Growing up in Pendleton, Oregon was like living in a punch bowl surrounded by dusty wheat fields. The summers were filled with hot, dry heat and dust devils whipping tumbleweeds across the road to be caught by the barbed wire fences.
No wonder I was captivated in the late 50’s with the grainy black and white film of the new mission launches carrying medical teams on the Amazon River. The launches were called Luzieros. Our world-wide church funded the project in the 30’s which was spearheaded by the Halliwells. The Luzieros are still in service.
Little did I know that someday I would be working on those very same launches. After 2 tours of duty on the Brazilian Amazon, the mission team switched over to the Peruvian Amazon where we traveled between Pulculpa and Iquitos on rented ferry boats. Eventually a boat was purchased and upgraded to meet our needs.
We traveled from destination to destination mostly in the early evening and during the night while we slept and then docked for clinics during the day. Sitting on the bow of the boat headed to our next town, as the sun was setting, was beautiful beyond words. Along the banks were stilted houses with parents sitting on the steps watching children bath in the water. The wash was hung to dry and contentment reigned.
They had so little. No windows or doors, hammocks for beds and just the bare essentials. How could they be so contented? Finally, it sunk in. They were contented because they had the same as everyone else, there were no stores with glossy marketing campaigns to make them feel they had to have something new to feel good about themselves.
Sure, they had needs but still they were contented. I wanted that contentment!
Coming home to my nice house I realized how blessed I am but some were not blessings at all. It was work keeping up with the world. So I began a campaign to purchase less and to really think about things and decide if it was really a critical purchase.
My family has since heard me mutter to myself, “It doesn’t fit in my Peruvian Hut!” before putting things back on the shelf. It’s okay to admire and enjoy pretty things but not in my house.
Putting my saying into practice has opened up new monies that I have available for really important things. “Children for a New Haiti” is dear to my heart and I am so happy to do without the “newest and latest” upgrade of anything so that I can make a difference in a child’s life.
In a few weeks I will be able to look into the eyes of the children of Haiti and know that all of us have a very worthy mission. To see kids in school learning so that they can better their lives and someday pass along to other needy kids the gift of an education.
But more than that, I want to look into the eyes of the boys we support and know that I have done my best to make a difference for them. What greater gift is there?
We all know that education is power and that is more important than the useless things I could ever choose to purchase for my house. But more than that, when Christ comes, I want to be able to say that I have cared for the “least of these” and hear the words “well done”!