They Are Just Like My Own

27 Jun

Blog post by Gemma C., Team Ethiopia 2012

When I was in grade 6, I had a class assignment in which I had to make a timeline of my life, concluding with what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote that I wanted to be a missionary. I’m sure I didn’t realize at that time all of what that meant, but I knew three things, God loved me, I wanted to help people, and I really wanted to travel.

I don’t really know why these things have always been in my heart, other than I suppose God put them there. I grew up in a very stable, two-parent, Christian home. My parents have always been very generous with what little they had, and I guess that makes an impact on a kid. For years I worked at bible camps in the summer, and got so much life from that, working with the kids, loving them just for the week they were there.  At university, I majored in International Relations, with the intention of going on the mission field after graduation, or working in Aid and Development. This has always been a desire of mine, and the Travel Bug is embedded deep inside me. I always say to my husband that at times it must be hard to love me, because I have a gypsy heart, always wanting to be on the move.

Things have not turned out the way I had planned. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, it is just different from what I had envisioned! I got married, finished university, and my husband and I went to work as house parents in a group home for teens with mental illnesses. All of these kids were also wards of the state, taken away from their parents for various reasons, abused and neglected.  Maine was not really my idea of world-travelling, but we were working with those who needed help, with orphans. That was such an intense 18 months, but we felt so limited because it was not a Christian organization, so we felt there was so much we could not help with. We also longed for community for ourselves. We moved back to Cape Breton (that is another story in itself), and ended up working at a Christian-run summer camp for teens with addictions. More orphans, from our own neighborhoods. I absolutely loved it. Then Joe got a job as a youth pastor at a church, more kids who need love. It has been an awesome couple of years, God has given us such a love for our youth, and a deep desire to help them. I am loving life here, but that travel bug inside me is eating me up, haha!

Several mission teams and outreaches went out from our area, many friends travelling, but it was always the wrong timing for us. We have two young children, so pregnancies and young infants prevented our joining any of them.  Last year, for me, Africa and the orphan came up so many times. I watched a documentary “God Grew Tired of Us” about the lost boys of Sudan. Then I read “When God Stood Up- A Christian Response to AIDS in Africa” by James Cantelone, about supporting the African churches as they will end the AIDS crisis. The Live:58 movie I watched a few months ago gave me so much hope that God is moving, that the poor need not always be with us, that there is a movement underway to end extreme poverty, and it is gaining traction. These and other books and documentaries really got me thinking about Africa. Also, having two young children of my own, I am so devastated whenever I hear of the tragedies of these vulnerable children, because I know they are just like my own. It is unimaginable, and just SO epidemic, how can we not help?

Friends of ours, including some students at a local Christian school, went to Ethiopia last year. They visited some of World Orphans work and were really impressed by the organization and their mandate. The school decided to send a team this year, and approached my husband Joe and me to be chaperones. Everything that happened between that moment and this in our journey is also another story in itself, but I am SO excited to be a part of this team. I am hoping that meeting and getting to know some of the kids we will be visiting will embed in my mind and heart even more deeply, that we simply cannot sit by while so many are without homes and families.

Gemma resides in Canada and will be serving with Journey117 in July on Team Ethiopia.

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