I'm not an incredibly optimistic traveler today. Throwing the southern nasty in with pounding headache of withdrawal from the bean leaves me wishing my feet were on solid ground as they were....yesterday...
I'm not an incredibly optimistic traveler today. Throwing the southern nasty in with pounding headache of withdrawal from the bean leaves me wishing my feet were on solid ground as they were....yesterday...
I spent a good portion of yesterday talking to people about the Susan Boyle buzz that has even crossed into the southern news media in Spanish. Being quite impressed with the story in its opening phase, Amix and I were watching Susan Boyle bolt out the amazing song of "I dreamed a Dream". Within ten minutes of watching her sing via CNN's website, Amix noticed on the local southern news that Canal 9 was broadcasting blurbs about the international stretch of stardom for Susan Boyle. After raving about it here in the blogging part of my life, I went on to have coffee with Evita and Hungry here in the south. We talked about it and I continued to think on it throughout the day, pondering its incredibly potent message of truth.
I love hearing the raw essence of the human condition through stories, experiences, words, and images. I am just about ready to post a second part of a three part series on a group of professionals who are coming to the south to radically change through their compassion, the extreme poverty on a hill. I have had a horrific time getting necessary information out of customs and control here in the south, but have finally been successful in extracting my hard drive so that I can post this recent documentary. I love the raw essence of pure form of human love that is revealed in this upcoming documentary. The pure heart of the southern people mixing in with those who love from the north compose a beautiful love story of life.
Part of the love story that is being told in the south is reflecting images of an eternal love that surfaces when people connect to the One who first loved us. The journey for the love story all begins on different levels for everyone. I remember how my journey through the love story began at the innocent age of five. I recall those tender and gentle first moments along the love path in the journey. The moments when I strayed off the love path into journeys of false and superficial love and appreciation for global themes struck havoc in my journey for years. However, through His grace, I am still walking that love journey toward the right direction. The generally stumbled steps along the journey still occur regularly, yet, I attempt to maintain a vision on those eyes toward Him.
A few days ago, while walking the journey, Barritto sat me down on the hill to have a chat. It was a divine arrangement in my personal opinion.
Barritto arrived to the hill from the ghetto. He sought a more quiet life on the hill. I cannot say that a change to the hill where no running water affects the population is a bonus, however, for Barritto, its a change for the better to save his life. He was running the streets, high, painting walls and houses with personal artistic beauty in the midst of escaping local authorities.
He risks stepping out of the box of social acceptance to defend, love, and help others. What impacts me even more is recently, we sat together and prayed to the One who loved us first. Barritto stepped into a new place on his love journey with that eternal love of Jesus. He now, shines like that light on a hill, sharing the love and message of the Great Hope with those around him. I have heard this story.
I have heard him speak.
That young man, Barritto, who once had no voice, now proclaims with great joy, the voice of strength from within.
I will join in with him on the hill to proclaim the joy and victory found in that love.
Life lessons are learned daily.
I got spitty bum. Spitty bum equals no fun. Spitty bum is the reason that I did not express my thoughts last night because most of my thoughts were spent in the toilet. I thought a lot about how I hate spitty bum. Additionally, I considered how I may have contracted spitty bum and lastly, I thought about how rarely I get spitty bum. My stomach has become quite accustomed to the southern cuisine. However, something that I ate or drank decided to wreak havoc throughout my system.
In these moments of engulfing displeasure, I reviewed the past day's blessings. Firstly, I would not wish spitty bum on anyone at any given moment. Secondly, when anyone comes to visit me in the south, I obsessively watch and take care over my guests to ensure enjoyable southern travel. Due to my nearly nine years of southern living, I have become quite fluent in treating the spitty bum. In 99% percent of the spitty bum cases that I have seen and treated a healthy dose of antibiotics eliminate the spitty bum flames.
While this medication works in majority of situations, some rare occasions call for a second round of another antibiotic to settle the stormy seas.
I am not a medical professional and the previous statements are solely my personal opinion and anyone with symptoms of spitty bum should consult their medical professional for official medical advice.
