It’s no secret to those who know and love me that I have a huge passion for kids, and a heart for those left behind or neglected. But a couple of years ago, my passion for mission trips was born. I went overseas to an orphanage in Guatemala, where I met some of the happiest kids on earth… only find out where they’d all come from. Some were abandoned in the hospital, some abused in their home, some encouraged to prostitute themselves for money, one even found as an infant, miraculously still alive, lying in the city dump. And yet I stand by claiming them to be some of the happiest kids on earth.

Why?

This orphanage provides not only shelter and three hearty meals a day, but also a loving, consistent family for the children living there. The bedrooms are painted individually to give the kids a sense of belonging, and the “family” takes outings to the movies, to church, and other activities, just as any other family would. Inspired by their mission, I came home with a new fire in my heart.

Sixteen months later, with the priceless help and encouragement of family and friends, I am now involved with a team of wonderful people striving to provide a healthy alternative for U.S. foster kids. Similar to the orphanage in Guatemala, we hope to be able to provide not only individually painted bedrooms and three meals a day, but also an envelopment of love, support, and passionate care… something many of these kids would otherwise never have the opportunity to experience while being tossed through the system.

When I officially founded Rose Again six months ago, I could never have dreamed of the support it would gather. I’ve heard countless times, “Why don’t we have this already?” and “How can I help to make this happen?”

Before coming to CBU, I had this vision in my head of, through being exposed to students in many different programs, meeting people who could assist in some way to make the mission of Rose Again a true reality, whether that be potential teachers of the elementary school we hope to offer to the Rose Again kids, caretakers in the home, psychologists, architects to help design the place, people willing to support us financially, etc… To me, it was a dream that I could only hope would become a reality.

But I’ve discovered in the last couple of weeks just how much of a reality the “family” of CBU is. I’m definitely an introvert, which means I struggle to “throw myself out there.” God has opened a few doors at CBU that needed to squeak on their hinges before I noticed them waiting there for me.

The first door swung open when a roommate of mine asked if she could interview me about the Rose Again Foundation for an essay. If anything, that meant one professor on the campus would now be aware of us.

Just a few days later, my Fundamental Design class was assigned our second big project: redesign a company or non-profit’s logo. We were given a list of five to choose from, and while Rose Again already has a potential logo, the idea of seeing more options from other creative minds and spreading the word at the same time excited me! So, I discussed it with my professor, who was thrilled to hear the story behind it and added Rose Again as the sixth option. If anything, that means a handful of design students and another professor have now been exposed to the vision of Rose Again… and hey, maybe we’ll be changing our logo soon!

Then to top off this train of events, this past Monday evening I met with my Focus leader for our required “1-on-1” discussion. After learning that I work with my church’s children’s ministry and teach piano, she asked if I was planning on using my passion for kids for a ministry of my own after graduation. With a smile, I gladly gave her the Rose Again spiel. J Then this morning, I received a message from her saying that she had been telling her roommates about the story behind Rose Again, and that they (who happen to write for the school magazine) were interested in possibly submitting a story about our team. If anything, our team has now been handed the opportunity to be exposed to many, many readers. How exciting is that?

I knew coming to CBU would mean that I would become involved in a new family. What I couldn’t have expected was the support I would gain – so quickly, in fact – for the foundation. It’s almost overwhelming (in a good way) what a small world it is here at CBU. The Rose Again team and I have been enormously blessed by the ways that people have reached out to us over the past six months, but I feel especially blessed to know just how much the faculty and student leaders at this university strive to be passionate about their students’ lives outside of the classroom.

Not only for the sake of spreading word of Rose Again, but also because I feel so incredibly at home at CBU with its true “family-feel” … I’m so glad I chose California Baptist University.

And thus, the doors swing open.