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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005
I woke up the morning to this white stuff on my car. I haven't purchased a brush/scraper, so I'm glad I didn't have to go out to our other campus because that involves driving. (I'll be buying a scraper this evening). The snow is now all gone, but I can see it in the mountains. I'm actually feeling like it might be close to Christmas now. I'll be home a week from Thursday!

a quick update

Monday, December 12, 2005
I'm making a valiant attempt at blogging somewhat regularly and so far so good. It will be a busy week for me this week, but hopefully I'll be able to push through to next week which will be even more busy.

I had a pretty full weekend, a couple of bell choir gigs (one at the quarterly UMW meeting, one at Eastgate Foursquare Gospel Church), the usual counterculture, but I did setup and learned the soundboard this week, and an attempt at making my apartment a bit more clean. I also saw the midnight showing of Narnia on Thursday night. So yeah.. full weekend.

Thursday really started it all... I hung around here late because the kids had their school holiday program and the families really wanted me to come and see them. I didn't want to do anything to make me sleepy, so going to the program was a good option for me. I must say, the kids were adorable and they were really happy to have me there. The holiday program was so very cute and you could tell they had worked on it for quite some time.

I met up with my friends to see the movie at 9 and after a rousing game of phase 10, we watched Narnia. It definitely was a great movie and what is so great about it is that since the book is short, they really didn't have to cut anything out. I'm also happy to say that the Wesley Foundation back home got featured in an article on the umc.org website. Yay for the grad bible study! You can read the article here.

The rest of the weekend was fairly normal, though I was questioned about believing in Jesus by a guy at counterculture because apparently being a mainline protestant means that I don't believe in Jesus. I found that incredibly interesting. Though I may be more focused on the radical social justice Jesus than the redemption Jesus, they're both still there (not saying Jesus was two people, but saying that oftentimes people only see one side or the other.) It was rather strange to be questioned on that, but hey, never know what is going to happen from day to day I guess. As I mentioned earlier, the bell choir also played at a church very far from my traditions. It reminded me of my experiences in the churches in Tennessee, though there were no testimonies. There was a definite altar call, but it has been awhile since I've been in such a charismatic setting. I totally respect those who experience worship in that way... but it is so beyond me.

This morning I'm working on tying up some loose ends about next week, making sure everyone is hanging in there, and I'm just about to go pick up some donated lunches from the Owl Cafe. Tracy is out for the week so we'll see what kind of craziness pops up. We've already had plenty of interesting things happen this morning and that was all from 8:30-9:30. Gotta love Mondays!

And to answer the question posed in one of my previous comments...
Chili = Texas chili... meat, beans, chili powder, tomato base.
Chile= of the New Mexico green and red variety. Put on everything. also used with other forms of chile pepper (jalepeno, habenero, etc)
Chilli = who knows.

According to dictionary.com both of the first two are variants the word and it is chili con carne that is what I define as chili. I think I make my distinctions based on what I've seen used in practice... Hormel chili, and green and red chile on everything here. So there's my 2 cents on that.

on crisis

Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I’ve been formulating a post in my head (yes still over thinking them… but look it hasn’t been a week since my last one!) about crisis. A lot of it stems from the old proverb that the Chinese symbol for crisis is the combination of two other Chinese symbols… danger and opportunity. I think just about everyone who has taken psychology courses has come across this at some point in time because it really sends a strong message of the ability to see opportunities to grow through times of crisis. Though this old saying may not be true, I still think that it is helpful to recognize that within a time of crisis we do still have opportunities for growth amidst the danger. We can either choose to face our fears and learn from them, or submit to the pain that the crisis causes and ultimately fail.

Though God does work through every decision and every circumstance, we have the ability to make decisions that make our lives a bit easier. By working through times of crisis and looking for opportunities within them, I think things are considerably easier. Wonderful things in our lives are never just handed to us on a silver platter, we have to work for them.

What sparks a discourse on crisis you ask? It seems that lately I’ve been encountering one daily. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is the tough time. This is where the reasons for homelessness start to be divulged, and crisis occurs. I hope and pray daily for our families to move beyond these moments of indecision, crisis, and pain, but I know that overall, these spots are going to be increasingly rough. In my interview for the counterculture manifesto, Karin asked me a couple of questions about my job that highlights the struggle that I go through with all of this. They are:

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

These are tough questions for anyone, but my answers really tell you that the struggle with all of this for me goes much deeper because of the level of compassion that I have…

First off, the most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing positive change within our families. Each day I seem to notice something that is just a bit different. A new attitude about working with the computers comes forth, a child isn’t so afraid of the unknown, a child begins to listen and speak more clearly, parents make small steps toward normalcy in parenting. It is refreshing to see some of these changes and they really help me focus on why I’m here and what I need to do to help those changes come about.

