Saturday, July 29, 2006


"I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord."

Psalm 27: 13 & 14

well, i have been back on guatemalan dirt for 50 hours and 5 minutes, and i still cannot understand how a place i have lived in for a total of three weeks can feel so much like home. but, they say "home is where the heart is" and God has already started to plant these people and this land deep in the soil of my heart.

we drove the 4 1/2 hour trip from guatemala city to the village of canilla on thursday afternoon, traveling over "roads" that would never qualify as such in america, with drop offs on either side that make the grand canyon look small (okay, maybe an exaggeration... but it sure feels that way when you are sliding around in the mud, eyes closed, arms clutching the person next to you, convinced that you are soon going to be going over the side of the beautiful mountains you find yourself in the middle of... and that's just on the "main road"...), and views that would take your breath away. the roads are lined with corn fields, the green of trees and huge leafy plants, two-room cement buildings that many of these people in the country call home, and colorful cement buildings that make up the tiendas (stores) and homes of those in the villages. but perhaps the most beautiful view is the people themselves; the colorful fabric that makes up the skirts of the indian people, kids in tow, baskets on their heads and babies on their back, as they dilligently work their land. or the more western look of the latins, cowboy boots and hats, sitting tall atop their horses or whizzing by you on their motorcycles.

psalm 27 was one of the passages that grabbed my heart when i was here for three weeks in june, and i find my heart reciting it again many times throughout the day as i start to find my place in this land. i have been reminded that guatemala is full of culture and traditions that hold both beauty and sin, a deep sense of community and a deep sense of corruption. and ultimately, these are people searching for jesus, learning what it is to walk the path walked by christ, and love those around them, same as in america. today was the first day i worked in one of our clinics since the first time i was here, and, as i processed through the day, i found myself writing this to a friend:

today was "a little overwhelming, but wonderful just the same. i think one of the most dangerous things we see here is pneumonia. the nearest hospital is 1 1/2 hours away and they don't really have any equipment, so the next best hospital is 2 1/2 hours away, and they have equipment (like pediatric intubators), but they don't know how to use it, so the best these kids get is oral antibiotics from us or iv antibiotics if they go the hospital. obviously, the iv antibiotics are good, but if these people are going to take the time and resources to go that far to the hospital, then they are usually so bad that they need to be intubated, which does not happen. the first time i was here this summer, we sent a kid home with oral antibiotics and prayers that he would make it. he could barely breathe and we did a nebulizer treatment, but it didn't even touch his condition. it is so sad to think of the fact that these kids are dying of pneumonia, which is totally treatable. there is also a lot of cultural things that i am learning that impact their health state. their ancestors (the mayan indians) worshipped the corn god, so their corn tortilla is everything to them, so they do not rotate crops or value fruits and vegetables as part of their diet or anything. so there are a lot of deficiencies seen from lack of nutrients that are totally "growable" here. it is sad and hard to help them see the need for these other nutrients. it is really a huge reminder, though, of the effects of the spiritual oppression here, and the fact that underlying everything we do, medically or otherwise, the thing that these people really need is jesus. and for that reason, it is a blessing to be serving with a missionary family that understands that. today we were able to pray with a lady whose membranes ruptured in her 21st week of pregnancy and we are pretty sure that they will not be able to save the baby. it is moments like these that remind me why i am doing this."

i pray that your life is full today. and that you too have those moments that remind you that there is a God bigger than us working all out for good, that there is a Truth deeper than what our eyes see, and that you are reminded why you walk the path you walk.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

irresponsible, unsafe, rebellious, and stupid

it is 1:49 am, 95 degrees outside, silent, and i cannot sleep. there is much on my heart and in my head... mostly thoughts jumbled together with few fleeting moments of clarity, usually gone before i can gather them enough to process anything, but yet persistent enough that i cannot quiet them enough to fall asleep. and so, fueled by my little bedside lamp, over the rhine’s drunkard’s prayer cd, and the muddling of my spirit, i attempt at coherence.

something has been gnawing at me. it started while i was in guatemala and it grew stronger after i watched the movie end of the spear the other night. since returning from guatemala, i have felt like i am in a holding period. something inside of me says i should be doing something “productive” to prepare for my trip back: i should be reading about the culture, in a training camp (yeah youth in mission...), learning spanish, brushing up on my theories of missions (haha), trying to cram everything i will need into one 50lb check-in bag, or practicing street dramas in spanish (just kiddin… 8) ). but instead of training camp, it has just been me, with my family, in 107 degree arizona weather, for almost three weeks. and my “preparation ideas” have felt empty and lacking. this morning i woke up crabby and feeling purposeless – again. i found myself complaining to God (again). i started to wonder why it felt like something was not right. i thought about it, and when i had thought too much, i turned on the tv so that i didn’t have to think anymore. and then i did the one thing i should have made my starting point. i knelt down beside my couch and i prayed... really prayed. i prayed for my time here, for my family and my friends, for the guatemalans, for the family i will be staying with, and for the work we will be doing. i started to remember that missions (like life anywhere) is not primarily about my theories and preparations. i opened my bible and started to read through the life of jesus. i came across a man who truly saw people, not agendas. a man who came to bring a personal faith and freedom, not theories and causes driven by governing bodies. a man who went where the poor and needy were because that was where his and his Father's hearts are. a man who came to serve, to love, and to give… even to the point of death. i re-entered the conversation that has been gnawing at me. why are we really here on earth? what is really important in this life?

when i was first watching end of the spear and it got to the scene where the men are killed, my initial reaction was “so these men went into the jungle outside of the governing structure’s permission and guidance, and they got killed. wasn’t that kind of irresponsible? unsafe? maybe even rebellious or just plain stupid?” i don’t know. but i do wonder: when did we agree that listening to the governing bodies around us is more important than listening to the Holy Spirit within us? when did we decide that giving away all we have and going to the live with the poor is irresponsible? when did we start seeking out people to serve and love only when it is “safe” for us (physically, emotionally, spiritually)? and when did we determine that death is failure? the more i read the books of matthew, mark, luke, and john, the more i am convinced that the life that jesus led looks somewhat irresponsible, very unsafe, often rebellious, and sometimes just plain stupid. yet the more i step away from the life the world (even the christian world at times) has determined we should lead, and step into a life of following the beckoning of the holy spirit and the footsteps of jesus, the more i am convinced that there is no other way to live. i do not know the hearts of nate saint, jim elliot, pete fleming, ed mccully, and roger youderian, but that is not for me to resolve. i do know that there is a reason each of us was placed on this earth and that there is a path that has been walked before us. and i know that we must learn to walk that path, even though at times it seems irresponsible, rebellious, stupid, and unsafe… even though it leads to our death.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot