Archive for The Desert

Irony in the Desert

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

Dear Child of God, if we are truly to understand that God loves all of us, we must recognize that He loves our enemies, too. God does not share our hatred, no matter what the offense we have endured.

Desmund Tutu

Irony in the Desert

Still not sure how Chris sniped this photo; comes with his tactical training, I suppose. Anyhow, this is one of my favorite shots of the summer. It is a sad manifestation of the dilemma in Ciudad Juarez: Guns vs. Peace. A city crying out for hope, submerged, but rising up from beneath a heavy layer of bullets, blood and boots.

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.

Greening the Ghetto: Street Art

Posted in hope, Life in Juarez with tags , , , , , on 08/25/2009 by mattlindsey

I have made it my business to use the green economy as a social and economic solution to poverty. I want to Green the Ghetto.

Majora Carter

Back in February we began writing about Greening the Ghetto here in our own neighborhood in Juarez. Sure, it is a daunting prospect, but we are continuing to dream and work towards seeing it come to fruition. We have a small sputtering garden that is slowly taking root, and now, our first mural. “The first of many” as Jorge Hernandez, our good friend from Palo Chino says. He is an art student here in Juarez and he has been working on several graffiti themes for our neighborhood.

Stencil Prep

Stencil 1

Stencil 2

Stencil 3

Stencil 5

Stencil 6

Stencil 7

We have been working on themes that speak against the violence and draw attention to hope, love and peace. Jorge’s first mural is a stencil piece, a small girl cradling a bomb as if it were a teddy bear. It is a bold, straightforward statement that screams, “No more violence!”

Andale, jorge! Arriba Juaritos!

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?

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!

Life goes on 2

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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