Last summer was busy for me, and filled with many adventures. And it looks like this summer will be no different!
In fact, in just a few days, I will be going on a missions trip to a children's home in Costa Rica! I'm looking forward to this with a mixture of excitement and nervousness.
This time last year, I was at an orphanage in Ukraine. One of my sisters and I went through the Christian organization Little Lambs Ministries. Our team of 7 Americans partnered with a team of 7 Ukrainians to do crafts, Bible lessons and games with the kids.
Everything we did was about the kids. In the team's meeting room, a sign was put up that read, in both English and Ukrainian, “Why am I here?” So every time we walked into that room, whether it was to plan for the day, or share our experiences of the day, we were reminded to examine our hearts and remember that we were at this place for a reason: the children.
The children were beautiful and precious and energetic and curious and affectionate and filled with potential. Even now, a year later, I still think of and pray for them.
I always knew God was a BIG God. But I really experienced this while in Ukraine; being in this new place, with a language barrier, surrounded by kids who wanted to play and talk and have attention. I had to rely on God. And the more I relied on Him, the more love I had to pour out.
Throughout the 2 weeks at the orphanage, God kept bringing to mind a passage of Scripture in Luke 5:
This man had leprosy and was considered unclean, but Jesus was still willing to reach out and touch him to bring about healing. During the time I was with the kids, I prayed that Jesus would make me like Him. That I would be willing, despite discomfort, despite fear, despite exhaustion, to reach out to these children.
I still pray this now that I am home. It may not be a person's “uncleanliness” that keeps us from extending love, but there are many things that can hinder us from letting Jesus pour through us. I pray that God will help us say, “I am willing.” I am willing to show love, to help those in need, to extend grace, to speak truth.
On one of the nights we hosted a "girl party" and several of the girls came. While sitting with them, listening to them talk and laugh, seeing them smile and participate in the various activities, a statistic that I had read in the Little Lambs Manuel interrupted my thoughts: 62% of girls who leave the orphanages end up in human trafficking or prostitution.
I became overwhelmed, saddened, discouraged by this. I care about these girls and want the best for them, but how on earth could my 2 weeks of being in Ukraine really make a difference against such odds?
God immediately reminded me that He can overcome any odds. Again, Luke 5 was brought to mind. Jesus was willing to reach out and touch the man with leprosy, and by His power, the man was healed.
When we are willing to reach out and touch the lives of those around us, God can work through us and heal lives.
No matter how much I love and care for those children, God will always love and care for them more than I ever could. I have to let Him be the one loving through me, because His love brings about transformation.
As I go on this next trip to Costa Rica, and as I live my life here at home, in all the adventures and in the everyday, I strive to continually live out what God taught me while I was in Ukraine.
In all my relationships, I pray that I will love with the love of Jesus, that I will be selfless, that I will pour into people, as if I only have two weeks with them, because I'm not even guaranteed two weeks.
I pray that whatever God asks of me, I will answer, “I am willing.” I pray that Jesus' love will be made known and will transform lives.
Will you pray this with me?
Have you been on a missions trip? I'd love to hear about where you went, what you did, and what God taught you; comment about it!