I listened to a FMC podcast the other day about how so much of being a missionary is just making friends with people one at a time. One cup of coffee at a time. One smile at a time. This is actually one of the things they said would be hard for Americans; to slow down the pace of life and just be with people. So much of this requires us to just be present in the moment and present to the Holy Spirit. If you have resources, you can help anybody. If you go into missions with money to give away for food, shelter, medicine, etc., it is obviously a noble thing. But what happens if you were to suddenly be gone? If one day the same person you’d been helping showed up at your door for some medicine or food they needed, and you weren’t there, or were unable to give it to them?
But if you bring them Jesus, it is the gift that keeps on giving. God will hear you when you call upon him and he will help you. I know this to be true in the sense of my own suffering and loneliness, because at times when I’ve felt it, when I call upon God, I can immediately feel his presence fill up the void. This is my favorite part of my job: bringing prayer into everything we do. This is the part of missions that is lasting, and will never be lacking, even if/after we’re gone.
We have visited the orphanage a few times since being back from Mexico, and have been trying to make friends with the kids there. It’s a difficult thing to do because of their unknown situation. Here are these precious little children of God, that, for whatever reason are left without their parents and being raised without a mother or father. It is heartbreaking. I worry about what they’ll think of our complete and happy family coming to visit them and leaving all together. I worry that our presence will make them sadder. I worry that they’ll be always wondering if one day we are going to adopt one of them, and so they need to be on their best behavior.
“The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” -Psalm 34
All of these things made me try to talk myself out of us visiting. Especially when the last time we were there, a sweet little girl I’d been playing with asked if she could come with us. When I left that day I was daydreaming about buying a huge house and adopting all the kids in the orphanage and recruiting volunteers to help me love and care for them all.
Since that is not very realistic at the moment, I asked God, “what could we possibly do by visiting these kids?” And then I thought, every family should have other family and friends to visit with and to love even though they do not live with them. My family could become friends with these kids that make up such a beautiful family on their own, and we could bring them Jesus, who will never ever leave them. If they know this, and have witness of how to call upon his name, they will never feel alone.
“But Jesus said, “let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” -Matthew 19:14
We have also tried out a few English/prayer classes with the local kids in the neighborhood. They are interested in learning English because it gives them a step up on getting a good job when they grow up. They also need purpose, as there no real place for them to hang out. Our house has been a hang out place with our tree house and tire swing, and, of course the numerous kids that happen to be in our family.
This helped our kids make friends prior to entering the public school, which is about 3 blocks away from our house. They are loving school and picking up Spanish (and friends) quickly.
Another ministry we have begun doing is a Thursday night Holy Hour in a nearby pueblo called San Rafael, as one of our first priest-assigned ministries. We are excited to grow relationships with the people in this town.
I do not know what God has planned for the future for these kids, for our family, for our ministries. We plug away each day working on our Spanish and making friends, and being “Spirit-led missionaries,” which basically means praying with those who God sends, and trying to help in whatever way we can.
It can be overwhelming at times to think about how many souls in the world need not only to be taken care of spiritually, but physically. As Jesus said, the poor will always be us. But just like that story about throwing one starfish back into the ocean at a time, one by one, it makes a difference for that one. And by making friends, one by one, it makes a difference for that person.
We wanted to share some pictures of our family life as well. May God bless you and light the way ahead. Thank you to each of you for all your prayers and support! We could not be here without you.