Some of the most powerful moments Dan and I have experienced together were on a trip to Kathmandu, Nepal. There we worked closely with a non-profit called "Word Made Flesh" and spent most of our time volunteering with Mother Theresa's Missionaries of Charity.
Little did we know then, when we boarded the first plane of the 48 hr. journey half-way round the world, what an impact it would have on our relationship with each other and with God. It would cement scenes of dire poverty, heart wrenching circumstances like hunger and desperation and a culture that couldn't be any more different from our own, into our young, soft hearts forever.
To this day, certain smells like incense or chai "milk tea", take us back instantaneously. It was there that I watched Dan tremble with untrained hands as he gave an older gentleman a straight shave. Where I watched him wash the body of a man who had very few days left on Earth, even if just for the dignity of it.
I am brought to tears as I remember a young woman named Ruth, who so strongly embodied the essence of Jesus as she sat beside her elderly friend and coaxed her to take small sips of soup and tended the nasty bed sores that plagued her hips and legs. Ruth was only a year or two older than I was at the time and she had committed her whole life to these tasks. She left her home in America to do this. Just this. She will never know how much she impacted my own life.
It was there that I tried my hand at washing clothes without appliances, making meals with nothing more than some hot water, ground corn and a bit of salt. It was there that we were welcomed into one room apartments in the slums that housed five children and their father. There that they so graciously offered us milk tea and what few cookies they had for their special guests.
These experiences haunt my memory and have surely stayed with me- with both of us, since that short trip so long ago. I'm not sure how much good we really did for the people there. But I know without a doubt that God wanted us there to change us. To see what he was talking about when he said that he did not come to be served, but to serve.
Our American life will never be the same after peering through that lens. Our standard has changed. We no longer want the new house in the nice subdivision. We can't justify spending a lot of money on things. And when we find ourselves getting caught back in the American current, we think back. We spend time searching our souls and find those little memories stubbornly living in our hearts. We turn to each other with a new found faith and conviction. Simplicity becomes a spiritual discipline and we spend more time thinking about how to serve others.