Fifteen people. Nine days. That’s all we had.
So few of us, so much to do. “How can we make a difference in nine days?” An oft-repeated murmur: “Wow, we are here for only nine days. Nine days seem so short to do anything.” And the most repeated: “What will we leave when we go?”
Another time. A similar question. “There are so many and we are so few. And we have only five loaves of bread and two fish. How do you expect us to feed all of these?” (Matthew 14:17)
Why is it we think value in terms of numbers?
“Bring them here to me.” (Matthew 14:18)
Here we are, Lord. Tired. Hungry. Wet.
“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.” (Matthew 14:19) That’s how we feel, Lord. Broken. Broken people. How did you do it? How will you do it? Umm…what was that you just did? Gave thanks? With barely enough food for a single family you gave thanks?
“Then he gave them to the disciples and the disciples gave them to the people.” (Matthew 14:19b) And so we began. From sun up to sun down, non-stop, never-ending–we set out to do what seemed impossible. We’re not sure about all this! As the week progressed, our goals loomed far away. But we just pressed on.
“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” (Matthew 14:20, 21) Note that the number of just men was five-thousand. Add the women and children to that and the number grows.
But everyone was satisfied. And there were even leftovers.
Well, our week finished. Were the people satisfied? We don’t fully know but their countenance reflected joy and thanks. We think they were more than satisfied. And we were delightfully surprised, elated actually. So few of us and so little time, broken humanity, giving thanks, serving. He did the multiplication.
Did we have leftovers? Indeed. This is what we left.
An earthquake-proof rebar-filled foundation for new staff living quarters at a men’s drug and alcohol rehab center—complete with plumbing, electrical, and a smooth concrete floor.
The gift of sight through donated eyeglasses for an entire community and local school.
Lettering the title and logo on the wall entrance.
Also for the school children: their first very-own box of crayons and backpacks. School supplies for their teachers. Their first watercolors ever. Their very first school pictures ever. A colorful mural on a classroom wall. A newly painted gymnasium.
Visiting two orphanages and hearing their stories. Playing with and holding the children.
Family portraits of the community.
Connections made. New relationships started. Longtime friends reunited. And not only that. Three months later, as of this very week, two more orphans have a sponsor to provide their need for a home, family, and education. That sponsor is my sister.
Two children. Let’s see, what was that distant thought breaking the surface of my mind? We only have fifteen people and nine days. Like a pebble cast upon the water, we cast ourselves, adding faith with thanksgiving.
We see but a few ripples, but it is enough. Enough to know that ripples are never-ending. And, by faith, we believe that is enough for now.
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14 NKJV)
“To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition—to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with a theme of “Community”.
It’s just a bit longer than usual and I’ve had it sitting in the drafts for a while. When I saw the theme this week I thought it fit very well. I hope you do, too. If you ever get a bit jaded or in a rut about life in general, I urge you to take a mission trip to another country. It usually involves a rigorous schedule so be ready. Research the area you’re going, take some good safety measures, learn a little of the local language. I also recommend going with a group that does some sight-seeing. A good blend of work and taking in the sights and culture bring a nice sense of balance to the trip. And be ready to be blessed. It’s a great feeling to step out of your comfort zone and give, expecting nothing in return. You’ll be amazed at the skills you’ll suddenly develop.
How about a few comments from any of you who’ve done it?