Ed and Rosa Salo, Mama and Papa to children at the Lily of the Valley Orphanage in Aldama, Chichuahua, Mexico (click here to visit their website) spoke at church about compassion, connections, and rewards. Samuela, who who was the Salos driver on their journey north, was, according to Ed, a bruised, battered, bleeding nine year old, when he came to Lily. He now works along side Ed and Rosa to bind up the wounded hearts of the children. Our church has supported them for at least 10 years and several years ago, I joined a group from church, to visit Lily. We freely crossed the border with food, clothes, and bedding. Today, no one is allowed to cross with these items. There are so many needs there. The children seldom eat meat. Their buses are broken and they have only one van to shuttle the children to their schools and doctor appointments, and we, as in the church, have purchased a van for them. These children came from the poorest of the poor, and are richly loved and cared for in the safe haven of Ed and Rosa's care.
Mexico, according to a 2013 report, has a 21.3% poverty rate. 21.3% of Mexico's population live on less than two U.S. dollars per day. My friend and neighbor went to Mexico recently. She took my bags of closet cleanouts in suitcases to her family in Mexico. She can cross with them, because the cases are viewed as vacation clothes. She says, "When you are poor, everything fits." Sometimes, she walks across the border and meets her sister on the bridge to exchange suitcases.
Guatemala, Mexico's neighbor to the south, has a 62.4 poverty rate, according to the same report. We have helped His Appointed Time Ministries (click here) a little and seen the needs in person.
Uganda's poverty rate is 88.2%. Do the math: only 11.8% of the population does not live in poverty. Houses are mud and grass. Floors are dirt. Food is very little and medicine is almost nonexistent. We have sent sewing machines, blankets, and schoolchildren sponsorships to Uganda via, His Joy Ministries. Click here to view.
The poverty rate here in the United States is 13.5% according to the 2015 census. I have a suspicion that the poorest of the poor here in the US might seem wealthy in Uganda.
Jesus said it. It's not an option.
GO. Just go.
October seems to be Missions Month around here. Some girlfriends are going to Guatemala, Amazing Daughter and her girlfriends are heading to Uganda and 21 of my girlfriends and I are packing for Ohio. It's been a month of fundraisers, garage sales, and bake sales. We've made and adjusted travel plans. We've sent hundreds of emails and texts and emoji's with instructions. Jesus said, "go" and we are going.
All three groups will be going to work alongside other ministries in those places. We, collectively, as in all 35 of us short term missionaries, are gathering gifts and stuffing suitcases. We are packing socks, gloves, hats, and scarves for the homeless winter in Ohio, Bible study materials for rescued women in Uganda, gifts for weary servants in Guatemala, and shoes for missionary children living in remote places. Retreat and conference attendee packets, books and bags are tagging along too. Oh, yeah, throw in some school supplies. Stacks of projects are in various stages of travel readiness all over our houses. My house has something for each team. And no, my friend, it is not a vacation.
In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus tells us disciples that we are "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world". He said, "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
Yes. We are to GO into all the world and BE salt and light.
Another girlfriend, who has spent some years in a missions unfriendly country, says, "Oh, they recognize the light". She was in a place that did not allow church, or missionaries, or Bible studies, or teachings about Jesus. But she and others Christians in that country were recognized as salt and light. She had many people approach her and ask her to explain the light.
May we be ever mindful and sensitive to encounters with other travelers.
Let's GO BE salt and light, but let's not rub salt in their wounds or blind them with our light.
I believe they will recognize the salt and light in us, without us putting it on display.
We've packed and prayed and studied and prepared.
Now, let's just GO and BE.
"Go with us", they said. "It will be fun. It's not hard. You'll be glad you did it." So I paid the money, signed the waiver, and strapped on the harnesses and clips and ropes and caution-light yellow helmet. Then granddaughter gave her short bit of eleven year old advice: "It's all about trust."
Great. Just great. Trust.
The back of my t-shirt is emblazoned boldly with Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Surely Paul the prisoner did not mean zip lining through tree tops at 30 miles an hour. The scripture I carried on my back and in my heart may have been bold, but I was trembling.
What was I thinking.
Up three flights of narrow steps. Take a picture. Stand on the mini platform. Hold the rope here. Yell as loud as you can "Scared silly grandmother zipping." Lift your feet and do all things through Christ's strength.
I hung on to that rope with all the strength I could find in my flabby granny arms, because when you come to the end of your rope, you tie a knot in it and hang on. Then my grip slipped and my double harness and pair of ropes held me. Do it in His strength and not mine for when I am weak He is strong.
It's all about trust.
We zip through life and hang on with our own weak strength going from one shaky platform to another when all we really need to do is lift our feet and relax.
And trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understandings. Proverbs 3:5
This wagon train has been on the road for two days heading for Montana. As we listen and sing to Alan Jackson's Mama's favorite hymns, I keep my trusty iPad close to research campgrounds, places to eat, AND occasionally sneak a few pages of my digital book. We wonder about the buffalo and the Indians and the pioneers. The Wagon master has never in 45 years stopped at one of those brown historical markers, a National Historic Site, or a National Monument. Well, maybe twice. I read them all but never get to see them. But now I have this magical little device that tells me what happened at all those places. I read them to the wagon master and we are both happy.
My book was a freebie on Amazon. The author is Lauraine Snelling, a Christian historical ficton writer and a native daughter of North Dakota. And, yes, thank you very much for asking, (drumroll), I have met her. Her books are full of Scripture and faith, which I love.
Today her characters are on their way to Oregon in covered wagons, amid all kinds of challenges and hardships. They have just left Fort Laramie, where they picked up supplies for the long trek over the mountains. You'll have to read it yourself for the rest of the story!
Driving through rain clouds and green grassy prairies today, I looked up from my device just in time to see one of those sweet little brown signs announcing
"Fort Laramie National Historical Site"
and then another about
"The Oregon Trail "