I had the privilege of seeing the theater production of CS Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters” this past weekend. The book is about the letters written between a senior demon, Screwtape, and his nephew who is a junior “tempter,” Wormwood, as they try to corrupt a man. The book is meant to be a broad overview of the temptations and trials that take place in our everyday lives.
During this Lenten Season when we are called to self-examination as Christians, I found Lewis’ insights especially poignant. By taking on the role of the devil’s advocate (literally here), Lewis is able to talk about real distractions and temptations from our walk with Christ: lust, love, pride, gluttony, and war. When Lewis was asked if he had to study philosophy and ethics to find all of the ways Screwtape would try to corrupt the man, he responded that he had to go no further than his own experiences and brain. I find this a powerful acknowledgment from a prolific writer that evil is able to seep into our lives and will continue to do so, but we are called by God to recognize this evil, turn away, and follow Christ instead.
One of my favorite lines from Screwtape is, “(God) wants (people) to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.” So friends, let us be concerned with what we do… this Lenten Season and beyond. God bless.
Here is a blog recap of our 2011-2012 Amor Trip. This is not the whole story but some of the highlights.
Wednesday – Dec. 28
The 11 of us arrive at Knox at 3:45 AM, ready to head out to Midway so that we can have our tents set up before sunset at the Amor camp outside Tijuana. The traveling goes very smoothly. We pick up Kenny at the airport in San Diego and then Melissa at the Amor Office closer to the border. Our group is finally complete – the 13 of us.
We cross the border quite simply and take the toll road along the States-Mexico wall to the Amor camp. We quickly set up camp and establish our home for the next four nights. We are all quite tired from our long day of travel and do not have any problem or objection to our heads hitting the pillows.
Thursday – Dec. 29
Our Amor Team Leader is Fernando – he is the first Amor Team Leader who was born and raised in Tijuana. He is laid back and easy to talk with. We arrive at the Barron Rios family home and meet Enrique at the gate. We are not sure who he is. There are no grand introductions. This is typical for an Amor Trip because sometimes the families want to be involved and sometimes they don’t. We quickly start scouting out the area, lay and square the foundation’s frame, and start mixing, pouring, and smoothing concrete. This takes up all of Monday and by the end of the day we have a foundation.
Toward the end of the workday – Mark decides to go over and join a soccer game that’s already started. Mark’s a good soccer player. Bryce and Kyle join in too. Kyle is not a good soccer player. Playing soccer with the kiddos becomes a regular occurrence when there is free time. Another highlight of the day is meeting four extremely cute puppies that belong to the family.
Friday – Dec. 30
We arrive in the morning and our concrete has had a night to dry and we’ve had a night of sleep. Some slept well – others didn’t. Sleeping in the Mexican desert should be classified as a form of art. Day two is building the walls and roof and putting them up. We set up our stations and start working. There’s a lot of sawing, measuring, and hammering. The paved soccer/basketball court is a really nice place to build walls. Eventually, we have all the walls done and put them in place. It takes a while to center everything and make sure the house is square. Once it’s square, the roofing frame goes up and we’ve got ourselves something that resembles a house. Pretty amazing for two days of work – the only problem is that you can see through it…
Friday we get to know Enrique’s wife – Avrea – and I start exchanging smiles with her. We also meet more of the family. Enrique and Avrea have three sons and three daughters. One of their daughters lives next door in another Amor house. Therefore, there are children around constantly, which is a great joy! For us none Spanish speakers, it is fun to interact and attempt our limited Spanish with them.
Saturday – Dec. 31
Most everyone had a better nights sleep on the second try. We return to the Barron Rios’ property with a structure that resembles a house. Our roofing team heads up to the roof for a sun filled day spent with tar. Our ground team then wraps the house repeatedly. We wrap the house in lines of bailing wire, then in thick black paper (the house is no longer see through), and – finally – we wrap the house in chicken wire. The house then receives its first coat of stucco, which is when the TEAM aspect of the trip is most visible. There are people making stucco – watering stucco – carrying stucco – and applying stucco. We resemble ants and a team the most at this point because this involves everyone running around a lot and we have found our groove after days spent working together.
However, the highlight of our day was definitely when the Barron Rios family made us a meal. It was incredible chicken salad with pop to drink. Momma Avrea served us all and then we went inside their new home to eat. For the first time, we had a Q&A session with the family. It was great for me to feel like I could finally communicate. We wanted to know everything about them – little and big – how’d they meet? – how many kids and greadkids do they have? – are they going to keep the puppies? Then the questioning turned on us and they wanted to know what each one of us did for our professions. We went around and there were some pretty comical moments. We thanked them for their generosity and they thanked us for coming from so far to help them.
Sunday – Jan 1
We woke up to a New Year. We pack up the tents and head over to the Barron Rios house for the last coat of stucco and the last time. We go straight to work when we arrive – we are in the zone after three days. Some of the family had come over to their house for New Years and they still had a rented karaoke machine so all of the sudden some unexpected Backstreet Boys starts blaring as we stucco. This eventually leads to karaoking and incredible dancing by the entire group. It is a really joyful party and once again it feels like the language barrier does not exist as we rejoice together. However, after one last song it is time to go. So, we gather and pray for the family. Bruce gives them the keys to their new home and we load up the vans. As we pull away, the entire family is outside the gate waving goodbye to us – it is a beautiful God moment to complete a beautiful God-filled trip.
Rachel had a previous connection with Denmark because she had been an adult sponsor for an exchange program. Through the program, she met a woman our age, Camilla, and Camilla was nice enough to offer us her place to stay at while she was on vacation. She even went one step further and asked her dad, Mr. Olsen, to come to the train station and drive us to her apartment. It was really nice to have an apartment with a kitchen and multiple rooms. Rachel gave me the big bed and slept on the couch, so I was able to spread out for the first time in a week. Very relaxing and refreshing. Thank you Camilla.
Mr. Olsen driving us to Camilla’s apartment:
One of my main connections to Denmark is Karen Blixen, who was a Danish writer who spent 17 years in Kenya from 1914 to 1931. During my year in Kenya, I lived in Karen, a suburb outside of Nairobi, where Karen Blixen had lived and is now her namesake. I actually lived less than a mile from her house the entire year. Continue Reading…