21 June 2008

Songs for traveling.

image from sigur ros "hvarf"

I was talking to a friend tonight and realized my favorite "looking out the window of the plane" music is (don't mind the naked bums on their album cover! oh my!) Sigur Ros. It's hauntingly beautiful, sad and wonderful. If you have not had a chance to see Heima yet, it's a great film about their band, and about being home. Also, not surprisingly, very moving.

This is also going to be my trip music.

And this too, which reminds me of the music from Amalie. Try "Elephant Gun."

We leave tomorrow for Chicago, then London, then Addis Ababa. I'm procrastinating instead of packing. A bit ago the sun set into an evening of porch sitting, eating good food and talking to good friends. My favorite things. It's like getting to leave town on a full stomach, if that makes sense. Good community is not something to be taken for granted. Thanks friends, for being who you are.

Court let me borrow Through Painted Deserts, by Donald Miller, for trip reading. The subtitle is Light, God and Beauty on the Open Road. That sounds just about perfect. I've also been reading Nouwen's Clowning In Rome--highly recommended by several friends, and so far some interesting thoughts on solitude, celibacy, prayer and contemplation.

A friend shared this article with me about the project we are going to be visiting and working with. It makes me a little bit afraid that, like Tanzania, I might not want to come home. It's not that home isn't wonderful, but you know...

AIDS Ministry Serves As a Means of Reconciliation
May 2008
“We looked around and didn’t see anybody doing anything about it.”

So said Mission to the World (MTW) missionary Andy Warren about caring for HIV/AIDS patients living in the slums of Ethiopia.

“We saw a lot of people talking about the problem, but no one addressing the needs of the poorest of the poor.”

Andy and Bev Warren, who serve as both MTW and Serving in Mission (SIM) missionaries, moved to Addis Ababa 12 years ago and began ministering to HIV/AIDS patients in 2002. Their AIDS Care and Treatment (ACT) project focuses on caring for HIV-positive patients and their families.

“We started small—just going into homes in the slums, making sure people got fed, their rent was paid, household tasks were done,” said Warren. Now ACT is the lead agency for HIV care in the country, employing 75 Ethiopian staff in 14 health centers and hospitals, and counseling some 10,000 patients each year.

“Our care has had so much success that the government has asked us to take over,” said Warren. “There’s no limit on what we’ll do for our patients. We tell them, ‘If there’s a legitimate need you have, we’ll meet it.’”
The Warrens’ work through ACT includes everything from making sure the sick see a doctor to providing watches and pillboxes to remind patients to take their medications to helping provide money for patients’ children to attend school. They also organize the sick into support groups so that they can learn from and help one another.

“Our counselors coach patients with medical information, positive living teaching, and spiritual guidance,” said Warren. “And we train ‘expert patients,’ who are also HIV-positive, to reach out to those who have just been diagnosed.”

Warren sees ACT’s HIV/AIDS ministry as a means of reconciliation. “We tell our staff all the time that the Fall has affected everything, and that we’re here to bring reconciliation through the gospel—reconciliation with God, with others, and with creation, by fighting disease.”

He cites ministries of compassion as the way early Christianity spread. “Everyone else fled the cities when disasters occurred—fires, earthquakes, plagues. But the Christians stayed and cared for people and buried the dead. They became famous for it, and that’s the reason Christianity grew the way it did.”

Warren’s MTW church-planting team has recently added new members, including a doctor, and has future plans to expand their ministry.

“We’re hoping to help those with tuberculosis and terminal illness, and we’d like to try to reduce infant mortality,” he said. “We’re really like to reach the whole community—not just those with AIDS.”

I'll see ya soon.

10 June 2008

"we will only see as much grace as we risk needing."

Excerpt from this great post on this great blog.

"Jars, a whole village’s collection, in 2 Kings 4, gathered by a widow and mysteriously filled with oil. In the morning’s sermon the young preacher quoted William Carey’s 'Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God...' The oil flowed to fill every pot she brought, the abundance equal to her vision and industry. A great picture for us: we will only see as much grace as we risk needing."
from paradoxuganda

Also, listen to this: Breathe in Breathe Out. Nice.

08 June 2008

evenings and mornings

the african violet is blooming again. three pink flowers, and hiding under their petals, five unopened buds. all straining toward the light on that ledge in the kitchen that looks out into the back yard, which parades its own simple fertility. looking out the window, and watching the light wane, i am tempted go out and steal a handful of the freshly mown lawn just so i can keep smelling it.

evening begins to arrive. the evenings meander in this late spring; they are full of cricket noises, drips from our upstairs neighbor's air conditioner, cicadas. there are not silences in the city nights.

a season of blooms straining toward the light. a season of drinking in--of watching the fullness--so that there are no such thing as restless hours.

a friend told me that he used to mistake drama for something profound. the chaos and passion seem mysterious, but we feel foolish when we realize that we are scurrying in senseless circles; that we are saying nothing new; that the words and patterns we tinker with are insipid and lacking imagination.

sometimes it is a surprise when we remember that He created us to be people of visions and dreams in our sleep, and in our waking. that in the here and now, there is possibility for what could and should, and will eventually, be.


as evening falls i go out walking into the sliver-mooned night, my mind thirsty and searching: needing to know that i am resting in God's palm--with the indigo sky and the brightening stars. i go out into the fading day looking for the new words, asking for the promised illumination. i listen and watch. this and every night threaten to pass by without my noticing, threaten to sneak away from me in a moment of distraction if i don't choose to take notice.

the words begin to come as i walk. the night, the feeling in my feet, the smell on the wind--make me think of bread with honey, make me think of memories of things that make you cry in a good way. but sometimes the truth of the words that come cause me to strain against their bitterness; i dislike their flavor. i find myself choosing an unnecessary silence. but i am no longer surprised by my own reticence--my soul's choosing to see only what it wants to see and hear only what it wants to hear. are we all quiet rebels and a stubborn pessimists in times like these, or is it just me?


when dawn comes again, i strain toward the light like the african violets. strain to hear his voice as it comes whispering in over the waters, over the hills of the park, over the sleeping raccoons with their bandit masks and over the trees in their watch keeping.

he calls me to wake, calls all of this to wake. calls each created one and thing to its purpose. to be called by our true names is love. to hear his voice is the profound illumination, is the beginning of walking in the light. someone once said "only God can give a man this--his own name." as i begin hear mine, faintly, i remember again that he does not choose unnecessary silence. i remember again that we are to seek, to ask, to knock, to taste and see, to get up and walk. so today, i open my eyes to the light, and i strain toward it.