All posts by Ines

Waste – Month 7 of #7FN

So I was retelling my story about my 10 days in a refugee camp in an undisclosed location of Algeria, working & serving with Saharawi refugees in November 2009 and I caught myself saying, “I have never appreciated water more after not bathing for 10 days, getting Montezuma’s revenge in the middle of that dry desert, and not having running water to brush my teeth or even wash my hands.” I “sponged-bathed” with baby wipes that a sweet old lady from church gifted me (500 well used wipes my friends). I bought my own bottled water and one lasted me a whole day. Carefully counting every drop to brush my teeth and stay hydrated. Antibacterial gel was all used up, but it still didn’t keep me from getting a massive gastroenteritis where I lost 5 pounds (that was the only plus).

As I was retelling my story to a coworker, the storage areas of my mind reminded me of something, “Have you forgotten Tuesdays and Fridays in Nicaragua?” and I felt a little snobby about the tap on my shoulder. Oh yeah! I lived in Nicaragua from 1978-1996. How could I forget? Has living in this comfortable good ol’ US of A give me amnesia?

Water. In a communist country. Was liquid gold.

Life in a communist country. Rationing was an everyday staple.

Rationing. Every Tuesday & Friday. Scheduled. No water all day.

The night before. The drill. Mom sternly asking, “Have you filled your bucket yet with water or do you not want to bathe tomorrow?

Filling the tall bucket up to the rim. Next morning that sitting water had turned. C.O.L.D.

The guilt trips on TV ads by the government, “when you brush your teeth, turn the faucet off, IF YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO HAVE WATER IN THE FUTURE.”

Oh how could I forget. Snobby me.

Rationing of Food.

I may not take my Rationing Card to the government store every week anymore. There they knew exactly how many people lived in your home, and that’s how they rationed your share accordingly. Your set share of beans, rice, sugar, toilet paper (maybe), milk and soap. Half a bar of soap per person. Yes. They would cut the bar in half if you had an odd number of folk in your house. It was FREE. But they told you how much you could get. The milk? you couldn’t trust. At home we boiled it and if it curdled, it was a sign that it had expired & we had to chunk it, if not, we could drink it (after it cooled down of course). My dad got tired of this boiling & chunking and bought a cow. Seriously. Milk straight from the cow. I wanted. To. DIE. But my dad has never liked anyone telling him what to do or not to do when it comes to basic human rights, right? My dad…oh, he’s another story.

Back to the Water. We couldn’t trust it either. Though it flowed freely from the faucet, my mom would fill up a pot. EVERY. NIGHT. and boil it on the stove to kill all germs & bacteria. Cooled over night. Next morning I had to fill a pitcher and put it in the fridge. Hey! At least we had a fridge to cool our drinking water. The water we drank or used for cooking had to be boiled to be sterilized. If not, here come the purging pills…you know…to purge you of parasites. UGH. How could I forget? 18 years of my brain cannot be forgotten.

So Waste Month is not at all alien for me. I fear that my PTSD will return. I’ve since always turned off the water when I brush my teeth or lather with soap in the shower. I’ve been known at other people’s houses to reach for the kitchen sink faucet to turn it off, if the host leaves it on and walks away. I get a nervous tick in my eye when that happens. They probably think I’m weird. The aquifers are only getting older and emptier people!! There are NO new aquifers growing underground! (Go google “aquifer” if you don’t know what I just said) Some say the next world war will be over Water. So maybe my communist background was right, huh? If I want my grandchildren to have water, I should ration it now so they can see it in the future.

So there you go! A whole month of fasting from Media and not blogging and one little thought triggered some childhood memories I wanted to write down so as not to forget where I’ve come from. My son will never understand how blessed he is to live in this privileged country where water flows freely and he can shower whenever he can. Oh. But he’s half-Nicaraguan, so believe me. He WILL learn with this momma. I have tons of guilt trip one-liners stored in my mind from my mom about why I should eat all the food on my plate, turn off the water, and be grateful for a backpack full of books on my back… like the mom in Big Fat Greek Wedding! Haha.

So many gifts. So much Grace. Just stop and look around.

Live Mindfully. Live Communally. Live Gratefully.

Here we go this crazy group of women at Fellowship North… Month #7 is June, being conscious of Waste. Thanks Jen Hatmaker.

