Day 3: July 13th / 10:30pm local time.
Today was great but tough!
Our middle of the week fatigue kicked in today. It was hot and many on our team had to work outside. However I was amazed at how our team rallied around our mission, motto, and each other.
Highlights of today include:
More mowing with a machete. Why you ask?? Tesoros de Dios was recently able to buy the small field adjacent to their facility. Horse therapy is a large portion of their rehabilitation so they plan to use this field to expand this part of their treatment. As you can imagine, they do not have a lot of full time help to clear a field so our teams have been a huge blessing to them in this area. Who know removing stumps was part of ministry!?!?!
Home visits. Today portions of our team got to visit the homes of some of the special needs families that attend Tesoros. These families cannot make it to Tesoros on a daily basis so on these days the staff comes to them. Our team got to help assist in the home therapy and pray for these families.
Watercolor Painting. This afternoon our girls at House of Hope got to simply sit down and spend some quality time with the residents. We bought a few sets of water color paints and while the boys entertained the kiddos, our girls bonded over the simple idea of art. I loved the smiles and giggles of the group. For a moment, they were all simply girls (of all ages) having fun!
After our day of hard work, we passed on the hotel chow and treated the students to a night at the mall. They had to order their own food from the food court (that was funny!) and spent a little time shopping. I am continually impressed with how they represent our church!
Before I share our end of evening discussions I want to highlight the young men on our trip. Back home these guys are labeled by the sport they play, the activities they are involved in, or the school they attend. Many times this causes them to put on a certain “persona”…..this quite often progresses into manhood as most of us know! However the other leaders and I have been continually impressed with how they have let their guards down. They give piggy back rides until they are exhausted. They play soccer, duck duck goose, and color with kids. To the moms and dads of the young men on this trip…give them a big hug when they get home. You should be proud of them!
We ended our night by asking question #2.
I reminded them of our motto: “It’s not about me” and of the first question I asked them Monday night: “What breaks my heart?”
We then introduced question #2: Once I know what breaks my heart; What does love require of me?
We discussed that once God puts a cause on our heart, once our heart breaks, love requires us to act. When we do – it will cost us.
It will cost us money.
It will cost us time.
It will cost us convenience.
It will cost us our reputation.
Ultimately it will cost us some life….
The problem with this is that we are by nature life preservers. We don’t like giving these things up. However when we decide to move in the direction of what breaks our heart, we have to let go of the things we are trying to preserve.
What does love require of us? The answer, some of our life……
Keep your prayers coming! Tomorrow is our last day of service. We desire to honor God by finishing well!
Lesson #2: Leaders Love Others
Okay, maybe you’re uncomfortable with the “L” word in a leadership context. So, what if we use the “C” word – Care….Or, the “A” word – Appreciate. Would that make you feel better?
I still choose the word love.
The greatest leaders I ever had in the Marine Corps loved me and I knew it. I knew that they would sacrifice themselves for me or the misson at hand. That type of love served as an unbreakable bond for some of the best units I ever served with.
I once read an article about Vince Lombardi, the iconic, hard-driving, tough football coach. The author had attempted to show a sneak peek of the person behind the coach, the person who was passionate about growing each team member in a highly intimate and personal way. On separate occasions, each of the former players surprised the writer with a very similar sentiment about Lombardi; “I have never been so loved by someone outside my family. We all knew he would do anything for us…anything. We would go through walls for this man.”
Coach Lombardi earned the right to drive his team to the limit, because his intense drive was balanced by his equally intense love for each man. He awakened in his players the respect, drive, and love he held within himself. When people know that a leader loves them great things are possible.
When I think of a leader’s love I am also reminded of Army Captain William Swenson. On September 8, 2009, Swenson was part of an operation to connect the Afghan government with native elders in the Ganjgal Valley in Eastern Kunar Province in Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.
According to the U.S. Army’s detailed Official Narrative, Swenson’s force was ambushed at about 6 a.m. by as many as 60 insurgent fighters who soon surrounded the column on three sides. Swenson called for air support and with two comrades crossed 50 meters of open space under direct enemy fire to administer life-extending first aid to his severely wounded sergeant.
When the column was surrounded by enemy fighters that advanced within 50 meters, Swenson responded to Taliban demands for surrender by throwing a hand grenade, an act of defiance that rallied his men to repel the enemy advance.
Swenson and his men moved his sergeant and the other wounded to a helicopter for medical evacuation before returning to the enemy’s “kill zone” for at least two more trips in an unarmored vehicle to evacuate additional wounded. After the 7 hour firefight had ended, 15 coalition soldiers were dead.
What most people don’t know, is that Swenson is considered the only living Medal of Honor Awardee to have a portion of his actions captured on camera. The event was captured by two different MedEvac crew members and shows each crew member’s perspective of events spanning the same time period. (You can see the video here but keep reading below first!)
What makes this video so special is not the dust, the bullets, or the chaos, but the actions of a leader. At about the 4:10 mark you can see Swenson lean over, look at his wounded soldier, and gently kiss his forehead. It would be the last time he ever saw Sergeant Westbrook…he died soon after the ambush.
The army’s official account makes no mention of the kiss Swenson gave one of his men. But that one act explains everything about true leaership…..
Lesson #2: Leaders Love Others
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s how you carry it.”
It was summer 1996 and these were the words of my Senior Drill Instructor, Staff Sergeant James Porter. He was demonstrating to my boot camp platoon how to properly carry our Marine Corps “pack” in preparation for the long days of hiking ahead. For our next phase of training, we would spend some time in the mountains and hills over San Diego with more than 80lbs on our back. I watched as those who took his advice and instruction thrived, while those who did not failed.
As a husband, there are many weights in my pack; however experience has taught me that one of these weights is typically larger than the rest: expectations.
These expectations are typically broken down into two parts.
First: what do I expect my wife to do (my expectations)
Second: what does she actually do (her behavior)
In my short 16 years of marriage I have learned this one basic lesson: There is always a gap between expectations and behavior. Maybe this gap is there because of how things were done with my family or how things where done in her family. Maybe this gap is there because of something I have failed to communicate. Regardless of the reason….the gap is there.
But here is the bigger issue – I will typically fill that gap with one of two responses: I can believe the best about her OR I can assume the worst about her.
I want to be clear // what we choose to put in that gap is fundamental to the health of our marriages. Our relationships will grow or fade depending on what we choose to put in that gap.
Stephen Kendrick, author of the best-selling book The Love Dare beautifully states, “Love chooses to believe the best about people. It gives them the benefit of the doubt. It refuses to fill in the unknowns with negative assumptions.” Centuries before Stephen wrote his words, the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Church at Corinth, boldly declared, “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.”
Love demands we fill in the gap by believing the best! When we assume the worst, our pack becomes heavier. Thankfully we can lighten our pack by communicating our expectations and assuming the best! Remember, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s how you carry it.”