After Rits and Pearl returned to the United States their lives filled with more children, more ministry, and a constant stream of people in and out of their home to care for. Their experience in Africa and with Moses caused them to live with open doors and open hearts, instead of closing down in fear and disappointment. They ultimately adopted two little boys from Korea after the Korean War, adding them to their six biological children. (Ah, but those are miraculous stories for another day.)
The Tademas always had room for one more around the kitchen table, if everyone would scoot over a little bit. Pearl could add another cup of broth to the soup and set another cup of dark coffee out without feeling a smidge inconvenienced. Their attitudes were passed along to their children who blessed them with forty-five grandchildren. Twenty-three of those grandchildren were adopted with miraculous stories of their own. (Like I said...stories for another day.)
In 2003 Rits and Pearl’s daughter Laura called with an announcement. “Mom, I’m lonesome for Moses. I am praying that we can find him and get in contact with him.” Laura had been young when her family left Africa, but she couldn’t shake the memory she had of carrying around the little boy she called brother.
Pearl was surprised by her daughter’s determined idea. Her response was realistic but as usual, acknowledged God’s ability to work miracles. “Wow, Laura. I don’t even know if he is still called Moses or if he is alive. If he is alive, where would he be living?” Pearl’s mind processed the possibility as she spoke, “For forty-five years we have had no contact with him…" Then Pearl’s voice took on her familiar faith filled laugh, “But, I guess God is a mighty magnet and can find any needle in however old a haystack.”
As the conversation progressed, she gave Laura a commitment. “I’ll pray with you.”
Pearl gave Laura the names of missionaries that were with them in Nigeria from 1955 to 1958 to aid in Laura’s search. As Laura went through the list, she hit a series of dead ends.
Undeterred, Laura and Pearl continued to pray. They believed God knew where Moses was and everything about him, so surely God could find him. They were out of ideas of how to go about searching so their simple prayer was, “Help.” They left it at that, unsure of what a next step would look like.
The Spees, who had replaced Rits and Pearl in Turan, Nigeria when they left, called Laura. On this day they had new information. “We learned there is a Dr. Martin Reedyk who goes to Nigeria annually. He lives in Alberta, Canada. He might be willing to ask around concerning Moses.”
It was a long shot, but Laura called. With boldness that characterized Laura, from a deep faith she had acquired from her parents and the Lord’s leading, she asked the stranger, “Would you like to be part of a miracle?”
She shared with the doctor the forty-five year old story of her American family who desperately wanted to adopt the Nigerian boy. She shared that they had been forced to leave him behind. She explained her prayers and her desire to be reunited. Laura’s memories of Afritca were limited, but she couldn’t let go of the itch to finish the story. “Would you be willing to ask people you meet if they have heard or know anything of our Moses?”
The doctor was moved by the story and assured Laura. “I will ask around and immediately email you if I receive any information. It so happens I'm going next week.”
They prayed. They hoped. They waited.
Dr. Reedyk was working at a Mkar hospital in Nigeria. He was immediately immersed in work and had plenty to keep him distracted after he arrived. After three days Dr. Reedyk was mulling over his promise to Laura. It seemed random, but he brought it up to the cook who was preparing his food. “I’m wondering if you can give me any information on a man. There is a forty-five year old story from this area. It’s about a baby who was rejected by the Ion tribe. An American missionary family took into their home. They wanted to adopt him but–“
“Oh, that’s Moses!” The cook responded.
The doctor’s jaw dropped.
“He lives in Abuja, the capital, some 300 kilometers from here.”
Amazed and reeling with the discovery, Dr. Reedyk said, “His family wants to hear from him.” Do you want to be part of a miracle? Was the answer really coming this easily?
The cook caught Dr. Reedyk’s excitement and was eager to be part of the unfolding events. “I will catch a lori (truck) and go to Abuja tomorrow to find him! He will want to come back to meet you.”
The doctor instructed him to have Moses come as soon as possible to the hospital so he could meet him and give him information on his family.
When Moses arrived at the hospital, the security guard would not let Moses in to see the doctor. “I’m sorry. You don’t have an appointment. You’ll have to leave.”
Moses refused to be turned away. He desperately told the guard that the doctor was waiting for his arrival. His pleas were falling on deaf ears. It had been too long to turn away now because of a determined security guard. Moses was more determined and wouldn’t back down from his request. The two went back and forth. Frustrated, with feet firmly planted, Moses finally wrote a note and said, “I want you to take this note to the doctor. If you do not, I will have you fired.”
He was reluctant, but the guard agreed to deliver the note. When the doctor read the note he excitedly told the guard, “I’ve been waiting for two hours to see this man! Send him in immediately.” The humbled guard brought Moses in.
That night Rits, Pearl and Laura received a brief email from their new doctor friend. In huge letters he wrote, “MOSES IS FOUND AND IS A CHRISTIAN. THIS IS HIS EMAIL ADDRESS!”
