Summer of Surprises
Arkansas summers are not my cup of tea, or should I say not my tall, frosty glass of iced tea!
Being freckled and fair, these 115-degree heat index days leave me drained and surly if I am honest. I long for the delightful breezes of April and October and the comfort of my old jogging suit. For me, summer in Arkansas is to be endured, at least the months of July and August.
This summer, however, has been one of "suddenlys" and surprises. In May, our associate in Vietnam wrote to ask if he could spend a few days with us in early June as he was between Seattle and Pittsburgh on business. We enjoyed hosting him for a few days of fellowship and relationship building. During a conversation with a pastor and longtime friend of Firefall International, I shared the concept of sending college age volunteers to Vietnam to work in a children's center serving orphans and underprivileged children. Some preschoolers are guarded in their meager homes by siblings aged 8 or 9 while both parents work to put food on the table. This pastor immediately said, "I have two guys who need this opportunity. Can we set something up for July?" A day or two later, I found myself in the Little Rock airport introducing our associate from Vietnam to the two young men who would soon be spending a month serving in a culture a world away.
Here we are in late July and the guys have been there two weeks already. The trip has been beneficial to both the college guys and the kids. The guys are gaining the priceless gift of a larger worldview enhanced by the compassion that cross cultural service gives if we come to it as learners, not experts. The children have grown in their English language acquisition, an amazing "lift" for disadvantaged children there. New friendships have been forged, treasured memories formed and a newfound appreciation of the many advantages in their lives. They toured a hospital a few days ago where 2-4 people share one small bed due to overcrowding.
I have had the joy of hearing from the guys via Messenger every day or two about their strange and wonderful summer. At first, I had to face some jealousy that I was the "sender" and not the "goer" this time. As I embraced my assignment of coach and cheerleader, my days have been full of prayers for them and the children, plus laughter as they are stretched by new foods and customs. They are not fans of soup for breakfast.
What a joy to be a tiny part of something God has sovereignly orchestrated to touch all these lives. Hopefully, I will remember the summer of 2017 as the first time we launched volunteers to SE Asia and not another dreaded Arkansas scorcher. Their joy has become mine and that is sweeter than a giant gulp of southern sweet tea!