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Month: October 2014

WHERE IS YOUR FUTURE HOME: Devotional by Lorilyn Roberts


 

Mount Everest

After spending a week in Nepal and returning home, I appreciate the little things so much more—I can drink tap water, enjoy coffee with breakfast, and eat anything I want. I’m not sneezing anymore from allergies. The air is clean, and I love sleeping in my own bed. I know this sounds trite, and I don’t mean it to be. God uses the mundane and ordinary in this world to teach us about the extraordinary in the next.

My home is here in sunny Florida where we have far too many cats and a rescued dog. This is where I’m comfortable. It’s where most of my friends are and where I work and play and do far too much complaining about mostly meaningless things.

Nepal was foreign to me. What made it familiar were the relationships with the Christians I met. We worship the same God, we sang the same songs in church, and Joy and I enjoyed the sweet fellowship of the Christians in Nepal in their homes and places of worship.

I’m reminded of Matthew 16:19 which says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”Our job in this world is to build a foundation for the next. Are you sending ahead of your homecoming an investment in the future?

If you aren’t a Christian, you wouldn’t want to go to heaven. It would be outside of your comfort zone.The Holy Spirit is not in you because you rejected God; neither are Christian relationships. You chose not to be part of that world. You rejected the most important relationship, Jesus Christ, who died so that you would have an inheritance at your homecoming. Jesus said, “I go and prepare a place for you.”

We live in worlds of comfort zones here, and there are thousands of them, scattered to the four winds. Home is our familiar world, but it is temporary. Where will your future home be? Nothing familiar exists in hell. Hell was made for the devil and his fallen angels—not for humans. In heaven, we will have the Body of Christ, the relationships we’ve forged here, and whatever we have here will be so much more there.

Let us not grow weary of doing good (as I’m apt to do at times), because we are God’s workmanship, created for good works. We are building a kingdom right here on earth.

I longed to do a better job of keeping my priorities in order—and I want God to renew His Spirit within me. Help me, God, to have more of you in my life, in my home, in my world, and less of me. Your Kingdom is increasing here, I know it, even though outwardly, we may be persuaded to think otherwise, but you promised in Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” I believe before I went to Nepal I was allowing the evil one to convince me otherwise.

Now I see your kingdom with more hope and with more belief in the impossible. In Isaiah 64:4, you say, “Since ancient times, no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”

God’s kingdom is expanding here in our homes, in our communities, in our government, and in our world. Nothing except our unbelief can stop God’s power from being manifest everywhere. Seize the moment and make your home a “taste” of your heavenly home. What greater gift can we give our families than a preview of what’s to come?


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I WILL FEAR NO EVIL, FOR YOU ARE WITH ME: Devotional by Lorilyn Roberts

Chapter Six

…I will fear no evil, for you are with me
Psalms 23:4

On March 15, 1994, at the end of the child referral letter I received from the adoption agency was this paragraph:

Any family adopting Manisha will be required to travel to her native village in Janakpur to obtain signed paperwork from the village mayor and Chief District Officer. This district is accessible by plane, car, and foot. It is a remote, rural district isolated from medical and other facilities. There may be no heat, running water, or electricity. The location and isolation of this district places any individual or family at increased risk for accidents, disease, and even death, prepared by the director and placement supervisor.

Today, as I reread the paragraph above from the adoption agency, I am reminded of my fear that night at the Bleu Hotel.

Romans 8:15 says: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father.”

Why would God contrast a spirit of fear with the spirit of adoption? I knew God wanted me to adopt Manisha so why was I so fearful? Upon arriving back at my hotel room later that night, I succumbed to overwhelming fatigue. I laid my head on the pillow bemoaning my weakness. I didn’t have what it took to be a single mother, I cried.

Halfway around the world all alone in a country and culture completely different from America, I wondered if I had made a terrible mistake. Could I take a child whom I had just met, who didn’t look anything like me, and promise her, you are mine forever? Was I willing to spend twelve hours in a van the next day on a one-lane, half-paved road with strangers speaking a language I didn’t understand? Could I eat strange food and not worry about the guards that Silas warned might stop or search us? What about my fear of heights as we traveled atop the highest mountains in the world on a road that winds like a corkscrew to China?

I felt dizzy thinking about what lay ahead of me as if I were a minute droplet amongst millions cascading over the steep Himalayans into streams thousands of feet below. Could I handle seeing starving children with red hair and distended bellies, images that would sear my conscience forever, knowing I could only save one?

“Oh, God,” I cried out, “please help me not to be afraid.” I was too overwhelmed to read my Bible. The lack of sleep made even the simplest of logic seem impossible. I wasn’t sure I could go through with it. Would God be sufficient in my hour of greatest need?

But even this didn’t compare to my fear a few years earlier scuba diving in the waters of the Turneffe Islands.

The Turneffe Islands are the largest of three atolls consisting of over two hundred mangrove islands thirty-five miles off the coast of Belize City. Not only is it a diver’s paradise, but after leaving Belize City for the three-hour jaunt in a small boat, it becomes a complete escape from the busyness of our chaotic world. There are no TVs, no computers, no telephones, no radios, and no newspapers.

One morning we went out on what is called a “drift dive.” A drift dive is where the diver jumps off the side of the boat and the current carries him either on a harrowing rollercoaster ride or a meandering, leisurely tour.

