The Stench of Hell

“This is what hell smells like,” I thought to myself.

I felt like I was in a post-apocalyptic movie.  There was rubbish everywhere. Houses were falling apart.  Dog turds lay on the street. Chaos and dirt reigned.

But it was the smell, the inescapable smell of raw sewage hovering in the 90 degree heat that made me feel like I wanted to run away. [Read more…]

A Lesson On Perseverance

We don’t often realize how tenacious many adult students must be to earn a college degree, especially when they are deaf and come to the US.  Here in the US, they must learn two languages to start with.   First, they must learn the American Sign Language before they can learn English along with other students in basic English classes.

PK was a 24-year-old Nepali who had been deaf all his life when he first  enrolled at  the community college in 2006.   When I became his tutor, it was apparent that he expected to memorize the English grammar and then he would begin studying for an associate degree. [Read more…]

Shift

The guard inspected my tote bag filled with black composition notebooks, pens, chalk, and copies of the night’s agenda for contraband. I flashed my license to the woman in the glass booth and was given my badge. One door buzzed open, clanged shut.

For a moment I was stuck in the tiny cage-like hallway, then the second door lumbered open. I walked through, down the long, green corridor, out one door, across a sidewalk with perfectly edged grass, in another door where I signed in again.  A guard checked my badge, waved me toward what passed for a college at the maximum-security women’s prison. [Read more…]

The Day I Almost Died

It’s hard to remember what you were like when you were a little kid. You can recall odd moments or snapshots in time, but not much, really. I believe I was a perceptive, sensitive and sometimes fearful little kid.

I think I was always afraid of water. Perhaps that is why, at five years old, I hadn’t yet learned to swim. It didn’t stop me from getting into the shallow end of the pool, however. What else are you going to do at a pool party as a kid? Water feels good on a hot day. This was a day that I would remember. It was not a good memory. [Read more…]

A Little Cardboard Box

It was only supposed to last for 8 weeks. Before my internship was completed, the director asked me to stop in her office. “How would you like to work here permanently?”

Me work in a homeless shelter? I heard myself tell her “yes.” The first time I walked into Lazarus House I knew it was no ordinary homeless shelter. The residents, called, “guests,” were told about Jesus. [Read more…]

How 400-square-feet Wrecked Me

She was weeping. She wasn’t sad. Quite the opposite. These were tears of joy streaming down her face.

“My house is a castle. My house is so beautiful. I live in a mansion. So big. SO big!”

Over and over she repeated these words. I was speechless. And I was…wrecked. [Read more…]

There’s No Education Like Adversity

Honesty is the best policy. I recall my parents teaching me this from a very young age, and this is the approach I will be taking today.

I grew up in the once small coastal township of Tauranga, with my parents and my older sister. I have so many great memories from my childhood – swimming in the beautiful Mt Maunganui Ocean, kite flying and frisbee in the local park, athletics, swimming club and backyard cricket on hot summer nights in the middle of the street. [Read more…]

Christmas

Say what you will about Christianity – analyze its fundamental flaws, restrictions on creatively freethinking – its scandals and indiscretions – and its discriminations and prejudices – most importantly, its false assimilation to God – you’ll get no quarrel from me now.

But, it did mark me and leave me with a gladdened trove of priceless-ness. Unless you have experienced Christmas as a child, you will never understand what I am about to tell you….. [Read more…]

From Designer Handbags & High Heels to Wrecked

If I can even speak when I get to heaven someday, I’d like to thank God for wrecking my life.  Before He stepped in to completely wreck me, I was living a comfortable life of designer handbags and high heels. I did everything I could to keep up with the Jones’. We had a comfortable house in a nice neighborhood where people take their dogs and kids for walks at sunset. We swiped our credit cards right and left for dinners out and extravagant purchases. Everything was pretty perfect, on the surface. [Read more…]

Finding Treasure in the Wreckage

I’ve seen a lot of wrecked days. I’ve asked myself “why?” hundreds of times. I’ve asked God a few. He’s never come right out and said, but I think I’m piecing it together.

As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to help people. [Read more…]