2007 reminiscence

from another website a while ago after last year’s trip…

August 26th, 2007 at 08:22:27 AM

…finally…i’ve been meaning to put this up for a while. just some little thoughts and tidbits from my journal about the time in the DR. there’s much much much more in the journal…but it would be too boring and too much to put here…

#1…belonging…i’ve never really easily belonged anywhere…to any one clique, to a sports team, to any one issue. what struck me as incredible during my time in the DR, despite the obvious language and cultural barrier…I felt an easy and natural belonging…I felt at home…though I anticipated feeling overtly conscientious and frustrated about not being able to communicate with people…I found myself at peace…i wonder if it has something to do with growing up in a home where two languages were spoken…always feeling in-between, so to speak, in-between worlds, languages, cultures…so in the DR it didn’t feel strange to be in-between again…and there was something to knowing and trusting God’s Holy Spirit to fill in the huge gaps in linguistic connection…through the language of laughter, sweat, and shared work in the dirt…and feeling a strange and wonderful camaraderie with the people around me…with the children, the women…the older male workers…it was almost too uncomplicated and normal…and in this belonging, I felt more at ease in my own skin…and felt open to the miraculous possibility of God’s movement in any situation and place…the logos, God’s Word, and creative power, and communication…went beyond words and superficial understanding…the power of God’s Word in all levels of communication…
…romans 7:4 – So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.

#2…pile of mangoo…mashed plantains…a delicious dish for lunch one of the first couple of days…I laugh at this thought…God has a tendency to puree me into a very tangible mush…all my defenses, my accomplishments, my sense of self…so that ultimately God can mold me back up into something useful…it was reminiscent of my time at wilderness ranch as a guide…those first two weeks during training…hiking with a 50 lb pack, post hole-ing through 3 feet of snow for hours, feeling the not-so-pleasant effects of Colorado’s 13,000 feet air, and just feeling plain weak and noodle-y…and then, letting go. being pulverized into helplessness and just surrendering…to a God who avails him/herself to us in power by giving us utter salvation and transformation…and then simply being used. praying simply for help for each step of the way. being empty, filled up, and spent all at the same time…it only happens when we embrace being the mangoo we are meant to be in order to be God’s instrument…
galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

#3…concrete block…i’ve already mentioned this what feels like a 1000 times…but i can’t get that image out of my brain…it’s seared onto my memory…i stopped for a moment while trying awkwardly and quite unsuccessfully to shove mud in between concrete blocks as the men laid down blocks like it was breathing…like art…I watched the maestro hector work carefully, with incredible dignity, so familiar with a concrete block…hammering it in a few spots, down the middle all around it, and watched as it magically fell apart into two workable pieces. He took one and fit it in the last spot on a row that needed just half a piece. I want so badly to be that concrete block…to be shaped and broken into something for God’s perfect purpose. to stop struggling, resisting, and trying to do it my way, and to simply be…and made into what God deems necessary for whatever place and context…
…philippians 2 – Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

#4…bucket…the bucket lines were mind-boggling. there are a million analogies to faith that come easily from the images of the bucket lines…the work hand-in-hand with our brothers and sisters…the songs…the play…and the process…but, I continue to go back to the image of the bucket itself…el cubo…the simple reminder to be a container…to be so uninhibited and resist-less so that I am only passed along…filled to the brim (sometimes overflowing with mezcla)…deliberately to a specific place…and poured out to be a part of something unimaginable and glorious…
…2 corinthians 4:7-But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
…Jeremiah 18 – The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

#5…worship…I’ve worshipped and been in magnificent places…though I haven’t been to Europe yet, places like St. Patrick’s Cathedral…Princeton University’s Chapel…even our own sanctuary…so beautiful and inspiring…and then to worship with the Dominicans…in the street in Yaguate…and with the Zumbon church family…in a dimly lit room (that still felt so crazy bright somehow) with rickety benches for pews, stacks of concrete in one corner, a dirt floor…it is in these places…these least expected…spaces…that I encountered God…God’s face…God’s very glory…in the music, dancing, the preaching…no doubt one of the most beautiful places I have ever worshipped in my entire life…
…psalm 84 – …for a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere…

