Okayyyy…. so last Friday evening was "Family Night" here at the Olongapo Base, and the locals prepared several bowls of Filipino 'delicacies' for the foreigners to chow down on in a fun filled event of Filipino Fear Factor. Like springing off cliffs into cool rivers with tribal children, this heinous event brought much laughter, cheers and a release from the darkness that often tries to subdue us.
All the foods were separated into bowls and we were divided into Team 1 and Team 2. Each team had the "Bonus Bowl" (as I called it) where a chocolate cupcake was waiting, but the others held batang (hardboiled eggs with half-formed chicken fetuses inside), Isaw (roasted chicken intestines), or betamax (bbq congealed chicken blood). Of course, none of us knew in advance what would be served. When our turns came up, we chose a bowl and whatever was within we had to down before the other team did.
All I can say is: thank you, God, I didn't chose the egg!!!! I ended up with the betamax (chicken blood) which tasted like spicy bbq liver jerky. I probably wouldn't eat it again, but it wasn't altogether awful. LOL!!!
Just seeing us all together — staff, volunteers, teams, disciples — and knowing the combined power of our stories, our pain, our redmeptions, brought such a smile to my face. Even in the face of darkness, in the face of pain or grief, or coming to terms with the past, we could lay it down for an evening and all laugh at the crazy white folks trying to swallow chicken fetus!!!
The rest of the night was filled with more games of laughter and chaos. It was wonderful. We had a lot of fun. The kids commandered my camera, so they were plenty busy snapping shots of our frivolity. I'll try to post some later.
For some time now, I have been struggling with the message of the Gospel… no. Let me re-phrase: with the interpretation of SOME people's version of the Gospel. It has become a watered-down version of the fullness it was meant to be and a bitter version at that. It's all about salvation and choosing eternal life so you don't fry in hell. Get saved and you get the blessings/rewards.
That's all there is to it?
No wonder people around the world are seeking something more… because there IS more!!! Life is NOW!!! Not at death! There is a fullness in learning wisdom, reconciliation, character, faith, hope and love; there is generosity (remember the rich young ruler); there is kingdom living HERE and NOW… not just some reward for making the "one good choice" and praying that sinner's prayer. If people are balking against that, its because they know there's more. And we're keeping it from there as well as from ourselves.
If anything, I'm learning here in the Philippines to see Christ and His Gospel in His places, faces and times. His Words is true, but it's a big word. It's a word that let's us laugh together and bond… over chicken blood and cupcakes. His presence was fully there, and we were fully with Him.