Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer lovin

It is past sunset. Is that called twilight? Well if it is, I love twilight time of the day. It looks like there is rain coming in from the east while the last remnants of the sun disappear. I'm sitting next to Case. We are listening to the Dear John soundtrack. We are manly men. We may or may not try to watch it later in the evening. If we do, I may or may not tell you.

Today was the toughest day of work thus far. Diez Mil Arboles began the process on a new section of land today. The chainsaws revved up, and Case and I were handed a tool each that would have been high-tech two hundred years ago. It was a primitive version of a scythe/sickle. I bet it would have been interesting, or really entertaining, to have watched us get down the technique. Comments flew back and forth about our coordination and clumsiness. We laughed a ton and the sweat flew. Once a tree fell, the chest high weeds fell into our deadly hands, and were at the mercy of our sickle. We showed no mercy.

The beauty we are seeing daily is incredible. The sunsets, the dim mornings, the trees, the people.

A tool which a craftsman uses becomes dull through the years, and a spring loses its tension and becomes weak, but that which has the tension of the eternal retains it totally unchanged. 
- Soren Kierkegarrd, Works of Love

Proverbs 28:1 
The wicked man flees when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. 

When one shall, it if forever decided; and when you will understand that you shall love, your love is for ever secure. -Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love

Search me O God, and know my heart
Test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139: 23-24

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mango trees galore

I get into this way of thinking over here, that the more that I say "gracias" the better I will be at speaking Spanish. In itself, this is a terrible mistake that I continue to make. Really I'm horrible at speaking it. I have to tell the speaker constantly to slow down so that I can even try to understand what they are speaking. Twice a week now, we are going to Spanish tutoring which seems to be helping a ton. Even though it is struggle to speak, we all have made huge bounds in our abilities.

A major part of the week that we live in Peru, is spent in the town of Tambogrande. Our main man, John Mark Davidson, works for the company Diez Mil Arboles. Here is the uber abridged version of what they do, and what we are doing. There business revolves around mango trees on farms in Tambogrande and the small villages surrounding the area. With the way that the mango industry has gone, the mango that they sell here now has lost much of its worth in the market. When selling these mangoes, the farmers are getting pennies practically.

The need was seen and the solution was sought out. It's over the top, God filled, and whimsy. The goal of Diez Mil Arboles is to visit and inform farmers in their homes and on their land. After seeing if the land fits the criteria and the farmer is willing, they sign a contract and everything begins. Workers will then come in and cut down the standing trees, and they will stay standing for 35 to 40 days. During these days, the brush will be put into piles and burned, the land will be cleared of unneeded vegetation as well.

I hope that you can tell that we are having a good time getting that job done.

As time continues to happen in the process, buds or shoots will start to reach out on the sides of the trunks and large branches. This is key. Into these tiny future branches, a different type of mango branch will be grafted that produces mangoes that almost triple in value of the former.

So this is the brilliant caper. We are here to make everything run smoothly, help out in whatever way is... wished, make it look like Americans remotely have some type of work ethic or worth other than sitting behind a computer, and... love. I'm praying silently as I work that I can love sufficiently. Just make any kind of difference. I'm not good enough, neither is anyone that is with me. And yet it is the one reason that I am here, the only reason that anyone is breathing, or that anyone has any kind of peace. And I am an insufficient player in it's game. At moments I am just downright bad at loving. I can pick at, criticize, ridicule, and begin to hate even all the things that I was put here to love, to be thankful for. With this type of thinking, which usually starts with a constant criticism of something/everything, a person ends up missing out on something that he would ultimately be blessed by. Simply, when I am being constantly critical, I'm missing out on blessings coming direct from the Lord.

If you're feeling the same way, it's all good. No worries. No one is always constantly good at loving. Looking around, it seems like everyone sucks at it, be it someone in a bad moment, having a bad day, or maybe they really are just unpleasant people. But who cares! This is why we have Jesus, he fills all the gaps and holes that we have, making us perfectly whole in Him, giving us life fully, where we can love in our imperfect ways and he can fix where we come up short. Thankfully, love is something that can be practiced over and over and over, like Spanish, and isn't a one time opportunity that if you mess up, you fail.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A non-typical road

The Road Not Taken

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be on traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as far,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
-Robert Frost

I'm not going to act like I know anything about poetry. I like Robert Frost which doesn't say much since he seems to be everyone's favorite, and I'd put money on the fact that everyone knows or has heard the poem above. So don't let me fool you in thinking I am knowledgeable in that area. 

