There I was in the Amazon sitting up on a hill at night with friends. What a surreal experience. In front of us was a distant thunderstorm; behind us was the full moon. Below us was a river surrounded by the jungle. It was beautiful and creative with God’s artwork displayed for us to see.
So by now, you all have probably heard we were served worms a couple of times in the Amazon. I am so proud of Keely, Shaun and Chris for eating the worms and I am sorry for the parasites they are going to get. Oh I am kidding. I am sure they will be fine! Friends, I contemplated eating a worm just so I could say, “I ate a worm,” but when I forked the fat squishy thing I felt the throw up in my throat and I had a hot flash, so I knew I needed to move in another direction. Call me a Whimp! Instead, I ate the fish. Here was the finished product of my meal please note the size of the grub worm on the spoon. I was just thankful we didn’t get served forest rat after a classroom of kids told us this was their favorite food.
The jungle; it’s not like any other place in the world. The people who live here have such a different way of life, and my suburban mini van-driving mind can’t fully grasp it. Do they know what they are missing? After all, they don’t have iPods, Play Stations, or computers. Or is the better question…do we know what we are missing?
Personally, I wouldn’t wish this materialistic life of America on these little children. They seem content and happy with the river as their playground. They get sunsets so glorious one can’t help but know a God exists. They get rain and thunderstorms, grub worms and forest rat and a life of exploration. They see a side of creation the most of us only read about in books or see on the discovery channel.
While I was there I have to admit I kind of romance their lives and envy the simplicity. I look at their houses built on stilts and think it would be kind of cool to live in such a place…of course until it floods. However, then I hear about the diseases they deal with such as yellow fever, dengue, malaria, parasites, and the constant danger of snakes and I realize their lives are hard. I can’t handle snakes my friends.
The pastor, a formally sponsored child from this area, told us that many of the children suffer from malnutrition and the community in general lacks employment and resources. Many of the parents are alcoholics and he explained to us that his village is full of hopelessness, and the darkness of witchcraft. It’s not so romantic after all. He wants to provide life and light to his community, and while they may never have much, he wants them to know the hope and comfort of God.
We met a 15-year-old young man named Jonathan who lives in the jungle by himself. This jungle boy was abandoned at a young age, and even though his father visits occasionally, Jonathan doesn’t have the arms of a mother to hold him, or a father to guide him and tell him how proud he is, or a brother to be his playmate. All this is gone gone gone. But Jonathan has someone who picked up his packet and looked at his picture and sponsored him. And we were witnesses to the life change that his sponsor, Andrew, provided Jonathan. Jonathan considers his sponsor to be his family. He hangs his sponsor’s picture on the wall and because of his sponsor, Jonathan receives the support he needs to make it. Most importantly Jonathan learned of the love of Christ and now finds incredible comfort in Jesus. He told us that when he is lonely he sits in his hammock and sings praises to God, and this helps fill the void. One by one a life changed. Ann and Sophie told his story beautifully.
After visiting Jonathan we rode in our canoes down to the Compassion center nearby. I had been to this place last year, so I was excited to see my little buddy Douglas, who I met last year. I remembered him because he has so much joy. His crippled body doesn’t stop him from playing with all the children and there is something precious about him. He knows the Savior. One day I imagine Douglas running full speed down the streets of gold into the arms of the One who loved him most. One more life changed.
People often ask me where the worst poverty exists. After all, the slums of Mathere are horrible, and the streets of Kolkata are dangerous, smelly and desperate. Is the jungle so bad?
It’s a hard question to answer and I have come to realize in my travels that the question isn’t fair. Kids suffer all over the world, and as God looks at these children, he doesn’t concern Himself with their environment as much as He concerns himself with their heart. Often I get overwhelmed at all the need in the world and I just want to fix it, and each place I visit I see the darkness and desperation that poverty brings into a life of a precious, precious child. But then I remember that God wants me to see the children as He does. One at a time. Each child is precious in His eyes.
the night on the Amazon was an incredible gift, as well as the company. The children were beautiful and the jungle was amazing. As I try to sum it all, I keep coming back to this…
God must love me and He has been faithful. He has kept me safe from harm and given me a rich life. He continues to call me to care for these children and to serve Him through the ministry of Compassion International. He has given me an amazing family with a husband and children who love Him as well. I am blessed beyond belief. My sweet Isabel, she wrote this post while I was traveling and I was so thankful she cares. If you want to donate shoes, please go to her website or send me a note. But if you can sponsor a child…do it! You can be the arms of love and the healer of heart.
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
Life, Family, Faith and Travel...the life of a Jones
Dominican Republic Missions trip
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