I actually matched the room. The 'Tropical Paradise' theme for the event I attended last night had me scrambling for ideas on just what to wear.
"Business or Cocktail attire", the invitation said. "Geez!", I moaned to myself. "Every pound that Lance has dropped in the last 3 months, has found its way to my hips and thighs! What I am possibly going to wear?"
I scanned the closet and settled on a shimmery light teal Tahari suit and then remembered that I won a beautiful necklace at an auction last fall and had yet to wear it. The necklace and matching earrings included teal and white crystal beads and a large silver starfish.
The "size 8" tag mocked me as I pulled the skirt off the hanger. I quickly reached for a pair of hose. "Dang, why did I buy 'light control' when clearly I am in need of something more industrial?" I shimmied into the hose and, thank God, the suit fit...I had to suck it in all night, but it fit fine.
When I arrived, I met several people in the lobby of the Hilton who stopped me and said, "Wow, you match the room perfectly!" Sure enough, from the centerpieces to the menu cards my teal suit with pearly off-white shoes and starfish accessories were a perfect match. Who'd-a-thunk? I sucked in my stomach a little more, pulled my shoulders back and suddenly felt a little slimmer.
My friend Midge was the honoree last night as the incoming President of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), Oregon Chapter. A wonderful association I belonged to for several years starting in the late 90's, and gave me so much more than educational meetings and networking. I built some life-long friendships that I cherish to this day.
When Midge gave her acceptance speech last night I had no idea that she would talk about how our meeting through MPI changed her life. In 2005, after I had left the association to work in missions, I was invited to come to a monthly meeting to share about my experience doing tsunami relief. That speech spurred Midge on to take charge of her destiny and she has now been to India twice. Once on a team with me and most recently leading a team of her own.
I felt so honored to be mentioned as a catalyst for her change. I admire this woman so much and love the way that I have 'ruined' her life.
Ruining lives is a goal for me. I am talking ruined in a good way. My dad ruined me when he took me to India for the first time in 2003. This trip I am leading next week will be my 14th time back to a country that has occupied my thoughts, changed my career path and has challenged me to live more transparently and earnestly for Christ.
I am ruined over people who are lost, hurting, ignorant of a God who desperately wants a relationship with Him. Ruined over those of us in the states that have blinders on and cannot see the way that we as Christians have let our country slip away from us. Ruined that we live for self and selfish gain, most of us ignoring the fact that, as Christians, we are the most gifted, talented, amazing human beings on the planet. BECAUSE WE HAVE CHRIST LIVING ON THE INSIDE OF US!
I am not saying I am doing it all right, or have arrived at any kind of super-spiritual destination. But my spirit and soul are awake, concerned, motivated and moved to action to stay ruined over things that God is ruined over.
What are you ruined over? Your unsaved family members? A wayward teen living under your roof? The homeless living in downtown Portland? Women and children caught in the horrors of human trafficking? Your co-worker in an abusive relationship?
Only when we are using our gifts and talents to serve others will be truly be happy and know the heart of God.
Tell me what you are ruined over and I will commit to praying over you and your personal mission and that you, too, will begin to ruin lives...for good.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
The first time I went to the island was an adventure unto itself. A 17 hour train ride, followed by a 3 hour van excursion, which ended at the shore of a gorgeous river where we were greeted by a canoe with a small motor. The canoe took 2 hours to get us to the shore of the island (mainly because the motor quit working half-way there).
But we weren't done yet. A newly fashioned bullock cart, pulled by two massive water buffaloes, met us in the water so we could step directly from boat to cart.
We rode for another 30 minutes across the dunes dotted with tall grass into the jungle.
A journey I will never forget and cannot wait to do again.
The people of the island are cautious, welcoming, curious and beautiful. I have always thought that Indians were some of the most beautiful people on the planet. The purity of living in this remote place shows on their faces. Especially the children. Unmarred by X-Box and IPods, they live and work, play and learn in the elements.
That day, after the long journey, we were treated to a welcoming ceremony. There are about 400 people who live here and almost all were there to greet us with a shower of marigold peddles, songs and hand shakes. Followed by an incredible meal of fresh fish curry and bananas for dessert.
We spent the day admiring their crops and sitting with the elders to discuss their needs. India Partners, the organization I work for, sent me to learn more about extending our partnership with this community. We had already built a 2-story community center, helped with agricultural projects and they had been great partners.
These people are hard workers. They were seeking help and improvements to ease their daily living. They had been devastated by recurring floods that wipe out their crops and livestock and destroyed their simple mud and stick homes. I asked why they did not leave the island and find a new home. Their answer was quick and simple.
This is their home. They own the land. Their ancestors have lived there for centuries and being from the untouchable caste, they had no other options for property ownership. They had no choice but to make it work, or live under a tarp on the side of the road in a town 60 miles away. No, they were not interested in moving.
After a wonderful afternoon of conversation and brainstorming about a passenger boat, a new school and water pumps for their crops, and some not so practical ideas, it was time to leave. I had 10 pages of their thoughts and dreams tucked away in my tote bag, and a great sense of responsibility in my heart.
One of my fondest memories of the visit was the children. We had such fun taking photos, singing action songs and making pantomime communication. The girl in the red sari and the laughing boys are etched in my mind.
As we pulled away on the bullock cart, the sun beating down on our backs, I felt a sudden urge to burst out "Just hear those sleigh bells jingle and ring-ting-tinglaling too!" I got to laughing so hard at myself singing 'Sleigh Ride' in the middle of the jungle on an island...I'm such a dork that way...it was hilarious watching the islanders laugh with me and probably at me while I sang a 'good-bye' song.
One week after we left, the monsoons hit. I cried when I got the news via email. Their gorgeous crops were destroyed, mud and stick huts washed away and 9 children perished. I wondered about the girl in the red sari and the laughing boys. Were they still there?
In 3 weeks I will find out.