Family and Friends,                                                                                                             May 2017

As many of you know, I am wrapping up my last few weeks as the Resident Director of Hotchkiss Hall at The Master’s University. It has been an amazing 13 years of life-on-life discipleship and mentoring of college students (pictured below).  I am grateful for the opportunities I had to grow and learn from this season of my life.  While it is bitter to leave, it is sweet what the Lord has in store for my future (Lord willing).

LOVE L.A.

As many of you remember, last summer I was a part of Love L.A. working with a church in South Central Los Angeles giving oversight to a Summer Kids’ Camp. It was an AMAZING experience to go back to the hood, work with the staff (pictured below), train interns from suburban churches to love and care for inner city children but people in general.

TRANSITION AND JUMPING IN

This summer and into the next few years, I have opportunity to help manifest the same ministry again. EV Free Cornerstone South L.A. (the church we worked with that gave oversight to Love L.A.) dissolved in November which gave Andrae Robinson, (my friend and the pastor of Cornerstone and now) Executive Director of 117 Project, the opportunity to move to Northern California to carry out this same vision found in Isaiah 1:17 which says, Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. This gave birth to the 117 Project. The 117 Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to 1.) Come alongside existing inner city churches, to run SUMMER KIDS’ CAMP that is committed to declare and demonstrate the gospel to their community 2.) To mobilize the suburban church towards opportunities to serve inner city communities through existing inner city churches.  

MY ROLES AND GOALS:

I have two main goals this summer into the next chapter of my life:

1.) I want to move toward the117 Project ministry – Check out our website: www.oneseventeenproject.org Our main ministry is setting up and running Summer Kids’ Camps (much like VBS) for 4 weeks for an existing inner city church that is in need of help to reach their community in tangible ways. I will function as the Camp Crew Director which will give oversight to giving spiritual/team care to staff and interns (aka Crew 117), leading bible studies, mentoring interns, church group host, leadership development of interns, administrative oversight and direction.

2.) I desire to move towards starting a real estate career as a realtor (or broker) to build a business so that the 117 Project is cared for and eventually funded.

PARTNER WITH ME

With my transition out of the dorm happening at the end of May, I am trying to move out of my apartment (from the dorm) into a new place in Santa Clarita/Newhall, California. I am also helping launch Love Hutch (Hutchinson, Kansas, with a young man I mentor, Josh Goertzen through his church, Grace Bible Church of Hutchinson for a week) and then launch the 117 Project with Love Oakland (June 5th–July 28th). I would love for you to partner with me, through prayer and financial support.

Would you please partner with me for the summer or the next year? Below are three options I am asking you to prayerfully consider:

  1. 1 month recurring giving of $100 for the summer (June-July) into 1 year or just the summer.
  2. Bi-weekly giving of $50 for the summer only or the summer into 1 year
  3. Monthly giving of any amount you’re able to give (any financial support is great, for 1 year). Any one time giving or recurring giving would be greatly appreciated. No binding contract or commitment is necessary. I really would leave that open to you. Please though, I would love to have you be a part of this with me.

The finances will help provide for me this summer with Love Oakland ($5000 total) and transitioning into the next few months and next year. Here’s how your contribution will be used especially this summer:

$2800 for:

  • Love Oakland: camp room and board (5 weeks), transportation to Oakland
  • A trip to Costa Rica a week partnering with a local church, Casa vida Church in Playa Azul at Camp Casa vida running a Kids’ camp

$738 for:

  • 3 round trip airplane tickets back to Santa Clarita ($246 round trip for each flight)
  • this will allow me to fly back during the following weekends June 18, June 25 and July 16 to lead worship at my church (EV Free Church of the Canyons) & to keep them updated about the ministry in Oakland with 117.

The remaining funds, $1462 will:

  • Help with transition expenses (moving, rent for June & July – at some point during a weekend I will need to move out of my apartment into my new place in Newhall, California). By August I hope to finish up my studies and take my real estate exam in September.

CLICK OR CHECK OR TEXT

  • If you would like to partner with me, financially, and donate online, here is my personal link to my 117 Project account: 117project.org/siona/ 

Or if you’d like to make a donation via check:

  •  Make checks payable to: Cornerstone South L.A. and mail to:

c/o 117 Project – Savini

77 Solano Square #196

Benicia, CA 94510

  • Another option is to TEXT MESSAGE: 117Project to 41444

LIFE AFTER LOVE OAKLAND/COSTA RICA

I plan to commit to live in Santa Clarita and commit to my local church at EV Free Church of the Canyons for the next two years, while maintaining connections with 117 Project, helping build that organization for immediate and future opportunities in inner city (conferences, summer kids camps, travel for meetings) as well as begin my real estate endeavor.

