On behalf of International Children’s Network (ICN), we completed the 3 week tour seeking the best talent for 2016’s Matsiko World Orphan Choir tour. I pen this update following the auditions that took my 17-year-old son Selkirk, his girlfriend Cassie Lawrence, and me traveling on 14 planes through 8 countries over 21 days . Flying from Spokane to Seattle, Amsterdam, Delhi, Goa, Mumbai, Katmandu, China, Bangkok, Philippines, Korea, Seattle then home-sweet-home, I remain both elated and exhausted!As seems to be the norm when doing overseas orphan work, the trip was fraught with travel obstacles. While some pressures were caused by small details missed on our part, most headaches were out of our control. It began with an overheated vehicle as we rolled into Spokane airport at 6am, followed by an Embassy clerical error in Amsterdam (Cassie was banned from entering India for 5 days and stuck in Schiphol Airport), followed by Nepal’s weather delays causing us to miss connections to the Philippines. We topped it off by consequently stranded in China.
Worse yet was Chinese immigration stripping us of our passports for hours. The country’s Google ban, communist influence, an inability to communicate had me on edge. However, the straw that pushed my adrenaline was when the stone-faced non-English speaking officers sequestered Selkirk to a back room for a few hours while Cassie and I waited alone in an empty room. I was prayerfully on pins and needles. Visions of planted drugs and Midnight Express rattled through my brain.
Adding to the chaos: KLM lost my luggage in Delhi for 3 days, a stolen cell phone in Amsterdam and time zone miscalculations all played havoc. However, God’s angels were at every corner and perseverance prevailed: All ICN goals were accomplished!
‘Priceless’ is the word I use to describe escorting 26 orphans to the local market for ice cream. 52 hands competing for the 2 of mine navigating a bustling dusty dirt road. Honking horns of cars and busses whiz by my elbows; I’m just another part of a street scene among the hustle and bustle of this third world province of Zambales – a city that never seems to sleep. My sheer gratitude for living a richly blessed U.S. life with both parents still living has me entirely reflective of this cherished joy of ice cream with kids. Orphaned kids and ice-cream somehow makes this simple pleasure larger than life.
With their beautiful songs and overflowing hearts, these abandoned children who have no parents and few possessions teach me again that it is better to give than to receive.
Eager children ages 7-12 sang and danced their hearts out for a coveted place on the U.S. tour, and we delighted in broken-English renditions of Hokey Pokey, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and a few Justin Bieber lyrics mixed in for good measure.
The cute factor was off the charts for this year’s auditions making the selection process especially difficult. Although bug-eyed and time zone baked, travel glitches melted away, as we still managed to grab a few days to swim in the South China and Arabian Seas between the slums and orphanage visits.
I believe there is ‘enough’ in the world. Enough love, enough resources, enough people. It seems that we, as a resource-rich nation, are simply needing to share our more of ‘haves’ (time, talent, finances) with the ‘have nots’ – me included. Of all the lifetime of miles spent traveling to tiny corners of the world, 95% of them have been for the purpose of project service work, and I remain thankful for the many lodging guests who have generously contributed to my journeys. Whether it was your lodging dollars spent here, a treasure you purchased from the mission table, or an extra tip you left behind, your patronage to Talus Rock Retreat and our family has played a significant role in sending these hands and feet for Christ to the ‘least of these’. Thank you for sending me to pursue my passion while helping to complete the circle of God’s perfect economy. I couldn’t have done it without you.
I am reminded of the generous hand of God in my life. Spending my life cards in these “material-poor/God dependency rich” places, I am unequivocally indebted for the comforts of living in America in comparison to these hungry souls living outside of our U.S. borders.
Check out the choir at icnchildren.net to be sure to see the new “choir orphan ambassadors” coming to tour the United States in 2016 from India, Nepal and Philippines (to join those from Liberia and Peru). It’s not too late to catch the remaining 3 weeks while the 2015 tour wraps it up in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Portland and Seattle/Western Washington areas.
Note: Please pray for our 2016 choir children, pastors and new friends in Katmandu, Nepal suffering from the disastrous earthquake – all of whom we left only 5 days after we arrived home. All the children are safe.