I was waiting for the subway in D.C. when a big group of high school kids wearing matching bright blue beanies walk past me. The leader of their group was a larger man, wearing Priests clothing, a parka and a matching beanie, same as the group. He was instructing them to check in with their chaperone. The priest turned around to find a short boy who was a member of the group without his beanie on, “Put your beanie on right now, so we don’t lose you.” He instructed with a moderate level of sternness. The short boy begrudgingly placed the beanie over his head.
I sympathized with him, they were horrible looking beanies. The boy was short, with a big mouth from the full set of braces inside, he looked like a trouble maker, I sympathized with that as well.
On the front of their bright blue beanies read, “St. Johns Catholic High School March for Life 2019”. Ahh, yes, my friend Amy had told me that was going on tomorrow morning in D.C., apparently busses were bringing in 200,000 kids from catholic schools all over the country.
My thoughts were interrupted by the train arriving, I file in, find a seat and sit down. The short boy walks by, turns to sit next to me then hesitates and looks me in the eyes.
“You can sit.” I offer to him, he accepts as a grin spreads all over his face. I quickly decide that this will not be a quiet train ride home, I am curious about this kid. What appears to be his chaperone and two other members of his group sit nearby.
“Are y’all here for the March for Life?” I ask, playing ignorance. He lights up. Then he proceeds to tell me that he is a Freshman, and his high school participates in the March for Life every year. He was a trouble maker, but a passionate one none the less. I had many questions for him and his friends, and they seemed to love answering them, which gave me hope that they were not simply forced to attend the march by their parents or school. Hearing the reasons that they were passionate about the issue, especially from a high school freshman boys perspective, was fascinating. He was young, but his youth made the argument so simple, life is life, born or unborn and it should be protected. Little did I know I would be in New York City three days later when the vote was taken to allow abortion up to birth.
After a while of talking, he asked me where I live. Lots of people I have met since I left Dallas have asked me this question. I know it’s God because if they were to ask me where I am from, etc. I would be able to answer with a short, normal answer, but, “where do I live?” Well, that is a tricky one at the moment. It forces me to explain to people what my current situation is, “Well I am actually on my way to live somewhere new, I am from Dallas, I go to Law School in Mississippi, I am in D.C. for work and I am about to move to Africa to work for International Justice Missions on Child Advocacy Issues.” I don’t really have a home at the moment, and so I have a love/hate relationship with the question, “Where do you live?” because it opens up a whole can of worms to the unknowing stranger who just wanted to make small talk.
The boy and his friends had lots of questions for me. Why Africa? What are you doing there? How long are you staying? …Are you getting paid? (*Insert gasps form the audience*) When they found out I wasn’t getting paid and that I was fundraising for the entire cost of my trip, a look of concern spread across their faces. It was so cool because right there on the Yellow line train in Washington D.C. I got to do a little preaching.
To their concerned looks I told them, “I am sure each one of your parents paid for this trip so you can come and march for what you are passionate about and whether you thought about it or not, that was God’s way of providing for you so you could do the works he had planned for you. God is providing for me too, and it may seem like a lot, and it is a lot but I am confident that I am doing His work, because it was Him who gave me this passion and the means to act on it. So when your older and on your own and want to do something that seems impossible I hope you remember how God provided for this moment, and just like this moment He will provide in the future when you say yes to what He has planned for your life.”
The boy smiled with his big braces and nodded his head the entire time I spoke. To be honest it felt as if I was preaching to myself. This short boy, begrudgingly wearing a bright blue beanie, and I had a lot in common. We both despise standing out, (especially when it involves wearing ridiculous hats or dropping a bomb on a stranger that your about to move to Africa) and neither one of us have a problem striking up a conversation with a stranger on the subway. More importantly we see the value in each and every life, he cared about making sure each life is given its opportunity to live, and I care about making sure each life doesn’t have to live in fear. God is actively providing for both of our passions through the people around us who care about the same things as us, it is so cool. That boy was so cool. I am thankful for the opportunity to remind myself how incredible of a miracle it is that God is providing for me through family, friends and strangers around me.
I feel right now as if I am on my own little March for Life, it’s a long march, it started in Mississippi, made its way to Dallas, hopped over to D.C. then New York City and now I am in London before my march finally ends in Uganda where I will work for a year to make sure all lives, regardless of social status, skin color or financial means are not living in fear of violence, where all lives are protected by the institutions built to protect them and where all lives can have the ability to say yes to what God has planned for them. And while I am excited to see what the Lord does in Uganda, I leave America mourning the losses of all the lives which will be taken in New York. I am excited for the work I will get to do in Uganda, learning how to defend the defenseless but oh am I fired up to get back to America and do the same for the rest of my life. Defending the defenseless, because that's what unborn fully developed, living babies are, they are defenseless. There is work to do everywhere it seems. Right now the work I have been given to focus on is in Uganda, and so I must shift my focus there, that is where my March is right now.
It is easy to get burdened thinking about how much suffering is truly everywhere in this world but I am reminded of a saying I learned in Orientation that International Justice Missions stresses to all of its employees-- this is not our burden to carry. We must do our part but we cannot carry the entire burden on our own shoulders. This is God's burden and he is capable of carrying it, God loves every life and we can do our part to help His fight here on Earth but we cannot try to do it all, because we are not God.
We are all on our own marches, my march is in Uganda, the Boy in the Blue Beanies March was in D.C., where is your march? Is it taking care of your own children? Maybe its loving on your grandchildren or your nieces and nephews? Maybe it is volunteering at a homeless shelter or donating financially to make someone else March happen? Whatever your March is, wherever your March is, I hope you are Marching it well because every March matters, and every life matters.
Days until I move: 4
Fundraising Completed: 72%
This week was a big week! Last Sunday I left Dallas and flew to D.C. for Orientation and Training with International Justice Missions. I got to meet lots of great people, including everyone who will be serving in the field office with me in Uganda. It was honestly drinking from a fire hose, there was a lot of information to take in. We covered safety in the field, the mission of IJM (and every department in IJM) and we even took a self-defense class.
My friend from college, Amy, lives and works in D.C. and she was so sweet to let me stay with her. We had a great few nights of catching up and spending time together, Amy is just one of those people who is constantly a joy to be with and I am so thankful that I got to spend time with her before I left for a while. It had been too long since I had seen her last. I left D.C. feeling so full, literally my heart and brain were both very full.
Leaving D.C. I took a bus to New York City and arrived in the wee hours of the morning to snow fall and my sweet sister Tori. Example #2 of an incredible hostess, wow I have such great people in my life. I have been to NYC a handful of times, so to be honest my only desires while here were to decompress and process everything I learned in D.C., and to eat some really good food. I can say with confidence that I did just that.
So with a very full belly I left NYC for London. On to Hostess #3, my sweet friend Abby. Hopefully I will take lots of pictures to share, I did not do a very good job of taking many picture in D.C. or NYC, I think my brain was on overload. But I do post a handful of pictures and videos daily on my Instagram story (@livingintentionali), if you ever want live updates. I am always up to something, even if I forget to document it.