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Our first day in Ndola, Zambia {safe, comfortable and fully present}

Finally.

On Saturday. We arrived in Ndola where we will plant our feet for a bit. This place won our hearts many years ago…and it’s so amazing to see it through the eyes of others–especially my only daughter.

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After arriving and settling in to our hotel, we went to lunch and market. The market is like no other…and you stay close to stay safe. Yet this place is full of hope and beautiful hearts (as most places are)…while your mind says walk quickly–your heart tells you to stay awhile.

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While comforts and a sense of safety are stripped away a bit–the Lord also seems to do something to us, in us and for us when we are walking with Him in new places. Strangely–the God Of all comfort and the God who is anything but safe–also fills us with a sense of home (comfort)–because our hearts are His home and we are with Him–and safety abounds there no matter the risks.

So stay awhile–we did.

We walked around looking at fabric and into the eyes of the people…just to smile as if to say, “You are seen. You are beautiful. And you are valuable.” I want to live my everyday in this posture. Don’t you? To me, there’s just about going to these places (but also being intentional in doing this daily right wherever we might be) and slowing down. Normal, everyday places…and interacting–listening–seeing…just BEING.

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As we flew on the last leg of our journey today, I felt the Lord remind me through Laney to just SIMPLY BE…

She was watching me flip back and forth through two different books–both on the same topic–BOUNDARIES. You know–how to say no and when to say yes. Talk about the most simple thing we have made complicated because of our own layers we are holding on to.

She said, “Mom, why do you have to read so many books on how to say no or when to say yes? You already know how to do that. You say yes to what you know you need and are supposed to do–and no to everything else.”

Thank you 9 year old daughter.

Essentially you listen and trust Him with your heart so in the daily you can also simply BE.

BE.

Present.

And the way to be present this week…and really every week of my life is to say yes to Him and no to everything else.

It means taking risks. Being brave. Loving outside of myself. Dying a lot to myself.

What does it look like to say yes to His presence…to walk actively in His presence?

What does it look like for me to be completely present…

…in a market filled with sights and smells new to me and faces and hearts that each tell a powerful story…to watch the eyes gazing my way and to listen what He might be asking me to do–grab her hands and just ask her name and repeat it until it’s pronounced perfectly and makes her smile back…

…or at the schools with our 750 orphans…what does it look like to be fully present with so many little hands and hearts before you that your heart longs to also be with…

…or what about home with my children in North Atlanta? This is where (for now) I’m called, and probably tonight what I’m most convicted about. Because with summer and homeschooling throughout the year my children are all with me. I know what being fully present looks like with them, yet living in a culture with instant gratification and constant communication…it can often be hard to slow down and set the world and its demands aside. So mommy reads those bookshop to only because I have been caught in the struggle for too long. Yet I (nor you) really need them if we would just daily come to Him and focus on being fully present and walking in His presence right where He has us.

What does it look like to be fully present right in the moment where He has placed me? Not there to capture it–or share it…but to be fully present in it? I want to know more about the hearts right around me than anything else and to be fully there wherever with whoever He has sovereignly placed me.

Make us a PRESENT PEOPLE.

I want to be fully present and just be.

Laney is right. I think it’s easier than we make it, and we lose the simplicity as adults of what we need to do…when really we KNOW–yet we have to buy books to coach us and cheer us on to just simple BE and follow with childlike faith again. Those books even can side track us though and overwhelm us and we need to also listen to a’9 year old some times remembering how simple it can be.

I’m learning a lot from my girl this trip. And today watching her walk with confidence any joy…and peace through the market–I was thankful. I realize many have hopes for their children to go far in college and career…but I just want her to know Jesus and live in His presence whatever that means for her. If that means being a surgeon to better His Kingdom and bring Him the most glory–then I pray she follows. I pray she will be fully present so her patients sense that–feeling loved and cared for and sending the presence of the One that goes with her. Or if it’s weaving a market in Ndola and stopping to just be and form relationships for His glory–then I pray she follows Him to there too.

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And now–it’s time for momma to be fully present in her sleep…only jet lag is not allowing for that just yet.

We are all tucked in under our mosquito nets for the night and I’ll post this in the morning before breakfast if the Wifi works in the lodge on the hill (our rooms are separate and being winter it’s quite cold).

My heart is full tonight, and I’m thankful to see how the Lord may use this trip in my daughter’s life. Just before she crashed beside me tonight I asked her what she was filling after seeing so many things today…was it overwhelming? Was anything not what she expected? And she said she needed to think about it because some parts made her feel similar things in China. I asked her to just think about two words she felt.

While I brushed my teeth pouring bottled water over my toothbrush and as I wound the window panes closed, I thought about all the years mothering this precious girl…doing what is mommies do. Wondering. Hoping. Praying. Trying not to worry while worrying because I know He has every detail…Was 9 1/2 too early to bring her? I wonder if coming here for a summer or even moving here what that might be like–grow her, challenge her…Squash or be something wonderful?

I smiled remembering her reminder today to JUST BE. Which reminded me to worry less about what could be and to instead just be here with her. Isn’t that what our children and families and friends really need most in our relationships anyway? Isn’t that where beauty, connections, growth and healing all also happens–in walking with community and Him like this? Just be. Be here together. Invite her to BE alongside me. Hold her hand as we walk into new places and experiences. Inviting the Holy Spirit…recognizing His presence and joining Him there. YES.

And then…before drifting off…as I tucked the mosquito net around the mattress and turned off the light she said…

“Safe and comfortable.”

“Thats what I’m feeling momma.”

And I took a deep breathe. And thought there couldn’t be two more powerful words for a momma to hear tonight.

Thankful those are the words she feels here.

Because they really say a lot about a work and story I know He is writing.

It’s going to be an amazing journey…this week and forever…as together we walk with Him.

Will you JUST BE wherever you are this week with us?

From Zambia-together,

Andrea (and Laney)

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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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