It's hard to know how to start a post about the end of a trip. We are home, safe and sound, and we are changed. Each of us has come back different in some way, and perhaps we won't really know exactly how we are different until we have had time to process the incredible week we spent in Ghana. I will be honest with you: sometimes I worry that we sweep in and out and maybe we just haven't done enough. I suppose that's the way it is for those who work in places where there is deep poverty. During our time in the villages, we provided resources for our families and our staff. We spent time with apprentices talking about items we can sell here in the U.S. so they can earn income and provide for their children. We sang, danced, prayed with and shared stories about God's love with the students. And yet, I saw something amazing on the last day. Each one of us spoke three words as we were saying our goodbyes to students and apprentices. We hugged them, looked them in the eyes, and said, "I love you." I've attended workshops on evangelism, heard preachers and teachers talk about how we can get people to walk the aisle, and sat in on countless end of the service "invitations." I'm not saying anything against any of this, except I'm pretty sorry at knocking on doors, presenting the four spiritual laws and drawing the bridge to God on a napkin. I would rather share my faith by doing. And yet, I wonder if these three words might be the most amazing way to share God's love to those who never hear them from anyone else. Is it possible that within these words, our friends in Ghana might hear the whispered echo of God telling him how much He loves them. Yes, we do tell them that God loves them, but maybe it's even more believable when someone looks in your eyes and is willing to say these words and mean it.
The five people I traveled with knew how to give. I saw it every day and moment of our trip. Their giving hearts and hands encourage me to find even more ways to reach out to those around me with words and actions. Thank you, friends, that you were willing to rise and go. And for those of you who prayed, your prayers were a blessing to us, the Rising Village families, and our staff.
So this is why we go - to emtpy ourselves enough to make room for more of God. When I'm all about me, God gets crowded out and I begin to feel a little cranky, restless, and lost. I don't come back from Ghana more spiritual, just more humble. "I love you," we say to our friends in Ghana, and they give back ten times more - because it really is so much more freeing to give than it is to get. We are privileged to serve. We are blessed to give. And we hear the echo of what God says to each one of us when we say those three words.
I love you.