Wednesday, December 19, 2007

For the sick and not the healthy

A friend of Biruk was robbed recently. Not alot was stolen, all that he mentioned was a camera. Later, they found out who stole it and she happened to be a girl I know.
It's interesting how our roles have switched- now Biruk tells me all the new things that are happening in Winnipeg- good as well as bad.
I don't know how he knew I knew her, but I do. Last I saw her she was on the run from the police, and wouldn't talk to me much longer than 10 minutes at a time because she knew I volunteered at the correctional center she was supposed to be at. Although she didn't trust me, she admitted to having a problem with meth'. She didn't have to- I could see it.
Well, Biruk thinks the stolen camera isn't because of a meth addiction- but because of crack. That makes me so sad. After nearly 6 months, her life is still in terrible shape. That date is wrong, because 6 months ago she was in the correctional center, so I wouldn't say that she was in good shape before, either. One poor decision ontop of another poor decision, a terrible spiral that looks hopeless.
But it's not.
I am tempted to say that there is no way out, no solution. But I have to fight against those thoughts because there has to be hope. Without hope she stays where she is at, she continues in what she is doing because that's what hopeless people do.
Hope...

It's the season for Peace, Joy, and Hope. Being the time of year for it has never meant that it is in abundance, but rather that those things are to be especially sought for.

What's more hopeless than an infant being born in a barn, out of wedlock to a poor family during the time of year that the king has begun the mass murdering of babies?
And yet there lies my hope, and even the hope for all the world.

And that's how I know there is hope for her.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

----

I recieved an email this afternoon that I am getting a packet in the mail for my Working Holiday Visa to Canada- so I guess that means I got in!

That's wonderful, because I don't know what I would otherwise do. Still, I don't have all the answers- like where I will work or what I will do besides live with friends and hopefully volunteer with this program. But isn't the unexpected exciting?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

happy new year!

I have 9 days left as a full-time college sophmore. And as a full-time college student- which I will be again in about 8 months, however I will never be a sophmore again. When I return to school, attend classes, have a full-time credit load and walk around a college campus I will be an upper-classman.

But for now, I will revel in my 9 days left.
While so many others run around in a frenzy, studying late into the night, typing up papers and finishing projects, I read my psychology.
I am currently taking 18 credits, as I have added on a distance-learning course. It is wonderful and relaxed and I spent more time today doing homework/study for that class (which I recently began and don't have a test or exam or any deadline for another 6 months) than all my others.

Besides, I have no real finals- just normal chapter tests for all my classes.
And considering that in Biology I got a 103% on the last test, a 94% for my Exercise and Sports Science class, I really am not concerned.
Maybe I enjoy bragging a little- but I do think it is ridiculous that I am doing so well. Part of my reason for transfering schools. However, it is interesting that transfering schools because of it not being academically challenging enough involves stopping being a full-time student for a semester.
I'm surprised that my parent's did not disapprove more. But, to their credit, I didn't give them much of an option until I had made my decision(s).

Taking a step back, it all makes sense. However, the close-up view is a bit shocking. There were a few times a week or so ago when I would stop dead in my tracks and say out loud,
"Now, why am I going back to Canada again?" Or try to grasp the original concept as to why stopping out of school full-time is going to be to my advantage.
Experiencial learning, baby.

I was recently looking over a journal of mine, where I had written a list to God. This is something I generally do when praying about something or asking for direction, and it is wonderful to look back on later to see how God answered that prayer, down to very small details. After consistantly being amazed at how God responded to an fullfilled my prayer requests, I have made it a pattern of mine.

I had been praying about what I wanted for the future, but somehow, as part of that I lost track of what I really did want because I was asking God for guidance. What do I want for my own immediate future? (immediate meaning next 2-3 years or so)
- to travel
- for the times when I traveled to be used for and by God, not vacations
- to not be trapped in North America (hence, the traveling) but if I were to be there, to enjoy it and find a place where I would thrive
- to not succumb to the aspects of North American culture that I don't like and have worked hard to ween off of
- for my boyfriend and his life to fit/blend with mine in a natural way, not forced
- to be continually working towards, and the things I am doing now with my life to be advancing me in the area(s) where God is calling me for long(er)-term service
- for clarity
- to graduate from college (notice how I never specified Spring Arbor University, this surprised me)
-to teach English in Thailand (well... lets see about that in a little while- stay tuned to this blog)
- visit my sister in Brazil
- help children in Kenya (again... perhaps in a year? the question mark on that shows a little big of fading)
- to go to Ethiopia (I should put stars on the ones that might happen in a year or so, still)
- and to see a friend of mine who is getting out of jail this week, because I have never officially met him, we have only talked through jail-phones and letters with one another

And then I launch into a prayer and mention learning languages several times- fancy that, I am going to Calgary with intentions on learning Swahili, probably too much of my pull to live there was on learning that language, when going to Tanzania would make much more sense. However, I guess that just shows there is something about Calgary...

However, Calgary is not set for sure yet, as I am sending away for the letter to authorize me for a work permit tomorrow. On the chance that I am not granted that, I have no idea what will happen next. However- I am not worried about it. And I am excited to live for about 6 months in a city that I have never seen or visted before!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dress Code

"No, you can't wear a Tupac shirt to an interview, even if its a nice one."

My roommate laughed after she heard me say this.

I still stay connected to Winnipeg, hear about who got arrested, what trials are happening and about the daily lives of some of the people I know there.

One of the guys I know told me he was going to look for a job, so I was telling him about job interviews and what to do.
I mentioned dressing nice. No, not a suit- just a good shirt- buttons, a collar, ect.
No, not the shirt with that nickname on it.
I know that shirts with glitter and such on them are expensive and nice- but not the quality an employer is looking for,
Expensive does not equal dressy or nice.

It might seem like common sense to me- I had a job when I was about 13 years old. Someone told me how to dress for a job interview, I had several classes in school that had practice job interviews, sessions in how to write a resume and such.

He never had that. No one showed or told him, or even set an example of what to do. How is he supposed to know simple things like you call about your application? You don't just wait for them to call you back. My parents taught me that, it's not common sense, it was learned. So if no one taught him, how is he supposed to know?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My visa for Brazil arrived today!

Monday, November 12, 2007

I was never much of a shoe girl

Its seems fitting, being named after a powerful goddess that didn't seem to care much about the world, the Nike industry is known for it's inhumane treatment of workers, the low wages they pay, even for forcing labor- which I was told was called enslavement.
I need a new pair of shoes.

Mine are falling apart, I bought them a year ago at, yes, WAL-MART! which is the leader of corporations for human-rights violators. I know, its terrible. So I am running these shoes into the ground, as I hope they will be the last ones I ever purchase from there. The slippers I wore tonight were also from Wal-Mart, I think I bought them 3 years ago, back when I was in highschool. It's not a good excuse, even back then I knew Wal-Mart was pretty evil.

However, I've been recently more and more convicted about where I send my money.
For me it goes along with tithing- if God wants to be in every aspect of my life, my bank account, my check book doesn't that go past what I give to church and charities into where and how I spend my money? How can I say everything I have, all my income is for God's glory and for him to direct and then go purchase something that supports oppression and abuse? It just cannot add up.

So, as I said- I am running these slippers and shoes into the ground, wearing them out so bad that the stuffing comes out, because they are the last pair I buy from Wal-Mart.

However, here is my dilema- finding a shoe company that doesn't exploit people.