All personal moments of digestive concern aside, a few bright and sensational events occurred today. Amix and I traveled this morning up to the medical clinics on the other side of the hill to visit hermano hungry and Peruvian Evita. Peruvian Evita has been following a stressful week of doctor's visits, blood samples, and ultrasounds to determine what the core of a dark tissue settled in her body is. I have spent the last week in great stress for her. One doctor claimed that he thought it may be cancer. Oh, my God, I exclaimed, how can the Peruvian Evita fall ill to such a horrific and evil killer? The whole blow of information came to me in waves as I personally journeyed through pain as my mother left this earthly place due to the tragic onset of cancer in a short amount of time. All of these emotions came raging back within me. I love the Peruvian Evita. She is like a mother/sister/friend to me. She has loved and cared for me for the past eight years of my life.
As Amix and I raced into the clinic up north to check in with Evita and Hungry, I saw them in the distance on the second floor balcony. I saw their faces and I must have looked like a pale ghost. I desperately searched their eyes for any signs and answers. I plunged up through the steps onto the second floor and rounded the corner toward their presence. I had flashbacks of racing through the hospital back home to see if my mom was still alive or not.
I saw a twinkle in Evita's eyes. She has this incredible sparkle of the love of Jesus in her smile, eyes, and heart. During the past week, I saw this twinkle of spark dimmer in the somber news of the potential future. However, as I embraced Evita's hug, I started to cry when she proudly exclaimed that she was healthy. The doctors had given her the final verdict that it was not a cancer but only something to be treated with medication. My heart rebounded with great peace. My inner storms of torment were subsided in the smiling joy of Evita and Hungry.
I found a small chapel on the second floor and knelt at the bench in front of the Christ.
I gave thanks for numerous events, situations, and experiences along the journey. In the last breath of my prayer, I gave thanks for the health and life of Evita.
I think that the 15th of April could have been correlated directly with the 1st of April. The 1st of April is day full of jokes, pranks, and otherwise silly actions to promote fools across several countries.
I have no control. Regardless of my helpless and random attempts to conceptualize my ability to control, truth trumps thoughts with gasps of acknowledgement. I have no control.
I have self-control and manage this ability to various degrees depending on themes, content, and situations. Some of my loved ones near to me would beg to differ on the amount of self-control that I exhibit from any given moment of any given day. Others would suggest that my self-control varies from strong to weak like the variation of caffeinated beverages that I consume within a 24 hour period. (note to self that I must refrain from the abstained attempts to ween from caffeine). The last three days of my journey have included a relapse into the caffeinated world of pleasure. This would be a perfect example of a decreased slant toward no self-control. I found Amix this morning in the midst of a caffeinated euphoria which I choose not to repeat. He seemed completely at peace with the entire global community as he quietly consumed a sweetened iced habit molded by previous visits. Any bad habits that he has incurred during the last three years of his employment directly reflect back toward his employer... me...
Don't blame him. Its not his fault. I am the only one to blame in this scenario. One would dare to consider, however, that Amix was entirely engrossed in the moment of consuming the caffeinated beverage with no or little concern for the outside world.
So, in essence, within our ability to manage control over our actions, it triggers toward issues, situations, and experiences within our reach. What is within our reach? I believe that we in the global community consider everything within our reach which further enhances our ability to control.
However, today, I realize, that in all blatant honesty, that life events will occur regardless of my approval. How I wish that I could control the outcome of my loved one's experience through pain today. How I wish that I could gently protect my loved ones from the pain and agony of unforeseen horizons that bring sickness, injury, unemployment, depression, and hopelessness. However, I know that this control is in the hands of One much greater than anything of this world. I must and choose to my put trust and faith in Him. This, I know without a doubt, to be truth of truth.
I cannot control the unemployment of hermano hungry. However, I can control my desire and action to contribute my own personal money for ability to help them along the journey.
I cannot control the potentially tragic information to be released about a loved one's health, but I can work to my best to provide an environment of love, nurture, and compassion. I cannot say that I enjoyed going in motorized bicycles to the hospital to walk the journey with loved ones to listen to reports from doctors. However, apart of the journey is the walking and processing of steps toward the goal.
So, I relinquish all presumed control that I thought I had and let go. I let go with deep breaths of peace and focus my eyes on horizons of hope for tomorrow.
