As I've been cleaning, I've noticed how much "stuff" I have. I don't consider myself to be a very materialistic person at all. I like simplicity. Whenever something new comes out on the market, I'm always the last to have the urge to buy it. But as I was going through my house full of stuff, I became disgusted with myself at how many material possessions I have. At one point in time, I "needed" these items, and now most of them are sitting around unused, even forgotten about. Even though I got rid of several boxes of things at a yard sale on Saturday, I still keep finding things that are completely useless to me.
In the next few weeks, I've made a pact with myself that I'm going to go through things once again and weed out what I don't need cluttering up my house. I realize that this inner struggle with materialism also comes out of the fact that I will be leaving for Brazil in 7 weeks. And every time I go to Brazil, I am hit hard with this truth--that there are people in third world countries who have very few earthly possessions to their name... but who are able to find satisfaction and happiness through their relationships with God and His people.
Where do you find your satisfaction?
I'd like to take the opportunity to ask you to consider donating some of your "things" for my upcoming mission effort to Brazil in August through Christian Missions Unlimited. We have 25 people on our team and each one of us takes over 50 pounds of toys, shoes, clothing, and MORE toys that we give to the children and adults that we cross paths with in Brazil. Our main focus for the mission effort to build a church home for a community. In our free time, we walk up and down the streets, meeting people and loving on the kids. When we give "gifts," a language barrier is crossed, and through our actions, they are able to see that we are there to share with them, to bring smiles, and to be their friends. More importantly, our prayer is that they will see the bigger picture and realize that we are only there because of one reason--that we love Jesus Christ and want to help them form a personal relationship with Him.
If you would like to make some form of donation, please contact me. I would be more than happy to talk to you about it! Some common gifts we like to take are: McDonald's toys, other small unbreakable toys, flip flops and small shoes, caps, bracelets, dolls, and other small items.
Here are some pictures of some of the children we have been blessed to meet: This first picture is especially dear to my heart, because the boy on the left was my buddy, Junior.
Junior and I formed a special bond and kept in touch by mail after we met in 2005. We would write letters back and forth and send each other small gifts. He told me once in a letter how he kept the toy cars I gave him in his "secret place" so nobody else could take them. They were obviously gifts that he treasured. I was looking forward to seeing him again in 2006, as we were returning to the same city, but four weeks before we left the states, I got word from another Brazilian friend that Junior was in a bad accident. He was riding his bike and was hit by a car. He had head trauma so severe that he ended up passing away within a few days. I was completely crushed, but I knew that God had placed him in my life for a reason. I was able to speak with his mother and provide her with a photo album full of pictures I had taken of him. In return, and with tears in her eyes, she brought me a letter that Junior had written to me but had not yet mailed. I was overwhelmed with emotion and so grateful that God chose to give me this story to share with others.
I still can't repeat Junior's story without crying (which I am doing as I type)... but it just goes to show how our actions and our small gifts can touch someone's life and help form relationships that are so precious. Every time I think about Brazil, I think about Junior. And I think about how ironic it is that I go on these mission efforts to give to the people of Brazil, but how it is ultimately me who comes away feeling like I have been blessed abundantly.
**I have raised $800 towards paying off my mission trip. My June 1-Aug 1 photo sessions will help finish off the remaining $1800, so let me know if you would like to book a session!