Deeply Loved

By Beth Guckenberger

Gaby stops for a photo after her graduation ceremony.

After her graduation ceremony, Gaby poses with her Hope Education Program house parents.

“…remind her of who she is and what stories you still have for her. Amen.”

We look up from the prayer we shared at the start of the graduation party for Gaby Delgado. She lifts her head and scans the crowd. It’s full of a hundred faces, some of whom have only met Gaby in her most recent years, others of us who have known her all her life. There we gather, Mexicans and Americans, her blended extended family she has lived among for seventeen years – adults who have cared for her and shared time, resources, and attention. But it’s her peers in the crowd she’s about to address, various Hope Education students, in the midst of their own finals and fatigued from the strain of long semesters and late nights. She makes eye contact with them, and says, “Listen. I want to see all of you here one day, at your own finish lines. Don’t give up. It will happen.” They smile back at her, not surprised at her charge. It’s who she is.

I bite back some tears. They have flowed all day, from when I first saw her with cap and gown, to when she whispered to me afterwards, “I am the most educated person in my family. Ever.” She has been a leader ever since she commanded the preschool room I once taught her in. She has rallied the troops, spoken with confidence and pitched in whenever help was needed. God made her a leader and in her last opportunity as a Back2Back Hope Education student, it’s no surprise she used her new platform as a college graduate to encourage the students behind her.

As we mingled that evening and shared seventeen years of memories of Gaby, it was sweet to imagine the chapters to come. We hug at the end of the night and giggle about our first memories of the other. “You are family to so many, Gaby.” I tell her. “Deeply loved. Totally celebrated.”

“I know,” she says, “I am so blessed.”

Jeremiah 29: 11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Beth Guckenberger is the mother of a bunch of biological, adopted and foster children.  She and her husband, Todd, direct Back2Back Ministries. Beth is the author of several books on the journey of their life abroad.