Drift diving was my favorite kind of dive because I didn’t have to worry about where the dive boat was. I was never adept at using a compass underwater. With drift diving, the dive boat follows the “bubbles” and picks up divers when they float to the surface.

On this day I jumped off the boat and went down like a weighted anchor. Rather than floating lazily in the current, I found myself within a few seconds at eighty feet deep. I was quite impressed that I beat everyone else down. Usually, my dive buddy would have to wait on me because scar tissue in my left ear made it difficult for me to equalize. All alone, I moseyed around for a few minutes waiting for the other divers to float down beside me, but no one showed up. It was a beautiful dive, and I didn’t want to cut it short by heading to the surface, but divers aren’t supposed to swim alone in the ocean. Actually, it’s a foolish thing to do, so reluctantly, I went to the surface.

When I poked my head out and looked around, the only boats in sisight were way off in the distance. The dive boat had left me behind, following the other divers on their drift. I was all alone in the Gulf of Mexico with a 40-pound tank on my back in the middle of nowhere. I knew it would take an hour for the others to finish their dive and decompress, depending on how deep they went. They would have to get back on the boat and discover I was missing. I figured it would be at least a couple of hours before I would be rescued if I was ever rescued at all.

The first hour floating all alone in the ocean I remained calm. The second hour gave way to waves of fear and panic as I began to seriously ponder my desperate situation. Suppose the dive boat never found me? My life passed before my eyes. What a horrible way to die. I wasn’t ready. “Please, God,” I cried out, “don’t leave me out here in the Gulf. I want to live.”

I contemplated what few options I had, which were none, and thought about how many sharks might be lurking. What was underneath my dangling feet and would I ever be found? I floated helplessly for hours with a forty-pound tank on my back breathing through my snorkel in the middle of nowhere.

Had God not saved my life that day in the Turneffe Islands for something far more wonderful than I could have imagined? Would I let Satan rob me of my joy of adoption by filling my heart with fear? I was tired, hungry, and emotionally drained. Satan knew I was vulnerable.

Only God could take away my slavery to the fear that paralyzed me. As fear’s grip on me let go, God held me in His arms, much like a mother would hold her infant daughter, and spoke silently to my heart, “I love you.”




At last, I peacefully dozed off. I awakened early the next morning feeling strong and courageous, anxious to get on the road and ready for an incredible adventure. Never again in the years since have I doubted that Manisha was supposed to be my daughter. I was filled with peace, had a good night’s rest, and was ready for whatever storms lay ahead.



We would be leaving at 5:30 a.m. to travel to the Janakpur District to have documents signed by the CDO. It would be a long and arduous journey.


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BOOK EXCERPT: CHILDREN OF DREAMS: “A Longing Fulfilled is Sweet to the Soul”


Chapter Four
A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul
Proverbs 13:19
The next morning I awoke at 5:30 a.m. Back home, it was 5:30 p.m.,a twelve-hour time difference. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got up and took a walk in the opposite direction from the previous day. Shops were beginning to open and people were sweeping the dust off the streets in front of their stores with small handheld brooms. I grabbed something to eat and arrived back at the hotel at about 8:00.

It was Saturday, the only day of the week that Nepalis didn’t work. I called Ankit to see if I could attend church with him. I was anxious to meet Manisha and I thought if I was with him, it would speed things along. I also wanted to see what his church was like since he was the pastor.

He arranged to have a taxi pick me up and drop me off at a certain location, and he would take me from there. I carried my Bible in full view thinking I would be thrown in jail, but Ankit had assured me it was okay. I felt awkward toting it around where there were so few Christians. Most of the people in Nepal were either Hindus or Buddhists.

Today as I write, after several years of bloodshed and fighting, Nepal has dissolved its Hindu Monarchy and instituted a Republic. The future is uncertain, much like Russia, which teeters between a pro-western form of democracy and the tyranny of its former despotism. God opens doors for a time in countries, and we must seize the opportunity to be a witness to the Gospel while those doors are open. We never know when those opportunities will close.

After what seemed like a long wait—the world of Nepal exists in slow motion compared to America—Ankit arrived and we traveled a short distance to his church. Located several hundred feet back from the road, it was in a small concrete building that would have been hard to find without his help.

On this sunny Saturday morning in April, a guest speaker from the U.K. delivered the sermon in English with Ankit translating into Nepali. The tall, bearded Englishman was preaching from the Book of Ruth which was¬ written over three thousand years ago. So universal in application, a pastor could preach from it in a different language and culture halfway around the world and have it be as meaningful there as it is here. The message was directed at Nepali Christian students on how to honor their Hindu parents while not sacrificing their Christian testimony.

The men of the congregation sat on one side of the room and the woman sat on the other. There were mats on the floor and fans to keep the building cool as there was no air conditioning.

Before I walked in, I took my shoes off and left them outside the door in a pile with everybody else’s. Upon entering, it almost seemed like I was in my own church back home. I could feel God’s presence, warm and refreshing, and sense His love among the people. Some in the congregation even spoke a little English as many of the Nepalis were students from the University of Kathmandu.

Ankit introduced me to his wife, his mother, and several other relatives. Almost everyone in Ankit’s family was a believer. It was exciting to see what God had done in his life and how so many members of his family had come to know the Lord. There were men, women, children, families, young people, old people, and college students, as well as many visitors.

