Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Too good not to share.

If you enjoy any one of the following things:
-Inspiring thoughts
-Honest self expression
-Challenging consumerism (free things)
-Joel P. West

Then you will enjoy:
He explains it pretty well himself, so I will leave that up to him and just tell you to visit the site. Really. I strongly reccomend it.

P.S. There is another more real post below this one.

Monday, September 22, 2008

On turning 23, white dresses, and being an "expert"

I had a really nice birthday. Well besides being a good bit more homesick than normal. People were really nice. My extremely quiet and very sweet boss Henry bought a pizza that I shared with my girl friends in the gazebo (Henry quietly ate his piece at his desk, and insisted he was full when we tried to get him to take a second one). After work my host mom and brother's and our beloved Nana and I all went out to Tip Top for special birthday meal afuera. On our way back we stopped at the video store and I rented a movie for myself and let each of the boys pick one out too. So when we got to the house we watched Bee Movie (Gabriel's pick). About half way through Guadalupe came home with a cake (a pretty special treat around here) in celebration of my and Ruben's birthdays (his was the day before mine, he turned 12). Here are the pictures:

Gabriel kept posing for the pictures with us... but then getting distracted by the sweet candle. in the morning when I came out Nana came and gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me Happy Birthday. She then told Gabriel, who was doing his usual second wake-up of the morning on the big overstuffed chair, to tell me happy birthday. He looked up at me, thought for a minute, and then said, "How many days till my birthday?" Oohhh Gabriel...

Also, I found a great seamstress to make my wedding dress. After one very failed attempt and much pushing it further and further off until I was loosing hope of it happening at all... I found her, as Michael likes to put it, "all cinderella like and stuff." If I look nervous in this first picture, it's because I WAS. There were some important measurements this lady was taking! She was a very sweet sweet woman.

Lastly: things are really moving forward on my project at work. A thing which a few weeks ago seemed impossible has now come to be: the survey is finished and is now in the distribution stage. As I show it to other leaders at the Nehemiah Center they are also excited about the information it is gathering. It seems likely that this information it will contribute to the work of the Nehemiah Center even beyond the project I am directly working for. It's encouraging to have begun to contribute in a useful way.
I've also started conducting some focus group interviews with pastors. The intention of these interviews is to get at some deeper cultural characteristics which the survey alone won't bring out, because we're probably not asking enough of the right questions in certain areas. I have conducted one of these interviews in a group format so far with some of the most distinguished evanglical pastors in Managua. More than the "research" I accomplished, perhaps the most exciting thing about this was the conversation it sparked among the pastors themselves. As they responded to questions about the positive and negative characteristics of the Nicaraguan church, they started to realize the common ground they shared, and the need to address these issues in a united manner. They started to talk to each other instead of just filling me in on information. It was an unintended but wonderful result.
Along with the good, however, is still a good dose of being overwhelmed and stressed. There are elements of the project which are still quite hazy, and a very large paper looming in the distance the exact topic for which is still somewhat eluding me. I would ask prayer for wisdom and understanding as I tackle these interesting but difficult issues in academic terms, when I would really rather just live them and struggle through them as a member of the community. Also pray that I will continue to trust in the Lord's strength and provision, doing all things for his glory and not for my own.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


- My professor Dr. Howell came and visited for five days. It was nice, we had lots of long discussions on a whole myriad of topics. The main thing it changed about my internship is that I will now be doing some more in depth qualitative study on the church in Nicaragua. This month I have several appointements for focus groups and quite a bit of Spanish reading on church history and context to work through. Should be fun.

- My host dad and also pastor, asked me to choreograph a dance for youth in the church to do both for the service and as an outreach. I'm not much for choreography myself, but it's been a good opportunity to get to spend more time with some of the jovenes that I'm closest to already in the youth group, and it's good to be an involved member of my church, rather than just an observer. (youth here are older than at home - they range from mid-teens to early 20's, or until married).

- Michael and I are still able to talk frequently. Maybe too frequently sometimes... but really, it's been a such a gift to be able to stay in close contact with him and to remain an important part in each other's lives. Of course I still miss him greatly, but it is really going better than I'd ever dare anticipate.

- We've had some rainy days and "astounding coolness" - which means it's been in the mid 70's for a few days. It's been nice and feels like home.

- I'm learning from my Nicaraguan brothers and sisters about their experience with a theology which recognizes God's preferential treatment for the poor. Though "liberation" theology, in it's most classic sense, may have missed the boat (in my opinion) in some important areas, yet the Church has great things to learn from this large portion of our family. I feel honored to be learning under their tutalage.

Please pray that the Lord will continue to guide me in my time here. Pray that I will live with compassion and intentionality. I am over half way through my time here, and time is really starting to zip by! It's easy to fall into patterns, as it is anywhere, and I hope that here, and at home, I can live this life in the Compassion of Christ rather than out of selfishness as I am so prone to do.