Note to self

Reynerio also asked about Uncle Sek Yee. I told him he & his wife are in China for six weeks, having prayed over it now that their youngest is in college. Reyno asked me to say hey for him, & be sure to update him on USY every year I come back.



can i go home?

can i go home and sit in the dirt with my children and let humberto take pictures with my camera and carry maria everywhere until my limbs give out but her wrenching eyes ask for more?

can i go home and work beside reyno and faustino and más tar every roof we put up and take 10x longer than he does to pound in nails?

can i go home and help rosie express her gratitude to the american teams when the language barrier simply contributes to her natural shyness?

can i go home and walk up to a counter to order tacos de asada con poquito de picante para llevar and bring them back to eat while chuito serenades us with praise songs?

can i–

can i go home?

can i go home and commiserate with tamasa over her family and ask about little neri and tell her about all the sibling pairs that have come with my team?

can i go home and share forever with reynerio stories of life and God and glory and the people and places and things we’ve known? can’t i be lifted up, both physically and spiritually/emotionally, every time i see him every day?

can i go home and live in the tongue that sounds not from my motherland, but from my heartland?

can’t i? might i? i will, though, one day, won’t i?

en el cielo está preparándonos un hogar eterno.

until then, may my mind hold fast against the lies that here is less, that i am lacking, that this small time and place will last in languishing–and may it hold fast to the stories and prayers and lives that cradle pieces of my scattered heart.

until then, may my heart be daily stretched the hundreds of miles to my home church and REACh family, on southward to Maneadero and the houses and communities that mine own hands have hammered and sanded love into.

until then, may my hands be daily blessed with the strength love support my life has known, entwined with so simply so many.

until then, may my life be His light to whomever wherever whatever He gives me.

but until then,

until then, i know, i will still ask:

can i go home, Daddy?

can i go home and have tamasa’s tamales?

Catching colds & catching up

I’ve caught something. Yesterday suddenly after dinner I got the pain in the back of my throat that usually means a sore throat soon. And sure enough, I knocked out way early last night and woke up this morning with said sore throat.

Normally my immune system can handle anything you throw at it, but it’s also that periodic time where I am a little weaker, and the mosquitos probably wear my body down even more.

I hate being in business while traveling, especially at camps/retreats & México trips. Hate it. This has long been a moot point of contention, but still–why, God? Why.

I didn’t write an update reflection yesterday morning because Reyno (Pastor Reynerio) came upstairs to check in with me & we just talked. That man–that pillar of faith & rock of God–has been a personal hero & friend of mine since 2007. I have learned so much from him, been counseled & uplifted in so many ways. It never fails to gladden my heart to see him.

He wants to come to my graduation in May.

Tinho Skyped me last year the day the mission team arrived when he saw Reyno so we could talk, & he said he’d be in LA in January. I told him just to say when & I would see him if I too was in socal then. It never happened, & it turns out that he had extra difficulty getting a visa due to his prior convictions in drugs & arms smuggling. He did get a 3-day permit to be in San Diego, where he talked to a judge about his case. He’s sent multiple letters to the necessary authorities about this, & plans to send another to Washington presenting his case for a pardon. I told him if he needs anyone to testify to his new character & ministerial work I would gladly do it.

In any event, he couldn’t manage his visiting trip to LA, but he said that he expects he should be able to get his papers in order this year, especially that by May it should be alright. He wants to come to my graduation.

We talked also about Cuba, where he has friends who have to meet secretly in mountain caves to worship. They smuggled in Bibles once, in crates with beans & rice & oil covering the prohibited goods. Most of them passed inspection, but one was particularly large, & the border guards found the Bibles underneath. They then asked, “what can we do for you such that you will let us pass?”

“leave us a crate of oil & of rice,” they replied.

So the smugglers gladly did–a small price, to them, in exchange for having the precious Palabra de Dios.

He mentioned also a missionary friend he has here, from North Korea, where he used to have to walk six hours one-way every day to pray in secret.

This came after I mentioned that I had yet to be hired for next year, & if I don’t have work then, I would like to take some time off, either here in Maneadero (this he immediately endorsed) or back in Hong Kong. So he asked me how is Hong Kong, & the church situation there and in China. I told him Hong Kong was full of churches, but in China proper they are much stricter.

Tinho came upstairs partway through our talk & afterward I briefed him on it. He said it would also be worthwhile (maybe more worthwhile) to write to Sacramento as well, since the governor can also issue a pardon, assuming his crimes were in California.

