Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Casa (same connotation as home?)

Tonight was cool. We (los americanos) went out to a restaurant with about ten other people our age. It made me feel at home. I suppose I am used to doing doing doing when in other countries (i.e. mission trips) but tonight was a night I could just enjoy with others my age. It's going to be good... getting only better I think.

Something sucky I was thinking about today was how I am going to get attached to this place. Perhaps a lot. Which just adds a home for me. And then I'll be missing two homes at all times (my homes being Michigan, Taylor, perhaps Ecuador). It's one of those parts of life that I wish I could do without. Why can't all the people/places be in one place? I'm not sure what I think heaven will be like (b/c I'm seeing Jesus calls us to bring heaven to earth now) but if there are to be some sort of added supernatural things going on, I hope for a closeness of friends.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two anecdotes from the day

1. Met up with los Americanos in downtown Cuenca. Decided to take a bus home. Found myself up in the hills and had to get off bus. Took another bus down to the city. Opted for a taxi. It’s all good.

2. I wrote the following in my journal while attending the Verbo Church’s youth group meeting following an accident involving the deaths of three of their students:

It’s so amazing to see a group of young people who rely on the Lord so well. Through this incredible loss, they praise God whole heartedly. Humbling to witness. While the teenagers speak through bandages, recounting humorous stories, a sign of healing can be seen on the horizon.

Monday, August 27, 2007

More stuff and general comments

Saturday – Consisted of getting up and hopping on a bus headed for Cuenca (where all our host families, schools/practicum, and church are located). Ridiculously beautiful drive through the Andes Mountains. Being enveloped within clouds. Breaking through. Hitting the tree line. Waking up from a nap cold and in wonder at how I can be cold while practically sitting on the equator. Arrival at the church comes quick and I’m off with my family. Scared? Si. Thankfully, my host family knows quite a bit of English so it’s not a complete drop-of from my English thinking mind. I meet everyone and within a half hour I am invited to a friend’s wedding. “Sure, why not” I say. So later on that night the kids and I get all spiffed up and head to the wedding. Well we’re 45 minutes late but I don’t think it mattered because the wedding was a part of a Saturday evening mass or something and I don’t think we missed much. Regardless, I witnessed a Roman Catholic wedding within a day of arriving to Ecuador. Nice. The reception was off the heezy. Well, I was lost most of the time but it was quite fancy (and I was a bit underdressed) and the food was good. A little bit of dancing and I called it a night.

Sunday – Church was exciting. Worship was very good and the sermon confusing. Taylor gave us these great Spanish/English Bibles which I wasn’t all about at first (more luggage weight?) but am now happy I brought it down. After the service we learned that their youth group was returning to Cuenca from an orphanage they had just been at and there was an accident. Three students died. Oh what an overwhelming event. My brothers and sister are quite affected obviously. I just sit to the side and pray. I’m to take a nap now. It will be good. >> Saw some of the city. As I see more, I like more.

A few general comments:

First, it’s flippin’ cold all over the place. Wore a tee-shirt, polo, and sweater all day today and if anything, was cold. I know I referenced the cool temperatures earlier but it’s still noticeable to me.

Second, they eat a boatload of food. I’ll give you today’s menu –
Breakfast: scrabbled egg, bread, juice, coffee.
Snack before lunch: banana, two small peach things, plantain.
Lunch: potato soup, large plate of rice, meat, veggies, fruit salad.
Dinner: Coffee, sandwich.
Snack: Doritos, strange fruit, hot cocoa.

It’s killing me. I’m a man of small meals and they’re not all about that come lunch time. Perhaps I will become Josiah Gordo Hatfield. Doubtful though with all of their natural foods (I’m thinking I’m going to be craving some good ol’ preservatives in a month or so).

