Teach Me to Serve
The room was dark and covered in dust and dirt. It was hard for me to figure out what the “real” needs were in their home. It seemed like everything was a real need as I stood on their dirt floor and took it all in. The windows were just holes with no glass. There was no commode or electricity. There was no running water. Yet mom and dad’s eyes were still filled with dreams. Big dreams for the future of their children. This was home. Their “Home Sweet Home.”
I was immediately hooked. Hooked to this project, to this family, to these children.
God was whispering to me a million ways to be His hands.
His answer to someone’s prayer. His answer to my prayer. How I’ve longed for my kids to see how futile their complaining is as they sit at the dinner table with a plate full of food. How I long for them to see that in the neighborhood just across town from them there are kids who don’t have food, a bed and sometimes they don’t even have a home. I’ve prayed for us to be able to serve others as a family and here was our opportunity. Not only was that prayer answered but we also got to serve along with our extended church family.
Oh, it’s beautiful when we can find joy in the simple but profound act of serving the forgotten. Giving to others and letting go of all the “My’s” that fill my life.
MY time. My money. My stuff. My kids.
And realizing in the midst of it all, that it’s not even mine to begin with. Not the money, not the time, not the stuff and not even “my” kids. They are on loan to us and our job is to love and help them see that there is something bigger than their “me, me” attitudes. The created for something bigger than just themselves.
It’s all His.
So I stand here on this dirt-floored home and I am humbled. Not only do I get to serve this precious family but I get to teach my kids about that love that goes beyond our “preaching” to be kind to others, to help the helpless… My children get have the opportunity to be a vessel used by Him in their own little way.
Our kids were able to help this sweet family build their home but they mostly watched. Each stroke of stucco etched in their little mind. They had a different mission set out for them–play.
They gave these children the gift of play. These children are the parents of a family whose sole income comes from selling fruit on the streets from morning to dawn–every day. These kids rarely get an opportunity to play. They have to sit confined to a small area on the street median for their safety. But on this day they got to play to their hearts content. They laughed, ran, giggled and played–with my kids.
He calls us to serve, and it is Him whom we serve, but He, very God, kneels down to serve us as we serve.”
The servant-hearted never serve alone. Here we are with our kids, extended family.
Serve God alone –spend the whole of your one wild and beautiful life investing in many lives — and God simply will not be outdone. God extravagantly pays back everything we give away and exactly in the currency that is not of this world but the one we yearn for: Joy in Him…” Ann Voskamp
This sweet family is Quechuan (an indigenous group from South America). They sell fruit alongside of the rode with all their children. We have gotten to know them as the years have gone by, first we met her when she only had one little one. Then one day her tummy was growing and all of the sudden she showed up on the street again with her little guy and a little bundle on her back as she walked up and down the street selling fruit. As the years have gone by, her little additions have also filled the streets with their smiles.
It was such a thrill and a sweet connection to be able to help them build their house and bless them in this small way with our church family from South Carolina. This family with big dreams had gotten as far as building the outer structure of their home. They’ve been working on this house little by little for the past three years. Literally, what they have done is save up their wages for a few months and they buy cement, and cinder blocks. They save up some more and they put up a couple of walls, then install this or that.
We worked on this house alongside of a team that came down from our once upon a time church, in South Carolina. They came with a heart to serve and be a blessing in our community. And a blessing they were! The advantages of having teams join us in blessing our community is that my kids not only have us to teach and model for them what serving is but they have others as well to pour into their lives. And it actually goes both ways, because they are hard workers and have the opportunity to model service to our teams. The picture above this young man was helping my middle child learn how to stucco so he could join in the fun. The men and myself helped stucco the walls while the ladies came up with some amazingly creative games and obstacle courses for the kids using the very little they had to work with.