Rosarito, Day 2

Slept great, & woke up just before my alarm. Because we’re staying at a children’s home, they get first dibs on the kitchen for breakfast prep/clean up. This means we get the kitchen around 8-8:30 & prep breakfast. We’re trying to take turns making breakfast/cleaning up so that everyone gets to experience the joy of washing dirty dishes. There’s nothing like it.

After breakfast, most of the team was charged with engaging with the special needs children. Very cool to see how many of the little ones have changed, grown, developed, & gained areas of function. The year between our visits really displays the significance of a place like “Catherine’s Home” to help those who society has abandoned or given up on, & invested time, energy, & the love of God.

The boys were tasked with painting a clear-coat wood sealer over a mural in the kids main play room. While the kids were playing in it. We were given rollers & a paint tray, & pointed in the ‘right direction.” And did I mention that the clear-coat sealer came with explicit instructions NOT to apply the sealer with a roller? Or NOT to apply it indoors? Well, that was fun. It made my brain feel silly, as did watching the rest of the team attempt to “lasso the wind” as every mobile kid in the place tried to make a run for it, hoping to bathe their little hands & faces in the toxic goo we were applying to the walls.

And then we ran out of sealer, 1/2 way through. So, Tony Mac & I did what anyone would have done in our places. We jumped in the van, with Daniel the Man, & went looking for “the Home Depot” we’d seen when we came in yesterday. Found it too. Boom!

Turns out, they didn’t have any toxic goo similar to what we’d used, & after attempting to translate into Spanish what we wanted, we were handed off to the English language Paint specialist, Eduordo.

ED: why do you want clear coat wood sealer? Are you painting wood?
ME: Nope. Drywall.
ED: So you want a drywall sealer? We have that. It comes in white.
ME: Nope. We want a clear coat wood sealer.
ED: But you’re not painting wood.
ME: Nope.
ED: How about concrete sealer? You want that?
ME: Nope. We need the wood sealer. I know it doesn’t make sense, but we want the toxic goo we put up to be the same kind of goo we already used.
ED: Sorry. We don’t have it.

It was an adventure. We bought ourselves a celebratory Coke Zero, & went home.

Most of our afternoon was spent walking a dirt road neighborhood that could only be accessed by helicopter. Not really, I made that up. It simply required that we drive the van up sheer, boulder laden cliff-like roads at great risk to our personal safety. I dubbed them “the Cliffs of Insanity.”

Not really, but it was steep & rocky. Our team talked to many kids. I was lagging in the back, & was tapped on the shoulder by a 60ish man named Augustine. He knew gangsta-rap English (all the swear words too) & we were able to communicate very well. He walked with me for about 10 minutes, & then told me he needed to stop & head home because his back hurt. Because he was old. So I asked if I could pray for him, & did, in broken Spanish & Spanglish.

He burst into tears near the end of the prayer – & gangsta-Spanglish spilled out as he thanked me & our group for coming to his “god-forsaken barrio, a place of hopelessness.” Then he thanked me for having a real conversation with him, & treating him like a person, a real person. Because he is a worthless alcoholic, deported 30 years ago, who lost his wife & kids in the deportation. And now his only meaning in life comes from giving pesos to little kids so they don’t starve. And losing himself in the bottle. He thanked me again, & headed wobbily down the street. I wept.

TheWeez was called upon to give the message at the outreach – she had the crowd of mostly U12’s waiting on her every word. She started her talk with a chant, “UH – LEESE! UH – LEESE! UH – LEESE! UH – LEESE!” The crowd went wild. She told them how Jesus delivered her from bad-dreams when she was a little girl, how she had been taught to call on the Name of Jesus when she was afraid or in a time of need.

Off to the side, I wept.

Turns out, when we were on our paint run, we missed most of morning dance rehearsal. Yes. Dance rehearsal. For our outreach this afternoon. Missing rehearsal doesn’t mean you miss the performance. It just means you get to shake it like there are no repercussions for doing so. And we did. Tony Mac, Daniel the Man, & I. Booyah!

We got back to the children’s home, had dinner & cleaned up. We’re heading to a debrief (let’s talk about the day) in 10 minutes. Then, it is sleepy time. Tomorrow, we’re heading back up the Cliffs of Insanity to do some work at the Joseph House, Hope Chapel Rosarito’s outreach to deportees.

