26 June 2008
19 June 2008
oh dear, I have so many stories to tell. I can't possibly begin.
one week has passed. and I honestly have no idea where to start. I apologize for the ramblings.
I think the best idea is to start with the beginning.
8 days ago today.
I woke up last Saturday morning at 5a.m. wide awake. I realized that I would have been on my way to boarding my plane to Dallas where, in a mere 3 or 4 hrs my Daddy and Momma would embrace me and I would be in their arms. It was a thought too much for me to handle. At that moment there was nothing that I could think of wanting more than seeing my family at the gate.
I got out of bed and grabbed my bible, searching and begging the Lord to consol me. Asking for Him to remind me... or, more honestly, perhaps reveal to me why I had such a strong feeling that I needed to stay in Mexico, because at the moment I couldn’t reach deep enough inside me to find that feeling again—it felt so so far away. The only feeling consuming me was the intense desire to take it back. Take changing my ticket back. Take it all back and close my eyes and be in the plane on my way back home and knowing that I would see my family within hours.
I found myself in tears and got dressed as fast as I could and headed to starbucks (my solace of internet access here in Mexico) All I wanted to do is talk to my Daddy and Momma and hear them affirm me, say that I wasn't crazy, and that there was a chance that I was doing the right thing.
But then my mind wandered and my fingers turned to these passages that I had recently read this past week. These are two passages that I never really can seem to understand what Jesus was communicating.
“and a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross daily and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
I once thought this had to do with God separating those who knew him and those who didn’t. I once thought that this might have something to do with loving God more than I love my family. I once thought that loving anything or anyone in this world was maybe evil.
Well, of course I don’t have the answer figured out but, this passage means much much more to me today than it ever has.
I think because I just experienced it.
And I think it’s true.
My greatest enemy are those in my household, both family and dear friends.
I think my greatest enemies to my undying love for Christ are not evil things but are the wonderful gifts God has given me. Wonderful gifts that are so easy for me to hold too tightly. Gifts that I cherish and will forever be thankful for, but that I have to watch carefully because these precious gifts from the Lord can easily be perverted by man and be made idols in my eyes.
Jesus further brings this truth to light again with a short parable in Luke 14.
“When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
But Jesus said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, “Come, for everything is now ready.” But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lances of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame. And the servant said, Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘God out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’
For all the evil that Satan can do, it is the gifts of the Lord that keep me from running toward him with all of my might. It isn't the evilest of evils. It is a field, it is oxen, and it is a wife. simple, everyday parts of life.
It is our livelihood.
It is the little things I find enjoyment in that creep in and take over.
It is cooking, talking, meeting new people, traveling, shopping, sleeping in, friends, working out, hobbies, reading, internet surfing, coffee, movie watching, etc. These are gifts from God. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God himself.
and i think...really?
could those things possibly keep me from running to the table of my Lord?I wonder what the man who excitedly proclaimed how great it is to sit at the table of the Lord thought about the story Jesus told.
I'm sure he was really confused.
I mean he really didn't say anything that seemed to merit a parable afterwards.
He just got finished proclaiming how blessed it is for someone to sit with the Lord, to taste his way of life, his love, his calling...
Jesus was quick to respond to his proclamation. I'm guessing his response left the man kinda speechless. I'm sure he thought, why?...that doesn't make much since...why would anyone taste of the Lord and then choice other things in life over the way of the Lord? why would people not choose to eat at His banquet? and especially just because of an oxen...or a field...or a wife...?
or perhaps, this man knew very well what Jesus was communicating. Maybe he knew all too well. Maybe as he was sitting and being and learning and relaxing and choicing the Lord... really in his heart he had things, not evil things, but things that had become idols to him. And if the next day the Lord would invite him to dinner, he might have been too busy with his field. and so he wouldn't come. and maybe Jesus knew what was in his heart.
or maybe none of that is actually what was happening. i'm just imagining. but I can only imagine what the man sitting next to Jesus thought after that parable.
