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Archive for December, 2012

JOHN WESLEY, SAVANNAH, GA.

JOHN WESLEY, SAVANNAH, GA.

Come, let us join ourselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant which will never be forgotten.”

— Jeremiah 50: 5

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Below is Methodist founder John Wesley’s covenant prayer from his New Year’s Eve Covenant Service (click here for an adaptation of the service, c. 1780).
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And for more on John Wesley and his brother Charles click here.
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Lord, I am no longer my own, but yours.

Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing,
put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by you
or laid aside by you,

enabled for you
or brought low by you.

Let me be full,
let me be empty.

Let me have all things,
let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
you are mine, and I am yours. So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

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You gotta love a devout Christian who is gay who married his mate of many years–a gay Christian who is a devout, practicing Roman Catholic, no less–and who happens to be a genuinely principled political conservative with a strong libertarian streak who is disgusted with what passes for political conservatism these days.

Now that’s a maverick.

And that’s Andrew Sullivan, the Brit-born writer and editor who was one of the first bloggers ever in the blogosphere and who is widely considered one of the best non-fiction writers alive–he who writes primarily on politics, religion and culture, but covers all things of enormously general interest.

He still churns out the copy, with his always provocative intellect, at his blog The Dish (click here).

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Art by Dutch painter Geertgen tot Sint Jans (c. 1460 – c. 1488).
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From Chapter 5 of Andrew’s The Conservative Soul:

The reason I call myself a Christian is not because I manage to subscribe, at any given moment, to all the truths that the hierarchy of my church insists I believe in; let alone because I am a good person or a “good Catholic.” I call myself a Christian because I believe that, in a way I cannot fully understand, the force behind everything decided to prove itself benign by becoming us, and being with us.

And as soon as people grasped what had happened, what was happening, the world changed for ever. The Gospels – all of them, including those that were rejected by the early Church – are mere sketches of a life actually lived, and an experience that can never be reduced to words or texts or doctrines. And the world as it was – as it still is – was unable to tolerate this immense occasion; and so Jesus was executed and the life more in touch with divinity than any other life was ended abruptly, when it was still achingly young. The existence of such a life was both so wondrous that it changed everything; and also so terrifying it had to be snuffed out.

The point of this incarnation was surely not to construct a litany of offenses by which we are to judge our own lives at any moment, to force us to thrash and writhe in a constant ordeal of self-criticism and guilt. The point was merely to be with us; and by being with us, to show us better how to be human, how better to embrace our lives by accepting the divine around us and inside us. By letting go, we become. By giving up, we gain. And we learn how to live – now, which is the only time that matters.
[My italics for emphasis.]

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A JOY-FILLED JOGGER AT SAN PEDRO.

A JOY-FILLED JOGGER AT SAN PEDRO.

JESUS IN FRONT OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, SAN PEDRO ISLAND. WHEN JESUS SAID "COME TO ME YOU WHO ARE WEARY AND HEAVY LADEN," THAT INCLUDED ALL GOD'S CREATURES--INCLUDING THIS WEARY BIRD.

JESUS IN FRONT OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, SAN PEDRO ISLAND. WHEN JESUS SAID “COME TO ME YOU WHO ARE WEARY AND HEAVY LADEN,” THAT INCLUDED ALL GOD’S CREATURES–INCLUDING THIS WEARY BIRD.

My Christmas holiday was a whirlwind what with three days and nights on paradise island (San Pedro, Belize) followed by four days and nights in far northern Belize in a village home where I was the ONLY and I mean ONLY English speaker for miles around, except for my friend Ludy. (See prior posting.) And she being my Spanish teacher, she forces me to use Spanish.

The villagers are still laughing their hindquarters off at my attempts at their Spanish tongue but oh well–the only way to learn another language is through willingness to make a total boob of yourself.

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Yesterday I ventured across the border to Chetumal, Mexico, all alone, to shop at a Wal-Mart, without my Spanish dictionary or any other English/Spanish resources. It was a challenge navigating there and especially trying to communicate with only Spanish speakers who work at the WalMart, the cabbies and everybody else, but I managed OK to get back to Belize, which is mostly English speaking even if there is a lot of Spanish, but also enormous amounts of Creole and Mayan and Lord knows whatever other tongues thrown in.

In fact, “Kriol” is the pretty much the native language in Belize; even the Spanish speakers and Mayans speak it and speak it mucho of the time.

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On Christmas Eve, the villagers where I was staying in a spare one-room, thatch-roof, concrete floor cottage (with one big light bulb but no light in the outhouse) stayed up all night visiting house to house.

The women folk baked all night while we men folk barbecued a pig we slaughtered.

On Christmas Day I went spear fishing at the lagoon in the sugar cane fields that are all over northern Belize.

My spear fishing was total fail, as they say. But like my attempts at Spanish, gimme credit for trying.

And how many fish have YOU ever caught with a spear anyway.

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There will be pictures to come of this adventure, if I ever recover. I got home last night in my rental truck and went into a semi-coma from exhaustion.

