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Week 38: YAM Jam in Austin

I was fortunate to attend the YAM (Young Adult Ministries) Jam conference in Austin this past week  (click here for conference blog). It was hosted at Austin Seminary and put on by Presbyterian young adult ministry people I have worked with for many years in the past.  We had three very good speakers with different styles, Ted Wardlaw (President of Austin Seminary), Bruce Reyes-Chow (Current Moderator of PC(USA)), and Carol Howard Merritt (who is the author of a book titled Tribal Church). Click on Bruce or Carol’s name to see their blogs.

Worship outside:
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Worship inside:
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What happened when I found the gigantic box of goldfish:
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What happened when I found Grandma’s Sweet Leaf Tea:
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What happened when we found Peanut Butter Moose Pie:
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Back to serious Robert…

I have been hearing that the PC(USA) is dying my entire life.  However, I keep on seeing excitement and energy for our denomination.  One of the biggest obstacles the PC(USA) has is creating a space and program for young adults (however you define that term).  The conference focused on this idea and implementation into different contexts.  Any ideas on how to create a space and program for young adults in the PC(USA)?

One of the most interesting points made was that 80% of college students believe in same-sex marriage.  This has sent shockwaves through many evangelical and mainline churches.  Then the same church hears that 30% of college students do not have health insurance and the church doesn’t make a noise.  Think about that… what does that say about the church?

Week 38: Water, Streets, Sidewalks, and Bridges

Water

The water here is crazy!  I walk over to the sink, put my water bottle underneath, fill it up, and drink it.  My toothbrush also just goes right under the sink to be washed off.

Somebody asked me about the water in Kenya yesterday and I realized that I haven’t really shared that here.  In Kenya, the water comes from wells which Kenyans call boreholes.  From these wells, all of the water is pumped into large water containers.  These containers are elevated and provide the water for sinks and toilets.  Outside my Quonset Hut we have two of these containers.  I use the bottom 500 liter container to fill up my one liter boiler doohickey, boil the water and wait for it to cool down, two hours, pour it into a ceramic filter, wait two hours, then have myself some drinking and toothbrush washing water.

It sounds more tedious than it is.  It has just become part of my life that I don’t think twice about anymore.  Therefore, putting my toothbrush under the sink again is taking some getting used to and drinking water straight from the tap without any boiling or filtering is… well… crazy.

The most frustrating part of the water bit for me is that I have to carry around a water bottle with me all the time so that I know the water is safe.  I don’t mind carrying a water bottle mind you, but it is when I am asked why I always carry a water bottle wherever I go that I feel misplaced, “Because the water here will make me sick.”  Sounds easy enough to say, but this definitely comes across with the message I hate sending and feeling, “Your water isn’t good enough for me.”

Streets

The States’ roads are amazing.  There’s no other way to put it.  I hear people talk about how bad some road is here or how construction has been going on forever there.  I’ve been a complainer.  I think I’m going to be quiet post hence.

My favorite story about the States’ roads occurred when I was living on Cosmas’ Island, Mfangano (blog post about Mfangano here).  I stayed with his pastor who had been to the States before and would tell me about how wonderful the States are as if they were heaven.  One night at dinner, I decided to set the record straight.  “The States are not heaven, they are far from it.  Over half of our marriages end in divorce, our culture is the most materialistic in the world, we had slavery, segregation, … (I continued my tirade for a few more minutes).”  I finish and feel that I have laid out a very thorough argument against the States being heaven to which the pastor replies, “BUT YOUR STREETS!!!”  Everyone has their own idea of heaven I guess.

Sidewalks

They’re crazy.  Where my family lives (and a majority of us in the mid-west), we use our sidewalks sparingly.  In Kenya, a majority of the population walks everywhere, but no sidewalks.

Bridges

There are a lot of bridges in the States.  I never really paid much attention to them unless one was unusual tall or artistic.  Now I am noticing the simple bridges and how amazing and expensive they are.  We have few bridges in Kenya.

Week 38: The YAV Connection

Many of my friends were Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) before me and I got to hear all of their stories.  I remember hearing about the connection they had with fellow YAVers because of what they had been through.  However, I did not believe that it was a deeper connection than, “Hey, you went to Austin College too.  Cool.”  Well, I’ve changed my mind after being back for a week.  I have been surrounded by many wonderful YAVs who listen very intently and understand, to an extent, what I am talking about and going through.  It’s really quite wonderful, helpful, and any other -ful you can think of.

I guess that there is a difference from going through a pledgeship, which is supposedly to bring a group closer together, and moving to another culture/country for a year.  That’s what sororities and fraternities should do if they really want their members to feel a bond.  I’m going to put the seven of you in another culture where you stick out so much that everybody stops and looks at you whenever you walk by.  When you come home and meet somebody else who has been through that there is something that exists between those two people, an understanding, which is more than I expected.

Week 38: Family

During my nine months in Kenya on long matatu rides and walks, I would reminisce about Kansas.  Both of my parental units are from stated state (huh huh) and I love going up to Newton and Frankfort to visit my relatives.  I’m a very family oriented person which is one of the main aspects which has drawn me towards pastoral ministry.  I had been dreaming about finding my way back to Kansas since even before leaving for Kenya.  I hadn’t been there since Christmas of 2007.  I was so excited; I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself.  Do I walk around screaming the entire time, so that people realize how excited I am to see them?  Exnay on the screamnay… I settled with verbally informing my family how excited I was to see them.  Although, I don’t think that they realized how incredibly happy I was.  The visits were too short and my brain too scattered to take it all in, but I am truly blessed with the family I have and hope that when I return to the States again I can make an extended journey up yonder.

My cousins Ada and Alfie with me:
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Alfred, Alfie, Ada, me and Aunt Diana
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My cousins Emily and Amy with me:
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When I was introduced to the new John Deere Sprayer:
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My cousin Bryce and me in the Sprayer:
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I accidentally walked into a small grocery store with Bryce and the peanut butter aisle almost made me cry:
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Gipper (Bryce’s dog who enjoys waking everyone up in the mornin’):
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Dave Matthews Band live tonight on Fuse

Alright, my favorite band, the Dave Matthews Band has a new album coming out Tuesday.  I’ve traveled the country to see them 11 times, but tonight we all have the opportunity to watch them from our homes for free.  So, please do.

Dave Matthews Band live tonight 10:30 Central streaming on http://fuse.tv. On the tele at 8 Central on Fuse. I’ll be dancin in front of the TV… no joke, we’ll see if any pictures surface from said dancing.

Here be a informational session from CBS Sunday morning yesterday:

Here be a video to inspire you for tonight:

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