Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How God Changes a Heart Through Missions to Orphans



The following is a letter written from one of our mission team members who traveled to Haiti this month. Dr. Amy Schroeder-Whipp, joined this trip at the last minute as the orphanage we were helping, Danita's Children had requested medical personnel. The letter is written to the orphanage director. I have to share it with you because it is an awesome testimony of what God can do in a heart which is totally surrendered and obedient to Him in walking out missions to care for the least of these. It's why I work so tirelessly and passionately to send people to walk out James 1:27 to care for orphans in their distress.

Dear Danita,
I am going to try and tell you my story to help you understand what God is revealing to me about my trip to your facility. My time with you at the orphanage was very brief and God does things in His own time.
As you know, I am a podiatric physician and surgeon. I live in the Chicago suburbs. I have been married to my husband for over 2 years. He was my first and last boyfriend; we met in college over 10 years ago and have been together ever since. He works as a financial planner/advisor for a Christian-based organization that works exclusively with physicians called Larson Financial Group.

I was fortunate to grow up in a Christ-centered home and cannot ever remember life without my Heavenly Father, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. My husband and I have moved about the country, living in Iowa, Florida and St. Louis before recently settling in Chicago, which is where the rest of my family is, and where I’ve always considered my home to be. My husband and I have always been active serving in church, being part of small groups, and spending time alone with God each day reading His Word and speaking with Him in prayer and meditation.

I have never desired to be a mother. My husband has never desired to be a father. We like kids, but never wanted our own. I never felt I had motherly instincts and I’ve never felt love for a child. My focus is mainly on my relationship with God, my marriage, and my career. I enjoy traveling and fitness as my hobbies. I also have a dog who I consider to be our “baby.”

Right before Christmas this past year, my husband and I individually felt God was speaking to us about adoption. I brought it up to my husband and we laughed together, surprised how God was telling us both the same thing. We said we’d just be open to His leading. We talked to a couple of families we know who have adopted, just to hear their stories. We decided to just keep praying for God’s direction and felt at peace about that.

The day I heard about the earthquake I was driving in my car to work. I immediately started weeping, not something I do frequently. I had no idea why I was weeping.
I did not want to go to Haiti. My husband received a text message from one of our pastors 72 hours before the trip, asking “Does Amy have a passport and can she go to Haiti on Monday?” My immediate answer was “No, I can’t go to Haiti on Monday!” This was followed by a list of various reasons I could not go: I just started a new job with a non-Christian employer who would never allow me to take a week off at the last minute, cancel surgeries and reschedule my patients. I did not have a passport and it was Friday morning, etc, etc. My husband however, encouraged me to think about it. After praying and submitting to God’s plan, not mine, I thought “Ok God, if you want me to go to Haiti, then help me get there.” Obviously, through a small set of miracles, my boss let me go, I got a passport in less than 2 hours, and I was on my way.

My plan was to go to Haiti and provide for the medical needs of the children at Hope for Haiti Children’s Center as best I knew how. I felt that God has blessed my life abundantly, and I should serve Him back.

My husband did not share this with me at the time, but he felt there was another reason God wanted me in Haiti. He heard God telling him that I would come back changed, not as the same Amy he knew. He didn’t know exactly what this would be, but that it would be something life-altering and very special.

Honestly, I was disappointed when I got to the orphanage. I saw there was already a pediatrician there, and I thought, “Lord, why did you bring me here? They don’t need my skills.” I enjoyed being with the children, but felt awkward around them, like I didn’t know what to do or say. I thought the kids were cute, but I really didn’t have any emotions or feelings for them.

It wasn’t until towards the end of our trip that I really noticed Jean. I don’t even know his last name or how old he is. I believe he is somewhere between the ages of 4 and 6. I believe he is mostly blind and has cerebral palsy. I know he has seizures. Anyhow, I was in the cafeteria. He was sitting in his stroller, drool all down his neck, rolling his eyes around, head tilted way back. I looked at him and started crying. I thought about him in his darkness. I wondered how often he got picked up and held. I wondered if he knew what love felt like. I wondered if he remembered his mother. I wondered about his story. I still wonder because I do not know much about him. I cried for his loneliness. I picked him up and held him. I tried to sing “Jesus loves me” in his ear. I felt his arms and legs slowly relax as I held him against me.