But I do know that I like this poem, and I know that it is worth reading. When I read something like this, I just want it to be speaking of a Christian's walk. To be about something more than words on a paper, which most poetry appears to be to me. 

I have a big problem. I struggle with normality all the time. Maybe struggle "with" is incorrect; I'd say struggle "against" is more accurate. I hate typical, I hate normal. Period. It's not something that makes my skin crawl or give me chills, I wish it did! But to me it's something like a slime that oozes so easily into life, and before I know it, I'm flowing down the stream of normality without even noticing it. 

In his book Love Does by Bob Goff, he talks of this subject perfectly:
"There's nothing wrong with being typical, I guess, but there is nothing fundamentally right about it either. I've never read in Genesis that God created "typical" and called it good. Instead, I think men who were bored made up typical and called it, if not good, at least acceptable. People who follow Jesus, though, are no longer typical- God is constantly inviting them into a life that moves away from typical. Even if they have normal jobs, live in normal houses, and drive normal cars, they're just not the same anymore" (pg. 15)

I must confess that I almost didn't include that last sentence. I had a hard time for a while with thinking negatively about stuff I guess around what that sentence talks about. Honestly I don't want that. I want something different. But who am I to judge those who are in those situations or settings. Living in that setting does not mean that a person is not following our God. And it does not mean that they can't/aren't striving against the normality of life. Who am I to look in and judge anyways?

Bob finishes off that same chapter saying this:
"I'm not that great at spelling and thankfully my phone autocorrects the words I type for me. What I've noticed, though, is that almost every time I type in the word love, it gets changed to the word live. It's kind of a reminder to me of one of the things I learned...about following Jesus. I learned that fully loving and fully living are not only synonymous but the kind of life that Jesus invited to be a part of. And because of that, our lives don't need to be just puffs of blue smoke anymore" (pg. 16)

I don't know what I will be doing in the future. I graduate in December, and the day after I walk across the stage is a mystery. But I do know where I am today. I know where I am this summer. The path less traveled is the one I desire. I pray that I can live out that walking well. I know He will take care of everything, He knows my needs, and my less important wants. Glory to Him is of the utmost importance, and striving to be like Him, which is not typical in any way, is what I want to do daily- no matter where I am or what I am doing. Help me and walk it with me, because I know that it will make all the difference.

No rush, no fuss.

Let's just put this out there, I've re-begun this blog several times. Not because I can't think of anything to talk about, psshh, only an idiot would think that in these shoes. It's that I can not decide how to hash these things out into words. I take these photos, which I love taking and then edit, or something small yet significant stands out, and so many thoughts, topics, words, and verses flood into my head that I think would be so cool to put into this. So this is my first real attempt to tell you these experiences like a story.

We arrived Saturday after a grueling all day flight experience that Friday and a three hour nap in the Lima airport. I don't thing any of us left the hunched over exhausted sleeping position. I just know I jerked worse than I ever have in sleep, and scared the girl next to me like no other.  

Anyways, we arrived in Piura, Peru at 6:30 in the morning and didn't miss a beat after that. John Mark Davidson picked us up and took us to his house. There he introduced us to his family and the summer that we were about to begin. His wife's name is Tara, and his four kids are Kellen, Parker, Case and Mack. I don't believe we could be spending the summer with better people or a better family. The rest of the day included basketball with Peruvians, short naps, and a friendly tour of Piura from local brothers, Sebastian and Nicholas. After an incredible dinner at the locally famous restaurant, Cappuccino, consisting of much ceviche and raw horse meat, we all slept like we were drugged. 

A small side note about the culture about Peru, or at least Piura and the surrounding northern areas. John Mark told us the standing motto  "No rush, no fuss." This has got to be one of the most chill places I've been. It's as if the relaxed surf culture originated here. Typically it is normal for someone to be a few hours late to an engagement, meeting, business transaction, there's no exceptions to the chill rule. More culture notes to come.

