Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

I love Facebook fights. <_<

February 28, 2011

A friend of mine, generally open-minded and accepting, recently posted the Yahoo! Finance article “Ways Your Appearance Affects Your Paycheck” on his page. The article begins with the incredibly privileged statement, “How successful you become is mostly up to you. Success also depends on how you’re perceived by others. Numerous studies have shown looks can impact career advancement,” and then lists several qualities that will “earn” you a higher salary, including symmetrical features, the “right” height and weight, an “appropriate” degree of attractiveness, and so on. Cue Facebook Fight.

Me: “This is disgusting.

Me: “And the use of that picture in conjunction with this article is hilariously sad, because it’s from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Which, skewed as it is by capitalism, is still a call to value the beauty of real people instead of holding them to standards of perfection that are not only impossible to reach (or maintain), but offensive (often racist), as well.

Friend: “I didn’t think it was THAT bad. It doesn’t explicitly say, ‘If you’re prettier you get a raise.’ In fact, it even says if you’re ‘TOO pretty’ it can actually be bad. It just gives tips on what to wear and how to present yourself, and it’s not something that everyone can’t do. Like no beards, or smile, or don’t be overweight.”

Me: “‘Skinny women.’ That right there’s actually a huge chunk of what’s wrong with it. Not everyone can (or should) be the same weight. It’s not like there’s one ideal weight for everyone. This article isn’t just about presenting oneself professionally, it’s about how people with symmetrical features or the “right” body type, and also people who conform to society’s gender and sexual expectations, are more highly-paid than those who don’t measure up in terms of physical appearance and those who aren’t interested in altering their appearance, quite literally, for the Man. If two women hold the same job, should the femme one have a higher salary than the butch one? Why is salary based on appearance and personal expression? It should be about skills, qualifications, talent.”

Friend: “I do agree about the skinny women thing and I don’t think everyone should be skinny, but I do think everyone should be healthy. And I’m all for equality and self expression and individuality, and I think it’s sad that more of our society isn’t, but I think it’s on it’s [sic] way. 100 years ago, women and people of alternative ethnic backgrounds couldn’t hold the same positions as white men did. Look how much things have changed since then, our president is black (my lambo is blue), we have female senators, CEOs, etc. I think the same thing is about to happen for people with alternative sexual orientations. They just take time though.”

Me: “I want people to be healthy too. Especially the people I love. So. Is an unhealthy weight grounds for paying someone less money than a person with the same job description but a healthier weight for their body type? (And that can only be determined by a doctor, contrary to popular opinion. Not everyone who’s considered “overweight” actually is.) Is it an employer’s job to regulate the weight of their employees? Or their health? If that’s the case, what about all the people with other health issues–cancer, diabetes, pregnancy, depression, etc.? You’re right, we’ve come a long way, but there’s still much room for improvement. There are still glass ceilings that haven’t been shattered. Women can head powerful corporations, but women as a whole still earn 77 cents to a man’s dollar. If you live in the right state, you might be able to elect queer politicians, but queer kids are still being bullied to death, literally, and much of mainstream pop culture does nothing but drive home the point that people who are different are wrong. Part of the process toward social progress is fighting the harmful things we find in our culture. There WON’T be progress without teenage lesbians suing their schools for the right to wear tuxedos to prom, people refusing to participate in a system that bases worth on physical appearance over innate qualities, etc.”

THE END, he didn’t want to play anymore. v_v


“The Polarization of Class in the World”

March 9, 2010

“The Polarization of Class in the World” (© Talia Kolker, 2010)

In his article “The Polarization of Class in the World,” Robert Bellah discusses the gap between the rich and the poor. This gap, now unchecked by any political opposition to capitalism, continues to grow wider, enriching a few with devastating results for those on the other end of the spectrum. The wealthy both fear and oppress the poor, withdrawing into a protective elite society while they further impoverish the growing “underclass” with their unethical business practices. Poor people are seen by some as having no one to blame but themselves for their situation. Anyone concerned about the poor’s welfare faces immense suspicion from those clinging to the top rungs of the ladder, and those caught in the middle are forced to balance carefully, worrying about how to get ahead so they don’t get left behind.

How is this subject affecting our culture today?

The polarization of class is very evident in Western consumption vs. production in the developing world. Consider a cup of Starbucks coffee. Although the Starbucks website is aglow with words like “honesty,” “responsibility,” and “sustainability,” other sources, including Oxfam and the Organic Consumers Association, are telling a different story. In her article “Starbucks and Ethiopian Coffee: The Bitter Taste of Exploitation,” Rosemary Ekosso explains where your money goes when you buy coffee from Starbucks. Ekosso writes, “[Starbucks sells] a cup of coffee for about £2. It contains, maybe, a quarter of an ounce of coffee. If the person who grew the coffee gets between 30p and 59p per pound, that’s between ½p and 1p per cup. Now suppose that the person serving the coffee takes 1-2 minutes to pour the coffee, take the money and give back the change, etc. At the minimum wage, that’s between about 7p and 14p per cup….Is it right that the person who pours the coffee and serves the customer should get fourteen times as much for that as the farmer who grew the coffee?”

Our nation’s coffee addiction convinces us to pay outrageous prices to feed our habit, yet we’re strangely disconnected from the story of the coffee itself and the people who work to provide it for us. To give an example, last year Pastor Mike Jones of Vandalia posted a piece of coffee trivia on Facebook: “I just found out that a single coffee tree yields only one pound of roasted, ground coffee annually. Wow, for how much coffee the world drinks their [sic] must be a whole bunch of coffee trees. If this is true, that’s pretty amazing.” A second commenter replied, “Not to mention the fact that many coffee-field laborers work long days for 50 cents an hour so America can have her cheap coffee.” A third person said, “I’m so thankful for their labor, ’cause I love coffee :-) and you’d think after what Starbucks charges there must be BIG $$$ in coffee.” In reality, the only ones who are benefiting financially from Starbucks’ exorbitant prices are Starbucks themselves, but many Americans accept what they hear from Starbucks at face value instead of taking the time to research the facts.

