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Saturday, July 5, 2014

They had a great life, and then it all changed.

Spencer hold Chloe when she first arrived home.
Our kids had a great life, and then it all changed.

One day they lived in a big house in Canada with nice cars, private school, lots of toys, all the Disney movies, and exotic holidays on the beach. The next day it all changed.  Suddenly their parents were focused on saving lives in Africa, downsizing, even moving to the US because they felt that “God wanted them to”.  Sheesh.

She just couldn't keep her eyes open any more.
This was hugely disruptive to their lives, and also transformative.  Schools changed, friends changed, extra curricular activities changed and life changed.  Was it all good?  No.  Was it all bad?  No.  Was it all different?  Yes.

One of my all time favorite photos of Chloe.
Then the decision was made to move to Swaziland, Africa. Another sucker-punch to the stomach.  Spencer would go off to FSU with no “home” to come home to on family holidays and breaks. Chloe would move to Swaziland where she would have to travel THREE HOURS every day to get to and from a school that was not like any school she had ever been to.  That schedule just couldn’t be maintained and then we decided she would go to school in Taichung, Taiwan. Why?  Not because it was close, or easy, but because it is an awesome school and it seemed again that “God wanted her to”. 

Today is Chloe’s 18th birthday so I am dedicating this blog to her.  I have no words to express how proud I am of both our children and how they have handled the crashing waves that have tried to drowned them,  yet some days it seems that they both know how to walk on water.

Chloe is “home” in Swaziland for her “summer” break (even though it is winter here) and on Monday we will head to Cape Town to celebrate her 18th birthday.  You see change just make things different, not necessarily bad.  That is what she wanted to do for her 18th birthday – see Cape Town, visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years and take a Gondola up Table Mountain.  She would never have thought of that if we were still living in Canada.  She also wants to share her birthday cake today with Nomsa, her friend and sister with XDR-TB who is now in hospice here on our farm.  She wouldn't have known Nomsa if we hadn’t moved here.

His plans are not our plans, and I am eternally grateful for that.  Is this life easy? No.  Do I miss my children?  Desperately.  Do I feel we are all in the center of God’s will?  Absolutely.

With permission, I am posting below a blog that Chloe wrote last year only eight days before she moved to Taiwan (I still struggle even typing that).  I hope you will take a few more minutes to read it.  I promise you it is worth sharing, and I hope you do.

Live from Swaziland … Happy 18th birthday Chloe!  I love you.

Janine

Sitting in Silence - chloemaxwell.blogspot.com

Have you ever had a moment where you just sat in silence and thought about whatever just happened? What happened a moment ago, a day ago, a week ago, maybe even things from the past year. I've found myself doing that a lot this year and when I did have those moments I’d try to write them down in my journal so that later on in life I could remember what was important to me or what even happened through out 2013.

I look back to May 31st, 2012 (the day we got on a plane to move to Swaziland), and can read what I was thinking before we moved here. My expectations, fears, hopes, and questions that I had. It’s interesting to look back and see how things have fallen in and out of place as time went on and to just see how God was working. This year was probably the craziest year of my life. Moving is always hard, but when you go to another continent with a completely different culture that’s 2 worlds behind you’re previous continent, it takes it to a whole new level. Talk about the adventure of a lifetime. I think back to a year ago when we moved and where I am now and how much has happened. I went to a British international school for 6 months, finished 10th grade in December, and decided to transfer to a school in Taiwan for 11th grade (that wouldn’t start until August 12, 2013). That’s just the school side, on the other side, I've got to see our babies at El Roi grow and start to walk and talk, go with my mama to bring home (to El Roi) some of the new babies, etc.

One “memory” I guess you could call it that’s treasured in my heart was with one of the moms of one of our sets of Twins, Leah and Rachel. The first time I met Nomsa was in the back of an ambulance as we were given her twins and she was rushed to the multiple drug resistant TB hospital. Since then, she’s become a big sister to me. Mom and I would go visit her and bring her treats, sit under the tree outside so we wouldn’t have to wear our masks and just talk. We encouraged her as she gained her strength and was fighting against this disease. It felt like we were fighting it with her, and I just assumed God would heal her because I know He’s big and can do anything He chooses, and this seemed like it would be such a big “win” for God, but like I said, He does what He chooses and He has a plan for everything. On top of that His plans are perfect. So when I heard that we were going to see Nomsa last Friday, and I heard the doctor say she had XDR (the last stage of TB), my heart broke. I looked at Nomsa and could see the hopelessness in her eyes as tears began to streak her face and mine as well. I didn’t understand... because we had been fighting this together? And she was supposed to get better and come home to Project Canaan? We had it all figured out and we had a plan, but this was NOT part of the plan. God was supposed to take care of the disease part, because we had everything else covered. This became one of those moments where I sat in silence, and thought. Where is God? And why isn’t He holding up His end of the bargain? That’s when you have to remind yourself that He is there and He does have a plan. His plans are perfect, and our plans aren’t always His plans, but His plans should always be our plans.

That’s just one of the stories of this past year, but it was an extremely important one. Watching people lives here seems so much more real to me. The struggles aren’t 1st world problems, they’re problems that effect your health and well-being. Will I have food to feed my family tomorrow? Am I safe to walk my 2-hour walk home tonight?

You see real life when you’re living here, but you see joy too. Like when you go to El Roi and Ester walks over to you with her whole face just lit up. You crouch down and she just falls/flops into your arms for a hug and then proceeds to sit in/claim your lap for the duration of the visit. How is God so big? He sees and saves this little girl, one of my little sisters who brings so much love and joy, but He doesn’t heal my big sister Nomsa who is fighting for her life.

I'm sitting in silence as I write this, thinking about this past year and wondering, “What if my parents had said no?” Wondering how many people before them said no to this calling, and realizing how God allowed our whole family to be apart of His perfect plan. Maybe life would have been “easier” if we had stayed in Georgia, but we would have missed out on something greater than anything we could imagine. I would never have met these girls that I now call my sisters, my big sister and all of my little brothers and sisters.

Then I pause and think about what’s to come. I'm moving to Taichung, Taiwan in 8 days from now for my Junior and Senior year (11th & 12th grade) of high school by myself. I could have gone back to Georgia or anywhere else God wanted me to be, but He made it clear to me that He wanted me to go to Morrison Academy. And if His plans are as perfect as everyone says they are, then why would I want to go anywhere else? Morrison is an American Christian international boarding school, with tons of missionary kids and TCK’s (Third Culture Kids) just like me. Its like “an island of misfit (freakin’ awesome) toys” and I can’t wait to call it home. 

In a year and 8 days from now I'll read my journal entry from August 7, 2013, and see what my expectations, my fears, my hopes, and my questions were. But what I’m most genuinely excited for is to see how God has exceeded them all. 
          

            Wish me luck, 
                       
                        Chloe

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." 
     ~Jeremiah 29:11

I love you both.


1 comment:

  1. Extremely Cool!! I remember reading her blog post when she wrote it. Loved it then and loved reading it again! Happy Birthday to one amazing young lady!!!

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