I couldn't believe that today on the hill, I ran into some old memories of mine. They weren't expected to arrive into my brain, however, as they approached, I welcomed them in, inviting them to stay for awhile to allow my heart to follow. Hurried ministry and work schedules sometimes seem to take priority over reflective and contemplative moment to gain spiritual insight.
The clouds hung really low today as misty swirls of fog spit raindrops onto my face as I stooped down on the cement step outside the worship center. Grant, a professor from North Dakota, came galavanting from around the corner of the building with at least two to three children strapped to his shoulders, arms, and legs. Two days into the sports camp, many of the team had gotten full experience into quality time. One of my favorite thoughts in relationships to charity equals just that itself, quality time. More than anything else, I believe the expense of quality time exhibits authentic charity. I am working on this aspect in my life, not to give my time less than 100% to one person or family at a time. I must not give less than 100% to those whom I love and whom I cherish more than anything.
Grant struggled to detach himself from the crowd of children that had just gotten quality time as he stumbled over to the cement bench. I hadn't been able to spend much time getting to know new team members and knew the opportunity had come,
"How has it been here in Peru for you?" I inquired as he brushed himself off from the dirt.
Grant went shared about his initial reaction, thoughts, and emotions that had brought him to this place. WIth little international experience, Grant explained, Peru had been the first enlightening experience to reveal poverty to the extent that Las Lomas presented. He expressed his sorrow to see such poverty and he marveled at the joy that was experienced in simply providing a time for children and families to smile.
I'll never forget his following words,
"When I look up into the hill here and see all of the cardboard and wooden boards that have been put together to form a house, I think back to my childhood," he paused, "This is like my treehouse."
Suddenly, those words slapped me across my wind burned cheek. I was shocked at the profound perspective that Grant had revealed and was amazed at the truth that it held. I remembered in the moment back to my old home. A treehouse.
My treehouse was more like a tree fort. My adopted grandfather, "Tom," had built us a tree fort that positioned itself conveniently close to a giant maple tree that emitted fiery red leaves in Autumn. Old "Tom" had painted it white, the fort, which was simple, yet held the complex dreams of fantasy.
Transformers, G.I. Joes, ghosts and goblins, along with a few romances filled the tree fort as I grew up through the years. Dreams of flying in space, conquering the galaxy with the mighty Chewbacca were a few among the countless hours of wonder experienced in the tree fort.
Blasters and light sabers aside, the hairiest of those tree forts were the simple attempts to land on the tree fort from the maple tree's highest point. Needless to say, several accidents later, fort hopping from the withering heights above was soon considered a violation of play in fort lore. The endless adventures of sunsets never reached darkness in the warmest August evening, even when my mother bedded me at 900pm, to which I can still hear the hum of my father's lawn mower as he trimmed the summers green lawn. Tree forts exploded the ongoing hours of play simply by stepping into the world of creativity and adventure.
Somehow along the journey of transition from days of tree forts to realistic pain of today's suffering renders me speechless. Somehow in the incredibly profound statement of Grant's acknowledgement of poverty reeled me into a healthy perspective of relational pain. Grant, an American young man, who has lived the joys of tree forts, dreams, and endless days of summer, was blessed to engage the creative heart of humanity, while people here, on the hill, used tree forts to literally survive from the bitter elements of humanity. The contrast between globally communities shockingly reveals its bitter root.
What was one child's dream place to play the days away is another child's safety, protection, and reality of shelter from humanity's pain. The innocence of prosperity brands some with joy and others with pain. Grant's innocent place to play in the dream filled space of tree forts reflects the innocence to a child's home protects from poverty's worst nightmare here in this hill.
As I sit here on this hill, watching the children interact with these incredible friends who have come from America to spend quality time, I realize that Grant's love for playing has transferred from his play time of childhood and its freedom to release the pain of poverty and abandonment experienced by these children, has set children on the Las Lomas free from suffering for a few hours today.
In the heroic and generous act of human kindness, Grant and others, today, have left an eternal impact upon these children's lives, and at the end of the day, when these children return to their cardboard and wooden boxes, I will have seen quality time branded into the hearts of all.
Whether a tree fort, treehouse, or home, we all have the chance to dream dreams for hope's chance to globally change the world.
My life has been impacted today by Grant's humble act to change the world. Perhaps, for Grant, it all started in his tree house.
I want to change the world too.