How has this subject affected you or someone you know?

On my most recent trip to Nicaragua, I had the privilege of meeting some people who work in the coffee fields. Although we only met briefly, they have become very important to me. I remember one family in particular who lived in two tumbledown, six-by-eight-foot shacks. Their tiny “shelters” were made of scrap metal and in many places were rusted clear through. What little protection they once offered from the rain was long gone.

When we came to bring a gift of food to this family, we were only able to meet the mother and six youngest children–those who were still too small to work in the fields. Their father and seven brothers and sisters were out working. Eight family members working long hours together, day after day, were simply not enough to pull one family out of poverty. They weren’t earning enough even to feed themselves properly, much less raise their standard of living.

The workers employed in these coffee fields earn less than two dollars a day for long hours of backbreaking labor, seven days a week. They are trapped in a cycle of endless poverty. In America, children are encouraged to dream big, be imaginative, and think positively. In contrast, Nicaraguan children stuck in the coffee fields have no childhood at all. Not only are they denied any change to receive an education that could be their ticket out of the fields, and thus, extreme poverty, but they are forced at an extremely young age to enter the adult world of labor. They are weighed down with adult cares much too heavy for them, such as fear over their family’s situation, and health and developmental problems due to malnutrition and lack of adequate sanitation. Unlike American children who delight in making outrageous plans for their future selves, the children of Nicaraguan coffee workers see no future for themselves at all.

What do you suggest could be done to improve or change this situation?

Humanitarian groups and individuals with big hearts can and do make progressive strides around the world for many people trapped in the “underclass” of extreme poverty, but the only long-term way to solve this problem is to change the system. The progressive religious leader Jim Wallis has said, and I agree, that those who benefit from injustice (even without actively participating) are partially to blame for its continuation. As long as it remains profitable, oppression will continue. In the long term, then, the smartest way to combat injustice is to make in unprofitable for corporations.

The first step is consumer awareness about the values and practices of the companies we support with our dollars. Many people are simply unconscious of the seriousness of the plight of the developing world’s poor. Others may feel too overwhelmed, too busy, or too insignificant to do anything to effect change. Still others deny that the world is in crisis or that anything can be done about it. Human rights campaigns, documentaries and exposes, personal experiences with the oppressed, and testimonies from people who have experienced oppression firsthand can all contribute to awareness of and compassion for the conditions of life for much of the world. As consumers begin to realize the impact they already have on the lives of individuals around the world, they can be empowered to make changes in their spending habits to support equality and human rights over the corporate dollar.

Ordinary people who want to tangibly support fair treatment of their fellow human beings can do so simply by purchasing things they would have bought anyway, but from Fair Trade certified companies. There is a marked difference between companies motivated by justice and those motivated by cheap labor. Fair Trade companies are required to abide by certain standards, including transparency with consumers and sustainable, ecologically-justifiable practices.

Fair Trade certified companies must pay their workers a fair living wage–enough to cover production costs and farm maintenance, provide for a family’s needs, and make long-term investments for the future. Farmers and other producers are viewed as company partners and given a democratic voice in the direction of the company, empowering them to take an active part in bettering their own circumstances, instead of leaving them dependent on outside help once again; they can be organized in a co-op, allowing them to protect their interests. Slave labor is prohibited, as is child labor; because their parents are paid fair wages, children have an opportunity that Westerners take for granted: a chance for an education that will enable them to become contributing members of society as adults. And since the middleman is effectively eliminated, a much larger percentage of profits goes directly to producers. In addition to these immediate benefits, increasing support for Fair Trade is already putting pressure on other companies to review their own practices and to join the growing list of organizations standing up for justice.

Some Fair Trade products cost more than their less sustainable free trade counterparts, meaning consumers committed to the values of Fair Trade may have to adjust their spending habits by purchasing less. Thus, a system upheaval also involves a change of mind; we must deal with the sense of entitlement ingrained in us if we intend to make a lasting change in our shopping and living habits. Perhaps Jesus said it best when confronted by a rich young man: “‘If you want to give it all you’ve got,’ Jesus replied, ‘go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.’ That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.” (Matthew 19.21,22 MSG) If we really want to overcome inequality and injustice, we, the benefactors, must be willing to give everything for the sake of the poor.

“Millionaire Is Giving Away His Entire Fortune”

February 17, 2010

(Feb. 14, Terence Neilan) — If money can’t buy you happiness, what do you do? If you’re Australian millionaire Karl Rabeder, you give it all away, right down to the last penny, or, in his case, euro.

“My idea is to have nothing left. Absolutely nothing,” Rabeder, 47, told  The Daily Telegraph of London. “Money is counterproductive — it prevents happiness to come.

On the block, or already sold, is his luxury villa with lake in the Alps, his 42-acre estate in France, his six gliders, and the interior furnishings and accessories business that got him rich in the first place.

Actually, everyone will get the chance to live the Alpine luxury lifestyle, because Rabeder has decided to raffle off his home at $134 a ticket.

When every penny of his estimated $4.7 million fortune is gone, he says, he intends to move into a small wooden hut in the mountains or a studio in Innsbruck.

