As a little girl, I remember my grandfather, my dad's father, Pete Janszen (Gramps) saying this and other phrases in German. I felt very special to have this heritage, and loved having Gramps say all kinds of things, especially a little nursery rhyme in German. I have loved my German heritage. Little did I know, God was planning all along to bring a precious German girl into our lives many years later.
Last year, on the first day of school, Esther, our middle daughter, came home telling us about a cute foreign exchange student who was in her Alg. 2 class.
She said she was so pretty and she LOVED the way she talked, in broken, German accented English. Day after day, Esther would come home and speak more of Stella. She envited her over to go to the movies with our family, the second week she was here. I am not sure if she could understand much, it was the remake of Ben Hur, but we had a great time together. Esther, continued to reach out to Stella, and invited her to come to our home every Monday morning, to a Klife small group Bible study before school.
About the same time, Stella tried out for the Cross Country team, and started running with Ruth. Stella did not realize Esther and Ruth were sisters, since they look nothing alike! Ruth felt called to start a XC Bible study, and Stella started coming to that also.
After a few weeks, she put together that these 2 were sisters!! She began coming to our home for some family dinners, and the girls were driving her to Klife Klub meetings as well. God was definately weaving our lives together!!
Through the semester we were getting to know her, and as we got deeper, it became apparent that Stella did not know the Lord as her Savior, though she had been to church back in Germany, she did not have that personal trust in Him to save her. But she was courious, and continued to come, ask questions, and was such a joy to be around. One morning, I overheard someone crying at the girls Bible study in the other room. Not wanting to be nosey, I stayed out of the room, but later asked Esther if all was ok. She shared that stella was not happy in her host home, and was asking for prayer to know what to do.
My heart broke for this sweet girl, and I shared with Ray what I had learned.
He said he wanted me to pray about what we were to do concerning our role with Stella.
"What? What do you mean?! What role? You mean keep having her over for Bible study and some family meals?"
"No, I mean does she need to come live with us?"
"You have got to be kidding me?!" I thought! I already have enough kids, I don't need another child, let alone another teenage girl! And where would she sleep, we already have 3 girls in one room, granted they are in the master, but still, another high school girl!!
I told him I would pray about it, but I wasn't going to tell a soul! I didn't want anyone getting any ideas. (Now, I know this is so selfish, I know, but at the time, I couldn't see it any other way!)
Well, after 2 weeks of praying for Stella's sitution to improve at her host home, and yes praying for however God wanted us to play a role, Esther came home from school one day and said, "Mom, Stella asked me if she might could come live with us!!"
She told her she didn't know, it would be up to her parents, but I was floored. I knew right then and there that obviously God was up to somehting and was already working, because He had layed it on Ray's heart 2 weeks early, and had me praying about it to prepare myself.
We had a family meeting, talked about the pros and cons and then Ray said, "Guys, what if God wanted to use our family to point Stella to Him, and we were too selfish to accept this plan? Our lives are a blip, and the time stella is in the USA is a blip of a blip!! We will regret if we do not open ourselves up, and our home. Let us be willing!" We ALL agreed, and knew he was right. We began the paperwork the next week, and a week after that, December 15, stella came to live with the Ford Family.
The funny thing is, stella is an only child, from a divorced family, so to move into a home with 7 family members, 3 sister, 2 brothers, and parents, was more of a shock to her than her to us!!
She said she loved it, Stella is a very friendly outgoing person, who loves to talk with people and loves activity!! Well, she found it in our crazy home!
Right after she moved in, we had finals coming up, then Christmas break. For some reason, I thought Stella would be returning to Germany for the holidays, but I quickly found out she would be with us!! Back to the store, Santa needed to come visit Stella as well!! We also wanted to get her gifts, but the most important thing we wanted to give her was Jesus. He really is it, the most amazing thing, so we gave her her very own Bible, she had been borrowing one for small group and XC Bible study.
Christmas took us to Texas again this year, to the ranch. Stella didn't know what to expect, she said she had heard Texas wasn't that interesting, only dust and cowboys!! Well, she was partly right, but since the ranch in in the Brazos River valley and right on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, it is more than just dust, though we do have some cowboys.
Babe, my mom, and Stella's American grandmother for the time being, gave stella her very own cowgirl boots!!
Christmas day was wonderful, but emotional for Stella, I can only imagine being away from my family at 16 on Christmas day!! But the sweetest part was when she got her Bible. I thought she was just missing her family, but the tears fell as she read the note we had written in the front. The next evening, the girls were up in the balcony coloring and visiting quietly. All of a sudden, the girls came running to the edge hollaring! "Stella just became a Crhistian!!" The girls came running down the stairs, with Stella saying, "I am saved, I am saved!!" As we talked through the conversation they had just had, mainly between Stella and Esther, with Raylee (my neice) and Anna also a part, they shared the questions that Stella had been asking and the answers she was looking for. Stella shared how she knew Jesus wanted something from her ever since she moved in with us, and after she got her Bible she knew even more, and now she realizes, it was HER He wanted. He wanted to save HER, He wanted a relationship with HER, Oh GLORY!! Hallelujah. She is saved indeed!!!
Our family was humbled, excited, and grateful all at the same time. Stella, who continued to live with us until the end of May, was, is a new creation for all eternity. We are so grateful we did not let all our selfish petty reasons for not wanting Stella to come live with us, get in the way of the bigger plan God was working in all our lives.
From Christmas on, it was like Sunday school in our home. Stella asked all of us, at different times, for the five and a half months, about scripure, about God, about what in means to live out your faith. It was such a blessing for all of us, as we were forced to answer questions we maybe hadn't dealt with in years. Who is the enemy? Why does he want to attack us? How does he attack? What will heaven be like? What does it mean to live out our faith in this or that sitution?
And probably my favorite, one evening, the girls and I, along with Stella, were talking aobut what Jesus did. Stella kept saying, "I just don't understand why He would do that for me, I am so overwhelmed with thankfulness, I have no words!!! Can we just stop and praise Him right now for what He has done?" YES!! we all replied, and what a sweet time we all had together, just thanking Him in prayer for the sacrifice He made. What a great reminder for all us girls, we just get so used to it, we casually say, "Yes, Jesus died for us and we are thankful." But how often are we really overwhelmed with gratefulness, that we have no words?! Not me, I almost always have words! But I want to be more like this. So thankful, so overwhelmed for His love for me.
Stella brought this fresh reminder back to our family!! We love our German daughter, we are thankful God in His grace and mercy, brought her to our family, inspite of us!! He saved her, He lifted the veil off her eyes, He saved her, and we got to be close observers of this change. Glory to His name.
As we sent her back home after the end of May, it was hard to let her go, knowing she doesn't have any community of believers back home, but God is faithful! He goes with her, He will provide, and His Holy Spirit can give her understanding as she continues to study His word. And, we knew we were not saying goodbye forever. She is planning to come visit next summer, and go to Kanakuk with us, and we have the assurance that we have eternity with her. God is so good.