All that said, I was too much immersed in Spanish and fun-seeking to post much Christmas stuff around Christmas.

So here is what is far and away my favorite Christmas song of all time, done so incredibly by Mariah, for your belated pleasure.

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Caribbean Yuletide (Part 2)

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Three Kings scene hanging on the wall in the home of Alfonso, brother of my friend Ludy (see prior posting). Alfonso and his wife have three girls, including the little baby in my lap in the last posting and a boy. They live, as many San Pedro islanders do, in a swamp; they lost a 5 month old baby to an infection before having the youngest girl. But they are a joy-filled, faith-filled family, spiritually rich.

“Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” – Luke 2:17-20

Alfonso’s oldest giggly girl.

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Alfonso and the baby girl; he and his wife lost a 5 month old child to an infection.

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Alfonso is an excellent carpenter who has seldom been without work but has not worked in a good while and struggles to feed the family. He and his lovely wife insisted I come back for dinner at their home tonight (Sunday) though, with his sister Ludy. They are materially poor but we should all be so rich as all these “impoverished” Belizeans. They teach me new lessons every day about the gospel in simply by their amazing faith and strength and their hospitality, which is right out of the gospel.

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San Pedro Island swamp (San Mateo) where my friend Ludy lived for seven years as she worked to send money back home in western Belize to her mother who kept her son and daughter. Her brother Alfonso, unemployed, still lives near this house in the swamplands, far removed from the high-dollar resorts and nice and very beachfront hotels of the sort where I’ve been staying.

Ludy and I were walking down this road to her brother’s house, and the house where she lived when she worked as a dishwasher and then a housekeeper at resorts, when she told me, “They have put this nice road here since I lived here; this road used to be wooden planks above the swamp before the improvements were finally made.”

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Alfonso’s neighbor adding an addition to his house by the new road.

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Kids having a large time playing the universal child’s game: marbles.
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Alfonso’s son.
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Her former neighbors were thrilled to see Ludy back in the neighborhood even though she only left the island to go back home to western Belize earlier this year; she will graduate from high school in May–she had to leave school to help support her family but has been attending night classes for seven years. She wants to go to college and obtain a degree in tourist management when she graduates this spring. I and some other expat friends of mine who know her will be having a large graduation party for Ludy.

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Night, near my beachfront hotel on the island.

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Felix Navidad from beautiful San Pedro.

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My friend and Spanish teacher and fellow traveler and own personal San Pedro tour guide Ludy with Santa at an ice cream shop in San Pedro. Above is Ludy’s niece at her brother’s home. Much more to come on the San Pedro trip in the next few blog post so stay tuned here at jitterbuggingforjesus.com in the holiday days ahead as we head to Corozal on the Belize/Mexico for Christmas week with more of her family in a north Belizean village on Christmas Day.

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While everyone in Western Belize where I live was preparing for the Mayan non-end of the world, my friend and Spanish teacher “Ludy” accompanied me to the popular Caribbean resort isle of San Pedro for a three-day weekend. (Click here for more on San Pedro, or go to “Taco Girl’s” blog here; she has San Pedro covered like a blanket, that girl.)

Ludy, who is from the Cayo area where I live in the far western mainland of Belize, worked at San Pedro for seven years. She started as a dishwasher in a bar and grill before she found work and good pay, by Belizean standards, as a housecleaner at the high-doller resorts of San Pedro.

So here’s some snaps of the paradise that is San Pedro, and some snaps as well of Ludy’s family and friends and their homes.

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Braving it atop the water taxi to the isle.

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Beachcomber at work as sun rises over San Pedro.
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Ludy’s house of seven years where she lived while sending money back home to her mom to support her son and daughter between her monthly visits to Cayo where she lives with mom and the kids now.
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Alfonso’s family killer perrito.

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“Come back for more about my beautiful country Belize at the blog that is saving el mundo! and meanwhile, Felize Navidad!”

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If I were to die today I would gladly go and thank God for it all–and thank Him/Her especially for the two-hour walk I had on the beach this morning; that alone made it all worth the life ride I’ve had.

Although, I am having a bit of a bad hair day.

This is the day the Lord hath made;

“let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

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Tuesday afternoon I rode over past Chena Galvez’s popular Clarissa Falls Resort (click here) and proceeded a mile along the Mopan River to Clara Village, where I parked my bike, two miles off the Western Highway, and walked (dared?) across the rickety swing bridge.

Across the way I met Debore Xis, a friendly young vaquera (cowgirl) who was galloping on her white steed down to the pasture with her cousin Melvin to check on her cattle.

I fell in love with this pastoral village with its Catholic Church and elementary school and horses free-grazing all over the place, even though I had to get home before dark and didn’t see a lot of it.

I saw enough to know that God Himself/Herself must live there.

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There is a river whose streams make glad

“the city of God,

“the holy habitation of the most High. . .

“Be still . . . and know that I am God.”

— From Psalm 46

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Happy trails, buckaroos.

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