Saturday Story time presents: I get it
August 27, 2011, 5:05 pm
Filed under: blessings, humor, love, Parenting, social justice, travel | Tags: , ,

Heat radiated off of the dirt, the stench of the burning garbage and sweaty, unclean bodies was ripe as we walked through the dump city of La Chureca. Jessie and I were delivering rice and beans to the most needy of the families in this forsaken place that 3,000 people called home. As we walked past the homes made of corrugated tin and cardboard she turned her big blue eyes to me and said, “I get it now.” What do you mean? I asked as we continued to pick our way through the ruts in the path they called a road. “I get John and Christian, I get that we are so blessed, I get what it means to be a Westerner. I get that I live in a mansion.” This, from my ten-year old daughter, as tears filled her eyes, and for the first time she truly understood the injustice in the world.

Scott, Jessie and I, along with a dozen other folks were on an informational, and exposure orientated trip to Nicaragua. The church Scott was pastoring had the opportunity to team up with a non-profit organization called Rise Up; a grass-roots humanitarian organization (riseupinternational.com) that has connections in Nicaragua. Jessie and Maria, the couple who founded Rise Up were part of our congregation, and Maria, is native of Nicaragua.

Before we took this great adventure many wise, wonderful, and caring people had questioned the wisdom of bringing our young daughter on this trip. It was unsafe, she could get sick, it would be hot, and she might not like the food (Jessie was pretty picky at the time.) There would be plenty of time for her to have opportunities like this when she was older. What were we thinking? Actually, the questions from these well-meaning friends and family were similar to ones we had heard when we announced we would be adopting. How can you afford to bring two more kids into your family? Your house is too small. It’s not fair to your birth children. What if they have issues or diseases? Why Liberia? Why not local? Why not babies? Why not just send money? And on and on….

Thank you for your concern. Scott and I are following our heart. We are following a deep calling to live life in a way that reflects love, not fear. A passion to teach our children, that we can make a difference for the good of the world. Life is messy. It’s dirty and it often smells. Will our fear for the ‘what ifs’ of life keep us from raising compassionate, loving, human beings that believe they can make a difference? We dare to hope not. Will we take crazy risks and put our children in danger to teach them this lesson? No. Will we as parents of four very different, and individual beings, try to give them opportunities in which they are forced out of their comfort zones? Yes. Every chance. Every time.

Jessie is an amazing young woman with a heart of gold. She was born with an intimate empathy for others that cannot be taught. At the age of three, when we began the discussion of adopting, we tried to explain to her, and Isaac, that their lives would change. Things would have to be shared, they would get less at Christmas because there were more kids. We might not be able to do all the things they wanted to do. It was not going to be easy. Jessie just smiled, undaunted, and simply asked how long the drive from Africa was. She sees to the heart of matters and believes she can make a difference.

Jessie is far from perfect. There are plenty of stories to come that show her stubborn, bossy, it’s my way or the highway attitude. She has an impish grin and she loves to tease/torture her brothers. As she enters her first year of high school I know there are many not so wonderful moments to come. Yet for now, for today, Jessie “gets it” and I hope that will never change.


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