Last updated on September 22, 2023
For my thoughts are not your thoughts
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.