Great News! My College Bible Study has been approved. So for all you college students out there, from 7-9pm on Thursday nights, come to the lobby of Calvary Chapel Chico and bring your Bibles. We are going to dig in and discuss the Gospel of Mark. God's going to talk. Come ready to listen and kiss your old life good-bye. you are a new creation and there's no going back!
I haven't updated my blog in a while, and someone let me know today.. or yesterday since it is past midnight... but anyway, I got home from church, heated up some frozen mini-pizza, and watched Swing Vote with a Kevin Cosner who swears a lot and a little girl who took care of her dead beat dad. It was an unhappy movie. It starts out with him being drunk and this little girl taking care of him. The girl did a great job playing the (maybe 9 year old) daughter and I was appalled at the amount of swearing they can get away with in a PG-13 movie with a kid in a lead role. I'm sure if they cut out the swearing, it would be down to a PG or G. There wasn't anything else bad in it... except bad parenting and bad acting... but I don't think they give higher ratings to bad acting... Anyway, the movie is about a neck and neck presidential election that comes down to one vote... that's right, Kevin's. the way they pulled that one off can pass for believable. So the movie is about these two presidential candidates (one is the incumbent) trying to win over his vote. They change platforms and say whatever they can to get his vote and throw parties and get celebrities and everything. Unfortunately, it got me thinking about what I don't like about our political system.
Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy living in America and I know that we don't have a perfect society, but it grosses me out how politicians spend millions and millions on elections and throw huge parties when our economy is in shambles and people are living on the street. When hard working people are jobless and shamed, politicians are taking six months off from running the country so they can spend millions of dollars campaigning. Do presidents really have in interest in bettering our country? Or are they just interested in the next four years?
Life isn't easy. But what makes it harder is watching people waste what they have on what is temporary. Most of the politicians in the US will claim to be Christian. Our current president makes that claim. Being a Christian means that we follow Christ. While I can't answer for those in power, for the people who represent me to the world, I can answer for me. I do follow Christ, and He is my representative to the Father. I would vote for Jesus.
But it got me thinking... if it were up to you to choose who would be the next president, how would you decide? You only have two candidates and they want to please you. They are politicians through to the core, and you had to choose. The world is watching. The media camps outside your trailer... or house. What would you have them do? What would you ask them? Would you believe anything they promised you? I'm curious. Let me know in a comment.
No one ever comes back the same after a Mission's Trip. Not even a short one. It's exhausting. You are physically and emotionally spent, but spent for God. You've seen people in their spiritual and physical poverty. You give them stuff for now and the Gospel for Eternity. You say Adios and hope that they keep the faith. Hope that they read their book and find the church you spoke of. It's a feeling that I've done all I could do, but it didn't seem like enough. I don't want to give the impression that what we did wasn't a good thing. It was, but I feel like we only did a part, and that's true too. We threw the seed. Some of it bounced and some of it was accepted. The problem in my mind is that I wasn't there long enough to watch it to see what happened. I know that I was never supposed to be there for longer, but there just seems that there is so much work to be done in Mexico. So I get back to Chico, where people don't build their houses out of pallets, where people don't live in fear of being killed on their way to the market, where armed soldiers don't stand every few blocks away, and things just don't seem as colorful (of course it's gloomy and raining too) and the food, although much better than in Mexico, doesn't taste as flavorful as it once did. The sense of purpose has drained a bit. When I was in Mexico, every minute of my day was planned by someone else. I gave over my freedom and surrendered to be another's slave to their schedule to further the Gospel of Christ. I worked without question or complaint because I believe that we were working for a greater good, and it was work the sweat and tears.
What is going on in Juarez is a good work. Amigo Fiel is representing Christ to that city and the city is responding with thanks. The city provided us with a bus to ride around in. They give facilities and land to Amigo Fiel hoping that Amigo Fiel will use it to benefit the city, which they will, but also to spread the Gospel of Christ. We went downtown once to do an outreach, and there was a crowd watching a couple of clowns. Pastor Carlos went to talk to the clowns and they allowed us to commandeer their sound system to give the gospel, and twenty or more people came to know Christ. It was wonderful. I played soccer with a kid named Javier, who wouldn't let go of the ball afterwards. I sat in Sunday school with a little girl named Zelma, and the only way I could figure out her name was that I wrote mine on my paper and asked her to write hers on hers. Five days was too short. The 2,000 kids we saw weren't enough. I wanted to stay an extra week, to reach even more, but my time was up.
The feeling that I felt when I get back must be something like a soldier going home after some time in the service. Everything is familiar again, but somehow seems foreign. Friends are how you remember them, yet you're a different person now. People think you're the same person you've always been, but you're not. There's something different, like the hobbits after they're returned from their journey. You've seen things that have opened your eyes to people you've never met, and even in our poverty in the US, there's hope and a choice. There are shelters and government programs so that if someone doesn't want to live on the streets, he or she doesn't have to. They may have to give up alcohol and follow someone else's rules, but that is a viable option. But it's not just the poverty. Maybe it is the look in the eyes that want something that you have. They hold out their hands expecting you to give them more than a smile. You give them the gospel, and they say yes, maybe because they mean it, or maybe because they see a gift in your hands and know it's for them. Something they didn't have to work for, that they've earned by lying on park benches and sleeping under bridges. You look around and think that the people in your country have no idea of what they even have and and are not grateful of what they know. On the trip, you had a mission and a purpose to fight this poverty of spirit, but here it's just the norm. It would be like a soldier going across the sea to fight terrorism and represent the government and come home to see their grandparents have their house repossessed because they can't pay the housing tax, even though the house has been paid off for years. You feel as if we need a mission's team here, working with these people from a benefactor outside the US that seems to have more answers and resources than we have.
The bottom line is this: The norm that was fine before I left is no longer good enough. But I don't know how to work harder, run faster, and strive more for the Gospel of Christ than I have already been. I don't have the wonderful support of 35 other team members who encourage and run alongside you all day long. I come home to a sleeping dog and a foodless fridge. Someone said I looked sad, but not really sad, once I got back from Mexico. And I was a bit, but didn't realize it. What saddens me now is the first response to these feelings is to do something, anything, but I'm so tired. And giving into sleep, the following feeling is apathy. I can't do it, so I shouldn't really try. Is there a middle ground that I can obtain? Is there a way that I can be the missionary to Chico that I was to Mexico? Can I work that hard with little sleep and food and no time to myself except for the last few exhausted thoughts on my way to sleep?
It was a good trip. Many people cam back with a lot of stories and we all had a lot of fun. I just came back with more questions, the biggest being, "What now?"
I'm lazy. I want to write more. I would like to update this blog daily, so if you want to help me out, here's what you can do. If you read this blog, and notice that it hasn't been updated yesterday (chances are that I didn't get to it today yet), and you see me, pinch me. That should be a good reminder to update. Thanks.