Thursday, January 22, 2009

one of my many mission trip reflections from 2006

Tears and White Roses

Tears, a simple salty substance that is intended to clean the eye and remove foreign debris to prevent infection. When has science ever steered us wrong? Tears do cleanse. They cleanse our eyes, but more so they cleanse our hearts.

In the seventh chapter of Ecclesiastes, verse three, King Solomon wrote; “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better.” That is probably the greatest lesson I have learned throughout this experience.

Tears, lament, sobbing, wailing, weeping, though these things we are allowing our heart to reach out and be healed. For, although no one can feel our pain, they can receive a visual reference to the magnitude of it through the link of our tears.

“We thank our American Missionaries with a great gratitude this morning as we lift our voices in a song of farewell to our friends,” Laia tearfully spoke into the microphone in the freshly painted church – our home, our project, our baby. The band began to play the sweet and simple tune as the petite, darkly tanned woman approached me with a single white rose in her hand. She beckoned me to stand and we linked arms back to the front of the room. My feet clad in pink flip-flops, sloshed through a thin layer of mud from the early morning rain. I was really confused! After a moment I realized what was going on, other Filipinas began to come into the church with roses and escort members of the team up to the front one by one. The eleven, bulky and gawky, were wrapped in a mass of bodies and love. Gentle gusts of cool wind blew from the buzzing fans. The sway of palm trees and tropical paradise engulfed with grime of exhaust from too many engines. The band crescendoed into the chorus of the song, “We thank you.”

Chickens and roosters clucked along on the street outside. I looked out upon the people squished together on hard church benches, the heat, unbearable, magnified by their closeness. Their faces glowed. I could feel the presence of something Holy weaving it’s way though the beauty HE created, straight into my heart. I glanced at the team next to me, people who had become more than just fellow churchgoers, people who had become my family.

As my eyes scaled the surreal, scene unfolding before me I caught a glimpse of Brandon, tears flowing unhindered down his face, His dirty fingers made muddy streaks across his cheeks as he wiped away the salty wetness. This boy of ten years, a football player, a drummer, a well-known tough guy, cried. That’s when I lost it. I immediately joined in the waterworks around me, my own brackish tears landing at the corners of my mouth, my heart in anguish. I will never forget that scene. I will never forget his face. I will never forget seeing his pain.
There is power to heal in tears, they speak in the silences and drown out the pain. Washing it down in great rolls of slippery wetness. It was over, our journey of finding ourselves, of understanding our connection and purpose with each other, the journey of seeking the face of God. Missionaries sucked back into America’s time warp. Removed from the splendor and squalor of that incredible place and dropped, like aliens, in a land called home, a place we don’t belong anymore.

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