Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Consistency

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much"

This is a passage of interest for me, as I always regarded the "very little" as insignificant. Who has time to put attention into every little detail, like keeping your room clean. when you are trying to change the world?

But what this passage suggest is quite different. It seems almost paradoxical and counterintuitive.

It suggest that if we remain faithful, consistent, in the very little, then we would, as a consequence, also be faithful in much.

I believe the small things are the training for the big thing. If you are trying to master a skill, it requires a lot of mundane, boring and seemingly trivial tasks, and in the context of the great goal it may seem "very little".

Learning to play the guitar was very frustrating at times. The tedious little exercises that were repeated almost ad infinitum, required to train both mind and fingers, could get really boring.

But over the years, as I remained faithful in these little exercises, I was able to finally be comfortable with the guitar.

I have a big problem with consistency. I know that being faithful to the little is very important for my growth and maturing, and after many tries and promising attempts, I usually steer off and find myself in the same place where I started.

Sometimes something "magical happens", as some weird screws are suddenly tightened in my mind towards a goal and I am able to focus, remain faithful and consistent, build habits, and get very close to the goal, but then something disrupts my routine and all of that might as well be counted as naught, because I suddenly find myself without the habits, and many times worse than when I started.

This can be very frustrating, as getting back into the groove is difficult, and it feels that I'm starting from zero once again.

But slowly, as time goes by, and after many new beginnings, I can see some progress. It's not as fast as I want to, but after this dance of two steps forward and one back, I feel that I'm finally advancing.

Consistency just takes practice, almost like a skill you have to work on. It takes a lot of seemingly trivial, tedious and repetitive boring work, and yet it's what better prepares us for the big things, like maturity.

Like keeping your room clean.

Like ministry.

Like intimacy with God.

Photo Credit: Mary_on_flickr.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Operation Room Cleanup Update

So it's been a week since I made the commitment to clean up my room and be done with the unpacking.

With the amount of stuff that I've accumulated over the years, this is no easy task.

Well, how did I do?

Ok, mostly.

Honestly, I'm still not done with my room, but I've made good progress.

I gave out a third of my clothes, for example, and I have a bit more room in my, um, room.

I connected an extension that I had for a while, to connect my lamp, since there is no electronic outlet nearby.

I arranged some books and threw away copies of old magazines.

I arranged some of my clothes.

I swept the floor and it's oh so much cleaner.

There seems to be a bit more order in this room, and I'm happy with the progress I've made.

But I'm still not done with it. And so, Operation Room Cleanup continues. Unfortunately it will take me a little bit more than a week to finish it.

I am content that I'm one step closer to finishing moving in.

Oh, having a room in order, the seemingly endless task.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

This Week in Ministry (12/16/12)

This has been a good week, full of joys, pains and disappointments, this emotion-filled salad we call life. So let me round it up to you in the top five things in the ministry this week...

1. The friend who got baptized last week, who in this blog I'll call Georgie Frijolini (I assure you, all the names that I use here have a close resemblance to its real counterparts) has been a blast to share time with! He is been coming along to many of the events and "ministry hangouts" that we have. I hope that he becomes part of the beautiful ministry that is growing in Oakland!

2. Last Sunday we had  one of those ministry hangouts, where the team and some youth we have met went to play bowling. We had a blast, and connections were made stronger. Mr. Frijolini joined us for this event :)

 

3. Soccer night on Wednesday is giving us some fruits! We are getting to know more people, and more importantly, we are able to know people more deeply. We are planning some exciting things for Wednesday nights so please keep us in your prayers.

Mr. Frijolini playing keeper at Soccer Wednesday nights
4. I got to lead the youth choir this past Thursday night! This is the first time that I have to lead a choir, but it was a great experience! I still get a little nervous and self conscious when I get behind the mic with my guitar, but I'm getting way more comfortable with it.

5. One of the Hondurans kid we got to know from Wednesday night Soccer got arrested this week for dealing in San Francisco. He was beginning to open up to us, as he can be very shy and polite around us. I'll call him Fahrenheit here (trust me, the same note above applies here). Please pray for him in this difficult time. We are really sad to hear these news, as he showed a lot of interest in growing in relationship with God.



That's it for this week, see you next!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Operation Room Clean Up

When I introduced the recent blog changes, I made a brief mention of how my room would be like my little kingdom, and how I deal with it should reflect my personality and growth.

Well, how is my room since I moved in two months ago?

Let's just say that if my room were my little kingdom, and the things living in it my subordinates, I would have probably been found dead already, murdered for my disorderly tyranny, and a new king would have been put in my place.

I actually thought about posting pictures of it, but showing one's private room to the wide world web seems like a really unwise idea.

Plus, I'm embarrassed to show it to you.

Books and clothes (most of it) have a place to live. I still have too much crap. I'm currently in the long process of getting rid of some of my stuff.

This is a great exercise, getting rid of one's stuff, for it forces one to question one's attachment to personal belongings. What do I really need? Do I really need that much clothes? Wait, I actually like that shirt.

But my room being small, and my belongings many, and my commitment to Simplicity already made in InnerCHANGE, well my belongings kinda lose in this equation.

And so, I want to make a new commitment this week. The aptly named commitment will be "Operation Room Clean Up". Pretty clear huh?

I make the commitment to clean my room and be done with the unpacking by next week. I think is time *sighs*.

I don't promise to show you pictures of it. I will try to be as honest as I can with the progress though.

Do you struggle with this same problem of keeping your room clean? If so, what advice can you offer in keeping it clean?

See you next week!

