Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Saturday, January 3, 2009

1/3: from the airport -- crazy cool kids

Ryan here writing from the airport in DC, while I wait for my flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. You may already know this, but I'm SOOOO passionate about kids and people in general. I LOVE being around them. Learning from them, especially strangers. This trip, I'm traveling alone. While it can have its downsides, especially on the long flight, I absolutely love meeting strangers along the way. I just sat and talked with 2 people from South Africa traveling home who recently had twins here in the states. We talked birth weight, anxieties, packing for such a trip, etc.

The thing I took away from the conversation with the overwhelmed mom and dad was this: "They are passionate about kids, too."

By far, my favorite strangers to talk with are new parents or grandparents. Why? They have so many hopes and dreams for their kids. The look of excitement (and a slight tinge of fear) that says, "what's going to happen to them in the future?" Every parent and grandparent have that look.

As I watched these two new borns get ready to board our ~16 hr flight to South Africa, I couldn't help but be excited for them, as well.

One of the most common questions I get when I go to Zambia or Zimbabwe, especially, is WHY TAKE THE RISK? My answer is almost always the same: because I'm going on behalf of an effort -- on your behalf -- we are joining with local churches and communities in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of vulnerable kids... kids who need a champion. kids who need someone that's crazy about them -- and i firmly believe that's every kid.

sadly, there are lots of kids that don't have that yet. one of my fears about going is that people like you all, reading this blog, get bored with the idea of helping AIDS orphans...bored with the idea that we are simply doing more of the same. to me, that's a funny notion because every kid is different. every kid has a unique voice and every kid has hopes & dreams for what may come of them when they are older.

so - as i sit and listen to kids scream and run around the waiting area by Gate B20, i cannot help but get excited about the hopes and dreams of each of these children, as well as the thousands the projects I'll visit strive to help each year.

this trip, i hope to work with new pastors and new leaders in zambia & zimbabwe to help even more kids, while also continuing to help local people care for kids that we all (including you) helped last year.

you can also tell that i ramble when i'm tired - going on a couple of hours.

OVERALL POINT -- i like kids... i love them. i love learning from them and working with others to make sure they will have the joy of dreaming about what's next after being a kid... real dreams that actually could come true, rather than be perpetually lonely, poor, without guidance, etc.

the GREAT thing and challenge about Forgotten Voices is there are millions (literally - no exaggeration) of kids that need a champion like that --- someone who is crazy about them and wants to dream dreams with them. our network of old church partners and new ones in 2009 are daring to dream, are working hard, and are anxious to have you continue in their journey.

to my right and immediately behind me - a group of students from the university of chicago - about to depart on a study abroad program. as i listen to them gleefully talk about what to expect in Africa on their first visit to the continent, i am just silently smiling. my first trip to zimbabwe stole my heart -- the kids there and those that care for them still have it. i'm SOOOO deeply DEEPLY excited and thankful that the same has happenened for many of you.

i recognize that i go on your behalf and it is a responsibility that i don't take lightly, but i look forward to having some fun along the way as i help you meet and experience the hopes, dreams and seemingly unending love that pours from the hearts & minds of vulnerable children and those that are trying to care for them. i'm VERY excited to meet them again and share their stories with you all here.

let's get going... for now, i'm jetting to walk around and maybe meet some new people. :) i only have 2 hrs until we board... cannot wait!!!

until i write from south africa on 4 Jan,

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