Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Writers Block



Allow me to start by giving my apologies for being an absentee blogger. I can't believe I haven't blogged for over 5 months. I've posted lots of pictures and stories to Facebook but the blogging, well I just wasn't feeling it. I had started 3 different blogs but never finished them and ended up deleting them. I had a case of writers block.

That said; let’s see if number 4 is the charm.

Being so far from home unfortunately has not shielded us from the unrest, racial tensions and just general lack of faith in some institutions (our police forces and government) in our beloved country. I’m not na├»ve enough to think that these issues are just a passing thing or that they are unjustified. But, as many have and should point out (I’ll get to it also) that we can’t focus or look at our differences if we think we are going to solve these problems together.

Let me share a couple of situations that caused me to step back and think.

We recently had a new well built in our community by Living Waters International because of the generous donations of New Song Church of Prairieville, Louisiana. A group of their parishioners including their pastor came down to help in the construction. They worked hard in this Salvadoran heat (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IUDNMlKW1U) to bring a constant supply of clean water to El Maizal. They were as pleasant as could be to the people of our community, especially the children and thanked us over and over again for our sacrifice as missionaries. I never heard them complain about anything even though for most of them it was the 1st time they’ve ever been to El Salvador and trust me there are things to complain about in El Salv………, never mind. But do you get my point, what a great group of people. By the way they are Methodists.

So what do I do? One night I go online and look up Methodists because I want to know what they are about. I start reading and I’m thinking OK, I like that, Hmmmmmmm, I don’t know about that and it continues until a light goes off in this cavernous head of mine. TOM, you already know what Methodists are. They are pleasant, hardworking people who are willing to sacrifice time and money for others, they don’t complain, they appreciate the sacrifice of others before their own sacrifice and they do it all in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Why was I looking them up and reading about their faith putting my own judgment on their belief system and if I continued possibly putting those judgments onto them??? Because, I wasn’t recognizing what was right in front of me. They are who they are, described by the way they practice their faith through actions.  THAT’S WHO METHODISTS ARE!!

Now then, I’m glad I caught myself on that. So then, poor Dianne has been sick for almost 7 weeks now. She started with Chikungunya whose fever left after a week but the constant body pain continued, then the fever came back and she was diagnosed with a bladder infection. She’s not a good patient because she hates not being able to help out but the only solution is constant rest. Sooooooooo, where am I going with this? We have a dear friend who works near our house every day. When she became aware of Dianne’s health problems she volunteered to wash our clothes for us. I offered to pay her but she refused, she said we are friends, paying her would be an insult.  So she comes twice a week and washed our clothes by hand. I pitifully help but she does most of the work. Keep in mind her days start at 4 AM, so she can wash her own clothes, cook breakfast for the family, get her family going for the day, she goes to work for 4 or 5 hours till noon. Takes a 2 or 3 hour break (after making lunch) and then comes to do back breaking work at our house. By the way she’s a Jehovah Witness.
Soooo, we all know that feeling when we hear Jehovah Witness (no Christmas, no Halloween, no celebrations, what the heck). But that wasn’t enough for me, I had to go online and see what she and her faith were about. I started reading and was thinking, I don’t know about this, this sounds kind of crazy to me when the light bulb went off again. TOM, WHAT ARE YOU DOING????????? You know what a Jehovah Witness is. They are the type of people who put their own comforts aside for their family, they work endlessly to keep their lives and the lives of their families going smooth and when they are exhausted from a long hard day, they sacrifice even more for friends.  She was doing in the name of her Lord. Why was I reading about them only reinforcing the stereotype I had in my head????? I already knew by witnessing with my own eyes what a Jehovah Witness was. They are who they are, described by the way they practice their faith through actions (sound familiar). THAT’S WHO JEHOVAH’S ARE!!

For a guy who reads the Letter of James at least every couple of months, you’d think I’d get it by now. So here I was amongst great people doing great things in the name of God and twice I fell into the trap. Was it my Tempter (if you don’t get that reference read the Screw tape Letters by C.S. Lewis, ASAP). I was looking at our differences. Thanks be to God, I caught myself those times but will I next? As my Jehovah friend pointed out once as we did wash together “Tom, humans are imperfect” (Can I get an AMEN).