Good night. Thanks for praying.

on the way to prayer…

Every big city has beggars. The sheer numbers of people making their way to and through the city center provide a steady opportunity for the sick, lame, & down on their luck, to eke out a living begging, albeit always dependent on the benevolence of others.

Jerusalem was no exception. Acts 3 tells the story of one man, lame from birth, that every day was carried to the “Beautiful Gate” of the Temple in the early afternoon in order to catch the crowds coming & going from the Temple at the hour of prayer (3 p.m.). He’d been there every day of his life, which means that he was ‘known’ and recognized; not by name most likely, but as “the lame guy at the Beautiful Gate.”

Unnamed in Acts, the lame man was anonymous; most likely, passerby didn’t stop to talk & interact to see how he was. If his situation was like that of the beggars I have seen & observed, people rushed by him, avoided eye contact, hoped to miss all interaction with him & to just sneak by without having to give alms.

And somewhere along the way, the lame man had learned to just look out at the world, at everything & nothing, to avoid even a little of the dehumanizing experience his helpless begging had reduced him to.

Until Peter & John came by… & stopped. Peter said, “Look at us.” He made eye contact. He addressed him directily. He wasn’t speaking to a beggar; he was addressing a man, a fellow Israelite, an equal. And he healed him in Jesus’ Name.

I love the picture of this guy being so excited at being able to walk that he is literally JUMPING for joy, praising God at the top of his lungs because he has experienced a touch from God that changed his life forever.

And he experienced a connection with another person, who tangibly showed the love of God by taking the time to listen to the Holy Spirit, & to respond to what the Spirit said.

black-eyed Sceva, the Name, being known, & other musings…

Acts 19 tells of Paul’s life investment in Ephesus, where he spent the better part of 3 years of making tents and disciples. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the revealed power of God significantly transformed the spiritual climate of the city. Extraordinary miracles, healings, and deliverance grabbed the attention of a culture that was intimately familiar with idolatry, magic and very real spiritual power.

It was a common practice for 1st century Ephesians to collect all sorts of magical paraphernalia: amulets, charms, spells, and most significantly the ‘powerful names’ of protective spirits in order to manipulate, attempt to control, and garner protection from an unpredictable spirit world. There was no relationship needed with these spirits or forces, as it was believed that merely knowing the name of a powerful spirit/force was thought to provide authority and power over it and what it controlled. (BTW: a great resource on 1st century Ephesus is: “Power & Magic: the Concept of Power in Ephesians” by Clinton Arnold.)

In Acts 19, two things jump out at me:

1. The power of the Holy Spirit, (and of the Name of Jesus,) revealed through the lives of Paul and the other believers, stands as a testimony to impacted by them; so much so, that the seven sons of Sceva, a group of traveling exorcists, tried to ‘claim’ the Name of Jesus as a part of their deliverance ministry. Something happened all right. Through the man they were attempting to bring freedom to, the evil spirit said, “Jesus I know. Paul I recognize. But who are you?” Then, the man proceeded to beat them, leaving them naked & wounded. And the Name of the LORD Jesus was extolled, lifted up, and the believers were highly esteemed.

The most important thing is our relationship with Christ; knowing (& being known by Him) is what matters, not merely invoking His Name like a magic phrase. It’s radically different than a collection of spells or power to be wielded; it involves a committed and submitted life, involved a submitted life devoted to Christ.

2. As a result, (& what I believe was the conviction of the Holy Spirit) many believers came forward to repent – to turn from sin, & turn towards Christ. This involved not only committing themselves to an obedient relationship with Christ, but also renouncing old habits and old ways of living. The Ephesian believers brought the physical, material symbols of this old life – all of the books, charms, amulets, spells, and written materials used in the practice of the magic arts – and burned them. The value of the burned items was several million dollars in today’s economy, and signified that there was no going back to the old ways. These believers in Christ, people who had ‘hedged’ their bets and “covered their bases” using magic, were now determined to depend solely upon the power of the Holy Spirit in their relationship with God

In reflection, I’m asking the LORD to reveal to me anything that I’m leaning on instead of Him – any superstitions, fears, or rituals of culture that could seem so normal, but that actually get in the way of an obedient and submitted life. I want to live filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, strengthened and protected for whatever God may bring my way.