I am happy to say that I have already fulfilled one of my Annual Growth Plan goals for 2015 – to serve another week at Refuge Ranch.
Julie and Victor Zaragoza started Refuge Ranch, just south of Mexico City, in 2003 to provide a home for abandoned and abused children. Today 17 children live with them. Read more about their story here. Their goal is to support even more children, which will require a new home. In 2013, members of my church went along with a crew that brought huge excavating equipment. They leveled off the area where the new house will be built. In 2014, I joined the group; we cut and turned over 1000 pieces of the rebar for the foundation. This year, the big equipment returned and transformed the lava rock and overgrown area into a whole new landscape and 2 new driveways. We finished concrete pads and tied rebar into grids that will be used for the next step of the foundation.
The work was good, but developing deeper relationships is my real incentive to go. Each child in the family is unique and genuine. Their smiles and daily hugs cross our language barriers. To know what they’ve endured and overcome, and to experience their sheer happiness, is both deeply moving and motivating. One of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle Melton, says that life is “brutiful”, both brutal and beautiful. These kids have certainly experienced the brutal aspects of life, but they are still so beautiful, loving, and caring.
Sharing With Vulnerability
Aren’t we all brutiful? And isn’t that what life is about? Sharing both the brutal, and the beautiful? I am so thankful to have a family and community that support my desire to continue relationships with Refuge Ranch.
At the end of the week, we have a time of sharing and saying goodbye. It involves many tears and horrible Spanglish. I tell those children how special they are to me, that not a day goes by that I don’t think of them, and that I ALWAYS leave feeling like I have received more that I can ever give.
In our Forums this year, we will focus on being vulnerable in our relationships, in our businesses, and in our families. I highly recommend trying it. Get down and dirty, get emotionally attached and involved, and cry like a baby while hugging someone who has made an impact on your life. And encourage your children and families to do the same. In short, life is brutiful, and meant to be shared with others.