When you read this today, there will be about a hundred of us being greeted by the children of Hogar Sagrada Familia. We will receive a kiss on our cheeks from most of the 900+ kids — I count each one of them as a holy kiss! We will begin our week of sharing Jesus and loving on children who do not have much other family than what is at The Community. So I will begin the week with where we ended our trip last year and invite you over to the thephilfiles.com to learn more about what is happening in our South American journey with people we love. This is why we go. Written a year ago when I was most exhausted and sick. Even then, I was excited about coming back this year. Now the long wait to see our little girls is over and there are tears in my eyes and slobber on my cheek and joy in my heart.
Our team is back from Peru and our mission to The Community. It's a long, tiring trip and an exhausting, though exhilarating, week. Many of us came home a little bit sick and all of us came home very tired.
While we were gone, we missed our families, sleeping in our own beds, and doing things we are used to doing in our daily routines. Each day we took a 90 minute trip out to The Community and then took the same trip back at the end of the day. The days were long: we got up before 6:00 in the morning and rarely got in bed before 11:00 at night with the preparations, meetings, meals, and planning we did. The trip was financially expensive to each person on the team and was the use of our vacation time.
So ... why go?
In fact, I've had it asked even more bluntly: "Wouldn't it have been better to have just sent the money it cost all of you to go and use that money to get those kids what they need most?"
So let me answer those questions a handful of different ways, because the questions are important ones!
Answer One: We go because the trip makes a long-term difference.
Because of the trips to The Community the last several years, monthly support for food has gone from nothing to nearly $20,000 per month. It takes a lot of money to feed over 900 children every day. The focus on the trip has stirred many to donate to the food fund or "sponsor" a child to have food each day — you can do that by following this link http://hlt.me/qxLwwi.
The children have gone from one meal per day to three. Their health, weight, and well being have been greatly enhanced — for more, see the video below or here: http://hlt.me/pe7Smp. Our trips have highlighted this special place that gets no government funds and the result has been the addition of sidewalks, buildings, programs, musical instruments, an accredited school, and funding for the 106 students on scholarship in universities around Lima who have come from The Community. Our going has put a human face on The Community.
Answer Two: We go to let the children know they are valuable.
When you are a discarded child, nothing can make you feel "undiscarded" except being loved personally. There is no way to emphasize how important this is. We all like being chosen. God told his Son Jesus at his baptism, "You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased." Every one of us need a person of significance to say that to us. We got to be those people who told these kids they mattered, they are loved, they bring us joy. They know our names. They look for us to come next year. If they are old enough, they write to us. Nothing replaces the face-to-face and hug-to-hug contact of a real person that says, "I love you!"
One of the most powerful examples of this is a little story from our own casa at The Community. A young girl in our casa was abandoned on a garbage heap several years ago by her parents. She was left there with her six siblings. Her little brother has CP just like she does. They had never walked, had therapy, or been given a chance. After our visit last year, a doctor on our team evaluated them, got them wheel chairs, and we secured funding for physical therapy three times per week for this little girl and her brother. This year, at the closing party, she danced with one of our translators that has taken a special interest in her. Before the dance, she had walked across the room in the casa all by herself. The smile on her face, the pride in her heart, and the genuine sense of significance and love she experienced was overwhelming. At the end of the party, she even held hands with her brother and the translator and they all three danced. This one little victory, a huge one for a little girl once abandoned, is why we go. (See the video below or here: http://www.vimeo.com/26899933)
Answer Three: We go because the trip changes us for the better.
Jesus' love is no longer theoretical for us. The love of Jesus now wears human skin ... our skin. The call of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is no longer a theological demand, but experienced reality. The presence of the Lord empowering and sustaining you isn't something you read about someone else experiencing, but something that has coursed through your own experience. When you serve "the least of these," you see the face of Jesus because you have done it unto him (Matthew 25:40). The cost is insignificant in comparison to the grace you are able to deliver and receive.
Answer Four: We go because Jesus came to us.
God loved us so much that he did not send money, a book, a plan, a philosophy, or a spoken message. God sent his Son — a living message with skin on it (John 1:1-18; John 3:16). Yes, it was a lot more costly than any other way to deliver help and show concern, but ultimately, this was the only way that could reach our hearts, demonstrate his love, and bring us grace. And this Jesus reminds us that as his Spirit moves in us, we are moved to go just as he was (John 20:21-22).
Answer Five: We go because we love kids.
We love kids in the name and for the sake of Jesus (Mark 10:13-16). And in the end, isn't this reason enough?
Take a Look at all the posts on the trip to The Community!
- Touchable Grace —
- Go —
- Reunion —
- I Understand This —
- If the Shoe Fits —
- Down the Hill, Awaiting Return —
- Why Go? —