Thoughts From the Dump That Aren’t Garbage, Though They Have the Same Power to Offend

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When I decided to visit a friend’s ministry at a dump site somewhere in Dagupan, I had as many misgivings as I have books in my shelves. I knew there was a lesson to be learned in the endeavor, but I was worried over so many things. Mostly, I was worried about how I was going to react to the actual surroundings: the stench, the flies and the, well, garbage.

So yesterday we did get to go. It was all very interesting.

The stench did manage to drive all thought from my head. As I followed my friends to where the newly-planted church was meeting, I took short, shallow breaths while struggling not to let my feelings show on my face.

 

 

 

 

My friends walked under the tarps. I walked along the thick, black mud, thinking the space under the tarps—with cardboard boxes strewn all around, was where people slept. I scared myself though, when my feet started to sink. I tried to keep smiling, however, since a man was watching me. I may not like where I was, but to them I was God’s representative. I greeted him and he nodded back. Still, I admit I tried to walk faster.

The dump site we were in, I was told, was the first stop for the garbage collected in that local area. Whatever wasn’t taken here goes to a bigger dump site, with more people waiting. I guess you can say the people here get first pick.

I stopped at a point and looked around me. I could see plastic, metal and other materials and I understand those can be sold. But as I watched a few people working, I wondered what gets left behind for the people at the other dump to salvage? If life was hard here, what was it like over there?

I finally got to where the church was gathered together. They were about to pray, so I sat down and prayed with them {and took a couple of shots}. Then it was time to satisfy their curiosity. And mine.

I stood up and walked closer so I could meet every one. I kept glancing at my friend Irene, needing her moral support. I knew she understood my {selfish} concerns.

But in answer to a quick prayer I sent up, the Holy Spirit must have laid His compassion on my heart. I saw it was so much easier to send money and balikbayan boxes, from the safety of my comfortable home, than to be in their world. Here, face to face with their stinking poverty, it was so tempting to walk away. But He stilled my itching feet, and bid me stay.

It was interesting watching their faces as their pastor, Jonathan, introduced me. They were smiling back, but I figured {or the Holy Spirit whispered} that shaking their hands would help show them that despite my make-up and jewelry, I really did see myself as a beggar just like them. And that I believed together we can all find grace at the foot of the cross.

 

 

 

 

So I reached over and grasped each one’s hand. They thanked me for what our youth group has given them. I was thinking, we could do so much more.

If I am honest, I really do see myself as better than some people I can’t stand. It wasn’t that easy believing the same with this group of people, however.

 

 

 

 

See, I had already been humbled by my PasaLove friends who so obviously lived a life of service. Now I was realizing, those among the people in the dumps who believe in Jesus have become my brothers and sisters in Christ. Now, what does the Bible say about how we should treat each other? And as for those who have yet to believe, well, Jesus sought their company over the likes of me. If I hadn’t been humbled before, I’d have no excuse by now.

 

 

 

 

My trip down to Dagupan took me through Kennon Road, a favorite since my childhood days. The mountains have always been imposing, and I’ve always responded to their beauty. We also passed by glittering stretches of sea, with green waves of rice fields in contrast.

 

 

 

 

The stark contrast between the beauty of God’s creation and the poverty of man’s condition brought me to my knees {figuratively}. The nature treats I enjoyed were familiar places where I’ve seen God at work so many times before. The dump site was not. Still, I saw God there.

And I was embarrassed, because I knew I preferred to meet God by the verdant green. But the God I meet with there is the same God waiting for me by the dump. Where I often stand Him up.

At the dump site, the smells overwhelmed me and took over all my senses. Now, however, the smells can no longer distract me.

A flame has been lit under my seat: I am less able to ignore the desperate plight of the poor.

There is also a fire in my heart: I am convicted that no human being should have to live like that, not while there are people singing “I Surrender All” every Sunday.

And there is a burning in my conscience: I have a home that boasts of negligent spending.

 

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” -James 1: 27

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” –Micah 6:8

“Learn to do right! Seek justice, encouraged the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”  -Isaiah 1: 17

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3 responses »

  1. i’m in tears…. I don’t know what to say….
    we’re just thankful…..
    soon, we’ll be in the main dumpsite where other garbage collectors will scavenge the other left overs. I sometimes ask why are we doing this but i think the better question would be, “why NOT?”
    Isaiah 58

  2. Strong words from a yielded lady. . . which makes you strong in Christ. His Mission is among the poor, on the streets we are tempted to avoid. But He is there. And we find Him dear.

    Thanks for sharing your personal note via email, good sister. The One Whom we follow has led us together for this part of life’s journey. And He is wise. And we will be blessed.

    undaunted,
    dcrow

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