Interview with Storyteller Missions Team Leader to China, Toni Benton
Recently, our Storyteller Missions team sat down with one of our Mission team leaders, Toni Benton. Toni is leading a Storyteller Missions to to China in July and would love to have you join her team. She is an adoptive mom (5 times!) and has participated in and lead several Storyteller Mission trips to China.
1. Why did you begin serving with Storyteller Missions?
I first began as a team member, not a leader, way back in 2004 because that team was going to my first daughter’s orphanage. I was so excited to meet the nannies who’d once cared for my sweetheart, to see the place where she’d spent her first year of life. I now lead because of the wonders I saw God work during that trip. It was on that trip that I met and fell in love with our third daughter, and God moved some amazing mountains to bring her home.
2. As an adoptive parent, what is it like to serve in your child's birth country?
It’s both humbling and exciting at the same time. I used to think the nannies didn’t really care or do a good job, but I’ve seen first-hand just how hard they work and how deeply they care. It’s also wonderful to be able to serve alongside my daughters, truly watching God in action as He works through them. My last team was made up of many who were once orphans themselves, before God set them in families (Psalm 68:5-6), now back to love and to serve “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40).
Further, it’s been very good to go back because of the added cultural understanding that was difficult to grasp in the midst of an adoption trip.
You’ll absolutely never be sorry you answered His call. You’ll be amazed at the blessings: to you, to the kiddos, to the nannies, to the strangers you meet, and believe it or not, even to those who you leave at home. “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
The last orphanage we served at had each day’s activities pretty much planned out for us, but on that Thursday, they had a conflict and we happily found ourselves in a big empty room with all “our” bigger kiddos. We were thrilled to remember that we had a backpack full of long balloons and pumps and were making balloon animals just as fast as our hands could tie knots… until someone made a sword! And then it was ON! Every kid, every team member, everyone had a sword (or two!) and we had an all-out Samurai sword fight. Before long, the orphanage staff’s conflict was over and they’d heard the fun we were having and they all joined in!… directors, nurses, nannies, everyone. Best. Day. Ever.