It was a pretty usual day for me. I had a lot going on and not enough time to get it done. I was working on some last minute thoughts for a sermon series I was giving in a few weeks. Around 10:00 am my phone rang with an unknown caller. My standard procedure is to ignore those calls as the last twenty had been insurance companies trying to recruit me to sell for them. On a strange thought, I decided to answer.
And. Every. Thing. Changed.
I picked up the phone and I heard a quite voice.
“Is this Greg?” I could barely hear him.
“Yes. This is him.”
I knew this was no insurance salesman because they never call me by my middle name.
“This is Ted from The Home of God’s Love in Taiwan. Do you have a few minutes?”
My heart stopped. Then it started pounding. This was the call we’d been praying about for months.
“Hello! Yes. I’ve got time. How are you?”
“I’m good. How would you like to be a dad? We’ve got a little girl here that we'd like to match you with.”
He wasn’t even finished and I started crying. I could hear people talking in my office, but time seemed to stand still. I couldn’t believe this was happening.
Trying to compose myself, I said, “Absolutely.”
“Well, her name is Liang-Ju Lin. She was born in July and she was 7lbs and ½ ounce. She has been with us less than two weeks.”
I was taking notes. Then I was crying. I could not believe this was happening.
Ted then gave me some more detailed information about the parents and her background. He then handed the phone to his wife Bev who had a few more items to share. I told them we were naming her Rylyn. Bev told me what items we could send to the orphange for her. Bev then said, she was going to email some pictures for us.
“Can you just send them to only me today?” I asked. “I’ve been planning to surprise Betsey on the day we got matched. Have you talked to her yet?”
“No, we haven’t talked with her. Are you sure that’s fair to not send them to her?” she asked me. “Well, let us know her reaction. Hope you can surprise her.”
“Thanks so much. This is amazing.”
I hung up the phone and just sat silently. I couldn’t tell if this was really happening. Just a few minutes passed and an email arrived from Bev. There were two pictures of my new daughter. I cried again.
I wanted to run out of my office and scream to everyone that I was going to be a dad. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to tell anyone before Betsey. I looked at the clock. It was nearly 11 and I had so much to do. I got back to work, not having much success concentrating.
I looked down and my phone was ringing again. This time it was Betsey. This was weird as she doesn’t usually call me from school. I politely pressed ignore on the phone. There’s no way I could hold it in if she happen to ask. She then sent a text: “Call me.” I didn’t reply. A few minutes later, another phone call. This time there was a voicemail—“Call Me!” I didn’t call.
There’s no way she knows. Bev said they hadn’t talked to Betsey.
Over the next few hours, I received 15 phone calls, 10 texts, and 6 emails from Betsey. I was staying strong. I was going to execute on this plan, but it was killing me. I really wanted to tell her. I wasn’t getting any work done, so I packed up to put my plan into motion.
First stop was flowers. I picked up a dozen red roses first. They were nice, but not good enough. I also picked up an arrangement of Asian Lilies. I thought that was fitting. As I was getting those wrapped up, I saw a little bamboo plant. It had two shoots growing up and they were shaped into a heart. That, I had to have. So, with the roses, lilies, and bamboo, I headed home. I put all the flowers in different vases and spread them all throughout the nursery. I placed the bamboo plant in separate jar and put it on the cabinet. Next to it, I left a note I’d written to Betsey. Next to that, I had a necklace for Betsey. It was a small silver charm that said mother in Mandarin Chinese.
There was still one thing missing.
I ran up the street and printed off copies of the pictures of Rylyn. I blew up some of them and came back and put them in the crib. As I was leaving the store, my phone rang with a local number I didn’t recognize. I had a meeting that night and thought it might have been him, so I answered.
Betsey was getting sneaky. She had borrowed a friend’s phone and called me.
“Where have you been?!! I’ve been trying you all day!” she said.
“Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?” I wonder if she could see through my ploy?
“If you’re there, I can’t hear you,” I said. I then hung up. She’d be home in less than an hour. I could tell she was mad.
After everything was set up in the nursery, I set up a little video recorder. I heard the garage door open. I cut on the camera and sat quietly. I heard the back door open. Betsey put her stuff down and must have walked into every other room in the house before she finally opened the door to the nursery.
“Where have you been? I’ve been trying you all day?!!! Why, didn’t… awwwwe…you have a picture of her?!!! She’s soooooo pretty!”
Bets grabbed the picture out of the crib and looked at our daughter for the first time. It was such a special moment.
She wanted to know why I hadn’t answered my phone all day. I told her I was working on my surprise plan. Turns out that while Ted was telling the truth that he hadn’t talked with Betsey, he failed to tell me he’d left a voice mail for her! All Betsey knew was that he needed to talk with her and he left a number to call back.
That’s my side of the story of one of the best days of my life.