I got almost no sleep last night. Between listening to the voices outside my window (and in my head?) and the anticipation of crossing into Mexico there wasn’t much rest. About 5:30 a.m. I hear “Dave, are you up?” My buddy Mitch and I knew neither of us would sleep so we agreed to get up early and take a hike. Of we go…..
Some of the highlights of the hike – Lush green colors, palm trees, ocean views, a sculpture of Jesus calling Peter, a baseball field on the ocean, trails/crevasses that lead to the beach, surfers, ocean “flies”, watching the surf, exploring a “homeless” cave, the smell of the ocean, a mountain bike path……..time, space, and conversation. Among the beauty we also see lots of trash, garbage, and a porn magazine……..a mix of beauty and ugliness that reminds me of our nature of being cracked Eikons.
The day begins as we return to the dorms – getting everyone up, the last real shower for awhile, walking to breakfast, packing up the vans, cleaning the rooms, getting footballs off of the roofs (twice!) and then gathering for worship.
Worship – in an outdoor amphitheater, with a community I love, and I feel alone. We took time to write down what our expectations for the coming days were. I am at a loss really – I put down generic stuff – to see God working, building of relationships, blah, blah, blah…..i don’t feel very engaged at the moment. Highlights of the morning was a very cool “Father’s Day” gift – a couple of the mom’s had put together a special song to the tune of “Day’s of Elijah” that the kid’s sang to us dad’s….how fun! And communion was a good start – even tho I feel separated at the moment, I am reminded that God is present and is inviting me to take note of His presence in the moments of the day.
Then – a final search for a pop machine that has diet coke, a final trip to a “real” bathroom, and off to the border.
We cross without incident. One van is pulled over but is soon allowed to continue – and then we are in Mexico. The change is almost instant and dramatic. A difference of 40 miles means the difference between wealth and poverty, lush greens and packed dirt, nice homes and shacks made of whatever a person can find, paved roads and rutted dirt paths, structure and chaos, English and Spanish, hope and ??. A question comes to my mind. Is there hope here in Mexico? What do the people hope for? I know we feel like we are bringing hope – but it has to be here already doesn’t it? Do the people see it? Do I see it? Will we be cultivating it, discovering it, sowing it, leaving it, or is it not really here? It has to be here – dust covered and dirty – but present….right?
We arrive at our camp. How quickly our accommodations have changed. We move into a tent city – five people and their luggage crammed into a “five person tent” which of course means there is comfortable room for three. Dust everywhere and it is hot. We unpack the vans (I’m looking forward to not having to pack/unpack the vans for a few days!) and move to our tents. There is excitement and tension in the group. We have arrived but most of us don’t know what to do. Of course the men start to organize the tools. Lots of the kids start to run around, explore, play in the dirt. I wander between tasks of getting our luggage to the tent, some basic set up (with Kimpa’s approval!), help with the tools some, get some water, make sure Alexey is safe, wonder how we are going to ever get to sleep tonight in this tent…….and what tomorrow holds.
The phrase “strip searched” enters my mind. I remember at the airport making the usual jokes about security and the chance (hope?) that someone in our group may be strip searched. I remember Kimpa commenting at some point that nothing is routine, or that there is no normal in the schedule. That all starts to simmer……and I start to feel like I am being “strip searched” by God. That all of the things I have grown dependent upon and used to are being taken away: air conditioning, flush toilets, microwaves, my own transportation, solid walls, a nice bed, my own space, an independent schedule, knowing what is happening next, a skill set that matches up with what I do, control…..basically all of the “me” I have spent so long creating isn’t very useful and has no control over my situation. I realize that over the next few days I am going to be dependent upon God and the people around me to get through whatever is going to happen. And because of that – I will discover if I really am relying upon God for my strength. Do I love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, strength……because I am about to be stripped to the very core and find out. I am scared, not because I don’t know the answer, but because I do.
The evening progresses with dinner - burgers and dogs, worship, hanging around the campfire, and then trying to get to sleep. But sleep will be hard to find - as God listens, searches, and strips away.