Jamaican Deaf Village: Our Retaining Wall

I wrote this blog on Monday for a church blog/update. I thought I would share it here as well!  

“You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12.

I read that our first morning here as I sat on the bench under a tree, looking out to the trees and hills that suround us here in Jamaican Deaf Village.

I’m unsure if I can even find adequate words to express our second day here. It feels like we just got here and simultaneously like we’ve been here forever. We had so much fun and God is doing what He does… changing hearts and lives, even in the midst of our cement pouring, sweat soaking, wall painting, joy giving labor. Even in the midst our jokes about poop (poop is a very popular topic among this group) and our laughter as each person in the group explores a world where language is expressed from the heart to the hands instead of from the mouth and received to the eyes rather     than the ears.

Today was really special with the majority of our morning spent with the children at a local Children’s home. We arrived early this morning and poured out of the van, so excited to see children. I could sense some fit right in with children while others, like me, walked around feeling a little lost. There’s something powerful about being out of your comfort zone, since it always gives The Lord room to do His work. Before I knew it, an entire morning had passed and four small children had fallen asleep in my arms one by one. I didn’t want to leave. The children were so beautiful and looked up at us with eyes peeled wide and arms up high, “hold me”. They screamed it with their body language. They expressed “play with me”, and “be with me” and “I need your touch” even when they didn’t know what they were expressing.We played, we laughed, we swang on the swings and songs were sung. All together with each other, as little hands laid deep in ours we shared smiles with each other.

The children’s home got four new babies today. Four. Can you even imagine? I cannot. I cannot imagine the day where four new babies show up on my doorstep. I cannot imagine. There are no words.

I was sitting on the couch with a sweet babe on my lap bottle feeding when someone tapped my shoulder inform me it was time to leave. It’s time to leave? Already? Do we have to? I looked down at deep brown eyes and small hands clenched tight. We each passed sweet souls to another and gathered ourselves up in the van to head back to JDV for lunch.

Once we arrived in time for lunch, we ate a deliciously massive meal, changed into work clothes and got to work outside. We spent time building the retaining wall along the cement lot. We worked together as a team, not just as a team of people who came to Jamaica from America, but as a team of His people- Jamaicans with Americans. Americans with Jamaicans. Together as a team we sweated, we laughed, we mixed cement, poured it, painted walls, made inside jokes, helped build a strong, strong wall. Retaining wall, a wall of protection. Like He is for each of us. Our wall of protection. Psalm 16:6 “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; Indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.” I’m so thankful for His protection, even if it takes work to let me decrease and Him increase- Much like the building of this wall. I feel smaller as the wall grows larger. Today I got to see people shine. Other people on the team and Im learning, or trying to learn to take a step back and watch what others do and how He is using them.

I am so thankful for today and the people. I’m so thankful for the work. I’m so thankful to be here.

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Joyful Surrender… Joyful Obedience

I stood on the edge of the plane. Captivated. Terrified. My heart pounded in my ears, in my neck. Sweat poured down my back. It was so loud. My body vibrated with the plane. I turned back to the man giving instructions feeling wind-whipped. His voice boomed out and I was so interested in how he was saying what we needed to know that my eyes fastened on him. Fascinated
“This is the particular time that you need to pull the string to release the parachute… this is how it will happen”.
He gave the details as I listened intently.
When he finished I secured my ‘chute to my back and waited for his signal. I looked to my friend on my right and said “awesome, huh? That guy can really speak! Did you see his passion?! He must LOVE sky diving!” My friend just nodded, focused… as if he was trying to remember what he just heard.

Then we jumped. We jumped!! And we fell and fell and I was so mesmerized by everything happening around me.Transfixed. The dots becoming buildings and the ants becoming trees and the people becoming little sticks walking around and… I looked up. Further from anyone else. Below. In Danger. Everyone else had already released their parachutes and there I was free falling.

i pulled the string to release it forgetting all the directions the guy gave us. Forgetting why I was doing this. Forgetting the do’s and don’t’s because in the air, in the moment, in the emotion, in the.. journey… it didn’t seem to matter anymore.

And that’s what happens in real life to me. In real life. I didn’t really go skydiving.

In real life I sit on the chair at church and hear these great sermons.
“Pray! Become a person of Prayer so you can fight when the time comes!”
“Escape! Flee youthful lust!”
“Memorize scriptures! that’s how you battle temptation!”
“Kill your temptation, don’t play with it, drag it out int he street and beat it down! Don’t keep your pet sins, because they turn into ugly beasts”
“JESUS! He’s enough! HE Is all you need! He alone satisfies”.

And I walk away from each sermon thinking “what a great sermon. What a great message. How passionate and powerful”.

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Ever wake up and realize you’ve been doing a lot a hearing and listening? I did. I do.

It’s like I walk away… and in the excitement of my journey… the scenery becomes all about me and what I can see…. and I end up being the idiot that free falls right to the ground instead of using the parachute and resources that have literally been handed to me. Not just handed to me but secured to me and even within me.  I end up forgetting the instruction when hard times hit. I end up a lot more bruised and broken than if I had just heeded the Word. If I had just obeyed. If I had opened my heart not only to the emotions and the passion, but to the practicality of His word and His instruction. If I had let Him penetrate my heart…

It would have saved me so much pain… and angst… and loss…

This has been on my heart for a while now. And I have consciously since been trying to make each day… a day of obedience… but it’s SO hard! I forget what I’ve heard and I have to go review it. I forget in the worst of times. So I’m hoping that one day I have failed and reviewed and gotten back up again…again…and again…so much that it will have sunk into the utter depths of my heart and soul and I know without consciously thinking how to be obedient. So obedience can come without my white-knuckled-gripped-pained submission… and instead with my glad-hearted, open-armed-joyful surrender!

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