Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Back to the City

We just arrived in San Jose after spending a few days in La Fortuna, a sleepy town nestled at the base of Costa Rica´s most active volcano. Perhaps the ¨active volcano¨ part of La Fortuna escapes most tourists, because oddly enough, it´s where everyone wants to go. ¨A smoking, quaking volcano that spews out red hot molten that has historically killed dozens of people? Dude! Let´s go camp out at the base!¨




La Fortuna is in the rain forest, so our hostel´s lush grounds sported giant fuscia and purple flowers, papaya palms, and swarms of tropical bugs. We were very lazy during our stay in La Fortuna, and spent most of our time exploring the tiny town, reading, hiking, and trying to keep the foul odor in our bathroom from wafting into our bedroom. I´m fairly certain there was a dead skunk hidden in our bathroom walls that pooped right before he died.




There´s really not much else to say about La Fortuna. Now we´re going to escape our hostel in San Jose that smells like cat urine, by going to a nearby movie theater. There really is a wide spectrum of foul smells in the hostels across Costa Rica. We are looking forward to returning to the foul smell with which we are familiar: good ol´Los Angeles pollution.



See you fellow Glendorians in just 2 days!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Continuar

Highlights, continued.

5. Jalopies. Who doesn´t drive one down here? And if you´re going to make a statement by driving a dilapidated old car, then why not make sure you drive one that periodically self-combusts?

6. The impish chauffer. This bus driver got a kick out of pretending to drop us off at an old, run-down warehouse, (at night, no less!) claiming is was our hotel. Our subsequent laughter was purely from relief. He made up for his joke though, by giving us a tour of the town and helping us get signed up for a canopy tour the next day. His kind gestures initiated a string of events that allowed us to meet some really neat people we wouldn´t have otherwise met, including Chad and Tara, some fabulous Canadians.

7. The Franco-Israeli New Yorker. Need I say more? I´m sure you can imagine. Words really minimize this lady, so I´ll keep it short. "Maggie" was a hoot. She was energy incarnate and had us laughing throughout our entire 5-hour jungle tour.

8. The strangling fig. This jungle vine grows upside down; it begins growing in the jungle canopy, and grows toward the ground. As it grows, it gradually wraps itself around the jungle trees, and eventually strangles them. I think Tarzan used the strangling fig to whip through the jungle. I got to try out my Tarzan skills on a hanging strangling fig, but I think the only thing that even remotely resembled Tarzan was my war-like cry.



9. Bread. Did I mention we eat it for every meal? At night we lie awake and dream about the mounds of steamed broccoli and squash we will eat when we get home.



10. The Valiant French Canadian. I´m going to devote an entire blog to him when return. For now, just thank God for him.



The putrid mold smell in here is suffocating. I think I´m turning blue from lack of oxygen. Better go! Love and miss you all!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Inevitable

Well, I've come down with the inevitable traveling bug. I don't think it'll last much longer, but it's kept me in bed all day. It hasn't been bad really; clean mountain air dances through our open window, and I enjoy watching the horses on the nearby hill graze and roll around in the wet grass. The brown horse (Rebecca calls him Edgar) is spunky, vivacious, and a little impish. Edgar is always ready for a romp. Sam, on the other hand, is a stately, white horse, who is a little more aloof. Sometimes, though, when Sam thinks no one is looking, he joins Edgar for a good roll down the hill.


As I've been lying in bed all day, I've thought through some of the highlights of our trip. Here are just a few:


  1. Tuna and crackers. We eat them for lunch almost every day. We eat bread and cheese, crackers and cheese, and just plain old bread for all our other meals. This diet has been easy on our pocket books and kind to our stomachs. All of this bread has given us an unwavering confidence in our ability avoid Latin American Diarrhea.
  2. Burnt bridges. When the bridges are broken around here, the locals just drive through the river. Who knows why they even build bridges to begin with.
  3. Sloths. The laziest animal in the world can be found lounging in almost every jungle down here. We've seen quite a few. They look like large clumps of dirt, or enormous nests high up in the trees. It is hard to discern any signs of life when observing the sloth, as they only leave their high-up perch to defecate.
  4. Traveling dentists. For those of you that have inquired, the dentists were on a mission trip with their school. Aside from keeping us in stitches, they saved us from a near-catastrophe involving a perriwinkle duffle and a broken strap. In the nick of time, they produced a life-saving safety pin. I'm thinking of writing a ballad about this band of traveling dentists from Georgia. Sounds poignant, doesn't it? I think I will have to finish this high lights list later. There is a line for the computer.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad

Dearest Friends,
We are safely in the jungles of Costa Rica, staying in a very clean cabin nestled in the hills. Every night as I climb into bed, I gaze fondly at our recently recovered luggage. I am now equipped with deoderant, tooth paste, a tooth brush, and several changes of clothes! What more could a girl want...:)



We spent a few blissful days at the beach, enjoying white sands, turqoise waters, curious monkeys, tropical flowers, and a group of traveling dentists from Georgia. The dentists were about our age, and were loads of fun. God has been faithful to bring good friends into our midst wherever we go. The only downside of our days at the beach, was the frigid water that our shower insisted on producing. I quickly learned that doing the Hokey Pokey while showering was the only way to endure the icy process.



Now we are in in the north of Costa Rica, celebrating the birth of Jesus, his death, and ultimately, his resurrection. We have whizzed through the jungle canopy on a zip line, toured a coffee plantation, made new friends, tasted comida tipica, and endured fierce late night winds, all the while relishing God's goodness and favor as he continues to pursue intimacy with us, much in the same way he did 2,000 years ago when he came to earth to save us from the mess we created.



Daily we encounter people who haven't yet said yes to Jesus and all that he offers. Please pray that God uses us to nudge them toward friendship with their creator.

Hope all is well! See you soon.
Merry Christmas!
-Sarah

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ode to a Costa Rican Christmas

Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the hostel

Our luggage was missing; the airport said it was lost still.

Our passports were shoved down our pants with great care,

For fear that a bandit soon would be there.

We slept in our shoes, to keep ourselves warm,

Tossing and turning while we waited for morn.

As we lay shivering in our semi-clean beds,

Visions of deoderant danced in our heads.

When suddenly there arose such a clatter,

We pulled back the shades to see what was the matter!

There on the roof, was a Costa Rican man,

Wearing his tool belt, a hammer in hand.

He hammered and whistled, shouted and sang,

While a nearby old car died with a BANG!

We looked at each other and began shaking

From all the laughter our bodies were making.

For in that moment God helped us remember,

We walk in his favor, no matter what our adventure!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Day 1 in Costa to the Rica, narrated by an exhausted, bleary-eyed traveler

Once upon a time there were three girls on opposite ends of the west coast that decided it would be a good idea to meet each other in Costa Rica over break. The first two girls, Megan and Sarah, left LA together and had a fairly effortless flight to Mexico City. They were thrilled to find that Mexicana Airlines serves tasty cuisine, most certainly unparalleled by any other airline. They ate, chatted, and laughed as they soared over the coast of Mexico. Unbeknownst to them, their third party, Sarah's sister Rebecca, was stuck in a plane in Denver, that needed to be de-iced.

While the plane thawed Rebecca's connecting flight to Costa Rica left without her. When her plane was finally thawed, she ran to her gate, but it was deserted. She ran up to the front desk and asked the kindest looking lady for help. Hastily, the attendant began looking for any flight (or series of flights!) that would eventually end up in Costa Rica. She typed in Rebecca's name and said, "Well, somebody must be looking out for you. There are 70 people on a waiting list for this flight to Miami but your name just got bumped to the top of the list. It looks like you're getting the only seat available. And you're in first class." Grateful and weary, Rebecca thanked the attendant and exclaimed, "God is good!" The man behind the counter agreed with an emphatic, "All the time!" Then, he searched the entire baggage area in the basement for her apparently lost bag. When he couldn't find it looked again. He never found the bag, but he bought her a smoothie and talked with her about their shared Christianity.

When Sarah and Megan found out Rebecca's flight was delayed, they began praying fervently. They prayed that God would place kind, caring people in Rebecca's path, and that he would direct their plans. They quickly came up with a tentative plan B, canceling their immediate trip to the beach, and hoping to find a place to stay an extra night in San Jose. As they prayed, they boarded their plan to Costa Rica. Their seats weren't next to each other, although they tried to get them moved. The plane was just too packed. The doors closed, and the girls kept praying for Rebecca and their plans. Right before they took off they realized that there was one empty seat on the entire plane. Right next to Megan. It turns out God cares about even the littlest details of traveling, like sitting making sure that two friends get to sit together.

