Monday, August 15, 2011

Sweet Mariela.

I'm a girl who considers the idea of vacations to include things like hotels and room service, and I wouldn't mind a spa on premises, if we're getting technical.

Granted, I never went on vacation anywhere that actually had a spa on the premises, but in my mind it seemed like something I would enjoy.

A lot.

So I probably wouldn't be the first one to come to mind when people think missionary. And to be honest it was never on my radar growing up simply because it wasn't something I was exposed to. I remember Fr. Nash, whom my family loved, leaving to go to Africa and become a missionary when I was younger, but all I really knew about it was that he was leaving and we threw him a party and I would miss him not stopping by the house.

The limited sight of a child, you know.

It never affected my life until I was in college and my Aunt Janella, who worked at the college I attended and whom I treasured, decided to learn a new language and travel to Bolivia to serve the people.

It overwhelmed me to think of all she was leaving. It overwhelmed me to imagine the things she would see and the conditions in which she would learn to live. And it overwhelmed me with pride to know she was willing to do that – no, was excited to do that – simply because she felt called.

What overwhelmed me the most was that my eyes were finally opened up to a world beyond my doors. To a world of poverty and need and conditions about which my mind was oblivious. And because I got to hear the stories from Janella's perspective, I learned that these were not just faces and statistics on the evening news.

Bolivia was filled with mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters who love just like we love. Who hurt just like we hurt. And who hope for things that we take for granted in the simplest of moments.

After that, although time made it very clear my life would never allow it, I would wonder if that would ever be my calling. If I would ever have the chance to go and be the hands and feet of Christ in that way. If I would ever kneel down and face a child on a dirt road and gaze into eyes that were filled with a story far beyond their years. If I would ever be able to help.

So you can imagine what came over me when Matthew sent me the videos of him meeting my sweet Mariela, the girl he and Jessica allowed me to choose for them to sponsor in my name. I chose her picture, her story. I wrote her a letter and sent her photos and Jessica helped me shop for gifts for her in preparation for Matthew's mission trip.

My heart was already full of prayers for her and excitement over corresponding with her.

But then I saw her sweet smile.

Her shy nature.

The way she took in my story and felt the words in an understanding beyond her years.

The way she looked at the camera when she realized that's where I was, seeing her.

This child has already changed me more than I will ever affect her, I'm sure of it. Because now my world stretches beyond these walls all the way to Bolivia.

{Mariela's message to me}

{Matthew first meeting Mariela}

If you want to help a community better support each other, a family learn trades to earn income, a child to go to school and have the chance to educate themselves into a better future, consider looking into World Vision. They not only help communities, they set the goal of only having to be in a community for 15 years… at which time the community can run all the services for themselves. It's not just helping a child, it's providing a future for an entire village and the generations that will come.

Because not all of us can go be missionaries.

But that doesn't mean we aren't called to a mission.

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