The Immersion

muddied feet were bare
river Crossed on stepping stones 
she waited on me.

My friend Chip just recently returned from a remote village in Haiti.
He and his daughter (and about 17 others) spent a week sleeping on cots in a cinder block building.
Every morning they would pack up and clear the area to make way for their makeshift clinic.

When I was growing up in the Philippines I knew some people that really immersed themselves in the lives of people they wanted to help.
They believed immersion to be a necessary step for helping impoverished areas.
They found it more effective to  first build relationships with a community by living with them and then working side by side to improve a situation.
When Chip described their accommodations in Haiti, I got reminded of this word: immersion.

Chip told me a story about how one hot afternoon he and his group were walking from one village to another, through the heat and harsh terrain.
Not an easy trek, their varied capabilities ambled on a couple of miles.
Tired, thirsty and deliriously sticky they came to a muddy river crossing.
They removed their shoes to cross over.
One of the local villagers walking with them waded into the waters beside the rocks they were on.
Tucking her long flowing skirt into her waist band, she gestured and spoke Creole-French and beckoned each one to her so that she could wash their muddy feet before making it to the other side.
I asked Chip if it was possible to have declined the foot wash? (I was imagining Steve in this situation, wondering what Steve's options would have been.)
Chip said,  "She compelled you."
This woman did her own immersion.
It was such a humbling act of love and service--
As I listened to this story I could not help but think of how symbolic and Christ-like this woman's actions were. (John 13:14)
I was awed.
As they were giving, they were given.
They experienced church,
in the river crossing somewhere in between two remote villages in Haiti.


Sometimes When I Feel like Writing,

I end up reading instead.
I just read this old essay written by someone I knew a lifetime ago.
(Carl and I  worked in the same Refugee camp in the Philippines.  
Carl's son was one of my pre-school students.)
I like how Carl writes.
His essay here:

Coincidentally also today, another former preschooler of mine from that same class shared a video of her dad's work at a refugee camp in Sudan.
The man narrating and shown speaking in this video is David.
I met David over 23 years ago through my sister Karen.
They too also worked at that camp in the Philippines.
David dragged me to introduce me to people encouraged me to apply for the job to be the in-house
pre-school teacher at that refugee camp.
If it were not for David, I would have probably not  ever have met Steve, whom I met at the camp.
But I digress.
David now works with IOM in Sudan.
Watching this video does a few things to me:
1. It makes me grateful for my life today despite the (air quotes) challenges I experience.
2. It makes me admire people that really put themselves out there to help others.  Whether it's near or far.  (Just last week 3 dads I know went on mission trips with their daughters.)
3. It makes me wish that I did something for the world.

Watch the video here

While we are on the subject of doing something for others, my friend Chip told me a story from his mission trip. My next post is about that.


A Bible Verse For Depression:

"Aeneas, Peter said to him, Jesus Christ makes you well, get up and make your bed."
-Acts 9:32
This verse from the Bible,  is becoming a favorite of mine.
It is a very simple yet powerful one that helps me through my sporadic depressive episodes.
Last weekend I had a mild case of it but I somehow prayed and faked my way through it enough to enjoy the weekend with my family and some friends.

I was recently contemplating this particular verse and the verses after it.
Did you know that in the aftermath of Jesus' death and resurrection, that Peter was not only able to heal people in Jesus' name but also raise someone from the dead? (See Acts 9:32-42)
I did not know this.
The only dead raising story I knew of was about Jesus raising Lazarus.

But how did Peter get to have Jesus' power?
I re-read the gospels and stumbled upon an epiphany of sorts.
Jesus predicted that Peter would deny knowing him three times before the cock crows.
Then, as all gospels state, Peter did deny Jesus on three separate occasions.
One might think that Jesus would have been justified in begrudging Peter any power.
But clearly Jesus is forgiving and does not hold a grudge. 

Here in lies the interesting thing: On all three separate denials, the only common person present was Peter.
Meaning, the only reason that Matthew, Mark, Luke or John could even write about Peter's betrayal was by Peter's own admission. <----This is huge!

What does this all mean to me?

It means that our human-ness should not ever deter us from feeling the healing power of God.
But first, we should come clean. (Read James 5:16)
God is a forgiving God.
When we are honest and humble about our weaknesses and our faults we experience the grace and power to get up and make our beds, help not only ourselves but others as well.
I know this.