But as I looked these men in the eyes, I realized that it didn't matter if I perfectly understood every word they were saying. What mattered was they were being heard.
In the process of applying for the World Race, I asked myself, "What am I looking to find if I were to go on this journey?" While mulling over my thoughts, God revealed to me my deepest desire through the lyrics of a song.
The more I heard Mumford and Sons' "Awake my Soul" the more I understood the desires of my heart and what God has in store for my life.
Months later, I am on the Race and listening to this song again, I am seeing how God has been moving in my soul. Mumford penned the lyrics, "In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die; where you invest your love, you invest your life".
On our first day of ministry at Cristo Pobre, I had no idea what to expect. I had never really worked at a soup kitchen back home and here I was thrown into the center of Ponce, Puerto Rico about to walk into this soup kitchen filled with drug addicts and public offenders. As us six white girls climbed out of the van, we were being watched. Men of all ages lined the sidewalk leading to the front door of Cristo Pobre. It was an intimidating sight.
As we walked toward the door, my teammate Kay had the biggest smile on her face. Unlike me, Kay was amped about our ministry. She walked right up to each of those hard faced men and shook their hands with a kind smile on her face. I didn't really know what to do so I smiled and began shaking hands as we made our way to the door. The first day I worked upstairs in the clothes closet where Pablo and volunteers sort through, organize and wash donated clothing. Pablo then distributes new outfits to those who need them daily. I was unsure of how I would react to working with the patrons so I was perfectly happy serving behind the scenes that first day.
In those moments I wasn't just a little white girl from Jersey and they weren't drug addicts, ex-cons, or alcoholics. It was just one child of God beside another.
Upon arrival on our second day, I expected to march myself up stairs and attempt to make a dent in the mountain of unsorted donations. As we got out of the van, I heard a few of the men yell "Kay!" from across the street. I looked up to see them smiling and waving at my friend Kay. Quite a different sight from the day before. Something clicked in me. I saw a change in the eyes of these people. I needed to be a part of it.
I stayed in the dining room that day and spoke to the men who walked through the doors. Some spoke English, some Spanglish and others strictly Spanish. No matter the severity of the language barrier, I listened to story after story of these people’s lives. They shared with me their struggles and heartaches.
Some of the stories I was able to understand, others I couldn't. But as I looked at these men in the eyes, I realized that it didn't matter if I perfectly understood every word they were saying. What mattered was they were being heard. They had someone's undivided attention who wasn't trying to get something from them. They understood that we were there for them. In those moments I wasn't just a little white girl from Jersey and they weren't drug addicts, ex-cons, or alcoholics. It was just one child of God beside another.
It was simple and it was powerful.
Racers, if we do this thing right, our hearts will break time and time again on this journey. It will be hard. It will be uncomfortable. Our hearts will break but Jesus' strength will pull us through every month rejuvenating our hearts to give our hearts away again next month. It will be worth every tear shed to be able to look back and know we gave our teams and our ministry our all.