Thoughts from an Ordinary Guy

This journey through life is never boring......

Month: June 2014 (page 1 of 4)

Lament

As a follow up to Saturday’s post about pain, I’m reposting, with permission, something that John Pottenger did.    John is in the close circle of people who were and are impacted by the events surrounding the Christian radio host.

I’d say, “Enjoy,” but that sound too trivial.   Instead, I’ll say, “Be blessed.”

Lament from John Pottenger on Vimeo.

In 2010 I found this old abandoned church and was compelled to capture it on video. At the time I didn’t have a reason or purpose behind the project, and it wasn’t until recent events that it became evident to me what to use this video footage for.

The experience filming this broken church was both exciting and somber. My creative juices were running at full blast, while at the same time questions about the history and story behind this once new church came to mind. What had happened here? The wind that day was incredible. Like it was guiding my shots, and in some cases literally pushing the camera (and me) into the space. It was like I was invited in, and life was trying so hard to emerge a midst the rubble. In the film anything that moves (doors, ropes etc…) was not manipulated by me in any way. I simply filmed what was happening.

Back in 2010 I edited the visuals together without any music track or voice over added. I even went so far as to ensure that there was not music or sound playing in the background of my office in an attempt to stretch myself creatively and let the images guide the edit rather than allowing music or sound of any kind influence the edit. There was no script, overarching message or story to drive the order or timing of the edits. In many ways you could say it was spirit led. Each shot lasted as long or short as it needed to be, and the order of each image was put in place with nothing for me to reference or match. It was a very different and very organic editing experience… something I’ve never done before (or since).

Back in 2010 It was very difficult to create this video without a known purpose or reference to anything, but in the end the raw edit of just the visuals was finished. At that point I was just waiting for someone to do something more with it. I had hoped that possibly I could share it with someone else who would see the images and be inspired to possibly write music for it, or a poem or something to go with the images I had captured…. sadly it just sat untouched… unfinished.

With some recent tragic events in my life, I needed to find a way to cope. After nearly 4 years of almost forgetting about this film, It suddenly hit me that the purpose of this video was for this very moment and situation in my life. I quickly found some music and poured out my heart to God using the canvas of the visuals in this video as a foundation. I didn’t alter anything in the original edit of the video. It remains as I edited it in 2010. Now in this completed version I added music which miraculously matched perfectly without any alterations to the song. And of course my voice was added as well.

So here you have it. My heart. I hope through this video, you will find healing and hope that can only be found in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Pain

Pain has been a frequent player on the stage of life lately.   

It appears that “he” is more prevalent today than at other times.

Google “West Michigan Christian Radio Host” and you’ll find part of what I mean.    To say that this man was well known and loved in the Christian community would be an understatement.   To say that the church has and will continue to have a black eye over this for a long time is an understatement as well.

A conversation online with multiple adoptive parents and the general consensus is, “Our children are struggling and need help.”

A family vacation to celebrate a decade as a family – with some great big pain dropped right in the middle of it.

Another “expat” in Haiti murdered this week.

A teenager’s bone marrow transplant is delayed – forcing her to miss the 1st semester of next school year.

Another friend with marital struggles.    Another friend trying to help their siblings through marital struggles..

The betrayal, the pain, the suffering – I know we’re in a broken world, but why so much?   Why now?

God, what’s happening and why are you allowing this all to happen?

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know.  I don’t have an answer.

And that makes me mad.   And I think God’s okay with us being mad that we don’t know why these things are happening.

But I think there are a couple of things we can learn through these rough times……

  • God is here even when things are tough.   I’ve seen and felt multiple times where people have been the hands and feet of God helping struggling people.
  • The church (not God, but the gathering of “His” people) has a lot of work to do.   We as a church do great in helping someone who is in pain that you can see.    But the pain you can’t see, we don’t want to get involved with that so much.
  • The guilt and shame that the unmentioned radio personality felt even before being arrested – yet he didn’t or had no place to reach for help.
  • The pain that his friends and family feel now – I’ve been walking with one of them through it, it’s gut-wrenching.
  • The shame and confusion that so many adopted kids feel – yet very few outside of their families will understand and are willing to step in and “sit with them” in that pain.
  • The “Sunday morning mask” doesn’t work so well.    Hiding our pain, not being able to be real with fellow Christians, friends and family members and having to sit in church acting like all is well is not working.    We need to wake up and start being a whole lot more open and honest with each other about our struggles.

When we do that, when we are more open and more honest with each other, then healing can happen.   

It won’t be pretty.   It will actually probably be pretty ugly.   But it will be real and it will begin healing.

Then we can begin to see God using His church to bring healing into the world and to reduce the pain.

Right now, many people, unfortunately, don’t see the church that way, but rather the opposite.