New Balance- have toxins in their products that are killing the Chinese workers, forced workers to work unpaid overtime and given food with rat droppings in it
Clarks- this one was interesting 'intrusive body searches' on employees, harrasment or workers, lack of maternity protection, terrible working conditions for health and safety reasons
Puma- uses a factory called "Harvest Rich" (very ironic name) that hired workers as young as 11 years old, when investigated, they told the children to leave and come back after a weeks time, other sources say it simply fired 100 child workes, because after the investigation it would be easy to get new workers again. (Hanes and JC Penny also use that factory)
Adidas- follows suit with New Balance and has toxic chemicals that kill the people who make the products
And the lists just go on and on with Reebok, Asics, Converse, Sketchers....

So, I know some of the articles I read were old and some of the corporations have changed somethings to make conditions better for workers, however, I am still looking for a better option that "not as bad conditions" for the workers who make the tennis shoes I run in.

But, I did find one way to get some fair-trade shoes, I saw this in my roommates magazine the other day. It's called Tom's Shoes. He went to Argentina and his heart broke for the bare-footed children. So he started a company with the promise that for every pair of shoes bought, the company would give one pair to a child in Argentina. Using, of course humane labor and wages, and the traditional Argentinian shoe, just colored differently (striped, patterned, polka dotted) for the typical American buyer. $38-48 for a pair of shoes.
Actually, not that pricey when you think about it, except you have to pay shipping & handling, because, obviously they don't line store shelves.

This is my Christmas wish: Sneakers that were made fair-trade- that no one was exploited during the process. If all else fails, I'll use Good-Will, because they help with unemployment... even if I am buying used Nike's (is that totally contradictory to do?)

another list

18-30 years of age
A citizen of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Germany, ect..............USA
Hold a valid passport for that country
Not have a criminal record
Never been denied entry into Canada
Have a savings of at least $700
Teacher Recommendation Letter
Attended or planning to attend a secondary education (University, college) full time (12 credit hours or more) in fall or spring semester of this school year
Proof (letter from registrars office) to prove that you are an enrolled student
Copy of your student ID
Copy of Passport (not actual document)
Dates of arrival departure into Canada (must be before Feb 15 for spring, before September 10 in fall)

This is the list of eligibility requirements for a Working Holiday Visa for Canada. Hmmm... sounds ALOT like exactly what I am doing. And I have been told its easy to get. I like that they don't need my actual passport, meaning I can send away for all this without any worries that my passport will not arrive back in time for my trip to Brazil. The main thing they are concerned about is that I am actually a student taking a gap year- all I have to do is prove that I am really a student of the college I am currently attending. Then I have a visa to work anywhere in Canada for up to 6 months, nice- isn't it?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

if I only had 3 more lives to live

I got a little sidetracked while figuring out how to get a work permit to Canada.
Well... I haven't looked much into that tonight because instead I've been browsing gap-year programs, work and volunteer in New Zealand, travel the globe volunteering (including AIDS hospice in India, orphanages in Nepal, community development in Ghana), or live with a family in Spain to help teach them English, also get a part-time humanitarian job in Madrid... and the lists just don't end of wonderful opportunities which are really well advertised for a person such as myself... and I could twist my head into thinking that I could really manage to fit that into my life schedule between Brazil and Switzerland this summer and saving money to go to Ethiopia next Christmas...right.

There are so many things that I would love to do. I really do wish that I could just spend all my time helping other people, being adventurous, hopping from one location to the next... no commitment, just hear for a month or so, here for a month or so... but there is that little voice that tells me not only is that impractical, not feasible, but it's selfish and doesn't really help if I keep jumping instead of being committed and helping long-term and learning the most I can as well as contributing the most that I can.
However mighty the small voice is in it's powers to reason with me that I will probably not do that unless a very clear sign from God (and a check in the mail) direct that, it is powerless to prevent me from dreaming!

So tonight I'll be in Thailand teaching English, in New Zealand hiking, playing soccer with street children in Romania and sleeping on a boat that provides aid in every port it makes...

But in all practicallity and seriousness I don't want to do things half-assed. I want to help people and work with organizations that are committed long-term help, I want to build relationships and I want to learn and make a difference. That could possibly (probably) happen in Calgary, where I already have connections and friendships that I could build on, grow in, ect. There are established organizations for at-risk youth in the inner city (something I'm interested in being invovled in) where I could volunteer, but not be depended on- so I can learn and grow and not put them out when I leave... sounds like a deal, I just have to make the trade with that and something more exciting like being a coach for a sports-therapy program for children in Swaziland...

Is it normal to do a gap year after every semester of school? because that's about my pattern right now...

Friday, November 02, 2007

How to join two sentences together...

My head hurts from screaming and my throat hurts from screaming and I'm sure to sound like a frog of sorts tomorrow because of that that screaming. But atleast our basketball team won! 78-75, first game of the season. I always say that I don't really care about basketball, but when I actually get to one of the games I get really into it and just go crazy with screaming.

But not nearly to the extent of soccer; last game a had a scream-off with a fan from the other team and the next week I met a new friend and his first words to me were, "Oh! you were the one screaming at the soccer game!" (Or maybe it was: "Oh. you were the one screaming at the soccer game..." But I'm not an incredible observant person, so I'll just be optimistic instead).

Have I mentioned enought times why I am transfering school? Reason #157: I learned how to write a sentence today in my Literature class. A sentence has a subject and a verb and should not end in over, under, in, or with (like I just did). There are three types of there's (there, their, they're) and there are two types of your's (you're, your).
I'm in college now. I have a test over the the Illiad, poems by Sappho, some of Aristotle's writings, and still I needed to be taught this? No one should be allowed to pass middle school if they don't know that, let alone make it to college! And we did this for 40 min of out 60 min class. In the first 5 min of the class we ate donuts.

As an update, I am planning on (but haven't officially begun, so I still can change my mind without having to make any excuses or explanations) spending an extra week in Brazil with Jenna, then go to Calgary to live with my friend Hanani (I lived with her for a few months last year) and learn Swahili from her, as well as work and volunteer in the city. Then, I am going to Switzerland in July for a few weeks with my sisters. Then I am going to Taylor University Fort Wayne to finish my education.

In light of all this, I thought it was time for a list. A list of what I want in a job in Calgary:
1. I really want to help people and get experience and learning for my future career as a social worker. Maybe get my feet wet a little bit, too. I would be willing to do this through volunteering or working. At first I thought that I would want to do it as my full job, but actually, I think I might want to balance the heavy emotional, draining, or challenging work with something that is just a 9-5 job that pays the bills and lets me make friends; friends who are not looking up to me as a leader or strength because I am there to help them, but friends who are simply friends.
2. If I do get a normal job and not a job at an organization, then I want the hours to be flexible enough and the stress to not be too much so that I can volunteer and also spend time with the family I live with and not be overwhelmed.
3. Still take distance-learning classes (I'm lucky enough that the school I want to transfer to is the one offering most of them) on top of that. My exploratory (a class where I volunteer somewhere that fits with a social work career to see what they do, kind of an internship, but less) will be covered through volunteering in Calgary, which is nice- one class down! I could probably get it waived- the volunteering, that is, and just do a summary and a journal for what I did, but I do want to volunteer in Calgary- getting back into an inner-city scene where I can help people and make a difference in the world is part of why I want to move to Calgary anyway.
4. Get everything with the work permit figured out. I haven't looked into it very seriously yet, because my passport is out getting a visa for Brazil, and I would need that same passport to get a work permit. I'm told (by authorities, not just random people) that the process doesn't take very long because they want people to work there.

