“For the Beauty of the Earth” was the song Rush chose to sing on one occasion last week in Slobodskoy. It’s an old hymn about being thankful for all the things God provides – the Earth & sky, the love of friends and family, our senses which allow us to experience the world….the list goes on.
My recent trip to Slobodskoy gives me much to be thankful for. What a privilege it is to travel across the ocean to spread love and friendship! I’m thankful for safe travels and a wonderful group of traveling companions. I’m thankful for the warm, welcoming mood at the orphanage. I’m thankful for the chance to love and be loved by the kids at Slobodskoy. I’m thankful for friendships (some old, some new) with our translators. I’m thankful my thirteen-year-old daughter Ava was there with me, and for the joy of seeing the experience through her eyes.
Now that we’re back home, I’m thankful for the family that welcomed us home with dancing and shouting and a glow stick party on the front porch. I’m thankful for a church family that has consistently supported us. I’m thankful for the familiar, little things, too, that I often take for granted. I have a lot to be thankful for.
This thankful spirit continued into Sunday morning. Ava and I made it to church for Dedication Sunday at our home church, Brosville UMC. We’d been displaced from our sanctuary since a small fire in early January, and this Sunday was a day filled with thankfulness. It seemed appropriate to return home to the sanctuary in the midst of our own personal homecomings. When it came time for the closing hymn, there was that song again “For the Beauty of the Earth.” I paid more attention to the words this time and one line in verse 4 stood out to me:
“For the joy of human love…”
That’s why we go. We go to share joy through the love that comes from God. We envision a future in which every orphan has grown into everything God wants him or her to be. It’s why we plan for months and travel for two days and nights just to be there. It’s why we meticulously pack and repack and weigh suitcases before we leave. We only have a short time in Slobodskoy, but in that short time, we receive more joy and friendship than we could ever repay. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me.
Thanks be to God.