Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Story on the Cultural Humor Page

Why not pop over to the Cultural Humor page for a new story about  a gardener who loses all his hair ... all because of a language mistake.

You'll find several other language blooper stories there, too. I hope you enjoy a few giggles.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Life in the Midst of Death

Rachel and I are now back home after nearly two very busy weeks away from our regular activities. Before we left, I wrote about our expected activities, although I didn’t actually know precisely what all we would be seeing and doing.

One thing I thought we would do was visit a slum community where people live under a bridge. We didn’t get to go there, but we did see work being done in a number of other interesting places. I’ll share about a few of them in my next few posts.

One of our first visits was to a slum community where people have made their homes in … of all places … a cemetery. The idea of living in a cemetery seems very strange to most of us. It is a necessity for these people

We walked along the outer edge of this community, where a body of bright green stagnant water was no doubt an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes of all types.

Along the banks, we passed one tiny cement block shelter after another. Old women, young mothers with tiny babies, and small children stood in the doorways watching the visitors pass by. Most of our group couldn’t speak Indonesian, but I was thankful that Rachel and I could at least speak to them for a little bit.  

Once we left the small pathway past the green water, we returned to the side of the strip of dwellings that faced the cemetery itself. A few monkeys were tethered to trees. Geese and goats roamed freely through the area, lying down to rest wherever they wished. Plastic bags and other rubbish could be seen everywhere.

The graves at the edge of the cemetery were in such close proximity to the shelters that in some cases, people used the fences around them as a place to dry clothes. Tables were set up right over some of the grave sites. In a couple places, I saw broken-down seats from old cars placed among other graves as a sort of open-air living room. As people step out of their doorways, those reminders of death were right there only a step or two away. In some cases, I am pretty certain that there were actually grave sites inside their dwellings. 

I am struck with the thought that we were seeing life in the midst of death. At the very least, we were seeing people living in the midst of death.

Thankfully, we did not see only the sad living conditions of the people. We also saw a group of medical professionals – a doctor, a dentist, a nurse, and a pharmacist – who give of their time to regularly visit this community and others like it to offer free health care. By giving of themselves in this much needed manner, with no strings attached, they share the love of Jesus with these people who are dearly loved by God.

As they do, they also reflect the One Who is THE LIFE in the midst of death.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Dump - Part Five

Then, as if from a distance, Andrew heard the words of the Prince. “I give you the authority to tell Sickslug to leave you …  Your chains are gone now.  Sickslug has no more power to force you to do anything you don’t choose to do. … You must resist in the power I give you.  If you try to resist Sickslug in your own strength, you will fail. Depend on Me. I will give you victory.”

I give you authority… Your chains are gone… 
He has no more power…
Depend on Me. Depend on Me. Depend on Me.

Andrew knew what he had to do. Suddenly, he straightened up and stood tall. Looking Sickslug right in the eye, he declared, “No. Never again! I may not be strong enough on my own to resist you, Sickslug. But the Prince has already beaten you, and I stand with Him. You have no more power over me. You know it. I know it. Now, get out of my sight. I want nothing more to do with you or anything you have to offer.”

As Andrew exercised his newly granted authority as an adopted son of the King, the smirk fell from Sickslug’s face. He suddenly seemed much smaller than he had before. The paper with the filthy picture fell from his hands.

“I’m leaving now,” said Andrew. “I won’t be back, except to invite these poor fellows who you have picking through your garbage to join me at the King’s banquet table.”

Turning, Andrew saw another young man in filthy, smelly clothes watching the altercation. Andrew recognized the hungry, empty look in his eyes. It was the same look that he had seen in his own eyes just the morning before.

“What about you, my friend,” Andrew asked. “Do you want something better than you have found here?” The young man’s eye’s spoke volumes. “Come with me,” Andrew invited. “I’ll introduce you to the King.”

Sickslug opened his mouth to protest, but Andrew silenced him with a glance that reflected the Prince’s authority. The dirty, ragged figure stepped toward Andrew and away from the garbage dump.

“Let’s go,” said Andrew. With his hand on the shoulder of his new friend, they walked together to the palace of the King.

Part One     Part Two     Part Three     Part Four     

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Dump - Part Four

When Andrew woke up the next morning, he began to think about all the other young men who spent their days with Sickslug in the garbage dump. They had no idea what they were missing.   

He was a little afraid that everyone would laugh at him if he told them that the King had adopted him, but he decided to go to the village anyway.  Who knows, there might be someone who would believe him and want to come to the King’s palace as well.

So Andrew made his way to the village.  He planned to get there early in the morning before most of the people he knew had headed toward the dump.  But something strange happened.   

Actually, it wasn’t so strange, because the Prince had already warned him about it. Andrew didn’t remember the warning, though.  All on their own, Andrew’s feet took him down the old, familiar path to the garbage dump.  Before he knew it, there Andrew was, standing next to the stinking pile of rubbish.

“What am I doing here?” Andrew thought in horror.  “I didn’t plan to come here.  I don’t even want to be here.  Not after eating at the King’s table and talking with Him.”  Just about the time he was ready to turn away and leave, along came Sickslug with a wicked sneer on his face.

“Oh, don’t you look nice, all dressed up in those fancy clothes,” he sneered sarcastically.  “You probably think you are too good for all of us at the dump now.  Well, I have news for you.  Nothing is any different today than it was yesterday.  You think you are free of my chain.  Well, think again.”

Sickslug pulled a magazine out of his coat pocket and opened it to a particularly disturbing picture, the kind that Andrew used to like to look at. “Come on,” he said.  “You know you want to look at this.  You always liked this stuff. Come on, you know you want it.”

“No,” Andrew cried out, cowering like a puppy that expected to be kicked. “No, I don’t want that. Not anymore. Please, please just leave me alone.”

Despite Andrew’s protests, Sickslug waved the picture in front of his face. “Come on, Andrew. Just a peek won’t hurt. Just one little look and you’ll remember how much you enjoyed this.” The oily voice was convincing. Surely one little look wouldn’t be that bad. Old habits die hard, and Andrew’s old habits were not dead yet.

Slowly, excruciatingly, Andrew’s eyes began to turn toward the image on the page. He wasn’t strong enough to resist this temptation. Sickslug smirked, certain he had won.

(To be continued ...)

Part One     Part Two     Part Three              Part Five

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