Monday, March 15, 2010

Where I Belong

Every day I’m learning more… loving God way more… getting more hope and vision for the future… missing home a little more, but also growing in that separation. The time here is hard but good, tiring but fun, a little crazy but totally worthwhile. Sometimes I wonder why I’m living in a strange warehouse with mice and cockroaches when I could be sleeping in a huge bed in my own room. I wonder why I eat rice and beans every day when there are pizza and burgers in Indiana. I wonder why I have to ride a bus downtown to make friends when the people I love most in the world are all back home. I wonder why I am paying money to use the Internet and call home when talking in person to those same people is free. I can’t walk alone at night, drive anywhere or buy toiletries for a reasonable price. These aren’t complaints – just observations I’ve been making lately. I never realize how much comfort and ease there is at home until I’m gone. Little things like US Dollars or the English language or watching news updates about Indianapolis are strangely missed here. And yet I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Despite all my whining about paying to be online or not being able to see the Dave Matthews concert this summer (which is a huge deal, by the way J), I am in love with Costa Rica and with ministry and with the people here and with the people I live and serve alongside. It’s not really an issue of happiness, but more of fulfillment and joy. I know that I belong here: on the mission field… and that’s something I feel fortunate to have found so early in life.

That security in knowing I belong on the mission field is encouraging as I figure out my next steps. As more long-term goals and visions are beginning to form, I am seeing more and more a need for further training and education in the areas in which I want to work. In the past, my impatience and eagerness to be on the mission field have pushed university to the back burner, but this past week’s teaching really encouraged me to take a second look at education. Phil, our speaker for part of last week, works with a ministry that is placing orphans in loving and supportive homes so that children can finally receive the care that they deserve and need. He and I spoke about the need for social workers to pioneer foster care in Latin America, and the value in professional education in areas of counseling and psychology. That was exciting for me – those are the areas I’d like to study, and it’s encouraging to know that there is a huge need that those qualifications can fulfill. On that note, I’ve been further investigating university for my near future!

The other part of last week’s class was taught by Leslie Freeman. We enjoyed classes outside, amidst sun and plants and a breeze. Leslie shared with us about working with children with special needs. We discussed different learning and behavioral disorders and how to recognize and accommodate each. Her creative teaching style and passion made for a really meaningful two days. I learned that about 1 in 10 children have a disability, so I will have to be well prepared to encounter and deal with different disabilities when working with kids.

Local outreach on Friday was another awesome time with the Santa Ana kids… I’m becoming more and more attached to all of them, and am really dreading saying goodbye. One of the most incredible observations I’ve made with them is the way older sisters diligently and selflessly care for their younger siblings. In this culture, it seems that the oldest sibling assumes the role of mother for the other kids. There are eleven-year-old girls walking around with babies on their hips, looking more like young woman than the little girls they are. As an older sister myself, I know that I never had that much responsibility with my younger brother. I am amazed at the family commitment and bond that these older sisters seem to share with their brothers and sisters. It’s really been a good lesson to me in family and care and responsibility. I’m sure these older sisters would much prefer to be playing with their friends and just enjoying childhood – and yet they are already at a point in life where they must sacrifice their own desires for the well being of their family. It is simultaneously encouraging and sad for me to see.

Elderly Man Arrested For Striking Children

So this article isn't really a social justice or human rights issue... it's more of just a strange, twisted article about an old man who enjoys hitting children in stores - because they're defenseless and he enjoys getting away with it. Initially, I kind of laughed, to be honest. What kind of crazy old man hangs out at Walmart and hits kids in the head for the fun of it? But the article mentions that he's manic depressive and has mental health issues. It made me think... this one weird old man was caught, but how many other mentally ill and unstable adults are out there abusing kids? There are tons of them. So please just take a second and pray about children who are abused, manipulated, exploited, and hurt by the adults in their lives - whether its their own parents, or a crazy old man in Walmart.

War Child International

War Child is an international organization that seeks to bring about peace and alleviate suffering among communities and nations that are victims of war. Through relief work, the bringing of material aid into war zones, rehabilitating children into their homes post-war, and helping children to heal, War Child International is showing God's love to those whose lives have been turned upside down by war.

SPEAK Network

SPEAK networks youth and students around the world to raise up a generation of young people who are passionate about seeking justice! SPEAK believes in the value of youth campaigning and speaking out on behalf of those who are suffering injustice, and is working to bring about transformation and see God's Kingdom established on Earth. It's really awesome to see an organization with such faith that young people have power to change the world!