Today was my first day back to work. Bruce started a new job (house construction project) today too. Felt like it was a bit of a push to get back into the groove but I think we're doing okay for a couple of people struggling with jet-lag and a tangle of emotions.
Can you ever come away from a (mission) trip to another country without some feelings of confusion? We spend so much time preparing for the trip, and then our time there is so brief in the grand scheme of things. The travel alone takes a huge chunk of the time allotted. A day to recover from travel, then hit the ground running, hoping to cross the language barrier, the cultural differences, the things we take for granted now removed. Having gone on 3 out of country mission trips now, I feel only slightly better equipped for preparing to face the challenges, but I still get stretched in ways I never expected.
The first couple of days at Cherie's home, I watched from the sidelines a great deal. Remembering that the children were adjusting to their new home, that they didn't know us, that they had plenty of reasons to not trust strangers, I gave them a wide (comfortable) berth. I smiled a lot and said what I could in their language but that only got me as far as "Hello" and "How Are You?" I was content to take pictures, lend a hand where I could and get to know Cherie better. Bruce was in full-on project mode from the get-go, making his lists for materials, scoping out the work and figuring out assignments for the boys. I never fail to marvel at his self confidence when he is in his work environment. He excels there and it makes me proud to watch him. In return he told me how thrilled he was to see me relaxed and playfully exchanging limited Spanish at the Fiesta that first Friday night. I must admit, that despite my grasp of the language, I do feel more open to fumbling my way through it. In the past I kind of hid in a corner and froze in fear anytime someone tried to engage me in conversation.None of that this time. I count that as progress!
Each day allowed the children to get used to our presence, to open up a little more and I, in turn, more willing to make overtures. By the end of the week they greeted me with wide smiles, their sweet little voices trilling as we entered the casita.
I really enjoyed getting to know Cherie. Her dream for the future of Residencia de Vida is amazing and I have no doubt she will pull it off. Cherie's dream began almost thirty years ago. She dreamed of a room full of children, running to her, calling out her name. Since that day, Cherie has prayed about starting an orphanage. God gave her assurances over the years that it WOULD HAPPEN. We were blessed to be there the day the children 'came home' and blessed to play even a small, small part in things.
Again, I am looking at all the work that went into getting us ready to go, the actual trip there and then the trip back home. It seems like a lot of work for barely a week's worth of what we did while there. Sometimes I find myself questioning the sanity of it. Would it make more sense for us to just send money to someone in that country to do the work? Would our money go further that way? Should we stay home and put the money and energy into local charity outreach projects instead of going afar? There can be arguments made for both ways.
There are things we learn about ourselves while involved in a trip such as this that we will never learn if we just stay in our comfort zones. There are tests and trials and stretching and growth that only comes from traveling out of the norm and into the great unknown. What it really boils down to is answering the call that Jesus gives....
Some of us are called to go next door and help the widow who lives there.
Some of us are called to counsel kids at summer camp
or work in hospitals
or volunteer at a literacy program in our local schools.
Others are called to help in soup kitchens,
to sponsor a child in a third world country,
to send Christmas shoe boxes.
Sometimes it's just giving someone without a smile, one of our own.
We are all called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the way God wired us.
Sometimes it does mean leaving the comforts of home and selling all we have to travel half way 'cross the world to serve for a year or a lifetime..
And sometimes it's just a 2 week stint.
Our time in Costa Rica cost us something and I'm not speaking of the financial cost, though that was great. There was a physical cost as we struggled with health issues, a mental cost as we crossed those social and cultural barriers. But perhaps the greatest cost was emotionally. You find your heart being broken as you learn about the people you are helping, only to be patched back up and then broken again. Day in and day out. Each tear a child sheds is one of your own. Yet the return on investment is overwhelmingly great. And that's something that only makes sense in our God's economy.