There are things you want to do before you travel to a destination like Iraq. You want to spend extra time with your family. You want to cherish every moment. You want to free yourself from daily distractions and just submerse yourself deeper into the role of husband and father.

Here in Colorado, you head to the mountains.

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(Image: Lisa and Paul, complete with Iraq-trip beard)

My whole clan just spent a three-day weekend going on a camping trip with Scott Vair and his precious family. We didn’t talk about World Orphans stuff, ‘work’ stuff. We simply hung out in the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park at the Estes Park side of the trail.

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(Image: Paul & Caleb)

To be amidst God’s beauty, free of cell phones and computers, was just what we needed.

My kids caught fish. We cooked ‘em whole over a fire. The fish, that is.

We went hiking, a.k.a. me walking up steep inclines with my son, Caleb, on my shoulders.

We frolicked in cold mountain streams and roasted marshmallows over hot coals.

We watched prairie dogs and elk scamper and stride across their natural habitat.

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(Image: Faith & Caleb Myhill with Charlotte Vair and the fish they caught)

But alas, my mind is always drawn to the plight of the orphan and the poverty that breeds them. It’s not something you simply turn on and off. Passion is just that – passion – because it is constantly with you and drives you.

The first reminderthe very act of camping. My mind was drawn back to the Father’s House ministry in Kiev, Ukraine that takes hardened street kids and puts them through a multi-step rehabilitation process. The program begins with a six-week camping excursion far removed from the vices and temptations of the street. My removal from various communications gadgets didn’t quite measure up, but I must admit to a certain amount of withdrawal.

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(Image: Rescued street children at the Father’s House camp in Kiev, Ukraine)

The second reminderthe tent. Measuring a meager 7’ x 7’, it closely approximated the square footage of the average 6’ x 8’ slum dwelling. Lisa, I and our three kids had a very difficult time sleeping comfortably in it. I have no idea how, in many of the world’s squatter communities, eight to ten people occupy such a space. The worst we had to contend with, though, was a little rain and a couple of cold nights. Conversely, many slum dwellers have to sleep on urine-soaked ground in constant fear of violence, eviction or other terrors that stalk at night.

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(Image: Supposedly a four-person tent)

The third remindermy daughter and the future daughter of the Vair family. Faith was adopted from China. Scott and his wife, Debbie, are currently awaiting a match for an abandoned Chinese girl also. As I saw Faith running around the campsite, I thought of what her life could have been otherwise. The sparkle would have gone from her eyes, or never been set there in the first place. The wonderment of the experience and surrounding beauty would have never become a pleasant memory for her. As I also watched Scott and Debbie serve everybody with such love and humility, I dwelled on what a blessing and changed life-path that yet another Chinese orphan was about to receive.

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(Image: Faith (foreground) enjoying hot chocolate with the other kids)

Even when you get away from it all, it is all still with you. It is not a curse. It is a treasure. It keeps you going and reminds you of just how precious the simple things are in our own lives of plenty and opportunity.

And…now I go back into the thick of it all, trading comfort and security for subsistence and uncertainty.

But…I take with me the smile of my wife that causes rainbows to canopy mountains; the giggles of Caleb and Hannah as they wrestled in a cramped tent; the wide eyes of Faith after eating six or seven marshmallows; and the general love of a family that adores playing together and misses each other terribly when apart.

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(Image: Faith, Hannah & Caleb Myhill)