Thursday, March 27, 2008

what to do....

It's late Thursday afternoon. I've been in Chicago for just over three hours. It's cold. Snowy.
People stroll along Division Street as though, rather than rain and clouds, the sky were giving us warmth and sunshine. They're in no hurry. Neither am I.

For the first time since I got back from my desert trip... I have time. Three hours to be exact, before I have anywhere to be. Three hours. I've found an eclectic (and unusually quiet) cafe with an open seat next to the window that God seems to have reserved just for me. For the first time in nearly two months, I can think. Really think. Not just about the next task or next appointment... but about things that have - for weeks - been fluttering around in my head like birds with no place to land. But now - like pigeons on a sidewalk - they'll land, cock their heads every so slightly, and we can finally have a good look at one another.

And so, rather than wasting this precious time on line, I'm shutting down my computer, shutting off my phone, and turning to face inside for a little while.

excellent quote

"We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course." - from the book Memoirs of a Geisha

Sunday, March 23, 2008

God Grew Tired of Us

The next time you're walking through Blockbuster looking for a movie to rent, I highly recommend that you check out a National Geographic documentary titled "God Grew Tired of Us".
It follows three young men from a refugee camp in Southern Sudan who are given an opportunity to move to America.

It's fascinating (and, of course, very sad) to hear them talk about fleeing the war in Sudan, losing family members, and ending up in a refugee camp where they felt there was nothing left to do but "wait to die".

Seeing America through their eyes confirmed many of my most and least favorite things about this country. Their stories are inspirational.

My first missions trip (back in 1999) was to Africa; a sliver of a country in West Africa called The Gambia. I vowed to go back someday, but have yet to make the journey. Those who have been to any part of Africa know there's something about it that gets into your heart. The opening images of this documentary could have been taken at the village we stayed in nearly 10 years ago. It's incredible to think that so little has changed. The images of dirt roads, mud huts with thatched roofs, and the people... adults and kids alike with wide grins and warm eyes... made my heart skip a beat.

I still believe that Amsterdam is the most beautiful place, but I think Africa has the most beautiful people.

Remember the title: "God Grew Tired of Us".. add it to your "to be rented/watched" list. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Yesterday was my day off. My "sabbath". And I took full advantage of my opportunity to do nothing. I've lived on the edge of downtown Royal Oak for 8 months now, but rarely have I capitalized on my nearness by taking a leisurely stroll through the area. I've walked through downtown many times without truly seeing it. So yesterday I took the time...

There are a lot of locally-owned stores and boutiques in Royal Oak. One of my favorites is called Pitaya. Most of the clothing they carry is not made for women who are built like me, but their accessories, purses, etc are always fun to look at. The store also has a sweet vibe, which is (to me) it's primary draw. Yesterday when I walked in, there was some great, downbeat/ambient music playing. As I browsed through the necklaces, I found a couple that reminded me of jewelry I've seen in Amsterdam. That, combined w/the music, reminded me of one of my favorite accessories stores on Leidsestracht. And it almost felt like I was there. Almost....
Except that no one in the store was speaking Dutch.

I'm long overdue for a visit.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Play it again, Ses

A few months ago, I started taking piano lessons from one of the worship leaders at my church.

It's been going pretty well, but practicing has been hard because I haven't had a keyboard or piano of my own. My roommate has a keyboard, and there's one at the church office, but timing rarely worked in my favor so I haven't been practicing and/or playing as much as I'd like.

I began to consider buying my own keyboard, and the internal debate increased in direct proportion to my joy of playing.

Last week I started pricing out keyboards, and on a whim I stopped into a music stored this past Monday while on my way to a friend's birthday party. They just happened to have exactly what I was looking for, at a price I could afford. So yesterday, Saturday, March 15th, I became the proud owner of a Yamaha touch-sensitive electronic piano. :-)

Welcome to the family. I'm so excited to have you here. I hope you're looking forward to our time together as much as I am.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I first took an interest in the war in Northern Uganda after a friend of mine showed me a documentary by a group called Invisible Children that told of a rebel group called the Lord's Resistance Army that had resorted to kidnapping children and forcing them to become soldiers. Some estimate that as many as 90% of the soldiers in the LRA are kids.

Now, it looks as though there may be true peace at last. Though I still can't help wondering what will become of all those kids, and whether the treaty will actually be signed and honored.

from the BBC:

Ugandan rebels 'will sign deal'

Uganda Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel leader Joseph Kony is prepared to sign a peace deal, a northern Ugandan politician and peace negotiator says.

Norbert Mao's comments to the BBC come as rebels failed to get international indictments against LRA leaders lifted.

This key rebel demand has threatened to derail the proposed deal to end the 22-year rebellion in northern Uganda.

But Mr Mao said the warrants should be withdrawn once the rebels are tried in Ugandan courts - as agreed in the pact.

Mr Kony is one of two other LRA leaders who remain alive wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes charges.

The arrest warrants were issued at the request of the Ugandan government before peace negotiations began with rebels.

The rebellion has left thousands of people dead and nearly two million displaced.

The rebels have been notorious for abducting children to be used as fighters, porters and sex slaves.

'Calculated risk'

Mr Mao, chairman of Gulu district in the north of the country, said Mr Kony's messengers communicated with him on Sunday.

"They told me he has confirmed that he will come in person," Mr Mao told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

The signing ceremony is expected to take place on 28 March in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan where the peace negotiations have been mediated for the past 18 months by south Sudan's deputy leader Riak Machar.

"He says he wants his security to be in the hands of Dr Riak Machar and after signing he will go back to the bush to reorganise his troops," Mr Mao said.

"The agreement gives him about one month to organise his troops for demobilisation and disarmament."

Mr Mao said he believed that Mr Kony was taking a "calculated risk".

High alert

Earlier this week, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo refused to meet LRA representatives and said the indictments remained in place.

But the Gulu district chairman said he believed Kony understood he would not be handed over to the ICC.

"Also his troops will still be in the bush and presumably on high alert so if anything happens to him that will be the end of the entire peace process in which everybody has invested so much hope."

Over the last few weeks the rebels and government have signed a few documents in the lead up to the expected comprehensive peace agreement.

One of the accords deals with justice and accountability, and it was agreed a special division of the Uganda High Court will be set up to try those accused of serious crimes.

Mr Mao said that it had also been agreed by Uganda's president and other mediators that the UN Security Council would be approached to suspend the LRA arrest warrants.

"That suspension for one year will give the opportunity for the government to implement the alternative justice mechanism which will then make the ICC case just collapse on its own," he said.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ciao Bella

It's the weekend of the good-byes.
Though this good-bye actually happened earlier in the week.
My friend Jodi headed off to Brussels. She's back in three weeks, but then gone for six months.
It's an exciting opportunity and I'm hoping to visit her while she's there. But Tigers season won't be the same without her.
Here we are, standing proudly on the ice at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. A group of us went ice skating that day. It was cold but fun.

Jodi is probably one of the kindest people I know. She also one of the calmest. (She'd probably disagree, but it seems like - even when she's stressed - it's a tranquil kind of stressed... ) :) She's the kind of person you want to talk to when you're having a bad day 'cause she helps you feel like everything's gonna be fine.

Ciao, bella.
See you at Easter. :)

I'm Phil and Jen's best friend, soooo.......

Ok... I'm not their *best* friend, but if you watch SNL, you get the reference. :)

Phil and Jen Kinney - world travelers - made a month-long stop in Michigan to spend time w/us poor souls who (at least temporarily) call this state home. Phil and Jen have lived in Shanghai, China for the past year. They came back with great pictures and great stories (of course). I'd seen them briefly a couple times since they got to Michigan, but got to spend a little more time w/them (and a few other peeps) last night. It was great to sit and talk with them again.

Monday they head back to Shanghai.
Safe travels, my friends. It was great to see you. :) I hope to come visit you soon.