Ok so keep that vision in your head. Now, think about then your greeting from kids a little older, let’s just say maybe around age 6-11. They are still happy to see you. Still come to greet you when you walk in the door the first time with a big hug and joy in their steps, but their steps are a little slower, and if you run out for an errand, they don’t greet you with the same excitement and joy as the first time you enter, because they knew you were going to come right back. They still want your attention, but also have other things to occupy their time and so they don’t demand that you are focused on them the entire time.
And now, think about greetings from teens. Much slower greeting at the door. Maybe even need to be told by their parents to come greet you. There might be a hug in there, some general small talk, and then they go back to doing what they were doing before you came in. There are some opportunities during the visit maybe to have some brief deep conversations, but YOU are fighting for their attention, asking them to put their phone away…..
Many of you know that this past month I had the opportunity to have my first trip back to the US since my departure in September 2013. I shared my time between Chicago and Ohio, spoke in 3 different churches, and 2 Sunday schools, visited my old work and all my wonderful coworkers and friends, and soaked up every single moment I could with my closest friends and family.
The great thing about being away for so long is that your eyes are open to changes that have occurred over time that many people might miss. The biggest change for me was how much children grow over a year. I was blessed to spend time with friends and family who have children ranging from 7 months to 17 years. As my time with all of them came to an end, God spoke to me by using my visits with all these kids.
He reminded me of a time in my life, when I ran to him like my friend’s little boy, William ran to me every time I came into their house. Arms wide open, so excited to see me, following me from one room to the next, and insistent on being focused on him. It is times like these that I cherished, looked forward to, and now miss. When I first realized what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus, I felt the same way; arms wide open, embracing God’s love and attention for me. I still feel that way, sometimes….but sometimes, I forget. Often, my reaction to God might be more described like the greeting rom an older child and sometimes even the teen. Where I find myself busy with my “other stuff” going on and so my time with God might be there, but it might be short, and/or inconsistent, or distracted.
Then I wonder, what has caused me to get to this point? What things are distracting me from God, or what things are blocking me from running to Him and enjoying Him? Facebook, fear, fatigue, work….. I wonder if you have asked this question too? James 4:8 says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. I don’t know about you but all I know is that I long for those moments when I can throw off all that other stuff, stop everything I’m doing and RUN to the arms of Jesus. And just like the mutual satisfaction of love and joy that William and I had during our time together, God wants for all of us too.
So now just a quick update. 2 weeks back in Peru, I’ve hit the ground running but hopefully not too fast to miss those treasured moments with God! This 2015 will be an exciting year here in Peru with many opportunities for growth personally and for the church, Camino de Vida, with whom I am serving. I’ve already had an opportunity to teach a refresher course to my fellow volunteers/friends about the Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchairs, and I did it speaking my best Spanish (which was very rusty for only speaking English for a month!) Thankfully my friends gave me a lot of grace and helped fill in the words/phrases I forgot or just don’t know yet. In 1 week that group of friends and I will be teaching about 70 more volunteers from the church how to build and adapt the wheelchairs in preparation for our mass wheelchair distributions. It is exciting to see this next step of sharing the information to others to be able to include more people serving from the church. I also continue to go to 2 different orphanages 3 days a week to provide occupational therapy and will have a few interns from the states shadowing me for the next 2 months. There is so much more going on within the church but all of it is in its starting phases so I will update you as things evolve.
For now, I just want to say Happy New Year and thank you so much for your continued support towards what I am doing here. If you helped me out in any way when I was back in the US, I can't thank you enough.Really, if it were not for all of you, this would not be possible and so for that I say thank you so much!