Many people assign different meanings to love around Valentine’s Day.
For John and Libby Moritz, the word “love” is a verb. After losing their three young children in a car accident thirty years ago, the grief-stricken couple struggled with what John calls “the timeline of healing.”
“There is a process in working through the grief and coming to a place of healing and overcomes the fear of loss again and letting love win out,” the sixty-six year old said. “Some get stuck on the timeline and never reach the healing end of it. We wanted love again more than we were afraid of another loss.”
As part of their path toward healing, a trip to a remote Guatemalan mountain orphanage spoke to their hearts as they witnessed a young paraplegic man and his wife from Minnesota care for adopted children.
“We started to understand the heart of God for helping the fatherless and orphans. We saw the conditions the children faced and felt their loss. We also saw how profoundly love was able to heal their wounds,” he remembered.
With each passing day and month, an awakening love began to slowly surface in John and Libby’s hearts in what he termed an “unspoken yearning.”
“In giving love to another person, that same love comes back to you,” he said.
Sure enough, that deep desire to love another child manifested itself in the idea of adopting a baby girl from China.
“Libby and I had independently read the passage that says, ‘The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.’” (Song of Solomon 2:11,12 NIV)
“When we were signing the adoption paperwork,” he continued, “the document revealed that her birthday was the first day of Spring.
He remembers changing her clothes that had the distinct smell of coal from the orphanage’s heating system. With that simple symbolic act, Lily Joy was welcomed into their family.
“On the flight back,” he said. "We were on Cloud 9. Libby was beaming.”
The story didn’t simply end there. Since the passing of their children, John and Libby have either started or supported orphanages in Africa, Mexico and India through their organization called Hearts of the Father Outreach. Their “JoshKrisDan Home” flagship orphanage in Ghana is named after the children. It is now a flourishing school as well and hundreds of children around the world now call Libby and John, “Mama” and “Papa.”
Below is John’s heartfelt message on the recent 30th anniversary of their tragedy and would-be 40th birthday of their daughter:
In Memory of Joshua, Kristen and Daniel Moritz
“30 years has slipped away since you departed for heaven. You did not choose nor did we know, the day would be our last. We waited anxiously as snow came down to see your joyful smiles. Instead a knock came at the door and the policeman said, you were gone.
Tears rained down as rivers run and a fog of incomprehension clouded our days. “Why God are we here and not with you?” we cried. Then we heard you cry, God. You asked us to go and love. You showed us children from far off lands. No parents they had, no children did we.
Broken hearts began to mend. Hope unfurled his flag. Then, though we were bereft, a little girl was given. Left in a basket, a gift to us. Spring had come, wintertime was over. Joy released.
Our promised reunion draws nearer as time runs on. We have kept the faith. Now we have many children who call us Mom and Dad. Different colors and languages they speak. Each one precious but none so precious as those we lost.
Thank you for all those who have prayed for us and supported our children through Hearts of the Father Outreach. We have overcome because of God and all of you. God bless you!”
John & Libby Moritz
To learn how you can share your love around Valentine’s Day or visit an orphanage, contact Hearts of the Father Outreach at heartsofthefather.org or call (413) 229-2922.