Photo Credit: Siena College.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

This Week in Ministry (12/09/12)

As I was thinking about writing this post, I was getting kind of worried. This seemed like an uneventful week in the ministry, what with all the holidays festivities around us, ministry seems to take a break.

But reflecting on it, God has shown me what I would have otherwise missed, and now I see that some pretty exciting things have occurred this week.

1. One of the youth that we know for several years is finally getting baptized! God has brought him out of many dark places, including drugs and alcohol. In the midst of some difficulties, God started to call him, and he accepted the call! He started to go to church thrice a week. And now he feels ready to take the next step of faith, and making his relationship with Jesus official by going through baptism. Please pray for him during this time, that his relationship with God will only grow. He is a dear friend to me, and he has been in my prayers (and my team mates prayers) for several years now. To God be the glory!

2. This past Thursday I went to a play that my church was having. It was about the Virgin of Guadalupe apparitions. When someone was presenting the play, he decided to prep up the crowd. He started to ask people, by a show of hands, where they are from. He went through different countries, and people raised their hands. El Salvador? Many hands. Mexico? Couldn't count them. Nicaragua? Me and some other stranger. Honduras? Nobody.

Wait?! What?! Nobody? Really?! This area is full of Hondurans, but none came to this event?! Why haven't I met any Honduran in the parish? There is something wrong here.

As I was moving into Oakland, I felt that God was calling me to serve the immigrant youth, but specially the Honduran youth. I felt He wanted me to be part of this parish, and help bridge the parish with Hondurans.

I am sad of this realization. Why isn't the people I want to serve coming to this parish?

3. The leader of the youth choir just said that he was going to step down. I don't know what that will mean for me, as I'm the only person in the choir now that can play the guitar. I hope someone comes to help me!

4. Connections with Hondurans are growing! Relationships are slowly growing! Some of my team mates and I just visited one of these youth during work. He has a couple of weeks of being in the city. Everything is strange and foreign, and he feels out of place. He was so happy to see us! Please pray for him, and for our relationship with him to wrong. I will call him Xerox here :)

5. I am getting to know a lot of the youth at the parish. I love how diverse this group is, and how they seem to connect with each other. Pray that I continue to build relationships with them.

That's it for now! See you next week...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Patience...

"Patience, it's a wonderful thing" goes a song that I like.

Indeed, but I can get rather impatient at how difficult it is to grow in this area.

Anyone who knows me can tell you how impatient I can be. If there is something that I want then I can get desperate. This desperation expresses itself unashamedly in the way I rush into things, open packages, even in how I eat and drink.

When I was living in Nicaragua, my parents decided to take us to Disney World for one Christmas vacation. I wanted so much to go there. I wanted to finally visit the United States. I wanted so much to, oddly enough, eat at Mc Donald's (hey I was a little kid bombarded with the creepy Ronald Mc Donald commercials)

And so we decided to get our American visas, a painfully long experience.

I thought the whole enterprise of getting a U.S visa was ridiculous. You would pay $20.00 to get into the embassy (back in those days, now it's like $100), wait in line for like 8 hours, and chances are you will not get one. Good way to spend your day off.

Anyways, midway through the adventure, hungry and desperate, I started to cry. I want to go home! Screw Disney and Mc Donald's!

Wisely, my parents told me that when I get to Disney, I would hardly remember waiting in line.

We finally received our Visas, and indeed, when I was in Disney all the pain that I suffered from the waiting were long forgotten.

Waiting, it's a wonderful thing.

I honestly don't like Waiting, along with its all too clean sister Patience. If it was up to me I would send them both to pound salt!

But waiting it's the only remedy that I know for impatience.

Thanks to God, and the road He has taken me in the last couple of years, I have seen that I've grown a little in this area.

I offer one example to illustrate this.

When I bought my first laptop, my love for electronics and impatience created a powerful synergy, which basically resulted in me opening the package before I got to my house. I booted the thing up while I was driving.

That was 4 years ago.

I just received my new laptop. I ordered it online (Goodness gracious! Oh the horror! Oh the waiting!) It was delayed for a whole week.

When I finally received it and got into the car, I received a not so strong urge to open it. I didn't, even though I wasn't driving this time.

I got home and carefully got the laptop out of its package, plugged it in, set it up, played with it for a while, and then went to Church.

The change seems small, even laughable. But it means a lot to me.

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" Romans 8:18.

I believe Paul. I believe that when I get to the Heavenly "Disney" I will forget all the dreadful waiting that I endured on earth.

Photo Credit: Meddy Garnet.











Sunday, December 2, 2012

This Week in Ministry (12/02/12)

 

Today I want to introduce This Week in Ministry, a weekly feature in my blog where I will briefly share 5 things from the ministry in East Oakland.











1. Part of my ministry is to connect the Central American youth with the local parish, St. Elizabeth. I have started to attend Mass here, and even participate in the many ministries in the parish. Apparently, I'm officially a "Lay Minister" in the parish.

2. I started to play soccer with some of my team members, where we have connected with many Central American youth! This has reminded me of two things: how much I love soccer and how much I suck at it. Please pray for some miraculous improvement of skills!

3. One of my main goals this year is to connect with the youth group at St. Elizabeth. I'm now officially part of the youth group choir! I play the guitar and sing.

4. I'm also part of the Christmas play that the youth group is preparing! I'll be a wise man, apparently my youth and lack of wisdom weren't reasons enough to keep me from it :)

5. I saw a youth in Oakland that I was visiting for a month at juvenile hall during my ministry in San Francisco! I was very surprised to see him and he seemed very pleased to see me outside of the context of juvenile hall! It's great to see how these two ministries connect.



That's it for this week. See you next.