Flashback III: For My Daughter

This is part of an old and complicated story… a place in my life that I was taken from with some amount of pain.  Maybe one day I will tell it… but for now this is the message I had for a daughter who was once and briefly mine.

Even though I had no part in bringing you to life and didn’t give your little body a home, I am the woman honoured with shepherding you at this moment, the end of your girlhood. I see all my habits and flaws in the stark light of Truth. I see how much of me needs to change, and how much has changed by Grace, for me to be worthy of being your example.

I also see the innocence, the unbruised hope, and pray that it lasts throughout your life. I watch you battle next to me as I battle through the challenges of my life, practicing for your own womanhood in the shadow of my example. I see you grieve for me as I grieve, learn as I learn, and grow as I grow. And sometimes more.

I long for you to love yourself as I love you. You are a unique being created to reflect a beautiful part of God’s image that no other being has ever done or ever will do. So BIG and AMAZING is our God that each person, a prism to reflect a part of the image of who He is, is unique. Your piece, your unique image, is one that cannot be replicated and is beautiful and strong.

He must have been smiling designing this woman on His heavenly drawing table, delighted in her intricate mind and the mystery of each cell of her body. Late into the night I imagine that he drew, as the angels sang in the background. He put you in a welcoming womb and laughed with you as you first smiled up at your adoring mother as she counted ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes in awe. He grieved with you and sheltered you under his feathers when she was untimely ripped from your tender life. He sheltered you from blows and led you to a place of safety over very rocky ground and slippery slopes. Of COURSE He loves you!

You are special and dear to him and to me.

And so my dear one, never let any man, woman, pastor, friend, teacher or enemy change the way you look at you. YOU are beautiful for a reason – He decided you should be and delighted when He made it so. YOU are strong for a reason – He decided you would be and He made you so. YOU have your own mind for a reason – He wanted you to know Him for yourself and He made it so. YOU are right here right now for a reason – His plan for you is perfect and He will make it so.

Do you baby. Only you can do you. He made it so. And so, in thanks to Him, do you WELL.

To see the other Flashbacks in this series, visit the links below:
Advertisements

THE YAG (Mysterious Happening #2)

It was the same weekend as Mysterious Happening #1 and it was a miracle explosion.

In 2011 two young women from my church began a discussion about starting a Bible study for young adults.  They met a few times, talked around the subject with the pastor, but it didn’t quite take off.  In November they invited myself and another young woman into the conversation and now there were four of us.  We looked up a Bible study, selected one on relationships, met once, and still it didn’t take.  A little bit disheartened, we prepared to launch in January.  In our preparation we ordered books, selected a venue, worked out a menu, and launched the CIBC Young Adults page (Now called The YAG) on Facebook.  All of a sudden we were official!  Now to see if there were others out there like us who were wanting to study as well.

The Sunday before our first meeting we met with our pastor and prayed for guidance, for attendance, for the Spirit to prepare our group.  We expected five people at our launch of RELATE.

Twenty-five showed up.  The seats in my living room were all taken and some of us took the floor.  All our books were gone at meeting one and we made another order.  At meeting two there were even more people!  It was called AFTERGLOW, and we were blessed with music from Jordan and Heather Richmond, and there were no less than 40 people there.  And now we need to order MORE books!  Almost immediately it was too big for my living room and a couple from our church kindly donated the use of a warehouse that they have refurbished – wooden flooring, air conditioning, plush rugs and cozy seating.  Our Friday night (to Saturday morning) meetings continued to grow as we got deeper into the makings of good relationships.  It is the Happiest Happy Hour I’ve ever been to!

Our study is one of the Threads collection, called RELATE.  In our first meeting a visiting theologian gave us an introduction to the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was quoted in our study and was, coincidentally (nah no coincidence) the subject of his own thesis.  The first topic was Understanding Relationships.  We came to understand there is one fundamental need every human being has in their relationships – either Security or Significance.  With this foundation we came to understand more about ourselves.  We discussed the revolutionary idea that relationships are NOT ABOUT US but about the purpose we were created to fulfill.  The six “one anothers” of the New Testament were broken out for our exploration and the relationship armour of Colossians 3:12-14 were also chewed on for a good amount of time.  We are now half-way into session two – Developing Relationships, what our stumbling blocks are and what we should aim to bring to the table.

“Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community.  What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ.  Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to the both of us.”  ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

In the short space of a month this has snowballed into much more than a Bible study.  It has become a whole new community, a social circle, a support system.  Young adults are coming from other churches – Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Presbyterian, Church of God, no church at all – we are coming from all walks of life – teachers, civil servants, lawyers, students, unemployment – and we find belonging with each other.  Friendships are being formed, relationships are being rescued, issues are coming to a head, characters are being strengthened, and each of us is making the journey of the others rich in love and support, companionship and prayer.  It seems as though 2011 was a dark year for many of us – breakups, divorces, affairs, family drama, unplanned pregnancies, unemployment, alcohol-soaked violence, baby mama/daddy drama – things that make my haircuts seem trivial.  Our members have each walked out of their own individual pool of pain and into the arms of the others.  Our Facebook group has over 100 members – for an island of 50,000 people that’s pretty revolutionary!  In the space of a month our lives have begun to change – we have had a Bitterness Burning, a Baptism, a Birthday party, Valentines Cupcakes, we watched Courageous together and we have members calling in from other parts of the world on Skype.  It is our deep-seated conviction that no one should go without encouragement.  And now we are launching our missions!  We are working with our church to host Nicole Mullens in two free concerts at the end of March and we are planning our first international mission as I type!  Perhaps it will involve cupcakes… who knows?

THE YAG - heart in hand

None of us could have predicted how far this would go.  None of us could have planned for any of the growth we have made!  The mystery is in the peace that comes with being together.  Now we long for Friday night and call out encouragement and help and meet with one another throughout the week.  We are so blessed to have each other and to rest in our Father’s arms together.  And as we are salt and light during our work weeks and in our communities, we take comfort in knowing there is salt and there is light just a street over, around the corner, at another desk, in another place, and that that person is also keeping us in prayer before our God.  At the beginning and in the middle and at the end of the day it’s all about Him.

And then I had this dream… handing out cupcakes in La Ceiba.  It could happen!  In fact, before the end of the year I am sure it will.

Another time I will describe my own path to YAG and through YAG and how it has changed everything.  If you are interested in sitting in on one of our sessions, or even joining our group study, please drop a comment and I will send you material and arrange your link into our meetings.  We are setting the world on fire!  I invite you to be the spark that lights the flame where you are.

Walter – (Mysterious Happening #1) – A tale of YAG

 Family secrets and secret family – all revealed in God’s time!

OK so this didn’t begin as a YAG story.  It began on the same day of the YAG and was one of the two mysterious happenings that changed the faces of my present and of my future.  I invite you to pray for me that it be a change that stays with me forever.

This first mysterious happening began with an invitation.  Our church, the Cayman Islands Baptist Church, hosted over 30 pastors from Honduras and Cuba for a weekend of continued education and training.  It was a retreat and the visitors were hosted by church families and went to full days of training by American and Caymanian pastors (translated to Spanish) and the pastor of our sister church in Cuba (translated into English).  Two of these gentlemen were hosted by my parents and I shared a few memorable meals with them, sharpening iron with iron and refining my own language skills.  In church on Sunday the whole contingent treated us to a heavy baritone rendition of a well-known praise song in spanish and Pastor Randy introduced a few of them by name.

Enter Walter.  Or should I say, THE WalterS.  Walter Bush Snr. and Walter Bush Jr. from the First Baptist Church of La Ceiba.  The name Bush hit me like a cold water drop from an a/c unit and I turned with eyes lit up to my mom.  She was smiling and wiggled her eyebrows at me.  After service ended and our church family gathered together to catch up I walked up to a YAGgie girlfriend of mine speaking to two vaguely familiar men.  As I came into earshot I heard one of them say to her “Our roots are in Cayman but we wouldn’t have a clue as to where to look to find our family here”.  On approach the older man lifted eyes identical to mine – a rare mix of hazel and green – and I said “You must be the Bushes”.