I had a refreshingly engaging conversation with my nephew, Sabby this afternoon. I went with him to the central of the city to help him along the journey in his work in the entertainment industry. I can clearly state, he's in the industry. He's in. He knows what he is doing and he has an innate ability to demonstrate artistic awe to the public. Sabby is one of my favourite people who walks along the journey with me. He's a breath of fresh and joyful fragrance of life. We've experienced a lot of laughs along the journey. We often cry together as we both find tears flow easily from our tear ducts. We both are sensitive and feel the pain of others quickly. He always utters words of love when he calls me and exclaims, "Tio!" (Uncle).
Sabby runs a dance group named the Four Z. He coaches, coordinates, performs, leads, and dreams for this incredibly astounding group of performers. Sabby has been dancing since he was two years of age and now teaches young people how to follow in these steps. Sabby has been working as lead choreographer for over one year with the Four Z. They perform at school functions, birthday parties, local music events, dance contests, and outreach ministries. Sabby knows how to run the show. He is in control.
Sometimes, life is a little out of my control. For example, due to the amazingly unchartered beauty of walking the journey, I have come to the deep and peaceful calm that the south will be my permanent home within the next seven months. I step into this next phase of my journey with complete contentment. I hold my head toward the hill with my eyes fixed on Him with clear understanding that I have let go of my perceived control to rest in Him.
Yesterday, out of my control, Sabby asked me to manage the Four Z. Managing a group of nine dancers in the south will be a challenge to say the least. The thoughts that Sabby has for me to manage him and his group are out of my control, yet, I step into this role with great gratitude to Sabby for allowing me this opportunity. So, the journey of being a manager for a dance troupe begins as of this morning. Photographs were taken for publicity, letters will be written, and dance uniforms will be purchased. Engagements will be filled and schedules will be lined up for the Four Z to gain exposure of their creative and innovative talent that carries them into the future.
The journey has begun. It may look like we do not have control. Well, we don't. I know, however, one who does have control, for which I proclaim gratitude.
I look out into the tide of morning with a heart of expectation and enthusiasm. I am glad that I don't have control today.
I hope that tomorrow when the sun rises to meet my eyes, I will feel the same way.
I'm beginning to see a pattern of reflective behavior in my writing. With these comments still fresh in my mind, perhaps a reflective based writing style is one that I am processing along the journey. I'm not feeling compelled to drastically change anything about me until I am prompted by clear confirmation. I hesitate to even make drastic comments about writing styles because commenting on the very issue may cause further confusion within. However, I am attempting to maintain transparent behavior, communication, and presentation in all that I do. Inclusive of this fact, writing down thoughts about writing styles is completely legitimate.
The south, today, was very hot. Hot weather does not bother me to any degree, (no pun intended), however, this morning included buttering the bread on the other side. I had consumed a standard hot coffee with a splash of hazelnut flavour to enhance the aroma. I believe that this morning was the last morning that I will ever consume a hot beverage on a hot day. I've not decided which degree will constitute a change from hot to cold, but speak no more, I shall no longer make such an error. The hot weather enhanced by a hot beverage that I consumed threw me back into Mombassa, Kenya. There in Mombassa town, I met the mother of hot. I had, rather, British Airways had somehow misplaced my luggage.
You will never see me flying with the above airline in the near future, if I can at all, in any grave moment, help myself. Granted, if I am grounded in London and have to get to Africa, most likely, I will board the above company. However, if there are any other modes of transportation that I find somewhat agreeable, I will certainly be pursuing options. One of which, I would like to entertain at any given breath is to meander my journey through Morocco.
Aside from desiring to make my next trip one through this incredibly exotic and fascinating location, I've fallen off the track in the path of Mombassa town, Kenya. After having lost my luggage through British Airways, the hot weather in Mombassa town increasingly became worse as the clothes I traveled in from Chicago became my attire for 8 days. The same socks, shirt, tie, pants, shoes, and yes, even underwear became my closest and stickiest friends I could have had in years. Eight days of living in Mombassa town humidity among thickest nets to protect me from malaria infected mosquitos. Every night, I would sleep nude while my underwear hung in the bathroom attempting to catch any remains of dry weather to allow the following day to pass more comfortably. Needless to say, I think I am focusing on hope today. We have a hope. Hope found in Easter Sunday. Hope found in that eternal peace and joy we can experience in knowing Him brings true contentment. Hope found in living in the south is one personally restored among my soul. Even hope is found in hanging underwear in bathroom facilities in Mombassa town, Kenya, Africa in hopes for a better tomorrow.