Rebecca made it to Miami, and stayed the night in the airport while she waiting for her early morning flight to Costa Rica. She was cold, so she asked the cleaning man for some plastic bags to wrap up in. While she shivered and tried to sleep, an elderly man brought her a blanket.

When Megan and Sarah arrived in Costa Rica at 1 am, they discovered that both their bags were also lost. For the next 12 hours they called repeatedly to get news of their bags, but the airport was just as clueless as they were. While they waited they easily booked a place to stay in San Jose, and quickly found bus tickets for their postponed beach trip. They prayed that God would place a burden on somebody's heart to work diligently and go out of their way to get their bags to them as soon as possible.

Shortly after Rebecca arrived in Costa Rica, she got a call from a airport baggage claim worker. He called the girls' hostel from his cell phone, determined to help her get her luggage. He committed to help track down all three girls' luggage when he heard their story, although they flew with different airlines. He is still working to track everything down.

This narrator is having trouble forming intelligible sentences, so she's going to hit the sack. More news of God's goodness and grace to come in days 2-14.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ah, the Spirit of Giving



Yesterday, my students made coupon books for their parents for Christmas. They created their own coupons, gifting their parents with anything from breakfast in bed, to help in the kitchen and a sparkling clean bathroom. There were a few coupons that stood out.

"This coupon is good for a 24-hour mashash [massage]"

Or,

"Turn this coupon in and I will pretend to like your outfits from the mall for 20 days."

And my personal favorite,

"Turn this coupon in and I will do the laundry for four weeks if you pay me $10."

Oh, how I love my job. :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Help.

This morning, after calling my roommate twice, fiddling and refiddling with the coffee maker (who knew it had so many confusing nooks and crannies?), and saying a little prayer, I brewed my first EVER pot of coffee. It turned out looking something like this:


Needless to say, I could not taste it, nor finish it. And I am still very groggy.

Friday, December 5, 2008

More poetry from room 341

Here are a few more poems about city wildlife.  Enjoy!

The Slug

Oh no the slug
eating on that
poor sunflower.
How sad.
Oh I wish slugs
would not be pest.
Oh how dear that
the sunflower was,
not dead.  Thank
you slug that you
didn't eat the whole
thing.



Coyotes

Today I saw 
a coyote in the
big, tall, mountains.
It was as big 
as a mountain
lion.  Big, gray
and fat.
His teeth were 
scary, huge, and
rotten with spit
all over them.
His ears had
blood on them.
I was the 
one who
dfeated that
coyote because
I'm NOT a
scardy cat!


The Staring Chipmunk

By the mountain hill,
I saw a chipmunk,
non cute nor ugly.
It looked kind of
weird in a way, so I
kept my face away.
Its beady eyes where
staring at me so I
backed away.  But
I found the reason 
why that rascal stared
I had an acorn in my hand!
Oh chipmunk, what a waste
of time!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

??????


I have a secret admirer.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Vicious Squirrel

My students learned how to write non rhyming poetry today. I asked them to write a poem about some type of city wildlife. Their imagery made me chuckle. Here's one of my favorites (completely uncorrected):

Squirrel

Today I saw
a baby squirrel.
The squirrels teeth
was fricken me out
its teeth were all black.
The squirrel's head
was shining like
silver.
Its nails were
sharp like a
porcupine's thorn.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dirty Little Secret

I've never had much use for a plunger. I don't mean to brag or anything, but I've just had a smooth ride in the area of toilet upkeep for most of my adult life. Until yesterday, when something went terribly awry in the plumbing in apartment #4. Tragically, there was no plunger on the premises.

All day, I was faced with a terrible dilemma: go to the store to buy a plunger (but what if someone saw me?!), or borrow the neighbor's. After much deliberation, the first option seemed the least humiliating.

So, with much trepidation, I wheeled my cart into Vons tonight, determined to buy the embarrassing item. I tackled the non-toilet related items on my list first. Then, I hesitantly turned down the dreaded toilet aisle. I quickly scanned the aisle to ensure I wasn't being watched, and then hurriedly shoved the plunger bowl and its detached handle into my cart.

