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So This Guy Asked if I’d Fly to the Other Side of the World ~ Life:Unmasked

It isn’t every day that I get a second chance via text message.

Sri Lanka text

It’s happened exactly once, as a matter of fact, just a two weeks ago when Matthew Paul Turner invited me to join a team of bloggers traveling to Sri Lanka to report on World Vision’s work there.

It isn’t every day that a writer gets offered a once-in-a-lifetime job reporting live from a third world country. Especially a second one.

I wrote a few months ago about how I regret the tone of couple of my posts from last year’s trip to Bolivia with World Vision. I wrote from an unhealthy place, from an arrogant frustration with what I perceived to be a lack of appropriate (as defined by me) response to the stories and needs we were sharing.  Perhaps I’m more critical of myself than I should be, but based on some of the feedback I received, I have to believe some of that unhealthy attitude came through.

I’ve wished I could have a second chance to do it better, even though I knew how unlikely it was.

In the twelve months (!) since our Bolivia trip, I’ve looked hard at myself, grappling with my own personal responsibility for what I saw. I’ve plugged my ears against the whispers of the Liar who would have me believe that what I’m doing isn’t enough. That I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time and am missing out. That I need to Do Bigger Things and if I’m not, then I’m making excuses. I’ve reminded myself of Jesus’ teaching that being faithful in small things is invaluable to God. I’ve pushed back the rich (yes, rich, when you take the entire world into account and not just the USA) white woman guilt that rages against the fortune I have to be born here while girls like Lizet was born there. Sometimes the whispers would hold me back, hissing against taking foolish risks, promising safety and security where God never promises it and where safe and comfortable isn’t best.

I think about (and pray for) the people I met in Bolivia nearly every day, when we sit down to a meal next to our world map, when I cook with quinoa (a product of Bolivia), when I open my freezer door where we’ve hung the photos of our sponsored children. We thrill at the Bolivian postmarks on our mail every few months, poring over the photos and letters. We are always amazed at what they perceive their needs to be (white boards and markers, desk and chairs) based on what they are trying to accomplish, compared to what we would buy for them. It’s a regular reminder that we wealthy Northern Americans cannot just barge in and fix things. We love to read their words of love for Jesus.


Photo: Hasanthi Jayamaha/World Vision

We’ve taken some practical steps to change our financial situation and increase our ability to respond to needs as we hear of them. We’ve ground our teeth at the inevitable setbacks. We’ve read books like “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself” and “The Hole in Our Gospel” to gain more wisdom. We’ve prayed about what we are to do right now, with what we have now.

Supporting World Vision is one of those things. We remain impressed with World Vision’s long-range development work in areas where no other aid is available. They know that they cannot bring the hope of Jesus to people who are medically starving, dying of parasites, or without clean water without also addressing the physical needs in a sustainable way.

Saying yes to this second chance was (mostly) easy.  I’m anxious about the 13-hour flight, about the radical time change, about not repeating my mistakes. But I’m excited to have another opportunity to take all of you along on this adventure. We can save people’s lives, friends, and that isn’t a figure of speech. It’s real.

Some of you will sponsor children, some of you won’t, many of you have already (thank you!), and some will one day in the future (when God says “now”). Each of us must work out what we are to do at each moment with what we’ve been given.

For me, this August, I get a second chance. I fly to Asia to write stories.

sri lanka screen capture

What second chances have you been given? What have you wished for? What happened?

P.S. If you sponsor a child in Sri Lanka and would like for me to take a gift to them personally, please email me (joy at joyinthisjourney dot com). I would be so thrilled to hand-deliver your gift. If you would like to sponsor a child there ahead of our trip so I can deliver a gift, again, send me an email. Please contact me right away if you’re interested because these things take some doing (and it may not be possible, depending on where your child lives). But I wanted to make the opportunity available.


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  1. so excited for your second chance adventure, joy.

  2. So excited for you, friend. Only wish I was going, too!

  3. what a beautiful second chance, joy! so thrilled for you and this incredible journey you’re on!

  4. Proud of and excited for you, friend. I know you’re going to be a hero.

    • Oh no, I am quite sure I won’t be heroic. I’m just a writer, observing and reporting back. But I am also sure that I’ll get to introduce you all to some true heroes when we get there. 🙂

  5. This is beautiful, so excited for you. <3

  6. I am forever thankful for second chances. Wishing you all the best on this journey and I can’t wait to read what you have to share from the frontlines.

    • Me too. This is a big second chance, the biggest one I’ve received in recent years. Don’t want to waste it.

  7. I’m can’t wait to follow along, Joy. I know you’ll do it justice.

    (I don’t believe you bumbled the last one, for what it’s worth. You spoke from your reality at the time and I took your heart from it.)

    • Thank you, Ashleigh. It is good to hear that my passionate pleas didn’t offend everyone. Sometimes the fire in my belly gets a little out of control.

  8. I feel so lucky to make this trip with you, who has walked this road before. I am grateful for your wisdom.

  9. what a thrill, joy. and i’ll remind you what you already know — that your passion is a gift from Him. sure, we don’t use our gifts perfectly all the time, but He is greater than our humanity. i loved virtually joining you for your first trip, & look fwd to being a part of this one, too.

  10. What a great text to receive!

    Wishing you the best as you prepare for this trip and on it!

  11. What an honor!

  12. Shelley Randolph says:

    I am so very grateful that we serve a God of second chances! He is so gracious and loving, even (especially!) in the midst of our weaknesses and failures! I am also so very thankful you are willing to go again, and give us perspective from a life unknown to us! I loved your posts from Bolivia, and look forward to this view from Sri Lanka!

  13. So excited to hear stories from the new blog trip– hope WV bloggers go to Albania one day- I’d love first hand accounts of the communities where my 4 sponsored children live. 🙂 Prayers for safety, and health of all those involved in this trip.

  14. This is great news! It’s also great to be reminded that our God is a God of second chances, and it’s good to live that way towards others…

  15. I live in Latvia but I’m not Latvian and I see so many attitudes that hurt when people visit. It is so sad as the visitors really have the best intentions, but often go back home with a sense of how blessed they are because they do not live in those dire conditions and this is not helpful. Going to see what God is doing in a different place is so valuable, going back with a sense of challenge to our faiths is good and I wish you all the best in your next trip. I see that you already have your eyes and ears open to hear what God is doing there and look forward to the report.


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