Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Real Life

A month in the US and now 3 weeks back in Honduras, I find
myself thinking about real life.  Does it ever seem like the scenes and people you see are part of a Hollywood set?  "Wow!  Those people, those houses are so realistic!"  Then you move to the next "set" and the previous one is forgotten.  So, I moved through many "sets" in the last couple of months.  There was the Chicago "set", city street scenes, the river scene, the lake scene...  On the Magnificent Mile set, amidst highbrow stores and sidewalks crowded with lots of extras, my boys and I were passed by a very out-of-place "extra."  A frail, filthy man shuffled passed us.  He made eye contact with no one and seemed to be headed purposefully somewhere, albeit very slowly.  He had pieces of cardboard tied to his bare feet offering some protection from the concrete sidewalk.  His toes were bleeding from who knows what.  He shuffled past us before our brains had a chance to register the scene.   I think deep down I was waiting for, hoping for "Cut!  It's a wrap!" The man would take off his costume and join the other extras at the canteen for a snack. 

The thing is...real life doesn't go away.  He wasn't an extra, he is a child of God.  He is still shuffling along the streets of Chicago, perhaps searching for new cardboard to replace the worn out pieces we saw.  I wonder what the state of his toes are.  Did they heal, are they getting worse?  What will he do when Chicago's famous winter sets in?  We did get a grip on the situation enough to dig in our wallets for some money.  Hunter ran back down the street to thrust the bills in his hand.  Later and still I am haunted by him and my inadequate response.  Why didn't I stop, put our sightseeing agenda on hold, and take him into one of the stores to buy him shoes?  Why didn't we find a drug store to get first aid supplies to clean and bandage his toes?   I pray I will see him again when I go to Chicago again in a couple weeks to attend Hunter's graduation.  This time I will be ready, if God will grant me another chance.

There is lots of real life in Honduras too.  This week we have yet another sweet team.  (God is so good sending team after team of very different, very wonderful, very surprising people to us.)  All but one is on his very first mission trip. Again I am able to see Honduras and our ministries through fresh eyes.  Again, it is easy to slip into Hollywood mode as we zoom by the "poverty sets" on the way to SBV.  The "extra" who is in the dumpster holding up a discarded plastic bottle to add to her collection of trash and detritus to sell later for a few lempira (dumpster diving is how Honduras does recycling.)  But, of course, there are no sets.  This is how people, God's children, live every single moment of every single day. There is no respite from their hard lives.  The rain pours into their homes made of scrap wood and tin.  Mothers can't provide the basics for their babies.  People with chronic illnesses can't control them.  Every day.
A family's home
Working the dump to provide for their families
Deaf mute too poor to buy food for the 3 meals a day needed to control his raging diabetes

But there so many opportunities to participate in God's redemptive love. 

 So, I ask myself.  Am I an extra or am living a real life?  It is not as easy a question as that may seem.  It takes focus and concentration every day.  Seeing each person as Christ sees them and then, as Christ does, keeping them in your heart.  That is being real. 

"Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?"
  I will, with God’s help.