This trip has been one of many firsts. Not for me, really. I haven't done a careful count recently, but I think this may be my 28th trip to Asia. But for all of our family's guests this summer, this has been their first time visiting Asia's Hope.
Last night we said goodbye to Mark and Beth Voltmann, the sponsors of our Prek Eng 4 Children's Home. They've been supporting the staff and kids for a number of years, and have been praying for them since the very beginning. They've seen photos and videos of the kids and their parents, but until this summer, they've never met in person.
Last night, Mark told us, "We've been involved in a lot of different ministries at home and abroad, but nothing prepared us for how quickly and fully we'd fall in love with these people." So as they said their final goodbyes after a special dinner they hosted for the PE4 staff, we all knew that this first trip would not be their last.
It's difficult and expensive for busy people to fly half way across the world to spend time with a group of people they've never met. But when God miraculously turns mere acquaintances and charitable beneficiaries into dear friends and family, it's difficult if not impossible to stay away for long.
I'm thankful for the opportunity to welcome new people to hands' on participation in the work God has entrusted to us. Watching them fall in love with the people, the food, the culture and the life-changing projects helps keep things fresh for me, helps me keep my own sense of wonder and helps me fall in love anew.
Mark and Beth have left, and our roles as hosts are pretty much finished for the summer. We'll meet up with a team from Vista (sponsors of our Prek Eng 3 home here in Cambodia and co-sponsors of our Kalimpong 4 home in India) and with one from Central Vineyard (my home church and sponsors of our Prek Eng 2 home), but both of those teams have experienced leaders at the helm, so our role is limited.
If you, your family, your church, school or company are looking to exercise courageous leadership on behalf of the world's most vulnerable kids, I'd love to talk. I'll be home in about a week and a half, and look forward to hearing from you. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 614.285.5813. Maybe some day we'll be hosting you in Cambodia, Thailand or India.