I’m still smiling.
First off let me preface this by informing you all that I write this with the intention of posting it at a later date (if at all). It has been two weeks since leaving Home and First Lutheran and today I had my installation at the Church in Los Americas. It has been an eventful few days and as I was considering what to write the words were being constructed in Spanish (Even though I could not by any means reconstruct this blog in Spanish it is still encouraging to know that I am beginning to think in Spanish).
There have been a few things I have come to realize in my time here. First; how much this process is like being born again. I am totally and utterly dependent upon the good graces of my team and the kind people who have weathered the same storm I presently weather. Second, I am beginning to form theological concepts of what mercy really is and what it really means to be not just a missionary but a Christian.
Today was quite possibly the most eventful day I have had. It began with breakfast at an all inclusive resort (Tough job, I know). The foundation, or rather those who helped start, form, and support the mission were all in the capitol and had arrived from the states. We held meetings for two days at an inexpensive resort in order to give reports on the workings of the mission. After breakfast everybody packed up and we all went to church. It was really hot today and I sweat a ton throughout the service, it didn’t help that I had the full diakional regalia on.
Okay! Long story short, I got really sick today. I got so hot and cold, achey and nauseous. My head was throbbing all the way home from the capitol city (which was about a three hour drive). My eyes were rolling into the back of my head and I still have this pain in my head. It could be dehydration with heat stroke or something else, all I know is that there were moments today where I was wondering if I was going to start convulsing and foaming at the mouth.
In addition to all this we paid a trip to a mental hospital. This is where it starts to get good; I didn’t know what to expect upon arriving at this place, it was sort of impromptu. The first things I noticed was a younger woman who was wondering around free and obviously was excited to have guests. She didn’t have complete control of her body and she could not speak in coherent sentences. There were a lot of shocking things in this hospital such as grown men and women who had been reduced to laying in cribs and in diapers all day with little to no human contact. There were men who were left naked to roam the hospital. There was a smell similar to what you would smell when you go to the zoo. The place smelled like the beds were saturated in urine and the diapers were full of defecation. I held hands with a woman who would giggle and smile at just the gentle stroke of a hand upon her arm.
All this comes together to make a point; not what a wonderful person I am for coming to the DR to stroke the faces and hold the hands of abandoned children, (Because in all honesty I haven’t done much of that) but to make the point that today I saw what it is all about. In all honesty this realization frightened me a bit. What I mean by that is this; I stated earlier how the whole day I was really sick. These past few weeks I have been worthless. I have had my hand held by faithful members of my team as I go to and from Spanish class. I have been carted from place to place. I have been given a beautiful room, a warm welcome, and an amazing invitation into a team and family I could not have picked myself or been more blessed in. I have been amazingly lavished not in the luxuries and amenities of an all inclusive hotel but in the love of a team who has carried me and said “This is what being a missionary and a Christian is all about.” The patience and love my team has shown me in repeating several times the words I fail to remember, in patiently developing the plans for my future and investing in me to make sure that I can better know and understand the grace and mercy of God.
I found myself after attending the hospital asking myself; “what does this all mean.” I didn’t want to admit what it meant. After visiting that hospital I thought about how the people I encountered there relate to a message and a gospel that we as Christians bear. It dawned on me that were Christ present in this situation, he would make his dwelling among them and invest time, energy, and resources to make that sweet message known. Then I panicked because if you break it down more; Christ is present. He dwells in all of us! His grace and His mercies are shown in and through us. In the way my team cares for me even when I have done nothing to deserve it. Christ is seen in the way my team cared for the people in the hospital today unhindered by the brokeness that surrounded them but diligently pressing forward and thinking “how do we work with this?”
Point is, Christ Lives! He is very real and if you ever think for a moment that you have no part in bearing witness to that then you have been sadly mistaken. We have been amazingly blessed by the father and given to share the wonderful saving news in big and small ways. It is encouraging to see so many signs along the camino that say “Christo Vive” which means “Christ Lives.” It is a message we continually need to return to because it is a present thing! It isn’t stuck in the past. It is happening here! It is happening now! It isn’t just a sweet reminder on the side of the road for drivers. It is a reality that impacts our everyday life. His life is made known and is happening in and among his children.