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.