International Ministries

Ivan, Five Months Later...

February 3, 2011 Journal
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I’ve had a lot on my mind after being back home from Egypt to HUGELY different cultures you have a BIG culture shock once you're back home and I didn’t know how to take it all in? I was back home and yet I wasn’t I didn’t feel like I was home anymore I kind of felt like Egypt was my home. Like a piece of myself was missing, like It had stayed behind in Egypt. I once again was a foreign person in some land I knew nothing about because although I was home everything had changed, life as I knew it had gone on without me, as I knew it would, I was stuck in the past… Nothing really prepares you for something like that, being home and feeling like you’re a stranger; being surrounded by friends and family and feeling like you don’t fit in like your different? I was back home with so many ideas and plans to change the world and I didn’t know where to start, I didn’t know where to begin? I was always at a loss for words when people would ask me “How was your trip?” or “How’d it go?” “How’d it change you?” although I knew the Xperience I had changed me I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about Xplaining how Xactly it did that? I mean how do you Xplain a whole months worth of Xperience into one short answer? So I always gave them the same answer which was easy “it went good, really good”. But you see it wasn’t the answer they were looking for, and neither was it the answer I wanted to give them but it’s all I could really say. You see everyone Xpects this HUGE life changing Xperience answer and for them to react like “WOW THAT WAS AWESOME!!!” trust me it happened; but I didn’t know how to tell them how it happened? All that played over and over in my mind was you have to be there to know Xactly what I’m talking about, because no one else is really going to understand what this trip has done for me. Even me from Day 1 I Xpected this trip to change my life my world in a HUGE way too I Xpected to be out one day and for it to just BAM hit me in the face and be like HEY I'M HERE!!! But it didn’t I had a variety of different moments that all broke me down to tears inside. So many times I stood there waiting for God to speak to me to show me the purpose of this trip the purpose of my being here both in the world and there in Egypt. So many moments of utter chaos of feeling alone a stranger an alien in a  world you know nothing about. People you’ve never met before people you don’t understand? And yet in the midst of this in those brief moments of chaos from being in your discomfort zone for so long you find piece and comfort, you find happiness, joy and the warm heartedness of God. You ACTUALLY FEEL and SEE God at work, it’s an amazingly beautiful site to see. One moment that impacted me in particular I will share with you.


      Family, Friends; what comes to mind when you hear these words? Do you think about being alone, abandoned, an orphan in the world? I remember arriving at Mother Teresa’s Sister’s of Charity in garbage city. A city where all the people store and separate garbage to recycle and sell. A city where most families live in two story houses; in which they use the entire first floor to store the garbage they’ve already separated. I immediately went into my discomfort zone after seeing all the trash all over the floor. Then seeing that kids played and lived in these conditions every day, I didn’t like it.

After getting down from the micro bus and settling we were told that were to split into two groups. I didn’t want to go with the babies up on the first floor but I kept my mouth shut hoping the rest of the team would choose and would leave me with the only choice but to go with the toddlers, and to some surprise it worked. Relieved but still uncomfortable about the whole situation I went upstairs to a small play pen area where all the 15+ kids were playing with their toys. It was told to take off my shoes, though I don’t if that was out of Muslim culture or to be sanitary; I did anyways and joined in the fun with the little kids. Immediately I looked around trying to see if there was a little boy or girl that stood out in my eyes. I remember seeing a little girl who couldn’t use her legs so she dragged herself around with her hands as her legs followed her. This little girl who couldn’t use her legs had no idea that her legs were important she made no record of not being able to do something she didn’t feel sorry for herself she was happy like the rest of the little kids playing with their toys. There was also a little Sudanese boy, in fact the only Sudanese boy which surprised me, since not many Egyptians get along with the Sudanese, so we heard. I wanted to give him a lollipop but then thought does he go to the dentist? I didn’t want to ruin his teeth so I kept it in my pocket. Then there was a little kid which at first I could not tell from boy or girl because this little kid had a closely shaved head like a boy but a dress like a girl, which fit too big. I thought maybe it’s a boy that had no other clothes to wear or maybe a girl that had lice?  This little kid which I later found out was indeed a girl and whose name was Phoebe, tried to bite me which scared me and put me more further into my discomfort zone as I was sitting down on the floor, but I nervously laughed it off stopped her as if not to be scared or uncomfortable. I knew deep down inside she meant no harm, that all she wanted was somebody to notice her somebody to love her and make her feel like the happiest little girl in the world; sadly that was the only way she knew how to get that.

