Archive for Colonia Palo Chino

Hope for the Poor: Vital Vitamins

Posted in hope, Life in Juarez with tags , , , , , , , on 08/31/2009 by mistylindsey

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

James 1:26-27

This past weekend we had a short but amazing visit from a kindred spirit who even before arriving had a passion for our neighbors here in Juarez, Mexico. Chris Knott, who spent time and effort raising awareness for Amigos back in Colorado by asking for healthcare donations or anything that would be helpful, came down for a powerful weekend and brought with him 19,804 vitamin tablets, 166 toothbrushes and 70 tubes of toothpaste. He also had a Santa-bag full of toys to give out to the kids.

Table of Vitamins zoom

After sorting and compiling the table-full of healthcare items, we headed out Saturday early morning to the neighbors’ homes to hand out health. We were hugged and kissed, and bombarded by neighbors from all directions who heard that someone had vitamins. It was a powerful morning.

Neighbors

Carmen & MagiWe gave instructions on how to give the kids their chewable vitamins, and about not eating the toothpaste.

MaryThis is going to make all the difference for these kids, who certainly don’t get the vitamins from the basic meals they eat, when their parents can even afford them.

VitaminsVitamins are a luxury which, with the exception of us, no one in this neighborhood can afford. It was heartbreakingly beautiful to see our sweet neighbor, Elvira, clap and nearly leap with joy as her face lit up when we told her we had vitamins just for her. Without teeth, she has not been able to eat properly and has been sapped of energy. This will be a tremendous and necessary sustenance for Elvira today, and so many children to whom protein and regular meals are a sparse hope.

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Lament por El Toro

Posted in Life in Juarez with tags , , , on 08/17/2009 by mmlindsey

El Toro

Lament por El Toro
Poem by Michael E. Lindsey

The coyotes howl – their plaintive cry
echoes through the midnight sky.

We sit around the campfire light
and wonder of El Toro’s plight

of a life on the streets of this mean town
that’s ruined many a man and struck scores down.

Alas… would the settlers who built Juarez city
now feel any shame… or even pity
for even this one who fell last night
let alone hundreds more who’ve died in the fight?

…and who will cry for this poor soul
whose life was so hard – not part – but the whole?

Will women come to see his final ground
and think of times in dance when he spun them round?

Will Mama cry and beat her breast,
“Why couldn’t this, my son, be different from the rest?”

We will miss his call as he used to pass by;
we’ll sit… and wonder… and yes, we will cry!

Good bye my friend Arturo, The Bull –
may you find rest for your weary soul.

Rest in peace, hermano.

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

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

12 Hours Later…

Posted in Life in Juarez with tags , , , , , on 07/01/2009 by mmlindsey

Now that you’ve grown up
You can finally learn to be a child
We made it to the end of the world
But we’ll never make it out alive

Ben Harper

Sunday afternoon we had uninvited guests. Another Mexican Military check on our house and the property of Amigos. 20 soldiers went through every house on the block looking for cash, drugs and guns, the life-blood of our world.

Random people passing out on our roof, soldiers rummaging through my underwear drawer, what’s next?

But, here in Colonia Palo Chino, Ciudad Juarez, life goes on…

LIfe goes on

Life!

Life goes on 2

Shadows in the Desert

Posted in Life in Juarez with tags , , , , , , on 06/30/2009 by mattlindsey

Bring me the music for the revolution
It puts my mind at ease, to know
We’re the problem, we’re the solution
The cure and the disease
But life is trying to force me
Force me to trust
I’ve done all I can
I’ll do what I must

Ben Harper

I used to sleep at night. That all changed when I moved to the most violent city in Mexico in a house surrounded by razor-wire. A broken front door that did not lock, creeks of a cinderblock house sagging and flexing under the heat, sounds of a restless city penetrating the walls of wood and concrete, my mind was constantly kept from rest. Violent and wild dreams became frequent, waking me to pray for our hurting city, pacing the floor or staring into the darkness at the empty ceiling.

It was 4 am one morning in February when we awoke with hearts racing to heavy foot steps running across our roof directly over our bed. We could not sleep the rest of the morning, wondering, peeking out windows, praying. We never learned who was using our roof to get around the colonia. I remember feeling vulnerable and anxious, going through scenarios of how to protect my wife, my life.

It happened again Saturday night, same time. 4 am, noises and footsteps on our roof, but this time not running. We spied out the windows for a short time then we went back to bed, we had been through this one before. Five minutes later, more noises. Up we flew back to the windows, listening, praying. Nothing. What was it? Is someone trying to break in? Back to bed. Three minutes later unmistakeable presence on the roof. I ran to the office, made a quick call to Juan who lives a half-block away, got dressed and snuck outside. I met Juan at the front gate, he grabbed a large piece of scrap wood and we began searching through the blackness for whoever was hanging around our house.

