A City Slicker Comes to Compassion

“So you moved from New York City … to Colorado Springs? Wow.” Full stop. “That must be a big adjustment …”

“Yes indeed,” I reply.

two young women smilingAnd that is the most common reaction I (right) get. What makes me chuckle though is the momentary look of utter confusion that passes over a person’s face as the “How” and “Why” questions begin to percolate, fighting their way to the mind’s surface.

It is as if my co-worker could, for the very briefest of moments, still get a whiff of the cab that took me to NYC’s LaGuardia Airport three months ago. The taxi driver was a cologne-toting, disco-listening, ’70s throw-back who threw even me for a loop, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a strange co-mingling of cab and cologne left on me.

But in all honesty, I chuckle at myself more than anything. Because I fully realize I do it, too, right back at my co-worker telling me he is from a distant town in eastern Texas or a one-stoplight town in Nebraska.

And I go shuffling frantically through the file folders in my mind to come up with something, anything, only to arrive at the “N” section out of breath. I find that my Nebraska file is empty — save for the dusty “Lincoln” filed in 1987 during the lesson on state capitals that I never mastered.

Slightly embarrassed, I refocus on my conversation partner, knowing that my sheepish smile is perhaps conveying an equally disconcerting non-meeting of the minds.

I chuckle, thanking God for humor and grace. And that’s what makes the world go round — God. I suppose that is how I landed here in the Wild West after all.

And by “suppose” I mean it was all Him, and by “here” I mean Compassion International’s Global Ministry Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

One of the best parts, right off the bat, has been realizing that these momentary non-meetings of the mind are so unbelievably insignificant in the face of a mission so clear and near to God’s heart — releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Over the last three months I’ve been learning about my co-workers. Nebraska, for example, is a brother and a friend who dispenses grace like orange slices at a kid’s soccer game.

The once shamefully empty file folder in my head is bulking up very slowly with remnants from his life and how God is continuing to make him a man after His own heart. I can now locate Nebraska on the map, and even the town where he’s from.

And this has been my experience thus far of Compassion-ites. Truly amazing. Amazingly talented. People of creativity, ambition, grace and, oddly enough, compassion.

Another amazing part about work at Compassion so far is knowing that in some teeny tiny way I’m able to do something for kids growing up in poverty — the ones struggling to fight the lies that tell them they don’t matter and will amount to nothing.

I played soccer with them in Brazil and lost miserably; I was blessed to visit them in Panama at their schools and was humbled at the loving reception; I was toured around cities in Tanzania by kids living and working on the streets. Kids on glue to quell hunger pains, but kids eager to hold my hand and show me their world.

I’ve seen their resiliency and determination in the face of impossible circumstances and I know that God is in their midst. That His presence is there.

So maybe the fax machine near my office intimated me on day three, and maybe I can’t find pizza with decent crust in this town, and maybe I’m still fumbling around in my new role here at Compassion, but the list of things that just don’t matter in light of God’s glory, continues to grow.

And hopefully I’m growing too.

So, in response to the “How” and “Why” questions on my cross-country move … I suppose airplane, moving truck and God don’t really suffice. But what I see in my mind’s eye is liquid grace trickling through God’s labyrinth, running together and overflowing. Joining New York, Nebraska and Compassion International.

And now, a 12-year-old girl in Colombia, Elizeth, I’m blessed to sponsor. Humbled for perhaps the billionth time in the last three months, I thank God. Daily.

9 Comments |Add a comment

  1. annabelle February 17, 2011

    oh man. i thought sOCal was bad, then I went to NYC for work. and i would still choose colorado springs (and all the cool compassion people) over anywhere else!

    . . . even if everyone’s white and i’m worried about how they keep their sushi fresh 😀

  2. Mark September 15, 2009

    Boriello Brothers has pretty good NY style pizza. Up in Castle Rock, Stumpy’s (wierd name for pizza) has great NY pizza. I’m originally from NY and been here 7 years. Thanks for sharing! Blessings!

  3. Chris Giovagnoni September 11, 2009

    You’re going to learn all about that next week.

  4. Amy Wallace September 11, 2009

    Wonderful post, and I love your style of writing!

    What’s your job at Compassion?

  5. Mike Stephens September 11, 2009

    I’m jealous you’ve been to Tanzania, that is great!

  6. Katy Balsis September 11, 2009

    Lauren! You’re incredible. Hahaha, I will have to agree with my best friend, Brianne. I too said, “Wait… you left New York? On purpose?” 😉

    So grateful the Lord brought you here and so grateful for all He is doing through you. You are wonderful, my friend! And a talented writer if I may say so…

  7. Sarah Charles September 11, 2009

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  8. Brianne Mullins September 11, 2009

    Lauren! Loved your post and your writing which kept a smile on my face.

    I’m pretty sure I was one of the, “Excuse me, did you say New York?” people you spoke to. But I could not be more happy that the Lord, in His skillful and loving way, picked you up and put you at Compassion.

    Cheers my beautiful friend!!

  9. Chuck Guth September 11, 2009

    Blessings!!!! 🙂

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