My first exposure to anywhere outside of the United States was over 16 years ago when I went with a team of men from my church to work on a church building in Quito, Ecuador. I was impacted very deeply on that trip. It was then that I truly realized how fortunate I was to have been born in and to live in America. I worked side by side with Quichua Indians as we mixed mortar with shovels in a wheelbarrow, carried 50-pound bags of cement mix, built walls with concrete blocks, ate potato soup, tried to understand the language they were speaking (a strange mixture of Spanish and some local dialect), etc…
I got to leave the worksite each day and return to sleep in a ‘missionary guesthouse’ that was nicely furnished, surrounded by secure gates, had good food and a decent bed to sleep on. My Ecuadorian counterparts however returned to their simple, small concrete-block homes and slept on a mattress that was no more than 2 inches thick. These people were content however with what they had and they were committed to working on their place of worship. For me it was an overwhelming experience that made me desire to return and do more to help them. It led me to go on several more missions trips since then; not just there, but other places. It was also likely setting the stage for me to develop a vision for the international adoption work that we are currently focused on these days at Options for Families and Youth.
I’ll never forget one afternoon as we were driving on the Pan American highway (that’s South America, by the way) we passed by this mountain. I was stunned! I saw this huge indentation in the side of the mountain that looked like a heart. I asked our guide what it was and he told me it was called, “El Corazon,” which is Spanish for “The Heart.” He then went on to say that many people don’t really see it, while others see it all the time.
I saw it as a reminder that the heart of God is always near. We go through our day and get so busy and so distracted by what we have to do that we forget that we have access to our heavenly Father and all the comfort, love, strength and security He offers us. I know this and I still forget!
Over ten thousand feet up in the Andes mountains of Ecuador, South America stands a reminder to all who want to see it that God is near…that He loves us…that He’s available. I’m sure hundreds of people pass by “El Corazon” each day in their cars. I wonder how many see it?
It brings to mind a quote I once read by Armand Nicholi that goes like this: “We may ignore, but we cannot evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always easy to penetrate. The real labor is to remember to attend.”
There are plenty of reminders here in Cleveland, Ohio too. Do you see them?