Incredulous, joy filled them all. They marveled at the way God had moved to find the needle in this old haystack. As Pearl often responded to God’s miracles, she was delighted but not completely surprised. She knew her God had a way of redeeming stories and answering long awaited prayers. Her response was to immediately sing, “What a mighty God we serve. What a mighty God we serve! Angels bow before Him. Heaven and earth adore Him. What a mighty God we serve!” Praise and excitement poured out as the news made the rounds within the family.
Rits and Pearl began email correspondence with Moses. They learned that Moses had five children and his wife had recently passed away. After discussing options, hoping to having opportunity to be face to face, it was set that Moses would fly to the U.S. with his daughter Beverly, who was in her early twenties. The trip was planned for August so it would overlap with the Tadema family reunion and celebrating the wedding of Laura’s son.
A friend helped pay for tickets. Moses and Beverly got visas and passports. God kept working through inefficient Nigerian government and other hassles. Every time it looked like hurdles and obstacles would prevent the reunion, God moved miraculously and another step was made.
Moses and Beverly flew into Seattle where Laura picked them up and spent the first few days with them. They were able to talk about their lives, their history, and Nigeria. Moses had a glimpse of Laura’s life in Washington. It was a mysterious bond, two near strangers who grew up across the world from each other yet still shared fuzzy memories of relating as siblings decades prior.
They drove together, with Beverly, to Spokane so Moses could be reunited with the parents that fed, prayed for, and nurtured his body and soul for the first years of his life.
Pearl was inside the house when she heard the horn honk. Laura laid on the horn the entire way up the driveway, unable to contain her excitement. Pearl threw open the front door to see Moses jump out of the car, running up the walk calling, “Mama, Mama!” with a wide grin.
More than forty years and still the memory was vivid of little Moses toddling toward her with arms out to be scooped up and held. She essentially responded the same way–here in another country four decades later–running across the lawn laughing, hugging, and cupping his face in her hands. She recalled that it was the same laugh that she remembered; a wholehearted laugh that he had when she’d kiss his little bellybutton as a baby boy.
When the emotion had simmered slightly, everyone began asking questions–catching up on a lifetime. Rits and Pearl learned this was not Moses’ first time in the United States. He had a scholarship as a young man to Kansas University, where he attained his Masters in Fisheries. At that time he had wanted to find the missionary family he always had heard stories of, but had no trails to chase. His daughter, Beverly, was born in Kansas. After he finished his degree, his little family returned to Nigeria to work for the Nigerian government in the Fisheries department.
Smiling, overwhelmed Moses was thrown into the deep end of the pool as Rits and Pearl took him to the annual Tadema family reunion. Many of the Tademas’ eight children and forty–five grandchildren attended, along with the first great-grandchildren. The reunion was filled with praise, awe, and thankfulness for what God had done in bringing Moses. It was also intense, filled with so many new faces and stories. Daunting as it was, Moses and Beverly worked through many barriers to enjoy being part of the family. Laura kept them under her wing as she repeated the story for anyone that would sit for a moment with them.
At every Tadema reunion there was a time for each family to share what the year held and any prayer requests. Then members of the family surrounded them, laid hands on them and took turns praying. The sharing time often lasted hours- full of encouragement, often tears, and recounting God's faithfulness regardless of circumstance. This reunion Moses had the opportunity to stand in front of over fifty family members and share God working in his life. He was mobbed by his old/new family taking turns praying and praising God for how He had taken care of Moses, showing Himself as the True God over all extensions of the Tadema family.
After the reunion, Rits and Pearl began talking to Beverly about her passions. Beverly shared a desire to attend college in the United States. Without hesitation, Rits and Pearl put her in their car and drove their new granddaughter to Whitworth University, only minutes from their home.
When they arrived, they gave Beverly a tour of the campus. They met with the multicultural director of the school, who happened to be a personal friend of Pearl’s. They shared the story of Moses and Beverly with her and asked if there might be room for Beverly, starting immediately. It was a long shot and a slightly ludicrous request. Rits and Pearl weren’t about to stop believing God could orchestrate yet another story.
Within five days there were scholarships in place, a job for Beverly in the school cafeteria, and an unexpected opening in a dorm. Beverly was registered for classes as a student at Whitworth College. It was amazing. It was a whirlwind. Yet, it wasn’t all that surprising. The Lord has a way of using events for all His children’s good. It was no longer just about Moses meeting the family God used to save his life. He used this encounter to grow Beverly's faith in Him, placed her in a new country where she could pursue her education, near her new grandparents.
The gift was so lavish, so unexpected, and so immediate after decades of silence. Rits and Pearl had missed so much of Moses’ life. Now, as the visit concluded they had the assurance that he was a believer sharing Christ in the country they loved but couldn’t remain in. The seeds they had planted in Moses’ life had been watered by God Himself and brought to a place of evident fruit. It was a beautiful bonus that Rits and Pearl could witness the fruit that grew from little midnight prayers over an eye dropper full of milk.
Moses left to return to Nigeria. In the Lord’s tender graciousness, Beverly stayed back to enjoy a set of grandparents she didn’t expect to ever have and attain an education of her own. Rits and Pearl helped Beverly settle and told her what they tell every child, grandchild, great-grandchild, friend and stranger, "The coffee pot's always on." It is. Really, truly it always is.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...