Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Savor Irony

I have spent a lot of time over the past few days contemplating irony and trying to enjoy the concept - it's utterly out of your control, so what else can you do?

Here's a few examples:

Last Sunday night I convinced some friends that I know love Indian food to go for a late dinner. It took some doing, but I argued, “This gift certificate I have is burning a hole in my pocket.” Why? You might ask. Well, I’ve had it for two years. Although it has no expiration date, it should have been good for only one year. I really just wanted to use it up before I go. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal. The next evening I was at my last Missions Committee Meeting as I leave soon. What did the committee give me as a going away gift? Another gift certificate to the very same restaurant.

And another: Two weeks ago it finally got to “real” Minnesota weather here. What I mean is that every day the high was a negative number. Something like -14 degrees at midday. We got through a little stretch of serious negative numbers and then it got up to more pleasant winter weather. (I think 20 above with no wind is perfect winter weather.) Anyway, the day after it got back in that range, I was sorting clothes and found my long johns! I thought it was so funny, I really don’t need them and now I’m heading to perpetual summer. (Of course it’s below zero again, and I do have them on today – just this once.)

The real irony, though, is the fact that for a year and a half I have worked toward moving back to Kenya to work with Care of Creation. The political unrest since the elections results (Dec 30th) has not really been a deterrent in my mind. The unrest seemed isolated to certain areas and ethnicities. Those on the ground in Kenya were not worried. Crunch day came, because there was a team going and many wanted me on that team. So last Friday (as you can read) we decided to “go for it”. I booked my ticket on the last possible day to go with the team. Over the weekend I had managed to arrange times for being commissioned, having a good-bye open house, in addition I got a prayer card together, included that information and put it all in the mail Monday morning. But sometime over the weekend the violence in Kenya had moved closer to the area I am planning to go to. On Monday the team cancelled just shy of two weeks out. I was told I should think about postponing my trip. On Tuesday morning I got a call from Kenya telling me not to come at this time.

Savor the irony. Enjoy it. There is really no other way to look at it.

At this point I will delay a week and then go to Tanzania for 3 months of language study.

God willing, of course.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

connected with minneapolis

Local writer, James Lileks has a delightful website full of all kinds of nostalgia from bygone days of this region. He has a ton of historic photos of Minneapolis, a fabulous collection of matchbook covers from the old days of advertising on matchbooks. He grew up in Fargo. What more can I say? He also keeps a blog of goings-on around here. Not to mention the books he's compiles of poor advice, unsavory recipes and bad design. Actually, there is lots more to his site as well. I remember reading his articles in the Minnesota Daily, the U of M newspaper, back in the early 80's. He knows his history and he tells it with a pleasant flair of the pen.

If you have a little time to burn, it's a fun site. I'll put a link on the side for you to be able to get back to him whenever you like. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Firsts and Lasts

The Whirlwind of Getting Out of the Country

Well, the flurry has begun. I am already not sleeping well. Trying to think of all that needs doing. And realizing the emotional charge of each last thing I do and all the firsts ahead.

I'm thankful that I have done this before. But I am in need of much grace and prayer as I dash through the last visit with people, the finishing up loose ends, tying-up matters, and saying good-byes. On to the first time of moving overseas without leaving parents behind, first time to work for environmental issues, and first time to be with such a fledgling organization.

There is so much more to say, but I need to get packing at the moment.

Thank you for all your support.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I'm going!

Well, after all that creative number crunching I'm somewhere between $40 and $400 short per month, it all depends on how you look at it. That is close enough for the powers that be.

In other words, there is still room for additional monthly support, but I am going with the team on February 8th. And I'm staying. (I'll likely be back for a visit at Christmas since I have to get a round trip ticket.)

I blame my lack of math interest on Mr Gustafson

I loved math and was good at it until the eighth grade. I blame my decline in the subject and all subsequent difficulty and frustration with it on my male chauvinistic eighth grade math teacher, Mr. Gustafson. He was fairly outspoken, stating his opinion as fact. Girls simply weren’t good at math, thus didn’t merit any encouragement in the subject. In fact, they were the ones to be made an example of for any mistakes or not catching on to a new concept and so forth.

That’s not to say I can’t do math. I just have never really enjoyed it since. But once I put my mind to it, I can juggle the numbers around just like most folks. A small amount of knowledge on how an Excel spread sheet works and it starts to become a little more enjoyable.

Once you start playing with the numbers – and aren’t numbers facts? – you can do different things. Since I am still doing a little juggling while I wait for the final word from the office you’ll have to stay tuned for how they all come out.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"How close do you have to be?"

The newsletter I sent out two weeks ago for getting the final support in said today was the day for getting a ticket. I talked to the travel agent again and I have until tomorrow. So I will wait one more day.

As of today I still have about $475 per month to raise. However, I haven't completely crunched numbers to see if the one-time gifts might be over the target enough to cover the gap for the next year.

I've had folks ask, "Well, how close to you really have to be?" Since my organization is so new and small it's negotiable. 90% would be the minimum. I'd feel better with 95%. Of course, 100% would be best.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's coming...

Hello Readers -

Here's the support raising update after the long holiday weekend.
The office received a few more commitments and I had a phone call, so now I have $500 per month remaining to raise by Thursday afternoon. It still seems impossible and some ways. To be honest, that is the way I like it. If it feels impossible then God gets all the glory when He comes through.
He delights in the impossibilities!

On the team front: We made a decision that our Vision Trip Team leaving February 8th is still going. God willing, I will accompany them.

Thanks for your constant prayers - and your financial support!

