Radical Hospitality

Radical Hospitality

It’s been quite a few years now that God continues to bring me back in one way or another to Romans 12, speaking of Love in Action.  In Romans 12:9-13, Paul says these words:

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  PRACTICE hospitality. 

Now, let’s be honest, I think almost each line of this passage could be a sermon all in itself.  Maybe that will happen someday, but not today.  I feel I have something else that God is trying to help me “verbally process” over the computer.  So, let’s get to it…

I am currently in a cohort of missionary women working through different themes: racial righteousness, Sabbath and rest.  We are reading together a book called: Healing our Broken Humanity.  (Disclaimer, I am only halfway through the book so I am not sure exactly my take-aways yet for the book as a whole), but I will say, the chapter I just finished, Reactivate Hospitality really made me re-think and re-shape some of my thinking.  As you can imagine, with a book of this title, there is a lot going on in the book.  The main premise for this section was obviously to talk about hospitality, but hospitality in relation to “the other”, people that are different, “them”, “they”.  The Western church, in my opinion looks at “the other” very differently than the rest of the world.  I feel I can speak to this as my own view of “the other” has been challenged since I have been living in Ecuador.  The Church is big, and primarily where it is largest is not in the West, it is everywhere else.  The average Christian today is not white, middle class and Western, they are female, brown or black and likely of lower class.  The Church how a lot of people see it is changing.  Guess what?  That is good news!  It is becoming more diverse.  Isn’t that what the call of the Western church was?  To go in to the world and evangelize and tell people about the good news?  However, it seems that the Western church doesn’t know what to do with those evangelized because they don’t look like them?  They are “the other”.  The Church around the world is in a unique place to embrace “the other” in an act or rather a command of “PRACTICING” hospitality.  The kind of hospitality described in Romans as well as the kind I witness here in Ecuador and hear around the world in black and brown churches is RADICAL.  It is messy and hard and requires a cost, but isn’t that what Christ requires of us?  He doesn’t expect any more from us than he practiced and lived out himself.  We have a perfect example of how to do this.  So, why aren’t we? (When I say we, I mean the Western church).

I contend that we have a lot to learn.  This is one area where we as the White, Western church can throw our hands up and say we need help.

We need new narratives, new stories, new ways of interpreting Scripture that is through the lens of “the other”.  Again, we can go back to Scripture and follow the Israelites all the way up to Jesus to show us how to do this.  Then we can go to our neighbor, “the other” who doesn’t look like us or talk like us, who thinks differently and interprets differently because their story is likely more relatable to that which is in Scripture than we can imagine.  We need to read Scripture TOGETHER with “the other” to learn who the Bible was written to.  Does this sound odd or scary?  Good.  Lean in.  Push through it because we will be better for it.  Listening.  Learning.  Asking and attempting to understand new narratives and new stories.  The refugee, the immigrant, the foreigner, the outsider, the incarcerated, the women.  The other.  These are all stories we need to hear and listen to.  You may wonder why?  Scripture calls us to practice radical hospitality.  Not with those who look like us, but with the other.  If that is the call, the command, than why aren’t we doing it?  Why are we afraid?  The time of fear needs to be over, because there is a group of “others” who need the Church.  They need radical hospitality and the church is in a prime place to embrace as we were embraced, love as we are loved, cared for, healed and reconciled.  Step up Church and be the reconciled, be the ones that show radical hospitality when everything around us in the world tells us to push the others away.  Stand up.

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Joel and Rolando’s First Ever Podcast

Joel and Rolando were recently interviewed on the Social Enterprise Podcast for the work we do in Ecuador.  Please listen here when you have some time: https://soundcloud.com/finca-international/episode-36-the-santiago-partnership-in-ecuador

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Pandemic Wedding

Recently, Joel was asked to help with the wedding of one of our good family friends here in Ecuador.  Of course the answer was yes.  Simeon also got to help by holding the microphone during the vows.  What a privilege and honor to part of this day.

 

 

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Forever Flowers

As many of you may know by now, the 6 weeks leading up to the end-of-the year, The Santiago Partnership ran a campaign to raise funds to help empower Ecuadorian leadership in the creation of a flower farm with the ultimate goal of ongoing self-sufficiency.

The goal was to raise $98,800 for land, greenhouses, coolers, plants and many other things.  There was such an amazing response from so many that $110,751 was raised!!!!

 

As many of you know, the area of Cayambe is known for its production and export of roses all around the world. Unfortunately, the rose is a very fragile flower, requires a lot of labor and due to the competition of all of the large rose plantations in the area, the margin that is made on their sale is very little. We don’t want to try to compete with the big boys!! 

