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Archive for August, 2011

Ten ounces.

If home is where the heart is,
My heart lives in a memory
Of abuses sung through pursed lips
And raised fists.

If home is where the heart is,
My heart lives in a memory
Of days spent learning how to cook
And raucous laughter.

If home is where the heart is,
My heart lives in a memory.
Pumping blood into chasms,
Beating cacophonies of years spent broken.

If home is where the heart is,
My heart lives nowhere,
Population: one,
Surrounded by burgeoning metropolises.

If home is where the heart is,
My heart lives nowhere,
Nomadic in every way,
With luggage in tow.

If home is where the heart is,
My heart lives nowhere.
Amidst the wilderness,
Kept alive by your smiles.

If home is where the heart is,
My heart lives in a dream
Of wounds sewn together
By One in the hands of many.

If home is where the heart is,
My heart lives in a dream
Of children running amok
And dancing under the stars.

If home is where the heart is,
My heart lives in a dream.
Ten ounces,
Acting as proof of Grace.

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Honduras 3.4: Love wins.

It feels right to have this be the topic of my last Honduras post.

I’ll admit, it’s taken me this long because I’ve been over the words multiple times — convoluted statistical explanations and diatribes on the supernatural essence of love. How, quite literally, crazy it is to love and be loved.

I’m abandoning attempts to make it logical, sacrificing the expression of my personal clarity for simplicity. And we all know how I can go on and on sometimes.

Our culture’s done a lot to skew our definition and perception of love. It’s the stuff of words spoken, empty or full with no happy medium, and of emotions as far flung from the meaning as jealousy and as subversive as lust. I would imagine in some language some where in some era of time, there’s at least a dozen different words for love, but in those that I’m familiar with, there’s just one. We give one, small collection of letters phonetically combined to convey what’s supposed to be the epitome of affection.

We are thus confused — mistaken, I daresay, in how we intend and perceive the word “love.” The ragdoll that we once called language varies by a pantheon of influences such that everyone’s definition of love is just plain different. In all of the ways that we receive and give it, we are made singular.

What we are given, however, is the ability to perceive love in all of its different forms. Even if we’ve never experienced a particular one for ourselves or even thought to express our adoration in such a way, we can see it in others, maybe even more than we’re capable of seeing it in ourselves.

The smile on a mother’s face when she holds her newborn child. The connection between two people when they stand in front of their loved ones and declare that they want to spend the rest of their lives with each other. A kid giving another kid who’s crying a toy to cheer them up.

So, reader, I could attempt and fail a million times over to explain to you just how profoundly I believe that love, of the kingdom variety, is capable of conquering anything: sin, war, and even poverty. But I think you’ve had enough of me.

All I can do is encourage you to go out there and love and let yourself be loved and open your eyes so you can see love, that you might know it exists in the simplest, most universal, most beautiful way.

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Things left unexplained.

Short break before the last Honduras post, which is being formulated, albeit slowly.

I was driving back from a short, yet sweet night in Cerritos when I felt a weird tugging under my car. It disappeared just as soon as it had come — I concluded that I probably caught a groove in the road or something.

It reminded me of a time I almost died.

I usually tell the story with great comedy in mind: speeding down the freeway in the pouring rain after dropping off my then-boyfriend at the airport. Going 80 miles per hour in the middle of a storm is one of the less bright ideas that I’ve had. Cue hydroplaning across what I’m sure was three lanes of the highway and then back to my original lane. Didn’t even stop after that. Of course I would be that way.

I wanted to write about it because tonight my heart skipped a beat when I felt that semi-familiar tug under the car. It made me think about what those few seconds were like more than a year ago.

Breathlessness. I felt control fly from my hands like a caged animal finally freed of its captivity. The only sound that would come from my mouth came then — a gasp as if the air were being punched out of me as I braced only to have the wheel spin left and right with reckless abandon. I held my breath, trapped and being torn apart like a ragdoll at the behest of my rusty, beat-up car. Blinded by the rain and shitty windshield wipers, no sound but the beat of the raindrops, and a fear that would make rollercoasters crap their pants. Twice.

