I remember walking through the Ceja for the first time with our newborn son. Almost instantly, the world took on a new face. In our arms we held a sweet, vulnerable child, and all around me I felt the chaos and the ugliness of the world.
This place is horrible, I thought to myself, stepping over piles of trash and pushing through the crowds and unnerving traffic. Everything seemed so loud, with music blaring, people yelling, and incessant honking. For the first time, I worried about exhaust fumes and lurking germs, as people stopped us for a glimpse of the little gringito baby. I noticed the worn-down buildings, the tired, burdened faces, and the snotty-nosed kids playing on the broken, urine-washed sidewalks. I remembered the disparity and wondered, Why would anyone want to live here, and why in the world would I want to raise a family here? This is the world my child will know—I am saddened and afraid.
As would any parent, I suppose, we want so much to protect our little one from the agony that characterizes our world. Of course, we want the best for him, but we are called to live a life among the poor—to live in solidarity with them and join them in their sufferings. So what does that mean for our children?
I first came to Bolivia in 1994, and upon returning to the States I felt I left my heart there. I longed to be with the people I had grown to love. Years later I finally returned to the field with my husband. As difficult and terrifying as it was then, that initial commitment to serve here does not seem to have been as painful as it is now. Yes, I was broken, and I struggled as the Lord purified me, but now it is not just about me—an innocent one is affected by each bend in the road.
I am learning that submission is an on-going commitment. It is a daily, sometimes hourly, abandonment. Although the circumstances seem more complicated, the plan laid before me then still lies before me now. So once again, I must let go of everything for the sake of the One who calls. For me right now, it means letting go of my son and placing him in the all-powerful hands of the One who created him.
As much as I struggle to place my baby on the altar, I know that his Father in heaven cares much more for him than I ever could. HE has always been faithful and has promised that everything will be all right. So as we learn to trust the Lord in new and frightening ways, my prayer is that our son too will someday learn to trust the perfect will of his ever-present, loving Father. Until then, I echo Hannah’s prayer, As long as he lives, he is given to the Lord… (I Samuel 1:28).