Third, this place is uber trendy. Like, think of the pictures you see in GAP and J. Crew and then make them all Hispanic. Wow, I am humbled. Oh, and the girls are beautiful. Wow, I am humbled. :)

Random: host parents 30th anniversary was on August 20 of this year. My parents 30th anniversary was August 13th of this year. Odd.

Wed - Thurs

Wow so there’s been a lot that has happened. I’ll provide a short itinerary with humorous side notes and then might make a general comment if that’s alright with you.

Wednesday – Leave Brighton, arrive at Taylor, enjoy time with college friends, regret having to leave after half a day with college friends, go to a movie and Wal-Mart, fall asleep in old roommate’s [air-conditioned] house.

Thursday – Wake up and go to a meeting at 10 am for Ecuador. Quick junk, right? Negative. We don’t finish up until 8 pm that night. Of course there were breaks and Subway and Top-It Pizza but wow that was a lot of Ecuador. It was actually all good to hear I just wish I could have met up with the guys more.

Friday – Meet up at the Ayers building at 8 am. Bagels and whipped cream cheese then off to Indy. Ruf, Brittany, Jordan, Kevin, Prof. Adams, and I hop on our dinky plane to Houston and arrive within a couple hours. Five hours of airport greatness awaits us. Start it off right with some Panda Express and then a lot of mindlessly walking. Airport shops are not half bad. No purchases were made but I was impressed. Aside from the exquisite shopping, the Houston Airport highlight had to have been two groups we saw boarding planes at our gate. Group #1: Mexican deportees headed back home. They seemed nice enough. Group #2: Asian traveling group with fluorescent pink hats and shirts. I believe I have a picture. Board the plane half hour late. No biggie. Sit on plane for three hours waiting for a new computer and software to be loaded on the plane. Biggie. Though life goes on. Arrive in Guayaquil around 3 am. Get to bed by 4:30 am while setting the alarm for 7:30. Those are fun ones.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

my previous title was a lie - thoughts on random behavior

[I hesitate to post this essay (?) on this blog. Most of the people who read my myspace blog know my church background and thus know where I'm coming from a little bit more. I think it is clear enough...]

I'm not so sure if I'm keen on the [church?] argument stating "I don't care if I look stupid, God thinks I'm cool" or "I don't care how this looks, God told me to do it."

Let me tell you why.

First, if God were to call me to do something that was ridiculous in nature, I would want to think about whether or not it is drawing people in or creating an erratic image for followers of Christ. In a sense, I want to live by the verse stating "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." Whatever I do, I want it to be relatable to the people I'm surrounded by. I don't want to get too critical so I guess I'm not saying that God does not call us to do odd things now and then; I just don't like the attitude that we can get of priding ourselves in doing things eccentric in nature.

Second, this is easily used as a cover for our own weirdness. Every time we might get ridiculed for anything, we simply see it as our own personal martyrdom brought on by the local heathen. I don't want to criticize our idiosyncrasies, for that is what makes us individuals, but I don't think we should be blaming our Lord and Savior on our more atypical tendencies. Well… perhaps God can be accredited for creating us unique (with our "atypical tendencies") but I don't think he made our own peculiar behaviors requirements of the Christian faith. Basically, I think Christians get noted for their odd-looking practice of their faith, and then automatically think the critic is "anti-Christian"… which I don't think is the case all the time.

Third, (and this may just be my second point rephrased (I'm not sure…)) this argument has the potential to create a lazy attitude. If we're doing things that we are pre-ordaining by God, we're infallible. Regardless of how well we prepare, act, or whatever we are doing, we set ourselves above critique. Personally, I still think we should be acting out of a sense of excellence (excellence being our highest potential – don't peg me as a perfectionist who looks down on anything short of brilliant).

