Desierto norte de Chile

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


On my last night in Barbados, I enjoyed a good bit of christian evangelical challenge, served up by the kind folks through the Urbana email listserv. Just so happens that the column was written by Jim Thomas, the faculty advisor of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at UNC. I didn't interact with Jim much while at Carolina, but he seems to be a pretty cool guy.

He penned a great article about culture & community, and issued a challenge that resonates with me strongly:
The world is awaiting the witness of unity between black and white Christians on Sunday morning; the good word spoken by one Christian denomination of other denominations; and the unity that overcomes an ocean of distance between Christians who are dying of AIDS on one continent and others who are healthy on another.

Jim goes on to give a few tangible ways to accomplish this unity:
Cultural differences can be manifest in language, skin color, income, and more – sometimes even denominational differences. God’s kingdom knows none of these divisions. And to reflect his kingdom, we are to reach across those divisions in love. We are to learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ and serve each other. More than that, we are to seek to reconcile with each other. To do this, we need to step out of our comfort zones and seek to love well people who are different from ourselves. That might mean learning another’s language, attending another’s church, or visiting another’s neighborhood. In doing this, we follow in Jesus’s footsteps.

I agree that christian unity - demonstrated, not lip-serviced - is not only a powerful witness, but a place of tremendous blessing! Will you join me in examining our lives and our comfort zones, seeking God and asking if we are too complacent wherever we are today? I welcome your feedback & comments.

PS- En-sha-allah (God-willing), the next blog post will come to you from American soil.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Fulbright Enrichment photos

**Captions are above the photo**

The Normandie Hotel in St. Ann's, Trinidad.

Another view of the Normandie.

Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, Trinidad. A great place for walking and jogging (I got to do both). Surrounded by the "world's largest round-about".

The group dinner outing in Tobago

Tropical waters as we head to the Buccoo Reef in Tobago.

Outer perimeter of the reef.

Charlie, Eleanor, and Wendy on the glass-bottom boat journey to the reef.

Naomi and Kelly (a staffer from the Buccoo Reef Trust)

Our boat

No Mans Land (Tobago)

Bar-b-que lunch on No Mans Land peninsula

Our bar-b-que food selection (chicken, fish, rice & peas, vegetables, pineapple, and shandy to drink -- a very Bajan meal I might add!)

View from No Mans Land back toward the lagoon

No Mans Land

Dena, Eleanor, and Danielle eating on top of the boat

Charlie, Alex, Wendy, me, Danielle, and Naomi at the Crown Point Hotel as we depart Tobago for Trinidad.

Tribute to: Wendy Warren, a friend I now know

Port of Spain, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, May 27 -- The 2006 Fulbright Enrichment Seminar has come to an end, and I have enjoyed myself on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. The first 3 days of the trip included project presentations from the other students (on AIDS/risky behaviour, hurricanes, slave trade, dance, art/carnival, and theater) and invited guest speakers (on history of T&T, calypso music, and AIDS in the Caribbean). While our time was structured, we still enjoyed late-night chats and laughs over our meals. Bonding over our shared experiences, we laid a foundation to really let loose and have fun during the last two days in Tobago. Many of you would be proud to know I never went to sleep before 2:30 a.m. -- and that most nights' bedtime was between 3:15 and 4:15 a.m. (Wake-up was still between 6:30 and 8:30, the later times coming in Tobago). Once in Tobago, we were free to be tourists, taking in the beach, the nesting leatherback turtles, the Buccoo reef & nylon pool, a bar-b-que on "No Mans Land", and spontaneous diving off the glass-bottom boat into deep ocean water (my personal favorite segment of the trip).

Besides all the cool things we did, I really enjoyed befriending the other Fulbrighters in the region: Sarah Bergman, Eleanor Scott, Charlie Preston, and Alex Kahn from Trinidad & Tobago; Naomi Parekh from Jamaica; Dena Simmons, Malika Anand, Jamie Islar, and Danielle Pritchett from Dominican Republic; and Wendy Warren from Barbados. It's funny that I had to visit another country to get to know the Fulbrighter in my own country, but that's how it went down. So here's to Wendy, my new friend. Now when customs in Trinidad's Piarco Int'l asks me if I know her, I don't have to respond with "no, I don't". She's no longer a barely known friend.