But wait. Something was terribly wrong. In dismay, I looked down at my little savior. It was bright blue. Bright blue! Who makes bright blue plungers?! What happened to the nice, subtle rust color I grew up with? This thing might as well have had a flashing neon sign announcing my dirty little secret back at home to fellow shoppers.

With a sigh, I arranged my other grocery items carefully around the plunger to form a shield, and snuck stealthily toward the cash register. When the coast was clear, I made a run for the most deserted check out stand and quickly pushed my plunger toward the cashier, anxious for her to immediately put it in a nice, large paper bag. No such luck. Instead, my jolly bagger took the detached plunger handle, tossed it up in the air, and began screwing it in to the plunger bowl. "I want to make sure you have all the parts to your plunger," he bellowed.

Mortified, I felt my face grow hot. I quickly paid, refusing to make eye contact with the suddenly attentive and, I'm sure, disgusted shoppers around me. I parked my cart outside, gathered up my bags of groceries and my unbagged, out-in-the-open, recently assembled plunger, and hopped into my car. I heaved a sigh of relief. I had survived the excursion. My dignity is, after all, still in tact. And so is my toilet.



Friday, November 21, 2008

Today's Cherry Laffy Taffy Jokes

"When is the best time to go to the dentist?"

"At tooth-hurty!"






"Why can't a bank keep a secret?"

"Because there are too many tellers."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

For a Rainy Day

The top 15 books that should occupy your nightstand sometime this year:
1.  Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis
2.  Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
3.  A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
4.  Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, D.A. Carson
5. Hope Has Its Reasons, Rebecca Manley Pippert
6. The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Free Will, Dr. William Lane Craig
7. The Last Battle (read the other 6 first:), C.S. Lewis
8. Harry Potter (any of them!)
9. Letters to Children, C.S. Lewis
10. Mission Possible, Marilyn Laszlo
11. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
12. Desiring God, John Piper
13. Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
14. Little Women, Louissa May Alcott
15. Rene Descartes: Meditations and Other Metaphysical Writings

If you're looking for a quicker read, check out C.S. Lewis' essay, The Weight of Glory.
Enjoy!


Friday, November 14, 2008

What's it going to be? Love? Or anger?

Today on the Frank Pastore show, I heard a tape recording of Bill Ayers' unapologetic claim that his repeated bombings of government buildings in the 60's and 70's were not acts of terror. Ayers' rationale? He wasn't attacking people, just buildings. Surprisingly, this guy is a professor at the University of Chicago. Apparently logic is not his strong suit.

Understandably, Frank Pastore was stunned, and expressed his frustration with the fact that Ayers is living and teaching in the USA today, unpunished and making excuses for his terrorism.

Like Frank, my blood began to boil when I thought about the injustice of Ayer's anti-war efforts. But I really got heated when a lady (Rachelle) called into the radio show to criticize Pastore's anger and condemn his "judgement" of Bill Ayers. Rachelle admonished Frank, "Leave Ayer's actions in the past, get rid of your anger, and love him. That's what we're called to do."

He tried to respond, but she promptly hung up on him.

I think Rachelle's understanding of Christianity is pale and watered down. The faultiness of her reasoning lies in a false antithesis: Christians must either choose love or anger. She was convinced it's not possible to simultaneously feel or act on both, much less feel anger as a result of love.

I wonder, what does she do with the biblical picture of God's outrage when he sees injustice and perversion in the world he loves so much? Does she think God would feel such anger if he didn't love the world? Anger and love often go hand in hand.

Aren't Christians supposed to care about the things God cares about? Don't we have a responsibility to be salt and light, not just by the things we say, but by the things we do?! If we float along in passivity, it's going to be tough for us to answer our Christian call to social action. Our outrage at social injustice and our love for people should provoke us to social action.

Rachelle, love is not unmoved by social injustice. Love does the hard thing. It discerns injustice, is angered by injustice, and then stands up to it.


Today I had a deep longing to ride on Aslan's back.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Math Mania: More Adventures in Room 341


Today my students' world expanded.  They were introduced to the math marvel we call, "Flip Over Math."  This educational phenomenon allows students to practice their addition and multiplication facts, and then flip over their worksheets to check their answers.  What will Educators come up with next?!

