It’s the MOST Wonderful time of the Year…

Our first team of the year (March) will have the opportunity to finish building beds for boys who are, most likely, going to spend the rest of their lives in or near their beds. This will be our third and final trip to build beds for these boys. Admittedly when we were going to build their beds I was very apprehensive about how I might act or respond to boys with handicaps that, quite frankly, made me nervous or uncomfortable. God surprised me on that first trip by showing me that it wasn’t the boys who were handicapped, but me. And God, being full of grace and mercy, showed me and the entire team that Love removes all handicaps. He reminded me that in Heaven we will all be whole. It was a beautiful thing. And, it was my favorite of 22 trips. I’m so excited to return to a place that is such a glimpse of what Heaven will be like. On that same team we’ll go to build beds for children who are living at an orphanage for children who have arthritis and circulatory problems. I’ve made two visits to this orphanage—-and I have to confess that I still don’t understand how it is there can be an entire orphanage of children who have arthritis and joint problems. In trying to understand this, I have continued to ask myself, “What would this look like in America?” Perhaps the best understanding of their situation came from the wife of our Moldovan project coordinator, “their suffering is from the cold and is associated with poverty.” No wonder I struggled to understand that. I can’t. But, their lives will be improved by the team which builds their new beds. Goodbye sagging metal hammocks. Goodbye extra health problems for those children with arthritic joints and bodies. Hello, sweet sleep from Sweet Sleep.

Snap 2—
Our conversation continued to unfold to the team John is leading. John helped to contribute to a portion of our team notebooks which deal in a member’s spiritual development. We began to talk about how he needed to prepare for his commitment: praying for his unknown team members, sharing his calling with those around him, beginning to ask God to guide him through the steps which would prepare his team in every way. My mission pastor has always said that a mission journey is a years worth of church wrapped up into a week. I’ve never argued that statement. The longer our dinner conversation went, the more I was reminded of why that seems so true.
Mission journeys are amazing for so many reasons. Yes, they allow you to meet new people (some of my best friends have come into my life as a result of serving on a team). Yes, they allow you to travel to new places you might otherwise never go (just look at my photo albums and passport). Yes, they force yourself to test your faith by making you do something you’re afraid of (for me, this is my extreme fear of flying…you might enjoy knowing I have never unbuckled on an airplane.) Yes, they take your view and understanding of the world and your place in it and squash it to pieces (too many examples to list, but trust me). And yes, they will always prove that, despite our best intentions to minister to those we seek to serve, we’re actually the ones most ministered to —-by those we are serving. Amazing how this happens.
Snap 3—
As our dinner conversation wrapped up we found ourselves wondering WHO would go. Who would the faces and names be that now are just prayers? What stories laid before us about why God would bring lives together? How would they be forever changed? What child would come to experience love for the first time or come to know of a TRUE Father? What team member would experience a little bit of Heaven on earth by hugging a child and then realizing they were looking into the face of their Saviour? And then suddenly the restaurant was closing down and we had to stop dreaming and talking about all those whose hearts God would begin to stir over the coming days, weeks and months as teams begin to form. And THAT makes this the most exciting time of year. We have a handful of trips over the next several months and as we sit here, God is moving things in a person’s life and heart which will lead them to join a Sweet Sleep journey. Exciting? I think so.

So, where will you go this year? It could be Africa or Eastern Europe or maybe just to the coffee shop where you happen to tell a friend about an opportunity to work with orphans to build their beds. Whatever that moment looks like, let God use you in it. See you in the next blog.