February 28, 2005
...A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr.
This was one of the best books I've read. It's a sobering true story of the impact a 1986 environmental health case had on the plaintiffs' primary lawyer and secondarily the other lawyers, families, and witnesses involved in the case. I could barely put the book down until I finished it this weekend.
This morning on the train in to work, I started Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian. I should probably be reading the Final Cut Pro manual instead, as the India report video is due in a few weeks, but I'm in a law-related novel mood, as I'm considering once again whether or not to pursue law school.
February 17, 2005
I'm back in Portland and at work today in a surprisingly relaxed state. My boss has been feeding me tea all day to help take the edge off my jet lag. Touched down at PDX last night around 9:30 pm. Woke up this morning at 3:30 am thinking, whew! that was a nice nap! Then I remembered that this was "sleeping time" not "nap time" and went back to sleep. (The pitch black darkness was my first clue. Clever how that day=>light; night=>dark thing works.)
After nearly three weeks on the sub-continent, I feel rejuvenated and happy. What a contrast from my first visit last year. Took me months to recover from burnout and culture stress.
More soon. Friday I'm off to Olympia for my brother Seth's birthday. I'm so excited to see Seth and his family. Plus Brant 'n' Jackie will be there too; it'll be a regular family reunion! Then on Sunday I'll be heading down to Corvallis. My crazy (but dearly loved) cousin Erin is getting married on Tuesday (Tuesday!) in Bellingham. Long story. But there's an "engagement party" on Sunday for those of us who can't make it. Deborah (Erin's sister) is even flying in from Thailand. It's kinda funny, actually, since Erin has been in Japan since Christmas, that all three of us have been in Asia and have returned from there in the same week.
Monday, thankfully, is a holiday, and will go something like this: sleep in, watch Perry Mason, take a nap, do laundry, clear a path through my living room/office/dining room (major packing/unpacking fallout), go to bed.
February 02, 2005
I'm awake. I'm surprised a little. Even though I've been getting better sleep here in India than I have in the last 6 months in Portland, I'm surprised to be awake at 6:20 am Indian Standard Time. I'm surprised because last night I could not set my alarm (read: cell phone) because I could not keep it plugged in to the powerstrip which is plugged into the electrical converter which I smelled burning last night around 9:45. It's cooked and it's eletrical converting days are over. (Sorry Dan and Kathy, but thanks for letting me borrow it.) Time to go to the electronics store (again) and get (another) universal powerstrip.
I'm here in India tagging along with a group from Village attempting to capture in words, stories, pictures, and video the bigger picturethe bigger partnershipin which we are participating. The various sub-groups are doing different kinds of conferences and training, all with the underlying element of leadership development. So what I'm trying to find out is, what do these leaders envision as the future of the church in this area of India and are we helping them get there? I'm no investigative journalist (not by any stretch of the imagination) but I have recorded a couple of good interviews so far and I'm hoping that by bringing the words of these leaders home, I might, by proxy, cast their vision to Village and be a catalyst to mobilizing the church to active participation in the work God is doing here.
Adventures in Visual Communications
I hate being right sometimes. Especially when things go wrong when I didn't do what I knew to be the right course of action. So I guess what I really mean is: I hate knowing right and doing wrong.
Besides the fun "romantic" tasks of videography, coordinating photography, and blogging the group's stories, I'm also the group's "tech support," one of the most unromantic tasks ever necessitated by plugged-in, dialed-up society and more specifically this plugged-in, dialed-up group of 25. Believe me, every step of the day has literally been an adventure.
First, plugging in. We brought all these laptops for the group to use for preparing talks and using e-mail. But I brought the wrong powerstrips and the wrong plug thingamabob which I took to be a electrical converter (which is now less nobly engaged as a support stand for the (now burned-out) electrical converter, borrowed from the Crawfords (whom I now owe a new one). The powerstrips were all wrong because they only can take 125w. Before reading the back of the strip and discovering this salient fact, I blew the fuse in my hotel room three times. (Yes, I was jetlagged and very very slow in the brain. Plus, I admit, I kinda liked the sound it made when it blew. It was a feeling akin to watching The Village for the first time when the kid in the watchtower opens the hatch and sees a creature suddenly appear below. Jumpy!) So, to remedy the powerstrip problem, John S., Mei Yee and I took an auto-rickshaw (my first!) to an electronics store (think "hole-in-the-wall", not "Best Buy") and got a universal powerstrip, a ginormous electronic converter of sorts (the real name for it escapes me at the moment), and a couple of bitty converters, one of which we needed for the shredder.
But I am weighing you down with tedious details.
