Making a difference

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From the Desk of…

by Debora Bell, Lt. Colonel –

Debora Bell, Lieutenant Colonel

After returning from our trip to Africa, I mentioned to my sister that it was a life changing experience. She asked a profound question, “How can you say it is life changing if you are still doing all the same things?” I was a little insulted and taken aback by this question. Insulted because she has not been around to see the effects this trip had and the affected changes. Because of other trips to third world countries, we have attempted to simplify our lives. Taken aback because I had to ask myself how many real changes have I made to my life style? Am I making a difference?

Admittedly many of the changes are small. For instance, I find it hard to waste water now that I have seen people suffer because they go without clean water. The administrator of the Chikankata hospital, Richard Bradbury, told us that because of the non-existent water pressure it is difficult to get water to their home. He has learned to use the water saved from the boiled potatoes for shaving. When they cannot get water out of the pipes, they have to go to the well. Because of the culture that women get the water from the well (bore hole) he cannot get water for his family. His wife must get the water, and she just had a baby. We heard a similar story from Lt. Colonels Hodder in Kenya. Because I saw this, the awareness nags at me to “do something.” If I take a shower for eight minutes instead of ten, I can save a valuable resource. It won’t get the saved water to Africa but it contributes to a more informed life style.

There is a profound gratitude for the sanitation facilities provided in America. I have seen little children playing in the runoff water from a public toilet because thought was not given to where the waste water would go once the only toilet facilities for a slum site were built. I am aware of the cost of going to Starbucks, because I know that the cost of two trips to Starbucks saved and put into World Service can mean the difference between life and death for children who get inoculations at our clinics. The same amount would pay for a pair of rubber boots that will enable the community visitors and League of Mercy workers go into the slums during the rainy season to bring food and medicine to those who need it the most. Not only can I give more, but I hope to encourage others to give more.

Because I saw people living sacrificial lives with my own eyes, I can pray for them with more passion and better informed. I can help others learn to pray so that our prayers make a difference. Because I saw the effective and efficient work of The Salvation Army, I am blessed to belong to such a group of people and draw encouragement that “we” are making a difference.

You don’t have to be in Africa or any third world country to make a difference. Recently fire ravaged the southern California area. It affected two divisions and thousands of people. The Salvation Army was active and working to make a difference for those who were evacuated and those who were burned out of their homes. Captains Steve and Nancy Ball received a commendation from the Mayor of San Bernardino, who said that without Steve’s efforts there would have been no relief work. Now that is making a difference.

Captains Derek and Angela Strickland were about to leave for furlough when the fires started. Instead the children went to stay with grandparents and the Stricklands became key people in the relief efforts for the Escondido area. Auxiliary Captain Jerry Esqueda and two volunteers, Tod and Ray were helping with the fires in the El Cajon area until they had to return to El Centro to work on fire relief in their area. The staff at the Kroc center pulled together to prepare meals for thousands and offer childcare to those who needed it.

Lt. Colonels Doug and Diane O’Brien report the fantastic efforts of the officers, soldiers, employees and volunteers of the Sierra del Mar division and are enthusiastic about those who have come, and still are coming, from other divisions and territories to help. The same stories are echoed in the Southern California Division, whose area of ministry is to the victims of the first fires. The Tustin Ranch corps was in danger of being consumed by the flames of the fire in Orange County, but the firemen made a valiant effort to save the buildings.

When you go through a life changing experience, your life should change. Come to think of it, when we say we are new creatures in Christ we should live our lives differently. God changes us daily to be more like Jesus. Can your family and friends see a difference? Do you make a difference in this world for Jesus sake? How? Remember even “small” changes can add up to a big difference.

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