Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oh, Garbage!

I'm amazed at the attention garbage gets in this country. And I'm amazed at how much of it we produce each week.

In Africa, we ended up with perhaps a barrel full of garbage a year, less in a year than what we now produce in a week. There, food scraps went to the neighbors, the dog, or the compost heap (in that order). Tin cans, cardboard boxes and plastic containers were coveted items. I'd collect a stack of them on my porch knowing that sooner or later someone would come and carry them away. For a while, we buried our chicken bones. That was until we realized that our African friends could get a whole 'nother meal off the bones and skins and scraps we left behind.

Here, no one wants my chicken bones. Or my yogurt cups. Or my cereal boxes. I've tried reducing how much we use, but the system here is designed to produce waste. I take my own bags to the grocery store, but I still come home with all kinds of foods wrapped in plastic or mesh or cardboard. Even fresh produce has to go in a plastic bag to keep it safe from the other produce. You never know where that avocado has been, you know.

I wonder if we produce more garbage in America because a big truck comes to haul it away each week. After all, if we had to pile our trash in the street for everyone to see or bury it in our yard, I bet we'd be a lot more careful about how we shopped.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Opposite Effect

Can you explain to me how I spend hours cleaning my room and now I can barely get in the door much less find the bed?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kiss of Death

On Amazing Race tonight, early on in the show one of the couples did an interview that went something like:

"We love each other so much. Nothing could every shake our love and trust in each other."
"That's right, Smookums."
"Our communication is perfect. We never, ever argue."

Kiss of Death. When a reality show shows a clip of such a positive statement, it's a sure sign that team will not only be the next to go, but that they'll go down in a blaze of ugly, argumentative fire.

Sometimes that happens in real life, but thank goodness we don't have editors recording our every stupid, over confident claim.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

From Pumpkin Seed to Potluck

3 little seeds went in the ground some time back in April. We were so excited to see them sprout into 2 little plants, then less excited when they started taking over the garden. From those little seeds came a pumpkin patch big enough to require the space I'd allotted to squash and peppers, basil and cilantro.

And from those seeds came a summer's worth of leaves for my new friends from Kenya who were craving pumpkin leaves and other greens. We ate fried pumpkin blossoms in July and during August, we watched the first little nubs of fruit grow into real pumpkins.

It's October now. Fall is upon us and the first frost will harden the grass any day. Time for harvest.

The kids each picked a pumpkin and one of them insisted that hers be converted to food. (Think pie, cake, muffins, and (of course) roasted pumpkin seeds.) As I write, the smell of 4 loaves of chocolate chip pumpkin bread is creeping out of the oven, begging me to check on the bread one more time.

Remind me to set 3 seeds aside for next year.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Farthest I've Been...

North: Barrow, Alaska

South: Soweto, South Africa

East: Mombasa, Kenya

West: Barrow, Alaska


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Phone a Friend Lifeline

The other day, I heard about a man who died in his apartment. His family wondered about him, then worried about him, then checked on him and found his body a month after he died. A whole month. I hope someone would miss me before then. I know they would. (I could insert a sarcastic comment here about how they'd miss me when they ran out of underwear or clean spoons or when they got hungry, but in truth, I know I'm loved by a lot of people who look out for me.)

I feel so sad for him, someone who lived his life in a way that he wasn't connected with anyone who missed him right away. I can't imagine living that way.

I feel sad for his family who must bear not only the burden of his death but whatever guilt they will carry for not checking on him sooner. It's not like their checking in on him would have kept him alive, but it might have made his death easier on them.

I know there are a lot of people in this situation, men and women who have either been forgotten by society or who have built themselves a life in which they don't depend on anyone.

I am reminded again of how we are our best selves when we live in community with others. Hard as it may seem sometimes, people make me a better person. If you know someone who needs to get connected, please call that person and commit to do so regularly. And if you're the kind of person who tends to hole up and avoid regular contact with people who care about you, find someone you can talk to or - better yet - someone you can serve.

I'll try to do the same.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Feeling the Call

It’s true what they say, that time flows more quickly the older you get. It surprises me when I realize that we’ve now lived in the states for 8 years, the same amount of time we were overseas.

When we came back from Togo, we intended to keep the possibility of returning to the mission field alive. While we don’t have any immediate plans to return full-time to overseas mission work, we have recently felt God’s call to return to Africa for a visit. In the future, we would like to plan a trip for at least Edwin and Patty to do some follow up work in Togo. Right now, though, we are drawn to visit the other side of the continent where our former teammates are establishing a new work in Rwanda and where our church sponsors a missionary family.

The Koonces and Crowsons recently moved from Togo to Rwanda where they will be starting a new church planting work. Their whole team should join them in the next year or so. We would love the chance to see if and how we could ever fit into that work. While there, we would like to take the opportunity to check in with Andrew and Aimee Jo Martin in Fort Portal, Uganda, a couple our home church sponsors for whom we play the roll of laisons.

For the past few months, as we’ve considered this trip, we’ve been reluctant to ask anyone to help send us. We know it’s a terrible time to ask for funds, but we also know that money is like water in God’s hands. If we don’t ask anything of him, is it because we have no faith that he will provide?

And so we ask, in faith, knowing that if God intends for us to make this trip, he will provide. We would love to take the whole family, which would cost nearly $15,000. But if less than that is collected, we would still like for some of us to go, adults first and then kids. We’re aiming for a January trip, about 3 weeks long. I’ll keep you updated as plans develop.

If you are willing and able to give towards this trip, you can make checks out to Vancouver Church of Christ, earmarked for Slacks Mission Trip. Our overworked church accountant would prefer that you send the checks directly to us so that we can keep track of acknowledgments and thank you notes. Let me know if you need that address,

Thank you for your prayerful consideration and may God bless you in whatever good works you are involved in.