My heart is so heavy. You know I walk this very fine line of avoiding all news but yet wanting to be aware of what is going on; Chris and I were just talking about this last night. We avoid the news because, well, it’s the news. It causes us to lose our peace. It’s sensationalized and scary and just plain ‘ol yuckiness. But sometimes, it’s good to watch the news. Although avoiding it helps us keep our peace, it also makes us forgetful. We forget there is real suffering and tragedy lived by million of souls every.single.day. We forget how good we have it. And this forgetfulness, well it can make us complacent, greedy and ungrateful.
Last night I read the news story about the little Syrian boy who washed up on the beaches of Turkey. He and his family were being smuggled out of Syria in a dingy of a boat; it capsized; this little guy, his mother and brother drowned. They drowned because the conditions in his country are so bad, his dad saved up $4500 to sneak his family onto a motor boat in the middle of the night in search of a safe place to live; only, there was no motor boat, only a dingy and now there is no family, only a grieving father.
Earlier in the day, I was grumpy; monthly dues for soccer and piano were due on the same day…the day before payday. Three of my children were sent home from soccer practice with a cookie dough fundraiser. Really!? Three kids same fundraiser? I’m ashamed to admit, I was feeling rather put out. And then I read that heartbreaking story and I was broken apart…which is better than being put out…less shallow and all.
So I read that story, I read of a family whose mother cannot swim but gets in a dingy of a boat at 3am to save herself and her children and ends up losing it all and I can’t help but think “Why not me?” I’m sitting in my air conditioned house, with my children coming in and out of my office, with a pantry full of food and a car full of gas…and eyes full of tears and a heart full of unspoken gratitude. Ah, that unspoken gratitude, there’s that forgetfulness. And when I asked “Why not me” I knew I might not get an immediate or definite answer in that moment but I did get the beginnings of an inspiration. I had to go shower. I needed some hot water to wash away my hot tears and clear my head. In the shower it became very clear what I needed to do.
As I’m thinking in that steamy shower, I consider, I cannot travel the world over in search of the poor and oppressed…at least not right now. Right now I’m called to live out my vocation; moving, loving and laughing in this noisy house filled with all nine of us. My feet need to remain here, on this very small farm we call home. And my hands need to remain busy with the daily tasks of folding laundry, cleaning bathrooms, sweeping floors and washing dishes. It’s at the thought of washing dishes that I feel the stirrings; I am called to be a kitchen sink missionary.
I know, you probably think there is no such thing, and maybe there isn’t officially. But there is no such thing as a bed ridden missionary either is there? Well, there once lived a young women who felt called to be a missionary…yet she remained cloistered. She felt called to love, pray for and support souls in far away lands…yet the last years of her life were spent in a bed in the Cloister infirmary. St. Therese the Little Flower, one of the greatest saints of our time, dreamed of traveling far and wide as a missionary to spread the Gospel and help those in need in distant lands. God called her to be a missionary of a different sort. She lived a quiet life behind the Cloister walls and eventually in the infirmary. So quiet and seemingly unremarkable the sisters she lived with noticed nothing special, extraordinary or even saintly about her. So I thought to myself, If she can be a missionary from the infirmary why can’t I be a missionary from my kitchen sink?
So what does being a kitchen sink missionary look like? Well, the first thing the Lord placed on my heart was to help my friend Colleen. You see Colleen is what you would consider a real life missionary who actually leaves her American sink, her home, her state and even her country. She and her family are serving the Church down in Costa Rica. Her kitchen sink now looks out onto the vast expanse of a jungle.
We run the St. Francis Emmaus Center out of our mission home to provide access to medical care, support and health education to indigenous mothers. Our goal is to keep more babies in their mommies’ arms, safe and healthy.
–Blessed are the Feet
Colleen gets up in the middle of the night to care for crying babies, only they aren’t her own. This sweet momma and her family’s home is a safe place for pregnant mommas and mommas with precious little newborns–some with medical issues that require them to stick around her house a bit longer. Colleen nourishes both mother and baby, but some of these little ones have greater needs than even Colleen can provide.
