My body lives in a first world country but yet my mind and heart reside in a third world country.
It is hard to explain to those who haven’t been called to a third world country as my friends that recently made the trip to Africa with me can attest. I have felt a sense of compassion for them because I remember all too well when I returned home from my first trip. It is a feeling of total unrest, like you just don’t know where you belong in a land of plenty when you have just seen some of the poorest people on the planet. You began to question even the smallest of things.
Some people feel guilt, some depression, some just get angry. And, some feel each of these and if we are honest there are times when we feel all of these. With each of my three trips to Africa I have come home a little different. I wish I could say with each trip it is easier, if anything I have learned how to manage my emotions.
How can a place so beautiful hold such a horrifying secret…
How can I sit still while babies are drowning in a sea of poverty and slavery?
When people ask me to tell them about my trip I have to formulate how to word it because my first instinct is to express how angry I am. How angry I am that children are being victimized for selfishness and money. I am angry that apathy has stolen the American people and churches. I am angry with myself, at how I would rather be comfortable than do what Christ has called me to do.
We all see the faces of the poor and we ALL make a decision. Yes, I will help or No, I will not. It is that simple. We choose daily by how we live our lives to either aid or hinder. Once we have seen we are responsible. Faith has a response.
Gideon just happened to be born in a land filled with poverty. He is six years old and lives a life on a fishing boat. A life that is not too far removed from where I sit in a cozy home with luxuries. I used to think I needed bigger and better, a better house, a nicer car but my perspective changed drastically in 2011 and now I am sickened by the way I wasted before.
We went to the lake this time and I had a mission. You see, Ed had been struck by a picture. I never knew ones heart could be so broken and messed up by one photo yet, it happened. I watched as Ed would sit and cry because of his heart breaking for this one little boy.
I had my cell phone out asking the kids that could speak enough English to understand me if they knew this boy. I asked probably 12 of them and no one could quite understand what I was saying until Festus approached me and said that it was Sammy but that he wasn’t there today. I was saddened and disappointed because I wanted to just hold him. So we left the lake that day but God had other plans.
Later that night Hack told us that he was feeling very conflicted because we still had a lot of items left to give out and he wanted it all to go to the kids on the lake. So, we adjusted plans for the next day and delayed our departure from Yeji. I decided to sit back and take pictures in the morning because I had recently had surgery on mu hand and it was injured by the grabbing for the items. So, I stood back and took photos of the others handing out all the goodies. I had given up on seeing Sammy and was just looking off into the lake when I looked down beside me and saw this…
My heart leapt. I looked and Kim and Kim and said “that’s him”. I bent down and scooped him into my arms and immediately my heart was gone, connected to a boy whose picture hangs in my living room, the boy who stolen my husband’s heart, the boy with the eyes I will never forget. He snuggled into my grasp and we stood there for what seems like a lifetime. The absolute hardest thing I have ever done was to put him down and leave him there. As we drove off, my heart was torn in pieces. How could I just leave him there? These are the things that make trips like this hard.
We are commanded to be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves whether it is in Africa or right next door to you. So, we continue to work. To be hope to the hopeless. My heart beats for the children on Lake Volta and for that reason I cannot sit still.