One year ago today I woke up in a foreign country very early in the morning (thank you jet lag) and walked down a few flights of stairs to a nursery where I scooped a little one up and for the first time I looked into the eyes of an orphaned child.
That trip held a lot of firsts for me. It was my first plane ride (I figured go big or go home right? ). My first time in a group of people where I knew no one. My first time struggling to communicate in another language. My first time catching just a glimpse of God's heart for orphans.
One year later I sometimes find myself daydreaming about being there. The team I was with are some very dear friends to me today. The places I visited are some of the most breathtaking scenes I have ever seen. The children I played with are some of the most precious in the world. The joy I felt was unlike any other time in my life. And the heartache? The heartache was and still is the worst feeling I have ever experienced. And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
It's funny because I remember in the days leading up to the trip I never once thought that pain would be an emotion I would experience. I never thought the trip would be hard or emotionally draining. It turned out to be the hardest and most emotional 10 days of my life. And for that I am thankful.
I am thankful for the many nights since I came home that I was heartbroken, crying, and desperate for peace. I am thankful for the days when nothing felt right or fair because those precious children were so heavy on my heart. I am thankful for those moments that remind me of my pain there and leave me still feeling pain now. I am thankful for those nights and those days and those moments because it is in the times such as those that I cling to Jesus more than I ever have before holding a tight grip on the promises He has made. I am thankful because those moments mean I am beginning to see what it means to have my Father's heart, and those days remind me this world is not my home and nothing will ever be made completely right until we reach Heaven, and those nights teach me that He is still working on me. He is creating in me a new heart. One that breaks over what breaks His and one that finds joy in the things that bring Him joy.
But today, a year later, I am most thankful for hope. The hope of my sweet Jesus wiping every tear from every eye and knowing He saw the exact moment when each tear fell. The hope of more forever families being called and the orphan crisis beginning to be solved. The hope of heaven where some of those sweet little faces have already gone on to be. The hope of more children being loved and cared for all over the world.
Yes, I am very, very thankful for hope.