by guest author Fenton Gardner
As someone who has been to La Paz twice before, I knew what to expect in certain situations. However, there were two new experiences on this trip that surprised and impacted my heart.
I was deeply moved by our visit to a temporary shelter for children. These children are brought, often in the middle of the night, to be protected from severely abusive situations. We were able to spend some time with an amazing group of boys. We read them a book about the inspirational life of Wilma Rudolph, emphasizing how challenges and setbacks in life don’t have to be permanent. I was sincerely encouraged to hear their answers to my questions and their insights into the story.
Afterwards, we created a “Ring of Honor”, which is a time for everyone to share and receive compliments from each other. This is a valued tradition at The Swamp Summer Camp that my daughter attends every summer. It was very moving to see these boys, who are enduring tough situations, thoughtfully compliment one another. Comments ranged from “he helps me make my bed”, “he helps me do my laundry” to “he’s really friendly” and “he’s like a big brother to me”. Watching each boy’s face light up when his peers described his most admirable qualities is a memory that will remain in my heart for a very long time.
The other event that I will always treasure is being a “Zebra for a Day”. To be a part of something that is an international phenomenon, and yet is something unique to Bolivia, was an unequaled delight. We were given the priceless opportunity to bring joy and smiles to the children, adults and elderly of La Paz. When we put on the Zebra suit, we spread joy, cheer and kindness. It is a perfect metaphor for being a disciple of Christ. When we are clothed with Christ, we have the incredible honor of doing the exact same thing everyday. This experience was a truly remarkable and memorable lesson.
My time in La Paz always leaves a lasting impression on my heart. Thank you, once again, for the opportunity to serve like Jesus in very real and practical ways.