Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I've started a short list in my leather bound paper journal (I really do love the feel of paper and of taking pen or pencil to it) of "reentry observations." That is, things I notice that I usually don't -- probably because I've been away or out of the culture for a while. After my 5 weeks out of the country, I have been noticing things. And, I think that occasionally I'll ramble about some of those things in this blog.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.
i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
To say that I watched the race would be an exaggeration. I had the race on while I was backing up image files onto disks from my laptop and downloading mp3 files onto another disk from my Mac.
I did notice that the race had more yellow flags than usual. Every time I looked up, someone was running their car into the wall or, as in the case of Danica Patrick, getting run into by someone else. That is, until the last 20 laps when the flag went green and the leaders were as tight as at the beginning of the race (almost) and they were all fueled up and ready to go.
I wouldn't probably care at all about this race on my own -- but living for 25 years in Indy, it gets into your blood even if you don't try. Funny how things are like that.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
(If you prefer, you can click on the TITLE above and it will serve as a link to the video on Google Video. Oh, unless you're reading this in a RSS feed, then you'll have to go to the original blog to use the link and maybe to watch the video. Or maybe not. Sorry to be so...high maintenance.)
- Am I crystal clear about my calling from God? Do I know why I am doing what I am doing and who I am doing it for?
- Am I leveraging my spiritual gifts the way God gave them to me to use?
- Are the players on my teams inspiring people? Have I surrounded myself with people who charge my batteries rather than drain my batteries?
- Am I reading/listening to inspirational stories?
- Do I make it a point of priority to rub shoulders with exceptionally inspiring people once in a while?
- Do I participate in events that are exceptionally inspiring to me?
- Am I paying attention to physical disciplines?
- Am I paying attention to my work environment? Have I included things on my laptop and in my office that should be there for me to work and think optimally?
- Do I participate in inspiring recreation outside of my work world?
- Am I practicing daily spiritual disciplines that keep my spirit fresh? Is my soul saturated with God's Word, God's Spirit, God's love?
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Some artists creat images or expressions that speak to me in ways that other things don't connect. I can't explain it exactly.
I love Georgia O'Keffee's poppies. Red Poppy No. VI, 1928 is hanging in my family room. This image of hers of poppies is lovely too.
I love most of Vincent Van Gogh's works. And Monet's.
One artist I've been introduced to lately is Makoto Fujimura. I'm pretty sure I am only beginning to understand his work. Born in Boston, this artist has studied and worked in the USA and in Japan -- and his work reflects both of these cultures. This painting is titled THE TRINITY and was done in 1992. It is 70 x 152 inches -- painted with mineral pigment on Japanese screen.
In an essay the artist has written (and that is found on his website) inspired by the story recorded in all four Gospels of Mary's perfume offering poured on Christ's feet, Makoto offers this for our consideration:
"Is the expense justified in art? In order to answer this question, we must answer not with 'why', but 'to whom'. And it seems to me that we have only two answers to this question of 'to whom'; it's either to ourselves, or to God. We are either glorifying ourselves or God. And the extravagance can only be justified if the worth of the object of adoration is greater than the cost of extravagance. The glory of the substance poured out can only reflect the glory of the one to whom it is being poured upon. And if the object of glory is not worthy, then the act would be foolish and wasteful."
That link will take you to Northland's homepage (seen in the image to the left). Click on this image if you want to see the link to webstream worship more clearly or to read service times.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I can only speak English -- Sandy can speak English and at least two languages of wider communication used in Mainland Southeast Asia.
I was born in North Dakota -- Sandy was born in Arkansas (did I remember that right?).
I used to work for Heritage Christian School -- Sandy used to work for Pan American Airlines.
Here's the deal -- we were both in the Philippines and then in Thailand for a number of weeks at the same time and our Filipino and Thai hosts sometimes got us mixed up. Totally understandable.
It got really funny when people who know us got us mixed up. Really? Well, usually they only knew one of us and saw the other at a distance...but still. Too funny. We toyed with the idea of switching name tags for a day and going to each other's meetings. Could have been fun.