“For a long time I believed that more wealth and luxury automatically meant more happiness,” Rabeder said. “I come from a very poor family where the rules were to work more to achieve more material things, and I applied this for many years.”

After a while, however, he felt he was working “as a slave for things I did not wish for or need,” adding, “I have the feeling that there are a lot of people out there doing the same thing.”

What brought him to his current conclusion? A three-week vacation with his wife in Hawaii, plus gliding trips to South America and Africa left him with feelings of guilt, he said, and the sense that there was a connection between his wealth and the poverty of the people he saw.

“It was the biggest shock of in my life, when I realized how horrible, soulless and without feeling the five-star lifestyle is,” he was quoted as telling the Telegraph.

Since selling off some of his possessions, with lots more looking for buyers, Rabeder says he has felt “free, the opposite of heavy,” which was the feeling all his wealth gave him.

All his money will go to the non-profit Mymicrocharity, which Rabeder says he has set up to offer small loans to needy people in Central and South America, and to encourage development and self-employment in the region.


“Government does do some things better” by Nicholas Kristof

September 13, 2009

Here’s a paradox.

Health care reform may be defeated this year in part because so many Americans believe the government can’t do anything right and fear that a doctor will come to resemble an IRS agent with a scalpel. Yet the part of America’s health care system that consumers like best is the government-run part.

Fifty-six to 60 percent of people in government-run Medicare rate it a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. In contrast, only 40 percent of those enrolled in private insurance rank their plans that high.

Multiple surveys back that up. For example, 68 percent of those in Medicare feel that their own interests are the priority, compared with only 48 percent of those enrolled in private insurance.

In truth, despite the deeply ingrained American conviction that government is bumbling when it is not evil, government intervention has been a step up in some areas from the private sector.

‘Socialized firefighting’ has become our preference
Until the mid-19th century, firefighting was left mostly to a mishmash of volunteer crews and private fire insurance companies. In New York City, according to accounts in The New York Times in the 1850s and 1860s, firefighting often descended into chaos, with drunkenness and looting.

So almost every country moved to what today’s health insurance lobbyists might label “socialized firefighting.” In effect, we have a single-payer system of public fire departments.

We have the same for policing. If the security guard business were as powerful as the health insurance industry, then it would be denouncing “government takeovers” and “socialized police work.”

Throughout the industrialized world, there are a handful of these areas where governments fill needs better than free markets: fire protection, police work, education, postal service, libraries, health care. The United States goes along with this international trend in every area but one: health care.

The truth is that government, for all its flaws, manages to do some things right, so that today few people doubt the wisdom of public police or firefighters. And the government has a particularly good record in medical care.

Take the hospital system run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest integrated health system in the United States. It is fully government run, much more “socialized medicine” than is Canadian health care with its private doctors and hospitals. And the system for veterans is by all accounts one of the best-performing and most cost-effective elements in the American medical establishment.

A study by the Rand Corp. concluded that compared with a national sample, Americans treated in veterans hospitals “received consistently better care across the board, including screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.” The difference was particularly in preventive medicine: Veterans were nearly 50 percent more likely to receive recommended care than Americans as a whole.

“If other health care providers followed the VA’s lead, it would be a major step toward improving the quality of care across the US health care system,” Rand reported.

As for the other big government-run health care system in the United States, Medicare spends perhaps one-sixth as much on administration as private health insurers, although the comparison is imperfect and controversial.

Weakness of private insurance is that it’s unfair
But the biggest weakness of private industry is not inefficiency but unfairness. The business model of private insurance has become, in part, to collect premiums from healthy people and reject those likely to get sick–or, if they start out healthy and then get sick, to find a way to cancel their coverage.

On my blog, foreigners regularly express bewilderment that America may reject reform and stick with a system that drives families into bankruptcy when they get sick. That’s what they expect from the Central African Republic, not the United States.

Let’s hope we don’t miss this chance. A public role in health care shouldn’t be any scarier or more repugnant than a public fire department.

[Nicholas Kristof writes for The New York Times. source]

¡Yo ♥ Nicaragua! [part 2]

September 8, 2009

Friday 8/14

2 Kings 5:20

2 ways to challenge decisions or policies you don’t agree with: go around the leader, or go talk to the source directly, engage in conversation.

Integrity ★ What does it mean when you’re lied to? when you lie to someone? Pursue truth → honesty is one way to do that. is honesty ever not a good thing? Graciousness, sensitivity

How do you know the difference between truth & honesty? What are you willing to sacrifice for truth, for honesty? truth includes love, kindness, mercy, grace. If honesty violates another value of truth, maybe truth is greater than your personal honesty. We all think WE know the truth. Keep growing in your understanding of life.

Lies build on lies.

Was Naaman’s leprosy because of sin? Move away from judging, towards love. Question in an open format, not in secret.

“Muerte” means they want you to grab their hands and spin them around off the ground, like dead weight, so they’re flying. It literally translates to “dead person.”

Today we all went to play sports with the kids at Hogar de Fe–I was SORT OF involved in dos games of soccer, I mean futball, and the one time I kicked the ball it went in the intended direction, so that was good for me.

When we switched from the field to the game square inside, I mostly just hung out with Stivan and Rebeca and Aura :) taking fotos and talking. They like using the dictionary to talk but we don’t always need it..just usually..

For lunch the ones who sponsor kids here went to Pizza Hut with our kids–they voted pizza over pollo–and so they got a long bus ride and Pizza Hut and their playplace and helodo :) They were so excited! Ginny said it was a completely new experience for them ♥ Marling isn’t so nervous iwth us anymore, she learned all our names really fast and we were talking a little bit on the bus back..Tara and I kept asking them both things, and half the time they just laughed at us but it was fun. Then we got to take them home in the van and meet their families ♥ We met Nairobis abuelo and abuela, and little sister. She ran and got her puppet to show us..

