Dark Side of the River

Posted in Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , on 08/08/2009 by mattlindsey

Poverty is not the problem, it is the symptom. The problem is an inability to share and to distribute the wealth.

In 10 or 20 years, these kids roaming the streets will be the same kind of criminals we see here today. They will be killing and trying to smuggle drugs because they won’t see the value in doing anything else. They were never given the opportunity to become an engineer or a doctor, or a teacher. If the only thing they learned was what they learned in the streets, if all they saw were people being murdered, if no one ever took them to church and no one lavished them with attention, I can assure you, they will become criminals.

Luis Fernando Cárdenas

Amor por Juarez

July was the deadliest month in the recent history of Ciudad Juarez (BOO!) and still it sits, plastered to the desert dust like a giant glowing pulsating elephant in the room. Outside my window buses roll by, kids are kicking a half-deflated soccer ball in the street, and tomorrow I will be in El Paso to pick up a small group of folks that is coming to visit us. I will run errands, spend my day in the land of the free, rub shoulders with the half-million people that live in one of the safest cities in the world; I will come home, pass through the magic-curtain back to the colonia, back to Juarez, the deadliest city in Mexico.

This is a weird place to live.

Luis Fernando Cárdenas posted his article on the El Paso’s online newspaper last month; it is one of the first pieces written towards hope that I have seen and one of the first articles that I have read in some time that speaks of the core infection of Mexico. Please, read it.

Hearing El Pasonians talk proudly about NOT crossing the border to see their family in Juarez is as much a slap in the face as so-called christians that spend $16 million dollars on a church building looming so high and extravagant that it casts a mocking shadow on its poor neighbors on the dark side of the river. If our nations churches won’t share and distribute the wealth, then we have indeed lost “the good fight.” Good ideas, catered-theology, politics without action, it is all just a sound byte, a clanging bell. What saddens me is that our best idea (as Americans) was to sink over $30 billion dollars into a fence and hundreds of millions more into the bottomless pit of the “War on Drugs.”

Living in the dark, covering our ears and tossing billions of dollars towards a war that cannot be one with AK-47’s and helicopters is the easy way out. We are at the crossroads of fear and hope. People are scrambling to find something solid to build on, something more to believe in. We cannot continue ignoring our impoverished neighbors.

Service in the Desert

Posted in Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , , , on 07/31/2009 by mattlindsey

The greatest sin of political imagination is thinking there in no other way except the filthy rotten system we have today.

Jesus for President

Serve Who?

This billboard says, “Serve your community”.

Ambiguous and obnoxious billboards are infecting this already polluted city. Flooding the streets with more assault rifles strengthens the violence, injects more fear, closes more doors, lowers the bar. It is ludicrous that they are replacing “Amor por Juarez” billboards with guns.

Just who will those guns be serving?

The Dividing Line between rich and poor

Posted in Life in Juarez with tags , , , , , , on 07/30/2009 by mmlindsey

This video was posted on the El Paso’s  NewsPaper Tree site.

This is our life… a life in flux. We have only been here for one year, and in a year we have seen the border evolve into a military zone, separating the rich from the poor. Please watch, it is a blaring glimpse into the reality of our lives and the lives of countless Mexican brothers and sisters.

New Desert War

Posted in hope, Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , on 07/29/2009 by mmlindsey

It was hot. Tensions were boiling under the strain of the desert sun. Everyone was gripped, toes dug into the baking sand.

New Weapons

The bombs whistled, cutting through the shimmering heat waves like melted butter.The Attack They could not out run them. Bombs colliding with flesh, fear on every face.Incoming!

Fear...

Running from the bombs

When the dust settled, laughter was rippling over the water soaked soil and could be heard across Colonia Palo Chino, everyone happy and refreshed!

The Victim

Everything happens…

Posted in Life in Juarez with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 07/23/2009 by mistylindsey

We lack a holy rage – The ability to rage when justice lies prostrate on the streets… a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world… To rage when little children must die of hunger when the tables of the rich are sagging with food… To rage against complacency. To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the Kingdom of God.

-Kaj Munk (quoted in Irresistible Revolution)

It’s always interesting whom you may encounter in a laundromat. In that world that seems to have been almost removed completely from time and space. You pass in and then out of those doors, piles of fabric in tow; days, weeks or months could pass, and yet when you depart from whence you came it is as if the world stood still.

This is where we met. Instantly bonded by the shared experience of this ‘other world’, Christian and Atheist. It was interesting hearing her take on life, hypotheses for raising four children, and just a glimpse into her heart and the resolutions she’d reached which left her at a crossroads: to believe in a God of wretchedness, or to believe in nothing at all.

This encounter proved to be less of a conversation and more of a monolog. I found myself intrigued, staring silently into her heart as she spoke, squinting to try to see around all of the pretty, distracting decorations we hide ourselves in, interested to understand. But the part that dismantled the conversation, that knocked the breath out of my lungs and sent shock-waves up my spine was a simple phrase that I’d heard countless times. As we shared a sadness for those infants whose parents carry them into the scorching summer heat to beg for money, the babies, barely able to walk, who are pushed out into traffic with their hands out, the children who have hand or foot chopped off by their own parents in order to get more sympathy money, she said, “Well, that is their lot in life. Everything happens for a reason.” Wow. I was baffled and horrified. I had heard this my entire life from Christians trying to make sense of a broken world, and honestly I’m sure I’ve even said it myself. But this time it blindsided me, an uppercut to the jaw that knocked me on my tail… because this idea, when taken to it’s logical conclusion, brings us to the same verdict that this woman had reached.