And then I was back. “Oh, shit.” In my lane, going much slower now — the learning curve for not hydroplaning anymore isn’t very steep. I believe one car, the one behind me, had honked. So I drove home, more attentive at the wheel that I had ever been. I sat down on my bed, breathed for a bit, then went on with my life.

I probably should’ve died on that freeway. Run myself into the median or another car or something. Or at least been injured badly or dented a few bumpers. How boring is it to end that story with the magical, fairytale ending of absolutely no negative consequences? By some twist of fate, no one was harmed in the making of this hysterical highway nightmare of a tale.

New thought, as I write: How broken must I have been back then to not have cared about almost dying?

I have changed — moved forward and regressed a thousand different times since then. I remember nights when it didn’t matter to me whether I woke up the next morning or not. Hell, I still have those sometimes. But for the most part, these days, I can’t imagine not waking up in the morning, no matter how boring my day’s going to be. Because chances are there’ll be some joy to it — sometimes there’s not and my day is really just that mundane and other times it’s a surprise to me how awesome it turned out. Sometimes I get to play with kids or see old friends, and it was all unexpected at 8 o’clock in the morning when I was slamming on my snooze button. Things like that remind me of how joyful I’m capable of being.

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Honduras 3.3: Community.

I’ve said it before, but our Honduras team started out as a motley crew. We were, by far, the most random assortment of IV people plus one, ever. We were awkward — we started by awkwardly sharing our testimonies and awkwardly working together and awkwardly being awkward.

How awkward must it have been after Jesus came back from the dead? His disciples, having given up hope, fled persecution just to have Jesus come back three days later. “Whattuuuuup?” Then Jesus leaves again and places the responsibility for furthering the Kingdom in the hands of the disciples. Awkward.

Acts even begins awkwardly. Speaking tongues — awkward. Choosing a new disciple — awkward. Setting up a new community — awkward.

And really, you can’t get past all of that awkward without being empowered to do so.

We were awesome. We were a community of fourteen who actively shared and prayed with one another, who worked together to achieve common goals and out of love. We supported each other through the hard stuff and laughed with each other in the good times. It wasn’t perfect, but there were a lot of things there, personally and as a group, that I hadn’t had before.

So I learned a lot about what it takes to form a “good” community, to put it simply. It’s not up to one person to make it good, and it’s not one person’s fault when things go bad. Sometimes things just suck, and it takes an effort on everyone’s part to bring it back — an effort that borders on impossible sometimes. Good thing God makes the impossible possible.

It also made me realize how much of a doofus I’d been for a while. Things were better when I was open with people, when I was praying for them and they for me. I’d closed myself, for a long time, because I let shortcomings in friendships hold me back. It’s easy for me to create simple, basic friendships with people — not so much for me to trust them.

And I’m still avoiding some things. Some tougher topics of conversation and some people and some groups, even. Partly just because it feels like it’d take too much effort to get into those. Partly because I’m fed up with shitty, fake smiles and niceties, which has been pressing away at my buttons for a while.

I think that happens when we try to take community from 0 to 60 without building our relationships with each other on stronger foundations. We try to go from stranger to brothers and sisters, which sounds all well and good until you realize you know nothing about your brothers and sisters. Nothing about what they’re going through and nothing about how they came to be the person that they are. Then we’re just smiling and laughing out of politeness instead of love. You know how I hate to be polite.

An observation from the beginning of my journey: I started out less interested in what God had and more interested in how real the people who were leading me towards Him were. How we shared with one another about our pasts and our present and what we wanted for the future. And because I saw how much God loved them and how much He loved me through them and in His own ways, I decided to follow Jesus. If they’d just shoved the Bible down my throat and let me whine and moan to them without telling me an ounce about themselves, I probably wouldn’t have.

Our Honduras community began by being vulnerable with one another and praying into those vulnerabilities. Without that genuineness, we wouldn’t have had community but would’ve been taking faith alone. And that strikes me as kind of pointless, don’t you think?

/endsocialcommentary

(Definitely went on a rant. Teehee.)

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Slap.

I’ve been really snappy since I got back from Honduras. Someone needs to slap me.

