“That I would get two cats when we move back to Asia.”
My daughter Eva’s prayer request for the past year and a half. She shared it with her teachers, friends– basically anyone she spoke with.
It’s been a tightly held desire through our time of transition from South Asia to the USA, then back to Asia again. We’ve been here five days. Humidity, tropical rains, being woken at 4:30 a.m. by “tok, tok” lizard calls, warm smiles, a new culture and language to dive into. It feels great.
From the first moment we arrived, Eva began watching expectantly for the fulfillment of her requests. She needed to know getting two cats mattered to God. It did, despite the momentary memory lapse of her jet lagged, sleepy parents.
A few days ago, we were looking around the city with a company that helps expats find homes. We thought we’d found the perfect one. All three of us loved it. It checked all the boxes on our list of family needs and desires for future work, but something didn’t feel right. We chalked it up to jet lag and planned to push through and sign a contract, but God allowed something to happen that redirected us.
A small dog wandered up to Eva and rolled over on his back, imploring her to rub his tummy.
“Daddy, I really wanted to live in a place with two kitties!” Tears fell.
We were standing on the front steps of our possible future home, getting ready to say yes and plan a contract, but part of it would mean “no pets allowed.” We were so tired we’d forgotten to ask and the landlord forgot to mention it. The surrounding neighbors had pets, so we had wrongly assumed our family could have them as well.
This led us to reaxamine other factors with the landlord we thought were givens. Between our two very different cultures, there had been some miscommunication. This might sound thoughtless on our part, but when you’re living abroad it can happen easier than you’d think. Especially when you’re adjusting to a twelve hour time difference.
It became clear this was not the place, so we drove back to our temporary housing to re-examine the properties we’d visited. After talking and praying, we centered again on our first ministries: marriage and family. We desire God to impact others through the outflow of those relationships being healthy and rooted in Him.
A house we dismissed earlier in the day came to mind several times. We liked the property, but living there hadn’t seemed possible. We emailed the expat company to ask a few clarifying questions. Once again, there had been a small miscommunication. Not only did the house fit our family’s needs perfectly, it was available almost immediately. But we couldn’t see how our desires for future work would be possible in that part of the city. It actually felt like the opposite of all we wanted for our work. Still, we felt compelled to see it through.
The second viewing of the property went well. Everything was perfect. The landlord invited us to her home to discuss the details of a contract. We noticed several cats playing in her yard and on the roof, but thought nothing of it. We took more notice after stepping into her living room. It was feline decoration central, the focal point being a large, watercolor canvas featuring cats.
“I love kitties!” Eva squealed. The instant connection forged between the landlord and our daughter was obvious.
“Me, too Eva. And when you move into your new house, I will bring two cats to you for keeping.” She placed a gray and white kitten in Eva’s lap, explaining the cat’s sister was outside. Eva was beyond delighted. For the rest of the afternoon she told Sweetie and Tiger (our future pets) how much she loves them and how they will be happy in our family. We were amazed to see God drop answered prayer into our daughter’s lap– literally.
I cannot adequately explain what this meant to our family. What it meant to my heart as a mother. Not just a child receiving pets, but seeing God bolster Eva’s faith. She followed Him to another part of the earth, hoping the desires of her heart mattered to Him. They did. Eva firmly believes Jesus listened to her every time she prayed for two cats, because it’s true.
Leaving our new landlord’s home, we were still uncertain about the details of our work in that part of the city. We were sure it was the right place to help us thrive in adjusting to a new country, so we made the decision based on our first priorities- marriage and family, and trusted God with the rest.
As we closed the gate to our landlord’s home and said goodbye, the man with the expat company, who helped negotiate the contract, mentioned something.
“Your landlord is a retired professor.”
This sparked new conversation and we discovered her connections to the work we are interested in pursuing. This area of the city is unexpectedly connected to the people God put into our hearts. We would have never guessed.
Maybe this connection is how God will fulfill some of His purposes for us in our new country. Maybe it’s not. But we are reminded again that He will fulfill what He wants for us. Our work is to abide in Him. I am thankful for these baby steps in faith as we start over.
©2017 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
For Riki. Thank you for the wood carving.