Wednesday, April 26, 2006

computer works, coworkers surprise, sleep heals

Thanks to an anonymous friend, I now have a laptop to take to Nicaragua. Aleluia! My little Thinkpad is old but refurbished, works very nicely, and has plenty of space for fun things like itunes and picture editing software. So, I spent most of Sunday afternoon and Monday night learning its quirks--which was a time-consuming and sleep-depriving process. I was able to make it through my farewell breakfast at MadHatter's Tuesday with coworkers (who presented me with a lovely card and surprise sendoff gift), but the rest of the day was a real struggle.

By the time I got home, I was about ready to mail it in, but the back room where all my remaining possessions sit demanded my which I willing gave 2 hours, until I was frustrated, sad, hungry, and altogether beyond the pale. I had intended to watch the Spurs game, but I opted for what I anticipated would be a brief nap instead. That "brief nap" ended at about 11:30pm, when I awoke just in time to catch the dramatic finish to Game 2 (a victory!).

No matter how much progress I make on the list of little logistical things I need to do between now and next Tuesday, I continue to feel overwhelmed with the work that remains. Part of me wishes I could have accomplished more last night. But most of me is grateful that the Lord grants sleep to those He loves (Psalm 127:2). Those 3 hours were more than bodily rest, they were emotionally healing.

And His mercies are new every morning. Gloria a Dios!

Monday, April 24, 2006

dental drama

i should have known.
instead of a routine office visit, my trip to the dentist this afternoon involved much pain and suffering (and a numb face).
they say bad things happen in 3's.
so, given my morning (described below), i am hopeful that this was the last unwelcome event of the day.

if every monday started this way...

well, my last week in san antonio is off to an inauspicious start. this morning i attempted to get my one remaining vaccination, but it turned out i was given incorrect information and wasted 30 minutes at a clinic that couldn't really help me. (i realized as i drove off and was driven to tears by the stop and go traffic in olmos park that i may be a tad emotionally unstable right now.)

then, when i arrived at the office and turned on my computer, i received the fatal error message everyone dreads: "primary hard drive 0 failure".

i love mondays.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

a sailor's tale

I write in metaphors to shroud some aspects of my life story in mystery, and perhaps bring other parts into clarity. I write not to judge but to grieve. It is a grievous loss to realize that one has never known someone so close to her.-pjn

Ponder for a moment the sailor lost at sea
Once anchored in a quiet harbor
He set out to catch a dream
Hoping to earn kudos from the ones who gave him life
Yet year after year the destination grows further out of reach
His internal patience bending under the weight of inner strife

North winds of want blow him out to sea
Aimlessly floating in never ending blue
Sunrise and sunset lose their meaning as the sky forgets its hue
A cyclone of confusion bearing down around him
Amid crashing waves of agony his cloudy eyes fill with dread
Abruptly he retreats below deck for safety
Helpless amid his books and menagerie
Denying the mounting cacophony
Invisible to all the world and his family

Waves tumble aboard the ship, drenching every surface in their wake
Yet the slumbering sailor never stirs, oblivious to what is at stake
His dreams are invaded by the biting breeze as he shuts his eyes to more
Than the fragile sails battered and torn lying on the deck outside his door
While his offspring weep in anguish at the loss of so much more
No strength to take the wheel and steer a course aright
No vision to be the lighthouse to guide a child at night
Idle lay his calloused hands, protecting nothing but himself
While his family succombs to tears and misery

What will become of the sailor lost at sea?
His future is uncertain, his heart trapped and alone
O wretched high seas! Please bring him home!

Monday, April 17, 2006

easter joy cometh...

The clouds may endure for a while
Bringing forth their dismal rain;
But then the rainbow appears--
The beauty comes after the pain.

The darkness may come in the evening
With all the terrors of the night,
But then cometh the morning,
Bringing with it the light.

Weeping may endure for the night,
And sorrow may continue for long,
But joy cometh in the morning
Afer the sting is gone.

Joy alone can come from suffering
And courage is born of fear,
Though your path be strewn with evils,
Remember--the light is near.

-D.A. Boskovich

Friday, April 14, 2006

recuerdo la cruz

"What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend, For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end? O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

two new friends

On the left, Soohwan, a Korean woman who works in the Food for the Hungry International office in Thailand. On the right, Marty, a former cross-cultural worker with FH/Peru who now lives in Colorado. Both of them became my close confidants and deep sources of encouragement and support during the last 3 weeks in the DR. (And yes, that is a swingset in the background. Many of the adults--including me--enjoyed that small amenity as much as the children!)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

21 unforgettable days

(L) Me with some of the girls I befriended last week in the FH supported community of Los Botados (DR) during a site visit.

