The path that has brought us to Eden Children’s Village has been a long one, with lots of potholes, bumps, switchbacks and the odd steaming pile of elephant poop. A very long time ago a friend suggested I give up my dream for my life to God and see if he had something different for me. I did that, admittedly begrudgingly, and of course God did have an alternate path for me. I went from obsessing about rock climbing and starting my own gym, it was going to be awesome, to thinking about missionary work and how to even begin down that road. Thus I ended up at St. Stephen’s University, thinking that all missionaries are supposed to have degrees from Christian schools. I thought I was going to go to Russia or Eastern Europe, but apparently not.
After graduating and spending a year working and getting more and more frustrated with life, Carole and I packed our daughter and some bags and headed to South Korea to make bags of money, pay off student loans and hit the mission field. We crashed and burned. After a year we returned home, bought a house, had another daughter and continued to hound God, asking where on earth he wanted us to go. We went to Mozambique, that wasn’t it. I went to Nepal and Thailand. Nope. One day at church I was again asking God where he wanted us to go and he showed me. I had my eyes closed and I saw a vivid picture of a big house on a hill and it was surrounded by fruit trees and gardens. In the sky over it was the word ‘refuge.’ The sense I got was that this place was trying to be self-sustaining. Then the picture changed and I was busy in a workshop, surrounded by kids. They all knew my name and I knew theirs and they were being taken care of by older women. This vision, or whatever you want to call it, was so crystal clear and impactful that I couldn’t talk about it for a year without crying. The intensity of it has never lessened. That’s how I knew it was from God, not my imagination.
So great, I saw where we were supposed to go, but where on earth was it? Now the pain was even greater for me. I knew God had a place for us, and that was wonderful, but didn’t know how to find it. In 2008 Kevin and Susan Fry came to our church to talk to us about Eden Children’s Village and it caught my attention because it was the closest thing to the picture I’d gotten a few years earlier. I didn’t do anything about it, though. I guess I didn’t know what to do. Then Kevin and Susan returned three years later and stayed at a friend’s cottage for a week. We met them and Carole got talking with Susan about the herbal clinic at the orphanage because at that point Carole was halfway through her nursing program in preparation for going wherever we were going. After speaking with Susan, Carole decided to go visit Eden Children’s Village and asked if I wanted to come along.
In July 2012 we arrived in the pitch black at Eden. The power was out, so we couldn’t really see anything. In the morning I went for a walk down to the dam and turned and looked back up the way I’d come and took a photo. That’s when what I was seeing hit me. There was the big house on the hill, surrounded by fruit trees and gardens. I was shocked. Really? The first morning there and I see this? Our six weeks there confirmed to both of us that this was where we were to be, so we went home, told everyone about our trip and that we were moving to Zimbabwe. Carole finished her schooling, worked for a year and we paid off our credit cards, sold our house in record time, packed our bags and came to Eden.
It has been the best and hardest time of my life. I have never felt so fulfilled and so stressed out at the same time. Both Carole and I feel at home here. Lia and Naomi have settled in to life here wonderfully. We live here month to month at the whim of the immigration department. Every time we leave that office with another month visa extension we are elated. We’ve been working on a plan to get a long term visa which can lead to permanent residency and it has come along well since returning this time. Now we have another huge hurdle to jump at immigration. We have about a week left before we have to go to immigration and prove to them that we have $100000 USD in assets to apply for a business investor visa. If we can’t, we need to leave before our extension expires and they deport us. Crazy, right? Isn’t that an exciting place to be?
Here’s what I know. God is good, no matter what. I believe that with everything in me. That’s the faith bit. The trust part is taking the jump, believing he will catch me. We talk about the ‘leap of faith,’ and it really is a leap. For me, that’s where I want to live. I want to live a life of trusting that God’s going to catch me when I jump, like my Dad always did. The other thing I know is that no matter what happens next week, we are not finished at Eden. God showed me two pictures that day in church and the second one hasn’t happened yet. I believe it will if we keep moving down this wild path he’s laid out for us, potholes, bumps and all. Nobody said it would be easy, Jesus said the opposite, but he promised it would be so worth it. I believe him.