PRAYER

Finally, please pray for my transition. 13 years is a long time and I have poured myself out into living with and mentoring hundreds of college men. 1.) Pray I leave Master’s (Hotchkiss) with thankfulness 2.) Pray I am ready for the 117 Project (spiritually, physically and financially). 3.) Pray I study hard and do well on the real estate exam in the fall. God is faithful and I know He will provide!

 STAYING CONNECTED

I will give a weekly update via e-mail and social media (Instagram & Twitter: chiefsavini, of course Facebook) or via this resurrected blog (it has been years since I’ve blogged) to keep you informed about what God is doing and how I am doing this summer!

Respectfully,

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I’m Back…Kind Of…

October 20, 2013

Well, I suppose it may be a good time to post “some-thing” since it has been 2 years since my last post.  I’m not going to apologize for it nor am I going to update you all on what’s been going on.  However, I do feel the need to tell you that I am currently in my last year as the RD of Hotchkiss (yes, I’m still here and yes it is my 10th year) and my last year leading Chapel Band (yes, I’m still doing that and yes it is my 8th year doing that).  

I will say that what I am learning or experiencing isn’t any different from my last post.  However, the dynamics of those same lessons have deepened and widened.  I wouldn’t say that I have “improved” but I have become more clearly aware of my desperate need for Christ.  I need Him like I need rest and sleep, food and water, shelter and clothing, companionship and friendship, comfort, encouragement and a good kick in the butt and direction, guidance, testing and trial.  I need all of those things for sure but only as a mere reminder that I need the One who is able to be the ultimate fulfillment of all things while walking through the storm of all of those things in this big concoction we call life; life in Christ this side of heaven.   

I’ve been boiling over with so many thoughts and affections that resulted in writing this post. Unfortunately, this means that some-‘one’ person may read it. I’m willing to take that risk hoping it inspires and benefits someone else (maybe someone in my family) if anything it’ll help me sift through my thoughts a little bit.

Recently Mom’s eldest sister Fiapule Savini Fola went home to be with the Lord. Her testimony, mainly affirmed by loved ones around her, siblings, children, grand-children and great-grandchildren etc. was powerful (a woman of prayer and scripture) and got me to think about family and purpose.  Death does that.  It’s sobering.  It definitely did that for me but being with family in Seattle sobered me more than Aunty’s actual passing.

I was able to attend the memorial services, thereby being able to see and be with so many of my “ex-tended” family. Ex-tended family almost doesn’t exist in my Samoan culture. The idea of “immediate” family is also, almost non-existent. While this post isn’t necessarily about my dear Aunty, I want to note that her legacy permeated throughout her particular Samoan community in Seattle i.e. her church, her family and her friends. They all knew what she was about and they all were deeply loved by her. The empty void that death can leave in the hearts of humans can be so riveting were it not for the hope God provides through Jesus Christ; hence, death no longer having a sting to those who believe and truth in Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin and its penalty (1 Corinthians 15).  However, I don’t know if I got the sense that all of my family embraces that, believes that and or submits to it.  Maybe.  Hopefully.  I do know some of them do, at least those ones  who were more vocal about it.  And I’m not trying to quickly determine that either.  It’s not ultimately up to me to determine that.  That’s merely observational expressions and it points me to prayer.  I can’t assume that everyone of my family members knows and believes the hope of glory in Jesus Christ.  To assume that would be naive of me.  To not hope and pray for that would be arrogant of me.

That made me think about life, my life, my family, their lives, my friends, their lives and so on. And it kept bringing me back to three main things: the bible, grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ and my family.

God’s Word is sufficient. The bible and only the bible (old & new testament) are sufficient. It is has proven itself throughout history more than any other claims; all others fail and that has been proven. My family is not sufficient. My family, though loved and cherished in my heart is not sufficient for my daily needs. However, God’s word is. And yet the mercy and grace that I am told of in those pages allows me to see my family in such deep and meaningful ways. More than emotional and more than relational or even experiential. The great love of God that is talked about and demonstrated in Psalm 103, John 3:16, John 13, Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 3:14-21, Colossians 3, Philippians 2, Hebrews 12, 1 John and on and on…is all confirmed (look at its claims and its historical background). You cannot fabricate this type of love and affection for God and for others (family, friends or enemies). It can only come from Him. You cannot be satisfied completely without it, nor can you have it and any other love. His love is the source for all other loves.

