Saturday, July 29, 2017

Glimpses of Poverty

There are times when get to have glimpses of different life realities. One we may want to ignore is the poverty around us. My first glimpses came while working in Mexico. Seeing the slums there - people living in cardboard boxes on the sides of the hills was heart retching.

Moving forward to Spain years later, I worked alongside of Sisters of India in their soap kitchen. I also spent a lot of time with a group of street kids who had to leave the orphanage when they turned sixteen. Having nothing in lift, they gravitated to others like themselves. There I met Tito, who was now in his mid-twenties. He had nothing but the clothes on his back and spent his days begging on the streets. We would meet and talk while he would eat the sandwiches I brought him. He told me story after story of his life struggle, yet all with such a joyful attitude he met each new day with a hope of good things.

Later in Kenya with my parents, visiting the refugee center which was the focal point where supplies were brought in and later flown in to various cities in Sudan. Kids with nothing but sticks to play with - happy just to have other kids with whom they could play their own version of kick-ball.

Downtown Minneapolis talking to a tall native American who was so drunk he did not know how to get home. Two transgenders we ran in to once the attendant opened the lock so we could use the women's bathroom. The stories and glimpses are still fresh, real.

St Cloud is another place where glimpses happen. Serving in a local fellowship where they had some funds for the poor brought a string of people in seeking aid. We came up with a voucher system so true needs would be what the gifts would go toward. Once in awhile we would also pay an electric bill or helped with their rent. In the midst of this cycle, I met C out on the streets asking for help. I gave her a voucher and hoped it would help her get a meal. Over the months I ran in to her more than once. After awhile she would walk from downtown out to our location, which would take her hours. She was thin enough, giving her vouchers for her next meal, always seemed needed. I learned she has lost everything. We offered to help her recover her ID so she could stay in a shelter. C was resistant to that option. Our help seemed very limited. Over the years we saw her on multiple occasions. Now C is outside of my reach and I am unsure of her current well being. I keep C in my prayers that she will one day find her way to a better life.

In all our communities there are those struggling to make ends meet or to just get through the day. I encourage you all to find a place to plug in and make a difference.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Cross Lake - Arrival in a New World

When you have been up all night in order to get to the destination quickly - you know the drive has been a long one. You stop at a gas station and it no longer looks like home. You enter to pay and you are now the minority. You are getting close. The landscape has changed and bring you reflections of childhood. The road gets worse yet and now the holes are big enough - you better miss them. Dust is going everywhere. The kids in the back seat are watching for bears. You are no longer in Kansas - or rather Minnesota.

Finally finding the entrance to the reservation, we go looking for the right building. Instead we come up on a T in the road and there are big signs about the missing children and some who have been murdered. All young. To young.

We finally have to stop and call. We head to a "gas" station, but not one that looks like the ones back home. We met up with our hosts. The lead us to another part of town and then a dirt driveway. There is a spot on the right to park the camper. Then off to the center of town for the final breakfast of Indian Days. We pull up to what is a very small center of town. One government building and a couple others that could be a bank - maybe a post office? There is a big white tent near the water. We park and bail out of what has been our transport for 18/20 hours. It is a bit of a blur. We join the local celebration and we definitely stand out. We start meeting people as our host - Victoria and Gordon are friends with most everyone. We find a spot and get in line for breakfast. I chat with the people near me and smile at the adorable children. Dogs are roaming the area looking for scraps of food. There is one puppy that is getting a lot of attention.

Breakfast is good. It helps to get some strength of the day. I thank the ladies who have been making the food in big, cast iron looking open type pots. I get introduced to the chief and confirm meeting another day.

Back in our vehicle and back to the camper. We begin to setup when the first phone call comes in. Anna, Pam and I grab a few things and head out to follow Victoria. A grandmother has called because her grandson is in real distress and she is afraid for him. So begins our time here. One young person of many that we will come to know and have opportunity to bring them come encouragement.

The time spent with this young man starts slowly, cautiously on his part. The grandmother arrives and "takes charge" to make sure he lets us come in to talk. The grandmother is a real prayer warrior. Victoria is there helping us to communicate through the moments of difficulty with communication. She also has quite a heart for intercession. We begin and help R find the one he is needing most. He opens his heart and new life begins, but still there is wounding so we start helping him open his heart to The Father. I try to work through listening to him and hearing Papa's next thing for R. I remember bits of my Sozo training and take what feels like awkward steps, but a break through comes as he emotionally shares the loss of his father. More prayer - some in Cree by Victoria - PTL for her! He begins to find hope. We head out hoping we can see him again.

Victoria knows another family very close we should drop in on. We swing by their place and take time meeting them. The woman has been ill, so we spend some time in prayer for her, her husband and family members present.

Wow! It is not even lunchtime yet. Back we go to our "base camp". Camper is up and things are working. There is a meal to prepare, as friends from the local Christian community are coming over before the tent meeting tonight. It is only part of our first day in Cross Lake. So much to take in already, so much fills my heart.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Rose With A Different Name

A nice young lady was waiting on us that evening. I noticed she had a very unusual name. It looked like it should have been two names or at least hyphenated. I was curious and felt a inward impulse to find out more about the story behind her name. She (we will call her Danielrose) told us her tale of how she got stuck with her name because her parents could not decide on one. It was an odd combination of names, but stirred my heart to this young ladies uniqueness. 

I love being connected to the One who is beyond time and cares more deeply about people's lives than my schedule... Still love knowing He can take care of my time schedule too!

