They say if you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans. I am a living testament to this statement.
Yesterday, August 10, 2017, marks exactly 10 years that I arrived in the United States. I came with a clear plan and objectives: go to graduate school at Colorado State University, where I was accepted to study environmental economics, graduate, and go back to my home country, Brazil to get married and have a family.
That was the plan.
Just some key information before I continue this story. When I was accepted to CSU in March 2007, I did not know a soul in Colorado. Being from a Latin country where friendship and social life form the integral fabric of our culture and society, I knew this wasn’t going to fly. So in addition to my search housing in Fort Collins, I also started thinking about how I could make friends even before I arrived in the United States…again, a country in another hemisphere where I didn’t know a soul.
I had one idea – I was part of an international Christian environmental organization called A Rocha that had offices and members in over 20 countries around the world, including the United States. I thought “maybe if I could meet a member or 2 of A Rocha USA at least we’d have some common ground, it’s something, right?” It was a long shot, but I had nothing to lose. I had met a few of the American members when while attending an International A Rocha conference few years before, so I at least had a contact. The headquarters for the American chapter was located in Washington D.C. so I knew the chances of there being members in Colorado was fairly slim, but it was worth a shot…
So, about a month before I embarked for the land of the free and home of the brave, I wrote my colleagues in D.C. and asked if they knew of anyone from the organization around Fort Collins area. They got back to me saying that they indeed had a few members located in Colorado; they had reached out with my contact information and informed me that if these members were interested in getting in touch I would hear from them directly.
A few weeks past and I got an email. A man named Don wrote me saying he had gotten my information from A Rocha. He lived in Colorado and he very generously offered to not only pick me up from the airport in Denver but invited me to stay at his house for my first weekend in the US and drive me up to my new housing in Fort Collins. Just to meet SOMEONE in my new state was a blessing I would have been crazy to pass up, so I quickly agreed.
I arrived in Denver on a beautiful morning of August 10th 2007. I saw Don and his wife, Angela, waiting for me at baggage claim (we exchanged pictures before). I was later told that I looked like a “drowned rat” getting off the plane…great first impression, right?
I was very grateful for this warm welcome to the country where I knew I would spend at least the next 3 years, but I was also exhausted. I took a shower and went to bed in their home in Denver.
The next day, this friendly couple told me that had invited their daughter to come for lunch. Around noon, a pretty, blonde young woman arrived and shook my hand. She was a senior at CSU, studying Spanish and had just returned from a semester abroad in Mexico.
We ate lunch outside, feeling the warm sun and fresh breeze on our faces. Little did I know that my lunchtime “chance” encounter was the beginning of a friendship journey that continued in daily meetings at the CSU campus, dates downtown, and a year and a half later, a walk down the aisle with the love of my life.
My wife completely foiled my plans. And I am so, so grateful.
Life never happens the way we plan, does it? And thank God. I had no idea that less than 24 hours after stepping onto American soil I would have met the woman I now call my wife.
It’s been ten years since we met, eight years since we got married; we have now two beautiful daughters and an incredible journey of friendship, love, and seeing the glory and faithfulness of God as the result of this amazing journey.
All I can say is that I am very grateful that my plans are not God’s plans and I allowed God to pave the way. Letting the Lord take the reins is often scary, but I can guarantee you that it is worth it.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11