We met Marling’s abuela and brother Mynor and two sisters, Ingrid and Jenifer. Mynor looks a lot like her..

Then we went to the house, and the wall’s gotten so tall–two of my niño friends kept trying to steal my dictionary, haha..Emmanuel said his finger is feeling better.

And we had to muerte, muerte, muerte sooo many of the kids until our arms almost fell off, and our friends Cynthia and her sister, the one with the impossible name, they introduced us to their family, their abuela Esther, she asked

(Danelia’s leaving in a couple minutes)

how to say abuela in English, and so we told her grandmother, and she practiced saying grandmother and all our names. When we had to leave they all hugged every one of us, even the ones we just met ♥ So we said ¡Hasta mañana! and we got to see our Hogar friends for a few minutes..They invited us to a party mañana awww<3

The fireworks are going again, we can’t see them but we can hear them. It’s the 30th anniversary of the revolution right now, and at the end of the week there’s going to be a big party to celebrate.

“I’m only gonna get better-looking, and you’re just gonna get old.” -Kayla to Whitney

Tomorrow we’re having this food distribution–we carried all this food and toilet paper inside the Quinta and we’re going to have two locations..

Aaron=Peter Pan.

“I’m not a servant when it comes to rocking chairs.” -Kayla

All right, this is by far the most ridonkulous night I’ve had ever. Kelsey announces it’s freaking hot and rips off all her clothes–we have to keep monitoring the door and window because they keep wandering open, she steals Jessica’s fan and spills her Fresca, the outsiders lock us in, because all the locks are on the outside which is dumb. They lure Cece outside to find Jessica, and Emily runs in and dumps a can of corn on her bed, which is the second time it’s happened and she hates corn except creamed corn. So she

(wait. As soon as I walked in the room from the porch I was greeted with corn scent in the dorway and in here an ugly mix of spray and spray and toilet, because apparently somebody left their poop in the toilet all day, so. Lovely. Then Jessica dumps the trash can of basket paper on the floor, also lovely.)

comes back in and doesn’t notice for 5 minutes..Kelsey now has pants on and CeCe flies into a rage because there’s corn on her bed but we can’t do anything about it because we’re locked in again. As in, still. And everyone’s gone to bed, so who the heck knows what’ll occur in the morning, but we better get unlocked, that’s all I’m saying. They wouldn’t unlock us for the world–we all begged and pleaded–Ian told me they love me and my family, but I was working for Them. And no no one’s out there at all, which is überunfortunate because you never know how much you want out until you’re locked in someplace..F words and all..

Saturday 8/15

How do you answer the question “how do you get eternal life?” Luke 10:20 “inherit” eternal life=strong Jewish belief that Jesus challenged.

What are the ways we walk by on the other side? Lonely kids. excusing yourself for not helping people continuously in poverty because you’ll create dependency. to not walk by on the other side, we have to break out of the pattern of moving in the direction of people who ar elike you. no strings attached–not just here, but to the poor in America too.

Luke 14:12 Compassion is different than pity. don’t feel pity for, feel sorry for them, invite them to a banquet!

Q. Aaron, do you have a girlfriend?
A. Only three.

“I need ten cigars and ten pee-pee dolls. And a machete.” -Colton, on the market

This morning was our food distribution, first we took the bus and then hiked down this mountain to where the coffee farmers go to church every 15 days, and gave out half of the food we bagged up last night. We got in a circle and they prayed for us, all around us, then they were in the middle and we prayed for them. Then we had to hike all the way back up, and Cece, Kelsey, Jessica and I decided to carry the food for some ladies to give them a break–I couldn’t do it all the way, I was starting to drop it and the woman behind me grabbed it and carried it. They carry things up every time they go to church–one woman had a stroller with a baby in it.

Our second distribution was house to house–we split up in groups to take food to these families. They all asked us to pray for their families, their health, their community, nothing material at all. David said it best when he said it was humbling.

We met one family with 13 kids–7 of them were home, the other 6 already out working. You could hardly see any age difference at all. They all live in these two tiny shacks with tin roofs that leak.

We ate lunch at the Quinta and went to the mercado to kind of phase out of such an intense experience–loco. We were split up in groups with one translator each–we ended up with two rocking chairs, lots of gifts for people, some bootleg cds, and some little grasshopers made of those those leaves, those palm fronds, when the kids follow you and fold animals and shapes on the fly and thrust them upon you and tell you it’s a gift for you and you say no gracias and they’re relentless and follow you everywhere. And if you happen to walk off with your gift without paying them a dollar, they run after you and take it back.

For me I got this dress, this purse with a parrot on it, a turtle whistle (!), and two pairs of earrings..Tara found a man with pirated Marcos Witt cds, not the exact one I’m looking for with my favorite song on it,

(The Mormons in the market were getting their morm on.)

but she did get three others for a dollar each. So I’m planning on pirating her pirated cds. :)


“Dondé estas la interwebs?”

After dinner we went to church as Josue 1:9 <3 It had just rained a TON so they said attendence might be down, but once we got started more people came. Lots of singing <3 Mariela y another girl did a special dance for us in traditional dress and everything, it was amazing! Romans 15:1 and Psalm 41, I think–and we sang songs, and we all prayed for each other, and danced and jumped and spun around.

One girl came up to me after church and said, “Cynthia?” and Tara and I talked to her for a few minutes y she’s telling Cynthia we’ll come see her tomorrow. :) But it was weird, because we don’t think we met this girl before..