The service went longer than the typical American church service with a lot of singing and music, and many songs were familiar. In a lot of ways, except for the seating arrangement and bare feet, the order of worship was very similar to my church in Gainesville, Florida. With everything being translated into Nepalese, it went very long. I tried to be patient and attentive. Finally, the worship ended and several more people came over to greet me. We chitchatted for a few minutes about my adoption and what it had been like since arriving in Nepal.

Ankit walked me to the door and asked, “Do you want to meet Manisha now?”

There was nothing else I wanted to do more. My heart skipped a beat in anticipation. Suddenly waves of fear swept over me—suppose this meeting went awful? Suppose her father wouldn’t give her to me? Suppose I didn’t like her? Suppose this was all a big mistake?

The evil one wanted to steal my joy. How many times did I believe his lies? How many times was I hoodwinked into giving up my dreams (the dreams that God gave me)? The only power Satan has is the power to deceive, and too many times I had allowed him to do so.

I had waited too long and traveled too far to listen to him. I believed God was with me and brushed the negative, destructive thoughts aside. I wasn’t going to let the evil one have a foothold on this day. As Ankit often said, “These Nepali children have a soul and they need a home where they can come to know Jesus.”

I thought of the words to the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children: All the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

There was a great deal of discussion about how transportation would be handled and the future course of events for the day. It was decided I would ride behind him on his motorcycle in my best Sunday dress, once again, carrying my Bible. We traveled for several blocks through the streets of Kathmandu and were almost to the outskirts of town when we pulled up to another bare concrete building. It looked dirty and rundown.

“I have to go to the bathroom.” I could tell that was not what Ankit wanted to hear. My anxiousness had put my kidneys in overdrive, and it had been several hours since I had an opportunity to use the facilities.

He looked at me with one of those knowing looks. “Well, you can go here if you want, but you may not want to.” We continued walking around the outside of the building trying to find the entrance, now with even more of a sense of purpose.

Having no luck, Ankit said, “Why don’t you wait here and I will go in and try to find it.” Eventually, he came back out and motioned me into the building. He pointed to the facilities at the end of a dark hallway. I started to walk in, but I could already smell the stench. No matter how badly I needed to go, I would wait.

Ankit later came up with a phrase for my fellow Americans and me, “You Americans are soft.”

Moving to the matter at hand, he said, “They are upstairs.” We found the stairway and proceeded up. We wandered around on the second floor in the dark because he couldn’t remember which room they were in. He found a door that looked like the right one and knocked. Nothing happened. He knocked again a little louder and still, nothing happened.

“I’m sure this is the right room,” he whispered. Standing there for a minute not sure what to do, he opened the door and looked in.

“Yeah, she’s in there.” I was standing beside him and hadn’t yet seen inside.

“I want to look in.” The wait seemed unbearable.

Ankit stepped aside to allow me to see. I peered in and Manisha was bouncing on one of the beds with just her shirt on. Her father lay straddled across the opposing bed asleep as if he had been up all night.

If I had been writing this scene for a play, there would have been a grand crescendo of music playing right about now, perhaps Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” The plush, velvet curtains would open to a beautifully prepared stage fit for a princess. Everyone would be applauding the momentous, joyous occasion. My fondest moments paled in comparison to this one.

As Jesus was born in a manger without pomp and celebration, giving up His Kingship and heavenly home to become one of us, there was nothing to make this moment seem extraordinary. I was simply a young woman adopting a little girl in a foreign country, nothing that would make the headlines on CNN or Fox News.

The room was barren with no furniture save the two bare beds with a single white sheet covering them. Not even any drapes to cover the broken windows. No air conditioning to cool the hot, dirty Nepali air. No television, no telephone, no books, and no rugs covered the cold floor. I have no doubt, though, that heaven stirred with excitement and anticipation as one of God’s precious little ones would soon be joined with her new mother. Jeremiah 1:5 says: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…”

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BOOK EXCERPT: CHILDREN OF DREAMS, An Adoption Memoir: “There is a Time for Everything,” by Lorilyn Roberts




Chapter Three
There is a time for everything
Ecclesiastes 3:1

There was so much to do and so little time. If God had made a day to be twenty-five hours long, I could have filled that extra hour up with something. When a woman gets pregnant, she has nine months to prepare for her new bundle of joy. I only had two months.

Our U.S. international adoption laws were never written for the faint of heart. Not only did I have to meet the U.S. international requirements, I had to meet Nepal’s requirements as well. Each country has its own set of documentation that must be filled out, submitted, and approved.

I had to fill out an application for an I-600 Petition that permits a person to classify an orphan as an immediate relative, allowing the adoptive parents to bring the child into the country. I had to complete a notarized affidavit of support and provide a copy of my marriage certificate and divorce decree. I had to submit employment letters, plus my 1040 since I was self-employed.

My bank had to provide a certified letter stating what my average balance was for the previous twelve months. I had to show proof of citizenship by providing a certified copy of my birth certificate. I had to type up a cover letter stating I wished to complete filing of my I-600 Petition and attach my fingerprints to the document. I had to have a home study performed by a licensed social worker approving me as a prospective parent. The police department did an abuse registry check to make sure that I didn’t have a criminal record. I had to pass a physical and show verification of health insurance. It seems like there was more, but I blocked it out. I don’t want to remember.

With international adoptions, individual countries can open and close adoptions without notice or make changes in requirements. When I initially began the adoption process, I was looking at Guatemala. While gathering my documents, Guatemala closed adoptions and I had to find another adoption agency and country.

