Since she was adopted from Russia at age seven, our daughter Sarah has dreamed of working in an orphanage. Even before Sarah was fully fluent in English, she began to articulate that she wanted to return the love and care she'd received. She has also dreamed of telling children without hope about the eternal hope she has as a child of Jesus. Sarah longs to share the good news that her Savior loves little children and even has a special place in his heart for fatherless children (James 1:27, Isaiah 1:17,18).
Although a desire to work with orphans has been in Sarah's heart for years, for a long time she didn't have a sense of where the Lord might be calling her to serve. All that changed last year. Sarah and I attended the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) Summit in the spring of 2013. At this international gathering of those involved in all types of orphan care, Sarah had a rare opportunity. She was able to meet and talk with both Zambians and Americans involved in caring for the fatherless in the AIDS-ravaged Zambia. Sarah's heart was won! She left that encounter crying tears of joy. The puzzle was solved. She knew the Lord was calling her to serve in the African nation of Zambia.
And today, after months of preparation, the day to begin chasing her dream arrived. Sarah left our home packed for a four-month stint. The three of us were in agreement that working there for four months will give her enough of a taste to see if she wants to return for a longer stay.
Here is a link to the the orphanage where she will be working: Kazembe Orphanage. If you click on the "Our Children" tab, you'll see some of the children with whom Sarah will be working. Apparently four-year-old Peter, pictured on that page, has been inquisitive about the new teacher. Sarah was told that he asked, "Is she a kind Sarah?" Our daughter is very tickled that she will be working with the toddlers and preschoolers.
We'll miss the sunshine Sarah brings to our home. She is a walking smile that brightens each room she enters. Sarah laughs often and readily welcomes others into her sphere of happiness. She looks for the bright side when problems occur and is eager to serve when opportunities present themselves.
Sarah's love of Jesus has given her a tender heart for anyone whom she senses is suffering. She cries especially easily over the plight of orphans.
Knowing how the Lord has knit our Sarah together, we share her excitement over the opportunity that lies before her. Sarah's dad has worked with her during the past year or so to help find just the right place for her to care for fatherless children in Zambia. Today all of us made our way to the Omaha airport to see her off. Her daddy will see her all the way to Zambia.
Since the two of them were traveling internationally they had to arrive at the ticket counter three hours before flight time. An upside of this requirement is that there was no line in which to wait.
Once Sarah and Mr. R were checked in, Sarah focused her attention on making sure her electronics were ready. The two have a long trip ahead of them. They flew from Omaha to Chicago. as I write this they are on a 14-hour flight from Chicago to Dubai. That flight alone is 7,521 miles! They'll have a 12-hour lay-over in Dubai and then fly to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Whew!
After topping off her phone, Sarah called her oldest sister Anna to say good-bye.
Soon Sarah had switched from traditional phone service to Face Time so that she could watch the antics of her nieces.
Finally, though, the long wait following check in was over, and it was time for Mr. R and Sarah to make their way through security in order to board their flight. We each had the difficult task of saying good-bye to Sarah.
As happy as she is to finally be following her dream, the goodbyes were heart wrenching for Sarah as well. Tears fell on both sides.
As those of us who are staying home walked through the parking garage, we had this view of the plane our loved ones were on. It felt surreal to know what an incredible adventure lies ahead for this much-loved father and daughter team! I'll update our readers as I get news from the other side of the world. Your prayers would be much appreciated.