It’s now been seven months since I left Liberia, left behind a country and routine and job that had been my life for almost two years. In those seven months, so much of life has happened. Some of it has been good, some of it heartbreaking. It’s been seven months of constant emotion, of settling (but not really), of struggling to live an old life and be the old Elena that simply no longer…fits. I’ve travelled and mentored and lost a loved one and was reunited with friends that have become family. I’ve moved across the country and started a new life in Washington, serving with Orphan Relief and Rescue in the stateside office. I’ve committed in my heart and to God that I will continue to be a voice with action for orphans that no one else will help, that I will continue to serve the children in Liberia that have become a part of me—whether I’m on US or African soil or anywhere in between.

Still, I cannot deny that so much of me is still in Liberia, waiting for the rest of me to come back and resume living the call to “be love” to the orphans God has blessed my life with. I miss their faces, their hugs, their smiles. I miss the way their eyes sparkle, the feel of their hands in mine, the sound of their voices chanting for “Auntie ‘Leena”. I miss the blue of the sky, the green of the trees, the red of the dust.  I miss the heavy heat like a blanket, the sunsets bright like fire. I miss the handshakes and toothy grins, the laughter and the noisy chatter of the community, the weight of a small child nestled in my lap. I miss the way God speaks there. I miss the way I see Jesus in most everyone I meet. I miss the way He rips my heart wide open so that I can love like I never have before.

I’ll admit, there are many things I do not miss about Liberia at all. But I’ve come to realize that, just like anything, the bad comes along with the good. And there’s always a choice: a choice to accept what is, a choice to let the light outweigh the dark. Then, and only then, are eyes opened to see beauty that can be so easy to pass over.

Liberia has become a place where I find that beauty. It’s a place that stretches me, teaches me, shows me things I don’t think I could see anywhere else. Liberia has become my home. And the longer I’m away from it, the deeper is the ache to be back in it.

Until then, I wait. Even the in-between is holy ground. God is in this place, just as surely as He is in Liberia, drawing me back home in His perfect time. So I count the days, the weeks, the months—and yet I also seek the beauty here.

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