God answers prayer for Haitian orphans
Missouri Baptist couple experience joy of adoption
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – Jim and Teresa Flora lined up to board the plane bound for Miami with reluctance, sadness and more than a little bit of a broken heart.
The senior pastor of Hamlin Memorial Baptist Church in Springfield and his wife had just spent several weeks at an orphanage in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. They had also come to adopt two sisters into their family, 2-year-old Rebekah and 7-year-old Anna.
But red tape and government standstill in Haiti caused the parents to head to the airport without the two new daughters they already considered part of their family. It was rough for the girls, too.
“Anna cried all night the night before we were scheduled to fly home,” Jim said. “The morning we were to leave, she took off the pair of shoes we had given her and put her ‘orphanage shoes’ back on. I’m sure that in her mind, if the parents were leaving, then all the blessings we brought with us had to go, too. I had to pry her out of Teresa’s arms so we could leave for the airport. We kept telling her ‘M’wen vini,’ Creole for ‘I will come.’”
The Floras knew they would be coming back. Red tape can slow things considerably in an international adoption, a fact they knew when they adopted Grace as a three-year-old from India in 2001.
“They had told us our paperwork would be done by the time it was time to leave. When it came time to go home, they told us it would be a couple more weeks,” Jim said.
That’s when prayers – and an urgent phone call – were answered.
Boarding passes in hand, the Floras were in line to board their flight back to the U.S. when their airline announced an urgent page for Jim to call his secretary back home. They could not find a phone to call out of the country until an agent for the airline offered his cell phone. When he got through to Springfield, the chairman of the personnel committee – along with a group from the church – answered.
“They told us to stay,” he said. “I told them we couldn’t afford to stay. I had to get back to the church and I had a wedding to do. Then my youth minister volunteered to perform the wedding. They told me the deacons could cover the rest and that they’d foot the bill for the rest of our stay.”
The agent who let the Floras use his cell phone arranged for their baggage to be taken off the plane and soon they were on their way back to get their two new daughters.
“God just amazes me at His timing,” Jim said. “I’m convinced that sometimes He just sits up there and says ‘Watch this.’ I wish all of [the church] could have seen Anna’s face when we returned just a few hours later.”
Still, they had to stay in the hotel compound and could only leave to visit the orphanage or the U.S. Embassy for three weeks.
“I prayed, ‘Lord, You said if we asked, You’d move mountains. My biggest mountain is the American government. I need you to remove this mountain,’” Jim said.
Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) had been working on behalf of the couple with the embassy and the next day they got a call from the embassy asking them to come in early the next morning to settle the paperwork.
During this time, they met with Rebekah and Anna’s birth parents. Most orphans in Haiti are not “true orphans” in that their parents are dead. In Rebekah and Anna’s case, they were brought to the tiny orphanage because their parents thought they would be better off with a family outside of Haiti. The sisters’ birth mother, who has six older children, told the Floras it was a hard decision.
“She wanted us to know how much she loved them,” Jim said, “and wanted us to not let them forget who she was. Anna, who was five when she came to the orphanage, still talks about her ‘Haiti mom.’”
Rebekah and Anna are home now in Springfield where their new mother is homeschooling them. Their parents said they are adjusting to their new home and family well.
“They’re both learning English and have very strong wills. Grace was the same way,” Theresa said.
With Rebekah and Anna at home, the Floras how have six children. Their three grown sons, Jim, Jason and Joshua, are all married and in their 20s. They also have two 2-year-old granddaughters.
The kids are also settling into a new church family.
“The church has just been great,” he said. “They accepted them, loved on them and have friends already.”
Aside from the joy of two new daughters, the Floras found possible future ministry opportunities for Hamlin Memorial.
“The Lord just put a lot of people in our path as we were there.”