Monday, January 29, 2007

Toothpaste

I think camp in January is insane, but this past weekend was wonderful just the same. The food was good, the temperature was cold, my cabin was perfect, the mornings came too soon, but the nights were strangely quiet.
I had 5 girls who I already knew and love in my cabin. These teens don't mind the cold- two of my girls were 'swimming' in the snow- which resulted in very, very wet shoes. So the next morning, when we played dodgeball, one of the girl's shoes froze. As seh was thawing them out with her blow-dryer, I touched the sides of her shoes: they were still hard and unflexible; frozen. Another girl kept telling me she didn't need her winter jacket becaus she had 2 sweaters on. "It's not that cold." It was 'only' -30 something C (-26 or so F).

When we unloaded out bags in the cabin, I headed to the back, where the heater is and the two 'counselor' beds- which are single twins (not bunks) and have a thicker mattress. The girl who later had the frozen shoes attempted to take one of the beds and I genlty told her it was teh the counselors. She looked up at me and in a sweet voice said, "Whould you be willing to give it up for me?"
So I slept on a bunk bed.

The piece of camp that is the most significant to me probably none of the campers know about.

It was saturday night, all the campers were trudging through the snow in the trees, looking for "Bibles" (frisbees) to smuggle into 'Pakistan' (the lodge, where I was because it was warm) and hoping not to get caught by the "guards" (leaders) who weren't araid to tackle them into the snow.
So, while I collected the snuck-in frisbees and recorded which team brought them in, a leader from the boys cabin entered, and he wasn't very happy.
"We have an issue."Toothpast smeared all over the front door and door handle of 2 of the boy cabins. There was a debate over who had done this prank:
-the 3rd boy cabin (which was absent of any toothpaste)
-one of the boy cabins with toothpase (as an alibi/red herring)
-one of the girl cabins

The boy's counselor wanted whoever did it to be found and punished, and have to clean the now frozen-on toothpaste off of the doors.
The main dean of the camp (and me) thought it would be better to make all the boy cabins clean off the toothpaste, with the lessen that when you plan to hurt someone, many people have to suffer from that, not only you, but completely innocent people (and then everyone gets mad at the real people who did it, because who wants to cover for a person if they have to take the heat and punishment for them, too?), hence someone will tell us who really did it.
Our discussion became quite heated, the leader of the 'clean' boy cabin firm on the fact that all of his boys had been with them all evening (the time the incident took place) and without proof it wasn't fair to punish them. People were begining to be a little offended and voices began to get a little louder, when suddenly the leader of the clean boys cabin walked into the kitchen.
He exited calmly, holding two wet, hot dish towels. "Since it's such a big deal, I'll clean it."
He returned about ten minutes later, the towels stiff from freezing, now smelling minty from the stuck-on toothpaste. His hands were red, chapped and probably numb. He cleaned the towels, got them wet with hot water again and went back out- to clean the other door.


It might seem silly, but I thought it was such a beautiful act of service- this innocent cabin and even more innocent cabin leader who had a clean door, went out into the cold of the night to clean off the toothpaste of the other cabins, without getting any credit or recognition, and even against the will of the other cabin leader. The teens never thanked him. His hands got chapped and are probably dry and bleeding this morning. But he did it just the same, taking the punishment that someone else deserved and not even holding it against the angry leader or frustration against whoever was now out of toothpaste. No one went to help him, not the other leaders to clean off their own doors. He never said of word of complaint or even a muttering that it was cold. All I heard him say was "Hmm... minty."

Friday, January 26, 2007

Tears

Ken greets me with a crooked smile and tries to stare out of an eye he can barely open. His jacket is still flecked with his blood- the evidence of him sacrificing his body to keep his jacket. I pat him on the shoulder and would have given a hug, as well, but I just insure him that he didn't have to go to that extreme- we would have found him another coat. His hair is still short from when he was in the hospital just a month or so ago- from being beat up and stabbed.

He promised into the phone, and when he stared at me through the plastic when I went to visit him that he was going to be 'clean'. House arrest doesn't mean much to him and he is honest when he tells me he left to make a meeting at the mall- going back to selling drugs. The frustration shows on my face, I'm sure; but I remind myself that it's not my job or responsibility to change him- he has to do that on his own. He knows right and wrong, he has to make the choice.

The 11 year old is probably a 12 year old by now- taller and more independent, but barely a difference in the later. Again, the mother absent from view, he remembers me, but doesn't want to talk. I shake my head, trying not to think of so many statistics and pushing down the disappointment and anger. He is more guarded, harder and barely a boy.

It's hard to keep caring, its hard to be angry every time. It's hard to let the bruises still shock you- because it is wrong, it is injust. It's hard to feel the pain of a lie and state that it is a lie- because that's harder to deal with.