There are some things in this world that cannot be captured in words. Things like the beauty of a sunset, the depth of the ocean, the warmth of an embrace, or the power of a prayer. To this list I must add March 20-April 7th, 2006. Combinations of letters seem totally inadequate to the task of encapsulating the learning, laughter, growth, pain, encouragement, tears, prayers, knowledge, relationships, joy, and profound wisdom shared over the course of the 21 days our learning community spent together in the Dominican Republic.

Thus, I humbly share these 10 brief nuggets of wisdom gained from my experiences over the last 3 weeks, knowing that they are but a shadow of the truth I discovered and emotions I felt in the process of learning.

1. The most important thing people will remember about you is who you are, not what you’ve done.
2. There is a forest in every seed. (Look for the potential in everything.)
3. People matter more than programs.
4. We are messengers of God’s story.
5. The key to sustainable development in any community is the renewal of the mind.
6. Don’t judge your success by transformation, but by faithfulness and obedience.
7. God desires the reconciliation of ALL things (creation, the arts, economics, politics, business, institutions, relationships…)
8. In any given moment, you are either building trust or destroying it.
9. God is interested in nations as much as individuals.
10. Incarnational ministry means identifying, serving, advocating, and witnessing.

May the next 21 days be equally unforgettable.

my training learning community

Monday, April 10, 2006

small graces in hard places

I'm home (at least for the next 3 weeks). The journey back across the sea from the D.R. to the U.S. was not without sadness and frustration, however. As our learning community slowly parted ways in each airport, I felt like I was leaving a part of myself behind with each person who had become so dear to me over the last few weeks. Frantic waves, airblown kisses, shouted expressions of love and blessing, and tight embraces cannot tell the entire story of our abiding care for one another, but they are the fruit of our shared time together in Eco Village, Boca Chica.

By the time I reached Dallas Saturday night, I was more than ready for a pint of friendship and a familiar bed. However, thanks to stormy weather in Philly (don't ask), my flight into DFW was delayed just long enough for me to miss my connecting flight (the last of the night) back to SA. Standing tearfully at the airline counter--all the emotion of the day finally taking its toll--I was rebooked on an early flight Sunday morning. As I turned around to go find a cot and a blanket, a tall blond woman approached me and asked if I was planning to sleep in the airport that night--and if I was, could we stick together ("there's safety in numbers, right?" she said). Not having any other bright ideas and definitely not wanting to be alone, I agreed.

It turned out that my new friend Jen was from CA, on her way to Honduras, where she had taught for 3 years and was now returning for a visit. We quickly discovered we had quite a bit in common--including a mutual interest in U2, the ONE campaign, and Latin America. After sharing with her my own plans to move to Nicaragua next month and work with FH, she asked if I was a Christian. I told her I was, and the next words out of her mouth were, "Wow, me too! I was just praying that God would send me someone to spend the night with you are an answered prayer!"

She was an answered prayer too. Even though the airport was freezing, and I only got about 2 hours of sleep in an internet cafe chair, God sent me an angel, a kindred spirit, a listening ear, a touch of warmth, and a little bit of grace in a hard place.

Gloria a Dios. It's good to be home.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

an emotional week 2

One of our training facilitators here said that Wednesday and Thursday of this past week would be the "hump days" of our time down here in the DR, and indeed they were. After 3 days of discussion of the nature of change, and community development principles and methods, our (already fried) brains were finally put into application mode. We were given an exercise designed to make us think about how to create a 10 year development plan for a typical (hypothetical) community with a host of issues--sanitation, education, spiritual, health, etc. Needless to say, the task was overwhelming, and the weight of the emotional and intellectual effort required to complete it took quite a toll on me. I found myself thinking of every poor community I had ever worked in, and the real people in those places that I know and love. This led to a small emotional breakdown, as I could not separate the intellectual aspects of the exercise from the realities that I know exist in the world. I was grateful to have supportive and prayerful friends surrounding me to affirm me during that difficult time, and help me process how this reaction to the assignment may relate to what I will face in my upcoming work in Nicaragua.

I also want to share honestly that as April begins today and I see my May 2nd departure closing in, I can say with confidence that my grieving process has begun. Yes, I am excited and eager to begin the work God has called me to in Nicaragua, but I have begun to face the realities of leaving many familiar things and people, and that reflection has led to some grief and sadness in my heart. I hope that you will join me in prayer for this aspect of my journey, that God would walk alongside me, teaching and growing and comforting me through it.