Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Do Lobsters Dream?

12-13 and reflection

I woke Friday to utter exhaustion. I dug down deep and asked God for strength to enjoy my day because I knew I certainly did not have any of my own strength left. He provided abundantly. Repeatedly that day I was the cheerleader, the inspirer, the one who revved the group up. Veggie tales, Disney songs, 80’s hits, whatever I could think to sing sprung from my lips in between whoops and encouragement. I was filled with joy and it flooded through me until I woke Monday morning. There is something utterly amazing about the strength God provides when there is no other. It lasts as long as it is needed and spreads like a wildfire in the August heat. The car ride home from the last day of work was rowdy and invigorating. Rather than vamping down from day four of construction work, we leapt from our van and spread our excitement to the other 4 vehicles of high school students. The joy of the Lord was our strength.

Saturday Night I was sitting at the Johnston’s house in the Riverside suburbs on the softest greenest grass I’ve set on in years, and it was there that I reentered the US emotionally. Sitting there with the white picket fence (though Jason said it wasn’t a picket fence at all.) and the grass on Obadiah the dog, with the street lamps and the lightened night sky from city lights, I had an epiphany. I realized how much I desire that kind of life. I guess in a way I see the veneer of the Johnstons and the beautiful symphony of their interactions without the dress rehearsals up the last decades of their family. Yet I see something there that could be me. I would be content to dwell in a simple house, with green grass and the dog. Not extraordinary, not famous, or world changing. I desire to be a one people at a time changer. So here I was processing the suburbs and mexico, and the interrelated pasts and futures I behold in my mind, and the tears streamed down my face. I was joyful and sad, happy and overwhelmed. It was Obi and I immersed in some remembrance of summer nights in Pomona, all tangled in some future I desire to have.

One real challenge was accepting the deference given to me by the 7 men on the event. On the trip down I was van 2, of 6 vehicles. That makes it very hard to be lost. In fact I spent a good deal of the trip following the grey suburban. Yet a few days into the trip my own pride got in the way and I started questioning motives. It seems silly to some, but I find it difficult to accept genuine deference. My mind plays games with itself and twists the sincerity into less quality implications. My stubborn nature rears its ugly head and I fight to accept what intellectually I know is sincerity.

So here I am looking back to the week and realizing how amazing deference can be. Really I believe I was overwhelmed a bit by the regard shown to me. Yet I am thankful for being forced to accept it, being in Mexico and having no other options. It was a growth experience. Accepting help, deference, assistance, whatever one may call it, is a practice of living in community. Thinking upon it I think accepting help is in some ways harder than trying to go it alone. Leaning into the community is not simple. Rather it is humbling, and greatly rewarding. In a community different talents and skills are available and to not use them is to deny the fullness of living in community. You would think this is clear, but when it requires one to lessen self and accept the superiority of another’s skills it isn’t easy. Nevertheless, it is a critical aspect of truly living in community.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

More Mexico


Wednesday morning Dr. J's voice was the first thing I heard. Then I heard the roosters, of course. However, I think Dr. J's voice was the first thing I heard. In fact it woke me, but not in an annoying way. It reminds me of my own father’s voice. I haven’t heard dad’s voice in a bit, but I felt distinctly certain of the similarity between their voices. It was a comforting sound. I keep waking up refreshed and ready for another day, which was amazing since I was sleeping very little. God sustains.

The roof building was something I had not planned on doing and then suddenly I was sitting atop a giant wooden two by four monkey bars. Seven feet in the air I’m squaring the roof beams, hammering them to wall tops and loving every minute. The view of the city was clear and the sky was an amazing color of blue that seemed somehow lighter than the California sky.

Wednesday night Jeremiah spoke on using verses as a prayer. He told of his time at camp and the last few verses in Isaiah 40, reminding God that he is our strength. “I will run and not grow weary” Psalms 119:57 is meaningful to me. I hold fast to the verses and decided that they would be my prayer. “The Lord is my portion.” The next day I think I reminded my self that God was my portion and strength a dozen times. It was with that verse that I leaned on God, over and over again. It was a very exhausting Thursday, but I made it through the day with those verses.

Thursday is also the day I finally allowed those around me to envelope me into the their community. After all those Tuesday tears I leaned on God and he opened my eyes to the opportunity I had surrounding me. What an amazing group of high school students. I have no idea the impact I had on their lives, but I can truly feel the impact they had, and are continuing to have on my life.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Mexico started hard.

I went with Amor Ministries? to build hope the through house and relationship building in Tijauna Mexico. And the more I reflect, the more lessons I see in the trip. So here are the first three days. It's a mixture of journal and post trip reflection arranged chronologically.


We drove to Riverside Sunday and the into the Tijuana area on Monday. The border crossing seemed anti-climactic but the view of Mexico as we drove to camp was an unforgettable welcome to Mexico. Houses constructed out of siding, cardboard, scrap lumber, doors, recycled wood, cement blocks, paneling and anything else that could serve as walls went into Mexican Housing construction. Each house was a montage of miscellaneous material. Many hillsides looked full of precariously balanced houses constructed of mismatched wood scraps. Then randomly I’d see ranches that looked like they could be across the border. In between these two types of dwellings were these communities of identical little houses. There were rows and rows of small neat houses in a line. Tiny houses the size of two dorm rooms in huge communities that echoed mass production. It reminded me of reduced income housing or military duplexes, but smaller.

