Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday can't come soon enough!

I'm tired of this election. I'm ready for it to be over so we can move on. I'm tired of Christians yelling at each other, judging each other, labeling each other. I'm tired of fear mongering, and finger pointing and selfish prayers. I'm tired of being told you can't be a Christian if you're a democrat, or if you vote for Obama. For the record, I'm an independent - and I vote for whom I perceive is the best option I have. I've been yelled at, ridiculed and de-friended - if that's even a word. Evangelicals are calling for non-stop prayer - but just for their agenda instead of God's will. Hmmmm. I say whoever gets elected IS God's choice. One side will be a winner, one side will be a loser. And we need to get over it. And pull together and support whoever wins - for the good of the country. Yes - bad things might happen if Obama gets elected, but seriously, bad things might happen if McCain gets elected too! We could/will see some of the same results or things happening that the infamous Focus on The Family letter warns about no matter which candidate is elected. I guess I'm wondering where the grace has gone, and the respect. This election just makes me cringe. And I will be glad when it is over. No matter who wins.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Moving is never easy!

I was thinking about my friends in Haiti today. They are finally ready to move from Jeremie to the new house, Kay Bo Rivye, or house by the river, in Marfranc. When I think of moving, I think of the way we move here. And that's pretty up to date since we just helped our friends get a house ready to sell, as well as pack a moving truck when it was time to go. But our challenges are nothing like the challenges in Haiti.

Before Steve and Joline could move to Kay Bo Rivye they had to make sure the grillage is finished. These are wrought iron panels that fill all the open spaces like windows and porch to keep the house safe from looters. This has been an immense ongoing project. It was one of the things we worked on when we were there in July.

installing the grillage

Now the grillage is finally up so it is safe to move their things from Jeremie to the new house. Which is a true adventure because of the rutted, dusty, difficult road they need to travel. At the same time they are again having trouble with their workhorse truck, and without it the move will be impossible.

And they are still finishing the house as I write this - finishing the ceiling, tiling (at least partially) the floor, and making sure there is "running" water. Ah, yes. Water. There is no well yet. It is way too costly to have it dug. So, while they are looking at alternatives for digging this well, they still need water. There is a large water tank on the top of the house. But how do you fill it? Someone has loaned them a 250 gallon plastic container that they need to put in the back of the truck (the one that is having issues) and take it to the spring and fill it up. Then transport it back to the house and pump the water up to the holding tank on the roof. Think about that. 250 gallons. Which sounds like a lot until you realize this is their only source of water for cooking. laundry, bathing and flushing the toilets. Do you know how fast 250 gallons gets used up? They are trying to locate 5 or 6 55 gallon drums so they can return the 250 gallon container. But just imagine - weekly (or more often) trips to the spring to fill up their water supply. Now every time my taps are running, or the shower, or the washer, I think of Steve and Joline.

pumping water to the roof

When we move we just call and have the utilities turned on. No electricity in Marfranc. So they need to get the generator and the inverters installed so they can have power to run the fans (to keep cool and keep the mosquitoes at bay) as well as lights and internet. (In Jeremie a total of 900KW of electricity is provided by Electricite D'etat d'Haiti - EDH. Jeremie receives only about 26 hours of electricity a week from EDH. - and that's Jeremie, not Marfranc...)

Internet. All internet comes in via satellite. Steve and Joline need the satellite company from Port Au Prince to come and hook it up. But they need to pay upfront. No big deal, right? No, you can't just hand them cash, or a check. They want it deposited into the Unibank and then transferred to the satellite company. Simple again, right? Nope. Joline went into Jeremie to cash the check and then stand in line at the bank to deposit it, but the man who changes checks into US cash wasn't there and they had no idea when he would be there. So, no internet. Yet. I think she was going to try again today (Monday, Oct. 27)

Marfranc is pretty isolated in the hill country. Steve and Joline will still have to go into Jeremie for stuff they need. But they are trying to get as much stuff done as possible to cut down on travel. This includes vet visits, shopping, buying gasoline etc. Gasoline is a huge need - they have to have it to run the generator. And gas in Haiti is expensive. They are hoping they can find someone who knows about and is willing to give them a deal on installation of solar panels so they can cut back on gasoline consumption. This would be a great relief to them. So in addition to finding a way to drill a well, they are looking for a way to power their house.

And on top of it all, Steve is sick. And trying to adjust to new medication in the middle of all this frustration and stress. And it's not easy to be sick in Haiti either. Their main Dr. is in Port Au Prince. (Jeremie is a 50 minute regional plane ride from Port-Au-Prince. Altho it is only about 140 miles from Port, if you choose to drive it is a 10 -12 hour trip.)

