Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thoughts at the Bottom of the Beanstalk

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jack who was about to climb his very first beanstalk. He had a fresh haircut and a brand-new backpack.

Even though his friends in the neighborhood had climbed this same beanstalk almost every day last year, this was Jack's first day and he was a little nervous. So was his mother.

Early in the morning, she brought him to the foot of the beanstalk. She talked encouragingly to Jack about all the fun he would have that day and how nice his giant would be. She reassured him that she would be back to pick him up at the end of the day. For a moment, they stood together, silently holding hands, gazing up at the beanstalk. To Jack, it seemed much bigger than it had when his mother had pointed it out on the way to the store last week. His mother thought it looked big too. She swallowed.

Jack's mother straightened his shirt one last time, patted his shoulder and smiled down at him. She promised to stay and wave while he started climbing. Jack didn't say a word.

He walked forward, grabbed a low-growing stem and slowly pulled himself up to the first leaf. He balanced there for a moment and then climbed more eagerly to the second leaf, then to the third and soon he vanished into a high tangle of leaves and stems with never a backward glance at his mother.

She stood alone at the bottom of the beanstalk, gazing up at the spot where Jack disappeared. There was no rustle, no movement, no sound to indicate that he was anywhere inside.

"Sometimes," she thought, "it's harder to be he one that waves good-bye than it is to be the one who climbs the beanstalk."

She wondered how Jack would do. Would he miss her? How would he behave? Did his giant understand that little kids sometimes act silly when they felt unsure? She fought down an urge to spring up the stalk after Jack and maybe duck behind a bean to take a peek at how he was doing.

"I'd better not. What if he saw me?" She knew Jack was really old enough to handle this on his own. She reminded herself that, after all this was thought to be an excellent beanstalk and that everyone said his giant was not only kind but had outstanding qualifications.

"It's not so much that I'm worried about him," she thought, rubbing the back of her neck. "It's just that he's growing up and I'm going to miss him."

Jack's mother turned to leave. "Jack's going to have lots of bigger beanstalks to climb in his life," she told herself. "Today's the day he starts practicing for them... And today's the day I start practicing something too: cheering him on and waving good-bye."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Don't tell Tony, but I let someone steal my heart today!

Ahhhhh... God's Amazing Grace.

I am stumped for words....

I saw my God today. I looked into His eyes today as I looked into the the sweet eyes of Claudia. Claudia has no life outside of the twin bed she shares with a plethora of her stuffed animals. Cerebral palsy has stolen her movement. Claudia can not speak. Cerebral palsy has stolen her voice. With no ability to speak, Claudia sang (grunted) of God's Amazing Grace. Claudia was a beautiful depiction of the joy my Savior can give to someone with no hope. Claudia is Jesus.

I saw my God today. I looked into His eyes today as I looked into the spunky eyes of Kevon. Kevon can not speak. Cerebral palsy has seized his voice too. In fact, cerebral palsy has seized nearly every muscle in his body. Cerebral palsy cannot seize his smile. Cerebral palsy can not seize his humor. Cerebral palsy cannot seize his praise! Cerebral palsy may be able to seize this young man, but cerebral palsy cannot touch my Jesus that lives in Kevon!

I saw my God today in the lives of our team members that looked beyond the mang
led mess of adult diapers, slobber and wretchedly twisted bones.

My expectations going into the day could not be farther from reality... nor could the pictures I took depict the power of God's Amazing Grace.

What precious precious precious people! Yes, my heart broke for them and I cry for their situation as I type this. Cerebral palsy has stolen the movement and the ability to speak but their joy will not be silenced!

Of our 15 people on the trip, 8 are returning and had experienced the orphanage last year. Six were unsure of what to expect (myself included) and Derek, our third adult sponsor, is a seasoned veteran with special needs (Derek works for SnugSeat, a company that builds and special fits wheelchairs for disabled children).

God's providence is in no way accidental. Derek was able to measure each person at the orphanage for a special fit wheel chair to be shipped back before the new year!

Oh their joy despite their heartbreaking circumstance!

Oh their gladness despite being bedridden in a hopeless environment.

Oh their sweet spirits!

Oh I fell in love! I fell in love today... Claudia stole my heart. Kevon stole my heart. Jesus stole my heart.

FYI.. Don't call them "kids" here in Antigua!

Uncertain... that is simply how I can put into words what we were walking into.

VBS started this morning and riding to the church, we were just uncertain.

Uncertain if our hard work canvassing the local neighborhoods (and I use that term
"neighborhoods" extremely loosely) would pay off. (It did!)

Uncertain if the kids that offered me my first opportunity to eat "goosenberries" would honor their promise to show up? (I didn't eat...They didn't show. I wonder if there is a correlation?)

Uncertain if what we prepared so hard for would culturally translate? Welllllllll.... After referring to them as "kids" and the appalling look we received nearly immediately, we were told with all the goats on the island, we were basically calling them goats! Oops! Looks like apologies are in order for tomorrow!

VBS nutshell: Day #1 was fun! Although we were uncertain in our expectations, we met the challenge with enthusiasm and had a BLAST playing with the kids. We are all looking forward to VBS Day #2! I am not sure if the strength of my voice will last through the week, but I will go down trying!

After sharing lunch with our new Antiguan friends provided to us by some ladies in the church (Antiguan hot dogs are not quite the same... but the fries were pretty good), we loaded up the vans for Amazing Grace Orphanage.

Uncertain how I will combine the two events (VBS & Amazing Grace Orphanage)...I will close for now and write about AG in a bit...