Then on Friday she comes running up to me with a huge smile on her face.
She had bought me some earrings.
I was wondering why she hadn’t gotten ice cream recently. Usually all the kids buy ice cream or candies. She had chosen to use her money to buy me earrings.
Everyday I get fresh picked flowers and an abundance of hugs. I always wondered why they held on so tight, but now I know. My host mom began to tell me the stories of the kids. I’ll never be the same.
How do you explain a moment that changes your entire identity? I began to cry so hard at the stories. My heart began to hurt, then my throat, then my head, and eventually my nose stuffed up and fever increased. We worry about the test tomorrow, but these kids are worrying about raising their brothers and sisters.
Suddenly every problem I thought I ever had was trivial. Every caribou, chipotle, or shopping spree came back to haunt me. I never spent lots of money on my clothes, only bought caribou once every other week, and chipotle even less, but here some kids didn’t have lunch. I began to question everything about my life back at home. What do I even have to worry about?
But it’s not just in Bolivia. It’s our friends, classmates, neighbors. Everyone has a story. And there is hurt everywhere. There are kids in my school district back at home who are homeless, there are people abused, and teens wanting to commit suicide. I don’t want to waste another minute on materialism, self-fulfillment, or luxury.
Now there is a time for caribou, chipotle, and new clothes. But I think it changes when that is our life. Where do we spend the most money? Where do we spend the most time? What do we talk about the most? Doesn’t that show where our values are? For me, the answers to those questions were far from helping others, talking about Jesus, and sacrificing my money.
As I write this, I see the bouquet of flowers Ariana and her sister brought me, and I think about their smiles. I think about their generosity. I think about how much of a difference a smile and a flower can make. It doesn’t take much, it just takes selflessness.
We live in a culture that values grades, appearance, success, and material wealth. I wonder what kind of world we would have if we decided to value people, life, and love.
I wonder what kind of world we would have if we knew people, not profiles. Not emojis but real smiles. I wonder what kind of world we would have if we got to know our neighbors. I don’t know how to explain the feeling I have right now. All I know is I want to really live. I want to always be looking to God instead of a life filled with things. I know when I go home it won’t be easy. Bolivia is a completely other world. But I’ll never forget the stories. As David Platt says,
“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”
Although the center isn’t for orphans, it is for kids that need a place. It’s a place for kids that need hope. But what I’ve found is that when you look for hope in Jesus everything changes. I know not everyone reading this believes in God, but I can’t shut up about him because it’s changing my life. He’s changing their lives. Christianity isn’t about rules, it’s not about judgement. It’s about joining a family. It’s about the life God offers you where your past is forgotten, and your future is hopeful. It’s about love. Most people know John 3:16, but I like 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
I know I’m just me, but I’m thinking if we all come together a miracle could happen. I read a quote on Pinterest:
“The truth is that the 143 orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child there would not be any statistics left.”
I just want to be part of that 8%. What else really matters more? I guess what I’m asking is for you to just consider to be a part of that 8% too.