Wow! I have absolutely no idea where to begin. This trip was unbelievable! I’ve been back for two days now and I am trying to process all that happened while simultaneously trying to catch up on a month worth of missed work. It is proving to be quite difficult, but I am confident all will work out just fine as long as I continue to rest in God’s arms—letting Him take control of everything I am and everything I do.
I am sure you are all wondering what happened while I was there...so here is a brief snippet of the wave of events that took place.
Most of the month was spent in the children’s home where I played with the kids and served them meals. Many of the children there don’t get enough direct adult interaction so I decided to make it my job to simply be present to them. I think I succeeded in this because my legs still ache from all the soccer matches that went on. I also initially tried to attend the school, but soon after realizing that I couldn’t understand a thing they were saying, I quickly turned my mornings into an intense time of solitude, filled with much prayer and study. It was incredible to see my capacity to love increase greatly because of how much time I was spending just trying to be with God. I now know that the times spent in silence are the only reason I was able to love people day in and day out.
The children at the NASA home.
Outside of the daily children’s home duties, I also went to many rural villages. I distributed rice, dedicated a well, distributed money to a leper colony, worshipped alongside nomads in a tsunami relief village, and played guitar in a local church. In other words, I got to do quite a variety of things while I was there.
A well dedication at a nearby school.
As the month came to a close though, things got crazy. I saw a horrible accident on the freeway just outside the children’s home where a truck hit a father and son riding on a bike. The father ended up dying right there and the child ended up only having a fractured leg. I could not believe what I was seeing. It really brought home the brokenness of this world, the frailty of life, the foolishness of the relentless pursuit of material things, and the desire for God’s Creation to be restored to its intended state. To top it off, the next day I visited a Hindu temple and it was a very dark place. I now know what it looks like to sacrifice animals and to see idol worship. I also now have a very distinct visual for what it may have looked like when Jesus walked into his Father’s temple and turned over the tables of the merchants, as there was every indulgence known to man inside the temple I visited. It was absolutely insane to see.
Some of the idols at the temple.
After my time ended at the children’s home, I went to Madras and visited the St. Thomas Basilica, where Thomas was martyred. That was significant for me because it served as a reminder to the danger of following Christ.
A crucifix at the St. Thomas Basilica. The sunlight really made this beautiful.
From there, I went to Amsterdam to spend a couple of days at a ministry called the Cleft. This is a community of people who simply go out into the streets and build relationships with prostitutes, homeless people, drug addicts, and drug dealers. They try to love people relentlessly despite the many different addictive cycles these people may be trapped in. It was incredible to see just how fluid of a life the people of the Cleft lived. They would live normal lives like you and I, but they would have many different God-sent interruptions that they would take advantage of. Meaning that as they went about their day, if they ever saw one of the street people or addicts, they would immediately drop what they were doing in order to love them in a very concrete way. Again, it was great to see how we can live out the type of life Jesus lived 2,000 years ago, and to see how transformational this kind of life is even now!
A canal in Amsterdam.
So that is a very basic summary of my trip. Thank you all so much for your prayers while I was gone. God definitely blew my mind by revealing Himself to me in the most unexpected and beautiful ways. Now I get the opportunity to share my experiences with the teen staff this summer. Please pray that I will remain very receptive to the Holy Spirit’s guiding as I begin hiring the teen staff that will serve this summer.