When I first announced the addition of these new worksheets to our daily math activities, my students were fairly unfazed.  I wish, though, that you could have heard the collective intake of breath when my students learned they could flip over the worksheet to check their answers.  I've never seen a group of students mob a table faster than my students did when I set down the Flip Over Math.  

All morning, the kids were in a perpetual state of bliss, blazing through flip over after flip over. It gives me a little thrill to watch my students stand in awe of life's simplest pleasures.  I hope they rub off on me.  And they had better hold onto their hats tomorrow, because I'm busting out the math bingo.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fall is here! (Today at least)

Fall has been teasing us the last few weeks.  Her shadow has danced past me on a few crisp mornings, but she's oh-so-elusive.  Today, however, I think she decided to stay for a bit out in Fontana. The air was clear and had a bite to it, and the crunchy leaves began to pile up outside my classroom windows.  The real tip off though, was when I glanced over my shoulder to see one of my students huddled up against the overhead projector, warming his tiny hands in its glowing little light. 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Apologetics: to Keep or not to Keep?


Apologia: defense or justification of a belief or idea

Christian apologetics often get a bad rap.  I know of a man who thinks Christians should avoid using apologetics altogether.  He has seen too many Christians use apologetics like a baseball bat.  These Believers have bashed unassuming bystanders over the head with the justification of their Christian beliefs. 

I understand this guy's discomfort with apologetics.  It's disturbing to see something good perverted.  But let's not throw apologetics out the window just yet.  Apologetics may be important, and even necessary for helping people to understand Christianity.  

I think the comparison of apologetics to a baseball bat can be sort of helpful for the Christians who are trying to decide if they should avoid using apologetics.  (A quick caveat: don't take the comparison too far!).

Baseball bats were created to enable baseball players to excel in and enjoy the sport of baseball.  Thanks to the baseball bat, millions of fans around the world get their share of cracker jacks, raucous crowds, and loud organ music every spring, summer and fall.  

Sadly, sometimes baseball bats are used to commit heinous hate crimes.  It's sickening to think about how something that was intended for good can so easily become a tool of destruction.  However, the fact that a tool can be used for destruction doesn't mean that its use should be forever avoided.  What would happen we banned the use of bats as a result of their misuse?  We would lose a constructive, edifying and enjoyable sport.

If Christians threw away apologetics, I think we would lose a valuable and constructive tool for pointing people to our Redeemer.  I know many people who are hesitant to commit to Christ because they are looking for ways to reconcile their ideas about the world with their ideas about God.  Some of these people might be able to hurdle their intellectual obstacles if a thoughtful Christian were willing to provide good justification for Christian beliefs.  

I recently began a study of the book of Acts that has further reinforced my conviction that apologetics are an important part of Christian ministry.  

In Acts chapter 1, Jesus commissioned his disciples to become his witnesses and the builders of his church.  He also promised to give them the Holy Spirit, guaranteed his return, and then ascended to heaven.  But before Jesus commissioned, promised, and ascended,  he gave his disciples "convincing proofs" or an apologetic that he was alive (apparently seeing his risen body wasn't enough for them;)!

Before the disciples began their earthly ministry, it was essential that Jesus gave them reasons to trust that he was who he said he was and would fulfill his promises.  Jesus' proofs gave the disciples reason to believe that he would empower them to be his witnesses (because he was the Son of God!), and would one day return (because he was a promise-keeper!).  It was Jesus' apologetic for his resurrection that initiated the disciples' ministry, which led to the growth of the church!  It's incredible to think about the far-reaching effects of Jesus' apologetics.

I'm still learning how to use apologetics effectively and wisely, but I think the key to successful persuasion is found in Acts chapter 1.  We must rely on the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit as we engage in his ministry.  Ultimately, it's God who makes our faith winsome and attractive to people in our sphere of influence!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween: Fall Fete, 2008


"My favorite color is light tan. My favorite animal is puppies. I like serving the Lord, hiking, play volleyball..."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tricks of the Trade


I've discovered a delightful "saute secret". Instead of sauteing veggies in oil, substitute the oil with a few tablespoons of pesto. Here is a divine pesto recipe that freezes really well, for your sauteing pleasure:

Throw the following ingredients in the blender and blend well!
2 c fresh basil
1/2 c olive oil
2 T pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1 t salt
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan
2 T freshly grated Romano pecorino cheese
3 T butter (room temp)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wanted...



