Monday, October 09, 2006

...and Sometimes He Says Yes

Amanda Reeves is our next door neighbor and the daughter of our dear friend, the late Deacon Reeves. We told the story of how her brother Sam preached the Deacon’s funeral, and reminded us that sometimes God says “no” to our prayers. Here is part two of that sermon.

Amanda is about forty years old and has three children, Clarence, Princess and Earnest. However, she has not seen her children in eleven years. During the civil war, her ex-husband took the children, then 10, 11 and 13, to the Netherlands. Several years ago he died, and Amanda lost all contact with them. When we came here, we quickly developed a fond friendship with Amanda and she asked us to do what we could to help her find her lost children. Of course we did not know anything about intercontinental kid-finding, but we thought, let’s give it a try.

As some of you know, Renita's parents' roots "just happen" to be in the Netherlands, so she emailed them on Amanda's behalf and they in turn contacted some family members there. These family members put us in contact with a Dutch television show that looks for missing children, called Vermist. It is something like America's Most Wanted for missing children. After nine months of waiting, Pim Faber of Vermist told us they wanted to fly Amanda to the Netherlands and put her on the show. This would be an exciting but frightening opportunity for Amanda, who had never flown before or even ventured out of Liberia (except a brief traumatic stint as a war refugee across the border in Côte d'Ivoire).

She had to get her visa in a separate trip to Senegal—no Dutch embassy in Liberia-- and then left for the Brussels Wednesday September 27. She arrived Thursday morning and from there she traveled by car two hours to Hilversum, in the Netherlands. What a road trip that must have been.

On Friday, we received a phone call from Mr. Faber, who had a few questions for us (some troubles with Amanda's Liberian English), and then he shocked us with news that they had already found Amanda's children. Her three children "just happen" to live in Hilversum, the city where the TV studio is located. Amanda had not yet been informed and the Friday show, instead of being a plea for help in finding her children, would now be a surprise reunion show.

Imagine the moment, as this woman, this survivor of civil war, refugee camps, abandonment and poverty, who has never been out of the region--let alone flown to Europe-- imagine as she sits in a high tech Holland television studio and comes face to face with children not seen in over a decade, whom she had lost touch with, and who themselves did not know if she was dead or alive.

The newly reunited family called us immediately after the show aired and we had a chance to speak with Princess and Clarence, which was very exciting. Amanda sounded thrilled and was looking forward to visiting Earnest on Monday, who could not attend the television program.

Amanda's prayers of the last eleven years have been answered, and to those of you who joined us in prayer for this as well, we all can rejoice together. He heard you-- He heard us. And this time, the answer for Amanda was “Yes.”

Vermist sent us some stills from the video images of that program, and we are happy to share them with you now.

Here is Amanda's "Before" picture. Taken last October as Renita dropped her off to vote in the presidential elections.

On to the Vermist program. Here is Amanda, back to the camera, as Princess and Clarence emerge from off stage...

...and the reunion is complete.

Says it all, doesn't it?

The host of Vermist with Princess, Amanda and Clarence. How's that for an "After" shot?