perder la vida

Learning to Live Missionally and Mindfully

My People. March 30, 2010

Filed under: creativity flowing,frustration,jesus,missional living,thinking — Katie @ 12:09 am

The past few weeks have been really hard on my emotions, body, social life, relationships, and all the other things that suffer when you’re stretched too thin. I waste what little truly free time I have because my brain is so fried that I can’t convince myself to be productive. But I also can’t convince myself to not be productive…. or at least I can’t convince myself that it’s okay to sit back and truly relax. The last day I had “free” where I could do whatever I wanted was the day I was sick several weeks ago… and I still did schoolwork and had to deal with the beginning of the end of my car. So, needless to say, I am in need of rest.

Today, I was about to break. Teaching and going to school plus having a life is all starting to get to me. But today some of my sweet students reminded me of my future as a teacher and of how the work I am doing now is all worth it. I try to bring a variety of books with me to 2nd grade for students to read when they have free time. Since testing is going on, the school day was a little more relaxed and there was plenty of time for free reading. My book selection today was a selection of poetry books. Two Langston Hughes books, a Caribbean poetry book, and a fun-read poetry book were the choices.

For about half an hour, I sat with five students… listening to them read beautiful poetry, question its “point,” and having them ask me to read poetry to them. It was the most beautiful moment of my entire time at Southview. I had no idea they’d be so interested in poetry… and interested in poetry that they didn’t necessarily understand. Hearing a struggling reader boldly read “Theme for English B” or the laughter of little boys when I explained the meaning behind “When Sue Wears Red” or the sweet song of a girl singing “Hey!”…. it just made my heart smile.

But the moment when I had to hold it together so I wouldn’t bust out in tears of thankfulness and adoration was when my little bitty ball of fire read “My People” with the passion and enthusiasm of a great orator. As she read, the uncomplicated words felt like a blanket around my worn-out soul… reminding me of the simplicity of the world and of the beauty of such magical moments.

“My People”

The night is beautiful,

So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,

So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.

Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

– Langston Hughes


Back from the ‘boro March 18, 2010

Filed under: frustration,jesus,missional living,spirtual matters — Katie @ 2:28 pm

It’s Spring Break. WORD.

Originally, I had no Spring Break plans other than to sleep, relax, and catch up on schoolwork. Then I decided that was ridiculous. So after a brief chat with my mom, I thought that a trip to Greensboro (NC) would be a great idea. It WAS a great idea! It wasn’t a very long trip… but long enough to get away from Tuscaloosa, catch up with some great friends, and fall a little bit more in love with North Carolina.

What I realized about Greensboro during this trip is that it’s just a really big small town. As Greensboro has grown, it has built itself around existing buildings and homes. I’m sure many structures have been demolished over time to make way for growth, but many more remain. The downtown area is also not overwhelming… nowhere near the madness of Atlanta or Boston. Okay, I know those cities are much, much larger than Greensboro… but… that’s what I think of when I think of driving downtown! Anyway, I could go on and on about all the things I love about Greensboro.

But, what I loved most about this trip was our visit to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum (could they have chosen a longer name?). According to Alisa, Greensboro is where the civil rights movement began. 🙂 The museum is actually located in the old Woolworth’s department store building, which is where four young men from NC A&T protested the injustice of the continued practice of segregation. They began their protest on February 1, 1960. Within a week, students from other universities in the south began holding their own sit-ins. Within three months, the sit-in movement had swept the racially tense south and helped bring racial segregation to an end.

Since I am from the south and have experienced modern racism, I am fascinated by anything and everything to do with the civil rights movement. But, this museum moved me in an unexpected way.

The first exhibit featured a KKK robe and hood. I did not expect to see that… at all. It was in a dimly lit case and, at first, I didn’t notice it. I walked closer to the case to read an information board on an adjacent wall. Then, I realized I was standing right next to this disgusting artifact. Once I realized what it was, I almost broke down in tears right then and there! There is a part of me that is so ashamed of the people who came before me. None of my family was involved with the KKK… in fact, my great-grandfather (a rich landowner, farmer, and employer) set an example in our community for helping African-Americans. But, I still cringe whenever I see anything related to that awful organization. I wondered how I really would have felt about blacks during the 50’s and 60’s. Would I have been a friend? Would I have helped fight for civil rights? Or would I have fallen into the trap of ignorance like so many southern whites?