Tomorrow’s our day to say goodbye, so if I can get full names for my friends, I can send them pictures later because that would be SO fun.

Sunday 8/16

Luke 12:2-34 Sell your possessions, give to the poor. Contemplate before you buy.

How would the conversation be different if her were talking to employed people, to Americans? Give half your income? What keeps us holding on to our possessions is fear that we won’t have enough for the future. Where does faith come in? Where we decide that we really believe or don’t believe God will provide for our needs.

The Lord’s prayer–what does “give us this day our daily bread” mean to Nicaraguans, and to us as Americans? How do you close the gap between those who have too little and those who have too much? How do you know how much is enough? Proverbs 30:7-9

Last night we all sat around in our room and wrote letters to our special friends, I wrote to Stiven, Rebeca, y Aura. CeCe translated for us, and so we told them we’d send them fotos <3

This morning we went to the potter’s house, this man and his family who make pottery start to finish from extracting the clay from the ground to selling the finished product. He showed us the entire process, and we got to do some of it..We stomped the wet clay to mix the sand in. My feet kept getting stuck :) And he was such a sweet man. He shared some scripture with us and how he understands it so far in his life, and he encouraged us because we are young, we’re the prophets and the future.

And some of us got to try the kick wheels–it’s harder to actually get on these ones, but easier to keep them going. It’s obvious that I’ll need a lot of practice going back to pottery in a week, but I haven’t lost everything, so at least I know where I am. I’ve been informed my pottery skillz make me a beast, haha. Even though I wrecked my bowl.

And then we prayed for them, and they prayed for us, and we pretty much bought out their entire selection of pottery that was set out. They’re really gorgeous! Mine has monkeys on it.

We went straight to Hogar for lunch, and I gave Rebeca y Aura their letters, and we all ate lunch together int he dining room. They’d made Nicaraguan food for us for lunch <3 So this afternoon I fell head over heels for fried plaintains! mmmm.

After lunch Tara & I ran out around Los Brasiles, to see Cinthya and Stiven. We met all Cinthya’s family, even her mamá this time, and Fernando took a foto of us <3 She’s sick, so we prayed for her, and they wanted to know when we’ll be back and we said we don’t know, when God wants it. And I asked them where Stiven lives, and the two older girls [Esther & Yerling! We met them 3 years ago, when we met Fernando!] took us to a house, but they said “the other house” so we went to the other house and he came out and he was all excited and his little brother and sister came out and we took fotos and he put his letter in the house and we all walked back to Hogar and we had to say adios. I’m going to miss him!

So we went in and Rebeca y Aura had been looking for me to give me letters they wrote back! So they were glad to see us again and I could read part of their letters but I need someone to translate them. Ana and Rebeca and Aura and Imara and Tara and I started that, “No, TU mas, mas, mas,mas, mas, mas, mas CRASY!” thing again :) They were trying to hook me up with Moses, or Moises, or however you spell it, at first they said he was 18 and I said I was too old, and they asked how old and I said 21, and they said he’s 22! And I said you’re all loco! And they said no, YOU’RE loco!

And they asked for my cell phone # but we’re not allowed to give it so I gave them my email address and they said ok. We all drew with chalk on the sidewalk, each other’s names and hearts and stars and “bonita” and “te amo” and “I love you” and hearts with wings and all kinds of things.

(When we were almost ready to leave I was taking a picture of Juan Carlos and my shutter wouldn’t close–it’s still stuck open and it freaked me out so I guess we have to get it looked at back in the States because I have no idea what to do about it. But anyway.)

(Booth’s truck is named Edna.)

When we were leaving the kids made all the guys line up together in the middle for a foto and then threw buckets of water on them. So instant water fight ensued! So it was a happy, screaming, laughing see you later! instead of a sad goodbye probably forever like last time. I was really glad about that because even now 3 years later I HATE looking back and remembering that goodbye. This one was like a party, definitely something worth holding on to and remembering.

The rest of the night we just hung out here. We had a lovely meeting about the biggest gift we received on this trip..Some are: a new perspective, deep connections, generosity, Kayla said she likes herself the best when she’s here–the wants to be that Kayla all the time. That’s something I agree with 100%..Encouragement, welcome, enlightenment at the potter’s house.

For me it’s super hard to pick one “best” or “favorite” thing..I have so many favorite parts of this trip.

Cecil just had me put my email in his little notebook, and I asked what he’s gonna send me, and he said an Elvis record, haha. Then he started singing..

It’s so late, I mean, it’s not, it’s actually only 9:35 but when you consider the fact that the Kolkers and the Washes are going tot he airport tomorrow with Cecil at 4:30, things look a little different..especially when you’re packing in the middle of a humongouss mess of 5 girls’ stuff strewn across the floor, while you’re trying to basically blog on paper the entire time..

Gifted Response
You Said
(Oh how he loves us)
Jesus Paid it All
Come Thou Fount

good night. <3

Monday 8/17

Yeah, who wants to be up this early?!

Not me.

All right, we’re all split up–5 different rows (to Atlanta), 6 people. I’m in 23A, smashed in by these two old, big Nicaraguan men who smell like too much cologne. The good part is: I have a window seat, a book and access to movies. If I have to leave, I have to, and I’m not happy about it but I know I’m coming back, and there’s no way I’m waiting 3 years till next time. If I have to come alone, I’m fine with that.

Cecil said something that I really was glad to hear: he’s not glad his time here right now is over, and he’s not unglad it’s over. He will enjoy the rest, going home to Indiana, but wherever he is he knows that’s the place God wants him to be right them, so he’ll fully be there and not look back with regret but look forward to next time.

