In early 2011, God began whispering to Wyeth and Wendy Willard about his desire to see them spend an extended period of time in the Central American country of Nicaragua, where Wyeth’s dad had founded the first non-profit summer camp for local children living in poverty. While the Willards had led several short-term family mission trips to Nicaragua, they weren’t interested in actually moving to the poorest Spanish-speaking country in the world. They found the proposition quite frustrating at first, thinking, “We helped plant a church in a nearby town, supported missionaries, parented foster kids, and tithed. Haven’t we done enough, God? Aren’t there people who actually speak Spanish and know how to be missionaries who could do a much better job?”
And yet they couldn’t ignore that tiny tugging at the corners of their hearts. So, together with another family from their community, they began praying for guidance, that God’s will for their life would be done. After almost a year of praying that prayer — a year that included some of the lowest points of their lives — they made official plans to move to Nicaragua in July of 2012. But lest you think they were immediately transformed from American-dream-living-suburban-Christians, Wyeth and Wendy told God He had exactly one year before they returned. (Oh yes they did.)
They dove into Nicaraguan life as best they could, while also struggling through culture-shock, a distinct lack of any Spanish-language skills, and everything else that goes along with uprooting 10- and 13-year-old daughters to have an “adventure” in a developing country. Wyeth and Wendy continued working their consulting jobs in the U.S. to support themselves abroad. They offered free babysitting for missionaries (after realizing that few had access to sitters they could trust, which translated into couples with little time to focus on their marriage) and coached soccer. By March, they felt as if they had checked the “been a missionary abroad” box and could prepare to go home.
About 24 hours after making checking that box, they got a call that changed their lives (as if moving to Nicaragua hadn’t already done that). A friend told the Willards about a mom who had been in the country to adopt two school-age kids. She was separated from her family back in the U.S., without any Spanish-language skills, transportation, or any sense of community. She was lonely, frustrated, and desperate. The day we decided we’ve “done enough” in Nicaragua, she boarded a plane — without those two kids — and made the excruciating decision to cancel the adoption.
“You must help these people, Wendy,” this friend pleaded.
“Oh, crap,” came the very honest response. While Wyeth and Wendy weren’t immediately overjoyed at God’s job assignment, they willingly accepted it and reversed their plans to return to the United States. In what was an emotional and challenging decision, they sold their remaining belongings in the States and fully invested in a 6-bedroom home in Managua, in which they could host adopting families. They continued freelancing their tech jobs back in the U.S. to support this endeavor.
They dove headfirst into the land of international adoptions, learning the importance of educating love, fostering community, and transitioning families. They fell in love with Nicaragua’s children. Wyeth and Wendy began dreaming a God-sized dream of building an in-country adoption care facility, where families could be nurtured and supported throughout the entire process, in an effort to increase the number of orphans-no-more, particularly special needs kids and those ages 7-14, which are the toughest to place.
And they began praying for a partner back in the States, someone who could provide administrative, financial, and networking support. Wendy attended the CAFO conference in 2014 and found there to be a serious lack of any sort of on-the-ground support for internationally adopting families. In fact, CAFO organizers said that in ten years of assisting and organizing global orphan-care workers, they had never heard of anyone doing this sort of adoption care.
The first six months of any adoption are the most critical in terms of predicting future success. Families who must spend a good portion of that living in the child’s home country are often cut-off from any sort of emotional, physical, or community support — support that it absolutely crucial if the family is to bond together for the long haul.
In May of 2014, after much counsel and prayer, the Willards came to the realization that they needed to return to the U.S. to be the support they so needed. God provided another missionary family, Carlos & Sharla Martinez, to take over the day-to-day process of serving transitioning families in-country. As of June 2014, the only obstacle remaining to take this ministry to the next step is funding. We are currently raising support for a full-time missionary family (the Martinez family) whose primary job is to assist adopting families.
Wyeth and Wendy will return to the U.S. after we raise the necessary monthly support to keep the work in Nicaragua going. They will then pour into the Stateside administration of the ministry, making it official, educating adopting families, and seeking God’s will for the next steps. We need your help to get there.