My Only Hope

The other night I opened the dishwasher and sighed. For the third time, all the dishes were covered with a dusty film, and, having changed dish detergent for the third try, I now knew the soap I was using wasn’t the problem.

“Great,” I thought to myself. I had a sink full of dishes that I couldn’t load because the ones in the dishwasher weren’t clean, and the thought of washing them all by hand was just enough to cause my mind to start to shut down.

I turned to making school lunches instead and ignored the dishes, and while I slapped some peanut butter on bread, my mind began making lists. Matt was going out-of-town, and now the dishwasher didn’t work. I had spent the last two days at the service center after my set tune-up turned into a long list of everything I needed, including new tires and brakes. Day three at the shop was tomorrow. Then there were all the problems and tasks I hadn’t gotten to yet.

The DVD player in the minivan wasn’t working, and we were leaving for a wedding in New Jersey in a few days. I couldn’t imagine driving 17 hours with 3 kids without the ability to play a few movies. And the wedding–I had to pack in addition to dealing with the normal chores of the house (which of course would now take longer because I would be washing everything by hand) all while Matt was across the country for business.

Then my mind began to remember all the tasks that weren’t pertinent to the trip to New Jersey but were still left undone. I wanted to write Junrick.

Every month I set the goal of writing Junrick once a week, but, instead, most months go by with one letter. I really felt the urgency to write Junrick this time, though, when he mentioned in his last letter that he didn’t have a Bible. I, honestly, was shocked when I had learned that he didn’t have one–I guess I always assumed that when we began sponsoring Junrick that some of that money would go towards items like a Bible–and wanted to designate a special gift on his next letter for a Bible in his language.

And I began thinking of Junrick.

His mother wrote most of the letters to us while Junrick was still learning. She told me that he worked very hard doing all the chores around the house while she went into the city to work. He washed dishes and made rice and gave his brother and sister a bath. And, of course, he studied.

I could always tell from each letter that Junrick’s mother thought his only ticket out of poverty was an education. She also sounded so worried, that Junrick was so lucky to have a sponsor, and she didn’t want Junrick to blow this opportunity.

Recently, Junrick began writing to me himself. In one letter he told me that Matt and I were his only hope.

I felt very uncomfortable when I read those words. I wrote back to him and told him how much God loves him. God had brought us together, and Matt and I were so grateful to sponsor him. Whenever I saw a new letter from him, I would rush to open it in excitement. I praised him for the good reports from his mom and emphasized his relationship with the Lord. I encouraged him to stay in prayer and read his Bible. In his next letter, I learned he didn’t have one.

As I finished bagging the lunches, I thought about my problems of a minivan that needed work and a DVD player that was broken and a dishwasher that was useless and a husband who was out of town. And then I thought of Junrick washing all of the family’s dishes by hand and Junrick walking to school and Junrick’s mom working for little in the city and Junrick’s dad who had left the family.

I was ashamed and a little afraid. My heart is for the poor, but I fear that one day when I meet God face-to-face He will say, “Jennifer, you just didn’t get it.”

I know about poverty, I know what Junrick’s life is like, but I just don’t know.

After every letter I send, every missions project I work, I come home. Home to a big house full of furniture. Home to a garage filled with too much stuff so that we have to park our two automobiles in the driveway. Home to a sink full of dishes that held three full meals worth of food for five people. Home to laundry baskets overflowing with clothes I haven’t yet put away.

I want to, but I don’t know if I will ever get it.

I think about Junrick writing that I am his only hope, and I shake my head. No, Junrick–you are mine.

9 thoughts on “My Only Hope

  1. I am forever having to stop and be thankful for my trivial problems. Like, oh no, the power was out for three hours? At least we have electricity. Oh no, my air conditioning is so expensive? We are very lucky to have it!

    It’s okay to complain sometimes, but there’s nothing like a letter from your sponsor child to bring it back into perspective.

    For me, everything crashes into perspective when I ride public transportation. We have one family car that my husband uses for work, so I ride the bus occasionally. There are students and average worker people, young families….but oh so many unfortunate poverty stricken people. I’m on the bus thinking at least I have use of a car sometimes and others are thinking, at least I was able to find that coin on the ground so I could afford the bus today!

    Oh, and I totally get feeling uncomfortable with certain aspects of the sponsor child letters. “Dear Leah, I am doing my best in school because I want you to be proud. I will not disappoint you!”. Uh….ok?? As if she could ever disappoint me!!

    Out of curiosity, where is Junrick from? Are you with World Vision? My girl is from Thailand and she’s turning 18 soon!!!

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    1. I know–it breaks my heart that they are so worried about disappointing us, as if we're going to write them out of our life if they perform poorly. Junrick lives in the Philippians, but we still have several years before he graduates. He's a cutie pie.

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  2. What a lovely post Jennifer. We really don't know how lucky we are to live in such a bountiful country. Oh, and try putting jet dry in the dish washer. I had the same problem and jet dry took care of it…

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    1. Thanks, Leigh. I'll have to try that–I thought at first that my 'eco-friendly' detergent was the problem, but luckily that's not the problem, either! It pays to be green. 🙂

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  3. I love your writing (I think it's because you write like me, hehe). We have a Junrick. His name is Carlos. His picture is on our kitchen wall to remind us of just the same thing: it's not about us.

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    1. I love that we can involve our kids in the process. They pray for Junrick on their own, and I look forward to letting Caleb write some with me. We do have a similar style. 😉

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  4. Beautiful post, Jen. Gorgeous, actually. And this is the battle for all of us in the 1/3 world, isn't it? I have SO.MUCH.STUFF. And so many of the things that cause me to sigh in frustration are such tiny things on the world's scale. Maybe that's why the bulk of my prayer life these days consists in saying, "Thank you, thank you, thank you," over and over again. And adding, "Have mercy, have mercy, have mercy," when I ponder all the Junricks in the world, the ones far away and the ones close at hand. Thanks for this, Jennifer!

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