Friday, February 21, 2014

Stories from the Mission... bit 53

   A friend from the mission on Facebook (Thanks Lonzo) posted this yesterday,
Psalm19:14 Let the words of my mouth,and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight,O LORD, my strength,and my redeemer.
   It brought back a flood of memories. You see, every day in 8:00 class there are traditions that give us a connection to the guys that came before, a brotherhood of sorts. One of those is that new guys have to sit in the front row, period. Second row is ok, if all the front row is taken up by other new guys. To start the class, a guy will get up and lead the class in at least two songs, hymnals having been left on the first tow rows to help the new guys. After the songs, the guy that led them will look around and point to a guy saying something like, "Mr Joseph Thomson, lead us in prayer!" Sometimes the selected guy is surprised, which is half the fun, other times that guy is really into it and does a rousing prayer for the guys. All the guys in the auditorium will then sit down as one of the guys that work in Office C will get up to read the announcements.
   Office C has to be a rough assignment. 3 or 4 guys get selected by Pastor Green to work in Office C to be the buffer between him and us. They set up the schedules, take phone calls and try to settle disputes that are bound to spring up in such a hardheaded crowd. Like any job, some guys can be cool, while others let the power go to their head, big time. They have so many guys all day long trying to get over on them that some of the office C guys start think we ALL are, which is sad. I made it through the program with just one write up for not having my bed made right, yet some of the guys in office C later in my time there acted like I must be doing something wrong. Maybe I take things to heart too much, but that hurt.
   Anyways, back to the traditions of 8 AM class. Office C will read the basic announcements, the same thing every day about the rules we all must follow, and then make some special announcements.  They read off the list of guys that have to do search that night, and the selected guys will react, in various howls, cries and for fun, outright joy, lol. Once that is done, they will send for Pastor Bower to come in and teach the basics of our Faith, answering questions and making funny observations. Once he is done and leaves, we all stand, 70 to 100 of us, and say the whole Armour of God, loud and strong. (Eph 6:10-18)
 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
And then guys will yell ARMOR!
   The line,  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, means so much to me. It has helped me see the truth behind so many situations where guys will be arguing, but the reality is that they are being used by satan. Once you point it out to them, most of the time they all back down and see it for what it is. I've seen this happen many times at the mission, some of those little miracles we shouldn't ignore.
   During the whole armor, most of the guys up front hold their bibles open to read it, while as you get further back many have it memorized. Then there might be a guy or two that say it while walking in the back isle, looking up or out the doors at the street, things weighing deep on their minds. Been back there myself a few times.
   After that is done, Pastor Green will come in and all the guys will sit more upright and attentive. he will then do his 20 to 30 minutes, always on different subjects and at the end will have us all stand up and say,
Let the words of my mouth,
and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight,
my strength,
and my redeemer.
   Most of the guys will file out the doors, heading off to jobs or studies, but some will stay and form a line in front of the podium where Pastor will stay standing. One by one guys will approach him to shake his hand, do some small talk or ask him about personal situations. The rest of the day you have to go through one of the office C guys to be able to talk with him, but at the end of 8:00 class he will talk with anyone.
   Traditions are good. When I first got there I thought I would never fit in. Then, after a while, I learned, I humbled myself and eventually helped pass the traditions down. I'm intrigued as to how they start, and saddened when I see one end that I liked. They become a strengthening fiber that comes from the past and into the future through us, binding us, letting us know that we are a part of something bigger that has withstood the test of time.

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