Photos from T&T to follow. Wendy is pictured in the BWIA departures terminal at POS Int'l enjoying the free wireless internet and lunch from Church's Chicken.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Deportation threat: very high

Thank God, this post comes to you from inside the island of Trinidad and not from the netherlands of foreign immigration or customs. Earlier today I was officially denied entry to T&T because my "washed and dried" (and rather beaten-up) passport was deemed not proof of citizenship. The whole story is rather a blur, because it happened so fast, but the immigration officer actually processed my "REJECTION" & "DEPORTATION" papers, complete with the official stamp. She sent me back to the bank of chairs behind the immigration lines and said "wait for a representative of your airline to come to you." (She kept my passport with her, along with the customs form that was now marked, in large letters, "DENIED").

Thirty minutes later, after processing all the other passengers from my BWIA flight and the later-arrived AA flight, she called me back up to continue the deportation process. Fortunately in this interim time, I had the opportunity to collect my thoughts, pray, and calm my nerves. I remembered that the US Embassy in Barbados had given me 'official duty papers', and the Embassy in Port of Spain (supposedly) forwarded my name and passport number to the T&T officials to assist with immigration. The immigration officer became even more agitated when I produced those papers, asking me why I hadn't given them to her in the first place (b/c I was too flustered!), why I marked "leisure" on my immigration form instead of "business" (b/c the enrichment seminars are still leisure to me, plus the trip to Tobago is 100% leisure), and why I was so focused on being 'politically correct' (her words) when I denied traveling with Wendy, the other Fulbrighter, when asked by another immigration officer if we were "traveling together" (in the US, "traveling together" typically means husband & wife, and I barely know Wendy). Once I produced the official Embassy travel form, the immigration officer - and her supervisor, connected to us by telephone - reversed course. She scribbled out the "DENIED" word, stamped my customs form, and sent me on my way, thoroughly chastised for having a washed & dried (and rather well-worn) passport.

So I am here now, safe and cool, and I dont have to clear another foreign immigration officer until Saturday! If nothing else, I am now able to officially claim that I was detained in a foreign country by their immigration & customs. My heart goes out to those whom the US denies entry; I now know what you go through.

P.S.- stay tuned, I might try to post a photo or two of Trinidad & Tobago, once the craziness wears off.


So in a few hours, I will depart for the Fulbright Enrichment seminar in Trinidad & Tobago. I don't know if the hotels will have internet access, so perhaps this is sayonara, for now. My flight back to Barbados arrives mid-afternoon on Saturday the 27th. Perhaps I'll take a photo or two to share with you :) Enjoy the week.

Monday, May 15, 2006

e-pac hurricane season begins today

Yea, hard to believe, but it's time to mark the start of the eastern Pacific hurricane season. (The Atlantic season officially begins June 1). Look for familiar names such as "Bud", "Fabio", and "Norman" to churn the tropical waters. The EPac list has 24 names, skipping Q and U, whereas the Atlantic uses only 21 letters (skips Q, U, X, Y, and Z). Happy tracking.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Trinis & 'Bagonians

**EDIT 27 MAY** The citizens of Tobago are known as "Tobagonians", not "Tobagans".

On May 22, I'm headed to Trinidad for an end-of-Fulbright conference and seminar. The official title is "Fulbright Enrichment", so I expect to be enriched. I do not know many details, but I think they expect the fulbrighters (from Trinidad, Dominican Republic, & Barbados) to give 25-min presentations on our work & island experience. Should be interesting, considering my results are just now coming into line. But I have a few thoughts. Then, after the seminar, we're flying to Tobago for fun -- to visit a reef, chill on the beach, and have an all-round nice time. I'll return to Barbados in time to pack & head back to the U.S.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Twenty-one days

Today marks the three-week anniversary for my departure from the island. In other news:

- I had an enjoyable conversation with my friend Michael today. We reminisced about the past year, ministry, campus crusade, Barbados, Godly inspiration and soverignty, struggles in the global church, long-distance romance, the heat, America, Colombia, cross-cultural interactions, and a few other things. Our conversation began around 10:30 and continued until 2:00, which makes it one of the longest in-person one-on-one conversations I have had in the year. Did I mention that he is a great guy? (And, yea ladies, he is single).

