Turning 40 28/40

Door of Faith Orphanage has been a cherished trip in my kids’ hearts for the last several years. It’s an orphanage an hour south of San Diego in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Having stepped into American orphan care through the Kentucky foster care system, being in this orphanage is a layered experience for me. Under DJ & Lynette‘s leadership, DOFO has seen generational poverty, addiction and abuse broken. Their kids are welcome to stay as long as they are in school. They’ve even seen some on to graduate school, having teachers, lawyers and architects amongst the kids that grew up in DOFO. This is a best in class place to have any children, mine included.

My brother and sister first started visiting here in the 80s. Their friends, DJ & Lynette Schuetze, have been there for decades. DJ and my brother were roommates in Orange County, discovering their faith as 20-somethings, and then newlyweds at the same time. The love runs deep.

Peter first visited when he was 10 months old. My nephew Andrew was a wiley little guy a year younger than Peter is right now. This year, they discovered Pokemon stashed around La Mision, Tijuana & Rosarito (it got old) and plotted to eat quesadillas at every meal.

I need my children to live outside of the petri dish of designer shoes and dance recitals. In a social and political climate where there is so much accusation, I want my kids to have loved someone that was different than them. I want them to see different peoples, families, cultures and appreciate the value. It does not have to be what Americans, Murriners, Christians, etc have chosen to be good. We can even learn from those with whom we disagree. In order to have unity on a relational and national scale, this must come first. It is why we spend precious vacation days working in a Mexican orphanage.

Valle de Guadalupe (read: Mexico’s Napa Valley) is one plateau over. We spent our first morning hiking the 10 minutes up a peak to look over DOFO’s valley. That morning fog rolling in is a marker of the perfect wine making climate. The afternoons are hot in the sun, perfect for our daily dips into the Pacific with dolphin spotting at sunset. This year we also hit the tidepool jackpot- watching a crab fully molt, our own personal Nat Geo episode. We made meals for the kids in residence, did science projects, worked in Tijuana, and played- with the kids and with each other.

Our visits have a focus on relationship as much as service. We played soccer with the littles, taught the bakery loving teens how to make sourdough bread, built marshmallow guns, and ate at our favorite taco stands. We sit at the dining tables with the kids and fumble through Esplanglish with giggles and hand motions. It is embarrassing and sweet.

My kids are loved. They love others. I do work. I find rest. My heart fills. My cup runneth over.

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