December 15, 2010

Personal value. Love. Orphanages in Ecuador. Sharing Jesus.

I wrote the following letter to Lilly.  I met her when I sat next to her on a bus in Ecuador.  She was volunteering at Santuario del Olon, an orphanage on the coast in Olon, Ecuador.  We started a dialogue which I... didn't much enjoy.  Everything she spoke of somehow had to do with Jesus.  I felt a bit awkward.  "There's more to life!"  I was thinking.  Later I emailed her and said she shouldn't preach at people.  Then I realized - If she truly believes that Jesus saved her soul, I should hope to God that she would tell everyone about it!

A recent letter I wrote to her -
I think it little coincidence that the day I choose to reply to you is the day I happen to read the chapter in Blue like Jazz about loving yourself.

"The key to everything rests in the ability to receive love...  I had no peace.  I was clingy, always wanting affection and approval."
It says that one cannot truly love others if they're not loving themselves.  And the only way to really love yourself is to realize how God sees you, and how he loves you.

Who or what chooses my personal value?
Do I allow my mom or my boss or statistics or accomplishments or titles determine my worth?  Do I let little nasty jabs from friends 10 years ago continue to fester, telling me I will not ever amount to anything? 
Do I choose to allow my internal or immediate circumstances to determine my value?  Of how much I accomplished that day or staying depressed in my overwhelmed state?  What about my tremendous physical illness?  Does the way I physically feel, and the medical diagnoses I have determine my value?

Somewhere in there I'm supposed to "hear" God.  To know He exists.  I know he exists.  And to know he really really cares about ME - me.  I don't know that he really cares about me.  I know that he is good to me, that he has richly blessed me, that he has intervened on my behalf - But I don't know how this is personal on his end.

You said "If I am not compelled to share the love I've come to know, then do I really know God's love?"

I'm at a standstill.  How do I "get" God's love?
Will God's love be revealed to me through a person?  Will it be a sudden realization?  Do I need to fast and pray?
And, a much bigger question - What will God's love do to me?  Do for me?  Do I want to make great effort to experience his love?  Is it worth my time?
I feel like such a hypocrite for even vocalizing these ideas after being raised in the church, creating a DVD project on church unity, and leading mission teams to Mexico...  It's all part of my path, I suppose.

In the mean time, I'm slowly reading and re-reading Blue Like Jazz, talking to my mentors and friends, and hoping my heart will find the missing bit, and everything will snap together, and I will be at peace with God and myself.

Miss Rose


Lilly says, "There's nothing else I want to do. This life is great. A life in service to Jesus. Its full of adventure. Challenges. Service.
Sacrifice. That's hard but so good. I never come home at the end of the day and put on the TV or go shopping, but play soccer with orphan boys and take the girls to the Beach and pray and spend time in silence. I live in Truth and am not saturated by the world. I give everything I've
got and I do it all for Him."

Lilly's awesome.  She is super silly and full of life.  She is in love with her young teen girls and is an awesome sister to them.
She's in Ecuador for the second time.  She is Catholic, yet defies so many stereotypes of Catholics as dry and separate from joy and the Bible.  I love her.

She is from Phoenix, Arizona.   Of Jesus, she says "He is my way, my truth and my life.  I am really close to Him and talking about Him just comes naturally.  Like we talk about friends, family, boyfriends, and girlfriends."

Santuario del Olon, the orphanage where she serves, is run by consecrated women. Women who have promised their lives to Jesus and this particular mission, the abused and abandoned children of Ecuador. The name of the order is Santa Maria del Fiat.

Check out some of her pics here.


  1. You wrote:

    I know that he is good to me, that he has richly blessed me, that he has intervened on my behalf - But I don't know how this is personal on his end.

    Speaking from a non-religious point of view:

    Galileo summed up perfectly the lack of dichotomy between the Personal and the Impersonal when he wrote: "The sun, with all the planets revolving around it and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else in the Universe to do."

    From a Christian point of view:

    I fell in love with the writings of Jim Palmer (found him on couchsurfing, but he doesn't seem to be active there). As a young man he was groomed for the ministry and was on the fast track to leading a megachurch when something toppled inside his psyche.... and after much soul-searching, he found his love of Jesus without having to do it in a church.

    He wrote a book which I own and have enjoyed immensely: Divine Nobodies. Has a blog, too:

    I wrote to him about the concept of the bodhisattva, and he was unfamiliar with it, but happy to know that Buddhism also has its divine nobodies. In essence, Jim sees how that divinity resides within all of us.

    And even I've recognized it a time or two:

    Once a young Christian man (at least he wore a simple but prominent cross around his neck) fixed my broken-down car by the side of the road. And I noted something quietly special about him, which later inspired a poem I've since forgotten, except for these lines:

    they got no fire in their eyes
    just a gaze like runnin' water
    and when they give you a laugh
    (yours or theirs)
    it comes out clean

    So Lily has her way, and you have yours, Rose. Maybe Lily's way will come to be your own. Maybe not. But rest assured, God/the Universe/All That Is... loves you. Deeply and personally. And all you have to do to experience that is to ripen, which comes as naturally as it does to those grapes on the vine.

  2. Rose!
    Your name says it all. You are a gift to God and you are her perfect creation that now He has adopted you so He is now your Father.
    In the search of your vocation you have to chose whether to serve Him as a wife or as a single woman but totally committed to Him. Not like a "long ranger" missionary but something like Lilly does.
    God Father is calling you to His service. Remember that love is making a decision. So will you respond to Him by totally deciding to follow Him. A coworker introduced me to his son and I asked the son if he would like to be a priest and he responded with much respect and a bit surprise that he did not think the priesthood would be for him since he is not even a catholic and he was interested in getting married so then I responded to him: I think then you should start taking some salsa dancing classes. His father never forgot this and finds it very hilarious. Marriage is good but is better not to be married. This way you can serve Him much better.
    There has been many Rose's and Lilly's in the past 2000 plus years that have followed our Lord and have gone thru the same questions you are going thru. Their lives are now an example to how we should live ours.
    Here is a link to youtube showing the pictures of these dedicated people that have totally dedicated their lives to God's service.

    Here is an other clip of one of these people and her love for Jesus.

    Hope that you can now see you are not alone in your quest. And may your quest and search will end in Him.

  3. I'm confused, are there two people Lily and Rose or a typo?

  4. Thank you, friends, for your comments. I re-read them today. They are profound.

    Yes, Lilly and Rose are two separate and equally lovely blossoms of women from heaven -