Tuesday, October 25, 2011
There's excitement in the air, simply because it's October. Now, I understand that many of you do back flips when the chilly wind blows a yellowed or reded leaf into the palm of your hand. That's not why I love October. I also understand that some of you can't wait to don the mask of your favorite superhero, the dress of you favorite Disney princess (or french maid), and proceed to pan handle for your next cavity. Granted that none of my readers are children, I'm slightly disturbed. But I guess if I really thought about it, and given guts and the chance, I would put on a yellow and red racing helmet and fire retardant Onesie with a giant #22 and knock on doors. When they ask what I am (in the midwest or south, they would just beat me up #JrNation) I will say with confidence, "I am the next NASCAR champion!". And when they say "haha you wish", or "aren't you a little old for this?", I would have to slump and agree. But no. That's not why I love October.
October, for some reason, is the hallowed month that many artists, across all genres drop their new albums...er...mp3s. At a time when I've been DESPERATE for some new music both my favorite bands seemed to have bugged my apartment. Or at least my jogging route. Switchfoot has "Vice Verses" and Downhere has "On the Altar of Love". Christmas came early!
I know I'm the only one in the world with this problem, but sometimes it takes a second to let go of the favorite anthems and embrace the new stuff. My way of getting into the music is to NOT put it in iTunes straight away. Instead, I put it in my car's CD player and just listen to that new album until I've had enough. That used to work REALLY well, but now that I'm a sophisticated yuppie, NPR competes for the attentions. Okay okay. The A.M. all comedy channel does too. Guess I'm not so sophisticated.
As October is almost gone, there are dents, small dents, left by the new music. In the past, when a new album dropped, it assaulted me, knocked me out, and revived me, all at the same time. But not this time. The new music is good, great even, but it wasn't speaking to me yet. As Jon Foreman explores spoken word and robotic melodies, and as Jason Germain hits notes only Marc Martel should dream of, I ached for the impact. And some songs hit me right away (Afterlife and Dark Horses on "Vice Verses" & Let Me Rediscover You on "...Altar..."). But the rest were taking their sweet musical time. Still born.
And so I bought tickets to their shows. The first time in a long time I would be showing up at a Switchfoot show or Downhere concert without knowing almost every word to every song. But it gave me a fresh perspective and the blank slate was colored by live music. In the past, when new albums dropped I was always in some kind of transitional semi-crisis state. School had just started. I had just spent a summer in Greece/Africa, I had just moved to Michigan, there was 2 feet of snow on the ground before Thanksgiving, I had just moved back to California and got reacquainted with my hot friend, The Sun. The new music was an anthem to my new lives. This October? Well. Not so much. And don't get me wrong, I'm tired of packing up my life every 9 months, 2 years, or so. I crave stability and all that comes with it, peace of mind, etc. But that meant that the sound of the songs had to reach deeper to find a track to my life. It took live music to get me there. The concerts performed surgery on my heart.
The songs now sound in technicolor. They came alive, slapped me up where I needed it, built me up where I needed it, encouraged, soothed and made me smile. The songs sound with meaning. And as God takes the hands and voices of the servant artist and crafts a Gospel, they heed His voice and deliver it to the masses. And with plastic and laser, or with mp3 and click wheel, Matthew 28:18-20 becomes a musical. As nature cycles and begins to Autumn, as leaves fall, as snow falls, or rain falls, or nothing falls, the music comes alive and baptizes me all over again. I love October.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
So I'm sitting here at home watching "Nature" from PBS, DVR'd. It's an episode about the intelligence of monkeys. Now personally I'd like to think that I have one up on monkeys, but looks like there's a group of them on the Island of Zanzibar that seem to have something figured out, potentially a little more than some humans.
The red colobus monkey eats a diet of horribly toxic leaves. The poisons from one day of their diet could kill an adult human. This monkey is not the only species or group to do the toxic leaf thing. Apparently they have a some friends down the road or on the mainland (I got distracted here) who also eat horribly toxic leaves. In fact, their diet is so toxic that most of their day is spent in indigestive misery (i'm sure you can imagine the flatulence) because of the amount of special bacteria it takes to neutralize those leaves (or something like that, like I said, I was drifting in and out of attention). But the red colobus monkey figured out a trick.
The red colobus monkey has realized that if it chews on the charcoal discarded from local human cooking fires, it helps to neutralize the toxins, so it spends less of its energy belching and tooting, instead jumping and playing and having more time to learn new things about its environment, putting it a step ahead of its miserable counterpart.
Hearing this made me think of great stuff, jobs, and opportunities we have that benefit us, but somehow have a way of becoming toxic. Some may be stressed. Some may be tired. Some may be workaholics. Still, some may be lethargic. Others may simply be unhappy, but still must ingest the "food" that brings the "toxins" because there's not much else one can do. That's just the way life is sometimes. My question is, what's your charcoal? Do you have one?