I learn alot when I make lists. In my head, I think that I have all these expectations and desires. But when I put them in a list, my priorities stand out and I see more clearly what I really want. And I often realize that I don't have tons of things that I want, maybe just a few large things. However, the housing situation is already figured out, so I don't need to even worry about that (which is the problem for most people when moving to Calgary, so I'm glad that's taken care of). The next one to deal with will probably be my work permit. I understand the options I have for processes to go through, I just am not sure which one I want to take.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Supposed to....

Biruk's Dad was supposed to arrive yesterday.

I say supposed to because he is still in Ethiopia.

And their family still doesn't know whats going on- they have been pushed and pulled since May of this year. They were told their dad was coming in May, then the person in charge of his case went on vacation for a few months and no one knew who to contact or where they were at in the process. Then he was coming in August. Then in September. He was officially supposed to arrive a few days ago.

What is going on!?!?!?!

I feel so frustrated for them- a family who involuntarily has been split up for 5 or more years all because of issues with getting a visa for one person to come to Canada. I'm not quite sure where the fault falls, but I assume it must be Canada, as they are the ones issuing the visa and getting all those things ready.

Rather than rant for the next few lines, please pray for this family. It's really not fair to them at all and they are doing everything they know to do.
The youngest boy is 9 years old, he hasn't seen his father since he was 4. Now he is going to school, making lots of friends and playing soccer.
The daughter is a beautiful teenage girl who looks older than she is, and doesn't like taking commands or advice from her big brothers about not going to parties or dances.
Biruk hasn't seen his dad since he was 14, his dad hasn't even seen a picture of him since then (he was absent from the last family photos that they sent to their father). So his dad will have no idea what he looks like.

It just isn't fair- please pray for this. They need their father.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Special Request

I sent off my visa application for Brazil today- please pray that they accept my visa and don't loose my passport in the mail!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mid-term blues or senioritis?

I am so frustrated with school. It took my about 2 hours to do a simple assignment, not because it was hard, but because it was so easy, stupid, demeaning and tedious that I would get angry and stop.Anyone as a freshman or sophmore in college should know how to cite a bibliography in MLA (or know where to find that information, because I doubt most people know off the top of their heads) and know how to use the call numbers to locate library books. I would never say that the Owen Valley was a great contribution to my education, but it appears so here at college.
I thought college was supposed to give you a taste of the real world, but it feels anything but that.

I ended up having to walk out of the library because I was just so frustrated I was either going to cry because of what a waste of my life this whole semester seems (except for the one class that I enjoy- Racial and Cultural minorities, that sadly, probably won't transfer, but I am learning so much it's worth it) or start screaming because I was angry. All this money and time and I have assignments for looking up random books that we aren't using for any research papers and aren't writing about at all, just practicing how to cite them.

Today I am still frustrated with school. And frustrated that I don't know where I am going to go. I've known for a long time what I want to be- a social worker. I have ideas of what I want to do with that and where I want to go. But where to go to get my education for that? I never thought that would be such a hard question to find the answer to, perhaps I'm making it harder than it really should be.

I really like my job, and it sort of makes me sad that I have to tell my boss that I am transfering and moving out of state. The people are really nice and fun to work with. There are the moms, the one lady who's husband comes in at the end of all her shifts to pick her up and go grocery shopping together- it's so cute. There is the funny, sort of ditsy girl who has a new crush every week and does things to make everybody laugh. There's the two boys with the same name but completely different personalities. There's the older man who I call "Bobber" and joke around with- everyone jokes with him. There is the manager who smokes and just found out she has emphazema (however it's spelled) and mentions atleast once a day that her house caught fire a few years ago and they moved to a new one- no matter how unrelated to the conversation it may be. And there's the newly engaged kid who reminds me of my brother- full of himself, thinks he knows it all, often gets it right, gets away with whatever he wants with the managers (there is the story that a manager once caught him sitting inside of a cardboard box talking on his cellphone while he was supposed to be working)- we talked about drugs and such for about an hour last time we worked together.

Before the week is up I will (hopefully) have sent out my passport for Brazil, I have the 4th application infront of me. The other ones I kept messing up, like checking too many boxes for my education (which I don't understand how it is relevant for a tourist visa). I got my passport photos taken today, and I felt so silly writing a check for $2.00, but I really only had 1.00 in my wallet. And someone gave me 2 big envelopes, which was very sweet of them. It still hasn't sunk in that I get to go to Brazil and see my sister in the middle of winter. I'm really excited, but it doesn't seem real enough yet.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall Break

I had a wonderful weekend that began on Wednesday evening, when I ran for both my flights, had all my luggage opened and sorted through when I arrived in Canada (but what's traveling if nothing exciting happens; like boarding an airplane breathless?)

On a random note- I have found a very effective way to use 'enter' (because my enter button is broken and I lost the small rubber piece that belongs with it). I thought; the piece I lost was rubber, so a rubber hair band must work, too. It's one of those small ones for corn rows or the like, and it actually works better than the other button-piece-thingy I was using before. Second advantage: I have an endless supply!

My weekend was great, and busy. I got to see a few people. But the quality time was good. I got to see my friend who my last post was about (we did not meet downtown, because he was worried about getting jumped.) I haven't seen him outside of jail in over a year- he is like a new person! His personality is the same, what he laughs about, ect, but his character is different. He doesn't get angry easily, he has a more down-to-earth conversations, he cares about people in ways he didn't before; concrete ways, not just vauge hopes that something nice would happen to them.

There were others I got to see, as well. It was interesting to talk to them and catch up, and just be a listener and encourager, because I can't fill the role I used to because I won't be there, I haven't been there for two months.

While I was in Winnipeg, my Canadian family invited me to go to Nepal with them- they are going to live there for a few months. Oh, how tempting! But I already am making radical changes, I just don't have the time to go to Nepal (among a few other issues that would arise if I decided to drop my life and go serve in an orphanage at the foot of Mount Everest...)

Of course- I got to see my boyfriend who I have really, really missed and spend time with part of his family. Like running through Wal-Mart with his little brother to get a Halloween costume (the boy didn't want to run, but I got him to do it) and dancing with his sister.

After 1/2 a decade (perhaps longer) they will see their father again- he is supposed to arrive on Thursday or Friday. So their house was a little hectic with major cleaning going on, lots of food being prepared and decorations being put up.
I would love to meet his dad, but not the first few days he arrives, that should just be the family.

However, I left him a pair of gloves, which he will need immediately because Winnipeg was cold for me the few days I was there, which I incomparable to someone who has been practically living on the equator.

Please keep this in your prayers, as there still may be some probelms... which is incredibly frustrating. It makes me so mad that the embassy doesn't care that they are ripping apart a family by making this take longer. What other requirements does he need to come to Canada as an immigrant other than his wife and children are there?
But that's a whole other subject...

I asked some friends if anything exciting happened in Spring Arbor while I was gone. "Nope, same old same old."
Then later, they mentioned that there had been tornadoes over the weekend. "Well, it wasn't THAT exciting. We just had to go into the basements. No one died or anything. Well, no one in Spring Arbor died."
Then what's your standard for something exciting happening?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

This is the stuff of life

My friend got in a fight.
I'm so proud of him.
I'm so happy.
Too happy and proud to scold him for fighting.

I used to visit him 2-3 times a month at the youth correctional center. He was the first who I visited, it was because of him that I was able to get clearance as a pastor to go into juvenile detetion centers and visit the residents on a one-on-one basis instead of in a group setting such as chapel. And with gang-members (who are not allowed to attend chapel).