“The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.
--Piper (Hunger for God, you should read it, great book)
I have spent the last week at an orphanage filled with people who have unconsciously been asking me every day what I am hungry for.
I dont really know how to sum this up...or exactly what I am trying to say.
there is much in my heart and it's not easy to communicate.
all I know is that I am feeling hunger pains to run to be where my Father is and to eat.
I have enjoyed some of the best food I have ever tasted in the past few days. (and i'm talking about food, literally. zoe and I were blessed with a chef this weekend. and a chaufer. and a private pool. and clean towels. and a huge bath tub. and a king size bed) It is a funny story, but I am thankful that the Lord choose to randomly bless me in that way.
but I am still hungry. It is a different kind of hunger. I am homesick. and I'm sure when I arrive in Daingerfield on Tues, I will still feel the pains of homesickness. It is a different kind of homesickness.
A hunger and a homesickness that this world cannot fill. I was not made for the bread of this world and I was not made for this world to be my home.
"I am the bread of Life"
"I've been feeling kind of restless
I've been feeling out of place
I can hear a distant singing
A song that I can't write
And it echoes of what I'm always trying to say
There's a feeling I can't capture
It's always just a prayer away
I want to know the ending
Things hoped for but not seen
But I guess that's the point of hoping anyway
Of going home, I'll meet you at the table
Going home, I'll meet you in the air
And you are never too young to think about it
Oh, I cannot wait to be home
I'm confined by my senses
To really know what you are like
You are more than I can fathom
And more than I can guess
And more than I can see with you in sight
But I have felt you with my spirit
I have felt you fill this room
And this is just an invitation
Just a sample of the whole
And I cannot wait to be going home
Going home, I'll meet you at the table
Going home, I'll meet you in the air
And you are never too young to think about it
Oh, I cannot wait to be going, to be going home
Face to face, how can it be
Face to face, how can it be
Face to face, how can it be
Cuz this is just an invitation
Just a sample of the whole
And I cannot wait to be going home"
-a song by Sara Groves that honestly echoes my heart.
I went to church this morning, and words can hardly express.
Like I said there are too many stories...But I am in awe of what the Lord has done. :)
tomorrow is my last day at the orphanage, pray for my eyes to be open to see and my ears open to hear.
17 June 2008
love to share.
that is the name of the orphanage. a name that has begun to seep into me. a phrase that has begun to spark a lot of questions in my heart. a phrase that I desire to be stamped on my soul to remind me of the great love of Christ, to remind me of the way Christ has called me to live.
Last week I got to meet with the director of "Amor para Compartir" and talk with her about the possibility of volunteering. She showed me around 'Casa Hogar' where the children about 7 yrs and under live. I got a glimpse of all the little kids running around and immediately I knew in my heart that God had placed me here for a reason. I had no expectations or any real idea of what might happen. I was told to write a letter (in spanish) explaining why I wanted to volunteer and what I would like to help with. She told me that they were in need of an english teacher and I was welcome to come and volunteer every day from about 8:30 to 1:30.
Monday morning was my first day there. I bought some teaching materials at a little stand we passed by on the street Sunday morning. With no clue as to what I would actually be doing, crayons, a felt number and alphabet table seemed to be like a good idea to have in my bag.
Every morning the little kids from Casa Hogar are 'bused' to the other house where the older kids live, because there are more rooms there to have school. Every morning about three men come and all the kids pile in the cars, roughly about 25 people per vehicle. I sat in the front seat along with another teacher, each of us holding about 3 little girls. When we arrived there were the older kids ready to mingle and divide into their classes. After a few minutes of standing around looking seriously lost, I found my way to the niños pequeños class.
The kids are beautiful. Their eyes are full of joy and are a door to a heart that simply desires someone to love them, to find them worthy to be held and listened to and sung to and played with...there wasn't a moment that I ever stopped asking God why I couldn't take them all home with me.
