Captivated in Guatemala (with reflections on our adoption journey)...
Blog written by Jenni Ramsey
Last week I had the privilege of leading a team of nine volunteers to serve in the beautiful country of Guatemala. As our team ascended into the air towards Guatemala City on American Airlines, I opened my journal and reflected on the faithfulness of God. My adoption journal has captured the incredible journey that began in June, 2007. At that time, we believed that God had called us to adopt our next child. We were excited about our adoption journey and were completely unaware of the adventure and calling that lay ahead.
Mailing our adoption documents for El Salvador (January, 2008). Our adoption in El Salvador eventually failed and we lost over $15,000.
As I look back over the past four and a half years, I am simply amazed at all that God has done. We believed that our adoption adventure would consist of opening our home to a child, but this journey has radically opened our hearts to orphans all over the world. The Lord has birthed an indescribable passion and calling in our lives for adoption and orphan advocacy. He has opened doors and created opportunities that have been life changing! Our adoption story has been filled with heartache, deception, shock, tears and confusion. However, it has also been filled with miracles, divine appointments, new friendships and opportunities to speak, write and lead teams to journey directly into God's heart for orphans.
As I flipped through the journal pages and was reminded of the emotions, miracles and adventures of the past four and a half years, I was in awe. I realized (to my surprise) that this trip to Guatemala had been scheduled exactly two years after my first orphan outreach trip to El Salvador. During that trip I fell in love with the El Salvadorian children, but became aware of heart wrenching issues related to orphans as well as unethical practices in adoptions. It was also on that trip that I was introduced to my dear friend Lucy Armistead, who later invited me to join the staff of All Blessings Intl. Adoptions as their International Outreach Coordinator.
My first trip to El Salvador... falling in love with the children! Little Carolina completely captured my heart!
I have now had the privilege of leading six orphan outreach teams (in two years) - four to El Salvador and two to Guatemala. These teams have had the opportunity to bring gifts, touch, love and hope to hundreds of orphans. It has truly been an honor to serve in six orphanages and to touch the indelible faces of abandoned and abused children. I have fallen in love over and over again and my heart has been broken for the things that break the heart of God.
While our family continues to wait for the referral of a baby girl from Asia, the Lord is quickening our hearts for His orphans. It has been so exciting to birth "Sprouts," an orphan care ministry in our home church. We currently have seven families in our church who are either in the process or are considering adoption or foster care. Wow! Mike and I have been humbled to speak on adoption/orphan care in our church and helped to organize a blood drive to raise funds for our church adoption fund last year.
Speaking in a panel on adoption/orphan care at The Village Church of Irvine and volunteering with Show Hope.
It has been a thrill to form The So Cal Orphan Care Network in the past year. Our network currently has over fifty leaders connected to our group. I have been blessed to represent All Blessings Intl. Adoptions at various venues and attended The Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in KY this spring. It has been an unbelievable journey and our hearts are overflowing with gratitude. We are especially grateful that both of our boys been able to serve in El Salvador and have gained hearts for orphans as well. As I journaled, prayed and prepared to lead this team to serve "the least of these" in Guatemala, I was reminded of the faithful hand of God. He promises to lead and guide His children if we trust Him with all of our hearts. He has been faithful to our family and has kept His promises in our lives.
The boys loved serving in El Salvador (Aidan in July, 2011 and Jordan in March, 2010).
The trip to Guatemala this past week was so impactful that it is difficult to describe in words. The Guatemalan people captivated us with their joyful spirits and grateful hearts, despite their poverty levels and heart wrenching experiences of extreme tragedies. It has been said over and over again by our team members, but it must be repeated. We traveled to Guatemala to "bless the people," but they blessed us beyond belief. Their faces will remain in our hearts forever. Their words of gratitude, expressed through tears, are like hidden treasures in our minds. The precious children in the orphanage touched us deeply. Their stories broke our hearts and caused many team members to weep, but their joy, laughter and hugs healed us.
As I reflect on the past six orphan outreach teams, it is clear that each team has left an imprint on my heart. However, this team was especially unique. This trip was extremely emotional due to many personal losses in the lives of our team members. While we spent many team meetings laughing and joking together, there were also many tears. At times, our team members were able to relate to some of the painful losses of the Guatemalan people, and that was priceless. I watched this team come together in a deep and powerful way to support one another, pray for one another and even carry me through some very emotional moments.
As we ascended back into the air and headed towards home, I realized that I had been captivated. Captivated by the passionate expressions of love and gratitude that our team experienced through the Guatemalan people. But I had also been captivated by God's love and faithfulness in my life, clearly seen through my journal reflections as well as His sovereignly hand-picked team, who selflessly served the Guatemalan people and will remain forever in my heart.