#6…mission…a whole new view on mission…when I was a senior in high school and throughout most of my college years I began to possess some mixed views on short-term missions…something in me became very cynical about the experience…though in high school and college I continued to participate actively in mission trips both locally and abroad…I just couldn’t help feel guilty…about my cushy American lifestyle…and inadequate about the short work done during the mission trips…it never felt enough…and I felt turned off by the sentiments expressed by most others about “how wonderful it was to do the work there,” and “how much the [recipients] gained from the [Americans] dedication and sacrifice,” etc…something about the way people around me talked about it felt…like it diluted these people’s reality…and it felt too self-righteous and arrogant…that being said, somehow these last few years have maybe softened me…something about seminary, marriage, and ministry…liberation theology…it all clicked during these ten days with the Dominicans…not mission-for or mission-to anymore…but mission-with…in Greek, missio…to be sent out…for God’s purpose…not just to work…but to be, live, and receive…
…2 corinthians 5 - All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

#7…youth…not enough time or space to say what I feel about the youth…the Americanos andDominicanos…the spirit…courage…and freedom…the amazing process and transformation…it was like watching flowers unfold and blossom…the slight hesitancy in the beginning…and then the connection…that connection impacting and affecting unbelievable change…so that dancing, running, and laughing become so ordinary and yet, extraordinary…chris running up and down the road pushing a wheel-barrow and like a pied piper hordes of kids in tow…brittany singing songs…emily teaching cheers and dancing…annette and chelsea hardly ever having a moment without two or three children clinging to them laughing and sharing jokes…an example of passion and life.
1 corinthians 4:12 – don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

#8…hospitality…i didn’t realize how many forms it could manifest itself…not just wonderful accommodations…and fantastic food…but conversations…singing…greetings…hugs, kisses, hands…and the angelic feeling in each encounter…and the overwhelming hospitality…goes beyond wordsa holy hospitality…sacred moments…sacramental, life-giving, and encounters that mark me deeply…
…romans 16:16  – greet one another with a holy kiss…

#9…batey…I had no idea what to expect but certainly didn’t expect to encounter that level of poverty…it was jarring…i could hardly make eye contact with some of the older youth without choking up…mezmerized by those who stood back and watched the younger ones dance and sing and throw themselves into the vbs program…because…there was something profound existing in those soulful eyes…a whole universe…though they appeared vacant at first…mere subsistence…there was a flicker…of something more…in those momentary connections…but to try to see what they see in us…i couldn’t help but wonder how vulgar our overtly clean, bright clothes seemed to them (again, the cynicism, a little)…and at the same time, i know and believe that there was somehow, in our bumbling awkward ways, a beacon of light and hope…as we sought to connect with them, and they with us…even in the huge gap in language, perspective, culture…something miraculous can happen in that connection…and now…what to do with their stories…of their humanity, their lives, their dreams…what to do with this knowledge…this first-hand glimpse into this kind of poverty?…

…matthew 5: blessed are the poor in spirit…

#10…pictures…throughout the week we took as many pictures as we possibly could of the experience…and the Dominicans, especially the children were as enthusiastic about the pictures, and becoming photographers, too…i loved their eagerness to be in front of the camera, and their delight in seeing their own images, and then their even more exuberant desire to be behind the camera to help us capture these special moments…and what finally struck me…it was a bit of a sad revelation…that we as Americans have so many images around us…in the media…in music…in sports…all the time, we are inundated and saturated with the emphasis on self-image…how to make, improve, and compete for the perfect self-image…we have camera phones, reflective storefront windows, and mirrors…these Dominican children probably don’t “see” themselves often…and yet, they have a better sense of who they are…Americans…with all our stuff…we still have no idea who we are…and what it means to be human or fully alive…
…1 corinthians 13 – Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

…2 Corinthians 5:14 for Christ’s love compels us…this carried me throughout the week (besides Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi)

more soon…some thoughts on time/pace…community…christian image/appearance/clothes….ecumenicalism…how to stop bashing on the american lifestye all the time (i.e. feeling guilty for american extravagence) and live faithfully in this context…

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