Yesterday, when I began teaching/hanging out with the older kids (9-12yr olds) I noticed that their teacher sat outside and read her bible while I taught.
my heart jumped.
Right after class I shared with her that I was a believer. She hugged me so tight as we realized we were sisters. She has lived in the orphanage with the older girls for 4 years. When I asked her how she decided to and how it has been for the past 4 years, she simply answered--"esto es mi vida"
this is my life .
how accurately put, and how incredibly humbling.
I had been wondering for the past week or so if the orphanage was started by believers and hoped to find the answer to that question today.
and i did. :)
This morning was my second day and I wanted to get there extra early to help with breakfast for the little girls and make sure I didn't miss the car ride over to the other house. Today I felt like I belonged. Yesterday the kids looked at me as the unknown gringo, and today they knew me as Amelia. :) As the little girls were eating breakfast I started talking to another volunteer. She is only 13 and lives with the little girls as one of their caretakers. We began talking and we both shared with each other about our relationship with Christ. I began asking her lots of questions and she explained to me the story of the beginning of "Amor Para Compartir"...
There is a garbage dump in Cuernavaca.
There is a gigantic trash pile where many children live.
There is a smelly, dirty, ugly dump that homeless families and orphans call home.
I know that description sounds awful. It honestly feels awful to type about it, but this is the way millions of people around the world live, and it has become too far away from us, from me, for too long. I need to be reminded of this truth, and not just once in a blue moon when I travel to other countries. I need to constantly be reminded of my blessings. I need to be reminded why I exist as an ambassador for Christ. I need to be reminded what it means to call myself a CHRISTian. I need to be reminded what the heart of the father is.
A small group of believers saw this garbage dump and decided to act. They joined together and bought three houses. Three houses that comprise the orphanage, "Amor Para Compartir".
Today was their 5 yr anniversary, and tomorrow they are having a huge fiesta to celebrate.
I am on the edge of my seat to see what tomorrow holds. I have already become so attached to the children I cannot bare the thought of leaving.
pray for my eyes to be open to see, and my ears to be willing to hear...
11 June 2008
well life is happening in Cuernavaca and come to find out life will continue to happen here for me until the 24th of June.
i'm not flying home this Saturday.
Oh what a moment today has been. A moment of coming face to face (yet again. oh why do I doubt?) that He knows when I sit down and when I rise up, that He understands my thought from afar, that He scrutinizes my path and my lying down, and is intimately acquainted with all my ways, that even before there is a word on my tongue, He knows it all-- these are moments built for me to dwell in, and to continuously live in.
I have made plans. remade plans. and yet again remade plans. (which should really teach me not to trust my planning so much) meaning I have changed my return flight ticket twice now, first thinking that I only needed to stay for 4 weeks because I found out I only needed two classes--therefore the logical thing to do would be cut my 6 weeks stay in Mexico short and make it only 4 weeks. and I'm a logical person, therefore I changed my ticket as soon as I found out this news. Then I very unexpectedly fell in love. with what I'm not entirely certain. I don't have a one liner answer but nevertheless I knew when I felt the stinging in my heart about a week ago that Saturday the 14th was not the day I would leave. reason? not really sure I have a reason, at least not a satisfactory one for my flesh at the moment. My flesh thinks I am slightly crazy. ok, really crazy. but then an opportunity landed in my lap. of course it would.
I will be volunteering at a local orphanage here in Cuernavaca. Sparing all the details, I spoke with the director on the phone on monday (in Spanish--very stretching experience) and she excitedly told me I am welcome to come and work and even possibly teach some english classes for the children. and. my heart burst.
new flight: June 24th. 10 more days in Mexico. I will be done with classes this Friday and start working at the orphanage as soon as i possibly can. please pray for this opportunity. I will be meeting with the director tomorrow at the orphanage, pray that the Lord would provide a situation for me to be used to spread his love to these children. pray for my emotions, my attitude, and my mind as these next few days pass and this all unfolds.
