Presence Matters

Presence Matters. 

It was my Mom who first taught this to me, she said and modeled it (and still does) throughout my life. I inscribed one of my books to her with that phrase, and believe it to be never more relevant than during 2020.  As children throughout the world looked to the adults in their lives when things got turned upside down, adults at Back2Back set predictable, safe routines in the lives of children they serve, and it made a different in how they’ve weathered the storm. 

We know God uses all things for His good. We see it all throughout the Bible – He takes what the enemy intended for evil and turns it to His advantage. In the middle of despairing the cancelled school year, cancelled mission trips, forced reunifications, and a myriad of other unexpected events in 2020, God quietly has been using all this “together-time” to foster deeper connection and propel His mission forward: the healing of vulnerable children and their families. 

In my own home, I have seen this to be true; Todd and I haven’t had this many consecutive nights together in a decade. In a time when we were making many real-time and problem-solving decisions, the hours we logged walking around our neighborhood provided good sounding board time, and kept us on the same page. Our three college seniors came home for their last semesters. It was not at all what they were anticipating, however, we were able to process and talk about what to do when life doesn’t go how we hoped. This is a priceless lesson I pray they take with them long after this year. Our son, Tyler, whom we adopted at age 12, turned 18 during this season and we had plenty of runway to talk through the transition stage he’s entering, something that might have otherwise snuck up on us. 

At the sites, we’ve seen the children at Rancho de los Niños in Mazatlán have fewer behavioral issues, feeling the stability of the staff who moved into the home, minimizing the risk of exposure. Some of the teens in the Hope Program have opened up about their past for the first time, having had plenty of discretionary time with their house parents over board games and cooking lessons. We’ve seen countries who have forced reunification and given us a chance to connect with birth families in a way we might not have otherwise. To date, several will permanently stay with someone in their extended family, and that’s a win, as we transition them into a Strong Families model and support their new situation.  In Nigeria, the staff are reporting the children at Destiny Children’s Home are experiencing richer and deeper connections with caregivers, as life simplified and everyone spent time together. 

Yes, there is plenty of hard to lament, but there’s lots of details to be grateful for. Some kids have learned new skills, some have caught up to their grade level reading, some have faced fears and seen victory. We have prayers answered and our faith is strengthened. We’ve prayed more, trusted more, and He, as always, is sovereign. He knew this was coming and prepared us all for it. Back2Back has not spent this season hiding out, nor will we in the next. We will rise up and together walk into the good work He’s prepared in this next year for us.