Friday, November 30, 2007

Ever known and pretty falling stars

I had a nice day today. Life is pleasant and enjoyable right now. Soon that may change, but I know that He is sufficient for all situations, names, places, faces. A season of remembering is upon us, and we know that as He has come, so will He come, and the ransomed shall return.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quiet company

Today has been a quiet day of light work a procrastination. An exciting day, for it rained and was overcast here! Now, some of you may be thinking, "Big Deal. It's like that all the time here!" Well, it's not here. This is the first time that it has rained since the first day of school. And that was a sunny shower. So this is the first time that the weather has been different in months. It was nice, it did snow just a little, but mostly just cold rain. We walked down to the French Bakery in the morning, then played a few games of Carcassonne after breakfast, then I worked on some things that I had volunteered to do for Meeting tomorrow. It's just been a nice, quiet day with quiet company.

I've got some unformed thoughts about a lot of the things that are happening in this country, and in the world. There are many things that happen and occur here that I wish were different. We live and work in interesting times, and this country grows different in ways that were unanticipated in prior days. Nevertheless, I know that none of this was unknown, and that we will never walk alone.

The seasons are changing, and so are the moods of people here. The anticipation of what is coming, both in the holidays and in the break from school, is growing among my friends here. Many of us are getting excited about seeing family again, and the people that are not going to visit family are excited about their breaks and destinations. I'm really looking forward to visiting friends and family. I do think the return from here to the States is going to be, in some ways, more of a culture shock than coming here was. There will be just lots more different, I'll be away from the close community that I've joined here, and somehow, I think the American lifestyle will feel more foreign to me that what I'm used to here.

However, I know I'll be able to get back used to it, especially with central heating, milk, and the ability to drive. I really want to drive.

Raise up the banner. Take back your homes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Because the sun stands still.

So, if you were unaware, our days here are a little different than your days in the states.

What do I mean by that? See, our weekend is Thursday and Friday. Which does make the week a little strange when you think about it by days. First, our 'Monday' is Saturday (the first day of the work week.) Sometimes it does feel a little strange to be working on Saturday and Sunday. But then the good thing is, you get to Monday and Tuesday, and it feels like you're getting to kick off early in the week, even though you worked all five days, since Wednesday night starts off the weekend.

So, Tuesdays can be great. Today, even though I didn't get a lot of 'tasks' accomplished (you know, didn't get things done that I can say, "Boy, now I'm done with that."), I did feel productive today. And I had car line and Jr. High Basketball, which is a great way to end the day, really. I like car line, mostly because it's as much exposure as I get to the kids. I also enjoy basketball, even if the kids don't have the level of skill I wish they did.

In addition to this, Tuesdays are sometimes Frisbee days. Which is just flat out fun. I'm getting more skilled at this game, and am actually semi competent at it now. And we ate at the cafeteria afterwards (it sounded more appetizing than zucchini casserole), which is always a kind of treat, even if they it's not the most terrific food, it does feel mostly American.

Mostly, though, Tuesdays are good because they just are. The longer I am here all of the things I get to experience in normal life seem to bring me a simple joy. There are certainly some extraordinary circumstances that happen here, that I hope I don't get desensitized to. We didn't think we would be able to go to Frisbee tonight because of some things that happened here this morning. I hope I don't get desensitized to the real turmoil and struggle that goes on here, just because I have some level of insulation from it.

And it is these things, the terrors and the simple joys that remind me some things never change. All of this will fade and pass away, but what do we seek? Here there is no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

Monday, November 26, 2007

No lasting city

Today, I read an essay by Paul Graham, a fairly well-known venture capitalist, entitled "Stuff" (Go read it, it's pretty short, and my post will be here when you get back), and it tied in with a chain of other thoughts that I have been having lately. I've been thinking about my stuff... partly because I'm going to have to move stuff home over break, partly because I have a box of stuff that I want to get sent over and that's expensive, partly because I don't have a lot of stuff here, but also because I want more stuff. I want more books, I want more music, I want more computer games, and I really want the lunch stand here to find the chocolate muffins so I can consume them greedily after lunch.

