International Volunteer Week: Melanie’s Story
It’s International Volunteer Week! This week is a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of volunteers worldwide. Through their dedication and hard work, volunteers are making a positive impact in their local community and beyond. During this week, we are highlighting Melanie Magel’s story. Melanie started her journey with Tat’s Place, our children’s home in Puerto Maldonado, in 2019. Melanie’s friends introduced her to Scott and Tracy Blackburn, who run Tat’s Place. She volunteered with them, which turned out to be a life-changing experience.
Blessings with a Purpose
Growing up, I lived in a comfortable bubble. It wasn’t until I was introduced to missions through my church as a teenager that I realized just how vast and diverse the world truly is. My eyes were opened, and my worldview expanded with each trip. I saw firsthand the struggles and hardships people face in other parts of the world, which stirred something within me. I began dreaming of bigger things and pondering how my life story would unfold. Years passed as I studied, travelled, and prayed for God’s guidance.
Then came my calling to Peru, and everything changed. I remember arriving at Tat’s Place, a children’s home that works tirelessly to support children needing a safe place to call home. The beauty of their work was awe-inspiring, and I was immediately struck by the deep connections I formed with the children and directors.
Mel’s Time at Tat’s Place
Tat’s Place is much more than just a children’s home. It’s a community that embodies love, hope, and healing in every aspect of its being. The children there have faced unimaginable trauma, yet their resilience and strength never cease to amaze me. Despite their hardships, they radiate joy and happiness, and their laughter is infectious. They taught me so much about the importance of faith, perseverance, and love in the face of adversity.
The directors and staff at Tat’s Place are equally inspirational. They pour their hearts and souls into their work, and their love for the children is evident in everything they do. They go above and beyond to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the children, and their dedication is a true testament to God’s love and mission in the world.
Returning from Peru, I felt a deep purpose and a calling to continue pursuing this dream. My experience at Tat’s Place profoundly impacted my worldview and my commitment to making a difference in the world. I became more aware than ever of the inequalities and injustices that exist, and I am committed to using my voice and resources to bring about change. This eventually led me back to Tat’s Place again, and this passion only grew stronger.
An Opportunity to Give Back to the Community
As I embarked on a long journey of planning and dreaming with God, I prayed for guidance and direction, asking Him to show me how to use my passion for missions to make a difference. This is where I connected with ImpactHope and was deeply inspired by their vision to empower communities worldwide. Amidst this, I also felt called to marriage here in Canada. This led to a season of wrestling with God and seeking His will for my life.
Over time, I found my path with ImpactHope, serving as their Impact Trip Coordinator. It’s been an incredible opportunity to pour into the passion I believe God has placed in my heart, and our dedicated partners, donors, and volunteers constantly inspire me. I am grateful for my experiences at Tat’s Place, which have continued to shape my advocacy for vulnerable people both overseas and locally. The mystery of God’s love and mission continues to unfold in my life, and I am eager to see where He leads continues to lead me.
A Spiritual Journey
This journey has revealed the depth of God’s character and the mystery of His ways to me. I have come to realize that even in the face of pain and suffering, God’s love and mercy remain steadfast. The staff and children at Tat’s Place embody this truth as they continue to persevere in the face of adversity and offer hope to those around them. This has strengthened my faith and deepened my understanding of God’s unfathomable love and grace.
At the same time, I have come to appreciate the mystery of God’s ways, recognizing that there are aspects of His character and plan beyond our understanding. This has humbled me and reminded me to approach my work with a spirit of humility and openness, always seeking to learn and grow in my understanding of God and His mission. I am reminded of the words of Micah 6:8, “He has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”