Pain and sadness amidst beauty


We arrived in Portland on Monday, May 25. It didn't take long for me to realize we weren't in Texas anymore. This place was very different.

Oregon is filled with flowing hills and trees. There are so many trees, and not just trees, but tall trees, I mean TALL trees. It also didn't take long for me to fall in love with Portland. When we pulled out of that parking garage of the Portland Airport and started down the highway, that's when I fell in love.

All of the flowing hills, the trees, the green everywhere, the colorful houses built up on the hills, none of them looking quite the same. It was beautiful. That was the moment I realized I loved this place, and that was before I even met the people.

The people here are hard to describe because they are all so different. They are as colorful and different as the houses in this area. You can't really fit anyone into a stereotype, because no one person is quite the same as the person standing next to them. They are all unique and completely satisfied with being exactly who they are.

As someone who has struggled with self-esteem and being comfortable in my own skin, this has inspired me. The people here are amazing in so many ways, which makes this next fact all the more difficult. Among all the quirks, and individuality, I see pain. I see people trying to find their worth in things which are unfulfilling and people trying to mask their pain in things which never quite get the job done.

I've met a 12-year-old boy so angry and confused that all he sees is darkness and all he wants to do is end his own life. I've met a man so wired and high that he cannot be the father his daughter needs him to be. I've prayer walked around apartments, where all you can feel is darkness.

Seeing all this pain and sadness among such beautiful people has been extremely overwhelming. At times I wonder why I am here. I wonder how I can even be used in this place. I doubt myself and I don't even know where to begin. I don't know what to do or say or how to make a difference here.

But what I do know is this: God sent me here for a purpose. I can see Him moving here. I can see Him in the eyes of all the children I meet. I can see Him in the sunshine and the rain. I can see Him in my teammates. I can see Him everywhere I turn. God is so much greater than any doubt or insecurity that could possibly cross my mind. God can move mountains and God can use ANYONE to do ANYTHING. I may not know what my purpose is here, but God does, and that is all that matters. I know that God will use me here, and I cannot wait to see how.

Laura Thomas, a student at Tarleton State University, is currently serving on the Creative Community Outreach team in Beaverton, OR, as a Go Now missionary.
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