Hope helps one to thrive, survive, and dream of tomorrow. There was a day when watching gold flakes from the bottle of hard drinks flickered hope of falsified words and dreams into my soul. However, through a grace that was poured out for me, I walk into tomorrow along the journey with hope.
So, I hope for tomorrow. I hope that hermano hungry will find a job. I hope that Amix and I will agree on 90% of issues relating to work tomorrow.
I hope that tomorrow, I remember today, for great insight and peace deep within arrived this evening at a prayer service near the hill. I want to take that moment along with me on the journey into tomorrow.
Strange things bring people together.
I capture a splatter of paint in this very second as I deviate from the path of writing to reminisce upon a recent paintball fight I had with some friends of mine back in time zones behind. Paintballs hurt. I cannot suggest that paying large sums of money to shoot balls of paint loaded to splatter bright colours of liquid across my body is highly recommended, however, it is an enjoyable event to say the least. Underneath my general topic of bringing people together, scheduling paintball splatter sessions in the forested regions of Australia's southland certainly yields the experience of bringing people together. Some of my favourite people endured the experience of shielding excessive blows from paintballs to bond as a unified team. It worked. Some of my bonded, paintballed, juiced up, and hysterical teammates are exhibited.
I miss some of these witty and sensational people. However, my life in the south calls my heart forward along the journey. Aside from the detour of paint, I find myself recalling this afternoons' stroll down Avenue Ficus. Evita, hermano hungry, sabby, Amix, Barritto, Leti, Annie, and I meandered toward Calle 9. A tradition among my family here is to stroll through the lower hill and pull up stools around an outside booth. It's a weekly event that consumes a few hours after adding up walking, talking, eating, and laughing. (in no particular order).
One traveling to the south is not encouraged to engage in some of the following activities due to highly dangerous risk of contracting horrific digestive conditions which leave one strapped to bowls of southern toilets for days or weeks. High consumption of paper is inevitable.
Nonetheless, after over eight years of living in the south, I have become quite accustomed to most grazing from street food vendors in various sectors. However, a fine balance is drawn from which I would never deviate. I firmly believe, however, in trusting His Love to overcome all. In those moments which scream DO NOT OFFEND THE HOST, I have had to pray to Him,
"Oh God, please, I'll put it down if you keep it down."
It has never failed. I believe that anything can be consumed if it has been prepared with love. Certainly, there would be some drawbacks to this exclamation and I would never encourage a new traveler to the south the blessed experience of chomping on salad, tomatoes, and cucumbers for any of the following reasons.
3. Expenses of antibiotics and probiotics.
4. Excessive urge to remain close to toilet facilities for at least seventy two hours.
5. Wondering if emergency evacuation to country of residency is required or included in medical insurance plan.
Come to consider all of these ideas, I think that having that horrid experience of remaining close to toilets for extended periods of time, especially with fellow travelers, does indeed bring people together. I find it increasingly hysterical to visualize the liberation experienced for travelers swapping various stories of toilet bound adventures while exchanging various types of antibiotics in hopes of finding a cure for the most recently acquired parasitic infection. To conclude, tonight as I ventured with my family towards the stools at the outside booth of the street food vendor, I found peace. I found serenity. I found true sense of place and purpose. I feasted with my nephew and my niece on great portions of southern sweets.
An experience that brings people together.
This blended combination of breaded sweet slathered and bathed in maple syrup unifies groups of people. I love the conversation, love, compassion, and laughs that are spread throughout the sidewalk as smiles are shared between. My nephew, Sabby always finds ways to enhance the weekly dining adventure. This evening, his vocal beats of bass mixed in with Barritto's mixing of acoustic chords brought laughter and joy to the family. I would highly recommend anyone to attempt to make these incredible southern sweets, whip up some stools, an outside booth, and bring on the music to guarantee an authentic southern evening of great enjoyment. I even included the recipe below to assist in the venture.