Conversely, the Alstroemeria flower, also known as the Lily of the Incas, is a hardier flower that isn’t as susceptible to disease and requires much less labor to cultivate, thus driving the cost of production down.  It’s also a flower that we can start with a small production and sell locally and grow into a large business, hopefully, eventually for international export as the Alstroemeria Flower goes perfectly in the rose boquet.

Our business model will be to start small, produce high quality flowers, and then teach others to grow the Alstroemeria flower as well so that way we can produce more product together to be able to sell at higher quantities.  After we establish a revenue stream with only domestic sales, then we will look to convert our flower into an international product.

So, what is next?  Well, in all honesty, A LOT!  Here is what we hope to work on over the next few months.

To learn more about Forever Flowers and the campaign in its entirity, visit https://foreverflowers.causevox.com/

 

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Memory of Last Year

Last year, on September 22, 2019 I was involved in a very traumatic experience that ended in the loss of a precious Ecuadorian baby boy to a fatal accident.  I tried to blog about it last year, to write about it, but I had a really difficult time wrapping my head around serving a good God, but experiencing a loss of this magnitude, a loss of innocence and purity in a baby.  Here was the first email I wrote to my bosses explaining what happened:

We were driving to Mindo to go ziplining with my best friend and she had never been and were stopped due to an accident.  There were a lot of people and they were running around frantically, so I went to see if I could help.  There was a woman and a man who were on a motorcycle with a baby and they had cut in front of a bus trying to pass the bus and the bus clipped them.  When I arrived, they baby was on the ground, crying and clearly in distress.  Probably not more than a couple of months old.  The baby had a severe head injury and I knew it would likely not make it.  The baby decompensated and eventually needed CPR.  Once police, paramedics and ambulance arrived we made a make shift immobilization and they had me carry the baby in the back of a police car, doing CPR while they took us, with the dad who arrived with the ambulance, to Nanegalito to the “hospital”.  The physicians there had  not seemed to see anything like before and after 45 minutes at the hospital, the baby was pronounced dead.  It has been quite traumatic for me to be honest.  I had nightmares and flashbacks the first few nights.  I did better and then the protests hit so we kind of had a one track mind with that.  This week I have had a few nights where I have had nightmares and some difficulty sleeping.

Soon after this happened, the protests started happening here in Ecuador, and grieving got put on the back burner a bit.  Of course in my practice as a nurse and Nurse Practitioner, I have lost patients, I have even lost children and babies, but never as a first responder as I did last year.  It changed me.  It made me question, it made me grieve in a way I had not and I experienced a bit of PTSD from it which I didn’t realize at the time. Here is a journal entry I wrote a few days after the accident:

In reading “A book of prayers”, one line struck me…”In bread and wine we taste the great homecoming feast, and in the midst of death, we are in life”.  This resonates with me as I feel so much of life continues in the midst of carrying death.  I see life, love, growth, service all around me and there are times I just picture the little boy and flashback to being on the road, praying over him to live, then praying just crying out Jesus’ name in my head and out loud.  Sometimes it seems a little too heavy to carry; death and life all at the same time.  I keep hearing God’s goodness, provision throughout this story.   I know God is good, it’s just hard reconciling a good, loving God taking a baby from the earth in such a traumatic and painful way.  It just hurts my heart, my mom heart that a good and loving Father would do that.

Lamentations 3:22-23, 31, 55-57

In all honesty, I still struggle with this reconciliation of a good God allowing this.  I know the Sunday school answer is that sin is in the world.  Bad things happen and are allowed to happen.  But that doesn’t always cushion the bad that does happen.  That is OK.

Ironically, the song that was going in my head even in the midst of this accident was called Good and Loved.  “I am good, you are loved” are the words that kept going over and over during the CPR, during rescue breaths.  So, I know God knew that trying to reconcile this in my own heart and head would be difficult.  I have resolved in my mind that I will likely not be able to reconcile it and that is OK.   I know God is good and I know His heart breaks at the death of this baby, more than mine.  He understands and carries the tears cried over this baby.  I know God is still good and I know God cares and loves and that is enough.

I hesitated writing something as I knew it would bring up a lot of emotions.  But I have also realized over the last few days that my demeanor has been different and I didn’t know why.  But I now know it is still carrying this grief with me.  As the 1st anniversary passed of this accident, it was almost not spoken of, but I am glad I am now able to give voice and words to the grief.  Even after a year I can still carry death and life at the same time.  Yes it is still hard and yes I see things that remind me of this day and allowing it to be felt is not easy.  I would rather push that pain away, but to feel it and carry it reminds me to not forget.  I never heard the baby’s name, only that he was a little boy and I guessed his age as 2 to 3 months.  But I remember and I won’t forget.

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Grace Knows my Name

There is nothing quite like a worldwide pandemic to make you feel the weight of your inconsistencies, failures inadequacies.  I don’t know about you, but they seem to stare me in the face some days, maybe most days and it can get heavy, really heavy.  The weight of the world is heavy right now.  Everything seems heavy and overwhelming.  If this makes sense, my very being seems heavy.  Some days I feel I don’t recognize myself and the representation of who I am just is heavy to carry.

I have been reminded recently of WHO  or maybe better, WHOSE I am.  Some days I forget who I am.  Some days I lose myself and I doubt myself.  I doubt that I can change.  Some days anger takes over and I don’t recognize the positive parts of myself because it is easy to focus on the negative in myself which seems to be what represents more than the positive.  Anger seems to be my go-to emotion, although I am realizing, what comes out as anger, may be just a reflection of deeper emotions that haven’t made their way to the surface yet.  However, anger still takes over some days and as much as I am trying to learn and understand and change this negative stain in my being, most days I just feel stuck; asking myself, will I ever change, will I ever rise above this, will this ALWAYS be a struggle?  It may be.  We are all human and we carry human things in us. 

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18

I don’t often have time to delve in to scripture, but yesterday I was reminded through song of Who I am and although the negative surrounds me some days, the negative of life around me, the negative world and the negative parts of myself, but that is not the end of the story.  There is redemption, there is grace, God continues writing my story, ALL the parts of it because ALL parts can be redeemed.

So, I am not perfect and I am very aware of that, but I know that grace knows my name and I am trying to LIVE and rise in that.

Yesterday, I realized I needed some music to help me realize who I am.  I started with the first and then the rest just kept coming one after another.  Maybe today you need to be reminded of who you are, WHOSE you are and that your story is still being written.

Known

Different

God’s Not done with You

See A Victory

Rebuilding My Ruins

Alabaster Heart

He Knows My Name

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Just Breathe

This past weekend, Joel and I took a much needed weekend away to rest, reconnect and…climb a volcano.  Yes, you read that correctly, we climbed Rucu Pinchincha which is an active volcano.  If you have been to Quito to visit, you have likely taken the Teleferico, or cable car to the top of Pinchincha to see the amazing views of Quito and beyond.  We have lived here for almost 8 years now and have yet to climb the rest of Pinchinca which is well over 15,000 feet, which is 2,000+ feet past the teleferico.

As we began to hike past what was known to us from our many, MANY visits to the teleferico with friends, family and teams, I began to focus on one thing, breath.  The whole hike, this is what I went back to.  Now I am not trying to over-dramatisize or even over spiritualize this whole experience, but in the midst of a challenge (at least for me) such as this, the basics is what seems to come in to focus and this is exactly what happened to me.  On a normal day at the teleferico, breath is something you focus on, but as you hike further and further up the path, you are forced to focus on what gives you life and that is breath.  The altitude forces this and for me, this was what I needed.  With all of the different things that seem to steal my attention and focus, this time brought me back to the basics of what is needed for life, breath.  As we continued to hike, I continued to think of breath, in Genesis 1 when the spirit was hovering, when God breathed life in to humanity, God breathing His breath in to His disciples.  All of these examples bringing us back to the basics of scripture.  We continued to hike higher and I wondered how life can survive here.  I took a minute to look around and see LIFE.  Plants, flowers, butterflies were all around and the wind and breeze was stimulating life around us.  All of this, new beginning.  We continued to hike and then we came to an area of the hike where we had to cross an area of unknown.

Then, while continuing to feel myself breathing, I felt my heart race and fear took over.  I didn’t know what to do.  What was in front of me was unknown and I didn’t know how to get there and what was below me was too scary to look at or think about.  I couldn’t go back and I didn’t know how to go forward.  How do you conquer fear like that?  I just closed my eyes and the fear overwhelmed me.  Joel helped guide me, where to put my feet, where to put my hands, and we made it across the unknown.  We contemplated going back because if weather came in, this area would be really risky and with what I had just experienced, I couldn’t imagine it being riskier.  But we kept going at the encouragement of a guide that had come up behind us with hikers.  Thank God for her and her teammate who guided us through another hairy area.  Very similarly fear overtook me, in ways I hadn’t really experienced before.  I just kept saying I didn’t want to do this.  But the guide encouraged me, told me where to put my hands and where to step next.  Secure hands, secure feet he kept saying.  Each time I wanted to turn back, these two guides kept encouraging us to go on.  As we climbed to the sand (I had read it was only 20 more minutes from here), I was once again overtaken by fear that I didn’t understand.  Fear of falling, fear of the unknown..I went back to the two things I need for life at this point, breathing and my heart.  I felt my heart continue to pound and I heard my breath.  We continued to climb.  It started to get foggy as we were climbing toward the summit.  I kept telling myself not to continue, “you’re fine, look how far you made it, what an accomplishment”, but the guide kept saying, just a little bit more.  We began to get to jagged rocks that you climb to get to the summit.  The fear set in again and I said to Joel I just want to go back.  But I didn’t know how to go down and it would have been risky to even try it at that point, so we kept going.  I finally, FINALLY climbed the last rock to make it to the top and I just sat down and cried, but the crying turned in to hyperventilating as the altitude is something I have’t experienced in quite that way before.  I went back to breathing, calming myself, telling myself I was OK, I was OK.