In a season of life when regular travel between two cities was a regular part of life, i met a friend at a near freeway restraint. We were meeting to spend a bit of time catching up before I made my journey to the other city.

Danielrose continued to attend us with a charm and attentiveness not typically found. The evening was coming to an end. I began to "check-in" on a deeper level with what my response should be to this unique gal. I told my colleague that I wanted to give Danielrose a rediculous tip. We pulled out all our change and dollars. I t filled my two hands and laughing i went to find her. She was near by finishing up with bussing another table. I began to tell her how she was a unique gem and that though I sensed she felt a bit of a mistake, her name was given to her as much more. We chatted and i told her there was one who care deeply for her, who guides my life. I told her I had heard she needed to know how special she is and gave her our "tip". Tears started to run down Danielrose's cheeks. She began to tell me more of her life and how she was a single mom trying to put herself through college. We talked on and I pointed her toward the One who knew her more than I could ever. I assured her that He would be opening a way for her and thanked her again for her wonderful service and said goodbye.

Little did I know that was not the end to my evening. I headed out, more than an hour later than I had hoped to be. I called ahead to my destination as it was already quite late and very dark. No one answered, so all I could do was hope. I was heading out when my colleague called me to chat a bit more about the evening. I passed a very familiar road sign as I answered the call. Only a couple minutes later I drove through some unusual white cloud like fog that covered most of the road, but not the spot I was traveling in. It happened a few times in a very short period. It cleared and then I passed another very familiar road sign. I gasped and asked my colleague how long we had been talking. They checked their watch and it had been only 10 minutes. I began to calculate when I saw the first road sign and the time lapse in our conversation. I gasped again and told my colleague where I was. She gasped, as I was now only 15 minutes from my destination instead of an hour and 20 minutes out... which is what it should have been.

I love being connected to the One who is beyond time and cares more deeply about people's lives than my schedule... Still love knowing He can take care of my time schedule too!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Reflections from the Heartwood

Here we are - away in the woods. Here seeking the Lord for His heart
& direction for this year. We took time to worship together & have devotions. The harmonies were good, the worship rose up and I was thankful to be part of seeing that the Lord answered incredibly and a piece of last years vision has been realized. The prescense of the Lord was present & our hearts were being touched. We had paused, turned to Him and He met us.

We are worshipping ...but also....encountering the grace of God with us, involved with us. Preparing our hearts for tomorrow and for "a night of rest". We found ourselves taking a moment to reflect on His word - Eph. 3:20-21 is shared. We talk of how to Stand. Strengthen. Serve. We find pieces of scripture touching our hearts. Yet, we pause - breathe and prepare our hearts even more to listen and move forward once again.

Off we go to rest... thankful for the Lord's goodness. Thankful for the friends He gives us. Thankful for the "fellowship"!!!

Spirare Christos - Breathe Christ

Why this? In a moment of defining who we desire to be - it came in a simple phrase, "One who breathes Christ." His essence in, His life in - into the core of who we are - no closed doors, no hidden agenda. Simply one who is connected to the understanding of complete dependence through total abandoned - knowing every breathe comes from Him and is for Him.

Then it is one who after breathing IN - breathes OUT... His life, His essence into the world around them. Who has as a core desire the quest to be "poured out" for Him in service & love to those we touch in our daily lives.

I am one desiring to BREATHE CHRIST moment by moment - to touch the world one life at at time!

Pauses to Be Thankful

Wow! You have one day of fun and find another to stop because of the sorrow one feels. We were home one day and our little dog came out to see me. She all the sudden had a huge seizure which went on for a couple minutes. When it was over she got up and seemed fine. Still - it is just the next phase of her aging. She has been having mini-siezures for sometime now. She falls down lots of times a day, she falls off things - like our bed and we hope she does not hurt herself - once even went down our stairs, which was awful! You stop and have to consider how far to let things go. You cry thinking about the decisions and feel for your parents who have been through it before. Life is hard in these moments! It makes one identify with the fact that "creation" groans for something better. Yet, this is such a small thing in comparison with the suffering that goes on around us. Our neighbor had a friend commit suicide - and you stop and shed a tear for the loss of someone so young. It makes you get on your knees and share your heart with the "Creator". It makes you feel His heart for all that happens and how He longs to make Himself real to each one who cries.

Evening of Pondering

I have spent the last few days on a quest to understand a new trend. It is a trend that young
teenagers are getting in to more these days. It is "cutting". I have been asked why young people would want to do this to themselves, and I have found myself seeking the Lord for answers. I read about the sadness that fills the hearts & lives of young people. I read how it is a "temporary" release to the pent up feelings. I hear how my daughters have fb friends who have tried it or gotten caught in it. Questions fill my heart and I ask, how do we reach out? How does one touch the lives of ones who are hurting? In the midst of these times of soul searching and listening in the quiet for answers, I am reading a book called "Jesus Loves You, this I know" by two guys who have gone beyond the ordinary to show an empty world that there is unconditional love out there. It does not come with a list of does and don'ts or a list of "how to join the club". Rather, they found unconventional ways to go the extra mile. To do the extra-ordinary to touch loves with Jesus' love. I pause and look deep into my own live, my past, my experiences and long for ... those "connecting points" to be one who shares a moment with a stranger, who finds a new friend a long the way, who walks alongside the one who is hurting and lonely... Thoughts... Prayers... Waiting...