Monday, September 15, 2008



According to Wikipedia, "27 is the natural number following 26 and preceding 28. Twenty-seven is the smallest positive integer requiring four syllables to name in English, though it can be unambiguously defined in just two: "three cubed.""

Twenty-seven is a number that I have some attachment to. I have for the past couple of years. I'm trying not to get too comfortable with 27...I'd like to see it change to 28 in the very near future. Even better would be twenty-nine and then 30.

So what's the significance of 27 to me? It happens to be the number of countries I've had the privilege to be able to visit.

Before you get too excited there's something you need to understand. I didn't visit all these countries on vacation. I wasn't relaxing on sun soaked beaches, sipping tropical drinks with a miniature umbrella poking me in the eye. The vast majority of the places I've visited are not vacation destinations for most people. They are countries like Rwanda where the entire society is working hard to recover from the murder of nearly 1,000,000 people during three horrifying months in 1994. A country where the majority of the population lives in horrible poverty, working harder than we in the United States will ever work for the equivalent of $2 or $3 a day...if they're fortunate. A country where I met a little boy who has become a big part of my life. Karangirwa Roger Mila, born in May of 1994...right in the middle of the genocide. He is the oldest child in a family of 5. His father is a subsistence farmer. His mother does odd sewing jobs when she can to make a little extra money to help support Roger and his two siblings. 

Roger is a good boy. He helps his mother around the house when he isn't in the field with his father. His parents have big dreams for him. They want to see him grow up and be able to live a better life than what they have...not scratching and digging for food or wearing tattered clothes and living in a shanty that barely keeps the rain out during monsoon season.

Want to know the best part? Roger has a chance to make his parents dreams come true. You see, Roger lives in a village that has a church that believes in him and is helping pay for his school fees and uniform. The church is home to a Compassion project. They make sure he gets nutritious meals and provides medicine if he gets sick. They help tutor him and give him the opportunity to learn a trade that will help lift him out of the poverty that engulfs his life. Best of all, they introduced Roger to Jesus and now Roger knows he isn't ever alone. There's always someone watching over him and his family.

I am so privileged not just to have met Roger but to be a part of his life. I am Roger's sponsor. Since 2002 I have been sending $32 a month to Compassion so that the church in Roger's village can provide all those things I described. I've seen this young boy grow up. I've watched his expression change in the pictures I receive from one of despair to a smiling, joyful young man who has hope for his future. I have visited him at his project, and sat with him and his family in their home. I have held him in my arms and cried with him when I had to leave. I pray for him, send him letters and birthday gifts. I love this little boy as if he was part of my family...and in reality, he is part of my family. I know God has great things in store for this young man.

So that's one story from many miles of travel. I have others to tell. Someday I'll introduce you to Julio in Colombia. But not today. 

27. Shooting for 28...and beyond.

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