Words cannot express how much I adore that our sponsored child (man/boy) Topiwo has his head down in this photo, it pretty much sums up what I could gather about his personality.
Eighteen months ago I traveled with Compassion International to Tanzania to meet children who are enrolled in the Compassion program through their local church and to write about it at my blog. It was an eye opening trip highlighted by the fact that I got to meet one of the boys our family sponsors through Compassion, and that was incredible.
I’m leaving with a team of Compassion bloggers this weekend to go back to Africa, this time to Uganda.
Thinking back to that last trip and the months and weeks leading up to it, I realized I spent most of my free time fretting and worrying. Don’t get me wrong, I prayed, I got my shots, I watched that one Amazing Race episode where they went to Tanzania. But in the cracks of the day I had a quiet looming worry about traveling and writing the posts. Would I survive? Would I be sick the entire time? Would I remember how to spell? Would I get lost and have to live the rest of my life in Tanzania?
Three days ago I was at my sister’s house (she’s also going on this trip!) and I told her how I realized I had forgotten to worry this time around. Don’t get me wrong, I’m gathering up all my old lady accoutrements, and I still don’t want to get on that heavy plane that flies without landing for 10 hours (twice before we even get there, and you have to do it all again just to get back home!) but this time I don’t have that nagging worry that I couldn’t shake before. And I don’t want to secretly kidnap Shaun Groves for a few weeks until all the fuss about this trip is forgotten.
I owe much of my change in attitude to the three books I just read. They all came to me for different reasons out of my control but now I can see how they each have prepared me for this trip and instead of dread, I’m anticipating seeing the hope of Jesus followers who live in Uganda, the life changing assistance that’s been provided by sponsors like you and me through the Compassion program and crowds of children who have yet to experience this hope.
The books that I accidentally read are:
Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis is a New York Times Bestseller, it’s been out for two years and I’ve heard people talking about it but I never thought to buy it. Then the other day I was in our basement putting away some books onto the bookshelves and there it was! Somehow I already had this book! I’m guessing it was in the Allume Conference Swag or something and it’s been patiently waiting in our filthy basement for me to find it.
I read this book in two days, partially due to the fact that it takes place in Uganda so I couldn’t get enough and partially due to the fact that this is the craziest story I’ve ever heard – and I might not have even believed it was true except for the fact that there is proof in the form of PHOTOS of Katie in the middle of the book that I didn’t even know were there until I got to them – best surprise ever! And also Ann went and visited her last summer so clearly, the story has been checked out. I hate to give anything of this story away so this is all I’ll say; high school homecoming queen has a burning desire to move to Uganda and somehow care for children. What happens next is stunning.
Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly Safe Faith is no Longer Enough by Kristen Welch. Y’all I’m totally a rotten brat telling you about this one because IT’S NOT EVEN AVAILABLE YET! Kristen asked me to endorse her book that comes out May 1st so I got to read it early. Some of my favorite parts of this book are the times when Kristen gives examples of when she’s said no. Kristen’s honesty about her imperfect life makes you feel like she’s your closest girlfriend. She talks about how Mercy House began and what woke her up from the American Dream. This book isn’t preachy and it doesn’t make you feel guilty, it motivates you to find your ‘one thing’ and to say yes to that.
Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most by Dr. Wess Stafford President Emeritus of Compassion International. One groggy night at Allume my sister and I were up too late hanging out with friends. Lisa-Jo just found out that Wess Stafford was leading this Compassion bloggers trip and asked us if we had read his book. We hadn’t. In her soothing South African accent she summarized Dr. Stafford’s life story and the climax of the book and the room. Was. Mesmerized. I made a mental note to read the book. I came home, put it on my wish list and promptly forgot about it until my husband surprised me with it at Christmas.
I fully expected to learn more about Dr. Stafford’s life, why he was so passionate about children and Compassion International and I was pretty sure it would make me like Compassion even more. What I didn’t expect to learn were page after page of applicable life lessons. This book surprised me so much and I fully expect it to be one of my top five favorite books I’ll read in 2014.
These three books are changing the way I think about poverty. They are changing the way I think about children. They are changing the way I think about myself and where I fit in this world. Sometimes I put off reading books like this because they kind of scare me. But then I read them and LOVE them. What about you, is there a book you were kind of afraid of and then ended up really enjoying it?
You are invited to follow along on our trip to Uganda starting next Monday, January 27-31. Click here to see where to subscribe to get the email updates (in the upper right corner) or bookmark this page so you can keep up with all the posts!