This is my 100th post. A hundred explanations of seeing my life change. A hundred times I have tried to parse out the ways I have found new mercies. New ways to love. New ways to count the innumerable.
And in this post, I get to announce something very special. Something I never would have dreamed of a year and a half ago.
I will be going to Latvia in August!
The country I love but have never seen with my own eyes. The country so special because of the special people in it. I will be there, with them, experiencing their world. It is overwhelming to consider.
But this is not simply a vacation, although someday perhaps I will do that as well. While I was in Chicago a few weeks ago, I was asked to be part of the three-person interview team that New Horizons for Children sends to Latvia each hosting season to select children for the program.
I will get to meet the children who could have the opportunity to spend Christmas with a family in America. I will get to speak with them, hold them, love them, and then tell all of you about why you should love them, too.
What an honor.
So this trip is a mission trip. I will be going for around ten days, and we will travel all over to different orphanages, interviewing and selecting children. I get to bring two bags filled with gifts for past host children from their American families. I understand from past teams that this trip can be exhausting and grueling at times. I know that it means I will be working very hard.
But it also means I might get to see some people who are very special to me. The rules of Latvia’s orphan courts do not allow me to publicly identify if my host children are from this country or not. But suffice it to say that there have been several excited Skype conversations, and families with fingers crossed, hoping that my travels and my time schedule allow me near enough to look into real eyes instead of a webcam and hold in my arms the ones I hold in my heart.
And there is already a Latvian McDonald’s trip in the works. That was established almost immediately with the news.
I cannot wait.
I will say, though, that I’m nervous, too. The timing of this trip is a little tricky. I will be leaving within days of Sunshine’s departure at the end of July. I might even leave the same day. The planner in me is already in hyper drive. And my emotions are all over the place—I know letting Sunshine go will be ridiculously terrible. Clearly, turning around to hop a plane to a foreign land is a little crazy.
And Little Man. Telling his heart sister goodbye—likely for the final time—and then not having his Mama for almost two weeks afterward? That’s a lot. And it gave me great pause.
Until I talked to him. Until I saw his face light up. Until I saw the dance his body could not contain.
“You have to go, Mama. You have to see this place. You HAVE to. It is where you need to be. I will be sad, but mostly because I can’t be there with you. Someday I will be. But for now, I will be at our home here; you will be at our home there; and you will be talking to orphans who don’t have a home yet. They need homes, too, Mama. Go.”
Oh, my child. My sweet, dear boy. My friend and companion on this journey, once again showing me how to live. You inspire me with your faith and your capacity to embrace this odd life with exuberance.
And the peace that comes with a love like that: of course I will go. It is where I need to be.
So I will fly across the ocean, that vast barrier keeping me from the ones I love, and the ones I will come to love very soon. I will touch their faces and write their stories and carry their names back with me to all of you.
It feels like a colossal task. There are so many details, so many things to number out. I need suitcases to fill and gifts for the children. I need adapters and travel gear for a foreign country. I need lots of things I haven’t even considered yet. But I am glad I will be packing with Sunshine looking over my shoulder.
And I know that this, too, is another opportunity to see the faithfulness of the One who has numbered out my life to bring me to this place.
This will be the first stamp in my passport. A dream come true. I never thought—I never could have imagined—that all of those dreams deferred would mean this. That hopes set aside would mean the opportunity to give hope to others. That love broken and abandoned would lead me into the arms of so many who need the love I understand because of what has happened to me.
And so I count out my tasks and the days left until our dear Sunshine comes home to us. I count down my list and count up the coming treasured moments.
I number the ways that this bittersweet life has allowed me to be a part of such a mosaic of fragmented beauty.