For those who have been following along with us on social media over the past few months, you know by now that we’ve been on a bit of an expected journey this year. In May, I (Brandon) went on a fishing trip in Wyoming with my good friend Robbie Lathrop, a fellow missionary in Nicaragua. Looking forward to a week of silence, solitude, fly-fishing and camaraderie, you can imagine my disappointment when a few days in I got hit with a virus that would take the wind out of my sails for the duration of the trip and finally reveal itself as the Zika virus on the final day before heading home. I apparently had been bitten by a Zika-infected mosquito while still back in Nicaragua, and the virus set in days later, as is typical with mosquito-borne viruses.
Weeks prior to my fishing trip, Hannah had decided to take advantage of me being gone on that fishing trip to book herself a little getaway back in Indiana. She flew out a few days before I did, taking Lucas with her to visit friends and family back home. At nearly 6 months pregnant, she was excited to celebrate this special season of life with those she’s closest to. It was a trip that we had a hard time deciding on because of finances, but we both needed to recharge our batteries and we both knew exactly what would do just that. Thank God for that decision.
When I flew back into Nicaragua, I soon found out that the Zika virus was running rampant in Masatepe. Most of our friends, coworkers, and neighbors had contracted it. Of the 4 of us Americans on our team that were there at the time, we all got the virus within a few weeks of each other. Hannah’s trip was soon to come to an end and we had to decide what to do. Leaving her in the US in order to avoid any risk of obtaining Zika while pregnant was the obvious answer, but we didn’t have US-based health insurance. The thought of incurring the costs of the childbirth without insurance was a daunting idea. We quickly contacted ITeams and asked what our options were, and within a few days we had found out that Hannah qualified for a “life event” that would allow her to get back on our ITeams’ group policy! I couldn’t believe a woman that was 6 months pregnant would find any insurance policy that would pick her up at that point. It was a complete God-send.
We cancelled Hannah’s return flight and settled in for what would end up being 3 months of unexpected separation. For weeks, we were nervously awaiting the results of a blood test, unsure if Hannah had contracted the virus before leaving or not. What a relief when it came back negative. Hannah stayed with family and her pregnancy developed through months 7, 8 and 9. Lucas grew from 15 months old to 18 months old during that time, in which many things were developing in his little world. He began to walk, and then run on his own, as Hannah and I did our best to Facetime each other daily so I could keep up with their quickly evolving lives! It was hard not being together for such a special season for our family. I hung on as long as I could in Nicaragua, and then on August 1st, I flew home to be reunited with Hannah and Lucas! It was the sweetest reunion any of us may ever experience!
Two weeks later, on August 13th, our precious little daughter was born! I was able to spend the last two weeks of Hannah’s pregnancy at her side, and be there for the 12 hours in the hospital leading up to Lydia Faye’s grand entrance! I couldn’t have asked for a grander gift!
Lydia’s little life is one that is already marked with the clear touch of her Lord and Creator. From the very moment we became aware of her conception, which was literally DAYS after we finalized the adoption of Lucas, to the miraculous protection He provided her by timing Hannah’s quick get-away to the US only a few days before Zika swept through our town, to the provision of insurance and finances to continue forward with the birth in the US, we have no doubt that her life will be one of significance in His Kingdom.
We chose the name Lydia after the businesswoman we read about in Acts 16:13-15, who is recognized for being a worshiper of God, one who has an open heart to believing the Gospel, and one who opens up her home to invite other believers in to share life together. We chose the name Faye, which means Faith. In Spanish, the spelling of “faith” is “fe”, but is pronounced “fay”. We wanted her name to be bilingual, sounding similar in both languages, just like her brother’s name, Lucas Oliver.
Lucas Oliver and Lydia Faye are the two most precious gifts God could ever give to Hannah and I, and he’s used their lives already to bless many others by their living testimonies. They both came to us on the verge of terrifying circumstances and they were rescued by His grace alone. Yet, while we count our blessings, we can only continue to pray for those children who are coming into this world in places like Nicaragua where life-threatening viruses are a reality, and from families where brokenness mandates giving a child up for adoption, and we full-heartedly recognize the dire need for His grace and salvation to be extended into innumerable families and communities around the world. The good news is, we are invited to be the messengers to do just that…the bearers of Good News.