I’ve been thinking about blogging more on our Sweet Sleep blog page. There are so many stories to tell and so many ways God works through this ministry to change lives…so many prayer needs….so many questions to ask. The thought of where to start has kept me from beginning. And then last week….it happened. I had the perfect place to start. A beginning.
Sometimes I find I have the tendency to grow accustomed to the work Sweet Sleep does. It’s like if you were a heart surgeon or the person who gives you a pedicure (have those two ever been compared before….and what is the name for someone who gives pedicures? See, there are so many questions). A surgeon doesn’t think twice about the fact that their work just saved a life (not a good one anyway!). The pedicure person doesn’t sit back and marvel at their 10 little piggy masterpiece (like I always do for days on end).
It’s like that in ministry, too. Every day we strive to accomplish something profound for an orphaned or abandoned child…..every day. Sometimes in the busyness I forget to step back and be amazed. I wish I wouldn’t because then I’m not able to fully or adequately recognize the potential impact God desires to make from our obedience.
Recently I had dinner with John Hataway, old friend, supporter of Sweet Sleep, all around stellar human and team leader for our May 2009 Moldova mission journey. Our dinner conversation began as any other and then developed into me talking about the work our Sweet Sleep teams will be doing in 2009 to minister to orphaned and abandoned children through the provision of their beds and bedding.
Our dinner conversation snapped me awake to the things God has been doing and wants to continue to do this year. It was tremendous…and I just had to share it with you…
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.
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.
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.