I have been absent from this world for a while. I am preparing to leave Missouri and head to Illinois for a year on a vicarage assignment. I am hoping through the nest year I will be more faithful in corresponding what is transpiring in Staunton through this medium.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Chapter the Twenty-Third

The greatest thing that has happened to me up to date in my life...I believe that would be a thesis for a dissertation or something. THe question was asked by someone, who I believe to be my Dad, and then the sentiment returned by another friend. So I will at length unveil the greatest happening in my life up to date.
It started last year at about 7 p.m. on the 16th of September 2004. Most of you know if from talking to me about my year in Florida. The greatest thing to happen to me was not Hurricane Ivan but the several changes of attitude and philosophy toward religion and life that happened in me during the course of the hurricane as well as after it had passed. Zee First Epiphany I guess you could call it occured even before the hurricane really started to blow. Pastor Linck and I were out and about the Wednesday that the hurricane came onto land. There were a few people in the congregatoin that had not had the opportunity to board up some of the windows on their homes. This truly was foreign to me for a time, putting others ahead of self, especially in the area of self preservation. My attitude toward helping others, prior to this time, was similar to the attitude you are supposed to have when administering the oxygen masks on a plane, or at least how you are instructed to. First put your mask on and then help those around you. When I would think about this operating system and how it applied to my service in the church and came to the conclusion at this moment in time, that if I wanted to continue service in the church this philosophy would have to change, and so it did. How can I serve people if there needs are secondary on my list, how can I be a servant if I cannot first deny myself?
Following closely on the heals of this ground breaker was another wonderful but not totally foreign conclusion. I would have to accept my own mortality, IN FULL, to also be able to serve better. I have thought greatly and at long length about life and death and the impact of both on the physical and mental well being of myself. It comes to reason that when any person is deeply in thought about death and in converse life they are going to swing in mental and physical health toward the topic of thought. WHen one is deeply in thought about death, and the ways to die, and what happens in death, you become depressed, and in converse relation when the topic of thought is life, you seem to have a surge of enegry and happiness.
As I sat listening to what could have been death surround me. I had to fully let go of what I thought was a certain life, and accept the reality of certain death. There is one certainty that all of humanity can accept, Death. All humanity will legitimatly accept the fact that they will die, and when asked the same question about life, "Will you live?" there might be a puzzled look, and a hesitant "yyeeessss?" This was certainly me prior to sitting through what could have been death. For certain now I will say and do say, I will live, for the only certainy that matters to me now, Love.

As for the rest it will wait...

Just going...

Monday, August 29, 2005

this is just an insert...

As I sit around with my fellow nerds in our, as a friend put so delicatly, "Nerdular Nerdulance" I cannot help smile adn think we have found a common thread that will bind us to late nights around an Apple Internet Streamer.

Just going...

Straight to Bed.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Chapter the Twenty-Second: By Popular Demand...

The first greatest thing that has happened in my short life is something that cannot, for the greatest part, be explained in the short amount of time that I have between now and the time that we are going to be on our way to church. SO all I will say for right now is that the greatest story of my life is going to be coming up in a post very soon to a computers screen in front of you.
As for the greatest part of yesterday, we went to a resort/retreat center in the third largest city in Taiwan. It was great fun, we all got to walk around a bit and then for the longest part of time sit around by a beautiful pool and absorb some of the higher mountian air. It gave me a good long time to think over the reason for the tone of the last post. I have been going through some self monitoring, which I really did trash for a few days. I was wreckless in my speech and attitude toward some situations and some off comments were made by persons, that we not meant to hurt or cut by any means, but did. I had to take a step back and realize that all that I had worked hard for, and the steps I had taken in growth were seriously hindered and set back by just a few days of action. Very dissappointing to say the least. but now, at least I think, after a good long day of thought and contemplation I have regained a grasp on what I seemingly lost, or more to the point forgot about, and will in the upcoming weeks try to re-establish a little bit of what I believe I really am.
School starts, officially in another week, but on Friday we have a half day to go in and scare the crap out of our students so they behave at least for the first day of next week. I am in the process of reorganizing the Bible Curriculum for the entire 10-12th grade classes that I am going to teach...And as I write this I hear the call for the leaving bus to church. I will get a little more in when I come back, wait I can save this as a draft, but it might be a little long...