As I mourned with my family at the loss of my Aunty, their mom, their grandma etc. I thought, “Lord, the only assurance I have in seeing Aunty, or you, again is if you freely grant that to me and if you turn any doubt or fear of not, into living hope.  And the only assurance that my family member this side of heaven will see Aunty and You for that matter, is your grace alone”.  I was challenged to examine what I believed.  Do I really believe that everyone of my family members have, are or will go to heaven?  No, I don’t.  I don’t believe that.  While I want to, I know that Scripture is very clear that not all will enter the kingdom of God.  Jesus Christ, God in flesh (Is. 6, 9, Psalm 2, John 1, John 13-17, Philippians 2, the entire book of Revelation and all of Scripture) is the ONLY way, the ONLY truth and the ONLY life (John 14).  I can’t and neither can my family work their way around that.  Even as emotional as we can be when we’re around each other.  Family and the hope for family will not get anyone into heaven or keep them from hell.  Being a good person will not get you to heaven and save you from sin.  Being from an amazing family will not grant you the same.

However easy it is to love my family; it hasn’t always been.   A lot of it has to do with the trials we’ve been through and the tresting we’ve endured together (immediate and or extended).  It’s been used to prove and strengthen our love for each other and it deepens the affection we have for one another (yes its tested and there are seasons where its more difficult than others – that’s life).  But the love and affection are so real.  I feel it, both given and received.  I see it evidenced when we embrace one another or talk with one another or laugh with one another or eat with one another or cry with with another.  It is emotional and it is affectionate. And I would sacrifice my life for any one of family members.  We connected even because we look like one another – I enjoy seeing that unfold.  But the reality is Jesus Christ is better than all of that, superior than all of that.  This love has already been proven and tested more than any of the trials and testing we’ve gone through as a family. Jesus endured (and passed) it all.  His love is stronger than any love that is shared between my family. But because of it, I am already completely loved now, and therefore love my family freely and fully because of that.  What tangible parallels being a part of others can do to remind us of the family of God we’re a part of if we belong to the family of God!

The point I’m trying to make is, the strong human love and affection that is shared between a husband and a wife, as taught in the scriptures, and then dispensed among a family that they procreate and generations that come from that, and even shared among friends (and expressed to enemies, as Jesus taught) DOES NOT compare to (but can be a picture of) the deep love of God that was demonstrated through the person and work of Jesus Christ, the God-man. Read the passage above, along with Gen 3-4, Psalm 63, Isaiah 5-6; 53-58, Hosea and see the love of God from the beginning. It is great.

I love my family so much. I get teary-eyed just thinking about them (even as I’m writing). I want to be with ALL hundreds (literally) of them. First, second, third and fourth generations of the SAVINI family. I long to meet my grandpa Leatualii and want to be reunited with my amazing grandma Fiaauitupu. Thoughts about my dad’s family are awakened and lingering as well. I wish I knew them all, and was able to meet my grandpa or want to meet my Aunty Tyma in New Zealand (that would amazing 🙂 Story after story about these amazing people passed and present inspire me; from Mom telling me about the times back in the Manu’a islands watching her dad fish, being raised by her godly grandma (Vaelua), to her brother Gogo (pops) paying for her fair to come to the states for a better future, to visiting her youngest brother (Ete) back in Manu’a and giving him a t-shirt from the states, to being blessed to my siblings stories in Samoa about being raised with so many of our cousins (how fun!). Story after story. And yet I know that there are tragic stories as well. Stories of cousin Apisoloma dying trying to retrieve his school books that fell out of the truck in Samoa and jumped out to get it, at 9 years old, to baby James Le’i at 3 months not waking up from his sleep and not having any other explanation of his death, to Uncle Vau in a train crash accident, to cousin Chuka being shot and killed, to divorces that split of families (including mine) etc.. Story after story after story.

I come from a long line of stories (good and bad) of people whose lives have impacted my thinking, my heart and my way of living – and from what I hear, have also impacted others as well.