After filling out all the required paperwork, I had to make sure my passport was valid so I could travel outside the country. Then I prayed that I would stay sane because I hate filling out documents. International child referrals can take a long time because of the voluminous paperwork, or worse—political upheavals, greed, corruption, baby-selling, and deceitful scams. Sometimes it takes years to jump through all the hoops. For God to accomplish Manisha’s adoption in two months was nothing short of miraculous, but then again, we have a God who is in the business of doing what, humanly speaking, seems impossible.

Even before I left, God was taking care of every detail that would require His intervention for Manisha to be my daughter. I had no idea how close I would come to not getting her.

God had always put extraordinary people in my life to accomplish His sovereign purposes. A couple of days before leaving, as I was packing my six sets of documents, I called the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Miami, Florida, to see if they had received my dossier.

“You must be psychic,” the woman on the other end of the phone said. “Your packet was just placed in front of me.”

“No, I am not psychic. I am a Christian and I think God wants me to adopt this little girl.” She wasn’t sure what to say to that, so she continued to go through a list of things.

“I don’t see your home study,” she said. “They never gave it to me,” I told her. “It was mailed by the adoption agency that did my home study, to the adoption agency in the Midwest that was coordinating the Nepali side of things.”

“You must have that document,” she insisted. “I will overnight a copy of it to you and make sure you take it with you.”

The next day, the home study arrived by Fed Ex, and I made a copy and packed it in my suitcase. Neither adoption agency made sure I had it. A lady from the INS gave it to me overnight by Federal Express.

I could not have adopted Manisha without the home study in my possession.

After dinner and having returned to the Bleu Hotel, I climbed the three flights of stairs to my room and filled out a couple of faxes to let people know I had arrived safely. This was back in the prehistoric days before email. I walked down the stairs again to hand the papers to the receptionist. As I waited for him to finish sending the fax, another Canadian man whom I had not met earlier walked up and gave me one of those looks that makes a woman feel uncomfortable.

I tried to turn away from him, but he persisted, “Why don’t you come up to my room tonight…”

I thought I would be nauseous. The last thing I wanted to do was spend an evening with some guy I didn’t know. I tried to explain to him I was adopting a little girl, but he had no interest in hearing about that.

I quickly finished my business with the attendant and once again climbed up the three flights of stairs making sure he didn’t follow.
Ankit later told me, “You know the wickedness of man. Man is even more wicked here.” I had no reason to doubt him. More than once while in Nepal, I felt the evilness that I associated with Hinduism. It was like a coffin being lowered into the ground, a veil covering the truth, the darkness of a bottomless pit full of people with no hope.

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BOOK EXCERPT: CHILDREN OF DREAMS, An Adoption Memoir: “My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts,” by Lorilyn Roberts

Chapter Two

For my thoughts are not your thoughts
Isaiah 55:8


I exited the Bleu Hotel, walked a few blocks, and turned left to explore a couple of streets I had not seen. I was careful not to stray too far for fear of becoming lost. Each road looked the same, lined with small, open air bazaars on each side, with people selling their wares. The tourist trade from Europe and the Middle East helped families eke out a small living. Beautiful silver jewelry hung in the open air along with marionettes used for religious rites.

As the evening drew near, the Nepalis dumped their garbage out along the streets, and the starving cows, now becoming a familiar sight to me, foraged for food from the leftovers. I vacillated between wanting to rub and protect my sleep-deprived eyes from the dirt in the air to not wanting to miss anything, no matter how gross or unsightly. Fascination with the strangeness of the culture whet my appetite to see more.

With shoulder-length, wavy, blonde hair and fair skin, I was as much a curiosity to the Nepalis as they were to me. Questioning eyes stared back at me. I represented wealth and money. Shop owners wanted rupees from me to feed their children. Every few minutes a Nepali man would wave at me as if to say, “Come here and buy something.”

Nepal is the forty-eighth poorest country in the world. Out of a population of eighteen million, six million drink water we wouldn’t give to our dogs. Four years later, I would find out what drinking contaminated water could do to a seven-year-old child. Trying to ignore the stares, I picked up my pace to find a suitable restaurant.

After a while, all the eating establishments began to look the same and I arbitrarily picked one that seemed friendly. A small sign outside the restaurant written in Nepali displayed their menu. I knew I wouldn’t be ordering a hamburger.

I was greeted by a smiling, young Nepali lad who handed me a menu and seated me at a table. The menu was meaningless and the waiter spoke no English. I smiled at him and he smiled at me. At last, I pointed to something and he nodded and left. Looking around the dimly-lit restaurant, I was greeted by more stares. Feelings of insecurity crept in as I wondered, sitting all alone, what the future held.

I reflected on how my journey to Nepal really wasn’t that unique. I was just a sojourner traveling to a distant land to fulfill what turned out to be only the beginning of my dreams. As the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

God knew my heart-felt desire was to become a mother. As God longed to have a relationship with me, I wanted a little girl that I could hug, hold, kiss, teach, and spoil. God had promised to wipe away my tears when I met Him in Heaven, but I wanted Him to wipe away my tears now. It was a longing that consumed me, that spoke to my heart with every little girl I saw on the street, in the mall, or in a restaurant.

