Recently I heard a sermon entitled Last Place Winners based on the text where Jesus said that the last will be first and the first will be last.This idea really took root for me when I observed it in action through the efforts of Abby Anthony, age 17, and Becky Laughery, age 18.Abby and Becky have been friends since grade school.They accepted Christ at summer camp around the ages of 10 & 11.And they each have participated in a church mission trip to La Paz--Abby in 2004 and Becky in 2005.
In December 2005 their church sent a group of high school kids to La Paz on another mission trip.Abby and Becky signed up to go, but were urged to step down.Since they'd both been here before and because space was limited, their youth minister asked them to allow others who'd never had the experience to go instead.But the delay did not deter their determination to come back.They talked to their parents and asked if they could come down, just the two of them, on their February Spring Break.They'd pay for it themselves, working extra hours at their jobs to earn the money. After receiving their parents' permission, Becky and Abby then wrote to us to see what we thought.Was there something for them to do?As a matter of fact, we had quite a few painting projects just waiting for two enthusiastic teenagers!
Becky and Abby painted the foyer of Crossroads and also the Children's Sunday School Room.And then they painted a room of Mary & Raul's house, Crossroad's current mission project.(See January's Journal article)I asked both of them how coming to La Paz has changed them.These are some of things they shared with me...
"We sense a unity and fellowship in La Paz that is missing back home.Church isn't taken for granted down here."
"It impacts you when you realize that just handing out a bar of soap can make someone so happy.Some families live all together in one-room houses.And I complain about sharing a bedroom with my sister!I realized how selfish I am when some people literally have nothing."
"I met and talked with people who live by their faith.I realized you don't have to know everything in order to integrate your faith into everyday living."
"I liked being here as an individual and not as part of a big group.It was more intimate and I made better connections.I could take my time getting to know people."
"Experiencing a cross-cultural situation has made me more open-minded.I'm more self-assured."
And what do these two young ladies hope to pursue in the future?Abby's desire is to study elementary education and minor in international studies.Becky's desire is to study medicine and someday work for Doctors Without Borders.Two young women who each have a servant's heart.While all their peers were off to the beaches for a better tan over spring break, they spent their hard-earned money to buy plane tickets to La Paz for a mission experience. In the eyes of the world, they were First Place Losers.In the eyes of Jesus, they are Last Place Winners.