In the most unlikely of places

You know how people say that it doesn't matter what you "do" or what your gifts are – that you can use what you have to serve a greater good? You don't have to be a preacher or a teacher to make a difference to someone. I never believed that applied to me. I work in marketing. Marketing. How in the WORLD do you use that to help someone? Or minister to someone? For a long time, I thought I had the one job in this world that was just that – a job.

Last November when I was visiting Laura in Africa, we were waiting for our transfer one morning out in front of our lodge and struck up a conversation with a guy out there feeding the monkeys (which you're NOT supposed to do). He was from the US too, and was taking a few days off from the work he was doing in the Zambia/Zimbabwe area. I was floored when he told me he was working as an electrician for a group called Towers for Jesus, building and repairing towers all over the area. He told me that the electrical work he was doing was his ministry and that he hoped it helped people in the area in some small way. SMALL way? That's huge! And so practical. Hmm.

Later that same week, when we got to Botswana, I couldn't help but notice this guy:

Mr willy

Let me explain.

Botswana suffers one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world. And Laura serves as a Peace Corps Health volunteer in support of prevention and education efforts to change that. But it's an uphill battle. They are fighting generations and generations of cultural challenges and years and years spent moving in the wrong direction as far as preventive health care. What a daunting task. But Mr. Willy – he's their mascot. And yes, he's a condom.

Mr. Willy, the condom, taught me a big lesson that week. Somewhere there's an agency who manages Mr. Willy and his message to the people of Botswana. That's marketing, folks. And as silly as he seems, Mr. Willy is probably doing all kinds of good for the prevention efforts there.

I live in a family of do-gooders. And I've always joked about being the black sheep. The sore thumb. My family does noble, honorable things with their lives – like serve in the military or volunteer for the Peace Corps. And I work in advertising. And it's not as if I'm marketing cigarettes here, but sometimes I feel like I'm not really "part of the solution" – you know?

But Mr. Willy gives me hope. Towers for Jesus gives me perspective. During the span of one little week spent visiting my do-gooder sister in Africa, I was educated. In the most unlikely of places – you got that right.

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