Did God care about my dreams? Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy.” Could I trust God, half a world away, that He would not abandon me? If I left Nepal without the little girl that danced in my dreams and filled me with hope, would I still love God?

My thoughts were interrupted by the waiter laying a tray of food on the table. I couldn’t tell what it was in front of me, but I thanked him and smiled to show my approval. He seemed satisfied and proceeded to the next table. I took a few bites and my mind continued to wonder.

I reflected back to some of the events that had brought me to this point. When I was young, my birth father left my mother and me. I wouldn’t meet him again until many years later. Eventually, my mother remarried and her new husband, Gene, adopted me when I was ten.

A few years following my painful divorce, I fell in love with a wonderful Christian man but broke off the engagement when I realized that I was more content to remain single than to marry again. Instead, I poured my energy into obtaining that long-elusive college degree. A month following graduation, my adoptive father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His impending death forced me to examine my own mortality. What would my life be like in ten years? What did I really, really want?

My desire to be a mother remained unfulfilled. No amount of involvement with children at church had quenched my desire and longing to have children of my own. I believed that if God was who He said He was in the Bible, there was no hope, no want no desire and no dream that was so big that God wasn’t bigger still.

Now I sat in a restaurant as different in culture from America as the East is from the West. In Romans 8:37, Paul writes that “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”


Would Manisha be willing to love and accept me? I was probably the least likely person to adopt a child as a single woman. It would have been hard to find a person more insecure than I was just a few years earlier. I had spent a lifetime believing Satan’s lies that I was no good, that I would never amount to anything, that God didn’t love me, and that I was unlovable. Unwanted memories would flood my mind, stirring up buried emotions.

I would later meet Manisha in a dingy, dirty motel room halfway around the world. I would bring her out of filth, depravity, and hopelessness for a better life in a new country. She would be given full citizenship and the rights of every other American. She would leave her country of birth for a better place.

Had God not done the same for me? Had He not purchased me with Jesus’ shed blood? Did I not long for a better place, an inheritance, where there would be no more pain, sickness, or death? Where my adoption papers were already sealed, waiting for the moment when, as portrayed in Revelation, Jesus would break the seal and open the scroll?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

That God chose me, as weak as I am spiritually and mentally, to go to Nepal and adopt a daughter and later adopt a child from Vietnam, is a testament to His faithfulness and unconditional love. I always thought I would have to do something or give up something or suffer something that in my own strength I would cry out, “No, God. I will do anything but that.” I had to lay my life down before God could give it back to me.

The rich young ruler was unwilling.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).

Was it my dream to be a mother that took me to Nepal or was it God’s plan for me to adopt Manisha? This side of eternity, I may never know completely, but when I met my daughter for the first time, I knew I was standing on holy ground. Lest I get ahead of myself, night was falling and I needed to return to the Bleu Hotel. I gave what I learned later was a humongous gift for a tip and proceeded on my way.
As I departed, my waiter was immensely pleased, beaming and inviting me to return anytime. Even in his broken English, sign language, and Nepali, it came through clearly that I had made him a rich man, at least for one evening.


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BOOK EXCERPT: CHILDREN OF DREAMS, AN ADOPTION MEMOIR: “And My Daughters From the Ends of the Earth, Isaiah 43:7”

Chapter One

and my daughters from the ends of the earth
Isaiah 43:7


April 21, 1994
As the plane soared high above the airport in Seoul, Korea, I stared out the window where the buildings and roads below looked like a child’s matchbox set. I felt alone but excited.

A beautiful three-year-old girl, Manisha, was waiting for me in Nepal. I pulled out my only three pictures of her and clasped them tightly. I tried to imagine the moment I would meet her. After eight long years following a painful divorce, would God finally bless me with a daughter?

As we left Korea and headed toward Bangkok, Thailand, the stewardess prepared the trays for dinner. My eyes became heavy as the muffled noise of the plane engine lulled me into a light sleep. Soon I found myself surrounded by stately dark walls and shadows. One voice pierced my heart.

“I took away her dreams.”

The words echoed through the judge’s chambers carving deep rivets in my soul. The streams of love had long since become a dried riverbed in my husband’s heart. The judge paused, taking in my husband’s lame confession. He had heard it all before. Williams vs. Williams was just one more case on his busy docket. I wished he could assuage my sorrow, but he couldn’t.

As the judge signed the divorce decree, I doubted I would ever be happy again. My husband had left me for another woman who carried his child. My dreams of becoming a mother lay in a discarded heap. Thirty years old, childless, and divorced, I was without hope. Feeling like a failure, could I believe God loved me and would heal my broken heart? Did God even care?

I had hit rock bottom and there was no place else to turn. I thought of what Corrie ten Boom once said, “There is no pit so deep but Christ is deeper still.” It was her ability to forgive the Nazis after World War II that so impressed me. How could she do that? How could she forgive those who had caused her sister and herself so much pain and humiliation? I desperately wanted children and didn’t want to admit that my ex-husband had just taken away my dreams.

Suddenly trays of food jostled by the vibrating of the plane startled me awake. Momentarily forgetting where I was, I glanced around and realized I must have slept.

“Where are we?” I asked the person sitting behind me.

“We are approaching Bangkok.”

Wow, I thought to myself. I really did sleep—like five hours. It would give me needed energy later, but I also missed dinner and my stomach was empty.

The plane set down on the tarmac in the darkness of night. I disembarked and got far more than I bargained for in Bangkok. I handed the taxi driver at the airport a card with the name of the hotel, the Europa Inn.

