All I Want for Christmas

 By Jonni Sliver

Almost exactly 1 year ago a precious little girl came in to our lives. Emily was two years old, a simply adorable little lady who was terrified of everyone and everything. For days the only time she wasn’t crying was when she was sleeping. Bit by bit we won her over. First it was Odette and Neyde, who spent the most time with her, feeding her, bathing her, comforting her wounded heart. Next came two other house moms, and before long all of the Miriam Home family entered her list of people she trusted.

It was pure joy to see Emily grow. We discovered that she is a very bright little girl, with a wonderful sense of humor and an enormous heart. During this last year we saw God restoring Emily’s ability to trust and causing her confidence to grow.

About a month ago I began to hear “the” question being asked of the children in the Miriam Home –“what do you want for Christmas?” It is the same question asked all over the world, and I am guessing most of the answers are pretty similar – a toy, a game, jeans, tennis, music or even (can you imagine) books. But some of the answers are different.  When one of our staff asked Emily what she wanted for Christmas she said “ a mommy and daddy and home of my own”.  She had just turned 3 years old and I thought that was a pretty deep thought for such a little girl! Even though we have known that Emily would eventually go up for adoption, she wasn’t available for adoption yet, and we didn’t know when she would be.

Just two weeks later the judge advised us that he had put Emily on the list available to families waiting for children. A week later we were told that a couple was coming to visit the Miriam Home, to get to know Emily. During the visit they didn’t tell the children why they were there, they just visited with all of the little ones. They came back a few days later, for another visit. This time they asked Emily if she would like to visit them over the week-end. Emily said yes! This precious little lady, who just a year earlier was terrified of everyone, went with this couple for a week-end all by herself!

Emily returned Monday morning telling us she had a wonderful time with her mommy and daddy. She was happy to be back with the people she loves in the Miriam Home but she reminded us daily that this week-end she would be going to her mommy and daddy’s house, and she did. She will be staying for a month with this lovely couple, and the judge will then officially ask if they want to adopt her. The couple has waited five years to adopt. They are in their early 30’s, love the Lord and want a child to complete their family.

Seeing God’s faithfulness in restoring this sweet little girl and answering her prayers may be the best gift I have received all year!

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Home

O.K., I hope you’re ready for buck shot – I have had a few different recurrent themes on my heart recently and I think they came together.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “home” for a while. I was recently home on furlough and it was wonderful. The combination of spending time with people I love and getting to travel to new places, meet new people (and add to the afore mentioned list) is amazing! But when the e-mail came that said my visa had been issued and I would receive it is a couple of days the first thing I said is “I get to go home!” Maybe I’m fickle (though I don’t think so, I root for the Twins and Atletico Mineiros even when they are losing), more likely I’m blessed to have two places where my heart is at rest.

A second thought came with the passing of a precious brother. Antonio has been the caretaker of the retreat center here in Campo Mourao for more than forty years – and so much more! He was the driver for Pr John Abel during evangelism trips,  he has mentored many, many young people. Basically, everything he did, he did to the glory of God. Antonio had a heart attack and passed away at the age of 85. One of the verses shared at his funeral was Psalm 116:15 (ESV) “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. “ I’ve heard the verse many times before, but it has been rolling around in my mind – the death of Antonio, precious in the sight of the Lord.

Finally a little clip has been playing in my mind is of Brandy. He was my dog when I was growing up and he was a pretty smart little fur ball. He knew exactly what time my school bus arrived in the afternoon and five minutes ahead of time he took his position on the back of the sofa, nose aimed at the picture window so he could see the whole street. The moment I got off the bus he would freeze and when our eyes met, four houses down the block, I could see his little body start to quiver. Pure joy. What a precious thing it is to know that someone is waiting for you to arrive, that your arrival brings real joy to their heart.
And these three images finally came together.

As wonderful as our home is, it is an appetizer. God placed the desire for a place that we belong, a place where we “fit” because we have a better home waiting. And there is a reception waiting for us that is beyond what we can imagine. The joy of my little dog, over joyed that I was finally home is an appetizer. Imagine the joy of the Father, waiting for each of us to cross the finish line, the cloud of witnesses cheering and our hearts finally fully home.

Praise the Lord, when we are safely tucked in our homes, we know something even better is coming. And when it doesn’t seem like we will ever find a place where we really fit in (and sometimes it is easy to feel like that), hold on! The Father has more prepared for us than we could even imagine!

Going Home?

by Velma Amundson

“DAY O, Day ay ay oh, Daylight come and me wan’ go home”. Ok, I know, strange way to start this blog. But then again, why not? This song is about banana workers who have finished their shift, done their work and want to go home. My mother has been with us for a month. We’ve had a great time together. But, as it gets closer to the time for her to go home, I can see her missing her home, her friends and my brother and sisters more and more. She wants to go home.

There is an old gospel hymn that says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” I think of that song often. It reminds me that I have a heavenly home waiting for me. Somewhere that I’m promised every tear will be wiped away and I will get to be in the presence of my Lord and Savior forever. It keeps me going when the way gets rough and I feel like nothing is working. It also keeps me going when everything is going my way. It reminds me that the things of this earth are temporary and not all that important. What is important is the treasure I “lay up in heaven”. When I allow God to use me as His witness, showing His love and compassion to those around me, I lay up treasure in Heaven. And someday, when my work here is done, I will get to go there. Not because of the work, but because of God’s grace and mercy.