Friday, May 16, 2008
It isn't easy to write about such a place. There aren't words to express enough gratitude or enough sorrow either one.
I walked and looked and walked and thanked God for the freedom I am privileged to enjoy as an American. Unlike the other stops we made that day, for this time I separated myself from the crowd.
It wasn't a place to experience with people unless they were ones with whom silence was comfortable.
From the website:
The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines occupies 152 acres on a prominent plateau, visible at a distance from the east, south and west. It contains the largest number of graves of our military dead of World War II, a total of 17,202, most of whom lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines. The headstones are aligned in 11 plots forming a generally circular pattern, set among masses of a wide variety of tropical trees and shrubbery.
The chapel, a white masonry building enriched with sculpture and mosaic, stands near the center of the cemetery. In front of it on a wide terrace are two large hemicycles. Twenty-five mosaic maps recall the achievements of the American armed forces in the Pacific, China, India and Burma. On rectangular Trani limestone piers within the hemicycles are inscribed the Tablets of the Missing containing 36,285 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. Carved in the floors are the seals of the American states and its territories. From the memorial and other points within the cemetery there are impressive views over the lowlands to Laguna de Bay and towards the distant mountains.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Friday, May 09, 2008
But I digress once again.
I've stopped here for a 1 hour foot massage a couple of times -- and had a manicure here once, too. The woman on the far left gave me my first hour-long foot massage and the woman on the far right my manicure. The girl in the middle gave me my second hour-long foot massage (last night -- Sandy and Maralee were there too for the same thing).
This is a wonderful bonus when meetings are in Asia -- the easily accessible and affordable foot massage. I can only being to describe how relaxing these can be.
Last week when I chose to skip supper one evening and go here for the foot-massage and manicure, it was pouring rain when I was through. One of the girls ran and got a huge umbrella and followed me back to the hotel so I would not get wet. I felt kind of funny at first, but then accepted this as part of gracious hospitality that seems to be so prevalent in Thailand.
Either that or I've been living in hotels for too long where people open doors and make beds every day and it's gone to my head. Yeah, it could be that.
So, if I tell you that this morning I had the privlige of sitting in on the meeting of the WMO's with 125+ Affinity Group, will you have any idea what I mean? Not likely.
So, I'll put it this way: I sat in a meeting of Directors of Wycliffe organizations that have more than 125 people who are currently serving from their organizations in the global Bible translation movement. Those present were from Korea, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, the U.K., Finland, Canada and the U.S. -- and the discussion was led by Kirk Franklin, Director of WBTI (defined in the last post, but this time with a link to the Int'l website).
I love when I get a chance to listen to leaders talk about their "stuff" in a context that is familiar enough to be safe. I always can learn from people who are willing to talk about their challenges and opportunities and failures and victories when I'm willing to listen. I listened today.
(Eddie Arthur is the guy in the red shirt in the middle of the goblet in the photo. He's the fairly new Wycliffe UK Director and his blog is one that I watch with regularity -- I've got an RSS feed onto my iGoogle front page so I don't miss anything unless I choose to. Anyhow, he linked to my blog today -- to the entry titled "If I could read minds" and snagged my photo from there for his site. I'm telling you all this for two reasons: so you can check out his blog and also because someone commented on the photo on his blog and said about me, "She’s so cheeky!" Can you imagine my delight!)
Let me say here that these servants who do this translation work are my heros! I can't imagine all that they have to do intelectually to do this job so well. I'm grateful for their gifting and their willingness to stand in the gap.
On our last day of the full conference/convention, the hotel staff treated us to a very special afternoon breaktime. Truely spectacular.
First, there was a special traditional Thai dance procession that involved a single woman in a costume that looks a bit like a peacock (to me) and more than a dozen women in traditional Thai costumes with those long metalic fingers -- graceful! They were eventually followed by tall banners and a parade of special foods which were set up at many stations around the large lobby area and we talked and laughed and ate and ate.
Before the dancing was over a number of folk joined the line of dancers. It was interesting to watch how people from some cultures seem more willing and ready to engage in such fun than others who are more...conservative? Self-conscious? Uncoordinated? Maybe all of the above?
The foods included a number of types of Asian fruit that were quite nice. One of the ones that I think looks the coolest we called "hairy eyeballs" -- in part becasue of how they served them here. I've actually had this delicious fruit in Indonesia and Panama and Costa Rica. Maybe I even blogged about it before. Yes, a couple of weeks ago when I was talking about the market.
Anyhow, another of the treats was a flour (deepfried, probably) cup filled with corn, coconut, honey, and black sesame seeds. This one was delicious. I hesitatantly admit that I went back for one of these a second and third time.
What a wonderful memory-maker this afternoon break turned out to be -- a time of gracious hospitality, delicious foods, laugheter, dancing, friends and a mixture of cultures that makes everything more interesting. I loved it.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
I like birthdays. I like my own birthday when it comes around – and I like other people’s birthdays too. Anyhow, it is slowly becoming my tradition to feature my friends on my blog on their birthdays. (Okay, I’ve done it one time before…maybe two times, and I’m going to do it again today. But really, traditions have to start somewhere and sometime.)
Today is Tammy Schutt’s birthday. I’m particularly motivated to blog about her on her birthday because she so very much likes to be on the “front page” of my blog. She said so.
Because we are both in the same city for another 36 hour or so, it’s been fun to have the opportunity to celebrate her just a little bit today face to face. Beyond that, Lloyd made a birthday greeting video for Tammy (his MacBook made that a fairly painless process – go Mac!) and I sang my greeting. (What was I thinking?)
Tammy and I “met” when she telephoned me over a year ago to initiate a discussion that eventually grew into the 2008 Vision Trip for the Kagayanen New Testament + Genesis Celebration. We began then to work together, communicating through email with increasing frequency as we neared the event or as various challenges surfaced in our planning.
My first impressions? This is a woman of vision who knows how to get things done, who values people deeply, and who sees things holistically. She is kind-hearted and gracious.
Tammy traveled to Orlando in March to teach at the Wycliffe School for Global Engagement and we met face-to-face for the first time. In those days and the weeks that followed, this respected and valued colleague has become a friend. My initial impressions have been confirmed. I’ve been greatly blessed by God through her.
So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TAMMY!
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
"Where did you go for supper?"
"Was it good?"
"Oh, I've been there."
"We tried a new place."
Ken is the one who asked and when we told him Miguel's he shared some insider information about the owner. Apparently the owner used to own a place called Mike's which was reasonably successful and which he sold. When he did so, he promised he'd not open another place it the city with the name "Mike's" so he opened the Mexican place we went to and named it Miguel's.
When I thanked Ken for this information, he giggled like Ken giggles. (If you know him, you know what I mean.) When I told him I would blog about it, he giggled more. When I took out my camera to document the conversation and to post on this blog...well, enough said.
This unofficial gathering (at a conference where there are myriad official and official meetings and meal and gatherings) was a chance to NOT talk business in the middle of lots and lots of business.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Last night after supper, Dawn and I went with Sandy to the night flower market just because we could. There were a few stalls that sold flowers arranged for funerals and a few that had them for various Buddist rituals/gifts.
Then there were stalls with wholesale flowers. Like these roses, lovely and inexpensive as they are not imported from anywhere -- just transported from a bit outside of town.
I like flowers.
Well, we got a bit of a late start (life is complicated) and didn't get there in time to see a movie and get back in time for a thing that Sandy and I both had in the evening. Plan B transformed us into brief mall-crawlers before we ended up at Starbuck's for some great coffee and great conversations.
Boy, to I like these women and appreciate their example to me of life and service and commitment and all of that while living through the real stuff that is not easy about any of it. Smart women (no matter what this video might lead you to believe). Funny...interesting...gifted...called. Yeah, all of that. How am I so blessed?!
Anyhow, we took one of the two-seat red bus/truck deals and the driver wanted more than just 4 passengers, so while we waited briefly for others to join us for the trip back into the center of town, I got my camera out.
This is the totally purposless video I shot. No one really needs to watch it but me. I just like having this recording of these voices and faces.