Monday, January 21, 2008

for Martin Luther King Jr Day

I have been back in the US for about ten years of celebrating this weekend. I really can’t remember when Minnesota officially started recognizing the day. I think of this weekend as Racial Harmony weekend. I look forward to the sermon that deviates from our usual teaching. I still remember the first year when our pastor related his changing views, having grown up in the south and now having adopted an African-American baby girl. It was probably the sermon of 1998. It made an impact for a number of reasons. Our pastor told his own testimony, which was powerful how his heart and attitudes had changed radically. I came from East Africa. Kenya had received many Rwandan refugees after the terrible genocide. My office housed a Rwandan man whom was working toward reconciliation among the Hutus and Tutsis.

If this current mess in Kenya is really ethnically charged (I’d like to believe it isn't) than this is a word for Christian leaders there to take note. For this is a word desperately needed in our day both in the US and in Africa. My pastor blogged on the topic and in a few days I’m sure this year’s sermon will be up to listen to as well. What I want to remember is this:

“What you need to do is press the issue of ethnic ill-will on the consciences of your people in the name of Jesus, who came to us when we were more alien to him than anyone has ever been to us.”

If we are ever tempted to think others are not worthy of respect merely for being different, let us think of how incredibly far Jesus stooped, how alien a leap it was to become one of us, not nearly the leap we might take in radical racial reconciliation.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thank you

for your prayers.

It seems that although some rallies in Kenya resulted in violence and in a few deaths, the rallies this week were not as well attended as some had hoped. (Minor disturbances compared with those right after the election results were announced.) The opposition party promised no more rallies, instead boycotts to show their disapproval of the current government. It seems the average Kenyan would like things to get back to normal. (But with so many internally displaced people, that will take some time.)

On the support note: another $45 per month seems to have been committed. That leaves $625 per month left to raise by January 24th. Less than a week and counting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Please . . .

Keep praying for Kenya

This is a crucial week. Opposition is still very upset by the election and yet the current government is going ahead with it's new session of parliament. Opposition plans "peaceful" rallies starting Wednesday. With frustrations high, this week could make or break a difficult situation. The average Kenyan longs for peace and reconciliation.

Thanks for your prayers.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ellen being green

A friend, Ellen in my small group posted a great little article on her Facebook about how to reduce junk mail. I hope this link works. If not, let me know.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Watching God Work

In the newsletter I sent out this week I promised to keep folks posted here as to the progress of this "last" push to get me out to Kenya.

Here's the situation. As of Wednesday this week I needed $750 more per month to be fully supported at 100%. The catch is that I have been the 'assistant' leader of a team from my church going to visit and learn about Care of Creation. The team of 6 leaders leaves from Minneapolis on February 8. If I am to go with the team, I need to purchase a ticket on January 24. It seems like a lot of gap to close. I need a miracle.

So, after a little coaching from a friend who has been helping me with how to best approach support raising, I drafted a letter to those on my mailing list. By 9:00 pm on Wednesday I was polishing up the final draft. Emailed it off to the printer to pick up in the morning. Thursday at 10:00 I had in hand, postage, folded letters, folded EFT forms, and cut-to-size response slips. I took those along with two sizes of envelopes (one for response slips to come back) over to my neighbors, the Waldemars to help me assemble. Then I realized I hadn't done the address labels. I left them for Whitney and Barb to work on. I got all 250 labels printed and came back.
By 1:00 pm (Thursday) everything was stuffed, stamped and licked, ready to go. I got to the post office in time to make the 2:00 pick up.

So they are in the mail. Somehow God was already at work in his vast economy. By noon today I was already up by $80 per month! Not one of those people had responded to the newsletter I just sent out - or were they. God was already at work.

The other great news is that I am at 100% of my outgoing needs. If more one-time gifts come in they will simply be there in reserve of any shortfalls along the months. If you want to give, please contact Care of Creation, be sure to specify who the giving is for.

Now I need $670 per month. I love watching God work like this. (I'm not big on straining to get a ton of things done in two weeks to move overseas, but God knows what he's doing.)

Watch with me. (I think I'll start packing now just in case of a miracle.)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Picture's worth a thousand words...

And a whole lot quicker to look at!

Hello All (4 Readers) -
I created a DropShots site to share photos easily. I have added to links at the side under Interesting Reading (only this is viewing more than reading): "Jan's photos." I got a camera recently and have been practicing taking photos over the holidays. So that is mostly what is up there. My standard disclaimer - this will (should) be more interesting once I am in Kenya.

Happy "reading."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Is Kenya Falling Apart?

It’s very good to have started the year in much prayer. I’m praying often now for the events happening in Kenya. Every time I look at CNN on the Internet – it’s one more bit of news that seems a little more hopeful than the last bit of news. I would urge you to continue to pray for peace. It’s really a miraculous answer to prayer that the opposition’s “peaceful rally” planned for earlier today got called off since it was ban by police. (It didn’t really happen in time to inform the citizens.) But none-the-less Desmond Tutu’s arrival and discussion proved helpful. Now it seems Kenya’s attorney general has called for an independent recount. As it is President Kibaki’s reported to have won by only a very narrow margin.

If you are inclined to pray, please continue to do so.

· Pray for humility among these Kenyan leaders – something rarely found in Africa.
· Pray for the quick recovery of the nation now torn by ethnic clashes.
· Pray for real reconciliation to occur and real repentance between tribes.
· Pray for those who have lost loved ones, for their healing.
· Pray for the poor. They are a growing majority in a country that has recently experienced a booming economy. There will be plenty of work to be done in recovery of homes and resettling displaced people.
· Pray for God’s blessing to return to this nation and the work of those who are helping to rebuild it.

Kenya has been a model for peace and stability since gaining independence in 1963. I’m praying for the redemption of that reputation. Honestly, I expect more of Kenyans. I can only guess the growing poverty rift has really heightened people’s discouragement thus precipitating this violence.

Thank you for your prayers.