anticipation {day 30 of 31}

Monday, October 16th, at 10:30pm, my phone rang. Late-night phone calls make me nervous. It was my friend Amanda.

“Is everything okay?” I said. “No one’s in the emergency room or anything, right?”

“No,” she laughed. She just had something to talk to me about.

Something about her tone made me nervous.

“I just got a call from my friend, K. They have seven foreign exchange students at her school this year. She and her husband are keeping two of them. They all have homes, but one of the girls needs a new one. K asked me if we’d like to host her. I told her I’d pray about it, and we will, but our schedule is just really crazy right now (her husband coaches high school girls’ b-ball), and I don’t know if we can make it work. God brought you and Gabe to mind. I know you have such a heart for having people in your home.”

(Oh goodness. In theory, yes, I have a heart for that. In reality? I have a heart for hours and hours of uninterrupted alone time.)

“Oh, wow,” I said.

“She’s from Mongolia. And my friend said she’s got such a sweet spirit.”

Give me a second (breathe in, breathe out). This was a little tricky. See, I do want to open our home to people. And I’ve been praying for opportunities. And Mongolia? That’s in Asia. I love Asia. I want to BE in Asia. But I can’t be right now.

This whole thing smelled like something God would do.


What in the world kind of position are WE in to be doing something like this?? We’re a MESS. Unstable emotionally, financially, in all the ways you can be unstable.

“Um, wow. Yeah. Wow. Uh, well, I’ll definitely pray about it. And talk to Gabe.”

I got off the phone in a daze. I couldn’t talk to Gabe. He was asleep. After the year we’ve been through, I don’t wake my peacefully sleeping husband. His mom was in our basement (we were taking her to the airport the next morning so she could spend a month in Kenya).

So I prayed. A lot. And went to sleep.

The next morning, we took Janelle to the airport. On the way, she needed to stop at Target for something. She and Gabe went in. The girls and I stayed in the car. And for some wild reason–I have no idea what came over me–I told them about this girl. This had to be an act of God. I’m not stupid enough to tell them something like this, get their hopes up, then leave it to poor Daddy to dash those hopes like dinner plates at a Jewish wedding.

I explained to them that there was a very, very good chance that Dad would say no way. There was also a chance he’d say yes. If he said no, that was our answer. If he said yes, then God had worked a miracle. I told them about our friend Ali and how she had been asked to do something crazy, thought her husband would shoot the idea down (secretly hoped he would), and then he shocked her by saying, “Of course we’ll do that. Why wouldn’t we do that?”

Gabe and Janelle got back in the van, the girls kept everything hush-hush, we dropped Janelle off, Nina cried because being at the airport reminded her of Cambodia, and against my better judgment (again), I dropped the bomb.

“So, Amanda called me last night. There’s this foreign exchange student from Mongolia who needs a home…”

He said yes.


I didn’t even know what to say. Still don’t. I called Amanda, called the guy in charge of the students. He told me he’d stop by that weekend. He’d like to have her placed before November 1st.


The girls relocated their office from the 3rd bedroom upstairs (they all sleep together in one) to the dining room (which is not a dining room, but my office and Gabe’s, until Gabe relocated to our bedroom a month or so ago). We moved the trundle bed in the basement to the bedroom upstairs. We cleaned and swept and moved clothes and desks and re-hung posters and washed sheets.

And at 5:30 pm, she’ll be here (it’s 4:30 as I write). And she’ll live with us through June. And become our oldest of four daughters.

Her name is Cherry (it’s the American name she chose). She’s 17. And she’s actually from Inner Mongolia, which is in China, not Mongolia. We’ll take her to school every day and pick her up, and she’ll be part of our family.

The girls are beside themselves. And I’m trying not to be nervous.

Deep breath.

9:35pm. The Rest of the Story…

So the girls were pacing by the window by 5:00. And at 5:45. And 6:30… And no Cherry. I finally called the guy in charge of everything and asked for an ETA and should we wait on dinner (the girls and I had spent a long, long time making a Chicken Enchilada Ring, Hot Corn Dip, and Grandma’s Butterscotch Brownies–special stuff for Cherry’s first meal with us) or go ahead?