After much deliberation I have decided to be Encarnacion for Halloween. I'm seeking a robust Hispanic to be my male counterpart, Nacho Libre. All applications are welcome.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Room 341

Some days I am hard-pressed to keep myself from laughing at my students. It’s not a mocking, condescending laugh that I have to stifle, but a gleeful chortle that is provoked when they do the darndest things.

Just the other day there was one such giggle-inducing incident. One of my students, Freddy was not following my instructions, so he had to change his stick color (this is one of the greatest tragedies a third grader can face in room 341). As he was slowly walking to change his stick color, Justin ran up to me, panting and a little bit panicked and said, “Miss Jackson, Freddy just said the ‘s’ word!” I grimaced, and called Freddy over, prepared to have him change his stick color again.

I sternly looked at Freddy and quietly asked him what word he had just said. He looked down , guilty but silent. “Come on Freddy, you need to tell me. I already know what you said, but it’s important that you accept responsibility.”
“I don’t want to say it out loud”.
“Then write it down Freddy.” I pushed a pad of hot pink post-its across my desk and waited for him to write the word. He finished writing and looked up at me expectantly. The note pad said, “Stid”.
“Try again Freddy. Sound it out.”
“Sitpaid”. I looked up from the pad again at Freddy’s downcast face. Apparently he and I need to work on spelling.
“Freddy, it is important that you accept responsibility so that you can begin to change your attitude and behavior. If you won't tell me the word, then tell me what it rhymes with."
“Nothing Miss Jackson, it doesn’t rhyme with anything.” Freddy’s eyes began to well up with tears of shame.
“Does it rhyme with ‘hit’?” He shook his head.
I called Justin over. Maybe his spelling would be better. “Justin, will you please write the word you just heard Freddy say?” Justin carefully printed the terrible word across the hot pink sticky note. I picked it up. Finally, the long-awaited word: “Stupid.”

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Maggot Maddness

Today my roommates and I used an entire role of paper towels squishing maggots. The whole ordeal was just the crowning fiasco of a series of bug fiascos over the last 3 months.

Back in July we discovered that our apartment was over-run with ants. We quickly and painstakingly spread a trail of baking soda around the perimeter of every ant-infested area and stuffed every corner of the apartment with ant traps and poisonous ant gel. Megan’s bed is still encircled by a halo of baking soda, just in case our bad bug luck continues.

Then we found out we had cockroaches so we bought some roach-killer gel that looked like Terriaki noodles when we applied it to the walls and floors. I guess the killer noodles did the trick, because the roach infestation is practically a thing of the past. The only thing reminding us of the quick little creatures that once ran freely through our cupboards is the trail of dried roach-killer noodles we have around our kitchen baseboards. It was next to one of these “Terriaki” noodles that I found a plump, squirming maggot today.

At first I wondered if, no I hoped, the little guy had bummed a ride into our abode on the beets I bought from Vons earlier this morning. If he had fallen to the floor off my beets then he was probably the only worm in our apartment, and I’d never have to look at another maggot again. My hope was immediately squashed (pardon the pun roomies) when I heard Megan screech, “There are TONS of them, over by the door; they’re everywhere—oh I’m going to be sick!”

Immediately I grabbed a paper towel and started popping maggots. Yes, that’s right, they pop. It’s actually just as satisfying to pop a maggot as it sounds. Soon all three of us were popping maggots, and coating every surface of our kitchen with bleach.
We moved and turned over our furniture, checked and re-checked corners to see if we overlooked any worms, and then we started itching all over. I still itch. I periodically run my fingers through my hair just to make sure there are no maggots making their home on my scalp.

We can’t figure out where these little critters came from. And we’re not exactly sure they’re maggots. We don’t actually know what maggots look like; we think they have something to do with fly larvae. We’re a little paranoid there are still some maggots hiding out in apartment #4, so we methodically scan the premises for any remaining worms on the hour. Occasionally another maggot pops up out of nowhere. It’s truly a mystery. We vacuum, sweep, mop, do our dishes regularly, and our food is not contaminated. Where did these things come from?! We’re guessing a fly got in to the apartment awhile back, laid some eggs, and poof! Our bug saga continues. Ugh.

