Friday, May 18, 2012

Going on by Faith . . .

     The past week had it's ups and down.  While working with those in need it's to be expected, but that doesn't make it easier.  I've been coordinating a sponsorship program to help kids and their families for over a decade now.  This means I've gotten to see many kids benefit from the help of others.  But not every student has the results we'd hope.
     Earlier this week, an old friend named Guerda stopped by.  Actually she's in her early twenties now.  You could tell life had been challenging just by her appearance.  Still, she came by to say hello and more importantly to ask for some help for her young child.  I was discouraged to hear she had a young child without a husband.  Sadly I had to tell her I didn't have any sponsors right now who could help her.  She reminded me that she had finished 4th grade before dropping out.  While that can hardly be called a "success story", I reminded myself that she can read and write which is a major accomplishment in our area.  It took me awhile to realize that just the fact she had come to seek an education for her child was a positive thing.  She now knew enough to know that education was a route out of poverty.  After her visit, I was discouraged watching her walk away as I'd wished so much more for her.
     One of the first things I learned about trying to help others is that you don't always see either the whole story nor the results you'd like.  This goes against the "results" oriented culture I am from; we like to see measurable change, etc.  But I've found working cross culturally takes a certain amount of faith.  Sometimes we don't see the results at all or our definition of success is not the same.  Helping people has become for me about giving choices and opportunities, but knowing those we help have to be the ones to take it.  It's not about me as a worker or about the donor, it's about giving our lives and gifts by faith, trusting in God that He will work out all things for good (even if we don't see it.)  But it's still discouraging at times as I was reminded when I watched Guerda walk away.
     Today I had an appointment with two other sponsored kids, Kerline and Wellington.  They are siblings being raised by their grandmother following their mother's death and father's chronic illness.  It was fun to meet their grandmother and ask how she thought the kids were doing.

  She was happy to express her gratitude for a special gift their donor sent allowing after school tutoring and some home repairs.  I left them after encouraging them to pray for their donor and to study hard.
     As I was walking to my vehicle, the grandmother called me back.  She wanted to give me something, a necklace she had made.  She and other neighborhood ladies had been taught to make beads of recycled paper to make jewelry.  I've seen the art form before and was delighted to receive her expression of thanks.

  I knew more of the story though.  A mutual friend, Dorina,  had volunteered weeks of her time last summer to teach the area ladies to make the beads giving them a route to a livelihood.  It occurred to me, it also empowered them in a real way.  This grandmother now had the ability to give me something, which is a privilege in itself.  Dorina had planned to bless the women, and they were in turn blessing me.
     As I left, I thought to myself, I've got to tell Dorina this because she probably feels the same way I do at times, not knowing how the time and effort spent to help really effects others.  So to Dorina and others who are working tirelessly to help worldwide, while we may not see all the effects of our work,  we can trust by faith, that God is working out what He wants done, exactly in His time.