(Okay, the video will be here after I get back to a faster internet connection for which I'm not paying by the minute. Sorry.)
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Here is a friend and colleague doing some Spanish translation during one session on Saturday morning (or was it Friday night...it is all becoming a blurrrrrrr). Maralee's journey has taken her from Orlando to Washington DC...soon to Paris (language study so she can learn French) and then on to Cameroon (I think I have that right).
I may be one of less than a dozen people in the room of 300+ who only speaks one language. Whew. What was I thinking when I skipped that track of study in high school...college...and beyond? Maralee tells me that it's not too late.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Understand, I can only accurately share my own reflections here, but as they were somewhat influenced by Tammy’s words and actions, I’ll include some of that context as well. You’ll have to ask her yourself (those of you who know her) exactly what was going through her mind at this time. I do know that she suggested to me later than she had visions of us rolling down the mountainside together...Tammy, me, the driver and our elephant...and that this was not the way she wanted to die.
Tammy grabbed the front bar with both hands and shut her eyes -- the grabbing and the shutting could both be modified with "tightly." I suggested she keep them shut until I told her it was "safe" to look again. What I was seeing in front of us was a decline markedly steeper than it felt like an elephant should navigate with a wooden sofa and two American women on its back. Now, please don’t ask if I have any photos of this – asking only shows that you don’t yet understand how precarious a spot we were in. I was trying to not loose Tammy, an umbrella, or my bag while talking calmly so as to help convince Tammy’s subconscious brain that we were just fine. (The photo below was taken of the area off the path when we were not up high and the slop down was gentle.)
Our elephant decided to eat. No, not the grasses and leaves near the side of the trail – a big, green, juicy clump of tall grasses about 10 feet off the path. Off and down. And not just a trunk grab full – the whole salad. Not able to get a good hold the first time, it stepped further down the slope. I’m not sure if I might have felt more fear myself had Tammy not been expressing her own fear at our rather unpredictable situation. Mostly I was laughing -- but trying not to make Tammy think I was laughing at her, for I was not. I laugh on roller coasters and white water rafting trips. Somehow the rush of adrenaline mixed with a sense of security emerges as laugheter for me.
Our driver was holding on to our seat on the underneath side and kept giving commands to the elephant. We’ll never know how in or out of control he was – it felt like the elephant was a bit bullheaded at this point. It eventually turned sideways a bit and we could turn to see the path behind and above us – Tammy opened her eyes to that. I was afraid, however, that she was planning her escape – a jump to safety, perhaps.
Then, after finishing off the last bit of grass, the elephant began the turn all the way back around and then the climb up to the path so we could be on our way. Tammy’s eyes were shut again.
By this time I admit that I was laughing all the more at our adventure – and confessing to Tammy who may never do anything with me again after this that I seem often to get the rogue animal in these situations. I also admit that I felt a sense of relief myself. It was good to be back on the beaten path.
After we returned and dismounted our elephant and rejoiced at being on solid ground again,we did purchase our dung-framed photos as a mark of a journey that was more than we signed-up for. Our SAM host assured us that we were in no danger at any time – but she wasn’t actually there, was she? And when, especially in Asian culture, would anyone tell a guest that they had, indeed, been near death while under their care?
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
Will Tammy? I’m quite sure not.
Does this make be “brave” or simply “stupid”? I’ll let you decide.
Personally, I don’t think it’s either. I think I just like elephants…
Vendors sold bunches of bananas and bundles of sugar cane to be fed to the elephants and that was quite fun to watch. Most of you will be quite surprised that I didn't toss down my 25 baht for one or the other of these treats. I buy the pellets from the vending machine for the fish at Dixie Crossroads and the buckets of fish from the hut for the dolphins at Sea World and just about anything else someone sells to feed to one critter or the other.
After a few photos at the entrance area and as we crossed the bridge, we headed up to the elephant show. The elephants – each with his or her own trainer – paraded, played harmonica, painted, played soccer and did a few other “tricks.” Elephants have been used as work animals in Thailand – particularly in teak harvesting – for many years. I enjoyed the fact that there was not a narrator on the loud speaker telling silly jokes and outrageous stories about what we were seeing. We just saw what we saw. The elephants painting was the wildest thing for me to watch -- knowing that this is learned behavior, but still -- how do you teach an elephant to paint?
