Growing a heart like the Grinch

All I keep thinking about is my final night with the precious kids at the home. We ate one last dinner with them, were pulled into playing a ferocious round of tickle tag, and then all of the kids lined up and serenaded us with a couple of songs, sung with such sweet harmony that it brought me to tears.

The second that their song ended, they mob-rushed us for hug after hug after hug. The air rang with “I love you” and “I’ll miss you” and “God bless you” and “Goodbye.” It was one of the most special and heart-wrenching moments I’ve experienced in my life. I was still sitting there, soaking in the moment, dealing with a wave of emotions and trying not to cry, when one girl, I’ll call her Naomi*, walking over to me and hugged me, saying, “Don’t be sad. It’s okay.” It was so incredibly sweet, and of course made me actually start crying.

Another girl, Betty*, ran over to me then and grabbed my hand, leading me to where most of the others had already been pulled to. Groups of kids were standing around lanterns, each waiting to be lit for us and let go. It was their way of saying goodbye. It was such a beautiful, incredible, bittersweet moment.

As my lantern was lit and filled up with hot air, getting ready to be released, I listened to the chorus of children laughing and calling out to each other in awe and delight as each of my teammates’ lanterns was surrendered to the sky. Then it was time for mine, and together with the children gathered around me, our hands released it and we stood together, faces gazing upward, watching as it floated gently, in an almost ethereal manner, into the dark night sky, glowing golden and flickering smaller and smaller as it strived to touch the heavens.

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

This was surreal, a moment I’d always wanted to experience, and for it to happen in this way was indescribable for me.

That’s when I turned and realized it was time to go. My heart was about to be wrenched from its socket. My boys gathered around me and we took picture after picture, and with every goodbye and hug, my heart was doing something I had never felt it do before. I had to be pulled away, and I tried so hard not to cry as we left and the kids ran after us, yelling and waving until we were no longer in sight.

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org From jesseischens.theworldrace.org From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

It wasn’t until later that night as my team gathered around to process the day and our last night in Thailand, as I tried to describe the moment to my teammates, that Jessica told me the picture she got from the Lord for me. She saw an image of the Grinch. We all laughed, of course, but seriously, it makes sense.

Like the Grinch, my heart is growing so many sizes in a drastically short time.

I know He has a lot of change and growth in store for me, and this is just the beginning.

Thailand, I’m in love with you, and I’ll be seeing you on the flipside. The Lord has ingrained you in my heart, and I know that regardless of where He ends up taking me, that you will always have a very big piece of my heart.

Please join me in praying for each of the precious kiddos at our ministry this month. The Lord has His hand on them in a mighty way and there is something so uniquely special about each of them. They’ve been saved from a horrible fate and I know that He has incredible plans for each of them.

Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, and your support! My World Race journey continues, and God has big things in store…He is on the move! 🙂

If you’d like to contribute to my World Race account, I’m still in need of $1,446.11 to be fully funded for the rest of this trip. Thank you so much, I love you all!

*The names of the kids have been changed to protect their identities.

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