Thus began an animated conversation with my cousins.  Mr. Walter Snr. is the image of what I have always imagined my grandfather to look like.  My mom confirmed it to me – his height, his eyes, his aura of calm is much like her father.  Walter Jr. and I spoke at length of what it is to be a Bush – the satellite ears, our unique battle as a family with compulsiveness, the addictions that our compulsiveness can drag us into, our family attachment to mutton peppers, our family recipe for our famous pepper sauce (IMAGINE!), the power of our personalities.  We were invited to visit them and exchanged email addresses and parted ways with smiles deep down in our hearts.

And now the Walters have called… on the day that I dream of handing out cupcakes in La Ceiba.

Goodbyes and the Eagle

And the little Monkey shall lead me…

This morning as I wake to bread and guava jelly made by Nena and black coffee I rise with a grateful heart and the knowledge that I am truly privileged.  I am blessed with the love of an aunt in Myce and a cousin in Monkey and I am honoured with the friendship of their amazing family.  I must say THANK YOU to each of them for touching my life.

First there are the sipotes, Fiore, quiet and efficient little gallina, and Christian – “No soy ‘Christian’, soy ‘Krristiang’.  Soy hondureño, no me gusta como dicen ‘Christian’ en inglés!” (He hates how his name sounds in English so I got pronunciation instructions.)  He is funny and stubborn with little man ways in his young form about to burst into adolescence.
And then there is Bo, already a man at 19 with a gentl espirit and a will of iron.  It is fascinating to see his will meet the will of Monkey’s in confrontation!  She has her little fingers around his heart but he is her match when she steps out of line.  His companionship during this trip has reminded me of my own brother, another gentle man of iron, and I am honoured to be his friend.
But the center of this family and the rock on which they lean is Nena.  “Ab’ela Nena” Monkey calls her, over and over in a slow chant, but she is Nena to all her friends.  A woman of colourful intensity and passion, spirit and integrity, a cancer survivor and a warrior soul, she has been my hostess and my guide, my sage and my joy.  And these have been an inspiring four days with her.  Her family is blessed to have a lifetime of Nena and everything and everyone in her orbit benefits for her fairness and her gracious generosity.
Monkey and Myce remain in Honduras while I make my way home to my usual life.  They will rest in the womb of their family awhile longer and I will miss them very much.  Nena has packed me up with her homemade wine and cocoa powder, stories of La Ceiba and treats for my family.
I am sorry to leave these loved ones but will return to my daily life the better for having been with them.
Goodbyes are always difficult with people you love.  Today I felt tears tickle the back of my eyes as Fiore hugged me goodbye and Kristiang told me to make sure I took everything with a cheeky little tilt to his head.  The morning went quickly – breakfast on the patio and the drive to town to buy queso to take home to my mom.  All packed and ready to go, I settled with my Myce on the porch.  Monkey took me for a walk in the garden, Fiore climbed the guava tree and Bo cleaned the glass on the truck for our journey… just another afternoon in Honduras.  But today I must say goodbye.
The heart-wrenching parting over, I found myself sitting in the waiting room in Aeropuerto Internacional Golosón with a panoramic v iew ofthe mountains.  The clouds hung in tendrils over the peaks and slid mysteriously over like a seal sliding into a pool.  My goodbyes lingered bittersweet as my bird, Cayman Airways, taxied in.
Only an hour ago I was sat on Nena’s porch looking at another beauty fly toward me.  This one was born to fly and with respect I realized I could never have a claim on it.  The eagle circled, looking for prey in the lowlands off Nena’s porch.  My breath caught as it dipped out of sight only to soar again, likely with something wriggling for its life in its strong beak.  The wildness was breathtaking and there was a quickening of our blood as we all stood, eyes to the sky, watching.  My camera was packed and I didn’t want to miss a second of the sight of this untamable bird.
But its presence, its wild glory, will stay with me in a place in my heart right next to Nena, Bo, Myce, Monkey and the sipotes.  I leave them in the hands of God, La Ceiba and the Eagle.

Man’s Best Friend – Orphan’s Competition

Even in Honduras dogs flock to me.  They are not the coddled and spoiled pooches I have left at home but skinny black mongrels Beethoven and Pantera.  They are loved but not like children, more like instruments of defense.

Beethoven is ill.  He is very skinny and has a leg that he won’t let touch the ground.  Nena believes someone hit him in one of his wonderings outside of the yard.  At first he was terrified of me, scurrying off the patio when I came outside.  And Pantera, protective of her ailing brother, barked and howled at me once.