Anyway - moving. Never fun. Always stressful. But moving in Haiti gives a whole new meaning to stress and frustration. They also need to find and train new house staff. They have a lead on a couple of ladies - people who really need the work from the Marfranc church. Still, helping them understand what needs to be done, and how you want it done can be a challenge. Please, if you think about it, pray for our friends this week. They are excited about the move, but there is a lot to do. They are feeling very overwhelmed. And lots of small irritating things have been going wrong as they prepare to finish their moving this week. Satan is alive and well in Haiti. They would appreciate being blanketed with prayer as they follow the path God has chosen for them.

On behalf of my friends, Steve and Joline Moore, with New Life for Haiti, thank you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

who moved my ebenezer?

What do you do if your ebenezer is a person? Yes, I know that you aren't supposed to trust in men. (tho I guess you really don't trust in an ebenezer anyway, rather use it as a visual symbol.) But this was different. This was a baby. A baby who symbolized many things: hope, the power of prayer, that God was still alive and working - not just in general, but in my world. It was my sign. GOD IS REAL. And every time I looked at her I remembered. Until she was no longer in front of me. Along with the struggle of losing community and losing friends I lost my ebenezer.

What is an ebenezer? Actually in Hebrew, the word ebenezer is two words - one meaning "help" and one meaning "stone". So the literal meaning of ebenezer is "Stone of Help". Samuel built an ebenezer on the occasion when the Israelites finally were victorious over the Philistines. Despite previous losses or failures in this same endeavor, they kept on and ultimately defeated the enemy.

Dr. Gregory S. Neal, Senior Pastor of St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Mesquite, Texas has this to say: " Literally speaking, an Ebenezer is a "stone of help," or a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid. Spiritually and theologically speaking, an Ebenezer can be nearly anything that reminds us of God’s presence and help: the Bible, the Sacramental Elements, a cross, a picture, a fellow believer, a hymn – those things which serve as reminders of God’s love, God’s Real Presence, and God’s assistance are "Ebenezers."

During a very rough time in my life, one of great doubting and great questioning, a tiny baby became my symbol of God's faithfulness. No matter how bad things got after that I could look at her face and see God and his presence. She became my reminder that He got me through it before, he will again. But she's no longer in a place where I can go to embrace my ebenezer, to touch the stones, to feel like I'm standing in the presence of God.

I have lost my ability to see the sun through the clouds, the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel kinda hopeless, and don't know how to recover. Before, when it got rough all I had to do was hold her, even just see her and I was reminded of the faithfulness of a loving God. He is there. He is at work, He answers pray. He cares.

And right now it seems like too much work to get to the place where I have a reason to build a new ebenezer.....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

All my friends live in my computer.....

I'm feeling more ADD than I've ever felt in my life.....
Seriously. I read for about ten minutes and then I'm done. Especially if it's non-fiction. Maybe it's the fact that I have no one to discuss it with.
Newspapers - uh, no. Even tho they are piling up in my driveway.
Movies are way too long - in these days of digital media movies get longer and longer and aren't edited as tightly. It annoys me. Just cuz you can put it in doesn't mean you should.
TV is annoying too. Nothing new under the sun. Especially in the dramas like Heroes, Lost (still my fave) etc. Get to the point already. At least start making us feel like you have a point. I can only keep track of so many threads for so long.
Music - Hmmmm. Just tiring after while. I'm liking to listen to the silence.
Even conversations....Is this a monologue or a conversation? Quit with the hour story telling. I can't remain engaged for that long..... And quite honestly - I'd like to contribute to the conversation too.
Church - it would probably annoy me too with the same old same old - non relevant messages - if I was going. Right now, I'm not. But that's another story.
Maybe it's the internet that contributes to this lack of concentration. Short snippets of news. Quick emails from friends. Current updates on facebook in snappy sentences. The latest pictures of friends and family. Possibly I have no patience for the rest of the media because I wanna hop back on FB or email and see what's new in your world. Instant gratification. Waiting is a lost art. Remember the days of snail mail and *gasp* letters?

I was also thinking about going out with friends. Or not going out as has been the norm lately. Not because I am socially inept, but because I am an introvert. Things always sound good until the day of the event - and then it's just too darn much trouble to go - especially when I can curl up with all the media I'm annoyed at instead. LOL. Don't count on me to make plans. I'll be happy to come - because when I do, I always have fun. But the planning - not so much. I don't like phones, I rarely see people cuz I work all day, and the internet isn't the best way to make plans for dinner or a movie. Dawn, Sandy, and Judy - I'm still up for a movie - anybody wanna figure out the details?

My lack of communication is not cuz I don't like you. I do. It's not cuz I'm stuck up. I'm not. It's just that I'm an introvert and that's the way I roll.

How did I get from ADD to introversion?
Case in point. LOL.
It's pretty bad when you distract yourself!

I need to go make dinner.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I don't even know you, but I'm deeply affected....

