Friday, March 2, 2007
Heaven,Hope, and Flowers - Ethan Nokes
Most people who know me well probably thought I would never contribute to this or any other blog. They got this idea because that is what I told them. However, as strongly as I felt the calling to come on this trip, I felt the urge to post one of my journal entries. I feel that those who care to read this need to know what is being accomplished here. Though I will not be giving details as to happenings, I can give my impressions and feelings.
I wrote this on Friday morning, before the retreat had ended. Please keep that in mind so as to avoid confusion when reading other posts from today.
Friday March 2, 2007
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long….
It is hard for me not to praise God. For most of my life I have found this to be true. There have been dark days for sure but I think my normal state of being is praise and thankfullness. I am very glad God gave me this disposition. That being said (a favorite phrase of Whit Stiles) I find it very hard not to praise God in this place.
Cape Town is beautiful.
Yesterday, following the vision of Tammy Teige. Whit, Tammy, Brittany and I went to take some roofing metal to a lady who serves and lives in Red Hill, a shanty town with very bad living conditions. Even there I was struck with beauty and hope. Outside the shanties, almost each one, were flowers. Red Hill is on the coast of the Atlantic and in the trees and away from the world and has horrible conditions and is made of throw away scrap and probably stinky when hot, but there were flowers.
Even in sin and despair God gives us hope. Sometimes it is up to us to plant it and cultivate it, but it is there. Ready to spring forth and bless us. Ready to spring forth and show us the beauty that God has in store for us. Ready to spring forth, mature, and spread the seeds of hope and beauty for the future.
Yesterday we were at a spiritual retreat that we hosted for the caregivers and counselors of Living Hope. They work in deplorable conditions and in despair and get very little in way of rest and rejuvination. We were asked to led a retreat for them. We were nervous, scared, in the dark about what to do, but trusting God to work.
I cannot say that we led the retreat because we did not. We participated in the retreat. Music, in several languages, dancing, sharing, food, the hope here is truly living.
One of the girls in my small group had a son who died suddenly when we was an infant. You can see the despair and longing in her eyes but she still gives care and love to those she serves.
The night ended with Dave on the guitar and me playing mandolin, sitting in the middle of about 40 people singing “Blessed Assurance”. I truly feel as though I have seen heaven.
Blessed Assurance all is at rest. I, in my Savior, am happy and blessed.
Watching and waiting, looking above. Filled with his goodness lost in his love.
I cry as I write this. I am sitting at a table on the veranda (no cigars), overlooking the ocean with the mountains behind me and the morning sun in my face.
I am overwhelmed by God’s beauty, grace, and hope.