Sunday we attended a local church in Piura, which I am having trouble recalling the name of. What an experience it was! We walked in and the not all knowing mind I possess had the thought, "This is a pretty good size, area and number wise, for a non-catholic church in Peru." Sitting down close to the back with only a few songs to go before the preaching ensued, we took in the sight with wide eyes. I really could not stop smiling. "Gracias Senor," a short elderly woman spoke loudly after she heard something that was spiritually significant. Those words are equivalent to the loud "Amen!" that is pronounced in your church back home. I think I like the one spoken here more. 

Once the preaching started, I looked at Case and was met with the same face, we only understand maybe every other word that this guy spoke. The easy part though was following along with the verses. What we could count on was the "Gracias Senor!" from the back row. Gracias Senor: Thank you Lord. Yes, thank you Lord, so much for this. It's cool how God is the same always and forever, here and in the States. No circumstance can change him. Gracias Senor. 

The events remaining in the day included some good time spent with the Davidsons and a huge barbecue at a locals house.

One morning John Mark took us to the mercado (market) in Piura. Talk about a happening place. We snaked our way through people, booths, and animals (dead and alive). If I need anything at all, I know exactly where to go. I gotta say that I am excited about going back and bartering with some of the vendors. The entire area is close to the size of a football stadium, like it could be it's own small town or huge neighborhood. There should be names for each of the "streets" that run through it. If you never hear from me again, know I'm lost in adventures in the Piura market.

As we neared the end of our tour of the market, a small rain began to fall from the overcast skies. And that smell that always comes from a needed rain floated in. I love this smell. There probably isn't a better one. The coolest aspect about it though, is that the smell is independent. The smell is constant, pure, and does not change regardless of temperature, altitude, or location. If I could have favorite parts of nature, this part has to be one. "Gracias Senor!" Thank you Father, for making nature the way you did. For making it in a way, so that when we look around, we can hear you whispering "I love you." For placing it around us to remind of that everything  is solely here for your purpose, and that you never change. That you are always faithful. "Gracias Senor." 

Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?" Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.   -Hebrews 13: 5-8

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In the beginning... was this post

Hey there. If you don't know me already, my name is Will. I attend Texas A&M as a senior in the fall and will hopefully receive my degree in International Studies. The main reason for the creating of a blog is that I am traveling to Peru this summer. I leave tomorrow actually, May 17th, out of Houston and will return July 30th. This is my first attempt at a blog and a blog post, and I'm not the writer that I tend to think I am occasionally, so bear with me.

This blog idea came up, actually this whole trip idea came up last fall. For the major I am pursuing I have to study a language, Spanish, and then study abroad for a period of time lasting at least ten weeks in a country that speaks the studied language. I began talking around because I wasn't sure what or when I was going to do this thing. All I knew was that I didn't want to sit in a classroom while I was abroad, and that I wanted the trip to be more than the typical time spent by an individual that went overseas. So time went by and I talked some more about it, and finally something came up. My college minister, Kelly Davidson, told me of a great option involving his son John Mark Davidson, who has been living as a missionary in Peru. He and a team had been working in the capitol, Lima, for quite some time. Turns out though, that he had heard of the huge opportunity to help a community in need further up north, in the rural mango farming community of Tambo Grande. I found out through Kelly that he was going to be needing help with the projects that they would be installing in the near future. 

So to cut through all the details, it all worked out! The trip passed through the International Studies and Study Abroad Departments luckily and now I get to go do a mission trip on my school's time! How about that? I couldn't tell the people working in the offices, except for my adviser in which our relationship is more of a friendship, that this was a mission trip with evangelical purposes rather than a study abroad/internship. So they think this summer I have an internship, which I really do I wouldn't lie, I am receiving at least three credit hours for "interning". But truthfully this summer is an evangelical, faith filled, Christ centered, community outreach trip made up of myself and two others that are on a dominant and bold mission. That mission being serving these people, their community, in so many ways.

Now I'm not gonna tell you everything that we are going to be doing yet. I want all of you to continue reading in the future, and I have to have other blog posts too. Let's just say this summer is going to be an adventure. I hope you keep reading my slapped together words throughout this summer (and later on if I decide to keep this thing). Thank you for even reading this one. I'm nothing special, my name is Will. The only good thing about me or the only thing that makes me good in any way or give me any worth is Christ. Yes, I believe that He is the Son of God. No, I know it. 

I can not wait to share more, and tell you of the experiences that are to be had in Tambo Grande, Peru. Have patience with me as I try to put words to some of these unspeakable experiences. Thanks and hasta luego, or whatever...