My “immediate” family, who live passionately for the Lord and who’s mistakes in life are just as exposed as their victories in life, and they would tell you themselves, that point to God’s grace, has been the primary mark of both. Doreen, Debbie & Bert’s love for others are deeply rooted in God’s truth and not just emotion or longevity or culture. That inspires me – their flaws & their strengths inspire me. These siblings of mine and their stories sharpen me (another post to come). What a blessing they are.

I have cousins whose stories would challenge and put spoiled christianity to shame as well as stories that will ignite passion and reality and purpose at least spark some curiousity. I love my cousins – they all are like brothers and sisters to me, because they kinda are. I love that they treat me like their brother. Like I mentioned before, immediate and ex-tended kind of don’t exist (but kind of do – maybe another post later). There are so many of them that inspire me too. I wish I was able to get to know every single one of them.

I also have nephews and nieces, from cousins (hence, the non-existant extended family thing), who can tell you, just in their 20s or younger, of trials and difficulties. Their resilience inspires me. Their reality humbles me. Their humor is enjoyable for me. Their talents amaze me.

I have uncles and aunties who have worked and labored hard for our second generation to prosper. I can’t be where I am in life today (and I’m pretty convinced ALL my cousins would agree), and I am (and we are) oh so blessed, without acknowledging their efforts, sacrifices and stories for our benefit. My uncles and aunties are amazing examples of steadiness, strength, support, sacrifice, sincerity and spirit – what true Savini’s should be!

Finally, my mother. A women who dies to herself. Who doesn’t make mention of a flu she has, goes to the grocery store by herself, throws up in her own jacket because she is so sick, to purchase herself some medicine; and doesn’t ask anyone else to go to the store for her. That could be pride/stubbornness on her part, or it could be a will strong enough to press through hardships. A stomach ache is hardly a trial, but its a small indication of what my 70 year old mother can endure after what she’s endured throughout her life time. She is the most secure person I know of who could have been a victim of insecurity brought about my divorce. She was left and abandoned but NEVER once have I heard her complain about it, or mope about it or feel sorry for herself about it. She received consequences of my dad’s sin that she didn’t deserve but embraced it to grace her children with a stewardship that most people would and have neglected. She provided, she protected, she nurtured and served us – and did it gladly! My mother is amazing. No other woman or man for that matter, in my life holds a candle to the work ethic, faithfulness, integrity, endurance, hospitality, servanthood, meekness, hope, respect, proven character, grace, mercy and love that she embodies. She is the most accurate picture of Christ I have ever seen or heard – beyond eloquence, deeper than any expository message, more encouraging than any song I’ve song, better than any friend I’ve ever had. I hope and pray for a wife someday, I really do haha. And I’m not expecting her to be anything like my mom, more so, I pray that she loves God more than anything, even me and I pray that I embody what mom was/is an example of to me, to whoever it is I come across, let alone marry, Lord willing 🙂

This all, however deep and however gracious a gift it is, from God, does not measure up to the depth of reality that is God in Christ.  He alone satisfies and He alone is far better than my family.  I hope and wish for all of them (me included) to know the saving and satisfying grace that is in Jesus Christ alone.

I pray the stories that I am a part of will tell of the amazing grace God gives in and through Jesus Christ alone, this generation and generations to come.

Here’s What I Got

July 1, 2010

This is my fourth attempt at a blog post.  I will post something more significant when things in my head clear up. 

I hope to post about the following: Gunner leaving, my trip to Washington, updates on my trip here in Florida and about my thoughts on loving someone without expecting anything in return, lessons on friendship/discipleship, ways I’ve humbled etc.

COMPLETELY DONE

September 26, 2009

What I love about listening to new worship songs is that it sharpens my alertness to the truths that Scripture teaches about who Jesus Christ is, His worth and my salvation therein. 

Sons & Daughters is the latest Sovereign Grace album.  I am greatful for it.  Both music and lyrics have been such a source of refreshment for me.  Often times it’s difficult in my own heart to sort through the uncertanties of life as well as it is when life’s uncertanties continue to change and shift and be so unreliable.  But the truth of the complete work of Christ on the cross to set me free from my sins and has welcomed me into His victory is such a relief and solace.  I’m leaving my fears behind me now…the old has gone, the new has come…heirs with Christ…what you have complete is completely done…What a promise!!! 

Here are the lyrics:

What reason have I to doubt
Why would I dwell in fear
When all I have known is grace
My future in Christ is clear

My sins have been paid in full
There’s no condemnation here
I live in the good of this
My Father has brought me near
I’m leaving my fears behind me now

Chorus
The old is gone, the new has come
What You complete is completely done
We’re heirs with Christ, the victory won
What You complete is completely done

I don’t know what lies ahead
What if I fail again
You are my confidence
You’ll keep me to the end
I’m leaving my fears behind me now

SNAPSHOT

August 9, 2009

Tonight began the 2nd week of my series of lasts of my RD career.  Last week was RD retreat, which was a blast!  This week begins RA retreat.  This is my 6th year doing this and Lord willing, my last.  I don’t anticipate doing this anymore and so the journey for last this and that’s begin.  The journey for finishing well and looking for other possibilities also begin. 

There’s so much to write and so much to catch up on and since I am in a state of such, I will continue to bullet point.  But I will section it off just so my mind is functioning well in terms of thinking clearly through it all. 

Summer Snapshots:

  • said goodbye to the Hulets, Jeff Lewis and Jen Ginsberg (and Meredith Ebner later in the summer)
  • worked on 2 classes
  • helped the Hulets drive out to Florida
  • hung out with Jeff in Munich
  • in India for about 20 days with Gunner
  • did my first and last RD training
  • went to my family reunion in Seattle – the best part of my summer!!!

Things To Do:

  • not go crazy now that its August and everything is new (new RA team, new RD team, new Chapel Band, new responsibilities as Head RD, new classes, new schedule, new and exciting opportunities)
  • write out thank you cards to my church for sending me to India
  • meet up and catch up with Jason Beals
  • saying good bye to my sister (boo!) who’s going back to Samoa
  • survive August…oh, I guess that’s like the first one…
  • start running again – and lose 15-20 lbs
  • get my classes settled and finish up Eccl.
  • keep up with my family
  • update my eye perscription – get new contacts & glasses
  • send Aunty $ for our shirts
  • make wise choices about the future

Lessons:

  • if you want to be with someone tell them
  • answering tough questions aren’t easy
  • I need to make disciples of Jesus Christ not disciples of tradition
  • forgiveness is free
  • Love is hard
  • there is an inexpressible joy when it comes to my family (both immediate & extended, even though extended for the Savini family is very relative, no pun intended 🙂
  • sleep is temporal and rest is eternal
  • self control requires self denial
  • God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble
  • a friend loves at all times and can stick closer than a brother
  • using soap to wash my face can be a bad thing
  • i break out when i get really stressed out
  • aging is honest and my body doesn’t lie to me when it hurts 🙂
  • my smile is from my Savini family…so is my piercing laugh
  • endurance is crutial to living for Christ
  • practice makes better, not perfect
  • letting go is no fun
  • funny people are really nice to have around

People I want to Get to Know / Hang out with more:

  • Jesus
  • my family – especially Cameron Savini now he’s moving to So. Cal – yeyah!
  • my RAs
  • my fellow new RDs
  • Dr. Behle
  • the Margraves
  • Rick & Jake (yey, they’re on campus!!!)
  • and plenty of others…

Things I’m praying for:

  • contentment
  • a wife 🙂
  • extended family (healing, faith and conflict resolution)
  • direction after this year
  • finish school this year
  • that my 6th year as an RD (can’t believe that!) would be a blessing from God to all involved
  • Jesus to come back today…

I think that’s about it for now!

Today is my last day in India. I almost feel pressured to leave because of responsibilities and committments made back at home. I understand the nature of the world in which I live in that is full of those and it makes me long for some stability. A stability that involves relationships that will not only last beyond the absence of people but one without absence itself. But I know that there is a greater day for that. And I hope for that.

I had a great time here and so challenges that I faced this visit that I hadn’t in my two previous visits. So I anticipate thinking through those things and learning from them. I suppose life, as I grow older is full of lessons and are all good blessings. It’s pretty humbling to think that I am constantly being given good gifts in that regard so abundantly and yet take so ling to learn them.

India isn’t exclusive to a place in which I am taught the lessons I need to learn. Neither is the dorm. Or America for that matter. I don’t know if I will do long term or longer term in India. I just know that I have one more day left here. And if God wills I have one more year left at Masters as an RD. I want to take each step at time in both, come differnt experiences with different and new people. One day left in India to make the most of it. One more year as an RD to make the most of it. With a new guy RD staff it will not be like anything familiar to me. I won’t have Dave or Jeff to lean on as I have in the past. In this trip I didn’t have a “team” per se but there were other people (so thankful Gunner & others like Eric, Nate, Mike, PMI staff, the Malakars, Megan, Heather, Jai, etc. And it was great! This coming year there are new people on staff and it will be great. If in the future God decides to put no one around I know that too will be great.