I could go on and on about the things I saw in the museum and how I feel and how I am constantly taking for granted the freedoms and civil liberties that we have now. Just being able to stand in the same room with people of all races is a major achievement. But, what I haven’t stopped thinking about since the visit is not about race at all. I started thinking about human trafficking and the fact that there are more people enslaved today in 2010 than there were before the American emancipation. I don’t think about it much because it’s not as prominent in the U.S. But, countries across the world are harboring and trading human beings for sex and labor. India alone has 40 million bonded slaves (the Dalits/Untouchables) working to pay off the debts of their ancestors.

I wonder what I can do… I wonder if I can do anything. I wonder why our attention has been on Iraq for so long when there are so many more people hurting across the world? I wonder why we are stuck on one civil rights movement (Though powerful! And important!) when our global brothers and sisters in our current day and time have no civil rights and no liberties are are being treated like animals. I wonder if things will ever change. To me, the problem seems so big that there may not be a solution. But I hope that as we become more aware of the realities of this world,  people will begin to take a stand the way those four young men took a stand for racial equality in a time of division and hatred. And maybe… just maybe… one day I will walk through the halls of a museum dedicated to the disenthrallment of slaves everywhere.

That was deep. 🙂


two cities May 21, 2009

Filed under: jesus,mindful living,missional living — Katie @ 9:37 am

Last week, I was in Gualaco, Honduras with a group from UCM mixing concrete and playing with kids. We left early on Sunday, May 10 and returned the night of May 18. Though it was only a week long trip, it was powerful, Spirit-filled, and a huge impact on my life, my journey, and my project.

From the beginning, I knew that the Lord had his hand in this trip. The $800 expense was intimidating, but I believed the Lord would provide. Not only was I able to pay for my trip, passport, supplies, and spending money, but I was also able to pay all but $170 of someone else’s trip. I say that not to boast, but instead as a testament to the Lord’s faithfulness to me and to a friend who simply asked the Lord to make provisions for her. I also received bags full of clothes, toys, toiletries, aspirin, and other items to leave in Gualaco. I checked two bags full of donations and also had to put donations in other people’s luggage in order to get it all there. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity, love, and support from my family and friends.

The week was absolutely amazing. Once we got to Tegucigalpa, we had a four hour drive to Gualaco, where we stayed at the Iglesia de Cristo. There were 33 of us in all, including our leaders from UCM, a couple from Auburn, a crazy red head from Tennessee named Kayla, and our leader, Keith. Keith has been traveling to Honduras about twice a year for the past twenty years, bringing groups like ours to pour concrete into houses of those in need. The first day of work was a bit too hard for me physically, as our group was hand-mixing rather than using a tumbler. So, I spent most of my time with the kids in the area. In high school, I took French, so all the Spanish I knew was thanks to a Spanish-English dictionary I purchased before the trip. By the end of the week, though, I was speaking what I consider to be really great Spanish! I also discovered my mad shoveling skills during the week…. so, large piles of dirt: WATCH OUT!

I wish I could write down all of the things I experienced and saw, but I will just upload my flikr account soon and you can check out the details of my journey there. I did not get to visit the clothing factory, but I talked to Keith about it and hopefully he can take me next year. The time we spent in the capital at the end of the week (we stayed for a day and a half to be “tourists” before heading home) was just too busy for me to be personally taken somewhere, but I am confident that I will have another opportunity.

My hope is that the frustration, guilt, and heartache that began stirring in many of us motivates us to work within our own city. Many of us had not seen such extreme poverty and it was difficult not to feel completely spoiled and guilty for the way we live in America. I hope this trip opened our eyes to the needs of those around us. In Tuscaloosa, there are seven major impoverished areas that so desperately need revitalization and hope. My prayer is that we begin to see the needs in our own backyards and begin to take the time to serve the people of our own communities on a daily basis. There is poverty all around us, hurt, pain, confusion…. lost souls. I have said many times that our country is not a land of physical poverty but instead a land of emotional poverty. Even those of us who live relatively safe, secure, and spoiled lives are often living in extreme emotional poverty. If we could only open our eyes wide enough to see the needs of our neighbors and open our hearts wide enough to meet their needs, we would begin to see God’s miraculous works within our own city.

So, as great as my week in Gualaco was, I am glad to be home again where I can continue to build relationships and serve the poor and needy in my own hometown. Honduras, for me, was a time of refreshment for the passion God has placed in my heart for voluntary poverty and backyard missions. I believe He will continue to send me on trips like this for encouragement and for furtherance of what He has called me to do.

Thanks to those who prayed, donated, and thought of me while I was away. There is no way the week would have gone the way it did if my friends and family at home hadn’t been doing their part.

It’s now 4:36 a.m. and I am ever-so-slightly missing the church rooster, who woke me up around this time everyday……