Reflections from Helen King (Shankill Parish, Lurgan) who has recently returned home from a gap year placement with SAMS in Argentina.
Dear SAMS Supporters
So, after 239 days and 6519 miles away from my house, family and friends I am finally home! After a lot of travelling and prayer I arrived in Salta, Argentina and the scary thought of spending almost 9 months away from home was soon replaced by my crazy schedule. In an average week I could be doing anything from working in the pastor’s office to helping at a Comedor (where children from a shanty town were fed by a local church) to leading Bible studies in Spanish or teaching English in a private school. Even though there were difficult times and plenty of tears, I wouldn’t have changed this year for anything!
A HUGE IMPACT
I would like to tell you about one woman I met who had a huge impact on my life. Her name is Daniela and she worked (unpaid) as a cook for around 30 children so that her own 5 children (all under the age of 9) would have food to eat. Apart from her children and her faith in God, Daniela has absolutely nothing. Her house is about the size of an average living room here, has a tin roof and has windows but no glass. She has no income and is on her own because her husband, who beat her so badly that she lost most of her teeth, left her when she was pregnant with the youngest child. I grew very close to Daniela and her children while I was working in the Comedor. Daniela’s faith in the amazing God we serve was such a witness for me. She was told by doctors that her two year old daughter Paula would never walk because she had been so badly malnourished as a baby, but Daniela and her church refused to give up on Paula and God answered their prayers. Little Paula started to walk about four months ago. However, several weeks before I came home, Daniela told me some heartbreaking news- Paula had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor and Daniela was in floods of tears because she did not have the money (the equivalent of £40) to pay for the first necessary treatment. She even considered selling her house as a way to get the money. Daniela told me that her previous few days had involved crying herself to sleep every night, being angry with God and then trying her best to be strong during the day for her children. She also told me that she didn’t understand why God would let this happen to her but she knew that he would get her through it and that He was with her. I cried in the bus on my way home that day. This story may make some of us uncomfortable but perhaps sometimes God allows us to see things that challenge us so we can do something to change them.
While I was away, a friend sent me a card that said “No man comes back from a journey the same person he went out” and I’m pretty sure that’s true of me! OK I’m still just under 5’2, I still love pink. I still love my food. I still love chatting to people. I’m still totally disorganized! However I’ve seen and learnt so many things this year that mean I can’t possibly be the same! God really opened my eyes this year and taught me a lot about myself, my relationship with Him and how I see other people.
A CHALLENGING BLESSING
I want to thank all of you who supported me in prayer during my time away. There were numerous times that I thanked God for his protection and for his answers to prayer. It was so nice to know that people were thinking of me and I really appreciated all the encouragement through letters, texts, parcels or emails while I was away. May I leave you all with this prayer given to me by Titch Hamilton (SAMS) before I left for Argentina.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU
May God bless you with discomfort
at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships.
So that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people.
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears
to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger or war.
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them.
May God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in this world.
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done.