Friday, November 28, 2008

The One

I stare at you from across the room.
I know you are watching.
I sit, still, wondering.
Will you be the One?

You've been watching me for sometime.
Debating how to make your move.
Part of me has forgotten you
But I question again, will you be the One?

You want to rest your hand on mine. You try.
But I do not want you.
You ignore my rejections, which come even violently.
And I have to wonder, will you be the One?

I wish you would just go away
I know what you want, but I cannot be that for you.
Nevertheless you stay, and I wonder
Will you be the mosquito that gives me malaria?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What do we do Now?

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement." Romans 13: 1-2

I don't imagine anyone needs my opinion on the recent elections. Everyone seems to be sharing their own completely independent of me. Nevertheless, I will. People seem to be upset about President elect Barak Obama winning the election. I suppose it's fair enough not to like that one's candidate did not win the election. It's also fair to wonder what will happen now that his policies will be our policies. It's even fair not to like him. But the bottom line is, he DID win the election. And the Bible clearly tells us to submit to earthly authority. Like it or not, God has ordained Obama to be our leader (for those of you who are American) and we must submit to him and respect him. And, that's not so much my opinion, that's the Word of God. And, how bad do we look when we squabble and complain in public about this anyway?

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Man I guess it's been a while since I posted. The month of fasting has come and gone. I had some good food during the evenings to be sure. I have definitely come to love falafel. I suppose I've spent too much time lately thinking about myself and my own struggles. Here is something I wrote during my walk with Him through the valley.

Here I am again
Poster child of unfaithfulness
Letting circumstances take away my heart
I've hidden from you and feared evil instead.

Thank you for the covenant.
Thank you that you bless anyway.
Thank you for not letting go
Even when I struggle from you.

I wish I were a perfect person
But right now just better than this.
When people see a hero and someone special in me
They forget you wouldn't have come if we all weren't wretches.

So help me Jesus.
I want to do great things, forgetting I'm called to greater.
I forget you've called me first to walk humbly with you.
I want to love the world but fight loving my brother.

Whatever it takes,
Bring me back to you.
Restore to me the joy of salvation.
Help me walk humbly with you.

As I think about life's journey, and consider that I am about halfway through my time here, I'm really convinced that it's everyday that matters the most. Whenever we embark or finish something we are filled with emotions, nostalgia, romantic ideals. But, it is when we stay the course when things are mundane, difficult and frustrating that matters. What does it matter if we are sincere at the end or beginning of something if our love isn't genuine and walk isn't faithful during the in between times. Moreover, some say that it's how we react to adversity that defines us. But how we live our lives everyday affects how we react to adversity. We wont be ready for the smallest hill if we aren't daily spending time with Him. We wont love intensely serious enemies if we don't love the man who cheats us over the price of a kilo of tomatoes.

And that's all for now.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I have a story that happened a while back here (and by here I mean Africa but not this country, and by a while back I mean about five years ago). But, it's hilarious, and if I had had a blog then, I would have written about it.

I was riding up to the capital city with some national friends in public transport. Along the way, we stopped and a friend bought a bag of fruit that I had never seen before. She politely handed each of us a fig sized piece of fruit. I began to eat mine and became overwhelmed with the disgust of its taste. It was horrifying. I didn't want to be rude and not eat it, and couldn't just throw it out the window because that would seriously be wasting food. So, I was resolved to keep trying to eat the thing even though each tiny bite sent me into internal convulsions. Everyone had finished theirs long before, so finally, I offered mine to the guy in front of me, figuring he would enjoy a second helping. He, however, took one look at it and said, "this is bad" and threw it out the window.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

loving africa. finally

My relationship with Africa had a rough start. I hated my first year. I could find nothing in common between myself and the people. I cried a lot, and wanted to go home nearly everyday. It was only after I nearly died in a middle of the bush and middle of the night house fire that things started to change for me. Humbled by the overwhelming help that went above and beyond our standards for assisting one's neighbor, I slowly began to change my thinking about the place. For starters, I focused on what I had in common with the people, that we were made in His image, fallen and in need of grace. Seeing people through those eyes, and becoming used to life in general on the continent helped me get to the point of gracefully learning to live and at times enjoy Africa. That was my second year. I've nearly finished my third year. I found that my third year I really liked Africa. This continent is somewhere I would chose to be, simply for fun. I became very comfortable and content here. I love my neighbors, friends, job, colleagues and students. And even as I start my fourth year, I can see an even better change. I love Africa. I did not know I could love it this much. I still love seeing people on the street cutting up vegetables for breakfast, love watching kids walk to and from school, love speaking Arabic, love the hospitality of this culture. Though it is often difficult, I love this place very much. I love my life, and sometimes I'm overwhelmed at the fact that I am so blessed, blessed beyond measure just to live here. And, more importantly, I love what I have the privelege of doing, and the kind of people I have the privelege to be around.

