Just last weekend, I was in Manchester for one of Compassion’s 2011 conferences. First on my to-do list for this trip was to book the hotel-room, and I had a couple of questions. As I read Braille, not print, would it be all right to send the dinner menu by E-mail? They did. And was it all right to have someone show me round my room when I arrived, and take me to the restaurant for dinner and breakfast next morning? They agreed, and asked me to call nearer the time, so I phoned the day before. All sorted.
I made it to Manchester. With the help of my mobile phone, a member of station-staff tracked down Darren from Compassion, who drove me to my hotel. When I checked in, the lady was surprised to hear he was just dropping me off, and didn’t seem to know what to do. In the end, Darren offered to take me to the room. “Please do,” she said, “I’m the only one here.” I felt for him – having to do what was really the hotel’s job, but he said it was a pleasure.
Left alone in the room, I slip off my shoes and make some coffee. Darren has shown me how to call the front desk, but I can just imagine the lady saying: “I’m the only one here. You can have room service”, and me having to pay extra.
Happily, there are others from Compassion in the hotel. One phones my room and says: “How are you fixed for tea? … I’ll take you down, that’s fine”. Phew!
Bedtime. The hotel-room is cold, and I don’t know how to work the heating. The duvet is fairly thin, and there are no extra blankets – well, not that I can find. I end up going to bed in my cardigan, hoping it won’t look creased the next day! I think to myself this conference will have to be VERY good to make it worth paying for the train, and the hotel with its problems.
God didn’t disappoint.
Miracles in Haiti
Our speaker in the morning was Andy Hawthorn, who’s just been awarded an OBE. When I registered for the conference, I didn’t know what he was going to talk about, but the country he focused on was Haiti. I had started sponsoring there just last year, and didn’t think I knew much about Haiti yet, so it was good to hear him. He and a friend were able to go there just after the earthquake of 12 January, 2010. Andy told us: “After an earthquake, you just want to bless people”, so they had given away their money. Then they went to a church … with (I think it was) 600 dead bodies piled outside it. The pastor had lost his mother, and lots from the church. As he swept up some of the mess, he wore a hat with the words: “Jesus is my Boss” on it. They wanted to give him something. Andy’s friend opened his bag to look for dollars, English money – anything they had, and there was a big wodge of money! They gave all of it to the pastor. Then they went to a child’s home and wanted to bless the family; friend opened his bag, and the same thing happened again!
We were also told about a girl whose feet were in very bad shape. They prayed: “Lord, we really need to find an orthopaedic surgeon”.
As they came into the airport, they saw a medical team, all gowned up. Andy said it was as if the Lord had taken them from some top American hospital and just dumped them in Haiti. They carried the girl to the bottom of the steps, where the team were, and asked them: “Do you know of any orthopaedic surgeons?”
They said: “We are orthopaedic surgeons”. Within minutes, the girl was on her way to hospital for treatment.
I can’t finish this post without telling you about Peace. Originally from Uganda, Peace now lives in the UK. She was sponsored through Compassion as a child, but some of the things she suffered beforehand were horrific. Given to a couple as their slave, they forced her to share a bed with a goat, and would put hot coals down her dress when she didn’t bring home enough firewood. She still has scars on her body from the pain inflicted on her.
Peace is now married, and mother to a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. Her children are shown love at home, and will never have to go through what she went through. Isn’t that something to praise God for?
Have you been on a trip that inspired you? Would be good to hear some stories.