Today is our last day in our house. People keep asking me “how are you feeling.” And I just stare at them with a blank stare and no words. I feel like I am about to jump off a cliff and I constantly need to throw up.
When Brian finished residency, I mentioned the idea of going to do missions before he was settled in a career. He didn’t feel called at the time and had done many short term mission trips. So, we moved to Tulsa. The truth is, at that time it would have been easier for me to move to Africa than to wake up early each day and read my Bible. For some reason, I had such a hard time getting into His word and truly depending on Him. I prayed and had a relationship with God, but it wasn’t like I desired to spend time with Him. I liked doing things for God but it was a different story when it was about just getting to know Him. Not long after living in Tulsa, Brian and I attended an “adopted” class. It was a class on learning different ways to care for orphans or the fatherless. Brian and I decided to do respite, where we would babysit foster kids when we were available. About a year later, we participated in “home for the holidays”, where you can bring some kids to your home for a holiday from the shelter. We spent Thanksgiving with a brother and sister. Two years later, they were still with us. Brian and I felt like God was asking us to give them a home and love. This was the beginning of THE HARDEST TWO YEARS OF OUR LIVES. I don’t even know how to go into any details of the challenges of foster care and all that is involved. I no longer had anything together. I needed God in a big way. Even though I was more exhausted than ever before, I was able to wake up and spend time with God because I desired to know Him more than ever. Even though it was the hardest years, it was the best. Our family grew in so many ways and we got to know and love some amazing, strong kids and their biological mom. God brought people in our lives to carry us through and eventually brought them their forever family.
Our story of foster care is so intertwined in our Mercy Ships story. They both have pushed us over the edge where we needed God and we needed people like never before. If I would have moved to Africa 5 years ago, before going through that journey, I probably would have fallen on my face, trying to do things on my own. I now know I am not anyone’s savior and that I am just dependent on him one.day.at.a.time. There were days when we had the kids that I would actually think, “God, you have one more day and then I’ll take them back, this is too much.” THEN someone would show up, or drive the kids somewhere, or someone would bring a meal and I’d give God one more day. It’s funny, because when we first got the kids, if God had said “I want you to take these kids for two years.” I would have said “heck no.” But all God asked me to do was keep them for Thanksgiving, then one day at a time after that. He only asks us to do one step and before you know it, he has orchestrated a plan that is pretty incredible. But it starts with getting to know Him.
So, it turns out I’m having a hard time being in God’s word right now. The overwhelmed feeling of “getting everything done” has hit me and at times paralyzed me. This has been good to type out and remember what depending on Him is like. I’m going to read my Bible now. Will you pray I will be able to do that each day and stop depending on my own power as we prepare to leave?
Today people from Brian’s work had a going away party for us. I remember sitting in Denise Lopez’s living room a long time ago, telling her community group that if we did Mercy ships long-term, we didn’t need any money… that we would be able to save enough. I remember Denise and Carl’s smirk. What I didn’t know is that God is not interested in this being about me or my family. God is currently showing us this is not about us, this has been a partnership with so many different people in so many different ways. I’m hesitant to list specific people who have supported and are partnering with us, because there are so so many and I don’t want to miss anyone. But I’ll start with today and go from here. Brian has a coworker who took it upon himself to email everyone in the group and ask for support for us. The support has been pouring in and 200 people bought shirts. I can’t even begin to explain what I feel when I see a silly penguin shirt being worn. It’s almost like God reminding me this is not about me. Today they had a party and a dessert auction. I was able to meet people and thank them for supporting Brian through the years. Although I don’t always like sharing him, it is comforting to know that he is respected, loved and challenged at work. One friend at work took a day off and sold baked goods to support us and made quite a lot! Another friend collected the money for the shirts for us which would’ve been impossible for Brian to do at work. I am humbled and blown away by the support and encouragement. I’m thankful this is not just a Barki thing, but a God thing, and he’s including a lot of his children on this journey. People are using their unique gifts for His kingdom, and it is not small…. it is BIG to us and to God and to the patients. People have taken our photograph, let us stall their stick shifts, bought over priced silly penguin shirts and actually wore them, organized closets, wiped my cabinets before showing my house, made me get rid of stuff, detailed and listed our van, hung a light fixture, taken our dog, watched our kids, priced and sold our stuff, used their connections, loved on our kids, gave us money, listened to our story over and over, spoke truth to us, posted our story for people to pray, and they have prayed prayed prayed for us…. and we haven’t even left yet. Thank you God this isn’t about us, and thank God for your children!
St. John going away party
It is with great excitement that we share with you the next chapter in our lives! We have accepted a volunteer position with Mercy Ships that carries a minimum two-year commitment. Mercy Ships is an organization that delivers free medical care aboard a traveling hospital ship to the poorest parts of Africa. The ship is a state-of-the-art facility that offers clean water, reliable electricity and care centers. Many of these patients are truly hopeless, afflicted disfiguring and immobilizing conditions. Often viewed as cursed, family, friends, and entire villages want nothing to do with them. Through God’s healing touch, Mercy Ships offers a chance at a new start and a picture of hope and healing that Jesus offers to all.
Brian will serve as the anesthesia supervisor. In addition to taking care of patients and providing leadership to the anesthesia department, he will also be helping to educate local healthcare workers to improve the quality of care being delivered in the host countries. Jamie will be doing administration in the hospital. Brandon, Maya, and Hannah will attend the accredited academy on board. Jamie and the children will also be able to help with other ministries, such as orphan care, and with the patients on-board. We will be docked in Madagascar during the first year. Our destination the second year is not yet known.
This blog will serve to help us remember. Remember what God does on this adventure and remember the hard times so we can see God’s faithfulness through it. It will also serve to update our family and friends on how you can pray for us. We cannot express how much we need your prayers. I am not a writer. I do not like punctuation, capitalization or spelling. I know that drives most of you crazy, but I’m declaring now that I will post as if I am talking to you or texting you. I pray that you are not distracted by the choppy writing, but that you will hear what God wants you to hear and that you will hear my heart. So, you’ve been warned! Thank you so very much for joining us on this journey. Here goes nothing….