Let me give a brief example. In high school, I had this image of someone walking down the hallways of school, praying out loud (really loudly), and doing the whole hand on the head thing to cause the whole slain in the spirit thing (I was fresh off of a few trips to [Pentecostal] Brownsville). I just thought if at some point in my high school career I get to this point, I will officially be a super-Christian remembered by students to come (you know, like Jacob Gaines or one of those legends that go down in BCC youth group lore). Now I'm not saying that wouldn't have been a good thing if that happened. I just don't know if it is what God really calls us to. I see a high moral character (something lacking in high school – at least when I was there), a caring/accepting attitude, or a defending of the weak as a stronger statement for the kingdom of God then a big show is.

Alright, I think that's it. If you read all of that and it made sense I believe that is a miracle in itself (it's ten til 3am and the ideas floating around in my head probably aren't all that clear). If my thoughts enlightened, confused, offended or challenged you (or had any other type of effect on you), please comment. Also, I realize I'm immature and have irrational thoughts. Everything that I just said could probably be rebutted with a simple phrase and be proven totally wrong... and that's alright.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Final (North American) Post

I head off to Taylor tomorrow. Friday I leave for Ecuador.

I'll do my best to post blogs every now and then but that will probably depend on the level of my internet access.

I'm excited to be in a different country. That always brings new and exciting things. Little worried about having to be there for four months. So far in my life I have taken trips. Four months is a bit more than a trip. There isn't really an expectation of returning. A settling in is expected.... and will probably make the return home just as bad as leaving home.

Well, I guess that's all for now. Happy Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving.
Til Christmas.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Money Makes Me, Me!"

No, this isn't a blog begging for money (although I am accepting donations for the "Josiah's Ecuador Party Money" fund).

As you probably know, I go to a private Christian university known for integrating faith and academics fairly well. This school isn't cheap... so most people attending this school have enough money to live.

I live in a suburban city. I had mulitiple friends in high school who had cars given to them when they turned 16, didn't work during the year, and/or had fairly large houses on one of Michigan's lakes.

Now a pet-peev of mine has always been those kids who have money but don't want to be known as someone with money. Comments like, "C'mon, [insert affluent kid's name], your family is rich, buy me just one burrito." Rich kid replies, "Yeah right! I had to do all the dishes to get this $50 from my Dad!" A disagreement concerning the actual wealth of said family then follows and nothing is really resolved. Let me say this to you, affluent kid, "you have money, deal with it."

But that's not the point of this blog. What I want to address is the kid with not as much as "rich kid." Isn't it funny how we take pride in not having money? I assume this comes from the whole dreamy idea of "rags to riches" where one can claim "I worked my way to where I'm at!" The thought of having any sort of advantage in life is offensive.

I suppose I always put myself in this category because c'mon, I had to pay for movies in high school and chip in for half of my first car! I scrimped and scraped from square one!

The bigger problem I'm seeing here is the financial classification itself. Why do I let myself be defined by how much money I have (or don't have)? What a ridiculous thought it is to believe that the amount of money I have or don't have makes me more or less of a person.

Now I don't want to downplay the words or actions of Jesus. I still think that not only an attitude of dependency on God for material things is required but also a follow-up on that by actually giving and living to/with the poor. It's just dumb how money makes a person in a lot of societies.

For the record, I realize I have money. I live in America - I have money. I go to a private school - I have money. I have a car and am able to put gas in it - I have money.

Where to? Hopefully to a place void of judgement in the monetary sense (or any sense really). Yeah, there's people out there who spend too much (yeah, in the church too). But hey, I mis-spend the bit I have as well. I want to come to the place of being conservative in spending for myself while being extravagant in my spending for others... but I'm not there and even when/if I do get there, I'm sure there'll still be further to go.

I'll end it the same why most of my journal entries have ended recently - Lord, help me.

post -note: (I had all these marvelous thoughts on how this thought would come out so eloquently and make everyone read it go, "wow, that Josiah guy has so many interesting thoughts and puts it so well." Unfortunately, I don't think I've achieved either of those marks. So I apologize for my thoughts being incomplete or totally thought-out and my written word being slightly confusing.)