But I believe my God cries each time. I believe injustice hurts him. I believe he gets angry at parents that neglect their children. I believe God cares about each thing and he lets it hit him each time, he never grows cold or numb to it. And when I think about it- I want him to, and I want to be like that, too. Even thought its hard to keep caring, its hard to let my emotions mix in, what is the alternative?
To not care as much
To let injustice not seem so awful
To not cry when someone I love suffers

I believe God still cries each time, because we are his children whether we are running from him or realize we are desperate for him. Even when we turn our back on God, he doesn't let us walk away- He pleads for us to return, he never lets us leave his sight. I want to be like that.
I am not weak because I let these things bother me, I am not too emotional because I get angry or upset- it means I care. I need to let these things not become 'oh, that happens all the time here' 'thats not so unusual'
if it is wrong- it should cause a reaction from me.
I just need to work on healthy ways to deal with the anger, frustration and sadness.

Sometimes I think I can't handle this, its too hard, its too heavy- I get weighed down. But at the same time, I don't want injustice or suffering to become normal, something that I don't even think about because I deal with it all the time- I want it to make me cry the way it makes God cry.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Before I go to my first wrestling match.... (to watch, not participate)

So its been a bit since I've posted, thats partially due to business and another due to lack of interesting activity. Well, that's not entirely true... but one of my sisters would understand about not writing everything that happens, and another is for confidentiality's sake.

I should have pictures up soon from the camp I am going to this weekend, so look for those. Only in Winnipeg would they decide to have a teen's camp in winter! However, most of these kids like being outside in -30, it doesn't bother them- I think they are insane! Time for plenty of cold, wet socks and muddy boots.

I feel quite comfortable with the family I have been staying with- the other night the mom told me I felt like a daughter to her (the daughter who always comes home too late, the one who has blonde hair and can't speak Spanish).

Terry and her older sister came in explaining why they hadn't been dropping by like usual. "We went up north to say 'good bye' to our grandpa."
"Where did he go?"
"To heaven."
"Yeah" Terry chimes in, "We talked to him and then a few days later we had his funeral."
They were smiling, not a trace of sadness at all. It was as if they had just been on a vacation. It was shocking, but it was obvious that they did love their grandfather- there just was no sadness.

Kevin used to live right across from me, but now I don't live in that house. He drops by all the time, eats a granola bar and reads the Guiness Book of World Records while I do computer work. There was a 'domestic despute' on his front lawn by two people who live in his house- kicking and bottle smashing on evening.
The next day I asked what was new, how was life.
"Good, fine."
"Want me to walk you home?"
"Yeah, that would be fine. But can I stay and read for a little bit first? I don't like going home right after school."

Andria didn't stay for youth group. She didn't even come in. She lives with her aunt and cousins. I saw her cousin the next morning and asked if she came home that night.
"No."
I saw Andria a little over a week later, at the mall. She didn't go home until almost a week later, and no one knew where she was.
"Why do you make people who love and care about you worry so much by not coming home or not telling them where you are?"
She thought quietly for a little bit. "I don't know." She muttered as she looked at her hands.

I made pupusas yesterday. Well, 'the mom' (as she calls herself- acutally Norma) make the dough, the meat, the beans and mixed up the cheese, I just learned how to roll and fold and press together. I love fresh, hot pupusas! (a great El Salvadorian dish- meat, cheese and beans mixed in as part of the tortilla and with too much cheese it overflows and gets all crispy and wonderful on the edges).
Sharing a double bed with 2 other girls is trying, but nice. Its hard to roll over, but its great to have fun conversations until 2 am and having someone play with your hair to put you to sleep. I am usually the first one on the bus and the last one back at night. One bathroom is not enough for 4 girls (oh, and 2 boys).
And we watched American Idol and Lets Make A Deal last night, making fun of the people and laughing the whole time. Its been a long time since I've watched TV and it's fun to laugh at the people making fools of themselves or 20-some year old women who like Hanson. Okay, anyone who likes Hanson at all.

Friday, January 12, 2007

When Eyelashes Begin to Freeze

I didn't know there was such thing as a 'wind chill warning' until 7:30 this morning when I was looking at the weather. -49 C with wind chill (that's -56 in Fahrenheit), which means you can get frostbite within about 5 minutes.

Last night I walked from about 10-12 minutes from the office to my bus stop and when I breathed into my scarf, the steam from my breath was rising up towards my eyes, making my eyelashes freeze together. That also happened when I walked to the office today, just a few minutes ago.
I say it's definately too cold when your eyelashes can freeze together. I am worried about my eyeballs themselves freezing.
Some people wonder if they mix their own desires in what God has called them to, or a place God has directed them to go. January in Winnipeg certainly wipes all those doubts away.

I know it's been a while since I've written. Christmas was great, and relaxing. I didn't get stopped at the airport for any reason this time and everything has been going smoothly. Our Discipleship Training School just started and has been going great. I am staying with an amazing family from El Salvador. They cook me food- infact, are constantly trying to feed me:
Every morning- "Maria, did you eat breakfast?"
at night, even if it's long past dinner: "Eat more- you don't eat enough."
And if I eat dinner with them, they serve me a significantly larger serving than they give to themselves.
I don't feel like I'm a whimp in the cold with them ,either- I only wore 2 pairs of pants today; they wore 3, so I'm daring and bold!
They go to bed early though, and more than once this week I have had to wake someone up to let me in the house. I don't think I'll ever get used to being asleep by 10 pm.