Rabbits and Fish and Bees, Oh My...

yellowbrickroad Remember when Dorothy and her pals went on that adventure, the one with the winding brick road and the scary flying monkey's? I remember. And so does my daughter (though she likes the Wiz  much better). We were talking about it just this week. We were imagining, no experiencing, that very magnificent notion that the journey is as important as the destination. We were talking about how we get the fake guy behind the curtain ending, and how the Emerald City is not really the point. We talked about how in recognizing what they lacked, the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man actually made themselves of use to others. In recognizing what they lacked within themselves they were filled... and fulfilled. And so here we are. On the road.  Let me tell you about our first steps.

In addition to roaming Amatitlan trying to find a place to lay our heads, we've been spending time arranging our FTF immersionship. That's what I want to tell you about today. This program has been at the center of our plans for each community with whom we work. It is essential to our work and I want to tell you why. But first, the what.

The FTF Immersionship is pretty much what it sounds like; an internship that helps us to immerse. For eight months we lend what we can to some of the most disadvantaged folks on the planet. In Sierra Leone (once we get back there), we will work with Fr. Themi and his Ebola orphans. In Ethiopia, Ryan worked with Tsige, a woman who ran a hospice for the abandoned elderly. Here in Guatemala, where Georgia and I are, we are blessed to be friends with a group of Orthodox nuns who run an orphanage. This orphanage serves kids from all over Guatemala. Georgia and I (and Reilly soon enough) have been asked to help out on the nuns' rollicking farm. We will assist Marcos and Jolie (the agricultural directors) with their very unique rabbit farm, an incredibly integrated aquaponics project, a burgeoning compost operation, and a bee colony. All of these projects literally put food on the plates of the kids who live here at the Hogar. The three of us will offer what we can and receive some wisdom in return.

Oh, and yes... rabbit is delicious. Crunchy delicious.

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And that brings us to the why. Why this intern thingy? Why not get on with the business of building entrepreneurial projects?

Well, by working at least four days a week at the Hogar we are fulfilling our mission of assisting our local partners. We are also gaining essential insight into what works and what doesn't work here in Guatemala. Even better, we are filling gaps that are difficult to fill for Marcos and the nuns and their incredible mission to provide a home for orphaned children.

But there is another reason we start this way wherever we go. Our immersionship is the soil in which we plant ourselves so that we may bear fruit. Serving obediently is the first step in becoming aware of the needs and the pain of others. Walking the brick road alongside others can create true empathy; something much more profound than western guilt. Yes, studying problems and data is a good thing. Yes, exercising expertise is important. But being a servant to those who have given their lives for others may be the best way to truly educate oneself. Listening enlivens the proud soul.

So... Rabbits and fish and bees. Not exactly lions and tigers and bears, but how many life-bearing stories have been woven from the ancient knowledge of rabbits and fish and bees? Oh my. Let the fairy tale begin.

Join us on the yellow brick road anyway you can. Each of us can play a part in serving the most disadvantaged among us. Go to www.first-things.org and find out more. #stopaidstartpeople