I have a list of posts I hope to write … someday. This one wasn’t on the list. When I posted last week’s BEST tablescape ever (click HERE if you missed it, because this post won’t make much sense otherwise), I really didn’t intend to write anything else — at least for quite awhile — about the kids at Hope Unlimited for Children in Brazil. But your comments and private emails have caused me to think perhaps one more post is needed.
Before I say anything else, let me thank those of you who blessed me (and Renaissance Man) with your encouraging and supportive comments. Many of you have said you prayed for us and for the children — and that you’ll continue to do so. I hope you will … every time the kids cross your mind.
I was a bit uncomfortable, though, with some of your praise. I believe in blogging (actually, living) with integrity, and as I read some of your comments, I couldn’t help but feel that Renaissance Man and I were being elevated far above anything we could possibly ever deserve. We’ve always been just two people who want God to use us. If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know that I occasionally allude to my faith, but it’s always in conjunction with who I am. I write from my heart, sometimes (like today) with a great deal of transparency. But I don’t write a “religious” blog — and nothing about my blog is changing. You’re just getting a broader view of who I am, and today you’re getting a clearer view of why I blog in the first place …
For many years, Renaissance Man and I were content with his career in Christian college administration. He was an excellent fundraiser, and I enjoyed the entertaining that went along with the job. It seemed the career path was “set” (we’d certainly been on it for a long time!), but about four years ago God began to give us glimpses of some “stretching” He wanted us to do. We were listening and trying to be obedient … when one day everything changed — and we were given a chance to see a side of the world we’d never seen with our own eyes before … a world that was far beyond our comfort zone.
A world where raw sewage runs freely, cutting a path between plywood shacks.
Where a tattered piece of cardboard or a filthy foam pad is called a “street mattress.”
Where children are daily exposed to hunger …
… and a culture that exploits and endangers them.
Now we live in that world — the EASY way. When Renaissance Man joined the staff of Hope Unlimited for Children, he was hired to lead the U.S. side of the ministry. To raise awareness and funds for the organization. To be a shoulder-to-shoulder partner with the missionary/co-founder in Brazil. But we were NOT called on to leave the comfort of the old house we’d just “finished” renovating … or the proximity of family.
Even so, much changed in our personal world. Rather than Renaissance Man putting on a suit and tie every day and heading to the office, we now have two different types of days. When he’s home, he dresses more casually and walks upstairs to a guest room-turned-office … or he works on his laptop downstairs in his study. He’s home all.day.long. We have conversations — or I overhear phone calls — on topics like sexual trafficking, pre-adolescent prostitution, runaways, desperate needs we can’t afford to address … God’s faithfulness, a family reunited, another young life saved (literally and spiritually).
But on many days, he’s traveling. I often drive an hour to the nearest airport to drop him off … and the hour back home. And then he’s gone … for days or weeks at a time. The days are long. Peaceful. Productive. Eventually … too quiet. We Skype at all hours of the day and night (depending upon the time zone/country/continent where he is). And then it’s time to make the return trip to the airport … to start it all over again.
After three years, I’m still trying to get used to it. I’ll admit that I didn’t always like the constant “command performances” that are expected of a college administrator couple, but I loved the routine of the calendar. There was a comfort there … much like the cycle of the seasons. (Repeat with me: Spring IS coming! Spring IS coming!) There was a constancy … a dependability … and yours truly, who sometimes seems to think flexibility should be planned (think about that one!), grieved over the loss.
I sometimes feel overwhelmed. By a husband’s constantly changing travel schedule. By the depth of need in our world — at home and abroad — and the seeming inability to make a dent in the problems. By the subject matter we discuss. By cultural differences. By good people … who don’t seem to care about anybody but themselves and their own families. By hard decisions that have to be made.
Ironically, when our world expanded, my everyday world shrank. Gone was the familiarity of routine … of entertaining donors (our donors are now all over the world — can’t really invite them to a dinner party!) … of having work in common with people around me. I realized it was time for me to be still. That’s a good thing … but I’ll admit that I wondered how long the being still could last.
I’m a project person … a “just do it!” person. I like making things happen. I’m not afraid to plan a big event. I’m not terrified of public speaking (just a little nervous). I love to entertain a house full of people (although I do hate cleaning it before they come). Be still, and know that I am God.
Although I’ve served on committees and done projects over the past three years, my spirit has continued to be still. To reflect. My Daddy jokingly (I think) says I’m getting old … and sentimental! He may be right, but I hope I’m also becoming wiser. More grateful. More compassionate. More focused beyond my world … and my comfort zone. More obedient.
I tablescape … and launder vintage linens … and blog … for balance. That other world that constantly surrounds me, banging on the doors of my comfortable home … even from long distance … is sometimes hard to invite in. I occasionally need a mental distraction. I need to be creative. I need to play in the dishes …
I’m going back to Brazil in April. That’s a hard trip for me for many reasons, not the least of which are the long plane trip … the language barrier … the poverty beyond belief. And yet I’m looking forward to it — because my destination is the children. When I’m with them I’ll see firsthand the HOPE that is transforming their once-desperate lives.
I’ll see children experiencing family …
… and getting an education.
I’ll see life skills being taught …
… and worship proclaimed.
I’ll see joy …
… and friendship …
… and little ones who are part of our newest preschool venture
* over 500 little ones *
whose tummies get filled with nourishing food,
whose filth gets washed away,
and who experience learning through play.
Whose parents, too, are learning …
to properly care for and protect their children …
because that’s what Mommys and Daddys are supposed to do.
Little ones … whose future is bright with promise because 20 years ago — three American men cared enough about the children being massacred in Brazil to TRY to do something about it.
|Philip Smith – missionary and co-founder|
Renaissance Man and me? We are the ones who are blessed! We’re just two people at the back of a long line of men and women who have cared. They’ve taught us so much about faith. Each person does what they can; we’re no different. My husband filled a niche in the ministry that needed to be filled. I continue to be still … and pray for him, and the missionaries, and the children …
… and the Brazilian staff …
… over 100 of them … who meet the everyday needs of the children.
Who serve as the hands of God and offer hope … the kind of Hope that transforms.
Are you big into Valentine’s Day?
Wish you could send Valentines to the kids in Brazil? Want to get your family … or church … or civic group involved? You can. It’s easy! And it’s not too late!
Brazil’s Day of Love is in June, so just make a few extra Valentines — or a lot of extras! — when you make your own. Send them to us. We’ll take them to Brazil! For details, just click HERE.
To learn more about Hope Unlimited for Children, click HERE or click the logo on my sidebar. I hope you’ll also read Hope’s new blog: the least of these
Join me here …
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Inspiration Friday at At the Picket Fence