Wednesday, August 17, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (18) Gringos In The Mist

We don't yet see things clearly. 
We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. 
But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! 
We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, 
knowing him directly just as he knows us!

 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: 

Trust steadily in God, 
hope unswervingly, 
love extravagantly. 
And the best of the three is love.
The Message (MSG) 1 Corinthians 13:12 & 13
My grandfather came over today and for the first time I presented Catalyst and Mimi's House directly to individuals. Pop and Mammaw sat on either side of me as I showed them pictures and video of our trip to Cerro Alto and poured out my heart telling the stories of the families we encountered. 
I spoke of the mother who turned the key in the lock at the end of the week and led her 5 children through the doorway. As my eyes were drawn to the emotion on her face, my peripheral vision also swept across the hillside that collapsed and took the life of her son a mere 6 months ago. The window of her new home overlooked the landscape that swallowed a part of her dreams.
I spoke of the mother of 5 who now sleeps in a new home absent her husband, who abandoned them to chase phantoms that stole his soul and robbed them all of the treasure of family. I told them how I felt when I saw the hope of new beginnings light the eyes of her children. I know they can feel safe once again.
I described the moments of true worship when a handful of gringos sang songs of thanks and hope to a crowd gathered at the dedication of the homes. How the message of Christ was preached so that they could know that the provision was because of the love of God to us all. Many of them heard this message for the first time. And we will tell them again and again.

I showed them pictures of the home that our team built a year ago and told them of our visit back to that place last week. I told them the incredible story of Luis, the little boy who helped us with translation and construction last year. This year we encountered not Luis the boy, but Luis the young man who now helps Catalyst build homes for others, has achieved top grades, and pursues a college education in the United States.

And, I told them of the two families that are waiting for a white truck and a gray Suburban to crest the top of the mountain carrying the lumber and flesh that would give each of them a safe place to dream at night. These stories include a husband who struggles to provide for his wife and children as he copes with the recent loss of his arm. It is impossible to find work when you are maimed. The story of the other family was heartbreaking as well. Another family that pushes against the odds and tries to do what is right in the face of insurmountable reality.
We shared tension in our voices and cumulonimbus eyes as I we drew parallels between the people in Guatemala and the memories of his childhood 80 years ago in rural Tennessee. When I spoke of the spirit and love of the people that shined in the face of poverty and struggle like a candle in the darkness, he related to me stories of our family from decades past.
We spoke now in harmony of parallel experiences that had crossed the boundary of time to form a symphony of understanding across generations and culture. I felt the moment when his soul was stirred. This was the first time I had been able to verbally convey what I experienced in Guatemala to someone who wasn't there. And, it was the first time I really understood the man who is my Pop.
We are not all so different.
He expressed to me a desire to contribute at this point in his life in a meaningful way, to an organization that would guard the donation the integrity to see that it reached the people and made a difference. I assured him that I would see it every step of the way, and explained that 100% of the project money goes to the project.
He referred me to the scripture above, and we discussed how doing good things is not enough... in fact, it is simply a waste. What matters is whether or not we are able to love extravagantly. 
You see, when you allow yourself to love, the action takes on deep meaning, and changes the essence of who you are. When you take a risk and hold a hand and look into the eyes into the reality and emotion of another person... you walk away transformed. It is about seeing people the way God sees them, and seeing the reflection in their eyes of your own simple truths.
I am desperate to see clearly, but also know that it is not necessary. It is enough that I trust steadily, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly.

Today I was able to secure a week of vacation for the November trip. And with the help of 3 people this evening who were the provision of God through the mist, I know that He will be faithful to provide me with the ability to purchase that plane ticket. 

I am so grateful for the experience of sharing this encounter with the people I love. My family now reaches across hemispheres.

I am a Gringo in the mist.

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