I had my whole life planned out since I was thirteen years old. I even had the name of my three children picked out. Despite the wrench that the Iranian Revolution threw in many of our lives, in the plane of my little life, things were going as I had planned them. I had gone to college right after high school, gotten married at nineteen (the same age as mother, as I had planned), gotten a job, saved money and was now ready to embark on the next phase of the plan. For Ben and I, the next step was finding some place outside of the United States, where we could live among people of a different culture and serve our Faith and humanity. After some extensive traveling around the world and looking into various job possibilities for Ben, we ended up in Venezuela. Instead of Ben finding a job as a mining engineer, however, we started a business selling computers in Puerto Ordaz, an industrial city in the southeast part of the country. For the most part, everything was going according to my plan. I had always put very little importance on money and material well being. But I have to say that I had been blessed with both, with very little effort on my part. The computer store had been open for a couple of months and I was about six months pregnant with Miranda. Ben and I quickly realized that we did not have the best instincts for running a business. People would come in with their children to buy home computers. The twelve year olds would try to tell their parents that they needed the top of the line color monitors and the fastest processors for playing games and doing homework. I would try to talk them out of it! Things were going pretty slowly.
And then one day, we woke up to find that one of the biggest businesses in town was venturing into computer sales and opening a store in the same shopping center as ours. I remember sitting at lunch when Ben told me of this new development. I burst into tear, crying uncontrollably, saying that our baby was going to starve because we could not provide for it. We had used up all of our savings in setting up our life and our business, and I could not see a way for us to succeed in something that we neither enjoyed nor were good at. Ben, of course, comforted me and assured me that things would turn out fine, but I was completely scared. This was not part of my plan.
I don’t remember whether it was hours, days or months, but it was not too long after that day that I saw an image in my mind. It was of a trapeze artist swinging back and forth, back and forth and finally choosing the perfect instant to trust her partner and let go, knowing that she would be caught. I realized that up to that point I had claimed that I trusted in God and believed that I could live on very little, all while I had savings in a bank account and everything going my way. It was at that moment that I came to understand that trusting God is like that trapeze artist letting go. You make plans, you prepare but you must also trust that God will guide you in the right direction, protect you from making serious mistakes and have mercy on you when you do. True happiness does come from letting go and trusting. Perfect plans are usually anti-climatic anyway. What’s the fun in knowing how everything ends? It is more exciting to be prepared and let God guide you, test you and lead you.
We stuck it out in that business for another three years. When Miranda was about two and a half and we were about to have Safaa, my cousin Vafa showed up as reinforcement. When even with his business savvy, we could see that there wasn't much future in that business, we thought about coming back to the States. But luckily, we remembered the lesson learned from the trapeze artist and decided to stick it out. Because it is one thing to venture out into the unknown, fully prepared and with a savings account to back you up. It is another level altogether to fully trust. We made up our mind to stay and for Ben to start consulting as an engineer. Few days after that decision was made, one of his American clients walked into the computer store. Ben mentioned that he was thinking of leaving the shop and going out on his own to consult. The guy told him to come out and interview with his mining company. He did, got the job and worked for them for the rest of our time in Venezuela.
And, because we had learned to trust in God’s will, we ended up with a fourth child. Ben got to chose his name.