I am about to embark on my fourth week of training for the Chicago Marathon in which I am raising money for a small church in Ecuador. It’s also been about four weeks since I wrote about my thoughts and desires surrounding this fundraising effort.
I have always been a destination type of girl – a highly achievement-oriented person. It defines who I am in many ways. The first week of my training, I attempted to find my long-distance running group with the CARA running group at Busse Woods. Busse Woods has several entrances and I spent over an hour driving through and around the entrances looking for the group. I couldn’t find them and ended up coming home and running the first long distance of 6 miles by myself.
Feelings of being lost haunted me all that first week through the morning of the next long run. Sleep was tumultuous at best. I even dreamed my youngest son went out for a run and never returned. I woke up shaking and feared I would spend another training morning wandering aimlessly looking for a crowd of strangers.
Thankfully, I did find my running group and have enjoyed hearing stories as to why different individuals are running a marathon this year. The most inspirational of the stories so far was from a woman named Kathy who lost all of her family members to breast cancer. When bone marrow treatments were still very experimental, she was scheduled to receive this treatment although it had previously failed with her mother. The night before she was to receive the bone marrow treatment, her husband got into a horrific car accident. It was uncertain due to the nature and severity of his injuries, if he would live. Kathy, a nonbeliever at that time, begged a God she did not know to help ensure at least one of her children’s parents would live. She then prayed if you save us both, I will turn my life completely over to you. Which she did. Ten years later she is currently in the process of fulfilling another promise - to run a marathon in honor of her mother. Her normal pace time is about 2 minutes slower than our slowest pace group, but she is out there, inspiring others and reminding me to remember it isn’t about the outcome, it’s about the journey and who we meet along the way.
I am not a long-term missionary but I think those that I know have already learned this important lesson. While movement toward outcomes is important, it’s so much more about the relationships formed on the way to the destination. This is a lesson God has been trying to teach me for some time. In Ecuador, our missions team spent one whole morning removing water from a cement floor with no roof. As the picture above shows, I worked methodically for hours, striving to remove the water because it was generating mold in the classrooms below. Less than three hours later, a torrential hailstorm arrived and completely negated all of our team’s work that morning. Yet, the hailstorm gave way to forced close quarters, game playing, and singing. I think the kids will remember the joy of that afternoon so much more than the outcomes lost.
Inevitably, the conversation turns to me and why I am running. I tell them because God asked me to do it, to honor Alexis' joy in serving despite her pain, and to provide hope to a little church in Quito so they know they are not forgotten. I found that this run has nothing to do about the run, but the people we meet along the way.
If your life has been transformed by someone you randomly met along the way, consider making a donation to a little church in Quito in his/her honor. The donation you make through the link below is tax deductible using EIN #217-0832096.