I am glad I did it, I am glad I made it down.  In all we hiked 25,000 steps from my FitBit, 200 floors, 2,000+ feet and lived to tell about it.

The last couple of days have been a reminder of the experience as my leg muscles hurt, even my chest hurts, but it has been a reminder of breath, of life, of continuing on, of conquering, of knowing limits and going beyond what you think you can do.  It goes back to basics, breath, God-given, our life, God-breathed.  May you LIVE in that today.

Path

Starting out

Map

Flowers

Leading the way

Made it to the top!

We made it!

Going back down

All done with a beautiful view of Cotopaxi in the background

 

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Happy 5th Birthday Ephraim!

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Picture review of our whirlwind trip to the States

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Reflections from Quarantine in Ecuador

I think this quarantine may be starting to get to me…

I am having trouble verbalizing my feelings right now which is unusual for me.  I can usually put words to it easily and it just seems to flow.  I can usually answer questions with no issues related to feelings.  But today while listening to a sermon it is like I could not put any thoughts together. I don’t know if I am sad or mad or frustrated.  I don’t know if I am grieving things without even really being able to name them.  I don’t even know if that makes sense, but knowing there are so many things lost and not even being able to take the time to name it seems so unhealthy.  But the kids still need 24 hour attention so me taking the time to name something doesn’t always take priority.  I think sometimes even more I want my kids the be able to process through all they are feeling and experiencing.  Saying goodbyes from a distance to people who have had a significant impact on their lives just makes me sad.  But how does a 5 year old or 10 year old name those thing enough to be able to process them when I as a (well we don’t need to name that age) has difficulty doing it?  It is certainly true that there is no road map, no guide, no 10 or 12-step “how-to” to be able to navigate so many weeks without going anywhere,  where your life is essentially put on hold.

I have felt myself this week particularly drifting away from some of the things that had brought comfort.  Listening to worship music is a constant in my life and I realized half way though this week that I really hadn’t been listening to any.  Maybe that is one reason I feel so crummy.  I also realized I just needed to be in God’s word.  Saturating myself with it.  I’m just being real, sometimes after a day full of kids and school, it is just exhausting to think of anything else besides lounging in a chair to just veg.  Sometimes I think my mind can’t handle one more thing to think about or one more problem to solve.  It is easier to just kind of let it go and not let it think all that much.  Am I right?  I can’t be the only one.  Dealing with the feelings of all that is going on around us?  That sounds exhausting and it sounds like something I really don’t want to do.  So, I think what I have been doing is ignoring it.  Now that can’t be good.  Ignoring anything is bad, right?  I tell my patients that all the time.  Why did you wait so long to come have that checked out?  How long have you been experiencing that (5 years) well, why now?  I just figured it was time to know what was wrong.  Well, that may be where I am right about now.  I am not myself.  I certainly hope I am just a different version right now.  The version where a lot of what makes me who I am is not happening.  That makes me sad.  It’s OK to say that, right?  I don’t like not being able to do the things that make me, well, me.  I want to serve.  I want to help.  I want to hug people so they know they are cared for.  I want to cook with people and have coffee with people and just enjoy a conversation about, anything.

I think I am also carrying a lot of junk.  Worry, anxiety, all of those things.  You know we weren’t meant to do that?  I think there are things I am worrying about that I don’t even KNOW I am worrying about.  Is that even possible?  We also aren’t meant to carry things alone.  We are meant to share them and carry them together.  That means being vulnerable.  I think sometimes I feel so many people are carrying so many things that I don’t want to give them one more thing.  There are a lot of things at play in all of this.  Admitting we don’t have it all together.  Being vulnerable to share intimate pieces of our failures and shortcomings.  But God didn’t design us to live in a state of worry and anxiety.  I loved what I heard this morning from a pastor that God INVITES us in 1 Peter to “cast our anxiety on him” because he cares.  Maybe like me today, you just need to hear that somebody cares enough to want to take your anxiety.  We truly don’t HAVE to carry it.  We can let it go.

So in the midst of this time, maybe you are feeling somewhat how I am.  Maybe you don’t even KNOW how you are feeling.  That can be unsettling, but the still small nudge you may be feeling is probably Christ drawing you close to himself.  Not that you have to spend hours and hours reading the Bible.  But take a minute or 2 and just BE in the presence of  the Lord.  Cast you care on him.  He can handle it.  He was created to carry it so much more than we were.

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