Love, Filters, and Flowers

Today, while with the team installing water filters in the mountain, I met a woman named Daniel. She had a little boy who was 4 years old and another on the way. I asked her how old she was and she said “23”. “The same as me!” I said. Then I shook my head, “No, wait” I said, “Im 24. I forgot I had my birthday already!” And we laughed.

She had beautiful flowers planted around her house. I asked her the name of one of them and she said it was called “amor de un rato” (love for a little bit) . “Really!?” I said “That’s such a strange name for a plant”. “Well” she said “They call it that because it only flowers for a short time, and only in the mornings. The rest of the time it just looks like a regular green, leafy plant.” Makes sense.

I’m guessing she was at least 6 months pregnant. She said she thinks the baby is a boy, but she’s not sure because she hasn’t had an ultrasound.

She said she was glad that she was going to have clean water to drink, especially for her son. “The water we drink from the pila gives him diarrhea a lot” she said ” And this will help him to have diarrhea less and be healthier.” And it will be good for her and the new baby. It made me think about how accessible clean water is for me – it’s never even been a thought. And how living with diarreah and parasites from drinking bad water is normal for so many people. I know its normal. I know its common. I see it every day. But I still can’t  quite wrap my mind around it.

There are a lot of things that I can’t wrap my mind around. A lot of things that shock me. But more often, A lot of things that don’t -because I’ve gotten used to seeing them every day.

Just because something is normal doesn’t mean that it is good. Doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t stir me. Doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t arouse my compassion. But so often I find that is the case. I easily become hardened to the “every day things”. Things that should bother me. I become so caught up in the “job” of helping that I forget the “why”.

Sometimes I forget the humanness of missions. I forget. I get stuck in the fact. “People live without clean water which causes sickness and problems.” Period. All fact. No feelings.

I’m not one of those people you would call soft-hearted. Compassion has never been very high up on my spiritual gifts list. I tend to have a more ‘suck it up and move on’ mentality. And sometimes that’s okay, but very often it’s not.

I want to be tender-hearted. I want to be compassionate. I want to not get lost in the “job” of helping people, in the “job” of missions.

I do and see things every day that for the North American in me are completely foreign, but for the missionary in me are completely normal. I’ve changed. My view on life has changed. My concept of normal has changed. But my calling has not. It has been and ever will be to love people with the love of God so that they may see him and come to be his. My job is not to help install water filters, to teach english, to nanny children, to translate, to help on medical brigades, to take pictures, or help missions teams. No. My job, my purpose, my calling is to love. Period.

Fact: People live without clean water. Fact: Someone named Daniel didn’t have clean water before today. The water she had makes her family sick and gives her little 4 year old, who is named Nelson after his father, and who is very shy, and will be starting kindergarten next year, diarreah.

Fact: We install water filters. Fact: Someone named Daniel, who is pregnant with a new little baby, who’s husband used to do drugs but gave them up when Nelson was born, who goes to church every sunday with her son even though her husband doesn’t go, accepted Jesus today because people willing to be used by God came to show her love. The means by which they brought love was through installing a water filter in her home.

Fact: It’s easy for me to get caught up in the normality of things. Its easy for me to lose focus, harden my heart, and become stuck on the ‘job’ of things. And sometimes being overwhelmed in the messiness of humanity scares me and I back away. Fact: Today someone named Daniel, who loves flowers, who has strong faith and has a wonderful sense of humor, reminded me about the humanness of love. And how just being caught up in the work of it all isn’t really love. It is just a resounding gong. Empty, shallow, and good for nothing but the short sound it gives off – and then it dies.

 

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13

 

And as I finish writing this blog post, God, in all his wisdom and humor, brings to my mind this analogy: I don’t want to be like the “amor de un rato” plant, that blooms(gives love) in the beginning, but then gets caught up in the work of just being a plant. But that instead I would

first,

last,

and always

love.

 

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