The dialed-up related adventure happened on Tuesday. We have a couple of CDMA phones that we are using to connect to the Internet. First problem was that they only work on PCs; second problem was that I had Virtual PC installed but not set up on my Powerbook and due to the fact that I forgot the serial numbers on my living room table (read: disaster fall-out zone); third problem was keeping the phones charged and being able to use them for any length of time.
Luckily, in my family, we love adventure and I sent my mom into my living room to fetch the product keys. She informed me that "yes it was a disaster" (I told her so) but she very bravely and successfully found the numbers and e-mailed them to me. (Note to Microsoft: I hope you're satisfied.)
Problem three was keeping the phones charged. John S. had this nifty setup on his CDMA phone cables (the USB and power) which allowed him to plug the phone into the wall and into his USB port at the same time. "Brilliant!" I thought. "Must have this!" I mused. So on Tuesday, Mei Yee and I dropped off the others from our trip to the fancy-pants bookstore and set off in search of the Reliance "office". ("Office"="Store") For two hours we drove around and finally full-circled back to one of the stores we inquired at in the beginning. Through the wonders of my education in cross-cultural communication (which I am still paying off) I explained (read: "gestured" or "re-enacted") that I needed a data-cable that plugged into the wall and the computer at_the_same_time. I think I actually saw a light bulb click on above her head. She peeled back a tiny rubber covering on the USB data cable she had in her hand to reveal an plug for the power cord to occupy. Shania Twain. I couldn't believe it. I think she saw a 4th of July fireworks display above my head as I bemoaned another needless adventure entirely due to my own poor slow brain.
Yesterday I was enjoyed the privilege of traveling to see the teacher training team and the youth conference team in action. They were about an hour away from where I am staying in the Big City and about 20 km from each other. I didn't realize this until later that morning, but the man who accompanied me was the personal assistant to a highly regarded leader in the north. More than that, he left the leadership training conference in the south especially to be my guide and left that evening to return to the conference. Wow. I am continually in awe of how the brothers and sisters here demonstrate humble servanthood without restraint.
We did not take the expressway, but backroads all the way to our destination. I must say, after my trip last year, I now regard the driving and traffic situation here to be one of uttermost efficiency and survival, rather than chaotic mayhem. I cannot say of the drivers here that they do not know how to merge. Perhaps Hwy 26 would not experience bottleneck if the drivers were more competant, had better horn honking ability, and a sheer gut-level will to get to their destination alive and quickly. Of course, I learned yesterday from my guide, that in some states, anyone with enough money can get a driver's licenseand there's no examination. So I retract my wish. Let Indian driving stay in India. I'll take the MAX instead of the Sunset.
Strength in the sanctuary
I'm on the building committee at Village. My dad is the chair. He is an excellent man altogether and a great person for this role. This has been one of the most exciting things I've ever participated in at Village, because though it is not "mega-huge", Village is a large-ish church and I had/have been feeling rather lost in it. There has been much talk of the future vision but not a lot to show for it. This is all changed being on the building committee. It's been made clear to us that it is not about the building, but about building the vision. I have seen this to be much more than rhetoric. I believe it to be true, and this has encouraged my heart more than anything.
One of the focuses Dad has started us thinking about is the idea of "sacred spaces". This is not anything new, in general, or to the church at large, but it is a bit new to us. We are a suburban church focused on families, programs, and functionality. Creating "sacred spaces" has never really been on the agenda. Until now.
Why am I writing about the building committee in Beaverton from a hotel room in India? Because, exactly seven days before I left, I went to the downtown house of prayer to visit my old small group that I decided to leave in favor of teaching a group of 3rd grade girls on Wednesday night. Though I hadn't prayed with them in 6 months (they're still faithfully praying through the seven days of creation, as they have for the past 3 years or so), (this may sound silly) I wanted to be prayed for "properly" before I left. And though I could only stay for 20 minutes (3rd graders calling), prayed for properly, I was.
The Word I was left with was Psalm 96. And in it, the psalmist proclaims, "Strength and majesty are in His sanctuary." The word "strength" really stops me in my tracks. Translating that down to building a new sanctuary in Beaverton, Oregon...how do we design a space that proclaims the "strength" of God? What does that look like? What does that feel like? How do you invite the stregnth of God to be present in a house of worship? How do you imprint that on the walls? Really really really big columns? Giant mural of thunder and lightning on the ceiling? Thrones as chairs? "All caps" in the weekly bulletins? Ok, not really serious on those. But serious about the question. We think about the beauty of God, the love of God, the reverence of God, the joy and hope we have in God when designing worship services. But, I personally, have never considered the strength of God within the context of worship. And I have a feeling it will require more than the conspiracy of a sound guy and a worship leader to create a climax that may or may not be presently real.