Tuesday, July 26, 2011

a full, full heart.

It’s been a while since I’ve written and there’s too much by now to catch up on it all. But these past couple weeks have been arguably the best (and the busiest, hence no blog posting) of the summer.

We’ve now had 2 five-day sessions of Vida Joven outreach camp here, and on Thursday, the third and final one starts. It has been incredibly beautiful to bear witness (and even get to contribute to) these camps, seeing Pico Escondido used for what it exists for… after a summer full of encouraging the north american workteams about the importance of this camp property and of how their work enables here enables kids to meet Christ here, it is such a gift to get to see this place in action.

The experience has been  moving in many ways (which I'll comment on in another blogpost sometime soon), but I think most of all I’ve been moved by the tremendous amount of LOVE in this place. It is absolutely mind-blowing and heart-swaying to experience, and I’m not even sure how to describe it. (Well, First of all, God loves us all so much, from the saintliest of preachers to the roughest rebellious teens (he rejoices in the 1 lost sheep! Over the 99 who already followed) and that love itself is rich and fulfilling.)

But perhaps most salient here for me is that the Vida Joven leaders/counselors and staff are some of the most loving people I have ever met. They are filled to the brim, over-flowing with Christ’s love, which they accordingly pour out in the most self-sacrificial ways to the kids of this country. I am so blessed to be around them and have this example of self-emptying love, which looks a whole lot like the way Christ loves us. A lot of these counselors have had their lives transformed by Christ through vida joven and now they cannot help but share this best way of life with the kids of their barrio. They care so much about these teens that they’ll sacrifice so much of their time and energy – both day-to-day and here at camp – to be able to share the hope and joy that they now have in the Lord.

(and with Vida Joven, it’s not about numbers of converts or “saving souls” – it’s about loving kids, and loving them so much as to want them to also get to experience life with the one who gives order to the stars and to our lives. THIS is what sharing the gospel should look like, no doubt about it.)

And not only that, but also, these leaders/staff extend their love to even me. I have been blessed beyond measure to get to become close friends with some of them. I don’t understand how it is possible in such a short amount of time, but I just love them so much. They are so so dear to me and I was already in tears yesterday with the departure from camp of one friend who I won’t get to see again before I leave (someone I’d basically only known for 5 days – but love for brothers and sisters in the family of Christ can grow quickly, I suppose!). Yesterday felt like the beginning of the end of my time here (sorry for the melodrama), because I know that next week, I’ll have many more similar goodbyes to say. Frankly, I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it all. I’m hoping that I can say “hasta luego” (see you later) and not “adios” (goodbye), Lord willing. (More on that idea another time!)

But sadness aside, what’s important is that my heart is so full right now. So full of love, beauty, joy, emotion … and it’s not by my doing in any way, but only by the Lord’s. I feel so full of love from others and of love for this place and these people, that really it can only be contained in God. It’s a Psalm 84 kind of love, a kind of loveliness that is so sweet that only the Lord can contain it.

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
   LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
   for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
   for the living God.
10 Better is one day in your courts
   than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
   than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
- Psalm 84

His love is better than life, and this life (especially right now! :)) is too good for words. My heart is full, and I’m oh so incredibly thankful.

Your prayers have been so impactful and I am so thankful for those too. I pray that you also may experience God’s loveliness in such a way that sweeps you off your feet.

peace and love,


Sunday, July 10, 2011

on resurrection, and life through death.

Recently I read Rob Bell’s Love Wins, which has had me thinking about the theme of resurrection, and dying to live (so i give thanks to this book on the following reflection). But more importantly than the inspiration of that book, I’ve been seeing this theme in my life this summer. And this morning, one of my fellow summer staffers, Grace, was baptized in the natural pool here at Pico as the sun rose, and the pattern of life through death is present on my heart and mind.

It’s amazing, the way this universe works.

Life out of death,
Joy out of pain,
Birth out of endings,
Seed out of the scar.

The rhythm of this universe – God’s rhythm – is such, and this is the fundamental message of the cross:

The death and rise to life of Jesus has inaugurated a new way, a way where
war, and
do not have the final word, but

and love
have the final word.

This summer God is bringing me on this path, this ancient, yet ever-new rhythm of death, in order to live.

There are many things in me (in fact, the all of me as a whole) that need to die. Selfishness, jealousy, self-loathing, self-centeredness… these need to die. The bible talks about this all the time: dying to sin, to self, and living in Christ. This is the story that we are all invited into, the invitation that Christ extends to each one of us.

Death, in order to live.
Brokenness, in order to be reconciled, to be sewed up and made new.
Seed, sprouting in the scar.

God is working in big ways this summer, and I can see it and feel it.

This time in the DR has been hard, harder than expected…it has been a time of death. (But in asking God to break me and restore me this summer, I perhaps should have seen it coming). It has not always been fun, those moments of realizing the ugliness and brokenness within me. Growth is not easy stuff! (Just see when Harry takes skelegrow in HP 2 for a vivid illustration :))

… But what better way could there be to live? (to die?) “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” –Phil. 1:21

"Though death is in the healing, it will heal." - Wendell Berry, The Slip

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. – 2 Corinthians 4:10-12

Behold, I am making all things new!
– Revelation 21:5

Death, death, and more death.
And then life, breaking forth amidst it all.

So may you too hold onto the promise. The stories are true. Bringing joy out of pain, freedom out of bondage, and life out of death, Jesus makes all things new.

grace and peace,


sunrise, frontón, DR // june 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

a joyful place.

this country is so joyful.

today i just wanted to share a photo that I took in La Vega a couple weeks back, and a favorite poem of mine. it often comes to my mind at those moments where the beauty around me takes my breath away. and so i thank God most for this amazing day.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

- e. e. cummings