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Full Circle

By Michael Stephanides

Burke Countyblue skies and thin ice

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16: 9.

In late 1999 a young couple, and their three children; ages, 4 6, and 8 embarked on a journey that would change their lives forever. Jan and I accepted a call to work in the jungles of Honduras and work at a Moravian medical clinic in the village of Ahuas. There are hundreds of stories of our experience working there, but the one story I would like to share is about a baby boy named Maick (named after me but spelled wrong – HaHa). He was born on a Sunday afternoon with his twin sister; however, Maick was not breathing at birth. Fortunately, we were able to resuscitate him, and he lived to return with his mother and twin sister, to their home and village. However, some two weeks later they returned to Ahuas malnourished due to their mother’s inability to acquire sufficient food for herself, and therefore not producing breastmilk. To help her, we agreed to care for Maick, and she to care for the baby girl while staying in Ahuas. Fortunately, a few weeks later, both babies were healthy and nourished and again returned with their mother to their home.

Much to our surprise, a few weeks later multiple people, including this mother, arrived at our door and gave us a very special gift. They literally gave us baby Maick to have as our own. We spent months and months pursuing every possibility to adopt this child, but we were denied permission. The government did not want to separate twins and the mother did not want to allow us to adopt his twin sister. There is no way to describe the pain in our hearts as we climbed into the bush plane to leave Ahuas for the last time, leaving behind our child whom we loved and nurtured for shy of a year.

Why God, would you give us a child only to take him away was a question we so desperately needed an answer to. It was that experience that led us to become foster parents. We learned from this experience that we could love, nurture, and care for a child, and ‘give’ them back if need be. We simply wanted to provide a home and love for children who needed care. Over the years we cared for many children which brought us to a Friday night when we were called by Social Services to care for a 14-year-old girl and a newborn niece. The 14-year-old girl, Litz, did not speak English and we were the only licensed foster home that spoke Spanish – albeit poorly. They assured us “she would be placed in an alternate home the following week.”  Fast forward 17 years and she is our daughter, is happily married, and has blessed us even more with two beautiful grandchildren.

Litz was born in a small town, in the mountains of Honduras, above San Pedro Sula, called Santa Barbara. Her life experience that brought this undocumented child to us is not to be believed, and one you would not wish on anyone. All children in foster care are provided what is called ‘guardian ad litem’, a court-appointed individual to represent the best interests of a minor in legal proceedings. This brought Owen and his wife Anita into our lives and our home, as they worked with Litz over the years.

I have worked at a Family Practice office for some time now and one of the doctors I work with is Roger. Roger attends a church that leads mission trips to a town in Honduras … Santa Barbara. These trips are led by a gentleman and his wife named Owen and Anita.

The most amazing hand of God; we lived in Honduras, granted the privilege of adopting a girl from Honduras, who was born in Santa Barbara, and going on a mission trip led by her guardian ad litem to the village she was born in! You can’t make this up.

While on this trip we had the privilege, almost like voyeurs, to view the reunion of Litz with her biological father and stepsister. Much like Joseph in Genesis 45:14, Litz and her aunt fell on each other’s neck and wept in their loving reunion. She also met with many cousins she did not even know, and has been able to heal some heart wounds and get some closure of her past and present.

And so, we have come full circle. The hand of God working in our lives in ways we had no concept of 25 years ago; a young couple left for Honduras, to be used by God some 25 years later. We listened and cried as Litz shared her testimony with many of the children in an orphanage, speaking into their lives with God’s hope and promise. A testimony speaking to the hearts of children with similar stories. A testimony to how God is writing His story in our lives in ways we may not understand or even know.

We returned from our trip last week with a deeper understanding of God’s infinite love for us. How he truly does leave the ninety-nine for one. The challenge to all of us is to listen to the call and guidance of the Holy Spirit, as we never know or may never know the plans God has for us or others. God is always at work, not constrained by time, He is Omniscient, the Alpha and Omega, writing His story in our lives and the lives of those we have not even met.   

“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11


Michael Stephanides is a resident of Morganton NC, and has lived there with his wife of 30 years. They have had the privilege of raising 3 biological children, and one adopted child, ages 24-29. Their daughters are married to great men, and they have 2 beautiful grandchildren. Michael and his wife are members of Summit Community Church in Morganton.


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