Friday, August 26, 2005

Chapter the Twenty-First

As I sit here after the first week of being in the office is complete I feel like I need a beer, and to this you are supposed to answer in true Lutheran Fashion, "This is most certainly true!" I cannot imagine what this year is going to hold but I can imagine what it will not hold, that topic is of course for an entry a little further down the line. For as long as I have been here though there have been some things that have happened that I was thinking would never. Nothing major just small little feelings that I do not want to let out that already have. Small little bits of myself that I was hoping would not pop their heads out of my personality but already have. I am having to watch myself from inside and out to make sure that my time here is spent in the best of ways, for if I let myself this could certainly be a painful year, and if I help myself this will be the best year of life, or at least close.
God help me to be intollerable of self and all of you. This is the only way that I can be free of wanting to be free of my thoughts and illusions. God you are good, lay down a smooth path for your servant and a hard road for the being that hinders him. God you are fair, lay waste the houses of lawlessness and build up the lawful. Lord I know that if I suffered your judgement I would walk the hard path and lay in waste, but Oh God you have sent a light to me, and to that light I fly. Praise be to You and Your Holy City to which the chosen enter.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Chapter the Twentieth: It Begins

The last few days we, the foreign teaching crew at Concordia Middle School, have been going to our offices, getting oriented and started working on what needs to be done before the start of classes in roughly a week. Every day that I am in there and sitting in the classes I get a little more excited about what is going to start to happen in my life. I am a very relational person, I love to meet people and get to know them and have a personal connection to them in any way possible, some of you that read this might scratch your heads and say, "Really"? But it is the truth...
The last two days I have been going to where the students I will be teaching hang out and take their summer classes if they are enrolled in them and just getting to know how they work, where they are, and what they need to improve uppon as their exams come closer. It is going to be a difficult year from the aspect that the Taiwanese School Calendar has not breaks for students or teachers but one and it is much longer in length that the traditional American Calendar. I will be in class from Sep 1 until June 30, with about a 2 week break in January, and then sacraficing two Saturdays a month to teach. I cannot complain, and will not complain, because this is not American and I am no longer an American. It is a hard concept to grasp for those of you sitting in your dorm room, or computer room in Texas, Colorado or any other state in the Union, and if you are sitting in another country beside Taiwan, and you have been there for any length of time no matter how long or short, you understand. This is going to be the second greatest thing that has happened in my life to this point, it has been a short time, but there is something about this place, and the believers here that captures my heart and mind.

In a few days I will be able to thave pictures for you of my students. This picture is of the campus we are on and one of the courtyards that lies within the grounds.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Chapter the Nineteenth: THe Joys of Cooking

Yesterday was a great day and the best part was that it was prefaced by and almost better day. You heard some about it in the last entry "Crash and Burn" which tells about one very unfortunate incident which took place. I am going to tell this little bit about something else I saw during our excursion. There is a large Taoist Temple a ways away from the school in downtown Chia Yi. It is a very large place with seven stories and several sacramental altars on each. As well as a very large cauldron I guess in which Taoist devotees burn large quantities of "Spirit Money." WE got to walk through the temple and to all seven levels which we found out were symbolic of the seven levels of Hell and each devotee goes to each level to pray to their ancestors and ancestrial protectors to keep them from suffering a fate in one of these hells. One of the most interesting happenings going on in the temple this day was a sort of coming of age ceremony for one girl. I had a chance to sit and watch the process and the picture you will see is of the girls father praying to a diety which looks like buddha but we were told is not.
On a different note...There are few things that I enjoy more than cooking, seriously, I do...Last night was the first night that we had to fend for ourselves in regads to food. I was not too scared about what to do, the first thing that came to my head was, "Hey I will just pick up some items at the local Store and be good to go." So as we were driving around after church we had the opportunity to stop at a store and I ran inside and grabbed some Pork, Snow Peas, Golden Mushrooms and had it in mind to make some stir fry. The first of the Non-American home cooked meals brought to you by Sam Corp, falling off bikes and cooking great meals since 2005.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Chapter the Eighteenth: Crash and Burn