Do you have something you go home to that cures the day? Some folks may leave one toxin in the workplace and go home to more toxins, real and metaphorical. Not really the best escape. No, I'm talking about the things that make you giddy for all the right reasons, the things that make you who you are, the hobbies, activities, and fun stuff that are the common cure the all-to-common toxic day. For me? A DVR'd race will do the trick. A quick 5k or two with the iPod in is more than enough. A good song. Finishing a good book. Reading "Car and Driver" magazine from cover to cover in one sitting (I know that could be addictive behavior...also toxic). Some quiet time thinking on and focusing on my Maker. That's my charcoal. Cause when I don't have to spend the rest of my day dealing with the indigestion of life, it frees me up to be free to love God, love my neighbor, love myself and live life abundantly. And isn't that what God wanted for us anyway? (John 10:10) Looks like the monkeys have something figured out. So talk to me! What's your charcoal?
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Today, Saturday, we had church and a happy Sabbath it was indeed. We finished up VBS with 71 children coming to Sabbath School! I said my goodbyes to the purple people eaters, my group, and after hearing a riveting sermon from Pastor Saul on how our ministries are fulfilled beyond the walls of a church, we had the rest of the Sabbath to continue to enjoy. We took a tour through some mangroves. At times it definitely looked like a Disney Land ride as we became surrounded by groves. One boat learned that the native Hondurans would paddle into the mangroves to get away from murderous pirates who's larger boats couldn't make it in there. That's an interesting fact! After the Mangroves, a van load headed out to the west end.
Now when I say west end, don't think theater, musicals, and a bunch of dramatic musically talented people walking around constantly enunciating and drinking gallons of water. No friends, this was not London's West End, but the West End of Roatan! What a quaint yet bustling little tourist district! One of the mission trippers described it like "Key West would have looked like 40 years ago". He hit it right on the head. It was a great little place right on the beach, but totally touristy and a whole different atmosphere than where we've been spending our time on this island. This is where the rest of the Americans were. We actually saw some fellow Adventist mission trippers from another group huddling in the back of a pick-up wearing their VBS t-shirts. As the sun set, we tried to find a great smoothy place so we could sit and enjoy the beach, but we quickly found out the best smoothy place in West End was owned by an Adventist and was not open on Saturdays (including Saturday night!).
As the night wore on we were continually worried about one in our group who made a side trip to a hospital to make sure some symptoms were not serious before getting on a plane tomorrow. As we waited and chatted, Lauryn asked us what spiritual insights we gathered from our trip. It was our "Sabbath Closing Worship". Brent said, It was definitely life changing. Austin Mock earlier commented that it (the mission trip) was way more than he expected. Joel remarked that it is good to be reminded what the important things in life are and that having more stuff is not that important! And with that we went to dinner at the Cannibal Cafe.
The Cannibal Cafe is an authentic Roatan restaurant with a heavy Mexican food influence. We had an assortment of different burritos, but even better than the food was the conversation. We all got to know each other better and spent the time being loud and laughing as if we were on something other than life. But today, life was just good enough to keep us all smiling. After the 1+ hour drive back to Paya Bay, we are all definitely exhausted and ready to hit the road tomorrow morning for our return trip home. What a wonderful Sabbath full of laughter, Jesus, and friends!
Please continue to pray for those in our group who are not 100% health wise and pray for our safe travels home tomorrow!
Saturday, March 26, 2011
So today we all finally got the whole day to take advantage of Roatan! There was a crew of folks who took off to Fantasy Island Resort for a whole day of scuba diving! They got 3 1-hour dives in! I was extremely impressed and inspired to one day get licensed. For today, scuba I did not. The ones who did scuba reported some eels and a type of ray and got to observe the coral reef up close.
The rest of the crew hit up a spot themed after Pirates of the Caribbean for an awesome morning of canopy hoping via zip line! 8 of them! The first one was probably as long or longer than 3 football fields. And the rest got progressively shorter, but not any less fun. Once you get over the shock of the height and realize that the harness and galvanized steel cables will probably not drop you 300 feet down to your death, it becomes a rather pleasing experience! It was a great release and an awesome cap for the week.
After spending the morning blasting through the forest canopy of Roatan, we went to Fantasy Island Resort. My goal was to simply sit on the beach and read. Feeling a bit under the weather, I decided not to snorkel again. Instead I curled up with my copy of The Shack and blew through a big chunk of it. Joining us on the beach were two iguanas, two watusi, a monkey (that had a BIG crush on Lauryn Wild), and a peacock. I seriously have no clue where this zoo came from! The monkey stole a granola bar, unwrapped it and ate it. It also tried to take our soda, but we'd already drained the cans. Nevertheless it tried hard to open the cans and demonstrated it's skills, showing that it at least knew that a can of soda had to be opened in order for him to enjoy it. The monkey definitely stole the show.