So, there was a horrible accident in our area today. Apparently a helicopter taking an ill child from a far western suburb into Chicago crashed killing all on board. The pilot, the nurse, the paramedic, and the 13 month old child.
Maybe this wouldn't affect me so much had I not had a child in a very similar situation years ago. This child yesterday was apparently being moved to the city due to some kind of epileptic seizures.
Probably not life threatening if treated promptly and appropriately. The parents handed their baby over to the professionals counting on a good outcome.
As did I 22 years ago. My child was 2 weeks old and started having seizures. We got her to the local urgent care and they knew she needed more intervention than they could provide. It was during rush hour, so an ambulance was out of the question and they called the life flight helicopter.
Again, we handed our child over to the team, and then we drove like crazy people 45 minutes to the hospital she had been taken to. The whole time we were stressed, panicky, upset and totally out of control of a horribly scary situation. We arrived at the hospital where she was being treated and went on from there. We never imagined a scenario where she wouldn't make it to the hospital. It was scary enough to see her fly off, and not be with her taking an active roll in helping her. We had to trust.
Just like the parents did yesterday. I can't imagine how devastated they are today. I have an inkling due to my experience, but still - I can't even fathom it. I feel shaken, and deeply sad.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess

I've been reading Matthew Paul Turner's excellent book Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess by Matthew Paul Turner. I finished it last night. It was a quick read, but it kept dragging me down rabbit trails of memories. I could so relate to this book. I love Matthew's humor and ability to express and expose the absurdity of things without being offensive.

However, while I found the book engaging and quite entertaining, I was quite surprised at the emotions the book invoked in me. Wow.

I felt the fear - the fear used to motivate. I felt the judgment. I felt the stress of having to look perfect. The anxiety that I might do something wrong and be rejected or reprimanded. I literally felt that. I thought I escaped it, but apparently it still has some power over me. And that is scary!

A whole range of emotions came flooding back as I read Churched! Yes, it was funny - at times laugh out loud funny. Unbelievable, and outrageously funny. This can so not be true funny! Yet I felt humiliated. Like people, (myself included) were laughing at me. I thought I had escaped all that! I had even passed on those same kind of silly stories and laughed at our hubris. Our superiority.
How absurd it all sounded. How stupid. How crazy.
Yet how familiar, how normal.......

I don't know what else to say. Or how to say it. I'm uncomfortable. Exposed. Some pages brought tears. It's amazing how deeply ingrained in me this is. Even though it's crazy, weird and not logical, it's........normal?

With my new lenses, I laugh. I understand why, as a group, we were laughed at, made fun of, stereotyped. I understand why I ran. I understand the bigger picture. I see the absurdity. I see the shallowness of the rules. The audacity of having all the answers. I feel the legalism biting at my heels.

Turned inward instead of outward. Exclusive instead of inclusive. Judgmental instead of accepting. Perfection instead of messiness. Out instead of In. Withdrawn from instead of living with.

A black and white island in a Technicolor world.

Wow! This book is so dead on! If you are tempted to dismiss it as exaggeration, don't. I'm here to tell you it's not. So laugh, if you must, I did! And then reach out with love to your brothers - even if they don't return the favor!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

You're somewhat of a loner. You prefer to challenge others on your terms. When the confrontation doesn’t work the way you want you may get depressed. The good news is that you have inner strength that few people possess.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

He was a good man

This weekend was my father-in-law's funeral. We traveled to Ohio early Sunday morning so we would be there in time for the viewing. Which was supposed to be from 4 - 7 pm. Wow. People just came, and came and came. In cars, in busses, in horse and buggies. From a couple hours away. From Cleveland, like the people from Wynn's office. People from former churches, from Owens Illinois - and pop had retired from there about 20 years ago. People they knew from camp. From childhood. From basketball and baseball. Amish. Relatives of relatives. They came and came and came. The line never stopped for four hours. And believe me, by then we all had our shoes off! People didn't come out of obligation. Or because he was special, or rich, or they felt obligated to come because of what he had done for them. They came, because as more than one person said, "Your dad was a good man."

So often we try to impress. Try to please. Try to be better than others. Try to be someone. And we forget - all that matters is if we are a good person. Better good than right. Better good than rich. Better good than influential. It causes one to stop and think what will be said of each one of us.

They got it right. He WAS as GOOD man.

All thirteen of Richard Gerber's grandchildren.

Memories of Pop's life.

Memories of Pop's life.

cousins chillin'

Kelsey talking to Grandma.

The sisters-in-law (-minus Tena)

Jenny, Jessica and Wynn

Pop's six grandsons were his pall bearers.

He was a good man.

We will miss him.

Pop at the water tower in Lake Tahoe where he served as a conscientious objector during WW II.

Pop in FOUR states at once at the Four Corners Monument.

Mom and Pop at the campground where they stayed when their children were small. This is also where the famous water tower is.....

Mom and Pop and Kelsey at Jenny Lake in the Tetons.

After eating a really yummy lunch at Bubba's in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Kim and his dad, summer of 2003.

(You can click on any picture to make them bigger.....)