The Tears I’ve Cried

Recently I shed happy tears. I love happy tears, especially since I usually shed sad, hormonal, frustrated, or angry tears.

The Holsten family with Orpa.

The Holsten family with Orpa.

We traveled from our home in Papua across the country of Indonesia to Kalimantan, where we served for 10 years, and had a “taste of heaven” reunion with former teammates, and with our beloved Orpa.

She lived with us for eight years, coming to us as a wise-beyond-her-years 18-year-old. She’d been abused by an aunt and forced to work as a maid from the age of 8.

She told me she never really felt loved by anyone until she lived with us. She was more than my employee—she became my companion, my helper, my adopted younger sister.

So my happiest tears of last week were when she ran into the room and clasped her arms tightly around my waist, burying her head into me. “I have missed you!” we told each other between sobs.

I contrast that beautiful moment with the moment I learned of our country assignment with MAF 14 years ago. “Indonesia,” I said in disbelief. “I don’t even know where it is.”

I cried tears of disappointment, convinced some mistake had been made. We couldn’t go to Indonesia or Kali-Whatever-It’s-Called; it was so very far away. Hadn’t we felt called to South America? What was God thinking?

I could not have even imagined then the incredible relationships that were in store for me in Kalimantan, or that I would weep many tears in the years to come—heart-wrenching tears, tears of loss, sadness, loneliness—but also of great, great joy.

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