Now, believe it or not, we are trying to keep things in perspective. When Corrie Tin Boom was held prisoner in a concentration camp that was over-run with fleas, she and her sister refused to be ungrateful for the nasty littler critters, and instead thanked the LORD for the fleas. It turns out the presence of the fleas in their prison drove the guards away, enabling Corrie and some of the other prisoners to freely hold a Bible study.

I know it’s a little silly to compare our miniscule maggot problem to Corrie Tin Boom’s bout with fleas in a Nazi prison. Nonetheless, we are trying to thank God for the maggots. Maybe these maggots excrete some sort of cleaning liquid, and are helping to keep our apartment even more sanitary than it already is (because I tell you, it IS sanitary). Or maybe the maggot extermination allowed me and my roommates to bond in a way we wouldn’t have if our lunch had been uneventful. Or perhaps the maggots have some sort of mold-eating power and are saving us from a possibly disastrous repeat of The mold disaster in #8 Whatever the case, I am choosing to be thankful for what I am sure we will all one day fondly refer to as the Maggot Incident of 2008.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Biblical Boycotting??

A friend of mine (we'll call her Olivia) recently had an interesting conversation with her Christian colleague (we'll call him Steve).

I'm going to attempt to give you the gist of Olivia and Steve's conversation, but first, a qualifier. I was not present during this conversation and received it second-hand through Olivia.  I am only including the main points of the conversation in order to avoid misrepresenting what was said.  
 
The dialogue begins with Steve discovering that Olivia boycotts Target because Target funds Plan Parenthood with a portion of all their sales.  Here's the bulk of the conversation:

Steve: Do you know that Target only gives $18,000 a year to Plan Parenthood?  And Plan Parenthood does a lot more than fund abortions.  It's not like the money you spend at Target is going directly to kill babies.
 
Olivia: But if a percentage of the money I spend at Target is going to Plan Parenthood, and  Plan Parenthood uses a large percentage of their money to fund abortions, then my money is going to support abortions.
 
Steve: It's not that big of a deal.  It's only $18,000 and not all of it is directly funding abortions.  You should boycott Walmart instead.  I boycott Walmart because Walmarts are being constructed in small towns in South America, making it difficult for small business owners to feed their families.

The conversation trails off from here.  I have to admit, I admire Steve's desire to simultaneously make a stand for the less fortunate in South America, while being a good steward of his money.  Like Olivia, it looks like he's trying to practically live out his Christian faith.  However, I find two major problems with this conversation, his apparent position, and the reasoning supporting it.  These problems are especially disturbing to me because more and more Christians are publicly embracing Steve's philosophy of stewardship and social action.
 
Problem #1: Steve's apparent approach to practical Christianity is, at best, reductionistic.  He reveals an either/or mentality that suggests the Christian's call to social action is so narrow and the resources so limited, that Christians must embrace one cause and reject another.  What Steve has essentially said is, "You are silly for boycotting Target when the money they send to Plan Parenthood is petty cash.  Abandon your cause and adopt mine."  As Christians, are we so restricted that we cannot concurrently support two causes?  Or at least identify the merit in a cause other than our own?
 
I'd like to ask Steve, when Jesus charged his followers to care for the poor, watch after widows, tame the tongue, and cast their cares on him, did he mean that Christians must choose one charge and throw the others out the window?  Should we just pick and choose which of God's concerns seem best aligned with our own concerns and ignore all the rest?  Steve's apparent either/or mentality threatens to undermine the all-encompassing call of the Christianity he claims: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27).

 
Problem #2: Steve has fallen into the stifling trap of legalism (def: strict adherence to the letter of the law).  He has gotten caught up in numbers and percentages, rather than focusing on the state of the heart.  He prefers to emphasize the mere $18,000 Target gives to Plan Parenthood, rather than identify the tragedy that occurs any time an organization (or person) is more concerned with being politically correct than protecting the sanctity of life.
 
My guess is that on judgement day God won't hold us accountable for the specific dollar amounts we spend as much as the heart issues prompting us to spend our money selfishly or generously (See Luke 16:14-15).  And I don't think rich Christians who give millions of dollars to good causes are more holy than poor Christians who give a few dollars to a good cause (see Mark 12:41-44).  God makes it clear that our actions ultimately come down to the states of our hearts.  I think Steve would agree.  It just might take some time for that sentiment to penetrate his stance on boycotting.