Friday, July 11, 2008


There's a scene from the movie Pretty in Pink that often comes to mind here in this land of sand. Andy is talking with her mother-figure about going to the prom. The mother-figure recounts a story of a woman who would every once in a while look around and wonder what she was missing, if she had forgotten something. she would count and look for everything important and then she realized that nothing was wrong, but she had never gone to her prom. A true story, even for the movie, doubtful. Nevertheless, that's how I feel all the time. And when I realize what is missing missing, I realize that it's not having had a winter last December-March.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Under the Surface

I am back home now. I suppose home is a fairly relative term here on earth. I didn't know how thrilled I would be to return. Now it seems as if I hadn't left. I had an amazing vacation in Egypt. Seems I'm incredibly gifted at sitting on the beach with friends and a book. The Red Sea reef has to be among the most beautiful places I've ever seen. To be sure, heading out there wasn't much to look at. Wilderness, as it is described in the Old Testament, is in my opinion a gentle term for the Sinai Peninsula. Though the mountains make a remarkable landscape, the barrenness of the soil leaves much to be desired compared to the world's greener places. I see how the Israelites hated it so. But, did they realize that only a few feet under the surface of the water was so beautiful? I doubt it. The corals were bright pink, red, orange, yellow and even purple. And the fish! Just about every color anyone could imagine could be found on those amazing fish! They were all sizes, some swam in huge schools and some by themselves. I've never seen anything like it in all my life. I kept thinking about the creativity, the complexity and the attention to detail that our God has. The ocean, what we call the abyss, contains within it a creation so beautiful that Egypt made it a national park. Not to mention, I seriously doubt the fish have any idea of how remarkable they are as they swim about finding food from the reef.

The Red Sea reef served a good lesson for me about God's activity on the earth. Some people, places or situations seem left alone by the Sovereign, and as we ache to see Him move, we forget that we are only catching a small glimpse of the surface of it all. We can't put on snorkels and explore situations, but we have to trust that He IS working, He IS moving, and He IS bringing all things to glorify His name. I struggle with this fact nearly every single day. He continues to teach me to accept His promises as true, even though I can't see them coming to fruition from my vantage point. He continues to teach me to run this race with endurance. He works in ways that I cannot see. He is doing things that I cannot imagine, I only must believe and continue running. The more I try to wrap my mind around it, or see all of His activity, the more likely I am to put off belief and trust in His promises until I fully understand. I can't pursue seeing how He is working more than trusting His promises to be true and being involved in His work. Perhaps in seeking results I am merely seeking a reward, a recognition of my own work, rather than His own glory. And in turning my efforts towards seeking those results, I pull energy and efforts away from being the instrument that I am. And that has got to be among the things those things that hinder and we must set aside (Heb 12).

Speaking of running, I used to do it a lot and sure wouldn't mind picking it back up. Please remember my left foot (not the movie) as a doctor recently told me I have had some nerve trauma and possible cartilage damage. I feel far to young to be modifying my work out regime as much as I have had to do. I don't imagine I'll be sticking my feet into climbing shoes anytime soon either. The good news is that there isn't a wall here for me to wear my climbing shoes. But, in what world is that good news?

Does anybody read this thing?

"A god comprehended is no god." Chesterton

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Universal drinks

There is a universality to coffee/tea. I haven't been anywhere yet where people didn't engage in some sort of socializing that centered around one or both of these drinks. In England, whenever I entered any sort of dorm/home/flat someone, no matter what, offered me a cup of tea. And if anyone was upset, then tea was absolutely necessary. In France one could sit and watch people and chat with friends for hours over a single espresso. Coffee drunk closest to the street cost more, because it was closest to all the people there were to watch. Italy, it could be an espresso, or a cappuccino. In Austria, coffee served with water to combat dehydration. In Turkey, a strong cup of thrice boiled thick coffee mixed with cardamon. Go farther east in the same country and the coffee becomes as thick as oil.