There is that obvious fact that at one point or another at this time or that, there is going to be that one circumstance that leaves you flat on your face and wishing you were at home. For whatever reason you failed to comprehend some matter or disregarded some sign that told you to stop and like a stupid human you did not. The cost, a little bit of pride, perhaps a little bit of dignity, and oh yes your skin.
Such an occasion is in the fore-front today and here is a first hand look. Yesterday morn we, the 9 new English teachers of Concordia Middle School were out and about on our very first bike ride and tour of the city. It was absolutly great to see the city by bike and be able to stop anywhere, go inside little shops, points of interest such as a very large Taoist Temple. During the day I noticed that the pedal on my bike as becoming inreasingly wobbly almost to the point of my foot falling off at certain times during pedaling. So I made a mental note and kept right on going, trying to figure out the most effective way to get around the problem, instead of taking the time to fix it, and just keep going along with the flow of the tour. Well a little more time passed and we were on our way back to the school and I somehow forgot this very important piece of information, ignoring the signs, and stood up on the pedal to give myself a little extra push, and the pedal snapped off. What happened next I can only be told, because I remember not much of the flight, but it was said to be perhaps the greatest human airobatics maneuver since that kid jumped onto the net in Yankee Stadium. Over the handle bars I went, sliding and scraping my way to a stop. The casualties, my pride and my skin mostly. What is the point of this grand ole story well let me just tell you, if you have a bike and something is wrong, get off and fix it, and if you cannot fix it, find someone that can. THis is the reason why I think common sense is not too common.

Just Going...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Chapter the? What are we on Now???

I think the most annoying thing that I have found about this place now is the fact that there is the possibility for me to hit my head on just about every door jam in the country I imagine. How will this affect my stay here, I will most certainly have a little more of an arch in my back when I return from always hunching over to get through any door I need to. Other than that the climate is much like a Houston or Southern Florida, pretty much any southern town that is right near the coast, New Orleans would probably be pretty accurate.
Apparently we have been blessed our first day here in Taiwan. How you might ask. We had a blue sky and a great view of the mountains which launch out of the scenery about 60 miles outside of the town we are in. It is absolutly amazing to hear that during the year there are not too many times that you can get a view of one or the other and let alone the two at once. THe main reason is the mix of such high humidity and the close proximity of the Mountains to the coast line and the weather patterns that produces, lots f clouds and drizzly rain a lot of the time. The other is the moderatly high pollution, it is certainly much more than the U.S. because of their lack of certain agencies to govern the way pollutants are emitted into nature, amd their highly expanding population, industry, and non regulated suburban development. Pretty much anyone can build anything wherever they want with little to no regulatory supervision from the governing body of the county they are in or the whole of the country.
What is on the table for today? We are heading to the local Christian Hospital, which is one of the closest and also one of the largest in the area we are in. We have to go and get health checks for the school and also so that we can get national I.D.'s. Then we are going to recieve our Taiwanese names and practice those a little bit. Then finally go to a large Deparment Store that we are told is the equivalent to a Super Walmart, so I should be right at home.
I hope all of yall have a great afternoon and evening in America as I start my day in Taiwan...

Just going...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Chapter the Sixteenth: The same sunrise...

My first morning in Taiwan and I get to see the sun come up through my window here in the school. How amazing! Seeing as how there has been little that has gone on for us since we got here other than trying to stay up as late as we could yesterday to try and aid in our adaptation to the time zone. I finally fell asleep around 8 p.m. and woke up a few times because my body was telling me, "lets start the day!" I am up now and it is a little after 5 a.m., what to do today? I think I am going to go for a little bit of a walk around this morning and look at the rest of the campus and then head out onto the street to find a place to eat some breakfast or a store to buy something to cook. The "Practice Hotel" that we are all living in reminds me of the dorm that I stayed in while at Concordia for University. It is going to be so great for the year, the only thing that I am worried about I think is how we will all interact in the long days that we will all share, will the close proximity help or hinder our relationships to each other when we are exhausted, I guess that could be by what I observed last night before we all went to bed. After all we had been through yesterday and last night, there was a small collective of practice hotel residence that had an impromptu discussion about the finer points of the Russian and Greek Orthodox Church. For as interesting as the conversation was for the short time I listened I did not think that I could have added significant to the discussion so I went to bed.
If all the times that we are extremely tired and worn out and around each other end up this way not only will we e fine, but we will also have spawned some of the greatest theological teaching minds this century has ever scene, walther woud be proud, (wink).
As for now I am going to get into the bathroom and take care of some teeth brushing, then a little bit of bible studying, and then a walk about. Peace to you my friends and family...

