Today was a big day for us...after months of searching, of bidding on Ebay and combing through Craig's List, we adopted a new family member!! As we anticipate the new additions to our family, we realized that our current transportation might not always be adequate. We have 2 minivans...our "old" one which has over 200,000 miles on it and which we actually don't have a clue HOW many miles that is as the odometer/speedometer quite working years ago...and our "new" minivan which is not that old but has over 70,000 on it already thanks to my winter commutes. But these vans seat 7 and while that will accommodate our final family size (and yes, it WILL be our final family size!!) it doesn't allow us to ever haul along friends anywhere which is something we do quite frequently and we also will not be able to load much else other than people, so our Sam's Club runs an hour away would require 2 cars...camping would require 2 cars...driving our kids to summer camp would require two cars...you are getting the idea.
So we have spent months debating the merits of a larger van. Is it a true need or a want? Is there any way at all to find something affordable that is not total junk and a waste of money? With Cub Scouts and church outings included, would we use it enough to justify the expense or should we stick with taking 2 cars when necessary? What kind of vehicle is needed...a Suburban which would add a little more cargo space and one more passenger, or were we going to go for the gusto and think large 15 passenger van?
The ironic thing of all of this, and another lesson in "never say never" is that over the past couple of years as we have shared our adoption plans to add 2 more children to our family I have half jokingly said "Then we will be done, as our minivan can't hold anymore!" and had the quick response from others that "You can always get a 15 passenger van!" to which I just laughed and said "No way!".
As we examined the amount of use a larger van might potentially get, and the costs of purchasing one we decided that we would seriously look for one, but it would have to be old but functional and very, very inexpensive. We knew that finding something that wasn't a total wreck would be almost impossible but figured we'd just keep looking and if this was something God wanted in our life we would find the right deal that wouldn't scare us because of poor condition or high cost.
This week, we found it! We almost couldn't believe it when we saw the ad on Craig's List and then called on it...a 1987 van with only 106,000 miles on it...and the best part was it was only $900. Turns out this van had been owned by 2 different churches over the past 20 years, and had been driven infrequently yet regular maintenance had been performed...oil changes and driving it a little during down time so it wasn't sitting too long without at least being fired up. It is a 22 year old van, it is not pretty and it is a little worse for the wear, but this was a real answer to prayer for us and will fit our needs beautifully. A little carpeting, some seat covers and some elbow grease and it will be presentable and should last us a long time as these vans are known to go 200,000+ miles easily. As this will not be our daily driver, that would take us 15 years to put on it!
In the process of our purchase, the pastor and his wife who were selling it learned the details of why we needed such a large vehicle, and he told us they were thrilled that it was going to fulfill a need for us. In a touching send off, our family along with he and his wife joined hand in hand in a circle as he prayed for our family, and that the van would meet our needs well into the future and always keep us safe. Wouldn't it be nice if all transactions ended like that?
As I followed behind Dominick as he drove it home, I realized this was more than an answer to prayer, it was a symbol of faith on our part. It is a symbol revisited, actually, as we also had a vehicle purchase as a symbol of faith 10 years ago. You see, I am not one of the more "girlie" mom's you will find...I didn't buy tons of baby clothes when we were expecting, I didn't do a bang up job on preparing a nursery as so many wonderful moms do. I am more practical I guess, and so is Dominick. When we had started the adoption process for Matthew, our first child, I got a call one Saturday morning from Dominick who had unexpectedly stopped off at a car dealer and suddenly wanted me to come down and take a look at a used minivan he had found. We had never discussed a minivan, and here he was calling me out of the blue begging me to come down as he excitedly said "But Cindy, it has an integrated child seat built right in! This would be perfect for us!". It was his way of preparing for the beginning of our family, it was a symbol of impending fatherhood, and it was so unlike him to do anything this impulsive that I immediately understood how important this was to him...it was "male nesting syndrome".
It was also a symbol of faith that we would indeed one day soon be welcoming home our first child, even if it all seemed a little scary and out of reach at the time.
I drove around in that minivan for months pre-adoption, feeling like a complete idiot with just myself at the wheel. While we certainly used it for business for hauling supplies, it just felt awkward trying on this new persona while no one knew why we might ever really need a minivan as there were no children in sight and no obvious pregnancy either.
The day eventually came when I looked into that rear view mirror and saw Matt's round little face grinning back at me, and the symbol became a precious reality...and with each addition the van felt a little fuller as it became packed with my own children and other's. And I no longer felt like an idiot, I was vindicated in an odd sort of way.
Today, driving behind our new "Big Bomber" I realized this was a big leap of faith on our part, another symbol that reminded us that God keeps His promises and thus we will keep ours to be faithful. We know God has dictated that our daughters will come home, and despite the constant delays, frustration, and momentary lapses in trust, we ultimately do believe they will be coming home. This large, ugly-yet-oh-so-practical symbol has great meaning for us, it is us taking God at His word and acting on faith. For many a $900 purchase would be a drop in the bucket, for us it requires prayer and a good night's sleep before spending that kind of money. But we quickly came to the conclusion that we are going to act on the promise made to us, that we are going to continue to have faith and Believe with a capital "B".
As it sits in our yard, largely unused for the time being, I will occasionally glance at it and remind myself to be faithful, to strongly grasp on to hope. And one day in the not-so-distant future I just might be driving that van and look up into that rear view mirror at 5 smiling faces staring back at me along with friends and bikes and Lord knows what all else.
I can only hope...my symbol of faith, our symbol of virtual "pregnancy". We are, after all, the LaJoy family...and a boring old big belly would never suffice for our strange little gang! (Whom, by the way, we have all agreed should now be named IHOF - International House of Fruitcakes! Hahaha! I joked about that and had the kids rolling on the floor with laughter!)
So here's to "The Big Bomber"! May she soon be filled!!