Vanessa Embling » A blog about my life & photography

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What can you do in 2 months?

I recently moved to La Paz, Bolivia for two months to serve and volunteer with the HOPE worldwide team here as well as with the La Paz Church of Christ.  Prior to coming here, I was in New Jersey helping to take care of my grandfather.


After receiving encouragement from my mom and family to move on with with my plans of going to Bolivia – I decided on Feb 26th, to head to La Paz where I would serve for 2 months.  I had to count the cost of leaving my grandfather, but his health had been a pretty steady decline and I felt very grateful for the 3 months that I was able to spend with him while he was fairly coherent and responsive.  In my absence my mom and my uncle have been looking after him and he has recently returned home to his house for hospice care.

So… I’m here in La Paz and every day I try to give my whole heart to all that I’m doing.  My goals for the two months – I want to accomplish so much while I’m here that when I look back on it all I’ll see that the ONLY way it was all possible was because of God and he will get the glory.  I’m determined to improve my spanish with private classes almost every day.  I want to love people as Jesus loves.  I want to make a difference every day in someone’s life.  I want to pour myself out for others.  I’ll write more later and share specific stories of my daily adventures… which have been pretty amazing.

There are still moments and days where I question my ‘effectiveness’ and whether or not I’m really making a difference or not – but I heard this story a while ago and I often bring it to mind when I doubt.

“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,

“It made a difference for that one.”

― Loren Eiseley

I also love this quote…

“To the world, you might be just one person.  But to one person, you might mean the world.”

So what can you do in two months?  A lot.  As a matter of fact, there’s a lot we can accomplish in just one day when we live intentionally and seek to love others deeply, from the heart.