I've been hugged more this week than I probably have in the last year. I love it, but really? I'm just getting to the point where I want to go home and hug my own kids.
Ready to go home or not, this week has been full of good times...
I've had a rockin' ride in a Jeepney,
had some unique cultural lessons,
had a larger-than-life dancing Jolli"bee" flirt with me,
driven through the countryside in a relaxing Pedicab with Simple Mom,
and drawn letters in the air with my bum to make Filipino children laugh.
I've also seen a lot of harder things. Like where my sponsor child lives. And houses that require rafts made of styrofoam to get across to them through the water they sit in. And beautiful, radiant young women who love and serve Jesus tremendously, even though they have to walk through terrifyingly dark alleys to get to their one-room homes in the slums.
All week, I have intentionally kept my eyes wide open so that I could see the reality of it all, but the truth is, I just don't want to see it anymore.
It's not that I want to close my eyes to the fact that it exists altogether, but I feel a tension between simply losing it and being incapable of handling the sadness anymore, or having to harden my heart so that it doesn't hurt so much. It's always painful to watch others truly suffer, and if it isn't, we probably need to check our pulse.
We're preparing to leave the Philippines tomorrow, and I don't know what it looks like to go back home and do life again.
But pain is not only a companion of poverty. It is part and parcel of being human in this broken world.
While I've been here, meeting families whose lives are in turmoil and they have nowhere to hang their hope but at the cross of Jesus, life still carries on elsewhere.
While driving to catch our plane last week, we learned that a dear friend, a young mom just like me, has gone from battling breast cancer to now being diagnosed with brain cancer as well. She had surgery on Tuesday morning to remove one of the tumors from her brain and I've simply had to try to force myself not to think about it just to continue to walk through all that we're seeing here.
No. Pain is universal. We can try to close our eyes if we want to, but it's only an exercise in futility. It will still be there, whether we want to face it or not.
I prayed for a mom today. Her oldest child reminds me of my own 6 year old daughter-- bright, bubbly, precocious, articulate.
Her youngest was the same age as my Johanna, about 2 years old. We saw little Diane conked out on the wood floor, taking a late morning nap during our time there. She looked like any other sweet, sleeping babe, except that she has a large, blood-filled growth in her diaper area that causes her great pain and distress. She needs to have it surgically removed, but they may not be able to afford it.
I asked her mother what would happen if she didn't get that surgery. She said she didn't know, her eyes glistening with tears, and with a look that can only belong to a mother helplessly watching her child suffer.
I had to fight hard to keep from losing it right then and there. My gut reaction was to swoop Diane up into my arms, take her home, and get her that surgery, exactly the way that we would without hesitation if it was our own little girl.
And I know that that isn't the answer, but right now I'm struggling to know what the right answer is.
I feel helpless, impotent, fragile, useless and weak.
I want to help them all, but I can't. I want to snap my fingers and wave some pixie dust and make the pain and the poverty and the loss and the suffering go away.
But what I'm beginning to see is that I can't do everything for everyone, but I can do something for at least some of them.
I can do something for Joshua and Joseph, our sponsor children in Kenya.
I can do something for John Mark and his family here in the Philippines.
I can choose to pry open my swollen eyes and allow the Lord to be the lens through which I see the pain, and I can listen to his gentle promptings for our own family. I can choose to say "yes" when he calls and help those whom he leads us to help.
I am only one, but I can do something.
You are only one, but you can do something in the life of one child.
For those who have been reading along all week during our time here, or even just this one post, thank you. Thank you for being willing to open yours eyes along with us.
The point isn't necessarily that you sponsor a child with Compassion (although I would definitely encourage you to prayerfully considering doing so), but rather to ask that you would join with us in slowing down long enough to really see, and to really listen, and to simply say "yes" to his whatever his voice is speaking to you.