Beyond the Barbed Wire

A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Dave encouraged us to “head to the mountaintop” and challenged us to look for God while we were out and about. Last week I took heed, and hopped a plane to Jamaica with 2 of my kids, along with my friend and her daughter. I admit, there were times during the week I felt somewhat guilty we weren’t travelling to do service somewhere. I quickly reminded myself that service can come in many forms…and maybe for me, this time, I was meant to be of service to my family (in support of the 19 year olds and the stress they feel at this time of their lives) or to my friend (who’s son battles addiction and other issues) or maybe I would be of service to someone I hadn’t even met yet. I was determined to keep my eyes, ears and especially my heart open to whatever was ahead.

I’m sure you now expect to hear an amazing story about some great service. What actually came to be, was a great service done for me, by simply watching, observing and talking to others.

I watched a particular group of people amass every morning around the pool. They seemed oddly together, but maybe not related. They seemed to have so much joy about them. I found out later that they were in a wedding group, but that the wedding had been cancelled just prior to their trip. They all decided to make the trip anyway and were just enjoying getting to know one another and having new experiences. They seemed a testament to resilience and change.

I watched families with infants, toddlers and teens and learned a lot about family dynamics. It is sometimes easy to sit back and imagine what is going on within a group, making assumptions without knowing, isn’t it? There is no mistaking the language of love however, when the giggling kids are riding their parents’ backs in the water and smiles are shared by all. Getting away from it all, on the mountaintop, so they can be better equipped with life’s realities when they return home.

An elderly couple that sat in the same spot day after day, enjoying their early morning coffee exuded devotion after what again, I assume, had been years shared between them. I was especially intrigued the day a young (very tattooed) couple stopped to chat with the elderly couple. I imagined they were sharing some great secret to their loves’ longevity, their wisdom of years.

One day, we decided to walk beyond the barbed wire-topped, partial fence that signaled the end of our resort's “safe boundaries.” The uniformed guard suggested we were “entering at our own risk.” I asked what he thought the worst thing that could happen would be…no answer. I knew he was simply doing his job. What a different world we entered. There were probably 50 or more little make-shift vendor’s booths set up, many cut into the steep hillside and others stretching down almost to the water’s edge. All kinds of trinkets, souvenirs, and jewelry were for sale. It wasn't a pretty set-up, but amidst the rubble were beautiful things. We had a delightful conversation with two sisters, ages 18 and 16 about their wares and their life. They seemed genuinely touched that we showed interest in their lives and didn’t care that we didn’t make a purchase. The best part of our trip was probably beyond that barbed wire.

The last morning of our time in Jamaica, I took a walk around the grounds of our lovely resort. Flowering bushes were being trimmed and I noticed an especially pretty little flowering branch lying on the sidewalk, waiting to succomb to the heat. I picked it up, put it in a glass of water and delivered it to the young woman at the “towel desk,” thanking her for sharing her beautiful smile with us, day after day.  She kept smiling, saying that was the nicest gift she had received in a long time. I smiled back.



Every day is a service project. The world is a big classroom waiting to teach us life’s lessons. Don’t be afraid to look beyond the barbed wire for the lessons.

Andrea Heshmati

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Julie wrote:
Thanks for this beautiful lesson to look beyond the barbed wire and SEE God's children all around us...service opportunities abound!

Tue, March 15, 2011 @ 1:26 PM

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