The best dream I never had

The best dream I never had March 8, 2013


Anyone who knows our daughter Konnie knows that she lives out her joy.

That kind of thing can’t be taught.

She came to a faith early in life. I think a large part of that was having siblings. Konnie had the benefit of observing five people live out their faith around her everyday.

Five people who loved the Lord, loved each other and adored her. In essence, Konnie had three mothers — her twin sisters and me. How could she grow up to be anything but a confident and adventuresome woman?

This week she has been off on the adventure of a lifetime. She is in Sierra Leone with Willamette Medical Missions.

Konnie was in second grade when she first decided that she would go to Africa one day. I marked her desire to go up to hosting a couple of kids from the African Children’s Choir. I thought, like most childhood passions, this one would fade.

Instead it grew.

Konnie’s desire to travel to Africa and minister to the people there was evidently a seed God had planted and nourished in our child. While I am all kinds of proud whenever any of our children pursue God and serve others with their whole hearts,  I would never choose for any of my children to be halfway around the world in a place so remote.

I haven’t heard nary a peep from Konnie since she left Belgium.

Not a text. Not a Facebook update. Not a photo. Nothing.

Usually we talk twice a day and text inbetween.

I have my iPhone set to go off at noon. When it’s noon here, it’s 8 p.m. in Sierra Leone. I told Konnie I would be praying for her every day at noon. Of course, I pray for her throughout the day and night but I wanted her to have a set time that she would know for sure I was praying for her. Her husband Jon is doing the same thing.

Prayer is a means of text messaging God. It’s the way to get his immediate attention.

I know the week has passed quickly for the medical team. They were due to see hundreds of people. They will continue to serve the community there until early next week.

I realized after Konnie left that it just so happens that this very same week ten years ago I went on an adventure of a lifetime myself.

I traveled to Vietnam.

My adventure was a healing mission, too, but the type of healing that comes from the inside out. Gary Lee, one of the team members on that trip, made the following video. It brought back a lot of great memories.

Unlike Konnie, I did not dream of growing up one day and making the trip to Vietnam.

In fact, it was about the last place I ever dreamed of going.

It turned out to be the best dream I never had.

Sometimes God has bigger dreams for us than we have for ourselves. Undoubtedly, that’s because God knows us better than we know ourselves, and as the great physician, he knows exactly what adventures will lead to a healing that lasts.

What’s the best dream you never had?

Or the one you are still prepping for?

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  • Good for her! there’s nothing in life that brings more pleasure than serving others in an important, impactful way. And bringing health care to an underserved area is very impactful.
    An aside: that’s a great picture.

    • JW: Konnie never takes a bad picture. Joy is in each one.

  • Steve T.

    Yep, that jumping off point in Belgium is very typically the last phone call back to the States. I’m sure Konnie is going to have some amazing stories of incarnation, pain, joy, wonder, exhilaration desperation, and hope.

    And I suspect, stories of a lived reality that is slightly more than a dream …

    Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. Acts 2:43-45

    The wind had picked up and the temperature was dropping. “It would be a cool night,” I thought. “Not a night for very pleasant dreams.” Dreams. That sure seemed like a bad joke. I’m sure that at some time they had dreams, dreams of being someone, dreams of a life or a love. Maybe just the simple dream of having a small life in a small town somewhere. Some place where neighbors speak, some place where dogs bark at any unknown sound, where footballs are left in the yard – the dream of a simple life in a simple home. Certainly, they must have had dreams.

    Yet, if they had ever had such dreams, I was sure the dreams had long ago been
    vanquished, blown tumbling down the street like yesterday’s discarded paper,
    blown into the gutter by the cutting wind, right into the gutter which carried the garbage of the streets to the sewers below. But of course, their presence was a statement that all the garbage did not necessarily find it’s way to the sewer.
    Some of the garbage would eventually end up in a field of unmarked graves or perhaps would just exist, day after endless day, cluttering up the sidewalks, unseen by the mass of humanity that passed them by, or seen just long enough for one to step over their lifeless forms as one would step over any other piece of refuse. Human garbage who no longer knew how to dream, human garbage – at least as viewed by most of us who were not like them.

    They huddled together under awnings of grandeur, seeking some degree of refuge from the whipping wind, pressed together against mighty buildings which were a
    statement of societal power and wealth and prosperity. I could not help but notice the irony. These wonders of modern architecture and material magnificence adorned with the trappings of human garbage. And there, in the distance, gleaming in the bright lights against the black sky, the pinnacle of national prestige, our monolith of historical myth.

    “Amazing,” I thought. “The monument to the guy who never told a lie, this icon of cultural pride and these unwashed and unwanted souls with their ragged blankets, soiled shirts and dirty faces. Amazing. Nothing like a bit of reality to deconstruct collective belief.”

    We had journeyed to this place, this city of politic, with the hope that perhaps we might be of some assistance, with the hope that maybe we could offer up a bite of food, a sip of water, a bit of extra clothing against the brutal wind. Maybe just a
    touch. Others had said we should not go, suggesting that to do so was an empty endeavor. After all, how would our presence change anything? How would traveling to this place make any difference whatsoever? Yet, we went anyway, not because we were good or right or saintly, but perhaps just because we could not give in to our own cynicism, our own sense that there was no hope.

    We stopped our van and began to unload our goods and prepare the meals. As we poured the hot water into the instant soups, some made their way from under their blankets, coming out into the chilly wind, shuffling slowly down the marble steps, their filthy feet sliding along the cold surface. As they stood patiently waiting to receive the food, I could not help but notice their feet — bare feet, blackened and battered from too many steps along dirty streets, cracked and damaged from shoes that had been worn by others. And it occurred to me that these were the feet that Jesus would wash. These were the feet which Jesus would place in his lap and tenderly caress, carefully touching and lovingly holding the feet that walked grimy
    streets, feet in too tight shoes.

    As the men returned to the steps with their steaming soup, some did not return to their soiled bedrolls, but instead made their way to others who had not raised from under the blankets. Leaning over their comrades who were too sick, or too beaten, or too tired to rise, they offered the food. Washing the feet of the other, and in the reality of such compassion, being washed through by the love of God.

    I noticed that so many others passed us by, going on about their busy lives, going from home to work or work to home, maybe going to that place where neighbors speak and dogs bark. Strangers in nice clothes and good shoes. Many passed and never noticed the small drama being played out on the steps of an ornate building in a city built on dreams. But for the few who did notice, it was generally with a grimace or a disapproving glance, for after all, why would anyone stop for garbage being blown about filthy streets.

    As we readied the van for our next delivery, a gust of wind whipped through the fabric of my light jacket and caused me to shudder. For just a moment, I thought of
    a place where there would be no hand-me-down shoes, where battered and hungry
    men would not gather together under the bastions of wealth that for them, only
    underscored their lack. I thought of a place where followers of this one named Jesus really do share so that all might have enough of that which God gives abundantly. And I thought of a Kingdom where I too just might be brave enough and love enough to wash the feet of the other … maybe more than in a dream.

  • A beautiful post, Karen! Been praying for Konnie! That trip to Vietnam brought about a lot of changed lives well beyond your own. Think of all the people you have helped through After the Flag is Folded – Hero Mama. All the vets and their families. I thank you for that and giving so many people hope and the ability to see the families side of the destruction of war. Bless you my friend. I’m sure Konnie’s trip will have much influence on her and all of you in the years to come.