Just going...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Chapter the Fifteenth: The Journey Begins...

I am here and in my room. And in the beginning it seemed a little bit overwhelming and most likely will continue to get that way until I realize I am not the one in the driving seat yet again. I am here adn Praise be to God all my fellow workers are as well. Be expecting a little more in depth entry when I have had some sleep and a shower, right now I cannot remember when I shut my eyes last, I know it was not my last night at home. Peace to all of you and my prayers are with you.

Just Going...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Chapter the Fourteenth: Can I get some Tissue?

If you last few days are going anything like mine I am sure you have asked that question. Everywhere I turn and just about everyone I turn too seem to have glassy eyes waiting for some reason to let them flood over onto their cheeks. Am I scared of seeing and letting go of my emotion, no, but there is only so much letting go you can do until you have lost it!
Here is the worst, my Dad and my Grandfather both did the commissioning service for me this morning at church, and there nevver was a time, at least that I have been a part of, that I have seen my Dad cry so much. This is truly heart filling for me. To know that my Dad cares so much for me that it spills over onto his shirt, and the floor and just about anything else in proximity.
Take care of your tickets and you packing, take care of the telephone good-byes, make sure you have your bank issues finalized and you are not leaving anything outstanding. And today, or whenever you leave, sit around with your family and cry, hug, laugh, maybe yell a little because that is what you will remember. That is what you will carry with you in your heart till you are ready to get on the plane home, and Jeezz it is going to go by soo fast you most likely say to yourself, "It is already time to go?"
I hope you heart is prepared for if it is not, it will be. I hope your faith is prepared, for if it is not it will be made so. I hope your mind is prepared, for if it is not it will be painful to grow. I pray for you and all you come in contact with, and for those of you being in L.A. and checking this out this afternoon or tonight I will see you in 30 hours or so.
Peace to you who are not letting the excuses of this world keep you in the Box. Praise to you Warriors of Christ expanding the boundaries of His Kingdom in a hostile World. Hail to you travelrs for your feet are truly beautiful. And my love to you friends who will share the year with me and God and those He is sending us there to Love.


Justgoing, and almost there

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Chapter the Thirteenth: Ah the Stuff we Love

I seem to have collected a great deal of stuff in the time I have been between St. Paul and Taiwan, as it will be, and there is only one thing to say, ehhhh...
After a nice long conversation last night I came to the scarce realization that I have been preparing myself quite adequatley with the things I am going to need and the stuff I am going to take, but what of my heart and mind and spirit and faith? Where was all my prep for perhaps the most necessary carry-on items in my life? I am sure that I have enough shirts, pants, books, computer, i-pod, money, etc., but do I have enough faith, or patience, or trust, love, connectivity, truth to be able to complete the task before me. Maybe some would answer is it really "me" completing the task or is it Christ, well I am all well and good with answering the question that way, but like Me, I need to know a little deeper personal answer. Of course Christ is with me, but am I seriously going to take it for granted that without any action on my part that Christ will still prepare me?
I have noticed that I have prayed a little less to spend more time with my sisters, I have been a little less than active at our church because of all the people that want to do things and talk about stuff, I have been less than faithful with my Tithe and offering because I need to save for this trip when I am going to be getting way more than perhaps I will deserve, there are a series of deficiencies now that I see, T-minus 9 days and counting, that maybe I should have payed a little more attention too. So what now, an all out dash to catch up on all the aspects that I have failed to recognie to this point No, most likely not, I am already worn out, and there is so little time to be able to catch up to where I need to be, now that I am aware, I have the chance to do something about it.

Peace to you, the travelers who are going to make the mark of Christ on the doorposts of those who not yet know. Peace to you, the teachers who go to share the word with the worlds who do not yet know. Peace to you, the believers who slip into the warm blanket of Grace. Peace to you, the Pagans for yours is a treasure waiting to be discovered. Peace to you...

Friday, August 05, 2005

Chapter the Twelvth: Home Again Home Again...

There is nothing like a long, gray, slow rainy day every now and then. I think it is much better when you can stay inside all day and not really have anything to do. What is the greatest thing to do on a rainy day? For me it is to lay around which I do not do very well, and listen to music; usually a collection of Dave Matthews and Pink Floyd.
I can no longer count the time left in the U.S. in weeks, now it is more like days, I am praying for all of you that read this and those that do not.
Peace to all of you.

just going...