I think, to a certain extent, nearly everyone wants more stuff. It's our unfortunate, fallen human nature, to search for ways to find fulfillment. To different people, the amorphous concept of 'stuff' is different. To some, it may be actual physical objects, more books, a nicer car, a fancy house, furniture, collected items. To some, it may be a set of circumstances, like an enjoyable job, the success of a project, a fun vacation. To some, it may be external fulfillment, like being praised for accomplishments, a favorite sports team winning a championship, a political candidate being elected. To some, it may be a set of relationships with friends and family. Finally, to others, it might be a collection of knowledge or philosophies about life. If we abstract 'stuff' away from merely physical objects, we are left with all sorts of ways that stuff can overtake us.

Is all our 'stuff' necessary? I find myself wondering more and more every day about the stuff that I have. About my physical possessions (most of which are in a different country, and I probably wouldn't miss if I lost them all.), about my circumstances (which I just can't bring myself to describe as challenging or tough), about external fulfillment (Go Wildcats Basketball!), about relationships (which I find increasingly complicated as I grow older, and have had to form new ones rapidly in a new place), about my knowledge or philosophies (which are definitely incomplete and not as satisfactory as I would like), all these things which tie me down and weigh me to this world. I like my stuff, with some exceptions. But to hold onto them? The physical possessions I definitely am growing less attached to, even though it would bother me to lose my computer and all the accumulated data on my hard drives, I really can't think of many other physical possessions that are irreplaceable. Circumstances, I find wanting to grow more and more comfortable with their fluidity, even though I'm not totally comfortable yet. External fulfillment, I've never been too attached to. Relationships are growing and changing for me in ways while I am here that I'm not entirely comfortable with (the distance from the established and the closeness of the developing can be a tension at times), and my knowledge and philosophies just don't seem to suffice for long term benefits.

I have also, of late, been reading a set of correspondences, and one of those is from an indeterminate author, to a group of people who were experiencing major turmoil in their lives, related to the destruction of their physical stuff, their circumstances, and their relationships. This author is trying to help these people understand how their lives have been fundamentally re-arranged, but how it is happening in a predictable manner, consistent with what they had already been taught. Towards the end of the letter, he is encouraging the readers to press on, to endure through the trials for the hope of the better things that will come after. And he says to them something very interesting, something that I will now be seeking to integrate into my life.

He says, "... Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come." This is the perspective on stuff that I want to have. No lasting city, nothing that will stay untouched by moth and rust, all of the stuff in our world is this, and seeking to retain it is striving after wind. And though my human nature will seek stuff, and seek the temporary and the quickly erased, I will strive for another course. Sure, not everything I have talked about here is valueless, and some of the things are very valuable indeed. But are they to what we should fix our eyes? Especially our possessions and our circumstances, when we have no lasting city, can we do otherwise than to acknowledge their transitory nature?

I've also been reading The World Is Flat, by Thomas Friedman. Mr. Friedman makes a set of points about how the encroaching globalization of the world is making the world 'flat', which seems to be his metaphor for connected, immediate, or synergistic. He just picks an eye-catching title for it. Anyway, one of the things that he hits on over and over again is that the industries and jobs that people have 'lived their lives in' are jobs that may be fading away in America, and redistributed to other parts of the world, or to the automated, computerized domain. He argues that the way people live is about to change because of the explosive growth of telecommunications, cheap transportation, and capitalist market factors. The upshot is that this is just another form of 'stuff-competition.' People in developing countries want to be bootstrapped up to the standard of living enjoyed by people in developed countries, while the developed countries (America in particular) don't want to lose their amenities and their niceties. He says that Americans must be prepared for the status quo to change, because economic dominance is not permanent or assured. He does, of course, provide a whole list of steps to follow that will help America and Americans retain a top spot in the new global economy he envisions, but that the 'top spot' is going to be radically different than it was in the 50's-90's.

In essence, he is saying that in economics, there is no lasting city.

There is no lasting city, my stuff is going to go away with the waves and the fires one day, and there is more to strive after than the wind. Patiently endure, obtain the Promise.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ready to smile

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.

It's the quiet holidays like this that make me miss what I used to know. Family gatherings. Food. Quiet games. Thanksgiving plays. Leaf pile adventures. The crisp air, the cold rain. Curling up under a blanket and reading for an hour or five. Where I was has been pretty good to me.