He has been out for a little over a month now.

He's in a tech school for elecrical work starting next month because the city schools wouldn't take him because of his past behavior (oh how one's past haunts them over and over again).

He saw one of his former friends, a gang brother and told him that he didn't want to hang out with them or be a part of that which led to a fight.
And I can't stop smiling as I think about that.

But it's the first step of many that he will have to face of separating himself from his past.
Please keep him in your prayers, because situations similiar to that one, which led to a fight are sure to come up again and again as he and his family still reside in the same city. It has to be a continual, daily effort to fight against the stuff that so many people keep throwing at him and tempting him with. But he can do it, I know he can.
And this fight gives me hope for that.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne may have a slight influence, as well

So, I just had a boy who is a pastor 'veet' my legs-which is something like removing the hair without shaving; its a lotion of sorts. My legs are quite soft now.
I have 2 weeks left until Fall Break.
A few days ago I went on a field trip to Detroit, it was my first time being there. It was a boring field trip where we spent most of the time in the van looking out the window. However, it was very important to me because it was clarification that I cannot stand this dinky little town. I need a city. I need transportation. I need places were I can walk to. I need an apartment where people are loud at night.
So I think I am gonna transfer colleges. I reserve the right to change my mind again at anytime, without notice or consideration of the reader. However, this has been on my mind for more than a week, which is a good sign to me. See- I have been the most flighty person since this whole re-entry thing. I am moody with my life. One day I love my life and recognize that I am one of the most blessed people on the planet. The next day I am so frustrated; I want more than this, I want to be graduated already, I feel so selfish that I'm not serving anyone or helping anyone. Then I think about if I stay here, could I maybe graduate earlier? Is that a good reason to stay or is that selfish, because what I want to do after I graduate is help other people. I have a chance at a good education, I shouldn't just rush through it.
Last week I changed my life around on a daily basis.
I think I'll do this. Next day: No, actually I'm gonna do nothing that resembles that at all.
But for a consistent week I have contemplated transfering.
Its not set in stone, there have been no applications filled out, I haven't begun to organize things with my academic advisor, but it's been playing out in my head.
I haven't been set on the WHERE of my transfering for enough days to mention that, however. Maybe in my next post. Here is what has been consisent, however: not in Michigan. Despite my liking of Michigan and wanting to be in a city- I have no desire to go to Detroit. The fieldtrip helped in that respect, as well.
Who would have guessed that a class fieldtrip would be one of the final straws in my decision to not attend that school anymore?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Sunday I went to a chruch to listen to a friend of mine preach.
The service took me back in time and across countries- being hours upon hours long, lots of spontaneous singing and clapping. They were such a sweet church, driving 20 minutes out of their way to pick us up in the morning.
In a 15 passenger van and a white limo.
The church had a ridiculously long name, this is the acronym: NGBTCAF.
The church was much smaller than the name, but very sweet and wanting to cook us food. They realized that lots of us are not from Michigan and don't get home cooked food for a long time, so they wanted to help us out, not just that one Sunday, but on a regular basis.
Yes, this is a BIG hint. If there are college students near where you live, find a group that is from out of state or out of town and invite them over for a good meal.

Today I cleared up 2 things- I took a writing assessment to test out of my Sophmore-level English class (and how I wish that you could see the many times I just mis-spelled sophmore, perhaps I won't pass that test...) and turned in my outline for my proposal paper to waive my Cross Cultural.
My back-up plan for if they don't waive my cross cultural: Transfer schools, because I'm still considered a sophmore by a few credits, I could do it.
2nd back-up plan: go to Greece. But, with as much as I love to travel, I don't want ot go there with my school. Perhaps it is because I like to travel that I don't want to go on a tour group with 30 other teenagers as they roam around museums and be perfect aims for muggings and listening to people blab about this and that statue- i want to see it for myself, experience it on my own terms and whims.
Tomorrow I am spending the day in Detroit (that is, after my lab, and my test). It should be fun. I don't know what seems like more fun- getting to see Detroit, or getting out of the bubble of Spring Arbor and into a city?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

new wardrobe item: blue 'smock'

Yesterday I started my new job as a cashier at a grocery store.
The interview I had a few days ago for the job was very humorous. To begin with- this is the job that I wrote more than a dollar under minimum wage as my expected salary per hour. So I had to explain that.
"In your most recent job, what was the most stressful thing or things that you had to deal with?"
Hmm... that would be people I worked with dying or being attacked/mugged on a regular basis.
That was a surprising answer to his question, so for a few minutes the whole 'be nervous and act super professional because I am the supervisor' thing was dropped as he asked me non-interview type questions about my recent job.
I got the call-back a day before he said I would. But there was some confusion, because he mentioned I was coming in for training, but hung up so quickly that there was little clarity for if I had actually been hired, or if the training process was part of the 'weeding out' or something.
I was hired.
We were supposed to watch about 2 hours worth of videos for part of our training. During this time we learned how to shop-lift, a few pointers for what is hard for employees to spot and ways to get things out of the store. I also learned that those magnetic things that set off an alarm at the exits of shops are only 60% effective.
Then we accidentally broke the one of the tapes and/or the VCR. That was on the tape about Michigan occupational hazards and our own personal rights... woops.
So, we were supposed to pretend to be cashiers. We got a cart and went 'shopping' and then were going to ring everything up to learn how to use the registers and all that. However, that machine broke as well.
So we were supposed to be learning and watching as annoying little puppies to actual cashiers. Then mine went on a break and the next person wanted to bag and have me ring up the purchases. That was an interesting way to learn how to run a register.
"Hit the total button."
Why is it that when you need a certain button, it seems that you are unable to read any of the buttons or atleast that that one button is hiding?
"I don't see it."
"At the bottom."
"Still don't see it."
"Below the purple button."
"Where?"
"Oh, sorry. It's the blank button that doesn't say anything."
Of course! why didn't I think that the button I was supposed to hit would be the one that didnt say anything at all!
I had a fun night.

This is the job that I had a feeling that I would get when I prayed about a job way back when, like in May or so. God keeps his promises...

Its interesting getting used to American money- dollar bills instead of coins and no 2 dollars of any sort. And the Michigan deposits/refunds on cans. My boss laughed at me when I said we didn't do that where I was from, so I didn't know what to do. And running through the foodstamps. It's easy enough and thank goodness the government has started giving out cards that look like credit or debit cards so that those using them don't have to be so embarassed. They hand it to me and I type in the number, after that everything else looks like a credit card, they swipe it, it deducts the amount from their card and... wha-la! they're done. However, the person training me thought that they would announce it very loud: "Press the key food stamp! Now foodstamp again!" So that everyone in the line new that this person was using foodstamps.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Popcorn in the Pews

Sunday I went to church.
The church met in a movie theater. That was pretty cool.
The seats were the most comfortable that I have ever sat in while at church. However, the huge screen with the moving stars and what not was very distracting to my 4-year old attention span.
I kept joking about how I was going to go buy popcorn before the service, but afterwards that is exactly what people did. During the fellowship time after the service, the concession stands were opened up and people were eating nachos, popcorn and cotton candy while they chatted about life. They gave their children quarters to play on the arcade games. The little boys were shooting something and the little girls were trying to win toys.
Afterwards, as their hospitality ministry- they gave our group of wad of cash and sent us off to a nearby resturaunt for lunch. It was done much more friendly than that, and some of the church accompanied us. They didnt have the room or the time to make us a potluck or anything, they had to be out by a certain time because the movies would start. But they still provided an excellent lunch.
And the sermon/message was pretty good, too.

But it is an hour drive away. and I don't have a car. Nix on that one.

Church: My List
- a community (perhaps not directly from the sermon) that challenges me
- not tied to time (i can think of few things more distracting than 'okay, our 15 minutes of worship are over, now change your focus to listening to the pastor speak for 20 minutes, then turn your hearts and minds to communion/and or offering, then greet others). there needs to be room to worship longer if so led. there should be a freedom for the pastor to shut up and have someone from the congregation share. i get frustrated when church becomes a meeting with a schedule.
- worship that isn't structured. worship is about praising God and that shouldn't have a pre-set agenda. You clap at this song, you get really into this song and lift your hands, and you can move a little at this song. some churches have amazing music, wonderful songs- but have everything for your worship set up so that it's easy and you do the right things at the right time. i love when the worship gets all mixed up and changes from each sunday.
- a place were i can serve. that is a first clue for me- if there is no where for me to serve- what is the church actually doing as its ministries? there are lots of ways for me to get invovled and benefit- bible studies, small groups, mentoring- where people of the church want to help me grow in my faith. that's wonderful- but where can i help?
- friendly. it may be a big church, it might have 20 people. but someone should greet me and ask my name before i leave the church. the people are the church, not the structure they stand in; therefore people are the main (in a tie with another thing) focus of the church and if the church (large of small) doesn't acknowledge a new person attending, that's pathetic. i don't care how wonderful the sermon was, how amazing the worship- if i go back the next week, if i go a month straight and no one has asked my name, no one has noticed me and no pastor has welcomed me- i'm not going back.


so each sunday I run a church through my list and see if they meet my requirements. Since my previous experience here, I have tested 4 churches. and even the ones I liked, I couldn't pick because of things like- they are an hour away. i'll try again in a few days.

i have a job interview this afternoon- i hope it goes well!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

what is about 1 inch long and 1/3 of an inch high?

The blister in my pinky finger. Someone asked me why I don't just pop it. Well... because I don't want half of my finger infected!

To any Ethiopians who happen to read my blog- Happy New Year!
The dum-dum someone just threw at me got stuck in the wheel of my chair. Yes, I am in the library and I have ALOT of reading to do before 2:40 tomorrow afternoon.

Oh... to be in college again. I just got out of a 3 hour night class. My roommates have a huge poster of--- well, us on the wall. It's scary to see a larger-than-life sized picture of my face smiling back at me.

And again tonight I was reminded that I haven't lived in the US for a while. The recent trends and popculture news I haven't kept up on. A professor looked at me like I was stupid because I didn't know what he was talking about when he mentioned 'the Duke Rape Scandal'.

And so goes the newest adventure of my life: being a college student who doesn't think or act like a college student. Who studies Swahili between homework and calls Canada to be updated on who was recently released from jail when procrastinating homework.
And then there is the ever-recurring question of: "Where are you from?" And everyone talks about home with their parents and their summer job and I debate whether to claim Winnipeg or Spencer, Indiana.
I don't really want to call Winnipeg 'home'- but then, again- Indiana really holds no ties anymore for 'home'. It's the town where I grew up, and that's what it will be in 50 years... but for now, it isn't home.
I feel like I did about a year ago- cold, windy, no key to the house where I was staying... I felt homeless, so I hung out at the grocery store for about and hour until the family I was living with came home. I feel like I am crashing in my dorm room until I find 'home'.
But mom and dad- I am not 'crashing' at college- I am buckling down and working. And getting my homework done- starting.... NOW!

Monday, September 10, 2007

In the cafeteria...

someone was discussing a disgusting (say that five times fast- discussing a disgusting, discussing a disgusting...) video game in which the player drives a car and can drive over pedestrians, gaining points. Now, this is fine; I have a sick sense of humor, I would laugh if there was a squishing noise when the pedestrians were run over, however this game went too far: so far as they could stop the car near a animated prostitute and then drive to a parking lot and this little video-game car would start to rock.
Then they crossed another line: you could run over the prostitutes.
One person found this extremely funny and when I looked disturbed shrugged and said, "They're all gonna die of AIDS anyway."

This is my christian college.
Where we preach love and acceptance.
We don't use swear words and its a sin if you kiss too soon in the relationship.
Playing in my head were the numerous news headlines of bodies found outside the city limits of girls, suspected to have been in prostitution.
I remembered the scar on my friend's leg, when someone tried to run T--- over because T---was working along a street and presenting him/herself as another gender.
Prostitutes do get run over. I've read hate articles and letters talking about wanting to kill all prostitutes or ram them with their cars.

That tangent made me think; how is a prostitute defined?
I knew a girl who was very promiscuous, but never received a dime for her 'favors'. However- she didn't have a stable, certain home. She used these times with her numerous 'boyfriends' as a place where she could sleep for the night, somewhere with a roof over her head. But she would never consider herself a prostitute- those were the people who stood on the corner or in the parlors.
If someone were to participate in that line of work once or twice, would they still be branded as a prostitute? Imagine having to carry that title forever. There are some words I wish we would do away with- that is one of them. I don't care about four letter words that make people all offended if said in church- I care about the ones that label people and beat them down and leave wounds that the bearers must carry for years and years.

Oh the things we do for entertainment- play video games that make the sextrade humorous. I'm not usually hung up on violence in video games, but this one stood out to me.
And honey, sweet sheltered boy; too few die from STDs...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Generosity and fingers

I love my tea, and yesterday I was making myself some. Then, the lid of the kettle fell off and the steam- the very, very hot steam rose up on my fingers. I didn't know that steam could burn you like that. But I have a nasty blister on my pinky, it looks quite gruesome, actually.
What is it about certain four-letter words that when screamed somehow seem to diminish the pain?
But I attend a conservatie Christian college, where that is frowned upon, so I bit my lip and decided to finish my homework in the library.
The pain wasn't subsiding.
A friend saw me at the library and my finger became a point of interest.
" You should put some burn ointment on that."
Well... thats interesting, but I don't have any.
So, this sweet guy drove to the drugstore and brought me back some. A conservative Christian college means lots of nice, Christian boys. And my finger is grateful.

Today was fun- I was fed a wonderful potluck dinner. Sweet potatoes, fried chicken, greens- the good things in life. Church was loud and crammed. It was hard to move and I kept bumping arms with the girl next to me whenever we started dancing.
And then, I went to a stranger's house. They are wonderful, sweet people. I went on a SeaDo, on a speedboat, had hamgburgers and s'mores- more food: I am full.

I sent out letters at the end of July, telling all my supporters to please stop sending me money because I after August, I will no longer be working with Youth With A Mission. Now really, how often does anyone ever get a letter that says 'please stop sending me money'?.
So far, it's been to my benefit- because I have not had a check period go by since then without someone sending me support. I no longer work with the organization- yet, I am still recieving money? (which is still totally ethical because the organization still processes my checks and keeps my accout open for six months after my leaving incase people still send support).
Now, there is the chance that the checks were mailed before I left and were not recieved until just recently. But I am still amazed at the generosity of someone to send me money when I only have a week left to work.

Tomorrow begins another week...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

my enter key is still not working

i havent lived in the United States in a while. tonight i learned a few things:
alot of changes have happened on my college campus, new buildings, new rules, some things taken away. however, the most exciting bit that i've learned is that Free Methodists now have okayed dancing. We're allowed to dance at my college! tonight we had a fun ceremony, lots of singing, upbeat music by really good musicians. the message was short, but moving. lots of people made decisions and decided to change things in their life. but the time i was the most excited was during the last song. "this song is about dancing. i think that's so funny because we're not allowed to dance here." "yes we are, they changed that rule last year- all the Free Methodists everywhere can dance now." I'm not free methodist. i dont plan on changing- but my school is and i like my school. i was so excited that i started jumping up and down for joy. I can dance again!
Second bit of info i learned this evening- we have new money. There's brown on it. It's ugly. but, it is new. I exclaimed this when the woman handed me my change and then she looked at me oddly because of my reaction, like i was the weird one all amazed by the money.
I have been filling out job applications and one of them asked what hourly wage I expected. I thought about it and then wrote $6.25 an hour. I thought I was asking for a dollar over minimum wage. A few hours later, after I found out that minimum wage had gone up- to over $7 and hour!
Man, did i feel stupid. But I was excited to learn that.
Oh, the changes that happen when you move out of the country!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Normal

back to school.
normalicy- or so i'm told.
i dont quite know how i feel about that.
will i be normal again (is that possible)? do i want to be normal again? have i ever been normal?

its nice to be back in the United States, back in the town where I grew up and a place where I can take a break and breathe. However, I am feeling conflict in my mind about several things.

I've been told, and I have read about the different struggles that a returning missionary goes through. I'm not complaining, and it's a lot easier knowing that this is typical, however it still is hard. Whether that be culture shock. the poorer part of the city to an expensive, private university. or noises. changes in environment/surroundings. and a shocking change of daily routine and ministry.
so, there's the element of materialism trying to sink back into my thinking which was much easier to push away before. Now, i look at the packed van, mostly full of clothes. Clothes I haven't worn in nearly two years because I didn't need them, I still don't need them- yet I want them.
the quiet, which is still strange to me. like an emptiness in the air, especially at night. But i love seeing the stars. I treasure that, because the city lights drown them out- but last night i saw a sky full of stars. It was beautiful.
someone commented on my busy class schedule. really? only the one day seems to be sort of busy. For most days- only two classes with about 4 hours in between each of them. I think I can handle that. Only, I have a night class. 6:30-9:30 one night a week. Three hours of time, just sitting in class? And night time, too. The best time to work (if and when I get a job), my most energetic time. The time when i get the most projects done. and i will be sitting at a desk, as ansy as a 6 year old in church. help!!!


will I have involvent in any ministry here? That's been a concern of mine for months, really. I've been praying for an opportunity for ministry while I am at college, and for continued contact (in a way that helps, instead of hinders) for a while now. what am i gonna do to help other people?and not only focus on my self, making my issues bigger than they really are because it's all i've thought about for two days. how am i going to continue to influence the world as a college student? i need to get a move on that before i get too grown up.

a job where i earn money?!?! wow... i've heard of such things before, haven't experienced it in a while. i do want a job. part of me just wants to work a job, to fill my time (because i've been so busy previously, not being that busy quickly becomes boring, i just have too much time), to be doing something productive, influencing the people i work with, and of course- to make money. i want to travel. i crave traveling. it really is like a hunger that getting on a plane and stepping out somewhere new (or its just been too long) satisfies.

I had previously thought i was going to go to Thailand next summer and earn my TESOL certificate. I still want to do that, but my summer seems over-full and I think it would be unwise to do that summer of 2008- how about the summer after? but i really miss Thailand... it's calling me back. can i be away from it for that long? hmm... maybe i could squeeze it in this next summer. My decision will rest on how schedules line up and about God's direction, because he still has reign over my future. i'll get my out-of-north-america fix just after christmas when i travel to brazil for a little under two weeks

tomorrow is when i travel up to school- we'll see how 'normal' my life becomes then.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In America

Last night we safely arrived back in sleep Spencer, Indiana. The sky was black and the moon an amazing reddish color that made the man in the moon look like he was blushing. And it was quiet... strangely, but wonderfully quiet.

My dad had a hard time sleeping when he visted me in Winnipeg because of all the sirens. I live near a hospital in the bad part of town- every siren you can imagine runs past my apartment. I just get used to it. Last night the silence was awkward and took me a bit to get used to.

Being back in the US is going to take a bit of getting used to, as well. Before I was just visiting for a few weeks- rarely more than two. Now, I am going to be in residence here again, everything is going to be so different.

I miss people from Winnipeg already. It's only been two days, but the realization that I may not see them ever again is setting in. And I miss my dear friends, my roommates, my sisters, the guys who I play soccer with, the cute old man who I wave to each morning, the little girls who give me hugs, and the funny man who always jokes with me at drop-in.

But mostly- I am gonna miss the girl that I mentor, and seeing her come out the other end on the things she is struggling with. I am gonna miss the guys I know who just got put in jail- and seeing how their lives are going to change once they get out. I am going to miss seeing so-and-so go to school, or get back in school. I am going to miss helping her with her baby. I am going to miss so many people who's lives I've been blessed to be a part of.

I don't want to write anymore today. And I feel so busy, even now with being away I still have a million things to do before I go to college in a week. Oh- will I ever get it all done?

Oh- I was supposed to mention. In case none of you have noticed, I added a page element at the bottom of my blog. It has bits of the day or past days breifly mentioned, so check it out.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thank you, everyone who prayed

5 minutes before I arrived at the office yesterday morning, I got a phone call from the Youth Center, telling me that I had clearance to visit my friend who I have been asking for you all to pray that I could visit.
I called back as soon as I was finished on the phone getting my monday morning visit with someone else (which I am leaving my parents to hang out at my apartment for an hour by themselves while I visit him). And had an interesting talk on the phone- part of that was because the man talked unbelievably fast. It was almost as if one of the Gilmore girls was ranting about something- only instead as a 50 year old man.
" Yep, you have clearance to visit. Sundays are the usual visiting times."
" Yeah- I was wondering about that. It says there could be exceptions to that, that I could visit on another day?"
" Perhaps, but there would need to be a good reason."
" See, I am moving out of the country on Monday, so Sunday is really not gonna work for me."
" Moving out of the country, that doesn't seem like much of a connection."
" I've known this guy for over a year and a half and we have a good relationship built up. And it can be really harmful to break that trust by leaving without saying goodbye."
" Oh."
" So could I visit today?"
" Today!?!"
" Yeah. Like in a few hours from now? Say 2 o'clock?"

" I'll make it work. I'll leave a message at the gate."

So, then I just had to sweet talk my boyfriend into letting me use his car. Then cuddle up and ask him to send some quality time with me in the car during the hour long drive, which I was hoping he would do the driving for. And then I mentioned, a little more quietly, that he would have to wait alone in the car for about an hour while I had the visit. So, 3 hours out of his day. And we would have to race back because my parents were arriving to Winnipeg earlier than planned and would have to roam around Winnipeg alone for about an hour as I was not about to change the visit plans that had come together so perfectly.
I have a really nice boyfriend :). But he made me drive on the way back and took a bit of a nap. It's like he had a 12-hour night shift that night and needed to rest or something.

The visit was wonderful. Sometimes I wonder if the work I do makes a difference- this visit helps confirm that at least for his life, nothing was wasted. He told me for the first time, that after our long, deep talks he would go home and play X-box instead of selling drugs. He said I gave him hope for wanting to change and had faith in him that he could when others had given up on him. Wow. That is one of the things that makes me sad for leaving this ministry.

I wish I could physically be there to offer that extra support when he gets out in about 2 weeks. However, I know that he does not need me. He needs God. He needs to want to do it himself- as much as I want the best for him, that has never been enough for him to change. He needs to want it enough to do the hard, hard work it takes to pursue it and stick with it. And above all- he needs God. I know it's probably good for me not to be there so that he doesn't depend on me or turn to me when it's something I can't or shouldn't help too much with- however, I can't help but want to be there.

Without getting off topic too much- I was incredibly impressed with how that center was run. The boys (and girls as well) are put into units of about 8-12 people of the same gender categorized in low, medium and maximum security units, their privileges depending on their level of security. The group is given more freedoms or those freedoms taken away on how they as a group and the individuals of the group behave on a regular basis. If one person fails, you all fail. You succeed and fail as a group. If one person is angry or screwing up, it is not the supervisor's responsibility to repremand or discipline them- it is the job of the group (with the incentive of privileges for them to have good behavior). I saw it working wonderfully! The group was sickeninly polite, and almost made me burst out laughing at how they were overly asking everyone if this or that would bother them.
My friend told me how the group was helping him work through some of his anger problems- how they would circle around him and first help him calm down, and then find out what had made him angry or whatever. The supervisor was there to give punishment or privilege, not discipline (if you ketch the difference). The group kept one another in line- and did a good job of it.
Together the group worked in the gardens that were grown and cared for by the inmates for the food that they consumed. As well as tending the animals (such as pigs and cows) that were on the property. During the school year they were kept busy with studies as well.

I saw that this place was working on some underlying problems of these kids- their authority issues, their anger problems, confidence issues, ect. I had never seen that before- I had seen them having the inmates sit in cells where the only thing to do was work out, think about how you had screwed up and hours and hours of harboring that anger or possibly coming up with your own solutions on how to fix it. Or making phone calls to all your old friends or family.
My friend talked about the things he had realized that he needed to work on. And I heard him use the word 'poop' instead of s***! Wow- he had stepped out further that I had imagined he could in the short time he had been in.

Honestly, if I was to intern as a social worker and it had to be in Manitoba, I would see if I could do it there- because it was so impressive to me. However, I hope that my allowances for where and what I can do during my practicum part of my social work degree are alot more broad than Winnipeg, Manitoba. I am sure that they will be.

My parents arrived just fine. However, we met at the wrong spot because my mother seems to equate 'golden statue' with 'green dome'.

Friday: Final(?) Day of Work in Winnipeg

How do I have time with my busy schedule to post a blog? Well- it's 9 am in Winnipeg, which means that most people are sleeping and many places are not yet open. And, because I am listening to the hold music on the visiting line for the city correctional center.

My last visit (yesterday) was wonderful! They told me that the person I was visiting had been released.
So why was he still on the visiting list? Grr... stupid people wasting my time.
But it worked out wonderfully, because then I got to see him and we had a good laugh about how I missed my visit as we sat in the office and ate chicken and talked about the Winnipeg police.
And that friend was able to answer a question- what is so-and-so's last name? (well, because he knew who to call to ask). The answer to that allowing me to be here, making that visit with so-and-so.

The police are doing a 'crack down' in the neighborhood. Arresting people as if they were shopping for groceries- picking this one, patting down that one. Sometimes just taking people down to the station and then letting them go.
Arresting 30 some people in the north end and another large batch in the west end, most of who are known to be dealers and/or affiliated with a gang looks really good for the records and the news (which happened in about 1 day this past weekend). However, in about a week most of those people will be back out because there wasn't enough evidence or confirmation of a big enough crime (usually it was nothing more than a breech) to hold them longer than that.

The droves that went in come trickling out within a few days; all for our safety? Obviously not. All for show? Probably.
Those guys are breaking the law and they do need to be in jail. However, the whole problem is that they haven't been able to get them with enough evidence to get them sentenced anyway, how will getting them on a small little breech change that? It's like they are wasting their own time because arresting them gets in the way of the undercover work and other investigations going on because it halts everything.

I was telling a friend one of the things that was exciting me about going back to college- the difference in what I was going to worry about.
From worrying about
_____ missed the mentor meeting, is she still attending rehab or did she go back to drugs?
_____ got jumped the other day
_____ has to go to court, can you watch her kids for a while?
_____ is in the hospital- please visit him.
_____ hasn't been around for a month or more- jail? dead? just hiding?
_____ is on the run from the police again.
_____ was caught _____ing again.
_____ thinks she might be pregnant
_____ needs help finding a job

To worrying about
- I have one night to right that paper
- My printer died! now I have to go to the library and do the rest of it there
- I really need to study for that exam
- My roommate is really annoying me

Yeah, for sure I'm excited! And to sleep in a bed again would be so nice. I'm also happy for the conservative campus, if my friends from the street here do follow up on their promises and give me calls on occasion. I laugh when I think of what their voice mails would say!

I looked over the 'agenda' for the next few days when my parents visit. I feel sorry for them, they are going to be so stuffed full of food! Everyone wants to meet them, and everyone wants to feed them.

I came over to Biruk's house to see his mom beside the largest amount of chopped onions I have ever seen. She said she had cut about 12 onions already.
"Biruk! You forgot to tell her!"
He looked really sheepish as he told his mom in Amharic (as if that would fool me or something) that my dad is allergic to onions. She looked really annoyed, but them brightened up as she asked me-
"What if he can't taste the onion?" No- he is allergic, eating the onions would make him sick.
"What if I chop them really small?" No.
"What if you couldn't see the onions?" No.
So cute, it made me laugh. But seriously- No!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

6 days to go...

Someone at my church reminded me of that, as he has also been keeping track for me.
Today was my last day helping with the drop-in. I didn't make any sandwiches and touched no soup- which is the first time that that has ever happened. I sat and talked and said good-byes and took pictures and encouraged a few people- but mostly, they encouraged me.
Someone got jumped over the weekend and now has a swollen fist
And someone's bike was stolen.
And two someones got shot over the weekend.
And I'm glad that Biruk made me drive his car home because someone was mugged along that same street that night.
And I need to call for a visit because someone had a cellphone who shouldn't have.
And someone turned 18 yesterday and there is a dinner sitting in the fridge for him.
And I have a final mentor meeting with someone tomorrow.
AND I have lots, and lots of people to say 'good-bye' to.

One prayer already answered!
Before I even know if I have clearance for the visit, I have had 3 offers for possible transportation for the hour-long trip up to the facility where my friend is. My favorite of the offers is a ride, gas paid for (I'm assuming) and a trust-worthy, good driver to do all the driving for me, as well as the company of a friend.
Wow, I love when people offer to 'bust out their connections' for me.

Please pray that I get clearance for this visit. The visit has to happen THIS week. Or I'll be leaving my parents to relax somewhere in Winnipeg with some people they don't know while I visit...lol

I felt ill this morning, but am much better now. However- I feel so drained. I didn't know saying good bye could be so stressful or busy! I am moving out of the country and finishing up ministry stuff all after an intense 2 weeks of leading a mission trip. I guess that could explain why I feel awful.
And that my 'relaxing' days never happened. Whenever I would head home to take a nap, something would come up.

The little girl I know getting hit by a car at a crosswalk takes the cake as the best excuse I had for not sleeping at that time. I stayed in the ER with her mom and sisters for a little while, and tried to get the girls to stop climbing over everything before the receptionist yelled at them AGAIN.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Goodbyes

Yesterday I went to a party and saw some friends of mine. I mentioned to them that I was leaving in a week, moving out of Winnipeg.
"When will you be back?"
"I'm not coming back."
"Yeah... sure. Whatever- you'll be back."
They really didn't believe me.

And so begins my final week.

I was able to use that to guilt the little boys into not stealing the markers. I just didn't have the energy to wrestle with them or force them out of the office. Me leaving and they would never see me again was a very effective guilt-trip. And used alot less energy.

The little girls gave an extra squeeze in their hugs and a few guys came up to recieve an extra one, usually I initiate the hugs. They could feel that I was leaving and they wouldn't get that chance again.

A few days ago at the park some one said to me, "You know- when you go, you're leaving us in the slums."
I was confused. They had lived in Winnipeg before I had arrived, how would that be any different?
"Not like that. When you leave who else is gonna help us out? You're leaving us in the slums."
That made me sad.
Of course it's not all true. Of course it's a bit of a pity party. But it's sad that that is his perspective, that no one else helps him out. Especially when I think of how little I've done to help him in particular.
Perhaps that perspective is my failing. Perhaps that perspective is the failing of the church.

The park that has 2 churches at it's corners and at least 3 ministries around it's perimeter and he still feels so helpless. I go to that park to pray. It's such a desperate place, but also because it is so desperate I know that God moves in mighty ways there each day.
However... I still get so frustrated.
Sunday was sunny and there was a cute, sweet old man having a bit of a yard sale sort of at the parking garage of an apartment building. Two police men pull up in their cruiser and start questioning him. Across the street I see two guys- one who is breeching on his restrictions by even walking down that street and another is a known drug dealer. And the cops are focused on the old man and his yard sale?

There must have been exciting, fun, sad and wonderful things that happened over the past few weeks. But they seemed to have leaked out of my brain because I can't remember much more than 2 days ago.

It's looking as if things are possible for me to visit a certain friend. However- it is an hour drive away. And I need to be cleared to visit within 2 days. Please keep that in your prayers- I would need to borrow someone's car and even more--- I would have to drive!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ahh... to sit down for a moment

A chilly morning in August (which just shouldn't be).
The west end feels asleep and calm (a completely different atmosphere from the evening/night in this same part).
A break from the mission trip, but not a break from life or work. However, this city sleeps in, so alot of that sort of thing has to wait until the afternoon.

Camp was wonderful! The little girls blessed me so much and God was faithful in so many ways. I wouldn't call that time 'relaxing' exactly, but it was wonderful and refreshing just to be in America and away from the city. Surrounded by trees, by screaming little girls who don't use swear words and say 'thank you' without being told to. Who would never punch one another or even think of clawing you. Who I don't have to scold for making fun of the girls who are working as prostitutes or take them aside to talk about why they shouldn't be using marijuana. It was very refreshing in that sense. However, it also took the edge off some of the adventure.
I'll put some pictures up later.

I loved the theme of camp- Be Wise.
I used to think of Wisdom as boring. Something that older adults had, and it stripped away all the fun and wonder in life. Like when you understand the science behind why the sunset creates such glorious colors in the sky, it ruins some of the beauty. Having Wisdom left them to lecture and write books about how to do things. I had a false idea that wise people didn't really 'do' much, they just talked alot and had meetings and told other people about the correct way to do things, since they knew how to.
But as I have been working in Winnipeg, I find myself again and again on my face, begging that God be with me in that situation, that he would direct me and give me guidance to know what to do. But even more than telling me clearly- 'this way' 'that way' that he would be with me, at my side.
Then I realized, what I was asking for WAS Wisdom, I just didn't know it. My screwed up view of what Wisdom was and wasn't was keeping me from desiring it and pursuing it. I was so set on not being caught up in the head knowledge stuff, because I wanted my heart and actions to be in it, that I missed what Wisdom is. (I'm not saying that I wanted to be doing things without theology or belief behind them, I was just avoiding being overly focused on the head-stuff or the 'rules' stuff) I would be looking for direction in all different sections of the Bible, but not in Proverbs- written by the wisest man every known. And Wisdom isn't boring or dull- it's exciting!
And you can tell a wise person by how they act, which was very exciting for me. Proverbs talks about how wise people know when to be silent, how their actions- often with social justice- are evident to their walking-out their Wisdom. Because what's the point of Wisdom if you never do anything with it? What is the point if you don't help people with it?
So, I loved the theme of camp and I loved seeing the girls be so excited about Wisdom. Seeing them diving into their Bibles, seeing how Proverbs can still speak to them today and hearing about how they plan to put what they learned into practice. It was awesome!

I'm pretty exhausted, so if you would remember to pray for me, that would be awesome. I've been really busy and I only have 2 weeks left, so it's beginning to be stressful about how to work and do all this extra stuff I have right now (and do that well) as well as ending my ministry stuff here the best that I can.
Also, there appears to be some situations where I will not be able to say even a 'good bye' to some people who I have been working with in ministry- I used to visit them in the Youth Correctional Center, but they have recently been moved and it doesn't look like I will be able to visit them again. Please pray about that, as it would be very sad to never get to say good bye.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

If I am famous, you might want to know these facts

I'm supposed to be playing some 'game' where I leave some rules and tag 8 other people or so to play the game as well. However- I'll just tell you the 8 random facts about me and not tag other people.

1. Hate fast food like Burger King or McDonalds. It's not just the huge amount of grease (not a health thing- I just hate the feeling of all that caking my mouth). It also sort of frightens me that when I order a cheeseburger it is handed to me, nicely wrapped and in a paper bag within a matter of 30 seconds (usually less). It actually repulses me that my food is ready that fast.

2. I love grocery shopping! Whenever I pass a grocery store, a market or the like I have an urge to go inside and buy, buy, buy! I love imagining all the meals and dishes that could be created with this item or that item. I love the bright green apples against the orange carrots and dark spinach. I like comparing prices and looking for the best deal. Weighing the bulk items and figuring out what type of juice I want to buy today.

3. I sort of wish that some terrible accident (but nothing that would cause loss of limb) would happen to me while on an airplane so that the company would have to compensate me with a lifetime supply of free vouchers for anywhere, anytime. Without it- I could easily spend every dime on plane tickets and live like a pauper in whatever country I have traveled to.

4. I don't enjoy driving. I would be quite content living on some small island where you can walk everywhere you want to go, or in a city where there is public transportation. And it makes it much easier to meet new people, too!

5. I love bright colors and cannot go out in just blue jeans and a white or plain black t-shirt, I have to add some color. maybe a bright orange belt. Perhaps green flip-flops or a blue head wrap. something has to add color or I just feel so so boring. My bed sheets are bright orange and they make me happy. When I see something so vividly bright like that, I smile.

6. I am proud of my scars. They all tell some sort of tale about my life- a piano fell on my ankle, killed some of the nerves there. I slipped while playing soccer with a group of guys in Thailand. Fell on a crooked sidewalk when I was about 4 or 5 years old. Slowly scraped all the skin off my hand right there because I was determined to get to the top of the crack (in rock climbing) no matter how much pain I was in. Bruises are fun, for sure- but scars are so much better because they are permanent- like a story on your body, an accidental tatoo.

7. An endugence of mine (which I haven't been able to do since I was in college) is run at night. It's so calm, so quiet. Never too hot. The stars are wonderful and I feel like I could run forever.

8. Cannot go to bed without brushing my teeth. I can sleep with my contacts in, with dirty feet, hot and sweaty, in uncomfortable clothes, on the floor, in a crowded room- but I simply cannot sleep without having brushed my teeth. I think it is the grossest feeling ever.