The driver nodded his head, and after mumbling a few unintelligible words, loaded my suitcases into his cab for what I thought would be a quick trip to the hotel. However, after an extensive tour of downtown Bangkok, my escort pulled up to a motel in what appeared to be the red light district. Neon lights flashed all around me and signs along the streets displayed seductive advertising. Surely the adoption agency wouldn’t have put me up for the night in a seedy hotel.

“This can’t be right,” I kept trying to tell the taxi driver, feeling uneasy.

He spoke no English and wanted his money.

I waved my hands again trying to explain, “I know this is not the right motel.”

He waved his hands back, “No English.”

I didn’t know what to do. As I stood exhausted contemplating my few options, he proceeded to dump my three huge suitcases out of the taxi. They were far too heavy for me to tote around. I wished I hadn’t packed so much, but I knew my problem was far bigger than that.

We had driven for an hour and I needed to be back at the airport in just a few hours. Was I that far away? I looked around to see if I could find someone that spoke English.

I ran into the motel lobby and shouted loudly at the attendant, “Does anybody speak English?” He stared at me blankly. A few raggedly-dressed Thai men were lounging outside the hotel. I hollered to them, “Do you speak English?” They looked at me curiously but didn’t say anything.

I ran back to my taxi driver and pleaded with him again, this time more urgently, “I know this isn’t right. You’ve got to take me to the right place. You’ve brought me to the wrong hotel.”

By this time the other Thai men walked over to see what the problem was. The taxi driver and the men carried on a long exchange.

I could see myself the next morning missing my plane because I stayed at the wrong hotel. I could picture in my head trying to explain to the airlines that I needed to catch a later flight. The adoption agency would be upset with me. My contact person would be at the airport to pick me up and I wouldn’t be on the plane. I couldn’t believe this was happening.

One of the men asked for what I thought was my address. I pulled out my checkbook and gave him a deposit slip. After handing him the slip of paper, I panicked. Why would I give my personal address to somebody that I didn’t know? All they wanted was the address of the motel.

After several minutes, the man grabbed my suitcases and motioned for me to get back into the taxi. We took off and drove around again for another thirty minutes before arriving at the “real” Europa Inn.
I breathed a sigh of relief. It was now 1:00 in the morning and my flight would be leaving at 5:30 a.m. Exhausted, I checked into the hotel. The hotel attendant, who spoke English well, assured me I was only a few minutes from the airport.

I finally made it up to my room. After stacking my luggage against the wall, I pulled out a nightgown and headed to the bathroom for a quick shower, but tripped over the uneven ledge. I writhed in pain grasping my toe, agonizing over how I would do the adoption if it was broken.

After a few minutes of a deep massage, I assured myself that it was not broken and a hot shower would fix everything. Later, I tried to imagine what my next day would be like. In just a few hours I would be boarding the plane to fly to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.

I closed my eyes and prayed, “Dear Lord, please be with me. Please take away my fear, and keep my dad alive until I return home. Please let nothing happen that could keep me from adopting Manisha.”
I had come too far to have something unforeseen stop me. I fell asleep from exhaustion only to be jarred awake just a few hours later.

“Fasten your seat belts,” the pilot announced. The no-smoking sign flashed on and the plane engines roared. Soon we would be landing in Kathmandu. My eyes teared up and burned from the lack of sleep. I couldn’t believe it was possible to fly so far and still be on the same planet.

After we landed and I exited the plane, I felt as though I had been transported to another world. Huge mountains dotted the countryside. It was a beautiful day, bordering on hot but not unpleasantly so. I took a deep breath as I walked down the tarmac. Cows were lounging between the runways. Old tattered signs marked the entrance to the airport written in a scribble I couldn’t read. I was prompted by a young woman showing us the way to customs. No one spoke English. The airport was noisy, crowded, and sweaty.

I felt humanity pressing against me as the surge of passengers from my plane all headed in the same direction. There was a putrid stench in the air—a mixture of unpleasant odors, like an open dumpster that hadn’t been emptied for several weeks.

After showing my paperwork and having my passport stamped, I joined another long line of people headed to baggage claims. I stood on my tiptoes to peer over the dark heads and mass of ebony-complexioned travelers. My blonde hair and fair skin made me look like an anomaly. A couple of European or American men toting backpacks were in front. Their masculine build and rough clothes marked them as serious mountain climbers.

Nepal lies between India and China. The country has long been known for its majestic, high mountains and waterfalls that cascade over the rugged terrain. Climbers traveled to Nepal from all over the world to undertake one of the most arduous climbs imaginable, risking their lives to stand atop the world’s highest mountain. I hoped to get a picture of Mount Everest as a souvenir.

After I retrieved my bags, I headed toward the front entrance to look for Ankit, my contact person. An Evangelical Christian and pastor in Nepal, he often heard about orphaned children, especially little girls, who had little status in Hindu culture. His desire was to place them in Christian homes in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

People crowded the entrance and I wondered how I would ever find him in the sea of faces. Hastily-written signs shot up everywhere. In the commotion, I looked for a blue and white one that said the name of the adoption agency. I finally saw Ankit and waved my hand. He came over and helped me with my bags, putting them into a waiting taxi. After I was in the taxi, Ankit hopped on his motorcycle and we took off.

