Tag: bogota

Joan Wilder’s adventure has nothing on mine

Just eight days ago, my only mental images of Colombia were from the fun & far-fetched ’80s movie, Romancing the Stone. I totally! dug this movie as a kid, mostly, I’m sure, because Michael Douglas was at the height of his hunkiness and the main character, Joan, was living my then-dream: she was a romance novelist whose imaginative adventure came TRUE!

During the last 18 months or so, my real-life adventures have far outweighed my imagination, and last week in Colombia beat them all. Since we got home Friday night, we have been blessed with captive audiences – family AND concert audiences – who wanted to hear about our experience, see our pictures, and ask us questions. Even I am a little astounded at how much I now *know* about the work of Compassion International… but I am not surprised at how excited I am to share it.

I cannot possibly sum up the events, feelings, learnings, meetings, experiences, heartbreaks, and inspirations of last week. I imagine that I will be pondering them, writing about them, reliving them for a long time. I am still waiting for that A-HA! moment when everything becomes clear… all of the changes in our lives this past year and a half. But my new friend – mi amiga nueva? – summed it up so beautifully on Wednesday night, during our unforgettable dinner with Compassion’s ‘cream of the cream of the cream of the crop’ Leadership Development students. One of ‘the Vivianas’ told us in Spanish (with such animation that she was EASY to understand!) how she tells God what she wants to do, expecting Him to answer, ‘Oh, of course! Of course!’ But our dreams are all about HIS TIMING.

God knows Rod and I – and Paige, our newly blogging champion of a daughter, FYI – are itching for the Next Chapter. It’s not just about moving to a new place (because that is such a bittersweet, complicated step)… it’s about how all this stuff we’ve been doing comes together. And the answer to that is… just wait. We’re going to have to wait on God’s timing to know what the big picture is for us. But in the mean time, we are so, so, so fortunate to have many projects, many opportunities, many spinning plates, to keep us productively occupied. And now that we have been on a Compassion trip, an international adventure… our thirst for travel has grown immensely. Indeed, Lord, enlarge our territory!

Meanwhile, as I sit here about halfway through Joan Wilder’s adventure, complete with rugged Jack T. Colton, great one-liners, and a lot of action (and such a pretty Kathleen Turner!), I have to admit: I am still entertained, but really, I am just watching this silly film to feel a little closer to Colombia tonight. A week ago right now I was just arriving, and now I am missing it terribly. There is family there who feels so far out of reach (which makes me eternally grateful that The Vivanas have found us on Facebook. YAY internet!!)… there is a city there whose chaos and colors and flavors make my home street about as boring as a pile of dirt.

My adventure did not involve gunshots (THANK GOD!), crocodiles, treasure maps, or cartels… It was all about children, young adults, servants, hope, and results. It was about showing me that one person can make a difference, so I can show as many people as I encounter. It filled my heart with humility and graditude, and it filled my life with new people to appreciate, honor, and love.

Yesterday during a visit with our son (Yes & yay!), he asked me if our trip changed my life. I said YES – for I am changed in every way–not in a dramatic “let’s throw away all our possessions and set up a 3rd world mission” kind of way, but in that my perspective of EVERYTHING has shifted. If one person can make a difference, then God, let it be me every chance I can have.

God does not keep anything; He will give it all to you

Those very wise words in the title were spoken by this beautiful young woman, a college graduate who now works at a university. She was able to attend college through a Leadership Development Program, because of a Compassion sponsor.

I wish my pictures AND my words could better convey the hope that is passed back and forth between these children and young adults in the Compassion program and their sponsors.

But this moment from today will have to do for now. Hours before Rod sang “Jesus Loves Me” to our little girls over Skype, he sang it to a room of about 100 children, with a sweet little one clinging to him. Thank You, God, for the gift of love – it costs nothing, it requires no language, and it is boundless.

Hug a child here with the gift of sponsorship.

Jeni the Warrior and what hope looks like

Jeni loves her kids, David and Karol. She is proud of the things they learn at school (David loves math) and what they learn at their Compassion project (Karol recites many Bible verses and teaches them to her Mama). Jeni is studying to work as a secretary while her husband works construction, taking him away from home sometimes for a month. He just left Friday on another job.

Jeni’s house is three  clean and well organized rooms: a bedroom filled with loving touches, a kitchen with a table for four, and a living area with curtains around the toilet and a place to wash clothes. Her home is constructed of metal sheets and concrete. For showers, they walk to Jeni’s grandmother’s house at the end of their block.

