In June of 2002 Tim and I went on a mission trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We'd found an orphanage there which hosted short-term teams and signed on. We met our fearless leader and now lifelong friend, Kris Meadows, for the first time in the Miami airport. The trip was wonderful and horrible all at the same time. Most of the team stayed in a local hotel. Tim and I opted for the cheaper and more "authentic" accommodations -two foam mats on an uncovered porch at the orphanage. It was great! (we were taking anti-malaria medication in case you were wondering.)
We didn't go on this trip with the intention of adopting again. Well, we were always open to the possibility but it wasn't our focus. Over the course of the week we spent time with many children and each fell in love with certain children but never the same one. We took this as God's "not now." That being said, it is an incredibly grueling experience to walk through a place over flowing with kids and know that half of them have adoptive parents waiting for them and the others do not. What's worse -the kids new exactly who was "chosen" already and who wasn't.
So, by the end of the week as exhaustion set in and our brains were working overtime to sort through all that we'd experienced so far, we found ourselves drawn toward the kids who were already being adopted. This way we were still ministering but playing it safe emotionally. This is how we came to know Mamoune. She was being adopted by the director of the agency and was a bundle of entertainment. She was also fully infested with parasitic worms which made for an interesting bonding moment. "That's all I have to say about that."
We loved the trip. We fell in love with Haiti (and still love Haiti despite recent events ;-)). But adoption? It just didn't seem to be on the horizon until... about six weeks after we'd returned home, we got a phone call from Kris Meadows. The director decided not to adopt Mamoune and she was now available. They knew we had spent a good bit of time with her and wanted us to pray about adopting her. We agreed to pray but there was much more to it than that. Adoption costs money and international adoption even more so. We didn't have any of the $10,000 or more that it would take to bring this little girl home. We went to our Pastor looking for advice on the difference between stepping out in faith and just being foolish. He basically told us to keep praying, stay in the Word, and wait to see how God might use the body to provide an answer. One week later and two days before the agency needed us to give them our decision, we got a call that an anonymous church member had just written a check for $10,000 to pay for our adoption.
I feel just as humbled and amazed telling you about it today as I did four years ago. We took this as a very clear "yes" and proceeded with the paperwork. A year and a few months later, we flew (covertly -that's a whole 'nother story) to Haiti and brought back Yakira Mamoune Sexton. It was the culmination of countless prayers, many tears, and even a song that continues to convict me to this day. (Thanks Ron =)) Life with Mamoune has not been easy. There were language barriers to overcome and we are still working through emotional barriers, but for good or bad she is ours. And when I look back on her story and the multitude of "coincidences" that got her home, I have no doubt that she is exactly where God means for her to be.