On January 1st I journaled a prayer asking God for direction...
"Grow my patience and dependence on You as I wait for your leading. You know my heart is open to location and duration, but I do pray that You would continue to refine those desires to line up with what You are desiring of me."
At the time, I had started looking at a sending organization and was considering going to Africa or Spain; but in the back of my mind I kept going back to Maria's Big House of Hope. At the time I was receiving emails from Show Hope about their summer short-term trips, but knew this was not something that would be feasible if I was seriously looking at going somewhere long-term. So, one day after receiving another email about the trips this summer, I emailed Cathy Troyer at Show Hope and explained to her where I was and what I felt the Lord calling me to and asked if there may be any opportunities at Maria's. I was expecting either to get a "no" or no reply at all, but at least I would have the peace of mind that it was not an option. Much to my surprise, I received an email a few weeks later from Robin Hill, director of New Hope Foundation in Beijing, stating that they would be in need of a kindergarten teacher at Maria's beginning in July or August. It took me totally off guard, but it wasnt 5 minutes before I was pulling up the application, filling it out, and sending it off! By the following Wednesday, my references had been checked and an invitation extended. Part of me thought it was too good to be true and that something would fall through somewhere along the way, but in hindsight, I was reminded of Ephesians 2:10...God had this "good work" prepared long ago.
Around this same time, God brought this amazing family into my life that commited to pray with me as I prayed and sought God's leading. So every Monday night I joined them for dinner as they walked through this unfolding with me. One of the first times we had dinner together, I told them about the opportunities to serve in Africa and Spain, as well as the email I had received about teaching at Maria's. Jeanne asked me "if you had to choose right now, which would you choose?" I knew I wanted to go to Maria's, but I really was afraid to say it...afraid that if I said it, God would take that opportunity away. Twisted thinking, I know, but sometimes Satan has that way of planting those seeds of doubt in our minds. This was something I really wrestled with as I prayed that week and I finally had to come to the point where I had to trust that this was from Him. I remember sitting with my friend Megan and finally saying it "I'm going to Maria's!"