My time here had way less “touring” around and was more localized, stationed. It was around PMI, the slums, the workers, the people, the people, thr people etc. Had I not understood that before? Or is it still something I need to continue to keep in mind? And heart?

Like everywhere else I’ve had to leave or have been and where people have had to leave or chose to leave but learning that it’s about them and not just me. Maybe my depth of my understanding of people’s needs is more shallow than I think. Ironic. Shallow understanding can be deeper no matter how much I think through it. I suppose depth doesn’t come from how much you know and not just what you know what you know about people and what you’re doing with that, one person at a time as time permits.

I’m sad to leave India. But I’m excited for this last day to make the most of it.

RETREAT & KASHMIR

July 15, 2009

Well, tomorrow is the CBC annual retreat.  They are not retreating anywhere this year so the “retreat” is actually in the RC (resource center).  

Gunner’s been preparing very faithfully.  I’m always excited to listen to Gunner.  He’s probably one of the best communicators of anything that I know.  He is so gifted and insightful.  I enjoy working with him, and have been the last 5 years but I really do love him.  He’s an honest friend and I am soooo thankful to God I get to work with him again at Master’s.  

The retreat’s theme this year is on (what the “book”) has to say about relationships.  I’m really excited about that personally 🙂  I am also excited about doing music with the CBC band.  Our first session begins at 4pm and will include, speaking (from Gunner), discussion groups and such.  I was asked to lead a discussion group and quite honestly its humbling, but because Gunner already have the questions prepared for us, I don’t feel as insecure – ha!  

It’ll be a busy day for sure.  Friday we have 3 sessions, and then 1 session on Saturday and we end with a picnic at the park – isn’t that so fun?!  I think so!  Speaking of outside, it hasn’t been as intensely hot as it was last summer.  But the humidity is definitely out to strangle – however, today was such a nice day here in Delhi.  I didn’t even sweat walking from where I stay to the Malakars, which is 3 min walk.  And normally I’m just dripping with sweat…yuck!  

Anyway, you can definitely keep us in “mind”.  We’re anticipating this to be a really good time.  

On a side note: tonight was Chat Over Coffee and I met a guy who will remain nameless at this time for his protection, and I’ll save talking about him in another post.  But it has been one of the most powerful stories I have heard in a long time.  Not because it was dramatic, or anything that I think can be looked at as less than because it IS powerful, but because his joy were in his words, and his words were full of life and he reference the “book” several times.  He just had a light in his eyes that I just haven’t seen in a long time, even in myself.  It was like God sent him to me to rekindle me.  Even through his thick Kashmir (north of India) accent, it was such a short, sweet time of revival for me.  I’ll post more about that time later.  

Another side note:  I didn’t get to sing tonight because there were so many good conversations going on and because it was getting late.  So, we decided to save it for Focal Point on Sunday, right before Gunner and I head to the airport.  

Anyway, Gunner, Mike and I had dinner with the Malakars tonight.  We ordered in Chinese food – sooooo good!  And we talked about possible long/short term stuff.  It was helpful, but challenging at the same time.  I need to make some decisions soon about my future.  I’m glad someone else knows more about that than I do.  

K, gotta go!

DAY 4 & 5 of WEEK 2

July 13, 2009

Sunday was a good day. I think becuase it was full and long. That doesn’t mean none of the other days weren’t good. They were just different.

It began with an 11am rehearsal with the GBC band. We rehearsed for the retreat (without the drummer, he slept in),had break from 1-2pm, then rehearsed from 2pm-4pm for the serivce at 4pm. For some of you who don’t know, rehearsals can be very exhausting though fun, creative etc.

After the main meeting we had Focal Point. Eric lead that time and we had to re-locate becuase the power went out long enough for us to walk outside near the small park just 10 feet away.

After that we went back inside the resource center and by then the power wad back on. We celebrated Peter’s birthday with some cake and refreshments. I don’t normally like cake but it was actually really good.

