Thursday, June 17, 2010
The more i look at this picture, the more i love my life.
Even though i wasn't out in the water with them, the enjoyment i received watching their delight from the shore was exceptional. It was a retreat weekend with a visiting rental group, and as per usual, I spent my time with the jewels in the kitchen, friends from Bastion who came to serve the visiting guests from behind the blue ceramic counters. Thankfully, Saturday afternoon, a quick dip in the Pacific was possible before heading back to the kitchen to prepare and serve a favorite Ecuadorian merienda, perhaps before shelling 10 pounds of fresh salt-water shrimp, or peeling 15 pounds of potatoes, i can't remember which. In any case, on this particular weekend, their company made even the hugest pile of dirty dishes a delight, and I felt the significance of what God was doing, very deeply.
Marlene (left), a single mother of 5 from Bastion, is the most gentle, humble servant of a head-cook in the southern hemisphere, i am sure. With now 4 years of experience in our El Faro kitchen, she skins the chickens and rules the roost with great, undeniable love...the Jesus kind.
Rosa (middle), is a local mom, a member of the community of San Vicente - Playas. She is teachable and kind, and with only a third grade education she defends her 3 children, constantly battling the irresponsibility of her drunken husband, a violent neighborhood, and the insecurity of the family's welfare business, the local fishing trade.
And Gema (right), a mere acquaintance prior to this weekend, came along for the ride because the Holy Spirit had made it so clear to me that this particular retreat was His provision for her.
What i learned as i listened to Gema, amazed and humbled me. This 21-year-old mother, now living in the out-skirting squalor of North-end Guayaquil and struggling to cut out an existance for her family -one sick husband and one precious toddler - had herself wandered the downtown city streets as an 8-year-old child. Caring for her siblings and fleeing from an abusive father after months of suffering under his roof, they begged and slept and wandered homeless. Her mother had abandoned them, and they had had no where else to sleep safe, but tucked together against the concrete buildings of the inner city alleyways.
Somehow...and i have no idea by what means (nor do i know the details of her youth and transition into adulthood), God continues to write Gema's story. She played in the waves for an hour with Marlene and Rosa that day, claiming it to be only her 2nd visit to the Pacific EVER. The first of which, she confessed, she couldn't remember.
As i stood on the shore, giggled and took their picture, i felt wonder-struck. God continues to write Marlene's story, and Rosa's story and Gema's too. Each one, a product and reflection of His great many mercies. How mysterious and perfect this orchestration, and what delight for them to share life, laughs, and lessons for a weekend.
And so, the more i look at this picture, the more i love my life. And its because I can see Jesus.
Jesus in Marlene when she quotes God's Word and gives testimony to the strength He has provided her.
Jesus in Rosa when she speaks her questions outloud, and prays for her family with straight-up faith.
And Jesus in Gema, soaking and resting in the love, trust and light of new-found friendship and the Lord's breath-taking creation.
"You are the light of the world." - Jesus.