I admit that back in my college days, I watched Days of Our Lives… it wasn't my fault though.
My roommate and I had one of the only TVs in the dorm and after lunch, all the girls would gather on our waterbed (yes, this was the 80s) and watch Days of Our Lives. Despite my initial mocking of this ritual, I found myself gradually enthralled in a few story lines (ok… anything with Bo Brady) and before I knew it, I was fully hooked and joined in watching the ups and downs, tears and rejoicing and crazy plot twists!!
So what does this have to do with my recent trip to Brazil?? Well, the weeks leading up to leaving and the actual trip had a somewhat "Soap Opera" feel for me… ups and downs and crazy plot twists… and lots of tears!! Let me explain…
I've sponsored children in Brazil for many years… and I've met each one of my "children". That alone has ups and downs because 2 of them I currently have no idea where they are now… each time I go to Brazil, I pray I find them or see them, but to date, I have never heard again from Alexandre or Carina :(
Then two years ago while in Brazil, our family chose to sponsor Taira Patrick Machado Rodrigues…
It was easy to love Patrick (he preferred we call him this as we struggled to pronounce his first name!) He was a soccer player on his way to possibly play for a professional team (he spent hours playing soccer with Justin and Lindsey)
And he was always full of joy and happiness and fun… and he spoke fairly good English which really helped!! And when we returned to Canada, we continued to talk on Skype and Facebook and he slipped into my heart like he was one of my own children.
So I had been anxiously waiting for 2 years to return to Brazil to see Patrick and all the other kids at Chain of Love. Patrick's birthday was Feb. 6 (he turned 18) and I was so excited as I was arriving the next week on Feb. 14 and had both Christmas and Birthday gifts ready to deliver along with two years of missed hugs. We talked online the morning of his birthday and I thought all was well...
But I was devastated later that day to learn that he left Chain of Love that afternoon.
And all the worries and thoughts about not ever seeing him again flooded my heart… my friends consoled me as best they could, but I was so very sad and desperately prayed that I would still get to see him. And thankfully I did… and it was wonderful. I heard that he had moved in with a brother I had never met. Well, let me introduce you to Bruno…
Here's where the classic Soap Opera twist comes in… a few months ago, this guy Bruno came looking for Patrick at Chain of Love and introduced himself as his biological older brother. They had no idea each other existed… and to meet Bruno was like seeing double!!! They are freakishly similar in so many ways!!! And along with Bruno, came an extended family that is now part of Patrick's life outside of Chain of Love.
It was soooo sweet as we jumped on a bus and he took me on a whirlwind trip to meet his grandparents (who he and Bruno currently live with), his biological father, his uncle and cousins. I got to see Patrick several times over the week and would have loved more time with him, but I'm just thankful for what we did have together.
He still calls me "Mommy" and I love that, but I feel so much better knowing he has real family now in Brazil who also care about him. I still worry about him… he is trying to finish school this year, but it is difficult for him and education just doesn't hold the same importance there sadly. But I pray each day for him and just trust that God has a wonderful plan for his life… and I have to just love him from a distance again… and it's so very hard, but it's all so very good.
SCENE 2 from my Brazilian Soap Opera:
So before leaving for Brazil when I was being consoled by my soul sista Christy about Patrick leaving Chain of Love, she said to me,
"Maybe God is just making room in your heart for the next child".
And I didn't want to consider it because I was hurting so bad…
But then while doing a photo shoot (we also sponsor this beautiful girl named Jana… I had sooo much fun doing portraits with her!!! She is such a special and talented girl… she's artistic too!!)
So while taking portraits, along came the sweetest boy I think I have ever met. He said to me, "Excuse me, but would it be possible for you to also take a photo of my sister? She is shy and does not think she is beautiful, but I think she is very beautiful."
And my heart melted.
Meet Matheus and his sister Yasmin…
And now I sponsor Matheus (who likes to be called Mat because it sounds more Canadian)… his birthday is the day before mine and he will turn 16 in March. And we talk every day (his English is excellent) and he is quickly slipping into my heart… you were right Christy. Patrick is still very much in my heart and always will be, but there is always room for more… God gives us infinite space for love… and for that I am thankful.
So my Brazilian Soap Opera still continues… it has ups and downs and plot twists and changing characters… but it is mine and it adds so very much to my life and I can NOT WAIT to see what all happens next!!!