For the last two years I have been moving and moving and moving some more. Each month, every couple weeks, every other weekend. Yup. A lot of moving. There are benefits to moving around and for what I was doing, it was the right move (pun intended). But my situation is different now so I am trying to make the most of my more stationary life.
One of the biggest benefits to living in Camarillo is the amazing library. I haven’t even explored all the corners but this place is full of amazing resources and it such an asset to the community. The library offers both literacy and ESL classes as well as tutoring. This is just one of the ways that it supports the diverse population. I’ve loved getting to know Camarillo from this perspective.
Once a week I visit the learning center and work with a couple from Egypt. Although they speak English very well, they are trying to improve their English skills so that they can start working in their professions again. We practice conversation, we practice specific vocabulary, we practice navigating English websites and online applications. For a couple hours a week I answer questions and give them undivided attention. I enjoy getting to hear their stories and now being a part of their transition to the US.
The Camarillo library is a great place. It supports community. It supports language. I’m thrilled to take advantage of my more stationary moment to be a part of my new community in this way.
Mission has its origins in the heart of God…there is mission because God loves people. -David Bosch
The world we live in is becoming increasingly connected. We can Skype, text, email and Facebook around the world. We search the internet and have choices to buy from, sell to, connect, research, etc. from places both near and far. The Olympics is a great example of countries, products and people all coming together. But sometimes I wonder how connected we are when it comes to the things that really matter. We may know generally about one counties instability or financial problems. We may have a vague idea how food shortages or heavy rains are devastating an area half way across the globe but do we know the faces of the men, women and children who live there? Do we have any personal connection?
Of course, we can’t know everyone and everything but I wonder what would happen to our world if everyone reached out to at least one unknown place and became familiar with the everyday stories. If we knew people by face and by name and somehow could connect our worlds. Would this make us less cynical? Would it give us greater empathy and understanding? Would this expand our ability to love?
There are many ways to go about reaching out but if you are involved with a church, hopefully they are offering many options for worthwhile connections. Yesterday was a Global Outreach Sunday at my church and we saw faces and heard stories about what is happening in city in Egypt. This wasn’t about general political strain and turmoil. This was about real people, in particular the story of a small girl being loved on because of the medical and mercy work that is happening on the ground in her city. I smiled as I watched the video because although I’ve never been to Egypt, I have followed this work for many years, seen pictures and heard stories. Some of the faces were familiar and I was excited to see the progress and changes that have come through the years of hard work. My heart was encouraged, as I was reminded that the church is at work in a very tangible and practical way in Egypt.
As a Christian, my heart for the Church links my heart automatically to the world and people outside of myself. Charles Van Engen says “Mission cannot be something separate from or added to the essence of the Church. The essential nature of the local congregation is, in and of itself, mission, or else the congregation is not really the Church.” And as a human, I believe that we are made to be connected to other humans. So I would encourage you, if you are part of a local church or through other channels, to see what ways your can start connecting with the world, you may be lead to someplace exotic and far away. Or your heart may find something closer to home that still stretches and expands your worldview. Maybe the Olympics is a good place to start praying for countries and starting to reach outside of ourselves.