love even when

She holds out her hands to me, a smile filling her face. She has a gift.

“Pinza pelo,” she says. A pink hairbow. 

  

I didn’t know what to expect from a week spent in a third-world country. I was so close to not even being able to go that part of me didn’t think about what it would be like, just in case it didn’t work out. 

But it did work out, because the Lord is ever faithful, and I packed my suitcase and hopped on my first plane ride ever and began the journey that would mark me for life.

  

Their faces. I cannot forget their beautiful faces and my heart even hurts to look at them because all I want to do is kiss their cheeks and adore their laughing eyes. Theirs are the faces of heaven. 

“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.”

  

I asked the Lord for one thing on this trip. I asked for a meaningful encounter with someone. I asked for a moment where, despite the language barrier and minimal Spanish I had tucked away from highschool, I really connected with someone.

He gave me three someones. Three moments. Three answers to my prayer. 

  

Breydy. She showed me what giving effortlessly looks like. She gave half of her lunch to a friend and candy to me and another team member. She gave me the pink hairbow I’m looking at right now. I think of her when I see it. I think of her generosity and how it is a reflection of the Father’s generous heart. I cannot forget how beautiful she is, how much she looks like her Father. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave…” 

  

Iris and Daniela. Mom and baby. Seventeen and so young to be a mother, yet so full of life and hope for herself and her daughter. She told me how hard it was to be single, how there were complications during childbirth, how she couldn’t have anymore children after Daniela. But she laughed. Her eyes sparkled with a joy I wanted bottle up and take with me everywhere. She knew that having Daniela was a privilege and blessing and she was honored to be her mother. I cannot forget her ability to love and laugh so much like our God.

“Yes, joyful are those who live like this! Joyful indeed are those whose God is the Lord.”

  

It’s true, what they say. They say that when you set out to bless people in the name of Jesus that you also end up being blessed. 

I was greatly blessed. Each day held a new lesson, a new adventure, a new revelation that I cannot forget. So much life and truth was spoken into and over me that I cried just trying to take it all in. 

“Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Me.”

  

Something happens when you board a plane and travel to another country. Something in your spirit shifts when you leave your homeland and find yourself flying over someone else’s. Your eyes open wider as you take in sunsets from other skylines and breathe the air of other nations. 

This world is big. It’s bigger than my plot of dirt in my city in my state in my country. It’s much bigger. I cannot forget that. 

If I had to sum the entire week in one sentence, I would say “Love even when…” 

Even when they’re dirty, even when they’re mean, even when they’re sick, even when they’re wrong, even when they’re begging, even when they’re not interested, even when they’re taking advantage, even when. 

Even when. Period. 

  

I cannot forget the success and the joy and the patience and the love and the laughter and the lessons learned and the presence of God from that week. I can’t forget that Nicaraguan heat, the smell of the mounds, the dirt on their faces, and the voices speaking a language I barely understood. I can’t forget the Lord’s faithfulness in bringing me to this place and allowing me to meet some of his children so far away from where I call home. 

  

I cannot forget because, if I do, I will have missed it. I will have missed the heart of the Gospel entirely. I will have missed the calling the Lord has placed on my life. I will have missed the reality of heaven and hell and the crucial truth that if I don’t tell them there is a Savior, who will? 

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

People are not projects– they are our purpose.

We can never forget that. 

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