27 February 2009

Visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site

I was pretty proud of myself yesterday for getting myself to downtown Atlanta (I got offered the opportunity to buy pot twice) and got to the Sweet Auburn district to visit the MLK National Historic Site. I took a little longer to get down there than I thought, so I only had a little time. I did get to visit the birthplace and childhood home of MLK.

One thing that the tour guide pointed out that was fascinating to me was the composition of the block. He mentioned that one of the block was filled with families from lower income and the other end of the block was occupied by higher income families. The tour guide mentioned how much we are shaped by our by our childhood experiences, and his theory that the economic diversity that MLK encountered during that time was important to his later emphasis on poverty and breaking down prejudices.

The other experience that was formative for little "M.L." happened when he was six years old and the white son of the family who owned a local shop, three year friend of ML, told him that they could no longer be friends. His father had told him that they could not be friends because of ML's skin color. ML ran home to his parents and grandparents, who explained the implications of race, the Jim Crow laws, and racism. Apparently ML wrote in his autobiography that that night he determined to hate white people and never have another white friend again. Just speaking personally, I'm really glad for the power of redemption and forgiveness in his life. Our world would not be the place it is today without him.
On my way back to the metro rail station I was joined by a homeless man named Kenny. He walked along with me and told me about the neighborhood. I thoroughly enjoyed my tour through an extremely important neighborhood in black American history. If you can find a knowledgeable homeless friend to give you a tour when you're traveling, I highly recommend it.

23 February 2009


I'm in Houston right now, and Saturday night I got to speak to the young adults' small group for my friend Jenice's church. Since it was a Bible study format, I shared a bit about Lahash and my travels, then we went through Luke 18:18-30, the story commonly called The Rich Young Ruler.

This story has been a major source of conviction in my life in recent years, especially as I am convicted about my own addiction to consumerism and materialism. At the end of my third trip to Africa I was sitting in the Nairobi airport by myself. I'd been dropped off early because the traffic that time of day was hellish, so I was there for about three hours before my flight left, and I was going crazy. The problem was that I didn't have any money. I wasn't thirsty or hungry or bored, but I needed my consumer fix and I couldn't get a hit because I literally had no money. I seriously contemplated finding another American and hitting them up for the equivalent of a dollar to buy a bottle of water or a pack of M&Ms or a crappy postcard, anything, just so I was spending money! (Fortunately, by the grace of God, I suppressed the urge to make an utter fool of myself by asking a stranger for money I didn't need.)

This current economic crisis has highlighted to me how much I and my generation have this mentality of "I want it, I deserve to have it". Many of us have obscene consumer debt because of this mindset, and are still unsatisfied. The witty, clever folks over at Burnside Writer's Collective blog have been chatting about this a bit, and one of them posted the following video which I found both hilarious and damning.

Actually I can't figure out how to post the video here, so you'll have to link over to their site to watch it, but please do. You'll laugh out loud.


19 February 2009

Series of quotes - Which is your favorite?

I've been compiling a bunch of quotes from old journals. Here are a few of my favorites:

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else." - Judy Garland

"It is no special blessing to come to the end of life with love unshared, selves ungiven, activities unactivated, deeds undone, emotions unextended." - Reuben Welch

"We want to save ourselves and keep ourselves and hold ourselves back as though the highest goal in life would be to look good in our caskets." - Reuben Welch

"Honesty makes us real in a world of pretend." - Anonymous

"What is life? It is a flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is as the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset." - Chief Crowfoot

"We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once." - Calvin Coolidge

"Joy is the heart's harmonius response to the Lord's song of love." - AW Tozer

"Faith makes all things possible. Hope makes all things bright. Love makes all things easy." - Anonymous

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin

"One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time." - John Wanamaker

"Never fear shadows. They simply mean there's a light shining somewhere." - Ruth Renkel

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul.
And sings the tune
Without the words,
and never stops at all. " - Dickinson

"Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old." - Ralph Waldo Emerson (this one has been very important lately)

Leave me a comment explaining which one you like best (and why, if applicable).

11 February 2009

Who likes to shop?

I feel a bit weird about this, but I have a series of books that have been recommended to me, and I don't really have the resources to purchase them at this time. They're pretty much all long-term resources, so the library isn't the best option (plus, y'know, late fees outstanding and all that).

Anyway, if anyone wants to bless me by gifting one or more of these books, I'd be super grateful (or giving them to me if you own them). I don't care about the condition of the books, so most of them are in the $5-10 range used.

Cross-Cultural Conflict: Building Relationships for Effective Ministry by Duane Elder

Front Line Women: Negotiating Crosscultural Issues in Ministry by Marguerite Kraft

Serving as Senders by Neal Pirolo

The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission by Lesslie Newbigin

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie Newbigin

The Mission of God by Christopher J.H. Wright (runs a bit more expensive, hardback only)

Walking with the Poor by Bryant L. Myers <-- My grandma just bought for me.

The Journey is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon by Dan Eldon and Kathy Eldon (this one is a bit more for fun, although it is relevant to what I'll be doing...it's hardly theology)

If you want to mail them to me, send to the Lahash office 107 NE 45th Ave, Portland, OR 97213.

03 February 2009

The Max train and me

God taught me a lesson through public transit tonight.

I'm living at home with the parental units and my brother, saving money on expenses like rent in order to be able to work for Lahash half-time unpaid. I have been scheduling meetings with people to ask them to join my support team (more about that another time, but if you want a meeting, just let me know!), and those meetings take me all over the Portland area. My parents and I are sharing a car right now, and it's basketball season at my mom's high school and they are loyal fans.

Tonight I had a lovely happy hour meeting with my good friend, Liz. In order to get home, I had planned a tightly scheduled transfer schedule of Max from NW Portland to Beaverton, then catch the last of the newly running WES trains from Beaverton down to Tualatin. When I left dinner with Liz, I realized I was a few minutes behind my intended time of departure. I started speed-walking toward the Max line, just to see my train pulling away in front of me. I saw another train behind me, so I sped up, kind of awkwardly running with two computer bags and my purse banging against my body whispering two or three word prayers. Maybe I was just seeing things, but when I arrived, panting, at the station, there was no train behind me. I waited nearly ten minutes, panic growing in my stomach, thinking of missing that last WES train.

As my Max pulled up to the transit center, I could see the WES train still at the station on the other side of the transit center. I jumped out of the Max at the same awkward, bumping run and rushed across to the WES train, rushing triumphantly onboard, plopping down in a pile of bags, just in time to hear "Thanks, folks, we're going to be heading out in about three or four minutes now." I had been perfectly on schedule the entire evening, but thinking I was behind, so I spent the whole time worrying.

I think it's a fascinating parallel to this season of my life. I have a set schedule, six months until departure for East Africa. That's the deadline, and I have a ton of things to get done between now and then. It's important to prepare, to have a plan, but if I spend the next six months so wrapped up in my plan that I can't even be enjoying the present, that's not healthy. In the book of James we're reminded that we aren't guaranteed tomorrow, and elsewhere in Scripture we're told that what God wants from us is faithfulness. What good is stressing out to serve God in September if I am not able to participate in the beauty of the present, the grace of every breath, and the joy of His presence in the present? Let tomorrow take care of itself.