After ten frantic days of preparation our mission of mercy to visit Sri Lanka was ready.
The idea occurred shortly after Tsunami’s struck throughout the Indian Ocean. Called the greatest natural disaster of the last one hundred years, more than eleven countries were struck by the massive waves with a loss of life estimated at more than 260,000 people. Within two weeks our church raised over $10,000 to help. Now what? How could we know if our help was actually going where it was needed and how could we become more directly involved?
We asked several church leaders to find a special project. As part of their research they visited “Gleaning for the World,” an aid agency in our area that specializes in getting equipment and supplies no longer used by industry to other areas where these same supplies were still needed. Rev. Ron Davidson, the founder and CEO offered two ideas which caught our attention.
The first involved our church receiving twenty-two large bales of used hospital linens, sorting still usable material and then boxing garments to be shipped to third-world countries. We accepted, so within days a tractor trailer loaded with hospital linens appeared behind our church where we had hundreds of dedicated adult and children volunteers waiting. The second project involved shipping from Vietnam to Sri Lanka, 40,000 pounds of rice, enough to feed at least 150,000 people several meals and all for only $6,000. Once again, we accepted his challenge.
Hours later, Rev. Davidson called back and asked: “Would you like to go with me and see the rice for yourself, assess the damaged area and look for opportunities to help Sri Lanka in the future?”
Paul asked others to help a sister church in trouble: “For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing…” (2 Corinthians 8:3-4) As followers of God we are judged not by church attendance, Bible study, Hymn singing or the size of our offering. Pursuing these aspects of our faith will help us become better Christians. But in the end we will be judged by how generously we respond to the needy in the world around us.
What could I say but “Yes!” Ten days later, I secured a passport, received my shots and began a series of flights that would last over twenty-six hours and take us half way around the world. Four of us would make the trip: Rev. Ray Buchanan with “Stop Hunger Now,” Rev. Ron Davidson with “Gleaning for the World,” Len Stevens, anchor of our local news television station and myself.
A guidebook describes Sri Lanka as, “The Teardrop of India: a tear of sheer joy frozen in mid-air.” Others describe it as the original Garden of Eden and proudly point to places named after Adam, the first man. Adam’s peak which some believe contains Adam’s footprint although Buddhists claim the footprint as Buddha’s but either way this is one of the holiest mountains in the world. A narrow stretch of islands between Sri Lanka and India are all that is left of “Adam’s Bridge.” God is said to have broken it into pieces after banishing Adam from the “Garden:” Sri Lanka.
For all practical purposes, you travel to Sri Lanka by air which means you first arrive at the only airport located twenty miles from the capital city of Columbo. This is where I discovered my first lesson about living in Sri Lanka: traffic. The small narrow roads are jammed with bicycles, motor bikes, cars, bajajs or auto rickshaws, cows, dogs, pedestrians, trucks and sheer maniacal drivers who only seem to know how to drive fast and keep one hand constantly on the horn: beep, beep!
My second lesson was about the people of Sri Lanka: No matter what chaos may be swirling, they always seem to be smiling. There is an atmosphere of sincere politeness and a genuine interest in wanting to know who you are, what you do and where you live. I found it appealing.
Sowing Seeds Ministry set up our web site to accept donations toward those affected by the Tsunami Tragedy. The site is credit card secure and all money will be given directly to Timberlake UMC to be used toward a special project in the area. You may also choose to donate to Sowing Seeds Ministry as we continue to keep our prayer and devotional ministry active and helpful. Click Here