- Lawrence (at CIMH) is thinking of running the MM5 to study climate change in the eastern Caribbean. We were able to talk through some strategy - and comp sci tactics - this afternoon. I wish him the best of luck, b/c anyone running the MM5 will agree that it's a barrel of headaches (with a few results tucked in somewhere!)

- As Michael and I discussed, the heat is on. It hasn't been cooler than 82 in my bedroom at night, and routinely hovers ~ 85F at bedtime. But my early morning exercises have been enjoyable.

- Visit for an interesting, and even refreshing, perspective on the Baptist church. (Thanks Burly for the link. Good read).

Friday, May 05, 2006

Pity or disgust?

A rather sad event took place early Thursday morning adjacent to the US Capitol in Washington. Rep. Kennedy (son of Sen. Edward Ken, D-MA) of Rhode Island crashed his car into a barricade as he hurried back to work to not miss an important vote. Fortunately, he was not injured (nor, evidently, was the barricade damaged). Unfortunately, at 3 a.m., there was no vote schedule to take place (it occurred 6 hrs earlier). The congressman - according to the AP news reports - was under the influence of pain killer medication (probably similar to the same medications former OSU basketball coach Eddie Sutton was under when he caused a serious accident in Oklahoma two months ago).

Everyone makes mistakes, but is this just a little crazy? In his own words:
"I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police, or being cited for three driving infractions," Kennedy said. "That's not how I want to live my life. And that's not how I want to represent the people of Rhode Island."
Mr. Kennedy, I think the people of Rhode Island would prefer you not represent them inabsentia, either. I don't know whether to offer my pity or my disgust.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

New pastor?

My church back in Norman has been searching for a new pastor to college students for the past six months, and the elders announced last week that they have nominated a fellow for the position. The college ministry even posted this guy's resume online. I feel like such a stalker! But I want to share the experience with you.

Feel free to stalk away!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Seven years ago

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the costliest tornado outbreak in US history. It also marks the last occurrence of a tornado rated F5. What a beast this was, and I can't imagine how crazy it was for those in its path.

Tornado in SE Oklahoma City:

Tornado paths in central Oklahoma on 3 May 1999:

Let's not forget that SPC had only a slight risk at 1300Z (8:00 a.m., less than 8 hours before the start of this prolific outbreak):

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"No Water"

So today I had a nice stroll in the mid-afternoon heat, down to the post office, only to find that it had closed. "NO WATER" was scrawled on a sheet of paper and afixed to the door. Wish someone had told me before my 35-min round-trip! :) Perhaps the water will return tomorrow.

Violence, revisited

A friend intro'd me to podcasts (available for free with a few quick clicks on iTunes). I thought I'd share an interesting quote from the podcast I listened to last night. I already posted that I am anti-war, but I like the way these guys phrase their answers, so I share them with you. Enjoy.

Q: "Is there ever a time when violence would be justified? Should the US be involved in militarily intervening in ending genocidial wars?" - podcast moderator

A: "For starters, America is not a christian nation. This is not a theocracy, and while our founding fathers had some christian ideas in framing a great document, this is not a christian nation. And it shouldnt suprise us when the actions of our nation dont line up with the bible. That shouldnt be a huge shock. America is not a 'new Israel'. We are not God's chosen political people on the earth, carrying out his will, punishing people or dealing out his judgement. That said, there is a huge difference between the ethic that exists in the bible for non-violence and doing nothing. It isnt a question of whether we fight, but do we kill? Do I fight? Absolutely-tooth and nail. But do I kill? Thats where the nuance of the discussion has to exist. My citizenship primarily lives in the Kindgom of Heaven, not in America. So what should my response be? Scripture calls us to act, to be an advocate for the poor. Violence is not one of my resources." - Derek Webb

A: "My concern with this subject in the church is that its so lop-sided, not a debatable issue. To come in and say "Hey, what about peace?" is perceived as scandalous, unpatriotic, even unbiliblical. Christians follow the "Prince of Peace" but have no interest in studying peace. Are you following the Jesus of scripture, or are you following the Jesus who is the poster-boy for the American dream? I get weary of being perceived as a liberal when I feel like I'm the one looking at the bible through the eyes as a fundamentalist." - Donald Miller

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