I would like to tell the story of how the orphanage named Rumah Bapaku came into being. Building an orphanage has been a lifelong dream that was buried deep within my heart for many years. I was born into a family who served God. I am the youngest daughter of a Pastor and a teacher who both love children very much. This longing to help children without families emerged when I was about nine years old. At that time, my parents persuaded me to serve God with them.
It was 1976. I was six years old and had not yet entered school, when the church and the home where we lived (in Seririt-Bali-Indonesia) were struck by a terrible earthquake. All the houses in our area collapsed. My elder sister and my cousin were buried under the debris.
We were devastated by the loss of our family members and our home. Then we moved to a very simple house in my father’s orange grove. I remember the poverty that fell upon the many families, including our own, who lost their homes and relatives.
I was about six years old, and I remember my father was babysitting me. Because Mom was a teacher, so she and both my sisters left for school every morning. So from the early morning my father cooked and went to the river to wash our clothes and clean the dishes. And then he would carry me on his back and walked to the mountains to visit small villages. Here he would tell people about Christ’s love, and help the poor people that we met in any way we could. Many of the parents who we visited handed their child(ren) to us because they were unable to supply their children with food, or provide a good education My parents would often bring needy children home with them and then would try to find Christian orphanages for them where they could live. These are the experiences that were planted in my heart since I was young.
When I was nine years old, there were nine kids in our home which was not meant to accomodate that many. For some time they lived in our very simple house.
We had to get used to share food, clothing, bedding and blankets with them. At night the air was very cold and we had to sleep on the floor. We tried to sleep as tightly packed together as we could because there were only two small blankets that we had to all share together. My parents often woke up at midnight to lay us close with one another. That’s when I whispered to my father: “When I grow up I want to build a big house to accommodate the poor children and a big dining table filled with various foods.”
Because the air that night was very cold and we were very hungry because their wasn’t enough food for everybody.
When I was growing up, I found myself a workaholic business woman, who kept on working. Position and the possession became a very major thing for me. When I had all of my desires, with the possessions I had, I still had an empty feeling in my heart. I remembered my desire to build a big house and accommodate children who are less fortunate.
Therefore, in 2008 I left California (USA). I built a big house, as I had once dreamed, to accommodate children who are poor and neglected, and help them experience a normal life like most kids have.
My dream was to build a comfortable home for these kids where they could receive unconditional love and be treated as special children of God. All of this would occur according to a plan that He made, based on faith in the love of Christ.
In the same year I started visiting villages in Bali and Sumba walking through mountains and valleys, and crossed a sea looking for needy, destitute, abused and abandoned kids who I could place at Rumah Bapaku. I remember 32 years ago, when I did this with my father. The difference is that back then I was on my father’s back, and now I walk alone with my own feet.
In April 2009 we formally opened the orphanage Rumah Bapaku. We have filled the place with 18 boys and 18 girls between the ages of four and nine. Twenty-four kids are from Bali and twelve are from the island of Sumba.
Rumah Bapaku is the perfect name for this orphanage because it means My Father’s Home. The Lord Jesus Christ is our Father.
I was amazed to see how God handpicked these particular children and brought them to our home. God is building a new generation of loving, caring believers in our home that have a growing knowledge of God and His spiritual truths. From my heart I’m both thrilled and speechless.
I’ve been through difficult times in my life. I also have reached the top in my career as Director in several national and international companies. I’ve also enjoyed my vacations, and visited many nice places in the world.
But honestly I have to admit it all becomes meaningless when 36 children hug and kiss me while whispering soothing words “thank you Bunda (mother in Indonesia) …”
Their faces are innocent with a sincere smile and they hug me with their little hands. That is my true happiness. This is my life and I will forever be here for them.
During my lifetime I have watched both of my parents serve our Lord in the place where I grew up. It is time for me, to continue serving Him with my humble heart.
I dedicate Rumah Bapaku to my parents, Pastor Anak Agung Oka Panji Tisna and Desak Ketut Suci, who have educated me, been my best role models, and enlarged my heart for others, and to Ita & Eva, both of my sisters who loved me and took good care of me. And also to Mrs. Marian DuBois Stahl (USA) -mother, friend, and my employer- who are being used by God to fulfill my dream. Let everything we do at Rumah Bapaku bring glory to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, who has brought good things in my life.