After that, I tried to spend as much time with him as I could, while still passing out medicine, changing bandages and making rounds on the other children. I slept next to him my last night in Haiti. I fed him breakfast and lunch the next day. I felt concerned about him getting enough calories since he eats so slow and has trouble chewing and swallowing. I left to get on the bus to go home. I was happy to be going back to my family. I felt a little sad about leaving, but I left knowing the children are all well cared for and loved there.

I boarded the plane to Miami, still wondering why God had wanted me on that trip. I just didn’t understand. I thought,” I hardly did anything for those kids. How did I help them, God? Why did you want me there?” I opened my journal to start writing and all I could think about was Jean. I felt a deep, painful ache in my heart that I have NEVER felt before in my life. I desired that child: To have him, to hold him, to love him, to care for him, to provide for him. I felt a tender mercy for him and his contracted and twisted little body. I thought, “What is this Lord?” I spent hours on the flights to Miami and then on to Chicago seeking the Lord for an answer. I feel uncomfortable saying this to you Danita, since you are his mother. I thought I heard God telling me he was my son. I was in shock to think this. Why would I have the desire for a child when I’ve never wanted one before? I’ve held plenty of babies, babysat for the children of my friends and family. And why would I want this child? One who could never really love me back, or care for me when I get old?
I was afraid to share this with my husband when I got home. He knew it was coming. I shared my experience with Jean to him and he started to cry. I have never seen him cry before. He had the same desire in his heart for Jean, even though he had never met him or seen him. We feel to our knees immediately and asked God for help, for discernment and a clear understanding of His plan for our family.

I have fervently been seeking ever since, trying to understand if this really what God was telling me or not. I have spent time in the Word, listening for God’s voice and seeking wise counsel from those I look up to spiritually. Some of the verses I am reading:

“But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Matthew 9:13
“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” Psalm 119:28 (my mother is praying this verse for me.)

“Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8

“He who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6

Now I know God sent me on the trip to break my heart towards children. He did not only want me to use my medical skills to serve Him, He wanted me to feel and experience mercy towards those children. And I did that, for the first time ever.
I picture Jean living in my house. I thought today of him feeling snow on his face for the first time, wondering what he would think of something so cold and so wet. I am continuing to journal. I am writing out my prayers to the Lord and little notes to Jean as well.

I was afraid to write you this letter; that you might find it offensive. Danita, I am not saying you and your staff cannot care for him properly. I know you can. I can too. Being a physician, and my husband working exclusively with physicians, we could give him excellent medical care. We would provide for him spiritually as well even though he understands very little. I know God touches Him and comforts him inside is dark world. I know your plans are not to adopt out children. I understand and respect your reasons for that. I know that if this is God’s plan for Jean, you already know this or He will reveal this to you. If this is not God’s plan for Jean, He will tell me that, too.

Please prayerfully consider what I am saying. I have thought about how complicated adoption in Haiti is right now. I’ve thought about the finances, the difficulty and commitment of caring for Jean’s needs, the amount of time it may take to carry this out, and the possibility that your answer may be no. But I know from past experience that often when the Lord speaks to us, we have to move forward in faith, even if we don’t know all the answers and details.

Please feel free to contact me at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Amy J. Schroeder-Whipp

6 comments:

  1. Thank you, thank you soooo much for sharing this awesome testimony and the most personal of letters. It encourages my heart that as I continue to seek God's direction for adoption for our family, He will answer me in His time.

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  2. I ugly cried through through this beautiful post. Thank you, Amy, for sharing something so intimate and personal (and Amanda for posting!). God always finishes what he starts.. praying His Will in the lives of all involved in this amazing testimony.

    "Because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him." -Job 29:12

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  3. Amanda, I am the mom of a special needs child, and it made me cry to read about Jean. I will be praying for her future, as I know that she was created for a purpose. God has an awesome testimony for her life. John 9:1-3.

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  4. Thank you both for sharing this letter. It really spoke to me and reminded me to be open to God's leading.

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