I am not sure if I understand faith as Jesus spoke of it. I claim that I cling to this 'faith' but in practice fall short of grasping what Faith is. I have heard of faith as jumping into the unknown, or as the definition Hebrews gives being sure of what we hope for and certain of things we do not see. I have heard many things about faith through the stories of Paul and of the desciples, but living and experiencing faith is rare it seems and difficult to identify. pray that the Lord would penetrate me with faith. faith in the hope of Christ, and faith that he is leading me.
In other news: classes have continued. I am becoming more comfortable with the language, but don't worry, I definitely still get the deer in the headlights look from several people a day. also, the dog around the corner of the block doesn't bark at me anymore when I go jogging. we have become friends, which is a great achievement because the 'block' takes me about 2 minutes to run around--therefore the dog really never would stop barking. but now I can actually hear my wonderful ipod music instead of the dog. I also have become addicted to limes. limes are everywhere and in everything. for instance, mayonesa and packages of peanuts. and anything you eat anywere, it is known that you will squeeze lime juice on it.
I want to share some fun pictures! I am glad and rejoice that my God has given his children life and life more abudantly. There are many stories tucked away in my mind that I desperately wish I possessed the ability to translate them into words...
enrique loves helado :)
um. yes. just about the cutest thing ever. i find myself in a awkward situation almost daily when I tell people how much I wish I had a little boy from mexico.
Girls night out! (plus Enrique)
Dinner at Chili's!
my obsession with the mumu continues...romeo i hope you like the one beautiful handmade one i'm wearing cuz it is coming home to you!
Zoe got her hair cut! and it's super cute!
so i didn't bring salsa shoes and, honestly, I enjoy the tennie shoe look much better. however, after walking out of my room like this , mi madre y hermana simply wouldn't have me salsa dancing in tennie shoes or anything other than heals...therefore I now borrow madre's black neutralizers for dancing--comfy and mom-ish but considering everyone else here is about 1ft shorter than me and wears a size 5 shoe they will have to work ;)
Our local friends took Zoe, Amanda, Samantha, and I on a trip to Tequesquitengo for a day at the lake!
and...Eric. mi primo. he is only smiling b/c i am jabbing him in the ribs, otherwise you would be getting his 'i'm very serious and never ever smile for the camera' face. he is our amazing cook, our comic relief, our movie watching and taco eating amigo, and has become one very dear friend.
02 June 2008
I didn’t know which one would be the best.
So, I asked around and a lot of people had great things to say about Tepotzlan.
They said: “Oh, Emily it is so beautiful! You will absolutely love it!”
Me: “really? What do we do?”
They: “well, the town is in the mountains and you climb up to this place and it is just really beautiful… and there is a really neat flea marcado!”
Me: “Sweet! sounds cool.”
Why not? this was the cheapest excursion. only $20. sounds great!
Sunday morning we got on a bus and starting riding through the mountains…
We had a wonderful tour guide. He was so helpful and full of information about the history of the people of Mexico.
When we arrived at Tepotzlan we first went to the Monastery museum.
As we were looking out of the second story window of the museum...
the sweet Tour guide said, “Ok now we will start our journey up this mountain.”
Me and Zoë: “ How cool! What we are going to climb?”
exactly what we thought.
THAT mountain! Are you out of your mind?
we found out quick that he wasn’t joking. we also found out it would take about 45 minutes to climp up and 45 min to climb down—and that is only IF you are in shape.
45 minutes seemed like a hopeful thought to me…and come to find out it was hopeful.
If you look closely at the picture I tried to circle the temple we climbed up to
Here is Zoë about halfway up :)
and me about 20 minutes up the mountain
it was so much fun i promise! dont concentrate on how extremely exhausted i look
we lost a few on the way up, but Zoe and I finally made it to the top!
lets just say we got a fantastic workout in, and i might just pick up mountain climbing in the future :)