As we pulled away from the airport, I was glad to leave behind the discombobulating noise of airplanes, cabs, and travelers. After two days of being airborne, I felt relieved to be on solid ground. We frequently stopped for cows as they stubbornly refused to move and blocked the cab. The countryside was painted in them; most looked emaciated and old. Cows were worshipped and not eaten in Nepal.

The huge mountains surrounding us spoke of unparalleled beauty. Garbage and other debris thrown out of passing cars that reflected in the sunlight were stashed in disheveled piles along the sides of the road. Children in old, torn clothes watched as we drove by. I tried to imagine what Manisha, my daughter-to-be, would look like.

“There is the hospital,” the taxicab driver said in broken English. He pointed out several other buildings as we went along. I could hardly focus on what he was saying as my mind jumped to what lay ahead. My heart was racing, excited to be here.

After endless turns and one-lane roads, we arrived at the hotel where twelve other adoptive families had stayed. The desk worker recognized us when we entered the hotel lobby.

The Bleu was a plain, four-story, tan-colored brick building in the downtown political district of Kathmandu. A black and white TV played in the small foyer. The floor was well worn and the wall had several coats of cracked paint. Ankit translated for me as I checked in and helped me carry my luggage up the three flights of stairs to my room. There was no elevator.

“After you have a chance to get settled in,” he said, “I will meet you downstairs in the lobby in about thirty minutes.” Having studied at a Bible College in the Southeastern United States, he spoke English well. “Bring your documents with you,” he added, as he closed the door behind him.

After checking out my room, I took my six sets of documents back downstairs and waited for him to return. A few minutes later, he arrived on his motorcycle.

“We need to go to the U.S. Embassy to drop off some paperwork.”

I glanced at his motorcycle and stared back at him. I looked down at my new blue skirt and black heels. I didn’t want to picture myself riding on a motorcycle with someone I hardly knew dressed in my Sunday attire. I had ridden on a motorcycle only once before in Bermuda many years earlier. What if I dropped the notebook containing all the adoption papers, or worse, fell off?

Sensing my concern, he said, “We can rent another taxi, but we’ll be doing a lot of traveling in Kathmandu and it will get expensive.”

I reluctantly hopped on the back, maneuvering my skirt so it wouldn’t clog up the engine. I stuck the heavy black binder between us and wrapped my arms around his waist as tightly as I could. He revved up the engine and we took off down the clogged streets of Kathmandu.

Most people rode on bikes, but every conceivable type of wheeled transport could be seen. Many of the roads were dirt or gravel, and the air was thick with dust. The Nepalis wore scarves and face covers over their nostrils to keep from inhaling the dirt. I didn’t have one.

When I arrived back at the Bleu Hotel after our excursion to the U.S. Embassy, my blue skirt was covered in road grime. My skin stung from the debris hurled from the motorcycle and I could taste muck on my lips. The odorous smell of Nepal was now on me. I was repelled and overwhelmed at the same time. I had only been here a few hours and I was already thinking about when I could leave.

One of my suitcases was filled with an assortment of things I had brought to an American family serving as missionaries. The Reeses had been in Kathmandu for quite some time. The mother was a physician, and their children ranged in age from six to twelve. They had called and wanted to know when they could stop by the hotel. The only way they received items from America was when someone brought them. Most mail would not arrive without being pilfered. It had been six months since they had received any packages.

I unloaded my suitcase, wishing I could meet Manisha. Was she in the city? Ankit said we wouldn’t be able to see her until tomorrow.

Scattered among the Reeses’ things were gifts for Manisha, including a pink doll, Play-Doh, blocks, a yellow toy telephone, and a stuffed dog that made noise when I pushed in his nose. I had also brought a few clothes, some big and some small since I didn’t know her size. They were clean and unsoiled by the Nepali air.

The Reeses called and said they would be over in a few minutes. I gathered their things and walked down to the hotel lobby. A short time later they arrived and I was surprised to see three blonde-haired, fair-skinned children show up on bicycles with their father. I wondered how they could seem so American when they lived in such a different culture.

They were excited to receive the gifts. As we sat and chatted in the lobby, an American-looking man walked in with a Nepali girl. I found out he was from Canada and was making plans to return home.

“I got my phone call from India,” he explained. “We waited a week. That was the last thing we needed to finish her adoption. We have been here a month.”

I felt a twinge of jealousy that they were done and I was just starting. I couldn’t imagine being in Nepal for a whole month.

The little girl uttered a few words in Nepali.

“What did she say?” I asked.

The motel attendant said, “She called her father an uncle.”

Everyone laughed and I relaxed a little.

“How old is she?”

“She’s two,” her father said.

I tried to imagine how big Manisha would be compared to her.

“When are you leaving?”

“We are leaving on Tuesday.”

So soon; few people spoke English here so my time in Nepal would be lonely. It was reassuring to see that his adoption went through. I hoped mine would be the same. We visited for a few more minutes until the Reeses had to leave.

“I hope to see you again,” I told them.

“We’ll have you over for an American meal one night,” they promised, “and you won’t have to worry about the food.”

I could look forward to that. I asked them for tips on good restaurants. I had been warned: Don’t eat salads, don’t eat meat, don’t eat vegetables, and don’t eat fruit unless it’s contained in a peel.

As I left the Bleu Hotel and took my first walk in Kathmandu, I tried to take in the world that opened before my eyes. Poor, dirty, spiritually dark, and oppressive for women, it was a place where hope seemed nonexistent. It was hard for me to believe that my daughter would come from here.