In Senegal we had three cups of tea after lunch and dinner. The first was strong; the second, made using the same tea leaves as the first, was much sweeter; the third was practically sugar water. This progression of sweetness symbolized how friendships grow sweeter over time. It took between one and three hours to get all three glasses. To leave before the second cup was rude.

Here, guests are always served tea, it's normally basic black tea with two scoops of sugar. If you are lucky, you get mint. Women, tea ladies as we call them, set out stands and sell tea. They make a fantastic tea with milk, which I rarely drink because normally only men sit in public like that with tea. Too bad for me.

American culture has it's own way of expressing this tea/coffee social experience. The coffee shop culture is in. And, we don't just have tea with a few variations, one lump of sugar or two; we have all kinds of drinks, lattes, macciatos, caramel macciatos, iced blended beverages, iced beverages. Some are borrowed, some are variations of the borrowed and some are so far from the original I feel just fine calling them our own as much as anything else could be. Yes, our culture loves having options, and in that, we have made this universal of coffee and tea our own as much as anything else. We also love other cultures, and that is obvious in the myriad of coffee shop options as well. Just read the backs of all the Tazo Tea boxes.

Perhaps this anthropological playground shows us a few things. One, we need people. Truth is, we can drink this stuff on our own, but we like to drink it with others. We like to sip, and take our time, savoring taste and relationship. We like to talk while holding a hot drink, laugh with something in our hands. We like the community built around it. We like going to a cafe where people know our names, where we feel familiar and comfortable. We like being able to sit and relax in public, not just our homes.

Inuit peoples have 26 words for snow. I think that we should develop more words in our vocabulary for coffee. To be sure, we have quite a few already, but we can do better. It would make life easier for a coffee shop employee if he could call out a vanate instead of vanilla nonfat latte. And to any major corporately owned/former employer coffee company reading this, this blog is time stamped. You'll need to pay up if you want to use it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I watched TV today at my friend's house. Normally we watch English TV, but today it was all Arabic. I thought you might be interested in what we watched. We started with the Martha Stewart of the Arab world. She taught us how to prepare a WHOLE sheep. So she had an entire skinned sheep on her counter. To keep from getting her arms dirty, she wrapped them in tin foil. I imagine that if I had been at her house that night, I would have loved the meal that she prepared. But, my eyes are not conditioned to watching that kind of cooking on Jaime Oliver's show (my favorite cooking show).

Then we watched a soap opera from the UAE.

Then we watched Egypt's old movie channel, though I did not know there was one. We watched some movie from the seventies about a young engaged woman who wanted to be a singer. She somehow got on some kids' show dressed up as a kid, but fell in love with the producer of the show (also engaged). It was.... interesting.

Then we watched a soap opera from another country.

Then we watched the cooking lady make juice.

Then we watched Tom and Jerry.

Then we ate. I LOVE local food.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I don't necessarily like the fact that I can say, "When I was young...." followed by a slew of different ways that things used to be, but I can, so I might as well embrace it. When I was young, and people watched TV, they normally just watched it if they were home at night. If they had some shows that they particularly enjoyed, they might have taped them so they could watch them later. But, they didn't watch their favorite shows all at once, but over the course of a year.

Also, when I was young, as now, I had extreme difficulty in putting down a good book. Books that grab me take me well into the night with their plot twists and character development. Take A Thousand Splended Suns, for example. Hosseni writes such a full, eloquent and gripping story, that I could not put the book down and finished it in less than a day.
Now, the problem is, there is such a thing nowadays called as DVD box sets. DVD box sets have entire seasons of TV shows on just a few CD's. So, what would normally be watched over the course of many months, can be watched in a significantly shorter time period. There were not a few popular TV shows that I didn't watch in America. I wasn't home, and didn't mind that I was missing out on what everyone was talking about at Starbucks the next day (though my roommate and I did have our favorites that we would watch faithfully). But here, my life is different, and there are these DVD box sets just sitting around when I have free time, particularly this week. I was crazy sick, and after the first couple of days of solid sleep, I still had to stay in, but needed something to do. So, I started watching the DVD box set of Heroes, popular in America, but never seen by me. And, wow, that show has a great story line going on with fantastic plot twists. And, as you know from above, I like good stories. So, I've become a little bit addicted to this show, and don't know how normal people waited each week to watch each episode. But, that waiting kept them normal too, I suppose.