~Ines

A Dios sea la gloria!

That’s what my Nicaraguan granma would say if she was alive, “To God be the glory, mi’hijita”, if she were to read the incredible humbling honor my brother Rudy Carrasco gave me in graciously including me in his list of 14 Latina Christians in America to Know. When I read this story & all that lives between the lines, I stopped & meditated on 2 things:

I humbly think back to how God spared me and my brother from getting on the Tan Sahsa Airlines Boeing 727 plane, on that ill-fated Saturday morning, October 21, 1989. The plane going from Managua, Nicaragua to the USA, was supposed to stop in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The fact that God, who is great in mercy, stopped us from getting on that flight that my mother got on, is just as miraculous as the fact that you are reading my words and you have air to breathe. JUST. AS. MIRACULOUS. My mother immediately went to heaven when that plane crashed, and according to survivor, Vivian Pellas, who told me face to face, “The last thing your mother thought about was you.” I believe her now that I’m a mother to a son. I believe I was the last thought in her mind.

The second thing I think back to, is what I wrote Rudy as a thank-you for thinking of ordinary Latina women who are trying to make a difference in the Kingdom of God. Twice a minority can be something to overcome. This is what I wrote to him. Raw. When I hit send, I thought, “Now, why did I just do that? This guy is going to think I’m crazy!” But it’s my story. Where I come from, we’re story-tellers. We tell stories that are testimonial in nature. We tell stories to remember what God has done. We gain strength from what we’ve had to overcome.

Dear brother,

Reading your e-mail that my husband Rob forwarded to me brings tears to my eyes. To have a brother like you stand with, alongside, affirm, and empower us Latinas followers of Jesus doing normal, routine, daily life, as well as advancing God’s Kingdom on earth, is like a warm fire on a cold day.

I know how hard it is to be twice a minority – Latina and woman in the USA. Yet thankfully, I had a very strong Nicaraguan father who always told me I should care less about what men/women thought about me, and tremble more at disobeying God. That it didn’t matter that I had a uterus, the command to “go and make disciples” is for ALL. So he told me, “Woman, speak!” Speak of God of course, not my own thoughts. But the walls have always been there, whether in Nicaragua, Texas, or Arkansas where I have lived & served in ministry. The first time I translated a sermon for a Southern Baptist missionary in Managua, Nicaragua, I was 14 yrs old, and you can imagine this pastor did NOT want me, a woman and teenager, to interpret for him. But my dad said, “She’s the best we got, she knows better English than me, you’re just going to have to deal with it.” And 20 people came to Christ that hot morning inside a Nicaraguan wooden church with no air conditioner, and no fans, and the little abuelitas were saying “amen, gloria, aleluya” at the teaching from Philippians “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death.” That was the first time I understood Holy Spirit power, because I was throwing up in the bathroom 15 mins before I went up to the pulpit, where God forbid a woman stood with pants on and not a skirt…..

Do you smell what I’m stepping in?

A Dios sea la gloria,

~Ines Velasquez-McBryde

 

True freedom…on #election2012 day

This past weekend 33 women (and one guy, the worship leader) retreated to a beautiful camp to seek God’s voice in quietness, solitude, silence in the middle of orange, red, yellow fall leaves in Central Arkansas. I’ve lost count of how many Silent Prayer Retreats I’ve led in the past several years. All because one day I was looking for a movie to entertain me on a Friday night, and while scanning the blockbuster aisle, I stumbled on a documentary about Being Still & Silence. I had no idea God’s voice in silence could leave me speechless.

On Friday night (Nov.2) I shared my struggle with the woman caught in adultery from John 8:1-11. Struggle. Mental block. Numbness is what I felt a few days before as I read, re-read…read again…that passage that was making me uncomfortable. It wasn’t the nicely-packaged-story, with the nicely-packaged-lesson, and a nicely-packaged-encounter between Jesus and a woman. It was controversial. Scandalous. Naked. Shame. Guilt. Violent. Stoning of  a woman. Blood-thirsty. Legalistic. I didn’t want to enter the story…I didn’t want to be that woman…I didn’t want to be the blood-thirsty Pharisee either, picking up the stone. Savage. I wanted to be the merciful-Jesus. But I wasn’t. A friend prayed for me. A pastor. A brother. Spirit anointed prayer. Broke me. Pierced me. Tears. Snot. Shame. Swimming in the sludge of my sin for a minute was quite enough. Quite. Enough. To ask for Forgiveness. Who was I kidding? How could I speak before these women? teach what? hypocrisy? Damn it. Thank you for making me enter the story. I had been walking around it. But I entered it. Found my place. Sat down. Found my view. My spot. Watched it all unfold. Colorfully. Heart beating. My face in a mirror. My shame. My guilt. My wounds. Redemption.

