My husband and I have recently started reading some books on being strong parents. What the role of that looks like and how it shapes healthy adult children. While going through this I also had the privilege of going to a place where I visited a group of kids who did not get that kind of a start in life.
A mission trip to an orphanage in Africa for 10 days. It was incredible. I originally went to meet up with some friends and see what they have been doing for almost three years. They are called short-term missionaries – although three years seem a long time for me. They had sold their house, gave their dog away, and closed up shop on long-term careers.
In just 10 days, I came home with a heart cry for Everybody Always and making sure I have an outward focus. These people know just what it’s all about.
Those that are there for extended times longer than even three years but indefinitely have given up the luxuries of air-conditioner and paved roads. These people risk snake bites that can kill you in 45 min, own dogs that are trained to fight lions, and the malaria and TB diagnosis is high and likely. All of this so that they can save babies from the rivers, trash bags, and the abusive homes in the area.
Strong mothers create strong sons. Strong fathers create strong daughters. You put them together and you create a strong tribe that will be a force for Jesus and a generation for change! The people who have chosen to be the Mother and Father to theses little souls are making ripple effects that they themselves will never fully see. To them that is not the point. They are doing beautiful work! I saw what life is all about. Loving, serving, unity, sacrifice.
I got to Africa after more than 15 hours on an airplane. I thought I was going to lose my mind before we even had stepped foot onto Africa soil! It is SO SO long. I am spoiled when it comes to air travel since my father fly’s for a living. Walking straight out on tarmacs, no security lines, no weight checks for your suitcases and posh leather chairs that fully recline…Now that is how to fly!! But alas not our flight. I knew we were in for a unique experience before we even landed. A wildlife ranger was sitting behind us explaining the effects of poaching and rare animal extensions.
That first night there, jet lagged and spinning, we dove into some pizza at a large table and were debriefed on what the trip would look like. A half eaten chicken was given to our waitress. She was beyond grateful. Here was this person serving us and she took tips in the way of food. Half eaten and pulled apart. No food is ever wasted. I was in awe. This was a nice place, and people were scrapping for the leftovers of anything.
They have Joy in all circumstances. There is so little and yet they love what matters. Here in the states we don’t even really understand second world problems and we are all so discontent. There is no food banks or shelter for people to go to. You just go days without food and you walk over an hour each way for your water. The church feeds people every Sunday. It reminded me of the verse in Acts where all the saints were in unity and they fed and clothed each other to survive. Should we not be doing this too?
My shock of the trip was not that I was taken with the children at the orphanage. The trajectory of these little people is forever changed for the better. I knew that loving these kids would be easy for me and I would fall head over heels with them. I wanted to take many of them home with me! Four….or maybe Six. Oh, but what about eight! Could I handle 10 kids? 😉
What surprised me was the heart I had for the workers and the teams of people behind the organization. The Aunties and Uncles. The Swazi people. Who some of them bus in every morning to work with these children. They work hard to be an inspiration for others and to feed their own families. I loved these people and what they represented and stood for. For the energy they carved out of thin air to make something better.
I had one of them look me straight in the eyes and ask “When are you coming back?” As I swallowed my tears I looked straight back into her hope and answered “I don’t know. It’s a long way and my family needs me right now.”
My husband and I are continuing to pray over the emotions we now have for this organization and for the bigger role we are supposed to play with our world. We are not suppose to be about building our own kingdoms and forsake the greater cause.
As Jesus explained, the right things have to die so the right things can live–we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love. The gospel will die in the toxic soil of self.
What are you doing that is bigger than preserving your self?
A beautiful life does not just happen, it is built daily by prayer, humility, sacrifice and love.