By Emily Crawford.
So I fell down some stairs.
Yeah… was not one of my finest moments.
I think it was around 9pm at night in the Sky Luck Hotel in Vũng Tàu, Vietnam. It was one flight of stairs. One. It was so trivial, really. I was giving back a charger to a mission teammate on the floor above mine and was on my way down to my room.
In the aftermath (because I was kind of dazed and in pain), I was left to my own devices as I held a cold bottle of water whilst everyone left me. My hand was in pain to the point I couldn’t move three fingers for quite some time. 'But I had to finish getting ready for bed! I had to finish tying up my hair (FYI: braiding requires two hands)! I had to…'
You’re probably wondering why I’m rattling off about my first world problems, but whilst I struggled to organise myself without the aid of others those few hours, my head cleared out all my complaints and I thought about what I was doing in Vietnam. A group of us were there as a part of a mission trip and we had just spent the last two days playing and interacting with children in a local orphanage. The oncoming two days after the Incident were going to be spent corralling and playing and interacting with school kids at a school made for the poor.
Brief History lesson: The Vietnam War, or as the locals call it the American War, was 1962 to 1975. During this period, countless inhumane acts occurred ranging from rape to murder and massacre to bombings on unsuspecting innocents. One such atrocity is known as Agent Orange. The outcome of this substance has had lasting affects to the point where there is an abundance of the Vietnam population, and veterans around the world, who are deformed or were afflicted deeply by this.
In this orphanage, I was not prepared for the frequency of children who were born with disability, deformities or even HIV. It was heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time to be in this place. One girl who had abnormal features was one of the first to run up to our group on our first visit to the orphanage. Within minutes of our arrival this girl ran across the playground and looped her arm around Karlie’s arm, happily walking with us as we started our first day. The fact that these kids had so much energy and were so welcoming and loving… it’s inspiring.
It’s been a couple of days since we left those children and Vietnam. The tragedy is that they’ll never have life were they can get drive thru on the way home from a flight for brekkie then proceed to hand out souvenirs for their family members. And that is what breaks my heart. My Huong, the director of the orphanage and school to us that deep down these kids crave a home and a family more than anything.
Almost as soon as I got settled in at home, I realised I was instinctively waiting for a message to be sent to the team about the day’s goals. Whilst we achieved so much in a short amount of time, there is so much to be done still.
I take my lead from examples in the bible were compassion was free and without motive. Ruth went with her mother-in-law, despite her culture, which was to return to her father’s house to be re-married as she had no children yet. She persevered with Naomi instead, when they had practically nothing but the hope of God’s mercy and the compassion of others. He was abused and persecuted. Joseph even used his dreams to help people who would rather see him dead or rotting away.
We are called in a variety of ways to serve others. It may be simply to support a friend who is having a hard time with school, spirituality or relationships. It could be a community that needs a job done that your have the special capabilities for. It could be a collection of children in a far away country that just need someone to play with them.
So here I am sinking back into my normal of uni assessments, family home life, church and seeing my friends again. Now though, my finger is still aching and swollen slightly. But instead of it being a reminder of shame and stupidity or anything of the like, I will remember how blessed I am to have had those few days with those kids. I will remember what it was to work until I was ready to pass out from heatstroke or have a sore neck from having 2 year olds sitting on my shoulders as they squealed and giggled with joy. I will remember how I fell down a few stair steps on a trip for God and serving that has changed my life.
“For, dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other.” Galations 5:13. (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=galations+5%3A13&version=TLB)