids under 10 and planning a last minute trip to Africa. Richard has been juggling his job and being a pretty awesome husband and dad. He said he’d get the travel papers together–and I said I’d figure out our other kids so he could work some (art camp and other fun!) and work out getting Zeke to my mom’s. Some where in the crazy–the details of all the new requirements for traveling with a minor THROUGH South Africa–we missed. One of our Zambian missionaries reminded us. Twice. Our travel agent sent us the list at least once. And several friends reminded us that not only would Loo need a passport but also a notarized letter from the parent not traveling that she could travel abroad. Check and check. We also needed documentation of her birth certificate. Kinda check. BUT. A copy–we learned wouldn’t do. We needed an original.

Only that last word–original–we discovered after already going back and forth with a Delta agent for AN HOUR who insisted we couldn’t check our luggage the whole way finally called for help. Help came another 30 minutes later–and we when she did–she asked for the original birth certificate–and my heart…DROPPED. I knew we didn’t have an original–and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to find one or get one…AT ALL.

If she had asked us for this right when we got there like she was supposed to–we learned later–we might have had time to actually go get it. If–big IF–we even had one.

We took breaths. Prayed. Thought about sending her with her Aunt April who is traveling in 24 hours on the same trip–and then they showed us the list of requirements of a child traveling through South Africa without BOTH parents–and we knew that ONE of us would have to be there…so I would need to stay back as well. Another DEEP breath as I stood there with two dear friends who have never traveled to Zambia. And now–two women…alone. Immediately–my brain started hearing all kinds of things, “What kind of trip leader are you?” and then then husband of one of the ladies grabbed my shoulder and said, “They are big girls Andrea. God has this. Stay back. It’s going to all work out.”

And so I did.

We waved good-bye…to these two…

(They tooooootally look worried…don’t they;)?! I think they are ready–brave and ready to take on the world!)

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We put our luggage back in our van.

We drove half way to Alabama to give Zeke to my mom.

And we ate dinner at Cracker Barrel. And those hash browns. Oh my. I needed those hash browns;).

Even in that store that I love to hate and hate to love…Loo reminded me…

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We drove home and talked about all the things that would need to change–in-country flights…overnight hotel in South Africa…cancel this–rebook that. And then…WHAT IF…what if we get home and can’t find an original? We prayed. And we hoped. And I called Vital Records and made plans to wake up at 7am to go stand in line at 8am if it wasn’t to be found.

We got home–and before running to check…Laney and I walked the pasture…fed the animals together–and just basked in the moment that HE HAS THIS. No matter if it was to be found. No matter if an original couldn’t be issued in time. No matter if this trip might not happen. And we were STILL.

We came inside–and I went to our paperwork. Our adoption paperwork where birth certificates and every background identity piece of information is stored. I went through everything…TWICE. And…

Nothing.

Richard started going through other files. And…NOTHING.

So I sat down and went through our travel documents from China a few years ago with Parker and Laney–and I found two manilla envelopes. And I pulled out one–Parker’s original birth certificate! The other–LANEY’S! I screamed, “IT’S HERE!!!!” And we all cheered and I even took pictures!

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And I was thankful.

Most thankful—though—not for the birth certificate.

I was thankful that although I struggled with “whose fault it was”–my lips didn’t say what my flesh wanted to say. And to be honest–I think we can’t cast blame on any one (just as much ME…if not all me if anyone!)–but see this rather as God’s divine appointment. Don’t we always want to look for whose to blame when things go wrong and soak more in the WHAT IF’S rather than HIS PLANS ARE PERFECT’S?!

For some reason–the Lord wanted us to travel a day later with my sister and Jody. For some reason–He wants us to be together. For some reason–He wants Kristen and Elizabeth to connect. For some reason–He wants to be glorified more in His saying WAIT.

Because–if we had ordered that birth certificate like we should have and been completely on top of it–like we should have…we also might be able to pat ourselves on the back that we have it together and lead well. BUT–instead…glory to God in the highest because…

…He made Kristen and Elizabeth brave and strong to go without someone who has been before.

…He is forming a forever friendship and story between those two…and making this an unforgettable trip for us all.

…He called us to adopt and trust Him in growing our family…because of that–we have original and extra certified copies of exactly what we need to venture on.

…I’ve never been to Africa with my sister and we are both terrified to fly–just like when we were little–again…we  have each other. Thankful to start this journey together tomorrow!

…Laney was calm and collective and reminded us that the Lord has this and today, tomorrow or next year–is perfect timing to go.

And then. I get a text. As I’m writing this. From a friend who runs a ministry in Kenya…

“You were burning on my heart as I passed the airport….I heard Him say for you “Don’t look to the right or left, keep your eyes on Me. You will not be shaken. You will not be moved. Come to me. Come to me. I am all you need.”

She had no idea we had missed our flight–but there’s no doubt those words are from Him. Reminding us He in this–His timing is perfect–and we need to only be still and trust Him.

If we had boarded that flight without flaw–it would have just been a normal, everyday experience. But instead–He wanted to remind us that these are His plans…His plans are greater…and He who has written our family’s story from the beginning can be trusted in every details to the end.

The Lord has something big in store for us this trip…I just know it. And tomorrow–we will check our bags…AGAIN…and if it’s His will–we will board and leave and fly over that ocean. We will snuggle up and watch a movie until we fall asleep trusting we need our rest. Because there are BIG plans to run and love BIG. So…we will trust and wait and hope–not assuming anything…and celebrate everything. Remembering that anything can change in a moment–and anything that changes that we don’t love…isn’t a detour…or mistake…it’s just because He loves us SO MUCH–that He wants His plans to unfold instead of ours.

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To God be the glory. His will not ours.

Trusting with you,

Andrea (and Loo!)

 

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Africa Bound {My hearts and worlds are about to meet!}

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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

Wiphan Child Sponsorship from Wiphan Care Ministries on Vimeo.

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!!!

Love,

Andrea

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