The Big Picture

Have you ever put together a puzzle and been so overwhelmed with the amount of pieces and options, that you have to refer back to the picture on the box for orientation?  Of course after you remind yourself what the picture looks like, you have to remember that the scale and color of the picture on the box and your puzzle are quite different.

The Lord has shown me the picture of what he wants Lighthouse Sanctuary to be, and I am trying to orient myself and find all of the pieces to place. We have been blessed so far to find pieces of support from every corner of the world! We have found pieces that help us understand the need here and where we fit in.  We have also found pieces in our reading materials that help to clarify what Lighthouse will be.

We came here knowing that we would not be able to set up the shelter overnight and that we hadn’t received all of the pieces yet.  We also came here with what felt like multiple full time jobs.  Being a parent of 4 young children is already more than full-time and homeschooling is very time consuming.  Starting a business could also fill my days and nights and then of course we added the element of uprooting our family and trying to do all of these things on the other side of the globe.  Let’s be real here, it’s way more than we can handle without constant divine intervention!

We thought that we would come here and one of us would take care of the children and the other would work on the business.  It didn’t seem easy, but it seemed so doable.  The reality is that most people here have house helps, and hopefully one day we will too, because raising children in Manila is pretty much insane!  We do not have the typical modern conveniences like dishwashers, oven, or washer and dryer.  Food only stays fresh for a few days, so I need to go to the market twice a week.

The first 2 weeks here we ate out almost every meal because we didn’t have our bearings and it was the one thing we could cut out.  Of course eating out takes its toll physically and financially so we were excited to settle and eat real food again!  Real food can be so exhausting though! Grocery shopping with 4 kids is hard enough but planning meals, washing and peeling all our fruits and vegetables and preparing all of our meals from scratch is extremely time consuming! You can say that I miss Costco in a very real way!

If you don’t yet know Manila, I’d like to give you a good picture of it.  It is lined with impressive skyscrapers, peppered with shacks and devastating poverty.  It is so dense that many people live in the same skyscraper that houses their grocery store, the mall they shop at for every possible need, their nail technician, on call maid, laundry service and more.  Most places that you drive actually take you longer to get there in a car.  Although walking might be faster, it is not safer or better for your health.  The cars are lined up bumper to bumper and they are exhausting diesel fumes.  The side walks are used for parking and motorcycles do not seem to follow any rules.  I want to say that the people are so friendly and wonderful but that wouldn’t paint the truest picture.  Most people here in Manila are overworked and underpaid.  They are respectful but warn down.

Now that you have a good picture of the city, you can understand that although we feel like we are working very hard, things are progressing very slowly.  My husband spent weeks in lines of different offices just trying to get his ID, drivers license and dual citizenship.  Now that he finally has all of that done, we are prepared to submit our paperwork for Lighthouse.  We are excited to get in the paperwork and be recognized here like we are in the U.S. as a non profit organization.  It is one piece of this puzzle that we recognize and can fit in.

The piece this week that was most exciting for me, was meeting the woman who runs a facility with her husband and is allowing us to come and volunteer and learn through hands on work. We plan to take the next 6 months to volunteer for them and go through Trauma Informed Care Training with IJM (International Justice Mission.)  We will find our location and prepare all that we can for the next phase of building.  We will then visit Utah for a few months to find donors to make the final pieces a reality.  The Lord has shown us the big picture and we love seeing how each piece is revealed and placed!  We are so grateful to all of those who have dedicated their talents and are helping to bring the big picture together!

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Miracle Trials

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As I was reading back in my journal, I realized that there is a part of this journey that is the real backbone of how Lighthouse began, but it is very personal and hard to share.  I have always had a beautiful life, rich with fun memories and amazing people!  Just like everyone else I experienced trials and hard times but they were nothing more than typical.  Things started to change in 2014.  The trials that came made me feel as though I had been tossed into the waves of the ocean and each trial/wave would come and knock me down.  I would come up long enough to catch my breath and be knocked over again.  I had enough bearing to know that there was a purpose for each wave but I could not fathom what it was.

Early 2015 was when my tsunami hit.  At this point I was quite physically ill.  My back would seize and hold in awkward, painful positions and not allow me to do my daily duties for up to 2 weeks at a time.  The episodes had gotten worse after each pregnancy and were happening more frequently each time.  I also had other ailments, and the doctors were checking lumps here and there for cancer and other fearful diagnoses.  Beyond my physical body, my emotional state was at its worst!  I was struggling with depression, consumed by fear and my marriage was hanging by a thread, if that.

This tsunami drug me to rock bottom and I knew I had a choice.  I could either accept that the rock of my salvation was Jesus Christ and hand over all of my fears, or I could try and fight my way up for air on my own.  I made the choice to let the atonement help me. Immediately, I felt freed!  Of course after taking a breath of air, I began kicking again by instinct as the new waves hit.  It became very clear when I was relying on my Savior and when I was out there alone.  I knew then that I was willing to give my life to my Savior in order to have the life I desired. I felt like I could see the ocean for what it was and I threw in my fears and started to fully rely on my Savior.  Just as I did, I got the most illogical impression.  I felt that there was a child waiting for us on the other side.  A child who wanted to come to our family.  Logically I knew that one more pregnancy could mean that I would never walk again, due to my back issues.  I thought my marriage was ending and logically bringing another child into a home that may not last was a terrible choice!  I could not come up with any logical reason to move forward.  I then felt a prompting to trust in the Lord and he would heal me completely.  Of course I thought the healing would come first so I could handle the pregnancy, but that was not the case.  We agreed to bring that life into our  family and 1 month later I was pregnant.  My husband was thrilled but my fears returned.  I endured that pregnancy and was so busy being afraid that I didn’t always realize that my marriage was improving or my back was getting better.

In January 2016 I delivered a healthy baby and I started to accept the miracles taking place. From the day I agreed to have that child until today, my back has not seized.  My pain and lumps are miraculously gone and my marriage is the best it has ever been.  I learned that my logic and the Lord’s logic are not the same.  I learned that God is all powerful and there is no need to fear when we follow his will. I also learned where much is given, much is expected.

When my baby turned 4 months old, my husband and I started getting more educated and involved in understanding human trafficking.  Days after praying together about what we could do to help with the many who are taken we received a phone call from someone we didn’t know. He had expressed to my brother that he wanted to help children in the Philippines by finding them shelters so they could be rescued.  My brother asked him to call me.  I was so excited that our prayer had been answered so quickly!  I could feel the Lord’s love for his suffering children and I started searching right away.  I called orphanages and contacted family members for connections or to see if they would foster, etc.  At the end of the day I had no answers and not a soul who could help.  I got on my knees again for direction of who to contact or how to go about it and it was then that my answer came so clearly that we were the answer.  We were to move our family to the Philippines and open a shelter.  It was illogical and crazy, but it was clear!  I have seen miracles every day since then to reconfirm that this is his will.  I experienced his healing powers and I am looking forward to witnessing the healing he brings to the children that he allows us to shelter!