Sunday, February 17, 2013

Called To Serve - The Rest of the Story

There's something to be said about being content while waiting on God to put you where He wants you.  Just when you least expect something to happen, when you take the focus off of your own plan and ask Him to put you in his perfect will for your life, He sneaks up on you and gives you the desires of your heart!

After Ashlee's letter to us about feeling like God was calling her to serve in India, we prayed, and we researched, and we prayed some more, and we researched some more.   It had already been determined that Ashlee wasn't going to India alone, so if she was to go, I would be going with her.  Over the past 2 1/2 weeks, I had pursued a few different opportunities, all of which ended in closed doors.  Our biggest fear was getting involved with a group that was a scam.  All I could think about was sending all that money to go on a mission trip and the group running off with the money, which would destroy Ashlee.  So I was researching everything I could get my hands on looking for info on mission trip scams, etc. 

Then one evening, during one of my many "google" searches, I actually went to the second page of my search, which I don't remember ever doing before.  It was there that I came across an organization based in Dallas, Texas called Live in Love.  Their website listed a few different mission trip opportunities, one of which was to India, and it looked like the dates would work, so I filled out the inquiry form asking for more details... and then we waited... and we prayed together as a family.  This was on Monday evening.
I was out all day the next day, but when I got home that night, I had received an email from Live in Love with a very detailed packet of info attached.  I also had a voicemail message from the team leader, Ben Stokes.  I emailed him back, and we set up a time to talk on Wednesday afternoon, at which time he filled me in on the trip.  He told me to find him on FB and that he would add me to the India mission trip group that he had started there.  He mentioned that the group would actually be staying in an orphanage that is run by Daniel Gupta and his wife, Viji, who had taken 15 girls off the streets and had taken them in as their own.  Ben said they were having the first informational conference call about the trip the next evening and that I could find the call info on the group's FB page. 
When I got home from picking Emilee up from school, I filled Scott in on the information from the call with Ben and how the team would be staying in an orphanage with a family by the name of Gupta.  I also mentioned that there was a teacher named Mr. Gupta at Emilee's school.  Scott said, "Gupta is like the most common name in India, like Smith is in the U.S., so do me a favor and please don't go ask the man if he's related to them. You'll embarrass yourself!"  So I said, "I would never do that [cough, cough]!"  :-)

Later on that night I jumped on FB to find the India mission group page.  I found the team leader's FB page, and I saw the orphanage leader's name, Daniel Gupta, so I clicked on his FB page.  Across the top of Daniel's home page was a picture of him and his wife standing beside a bride and groom.  I turned the computer around to show Emilee, and she said, "Hey, that's Mr. Gupta and his wife, Wendy!"   The teacher at Emilee's school was the groom, and the groom was standing beside Daniel and Viji Gupta and their daughter, Madhu.  At this point I ran through the house with my computer to find Scott and shoved the computer in his face and yelled, "This is Daniel Gupa, the man who runs the orphanage, and this is the teacher at Emilee's school, the school we just moved Emilee to in August!  No stinkin' way!" Scott just looked at it and said, "Looks like you guys are going to India."  Again, no stinkin' way!
The wedding photo from Daniel's FB page
(Wendy, Prabu, Daniel, Viji and Madhu)
I had to know more information, had to find out the connection, so I called the team leader back and asked him if the man who ran the orphanage was related to Prabu Gupta, and he said, "Prabu is Daniel's son; I've known Prabu for years."  Seriously?  What are the chances?  Unbelievable... details that only our God could put into place.
We didn't want to put the cart before the horse, so we decided we'd wait until the conference call before we made any definite decisions.  So the next night we dialed in, introduced ourselves along with a few others, and we listened to the details of the trip.  Part of what the team will be doing is they have been given approval from some of the schools there to go in and present a program to share the gospel with the students.  By the time the team is done, they will have shared the gospel with over 30,000 students.  The team will also do some medical care and some evangelizing in the neighborhoods.  Another part of the trip includes going into orphanages, aside from the home they're staying in, and just loving on and playing with the kids.
Ashlee's eyes lit up more and more as the call went on, but I could tell she was still guarded, not wanting to get her hopes up too high just yet.  After the call, we talked about it, and daddy gave Ashlee the official "yes, you can go," although we think at that point God had already given his seal of approval.  Having the security of knowing that we were not getting involved with a scam made it all so much easier, so we started the paperwork process the very next morning.  One more fun part of the story... the day's verse on my phone's Bible app was Psalm 37:4 - "Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."  One more teachable moment to share with my girl!
The next morning, I emailed Prabu Gupta to see if I could chat with him after school.  I told him it looked like Ashlee and I would be going to India this summer and would be staying with his family."  I had not actually met Prabu before, had just seen him in passing when helping with things at the school, so I'm sure he was a bit surprised when some stranger emailed him with that information.  He emailed me back and said he'd love to talk to us and could meet us that afternoon.  Unfortunately, Ashlee had drama practice and wasn't able to meet him with us.  When I picked Emilee up from school we went to his classroom and officially met him. I think he was almost more excited than I was that we were going to India to stay with his family.  He filled us in on a ton of information, told us about all of his sisters, told us how great his dad was at what he did and how he took care of the missionaries that came to them, talked about what a great cook his mom was and how well fed we'd be.  I think he got a bit choked up at this point, said he really missed his family as he hadn't seen them since his wedding last year.  We finished chatting, and Emilee and I headed home to share the information with Ashlee and daddy. 
It is unbelievable to me how God cares so much about our desires.  He took the desire in Ashlee's heart to serve Him in India, a desire that began five years ago, a fire that was sparked once again through a game show less than three weeks ago, and He put the details together in such a way that would leave no doubt in our little human minds that this is what we are supposed to do, where we are supposed to go.  Although I began this journey as a tagalong because we weren't about to let Ashlee travel to India alone, I am realizing that this has become a journey for me as well... an opportunity to share my Jesus with others, an opportunity to do whatever I can to serve others, to be His hands and feet.  And in the process, I can't wait to see what God has in store for us, what He will teach us along the way.  So stay tuned... this is just the beginning of this next journey.

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