• March 16, 2016

Going the Extra Mile!

by Kelly N., on her mis­sion in Manila

Once a week we have cleaning day where we each pick one area of the house to clean thor­oughly. It’s not par­tic­u­larly one of the most exciting days of the week – in fact it’s the dreaded day that extra work is added to our normal schedule. I became aware of the fact that I needed to ask God for extra grace this morning to be able to give more of myself; I decided to make a con­scious choice to go the “extra mile” when I felt chal­lenged to get frus­trated or to be down on myself.

Now, the play/dining room, which is by the front door, was going to be “my” room to clean this morning. I came down­stairs ready to con­quer the play­room only to find that three boys, two of the most trou­ble­some (con­firmed at chil­dren’s camp), had let them­selves in and were sit­ting on the bench. Already frus­trated knowing that these boys won’t just peace­fully leave if I ask them to, I tried to be patient and explain that they couldn’t stay because I needed to clean; my heart was not so open. Not to my sur­prise, J, who is a bit of a leader among the boys, showed his resis­tance by laying back on the bench with an expres­sion that read, “make me move.” At that moment I real­ized I had already closed the door of my heart by first asking them to leave. Once again I had to make the choice to press myself fur­ther. After this, rather than trying to send them out I decided to play along with them. I grabbed a hand­ker­chief one of the boys had and started a game we had played at our chil­dren’s camp. The boys seemed to enjoy, as well as I, and as the game came to an end they walked out all smiles and without trouble.

After the group left, I began to clean. Not five min­utes later and M arrived (also on the naughty list). This time it was easier for me to be open and I invited him in, but for 5 min­utes. I explained that I was going to need to con­tinue cleaning. He seemed con­tent with this and to my sur­prise he imme­di­ately sat down and started helping me sort through toys. I let him stay and after he fin­ished I thanked him and gave him a little piece of candy we had left over from Joseph’s des­pe­dida. He looked up into my eyes with a big smile and thanked me. The way he looked at me in that moment made me realize he was thanking me not for the candy so much as for the time we had spent together cleaning.

Between my encounter with M, and with the boys who had come ear­lier, I real­ized once again the heart of our mis­sion. We are not here to give mate­rial help, but to share Christ’s love through friend­ship and com­pas­sion - through being pre­sent to those in front of us. I real­ized that so many of the prob­lems of the chil­dren and youth have can be solved by first loving and trying to under­stand them. There is usu­ally an under­lying reason for their actions and mis­be­havior that needs to be under­stood. These boys were not looking for trouble, as it so often seemed, but seeking love and atten­tion. When I took the time and effort to under­stand this and became open, it was amazing how accepting and respectful they “usu­ally” were. And for me, it was a lesson in God’s love: one that is end­less, that has no bounds, or time limits. I could only give of myself that morning because I asked for God’s grace and strength in my weak­ness. Because of this, the dreaded morning of the week became one of my most mem­o­rable and joyful days of my mis­sion.

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