We were living in Guatemala and my daughter Anna and I had been volunteering in an orphanage.  Adding to our family again was part of the plan and it became obvious that 2 of the kiddos we loved on each week were meant for us. (That's a great story for another day.) These sweet girls had spent time in our home for about 4 weeks and then we traveled stateside for 5 weeks, splitting time between Oregon and California visiting friends and family.

We didn't have any real legal authority as guardians yet, so the girls had to stay back in Guatemala. Oh how my heart ached for them while on our vacation. When the 5 weeks were over, we took a red-eye flight home, drove straight to the house to drop our things, and then made a mad-dash for the orphanage. All we could think about was hugging those girls and bringing them home again.

When we arrived, it was obvious something wasn't right...no adults could be found anywhere. The older kids (and by this I mean older than 3) were all outside. Several came running up to tell me Emma was in the corner of the yard very sick. We ran to her and I scooped her up, burning with fever. She clung to me and my heart was breaking.

I just need to get her home.

We walked into the large 2-story house and still no adults in sight. Straight to the baby room where sweet Yuli was sitting in a walker staring blankly at us. No expression, and worse, there was a giant piece of black something in her eye. I was a rage of red inside!

I have no idea which of us picked her up and removed that giant wood splinter, but it was at that moment the 1st adult caretaker made an appearance. I remember words being spoken, with great restraint, by my sweet husband.

Apologies made.

News that these caretakers were leaving Guatemala and all kids were being transferred.

“We are sorry but the girls will be moved and we can't guarantee you will be permitted to continue with your adoption. Again, we are sorry.”


Ringing in my ears.

I remember taking Yuli from Paul. I looked him in his eyes and said "I'm not leaving them here."  I was calm but decided.

I arrived with 2 children.

I was leaving with 4.

Maybe someday Paul can write about what happened next. And no, there weren’t any punches thrown and we didn’t flee the scene and go in to hiding. But we did leave with 4 children that day, and spent the next 3 years striving through the adoption process, never looking back.

Something happened inside me that day. Something I can’t explain. My heart was stirred, my soul disturbed. And the whole of me was determined. I couldn’t walk away. I wouldn’t walk away.

I’m feeling some of that stirring in me again.

That day in the orphanage, it happened at once, in a split second.

This time it seems to be building, stirring slowly, but stirring nonetheless.

Listening to stories about older women, working hard to make ends meet all on their own. Stories told with a tinge of embarrassment as they confess times they were taken advantage of in a business deal because they didn’t know better. My new friend who hesitated to share with me that the whole front of her house is without power because the last time her air conditioner went out she tried to use a window unit and it must have blown a fuse. But she can’t afford to repair it, so she runs extension chords from the back of the house for her microwave and uses battery powered camping lanterns to see at night. And yes, her A/C is still broken and it’s supposed to hit 100 degrees here tomorrow.

My heart is stirring, and my soul is disturbed.

There is a plan in motion to get that new A/C in place. But there are so many more just like her. Waiting for one of us to say “I’m not leaving them!” I’m still not clear on what I need to do next.  But I must do something.

My heart is determined and my eyes are focused…who’s with me?


P.S. Paul helped to find new caretakers for that orphanage, allowing us to continue with our adoption, also allowing every other child in that house to find a forever home as well.

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27

Annabelle Chinchen