Until I shared my semita with them.  Now I have two friends that sit as I write in the corner of the patio.  Pantera just walked over to kiss my feet before ambling to her place at the foot of the armchair her brother is curled up on.

They are well fed and treated – better than some of La Ceiba’s children.  It is one of the great ironies of life that I grapple with.  My dogs sleep in their own beds and can count on me to give them two walks a day. fresh water to drink, food to eat or ignore, and treats when they obey.  They fall asleep next to me, under my head, on my belly, and manipulate me with mischief into bribing them with sausage to behave.

And more than 300 million of the world’s children are without food, without water, without love, without protection and have no shelter.

This is why I get impatient with yuppy environmentalists who protest against dolphin parks and other forms of animal captivity.  Do they not realize that in the wild many of these animals will die brutal deaths on the food chain?  Do they not realize that in captivity they have a life of protection and provision that would be the envy of a large percentage of the world’s children?

A little monkey shall lead me…

One moment on my night of Flor de Caña haunts me today.  A little boy, shivering with cold in a clinging wet shirt four times his size came up to the window on the other side of the baleada stand when we stopped at La Línea.  As the lady prepared our baleadas on one side, his face appeared like a ghost, muddy and full of need.  I dug through everything – pockets, purse, brassiere – secret stash for safety sake – trick learned in Jamaica from my daddy who uses the far less fresh hiding place of his socks.   I found change enough to give him, yet not enough to make him the target of bigger urchins, and added it to the collection Boris was taking.  It was handed to the silent little ghost through the window, cracked just enough for it to pass but not enough to let the rain in.

Beethoven has just stood up on his three legs and is barking an answer to some very chatty birdsong in the guava tree.  One leg out of commission, he is still the boss of this yard and dedicated to his job.

So much of me is being wasted.  The thought turns over and over in my mind.  I wait for the time when my children will be born and my family begun, but perhaps it is not God’s will.  There is a call deep in me to take a child home, to clothe him, feed him, hug him in the mornings and teach him to love each day.  There is a burning desire to rescue a little ghost from begging at La Línea and to give him a future of possibility and potential.

When I was 17 years old my school did a mission trip to St. Elizabeth, Jamaica.  The home of my grandmother.  We worked in the library of a Catholic school and spent the evenings at an orphanage playing with the children.  Children in the home of my roots, abandoned and in need.  There was a little boy six months old and very sick.  He had been found on the doorstep waiting for the nuns and covered in his own soil and was taken in to be nursed back to health and loved by childless women.  There was also a little girl.  I will never forget her name.  She was six years old and full of energy.  She took a liking to me, climbing me and asking me all sorts of questions about my hair, about my home, about family, about what flying on a plane is like.

I learned on that trip that I love children and that they love me.  And I decided that day that one day, with or without a husband, I will give an orphan a home.

La Noche de Flor De Caña…

Can’t have us drunk AND armed no can we?

The night started around 9 p.m. First we woke up and got ready.  Sleep was sweet and I woke up slowly with a warm water bath bailed from a bucket.  There is running water, yes, but today it is freezing.  It comes and goes on the whims of the river in this city of Ceiba trees.  When it is flowing strong it is caught in barrels for the next time it goes.

We started the night, me, Bo and Myce, in a wide open-air restaurant next to a five-star hotel by the sea. The hotel was beautiful to behold and I was told with raised eyebrows that a night there would cost US$100 (SO EXPENSIVE Bushy!  and I’m thinking SOOOO CHEAP FOR FIVE STARS!  But this is La Ceiba).  La Palapa, our restaurant, had the air of a treehouse with two floors and an open air dance floor that people on the balconies above could look down into.  It was wet but cool and very pleasant.  The smell of the sea mixed with the rain in the air and the liquor of womens’ perfume.

There was a live band, eclectic with horns, maracas and keys and two male vocalists who transitioned perfectly from merengue to punta to bolero to bachata as the crowed willed them.  I am convinced that there are sounds that only a latino can make – a voice both grating and true to the note, more of brass than of woodwind.  One of the vocalists had such a voice.  The other was as smoothe as honey and flowed from one style to another in a way that would make a woman’s knees go week if only he was a bit taller.

