Thursday, March 6, 2008

Dreaming together

Hello friends and family!

I feel like I have so much to share, but I will try not to give every detail! I have so much joy because I feel like God is using us here and it is such a privilege. We are learning new things each day, being humbled by these people, and growing in our faith and devotion to God. Scripture has such a greater power in my life here because I recognize my need for God's hand on me at all times.

I would like to share a bit about something that has blessed me incredibly this week. As Casey has shared, I was able to help lead a support group for parents with HIV this week. It is a weekly meeting of about 13 people and led by a woman named Hilary who is a wondering HIV counselor and an incredible woman of God.

Sarah and Hilary

On Tuesday I walked into our afternoon group to talking, laughing, and the sharing of food. Perfect. I can do this. The group was in a lively mood and this helped everyone to open up for our time of sharing. Hilary begins the group with a devotional and prayer and then we open up the floor to the members. This week they each shared about themselves so I could get to know them more. They have incredibly diverse backgrounds and stories, and have had HIV from just 9 months to 13 years. One woman, Anjelique had her daughter there who also is infected with HIV. So sad. But they shared their struggles and their hopes. One woman said she cries alone in her room when she has difficult days. Another woman said that even though she is sick she wakes up every morning and thanks the Lord for her life. She also shared that she believes she has the right to dream and dreams can still come true. Amen. These people have lived hard lives and have many tough things ahead, but they are strong and have hope. And they have one another, and there is a neat solidarity among the members.

Honestly, every moment I was there I just felt so incredibly humbled by God. Humbled that they have allowed me into the group and want to share their hearts and lives with me. Humbled by all they have suffered through, and yet their strength. Humbled by their openness to share their pain and allow it to hit them. Humbled by the loneliness many feel and the neglect that can come from their families. Deeply humbled by the way the Lord is working in their lives and their choice to praise Him even in the midst of trials I could never understand. Humbled.

At the end I shared that I would love to pray for them if they wanted me to, and so most of them wrote down their prayer requests for me to take. Their personal situations include rape, abuse, loneliness, sickness, and pain. And yet they have hopes for the future to buy their own homes, to not be sick this week, to have love in their lives, to be all that God wants them to be.

I have been in hundreds of small groups and written down thousands of prayer requests in my life. I am ashamed to admit that most of the time the requests are forgotten as soon as my pen writes them on the paper. I am convicted of this, because prayer has extraordinary power and is a gift from God. The prayer requests of these group members are a treasure to me and I have been praying for them non-stop ever since we said goodbye Tuesday afternoon. I feel so privileged to pray on their behalf, and my love and compassion for them is growing even in our distance.

If you can't tell, this is a place of ministry that has already touched me deeply and I am already seeking out more opportunities with the support groups. I think it is a profound point in the life of HIV, where people know their fate yet have so much more life to live. It's all up to them, their choices, and their dreams. And I believe their dreams can come true. I pray that God will allow me to love these precious people deeply and that we can dream together of all God can do in our lives.

Please pray for Hilary, who is my co-leader and pictured above. She is a beautiful woman of God, with a pressured, full, and difficult life herself, yet she gives all she has for these people. Wow!

Love you all!


Kerry said...

wonderful to hear your heart come through in these words sarah! sounds like being humbled like that is an amazing thing. love you!

Amy said...

i am soooo very proud to call you my friend. i love you and thank you so much for sharing. it challenges me!

Jim Collins said...

I can't imagine a more humbling experience than having someone see the hope in your prayers that they would seek them out. At the same time it is an incredible responsibility to attempt to take before God that individuals hopes. The Blessing is that God already knows and loves you deeply for trying. You and Casey are touching God's heart daily!

I love you!

Alicia Collins said...

thanks so much for sharing your deepest feelings and experiences w/ us. I don't even know the prayer requests, but God does, so I will pray w/ you for these women and Hillary. I do think you have recognized a "turning point" where one discovers HIV diagnosis, but also desires a full life!! They ar living w/ HIV/AiDS, not dying.
I also am humbled and in awe of these women. I will pray!!
Love you so, Mom