Archive for Matt and Misty Lindsey

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Posted in Life in Juarez, Matt and Misty Lindsey with tags , on 11/04/2009 by mmlindsey

Moving to the desert, to Ciudad Juarez, has messed us up in quite an unexpected way. It crushed our lifelong developed world views and theologies like a tank rolling over a tin can. This past year and a half has been about laying a foundation by renewing our minds and getting to know God on a profound level. Our relationship with God will definitely never be the same.

Sharing life with the poor, being a friend and a neighbor to the outcast destitute has branded us, broken our comfortable attitudes and woken us up to the stark reality of the daily struggle of life for a majority of the world that lives every day in poverty. It has been wildly sharpening.

We hope to share in your thoughts and process and would love your perspective and comments. We invite you to check out our new site and join us on this crazy journey…

The Desert

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Seven

Posted in hope, Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , , , on 09/03/2009 by mattlindsey

I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to Me? Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

Amos 5:21-24

Things had been growing mighty dim for Misty and I. The desert had sand blasted us, ground us down, an abrasive torrent of grit and pain. Oppressive heat waves gripped the land, our atmosphere of joy bombarded by fear and desperation. We felt trapped behind bars and razor wire, ducking, looking over our shoulders every second, closing the door, locking the locks, checking them again. We drive through the madness, tinted windows, locked within a cab: secure, alone.

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Often sitting deep inside, peeking out from beneath the wings of God, a craving would grow for courage to walk the streets, but we could not shake the feeling our freedom had been robbed from us. We were up against the ropes, a barrage of kidney punches. Clawing, biting, scrambling for hope.

Then hope came in the form of friends and family, brave souls choosing to cross into our world and stare fear in the face with us. They arrived like a refreshing afternoon summer rain, a rain where the sun is still shining and all you want to do is turn your face towards the heavens with a wide smile, close your eyes and dance. It repelled the oppression, sent it reeling in the wake of the love, joy and peace they brought with them. We did not realize how tired and thirsty that we had become until they arrived.

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Living in Ciudad Juarez has been the most difficult thing Misty or I have ever done in our lives, especially as this city is carving new records in the history books each month: Over 250 murders in July. 300 murders in August. September has started off more grim with 19 murdered last night alone. Juarez is surging, lurching, groaning, wanting, crying, needing, praying, looking for help. This city, this desert, has built our faith, tested our strength. It has shown us what hope looks like. It has unveiled God’s raging heart for justice and fairness and shown us that we cannot wish this world into change, but we have to get dirty, bloody, step into the wave (even if it’s scary). We are awed by all of you who have stepped into the madness with us, all of you who have chosen to align yourselves with your Mexican brothers and sisters, all of you who lean on the hope of redemption, jubilee, rain from Heaven.

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Although death’s yellow claws, chipped and cracked, have raked over our own neighborhood this summer, change is coming to Colonia Palo Chino. Hope is not lost in the shimmering heat nor in the gross turbulence of violence and death. No, justice is coming like a mighty flood and a river of righteous living will follow. And it will never run dry. Never.

*One of the treasures of friends and family that visit us is learning from their perspective on the work and challenges, and their voice in bringing solutions to the problems in Juarez. These perspectives are enlightening, and bring us balance as we go forward here. Thanks to Jenah for her inspiring photography. Visit Seven for a powerful perspective on our neighborhood, 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.

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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.

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.

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!

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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.

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“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.

The Desert Flux

Posted in Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , , , , , on 06/10/2009 by mmlindsey

Living on the border of the U.S. and Mexico is like living in a constant state of flux. Leaving Mexico requires a Mexican military checkpoint, then usually after an incredibly long wait, a U.S. checkpoint. Driving into Mexico these days means that you will first be checked by the U.S. Border Patrol, then Mexican Fed/Border Patrol, then the Mexican military. After that, you might be stopped at any number of random checkpoints throughout the city. Last Sunday we were headed to go climbing at Hueco Tanks, just across the border in TX, and we were stopped 5 minutes after leaving our house in Juarez. The military had set up a huge checkpoint on a main road and were stopping every single vehicle. What are they looking for? Drugs? Guns? Large amounts of cash? Food? I don’t exactly know.

We are very proud to stand and live within this quivering city with our Mexican brothers and sisters, and we are very proud of people like Bruce Berman of the Border-Blog. Bruce’s latest post and photo speak incredibly well to the loathsome changes in the borderland. It is easy to presume our own conclusions as outsiders, but we strongly recommend that you stop by Bruce’s Blog and read his latest post. It is powerful, important, to-the-point and garnished with yet another riveting photo of our beloved Borderland.

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