Now, I'm in a new place. Yesterday was, as far as I can remember, only the second Thanksgiving day I've spent away from family, and that time, I still made it back for the big get together on Saturday. I called the Grandparents yesterday, and I'm planning to call the folks at my house on Saturday, but that's not the same as being there.

And so, things in life change, not always as I would like them, but what matters doesn't. I am in a place where I have so much to be thankful for. I have running water, clean water to drink, fairly reliable power, heating, a job, so many amenities, wonderful friends. I have a sense of purpose for being here that I lacked where I was. I have opportunities to impact, chances to see the things I do really making a difference for people.

Thankfulness is an attitude, a desire we have to cultivate wherever we are, whatever we are faced with. There is joy to be found in all situations, even the ones we don't see it in.

I ran the 10k yesterday morning in what I think was a fairly respectable 46:54. I got 8th overall, I was right around the front of the non-fanatic runner crowd. Not having run that distance ever, and being at 6000 ft, my goal was to break 50 minutes, or stay around 8 minute miles, and I did, so I was happy. Our third-grade teacher won the women's 5k race in 25 minutes, so we felt pretty well represented in the race.

I cooked a turkey yesterday that turned out OK. We had a nice meal and then a nice relaxing time playing games afterwards. No football, which I was disappointed at, but I did go out and shoot baskets for a while with a friend. It was kind of cold, but a nice night to just shoot and talk quietly.

Frisbee today, and then back to work Saturday. Semester is winding down, and life is proceeding. Lots to be thankful for, lots to consider quietly, and so much to not know and just Trust for.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No other way for it.

More of a couple fun little stories than a real blog entry.

I called my aunt tonight because it was her birthday. That was really nice, just to talk. Thanks!

Tonight, I was sitting around with some friends, and we decided to go holiday song singing to a couple of the staff houses here. One of the families we went to had just put up their little tree and were decorating it, so it was really neat to go and sing a couple songs with them, and to go to the other houses to sing, even if we're off key and kind of goofing off.

Tomorrow, with it being Thanksgiving, we're going to have a staff Thanksgiving dinner, which I think will be fun. If I make it through the 10k in the morning that I am running. I should have stuck with the 5, because I think I might have been able to win that, but now that I said I'll do the 10, my manliness won't let me back down. Maybe I'll make it through. I have also been assured we're playing sissy, two-hand touch football after dinner, which I am looking forward to.

I may blog more tomorrow if I don't die in the 10k. So much to be thankful for, and to give Thanks for.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

If we mass defect...

...these very rocks will scream.

I stole some music off of someone else here, old CDs that I have at home, just stuff I hadn't really listened to for a while. A certain band from Australia, I snagged Public, Leader and Step Up, and remembered how fun they are to listen to, and how inspiring. I also grabbed some Reality Check, and basked in the awesomeness that is "The Way I Am" and "Masquerade". Seriously, it's almost OK that those guys only did one album, because I don't think anything else could top that one. I wanted to blast part of the chorus to The Way I Am today when someone was bugging me because I didn't take the full half hour for lunch. I appreciate the concern, but...

If I can I'll pretend that I'm alright all by myself, I'd rather drown that take your hand, it's the way I am. And if I climb my wall of pride, swim across my sea of doubt, will you love me as I am, the way I am? (Reality Check, The Way I Am)

I was also preparing for our weekly guys meeting tomorrow, and pondering lots from what I've been Reading lately. It seems that the more I Read, the more I know and the more I know I have to learn. The parallels between what I've been reading in Hbrws and Jms and the chorus I just quoted... If you know my personality, you know I do things for people, and I don't let people do things for me. So Hbrws and Jms form a interestingly difficult to resolve dilemma and harmonious dichotomy for me. These thoughts are part of my further reflections on why I'm really here. And by here, I don't just mean geographically, but holistically. Why am I where I am? What's the reason, what's the purpose, what's the point? I know I won't find these answers out wandering blind, so I'm looking. I hope you look, too.

More Reality Check, just because I'm nostalgic, and I am finding them totally awesome...

Take the time for what's on your mind, put away yourself and open up your life.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sepia tinted and toned, the memory shard

A post less and more serious than others.

Asbestos then foreign obstacles
Garbage collection is irregular
Words aren't just semantic blue
over and retaining their crates
fording the portmanteaus change
darkening the horizon with salt
nearer still come the Iowanians
holding the key to the tumbling
jams and torrential rainfall do
ask the ant or the aunt for one
never before would be seen a we
jests short and corridors alone
vultures don't wear socks, ever

a small spark vs. a great forest

Now that we've got all of that out of the way, on to news and other things.

Yesterday, I spent much of the day at another school. We (some of the staff of my school) were playing in a volleyball tournament. It was pretty fun, we came in third out of eight teams. We lost the first match, but really started to come together and not do dumb stuff the next two matches. I think the last match I served three aces, something like that. And we spent most of the day there, which was cool. Sit and talk to folks while watching the other games, watch the kids running around, just a nice little fun tournament atmosphere. My readers who have shared similar experiences with the homeschool ball teams and tournaments back in the States will know what I mean.

Yesterday, I also had opportunities to have good conversations, in person and over e-mail, with some of my friends and a good Conversation with another Friend. Some of the conversations were casual, some were serious, and all were good. I'm reminded about the fact that my friends here in this place are different than my friends from those friends I had in the States in some ways. It's easier to quickly feel closer to folks here, because of the amount of contact and close proximity that we have to each other. In a similar vein, though, there is a kind of distance to those friendships when contrasted to my long-term friendships back in the States. Part of it is the lack of prior shared experience, part of it is because many of my close friends in the States had grown up with me, part of it is that I didn't engage deeply here right away because of my personality, and I didn't know if I was going to stay around or not.

This further leads me to comment on another Conversation I had. Which involves analyzing, changing, and understanding my reasons for being here, and bringing them in line with the right reasons. So much here is and is not what I expected it to be, or what I expected to encounter. Things here have happened and not happened like I thought. So I need to, in a different way than I analyzed and processed my decision to stay, I need to analyze and process what I see, what I hear, and what I think, what I do, what I am. The constant light of introspection is frustrating at times, but necessary. I must ensure that, in every way and at all times, I work to become what I am says to be. In every day, in every area, I must strive to perfection, put off the old self.

Today, I experienced some frustrations. I fixed some computers, ran some new cable, kicked around some stuff in Ruby on Rails. Had to get my picture taken for the staff identifier page of the yearbook. I'm considering 'loosing' that picture from the server, I guess I have slowly inherited my mother's reticence in front of the camera. I was supposed to go meet about this website I'm consulting for today (rescheduled from last Tuesday, then Thursday), but got called again when I was going to check and see if the driver was there, and asked to reschedule tomorrow. I find this frustrating, but I'm ultimately OK with it. After supper this evening, I went out to the corner store for some odds and ends, including kitkats for several people. So I wrote on the sign-out board that I was "Questing for Kit Kats at the Corner Store." The Grammar Police wrote a note under mine, taking offense to my using quest as a verb. The internet seems to agree with me, however. So, I win. I think.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wait for the curvature of the sideline to appear

I'm going to try something a little bit different in my blogging today. I'm originally composing this message in the middle of the day (while I wait for some graphics stuff to render for this website I'm doing), and then review it later today, edit, and then publish it.

Yesterday, work-related, was kind of long, I was trying to read up on Ruby on Rails for this project I'm going to do at the school, and I just wasn't in the reading mood. So I let little things distract me too much. Although, around ten, I was in one of the admin building offices working on a computer, and one of the other guys in the office says, "Hey, is [the science teacher] bringing his class out to play packets? He is!" Sound of door opening. "Hey, we want to play too!" "Come on down!" So we played a couple games of packet wars with the physics class. It was some lab experiment on projectile motion (the science teacher is good at making stuff up.), but it was fun.

I went out questing for various and sundry things at local merchants, most of which I found, so that was a success.

Last night, after supper, a few of us were kind of goofy, we 'played' 'air hockey' on the dining room table. See, it started out as an attempt to see how close to the edge you could slide the (Plexiglass, don't worry) salt and pepper shakers from across the table. Well, we started going cross-ways on the table, then hit shakers mid-slide a couple times, then took the plexiglass covers off of the shakers and tried those, and then... 'air hockey' was the inevitable result. Nobody won, but we had a lot of fun.

This morning has been busy already. I went out further questing for nan this morning, and fairly successfully made my purchase with my limited Dari skills (especially since I have had some of our local staff teach me numbers.), which gratified me immensely. Then I had a friend over for breakfast this morning, I had asked the cook for a simple, local recipe that I might have a chance to make and not screw up. Well, I messed it up, but from the standpoint of I didn't make what the recipe suggested (I scrambled the eggs instead of frying them with the yoke and white separately) not from the standpoint of it tasted bad. We agreed that it turned out OK, and I don't think my friend was only trying to make me feel better.

Later today, I have to do more website consulting work, I double booked myself over a thanksgiving party our Adult English program is having that I was going to go helpish with, which I didn't mean to and wish I could have changed, but I couldn't, and I want to get this website finished. So I guess I just live with it. They told me they are gong to take me out for dinner afterwards, which doesn't thrill me but I'll deal with that too.

(written later in the day)

Well, after waiting 15 minutes for the driver to go to meet for the website, I called and got informed that we weren't going to meet for some reason I couldn't really determine. So I went to the thanksgiving party, it was neat, I mostly mingled with the students, talked to them some, explained some about Thanksgiving to some, played ping pong with a couple. Now, you may be wondering, "What, Russ, you doing small talk and party mingling? That's crazy!" In reality, I can do this fairly well. My dad calls it, "working the room," and I can turn on the gene that does it when I want to. It's just a lot of work, and it is tiring in its own way. But it is for a good reason, and the students seemed to really enjoy the party. So it was a success.

We had steak for supper, I feel like all I did all day was eat, eat, eat. Especially since I don't usually eat breakfast and I ended up having a fairly big one since I didn't want to have lots of left over food (with no microwave, leftovers become more problematic than in the States.) Then lunch seemed to be right after breakfast (since I finished around 9:15), and then the party had some food and desserts. Add in steak for supper, and oreos while I was playing games later, and I'm pretty full.

Today was a good, relaxing day. A day with nothing seemingly done of permanent significance, but a day to remember and a day to be thankful for. I told the voice of loneliness and fear to disappear, and asked for other voices to take over. I know I don't always do what I should, I know I lose sight of the goal sometimes, I know sometimes I look back and wonder why I came here and why I have been changing, and I know sometimes I wonder how this is going to end. But I don't mind the uncertainty. If it makes You happy, that's fine.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vow in silent sendings.

Today has been a fine day. Today has been a good day.

We played Ultimate at the U.S. Embassy. When we finally kept score, it was a good game, even though we lost, 10-9. I had basketball with the kids the last two days, and it went fairly well. I did sound for the fall choir concert on Sunday, and that also went pretty good. Some things not as good as I would have liked, but overall, it was good.

Oh, and we've hit a good stretch in the menu - tacos for supper yesterday, Arabian chicken for lunch, and hamburgers for supper. Even better, I had asked the cook to hold back some food for those of us who went and played frisbee, so there were burgers for us when we got back. Got to sit and quietly eat and talk, which I enjoyed.

So much more I could say but can't relate yet.

And my Friend is never to be relegated to the sidelines, and still shuts the mouths of lions. Never to be relegated to the sidelines, and still provides good things for us. Never to be pushed aside, and gives to us trials and joys the same, to build us up.

Today, I am happy for I know... no matter what. And that can never be moved.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The televising of utopia was a failure

Sorry, I know there are people out there who eagerly await my blogging with bated breath, but you'll just have to calm down a little. I've been directing more of my writing inward and Outward these days, and that has left little over for public consumption. I think you understand where my priorities are.

Priorities. As some of you may have read in the news, there is a lot going on in the world relative to my geographical position these days. Much of it does to show the basic depravity of men, for what good does it do to bomb a school and kill 50 children? What good does it to try to clamp down on a country you seem to be loosing a grip on? What profiteth a man to gain the whole of his world?

I also have been taking a good, hard look at my priorities in these recent days, for many reasons. One thing that has come out of my introspection of late is that my priorities have started to orient correctly, but that much, much more work is needed to bring them to the right heading, and keep them there. I was talking to someone today who has been here for two years, and he gave the analogy of life and priorities being like a canoe one is paddling upstream. Constant work and guarding is needed to ensure the course, to stay let alone advance.

In this, I am reminded that my growth and my reorientation is not a one time event, but something that I must never cease to work on, never let fall by the wayside because of inattention or willful disobedience. Instead, I must fix my eyes on the prize and always work to keep the course, to correct it quickly if I fall away, to find strength and comfort in the knowledge that I have not already attained but can press on.

I am grateful for all of the encouragement that you have sent me. I still don't know why I am here, exactly, but I know that I will press on to whatever end. I was reading a letter 2 Tim today, (2.21).

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Where else?

I remember the last time I had a day that was like today. Interestingly enough, it was around 5 and a half months ago. A day where almost all I could think about was, "What in the world did I just do?" Because I feel like I just way over extended and over committed myself to do something that I have no ability to, I agreed to do something because of my own desires and hubris, and now reality has stuck its cold face on the situation.

It happened a little sooner than I thought it would, and I was not as prepared for it as I thought I would be. This was a day where, back in the States, I would have shot out the door at 5:00 P.M. and either gone driving for a while, or gone home and lost myself in the soma of video games. Here, I don't really have those options, so after work, I went and worked out (involving ever-so-slightly more than normal beating on the punching bag) fairly hard, went and shot baskets for a while before going and tearing down the gear from the Student Council movie night, then ate supper in a fairly stolid and melancholy manner. After this, I came back to my room and spent the evening reading, writing, looking over old diaries, journal entries, study outlines, family pictures. I remembered who I was once. (And boy, I must have weighed 20-30 pounds more in '04!)

Who I was would not have been able to understand why I made the decision that I made a few days ago. Who I am now doesn't understand why I made the decision either, but at least I have some framework to be able to process the decision. So peradventure, let this who is now explain to you why he has felt the way that he has today. Some more context before the explanation can begin. We had a team meeting last night where we talked about the (in my opinion, silly and restrictive) Meyers-Briggs personality inventory. I dislike this test because I've taken it 3 times (that I can remember), and seem to remember getting every letter but E, and some of the others at fairly far extremes.

Anyway, this got me thinking more about how I engage the culture and people around me very poorly - if I had to guess, I engage less than anyone else on staff, since I don't have to interact with students or the public all that much. I see the engagement and interaction that some of the other staff have, and I wonder why I have been sent to a place such as this. I recall my own difficulties in interacting with the expatriate staff at the school, let alone the local staff.

But the perspective I am striving to take is that accidents do not happen, and the reasons for my being here are far simpler and far more complicated than I could ever imagine. The things that hold me back are myriad, from my own insecurities, to the doubts and fears such as those that have assailed me today. Still, I do not lose hope, or let slip the grasp I have on Truth. For who is man that You are mindful of him, and how many hairs number my head? Sufficient is the day for its own troubles.

There's much more I wish I could say, but the words just don't come. Where else?

I think it's OK to sometimes feel confused.

Jude 24ff.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Press on

(There is an item that I have recently been thinking through and processing, and I haven't posted about it on my blog for several reasons. I also sent this out via e-mail, but on the chance that there are some readers who I didn't ever get e-mails from, I'm posting it here, too.)

I have some news about my journey and my situation here that I want to share with you all. I appreciate all of the p ayer that people have done for me over the past several months, and it has led to some tremendous blessings that I must tell you about.

I haven't posted about it on my blog or talked with many people about it because it's been a personal decision and journey. I was really struggling with it about a month ago, do I stay here or head out after my initial contract runs out in December? I don't understand why He would want me here, I feel inadequate for the challenges here so often, and I marvel that one such as I could be in any way counted worthy to serve Him. Many people here wanted me to stay, and I thought I wanted to stay, but I was very unsure of what was In my future. I turned to the only things that I could, and began to Read and Talk much about what the Direction that I was supposed to follow. It was hard, because I didn't think or feel I was getting much, other than a small prompting to stay, and my own desire to stay. One day, I made up my mind that I was going to plan to stay, but that I was going to explore as many other doors as I could and if those doors were open, I would pursue them. But, if the doors were closed, that would be confirmation for the idea that I was supposed to stay here. In the two or three weeks since making that decision, there hasn't been any big lightning bolt, any large direction.

That's OK, because the direction that has come has been more like the tide. From all the doors I was investigating in the U.S. being closed, from the way things were occurring here, from the Reading and Talking that I was doing, from the counsel of friends, and the peace that has guarded me, I know what it is that He wants me to do.

