Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Coincidence? No.

Some of the first words I read this morning were…..

“Put on the apron of humility, to serve one another.” 1 Peter 5:5 and then, “Servant hood requires no unique skill or seminary degree. Regardless of your strengths, training or church tenure, you can….love the overlooked.” (“Grace for the Moment” - Max Lucado)

Max is giving me a workout lately! I fell asleep last night trying to decide how to word some email responses that I needed to send out this morning. The emails that I am getting lately are truly amazing….from genuine people that want to serve in Guatemala or from here for Guatemala in some way or another. The questions I’m being asked are as sincere as they can be and while sometimes they are hard for me to answer, simply because I am not stronger or more qualified than any of these individuals, I still have to answer them. I decided last night that I’m going to start answering some of the questions that I get often here, on the blog, because if several people ask the same things, surely more are asking themselves the same questions. That doesn’t mean that I will stop responding to individual emails….I LOVE getting your emails and responding to them and I will continue to respond to every kind-hearted, genuine email that I receive. I will also start writing about some here.

Right before I fell asleep last night, a woman that I have never met came to mind and I wondered how she was feeling. I had just read an email from her. We’ve been emailing back and forth for several weeks now. The entire story is amazing. Let me go back a little bit……
A couple of weeks before we opened registration for the October trip to Guatemala, I felt like God had a project, actually 2 projects, for us in mind that would need to be worked on during that trip. In order to do either of these projects, we need a photographer to travel with us. So of course, I started praying. I prayed specifically for someone that ISN'T a professional photographer (yet), but who has a passion for photography, is good at it and wants to use his/her gift to serve God and others. For several weeks I prayed for this person EVERY DAY, sometimes several times a day if I all of sudden thought about the projects that needed to be done.

After we opened registration, I got an email from a woman that lives in our area. She asked many questions about the trip and expressed her fears about traveling. She was certainly interested in going with us, but I wasn’t sure if she would decide to go or not. I responded to her email and she responded with another. One of her main concerns was that she would get to Guatemala and then be kind of left in the dark because she probably wouldn’t know anyone else on the trip and because she wouldn’t “fit” in the small medical team that is coming together because she’s not a doctor or a nurse. She’s a stay at home mom with 2 small children. The reason she thought she may go is because she believes that she has been called to international missions, especially to work with children. At that time, she was the first to ask if we can use someone like her. I responded with an answer of something like, “We can use anyone, no matter what skills they have or do not have. Even if you can only hug and love orphans, that’s something and that is necessary. But, do you have ANY skills that you think could be useful?”
Her answer…… (not exactly , but as close as I can remember) ”My passion, other than my children, is photography. I love photography and really think that it is one of the ways God has called me to serve him and others.”

When I read that email, I started crying (she didn’t know that, but I guess she will now). Are you kidding me? I had been praying for this woman for weeks and she was at home thinking that she may not be useful for this trip. I sat there for a few minutes, not sure what to say. The projects that God wants done on the October trip CANNOT be done without a photographer and the photographer that comes with us cannot just be anyone….it can’t be someone that just likes to take pictures. It has to be someone that wants his/her work to glorify God. We emailed back and forth a little more and I was so happy to get the email saying that she was about to register for the trip. Despite her fears, despite not ever having met me, despite not even knowing any thing about me and despite never having been to Guatemala, she registered for the trip. We’ve emailed back and forth a couple of times since. She will also be working a project for us after we return from Guatemala in June. We assumed that we would meet then. At least she would meet me before she travels to Guatemala with me.

When I read “Love the Overlooked” this morning, I thought about her again, probably because I was getting ready to respond to several emails asking, “What can I do in Guatemala? Can you really use someone like me?” and she was the very first person to ever ask me that. For a brief moment I thought, “I wonder if she is at all worried about traveling with someone that she doesn’t know? I don’t want her to uncomfortable, so I’ll email her tonight and ask if she wants to meet sometime before the June trip so she’ll kind of know me before she works on that project.” I responded to emails and left for our playdate at the mall.

I rarely go to the mall. It is my least favorite place to be, unless we are there for a playdate in the play area which doesn’t even happen that often. As I drove to the mall, I hoped that the people that would read the emails I sent today would find comfort in knowing that they are needed….no matter what skills they may or may not have and no matter what they have to offer. Anyone that wants to travel with us can be used in one way or another. After all, servant hood doesn’t require a seminary degree. I remember so well being the same way….wondering what I had to offer and asking God, “Are you really sure about this since I know nothing about international missions?” He was sure and now so am I. I prayed that those I emailed this morning would also be given that clarity. And then I thanked God for giving the woman that first asked the same questions her answers which is leading her straight to Guatemala in October….with us.

As I was sitting in the play area with our play group, watching my son play, a woman approached me. At first, I thought she was going to say something about Tommy or my orphan awareness shirt that I had on (because yes, sometimes people just stop to either be nice or mean about our decision to adopt internationally), but instead she asked, “Are you Terry Bracey?” “Yes, I am.” With an outstretched hand she said, “Hi. I’m D.S. I’m going with you to Guatemala in October.” WHAT? Our photographer! My first thought was, “God, I LOVE this…you are CRAZY good!” It turns out that she rarely goes to the mall, but was there to return some things and had to stop to feed her son. She just so happened to sit down in the play area and she thought she recognized me from the picture on our website, but wasn’t sure until she saw Tommy (obviously, that was adopted) run over to me. We hung out for a while in the play area and then she went to lunch with me and the rest of Tommy’s playgroup.

Is that not freaky weird and totally amazing? She is going to do an AWESOME job in Guatemala and for AAB with the projects that we will be working on. I can’t wait to work with her on these projects that are going to touch lives both in Guatemala and in the United States.

D.S. - Thank you SO MUCH for having the courage to talk to me today, even though you weren’t sure that it was me. I am thrilled that you are traveling with us in October and know that God is going to use you in amazing ways. It was wonderful to meet you today!

All of that is to say this…….

It makes no difference what you think you have to offer. It doesn’t matter if you are a stay at home mom or a doctor, an elementary school teacher or a cashier at a grocery store, an attorney or car salesman…..you have something to offer and we need you. If you are feeling called to go on a mission trip, God has a purpose for you on that trip, for people that you come in contact with and the rest of your life. I’ve heard so often lately, “If you want to get closer to God, go on a mission trip.” It is SO true. Stepping out of your normal daily life and landing in a developing country with only Him to depend on certainly will strengthen your relationship with Him, no matter how strong it is already. Whether you travel with us, your church or another group, and no matter where you go, your life will be changed and you will NEVER regret it. So if you can help build a house or treat someone that is ill or give out food and vitamins or just hold a child that is in desperate need of love, GO wherever He's leading you. And of course, if you think you would like to travel to Guatemala, visit our website for information about our upcoming mission trips.


Rebecca said...

Wow!! Our God is an AWESOME God!!!
What an amazing testimony to God knowing exactly what we need.
Thanks so much for sharing!

Bobbi said...

What an awesome story!!