Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas in China 2011

Merry Christmas 2011 
Dear loved ones, family, and friends! ~

 We join our hearts with you …from around the world on Christmas Day 2011. Aren’t we blessed people? Nothing separates us from the love of G0d that we have through our faith in His Son! We’ve loved having our hearts stirred as we’ve sung the carols of Christmas throughout these last few weeks.  Caroling in our neighborhood on Christmas Eve, with a little marsh mellow roast over the open barbeque grill, giving the children a sweet treat as we sang…  Wonderful singing each Sunday of Advent with families of faith in our West Fellowship, even a snazzy jazz rendition on this Christmas morn…  and of all things .. a Swedish tradition for 700 years or more~ smorgasbord and Santa Lucia herself, joining the celebration.  This brought back sweet memories of singing the part of Lucia when I was a teen back in Chicago.  In the only scary moment of the program, Lucia fainted.  As she recovered, all of us in attendance, walked  around the block singing “Lucia” while we lit up the neighborhood with Light and lights of our candles.
We were gifted with a wonderful 4-day visit by Helen. We’ve mutually adopted one another. On her way from Tennessee, where she and her husband, Michael now live, she stopped by Central Asia to see us, en route to Kenya. In honor of our divine appointment at Starbucks in Fullerton, CA in March 2007, we stopped to sip and soak in the delicacies of the Father’s goodness and kindness to us.
As we sat near the ground, watching this young woman work ~ we were so impressed with her diligence and resourcefulness as she skillfully mended our damaged duffle bag.  She was a careful craftswoman as she used an old, hand-wound sewing machine to do her work.   We are humbled as we watch people stretch every penny and resource.  The ground we sat on felt “holy.”
Several have asked “is there really no heat?”  There is no indoor heating in our part of the country… Our portable heaters provided our heating, along with small hot-water-type bottles we can heat by electric and wear around our waists or warm our hands by. As you can see we are content; while it’s cold, He knows our frame… and supplies by teaching us how to manage. 

 He’s still providing and it looks quite different – but He’s the SAME! … and His loving kindness remains to us.  We find ourselves “following the same Star of old” and finding the trail marked by peace and joy.  Loving & being loved by Him, 

                                                                               Bethyl Joy and Vance

Dumpster Divers

Dumpster Divers

I watch out my windows here a lot.   I see a lot of oldsters taking care of napsters.   They make the circuit in our apartment courtyard, the easily led pushed along by the nearly dead.   As they walk, two or three trash bins are in view.   More often than not, the geriatric set will stop, lean over, peer down, and dig around.    Look for treasures.   Never can tell what might be in there,

Watching this Discovery Channel out my window has been instructive as well as entertaining.  The folks that are dumpster divers are also survivors of their own intense history.   They are the few who remain after forty million fellow citizens st*rved to death in their generation.   The most common greeting when meeting a friend amongst this age group is, “Hello, have you eaten yet today?”  Giving and receiving a meager bit of food often made the difference between living and dying.

My mentor mother back in the USA I’ve come to call “MM” for Mother Mine.  Harriette’s an expert is taking her little trolley down on tracks in your interior and emerging hours later triumphant with goodness.    She mines the mind with an eye for treasure; dives into apparent dumpsters and surfaces with jewels.

Makes me think:  what trash have I examined lately, looking for treasure?  When I talk with you, do I sort through your words for value, something glittering?  When I mine my own mind do I discard slag and grab the one pearl?

I joke that as a psychologist I am a waste management engineer.   I help folks get rid of stinking thinking that produces poopy feelings.   Even my name, Vance, comes from the old English for “thresher”, the device that sorted chaff from wheat.

          Jesus too came to claim his treasures from amongst great piles of evil.   He had an eye for those who had an eye for Him.   Those who received him became his treasure. He peered, dumpster dived out of heaven to earth, claimed bits of glitter for Glory.   Will you join him, and me, today?  Maybe that’s what being missi0nal is all about—not geography?      

Happy Christmas Dumpster Diving!
Vance Bethyl Joy