After a long night of conversation with some people the random group from America took the metro to Papa John’s and had dinner (mike led the way). It was good and then we caught auto rickshaws back because the metro stations were closed. Ha! It was fun!

Today was a rest day for PMI. So the Malakars lock down and just rest. They need it. And I’m glad they do that for themselves. Sundays and the rest of the week is long for them.

I went with Gunner, Eric, Mike, Nate & Todd down to Chadni Chowk. We toured some temples & a the biggest Mosque in India. It was fun. I had visited these places last year but was fun to do so with these guys.

At the end of the afternoon Gunner an I took the metro back home which was fun because we kind of missed our stop, rerouted and boltted out of a train when we realized we were on the wrong one. We were laughing so hard because we had no idea where we were. We found our way thankfully.

Now we’ve been resting ourselves. We’re gonna go to the Cafe Coffee Day so he can do some study for the retreat this weekend and I’m gonna do some reading and final prep for music for the retreat.

In short, last night we had a “book” study with the CBC people at the Malakars.  It was a good time of prayer and study.  This morning we woke up and went on a slum visit to Nandlal – just about 7-10 min ride up the way.  

I guess I don’t really know what to write about (I’m referring to the slum visit).  It was my first visit this time to India.  We visited the slums in Varanasi last year but I’m not too sure what to say about my visit this time around.  What do I say y’know?  What would you say?  I guess it just becomes or it can, become very trivial if I let it and the fact that its becoming more and more familiar to me and not “shocking” me and that’s alarming to me.  

I’m sad for their conditions but why?  Because I “feel” sorry for them because I have more than they do or because they have less than I do?  Because I get to fly back on a plane in a week or so and get back to my comfortable life style, which I love and am thankful for?  or Because I see very clearly God’s compassion for them and I’m struck to the core in my thinking, without feeling, but believing somehow, my visit is actually doing something?  For them and not for me?  Why am I really sad about the slums?  

Here’s what I’m trying to say.  I’m tired of the poverty of life.  The poverty of my own heart, the poverty I see around me here in India, the poverty of the spiritual state of India, America, Samoa and the rest of the world.  I’m confused to see/visit a slum and live like it doesn’t exist. I’m tired of seeing the slums of man’s hearts/lives (especially my own), the slum like I saw today and living like it doesn’t exist.  I suppose I’m tired of coming to situations like this (and noticed I used “like” because there ARE other forms of these situations, external, relational, physical, mental, spiritual, economical, social, (every) cultural, theological, musical, environmental, etc)…like I was saying, its tiring to come to situations like that, act like I’m doing some good and yet leaving feeling like that was all to point out something about me.  And that’s where the issue really is, I really am just tired of me.  I’m tired of not caring enough, not doing enough, or acting like I’m doing something (when I really am) but not really doing anything, not serving enough, not meeting everyone’s expectations enough, saying enough, saying too much, thinking too much, and not rightly thinking about the little that I actually do think about etc.  

So, the slum(s)…its horrible, in my interpretation.  The conditions are sad and unhealthy.  But they live there and they ARE surviving there.  And I don’t know if they are doing that the best way possible.  But is education the answer?  Is more money the answer?  Is medicine the answer?  I know the answer but the chasm just seems sooooooooooo big – and I suppose its nice to throw “gospel” cliches, that are true and that I know need to be proclaimed…but seriously.  How do you or if you don’t, how would you think about it…not in the compartmentalized way.    

Okay, so one step at a time, I know.  I don’t want to just feel compassion, when I see a slum.  And I don’t want to save it either when I’m comfortable in the U.S. and use it then when the living conditions are in my favor (which, I know doesn’t make it any better or less than pleasing to God…or does it?)  

I don’t see a resolve in this post and so I’m not going to attempt one either.  I’m not angry, nor am I okay.  I’m not disillusioned nor am I completely sensible.  These are just my thoughts and ones I hope and pray will be used to haunt me, challenge me, inform me, remind me, thrust me to educate others and hopefully lead me to God, His love, His promises and Himself.  

I don’t have it figured out and neither do the slums of India.  I’m not mad that they have less than I do in America, nor do I feel guilty about that (anymore).  BUT I also don’t want to pretend like (REAL) slums don’t exist and I don’t want to EVER boast in my blessings – I just want be thankful for them and learn how to give them away very generously and foolishly – money, time, friendships, apartment, sleep, food, clothes, etc…man, I have SOOOOOOOOOO much to learn…