It isn’t every day that I get a second chance via text message.

Sri Lanka text

It’s happened exactly once, as a matter of fact, just a two weeks ago when Matthew Paul Turner invited me to join a team of bloggers traveling to Sri Lanka to report on World Vision’s work there.

It isn’t every day that a writer gets offered a once-in-a-lifetime job reporting live from a third world country. Especially a second one.

I wrote a few months ago about how I regret the tone of couple of my posts from last year’s trip to Bolivia with World Vision. I wrote from an unhealthy place, from an arrogant frustration with what I perceived to be a lack of appropriate (as defined by me) response to the stories and needs we were sharing.  Perhaps I’m more critical of myself than I should be, but based on some of the feedback I received, I have to believe some of that unhealthy attitude came through.

I’ve wished I could have a second chance to do it better, even though I knew how unlikely it was.

In the twelve months (!) since our Bolivia trip, I’ve looked hard at myself, grappling with my own personal responsibility for what I saw. I’ve plugged my ears against the whispers of the Liar who would have me believe that what I’m doing isn’t enough. That I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time and am missing out. That I need to Do Bigger Things and if I’m not, then I’m making excuses. I’ve reminded myself of Jesus’ teaching that being faithful in small things is invaluable to God. I’ve pushed back the rich (yes, rich, when you take the entire world into account and not just the USA) white woman guilt that rages against the fortune I have to be born here while girls like Lizet was born there. Sometimes the whispers would hold me back, hissing against taking foolish risks, promising safety and security where God never promises it and where safe and comfortable isn’t best.

I think about (and pray for) the people I met in Bolivia nearly every day, when we sit down to a meal next to our world map, when I cook with quinoa (a product of Bolivia), when I open my freezer door where we’ve hung the photos of our sponsored children. We thrill at the Bolivian postmarks on our mail every few months, poring over the photos and letters. We are always amazed at what they perceive their needs to be (white boards and markers, desk and chairs) based on what they are trying to accomplish, compared to what we would buy for them. It’s a regular reminder that we wealthy Northern Americans cannot just barge in and fix things. We love to read their words of love for Jesus.

sri-lanka-boy-with-water

Photo: Hasanthi Jayamaha/World Vision

We’ve taken some practical steps to change our financial situation and increase our ability to respond to needs as we hear of them. We’ve ground our teeth at the inevitable setbacks. We’ve read books like “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself” and “The Hole in Our Gospel” to gain more wisdom. We’ve prayed about what we are to do right now, with what we have now.

Supporting World Vision is one of those things. We remain impressed with World Vision’s long-range development work in areas where no other aid is available. They know that they cannot bring the hope of Jesus to people who are medically starving, dying of parasites, or without clean water without also addressing the physical needs in a sustainable way.

Saying yes to this second chance was (mostly) easy.  I’m anxious about the 13-hour flight, about the radical time change, about not repeating my mistakes. But I’m excited to have another opportunity to take all of you along on this adventure. We can save people’s lives, friends, and that isn’t a figure of speech. It’s real.

Some of you will sponsor children, some of you won’t, many of you have already (thank you!), and some will one day in the future (when God says “now”). Each of us must work out what we are to do at each moment with what we’ve been given.

For me, this August, I get a second chance. I fly to Asia to write stories.

sri lanka screen capture

What second chances have you been given? What have you wished for? What happened?

P.S. If you sponsor a child in Sri Lanka and would like for me to take a gift to them personally, please email me (joy at joyinthisjourney dot com). I would be so thrilled to hand-deliver your gift. If you would like to sponsor a child there ahead of our trip so I can deliver a gift, again, send me an email. Please contact me right away if you’re interested because these things take some doing (and it may not be possible, depending on where your child lives). But I wanted to make the opportunity available.

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