To all my friends at Outreach,
I write to you from Thailand, the place my heart has longed for for so long. I miss you all desperately but am ecstatic to be moving to Burma today. Each of you have left beautiful marks on my heart and memories in my story. Before I enter this next chapter of my life, I want to say thank you.
To the women who chose to trust me, despite what your life stories have taught you about the danger of trust, thank you. Your trust is a gift. You have inspired me to live vulnerably and caused me to believe that trusting relationships really can change our lives.
To the women who explained to me over and over why you still love your abusive partner and asked me to love them too, thank you. As much as I hate abuse, you have caused me to wrestle with the depths of God’s love. I can honestly say that today I believe He loves them too.
To the men who value truth and healing enough to share with me your stories of rape and abuse and are helping to create a world without shame, thank you. You have broken my heart and given me new hope.
To the men and women who get up each day not necessarily knowing what you will eat or where you sleep and manage to laugh and smile and care deeply for me and for others, thank you. You have taught me more about true joy and friendship than I can say. You have proven over and over again that life is not what you have but what you make of it.
To the youth who let me move beyond the role of “case manager” or “outreach worker” and let me really know you and strove to really know me too, thank you. You have managed to live outside the boxes society puts us in and break down the hierarchy of “aid work”–something most of us only dream of. I am so proud to call you my friends, brothers, and sisters.
To the volunteers who showed me the beautiful depth and capacity of a “Carmel housewife” and brought new light to what it means to love a stranger, thank you.You have made me reconsider my preconceptions about wealth and believe that that we are all really not so different.
To the ladies night volunteers with crazy busy lives who love on our young women all week long (and still manage to find special way to love me too), thank you. You have made me rethink the way I spend my free time and become some of my most treasured friends.
To the donors who made it all possible, thank you. You have shown me it is to live sacrificially, to share all that you have, and that it is possible to use money to make the world a better place.
To those who made special efforts and financial gifts to take care of us as staff, thank you. You enabled me to wrestle through some of my deepest questions about suffering in the world as well as some of the haunting things I saw and heard with incredible counselors and spiritual guides.
To the volunteers and staff who have seen me at my worst and believed in me anyways, thank you. I believe in grace differently because of you.
To those who have helped me finally become a person who thinks before she speaks, thank you. You were hurt by me and loved me enough to call me out, ask better of me, and hold me accountable. You have changed my future.
To the team who were my family in a place that never felt like home to me, thank you. You gave me space to cry, yell, withdraw, overshare, question hope, learn, grow, and try again. You have shown me a whole new level of what it means to walk alongside one another as we share God’s goodness in a world of suffering.
Each of you left me more healthy and more whole. I am so grateful.
For those of you wondering what Outreach is, check out http://outreachindiana.org/