And I have no mas clock, so I can’t write the time we take off/land/whatever, because Daddy took his watch back–on this plane there are 2 other mission teams at least–one from Charlotte, one from Charleston. One’s a huge group in red shirts…they’re praying for the flight right now. :)

The man behind me came for work and is glad to be leaving. He stayed at the Hilton Princess–we drove past it once, it was huge.

Taxiing, starting to rain.

Delta Airlines flight safety video isn’t working :( So maybe it’s on YouTube. It’s pretty amusing, honestly.



It’s such a beautiful place.

Mi mamá forgot to give us gum! :( Oh no!

“sandwich de peanut butter y jelly” hahahahaha..

(Sunshine Cleaning)

People deserve whatever government they’re willing to tolerate. -James DeVita

She knew she should be doing something. That was the feeling that was driving her crazy. That was why she felt so frustrated and angry and ashamed, because in her heart she knew she had a responsibility to do something. It wasn’t a choice–she had to. -James DeVita

“Screw the resistenace,” Marena said, walking past the boys. “I’m starting my own.” -James DeVita

Approaching Atlanta, landed in Atlanta

Timothy Heddan, mixed-media collage artist

We had some more original Moe’s <3 & if you go to the Atlanta airport, definitely go to Grove, on concourse C, same as Moe’s. Yummy gourmet carmel apples! Yay.

Now we’re on the plane to Dayton.




[That’s all for now–still waiting for my pics to get developed, but I’ll definitely share them with you! If you missed part one of this broadcast, you can catch it right here.]

¡Yo ♥ Nicaragua! [part 1]

August 19, 2009

[Note: I originally intended to scan in my journal, page by page, and post the scans for you to see. I scanned three pages. Waaaay too much work…and I haven’t even gotten to photographs yet! So here you’ll find, not scans, but the next best thing: the text. If some of it reads a little fractured, namely the biblical portions, it’s because I can’t write as fast as I think and hear..]

Monday 8/10

Last night Kelsey Priode commissioned me to play Uno with Tara and cheat in her place, because she’s not going and she’s jealous. We’re sitting on our first plane, the one to Atlanta, and when we can put our trays down once we’re going, we can get on with it…

1:44 We’ve taken off <3


little child: (laughs) I LIKE going up and down!

3:00 Landed in Atlanta, GA

3:46 Ah, our home Moe’s! I love Moe.

The Atlanta airport has all these art installations, this MLK installation, this exhibit of rowld puppets, some quilts from the 1996 Olympics here, and a gallery of K-12 artwork hanging on the wall. :)

Boarding the plane to Managua we met a man who asked where we were going, b/c his group’s going on a mission trip also. They’re going to two towns–one of them’s a day’s journey from Managua, inc. a 5 hr canoe ride, where they’re doing a well project.

6:00 Takeoff for Managua <3 ETA: 7:33, Nica time.

<3 MUSIC <3

Utada / Amadou & Mariam / Manu Chao / Black Mambazo / ABBA / Little Mermaid / Wicked / Juno / Frank Sinatra / Nat King Cole

The vegetarian version of the snack box for sale on this plane includes playing cards.


-Timothy just won by playing whatever random card, however inappropriate, down for his last turn.
-If the first turn involves playing a Reverse card, and no one immediately picks up the game, you have every right to play again.
-If someone’s played a 9, and you only have a six, all you have to do is flip it over so the numbers match, and it counts.
-Deal everyone but yourself extra cards!
-Play all your cards at once!

8:55 There’s a star out the window <3

9:23 Ohio/7:23 Nicaragua LANDED! It’s about time–3 years is a long time to wait.

9:00 We’re on the bus w/the Texas group :) Cecil cut his hair off! Alas, the wondering is over.

Tara and I are rooming with CeCe, Jessica and Kelsey from the Texas group, in a little (#11) room in the other building. We’re still trying to meet people–there’s so many names and faces to remember, plus a group from Michigan staying in this building too. Can’t believe how much I’ve missed these rocking chairs. And my gosh the hammocks!

Tuesday 8/11

I woke up early again b/c of the birds and everyone but me apparently kept waking up all night long b/c of various animals and they weren’t so excited about it, haha. I would like a cd of the bird noises here <3

And I was super excited for breakfast with the rice & beans and the famous pineapple. mmm..

2 Kings 5 — Naaman

God gave Naaman, an idol worshiper, victory over Israel. “God’s on everyone’s side.” -CeCe

Not an American, not affiliated with anyone. Joshua 15:13 It’s not whose side God is on but who’s on God’s side. (Lincoln) Isaiah 57:15 How to be on God’s side: humble and lowly. We are not, in terms of our possessions and life situations.

God isn’t the God of our beliefs, we either align with God or we don’t. -Cecil

What we do with faults and flaws: hide them. accept them. try to change them. fix them. cover it up. insecure. accentuate our strengths. overcompensate. how far we go, how much time and energy we spend trying to cover up our defects. feel humiliated.

What’s the difference between humilation and humility? How can your flaws direct you toward humility instead of humiliation?

The difference is pride. When you’re humiliated, your pride is on the line. When we learn to be humble instead of humiliated, we can use our weaknesses to serve other people who are humble and lowly.

Naaman: the young girl rejected the idea that we should be happy when our enemies have trouble. Naaman takes all his stuff with him. Our tendency is to take all of our stuff with us, to operate out of our power.

The King of Israel has a request he can’t fill, so he begins to see evil in it. We can’t cure poverty but we can do something about it person by person. What is our responsibility through our lives w/regard to the poor?

