Thursday, February 11, 2016


We drew it out as long as possible, slipping through the doors into the thick buzz of night. The bus made its way along the highway, headlights streaming, street lamps glowing, and I kept catching the sense that I was already home - a flash of light in my jar, then gone again.

Fifteen hours later, I actually was home, wearing yesterday's clothes; traces of yesterday's eyeliner smudged under my weary, grateful eyes. The kids were already fighting. The house smelled new again. And within five minutes of pulling into the garage, Calvin made a legitimate attempt at stealing a Bible meant for an inmate at the jail. 

We had talked about re-entry, that it can be difficult to process the emotional upheaval we experienced through the lens of the American middle class, where many of us live. In the end, it wasn't the reverse culture shock that got to me. It was the relentless reminders that none of us has found an earthly way around our humanity. We're all the same kind of sick, just with different symptoms.

Somewhere near the end of day four, we had a ten-minute window to meet the grown son of a missionary couple who devoted their lives to serving the poor in a coastal region of Ecuador. Once among the richest families in Quito, they met Jesus and everything changed on a dime. They accepted the call to live as missionaries. In America.

They came to us, made us their people, spoke our language, watched as we wobbled and teetered and fell flat on our faces. They came to be Jesus among us. We were their poor, and I have to wonder if, having seen both faces of poverty up-close, they worried more for us.

Maybe my ten-year old is exactly right, people who have less really do have more in "the spiritual side of life".  Could I ever sacrifice stuff for Jesus and find it a worthy trade?

Twenty years later, the couple moved back to their home country of Ecuador, making a community, again, of its poorest.

Their son stood in our circle with a wide grin and dusty boots. His English was flawless, his truck reflected the snap of the equator sun.

"Is this the life you expected for yourself? I asked. I was desperate to know. Maybe, having grown up a MK, the mantle had been passed down to him early. Maybe he'd skipped all the in-fighting and Bible-stealing. Maybe his early adulthood had been marked with a certain saintliness and all of this was a foregone conclusion.

He chuckled, and quickly filled in the gaps of the past few decades.

When his parents returned to Ecuador, he stayed here. He'd tasted America and wanted more. Kissing them twice, he thanked his lucky stars that bamboo huts, flash floods, infested drinking water and drug-addicted children were not his problem.

He built his American dream. And then, over time, he noticed the pain, and chose to walk away from one kind and toward the other. "I never saw this coming."  

In the end, he was right. They weren't his problem. They were his life.

I've been home now for over four days, swept back into the routine I love. But I shed skin in those tiny homes. Growth cannot happen without dirt, rain, sun. They bang us around, leave us soaking and burned, and we become a different version of who we were yesterday, or even at lunchtime with our taco salad and the book we can't put down. We aren't divided by differences but brushed with sweeping similarity.

In Ecuador, I learned about the power of dreaming. I studied the different faces of poverty, shocked by the ways they parallel faces I see every day. More than anything, I got uncomfortably close to my own poverty, bent on processing life through the DIY lens of can-do America rather than solely through the work of the cross.

I discovered I still have so much room to grow. I was reminded again that when I lay down my own plans, God fills my arms with better things.

I came home added to, and subtracted from. 


This won't be the last time I talk about Compassion International. Like my neighbors an ocean away, they're under my skin. I can't overstate their integrity and wisdom and I simply cannot ignore the ways their partnerships with local churches throughout Ecuador (and the world) are changing young lives and entire families.

Thank you so much for following along as we traveled, for your kind encouragement, especially to Calvin. You're my people, and I'm tremendously grateful for each of you.

I'm thrilled to say we exceeded our goal of 200 kids sponsored. As of today, we're at 241! But there's still plenty of room at the table for you. If you've been considering, or waiting, or thinking it through, let this be the day you see what you stand to learn by walking with a precious child who needs the same things all of us need. You can sponsor a child right here.

Much Love,


  1. How am I crying as I read this? Because "we are own kind of sick?" I'm so thankful for how God gifted you with words.

  2. Make Angel in Mexico sponsorship #242. Hoping he is the first of many more. We can't wait to get to know him and see what God does in this little guy's life and heart. And ours.
    Thank you for sharing your trip with us.

  3. Enjoyed following your trip! Praising God for the sponsorship goal being met.

  4. Kissing them twice, he thanked his lucky stars that bamboo huts, flash floods, infested drinking water and drug-addicted children were not his problem.....BUT God......

    Swallowing hard and breathing deeply over that!

  5. My little girl is 7 years old. Her name is Naomi. I am waiting for all of the information to come from Compassion International. I feel honored to be able to support her through my monthly donations and my letters. I feel be Able to do it. I am so Thankful for all that I have here in the USA. I am not wealthy. I live on Disability payments. But, I am so, so rich with all that He has given to me.
    Thank You, for bringing awareness to all that we have. And, for showing us all that the people of Ecuador have. I was touched by the Warmth, Grace and Beauty that the people of Ecuador showed in the photos. And, through the words that You, Ashley and Ruth (and, of course those sweet sons of you all) shared in your posts. While they lack in so many ways, they certainly showed that they were rich in other ways. Love to You & Calvin as you reintegrate back into your home and life.

  6. Love your guts. Probably more than tacos.

  7. Everything about this. Yes! Love your heart!

  8. You have a poetic gift for writing about these important things.

  9. The transport advanced along the interstate, headlights spilling, road lights sparkling, and I continued getting the feeling that I was at that point home a glimmer of light in my jug, then gone once more. The transport advanced along the interstate, headlights gushing, road lights shining, and I continued getting the feeling that I was at that point home - a glimmer of light in my jug, then gone once more. My name is Nagaraj I'm working in this website I need to think about whether, having seen both countenances of neediness very close, they stressed more for us.

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  12. I think, even though these people live in the poverty, they're happy all th same. Look at this beautiful nature, look at their smily faces. Tey just have anther point of view on everything. I liked a part about old coule. They're really brave. I think, if we all have to be as happy as they are, we have to reread the article over here to understand all how's.