Saturday, August 2, 2014

in which we see our own poverty

As I near the five-year mark of my time at Walnut Hill, I have been contemplating a lot what these Connecticut years have meant and the gifts that have resulted. Among the sweetest of these is the little village in Nassau that is consuming more and more of my affection.

Tonight--a few weeks after returning with a team of fourteen students--my heart is bursting with love for the little ones we've come to call friends and swelling with pride in my students, these 17 and 18-year-old fearless ambassadors of peace and goodness.

It is the greatest privilege of my life to sit at the crux of discipleship and justice, 

...where students I love are being transformed as they meet God in the dingy, mired, beautiful
{Blessed am I among women!}

...where the lowest and the least are teaching us about things of true value. 

We have much still to learn, my students and I. We have much still to repent.

Together we set our faces, unflinching, to look upon suffering, injustice, and poverty that we cannot fix. We determine to be present in a place most would prefer to ignore.

We throw ourselves headlong into the darkness to find, amazingly, 
that the Light is already there. 

And so we offer all we have, really. We give ourselves to creative work that we hope will spark more creativity. We give the millionth piggyback ride and pray that a child will know she is valuable and loved. We share our stories and ask good questions. We play, we dance, we encourage. We leave behind pieces of our hearts in this place that is at once dark and beaming because that's what love does. We open our eyes, and as we do we begin to see things as they really are.

{{It's not enough. But it's far more valuable than I could have dreamed five years ago.}}

It strikes me again, as we try to offer something that will last beyond the short week and the soccer ball we brought, that these beautiful brown babies with their deep, knowing eyes are some of my best teachers. Our upside-down world with all its lies about power and beauty tells them that our milky white skin and our privileged citizenship mean we have more to offer.

But I know a more real Reality: That their voices and their presence are needed. That they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:4). That He is near to them. That they have infinite worth because they are His.

And I wonder if they know that they are changing me, revealing the depth of my own poverty and the reaches of a Love that finds me in it.


Unknown said...

This is amazing. It put much of what I have been processing (introvert as I am) into words.
I was smiling knowingly when you mentioned the piggy back rides and feeling a twinge of a bittersweet goodbye when you described the children. No matter the amount of brokenness, I remember the love most. The love our team showed the kids and the community was prominent as we played duck duck goose and repainted the church. The love they showed us in return was more than I could ever ask for or ever expected. They hugged onto us and would not let go and drew us crayon pictures with mismatched flowers that read "You are beautiful" and "I love you". I think we all left a piece of our heart in Nassau, because we will never forget the love we shared with kids like Charles, Rosna, Nicole, Abegail, Nana, Lovely, Mikey, and Jayden. We all have names we will never forget. God will not forget them either.
"That He is near to them. That they have infinite worth because they are His." as you said is what I have been thinking about. I remember on the trip we discusses Joshua 1:9 a verse I have known my entire life, but over the past few months has become one of my favorites. It says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Just as we rely on God to give us strength, we can rely on him to take care of these kids. To place and angle on their roof at night and keep them safe. Love can reach every corner of the Earth, and it is definitely in Nassau

Sarah D. said...

Chelsea, I absolutely love this. It's been hard for me to process most of what has happened in Nassau and, going into Joni in a week, I've been feeling lost. I can't even find a place to START to process everything. Nassau is different from anything else I think anyone has experienced. On the other trips I've been on, it's been a celebration of God's blessings. But we celebrate the blessings that are so crazy that they can't be taken for granted. In Nassau, the kids celebrate a hug or half a pb&j. On Joni, the kids want to be playing and doing something, while on Nassau the kids absolutely adore it when you just sit down and talk with them, or walk around holding their hand. There is a constant theme though, love. It isn't easy for introverts like us to sort through emotions like that, yet you seem to put it right there into words. Love you Chelsk!

Chelsea said...

Well hello, my dearest ones! Thank your for your kind words and most of all for loving from the heart in Nassau! So proud of you both and thankful that together we get to be a part of what God is going! xoxo

Chelsea said...

doing* that is!