So, I of course had a dream about super heroes the other night, and dreamt that I too had a super hero ability. What was it, you ask? Could I fly, become invisible, have x-ray vision? No, much better. Whenever anyone in the world was late, I could get them to wherever they needed to be on time. I could use any super hero ability necessary to get someone to an engagement on time. At any moment I might be pulled from my everyday normal life and hear someone from far away lamenting about running late for work. I would of course shout, "GO, GO GET PEOPLE THERE ON TIME," and off I would fly to save the day. I suppose a bit of the local culture crept into that dream, as events rarely begin on time here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

He has gone

We drove through the village, saw the heavy awning and knew we were close. We walked in, I had not prepared myself, but should have done so, knowing that I was going to a funeral. The house was full of somber ladies. We shook each of their hands, saying blessings to each of them. Walking through a labyrinth of outdoor hallways, we greeted more women and finally arrived to the room of his widow. I rarely see sadness displayed in this place. Anger, frustration, even laughter I see daily, but rarely sadness. But it hung all over me today; it looked me in the eye as I looked at many of these women, as I looked at his widow. She wore the customary white dress, and sat on the bed with a white sheet. She wont leave the house for four months. Yesterday morning she was married to a 42 year old man who made beans everyday. By the end of the day she buried him. I saw her tears, her grief was heavy, I thought it might suffocate her. I wished blessings on her, and kept going, like everyone else. We sat outside with more women and I saw his mother. Her face was deeply scared with the marks of her tribe, full of wrinkles which showed that she had lived a long and difficult life in the desert, and covered with her mourning. She too wore the white dress. She looked empty, and no one talked to her. Women came in and greeted the others with high pitched crying. The air was stale. I was relieved to leave, but carried their burden with me to the car, then to the house.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tricky Weather

So, I try to walk a good bit most days, because it's good for me, and it makes me feel good and there isn't much other exercise I can get without having to play a DVD, which I don't really like. It's been getting hotter, but only less than a month ago it was relatively comfortable. So, on one of these daily walks I found myself getting thirstier faster and just feeling hotter than normal. But, I thought, it can't be that hot because it was just nice the other day. No, it was definitely 110 degrees. Moral of the story--when you live in the desert and you feel like it might be hot outside, it's probably not all in your head.

I still await the hot season.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I should go to sleep. I find that I need more sleep here than back in the good ole USA. It's like the heat zaps a button on the top of my head that sends me to my bed/couch/floor like one of those toys I always wanted from Six Flags that collapses when you push up underneath it. That's how I feel. And the crazy hot stuff is still yet to come.

I loved reading Anne of Green Gables when I was a kid. Anne and Diana were more than best friends, they were kindred spirits. I've come to understand better what kindred spirits are. They are those people that understand your soul. No, they aren't people that will never have a conflict with you, will never hurt your feelings, will never drive you crazy, will always know exactly what you are thinking so you wont ever have to say it. But, they are those people that will smile, embrace you and walk through all of that with you, loving you no matter what, even when you are sure that you are unlovable. I'm thinking about the handful of those that I have had in my life. I am so thankful for them.

I'm not at a place where I can say I have a bosom friend. Because that is weird, even for Anne of Green Gables. Maybe it's just the culture difference between now and early 20th century Canada.

I wear my Chacos nearly everyday, and I walk A LOT (and I do it on purpose, so don't feel sorry for me about that). So, I find it odd that yesterday of all days I got two blisters on my heels. Strange.

I'm going to sleep now.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Background information for this post: There is lots of trash on the ground here.

So, I had to get an HIV test the other day in order to get my stay visa. I will spare you the details of the actual test, but will express that standards many westerners are used to are not employed here (standards such as not digging phlegm out of one's mouth after drawing blood from one person and before drawing blood from another--I digress and have given you details). Anyway, after getting my test I still had the cotton ball the tech gave me to stop the bleeding. I didn't know what to do with it, and I refused just to throw it on the ground. Finally I saw a large metal trash can outside. So, I walked through a large pile of trash in order to throw my cotton ball in an empty trash can.

HA! Victory.

