Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sandstorm




I'm posting two videos of a sandstorm hitting Kuwait. Last year in the Middle East we arrived in the middle of one of these, but it wasn't quite this bad. Its all in Arabic, but give it at least until the 4 minute mark when you can see how ridiculous this is.

Here is another one- I'm not sure if you can click on this one or not. It's a little bit different perspective. Perfect daytime visibility to 0 visibility in only a few minutes. 




Friday, March 25, 2011

My Peaceful Soul


Love this picture. Thanks Canon Rebel xsi with whatever lens Patrick put on it. :)

Changing Mindsets


FYI- I love a good font. In fact, I border on obsessive with handwriting fonts. I guess because I want this blog to be somewhat of a journal, I think the handwriting font makes this feel a little bit more “me.”

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been so busy. Getting into my first full week of work in FOUR weeks is harder than it would seem. And on top of my 8-5 schedule, with 2 hours of commute time each day, nightly workouts and cooking dinner…I feel flat out exhausted. Tomorrow will be my first day in awhile to sleep in, and sleep in I will. Having a good lazy Saturday is one of my favorite things- French Press coffee, a book, and my porch are three things that make me a happy girl. Stephen King’s “On Writing” is sitting on my coffee table, waiting to be picked up.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve been noticing different things about how I’m interacting with people. I feel like my relationships are still the same, but the way I feel is a little bit different…and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I feel quieter and more at peace, but the same characteristics in people that used to irk me, still irk me. I had hoped I would come back generally more accepting of people, but alas- I’m still the same (and trust me, I know there are some things I need to change- for the benefit of everyone). I’m valuing the feeling of wanting to be quiet, because I’m sure it’ll pass just as quickly as it came.

Each time I leave, I learn to be a little bit more un-attached to the idea of “home” and routine (which for now is a good thing). I have learned to cling less to what I perceive as “normal” or “right.” I think (well I hope) traveling gives you more of an open mind when it comes to people, structure, culture, food, and just life. When you travel, you can’t be picky about food, activities, or time spent out and about (because at least in the Middle East, we’d have days that started at 5am and would go until midnight). If you stress about small things, and truly value your routine- you’ll be miserable.

The helpful thing about going places is that I come home and really try to incorporate that mindset into my everyday life. It’s not always easy because things are always demanding our attention, but I think it’s important regardless. So the unraveling of my heart from the Middle East begins. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cocoon Emergence

As I mentioned before, it would take a few days before I would slowly emerge from my "processing cocoon," and I appreciate that you granted me those few days. Honestly I don't feel like I've even scratched the surface of what has happened in my heart, but I wanted to share bits and pieces to encourage you and help you understand a little bit more about this wonderful trip.


Two days we had the privilege of working in this particular school. There were roughly 2,000 students, and the student body is mostly Muslim (with a handful of Druze). We were asked to share in their chapel (its an English school, founded by Evangelicals so there is some Christian influence) one morning, and we all appointed Patrick to share. We knew we didn't want to be preachy or over-charismatic, so Patrick shared with these students


on the power of our words. He shared the story of 3 plants: one was spoken negatively to, one was not spoken to at all, and the other was only spoken positively to. He shared how the one that was spoken negatively to withered and died. The one not spoken to did nothing out of the ordinary. But the one spoken positively to grew bigger and stronger than the other two plants (Google the study- all plants received the same amount of sunlight and water). 

Patrick said that our words are powerful, and that everyone remembers having something hurtful said to them, as well as something nice. 


So in our time with each class for the next two days, we did a fun exercise. We would reiterate the talk that Patrick did, then we'd ask for a volunteer. Once the brave student came to the front of the classroom, we had them sit down. We then instructed everyone in the room to tell that student what they loved about him/her. While the classmates were encouraging the student, our team was praying for prophetic words to have mixed in. We were able to demonstrate that God only thinks good things about us, and has good things to say.


We would give each child 10-ish minutes up front (which meant we could only do 3-4), and we got to pick the student (sometimes we'd pick the rowdiest, and others we'd pick the girl in the back hiding behind her hair). Most of the kids were nervous or embarrassed at first, because from what we were told, they are not encouraged at home. Most parents believe that encouraging their children will make them prideful, so they withhold all verbal affirmation.

We found that to be true when students would come up to us later crying, telling us how they'd never heard those things from anyone.  They'd never been complimented. They never knew they were a good friend, or the most generous person in the class. It was completely heart-breaking, but so empowering at the same time. We were helping give these kids a tangible experience with the goodness of God. No they didn't rush to the front to "say the prayer," but sometimes kids need to genuinely feel loved before they want to hear anything else.

I know this school is good about sharing the Gospel, so it was important that we brought something different and fresh to these sweet students. And it had a visible impact on them. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Middle East 2011

My experience in the Middle East this year was really incredible, and I feel so blessed. I learned a lot about myself and feel like I grew a ton. But processing and re-aclimating to the US is a big job, and I don't think I'm quite ready to share much of that process yet. So in the meantime, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite pictures!

The view from our apartment of the Mediterranean Sea. Tough life.

Wine and Cheese Party. With Lebanese wine. Heaven on earth. When this was suggested for the evening's activity, I knew I had come to the right place. I now have standards for all mission trips.

Olives.

Learning Arab dances. SO FUN. Best. Night. EVER.

Did I mention it snowed? 

The sunlight over the capital city.

Arguileh. 

Our team. Plus Patrick on the far right who is an Arab.


What album is complete without a good jumping picture?


There are tons more pictures on Facebook, but these are a few of my favorites from the trip! I'll be posting more thoughts later, and probably more pictures as my processing cocoon cracks open. Thanks for everyone's amazing support of this trip! It couldn't have been better. Well, it could have been. If I had moved to the Middle East and been given Arabic as my "tongue." Thanks for nothing Holy Spirit.
 JUST KIDDING. 





Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Middle East Bound Once Again

Well, the time has finally come. Tomorrow Patrick and I leave for the Middle East. It snuck up on me this year because of job interviews, conference planning, then wrapping up one job and starting the next. So this trip will be a great break from normal "life" and an opportunity to reconnect with some old friends and make a few new ones!

I am including a few pictures from the last trip to allow you see how much we are going to suffer for the Lord whilst in the Middle East.


Breakfast overlooking the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea (tough life!)

Fresh baked croissants and other breads for above breakfast

Ok, this might be the one tough piece to this trip. The first restaurant we went to last year served all of these delicacies: testicles (luckily you get 2, I know I wouldn't be able to get enough), lamb kidney, liver (with a BBQ option- yes please), pancreas, BBQ fat (is that saturated? because I only eat unsaturated fats), etc. I don't even want to know what Arayes Kafta is, or Kebab Ourfaly. 

Nevertheless, the food there is actually pretty good. And no I did not have testicles or kidney or pancreas, nor would I ever in a million years consider it. I still scrape off black beans on a quesadilla and mushrooms off a pizza. There is NO WAY I'd eat any of these items. My life should be called 
"Diary of a Wimpy Eater."

Love you all, and will post more when I return!