Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Wobbly Jono started off in the grass getting his sea legs and generally being pleased with himself. About that time I started looking around for D and saw him hobbling around the corner with four adults; he was limping and holding a fat wad of paper towels on his knee. I met them halfway and the man carrying his skates told me he had heard D fall from inside his house! They had cut his pants leg away like a battlefield medic. I thanked the man whom I did not know and carried D home on my back like a wounded marine. Gratefully, he'll live to skate another day.
His remote controlled airplane also took a beating today. He took it to the school grounds down the street from Orangehouse for its maiden voyage; the abundance of trees on our street is like an army of Scrooge hands, grasping to steal away his Christmas smile. But at the school grounds, there are only a half dozen trees on the ten-acre plot; low tree density. But like a moth drawn to the flame, within five minutes the plane was resting in one anyway. That's when I first saw him, throwing rocks up in a tree in an ill-conceived plan to bring it back down.
Thankfully, all of his throws missed the plane. But unfortunately, one of them came down on his remote control and severely bent the antenna! Eventually, we got the plane down with a stick and resumed our holiday flight schedule. But the winds proved too much for us and after several hard crashes and a broken styrofoam engine mount (can you glue styrofoam?) we came back inside. Despite the mishaps, we had a lovely day and are grateful for so much. Tomorrow I will try out my new one-horsepower weed whacker; D isn't allowed to touch it!
Monday, December 24, 2007
I will write the first line in Tok Pisin from the Tok Pisin Bible, Buk Baibel, and leave it black.
Then I will follow it with a blue "sentence" with word by word translations.
Then I will give the English translation in red.
Gutnius Jon i raitim, Sapta 1
Goodnews Jon writes, Chapter 1
The Gospel According to John, Chapter 1
1-Bipo bipo tru, taim olgeta samting i no kamap yet, Tok i stap.
Before before truly, time all things no come up (think of "sprout") yet, Talk (or the Word) stopped (as in stopped for a visit, existed).
In the beginning, before anything was made, was the Word.
Tok i stap wantaim God na Tok yet i God.
Word stopped with (wantaim = one time, they were together at one time, or with) God and Word yet God.
The Word was with God and the Word was God.
2-Bipo bipo tru Tok i stap wantaim God.
Before before truly Word stopped (was) with God.
In the beginning the Word was with God.
3-Long dispela Tok tasol God i mekim kamap olgeta samting.
By (or through) this fellow Word, only God made come up all things.
By the Word, God made all things.
Na i no gat wanpela samting i kamap long narapela rot.
And no got one thing come up by another road.
And there is not one thing made by another way.
Nogat. Olgeta samting i kamap, em Tok yet i mekim kamap.
Nothing. All things made, him Word yet made come up.
Nothing. Every thing that has been made, is made by the Word.
4-Laip i stap long em, na dispela laip em i lait bilong ol manmeri.
Life stopped with him, and this fellow life he light belong all people.
In Him was life, and this life was the light of all mankind.
5-Dispela lait i save lait i stap long tudak, na tudak i no bin duanim em.
This fellow light knew light stopped in darkness, and darkness no (bin=past tense marker) downed him.
This light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome him.
Em i naispela tok tok?
He nice fellow speech?
Isn't that a beautiful passage?
Em tasol, lukim yu behain! Gutpela Krismas!
Him that's all, look you behind (behind meaning later in time, behind the present)! Good Christmas!
That's it! See you later! Merry Christmas!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Cat and Mouse
Thursday, December 20, 2007
The M and I walked and drove around the neighborhood shaking a container of cat food like some kind of duck call or giant baby rattle, but to no avail. How could she resist such a hypnotic shake-o-shake noise? Shouldn't she come running out from the bushes where she must be hiding? Alas, she was nowhere to be seen. My shaking arm was getting tired so I gave up and went home. But just as I pulled into the driveway she come trotting across the yard to the front door. I was relieved but concerned. She was only gone for 20-30 minutes, so maybe we won't have more kittens. But man! no more procrastination; I've got to finish reading those DIY spay kit directions I found online.
Later, at HEB doing some shopping, I ran into my new friend, the produce guy with the eyebrow ring. I casually mentioned our little adventure with the cat while I fondled the butternut squash.
Produce Guy: waoh dude, you had a close call, yo?
Me: Yes I did, our family would have been really sad if she hadn't come home. "Inside" cats are especially eager to get outside when they're in heat.
Produce Guy: yeah, she was like, driven, to get out and connect; make like, a cosmic connection, yo
Me: er... yeah I guess so.
Produce Guy: all of us are like, hard-wired for connection, yo
He then went on to explain how people (and cats, by implication) are universally social, that we need connections with other people, and how this is on account of the Trinity, but I didn't understand what he meant by that last part. He said this desire, this drive, can be motivation for healthy connections, or good relationships, but also for self-destructive ones. He went on to explain how romance novels and pornography are essentially the same thing: a self-destructive embodiment of the universal desire for relationship.