Tomorrow we are taking over the church service as special guests. VBS concludes with children's Sabbath School and Pastor Saul is preaching! Will be an awesome Sabbath and a perfect book end to a memorable week.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
VBS was once again phenomenal. Today we learned that God's word is for EVERYONE! The faces and voices of the children are the battery that charges me up every day. Best part of the day today was when a giant cardboard and paper whale swallowed Connor Church, A.KA, Jonah. Too Cool!! But for those who know me well, you will know that the sight of a giant paper whale has the capacity to creep me out just a bit... I know...therapy.
And finally, we installed 6 water filtration systems in six different locations: 4 houses, a school, and a local business. We have 9 more to go and we're confident that we can finish these off tomorrow with two teams. These water filtration systems are pretty simple yet innovative. Basically, the water trickles down through layers of bacteria, sand and gravel. In the end, you get pure water! The set up includes importing several bucket loads of water, filling in the bottom with gravel, pouring in a 100 pound bag of filtration sand, then letting it all fester for 2 weeks while waiting for a bio bacterial layer to form (which kills all really bad stuff!). Each house takes about 30 minutes of set-up time depending on how far the water is coming from or how slow the water flow is. But each house has the opportunity to produce several gallons of clean drinking water daily to have and most importantly, to share with family, neighbors, and the rest of the community. So for those of you who donated and worked hard raising money (Calimesa SDA Children's ministries!) your labor is not without fruit!
Well friends! That was day 4! Stay tuned for more...
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
It's our third day on this island (nope, no polar bears. Holla if you get this reference!) and it was definitely full of action. The dental team is working non-stop and way into the evening trying to get through the score of patients that come daily. This evening, much like last night they had to ask some to return tomorrow. Lunch breaks come late and last only minutes. "We have seen over 60 patients in two days", say Bonnie Parker and Dr. Richard Parker. And when you see that number I hope you understand the scope. We are not in a dental office my friends, we are outside, just 30ish steps from the ocean doing extensive dental work. The Parkers report the dental team doing "exams, x-rays, cleanings, fillings, root canals, and extractions" on a regular basis. Mercy!!
The medical team had a successful day today too, although they began running out of medication. They have seen about 217 patients over two days! They are pleased to report that some of the doctors on the island have been instructing their patients to not drink so much soda and the patients have actually been listening! It seems like they’ve been listening to much more than their physicians. “ [I]…asked a patient if he’s still smoking during an interview and he said, ‘oh no. I was baptized a few years ago!’”, says Dr. Giang. The other phenomenal story of the day came from Dr. Church. He told the story of a woman who came in claiming that her son had a sinus infection with a foul smell coming from his nose for 2 months. When Dr. Church checked, he found something stuck up the nostril. When he couldn’t extract it, he pushed it through and the boy ended up spitting it out of his mouth. It was a corn kernel!! That was stuck in his nose for TWO MONTHS! I didn’t know what grossed me out more: The corn in his nose for two months, or the fact that he now had to taste it as it came out his mouth…
The VBS team had another successful night. Tonight we added more kids to our ranks and had an attendance of about 100 kids, even though about 15 didn’t return from the first night. Shout out to team purple!!
The community team also had a successful day, assessing the electrical needs at a school in Camp Bay and digging a trench (AGAIN!) to bury some electrical lines that had been dug up by the power company in order to relocate a pole. We have yet to install the water filters, but it looks like we’ll be putting some in tomorrow! Stay tuned for pics!
One of the things that excites me about mission trips is getting the opportunity to meet folks from far and away. Today I get to introduce you to my friend of a couple days. His name is Aren Rennaker and he actually did our worship thought for this morning. Aren came to know Jesus through Sacramento Academy and attended Carmichael SDA church. Aren is a senior at Pacific Union College and is graduating this year with a BA in Public Relations/Journalism and a minor in religion. He hopes to go into full time youth ministry after graduation! Aren was invited to Roatan by his friend and PUC basketball teammate Michael Giang. His spring break options included getting to watch the San Francisco Giants in spring training in Arizona but he skipped all that to be in Roatan! His worship thought for us this morning was from 1 Corinthians 3:7-9. His message: "The fruits of our labor may not be immediate, but it's our job to plant the seed and God's job to make it grow!" This Sacramento native knows how to motivate a group of missionaries! You can see him in the red hat in the video below!
- Fidz (FEEDZ)