Billy and Katie: Amazing Race…Amazing Stories

Just take a moment to think about how there are approximately 6, 816, 451, 939 people in the world. Just in the United states alone (which we think is sooo big), there are approximately 309, 119, 432 people (unless you didn’t fill out your census report…whoopsies!). Sounds like a lot, right. Well, if I did the math properly, just subtracting the United State’s population from the world’s, there are still 6 BILLION, 507 MILLION, 332 THOUSAND and 507 people in the world!! I hope that makes you feel small, very small, just like I do. At best too, these are estimates. I wonder how they account for the nomadic people that live in the mountains, or those in the sparse jungles of the Amazon?

Rarely do we get to venture out of our own ethno-geographic spheres – (that’s just fancy talk for people of the same or similar ethnicity, culture, dialect and postal address! My Moody degree does come into play from time to time!), but that’s why I consider it a blessing to hear from others who have the opportunity to be apart of what God is doing globally.  I have some friends who have embarked on an incredible 11 month journey and in this time will visit 11 different countries. I can’t imagine how many people groups they have come across already! Do you ever just think about that….sometimes when I’m on a plane traveling somewhere or on the train in Chicago, I’m just in awe of how many different races, faces, stories and real lives are represented and that for some reason, my life is just intersecting with theirs for just that brief two hour flight or that 45 minute train ride. Then that’s it. We move on to the next thing. It’s truly mind boggling to think that there are that many people on earth now, multiply that from how many since the days of Adam and Eve, not any two of them have ever been exactly alike and you have ONE INCREDIBLY AWE-SOME MIND BLOWING GOD who knows them all by name, knows their stories and their destinies.  I need an ibuprofen right now : )  That’s HUGE…

Well, let me come down for a bit and introduce my friends that I graduated from Moody with, Billy and Katie Swan. Right now they have joined a missions organization to travel to 11 different countries in 11 months. It is the Amazing Race of Missions. Billy and Katie are both incredible people with a passion for others that is fueled by a passion for Christ. Katie just finished her nursing degree here and Billy graduated with his masters in counseling. Truly, an amazing couple. I can’t imagine all the faces and stories their lives will intersect with while on this trip for the glory of God’s Kingdom, but I have read a little bit and wow, it’s pretty cool! 

I have had the privilege, and heart ache, of reading their blog as they have been traveling and I wanted to share their link. They’ve been so honest and open about the struggles that they encounter, but also along with the struggles comes the amazing testimonies of God’s faithfulness. They have literally traveled to so many different places, I’ve lost track: New Zealand, India, Australia, Philipines, and now they are in Cambodia.

Please keep them in prayer and check out their blog: Katie and Billy Swan

Here is one of their most recent posts I had to share:

I thought my Philippines blogging was over. We had experienced the most incredible month. God had made Himself known over and over again through simply UNBELIEVABLE answers to prayer. Who else can save a baby, restore a family, love an entire orphanage of kids, feed a slew of communities, restore criminals to hope, bring life to street gangs, and love on so many Filipinos in a mere month? No one but Him.

And then our last few days happened. And the Lord continued to press upon me the need to process what I encountered. See, in our last two days I cried more than I did in the first thirty-two.

[1.] I watched a young father hold his 5 year old daughter as she struggled to breathe what wound soon be her last breathes. The mixture of despair, torment and love that danced across that man’s face-I shall never forget. Within moments, I found the tears that flowed from his eyes pouring down from my own.

[2.] I found myself eating dinner next to a gang of four young (we’re talking 6 or 7 year old) boys. They were covered in dirt, had serious sores on their legs, were “high” from sniffing glue and were sharing a small bag of nuts between themselves. Again, in a single moment, my heart broke. How could I eat my THIRD meal of the day while they struggled to survive off scraps from the street?

I made a decision in that moment. I would fight the urge to ignore them and put them in a category. I would choose to see them as the beautiful children they were. And, well, I would do something. So, with Billy beside me, we invited them to dinner. You should have seen their faces light up when we spoke the only English word they knew-pizza.

[3.] Our last day in the Philippines, a day FILLED with to-do-lists, we found ourselves bombarded with sadness. A seven-year-old girl from the orphanage ran away during the night because she “missed her home.” We spent our afternoon searching high and low for her. We scowled surrounding communities with pictures in our hands as we pleaded with people to help us find her.

The knowledge that she had been brought to the orphanage because some of her relatives were trying to SELL her kept us going in the deathly heat and lacking water. We searched until we could search no more. With darkness covering the land, we lugged our tired bodies aboard a taxi and headed back home. Our hearts ached at the thought of her out there all alone, but there was nothing left for us to do.

[4.] With only one thing checked off our list and the clock reaching late into the night, we were interrupted by a phone call. SHE HAD BEEN FOUND. And a teammate was being admitted into the hospital. After tears and shouts of joy, we set our list aside once again and headed out to the hospital. We spent the next three and a half hours watching one of the toughest men on our squad writhe in pain. Billy set his watch alarm and would bug the nurses for more pain medications every FIVE minutes. Alas, it worked. And at 1:20am, he stopped moaning and fell into a blissful sleep.

Wow. What ups and downs two days can hold. What intense emotions rung through our bodies again and again and again. Sometimes things turned out great and other times we were left with gaping holes in our chests. But yet, the truth remains: God is ridiculous. He is good, He is faithful, He is loving, He is WORKING in our world and I love being a part of it. 

                                                                                                                         Picture of our 7-year-old orphan who ran away. 

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