Pop Pop Dave’s Orchid

Pop Pop Dave’s Orchid
A Story of Hope
As told to Merrie Beth Day by Mara Mulder Bonsanti (paraphrased)

In May, 2007, Dave Mulder, Bethany Christian School’s headmaster, was diagnosed with cancer. After a courageous battle, he went to be with the Lord on May 19, 2008, at only 53 years of age. He was survived by his parents, 3 siblings, his wife of 34 years, Mara Mulder Bonsanti (Bethany’s current music teacher!), 6 children (1 who predeceased him) and 7 grandchildren (with one on the way at the time).

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The Mulders in 2008

Dave and Mara were blessed with 5 girls and 1 boy. Their son, Jeremy, and his wife Christi (back row, 2nd and 3rd from the left), a pastor and social worker, realized after many years of marriage that the chances of having their own biological children were slim.

Right before Dave received his diagnosis, Jeremy and Christi decided that they would open up their hearts to adoption.

After several foster care placements, they started caring for a set of twin boys who were born prematurely and were placed in foster care because of the biological parents’ ongoing struggle with addiction. Jeremy and Christi became foster parents to the 3 lb. boys with the intention of adopting them.

Less than a year later, while still fostering the twins and working through the adoption process, the mother of the boys called Jeremy and Christi to say that she was expecting another child and she wanted Jeremy and Christi to take the new baby too! On the day of her delivery, Jeremy and Christi brought Michael and Anthony’s sister Jada home with them.

Three months later, Jeremy’s father Dave went to be with the Lord.

At Dave’s funeral, the Bethany PTF put out orchids on each of the tables in the fellowship hall. Dave’s wife, Mara, took one of the orchids home and mounted it on a tree in their yard in Miami. South Florida is blessed with a subtropical climate which lends itself to the cultivation of tropical plants. It usually takes about a year for orchids to bond with the trunk of a tree. But years later, Mara’s orchid, now shriveled and lifeless, had never bonded!

In the summer of 2011, after more than 10 years of inability to conceive, a series of God-incidences led to news that the family had thought “impossible” – Jeremy and Christi were expecting! As the adoption of Michael, Anthony and Jada was being finalized in the Fall of 2011, they learned something more – Jeremy and Christi were expecting another set of twins! This time, twin girls!

Avery Grace and Nora Abigail Mulder were born on April 20, 2012. Mara was able to fly up to New Jersey to join Jeremy, Christi, Michael, Anthony and Jada as they welcomed their miracle babies!


Mara said that with every new grandbaby, there is always a sadness that Pop Pop (Dave) can’t be there. She says that she always wonders if he knows. If maybe he can see? Or if maybe Dave somehow feels the grandbaby’s arrivals up in Heaven.

Well, remember the orchids that Mara planted on the tree from Dave’s funeral? The orchids never bloomed in the almost 4 years since Dave had passed away. In fact, a few weeks earlier, Mara and her husband had discussed removing the dead vines and wire from the tree because it was clear that there was no life there – not unlike what Jeremy and Christi had experienced in their journey to concieve.

But Mara couldn’t bring herself to remove the dead vines because, to her, they were a part of Dave.

The day that the twins were born, Mara’s husband, who had stayed behind in Miami, emailed this photo to Jeremy and Christi:








This is a picture of Pop Pop Dave’s orchid on the day the twins were born. Four years later, after absolutely no sign of life, God sent this undeniable sign to them that nothing is impossible with Him! And that He cares about every little detail of your life!

Are you struggling with something “impossible”? A “dead” marriage, “dead” finances, a “dead” relationship, a “dead-end” quest to be parents? Feel like there’s no hope? Then you haven’t given your situation to the Mulder’s God!

God CAN do immeasurably more than we could ever hope or imagine! (Eph. 3:20)


Jeremy and Christi Mulder with their 5 children