Man Asleep

She had denounced this God that was supposed to be loving and yet forced His son to come to earth and die, that allows so much horror to take place in this world because He has some ultimate hidden purpose. What broke my heart is that this lady in her genuine quest for truth seemed to have thrown in the towel at the most crucial point, and contradictorily regurgitated a pithy Christian phrase. She had given up at the cliff’s edge as she lumped all things unresolved into “This is your lot in life, you were broken and maimed, molested and abused by those people who were supposed to above anyone else take care of and love you, but well, everything happens for a reason.”

I do agree that everything happens for a reason, but the reason is that we live in a world full of broken, hurting people who choose sometimes horrific and unthinkable things. God is behind it, but only because He gave us this beautiful, powerful gift of choice, which many times I wish He wouldn’t have. We choose to burn out the eyes of our own children so we can get a few more coins. We choose to sell drugs to children because we want to make money and feel in control.We choose to take up a gun and kill our own brothers and sisters because we are angry and want revenge. We choose to sell our innocent young daughters into sex slavery because we need the money to pay our rent. We choose to shut up our windows and close our doors to the hurting and shattered in this world, we choose to ignore those things that have gotten so utterly broken. And to ease the tension of our choice we say, “Well, everything happens for a reason.” Yes, everything does happen for a reason, and that reason is us.

No More Trouble

Posted in hope, Life in Juarez with tags , , , , on 07/22/2009 by mattlindsey

And we define news as acts of violence rather than the hidden acts of love that keep hope alive… so even as we see the horror of death, may we be reminded that in the end, love wins. Mercy triumphs. Life is more powerful than death. And even those who have committed great violence can have the image of God come to life again within them as they hear the wisper of love. May the whisper of love grow louder than the thunder of violence. May we love loudly.

Jesus for President

Jesus for President

Misty and I were sitting at the table a few days ago reading, sharing passages that struck us from the books that we were reading. The passage above itched the festering frustration that I have been wrestling with ever since we moved to the desert, “And we define news as acts of violence…”. We began talking about the monster we all created called “media” and how lame it is that society has submitted to it, is lead by it like a poodle on a leash, how we  weaken and sicken our lives by eating the drug of fear that it gives out for free. There are a billion reasons, maybe a zillion, to KILL YOUR T.V., but if you need some here are a few: CNN, FoxNews, ABC, CBS, etc, etc.

News of the day: Death. Violence. More death. Guns. War. Drugs. More war. Death. Scandal. In essence it is one big dripping sack of rotten, stinky, filthiness called fear. And we like it. We are addicted to it. Who wants to turn on the news and watch the leaders of countries hugging each other over a cup of tea, talking about how they are going to share their borders, dismantle their weapons, make some plows and shovels and begin to heal the land? Don’t we all want to see North Korea fall? Iran crumble? The next coup or the next riot? We sit down at the table of fear and we feast. Tear-gas bombs and economy woes are the appitizers, then an overflowing plate of extra greasy doubly-hydrogenated war, dying soldiers, scandals and affairs of the rich and famous. Finally, we cram a dessert of imminent destruction into our bulging stomachs. We are told by these servers of fear what to believe and when to believe it, and sadly, without them most of us would not know what to believe.

Fear has virtually shut down the El Paso/Juarez border. We have spoken to many El Pasonians who will not venture into Juarez even to see their own family. We get the wide-eyed “what the hell are you thinking” look from a lot of people when they discover that we are living in the city. All of the scheduled teams that were coming to Juarez to share life with our community have cancelled. We are called valiant by some of the neighbors. Shop owners and Juarez business thank us for being here. Yet all of our friends who have come to visit, all 14 of them, return to their homes saying, “Juarez is totally fine. I felt safe.”

That is why I am starting a new blog. It is called No More Trouble, taken from Bob Marley’s infamous song. It is a site dedicated to the news of  “hidden acts of love that keep hope alive”. It is a site on which anyone can submit this kind of news. A kind of alternative news site where people can read about things that lift the spirit rather than tear it apart. Photos, quotes, songs, stories, videos all about hope. Its time for a new kind of news.

Bob

Thanks to Scagnutties for the tumblr link!

Yobel Market

Posted in Life in Juarez with tags , , , , , , on 07/18/2009 by mmlindsey

Yobel: hebrew word for “jubilee”, which means freedom, release from captivity, cancellation of debts, the turning of tables, stabilization and restoration of the land, redemption for the poor, and celebration.

Yobel Market

It is about time that we post about our amazing friends from Yobel Market! If anyone is post-worthy, these folks certainly are. They came down last week and spent a few  days with us working on our building project and our garden initiative, lifting our spirits with their beautiful and powerful perspective on life. Yobel is committed to justice, hope and spreading love over the globe. They have a deep commitment to change our world, making our sleepy cultures aware and shining the light of love over so many disenfranchised souls and communities.

Yobel

Their commitment is so rooted that they have given their lives to this endeavor. Their website is dedicated to offering fair-trade products from communities that they work with personally; their hearts beat for justice, dignity, empowerment, Jubilee.  We are honored to have them partner with us here in Mexico. Take some time to visit their site, it is the perfect place to buy the most unique fair-trade goods, and to invest your money in empowering rather than pillaging a poor people.

Here are some shots from our time with these dear friends.

Hope for Palo Chino

Basil

Hands of Hope

Love in the air

B-Ray