Saturday, September 29, 2012


I think about my newly-turned 14-year-old stepdaughter and what it would be like for her be blinked off to Central America to switch lives with 13-year-old Daniela for a day. The thought stretches my mind like a rubber band - tight and resistant. But I go there anyway:

She was there in May, my 14 year old,
and mortified over her shoes.
Her $60.00 hiking boots she was too
embarrassed to wear in this rural village.
Not because of their extravagance
but because they "weren't cool."
She was worried about how she looked.

Did she look?
Around her? At the others?
Did she look at their feet?
Covered with worn shoes - maybe...
maybe barefoot.

Did she see their ground?
A kind of dirty my 14-year-old
saves for fast bike rides as a kid,
to see how much dirt she could spit up
from her tires.

These people live on dirt floors
and tires may be used for far more
than we understand.

Did she see the food they served us
and how they watched, eagerly,
for our approval?
They fixed us up extravagantly
yet, themselves, had nothing.

Once home, at our first family dinner.
I remember cooking up vegetables
on the stove

and it hit me
when the kids were fighting
at the table
over something trivial.

I cringed
not just at the bickering
but the Big Deal
we make out of so much.

When they
our "other family" out there
could make a big deal
out of so much
they have
so little.

If my 14-year-old switched lives
with our sponsor child
there'd be more than culture shock.
I pray there would be the kind of
only a God-sized miracle
can produce.

If I switched lives
with her mother,
sun-scorched face and wrinkles
explaining worry without words,
I wouldn't know the first thing
to do.

How do I ask for help?
How would my husband?
Fathers are to provide for the family
so what does Mr. F. think about
his daughter being sponsored
by us?

I had the chance to ask him in May.
And he smiled and nodded.
It was genuine.
His wife gushed sobs of gratitude
as he looked at the dirt ground
and she explained he was always working
and could not be in the family photos.
Forgive them? she asked.

Forgive them?
Forgive us, Mrs. F.
Forgive our apathy.
Forgive us assuming the "other guy"
will take care of it.
Forgive us for grazing over
our meatloaf and mashed potatoes
and not thanking, thanking,
thanking God ever-so-much
for each and every blessing
He bestows upon us

which includes your family, Daniela,
and your whole community. 

The other night
I told my two younger stepchildren,
8 and 5
that a family a world away
living on dirt floors
eating rice, beans, and tortillas every night
prayed for our family 
every morning.

Our family - I emphasized. 
Our family with the xBox
and the DVD player
and the fast-spinning washer and dryer.
Our family who is often too busy
to laugh and look in each other's eyes
because of poms and karate
and jobs us parents stress over.

That family prays for this family.

So that night
our family got together
and prayed for that family.

And prayers -
they are not so different
even if they come from different worlds

even if they come from different floors:
one dirt, one tile.

We are still two families
on our knees
praying for the other
to love God
with all our heart and all our soul
and all our mind.

No, I cannot quite imagine switching places with a poverty-stricken family. I can't quite imagine not knowing if my children will have food for their next meal or if I was going to die of HIV or not and, if so, who would care for my children?

Fortunately, there are people and organizations stepping up and following God's call to the hands and feet of Christ. Organizations like Compassion International, the one I am focusing on this month, the one I so dearly love and feel strongly about. They don't just take money and toss it to the poor, hoping it will be used wisely. They invest. They teach. They help them with sustainability. 

And they invite you, this September, to take a bold step and sponsor a child and join the ranks of people sponsoring children.

It is a gift beyond description - to the child and to you, as well.

May God speak into your heart this day.

Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras

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