Let me try to pull this all together. Looking for and recognizing the differences between us, is a real fast way of creating us and them scenarios, not a great way to work out solutions to complex problems. What do we have in common? We’re all human, we’re all imperfect, we all have our great moments and our shameful ones but we’re all Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

En la paz de Dios

Tom y Dianna Wilson

But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”


Monday, July 14, 2014

God Shows no Partiality








In God’s Mission here in El Salvador, sometimes things come at us so fast it’s hard to stay focused on anything. Sometimes it’s unexpectedly hard labor, other things make us break out in smiles, others push us to tears and some are so spiritually uplifting we thank God he has sent us here. Yesterday was uplifting.

There we are shaking the hand of retired Bishop Gene Robinson of the Diocese of New Hampshire. In the words of Bishop Martin Barahona, “Bishop Robinson is a true champion of human rights and dignity”. If you do not know this man he is the first openly gay Bishop of the Episcopal Church.  For Dianne and I this was a momentous occasion. How often do you shake hands with people who defy the status quo publically to millions, who preach the love of Jesus for all people to millions regardless of the consequences  and who does all this with a consistent trust in Jesus’s words “and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age”

Yesterday we were invited to a special service presided by Bishop Martin Barahona and Bishop Gene Robinson in the honor of the LGBTI community in El Salvador and their friends and families. It was held at San Juan Evangelista in San Salvador.  Dianne and I plus 10 members of the community went for the 2 PM service to support these brave members of the Episcopal Church in El Salvador and support the Episcopal Church for having the bravery to stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are oppressed and marginalized here. It was great to see everyone there and we also met other North Americans who have been in El Salvador for a Conference on LGBTI rights held by Cristosal Fundacion who had Bishop Robinson as one of their speakers.

As we sat there taking it all in it hit me during Bishop Martin’s sermon exactly what Bishop Robinson represented. Bishop Martin mentioned how the World Cup was being decided but we needed to focus on the Eucharist, a symbol of God’s love that unites all of us as Christians. He also pointed out that in sports you hear words like humiliation and dignity but is losing a game really humiliating when compared to humiliation of losing your human rights because of your sexual orientation. Or, how does winning a game bring dignity to a team or country in comparison to a man like Bishop Robinson who brought dignity to the important discussion of Human Rights to all of God’s people. This is not dignity brought on by the elevated status of being a Bishop but the dignity of being able to express with truth, honesty and love that human rights for the LGBTI community are a mandate from God. Bishop Robinson didn’t have to sink to the level of those who opposed his views, people whose hearts were filled with anger and hate. Bishop Robinson trusted in Jesus’s message that as disciples of Jesus we can change people with truth, honesty and Love and Bishop Martin said he had witnessed this change when Bishop Robinson spoke to supporters of his and those who opposed him. As in yesterday’s Gospel of the Sower of seeds, Bishop Robinson’s message delivered with dignity does fall on good soil and many Christians do hear the message and understand and it will bear fruit multiple times over.  Bishop Martins point was that a true Champion isn’t someone who plays sports; a man like Bishop Robinson is a true Champion. As Bishop Martin said, “It might be hard to imagine Bishop Robinson running up and down the Futbol field winning the game but he has run all over the world winning the game of Human Rights. Bishop Robinson is a champion of our faith”.  I would be remiss if I didn’t add this; Iglesia San Juan Evangelista was full of Champions. These champions were the men and woman of the LGBTI community in El Salvador who have stood up for their rights knowing full well the danger it puts them in. These are men and women of the Episcopal Church who trust in God that His justice will prevail. Dianne and I were in the presence of true champions.

So there we are shaking Bishop Robinson’s hand, this Champions hand. All I can say is that it was uplifting to speak with a man of this bravery who has done so much for our faith. He thanked Dianne and me for our service to Christ and we thanked him for being such and inspiration for all of us.

Acts 10:34 - So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality.