I’m doing what? For how long?

10648226_10152685693080954_1893760497022968169_o

In just a week and a half I will be boarding a plane as I set off for East Africa. For the next 5 months I will be living in Tanzania, and volunteering with Neema Crafts.

There are times – basically anytime I allow myself to really think about it – when my mind registers shock. It’s hard to wrap my head around it. I’m not just going to visit. I’m going to live, and work, and invest in lives. Two months ago this wasn’t even on my radar, and yet within the space of two weeks God had given me the desire, the support, and the freedom to make this decision.

Some will remember that I had the chance to go to Tanzania in January to visit my sister and her husband, who work with Neema. Having an opportunity to observe the work that Neema is doing firsthand was exciting! Seeing their mission to speak worth into the lives of people deemed worthless, and to challenge the culture and society around them, by drawing out the ability these people posses, and empowering them to use it was inspiring. I enjoyed the time I spent there immensely and my perspective and ideas of so many things were profoundly challenged.

God has blessed me with an opportunity to share in some small ways in this redemptive work. I am excited and at times intimidated by this thought, but I hope and pray that He shines through my actions and attitude during this time, and that I in turn may bless the people I will be working with. Please pray for me during this time, first as I mentioned above, that I should be a light and a blessing to those I work with, second that I would not catch anything too terrible in the dread disease dept. (amebic dysentery for example), and thirdly that I would be stretched and grown in my faith and character.

And so here I am amidst the flurry of preparation, at times still wondering how I got here, trying not to be nervous, and preparing to step out into an experience of a lifetime.

 

Posted in Tanzania and Neema Crafts | Leave a comment

Reflections on a Family

Earlier this week, after lunch, I found myself sitting on a bench in the dining room watching my fellow students and the staff as we waited for work crew assignments. From my seat by the stairs I could see the whole room with clusters of us engaged in various activities. Betty at the piano, a few of the girls playing Dutch Blitz at a table with the dishes and napkins stacked to one end for space, a couple of the staff chatting next to me. As I watched this cheerful scene play out, I was struck by just how much these people really have become a family to me, and how much I have come to think of Snow Wolf as a home.

Almost two and a half months in close, daily contact and interaction have knit us together into one big, happy, occasionally loud, clan. Meals are a huge part of this. Conversations, stories, and jokes fly, laughter is always to be heard (volume varies depending on who is sitting with who). Some of our best discussions happen over lunch when we have just come from particularly stimulating lectures.

We have gone on a couple trips over the semester that kept us away for a night or two, and even early on when we went to Manitou Springs; I remember a feeling of contentment upon our return. We were home. It was similar last week when we went to the Grand Canyon, except we were not all on that trip, and so, on the return I felt double joy: not only were we home but our family was back together again!

Evenings after class are always a pleasant time. Upstairs in the dining room there will be a group working on puzzles, a few playing Egyptian Rat Slap, or perhaps chatting around the woodstove. Downstairs there will be the pool players calling winner and groaning over a scratch, while spectators cheer on their favorites. The snack shop often harbors a group of studiers, probably reading aloud from the week’s bible reading assignment.

Dish-pits have been a great bonding time for me. Competition to get the fastest time has helped to make us efficient teams, working like well oiled machines, all the while having fun and making memories. Water and soap fly, music blasts, and everyone knows what to do and when to do it.

Every week come small groups. This is possibly the highlight of my week. For an hour and a half we meet, and talk. Sometimes we do a bible study or share a testimony, sometimes we talk about big issues from class, but always I leave feeling refreshed, blessed and closer to my brothers than ever before.

At our weekly family meeting this week, we started to talk about going home, discussing the way our lives here will affect our lives there, what we have changed and what we hope to change. One thing I noted in our talk was that a lot of it focused on relationships, with our families and our friends. The more I think about this, the more I realize that the dynamic we have created here is responsible for that. It gets us thinking, seeing what we might be doing wrong and what we can do right. We are all impressed by our family here one way or another, and we are all blessed.

Posted in Summit Semester 2013 | Leave a comment

Ad Fontes

I’m writing this week’s blog a few hours before we leave for church, and while this give me more time after church for phone calls getting up early after last night isn’t easy. We had three birthdays this week, so in order to celebrate we had a dance party in the classroom. I never thought dancing would be something I learned here, but almost every weekend we have some dancing.

We actually had two parties this week, the first being a celebration of our cook, Steven’s, engagement. Such a joyous occasion! Myself and one of the girls tag-teamed an engagement shoot for them yesterday. They were wonderful subjects! Totally comfortable, laughing and adorable!

This week our faculty was Dr. Donald T. Williams. He lectured on a variety of subjects, mainly literature, and directed a short one-act play that he has written. The play was a Socratic Tetralogue (conversation between four people), and I got the part of Erasmus of Rotterdam, who could perhaps be called the Father of Renaissance Humanism, which is the topic I will be talking about his week.

The rise of nation states, coming out of the dark ages brought with it the “Dictatores”, learned men who could read and write, but were not members of the clergy. They began as scholars employed by monarchs to write out laws, treaties, speeches etc. As time went on it was discovered that the there were great Greco-Roman writers who had similar jobs, and had written a great deal about them and how to do them. And so they began to develop something called Grammatico-Historical Exegesis, which simply explained is studying the historical context of the writing and the language it was written in, so that one can know what it meant and then adapt it to apply it to their present situation. These scholars soon adopted the battle cry of “Ad Fontes” Back to the Sources!

Now, Humanism as it was then was not an ideology as we think of it now, rather an educational reform movement, which concentrated on applying grammatico-historical exegesis to the classics. The name Humanism came from its emphases on the “Studia Humanitatis”, that is the Humanities.  Some famous humanists include: Erasmus, Martin Luther, John Calvin and Zwingli.

Obviously it wasn’t long before some scholars began to apply this ideal of study to the Bible, and this started the stone rolling that would become the reformation. Humanism made these key contributions to the reformations: The desire to read ancient books, the ability to read ancient books, the availability of ancient books, a sound hermeneutic (hermeneutics is the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, esp. of the Bible or literary texts), and the ability to explain why the Bible said what the Protestants said it did.

This was by far my favorite of the lectures we had this week and it was fun to be the character in the play who is the personification of the Humanists of the Renaissance!

I want to close with a poem written by Dr. Williams, which I enjoyed very much! Sadly his poetry book sold out before I got a copy, but this is also in one of the books for our required reading so you’re in luck!

Proposed, That The Modern
Scientific Worldview,
In Its Euphoria Over Learning
How To Do Neat Things With
Matter Has Left Something
Out Of The Equation

 Sonnets LVII-LVIII

There was a time when men could see the sky,
A grand cathedral vaulted and ablaze
With myriad candles lifted up on high
By nights for vespers; in the brighter days,
The great rose window eastward shed its rays
For morning prayer, and each and every flame
Burned elegant in litanies of praise,
In fugues and canons to extol the Name.
But now the sky, though larger, is more tame,
And modern man sees what he’s taught to see:
Huge numbers are just numbers all the same,
Though multiplied toward infinity;
And quarks and quasars cannot speak to us
Except as agitated forms of dust.
Except as agitated forms of dust,
We don’t know how to know the thing we are:
The biochemistry of love is lust
As anatomic furnace is a star,
And all that’s known is particles at war.
And yet we do know love, and yet we know
That it and lust are infinitely far
Apart. We know the stars and how they glow,
Though they know nothing of us here below.
So even while we’re slogging through the mire,
We cannot help ourselves, but as we go,
We cock our heads to listen for the choir.
We know that half the truth is half a lie
There was a time when men could see the sky.

                                                                                     –Donald T. Williams

Posted in Summit Semester 2013 | Leave a comment

Alumni and Sonnets

Wow! 5 weeks already under our belt and we stand on the brink of our halfway mark. Our time here is flying by, and we work hard to keep up with readings and class as the illnesses which spread through a tight community wear on us. It does seem that soon enough we will all be healthy again, as most of us have had both bugs.

This weekend is alumni weekend and we were fortunate to have a number of them with us. It’s great fun getting to know them and trading stories, as well as seeing our friends among them!

Also this week we were assigned to write a sonnet for Dr. Bauman.  Sonnets, as we learned, have a highly specific format. We were to write with an ABBA rhyme scheme which means the first line ends with sound A, second and third with sound B, fourth with A, and so on. During the 8 line Octave you state the problem or the burden. You build up to the Volta, which is the pivot point and place a period. Finally you have the 6 line sestet. The first 4 are your solution to the problem, the last 2 (the couplet) are the summary.

So here is my attempt:

A Stubborn Heart

My heart is stubborn, it e’er hates to yield
The fancies on which it has fixed its gaze
Seem never hid even by thickest haze
Always it yearns, to pull me deep afield
Against all reason, although that be strong
It strains the bit I place within its mouth
Draws at times my dreaming thoughts away to south
It cannot win – I cannot go along.
So here be my design, the plan for use
Logic brutal, a blow it now shall swing
And thereby disable this unwise spring
Trusting to sound thought, that to set me loose
So now the end, its folly stops today
Denied it will be, reason has final say.

Also here are some pics from our day trip to Ouray on Monday.

IMG_0001

IMG_0029

IMG_0049

IMG_0063

IMG_9796

IMG_9902

Posted in Summit Semester 2013 | Leave a comment

Flaming Patchwork

Well it’s October now and the trees seem to know it. Literally overnight the mountains around Snow Wolf lodge have turned a riot of color as the scrub trees change to their fall coats. Orange, yellow, and red lace together in a fiery patchwork of breathtaking beauty.

We had our first full free day yesterday and some friends and I decided to take advantage of the fact and take a hike around the ridge tops surrounding Snow Wolf. The ridges are roughly in the shape of a horse shoe, and afford amazing views of the mountains in almost every direction! As I promised last week here are some pictures 🙂IMG_9625

IMG_9628

IMG_9669

IMG_9675

IMG_9726

IMG_9735

Posted in Summit Semester 2013 | Leave a comment

Drug Rugs and Murder in the Dark

So last week was my first failure to post a post… I have a good excuse I think. You see last Sunday rather than our coffee shop internet run, we drove up to Manitou Springs. Ordinarily that’s a 5 hour drive. Ordinarily. We may or may not have taken 2 vans 45 minutes past the correct turn off. Regardless of that trip took up our normal internet time. The next day I went thrift shopping instead of interneting so I ended up with the largest dictionary I have ever seen rather than a blog post.

Our trip was to see the Passages exhibit, in Colorado Springs. While there we stayed in the Summit Hotel! It is a magical place. And makes the best Murder in the Dark games ever. When the lights are out the place takes on the creepiest feeling ever! I really enjoyed getting to explore a place I have heard so much about, and while we were there I got to see friends made at Summit TN in past years, who live in the area and came to visit. It was wonderful to catch up and reminisce!

I went downtown with some other student’s who have attended the CO sessions and got Maté (I still don’t like it Mom). Also I got myself a drug rug. For those of you who are concerned this is a mexican hoodie, and no, I didn’t go visit the Happy Hippie 😉

Also noteworthy (most likely to my sisters) I have been taught (successfully) to dance the Virginia Reel, and the Post Jig (or at least variations thereof). They are very lively and do not require you to be coordinated with your feet.

Class-wise we have covered what seems to me an enormous amount. In our literature class we have just gone over Chaucer and then Philip Sidney. What an amazing person he was, with all his acomplishments and he died at 32! We examined his Defense of Poetry, with Dr. B. giving us an explanation of why and how he wrote it and a breakdown of the sections. This topic entailed a discussion of poetry and what the definition of it. I’ll give you as best I can what Sidney says.

Poetry is the art of imitation or mimesis, it figures forth, making speaking pictures with the intent of teaching virtue by delighting. Poetry should be sweet and useful. It is a made up thing, that is coming from the author’s imagination but being true to life.

I’m beginning to see a pattern in my classes in which I enjoy Literature the most followed by Church History and then Politics. Maybe this is because I am finding the most to learn in Lit, but I am unsure yet.

Well I’ll try to have some pictures for you guys next week. The peaks are already getting snow!

Posted in Summit Semester 2013 | 1 Comment

Nobody Twerks to Brahms

I’ve already heard a lot of funny and irritated quips from Dr. Bauman in the three days of classes with him we have had so far, but the first and funniest came out in a discussion of music. As a fellow student helplessly tried to make a case for rap in the face of his relentless assault, Dr. B., in a voice loaded with exasperation, said, “No one is going to twerk to Brahms!” Although I don’t know what exactly to make of the whole discussion this point was hilarious.

Week one is down, under our belts and none of us have died yet, a fact Dr. B. implies is lucky. In all seriousness though, even this first week has been amazing. We began on Monday, with Dr. Jeff Myers, the president of Summit, speaking to us on Biblical Community, and Leadership. For me the highlight of our time with him was a reading he did from a book he is currently writing! He read us the first draft of a whole chapter, and really how often do you get to hear that sort of thing from some one like Dr. Myers?! Once in a lifetime for me probably!

Br. B. got in on Wednesday and we had our introductory period with him that night. The next morning began our baptism by fire. The first book we read for his English Lit. class was C.S. Lewis’ An Experiment in Criticism. Not an easy task in spite of it’s relatively short length. In this Lewis, examines what it means to read well and deciding if a book is “good” or not, suggesting that perhaps the true standard of a good book is whether or not it encourages good reading.

So what is good reading, or rather a good reader? Well this is what I wrote down in my notes, “Good readers frequently re-read. They feel impoverished when they can’t read, and they fell that their inner lives are enhanced by their reading. They ‘receive’ the book first. By ‘receive’ we mean that the reader attempts to find the author’s intent, what the author was actually trying to say. Good readers allow the book to get passed them and their impositions. Don’t add your opinions without first finding and ‘receiving’ the author’s.”

History of Christian Thought came next and we have spent the week examining ancient Judaism and it’s various sects, looking at the parallels between these and modern Christianity. There were several “Baumanations” during these discussions. I myself have so far avoided this happening to me, but my luck can’t hold out forever…

Finally Politics. We looked at some proposed standpoints on government for Christians and discussed them as well the basic tenants of Liberals, Conservatives, and Historical Pragmatists (think Jean Kirkpatrick or Frank Gaffney). Again lot’s of Baumanations, and us all realizing we know a lot less about what we think than we thought we did.

We are learning already though. Define your terms. Sloppy language makes sloppy thought possible!

Posted in Summit Semester 2013 | Leave a comment