(Honduras posts will continue after I calm the eff down.)

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Honduras 3.2: We live.

I had never met him, only seen him in pictures and video and heard about his frail form. He was fourteen and needed an unaffordable transplant. When I first about it, when I first heard about him, I’d already lost hope. Then Adonis passed away on Saturday, but word didn’t around to us until yesterday. How are we supposed to hope in impossible situations? We say, “Everything is possible with God,” but how often to we pray for the impossible to happen with 100% trust in our hearts?

I’m kind of angry.

I’d been in pain since we got back. Not from the hand, but from my intestines being in full rebellion against me. I was at my “slightly concerned” point last night (which, if you don’t know, takes me a good deal of pain to reach), so after we prayed for Adonis’ family, what few of us were able to gather prayed for Leah, who had a headache and a fever, and me. Today, I’m feeling fine — great, even. Leah’s not doing so well, and for the sake of her privacy, I’ll just say it has the potential to be bad.

Is it right to feel angry after you’re healed?

I’m alive because I was thrust onto this earth, and by God’s good graces, I was born and live without any particularly life-threatening conditions and have never faced anything overtly dangerous aside from my own reckless driving. (And even then, I’ve never been in a car accident.)

It feels like a privilege that should’ve been given to someone else, but that feels ungrateful to say.

People die circumstantially. If Adonis had been born in America and attending public school, entire communities could’ve banded together to get him the heart transplant that he needed.

We live circumstantially. Clean water and an overabundance of food. Safe from most disease, not necessarily from genetics, but certainly with the healthcare resources to overcome much of what would otherwise kill us.

Beyond all of that, there’s only prayer. Sometimes that just doesn’t seem like enough.

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There’s a lot to be said after coming back, and only one-and-a-half hands to do it with. I’ll do my best to post frequently, but they’ll remain relatively short.

Post-Honduras has been awkward. I hopped onto the plane excited to go home, excited to kick back a little and breathe. But as I looked out the window of the plane, I watched the world turn upside, again, before me. Not literally, of course — It’s probably all sorts of illegal to do barrels rolls in commercial jet crafts. But I watched the terrain change from the dense forests and beautiful beaches of Honduras to the dry, gridlocked streets and mottled sands of California. I immediately felt uncomfortable, aside from slight motion sickness, about being surrounded by so much wealth all of the sudden. I shrunk back from it, even had a slight anxiety attack over it. I really didn’t miss it all — the computers, the cell phones, the air conditioning… okay, maybe the air conditioning. But they have that in Honduras.

I cried the night before we left. We were at the school in the aldeas, and I sat down and watched the kids play soccer and with the balloons. There weren’t that many there — only Arlin, Rosa, Saydi, and Yeni, along with some younger kids from the church. I missed the others, my David and Johann and Daniel and Alexis and Carlos and Wister, and even lamented not being able to say a proper goodbye to them. I wished that I had been able to see all of them play, but for me, this was enough. It was enough to have been able to see a few smile and run around, knowing that it meant that others could find joy because of what we had built. I cried because I was happy for all of those kids and that the school is now a little bit brighter and a little bit safer. I was happy because it was done in record time, and by the combined strengths of our team and the people who decided that the project was worth dedicating entire days to.

Jesus was a carpenter. He worked with wood and built things with his own hands. It’s weird, isn’t it? To think that we were doing something just like what Jesus used to a couple thousand years ago. And by that same token, we were blessed and able to bless the aldeas, and somehow survived it all with minimal injury and strength and endurance that was nothing short of God-given. It’s weird because when I was there, working, neither my back nor my stomach nor my hand hurt very much — and when they did, I’d pray, and it’d all disappear in a matter of minutes. And now that we’re back, my stomach is screaming bloody murder at me, and my body feels all of the aches and itches. But that’s cool. I’m cool with that. I might complain, but really only about the itching — and even that’s only a small fraction of what working on the school meant for me and everyone else.

There’s more to come. I was able to type more than I thought, but there’s still novels worth of thoughts and processing going on. I know not all of it will make on here, but if you ask the right questions, I’m sure I’ll tell you.

I want to give glory to God.

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