Current Child Count

  • HOGAR DE AMOR I: 11 babies
  • HOGAR DE AMOR II: 6 boys
  • HOGAR DE AMOR III: 8 girls

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Year That Everything Changes

Over the next couple of weeks, I will write a few blog posts sharing the story of how God brought Jake and me together - pretty miraculously, if you ask me! Today, exactly one month before our wedding, I present Part I. :)

It’s just as well that no one told me I would be 29 by the time I met the man of my dreams and 30 when he proposed. My parents were 24 and 25 when they married and when I was younger, I thought that sounded a little late! But shortly after turning 22, I moved to Bolivia to launch the ministry of my dreams instead. We Thompson girls had been raised to recognize our single years as a gift and to use them for wholehearted service to the Lord and others, and that’s what I did, but in rare quiet moments, I wondered if I had sacrificed the dream of having my own family on the altar of service.

For the past couple of years, I had really laid down the dream to keep focusing on Casa de Amor and my street kids on the street or in jail. Well meaning people told me I might as well give up on ever marrying if I insisted on staying in Bolivia and probably would not marry a Bolivian. But why would I leave Bolivia if God hadn’t called me elsewhere? I still loved living in Bolivia and running Casa de Amor—saying “yes” to an abandoned or at-risk baby has never lost its thrill—but I also never lost the deep-rooted desire for a family of my own.    
Then in December 2011, something began stirring in my heart again. On January 4, I wrote in my journal about two different sermons that seemed to speak right to me, and the significance I sensed of the year ahead:

“After hearing Joe Holman speak the first Sunday of December on Zacharias and Elizabeth getting pregnant in their old age (“God said yes the very first time they prayed”)…

After hearing Beth Moore also speak on Zacharias and Elizabeth finally getting their heart’s desire, and her passionate closing prayer about her listener’s receiving their heart’s desire supernaturally (what comes to others naturally) in the upcoming year…

After realizing that the year I turned 20 (2002) was a tough year of seeking God’s will and sorting through numerous wonderful options without a neon sign…until that came in November [the phone call asking me to start an orphanage in Bolivia]…

And now it’s 2012 and I feel another season of options and hard decisions coming up…

And seeing as I’ve pretty much spent 7-of-every-holiday-in-a-row here now, running Casa de Amor for exactly 7 years now, a number of completion…

I’ve not seen God’s hand write on the wall or across the night sky or anything, but I THINK that this could be the year…. The year that everything changes.”

Meanwhile, God was putting “Bolivia” on the radar of a faithful man sensitive to His voice, beginning with his sponsorship of a Bolivian child through Compassion International, and intensifying with two mentions of Casa de Amor. (Read the story in Jake’s own words here. The article in WORLD magazine was my Mom’s doing and she takes full credit for it! J)

Shortly after noon on January 26, 2012, I plopped down on my bed to read emails that had come in while I was out. My eyes riveted to an email from someone named “Jacob Beaty”, writing to ask if he could visit Casa de Amor for a few days in March. I had what I’ll admit is a pretty crazy reaction. I didn’t know where this Jacob person was from, what he looked like, or even his age, but I kind of thought I might marry him! Following that lightning-bolt moment, I tried to get on with my day but couldn’t get the email and person behind it out of my mind. Finally I emailed our volunteer coordinator Elena, also copied on the email, saying not to worry, that I would reply to him. I didn’t think she would suspect anything because she had recently traveled to the US for a visit—I was just helping out!
From there, Jake and I quickly struck up a correspondence by email, writing each other once or twice a week, minus the two week period that Jake recalls when I did not write as the busyness of my life here took over. In mid-February I wrote my family saying, “Got back after 13 hours out and found another long reply! But I admit, I’m creeping myself out now!! There’s still a month till his trip, I don’t think we should keep writing like this. I NEVER write any future volunteer continually, much less for just a week trip, totally ulterior motives here. I tell myself “shame on you”, then remember “Oh yeah, I turn THIRTY this year……….KEEP WRITING HIM!!” LOL. And he himself says he’s picky………and there’s no way he could be pickier than me……….my fleshly self says there’s no hope and it’s ridiculous to pretend there is. Sigh.”

My Mom’s reply came quickly and made me chuckle “This is Mom.   You should DEFINITELY keep writing!   This is great!” My Dad asked if he and my sister Emma (age 13) should hop on a plane to check him out first, the image of which cracked me up as well.
But I also wrote this to my family:

“I have to admit, ever since the moment I read his email and just knew he was coming, the most amazing sense of peace has come over me. It’s totally unexplainable. In Spanish I’d say I’m now “tranquila”. And I don’t know if this is because he’s “the one” or if it’s a special gift from God at a time when I was growing desperate to know if I’m doing the right thing continuing to live here in Bolivia, where I’ve made my life, when it seems to be a complete dead end relationally. But now it’s as if a small light has appeared on the pitch black horizon, and I can just rest and keep doing what I’m supposed to be doing here. And if this isn’t the one, if God brought all this about (the email conversation is at the least stimulating and an encouragement to me), He can certainly do it again.”

But I needn’t have worried about God having to “do it again” because, well… Part II coming soon!

 On my first visit to Bolivia with my Dad, August 2002, when I was 20 years old. Less than three months later I was asked to start the project that eventually became "Casa de Amor".


Jessica Hardin said...

Oh hurry up and write the second part!!! :) lol.

Gallo Pinto2 said...

Jen! You know how we thought we had all the TX addresses to the TN one? well we missed the one on your blog! On your "donations" thing on the sidebar it still has the TX address!

I know you have a lot going on with JAKE:) But we should probably get that fixed :)


Jennifer T. said...

Wow Denise, that's the catch of the YEAR!! My Mom will be so proud of you, too. Thanks - I've changed the address!!

Second part coming, well... When I have time to finish it around all the adoptions and new babies and meetings going on this week. :)