I am a firm believer in doing hard and holy things.
I believe surrendering to God’s call to the live the Gospel as a brave adventure is the heart of passionate, purposeful living. And the heart of making the Kingdom come here on earth.
The one thing that sticks out in my mind most when following Colleen and her husband Greg is their need for the most basic and necessary things. A while ago, Colleen asked for donations to purchase a breast pump for these babies born with cleft palates. A breast pump you guys. We can run to Walmart for a perfectly good one or the medical supply store for a medical grade one. But you don’t just run to those convenience places when you live in the jungle.
And Greg, well he used to gather up these laboring mommas and their babies in an old beat up car, until it gave out. He needs reliable transportation. The needs he sees are basic but heavy. From his Facebook
I have a vision for pregnancy and medical hostels in many places in the third world. When this happens it will not only be a place of healing and refuge but a place of prayer and connection with God during that tender time of pregnancy and after. This will clearly send the message that life is precious at any stage, all women have dignity as taught by Christ himself (many women are treated in subhuman ways in many countries) and finally to the anti life forces and population control eugenicists “hands off these women are under our protection now in Christ and His Church!”
Oh my goodness doesn’t that give you chills, “hands off these women are under our protection now in Christ and His Church!”
So here’s what I think a a kitchen sink missionary looks like, we (because a kitchen sink missionary doesn’t work alone) give up a Starbucks Pumpkin spice something once a month. Or we give up a Chick fil A salad and drink once a month. Once a month. Not even once a week or forever…once a month. And a kitchen sink missionary gives that money to St. Bryce Missions this month, maybe next month as well or maybe we’ll be called to help somewhere else. Colleen needs to buy a danged breast pump and Greg needs to reach and transport these at risk women high in the mountains you guys. There is no salad or coffee drink for me that can replace mommas milk for these babies. And as my own children right now sit in various places around our home doing their school work, there is no salad or fancy drink that can fill me up like knowing I was helping little refugee children have a safe place…a safe place to not only be loved and cared for but also learn. It’s not just about the little mission house bursting at the seams in Costa Rica, no, Greg’s efforts aren’t isolated to one tiny island, his heart, his work is in Africa and the Middle East as well.
What is St. Bryce Missions doing in Iraq? The New Archbishop Of Kirkuk,Iraq has his hands and heart full God Bless him. He is building two class rooms on to the St. Mary’s School where children displaced by ISIS can heal and be educated. St. Bryce Missions is dong our small part by raising money for the desks.
I mentioned a kitchen sink missionary never serves alone. I’m asking you all to do this with me. We are going to donate some of the money needed for Colleen and her family to be the literal hands and feet of Christ. We are going to skip the Starbucks one day. We are going to drive right on by the Chick fil A. Instead we are going to send that money to Colleen via Paypal or snail mail. That is what a kitchen sink missionary does.
There are enough of you here at The Littlest Way plus me that we can totally make a substantial difference if each pitch in $10 this month. I’m telling you, we could easily donate $10,000 to St. Bryce Missions this month if we each gave just $10. My seven year old Maximilian already gave us a head start. He saved up $25 to give to someone or place in need. I told him about St. Bryce Missions and he decided that’s where he wants his $25 to go.
When you donate, please let Colleen and Greg you’re a kitchen sink missionary. If you donate by paypal, click the link in the upper left hand side under their address that says, “Add special instructions to the seller.” If you mail your donation, write them a note letting them know you’re a kitchen sink missionary. I’ll ask them to keep us up to date on the amount of money we’ve donated this month.
To donate to St Bryce Missions, Click Here.
Kitchen Sink Missionaries…once you’ve made your donation, come back here and leave a “Done” comment. I will choose a name from the comments at the end of the month and send that person an already printed and bound copy of my Advent Devotional.