That was me. I went on a mission trip and decided that is what I wanted to do with my life. Whenever life at home is hard— I fall back on the fantasy of living in another country.
Now I am here in Tegucigalpa, Honduras— no I’m not living here for good, but I am living in an orphanage of 8 girls and one house mom for two months, and it’s far from a fantasy.
We wake up every morning at 5 am to make breakfast for the girls as they grab it and rush off to school. While I go to work in the neighborhoods, the house mom stays at the house all day cleaning and cooking. When the girls get home they eat an unusually late lunch, do homework, watch some TV and head to bed to begin it all again. Little things like buying groceries or getting needed clothes are difficult since we share a car with the boys orphanage and must bring along all 8 girls wherever we go.
Breaks are rare. As I write this post the girls are pressing buttons on my computer, asking questions, and singing in Spanish. For the house mother, this is her reality. She doesn't go out with friends or shopping for new clothes… her life is not about herself.
I’m not climbing mountains, discovering cures for diseases, or adventuring through new places. Life here becomes much like the routine at home that prompts me to dream of living here.
Now there are some differences in the routine. These aren't normal girls— some grew up stealing so they could buy food, some had prostitutes for mothers, and others were told their whole lives they were worthless. You can imagine the difficulties in raising these girls as they heal from such deep scars.
We have to lock the pantry because the girls will keep eating until they are sick. The house mom told me its a psychological problem because as kids, they never knew where their next meal would come from.
Yes, there are some beautiful moments- slumber parties in the basement, piles of pancakes for breakfast, serving together, and occasional sappy moments. But for the most part…its hard.
Today I watch little 5-year-old Ruth run around the house with an old cheerleading skirt and a shirt that doesn't match. She throws around a deflated ball and giggles as she runs around the house jabbering some Spanish that I don't understand.
In spite of this opportunity to rest and be thankful-- I am overwhelmed.
This is something I have struggled with in most seasons of my life. Usually I'm overwhelmed with classes, work and all the exciting responsibilities that come with being an adult.
Here in Honduras I am overwhelmed because there is so much I don't understand.
But today, the feeling of being overwhelmed hit me in my moment to rest.
As I sat and watched little Ruth chase her ball-- I let my worries and fears overtake my thoughts, and I ended up missing what was right in front of me.
Our all-sufficient El Shaddai invites us to rest in his perfect provision. There is no need for me to be overwhelmed, but rather to find the childlike laughter and trust of little Ruth.
I still don't understand the poverty and pain that seems to uncover itself more and more each day I am here. I don't understand how there is joy and generosity in spite of such desolation. I don't understand why bad things happen to certain people and not to others--and I don't understand why these eight precious girls I live with are orphans.
But I think that's ok.
I'm learning to seek trust instead of answers and to slow down just enough to trust for the moment. None of us know what the next year, the next month, the next day or even the next hour will hold.
Will you join with me as I slowly learn from little Ruth to find trust and thankfulness in the moment?
Stacks of pancakes, crusty pans and sticky fingers at 5 am.
This is a typical morning in the girls orphanage.
Its hard for me to understand waking up 2 hours early just to enjoy breakfast.
I think people here in Honduras understand something most Americans spend their entire lives trying to find. Despite all of the sadness and poverty in this city, there is a joy and appreciation for the little things unlike I have ever seen.
All too often, I feel like that word defines my life.
Last month I went on a mission trip to Honduras. Each morning I got up, breakfast was made for me and my day was planned around loving on orphans or playing with little kids. I wasn't overwhelmed about anything, my only responsibility was to serve.
On Bree Medlock's mission trip to Honduras she spent the first week around a table teaching locals about discipleship, and the second week hiking a mountain and sleeping on the floors of a school in the village with the bugs and dirt.
“The reason we were in the village was to love on people and encourage them,” said Bree Medlock, student at the University of Memphis.
Medlock went to Honduras with an independent team, but worked with an established ministry that continued the work after the team left.
“That second week was really difficult, but I’m glad I went," said Medlock. "I think everyone should experience a mission trip because it teaches you so much about yourself, other people and about God.”
In many ways Medlocks experiences reflect both the benefits and drawbacks of short term mission trips by young people around the world.
Fifty years ago, young people typically joined the Peace Corps for a few years, but now high school and college students are jumping on a plane to Africa or South America for as little as one week.
While the trips routinely benefit participants by exposing them to global challenges of poverty and education, some experts question the benefit of short term mission trips.
The Whole Planet Foundation allows customers to impact the lives of people in poverty by simply buying a calendar for $4.
Whole Planet Foundation is a nonprofit founded in 2005 and supported by Whole Foods Market that provides microcredit loans to people in 57 countries, allowing them to open their own home-based businesses.
“It is a way for us as a company and for our customers to give in a way that really does provide a way out of poverty instead of just giving a handout,” said Minnie Horton, front end supervisor at Whole Foods on Poplar.
This month, for the third year in a row, each Whole Foods Market is selling calendars featuring pictures of the families who are supported with $44 worth coupons inside.
Some of the coupons include $2 off Kashi Go Lean Cereal, $1 off Clif Kit’s organic bar, $5 off Garden of Life vitamin code multivitamins, and $2 off Seventh Generation laundry detergent.
Since Whole Planet Foundation is supported by Whole Foods, 100 percent of donations go directly to the foundation.
Whole foods began with 200 calendars and are already working on ordering more.
“The customer response has been great. We just started selling calendars this month and are already close to selling out,” said Horton.
In addition to the calendars, customers can buy items from the entrepreneurs at Whole Foods Stores, or download 17 songs that have been donated by artists for only $5.
Find out about everything humanitarian in Memphis with Humanitarian Heart. Read stories, find out about nonprofits, and learn simple ways that you can make a difference. Every Wednesday until November 13, there will be a short post featuring a simple way that for you to be a humanitarian in Memphis.
Want to support the global economy? Look no further than Global Goods, a fair trade craft, coffee, clothes and gift store in Midtown.
Fair Trade simply means that products are made by people with fair working conditions and wages in developing countries.
“I think that it is common to hear about sweatshops and unfair working conditions in other countries. Global Goods is a practical way for people here in Memphis to impact the lives of those workers by simply buying everyday items,” said Debbie Odom, buyer for Global Goods.
Global Goods carries clothes and jewelry from countries such as Peru, India, Nepal and Ghana, coffee from Guatemala, Columbia, Brazil, and a variety of chocolates from Europe. Most things range from one dollar to $20.
A local newspaper written by the homeless is one of the many programs endorsed by Doors of Hope in Memphis.
Each Wednesday, they hold a writers workshop to write stories for “The Bridge.”
“Writing helps me think, “said Kimberly, one of the residents at Doors of Hope who has been a part of the writing team for six months.
CeCe, another resident, has been a part of the writing workshops since they began.
“It gives me a sense of purpose,” CeCe said.
Doors of Hope is a nonprofit dedicated to changing the lives of homeless in Memphis through a variety of programs including their monthly newspaper, permanent housing for 52 residents, medication, job training, resume workshops and even job placement.