In the years that I have lived overseas (7 years combined), I have at times found myself in unexpected situations, doing things that I doubt I ever would have done had I stayed in the US.
For example, when I was a Mormon missionary in Italy in my early 20s, I taught a couple of lessons to some Egyptian men in an old, condemned building that was illegally occupied by a bunch of Arabs who paid monthly “rent” to drug lords. Oh, and the building had no electricity or running water, so we taught our lessons by candles and flashlights. Though it seemed like a completely reasonable thing to do at the time, with a little hindsight, it was probably not the smartest place for two young American women to be.
This is probably the first time my mother is hearing this story. Sorry Mom.
(Note to my kids: If you ever find yourself in a position to enter a electricity-less, condemned building in a foreign country that is occupied by Arab men and run by drug lords, don’t.)
In the past few years, I have found myself in a few other unexpected situations. Though the others haven’t been as stupid as the story above, they have at times been quite heart wrenching.
I once took a woman to prison. I drove her to the prison and stayed by her side as she turned herself in. Then tearfully hugged her and told her how strong she was just before she walked alone through the heavy metal doors.
I’ve taken food, clothing and toiletries to women in prison and tried to be encouraging as we talked through glass barriers.
I once talked a woman through a divorce while simultaneously helping to get her husband deported.
Then today, I found myself in another unexpected situation when I had to tell a woman, who was 6 months pregnant, that she has malaria. I then drove her to the hospital and escorted her to the ICU. Once I was confident that she was in capable hands, we tearfully hugged as I left.
Sometimes I wonder how a little girl from Utah gets herself into these kinds of situations. But I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to grow in compassion and to develop better understanding. Through these experiences, and so many others, I have developed a unique world view. I have seen God’s love for his children, wherever they live. And it has changed me.