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Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Rain Came Down and the Flood {of Thoughts} Came Up

Currently, I live in the Bay area. In case you haven’t heard, we are having a “big” storm.  Ok, I will consent to the fact that it is a storm. And the reason it is so big is the fact that we don’t have the infrastructure to handle it. Physical infrastructure that is. If there’s one thing you need to understand about Californians, it is that they are rarely prepared for rain {or any weather}. Ever. And when it rains most of them freak out. And it looks like the zombie apocalypse is happening. Or as we’ve dubbed this one, the Rainpocolyse.



But right now, we desperately need rain. That seems somewhat ironic since it is coming out of the sky as I type. The reason we need it so badly, is because we are in the midst of a drought. {Insert family inside joke about “in the middle of a drought,” that I narrowly avoided just now} 

And I’ve been thinking about the ways that it so directly relates to some life lessons. The first being that the rain has caused most people to stay home, work at home and keep their children and pets indoors. And often when we do that we slow down, or add minutes and moments to our days. When you are stuck inside, you do life differently.

When it rains, I give myself permission to read a book, make soup, stir up some hot chocolate, be creative or dream. I let my self do all the things I should be doing normally – resting, having nourishing food, enjoying treats, using my passions and building my dreams.

Thank you God for rain that refreshes the ground and our souls.

The other thing that I was thinking about is how in this world {or possibly, just my world} we want things to be predictable and scheduled, processed and efficient. And well, that is just not how life works. And I was thinking about all of this as I thought about how much we need rain and the rain is so good for the earth and it causes things to grow…and so on and so forth. And yet. And yet, we don’t get rain once a week to make everything grow. God didn’t say on these days on the calendar it will rain. He didn’t make it so that droughts are scheduled or that storms are in some sort of pattern.

He didn’t do any of that, but He could.

So why did he make things erratic and allow us to tear up the landscape he so beautifully created, thus making his perfect system no longer work? 
I don’t know. 

I do know that he has had the perfect plan since the beginning of time. And I do know that we can read about the droughts of old and the days of plenty. In each of those stories we find a reflection of him and his character. We also see that there was a purpose to the droughts and the storms, the days of plenty and the days of few. It was all part of the plan.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Captive Audiences + Grace

Tonight I sat and told a story and tried to calm the fears.  My words tumbled out and I'm not even completely sure what I said.  I know the message I wanted to send.  And I know how passionate I got.  More passionate, more aggressive, more agitated than any of them had probably ever seen me be before.
  
It all started with a simple question about Ebola.  One of pure innocence and wanting to understand.  I tried to sit on my hands and clamp my mouth, but I'm afraid I inundated her and the rest of my rather captive audience.
 
"You probably don't know, but I've been to Liberia.  I worked in a medical clinic there."  I hastened to add "Just for a week... in high school. But I worked with..." My voice trailed off.  "Well I know some of the people who have died from Ebola."  My voice caught and I also realized my matter of fact tone.  
{I know "some" is the overstatement of the year! I know a few, a handful of the many people who have died.  I know the people and the souls who lived in those bodies...Please give me grace}  
When you're dealing with disease, poverty, corruption, and a place half a world away sometimes you have to be matter of fact.  When you're dealing with all these things you can't change, sometimes you just have to stick to your guns that you will not be emotionally effected by these truths.  Because sometimes the more you hear something the more it becomes real.  And your active imagination can see these things, you can touch them, and you can smell them.
 
That's the thing about Liberia, it has a smell.  You can smell the red earth, the moisture in the air, the air itself.  Sometimes the perfume mixes in the smoky charcoal texture.  There are other things that have a smell - so does disease, poverty, corruption.
 
What I appreciated about these women around me was their questions and their general acceptance of the things that I was sharing.  Not that I was sharing the correct information or that I didn't have some of my facts jumbled.  It was rather that they listened and accepted me.  They accepted that this was something that as important to me and that I really did check the news everyday for stories.  To me it gave me life to see these faces looking at me, eager to hear words, and open arms to my heart.
 
I didn't talk about my friends or the culture.  I didn't talk about specifics.  Just the news, and some of a recent missionary update.  And when I talked about it at the end I wanted it to be all about hope.  All about the things that were beautiful coming out of this horrendous situation.  All of the things where God was being glorified.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Castle in the Clouds

You know the song?  I assume you know the song, because just a few years ago the movie adaptation was the talk of the town.  The song, it is beautiful, emotion filled, poetry music.  It is lovely.
 
In college I took a music class to make me a required well rounded student, and it was good for me.  My class was musical theatre.  The music behind the theatrical production.  The inner workings of the art produced.
 
As a watcher of musicals, plays and such, I enjoyed the class.  I picked Les Miserables as the show topic for my big huge project.  I listened to the music over and over.  I knew the story, but now I knew, in a deeper way, the emotions.
 
