It has been almost 7 years since I stepped off a plane and stepped into a land that would change my life forever. I thought I was coming here to help at a care center for orphans and vulnerable children. I had no idea that I would become vulnerable too. I would love deeper than I thought possible. I would grieve deeper than I knew my heart could withstand. I would feel bouts of joy that would take my breath away. I would experience anger at situations that would make my blood boil. I would never live an ignorant and sheltered life again because I prayed a prayer that God would break my heart for the things that broke His heart. God answered my prayer in every way. Even in ways I wish I hadn’t experienced like placing 8 tiny little coffins in the ground on this side of the ocean, and 2 precious parents in the ground on the other side of the ocean.
My family has grown and changed dramatically over these past 7 years. We have welcomed new members through adoption and marriage, but we have welcomed many more through love and friendship. I thought I might just be a friend to the kids of Beautiful Gate, but instead I have found a family here. My children have many “aunts’ and “uncles” who have loved them dearly and helped encourage and shape them over the past 7 years. All 5 of my children have lived on campus and been showered with love and affection. They are all better people because of the relationships they have made here with the staff and volunteers. I have been welcomed as a mother to everyone here, some staff who are older than me even call me mother. It has been a great honor to be their mother. I struggle to leave because in a small way it feels like I am abandoning my children, but I know that is not true because God has called up a wonderful new mother to care for them.
Bryan and I have walked through the hardest trials in our marriage over these past 7 years, but we are stronger and closer because of those trials. We learned to depend on God more and rely less on our own strength. In our weakness, He has been shown strong. God has shown us new sides of ourselves, and abilities that we never would have realized we had if we had never been called to direct this amazing place. To say that I am thankful would be such an understatement of the truth. I will be forever thankful to God for bringing us here.
Today is my final day as a full time volunteer at Beautiful Gate. I have had many jobs in the past and leaving them was nothing like leaving this place. It is unlike any place in the world, and if you have never been here, then I am sorry for what you have missed, but if you have come and gone, you understand my heart. The love for the children that I carry in my heart is honestly, like the love I have for my 5 precious children. The love I have for my co-workers is not that of a working relationship, but that also of a mother who cares deeply for the well being of her children. Beautiful Gate will always be a huge part of my heart and my family. When I came here on a mission trip in 2009, I prayer that God would burn the images I saw on my heart forever so I would never forget. He has done that and so much more so I will never forget this amazing place where God turned my whole life and world upside down so I would grow and learn to depend on Him. I only wish it did not hurt so much to leave, but I will trust God that He will carry me for the next 7 years the way He carried me through these past 7 years.