When I boarded a plane in 2007 to South Africa - never in a million years did I think that the trip would eventually end up being the catalyst to my heart that forever changed the way I thought, acted and lived. Nope - I just thought I was checking something off the list. Mission trip? Done.
Ha ha - I learned quickly that life with Him doesn't quite work like that. Laura and I were in the middle of our dossier being logged in to China after a few painful years of trying to have biological children. We felt at peace as we chatted - me in South Africa, her in Atlanta - about stopping the futile attempts at pregnancy and giving it over to the Lord. And our paperwork was in China. We were in control, right?
Nope. China adoptions came to a screeching halt. It was looking like it would be YEARS before our family grew. But then - through a friend - Ethiopia was placed on our hearts. We decided to do a concurrent adoption and we started the paperwork process again. It went quicker this time as we were skilled at it and we were matched with a little boy that we named Brighton Asher. As we were gearing up to bring him home in December of 2007, Brighton got sick. Real sick. He ended up in the hospital with pneumonia and diarrhea. He made a comeback and was released. We couldn't do much but keep praying. So we did. Then in January he got sick again and this time his little body couldn't take it. He went home to be with his Heavenly Father on January 8th, 2008 and our lives were permanently altered. Our hearts - on that day - broke for what breaks His.
Fast forward 6 months - we have accepted another referral and just landed at the Ethiopian airport. In what can only be described as a whirlwind of a few hours - we visited Brighton's grave, and then within an hour, were handed our beautiful little gift of healing from God named Meron. A 7 month old bundle of love so full of God's redemption that our hearts had no other option but to heal. But with a scar - a permanent scar that ached for His kids. Ached.
We went home with Meron and did life as a family but couldn't shake the almost constant ache that was in our hearts. Were we happy? Absolutely. But our hearts just hurt. And we knew we couldn't sit idly by. Why had God given us Brighton - even if just for a few fleeting weeks from far away? Was it to see these kids like He sees them? We decided we had to do something.
In early 2010 we started a nonprofit organization we named "Brighton Their World" that was going to focus on the nutrition of infants in these orphanages and more importantly - advocate for orphans every single chance we got.
In June of 2010, Laura stepped out in faith and went on a mission trip to Ethiopia and Uganda with Visiting Orphans. She came home wrecked but filled. We now knew what our lives were going to be about. That winter, I led a team for Visiting Orphans to Rwanda and Ethiopia and again was filled with His love for His children as He shaped, molded and guided our lives towards His will.
We continued to run Brighton Their World - sending as much formula as we could to a partner orphanage in Addis Ababa as well as supplying formula to Haiti, Ecuador, Guatemala, Uganda, Rwanda and even here in the states.
In late August of 2011, we brought home our second daughter from Ethiopia after a rocky 26 months of working and fighting for her. Two weeks later I joined Ethiopia Smile - a dental mission team - in Ethiopia to provide free services and just love on His people again.
In the winter of 2011, I again led a team for Visiting Orphans - this time to Uganda and Kenya. More heart shaping for me, more of His love witnessed for His children. Six months later Laura and I were blessed to co-lead a team to Rwanda and Ethiopia for Visiting Orphans. As incredible as our lives had been to this point - leading with each other was a beautiful gift from God.
Where are we now? Well - we just submitted our dossier again - this time saying we are open to sibling groups as well as special needs from Ethiopia. We're excited to see what God does in our lives moving forward in the area of adoption. We also are in the preliminary planning stages of the very first official Brighton Their World mission/vision trip slated for summer 2013.
As far as fundraising and stuff - we are ALWAYS doing that. Our next big push is to feed 500+ kids a massive Christmas feast on January 7th. People can contribute to that here:
We are always accepting donations in general on the main page of Brighton Their World, here:
And for the first time ever - we are open to anybody who wants to help us bring these next kids home. I know some people like to support in that way - and after China, Brighton, Meron and Mebrate - this is basically our 5th process. We've been blessed financially (we ain't rich!) but are open to exploring grants or anything else this time around.
Thanks so much for being willing to share our story. I hope God is able to reach people through it - through Brighton, through Visiting Orphans, and through the amazing, incredible experience of mission trips around the globe.
THEY WILL KNOW US BY OUR LOVE.