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When Serving Isn’t Sexy

It was cool and gray as I drove through a quiet neighborhood near my house and parked my car at a small elementary school. Each year my church devotes a Sunday to community service projects, fanning out across the city to serve. We do worship services at nursing homes, clean trash from under bridges and process donations at food pantries.

And pull weeds at elementary schools. That was my assignment yesterday morning as I joined a few dozen others at the playground. We shoveled dirt and raked sand and pulled weeds.

It wasn’t terribly glamourous. And I’ll admit that as I walked across the pavement towards the monkey bars, part of me wished I had received a more glamourous assignment. But then I shoved that thought aside, because I knew I wasn’t supposed to feel that way.

But the thought bubbled up this morning as I stood in the security line at the airport, headed to El Salvador to bring the stories of children in poverty back to the wealthy here in the United States. As I pulled off my shoes to put them in a gray plastic bin, a handful of sand spilled onto the floor. Left over from my morning of pulling weeds.

And I was confronted with my petulant attitude from the day before.

Serving isn’t always sexy. Sometimes it’s getting sand in your teeth on a windy playground.

Actually, let me rephrase the above. Serving is rarely sexy. Because even as I sit on this plane bound for El Salvador, I worry that I forgot to pack Imodium AD. That’s the side of international trips that nobody ever talks about.

But here’s my real point. It’s not about choosing between pulling weeds and flying around the world. God calls us to love our neighbors AND spread His Gospel to the ends of the earth. It’s not one or the other.

I believe that God allows people and needs to cross our paths. Some days He calls me to go on a walk with a friend who had a bad day. Some days he calls me to sit in a hut and talk to a mother who has lost everything.

 One is not more important than the other.

 I have been called to ease suffering. Sometimes that’s on a playground. Sometimes it’s in El Salvador.

All the time it’s a privilege.

Brandy Campbell

Brandy is a full-time writer at an international organization that works with more than 1.2 million children in poverty. She is a writer, a storyteller, a yarn spinner and a pen pal. She's also a baker, a world traveler, a daughter, a friend and an aunt. She hates mornings, olives, cheap pens, snakes and splinters.

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