Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Ever the bane of my journaling attempts... a perceived obligation to match words with the experiences I would love to be sharing with you... to give some just recognition to the beauty and pain of it all. But somehow I sense that accepting the inevitablity of the gap between the intent of this silly blog and true fulfilment of task is just another part of that beauty and pain I would share with you. So... despite the feast of narration I owe you... have a Cheeze-it.

I've been challenged deeply by reading from Jim Elliot's Journals these past few days. It's amazing... not just the profoundness and excellence of the man he was in many ways, but also in his familiar humanity. And I realize... this is the thing I love about reflective non-fiction... journals in particular... there are layers... layers that can be peeled back and superimposed with images from my own story and developing perspective of reality... like those pictures printed onto a series of transparencies... that can be stacked up to make the whole picture. I mean... despite how wrong or write he may have been philosophically or practically... he was learning to live and love among the same creatures I do... Chasing the same God I chase. And... I love it that I don't have to depend on his interpretations of his experience in order to learn from it. The experience shared through fiction on the other hand, though often containing profound meaning, depends almost entirely on the authors interpretation of reality.

This story... especially with the journals alongside... simultaneously lays bare the narrative, the characters, and the narrator... I mean... obviously never totally bare, but enough that they can be known with some honesty. This is to story, I think, what Photography is to visual art. It is poignant and transformative. It smells like nectar and humus.

I was really blessed this week and encouraged after a few weeks of wiping failure from my teaching scabs. It's really hard... this job. Not THIS job per se, but the profession in general. I've found here an interesting mix of humanity and mechanism... in one moment, teaching can be the most dehumanizing thing I could imagine doing... being placed in front of a group of free-living wills and expected to order them with tools no human should posess into a creature that does not offend us by behaving embarrassingly like us. Personal offense is easy. The inefficacy of my natural responsese becomes inescapably obvious.

But all these things are inevitable, I think. Long-term exposure to our pre/un-trained natures wounds and offends us. Teaching hurts a lot. Life hurts a lot. Teaching hurts a lot all at once... but in that laboratory (if it is not too extreme or unhealthy) I find the wolves of my personality... which the kids have cruelly and wonderfully shaved, and then paraded from the shadowy corners where I'd left them to grow. And as embarrassing and flabbarghasting as it can be... I am grateful. So I clumsily fight wolves with one hand and hold fast to the guiding hand of my Lord with the other. (forgive the metaphor... I actually think wolves are inspiring and elegant creatures... let me borrow the mythical icon). Anyway... I'm determined to prayerfully continue this... in hopes that this process of emptying myself of arrogant illusions as a teacher may teach me to live and love better. Please do continue to pray for me along these lines. It's been hard and depressing... but I think it is ultimately, deeply good.

Blessed this week through meeting a young couple who are working at a school/temp. home for abandoned children within an hour from here. Their programs are irregularly and inadequately funded, though the grant to build the facilities was sizeable. Anyway... this functional unit of this place is a small 'family group' consisting of a 'Tio & Tia' (Uncle and Aunt) and the group of ~10 kids that they interact most intimately with. It's a neat model, I think... more familial, and less institutional. I am excited about the possibility of bringing kids from the school out to work on projects, but even better, to interact with the kids. I know it's not so simple as... "Jimmy, this is Bobby, why don't you guys go chat about life at polar opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum," and honestly I feel pretty unqualified to help any of them into meaningful experience there, but the potential gives me nervous hope. I think it could be something God could use powerfully... open their eyes, sharpen their conscience towards their fellow man, and knead their ability to love. Pray for this as well. I'll try to keep you updated. Pray about this though... that the connections that can be made with the kids would be made. At any rate, I was inspired, encouraged and again affirmed in being in the will of God here, by hearing the hearts of this couple a little bit.

We've been trying to do more fishing these past few weeks... and have succeeded in increasing our trip freqency by ... ummm.... one. We've been fishing once since we said we needed to start going more. But... the big one is still out there. And... you'd better believe you'll get pictures when it bites. For now though... thinking big will have to suffice.

Ok ok ok ok... I gotta sign off. That's the news from Paraguay for this week. Check facebook for more pictures of the trips last week. Blessings. Drop a line. Love to hear from you all.

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