Attempts to recruit host families in recession-weathered Michigan had been taxing of late; it seemed almost everyone I spoke with had lost a job since our last conversation. I’d been feeling like a lone cheerleader in a dark, vacant stadium, goading enthusiasm from a nonexistent crowd, when the lights finally went on late Friday night. A dearly treasured friend of the Lighthouse Project left joyous news in a word-thrifty thirty-second voice mail, conferring hope beyond my deserts and allowing a euphoric Oklahoma family to say yes to Lima’s adoption.
Five years ago another friend adopted Lisa from Russia, only to discover impossibly late that she had a younger sister named Lima in a different orphanage. Home in Michigan, Lisa settled in but didn’t forget her sister left behind, faithfully praying and tirelessly spreading the word of a waiting orphan in need of a family. Sweet Lisa’s prayers got an emphatic affirmative at 9:03 p.m. last Friday in a message that stole my breath away. That news of this joy could be imparted with such economy in verbiage was art I did not equal in ensuing conversations with the new family, Lisa’s mom, and the Lighthouse Project director.
Since Lima’s family-to-be didn’t even know about her while the January Tulsa trip was in their town, they’ll host her in March in Grand Rapids, Lord willing. Besides meeting her new parents, Lima will see Lisa in a poignant reunion I’d give anything to witness. I expect they’ll embrace, maybe hold hands, as Lima shares with Lisa what her last five years have held. While Lisa no longer speaks Russian, she recalls orphanage life sufficiently that her heart will understand what this week means to Lima. In a mercy gifted by youth, Lima will not struggle wondering what words of gratitude would be appropriate for the sister whose prayers have secured her place in the heart of a family.
At my age, I suffer no equivalent delusion. I ache to convey appreciation to my Friday caller, but can't assuage apprehension that anything I’d say would be woefully disproportionate to the gift. I must trust the determined love that compels Lima’s new family to venture across the country, then around the world, speaks the volumes of thankfulness I only wish my words could.
As I continue seeking families for March, I have new optimism that I’m no longer alone in my Lighthouse stadium. The stands aren’t packed yet, but benevolent friends are filling them. With prayer and more effort we’ll be ready by game time. For a new family beside themselves with elation, for Lisa who prayed without ceasing, for our incredible friends who will never know the depths of the Lighthouse Project’s gratitude, and for Lima who waited five years and two visits to find the family who will love her, I am cheering tonight.