I love the story of Les Miserables.  I love the redemption and the exhibit of true character.  I love what seems to be the black and white of evil, and yet there are the questions that seem so...grey.  They can only be answered in the grey.  And at the same time there are the messages that are so counter cultural.  Lavish forgiveness. Denouncement of fortune for the sake of statement of beliefs and follow through.  A questioning of judgement.  Is is ok to lie and steal for "good reasons?"
 
And in the middle of it all there is a time to dream.  There is an escape.  The past for some people becomes wiped clean.  A castle in the clouds.
 
I go to my own castle in the clouds.  I escape from the world.  And sometimes we need to create those castles.  The world is just too much right now.  People are struggling and others are wielding cruelty in barbaric ways.  I can do nothing, so I go to the castle.  And the king of the castle, he listens and comforts and then asks me how I will help those outside the castle.  And I shake my head and ask What tangible thing I could do?

I don't have an answer.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Brother is Awesome

Because I'm a proud sister and because I miss him lots, I thought I would share my brother's newly created blog.  He is documenting his time in Germany.  Yay!

 
I'm super excited to read his account because well first of all he is a boy which means he talks less than I, a girl, do.  And, he has a time and space difference which would make anyone have difficulty in maintaining contact.
 
I am elated for him!  I keep thinking about the wonderful experience of studying abroad.  It has also made me realize that I had promised myself that I would blog my 2013 trip to Germany (and Europe).  It's been a whole year, which is crazy to me.  Here is to hoping that those adventures are documented soon.
 
I think my brother might be better at documenting his travels than I am.  Go have a looksee.
 
p.s. He texted me at 8.45/9am Germany time asking me if he should go to N├╝rnberg.  It was 11.45pm/midnight California time...

Friday, August 1, 2014

My Heart Breaks: Ebola

A few months ago I read BBC, like I do almost everyday, and continued on my way.  I read an article about the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone.  It caught my eye because Sierra Leone is next to a country of my heart, Liberia.  This blog was created long after my trip there, so don't go searching the archives for best tips of visiting a third world country.  {Although there are many things to think about}  The reason I passed over the article, and the reason I didn't see it's impact, is because I know there is no cure to a virus.  Viruses are adaptable, they change, they morph.  I know this from my time in biology and human anatomy and physiology.  I also know how ill equipped this part of the world is for disease.  Diseases that run rampant there, are little known words to us in more "developed countries" {And what developed does or doesn't mean is a whole other topic}.

What I didn't realize is that this virus would become a part of my world and a part of my every waking moment thoughts.  If you don't know what I'm talking about I suggest you read this article about the actual disease/virus.* 

ELWA, one of the places where Ebola patients are being treated.  
There are rumored reports that the rest of the ELWA hospital has shut down.
Personal photo. Please do not use this photo without permission

Before you get to freaked out, take a deep breath and remember what kind of society you live in.  When you get sick, what do you do?  You stay home, you go to the doctor, you talk to all of your friends, and you agonize over all of the possibilities it could be.  Consequently, you would be treated immediately which includes being quarantined.

Getting this virus is not hard, but but it's not like other viruses that are airborne {Please, don't freak out!  Remember you live in a developed country where we have routine vaccines for many of them.}  Ebola is transferred through human fluids (blood, saliva, human waste), but that also means that it can be transferred by sweaty palms.  In a world where washing your hands is not a basic hygene function this is a problem.  In a country that is near the equator, and thus people sweat all the time, this is a problem.  In a country where relationships are the core of life, this is a problem.  It is tearing this Liberia apart.

My hope is not that you would obsess and become anxious over this, but rather that you would Pray.  
Pray hard.

Liberia has a culture that is deeply rooted in tradition.  It is weary of the government and outside forces.  It is much more comfortable with the witch doctors and home remedies.  There are reports of medical aid workers being met with resistance and protestors.  This is how this people feels it can protect itself.  This is their defense mechanism.  Unfortunately, their unbelief is allowing the disease to infect and spread.  There are two wars going on; one against Ebola and one against information education that counters the culture.

I read the articles and search for the news that brings any announcement from West Africa.  But the news can't tell me about the people I care about.  It can't tell me where Precious is, and whether she is alive.  It can't tell me if Elizabeth knew what was happening when she was hit with the virus.  The news doesn't know whether Jessie tried to run lab tests on his own blood to figure out the disease that was ravaging his body.  The news can't tell me any of the the things I desperately want to know.  
So I pray.  

I pray for those fighting disease, those watching others fight it, for health workers.  I pray for protection on the children whose faces I've seen and the people that have been caring for them, teachers, parents, aid workers.  
Above all I hope.  

*Disclaimer:  This is an overview of the disease, not a medical professional or medical journal.  
*All of the names included are of national Liberian healthcare workers I had the privilege of knowing.  Elizabeth and Jesse have passed away, Precious has contracted the virus and her whereabouts are unknown. There are a few additional people that work with orphaned or poverty level children that are currently at risk.