The Story Of Us.
It's hard to find the distinct starting point of a story like ours, for like most, it begins with the weaving together of choices and paths, but more than anything, the sense of humor, and perfect plotting of a master storyteller.
I, Leah, am a fan of outlandish stories ... It was about December of 2005 when I came to a crux in my life, and being frustrated with my lack of imaginative flair for writing my own story, there decided to put down the pen. I dropped it if I recall...and surrendered the rest of my life to be a story conceived, imagined, plotted, and planned by my God. He tells a pretty good story, I might add. He picked up the pen where I left it, and began with His God-imagination to write with no boundaries but His own.
I had come to the Philippines six months before, for the clinical practicum of my Midwifery schooling. I had known that God had called me to come and love these broken and poor women in the slums of Manila, and was excited to get started.
The second week of my stay, however, I contracted typhoid fever, and proceeded to lose 23 pounds of weight, and my pride.
I was exhausted, vomiting constantly, upset with myself for not serving God good enough, and longing for something familiar, but as I was encouraged to go home and recover, I heard God distinctly speak: I could go home if I chose, but He was not done with me in this land.
I stayed. My parents and sister decided that if I would not come home, they would come see me, and take me out of the smog of Manila and let me rest for a week.
In January they came, and my heart was loved, my body nurtured back to health. We decided to go to a quiet beach where I could breathe clean air and sleep. We traveled to Puerto Galera and for the first time in a year I listened to the sound of silence and breathed deeply of beautifully pollutant-free air, and the glorious smell of the salty sea.
Our first day on the beach, my sister and I sat in a Henna tattoo parlor, and fielded question after question as to why we were here. In the corner sat a quiet man. He watched us and didn't speak. He listened to us say that I was a midwife, my sister a nurse, and that I lived in Manila, giving free prenatal care to poor women.
He looked at me and finally spoke, "Why would you come to my land and do what you're doing for no money at all?"
I looked up and responded from my heart, "Because I love Jesus and He loves the poor and broken people, and has told me to come and serve them."
His brow furrowed. He looked a little skeptical.
The next day he sat with my father, who asked him in Botteicher- point-blank manner, "So, Francis, do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?" He sat in silence and played the words over and over again.
That day, God spoke to my heart. "I have huge plans for this man's life, but He must know me first. Pray him into the Kingdom."
I returned to Manila and asked my friends to pray. I knew if was not a matter of "if" he came to know Jesus personally, but "when." Day in and day out, he was heavy on my heart. God would awaken me in the night, nearly every night, calling me to intercede, to battle in the spiritual realm over the heart of this amazing man. I would be moved to tears, seeing only a piece of how passionately God was loving and pursuing this heart. Wow. I could not even imagine how great His plans were... this one must be pretty special.
Francis began coming to the church I attended in Manila, and made it his own. He connected with the pastors and began searching out the truth for himself. He was beginning to taste a passion and life that religion never held, and was being drawn into a kingdom that would turn him upside down.
After nearly four months, Jesus broke through every wall around his heart and brought him to His knees. He asked Jesus to transform him, and He did.
I watched him be baptized on his thirty-fifth birthday -- Easter Sunday. From that day forward, God began molding and shaping this one into a full-blown God-chaser, a passionate worshiper, a lover of truth.
Skip ahead to three years later: I had decided to be single and was yearning to be in the developing world where the need was greatest-- serving God, and loving people.
In October of 2008 I brought a group of six people to the Philippines, and Francis joined with us to bring medicine and Jesus to hurting people. A week and a half into our three-week trip, God opened my heart and spoke that this man in front of me, this amazing friend, this doctor who fixes broken bodies and embodies compassion: this was my husband. This was the land I was called to and this is the one with whom I could serve much better than I could serve alone. That very night, that crazy guy asked me to marry him. Even thought I had just received the memo from God, I was still a wee bit startled.... nevertheless, the rest is history, and the two of us crazy passionate Jesus-followers are embarking on our journey together.
Not much is certain in this life, only that God will go with us, lead the way if we let Him, and that He is always, ALWAYS good.
We are stepping out on the water, trusting Him to hold us up. We are presently running two clinics in Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. Both clinics have a birth center that focuses on the poor, tribal and Muslim women, and provides free care for them, one of these clinics is in the center of the red-light district where we hope to develop a refuge for women, helping them to escape prostitution and find freedom and healing.
Most of all, our goal is to walk in obedience and listen to the storyline being written for us... in it is life. Our utmost desire is to bring glory, honor and worship to our God and have Him use us up until He's done with us.
That's the story for now...