January 8, 2011

What a Year!

Posted in Community, Travel, Work tagged , , , , , at 10:42 am by Mo Dardinger

The nearly empty shelves of the library near Lima, serving a whole community. My own overstocked bookshelves, serving mostly to collect dust.

The fall this summer that could have killed me. The sorrow this fall that almost did.

Happy, busy Food for the Hungry staff members crowded together, wearing jackets inside in the cold office. Townhouse hallways and rooms at a perfect temperature, spacious rooms, crowded with possessions rather than with people, topsy turvy.

Women whose husbands work far away all day, managing to keep their families going and even make things better for them. My husband nearby all day and taking care of the laundry, the meals, the patio, the vehicles. How blessed they are with courage and resourcefulness. How blessed I am with companionship and prosperity.

The hard-working women who struggle against poverty and disease and often face domestic violence, learning to cope and to thrive. My efforts to put one foot in front of the other and keep going, get more done for work, be a blessing to those I teach, encourage others, start up neighborhood community.

Children dwelling on the steep hillsides. What happens when they are ill or injured? Does anyone there have a stretcher that two adults could carry a child on, down the hill? How far is the nearest doctor?

Dear Maria, eager to tell us more about the communities, about our FH programmes. Our lack of time, the need to hurry back to the technical tasks we mostly went for. So much I’d like to learn from Maria.

The graduation ceremony. The odd sandwiches we were served, dried chicken with minute fries. The sweet, refreshing tea.

Enjoying visits with three sets of friends on four days on our vacation in the Seattle area. Our excitement in seeing one another. Wondering why my happy, chatty girlfriends live so far away.

The school on the hillside. A start. What one begins with when books and desks are hard to come by. The mothers who developed it, so proud, so determined to make a difference, glad to show it off. Trying to see how my job connects to all this and what difference we at the Phoenix office of FH are making.

Sleeping in while the others exercised, trying to get the energy to be useful while sick. A late lunch of chocolate cake and a salty tube of peanuts and raisins, very tasty.

The Lima office on a holiday, deserted, just us geeks doing some last-minute stuff. Hearing the party next door, the first day of Fiestas Patrias. Music, laughter, the things that make life worth living.

Expecting the 400 varieties of potatoes in Peru to be available in all sorts of imaginative dishes. Finding out that Peruvians are just as stupid as Americans in this regard, thinking French fries count as potatoes. Wondering if I’ll ever make it back to continue the spud hunt.

Being watched over on the trip, and at home, and at work by those who want what’s best for me, who want to see me thrive. Feeling very blessed.

Mourning over a closed door, but rejoicing over the opened window now apparent — friendship within a circle of near neighbors. Not many weeks from now perhaps. Closer all the time, as we meet the neighbors, host the parties, pray for the spread of Truth and Mercy into our corner of the world. Trusting in God’s plan. Quite glad that He allows us glimpses of His wonderful plans — and sometimes allows us see just why His answer to our prayers was No.

These are the memories and reflections that jumble together when I think about the year 2010. It’s a mixed bag of hope, joy, sorrow, courage, and fear.

So . . . what was your year like, my blog readers and friends?

August 7, 2010

Welcome Home

Posted in Community, Spiritual Life tagged , , , at 6:33 pm by Mo Dardinger

Eight days ago I arrived in Houston from Lima, Peru. I stood at the line in Customs and Immigration. When the customs officer was satisfied with my documents and my answers, he told me, “Welcome back.” I mumbled my thanks, then trotted off to collect my baggage. “Welcome back.” It’s a nice way to greet citizens and permanent residents of your country. I wasn’t quite ready to kiss the ground, but I had definitely been looking forward to returning to the US and to my husband and friends. And to the comforts of home — air conditioning in practically every residence, business, and automobile (because we live in the desert southwest); safe water from a tap, not just a bottle; vehicles I can drive, and traffic flow that makes sense; being able to converse with everyone I meet, because they all speak English; my heating pad.

My boss was wrong that the two-day extension for some site-seeing and shopping was a mistake, that I would be ready to come home after just the work portion of the trip. I would have missed out on a lot, on many of my favorite moments of the trip. I was glad to stay the extra days. Sorry that we didn’t get to do more site-seeing, sorry I hadn’t brought more cash and exchanged more dollars for soles.

Why was the official Customs greeting, “Welcome back,” I wondered? Why not “Welcome home”? Probably because a lot of people arriving back in the States will have left loved ones behind in Mexico or Peru or wherever. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, fiances, and fiancees. So a greeting of “Welcome home” might sound discordant, might bring up memories of those left behind. Home, after all, is where the heart is.

I have a different home-coming to prepare for. It will be on a much grander scale than getting to tell a few stories at my small group or in Google Wave or over lunch. My true home awaits me. If I work hard, that is. If I stay true. If I don’t abandon my post under fire. If I remain committed to the Lord through the Great Tribulation or whatever else the enemy throws at me. A big IF. Especially given my history of failure to work hard and to stay joyful.

The home-coming ahead will make all the trials here worth facing. More than worth it. Much more than worth it.

While we were in Peru, we saw a part of the hillside community Nueva Jerusalen II. New Jerusalem with streets of dirt? Floors of bare cement? Tin roofs? That little community on the hill is making the best of what they have, using the materials at hand to build homes and community centers. But the real New Jerusalem will feature streets of pure gold, “like transparent glass.”

More importantly, the souls of those who live there will have been swept clean. No dust, no dirt, no filth of any kind will enter the City.

Our flesh that loves to sin will have been removed. Perfected bodies await us. This place of astounding beauty and exuberant joy will be reserved for the righteous, those made clean by the blood of the Lamb of God, those who do deeds in keeping with their status as saints. The offer is open to all, and some few will accept the offer and render obedience.

Someday — if I do my part while I still can — there will be an ear-splitting cry of, “WELCOME HOME” that reverberates throughout heaven. And it will be for me. For insignificant Mo, who can’t even find a lunch partner most days.

The grandest Being in the Universe is making ready already for my arrival. He will not forget me or fail to care about me. He loves me. He will include me in dances and parties, in feasting, in joyous occasions without number.

Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 10:31-33, ESV)

May the Day of Rejoicing hasten, and yet may I have plenty of time to earn the rewards of the heavenly realm, the rewards that will pay off forever. May I become thoroughly faithful. May I reach the “true home” that my heart so longs for.

July 10, 2010

Opening for a Few Good Friends

Posted in Community tagged , , at 9:29 am by Mo Dardinger

To build true community, to grow really close to others, it helps a lot if you live near one another. Then you can take over meals when they need help. And water their lawns when they’re away. And get to know all of their children’s names. And interact regularly, several times each week. I need this, and I want to make it a high priority — right after my next trip.

You can grow close, I think, in your workplace, too. If you work with others three or more days a week and have lots of interaction. But the evenings and weekends at home and in the neighborhood provide the best chance for real friendship and fellowship. Like Randy Frazee says. So I need to get to know my neighbors and become a “team” with some of them. Just a few families will be enough. It doesn’t have to be ten or twenty. That would be overwhelming. Just a few will do.