I am home for 2 weeks to unpack and re-pack.... then I'll be headed back to Costa Rica for missionary training school and a 4 month outreach. I am so thankful to those people who donated in order that I may come home for Christmas. I am so thankful.
As I sit here in my warm house.... I am shocked by the luxuries even in my own bedroom. There is heating and air, there are no sirens outside, no bombs exploding, no roosters crowing, no people yelling (announcing what they are selling that day), I have the lights turned on without overly-stressing about the power bill, I have more than 5 options of what I'm going to wear today, my clothes are clean and the floors are dry, I know that my mother has food waiting on me upstairs, I know that I have someone to call if I need something, I have the freedom to walk outside alone without fear.... oh, Georgia.
I also can not help but think of the kids that I've been blessed enough to minister to in Guatemala. As they go to bed tonight, they don't have that "Christmas night feeling" that we all know and love. They aren't excited about tomorrow morning, because Santa Clause doesn't visit the trash dump. The only gift with which they can associate tomorrow is the gift the life.... the gift that they received when they discovered that God sent his son to this world to die for them... and shockingly, the King of the world came to this Earth just like these kids did....
From "The Red Letters" by Tom Davis... "You don't have to read very far in the New Testament before running head-on into one of the greatest of these mysteries. I don't know about you, but I (and more than a few Jews in Jesus' time) would have expected the King of the universe to be born in a palace - someplace worthy of his status. He would have slept on no less than four-hundred-thread-count Egyptian cotton crib sheets and rested his head on a down-filled, silk-wrapped pillow. The mobile above his crib would have surely been crafted of sparkling gems - white diamonds, red rubies, blue sapphires, and green emeralds. And all of the most respected people in society would visit this beautifully decorated nursery to worship him.
But that's not how God did things. Jesus was born in a dirty, smelly, disgusting barn. He was laid not on a clean sheet but in a manger - a feeding trough filled with animal snot and drool and their leftover half-eaten food. He wasn't welcomed to the world by great leaders, by rulers and officials and other members of the Lexus-Drivers club. He was met by a bunch of lowly shepherds. Yes, three kings or wise men arrived from the east months later. But nobody even knew who they were.
Are you getting the picture? Jesus didn't come to earth and identify with the rich, the successful and the most influential. He entered the world as a pauper. He entered the world not in the comfort of his parent's home, nor in the the company of smiling relatives or even the safety of a hospital. He arrived in the humblest of places, in the lowliest of circumstances. God hid the mystery of the kingdom in the lives of the most needy.
Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus associated himself with the "least of these"? That when we help them, we're helping Jesus? God has tremendous love for those who are rejected, abandoned, and laughed at...."
(My friend Emily shared this with me).
Here is a sweet video of the kids in the dump celebrating Christmas when someone reached out to them. It's super sweet but in Spanish... you can still enjoy the images!
One of my friends, Joe, who I met while in Guatemala (who also works with the same children in the dump), wrote this about the miracles that happen with the Friday night feeding program in the dump. This same thing literally happens each week:
"We bought 20 turkeys for a special Christmas food distribution at the Guatemala City garbage dump, expecting about 200 people. Before it was over, almost 400 people received a plate of turkey, vegetable salad, fruit, bread, and a drink. The same God that multiplied the loaves and fishes multiplied the turkey and salad tonight. The last piece of turkey and the last serving of salad went on the last plate to the last person. God is good!"
Side note: My goal is to always give the Lord my loafs and BOTH fish so that he can multiple it and use it for HIS glory. I can't imagine how greatly I could limit myself if I only give "one fish". God wants it ALL, both fish!
Some of the first kids to show up at the feeding on Friday nights. Then people begin to flood in!
Look at that smile... so much joy from an orange!
I can't help but remember what Dr.Tom said last week (so thankful that I got to go to my hometown church)... he asked everyone if they remembered what that got for Christmas last year, or the year before that? The point of this question is to challenge you to stop and think about what really matters. Are we spending more time and money on things that won't even matter in a year, or are we spending our time and money on "kingdom purposes"?
I pray that each of you has a blessed and wonderful Christmas and that you have time to adore the Lord.
I know that I have been able to count my blessings this Christmas. During the past 8 months, I have worried about all kinds of things.... it's a huge battle that I constantly fight when I think about how easy it would be to return to my job and have my steady income again and that security. But, my faith has grown astronomically in the past few months as I have served as a missionary. I have seen God provide daily in ways that make me stand in amazement. Thank you to each of you who has been the "hands and feet" of Jesus for me as you support me with prayers and donations. You are such a blessing to not only me but the people to whom I serve.
Grace and Peace!
*Some people have asked me how to make donations and insisted that I post some details! Even though I will be serving with YWAM, my account is still through "Lakewood Baptist Church". (That way it's tax deductible)!
To make a donation, make a check out to "Lakewood Baptist Church" and mail it to my parent's address:
2516 Katherine Circle
Gainesville, GA 30506
*Be sure to include a note saying what the check is for! Thank you!