This morning’s post comes to us from CARE for AIDS African Operations Director, Ryan Arnold.
I’m sitting in the airport in Pensacola, about to board my first of three flights which will put me back in Nairobi Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, EST). There are many thoughts going through my head as I prepare to go back. One of them is a reflection of my time spent in the Florida Panhandle the past two weeks: “I can’t wait to get back to Africa and get out of this heat and humidity!” But, seriously.
On a more serious note, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the past few weeks States-side. This morning, before my Dad drove me to the airport, and after a hearty “farewell America” breakfast that involved no less than five pieces of bacon on my plate, my family spent a few moments in prayer over me.
I sat at the kitchen counter with my sister, grandmother, and parents praying over me. In that moment, I was immensely grateful for my family, and especially my parents. As they stood behind me, hands on my shoulders, I thought about what a blessing it is to have these godly, loving parents behind me. It is strange to think about how I have lived long enough to see my parents grow, but I was thinking this morning about how I have. My parents have continued to grow in wisdom, in love and faith for God, and in love for people. It started when they first decided to adopt and my brother Jonathan came into our lives, and it has continued up until now. These past two weeks at my parents house, I have seen them in action in their new ministry in Pensacola where they are, per usual, making their home and our family a place where any one feels welcome and everyone has a place around the kitchen table for as long as they need it or want it. I have the privilege of coming from a big family.
My parents only gave birth to three children, which is very practical, but through adoption, they added four more, and they have opened their hearts and their home to countless others who have become family. This is the perfect picture of how God welcomes us all into His family. I am extremely grateful for the love and wisdom I have received and still receive from my parents, and for the example they give of how to live out our faith: faith expressing itself in love.
As I reflect on this, I remember the mission of CARE for AIDS, to which I am returning. We are in the business of orphan prevention. We are keeping parents alive so they can be to their children what mine have been to me – sources of support and love, and examples of faith and right-living. Keeping these parents alive means that children are being raised in a way that will break the cycles of disease and poverty in their families. Because of my parents, I am returning to this work with a sense of awe, remembering how important parents are in the lives of children – even when their children become adults and move to other countries.