We have a very special story to share with you in our update today. It is another God story, one that only He could put together.
During this past year, Rebekah and Will and I have been traveling to an orphanage on Friday mornings to play with the kids there. Rebekah and Will bring different activities for the kids to do – they have traced kids in side walk chalk, painted their nails, played different sports with them, read books, let them use our nerf gun to hit a target, hit a tennis ball back and forth with tennis rackets, etc. We have gotten to know the kids and their personalities and the things they like and do not like. The workers at the orphanage tell us that the kids look forward to this time every Friday.
A couple of months ago we were in church and looked two rows behind us to see an American woman with two of the girls from the orphanage on her lap. Someone introduced her saying that she was in the process of adopting these two girls. After church, Rebekah introduced herself to the woman (Michelle) and let her know that we knew the girls and had been getting to know them the previous 6 months while they were at the orphanage.
Following this meeting, we have been able to spend time with Michelle and the girls (Katy and Khloe) and with Michelle's family (her husband and 3 children) when they come from the U.S. to visit. One day I was sharing with Michelle about some of the things that we would do at the orphanage with the kids while Katy and Khloe were there. I mentioned that Rebekah would often paint the girls' nails. Michelle said that she remembered how Katy had fingernail polish on her nails when she picked her up from the orphanage. Another day, I talked about how Rebekah would read the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See (in Spanish) to the kids and have them act out the story by acting like each of the animals. Michelle said that she happened to bring the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear (in English) with her from the States and that Katy would get very excited about that book and want to read it over and over. It has also been so great to have so many pictures to share with Michelle of the times we spent with Katy and Khloe while they were at the orphanage. Michelle said that these pictures will help them to share more with the girls someday about how God was loving them and caring for them before they were a part of Michelle's family.
One of the beautiful things about our relationship with Michelle is that we have been able to share things that we have noticed about the girls while they were at the orphanage. One of the most striking things we have noticed is how Khloe's demeanor changed quite dramatically once she became a part of Michelle's family. We often tried to get Khloe to smile, but she always maintained a very somber expression. I remember one day when the kids and I all pushed her around on a little train many times and we would go as fast as we could and say "wheee!" and we would look at her face to see if her expression would change and it was always the same. So, it was quite surprising to us the first time we saw Khloe smile at church when she was with Michelle. It was so beautiful and made my heart leap to know that something had changed in her through her connection with her new family.
This experience has really touched me quite deeply as I reflect on my own adoption as a child of God. When I look at some of the pictures of Katy and Khloe that I took while they were at the orphanage, I see a "lostness" in their eyes. And as I watch them now, I see a sparkle and "life" in their eyes. Once I was lost as well and without an eternal family, but I have now been found and given life. Eternal life.
One night I babysat Katy and Khloe and Michelle's other 3 kids while she and her husband went on a date. And at one point, I just looked at Katy and Khole dressed in their cute little pajamas, freshly bathed, and running and laughing together and I thought about how it seems like they have always been a part of this family. They just "fit" and it seems so long ago that I knew them as "orphans". I am reminded of my desperate situation prior to knowing Christ. I too was an orphan. Through my adoption, God dresses me in His righteousness, bathes me in His grace, and secures a place for me in His family. And in this I can find my security. It is here that I "fit".
I recently talked with Michelle on the phone and she sounded so tired. She has been here now for around 3 months, separated at different intervals from her husband and her children. She is alone in an apartment with the girls in a foreign country. She is away from family and her community of friends back home. I'm witnessing how costly adoption is. It requires great sacrifice. It requires a giving up of life as it once was for the sake of someone else. My adoption as a child of God was costly. It required a great sacrifice. Jesus gave up his life as He knew it for my sake.
Rebekah and Will and I did not anticipate the great blessing that we would receive as a result of our Friday morning visits to the orphanage. We thought we were going there to bring joy to orphans. What really happened is that God has used and is using orphans, especially Katy and Khloe and their new family, to bring joy to us.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption in which we call out, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children. And if children, then also heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him in order also to be glorified with him. (Romans 8:14-17)
1) We asked you in April to pray for the selling of two vehicles - one that was running well but getting old and the other that was possibly irreparable. We praise God that our good vehicle was sold as a result of someone actually contacting us and asking to buy it! Another praise is that the other vehicle is now running and we were able to sell it this past week!
2) We purchased a truck from another missionary that is in very good shape with low mileage. Each time I drive this truck, I just feel so thankful that we have a vehicle that will likely last for many years.
3) Our family has been healthy this year. I think back to last year when I spent March, April, and May fighting several high fevers and fatigue. I've been much healthier this year. Our kids have also had a healthy year.
1) Please continue to pray for healing for Dan when it comes to the ache in his side and just for understanding for us in regard to what other steps we may need to take to discern the reason for this.
2) We ask your prayers too for Michelle and other adopting families who are waiting on the Nicaraguan system which can be slow and unpredictable. Their heart's desire is to be able to go back soon and be reunited with their families.
Thank you so much for your prayers and for your support in so many ways! We are so thankful for such an amazing team of people who God uses to make what He does through us here possible.
Peace and love to you,
Lisa (Dan, Rebekah, and Will) Van Zoest
PS. Below are some pictures of some times that we have spent with Michelle and her family.
Here is Rebekah painting Katy's nails at the orphanage before we knew that they would be adopted by Michelle's family. Khloe is seated right behind Katy
A picture I took of Katy at the orphanage. I remember thinking as I took this picture that she is such a cute little girl.
Here is Khloe last Christmas after receiving her blanket from Rebekah. This was always Khloe's expression when we interacted with her at the orphanage.
Here is Michelle and Khloe. You can see a bit of a smile behind Khloe's swimmy! Michelle is such an inspiration to me. I am so very thankful for the opportunity to get to know her.
Katy and Michelle's son Kase getting to know our neighborhood monkey, Barnabas. Rebekah is holding Barnabas.
We remember the girls sitting so still to get their nails done
Katy receiving her blanket at the orphanage from Rebekah at Christmas.
Here is Katy and Rebekah on an outing to the beach. We took Michelle and the girls and some other Moms who are adopting out for a day away. Notice the change in Katy's expression!
Here is beautiful Khloe again.
Pictured here are Kase and Karis, Michelle's daughter.