It’s not easy to be intentional but I try. Often I see myself caught up in the distractions of this world that I forget my sense of presence in the moment. To live this way is to miss out. A greater purpose makes all little things add up. All you have to do is look at the people who have found direction in life to recognize their meaning goes beyond what they have experienced and is reflected in their every interaction. They are on a mission and in the process living life to the fullest. Deep inside we all long for it; we were made for something bigger than ourselves. And there is inspiration when we witness someone like that. My inspiration comes from an American girl.
Everything has purpose, clocks tell you time, trains take you to places. I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured if the entire world was one big machine… I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.
Hugo Cabret, Hugo (the movie)
When I was 17 I met this group of people who changed my life. In it was a girl that would laugh with fervor and cry with deep sorrow. She was real and she caught my eye in a room full of noise. Maybe it was because she had a beautiful smile. Or maybe it was because she could reach out and touch you every time you glanced at her brown eyes. I met her the day she arrived but it seemed she had been there for years. That might have been because no one was a stranger to her. When you approached her she would always give you undivided attention. She knew the rhythm needed for each moment and with each interaction it was clear she was there for a reason. I wanted to know why.
A mission gives meaning to life
I don’t remember the winter of 2000 being extremely cold. My heart was warm during that time. The girl who moved from a country of movie stars and popular trends was anything but artificial. She had now become a friend and with each conversation it was clear her charisma came from a life balanced through joy and heartache.
Her youth had been filled with beautiful memories but it had strokes of dark paint. As we shared about our life experiences she told me the reason she left home was to flee a corrupted environment that stole her innocence.
Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was meant to do… Maybe it’s the same with people. If you lose your purpose… it’s like you are broken.
Hugo Cabret, Hugo (the movie)
Outside the pews of her Sunday morning worship were gatherings of a promiscuous youth who looked for easy prey. She was a victim like so many others… but even this couldn’t take away her beauty. What might have seemed like an easy escape actually became an unknown release of unlimited power. She didn’t know then but when she embarked on the decision to serve as a missionary she was saying yes to a story of redemption for herself and for others.
A mission is bigger than any setback
Over the next few months the girl who quickly grabbed my heart suddenly attracted the disregard of my family. What started as a friendship soon became a love story bound to be challenged. Having travelled across the ocean to serve selflessly her quest was not seen as noble enough for an older generation who questioned everything on the side of suspicion. Instead of regarded for her internal beauty she was questioned by her outer looks. A blow to her self-esteem that only a higher calling could help her overcome.
By that time her mission was my own. Every frustration, disappointment or challenge to our love made the path clearer for us. We married in the spring of 2003 knowing fully well that the bumps along the road were part of our story. A story that might not fit a book perfectly but that would hopefully inspire others to live fully.
Hugo: I’m sorry it’s broken.
Mr. Méliés: No it’s not. It worked perfectly!
Hugo (the movie)
A mission creates legacy
Over the years I saw this girl become a woman in every sense of the word. She is now a wife and a mother but most importantly she remains a missionary.
What I witnessed was beauty regenerating from ashes. Her body was bruised from physical and emotional wounds. Some might consider it bad luck. I would say they were a burnt offering to a God who gives purpose despite circumstances. A God who uses broken vessels to share his unending love. A true God.
My American girl showed forgiveness, kindness and compassion no matter what she went through.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Courtney continues to inspire me today. As she meets with others in our community or outside the country, she is steadfast in her purpose to love others. Whether she is volunteering at our children’s school or encouraging neighbors at our local gym, she recognizes the mission in every moment. She is not perfect and that is probably what makes her even more beautiful. Her vulnerability and willingness to tell her story is what makes life real.
Together we claim our mission to share the love of God in the simple yet meaningful moments of life.
You can read more about my wife’s story on her blog.