We’ve split into 2 groups–I’m going to Los Brasiles to work on the house they’re building for a family with 4 kids. We get to meet them :) We’re on the bus and we just stopped to change some money–$40 US = C$812 right now, fyi. All our roommates are in the other group, gone to do some demo at Oscar’s, but CeCe especially wanted to go to Hogar de Fe..but everyone’s switching around tomorrow, so it’s okay..Moving again! Somebody got Euros when he changed money.

After dinner–

At the site we shoveled dirt into what will be the floor of the house–it’s lined in cement blocks and we had to fill it up to a certain level and level it out, and we monkeyed, which means putting mortar in between the cement blocks. We met the family, and a whole bunch of kids kept gathering to throw dirt with shovels and throw rocks (but: no más) and jump rope and dance and take pictures on our cameras.

We had lunch at Hogar de Fe and we got to hang out for a while before going back to the house to work..of course it involved peanut butter sandwiches and Gatorade, haha. We got to meet some of the kids–some of them got a soccer game going, and some of us just sat and talked and Kelsey: we saw Ana, and Tara and I were scrambling in our dictionaries to try to tell her how we knew her name. We told her our amiga Kelsey gave her shoes, and she said sí, but she was laughing and I think she thought we were crazy.

And a couple of them wanted to use my camera, so I showed them how to use it, and one boy ran off and took 19 pictures in a row, haha. It will be exciting to see what they look like :)

The dictionaries come in handy–they grab them and ask you questions, and you grab them and answer. One time Rebeca asked me if I like to hug and kiss Marcos Witt (she found a post-it note in the book with his name and cd title on it) and I said no, he’s a singer. Once they asked me for chocolate, but alas, I had none. One of them got out her notebook with all her HSM3 stickers and she named all the characters, and I asked which is her favorite and she said Gabriela. Then they started singing the song, and the Hannah Montana song, and Tara braided Ana’s hair and she laughed.

[AHHH my first hammock experience of the trip <3 <3 <3–I could live in these things!]

They have a dog now, a German Shepherd named Pepito. He’s skinny–all the dogs are skinny here. & horses.

So far we’ve seen a couple monkeys, lots of fun birds, several lizards, bats, & a scorpion. And butterflies! I don’t remember seeing any last time.

They have these lovey aprons and purses and Christmas ornaments and bookmarks for sale in la Quinta, and they’re all hand-embroidered, and I seriously might buy an apron.

Anyway,  after lunch we went back to the house and that’s when I monkeyed, and there were some great dirt wars going on, and we talked quite a bit to one of the builders, Carlos, because his English is pretty darn good. So I learned that he’s 22, he likes English better than Spanish, and he didn’t know the English word for “trowel” but other than that he interpreted for us. :) Daddy, Timothy and Taylor went to Oscar’s for the demo..tomorrow that’s probably what we’re doing, when we switch.

Turns out: Tara’s 85. No wonder she loves these rocking chairs so much.

Anthony wants to become a witch doctor. He calls it “holistic medicine.” He’s going to go to Australia and come back wearing a loincloth and calling himself Rafiki.

8% of the world will ever own a car.

-Ohio is the land Canada rejected because it’s on the other side of the lake.
-We are now forbidden to call pop “pop” and are required to say “y’all.”
-It is a scientific fact that Texans are better than us.

Tara thinks it’s funny that the Texans have no idea that things they say will someday end up scanned on Facebook..

Wednesday 8/12

2 Kings 5:8 Elisha insults Naaman by sending a servant to greet him instead of going himself. What happens when God doesn’t respond the way we want God to? What kind of expectations do you have of God? When it doesn’t work, we become angry, disillusioned, we lose faith. We all come with expecations. If we don’t recognize that, they can get in the way.

It’s human to want to be treated special–a man or woman of God learns to deny themselves and overcome the need to be special. Americans get treated with great privileges throughout the world. Our whole culture revolves around “being better than” you. Arrogance: clothes, where you live..

Ezekiel 16:49 First sin listed of Sodom-pride, arrogance–second, overfed. Unconcerned. Did not help the poor and needy. Arrogant people blame poverty on the poor. Consumerism=driven by arrogance.

Can you be humble? Can you do ordinary things without recognition?

Nicaraguans from their culture of shame see Naaman as not wanting anyone to see his leprosy sores.

Find God in the ordinary..

There’s Chinese food in Nica, and a Dryclean USA..

(Skittles to Starburst.)

I forgot to say we’re on the van to Oscar’s! We just passed a park w/a lot of huts in it, Cecil said they’re all sick farmers–

(laundry ★ IIII IIII)

sick from the pesticides they have to use and they’ve been living there to protest to the govt. so far for 2 years.

(Daria, poet)

So we went to a house over by Oscar’s school/church, for demo-ing foundations and hauling out trash piles and we also made some rebar. <3 So fun! Whitney showed us a duck joke on a piece of my paper, and toward the ened we were all so crazy that Ian started making mud pies in all different flavors for us and we gladly accepted.

For lunch we went to the school–we ate in the teacher’s lounge–someone stole some honey so we could have peanut butter & honey sandwiches <3 Then we went on a tour through the school, to see the rooms they’re working on for vocational training for the special needs students, the church, the library.

→ P.S. To whom it may concern, next time you come, bring a book in Spanish for the library.

There’s this fruit here, it’s really weird–you bite the shell so you can peel it off, then you eat the fruit off the seed, but it’s really hard to get off the seed..they’re interesting. Peachy pink. They dry your mouth out. They’re called mimons or something like that, I don’t know how to spell it..It’s not in the dictionary..We like (that’s us and Annie and Whitney) to call them Nicaraguas, because we “don’t know how we feel about them.” ha..except we do.

