The past few weeks have held an ongoing theme: home.
A few weeks ago we shared with you of how God had provided the perfect place for us to live, and thanks to many of you, it has gone from an echoing, empty space to a place of rest and fellowship! Two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to host a team from Virginia Beach for the second year in a row, and one day before leaving, all 11 of them came into our couchless, rugless, blue-tiled living room for a time of debrief and prayer. They asked for God’s peace to rest over our home and declared it a place of refuge and intimacy with God. That same day, provision came in order for us to get an oven, washer, and refrigerator. The following week, we purchased a mattress, a guest bed, and a couch – all at half the original prices! It was so much fun to have a place for people to sit and sleep and the right tools for making real meals, we had friends over almost every day!
As God was filling our home with some of the basics that week, we were learning more and more the significance of having a home. While the VA Beach team was with us, we had the chance to visit a slum community about 20 minutes away. As we walked the dirt paths of the community and met some of the families, we saw that the outer shelter did not match up with the inner beauty of the people living inside. It reminded me that no matter what kind of home I live in now or in the future, I want what’s inside to be the true reflection of my home.
Just a little over a week after our friends from VA Beach left, I was asked to host a team of 25 people coming on a missions trip from Norway! So, for the past week I have been hosting them along with my Norwegian friend (has been at the base for about 2 years), taking them to different ministries and learning from them. The first two days of their trip were spent building a home through our Homes of Hope ministry. It definitely didn’t feel like coincidence that this theme of “home” was continuing! During the two days we spent in the community of the building site, I got to know the family receiving the home, as well as the neighbors of the surrounding homes. One of the things that touched me the most was that children from other families were there every day to help however they could – whether it was carrying wood or painting. Some of the other neighbors even treated the Norwegian team to fresh natural fruit juice, and even cooked a typical Costa Rican lunch one day. I couldn’t believe that with the little they had they were serving almost 40 strangers with their best. It was so cool to see the entire community come together on the last day, during the dedication of the home, without bitterness, jealousy, or covetousness towards the family receiving the home – but rather, with pure joy for them. And after the family entered the home, it was amazing to see the mother invite all the neighbors to come inside. In a community of so much suffering and poverty, the only thing I saw these people do was give.
One on of the last days of hosting the team from Norway this week, we went out on the streets with bread and coffee for the homeless. I had done homeless ministry many times before, but this night I met someone that I will never forget. She was a woman in her 40’s who was once a lawyer but fell into alcoholism. She caught my attention when she voluntarily gave up her piece of bread (likely the only food she would eat that day) to a little boy on the streets. Once again, I could not believe what I was seeing – individuals with so little giving up all they had. After that, she began to tell me all about her life and her children and her struggle with alcoholism. At the end of the night, she broke my heart when she asked for my email address and told me: “so that I can at least tell someone that I still exist.” I don’t know how, but in a matter of 30 minutes I had expressed enough to my new friend that I cared about her and wanted her to live. Her heart of love and generosity toward others shined through, despite the raggedy clothes and saddened eyes. I was seeing even deeper into the significance of what is inside compared to what one can see from the outside.
I was once again reminded that we will never see truth and beauty the way God designed it unless we are willing to go out and search inside the dirty, broken, and forgotten walls of the lives of those with hearts that beat the same as ours do.