Our visit with Daniel and his family was too short (like all of our visits with him are!), but we end today feeling like we did what we came here to do. Daniel’s uniform is ordered. and he’s enrolled in a seemingly great school (run by compassionate nuns) that will send us emails and updates. How cool is that?! Even more importantly, we made good on our promise to Daniel to search for and find him again. Orphans naturally have trust issues. And making good on a promise is a really big deal. With Toni’s help, we reminded him, once again, that our faithfulness is nothing compared to God’s commitment to him.
If we’re completely honest, we’ll admit that these trips aren’t easy for us. The planning, packing, and unpacking is such a hassle. We’ve sacrificed money, sleep, comfort, paid and unpaid vacation days, our health, and marital peace. (You and I both know that traveling lends itself to conflict. And traveling with a baby? Whew! Exhausting! However, in case you’re wondering, the travel portion of this trip has been surprisingly easy and conflict-free.) We have to ask ourselves and God if these trips are worth their cost. And God continues to affirm that they are. While we may never know exactly what our persistence has meant to Daniel, we do know that our friendship is important to him. He said today that he was worried that we were dead or lost or we had forgotten about him. It’s a great feeling to watch him smile as we tell him how much we love him and show him by our presence that we are over-the-moon crazy for him. We hope we’ve offered some stability to Daniel’s roller coaster ride and given him a taste of our heavenly father’s faithfulness and love.
We have an open invitation from Daniel’s aunt to call or visit anytime. I was worried that our interactions with the family would be awkward. Wouldn’t you feel weird if foreigners with a strong connection to your son flew down to visit you? But no. Daniel’s aunt is secure, easy-going, and accepting of our place in Daniel’s life and story. She didn’t mind when he sat on our laps in the car or gave him big bear hugs. She welcomed us into her life as family, not friends. We are all so shocked and amazed to be a part of this story together. It just seems so….unreal? Unlikely? Impossible?
The mental image of us sitting around the table together at lunch today is one I won’t forget. Daniel was next to me holding my hand. Our exhausted daughter was walking around the restaurant in her bare feel. Nate was feeding the toddler, asking the aunt questions, and speaking words of wisdom and encouragement to Daniel. Tonilynn was translating and filling in the gaps when we lost our words and didn’t know how to explain how much we love Daniel or how we feel like God has called us to continue to pursue Daniel. And Daniel’s aunt was there in her beautiful native outfit. With tears and smiles, she poured our her heart and shared her story. She is good for Daniel. Her commitment to him is both sincere and realistic. She is a Christ-follower who will teach Daniel about the Lord, her business, and (hopefully) how to be a good, Guatemalan man.
We could spend all day tomorrow in Xela, but we think it’s best to head back early in the day. Again, we feel like we’ve wrapped up the tasks we needed to accomplish, and we’ve spent an appropriate amount of time loving on Daniel and getting to know his family. We want to respect their family time, and we don’t want to interrupt another day of work for the aunt. Besides, there’s no good time to leave. Goodbyes are hard. We hate saying goodbye to our sweet Daniel.
Right now, our little girl is asleep between us. Today’s schedule kept her from falling asleep for her first nap of the day until 4:00pm our time. I’m surprised we didn’t have a total meltdown complete with inconsolable screams and fits. But she finally conked out after busting her lip on a water bottler at the lunch table. (Poor baby!) As soon as I picked her up, wiped away the blood, and rocked her, she went right to sleep.
Tomorrow we have the long ride back to Guate City. Our little girl did fantastic on the way here. Let’s hope and pray for more of the same tomorrow!