I can’t imagine Reyno at my graduation. In the crowd as I walk across the Greek Theatre stage with the College of Engineering Class of 2013. I would, of course, have Tinho find & sit with him. And they would cheer together for me, my brother and my father and my pastor de México–three of the dearest men in my life.

Ojalá que sí, pueda pasar eso. Por la gracia y el poder de Dios.

Las cosas que haría yo para ti…

I slept outside on the benches of the balcony last night (Wednesday night), because that puppy Bela has adopted me & my sarape. I wanted to stretch out my stiff muscles before bed, so brought my bankie out to the balcony. The moment I laid it out, she promptly plopped herself onto the far end & knocked out shortly. After everyone went inside to bed, though, I didn’t have the heart to kick her off her adopted doggy bed; instead, I sprayed myself & my sleeping bag with bug spray, dragged my sarape & its sleeping pup pup over to the bench, & spent the night on 8-inch-wide boards.

I’ve had worse nights, though (Firenze–>Venezia), & honestly if I went back I’d probably do it again. She smells, & she scratches herself suspiciously, & she does what she wants, wandering out with us at will, but something about the trust and affinity this dumb dog shows me has got a little piece of my bleeding heart. So I bought extra sarapes today such that I could have mine to myself again. Kind of. She still sits on mine whenever some edge of it touches the ground.

I brought one of my new blankets to campfire tonight, & she spent most of the time contentedly curled up on it by the bench. How this dog has daily touched me, I cannot yet even put into words. How uncomplicated is her abandon in places of safety! How simple and steadfast her faith in her providers! How unlike me, this created creature that we would immediately look down upon!

How unlike me.

And the things that I would do for this puppy… I hadn’t intended to buy anything at the Bufadora today, but my dead-broke self dropped some pretty pennies for blankets for her to curl up on. I spent the night outside in the mosquito-infested Mexican night, balanced on a bench narrower than my body, keeping her, well at home on my sarape, company. What is love–what love is this?

And o how love propels. How love propels both man and beast–
and how love propels my Father God.

I think I have exhausted what I can as yet express that just knowing and loving this dog has taught me. Good night.

After fire-sharing tonight,

God gave me this, from “The Love of God”:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

¿Confías tú en Mí?

It’s only Tuesday? Feels like a week has gone by.

Except if a week HAD gone by I wouldn’t be here anymore.

I guess if I think about it, this week, situated immediately before Welcome Week, is kinda my Vision Retreat this year.

(I’ve got a lot to catch up on, but I’ll just keep you current & go back to Sunday when I can.)

Yesterday we started working on Fernando’s house, in upper Durango. Where we park right across from his lot overlooks the part of Durango I know, with the two-story orange church in one corner & the green-roofed yellow house I helped build in ’08 in the other, farthest corner. I wonder every day how that house’s family is doing. If the kids are still forbidden to go to church.

Workday started off rather slowly. We had problems squaring the wall outlines, but by noon we had two walls framed & up. Doesn’t seem like much progress, really. Like we coulda woulda shoulda had more done–preferably all four walls on the first day. It’s been a long time since I slammed framing nails into 2x4s & both Tinho & I got a blister on our right index fingers.

I struggled a little yesterday with gender-related issues. I came downstairs to leave in a brown cutoff top, one of those athletic numbers that’s basically a sleeveless t-shirt, & PT approached me:
“do you have a t-shirt? They don’t want tank tops on the work site.”

I’d just seen PMo walk by in a tee with its sleeves cut off, & as confused-me had this very unexpected talk with PT Kevin cam done the stairs in a cutoff as well. I pointed (indignantly, I’ll admit) at him, & he said, “oh yeah, I had to change out of a tank into this.”

I protested that if I had to change, he had to change too because our tops were basically the same cut, but it was only after Ashley spoke up behind me to say that what I had on wasn’t a tank top that I was allowed to keep on keeping on.

Later, at worksite, at one point I started helping Pastor Mo & Joseph lay out 2x4s for the stud-cutting team. I was handling the 2x4x10’s just fine, when Kevin looked up from measuring & said, “oh. Kawai. Why are you doing that–the boys should be doing it.”

I replied, “are you serious??”

“I mean. There are splinters.”

“I’ve been doing this longer than they have. I’ll be fine.”

Tinho chimed in with “actually there aren’t as many splinters as you think”

Being repeatedly reminded that there is, for some social, cultural, or subconscious reason, a different standard constantly applied to me is, at times, quite trying–it can be tiring and discouraging and demeaning.

More later I suppose. I never have enough time in these mornings.


I took some time last night to mini-process some stuff that’s run through my head these past few days via Twitter: