Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tevas and Havaianas

My feet are always dirty nowadays. I kinda like that, though. It means I'm busy, in a hurry and not focused on the minor, perhaps the petty.
And because its warm enough to wear sandals- and most of my sandals have absorbed layers of dirt that will never come out- except into the soles of my feet when I wear them.

The red, powder dirt from the road from Lira to Kotido.

The dirt that stayed after the water had evaporated when I ran through that puddle on a sidewalk in Winnipeg.

Sand, and bottom of the ocean muck that mingled on the beaches on Koh Phi Phi.

And so... my feet are dirty with memories and pleasure of meanderings through the park, speed walking to a meeting and near hikes as march around the city.

My legs, on the other hand are tired. I walked alot today.

I've updated my other blog, where I put up some of my poetry. So check it out: avoiding all names

This past week I haven't been able to stop thinking about the future. I go back to school, full-time college student in 2 1/2 months! I've been hoping and wishing for it for so so long. Actually, I was worried that I would love Winnipeg so much that I wouldn't want to go back to school, and education is really important to me so I want to take advantage of the opportunities I have right now. And although I do love the people in Winnipeg (even though I haven't been able to love the city itself) I still want college. And then next summer is almost empty-- overflowing with possibilities. It's so exciting!
And for a little while, a 'normal; life seems inviting. Waking up to my alarm clock after sleeping in a bed in my dorm room. Eating breakfast with 40 other people in the Dining Hall, heading off for a day filled with sitting in class.
Okay... right now that sounds boring. But sometimes, after a very stressful day or incredibly hectic week that sounds like the greatest thing ever.
Which reminds me... I want to find out why the abnormal amount of ambulances/police sirens at 1 o'clock last night.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

If Meth really had a mouth...

S---- mentioned returning after 5 days in the hospital because of smoking some weed that (unknowningly) was mixed with crystal meth. S---- almost died and now, besides swearing a life free of drugs from now on, continues to glorify God for each day of life. Wandering in a haze, walking from friend to friend, savoring even simple movements, the taste of coffee, the smell of body odor and then S--- came up to me, tears forming and then streaming from the eyes.
Tears of realization and pure joy for life- realizing the gift that it is. And our hug turned into a slow, swaying dance that rocked back and forth- a few earthquake-type sobs here and there.
So I began to talk about the difference between existance and living.
Without God, we have no path, no purpose. We are attatched to oxygen, unable to move, lying on our backs in a hospital bed looking at the bare, white walls around us. The long, long years of existance; just watching, looking at the clock.


But God calls us to life- not just eternal life in heaven- a full life now. That doesn't equate wealth to make us happy- he doesn't promise a happy life, either. At no point does he say it will be easy. However he promises a fulfilled life in Him. Only through him is their life; only in him do we walk, and breathe, and live. He is our hope, our purpose and our passion. Sometimes people focus so much on heaven and eternal life that they miss living life here, now.

And as I was getting the pizza pops ready, someone announced that they had been sober for 2 weeks now, a response from the doorway was, "yeah, I almost died the other day. I am planning on stopping, too." It was said with such ease and lack of reverence that nearly floored me. I nearly died? And still, such a disreguard for one's own life- one's existance.

I get frustrated with a religion that focuses so much on heaven or avoidance of hell because it gives no hope for now- for our lives today. And I know God cares about our lives today. That he cares when we hurt and suffer, that he sees the broken, the hungry, those at their very last. I love the questions that often come from the mouths of the teens and kid's I spend time with. They are honest, from the heart- from their very lives and current situations about why God is so far away in heaven and they are to just sit and wait for death so that they can have this promised life. Because our faith is more than waiting for heaven. Because that is wrong, it shouldn't be happening to you and it's not what God wants. God wants the best for you. And then- it's not about you. That's when it becomes the must fulfilling, I think.

Oh, the lessons learned from drugs!

Monday, June 11, 2007

need a massage because I was too comfortable

I slept in a bed last night.
Save for the two nights a few weekends ago when I was in Tenessee for my sister's graduation, I haven't slept in a bed since the begining of February.
It was strange, so I didn't sleep that great- hopefully that will improve with time.
My roommate brought the bed with her, because I am too frugal (or cheap!) to buy a bed. The couch was working fine- I considered an air mattress, or perhaps even a raft but probably wouldn't have gotten around to it.

She moved in on Sunday with her many, many shoes. And quite a few clothes, too. My apartment shrank within hours of her moving in! But I love her and am glad she is staying with me. She is used to an area of the city called East Kildonan, or 'EK' as us cool people call it. Living in this area is gonna be an adjustment for her.
The noise- the stomping above us, the banging beside us. The man yelling and cursing from outside. The police calling up to our open window asking her to let them inside the building. The constant sirens as we are near the a hospital. And our very, very squeaky door. It's actually quite obnoxious. (That can be on Biruk's list of things to do. Hehe.)
"Is it always this noisy?"
"Nope, this is a quiet Sunday afternoon."

I think I had something else to mention... but its a beautiful day outside, so it must have slipped my mind. Good weather makes an excuse for just about anything. If the whole rest of the office weren't taking tomorrow off, I might call in for a sick da
y.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Church Thoughts

Looking back at the past few weeks, of my experiences with back alleys:

3 passed-out men, reeking of alcohol, lying on their stomachs. So I call the paramedics to check on them.

Almost daily my walk to or from work, where I pass a back alley or pass through a back alley I run into several guys I know who are in a gang. They use them to avoid the main streets where they are more easily seen by police or other gangs. One of the popular places for them to hang out is behind an apartment building on the back alley behind the office where I often see them counting money, smoking whatever or just hanging out.

A woman who is prostituting herself walk/struts slowly, looking at each person and the occasional car as they go along.

The high chain-link fence beside the
YWAM house that separates it from the popular recreation center lets me see some neighborhood kids smoking. I get there in time to call at them and see them dash away, leaving the scent of marijuana in the air. One of them was probably 10 or 11 and part of me hopes it was his first time using it while another part gets so angry that kids this young are smoking.

A play ground for kids- Robbie as she ketches up to me on her bike after I already had walked her home. (We spent about 10 minutes walking one block- 'planting dandelions' in the sidewalk cracks. But then I took her back to her mom, and she was right beside me again in a flash).

So many people I know, when I ask about their black eyes, recieved them beside some forgotten street or alley. Or the friends who have been mugged walking home through these side streets.

And I am sure there are many things you readers have in your mind about back alleys- muggings, attacks, drug deals.

Yet I believe our God is a God of Back Alleys. It seems almost ridiculous to consider within our world today that our God would dwell amidst those forgotten places. No- in any age it seems irrational to consider Almighty God choosing the litter filled, needle strewn, condom lined, shadowy, rat-homes of our back lanes (or whatever a back alley is in any country or time) that most people only venture in to throw out their trash. Yet, when I read the Bible- that is where I see him. Among the lowly, the outcasts, the prostitutes and tax collectors. We find our God, the King of Everything spending his time in the back lanes and side streets. That is where he chose to go. He seeks out those who are in the back alleys. He brings light into dark places, the sun into the shadows.
He enters the alleys.
Our God is a God of back alleys. He chooses the lowly. He seeks the battered, the broken.
A God of back alleys.

And yet, when I am there- that is the farthest thing from my mind.
Even though I can name numerous times, even last week when I know God moved and stirred and was present in my conversations, touching that person's life as we talked and walked in that back alley.
Still, it seems so off that our God would choose the alleys- that's not where I imagine my King at all.

Monday, June 04, 2007

#1 concern about living in 'the 'hood' now is that the neighborhood kids will find out which apt I am and never leave me alone

I now have my own apartment!
It's great to have alone time, which I was so longing for. I can go to bed whenever and wake up when I want without bothering anyone. I can come in at all hours and it won't matter. I have a key so I will never be locked out again. I get free internet access by the generous church beside me- which also is the maximum view that I have. My window is low enough that I had someone throwing pebbles at my window last night. Yeah, its lame, but I still find it romantic and it made me smile. And yes, I leaned out the window to talk for a little while, savoring the picture of him standing in the alley after having thrown rocks at my window to get my attention.

So my apartment: it came with a furnished kitchen, a table (but no chairs), a matching couch and love seat. I have 2 closets, so I don't need a dresser. However, I have no hangers, so for the moment all my skirts and dresses are simply draped over the rack. Since I have a roommate probably moving in this weekend, I should probably get some hangers so that she has room for her MANY clothes. Good thing I have two closets- the second of which is so strange. The second closet is just a small space with hooks on the door, a rack for hanging things and a shelf. It could be a mud room, a storage space for extra boxes, or almost like a closed-in porch. However to reach the bathroom you must walk through this area. And the bathroom has no door- so you shut the closet door and that is the sign for no one to venture to use the toilet just yet.
And there is the most horribly placed window I have ever seen: right in the shower. Or more possibly, the most horribly placed shower, since the window might have been there first. The tiling of the shower goes around this window: it is a full-fledged window, not one of those teeny things with the altered glass so that you can't actually see out of it- it's a normal window. Low enough so that when you are standing in the shower the glass part begins at your navel and goes straight up- showing anything from almost any angle. And since I am on the floor above the slightly-raised basement it really would be showing just about anything. A towel sufficed as my curtain this morning, but a mini-blind is going up soon!

I am pretty proud of myself for how cheaply I have decorated my apartment so far. I've had a blast running around with crazy skirts and pants for obese women through Goodwill. The results: I took two hideos Christmas pillows and stuffed them into the legs of a crazy pair of paisley pants and now they sort of set the tone for my room. A wrap is the pseudo-carpet on my living room floor and a head-wrap/sash helps to brighten my table. I made a coffee table out of two overturned cardboard boxes and the leftover material of a shirt and a bedside table from the largest peice of furniture I own: a blue tubberware container that brought most of my belongings to Canada over a year ago. That is covered in my bright orange bottom sheet (that I have no use for because it's fitted and my thin 'mattress' would fold over if I tried to use it). I have a bookshelf that is another cardboard box, disguised with blue tissue paper. But probably my favorite is my pillow that is stuffed with some items of clothing I won't be using for a while- created with two place settings stapled together (because I don't have a needle and thread). Everyone who has been over has been surprised to hear that it isn't a pillow at all, and laugh when I show them the shiny silver staples. I had so much fun yesterday!


As I was walking down the street this afternoon, my friend and I passed a store which always makes me laugh.
It's called "The Cheese Cave" and also written in french: "Caverne De Fromage".
It's a specialty cheese store with expensive french cookies, bread knives, sausages and crackers, and of course-cheese. Lots of cheese. It's the big, bright orange wheels and the white chunks or wedges that make you think "little cutesy shop somewhere in Europe" located right on the popular strip of the West End of Winnipeg- and not popular for good reason.
Sargent and Furby screams drugs, prostitution, gangs, poverty and crime to most people in Winnipeg.
He read the sign and I began laughing as the irony hit me again.
"I don't get why that's funny." He stated.
"Because- its a specialty cheese shop in the middle of the ghetto. I get the pawn shops. It's typical for the kinda-sleazy used video games/dvds store. The movie rentals, convenient stores and laundry mats. But a French cheese store when hardly anyone in this part of the city even speaks french?"
"But I like cheese."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Response

Waiting for me to print pictures out for him, I scrolled down the blog to show him his cousins. He saw the title of one of my recent blogs and with widening eyes asked about it.
I explained the difference between God loving the action and deeds and God loving the person and seeing past their titles.
"So God loves me even when I'm bad?"
"Yes."
He walked out the door with a hug and a picture in his back pocket, but I know our conversation replayed in his head all day.

I loved the response I got from the post about God loving people and specifically gang members, but my favorite was the conversation it sparked with my friend.