From here, we moved to the main event.
Now, most of you know that before I left the States a month ago I wanted to do the elephant ride and show if I could on this trip, but for a variety of reasons that was look looking unlikely. Then, a couple of days ago – when Tammy asked me if I might be interested in the elephant ride on Saturday and when a more careful reading of the conference agenda suggested that I could be free in the afternoon on Saturday and a stop by the SAM table proved that they were offering a ½ day trip to the elephants – it became a part of the plan once again. Woo hoo.
The eleven of us from the conference who were on this adventure together climbed a flight of stairs onto a wooden platform from which we mounted our respective elephants. Tammy and I scoped out the elephants that were lined up and chose one with tusks deciding that this one would make for good photos. By this time I had found out that Tammy is not fond of heights and she was coming to grips with the reality that elephants are quite tall creatures. When you effectively mount a wooden sofa on top of one’s back…well, it’s high.
We climbed onto our elephant and the assistants locked the front bar over us like a roller coaster. Our driver handed us an umbrella as it had been raining all day because of a typhoon out to the west. While I was only sad that I had shoes on and wanted to feel the elephant’s rough skin against my feet, Tammy was coming to a quick conclusion that this was not her best idea. Before she could do anything about it, we were bobbing and swaying across the compound toward the first shelter where a photographer captured our souvenir photo which we could later purchase in an elephant dung frame for 200 baht (about $7 US).
As our elephant – fifth in a line of six – ambled along the muddy path strewn with elephant droppings which only proved that these critters had taken this pathway hundreds and maybe thousands of times before – I was having a delightful time and Tammy was calculating the risk of injury if she determined to jump from this elephant sofa onto what was soft earth below. She was planning her escape. By this time, riders on each elephant were snapping photos of one another with promises to swap them later thanks to thumb drives and email.
About half way up this train, riders began hopping off their elephants with OUR digital cameras in hand and taking photos of us. Our driver would run ahead, aim and shoot just seconds before our elephant caught up. Our elephant was not cooperatively pausing to pose as others were – heads tilted and legs crossed. Our elephant was on the move. An elephant with a mission: GET THIS OVER WITH. If Tammy looks relaxed in these photos (and she does) it’s greatly due to the fact that we were so amused at how hard our driver had to work to get away from our speeding elephant. We were at the “top” of this first hill by the time he climbed back on board and started “driving” again.
Downhill felt more precarious on this flat and slippery wooden sofa on top of a tusked elephant in the rain. It had some of the same sensation as doing down a steep incline on horseback – but we were far enough removed from the creature itself that we didn’t have anything in front of us exactly.
When we reached a fork in the road, three of the elephants in front of us and one behind went down and our elephant followed the one in front of us to higher heights. A seventh elephant with two guys we didn’t know was coming up behind and followed us. Our elephant seemed to decide that the faster it went, the sooner it could back to the feeding trough but the elephant in front of us did not have this same idea. Along a stretch of the path that wasn’t quite wide enough to pass, it began to tail gate the elephant ahead – nearly pushing with its head.
At this point, our driver gave a few commands with voice and feet and stick (I’ll never know what those commands were) and we made a move that I interpreted at first as an attempt to pass the lead elephant on the left which was also the outside of the path with a steep (steep) drop. Tammy wasn’t thrilled with this turn of events while I was still feeling great trust in this creature... (to be continued)
Friday, May 02, 2008
Now, our driver was not one familiar with the Lemongrass -- either that or he was a little fuzzy headed -- so we took the long way there. It made for a good laugh and time for some stories.
So, how funny is it to walk into a small Thai place on a side street near the night market and have the owner's brother greet you by name. Oh, not ME...Bob. Apparently Cresons are regulars there. :)
We had traditional Thai dishes -- all were well prepared and served beautifully in this indoor-outdoor place. I had a sweet sour chicken stirfry dish for my main course.
For dessert, we shared fried bananas with honey. Delicious.