I am grateful Picarones this evening because it brings my family together. As I was riding back from the hill towards the flat with Amix, I was pondering the deep joy of feeling contentment among the family. Who knew that some sweet toothed and deeply fried southern food would bring peace to the soul. As my nephew squeezed my tight in a southern hug, I felt purpose and contentment as he quietly whispered, "te quiero mucho, tio."
Tambien, mi sabby, te quiero mucho.
I have had a swarm of experiences in the last 36 hours of my journey. I was thinking about the swarm this morning as I was preparing for the daily adventures on the hill with Amix. The swarm of thoughts and experiences resembles the thickening plot that bees create in the hive with the Queen. The drones carry on their work in the various cones of the wax.
On frequent and occasionally inconvenient moments the thoughts swarm around gems of random yet profound thoughts. Granted, the sting of the moment may not be profound for others around me, yet for me, the sting the thought pierces the depths of my heart. I am so thankful for the moments when the sting registers because this gains me access to the profound depths of His desire to bring me into wholeness with Him.
One sting in itself is the reality that I've not kept my promise of daily blogging in April. I have no one to fault but myself. As trivial as it may sound to others around me, I was quite disappointed in myself. Nonetheless, on the journey, I have been taught not to look back but to move forward. Maybe if I write into a few days of May, I will have gained the accomplishment? Probably not. I will carry onward.
Last night I ate pizza. I gathered around the table with my family and loved ones. Evita, Hungry, Amix, Hijo, Sabby, myself, Latina, Angelo, and Arley. We laughed. My family is a very loving family with lots of joy to share around frequently. The evening slipped by quickly as time always shifts rapidly here in the south. Life in the south is beautiful and brings my soul much joy, however, one of the only difficult part about life in the south is that time passes too quickly.
Frequently, children walk the streets here in the south, begging for money. Some attempt to sell little pieces of candy for thirty cents. Some others are forced by their parents to walk the streets late into the night, earning as much money as they can for their parents. Its an extremely horrific situation that I wish I could stop. Sometimes, children don't get home until two or three in the morning.
This evening was no different than any others. Two children came by, selling gum and candy in hopes to earn some money for their parents to avoid punishment. I had two pieces of pizza left on my plate. It was a very tasty portion of pizza for which I was enjoying immensely.
When one of the beautiful children with faces of pure innocence but destined without hope approached me to inquire if I was in need of chewing gum. I politely said no and gave them eye contact to let them know that I cared about them as a person but didn't support their work in the streets. I struggle with giving children money because it encourages and reinforces the behavior that working in the streets is a form of income for them. I chose to turn around and to work on eating my pizza. The child kept talking to me and pleading with me to help. I looked at my nephew, Angelo who was watching the entire moment. I looked at my pizza and I couldn't continue eating it in the presence of that little child. With Angelo's watchful eyes, I found myself in an awkward position. I wanted to keep eating my pizza but the voice of the child was piercing my heart along with the wide and clear eyes of my nephew. It was too much. I wanted the child to walk away. I wanted to shut out the poverty so I could get back to my reality.
While I was concentrating on picking up my fork to put another piece of greasy food into my body, my oldest nephew, Sabby, had taken food off of his own plate, wrapped it in a serviette and handed it to the child. The act was selfless, humble, loving, and full of the character of my nephew.
I was embarrassed, ashamed, and humiliated. Sabby's action brought conviction to my heart.
Years ago, when I first started working in the south and living among the poverty and love that I have come to call home, I would have never given a second thought to giving food off of my plate to a pleading child. I would pour out my pockets of money to give to children in the streets. I would routinely take children to the grocery store from the streets and buy them basic necessities for the home.
Somehow, in the course of my journey, I've changed. Sabby's love and compassion of giving to that child spoke volumes of depth into my cold and stony heart. Sabby's family makes very little and for Sabby to give of his food to this child reminded me of the passion of giving. Giving is not so much about giving away what you have, but its act of answering that inner call within to respond.
Sabby responded to the urge within to compassionately give. I tried to shut that urge out. Sabby encouraged me in that moment to listen to the heart and respond when the heart pumps with great joy to give. I was thankful for those two remaining pieces of food on my plate because as I ate those last two pieces with great humility, the next time that a child comes to me asking for money, I will dip into the food that I have to feed one.
So, the sting of that swarming hive of thoughts came to pierce my heart with an opportunity to grow.