I spent last evening and this morning cutting out fifty paper angels. This is in preparation for the mission trip to Cambodia coming very soon now. We just learned that we will have at least fifty more children than we anticipated — so a total of 250 paper angels. And this is just one craft, of at least 20, that we will share with the children while we are there.
As I carefully cut each angel out of a paper plate, I pictured myself and our team sitting in a room, surrounded by 200 to 300 Cambodian children of all ages. I could see our leader instructing them in English: “OK, everyone fold the angel in half, this way!” and an interpreter running back and forth, yelling the same instructions in “Khmer” (the native language). Older siblings help the little ones understand the instructions. The noise from chattering children drowns out the next set of instructions….
So exactly what is the point of this exercise?
This week, I attended an all-day forum on human trafficking and child abduction in the US, sponsored by Soroptimist International of Marin County in partnership with the Jeannette Prandi Children’s Center. We were fortunate to listen to four survivors. One of them said, “If you leave with only one thing today, it is this: We don’t want you to be perfect. We don’t care if you are perfect. We want you to listen. We want you to be an active listener. Sex trafficking and slavery is not WHO we are. It is WHAT happened to us. We are people, just like you.”
I am pretty sure that if the children in Cambodia could talk to us, they would say the same thing. I will not worry that my 50 angels are not as perfect as I wanted them to be. I won’t worry that I’m not “the perfect missionary”.
I will listen with all my heart.
I will love with all my heart.
And I will pray.