In the same area though, the most challenging aspect of my job is the knowledge that I am not the one making those changes. Sure, I can help encourage our families to make better decisions. I can do what I can to help them realize their full potential, but ultimately it is not my choice if they decide that they were better off in previous circumstances. Other jobs, people make decisions and they stand at that, the social services sector is a completely different ballgame. Challenges are never the same because circumstances are always different. People are different, so answers are different, and lots of generalizations just don’t work.

I do think that the rewards of all of this certainly outweigh the challenges. Seeing people get through their challenges is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever experienced. Seeing lives changed is just plain cool. And that right there is why I love my job despite all of the crisis going around…

Addendum: I find today's Story of the day from Storypeople rather fitting to my post... "I finally got to exactly where I wanted to be, she said, so why won't all these growth experiences go away & leave me alone?"

new banner

Sunday, December 04, 2005
Ok so I got bored with the Sandias... and I'm 2 months late or so in putting up some balloon pictures, so I figured I'd get some use out of a balloon themed banner.

I have come to the realization that I'm starting to fall into the blog trap. I often sit down to blog... and feel that I have nothing pertinent, profound, or crazy to share with you, my dear readers. So I quickly close the window and go back to doing whatever I was doing before I sat down to blog. This, is truly unacceptable. I really should be writing in here at least 2 times a week, whether it is profound or not because things happen that are just crazy, or fantastic, and this is 2 years of pure craziness in the life of a missionary.

So I will do my best to start posting more, and update the banner now and again because it is fun to sit down with gimp and play around with images and stuff.

This week I've been in a little funk. I attribute it to having been home, and realizing that I'm a different person than I was 4 months ago. I've experienced a lot, I had a chance to really reflect upon some positive changes in my life while I was home, and well, I've just felt sort of blah this week.

It probably doesn't help that we've started to hit the rough time for the families who started 3 months ago. It seems that we're dealing with new challenges with them everyday, with limits being tested and uncertainty about the future gripping lives. It is funny really, because in some ways I kind of feel like I'm hitting those rough spots right with them when I have the chance to sit back and reflect on what is going on in my life. I know that a month ago, (meaning my month 3) I was seriously struggling with feeling loneliness here and now that I'm passing through that, I realize how those 90 days are crucial. I am so thankful for my counterculture friends and my friends at Central though, I can't imagine my month 3 being any tougher and I know it would have been if I were the hermit that I was through some of college.

Speaking of rough times... our pregnant mom in the program? Still very pregnant. I did watch her stomach drop today while we were standing outside of the elevator. That was a little creepy. We had a baby shower for her today that was incredibly successful I think. The Sunday school class that took it on really did a superb job in preparing, buying gifts and decorating for the shower. Things like that wear me out though. I love all of the kids but they certainly are a handful, especially in a room equipped with foosball tables.

The entertaining portion of my weekend was really tree hunting though. Tracy and her husband Scott sometimes decide to invite me to things to help me have a full New Mexico experience. This weekend? Tree hunting in the Jemez mountains. I didn't really know what I was getting into but really had fun tromping around the woods looking for a tree for them. I do say that the altitude was rough on the lungs, but we had a good time. (I think they think I didn't have as much fun as I did... I attribute that to this weirdness I've been in all week) I got to see some more mountains that I hadn't seen, be colder than I've been since I've been here, and watch people cut down trees. Scott and Tracy ended up with a monster of a tree that was over 15 feet tall at the first cut. That tree was just huge. We kept seeing trucks go by with these seemingly amazing trees, and we never found one that was that spectacular. Just this massive one that was pretty cool. The trip ended with some traditional Jemez pueblo frybread after scrounging for some change because they didn't have any. It was well worth it though because it was absolutely delicious.

Well it is well past my bedtime, but I'll leave with a quote from a book I haven't read but intend to. I've been thinking about this since I first read it, and it really kinda fits how I'm feeling about my trip home last week. "Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so that they can love it for all new reasons." -Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller
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