I have been thinking about writing this blog since our sweet baby Gabriel Elijah was born. I have been reflecting on this past year, our call to missions, our time in the Philippines and our time here. Even before we said yes to becoming missionaries God did a lot of work on us and our hearts to prepare us to say yes to him.
|Our family in 2013 shortly before hearing God's call to missions.|
Last year in May I traveled to Italy with my mom. (My amazing husband stayed home with our girls while I was gone for two weeks with my mom.) We stayed in Florence, Assisi and Rome. For both of us Assisi was our favorite place. It was quiet, beautiful, peaceful and more what we expected our experience of Italy would be. I remember being so moved by St. Francis and St. Claire. Visiting the places where they lived and prayed had such an impact on me. It was on this trip that I found out I was pregnant with our fifth child. I was very excited and couldn't wait to share this news with Donovan. For some reason we didn't tell the girls right away (which we normally do).
|In front of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.|
|Enjoying lunch and a view from Assisi.|
|A statue of St. Francis in a simple church in Assisi.|
A few weeks after returning from my trip I started spotting. This had never happened before in any previous pregnancies and I was worried. It took the course of about a week and it was confirmed that I had miscarried the baby at about 7 weeks. We told the girls what had happened. It's hard to explain what a mother feels when she loses her baby. It was a very difficult time for me. We decided to name the baby, and because of the huge impact St. Francis had on me during my trip, we choose the name Francis Claire.
In our prayers we began to ask Francis Claire to pray for us and our intentions. At this point it was the end of summer and we had been struggling as a family. We were praying for God to show us where he wanted us. We were praying that we would know our mission in life. Donovan was looking for a job but nothing was being offered; we lost our baby; money was tight and we weren't sure what we were going to do. I know that through all of this God had a plan for us. I believe that because of the influence of St. Francis and his witness of loving God in a radical way I was able to say yes to God's call to be a missionary.
|Saying Yes to the Lord!|
We went to Louisiana for training and continued to ask St. Francis and Francis Claire to pray for us. We found out we would be going to the Philippines and prepared to leave all that we knew. We arrived in the Philippines and one week later found out we were expecting our 6th child! God's timing is not always my timing or what I expect. After the miscarriage I had a fear that I wouldn't be able to have anymore children. We were open to new life and waited. We laughed at God's timing. We realized what a beautiful gift He had given to us. I spent my first mission being nauseous 24 hours a day for the first 3 months. It was quite a difficult transition into a new culture of new food and new smells while also feeling like throwing up every second of the day. Many of those first weeks/months I would do ministry then come home and lay in bed. I had a lot I could offer up in prayer and a lot to ask Francis Claire to pray for.
|After our 30 hour flights we arrived in the Philippines.|
|At our house in Malaybalay (wearing my nauseous bands).|
We discerned returning home to have the baby and then prayed that God would make a way for us. In order to leave on the airplane from the Philippines I had to have a doctor do a sonogram and sign a paper stating it was safe for me to fly. We went in for our sonogram less than a week before we left. The plan was to be surprised about the baby's sex when he or she was born. But as we looked at our sweet little baby on that monitor I really wanted to know. Donovan still wanted to be surprised but he said if I really wanted to know then it was ok with him. I told the doctor doing the sonogram. “It's a girl right?” I had already convinced myself that this baby was a girl and Felicity was always talking about her baby sister. “No,” the doctor replied. “What!” I said. “Show me.” I didn't believe her. We have four girls and I just thought, of course, it's another girl. That's what we do, we make girls. Well I saw the proof right there on the monitor and spent the rest of the day (or maybe week) in shock. I was very excited, but yet very surprised that I was finally having a baby boy. When Hannah (our first child) was a baby in the womb we picked out a boy name and a girl name before finding out she was a girl. The name we chose was Gabriel Elijah (partly after the angel Gabriel and partly after my cousin Gabriel who died when I was 17). Well, it took another 11 years, but now we have our Gabriel.
As we got closer to having Gabriel I started to get nervous about the labor. My last baby, Felicity, was 9 pounds 15 ounces (and each baby was bigger than the last)! Her labor was difficult and I had a small fear that Gabriel would be bigger than her. Three of my four girls were born 9 to 11 days overdue (except Catherine who came out 9 days early). I knew that the longer he stayed in the bigger he would get. I gave these fears to God in prayer and tried to trust in His plan for this baby and this birth.
|At the Birthing Center three hours before Gabriel was born.|
We welcomed Gabriel Elijah just two days after his due date on October 4th at 10:28 pm. He weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces and was 21 ½ inches long. My prayers were answered! He was my second smallest baby. October 4th is the feast day of St. Francis and this is the same day our baby was born. I felt like this was another confirmation of all that God was doing in our life. I started this journey with St. Francis almost a year and a half ago and now on his feast day I was blessed with a baby boy. God is so good!
|A happy mama!|
|The midwife checking out baby.|
St. Francis, pray for us. Francis Claire, pray for us.