Jeni has concerns for her children that sound so familiar. When she is at school and her husband is away, she works and stresses to make sure David and Karol are cared for. She is grateful for the Compassion project because it means the children are not sitting around the house watching DVDs or doing nothing, nor are they learning bad words from some less-than-nice people in the neighborhood. She likes that the children are at Compassion learning and studying the Bible, and sometimes, they all go to church there on Sundays as well.

Jeni says her main prayer concern is health. She said whether rich or poor, health is the most important thing. She said no matter where you live, you can be robbed, and sickness can happen to anyone.

I told Jeni, via translator, that her love for her children is a blessing. Her answer: it will continue to be a blessing.

Jeni, I think, is a warrior. She will fight for her kids to be safe, to be healthy, to be educated, to be loved, and to break the curse of poverty. Her love for them is evident on their faces and in the pride they show as they talk about their future careers – Karol, a model, David, a soldier.

Compassion is full of warriors, too… pastors, teachers, directors, cooks, coordinators, translators, advocates… and sponsors. The LOVE these children have for their sponsors is incomparable. You know why? Because having a sponsor means that “somewhere out there” someone is tangibly supporting, actively praying for, jumping up and down and cheering for these kids, for seemingly no reason.

Except for these reasons:

Breaking the curse of poverty is no easy or simple job. But giving hope…is, and that is the important first step. Want to?

In Bogota

We’re here! –

at the lovely Sante Fe Boutique Hotel in Bogota, Colombia. After a long but thankfully uneventful day of travel, Rod and I are now chilling in a very nice hotel room, possibly eating some gift bag candy –

On the way here, I read a lot from two different books. One is Anchored in Love, by John Carter Cash – a memoir through his eyes of his mother June Carter Cash. I am so enamored by her; I feel an understanding, an empathy, and a desire to show as much as grace as she did. I am loving the read (thanks, Tammy!)

The other book is our trip guide. We’ve had it and have been referencing it for two weeks, but on the five hour plane ride between Houston and Bogota, I wanted to get all the information inside my head (don’t pull out your cell phone, use bottled water to brush your teeth, and everyone at home’s favorite – don’t stray from your group!). Really though, I was grateful to have the time to get more of the vision of Compassion into my head.

I have supported the work of Compassion for many years. I first signed up to sponsor a child at a Steven Curtis Chapman (I think…) concert over a decade ago. Maikol lived in Peru and he and I exchanged letters for over 6 years before his family moved out of a Compassion-reachable area. I still think of him often and cherish all those notes and pictures from him. He should be about 17 years old now.

When the earthquake struck in Haiti, I was drawn again to the integrity, class, and Christ-mindedness with which Compassion reacted. And it was not long after that when Rod and I were given the opportunity to ourselves work with the wonderful people who make Compassion what it is.

Already today, we have met some of those people and heard their stories. Flipping through my book, I have gotten those ideals in my heart. The purpose of a Vision Trip – the trip we are on – is for us to see first hand the needs of the areas served by Compassion, to meet the people who work in the local Compassion sites, and to hear from those who benefit from the sites. Tomorrow – after we get to meet our sweet Jhordan and my brother & sis-in-law’s dear Ahyi Vanessa and while we share the day with them – we will visit a home of a family touched directly by Compassion’s work. I know I am not prepared for what I will see and feel and experience. So tonight I pray a simple prayer that was recorded in a June Carter Cash journal-

Thank you, oh Lord, for all the wonderful things of this day. Thank you for all my blessings. Use me in any way you see fit. Amen.

The guide book advises us to reflect on specific questions each day we are here. As our learning experience begins early tomorrow morning, what do we expect to see? How do we think we will react to and be changed by what we see? What are our initial sensory images?

After today, I mostly feel exhilarated by the fellow travelers I have encountered – writers, singers, speakers, comedians, all with a heart for the mission of Compassion – releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

I know when I see the differences in how people here live, what they have, what they want, compared to my blessedly easy American life, I will feel small and perhaps helpless… because really, in light of poverty and sickness, how can a little bit of money, some letters, and prayer really make a difference?

I suppose if I didn’t believe it could, I would not have left my own kids and jetted south of the equator. So here we go… we’re going to see what Compassion does, what “compassion” means, and how our individual willingness to follow God can help.

Thanks for reading with me this week and taking the journey… And if you want to help in Compassion’s specific and far reaching ways, click here to learn more.