With an even greater appreciation for the comfort of home, we all collapsed into our beds around 1:00 am this morning. It was a long day for us as we travelled home from Trinidad, West Indies. Up at 4:00 am to prepare for an 8:00 am flight out of Port of Spain, arriving in New York City at 1:00 pm, going through customs, catching a flight to Atlanta, then driving home. What a day! What a trip!
VBS at Montrose Church of God in Trinidad was a huge success despite the fact that one of our team members (son Taylor) became seriously ill with food poisoning after eating out at a restaurant and had to miss four days. Thankfully, after a visit to a doctor (a story in and of itself) and a prescription of antibiotics, he recovered and was able to participate in the closing VBS service. Attendance ranged form 138 to 178 throughout the week. We are thankful for the time we had with the children...sharing God's unshakable truth... laughing, singing, learning, and doing crafts together.
Saturday, I presented two workshops at Faith Academy for parents and teachers of special needs students. It is shocking to think that the Trinidadian government schools actually charge parents of special needs children for their schooling! (can you say discrimination?)
Faith Academy, however, operates at no cost to the parents and at the same time is making unprecedented progress with the children. So much so that the government has recognized their achievement and desires to come along side them and assist in building a modern facility. Hmm...
At the teacher workshop I met seven of the most dedicated, compassionate teachers ever to cross my path. They have many needs and lack modern resources, but the love they have for the children abounds! At the parent workshop, many of the parents wept openly as they shared their struggles and their pain. You can imagine how difficult it was for me to remain composed. It truly broke my heart and humbled me.
Tonight I thought back over the past twelve days, thankful for the opporunity we had to go to Trinidad but at the same time admittedly discouraged about all the serious problems in the country ... corruption in the government, skyrocketing AIDS statistics, brutal murders, kidnappings, extreme poverty, gang activity, drug trafficking, etc.
Incredible, overwhelming darkness. It makes me feel so disheartened.
Then I remembered something. At the end of each workshop I had shared the inspirational "starfish story" with the parents and teachers. My incredibly talented big sister, Kathy had lovingly made beautiful bookmarks with the story to give each of them. The story goes something like this...
There was a young man walking down a deserted beach just before dawn. In the distance he saw a frail old man. As he approached the old man, he saw him picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea.
The young man gazed in wonder as the old man again and again threw the small starfish from the sand to the water. He asked, "Old man, why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time."
The old man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. "But there must be thousands of beaches and millions of starfish!" exclaimed the young man. "How can you make any difference?"
The old man looked at the small starfish in his hand and as he threw it to the safety of the sea, he said, "It makes a difference to this one!"
I read the starfish story again tonight and it reminded me that I can't do everything --- but I can do more than I think I can. And God will take what I do and bless it, multiply it --- just like He did with a little boy's lunch beside the sea of Galilee. I just have to pick up a starfish and throw it. That's all God wants me to do. He'll do the rest! He often takes the ordinary things of our lives and transforms them for His honor.
I sincerely pray that something I offered in Trinidad ... a nation with so many needs ... will be multiplied and make an eternal difference. I pray the same as I serve God in my home, my town, my state, and my nation.
All for His glory!