Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas in Golden Hill

Colin, Derek and John, originally uploaded by hallywood.
A liturgical expression of 4th Sunday of Advent.
Christmas carols.
Tamales and Cuban black beans.
And a rousing white elephant gift exchange.

It was a good Christmas dinner with friends in Golden Hill.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nick, David and little Carlos

Nick, David and little Carlos, originally uploaded by hallywood.
The weekend before last, a group of us traveled 90 miles south of the border into Mexico to an area about 10 miles below Ensenada. There, we landed at Casa Esperanza (Hope House), a shelter for women who are victims of domestic abuse, and their children.

It was a dirty, wonderful, magical weekend, spent with new and old friends, serving, working, laughing, praying, and sharing lives with some of the least among those living in this border region of Mexico.

Shelters for women in Mexico are rare. The problem of domestic abuse goes largely ignored in this culture, but a deep culture wound it is. Women who manage to escape abusive relationships typically have no where to go. This makes Casa Esperanza more than a special place.

I've been to Casa Esperanza a number of times, and among the many things that stand out to me, are the children. Specifically, how the children react to men being at Esperanza.

Most of these kids have never had a positive male role model in their lives. Most don't know what's it's like to have a dad playing with them, having a catch, kicking the futbol around, or just hanging out. Many have been abused in unimaginable ways.

So when I see one of the guys in our group taking time out from a serving project or task to play with a kid, play tag with them, kick a ball, or hoist them up onto shoulders, I am warmed in ways beyond words.

Some kids embrace this attention immediately. Others seem to take time to warm up to the idea of a man who may be fun, playful or affectionate in honest, loving ways. Yet embrace they do. Their eyes light up. Hearts melt. And it is in these moments I feel I see the very expression of Jesus himself.