Unexpected Joy

by Rieneke, DTS student

Rieneke and Maria

I’m learning how quickly feelings can go up and down in missions. I was definitely in one of the “downs” while we were on the bus from Mazatlan back to Juarez: twenty-four hours on a bus, scrunched like a contortionist, trying to get comfortable to sleep, and missing the new friends I had made in Mazatlan.

I knew the kids at the children’s home in Juarez would be energetic and excited to see us. We had been there twice already and I loved the children. On our second visit, though, I learned that one of the boys had gone back home. I knew his home life was risky, even a little dangerous. I worried for him.¬†It hadn’t been the same without him.

What if more kids that I had grown to love had left the home? How could I open my heart for four more days? How could I love these kids so completely, only to say good-bye for a third time? How many more pieces of my heart could I lose?

And what was I going to do after DTS?

With all these things weighing on my mind, I almost dreaded being around the kids that I had loved so much a few weeks ago.

After dinner, I walked into the dining room. That’s when it happened. My heart jumped to greet them. I looked all around, surprised at how much they had grown in just a month! (Yes, just like your grandma always says.) Love for these kids flooded my heart.

When I walked past the first table of rowdy kids, my eyes fell on one of the boys sitting there. I did a double take. It was the boy who had left the home¬†between our first and second visits — he was back!

My friend, Maria, and I exchanged a look. I could tell she was just as excited as I was to see him again. While we ate dinner, I kept looking over at him. I could hardly contain my joy that he was back in the home–safe, loved and cared for.

As soon as dinner ended, I hurried outside for some privacy. Once I knew no one else could hear me, I jumped around, danced, and laughed with happiness. I could hardly stop laughing and am still smiling as I write this. I felt so much joy to know this boy had returned. I had been so worried. It made me think about how much joy God must feel when one of his children returns to Him!

(And yes, the hours on the bus, the goodbyes, the sleeplessness — it’s all worth it!)