There is a saying in martial arts that my kids repeat over and over each time they grade. My husband knows it too. I am paraphrasing a bit but it’s a little like this – I come to you with empty hands. If I should be forced to use them. These are my weapons: my empty hands.
It’s the end of 2014 and so everyone is wrapping up their year with little red bows and packaging it away to start fresh on January 1st. There is beauty and peace in that. We are building our resolutions, hopes and plans. We are collectively hopeful on January 1st each year and it is a beautiful thing. I will be away with my family resting and welcoming the new year in from somewhere new. I will be out exploring more of the world because it is vast and magnificent, even in the context of all that still demands repair, even in the context of child poverty. I will disconnect from my social channels for a week and leave business in the hands of my helpers while I choose to hug my family, read some books I long to finish and capture some shots of stingrays. I plan to smile a lot, clear my head and breathe. But I choose not to forget 2014, because it was epic.
There are so many things to do as we wrap up a year, celebrate Christmas, and start a vacation. This morning I was eating breakfast thinking through my To Do list with my daughter when a Magisto video popped up reminding me I had made a video of my experience in Bucaramanga, Colombia and I had forgotten all about it. So we watched it together. I took some time to explain each one of these beautiful people I met in this remarkable city. I told her of Jhon Vera and the place he was born. I grappled with images and words of things she has never seen. I see vultures, garbage strewn throughout the mountainside, smoke from the area high up the mountainside where even the longtime residents of slums know never to go. I also see Jhon passing out one day near the end of our visit because he is a kid working so hard with the weight of a country’s children on his shoulders. He is very simply exhausted and too young to know to pace himself. I don’t know what my daughter hears when I tell her all of this. I know she is listening though and some days that is the sweet spot where something resonates and sinks in. She is fortunate, like a lot of Canadian kids she has everything she could ever want or need. I try to paint a picture and my eyes tear up because this kitchen is bigger than many of the homes I saw where these children grew up. And my heart jumps right up into my throat making the tears spill out wondering where is Johan and Jhon and Yenni, Wilson, Maria and Carol? How are the people I met in Asomiflor? What does their Christmas and New Year look like? Trees and presents and things. None of that is really important in the bigger scheme of the world, in the context of child poverty and violence and human trafficking, child labour, clean water, natural disasters.
Of all the things I reflect on in this past year, this is the thing, the experience, that captured and stole my heart. In September I travelled with World Vision Canada to see their work in the field. We visited some extremely impoverished and vulnerable areas of Colombia. I spent close to a week there and I found this group in Bucaramanga on the third or fourth day we were there and they captured my heart as they told me their stories. I still struggle to find the words to describe why this was so impactful. This group of young people were all former sponsored children. You can see in the video here the pictures that were shared when they first came to be sponsored children as part of the World Vision Canada program. Now these youth all work inside World Vision Colombia building community and life and hope and dignity for all the children in Colombia. That is what hope and dignity looks like.
So what does any of that have to do with martial arts or weapons? I am thinking of my year end wrap up. We sponsor a child now. We gave many people gifts from the World Vision Canada gift catalogue this year and I continue to share my stories from this experience in Colombia. We have made some choices and changes as a family so that we are giving back more this year. But weapons? What weapons do we have as Canadians? I have weapons more powerful than guns and violence and drugs. These are my weapons – my hands, my heart, my pen, my voice, my computer.
The World Vision Gift Catalogue remains a gifting option all year. Child sponsorship is impactful all year round too.
I believe we can change the world together.
You can also follow World Vision on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/worldvisioncan/
and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WorldVisionCan
Happy New Year! What are your weapons this year?