This morning, I had to give a talk to the High School assembly on loyalty (I talked about choosing your loyalties and making loyalty living and active to the things you have chosen), and after taking down the projectors and screens, storing them back in my closet, and taking a look around my office... at 8:50 A.M. today, Monday, 5 November, I went to the principal and turned in my Intent to Return form, marked down that if offered a contract, I would return for the rest of the 07-08 school year, and then for the 08-09 school year.

The journey that my Father has brought me on is not one that I ever expected to traverse. And I know that if I try to walk on further alone, I will stumble and fall. I know that the challenges I will face will be insurmountable of myself, the growth He has planned for me would crush me if I tried to do it without His hand. So I rest in the knowledge that I, though a man of unclean lips, have been given a coal.

I again thank all of you for your Remembrance for me. Press on toward the upward call.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Just one silent world

While duty is heavier than a mountain... Twofold meaning for me in this expression.

Well, I've been working a good chunk of today, doing a consulting gig for a construction company owned by one of our students' dad, making them a website. I feel I kind of got Shanghaied into doing this, and I'm trying to figure out all the web stuff. Plus, they want me to make it like a super nice site, and I'm thinking, "Y'know, Computer stuff is like construction - you ask someone who has never done this before to make you something, cheap, oh, and make it as nice as someone who probably has been doing this for years and charges $100/hour, and you better not expect the world." But I digress, I'm kind of frustrated about this because I've been slowly working on it, now they want it done and the guy called me yesterday and said, "Since we are doing this on friendship basis, can you spend all day tomorrow, which is your day off, on it?" (That's a pretty direct quote). I'm now getting it done just so he won't bug me about it anymore, like the judge and the nagging widow, you know?

We played volleyball this morning since we probably won't get to play tomorrow. I learned some new rules, I might be getting better at the game, but then you have the incident that reminds you that you still have lots to learn. That's ok. I have fun.

Two of the families that live in a house on campus threw a costume & pumpkin party last night. I dressed up as Peter Pan (no pictures on the blog because I wore tights, and pictures might get me arrested for indecency. Heck, my housemate told me last night that if I didn't wear pants to walk down the street to the party, the guards would probably shoot me.) I did this because of the Kindergartener (and his 3 year old brother) that came over to me and said, "Uncle Russ, can you be Peter Pan for our party?" while his little brother nods. I'm a soft touch, I guess. Their family dressed up as pirates (the boys) and Wendy and Tinkerbell (the girls), so I was an honorary family member for the night. I also carved a pi symbol into a pumpkin for my pumpkin carving. It was a fun time, one of the girls made stick moose and was an Alaskan cowgirl, another was a cat, another braided her hair around a wirehanger to be Pipi Longstockings. We may not be the most normal group, but when we goof off, we goof off well.

I don't know if any of the rest of you have heard about the comet Holmes, but it's visible in the night sky, and so I jumped on my roof last night to find it. The one semi-beneficial thing about the power situation in Kabul is that there's not a lot of light pollution on our side of the mountains, so you can see things in the sky. I think I found the comet, and so does one of the girls that I told about it who went up on her roof to see if she could find it. That's kind of cool in my opinion. The whole thing about the comet is pretty neat, too.

I've been reading through col recently, and it has a lot of good words, good meditations. I find I'm entering a phase where the study becomes intensely personal, and sometimes giving voice to what I feel when I read things makes them as a vapor in the morning, fragile, fleeting under the smallest breeze, and other times, talking about them establishes them like a mighty trunk. And it's the same word. Who else but the ][ am?

Tonight, after prepping for the test tomorrow morning and eating supper, I went and worked out, showered, and then went over to the Mansion for game night. Only, most everyone else had dispersed, so it was just two of us for a couple games of Carcasson, which I may not be spelling right, and is played vaguely like Settlers of Catan. It was relaxing, nice fun. After a couple games, some other people played for a game, then we just hung out, talked and stuff. It was really nice, in combination with the party last night, I think this is some of the most fun I've had in Kabul. Even with the way the rest of life is (uncertain), I've had some enjoyment these past few days. I'm still wired, and I don't know how I'm going to wind down and go to sleep! Good times.

P.S. - Chapter the Ninetieth.