Springtime Encounters

I love what Laura Schroff writes about loving others in her book The Invisible Thread. In reflecting on a chance encounter she had with a street kid in New York City that grew into the most important, longest-lasting relationship in her life, she writes: “If love is the greatest gift of all, and I believe it is, then the greatest privilege of all is to be able to love someone else.”

I had a chance encounter recently in Saudi Aurora. It was a snow-filled Sunday evening in April as I returned home from a meeting across town. The meeting had gone very long and my friend and I decided to leave before it ended, which was perfect timing because I got to meet Betty and learn how poorly I embrace the privilege of loving. Continue reading


Springtime Homecomings in Saudi Aurora

These first few months of 2014 have been a blur.  Recovering from surgery, avoiding sunburn during a vacation in paradise, attempting to spread a little Valentine’s Day love to many friends in our community while at the same time breaking up a late-night, teenage sexual-rendezvous (quite literally), sharing many delicious meals with great friends, preparing for the community garden to open, and witnessing the happy-side of the reunification of several refugee families separated from each other for years preparing for gardening season are a few of the highlights and bloopers of the year so far.

For some reason, these first few months have seen many of our friends and some of my (Derek’s) clients finally, at long last, reunited with their loved ones.   Continue reading

Some Updates

A few updates from Saudi Aurora:

(1) Christele.  As you know from our previous post, Christele returned home recently after a month on the run.  It was a difficult transition back, involving an extended stay in a lock-down facility until she was permitted to stay with her mom (her step-dad moved out so she could do so).  After just one week of school at George Washington High School, Thanksgiving break arrived.  Everyone felt it would be for the best if Christele wasn’t sitting home alone all night while her mom was at work or all day while her mom slept.  So we invited her to join us for part of her break. Continue reading

Prodigal Princess

For those of you who are parents, can you imagine the shock, joy, and celebration you’d be feeling if one of your children who had been missing returned? I am not a parent so I will not pretend to understand the emotions, but I think I would definitely want to find any way possible to show them how dearly they are loved. Unconditionally loved. Just as there is nothing your child (or any other member of your family) could do to separate them from your love, there is nothing we can do to separate us from God’s love. Although if you ask Christians or other God-followers, you might feel the opposite is true. Continue reading

Receiving the Widow’s Two Copper Coins

Two Biblical writers (Luke and Mark) reserve 4 to 5 sentences to retell a very short story of Jesus watching people drop their offerings into the Temple treasury in Jerusalem. It was not unusual for the rich inhabitants of the city to “throw in” large amounts of their wealth into the Temple coffers. Their gold and silver would Continue reading


I’ve been haunted for a few weeks now by an interaction I had with my friend, Hung. One evening towards the end of the summer, I went to our community garden by myself to hang up some square boards that the kids in the community had painted pictures on the week prior.  I was thinking about the symbolism behind “hanging up art” in a new home or in the community: Would this garden and its impact be here to stay? Continue reading