Advent & Accountability

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

For as long as I can remember, my Mom has given me a chocolate advent calendar at the beginning of December. I haven’t found one here in Bolivia, and I’m sure that mailing one from the U.S. would be fruitless, so I am spending this December without chocolate! After briefly lamenting the lack of daily chocolate, I started looking around the internet for other advent traditions. Most of the suggestions weren’t very applicable, being geared toward kids, people living in the United States, or even secular families (what? secular advent?). I didn’t have much luck, so I kind of gave up on the idea… more on this in a moment.

In addition to thinking about advent, I’ve been thinking about my purpose here in Bolivia. As of this month I have been here for six months, but I’m still in a kind of in-between time. I’m mostly settled in (even though my room still isn’t painted!), but I’m far from achieving my dream of doing social work here. I always planned on taking at least a year to get used to being in Bolivia before really starting to work towards that goal, and I’d be comfortable waiting even longer if it’s God’s will. But I’m starting to itch to do something. In fact, the other day I caught myself looking into short term mission trips to Brazil! I reminded myself to slow down and began thinking of some small ways that I can give a little more purpose to this in-between time. That’s when I made the connection to advent.

Living in the poorest country in South America, I don’t have to go much further than my front door to find poverty and need. The streets are full of homeless and extremely impoverished families and individuals. So between now and Christmas, I would like to go out of my way to bless as many of those people as possible. A typical bus ride from my house to my job provides me with ample opportunity. Many poor Bolivians congregate around busy intersections or ride the buses in search of money. Some simply ask for donations, others entertain drivers and passengers waiting at stoplights by juggling or dressing up as clowns, and still others try to earn money by selling small candies or offering to wash windshields during red lights. In honor of Jesus’ upcoming Birthday, I would like to give to each of these individuals that I encounter during advent.

So why am I writing all of this on my blog? Why am I sharing it with everyone when I could bless these people anonymously? That brings me to the other idea I had concerning this “in-between time.” I would like to begin using this blog as a tool for myself and others. I believe it will be an important part of the journey between now and when God opens a door wide open for me to serve Him by serving others in Bolivia. I hope that I can record the baby steps such as celebrating advent as they become larger and larger steps toward ultimate full time mission work. Doing this gives me a place to keep myself accountable and also keep everyone that’s interested up to date!

I will be thinking of Hebrews 13:2 during these next few weeks - Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Happy Advent!

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