Group Missions and Personal Journeys

paulOne of the wonderful characteristics of Fond Blanc is the way it allows different people to “own” their experiences with the children, and to fashion their own story-within-the-broader-story of assisting the orphanage. We are blessed to have many church groups and communities join in the effort, and for each of them, the relationship and memories are unique. We all come to honor God together through service to his children, but those individual journeys of faith are at the heart of it all.

I was reminded of this recently while reading two wonderful guest posts to our blog. Rachel Landgraf and Ashley Argall have each shared a message that reveals their enduring passion for, and connection to, the children of Fond Blanc. Their church has been coming to Fond Blanc for three years now, and so have several of the individuals involved. These women’s personal testimonies are full of the same exhilaration and defeat, the same passion and frustration, and ultimately the same enduring hope and commitment that we see in so many of our volunteers.  Please be sure to read their comments here and here.

When I try to think about mission trips from the perspective of churches that sponsor them, I realize how much the church leadership hopes that the trip will “break some hearts”; hearts which can then be quickly healed by new and deeper relationships with both the Lord and those who are being served. This is part of the daily wonder of Fond Blanc. It may sound odd, but I welcome the “brokenness”. I am grateful for the way it forms such powerful new spiritual bonds as hearts heal. I count it a privilege when I can be a witness to this part of someone’s journey through Fond Blanc.

I did not encounter brokenness, myself, on my first mission trip many years ago. Our group stayed in a hotel, and our glancing connection to the community was neither abiding nor convicting. I am so much better off now to be serving in Fond Blanc, even though progress can sometimes seem like running in sand, and challenges can feel like running into boulders. The Lord does some of his best work in those moments.

The Fond Blanc Foundation has begun working into our brand new role as “co-leader” at the orphanage, but in many ways we are still guests ourselves. It is just that we now have a bigger opportunity to serve God in that place. Where we, too, once showed up as annual volunteers asking how we could help in the moment, we now find ourselves on the other side of the question. Now we are helping Pastor Jean Claude to plan out the answers, so that we can better guide our supporters to the most effective application of their passion and energy.

Having been given the “gift” of new authority and the responsibilities that go with it, we intend to stay mindful of our true purpose in Fond Blanc. To a new visitor to the orphanage, it might appear on the surface that we are building walls and such, but that is not what is really going on at the heart of things. When people come to help, the real “foundation wall” of progress at the orphanage is made up of all the individual bricks of their personal experience and encounters.

The hearts of each of the people involved in Fond Blanc are at the center of what God is doing there. Sometimes we discover more of the Lord’s strength in us than we knew we had, and maybe he might use our experience to knock off an edge here and there. Surely, Fond Blanc is God’s workshop for those of us who go there. We had about 400 volunteer guests come to the orphanage last year, and although many of them will never meet each other, they do all get to be part of an experience that is shared on one level, but at the same time, is one to be treasured as individually spirit-changing and uniquely their own. One big story of passion and effort is actually made up of so many personal journeys of faith and service. And for that, as Pastor always says: to God be the glory!

Paul Young

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