And also irony.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today, and yesterday

I have to get a new passport, as my current one has nearly expired. I have to say, I am sad to be giving up my beloved passport. We've been through a lot together. I look at the girl in the photo and think back. I had no clue about anything. I hadn't any idea of what I was getting into when that photo was taken, so I could go to Europe on a whim with my best friend. Other than Spanish, which doesn't count as a foreign language back home, I never had to communicate in another language, let alone pay an electric bill, cross borders or have even more important conversations in one. I sure didn't know, or even dream that I would spend so much time in Africa in my future. I had no idea of the great amount of blessings that were in store for me, the amazing people I would meet. I didn't know of the difficult truths about myself I would encounter while in the desert, nor of the amazing and wonderful truths about the Sovereign One, which I initially learned in Sunday School as a child, but went deeper than I ever knew possible. Yes, I had no idea of how wonderful He would be to me.

I took another passport picture today. I would wonder what I will say about the person in that picture the next time I renew, but I sense that I need to be careful about spending too much time thinking about the future these days. I will miss the abundant life available to me now if I worry about that.

I can't sleep. I listened to an hour of the Braveheart soundtrack, which normally helps me fall asleep, and here I am still awake. The above ramblings are the ramifications of that.

I had to pull my hair behind my ears for the photo, by the way. I know that rarely is anyone satisfied with their passport pictures, but I really think I appear to have a mullet in this picture. Oh well.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Off day

I took today off and watched fall 2006 season of The Amazing Race. That is the only reality show I would ever go on.

I have been thinking about the future lately. I'm not sure what has brought it on. I suppose the nature of a time commitment encourages that. I haven't come up with much, except that I'd like to keep seeing new places. I'm happy here, so I'm not thinking on it as a form of escape. I think I was just born with an urge towards travel and adventure. And I can't help but wonder what the next great adventure will be. I love the feelings combo of sleep deprivation, jet lag, early morning excitment, looming adventure and even disorientation. Perhaps I have a Peter Pan complex. Maybe I am a travel junkie. I wonder if there is a job that consists of backpacking around the world and seeing new places.

It's been cool lately. Not Eastern Europe in the winter cool, but cool enough. The weather has been in the fifties. I am enjoying it, as I know hot weather is coming soon enough.

I miss the Canon that I left at home. I need to get on to ordering another one. What was I thinking coming back to Africa with just a point and shoot?

I've got two months left of language before I start teaching. I must say I am ready to be on the other side of the classroom. I wish I knew more Arabic.

My climbing gear has sat on a shelf for nearly four months. I look at it sometimes, and miss my favorite wall at Dynorock. If I wouldn't freak out the neighbors so much, I might consider climbing my apartment building.

This has not been a very worthy post. Apologies.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rainforest Deforestation

I miss learning English. Really, it was about the lowest pressure in language learning yet. I had no responsibilities, I hung out with people who took care of everything I needed. I learned by listening to people talk or hearing people read me stories. Whenever I said something, like, "mommy, or cracker, or dada," everyone cheered and applauded like I'd ended rainforest deforestation. And then I had a huge sense of accomplishment.

Nowadays things are different. I learn by going to class, studying and hanging out with people, who often have greater expectations on me than mommy, cracker and dada, which I've actually been able to say for sometime now. In order to have a noteworthy sense of accomplishment and a similar response from listeners, I think I'd have to have a conversation about how I am actually personally ending the rainforest deforestation.

And there I am folks, sitting on my language plateau.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


So, static electricity is king here these days. The weather is cooler, thankfully, and each night my blanket lights up the room everytime I move. My hair is dry. At first I thought it was just dirty, so I started washing it more, but that just made it more dry. Now I look like a science experiment when I try to brush my hair. I should buy a better shampoo. I pet the cat and he gets electrocuted. There should be someway to harness this power and use it to provide electricity. Somebody should work on that. I'll work on getting new shampoo.

Most everyday a man walks outside my window shouting about something he is selling. It's different everyday--tomatoes, fish. I can't always understand what he's saying. Sometimes he wakes me up. Ironically, the days when he wakes me up it sounds like he is shouting "Quiet, quiet, quiet." And that makes me chuckle. Someday I'm going to go purchase some fish from him. They come straight from the river, so they have to be ok right? He will even gut it for me :)

We never know when the garbage man will come, could be anytime. Normally someone preceeds him blowing a gym whistle, so we know to bring out our trash. I just have to condition my ears to make me think "I must take out my trash" everytime I hear a whistle.

There is an Indian restaurant here that is AMAZING. How are there not Indian restaurants on every corner in America?

I am refusing to continue being a ludite. I am trying really hard to enter the world of technology.

Well friends, I can't think of too much else that will interest you.