Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Words cannot describe what was running through my heart at a school in a lonely town in Takoradi, Ghana a few hours ago. I was on a team of around 8 that were to go to a school for special needs children. I won’t lie, I have been struggling mightily as of late with a lot of issues, mainly of my own heart, and I wasn’t really ready to go to this special education school, but it was certainly ready for us. When we pulled in to the compound, one of the kids was running with the bus screaming in excitement. As we walked out a few of the brave souls came to shake our hands and try to get the football (soccer ball) we had. The sheer delight of seeing new faces that were coming for them was exhilarating, and it broke my heart then as it does as I recollect our story. I held back the tears of sorrow and pity because I wanted them to know that I felt no better than them.

So we did our program for the kids, and they ate it up. I honestly don’t know how well they understood the symbolism of the play, or the literal lyrics of the songs we sang, or if they’ll ever be able to read the booklet we handed out, but I can truly say that they loved us. Maybe it was because of how we made them feel, or maybe it is because the world is innocent to their eyes, but I’ll get to the philosophic part later. After the program, we just spent time with these kids, these people. They were severely special needs, and I usually don’t know how to act around them, until I realized a beautiful truth about their simplicity: they love whether or not you are cool, regardless of what you look like, and in spite of how selfish you can be. So I spent my time hugging them (my way of showing love), playing soccer, and dancing with the kids. As we started to leave, the tears of shame and pity again welled up in my heart as it was broken again, but not just because they have been dealt an unfair hand in life, but because these people that are made fun of and ridiculed have so much more love in their heart than I can dream of, especially lately.

I don’t think I could ever explain to them that I do care for them, not because I have to, but because they are so beautiful. I have never seen real love so genuine and quick, yet real. It is a shame that people prey on their mental inadequacy and miss out on the lesson to be learned from these people. They don’t know a thing about you, but if you make yourself available, many will love you. Love is tossed around in a lot of shallow and humiliating ways today, but I feel like these people, who survive on mere instinct, know what it actually is. They don’t have to understand the why of things as many of us do, they don’t have to know motivation; no, they just need to know you are there. Indeed, the discarded people of this world understand a piece of the meaning of joy, and the basic fundamental that our salvation has been built on. These lovely people taught me more by existing than they ever could have if they could quote any book. Love is so simple, yet so hard for us to do, but not for them.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tunnel Vision

Two years is a long time from many life perspectives. I have now been away from a life at home for one month short of two years. The same paradox that is involved with time often is in play here; it feels like I have been away for ages upon ages, yet it feels to have gone by so fast that I can barely keep up with the memories. My years on board have been a huge blessing to my spiritual life-maybe even the birth of a deep relationship with my creator-but I have been known to possess a very bad case of tunnel vision throughout my life. In High School, my senior year was a year of academic apathy and discord. The last months of that year (in which I had only 5 classes, 3 being gym related classes) were full of figuring out ways of not getting in trouble and being with my friends: I barely picked up a book that whole year.

Now, 5 years after graduating High School, the same feeling of readiness, even eagerness and need, for change occupy a large part of my living consciousness. As I have said before, the Ship has helped save me from a live of potential immorality, and I feel I owe a huge debt to it for that, but I am ready to finish. The ministry here is certainly unique, and I fear I don’t exactly fit the mold of what they want, nor am I willing to conform into anything but what I am. The ship is amazing in the fact that it can isolate people by bringing them on board something very few get a chance to experience, into a seriously Christian environment. People on board take Christ seriously-although the weakness can be glaring at times, especially in my own life- and many people don’t get to see any form of truly authentic relationship with Christ. When one comes here, they have a good chance of being engaged by an evangelist, of which is almost never me. That is where I don’t generally fit in well, not only because I lack the social confidence that many here display, but also because I refuse to accept that the gospel can be displayed fully through sales pitches, phrases, catchy tracts, or anything of that sort of matter; it needs a relationship to be completely relevant. This is said not in an offensive stance toward evangelical tactics and practices, but as a cause for reflection. Sometimes, evangelism can be shallow and not actually loving (often the “brimstone and fire” approach stirs these feelings most), but as Paul said, it only matters that the gospel is preached, even when selfish intentions are used, as long as it is true. I fail to let myself be vulnerable, and have respect for those who can initiate relationship quickly, as I tend to take time to let my heart be opened (ask Tawny).

The conclusion I aim for is to convey that I am ready to leave the place I have called home the past two years: I am ready for what is next. The reasons for this can be simplified by saying that I am not a people-person in a place that is full of people. Everywhere you go, anything you do, you can’t get away from people for long. This state of affair is severely draining on my mental life. In fact, I feel like I would like to be alone for a while year, even though I know I would eventually get lonely; well, maybe. Apart from that, I have a relatively clear idea of where I would like go to, which involves attempting to write, learning to draw, getting a job, and heading to Nepal in September 2011. That is what I would like, but where God will send me I have no idea, which I am perfectly fine with. Please pray for strength to endure this mentally trying time, and to learn whatever lesson God is presenting me with.