She Said | She Said
A Mother and Daughter's Perspective on Serving Together
We're all a piece of the quilt
A year ago last spring, my daughter Jenny asked me to go with her to Guatemala on the mother-daughter mission trip. She wanted me to see first-hand the reason she is so passionate about her work with Buckner. Of course, I had read her articles, heard her stories, and seen her photographs, but I knew deep inside my heart that I wanted to share these life-changing experiences with her.
Upon arrival at the hotel in Guatemala, we met the other mothers and daughters from across the United States, combined all the supplies, personal areas of expertise and God-given talents. Little did we know the depth of the emotions we would share the following days – a roller coaster ride from the highest to the lowest moments.
Our first stop was an orphanage run by the government. We were instructed to wear masks and to not hold the children for too long. We began playing with the children, blew bubbles, bounced balls, drew pictures with sidewalk chalk, held the babies and hugged the toddlers. The time was filled with lots of activity and love, but before long it was time to say good-bye. The children cried when we left and so did we. As we loaded the van, there was no chatter among us – it was perfectly quiet. Our hearts were troubled, and many were wondering how we could possibly make a difference. These children had so little and needed so much. How was God planning to use us?
The next location was a community child-care center. We presented the story of Esther with the help of our wonderful interpreters, learned a Bible verse, helped the children decorate crowns with jewels and stickers, made bracelets of beads and crosses, and had a recreational time of parachuting, beach balls and jump rope. Everyone was so thrilled with the responsiveness of the children and teachers.
While the girls were jumping rope, I realized they only knew how to jump as a group and not with an individual rope. Two of the girls wanted to learn how to jump rope all by themselves. It had been a few years since I had jumped rope, but this was my opportunity to teach these girls how to do it with their new individual jump ropes. I carefully demonstrated the technique, and one of the girls quickly began jumping. I am not sure who was more thrilled – that precious child or me! Perhaps by now her friend has also mastered the skill. After all, I now know there are others who will follow.
With each opportunity and location we visited, whether it was a neighborhood community center, a government orphanage, or a Buckner home, each of us would return to the van with stories of the children and young people and share our observations and experiences. Every mother and every daughter would bond with at least one child, as if God was choosing a special one for us, and us for them.
Buckner has an incredible network of workers and volunteers who will continue to do God’s work and spread hope and love wherever it is needed. Any dollars you contribute are well spent. Once I could get past the depth of the poverty and the lack of resources and education available to the poorest of the poor in Guatemala, I realized I was there to make a difference in the life of at least one or two children each day, just as the other mothers and daughters did along beside me.
Others will follow in my footsteps – perhaps it is now your turn. I am only one piece of the quilt, and we need to keep adding pieces to this quilt of hope and love – doing His work, sharing His word, and loving His children. “…My hope comes from Him.”
Kay Hartgraves is from Abilene, Texas and traveled on the mother-daughter mission trip with Buckner in July 2009.
Truth in pictures
Sometimes truth comes out in pictures. I’ve always said that I have a hard time remembering things without a photograph. If I didn’t capture it physically – or make a mental photograph in my head – then it’s possible even my life’s greatest moments will flee from my cluttered cerebral. I guess that’s the consequence of growing up with a camera in my hand.
Last summer, I had the privilege of leading a mission trip of mothers and daughters to Guatemala with Buckner. And for the first time, my own mother would come with me to see the ministry I’ve given my heart to for the past five years.
I was excited to share this experience with my mom, but I’d be lying if I told you the whole trip was filled with fuzzy moments. It was stressful at times to organize a group of strangers and deal with the unpredictable mayhem of a foreign culture in a language I can’t understand. But a year later, when I look back at my photographs, I find my memories to be quite profound.
I have a favorite picture from our trip. It was a rainy day at the Remar Orphanage outside Guatemala City. We were scheduled to spend time with girls ages 7-12 and to provide them with ice cream sundaes. But the inclement weather left many of the orphanage’s 500+ children with nothing to do but stand outside the gym where we played, looking longingly inside at our games and ice cream. We invited some of them in, but quickly became overwhelmed by a pack of surly teenage girls.
As I tried to explain (through a translator) that we didn’t have enough for everyone there, my mother asked me to come and take a picture of her playing with a little girl in a pink dress. They were tucked away in the corner of the gym, tossing a beach ball back and forth to one another. They were laughing and smiling, communicating without words. My mother said they had been tossing the ball for a very long time. “She just came up to me and asked me to play with her,” my mom told me. I quickly snapped their picture, obliging my mother’s request, and returned to my role as leader in the elevating chaos.
I didn’t pay much attention at the time, but when I look back at that picture I am struck by the irony of traveling with my mother to serve girls without one. When I see the picture of my mom with this little girl and think of how this child chose my mother that day, I can’t help but feel thankful to God for choosing my mother for me.
And He didn’t give me just any mother, but a mom who has always been there for me. A mom who would drop everything to help me if I asked. A mom who would throw a beach ball back and forth with me for hours, or days even, if I wanted her to. Sharing my mom with this motherless child for 20 minutes – a child who was so eager for my own mother’s love and attention – convicted me of the 28 years I’ve taken her for granted.
And just as I have taken for granted God’s blessing of a wonderful mother and father on earth, I tend to take his ultimate gift for granted to – that while we were still sinners, he died for us. And he will return for us one day. “I will not abandon you as orphans. I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.” John 14:18-19
Pictures may help me remember things from my past, but I’m most thankful for the photos – like this one of my mom – which help me grasp truth for the future.
Jenny Pope is the associate director of public relations for Buckner.
To learn more about the mother-daughter mission trip with Buckner, click here.