Vacation! Just finished training another brilliant team, and now I’m set for 2 weeks of writing and catching every possible second of outdoor time I can get. Somebody pinch me!!!
I feel so different now than when I began my vacation in 2008. On January 27, 2008, I wrote in my journal:
I’ve been struggling with struggles—listening to beautiful people fight vainly to live in accordance with what they believe. Encouraging people, holding up the truth that Jesus set us free, that life is found in God and that the Holy Spirit wants to guide us in every step, so that we can live life abundantly because the God Who made the universe loves us individually and wants a one-on-one relationship. With our heads, we nod assent to this, but one friend texts me for prayer when she’s drunk because she feels better when I pray. I text another friend for prayer when my perception is warped and the critic in my head is smacking my soul around…
Nearly everyone I loved was living on a Ferris Wheel back then—rising up, up, up and then coasting back to the bottom before a new song started and they could climb back up again. I was sick of trying to help others and myself, over and over with no visible, permanent change. In capital letters, I wrote:
LOSING IS NOT A LIFESTYLE.
…I’m putting books away, and I glance through Max Lucado’s book, In the Eye of the Storm. He talks about Miss America and Mother Theresa. And once more, the nagging voice of what I think must be the truth says that maybe we struggle so much because it’s in our nature to be fighters, but we’re not picking big enough battles.
I didn’t realize it that January, but my entire year would be rocked by the cyclical issues of those I loved—addiction, depression, the endless chasing of affection with no capacity for satisfaction. I was already full up to HERE with it and wrote, “There MUST be more!” I copied a passage from The Message:
33 Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
A friend invited me to go on a mission trip to Guatemala. A seasick traveler catching sight of land, I dove for the chance to leave perceived troubles for actual problems to which I could carry some small remedy. From coworkers and friends, we collected shampoo, conditioner, bandages, antibiotic cream, toothbrushes and toothpaste. We filled giant duffel bags, making sure we used every ounce of the 50 pounds the airline allowed. Our backpacks held t-shirts and cargo pants. We would wear these and leave them behind, for the mission to wash and give out. For 9 days, I was awash in prayer and my eyes were wide open to each moment. I was present everywhere I went. I showed appropriate awe at the teenagers’ soccer ball tricks. I sang “One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus,” with a dear lady who spent the afternoon telling me about her life. I understood only about a third of what she said, but she was thrilled to have someone to talk to. She thought it was the coolest thing that we knew the same songs, albeit in different languages. I lived more moments in those 9 days than I had lived in the previous 6 months. I cried when I had to come home.
Here’s the thing. There wouldn’t be missions in Guatemala City if there weren’t Guatemalans rolling around on the Ferris Wheel, just like Americans do. I imagine the long-term mission workers there get just as tired of seeing people on the misery ride year after year. There’s some valid debate on whether short-term mission trips actually help anyone, but our group brought fresh energy and a sense of connectedness to the workers. My soul healed a little each day that I spent awake and focused on those around me. An American woman and musician, I’ve always battled feelings of inadequacy. The entertainment business is just that way. For 9 days in Guatemala, I participated in joy and community amidst people who had no electricity or clean water and who dug in the city dump to find a living. I was completely inadequate, but what I had was needed, and I felt complete. I even wrote this song about it.
I’ve carried the results of that trip with me ever since. I guess that’s why I began sponsoring Kato. It’s why my husband and I chose to sponsor Chrismeldy for our granddaughters. There’s no misery like self-absorption, and no cure like reaching out.
You don’t have to wait for a vacation. There are ways to make a tangible difference right in the middle of your workday. Compassion’s programs are designed to break the cycle of poverty, to teach children to live well and to reach out to others. And hey, they love visitors. Compassion International hosts sponsor trips throughout the year, and they are a terrific break from the things that constantly demand your attention at home.
I am participating in Compassion International’s “Release 3” project, and I am praying that the 6 children whose packets I have on my desk today will be sponsored by someone who reads my blogs this month. John Michael, Mathias, Deysi, Bryan, Erich and Mitiku need your friendship and $38 per month, to make it out of extreme poverty and into adulthood with skills and opportunities instead of wishes. John Michael, Mathias and Deysi are only going to be on my desk until Friday. Let’s get them sponsored, okay? Let me know which child you’d like to help, and I’ll send you the information. Share this with your friends, too.
In case you wonder, I will never take your money or your credit info. I will send you to the Compassion site and provide you with sign-up information for these children. I get nothing but the joy of knowing that I helped a few more children by spreading the word.
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