Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - Poverty

Poverty. Truth be told, it wasn't until I was in high school that my eyes began to open to the world around me. But when reality hit, it hit hard.

I remember one specific day. Who would've guessed that what came in the mail that day would change my life and my heart forever.

I was flipping through my monthly Brio Magazine when I noticed an insert I hadn't seen before. Teen Missions. I started reading it. I soon found myself fighting back tears as I read about AIDS orphans and street children in Zimbabwe. I knew I had to go. I had to see. I had to help.

Fast forward 6 months. I found myself on a plane with 30+ teammates. On a Balkan Airlines flight that would layover in Sofia, Bulgaria prior to landing in Johannesburg, South Africa. I still remember the sunrise through the airplane window as we descended over South Africa - breathtaking.

After landing in Johannesburg, we boarded a bus headed for a small village in Zimbabwe. Outside the bus windows as we drove, giraffe browsed the surrounding trees while a herd of buffalo grazed the grasslands beyond.

We spent 3 months in this Zimbabwean village. We focused most of our time on building the foundation for an AIDS Orphanage. What amazed me at the time was that whenever we were out there working, it felt as if the whole village would come out to help. Children would watch from outside the building perimeter.

Every Sunday we would walk to church with the nationals. The day when two of the local children took my hands as we walked will be forever ingrained in my memory.

The warmth and kindness of the people gripped my heart. Their smiles. Their love for one another. The way they cared for each others children as their own. How the way their voices carried into the night as I lie in my tent brought me to tears every time. Compared to what I had, they had so little. But whenever I heard them ask God for anything, it was more mercy, grace and compassion. Something I could use a lesson or two in.

I went to help. But instead, I was the one who needed help. I needed my eyes opened. My heart widened. My reality questioned.
Ever since my heart has ached. I can't get these people out of my head. The children living on the streets with little to eat, drink. No roof over their heads. Parents unable to provide sustenance for their children no matter how hard they work. A disease that plagues the nation. But what can one person do?

I have huge dreams. I love the ONE Campaign. I dream of one day working in Africa, fighting for such a cause. I dream of one day adopting a child from Africa. But where do I start?

Daniel and I made a decision last year. We don't want to be the kind of people that say, "One day, when we have enough money, we will do something about poverty in the world." Because the truth is, if we aren't living it now, who's to say we will when we are in a better financial situation? So we make small decisions. One by one. Decisions that put our money where our heart is. Even if it costs us. One of these decisions is to sponsor this sweet Rwandan boy with Compassion International who loves to play soccer and marbles and sing songs.

It's the small things we do each day, each month, each year that can make a big difference. We hope that the decisions we make in how we choose to live our lives now will shape the way Jackson sees the world. And that he too, one day, will choose to make a difference.


Soderin Family said...

Amen. Jesus commands us to love those in need. We have been sponsoring Hector for 5 years, and his letters have blessed us beyond measure. I hope to show Noah and make him aware to those in need around us. Thanks for the reminder to pray and act!

Jenny said...

Just wanted to say thanks for the comment on my blog! I have to echo your statement and say that YOU have the most darling boy! Look at those dimples! :-) It's encouraging to see how well his surgery went. I am not really looking forward to that change - as weird as that may sound. But I know it is best for her.
I will definitely keep in touch with you... as I'll probably have lots of questions... :-)
God bless you!

Meghan Elaine said...

What an amazing passion for people you have!

p.s. I'm enjoying watching Jackson grow from your blog...he is a beautiful boy!