If we had an hour
and two cups of tea,
I would tell you
a remarkable miracle story.
words + photographs TERESA FLORA
The story’s main characters met at the age of 13. Married at 18. Did the normal married people stuff. He was a preacher; she was a nurse. They had three perfect sons, and the life they made together seemed pretty much perfectly perfect.
Jimmy and Teresa Flora, sweethearts, married for 45 years. An amazing life, orchestrated by an amazing God.
With a heart for the nations, short-term missions were a huge part of our lives.
Dragging our boys to inner city Houston for summer missions, caring for the struggling, our family learned what it meant to serve without limitations.
Medical clinics and Vacation Bible School in Mexico.
Medical missions and evangelism in India.
Our time in India led to a deep love for the people of that country. Through a series of crazy events, after sending our last son to college, we learned of a little girl who had been found abandoned on the streets of New Delhi. Sick-and-malnourished Deepika, her story wiggled its way into our hearts. Nine months later, on our 25th wedding anniversary, this little bit of a girl became ours. Her medical problems were taken care of with good nutrition and lots of love. She captured our hearts and life continued. Elizabeth Grace Flora, an undeserved gift.
It’s always been interesting to me how we make our plans, work toward those plans, and then through maturation, life experiences, and small drops of wisdom, learn to submit to God’s plan.
God’s plan for our lives was far more than we could ever have imagined; in fact, it was immeasurably more. After seeing the remarkable transformation in Grace’s life, it was almost compelling to pursue adoption for a second time. This crazy couple, then nearing 50, made the decision to adopt once again. Wana and Dawencia – Anna and Rebekah Joy – chosen and favored by God to become our daughters.
I struggled for a minute with the realization I would be 64 when Rebekah graduated from high school. That seemed so old. I remember discussing this very thing with God. My take away from that conversation was any life I could offer her was better than life as an orphan on the island of Haiti. Well, here I am, 16 years later, and I’m rocking it!
Adoption is biblical. It is the perfect picture of what Jesus Christ did for us. Chose us. Secured us. Made us His very own.
If I had another hour and another cup of tea, I would fill in the gaps of our story. When trying to bring our girls home, geckos and tarantulas lived with us in our hotel in Haiti. We were trapped in the country for a month. Twelve years in Africa. Robbed in Madrid. Cobras in Lesotho. Elephant charges in South Africa. We brought our girls home from a third world country, introduced them to America, and loaded them up for growing up years in Africa, a third world country. Only God could make sense of it all.
Finally, our three girls today. Grace is 23, lives in Arnold, Missouri. She serves on staff at First Baptist Church. Anna is 23. She is newly married to Joseph and in her senior year at Southwest Baptist University, pursuing a degree in health services. Bekah is a senior at Stockton High School. Rebekah’s dream? She wants to get a degree in elementary education and serve overseas, teaching orphans among an unreached people group. All three have a heart for adoption, children, the nations. Only God.
And our boys? Jim, married to Sara Jo, is principal at Stockton High School and pastor of Lone Star Baptist Church. Jason, married to Kelly, works for Greene County as a deputy. Joshua, married to Stacy, is principal at Webb City High School. All responsible, successful adults.
And we can’t forget our perfectly perfect eight grandchildren.
My Jimmy now lives in heaven. The void in my heart has been difficult to overcome, but God has remained faithful. In June, part of our family will return to Africa. We are making plans to begin The Timothy Project, reaching the unreached, ministering to widows and orphans, teaching and preaching.
Our girls were rescued from darkness and given the opportunity to find life in Christ. What a story of God’s grace and love. Hoping to give others the same opportunity.
If you are reading this article, please don’t think I am someone special. I’m just an ordinary grandma who loves Jesus and people. I understand adoption may not be for everyone, but walking in obedience to Christ is. God called our family to adopt. We walked in obedience. Warning: Walking often involves taking risks. Adoption is risky. You risk finances; it can be expensive. You risk freedom. Raising children takes time. When I should have been rocking grandbabies, I was chasing a two-year-old of my own, not running near as fast as I did at age 20, by the way.
The biggest risk is giving pieces of your heart away. It’s a mystery of miracles how God multiplies and magnifies love. The more love you give away, the more love you have to give. It’s a miracle! Trust me. I know. TF
Try a new dish for supper from Teresa Flora. Find “Recipes from a Missionary’s Kitchen” here.
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also,” (2 Timothy 2:2, NASB).
If you ever received an email from my dad or read our blog, you know that he signed every message with “Until All Have Heard.” My dad’s deepest desire was for the nations to come to know and have a personal relationship with our Savior, but he understood that that is not a task that is completed by one man. My dad believed that the way for “all to hear” was for biblical training to be provided to young men as they were growing in their walk with the Lord. My dad championed biblical discipleship. As a family, and as a Church, we want to continue that legacy that my father left behind, so we have started The Timothy Project. The Timothy Project will be used to provide biblical training for young men in the mountains of Lesotho and eSwatini. Our hope is that the gospel will continue to advance throughout these two countries and ultimately to the ends of the earth.
If you would like to give, please follow this link. It will take you to a site with a drop down box and you will find the line item: Timothy Project.
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