If Jesus had dinner with the tax collectors and the prostitutes, then why can’t we be real and admit to each other our pains and our sufferings?

We know that ultimately, Christ will win the war, we just need to fight these battles better.

It will reduce the pain,

Tom

Anonymous Generosity (aka “He Who Must Not Be named”)

So, earlier in the week, when it was “looking” like something would happen but we didn’t know when it would happen, a friend of one of our adoptive parents made a phone call to one of her clients.

“Hi Ralph (not real name), I’ve got a favor to ask of you. I’ve got a friend who is in the process of adopting from Haiti and with everything that is going on in Haiti, it looks like she might get her daughter home sooner. The “problem” is that she might find out, with less than 24 hours notice, that she needs to get to Miami. Is there any chance that you’d let her fly down there on your plane?”

“Let me check on a few things, I’ll call you back.”

In less than 30 minutes, the call back came, “Tell your friend to talk to Ned at Northern Air and he will take care of anything that the parents need. It will not be my plane because I don’t want any publicity from it. It’s not about me, it’s about the kids and their parents. But it’s all paid for by me.”

To this day, outside of the people at Northern Air, I believe there are only two of us who know the identity of the donor who picked up the tab for the flight. 

I do know this, he and another local company that donated the use of one of their planes made a substantial difference for the families that got to use them. The ease of getting through security, the timing, the entire process was a whole lot less stressful because of them.

Thank you to Amway Corporation and to “He who must not be named” for your generosity and your willingness to play a part in bringing these kids home to their families.

The Trip Home–Part 1

I remember on that Tuesday afternoon and evening (1 week post quake)talking (via instant message) with Dixie that they were compiling all of the information that the government needed (they hoped) with the hope being able to get the paperwork on Wednesday and then begin the process of flying the kids out on Thursday.

A couple of memorable moments that stand out from that time period……

At 3:30 in the morning, I got an instant message from Dixie that made it obvious that they were all working yet. I went to bed early that night, I think I was in bed by 1:30.

By Wednesday night, we knew that the paperwork had been issued and that things were looking really good for a flight to Miami on Thursday. So a large part of Wednesday night was spent notifying adoptive parents that they had to be in Miami by Thursday afternoon. Those were fun phone calls to make!

One particular call that stands out as fun was to a single mom (you’ll read more of her story later). After a week of going nut waiting, her sister told her, turn off your computer, you’re coming with me and we’re going out for dinner and going to go shopping (for kids clothes). I finally got in touch with her when she was in the middle of Target. “Hey Jayne, where have you been?” “Out for dinner and shopping for clothes for my Elli who I hope…..” “Well, you better go home.” “Why?” “Because you need to start packing – you need to be in Miami at this time tomorrow!” HOLDS PHONE WAY BACK FROM EAR TO AVOID GOING DEAF AS SHE SCREAMED FOR JOY IN THE MIDDLE OF TARGET…….

Another phone call – it’s about 1:30 AM on Thursday and I had one more adoptive parent to call. “Hey Mark, it’s Tom Vanderwell.” “Huh… Oh, Tom, hey let me call you back in 60 seconds.” “Tom, it’s Mark, what’s up?” “Mark, I just got done talking to Northern Air and you and Julie need to be at their terminal tomorrow morning (actually later this morning) at 10:00 to fly out.” (The private plane part is another story.) “Really?” “Yes, Mark, are you awake enough to understand what I’m saying?” “Yeah, the wait is almost over and we’re going to go get our son!”

All over the United States, there were over 60 families who were having the same type of conversations. They were trying to figure out how to get to Miami in time, they were figuring out if they had enough clothes, diapers, jackets etc. Because many of them weren’t expecting their kid(s)to come home for a very long time.

HP is not just a Printer

In the middle of all of the death, destruction, suffering, chaos and confusion, there were people in high levels at the US government, the Haitian government and the Canadian government that were working on another problem/challenge.

They were working on this thing called, “Humanitarian Parole.” What does that mean? Essentially it means that the governments agree that if an adoption is already in process, then the child in question would be allowed to go home to their adoptive parents and finish the paperwork from there. Essentially, it was a way to get these kids out of Haiti, out of stressful situations and free up resources so that other children can be taken care of.

From January 13 on, there were people looking into this, talking about this, trying to make this happen and pushing people they know and people they don’t know to do the best possible to get this to happen. A large part of what tied up my blur of each and every day during that time was communicating with the adoptive parents and other concerned parties and trying to make sure that everyone was on the same page in terms of what was happening, what information was needed and how it was looking. It wasn’t uncommon that I’d get calls from the same parents 2 or 3 times a day. I don’t blame them. Their child(ren) were stuck in what was without a doubt one of this century’s deadliest natural disasters.

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