In one week I will board a plane with a team of three other bloggers and travel to Guatemala with Compassion International. I want you to come with me. I want to paint a picture of the child development programs we visit that is vivid enough for you to feel the sun on your back and hear the giggles of kids trying to figure out the foreigners who don’t understand anything beyond “yes” and “no.”
I want to lay down words sturdy enough for you to walk across and meet another country and take bits of it back in your heart. Because I am convinced that what we all have in common far outweighs any of our differences.
1. Kids are kids are kids
What they wear, where they live, or what accents they have – these are incidental to who they are. When you see the photographs that start to come out of our trip I hope you see your own children in the images. I hope you see more than poverty. I hope you see joy and laughter and a twinkle in a mischievous eye. I hope you see your boys building forts and bear caves and your daughters planning tea parties and bossing around their brothers. I hope your heart feels more love and delight at these beautiful, perfect reflections of God’s image than burdened by the distance between you and them.
2. Your family is not so different as you think
The Father of Lies would like nothing more than to convince us we have nothing in common with our brothers and sisters who live in a poverty we can’t relate to. He’d like to cripple us with a guilt that tells us we can’t make a difference so what’s the point in even trying. Well that’s just plain ridiculous. I have met families that lived in the garbage dumps of Egypt who cared just as much about making their one room apartment one level above the dumps as hospitable as my cousins who live on a sprawling estate in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Every family wants their children to go on to live better lives than their parents. Fathers the world over get up and go to work to provide food and moms cook and clean and complain that no one helps them clear the dishes. Families tell stories about that crazy great-aunt and kids always want to stay up later than they are allowed.
Some families are trapped in squatter camps and a poverty that tries to strangle them while others are overwhelmed by the need to keep up with their neighbors and buy the minivan, the Wii or the wardrobe they can’t afford.
We all wrestle against the forces that try to destroy the heart of a home.
3. You don’t have to be wealthy to make a world of difference
I come from a country that has one of the highest HIV rates in the world. The numbers of orphaned children is skyrocketing by terrifying numbers and most days it is daunting to think about how to make a difference. So mostly my family doesn’t. Instead we focus on the people right in front of us – one individual at a time.
And that’s how my little adopted brother Karabo snuck into our hearts. And he brought with him siblings and a personal connection to a community. One community out of an entire country. Because that’s the community God laid on my parents’ hearts. So that is where they serve. But if you asked them they wouldn’t think of it as service, they’d just tell you it’s youth camp and birthday parties and buying new school uniforms before the semester begins.
It’s through the messy, down-to-earth relationships that we make the most difference. On a 1:1 ratio.
That’s what I hope you discover in this trip. That the stories we carry back to you are your stories too. That the people we meet remind you of your own family. And that the difference you can make doesn’t require a grandiose commitment, rather simply making a new friend.
Just one child at a time. That’s how Compassion is changing the world.
Won’t you be a part of this wonderful, messy, completely ordinary opportunity to make a new friend with me?
And in the hopes that your answer is “yes” I’ll have this button up on my blog from now through the remainder of my trip. With one click you can connect with one child.
And maybe change both your lives.