When Dave was young, his family lived in Brazil for three years while his dad presided over 200 service missionaries for our church. Then later when he was in college, he returned to live in Brazil for two more years as a service missionary himself. To say his family loves Brazil is an understatement. They definitely have a special affinity for all things Brazilian.
I wanted to share in this love with my husband, as I often felt like I was missing out.
Then the inspiration came….like a “ping” that puts a flash of an idea into your head, I thought “why don’t we have a Brazilian exchange student?”
I had a friend who ran an exchange program and I was always intrigued by the stories she shared, had even been asked many times to be a host family, but until then it hadn’t felt right. It might have had to do with the fact we had 5 little kiddos that we were already juggling…but somehow, the timing all of the sudden felt urgent.
I made the call and began the process.
Before I knew it, we were scrolling through matches and trying to pick just the right child to come live with us. My then 12-year-old son (and oldest of 5) wanted an older brother, so we knew we wanted a boy.
There were tons of kids to choose from, but one stood out to us and we had that feeling — ‘this is our kid!’ I submitted our selection, and much to my surprise, within a few days, we received the call that our child had been assigned. With enthusiasm we opened the email to read the results and were shocked to see we had been assigned a different child than the one we chose.
At first, we rationalized that perhaps this child was really supposed to be the one. We tried to let that settle, and it didn’t. I stewed over it for a few days, then finally made the call to my friend and let her know there was a mistake, and we were assigned the wrong child. I felt terrible doing it, like we were rejecting some poor kid who probably was so excited. But somehow, I just knew it had to be done.
The mistake was remedied, and we were back on track, the child we had originally selected was assigned to us. Leonardo Medeiros Netto was going to be our exchange student.
WOW, we were so excited, and a little nervous.
Now, fast forward several months, and picture Leo living, happily, with our family. It was a perfect fit. He was definitely meant for us, and we were all thrilled with the match.
Truly, it couldn’t have been better.
But, as I look back on that experience, I marvel at how inspiration works, and especially at the blessings that come when we listen and allow divine timing to take place.
First, it’s important to note that we had only wanted to take on a child for one semester. Leo had signed up for a year. I’m certain that’s likely what prevented him from originally getting matched with us. But, when I called back and insisted, the match was made. It wasn’t until after he arrived that we realized he had come for the full school year. Had we known that in the beginning, we may not have moved forward.
Ignorance can truly be bliss sometimes!
Second, Leo was wavering in his decision. He was 15 years old and preparing to leave his family for a full school year. I marvel at his bravery, and the willingness of his parents to allow him this experience. Had the tables been turned, I don’t know I could have done it.
One night he knelt in prayer, for the very first time, asking a higher power for help in making this decision. He had been on the waiting list for months, and was ready to pull his name off. He bargained that if he didn’t match the next day, he was going to abandon his plan. The very next morning, he was assigned to my family. He knew his prayer was answered.
Thank goodness I followed the inspiration to have an exchange student and knew who it had to be.
It’s now been 8 years since we first hosted Leo. He not only became our exchange student, but we’ve unofficially adopted him into the family. We consider him our Brazilian son, and our lives have become completely intertwined and blessed.
He returned to Brazil for a few years then came back to the USA to live with us while finishing college. We went to Brazil to be part of his wedding, and now he and his wife live near us while continuing their studies.
Indeed, our lives were meant to cross, and we will forever be blessed by our increased family.
Now, I’ve been to Brazil, a few times in fact, with many more trips planned. With our business that has expanded there and many, many friendships formed, I now share in my husband’s deep love and appreciation for Brazil.
When we are willing to listen and act upon the inspiration that comes, there’s so much more in store for us than we could ever imagine on our own.
There are truly miracles all around us, and if we have courage and fine-tune our listening skills, we can tune into the frequency of rich and abundant joy, that comes from adding to our experiences and relationships.
There is always some sacrifice involved, but the joys always outweigh the costs! Next time you get that “ping,” be sure to listen and act quickly.
A miracle could be waiting.