I hate to admit it, but I sit here staring at this screen tonight a little stressed. Stressed about not having all the money we need. Stressed at not having all of our paperwork sorted out yet. Stressed about leaving my boys and Chloe for two weeks. Stressed at the thought of the toll of the extensive hours of travel on my back. I admit that I can often too easily pick up a glass that is 'half-empty', if you know what I mean. Having rock-solid faith is tough! Some days I
have it...usually the easy days...but days when you have no idea how things are going to work out...those are the days that its tough to look at the issue...smile and say, "I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that its gonna be okay, and God is going to show Himself faithful!"
I don't think its God I doubt in those moments...its me. The balance, y'know...God's sovereignty vs. man's responsibility. I know God is sovereign, but I hope I haven't dropped the ball somewhere. As I retrace my steps, though, it seems like everything has been handled pretty well...the planning, the money, the paperwork...only a few minor glitches here and there...
Let me step back for a moment and catch everyone up....
We are on the way to China. We leave a week from Saturday...the 19th. We leave STL at 8 am CST, and get to China at 4pm (china time) the next day. So we are walking down the final stretch. Everything is starting to come to a close, including final costs, final paperwork, and preparing for travel to go bring home our new beautiful little girl, Lori. What a blessing.
But instead of beaming with joy over the thought of getting my little girl...my attention is being diverted in many other directions.
First was the visas...and no, not credit cards, but entry visas to China. Despite how meticulous I am about this paperwork, I mistakenly thought that our agency was handling our entry visas. I was convinced. Then this Monday (two days ago), I asked when we should expect them, to which I got a, 'we're not...you get them." I panicked! My mind immediately assumed that visas were as tough or tougher to get than passports. But after a few minutes of research, I quickly learned that there was time. Not much, but there was some. So, we put the packet of information together, and sent it off overnight Monday night. God even caused the driver to be running late so we could have some extra time to get them out. We should get them back by Tuesday of next week. Close call. Pray that UPS doesn't lose them!
Second was the costs. We finally know the final tally. That has been a difficult part of this process. Because travel costs are fluid, we never really got a good solid estimate on the trip. Everyone was very hestiant to tell us anything, in fear that they would give us a bad number. We have now paid for the international flights. Now we need to cover two things: our in-country travel (hotels, in-country flight, trains, cars, interpreters, etc) and our additional cash on hand (for meals, vaccinations and photos for Lori, misc fees, etc.). The total for the in-country travel and the cash on hand totals $8,600. After the visas, and some other preparatory trip costs, our account sits with a balance of about $5,000. This causes me to say two things: (1) we were really optimistic that the costs would be lower; and (2) part of the higher costs is due to the fact that we are taking Madison & Annie with us. We just felt that it was what we were supposed to do. Not to be there when we get Lori (although that will be awesome). No...we want them to go so that God can begin to open their eyes to the world outside of our neck-of-the-woods. To see and experience an orphange for kids with special needs that were abandoned in cardboard boxes as babies. To see a country desperately in need of the Gospel of Christ. We wanted them to see, and we have and still feel strongly that taking them is the right choice.
Now, back to costs....of the $8,600, about $6,800 has to be paid by this coming Monday the 14th. That prompts a question..."how are you going to pay everything you need in time?" My answer.........
Honestly....I have no idea.
But with all that is within me...I am trying my hardest to look at this screen with a smile saying over and over...God is faithul...God will provide...Don't worry...Don't doubt...He started this, He will finish it.
And although I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried at all...I know He will be faithful. Its going to be awesome to see how He handles it. Please pray that I won't worry!
The last thing is just to pray for us regarding our paperwork. There are a lot of papers, and reports, and documents...all important, and most that need to go with us to China. I just want to be faithful and handle everything well, be prepared, and not forget anything! I can't run across town, if I forget something. Please pray that I have clarity as I finalize our documentation for this trip.
Ultimately, I know that spiritual warfare is at play here. Attempts to cause me to doubt in God...and also simply distractions keeping me from focusing on my beautiful new daughter. I must be aware of this truth!
Let me close by saying that my wife amazes me often. She doesn't worry. She has taught me a lot about faith by example. Even tonight as my earthly mind was struggling with answering the obvious, "how are we going to pay for all this?" question, she simply trusts! I pray that God blesses and protects our marriage in the potentially stressful days to come, and that He blesses us with ample amounts of faith!
I am often reminded of my verse, Jeremiah 32:27, which says "I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?"...amen.