It’s raining, the hammock’s down.

(Fish is not corn.) -Anthony

Nicalala, Nicalele

In my group today: Whitney, Annie, Will, Tanner, Ian, David, me, Tara, Mamsy

Monday Aaron was Russian and were were Chinese..Today he’s Chinese..,

Thursday 8/13

Some people are sick already..Whitney’s sick and apparently a couple guys..

2 Kings 5:15 How do you respond when you receive something? How do you respond in gratitude? Love doesn’t have strings. Israel is in a famine 3 years strong and there is great need, but Elisha declines..

Elisha doesn’t use God to benefit himself. He wanted Naaman to know it was a free gift.

v. 17: um..? v. 18: (you have to tell the truth–Daniel–) but Elisha says: Go in peace. He has no pat answers for God. Don’t feel guilty when you’re alongside someone who’s doing something wrong and you’re trying to be their friend.

Our church answers, our excuses–for not giving everything to the poor–the poor will always be with us. No time! The money was his god–it’s not my god, so God won’t ask for mine. Because he was unwilling.

We put God in a box–we can see each other’s boxes but it’s hard to see our own boxes. Truth doesn’t fit in a box.

Pat answers for salvations–the 4 steps. Ask Jesus in your heart.

Jesus never gave the same answer twice when people asked him how to be saved. Nicodemus, rich young ruler, etc..

“Jesus is the answer” is a pat answer.

↑ (Courage was very important to Naaman, but God didn’t ask Naaman to give it up.)

→ Be a LIVING testimony that’s dynamic and open to God’s voice, open to all the ways we as humans make God into our mental images. Soemtimes you have to be Daniel–sometimes you have to be an understanding person, learning from each other–not creating unnecessary barriers.


What is it God asks you to do in relation to the poor, with sharing and giving? There’s no one place, one way.

(Mariela has Facebook!!)

Today we did the cement inside the horizontal rebar on the house, and many, many cement volcanoes. About 10:30 a few of us went to Josue 1:9  to meet Tara’s little boy and the new little girl we sponsor–Nayrobis’s sooo cute <3 He was kinda shy, haha. She gave him his baseball presents, and he told us about his family..his dad works 2 1/2 hours away and tries to come home on weekends. He has a little sister, Liliet, who’s about 2, and he likes to play with her. He’s the best student in his class..he’s in 3rd grade.

Our new little girl, Marling, is in Nayrobis’s grade and she was so nervous to meet us! She has two siblings who were already sponsored..

(Whitney’s favorite response to “porqué?” is “por’cause!” haha.)

If I ever get a job, that’s the first thing I’m doing. <3

Then we took a little girl home (Julisa) and went back to the house to work again, and it was almost time for lunch..we went to Hogar de Fe and after lunch hung out with our friends again, and met new ones. They named me Martha and Tara Sinai. We’re not sure why, :) but by the end of the day even kids we haven’t met were calling out to us by our new names. When we went back to the house, a million billion kids were out playing, and sometimes we went out and played with them..I made some friends there too : We saw Fernando, who was 3 or 4 when we were here last! <3 Some of them, we couldn’t say their names very well b/c they’re super hard for gringos to say–one was Cinthya, and one said SHE was Cinthya too and they all said no, she wasn’t Cinthya, she was ____________!

Victor and Stiven and Fernando and Emmanuel were my special friends and a little girl named H_________. <3 Yo <3 ←.

When we were leaving, they were all waving and hugging and trying to shut the van doors and Emmanuel’s finger got shut in the door! It was so sad! (He looks like Celeste, actually)

We’re going to El Eskimo in a few minutes..<3 mmmmm

After dinner I asked the cooking ladies for the recita for their guac, which included some like egg! They were kinda laughing at me, and I asked what it was called, and then we all got confused and Isaac said just write guacamole, and all four of them thought it was really funny :) haha.

CeCe’s name is actually Beatrice.

The Texans have an all-encompassing obsession with corn and corny corn jokes for CeCe. Says Ryan: “Hey, is your favorite mythical creature the UNICORN?!”

Other topics of conversation: ethanol / corndogs / corn on the cob / cornrows / cornea / high fructose corn syrup / candy corn / corn flaked (you’ve been!)

Says Ryan: “Hey CeCe, what are you packin’ in your cheeks? Acorns?”

Cornelius / cornucopia / Korn / cornmeal / scorn / cornification

El Eskimo = mmm.

I got the Arcoiris, which is what I got last time I can. Next time I’m getting pataya, which is the bright fuschia juice <3 Still need to figure out what the yellow juice is.

Now the Texans are out in the yard playing a game called Bunny Bunny. It involves standing around in a circe screaming bunny bunny bunny bunny and goochie goochie goochie goo! while jumping up and down. Some of us don’t understand it at all..

Goochie is NEVER bunny.

“I love it when you talk calculus, baby.”

So there is foot-waffling going on. What this is is interlocking the toes of two persons..according to Booth’s reactions, there is a great level of pain involved–or–he has a very low pain threshold.

Tanner’s laugh sounds like a Super Mario power-up, says Booth.

It’s bedtime, so.

[Part two of this broadcast is right here.]

Returned, but not “home.”

August 18, 2009

Because for the past three years, America has been becoming less and less my “home.” I keep learning and growing as a person and I’m more interested in the world as a whole than in America specifically anymore. I consider myself more of a citizen of the Earth than of the country I was born in. It’s an important thing I’ve gained from my trips to Nicaragua, one of which I’ve just returned from. Pictures and journals to follow…