We arrived at camp, which was dusty and comprised of rock hard ground near the row of port-a-potty’s, and set up out tents, tarps and fire circle. I was exhausted and though excited and ready to work, I was beginning to realize this week was not going to be easy. The ground was so hard it broke plastic stakes. Finally we all settled into a dinner and then our evening worship. Jeremiah gave his talk and then we started trying to head to beds. My van’s alarm started blaring. I’ve since learned that the back side door doesn’t lock with the clicker. As I struggled to turn off the alarm, I broke into tears. I was tired, frustrated, and had a long week to look forward to. It was only Monday and I was not a happy camper. Calming down I went to my tent that I shared with 5 teenage girls. And slept or at least tried to sleep. It was not exactly a peaceful night.

Tuesday morning the roosters woke me up with their distant calls. How could I have ever imagined waking up pleasantly to echoes of roosters throughout the valley calling to each other announcing the dawn. That first morning at 5:30 am I crept out into the dawn, dusks early morning counterpart. It is the time of day when light has arrived before its friend the sun who sleeps in just a bit longer before peeking over the hills. The camp was peaceful with a few early risers meandering to port-a-potties, lounging in chairs, reading the Bible, dwelling peacefully before out days work ahead.

Tuesday’s drive through the town to the job site was an experience to remember. There are often no lanes and cars flow quickly forward avoiding the excessive amount of potholes and each other and they attempt to get to their destination. The local drivers were kind of intimidating. I knew I could not lose the suburban (the car I followed most of the week), but conditions certainly did not make that an easy task.

Arriving on job site I was encouraged by the excitement of the team. We had a long day of laughter and cement mixing. Pouring Paul and his accents kept buckets of sand and cement mixture coming up the hill. Ryan’s consistent turns at mixing the concrete kept the concrete slab growing. Chelsea’s water pushing to keep us hydrated. I think I drank a gallon of water on site that day. It was as if the water poured out of my pores.

I was looking at the all the children today and wondering how they must feel. Imagine 18 strangers arriving at your house who don’t speak your language and begin construction work all over the yard. The back yard has people making a cement slab. The front yard has people sawing lumber. Even the street has people cut and hammering. They must have had some feelings. Looking back I wish I could have captured more time with the kids in Mexico. Not knowing the language left me extremely shy around the children. Being task focused created a desire to keep working on the house, leaving the relationships to those more so inclined. I was a little terrified of communication with the children and it was easier to just smile and continue hammering.

Tuesday evening I attempted to shower, but really just managed to soak myself with the 2 and ½ gallons of water allowed per showerer. My hair felt worse as it dried, but at least I felt cleaner. Dinner was good, I was hungry, but then I was so tired and felt so alone. I had argued with Ryan on the way home over stupid stuff really. I was frustrated with myself. In my journal I wrote, “Tired and life not going as plans are. Am I ever going to overcome this burden.” Then I continued journaling during worship. I sat on the back of our 15 foot truck and cried to God. My journal said, “I feel scared and alone. This is much bigger than me. Oh God be my comforter and friend, Be my Yeshua, my King. Hold me tight. I need you I want you. I’m tired of the loneliness in which I am dwelling. I’m afraid of being left alone. Stay with me, abide with me so much more than to guide me.” I asked God why was here what was His purpose for me in Mexico? It was really the rock again, which yes I still have. Maybe I'm waiting for a clear sign that I can be free of the rock. I knew Tuesday evening it was not time for the rock to go.

Then Jeremiah began his talk and he spoke of Job, “Why are you doing this to me?” It was spoken only minutes after my questions to God I although it was not an answer, it was an affirmation of God’s hand in my life.

The thing is I was surrounded by a community of people who were open hearted and welcoming, but all I wanted that night was my dorm community, the dorm girls who love on me and I love on in return. It was not the people who knew my inner most and I felt I had no one to turn too, No one that knew I was hurting. Intellectually, I knew I was fooling myself. I knew if I would let them, they would embrace me, but those lies on the tapes Satan replays in my head echoed loudly. Your just an adult, you're not really part of the group. My heart ached and I knew I was falling right into Satan's snare. He wanted me to feel alone and rejected. I was not alone or rejected, rather I had pushed myself away from the community which I needed to dwell in.

Yet the truth is sometimes we are without a tangible community and all there is God. He is our shield and our comforter. He is the reason our community works. Without him there is nothing and I learned in Mexico to lean on God for my strength, to cry out to him for comfort, For my portion when I can’t carry on, when I feel the next step might break me, when I feel I might scream at the next nail that bends on me. This is one of my ends and beginnings. it seems I've leaned on community first and God second. I am ready to lean on God first and community second.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Seriously this cracked me up, then I thought anout its implications and it was a little less funny. It has a back link to the earlier article too. Even a Wikipedia page, which Is probably my most favorite information site.
Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mexico part one

I'm back. There are so mnay thoughts running through my head I think it looks like the LA highway system. Seriously, emotions are just below the surface level and scrambling faster than eggs on steroids, whatever that would look like. I'm feeling rather tired today as it was my first day back to Starbucks. I'm still very much a coffee drinker, and glad to not make do with instant granules anymore to aquire my daily caffeine. Mexico was a time of beginnings and ends, which I will share later this week. I know God is ever present. I know this last week changed my perspective on many levels. I've already cried four times since returning to the California. more to come...

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

The Rock ends

My rock lessons have continued the entire summer (see June 21 and 22) I have carried this rock throughout northern California. So now the summer is ending and we are encouraged to dump our rock in the ocean as a symbol the vastness of GOd's grace and strength in comparison with our burden. I have not done this yet. I was not ready on Sunday, but I am now. I have defined my need to have less control over situations, and allow for flexibility and change. I have made a practice of going with the flow in various situations and not letting ambiguity get me tense. I know that though I have a long way to go, I don;t need the tangible rock. It is God who all summer has quietly whispered in my ear and He will continue to guide me. Therefore my rock is on the way to the ocean.