We walked to the far end of the property and noticed down the hill a small party dwindling at the ex-drug lord’s house. Four naked people in a dirty swimming pool sipping beers. We were unsure if it was someone from the party who had been creeping around, so we turned back toward the house, and then I saw it. The body. It was laying down on our roof in the shadow of the swap cooler. I immediately thought that he was laying there in the shadow, still and quiet, waiting to make his move. “Juan, there he is!” I whispered. I climbed up on the low roof as quietly as I could, gave Juan my hand and helped him up, and we walked up to the body. He was young, mid twenties, dressed like he had been to a party, fake diamond earrings, shiny belt buckle, pearl button cowboy shirt. He did not stir. Is he asleep? Is he faking it, ready to jump up and fight or run? Dead? I scanned his shirt and the roof for blood but did not see any. We carefully stood over him ready to fight, ready for anything. Juan poked him in the shoulder with the stick and quietly told him to wake up. Adrenaline pumped through my veins. I was glad that we were able to finally confront the guy who had kept Misty and I up for the past 45 minutes. He was not dead. He was blitzed, totally drunk, passed out. Another nudge with the stick and he began to stir.

Roof

“What are you doing on my roof? This is my house, Compa.” Juan held the long stick out toward him.

His eyes blinked and fluttered and he finally became fully aware of where he was. He began chewing a piece of gum that had been tucked away in his mouth. He leaned up on his elbows, the stick inches from his face. “Calmase. Take it easy. Take it easy.”

I was surprised that this guy could speak intelligible words. He slowly sat up.

“Who are you?” Juan questioned, “Where are you from? Whose family are you?”

He stood up on wobbly feet. ” I’m Lalo’s cousin. Don’t worry about it. What’s with the stick? You gonna hit me with it?”

More forcefully, Juan said, “You can’t be sleeping on my roof. What are you doing up here?”

Juan had every right to hit the man, call the cops, whatever he wanted. I could have taken advantage, kicked him off the roof. He had had me worried and anxious for 45 minutes. He had threatened us, scared my lovely wife and trespassed on our roof. Juan chose grace, and once the guy realized that we weren’t going to kick the crap out of him, he began browbeating us. “Tomorrow I am going to come back and hurt you both! You’ll see!”

He stumbled across the roof, over the razor wire and onto the neighbor’s roof. I was amazed that he did not get tangled into a bloody pulp in the razor wire. He walked the length of our neighbor’s roof toward the street, stopping to sputter more threats along the way. He managed to land back on the ground without our help. I jumped off the roof and into our front patio, the adrenaline still racing, ready for whatever. Glaring, he walked passed our house within feet of me, with an empty 40 oz Carta Blanca beer bottle in his hand. It had been laying on the ground right where he jumped off the roof. ” You f**ing gringo, I will see you tomorrow!” He  walked up the street fifty feet, turned, and hurled the 40 oz. bottle toward our house. It collided with the razor wire and shattered right next to my Tacoma. Juan jumped off the roof and we walked over to our next door neighbors’ who were standing out in front of their house. The lonely drunk walked up to the next block, turned around and threw a rock at all of us. It only made more dogs bark.

We never called the cops. Juan walked back home and I went back to bed. I was exhausted but struggled to fall asleep. I dreamt about people breaking into our house, I was scared and helpless and too late to protect my wife. It made me lean into God’s arms as I tried to give him my cares and stress.

Juarez. A day in the life…

Posted in Life in Juarez with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 05/25/2009 by mistylindsey

The darkness of our world will try to smother the light, so we have to surround ourselves with people who make us shine brighter.

-Irresistible Revolution

Saturday morning. We woke up a little frazzled from the week of relentless office-work we had been doing, stuffed into our dark little office that could have as easily been in any other city in the world. Feeling disengaged from our own neighborhood, we sat down at the kitchen table with coffee in hand and, with tears slipping from our eyes, we discussed how our hearts are burning to just be more engaged in our little colonia, to build relationship, to get more involved. We felt almost painfully compelled to somehow extend that life-altering, hope-bearing, unfathomable love that Father so relentlessly gushes over us every moment. We ache to in some way help squelch the pain so many of our own neighbors feel every day of their lives with the promise of coming hope, restoration and justice. We prayed together and resolved to no longer hide stuffed away in our little concrete block haven we’ve created, but to go out and dive right into the middle of life, to get dirty, to love.

What happened next is difficult to retell. We were working outside in our patio, gate locked and razor wire in place, echoes of warnings never to open our gate for anyone swirling in our ears. In our city, where so many all over the world fear being shot instantly if they but think of this place, with swine flu closing the door of every single school in Mexico, and with poverty and hopelessness lurking in every corner, in the midst of all of this, our desolate, dusty little patio quickly filled up with loads of children running, screaming, laughing and playing. I found myself fighting the urge to shoo them away in my resolution to be “productive”, because I was simply way too busy for this. But as the moments passed, I realized that “this” is exactly what we had been asking for.

The hours ticked by as we stuccoed, gardened, painted, talked, laughed and played.

As the sun was packing up for the night the kids ran back to their small shack houses, many of which would probably not eat dinner, leaving behind a cluttered patio and a realization that these children are the heart of Jesus. That He went so far as to tell us to be like them. Simple. Joyful. Loving. Playful. Filled with Hope. I pray for more and more days like this, for more days filled with “wasted time”, because as I have reluctantly come to realize, this is the stuff of life, the encounters that bring hope. These kids who have nothing in this world gave us so much more than we could ever offer them. In the midst of their poverty and destitution, they run around offering life and hope to anyone who has the wisdom and simplicity to listen. These powerful people are the hope of our future.

Paco

Working hard

Amigos

Painting