Nepal, home to so many children who would never make it to their fifth birthday; who lived in severe poverty and suffered from lack of nutrition and disease; children who had little hope of ever knowing what it would be like to have a full belly at night or a chance to live life to the fullest. Perhaps most dared to not even dream.

In a country thousands of miles away from my home in Gainesville, Florida, most knew nothing of the God I loved and worshipped. Nepal, a world apart and a world within my heart, the two would be linked forever.

Never again would my heart not skip a beat and my ears not perk up when I heard the name Nepal mentioned in the news. Never again would my mind not be drawn back to these days when I walked its darkened streets.

*~*~*~*




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SHORT INTERVIEW OF LORILYN ROBERTS: “Does God Have a Special Plan and Purpose for the Jews in the Latter Days?”

 

A Messianic #book for the last days. Finalist in the Literary Classics Awards. “The King.” http://t.co/bMDJyx6KCu pic.twitter.com/2yHJN1IBSJ
— Lorilyn Roberts (@LorilynRoberts) October 3, 2014

 

Question:  Do you believe God has a special plan and purpose for the Jews in the latter days?

Answer:  I believe that God’s attention returns to the Jews and Israel in the latter days. Even today, as we focus on current events in the world, hardly a day goes by that Israel is not in the news.

Unfortunately, in the West, our worldview is skewed in a way that we tend to look at the Bible from a different cultural perspective than the Bible was written, so we miss out on a lot of its rich history and historical customs.

I try to keep a keen eye on what is happening currently in the Middle East in light of what Scripture says, knowing that many of the prophecies have yet to be fulfilled. I do not believe in replacement theology. I think that is a dangerous interpretation of Scripture and unbiblical. So yes, I believe God’s attention will be on Israel, and whether Christians realize it or not, their heritage is rooted in Judaism.

The first to believe that Jesus was the Messiah were all Jewish, and they were persecuted for their belief.

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HOPE DEFERRED MAKES THE HEART SICK: Devotional by Lorilyn Roberts

Introduction

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy.
Proverbs 13:12


What does it mean to be adopted? As I look at my two beautiful, internationally adopted daughters, the definition becomes living and full of personal meaning, not just a two-dimensional word on a written page. Maybe what I want is not so much a definition as an understanding of the depths of its meaning on a spiritual level—the act itself of love, sacrifice, cost, and inheritance.

Today my children are ten and seventeen years old and as American as any other child born in this country. We live in middle-class suburbia, I drive a “mommy van,” our refrigerator is full of too much junk food, my kids wear J.C. Penney clothes, and sleep on comfortable flannel sheets and memory foam pillows. Manisha has Christian teenage friends who come over and watch action-packed movies on our high definition, forty-eight-inch television screen, and Joy competes at level seven on a girls’ gymnastics team. We are living the American dream. On the surface, we seem “ordinary,” but in reality, we are quite to the contrary.

My two children were orphans from third-world countries. They came from destitute backgrounds without hope, clinging to a miserable existence. I asked my 17-year-old daughter, “What does it mean to you to be adopted?”

“It means I didn’t grow in my mommy’s stomach but in her heart,” she responded.

Sometimes when we decide to write a book, it’s because there isn’t a book on the bookshelf that addresses what we want to read. I wanted to understand what it meant to be adopted by my heavenly Father. I searched the Scriptures for all the passages on adoption and thought about what it meant for me personally. The more I thought about it and looked for material, the more I realized how little extra-Biblical literature existed.

I prayed about writing my own book and started writing, but as I wrote, I realized I had to tell my own story. I imagined a beautiful book of how we became a family because I wanted to encourage others to pursue their own dreams of adoption. I wanted it to be a story of hope and fulfillment, but God’s adoption of us and the adoption of my children aren’t just beautiful adoption stories in the sense that most of us would think of as beautiful.

Mine is the story of the struggle to create a “forever family” as I endured lies, betrayal, sickness, delay, deceit, deception, greed, corruption, suffering, fear, abandonment, and sacrifice. Eventually, through perseverance and dependence on God, I received fulfillment. It soon became clear to me that the adoption of my children wasn’t that different from God’s adoption of us.

Jesus gave His life for us by paying the ultimate sacrifice at great cost to Himself—suffering on a cruel Roman cross after being abandoned by His closest friends and even God Himself. He suffered every human emotion that I had suffered, but even more so, and without sin.

Perhaps I did accomplish what I wanted, but just not in the way I had originally envisioned. I get teary-eyed when I think about it because I know what heartache and suffering I went through, which pales in comparison to what God has done for us. He has given me a great gift, because I am able to see how much God loves me through the adoption of my children.

In heaven, the Lamb will stand before the throne, in the midst of thousands upon thousands of angels, illuminating us with His holy presence. Only when Jesus breaks the seven seals and opens the scroll, which is the deed to the earth and all its inhabitants, will our entitlement be revealed.

The adoption of my two children was a hard-fought battle—trusting God, forgiving others, and fighting forces of evil that wanted to destroy me. Ephesians 6:10 states:

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

My earthly journey of adoption not only gave me the “Children of Dreams” I longed for, but it has shown me the inheritance awaiting us when we arrive in heaven through God’s adoption of us. My story begins many years ago….

*~*~*~*



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