At this point he rolled his produce cart over to the tomato section and started softly humming Johnny Lee's "Lookin' for Love in All The Wrong Places" from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack. I just stood there in stunned silence.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Why do I hold this double standard against myself? What if I applied this same logic to the Ugandan orphans I intend to help? "If they were better people these orphans would pull themselves up by their bootstraps (if only they had shoes) and stop asking people for help." Of course, this is ludicrous. The only explanation for this dichotomy is my pride. I don't want to admit weakness or imperfection, at least when it comes to money management. I can joke about being fat, but relying on others financially makes me embarrassed. Someone recently reminded me that Jesus didn't have a job during his three-year ministry, but that he must have relied on others for his material needs like food, shelter, and airline tickets. Hmm.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Dear Advocates for the Weak, Marginalized, and Oppressed,
Dear Proponents of Alternative Energy,
Dear Believers in Education and the Transformative Experience of Travel Abroad,
Dear Lovers of God,
Dear Lookers for Year-End Tax Deductions:
I have a fantastic opportunity for you! I am more excited about my next trip than any I have taken before. Let me tell you about it and explain why I think it is an excellent opportunity not only for my family, my students, and me, but for you as well.
What is the plan?Half a dozen engineering students will travel with me and my family to 500 acres of rural Uganda on the Victoria Nile River to partner with a new Christian non-profit organization called Restoration Gateway. Among the goals of visionary leader Tim McCall, M.D., are to build an orphanage, a medical clinic, a seminary, a vocational training school, and other ministries over the coming decade. At this early stage, infrastructure needs have a high priority. At present, a team of 40 Ugandan employees is producing bricks for building construction. The first orphan home now has a foundation and walls. Our assignment is to provide electrical power for a cluster of orphan homes using wind power. We will specify, purchase, and assemble a suitable wind turbine(s) and associated electrical gear. We will design, construct, and erect towers to mount the turbines including guy wires and foundations.
Beginning in 1987, civil wars ravished the country, especially in the north, halting forward economic and social movement, and robbing thousands of children of their innocence. The guerrilla army known as the Lord’s Resistance Army has engaged in mass abductions, rape, murder, and forcing children to be child soldiers or sex slaves. The conflict and abductions largely ended a few years ago, but the scars (physical, emotional, economic) are still present.
Part of Dr. McCall’s strategy is to train and mobilize the church in the southern part of Uganda, relatively stable and prosperous, to minister to its own in the north. Thus, there will be educational and training aspects to his planned medical clinic, for example. My point is that investments made in this project will not only serve the immediate needs of the area, but continue to earn the interest of good works from future generations of Ugandan nationals.
A Personal Note:
M and I went to visit Restoration Gateway in September of this year. It was her first time to Africa and she was profoundly moved. She often cried at night and when I asked her why she said it was just so hard to see such poverty and suffering. It is hard. And it is life changing. We slept under a mosquito net in a traditional mud hut with a thatched roof (albeit with a new concrete floor). I was helping with a solar panel array for the base camp, and M made bricks, worked with a medical student doing HIV testing, and befriended the ladies. M made a friend in Evelyn, one of the workers employed by Restoration Gateway. Her two youngest children would accompany her to work and quietly play while she made bricks. The older of the two was named Jewan and was about eight. She took care of her little sister, Small (her real name apparently) who was less than two. On our last day, Evelyn brought a gift for us from her children, three raw eggs from their chickens and a bag of “gee nuts” which you and I know as peanuts. We were touched by her generosity.
For our next visit we plan to stay three weeks instead of one. We want to bring the boys too. We feel that this trip could be a trajectory setting experience for them as they see their parents and many others living out a calling to service to Christ through the service to the poor.
How Can You Find Out More Information?
This post could be a much longer, but I want to respect your time and be concise. However, I created a blog to help disseminate information to my students and their parents. Please see http://uganda-eat-that.blogspot.com/ (this is not a joke despite the witty URL). From there you can read more about why I believe this is the project God has for us right now. You can also read a detailed list of the equipment we need and perhaps choose one to underwrite.
Will you please prayerfully consider joining us by contributing financially to this endeavor? Please leave me a comment or send an email to find out more about this tax-deductable opportunity.
Middle-Aged Fat Guy
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Then, last year, I got a call telling me that my records were in their database and had been found to match a man with a type of lymphoma that could be treated in this way. Was I interested? Sure. But later my patient developed complications and the transplant didn't occur.
But last week they called again and we are back on track! So today I had a physical where a doctor confirmed that I was indeed a middle-aged fat guy with blood marrow. They did an EKG which was painless until the tape ripped some chest hairs out! The doc was sure surprised when my chest x-ray showed a rare Rogaine-producing internal organ, but it finally accounted for my general state of hairiness which had puzzled the medical community for so long.