     Although uncomfortable I tried to find a way to interact with the kids and I knew that if I let them wear my sun glasses and hat that would work, so I let her and the kids play with my hat which fit really big on all their tiny little heads as it fell forward and covered their faces as they tried to look up. They wore my sunglasses which also fit too big as they would fall forward past their nose. I sat there admiring the kids and how they knew nothing of the world outside nothing of being poor or not having enough money to get through the day, and yet they were happier than ever! After about fifteen minutes we went outside to play with the kids. I was still uncomfortable and not all too sure about what to do since all the kids were playing on their own, so I tried my best to avoid any kind of interaction. All I wanted to do was crawl up into a little ball in a room all alone. Then Kim handed me a little boy with an orange shirt and blue shorts so I carried him. Not because I wanted too but because this little boy was my way out of interacting with the other kids. As I was carrying him the same little girl Phoebe that tried to bite me came back to my feet. I pushed her aside. Again she came towards me pulling at the little boy’s feet that I was carrying and I said ‘NO’ not to her but inside. I walked away but Phoebe stayed rite behind me, Walt tried to get her attention by calling her towards him but she wanted me to hold her. She looked at me one last time with her big watery eyes about to cry, an expression that broke me down inside, and yet I told myself that I couldn’t, I was too scared. So once again I got scared and held the little boy tighter.

     Phoebe, a little girl whom I will always remember, remember her face and the expression she wore on her face. As I looked into her eyes, as they seemed to get watery and I knew she longed for comfort and happiness as she stretched up her arms towards me to pick her up. Still scared and not knowing what to do I ignored her and pushed her away. There I was, not knowing if she had any family, if she was an orphan and I pushed her away. I couldn’t give her the one thing she was looking for, a hug, for comfort, for hope and happiness to make all her pain and tears go away, for her to feel loved. Here she was this shaved headed little girl who knew nothing of me, of my family, my story and yet looked at my arms as a place of comfort and happiness. I who had gone halfway across the world to have this mission xperience and I couldn’t even xtend my arms to a little girl.

I, one who many people from kids to parents and grandparents look up to back home in San Diego. I, one who loves to admire the innocence of little kids and how the interact with each other. A teacher of a kids Sunday school class, me one who people say has a great future failed miserably at showing God’s love to his children and all I have ever learned about God’s love. I was a slave to my own fear, I let it control me and get the best of me. Why? Why are we slaves to ourselves? Why do we hold ourselves back from doing the things God calls us to do?

 “For as our country cannot be both a country of slavery and freedom, in the same way we cannot live our lives in both freedom and slavery of ourselves.”

       Now as I look back about 5 months later I see this moment in a new way! Most of you heard me talk about Roy the random stranger whom I gave a ride home in the middle of the night. A night I had to have complete faith In God and how the rest of the night would unfold not knowing if I would make it home or not, not knowing if I would see the light of day again? That night was not a mistake. That night God put Roy there as a test for me and I faced it I didn’t run or give excuses I looked to God told him to take me in his arms scared and nervous inside so I can help this stranger. Now this little girl who lived halfway across the world whom I also knew nothing of would also ask for help, in a different way but still asking for help, but this time in plain daylight. In plain daylight surrounded by people was this little girl who barely talked. This little girl that couldn’t hurt me even if she tried and I couldn’t look deep down enough inside myself to find the willingness to help her. I drove rite past her. Two totally different people different sides of the world asking for help and I only helped one. What a disappointment for me. This little girl Phoebe and the Xpereince I had with her though it was one in which I could not help her I take something good out of it. A message… From the xperience I had with this little girl Phoebe, One night as I laid in bed I was thinking which I tend to do a lot, but this time I was thinking about this Xperience that I had with Phoebe the little girl as I told the story to a friend of mine, and as im telling the story I hear myself tell the story, I mean really hear myself and pay attention to the detail of it and how it all unfolds. Once I finished telling the story I said to myself WOW would you look at that and I smiled. WOW I said once more and I let out a giggle, because I saw a vision, a new set of eyes to look at this Xperience came to me and God had let me see it and it was amazing!! I thought about this little girl Phoebe and how she looked to me for help in time of despair and trouble. How she looked at me to provide her the comfort she needed to make it throughout the day. How she wanted me to hold her to make all her pain n tears go away… and I couldn’t help her. I think is a resemblance to Jesus and has impacted my life in BIG way.

      Follow me as I try to Xplain why I compare her to Jesus. One thing I noticed was that I In the way that [Peter denied Jesus] I also denied Phoebe the little girl who asked for help. After I noticed this I put Jesus in Phoebe’s place and I replayed the whole Xperience in my head. I avoided Jesus when he called out to me. When Jesus needed me the most I wasn’t there. When he called out to me I turned the other way. When He looked to me for comfort with His eyes on the verge of breaking into tears. As the expression on his face grew sadder and sadder as his hope went down the drain. I closed my arms and looked up towards the sky. I ignored him and avoided his cry for help. As he begged and begged with his eyes crying looking up at me I took no recognition of it. As he waved his arms up in the air for me to hold him I didn’t pay attention. As Jesus stood there calling out to me, ME! Ivan! Help me!! I’m right here! Help me please!! I need you!! I couldn’t even bare the sight of him. This little 5yr old Jesus looked at me for freedom, freedom from all her troubles that have bothered her; her whole life and I didn’t do anything about it. Why is it that I could help Roy someone who had the ability to kill me if he wanted too, but this little girl who would only hug me had I given her the opportunity I couldn’t lend even a finger to help her.