Full House — Happy Hearts
The door was firmly nailed shut. Not going to open. Period. Until the Lord appeared at the door and it suddenly flew open. Nails, and impossible situations are no problem for Him!
“Will you take my child?” “Can you take my granddaughter?” “Do you want more children?” The requests break our hearts as people continually plead with us to take their children and give them opportunities they could never have in the villages.
But we can only have five children. With the sixth one we have to apply for a children’s home license. That will involve lots of red tape and ongoing expense. We would be required to have more staff, for one thing. Anyway, we like the home atmosphere we have here. We aren’t a reform school or an orphanage. We are a family and are modeling to these kids what a Christian family is like. Someday they will marry and will know how family dynamics are supposed to be.
And, besides, five – and Bang making a sixth – are about all we can handle. (He’s our cook’s son and not one of our wards. We call him our “freebie” and treat him exactly the same as our official kids.) We are, after all, in our sixties. Until the Lord provides a place of our own and folks to come to help us, we had accepted the fact that we had all the children we could take.
And then, with a single phone call, everything changed.
Kittipong, (whose nickname is Jay, so that’s what we will call him from now on) has been on our hearts for a long time. There is something just special about him. Maybe it is his serene expression or the way you can almost see him thinking behind those enormous brown eyes, or his particularly sweet smile. I always said he has our name written on him.
He almost came to live with us a year and a half ago, taking our last open spot. He wanted to come, but his sixteen-year-old sister, who was raising him, was not sure. The bad experience he had in A.’s children’s home made her leery and she was not confident enough to let him come to us. We didn’t blame her. Danny took the spot and we know the Lord planned that. We can’t imagine our lives without that mischievous and spunky boy.
Then Jay’s sister called last week. “I was wrong not to let him come,” she told Lek. “I’m so sorry now. Will they take him?”
We couldn’t. We could only have five. Unless….
What if we didn’t count our 19 and 20-year-old kids as children? What if we gave them extra responsibilities and paid them a small salary and they became workers? Then we would have two more spots. We had been told before by two different people that we couldn’t do that – but we checked again. We found we could, and we told Jay’s sister we would take him.
Jay is 12, turning 13 in September, and is very slightly built and small. He is bright and the only one of our kids who has never been held back but is in the grade appropriate for his age. He wanted to come and is obviously happy. He and Bang are already best buddies and are constantly together.
That left an extra open spot. I thought about the spot all that day. I wanted a girl. Molly has been our only girl and my sidekick for nearly two years now. I often thought it would be good for her to have a girl to pal around with. And I’ve been so burdened for the teenage girls in the villages. They frequently have to leave school after sixth grade and go to work. They wind up getting married when they are young – often at 13. By the time they are fifteen they have a child or two. By the time they are 30 they are old women without ever having a chance for a life beyond the primitive village and the rice fields or tea farms. If we could make a difference in one girl….
The day we found the last open spot, the day my heart was particularly heavy for the girls in the villages, we received a desperate phone call. “Will you please, please, please, take my niece,” the man begged. “She is bright and her parents want the best for her, but the drought has hit them hard,” he told us. “They can’t afford to send her to school this year. She will have to drop out and go to work.”
A coincidence that I was burdened for the situation of the child who showed up on the very day we had a place for her? I don’t think so. The Lord put that burden on my heart, preparing me for one He would give me to raise. No doubt that Gan Ja Na is a gift to us.
That’s a mouthful to say – so we shortened it to Jan. She is 12, turning 13 in December. Another coincidence that every child we have been given is in the same age range? Not likely. Now we have two eleven-year-olds and four who are 12 on the cusp of turning 13. (Yikes – four teenagers by the end of the year!)
Jan is taller and has a bigger frame than Molly, who is tall for Lahu girl. She is already well developed, so she is exactly the type of girl I was praying for. I could see her getting married in a few months. She is bright and is just one year behind in school. She is shy and is struggling to find her place in the family, but she definitely wanted to come. You should have seen her eyes light up and her smile of joy when we said “yes” she could come with us. I think she will be happy here.
The older boys have taken to their new responsibilities (which we make sure are not onerous) and, other than a few bumps in the road, we are settling down together well. We have had lots of initial expenses with dental appointments (Jan and Jay had seven cavities between them) and school uniforms (three sets of clothes and shoes for six kids – ouch!). Today we bought school supplies. We also bought “church clothes” for everybody as their entire wardrobes were outgrown and/or in tatters. Both Jan and Jay brought all their clothes and belongings in their backpacks, so they needed clothes even more than the others. However, thanks to faithful friends who give, we were able to handle the expense.
And two more lives are changed forever. Thank you for giving Jan and Jay a future!