Saturday we woke up in silence. Got ready without saying a word. Ate breakfast slowly. Ahhh! the dream of a mother to eat in silence & uninterrupted. Coffee in a cup. Hot coffee that didn’t grow cold as you multi-tasked on a normal morning trying to rush out the door to work/daycare! Heart slowing down. Mind starting to let go of busy-ness. Heart anticipating a rhema Word from God. Discerning the Lies of the enemy. Replacing the holes with Truth.

I do not condemn you, either. 
The one with the authority to condemn, didn’t. The ones with the desire to stone: walked away one by one.

Go.
Go. Be free. Nah’. Don’t worry about it. A beating will take place. But I WILL take it for you. Mercy.

…and sin no more.
Jesus wasn’t clueless. He knew her sin. But he said it like it is. SIN. NO. MORE. You can’t get any better until someone tells you the Truth, right? preach it bro, preach it, with mercy. grace. forgiveness.

The prayer rooms we entered were intimate:
Abiding Room – with a list of the Verbs of God from The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg.

Forgiveness Room– keep wanting to delete it from the prayer guide, but I can’t, women always get stuck there for hours…hard to let go of a hurt, so used to it, where would we be without it?

Renaming Room – intimate. God giving us a new name. New identity. Seeing ourselves how God sees us. I was disappointed I didn’t get a name, but He gave me 2 words: “Speak. Stand Upright.” Intimate…too much to say.

Contemplation Room – yep. Don’t think. Don’t ask. Don’t read. Relax. Be still. Walk. Nap. Sit. Take in the silence. It’s like a Q-tip that unclogs the crap.

Sharing time….too intimate. No room for details here. But nevertheless my friend & sister, Caffhanie Calloway captured it all. She started listening from God and writing a poem about our time. She listened to God. She listened attentively to her sisters. She listened to the tears, the unfinished words, the pain coming out of our throats closing up, afraid to speak the truth of the lies we’ve believed. She kept writing. Talented. Creative. Rhythmic. Poetic. Raw. Honest. Soulful. She wrote not only for the page. She also wrote for the voice. When she read it with her expressive cadence,accentuating those important words, my mouth dropped. I wanted that voice recorded. That voice. God’s pleasant voice. Smiling voice. Voice pleased. Delighting in His daughters. No condemnation.

Funny. Today is Election day in the United States. But true freedom is captured in this poem.

(shared with permission by Caffhanie Calloway – all rights reserved).

She Free
She free
She wit da broken heart—mended
She wit da battered soul—tended
            Her tattered cape flapp’n
            Holey and dirty
                        Yet da King—He clapp’n
She free
She wit da bruised body—heal’n
She wit da heated stare—chill’n
            She swimm’n like dem dolphins
            Her mangled arms gettin stronger
            Needle points and razor cuts
                        The Spirit accepts hah every touch
She free
She wit da untreatable disease—surviva
She wit da unplanned baby—momma
            She smil’n thru hah tears
            She won’t give up cuz dem fears
                        Hands callused and covered in sores
                        But the Son, He love hah even more
She free
She wit da dark eyes—lighten
She wit da weakened mind—fightin’
She covered in mud
She froth wit fatigue
She crawling thru the anger, violence, and deceit
She plummets thru the ravage, the danger, and the wraith
She naked and unguarded
            All she got wit hah is faith
She hit from all angles—chest, arms, and legs
            Bleed’n from self-deception, pride, and dread
She wit da damaged armor haphazardly hang’n on
            Took that seed thru the field wit hah
Body dragg’n low—pull’n, strugglin’—strugglin’
Strength gain’n, gain’n
Love grow’n. grow’n
 She wit da exhausted state—enliven—layin flat to the dirt
            dredging to the line where love comes first
She wit hah crusted fingers—grasp’n
            Wit renewed force abound—
Securely wit’n the Hand she found

She free