The waitress took our orders of Flor de Caña and sprite (sin hielo?  You shooor??  Doble o sencilla?  Doble.  No prableng).  Flor de Caña, the Cane Flower, a rum made in Honduras and neighbouring Nicaragua.  Cane does not flower to the best of my knowledge, but it grows like a bamboo with sugar caked in its fibrous stalk.  The Flor de Caña is a mystical spirit, best on ice but carefully mixed for delicate stomachs this night.

We sat on chairs artfully made from the cross sections of very large trees.  Each seat had a different size and shape but they were heavy and strong.  We took photos with shining faces.

How alike our skins glowed from the Flor de Caña and the joy at being together in La Ceiba!  The honey of the blood of Europeans mixed with the exotic flavourings of our region is the colour of the golden rum.  We are just as fragrant as our rum, as passionate, as flammable as the Flor.  The air of the exotic wafts off our family as we pay our lempiras and leave.

On the way out I take photos of the sign.  It had me laughing when we came in.  “Prohbido ingresar con armas” prohibited to enter with arms.  Latinos are a passionate people.  It would be most unwise to have us drunk AND armed at the same time.

The rain has not stopped.  It is as though I have brought with me a deluge to La Ceiba that will continue until I leave.  La Zona Viva (the Live Zone) is alive and well tonight and we pass bars and clubs one after the other heaving with music and dancing people even in the rain.

Soon we arrive at Hibou, a massive nightclub.  It is beautiful and modern, more modern than any club I have been to in the Caribbean.  In fact I struggle to remember the last time I’ve been in a club this nice.  PERIOD.  Clubs in London came close in style and size but could not touch this music or ever come close to the beauty of the people, the women especially, moving to the rhythm.

We are early and get ourselves mas Flor.  The club fills quickly and with our first drink in Hibou in hand we three join a few scores of people on the lighted floor.  The floor is like a Michael Jackson video and I’m tickled pink about it here in La Ceiba.  Who would have thought?

The music also surprises me!  Music from Jamaica, Trinidad, South Beach, London, favourites of mine mixed in with new reggaeton.  The Caribbean meets Honduras in my veins and starts to dance.  For a few seconds it is just me and the music and then Bo comes into view.

I LOVE the latin sense of manhood.  That boy can dance!  And he’s not afraid to, not here, where everyone dances and self-expression is a virtue.  Not for the Hondureños the wall flower macho stance.  Everyone here moves well and with feeling, true latinos.  They don’t have the sharp macho edges of the Jamaicans nor the indian whine of the Trinis but move in smoothe curves, rico y suave.

I am sure we cramped Bo’s style.  His dutch father blessed him with an uncommon height that puts him a head above the others in La Ceiba automatically.  His mother Nena blessed him with a handsome face and eyes that laugh all by themselves.  Myce too has these eyes and they are dancing now.  We both danced with Bo, all three of us losing our voices one song at a time singing out loud to the music and powered by Flor de Caña.

Later, girls hungry for the teenaged Bo’s attention would ask if I was his girlfriend.  This made me laugh out loud – “Aii Bo… tengo diez años mas que tu mi amor.  Puedes decirlas que soy tu “sugar mama”!”  (Aiii Bo, I have ten years on you.  You can tell them I’m your sugar mama!)  But what a compliment!  To think I look young enough to be with a 19-year-old.  I still laugh to write this!

Baleadas de La Línea – 3 a.m. food

Myce and I tired around 3 a.m.  Or was it 4?  We made our way to a waiting taxi.  Bo waved his admirers goodnight and climbed into the front seat, closing the doors behind us sugar mamas.  Everyone was hungry and so we had the taxista pass by La Línea – the famous train tracks of La Ceiba – for baleadas.

In the near future I will have to write something special about the food.  I cannot do it justice in any other way but in its own post.

The baleadas were amazing this morning, with strips of beef and pieces of chicharon.  They were so good they were gone by the time we pulled into Nena’s gate.

Fiore let us in and told us how Monkey had cried until she’d been sick.  “Que rabia tiene esta muchacha!”  But before the story ended I was clean and sliding under my stallion blanket.  Fast asleep in a minute.