After the new year, the plan is for me to get a series of shots that makes my marrow go into overdrive and produce an abundance of stem cells. These are then sifted by pouring all my blood through a very small kitchen strainer and then the patient gets them by mixing them with left-over holiday eggnog and swigging it down with a flourish of machismo. Something like that. I'm a bit fuzzy on the details.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I like this one because it makes me look ripped.
It's an optical illusion of course, no Photoshop tricksies.
To the bat cave!
Imagine everyone's surprise when, after an evening of ghost stories,
this scary image rose up out of the campfire!
Pops' high-tech goggles allow him to see the secret path through the emerald jungle.
D caught a rare feathered crawfish but had to throw it back
on account of it being endangered.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Jono threw up this morning. We were awakened by a distressed "mama" and then it came splattering over the hardwood floors of our bedroom and covering M's magazines and house shoes. Poor boy. In effort to nurse him back to health we made him home made chicken noodle soup for dinner. He loved it because he was starving! I had limited him to crackers and water all day.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Consider, if you will, the New Testament doctrine of predestination. Why should you? Mostly 'cause I'm an amateur on the subject and I like to stir up controversy to build my readership. Predestination is when the you forget to change your clocks for daylight savings time and you accidentally arrive at your destination one hour early. This is not to be confused with re-destination which is when you miss your exit on the freeway and have to double U-turn to get back to it. At least that's what I used to think...
Until the produce guy with the eyebrow ring told me otherwise. It went something like this:
Me: Excuse me, but can you help me pick out a good butternut squash? I can't seem to choose.
Produce Guy: dude, you have to like, thump it and roll it over in your hands, yo, and like, smell it (he takes a big sniff)
Me: But what am I feeling for? I mean, how is it supposed to smell? What does a good one sound like?
Produce Guy: woah, that's like, a lot of questions dude, ultimately you just have to pick one
Me: But how do I know which one is best?
Produce Guy: well dude, really what you need to do is let the squash pick you, yo, yeah, let it pick you (at this point he mumbled something I couldn't understand and began adjusting the bell peppers)
Me: So which is it then? Do I pick it or does it pick me?
Produce Guy: (with yoda-like seriousness) yeah dude, you got it.
So there it is, a temporary agnosticism. Still don't see it? Let me elaborate. The New Testament insists on two seemingly contradictory viewpoints. One is that God is in ultimate control of everything and that even if we "choose" to follow him we have done so only because he made us to, or predestined us to. But the New Testament also says that we are responsible to God for our choice to follow him or not. Therein lies the apparent contradiction. Do we have freedom to choose or not?
Instead of trying to answer this question, a question that has eluded an answer that can be agreed upon by all (or even most) Christians for centuries, a question that has received lifetimes of scrutiny by smarter folks than I (like John Calvin in the painting), instead of embarrassing myself by giving an answer, let me just tell you what has brought me some phycho-peace about the subject. You guessed it: the wave-particle duality of light.
Physicists couldn't see how light (or electrons) could be both waves and simultaneously particles until someone eventually figured it out (Richard Feynman). Until he figured out QED theory physicists fell into one of three categories: wave guys, particle guys, and temporary agnosticism guys. The later could not dispute experiments that showed contradictory evidence, and yet they could not explain it, but they figured that one day someone would untangle the nasty mess. (See my other post about physicists and philosophers on November 27)
So perhaps those of us who take the New Testament seriously can agree to hold these two, seemingly contradictory views in tension for a while. It seems unlikely that humans will ever discover a way to reconcile them, but surely God can in heaven. So being a temporary agnostic, at least in this sense, is sounding pretty good to me. Does that sound like a cop-out to you?
Monday, December 3, 2007
Every day they are watching me, learning good habits and bad. And not just my children, my students are watching me too. Heaven help them all.
Tonight I was having Jono read to me. We chose "Hop on Pop" and he read it pretty well. Then we got to "Thing thing, that thing can sing" which he read "Thang thang, that thang can sing". What's worse is I didn't even notice at first! Where did he learn to talk like that? Probably from his mother.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
I was reminded of the light saber fights we had a few years ago. I love this picture. The boys got light sabers and jedi capes for Christmas.
Before the game I had a group of students over for dinner to talk about a trip to Uganda we are planning for next summer. As we sat down to eat I said to one of them, "John, will you offer thanks for our food please?" and to my surprise my little Jono thought I was talking to him and said "sure". Before I could say anything he started the cutest little prayer. I can't even remember what he said because I was so shocked that he would do that in front of everyone. We all exchanged looks after the "Amen" to acknowledge we had just witnessed something special.
The boys and I put up the Christmas tree today. Tonight they are sleeping on their camping pads with sleeping bags in front of the tree. As I write this they are laying in their sleeping bags reading books.
Earlier D said his stomach hurt and that it "felt like the milk had given him indigestion" and that he was feeling "milkish". I couldn't help laughing out loud at "milkish". A couple of Tums and all was better. Next time I'll give him mentos.