“Go ahead and eat,” he said. “We’ve hit a snag.” Cherry wouldn’t be coming tonight. Maybe tomorrow.

The girls were crushed. I was crushed. Ava and Nina burst into tears. I tried to hold mine back. She was supposed to come before this weekend. And then yesterday. And then today.

And now what??

Is it not going to work out? Is there something they’re not telling us? I feel like l’ve been given the teensiest, tiniest glimpse into the lives of adoptive parents who wait and wait and keep getting hopes dashed and have no guarantee they’ll ever be united with their child.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and we had plans to eat dinner with my friend Pam. And maybe dress up for some $2 Chipotle burritos. Now what?

Two minutes after we got the news, Pam called. She asked how I was doing. I started crying and told her everything. She had been driving close to our house and came right over. We ate dinner, went car shopping (for Pam), tried on some wigs, laughed a lot. It was just what our hearts needed.

Then at 9:15, I got a call from our guy.

We’re meeting him at Cherry’s school tomorrow, then taking her with us to celebrate my birthday. I’m holding loosely to the hope that it will all work out. God’s got this.

So. That’s where we’re at. We’re not ones to take the easy route to anything (not by choice–I guess God thinks we’re up for the challenge).

Tomorrow’s my birthday. I typically feel a little down on my b-day. Not sure why. Going to pray for a joyful attitude and see how it goes.

Pray for us on this new adventure? Thanks, friends.

22 thoughts on “anticipation {day 30 of 31}

  1. LaRonda

    Happy Birthday! I am so excited that you get to have this experience. I hope it turns out very well for you. We have had a Chinese graduate student staying with us since July. It has been a WONDERFUL experience and the kids loved it. We are going to miss her so much! She will always have a special place in our hearts!

  2. Rachelle

    Wonderful news! My SIL hosted a girl,she was 16, from Korea. She became a member of our family. Finished HS and then stayed to attend some college!

  3. Jeanine

    Happy Birthday, Marla! What a great day to start a new adventure and shine Christ’s light at the same time! Praying that all will go well with Cherry. I know it will either be a great experience that you’ll never forget, or God is preparing you for something even better in the future!

  4. Sharon

    P.S. We had exchange students when I was a kid and it was soooo much fun! Most of ours were from Japan, but we also had one from Brazil. My husband was an exchange student, though I didn’t meet him until he’d been here for over a decade. Can’t imagine how I’d have met him if he hadn’t been part of such a great program.

  5. Sharon

    Praying for your new adventure. And that you have a wonderful birthday. “I have a heart for hours and hours of uninterrupted alone time.” Sounds like me!

  6. Pingback: Marla Taviano » 37 things i want for my 37th birthday*

  7. Addie

    oh my goodness, Marla – I am crying happy tears for you… 🙂

    Happy Birthday… I guess since you couldnt go to Asia, God brought Asia to be with you – to be a part of your family and heart… amazing!

  8. Melissa Irwin

    Oh it just breaks my heart to think of your girls crying. But I’m excited for this journey for all of you. Can’t wait to meet Cherry through your blog. Love and prayers to all!

  9. Christina Burt

    Marla, God has His hand in this, as with everything else. Look what he did for Gabe last year! Everything in our lives has purpose, even when we have to wait for it. Be patient, the Lord will work it out in His time. Praying for you!

  10. Danielle

    Oh girl, I can’t tell you how familiar all of these emotions sound! Your poor, sweet hearts, I totally get it. Praying for peace, joy, and grace for your birthday, and that this coming year would be an extra outpouring of mercy on your heart!

  11. Lisette

    Exchange students are wonderful. Yours will do great!! We have had 5 since 2005 all went to West Liberty-Salem. This year we have our first guy from Germany. He is going to play basketball.
    There is so much more room in your heart then you can even imagine. It will be a great experience for your whole family. Love to hear more as you learn more.

  12. Bethany

    Praying for you sweetie! 37 tomorrow right? I think that I know that because I think that we are the same age. Me being one week younger to the day 🙂 I am excited for your family on this new adventure. You will be blessed by Cherry and she will blessed by you guys 🙂

  13. Ruth

    What an exciting adventure! Happy early birthday & I pray it is the best one yet. Also praying for all to work out tomorrow. Praise God for people like you!

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