Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why go to another country?

Lately, it seems as if I have a lot of questions concerning why I am going to Africa. No, not about motives or the importance of what we are doing in Ghana or anything like. But WHY go away from your family and home to help when there are lots of people to help right here.

It is a complicated matter to explain my exact feelings on this but I am going to try my best.

It is about "The Big Picture" for me. I think so many Americans really have no real idea how people in the rest of the world live. Yes, we have poverty here. Yes, some kids are going hungry. Yes, some kids have abusive parents. Yes, some children live in filth and horrible neighborhoods. I am not disputing those things even one bit. I am also not saying that we don't need to help in our own back yard! I have a lot of goals and ways to help in my own community and country. I am passionate about education and our public education system and food in schools and making sure children are getting good nutrition when they eat 2 meals, most days, at school.

But when I went to Mexico after I got married... my perspective was permanently altered in a way that is hard to describe. We traveled down through Mexico on a bus to Comitan, Chiapas from Cancun. Cancun was like a very fancy and nice tourist area. UNTIL we got to the bus station where the people who live in Mexico and are not attached to the tourist industry were. We saw our first glimpses of poverty. And as we began our journey southward, we saw more and more severe poverty. No running water, homes built with wood and cardboard boxes, children playing in the dirt and helping with chores instead of going to school. Many meals skipped, many begging children, people in literal rags. No system to help orphans, the elderly, or the disabled. Many proposals of marriage to escape a life of extreme poverty. It is both soul breaking and extremely encouraging.

Why is that? Well because it HURTS to see so many people suffering. It is uncomfortable. It is odd having people look at you like you are wealthy beyond imagination. It is sad to get marriage proposals from young women and men wanting a better life. But, through the experience you learn a ton about humanity. About selflessness and hospitality. We built water tanks in Mexico for 2 months and every time we were with a new family, they would sacrifice their own meals to make sure we were fed well and taken care of. They would offer their very best with an extremely grateful heart. It made us feel thankful for our own comparative wealth and realize that even in very dire situations in the US, we are still very well taken of. It opened our hearts to other people and cultures. Gave me a love for travel and a heart for people.

A heart for people. God's heart for people being made clear. The BIG picture of what putting action to your words looks like. Before I experienced time away from the United States, I was very self-centered (certainly, I still can be). I cared about others but cared about myself and my own needs being met much much more. The people we came into contact showed me how to love people when it didn't directly meet my immediate needs. With no expectations. Just to care and to love and to help. These are things that *I* probably would have had a hard time learning without that experience. Now I have such a heart for people, especially children, that I feel positively convicted to go and help these children in Ghana. I am one person with 2 friends and a big and Mighty God. Maybe I can't change the world but I do feel like we need to do our part to change what we can change. And that is why I need to go to another country. Because I have been given the opportunity to make a difference somewhere and in a way I am passionate about. That is God! I can't speak for everyone else but this is where I need to be for me to pursue a passionate love of people and receive a passionate, pursuing love from God.

Me with a precious girl in Comitan the week we led a VBS
We can't do it alone though. We have had so much help along the way and are praying that we continue to get more help going forward. This school needs to be built. It will allow George and his NGO, PACODEP, to rescue more children from slavery and a hopeless existence on Lake Volta. It will provide education to these children who will then have the knowledge, power and redemption to change their country and be advocates for the children on the lake. It does more than just help 60 children who use the building to learn in. Much, MUCH more. Education is powerful. We don't think about how powerful it is sometimes because we just have it. Our kids turn 5 and go to school just like we did. Oh but education changes nations. And it will change the culture in the Volta region to educate these beautiful children. Christ and Education are their hope and vehicles for change.

Please consider making a donation to the school. I will be money that will never be thought to have been unwisely spent. It is money that, with every "brick" placed, will live on and do good, positive work for years and years and years to come. It is an investment in the lives of children who are going to grow up and change their nation. THAT is amazing.
Children who have been rescued from child trafficking on Lake Volta. A new life and a  renewed hope.

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