July 21, 2012

In Memory of Betsy

Posted in Friends, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:11 pm by Mo Dardinger

Her birthday would have been in about 6 weeks. But we never shared birthday celebrations. We shared Thanksgiving Day once, before her sister moved to town.

We both liked to think and to talk about spiritual topics. We didn’t talk much to one another about them, though. She’d share a video from time to time or tell us what she’d heard taught at the latest prayer conference. But we didn’t discuss and debate our differences. I wish we had. Not that being right matters. It’s the truth that matters. It matters desperately.

She came to my classes — our classes, the ones that Dave and I co-taught. She supported me in my fledgling efforts at teaching, at making the difference I’m called to make.

She made a difference. She prayed and taught others to pray. She worked to see our congregation make a positive impact at home and around the world. She will have our prayer room named after her, a fitting tribute.

I miss you, my friend. And I look forward to seeing you again. Someday. Selfishly, I hope not soon. But when I have finished my course, as you have already (so young) finished yours.

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?

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.

May 13, 2010

Those Were the Days, My Friend: Lingering in the Antechamber to Joy

Posted in Spiritual Life tagged , , at 8:56 pm by Mo Dardinger

One of the songs that I liked back when was a song about “the good old days.” I was too young at the time to have shared the experience elucidated in the verses, but I liked it all the same. It rang true. It told the tale of a group of friends who were sure, as young adults, that the good times they shared together would never end: “We’d sing and dance forever and a day.” They also experienced (and expected to go on experiencing) victory of some sort: “We’d fight and never lose,” the line went.

This song always drew for me a mental picture. Friends gathered in a wood-paneled restaurant or bar. They chatted, joked good-naturedly, lavished their free time on one another. I craved that depth of friendship and fellowship. But I always saw myself as on the outside of the good times, as someone on the other side of the window, out in the street, gazing in longingly.

Then one Sunday morning our worship leader (who was also our senior pastor) heard a word for someone in the congregation. A word from the Lord. (This happens a lot in charismatic congregations, but not so much in the more staid churches that I’ve belonged to since then.) It was something about a wagon wheel and being on the outside looking in. It reminded me of the song, but that’s all. It took my friend Karen to point out to me (after the service had ended) that this was an image I had of myself, and that I should go “claim” the word.

So we approached my pastor, and he and Karen prayed for me. As they prayed, an image came to me. This rare occurrence is what believers usually call “a vision,” as in “your old men will dream dreams, and your young men see visions” (Joel 2:28). The image was of being in the gathering place, enjoying the fellowship of friends. Then the curtain across the back doorway moved aside to reveal a gigantic meeting place, a large auditorium. It was brightly lit, especially in the center. Concentric circles of worshipers joyfully adored the Being in the center.

This was where I belonged. This was what I should have longed for, in addition to friendship. This was true friendship, true fellowship, with all eyes fixed upon the Most Lovely, the One who dwarfs all others, the One who loves incomparably better than the best of us.

“You and I were made to worship,” another song I like proclaims. That truth was brought home to me through this vision. I had been longing for mere earthly friendship. True joy was offered to me (and to all who will come and join in).

Our relationships with our husbands, wives, co-workers, friends — they’re great, sometimes. But they’re out of kilter if worship of the true and living God is not the center of our lives.

The happy gathering place with chattering buddies has its place in our lives. (Grieving with those have suffered loss has its place, too, certainly.) But we must remember that human fellowship is merely the anteroom to heaven, not the main event. The Lord’s love draws us in to a delight that surpasses our happy, youthful, zestful moments. The worshipers in the circle of light enjoy one another’s company, but they don’t make that particular enjoyment their chief aim. They delight in the Lord’s infinite goodness. Other joys are appreciated, received with gratitude from our heavenly suitor, but not sought as the purpose or goal.

Since the day of the vision, I have often lingering on the outside looking in. And I have sometimes participated in true friendship. But we are offered a much greater joy, and I plan to cling to this vision and pursue that joy. I have lingered too long in the antechamber to joy.