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MISSION UPDATE: Well-worn paths

They trudge along the path, half gravel-half dirt, with pillows and blankets tucked under their arms. As the door cracks open, I spot almost a dozen faces beaming with a kind of joy that makes little sense to me. Nothing spectacular is about to happen. I have no piñata or party favors. I have only a chipped tile floor with grout missing in more places than I care to notice.

And yet, that tile floor is their joyful destination. Because they make the journey each night from the far side of the pond, where their cozy beds are located, in order to sleep with me on the floor of my house.

I keep wondering when it’ll grow old. When they’ll tire of the hard floor and thin sleeping mats. When they’ll realize I’m offering them little but my presence.

Interestingly, that somehow seems to be all they want. And so as the numbers have been growing, my floor is littered with a beautiful mess of sleeping mats and blankets and fans … and children nestled in among it all.

It’s humbling. It’s endearing. And nightly it overwhelms me with the reality of how little it actually takes to make a person feel loved.

Tonight I went from child to child and listened to what they wanted to share about their day. My Thai is improving and I’m beginning to understand more of what they’re telling me. But also, I realized listening to them share, watching their eyes sparkle and dance, taking in their giggles as they tell something that makes them feel shy … for them it’s about the whole experience of having the full attention of an adult they love. They know I still don’t understand a lot of it and they pepper their sentences with English vocabulary to help me along.

But in the end it’s the time spent that matters to them. It’s the intention. It’s seeing me look them in the eye, assuring them I see and I care.

I turned off the lights and prayed with them and then the room sounded with a chorus of high-pitched, hearty “amens”. I sat down on my mat and the amount of unfinished tasks from the day threatened the peace of that almost-quiet moment. But I looked around the room full of bodies wriggling out the last of the night’s energy and knew if nothing else got done before I laid my head on the pillow, the important stuff hadn’t been neglected.

Staring into the darkened room, brightened only slightly by a single strand of lights I’d hung months ago, I wondered at a God who would so lovingly intertwine our lives like this.

My corner of the world tests my endurance, challenges my faith, and calls into question everything I ever thought I knew.

The saving grace is that, at the end of the day, I know what matters most has nothing to do with whether I’m good at what I’m doing or not.

But it DOES have everything to do with WHO is helping me keep one foot in front of the other to get it done!


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