Saturday, April 21, 2012

It's Compassion Sunday.

I'm still in South Korea, so I can't be there today to share with you about Compassion, but if I could, it would go a little something like this:

video

Your tax-deductible contribution to Compassion International of just $38 a month connects your child with a loving, church-based Child Sponsorship Program that provides:
  • Food and clean water
  • Medical care
  • Educational opportunities
  • Important life-skills training
  • Most important of all, your sponsored child will hear about Jesus Christ and be encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God.
When you sponsor a child, you'll receive your child's photo, personal story and a child sponsorship packet by mail in approximately 15 days.

When children find out they've been sponsored, the joy they feel is indescribable. Just knowing that someone across the globe cares means more than you can imagine. Sponsoring a child will profoundly change the future for your child, and will change your own life as well.

Got questions?  I'd be happy to answer them below.  Or you can go HERE for some more information.
Please share this post with everyone you know.

 
Sponsor a child today!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wow

Having lived through many tornadoes, it's hard to take them seriously sometimes.  I mean, it's certainly not when the wind's whipping around you and everything goes dark, but it's hard to question your chances of survival when you've always made it though just fine.

I want to share with you something that made my hair stand on end.

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Contact me for more information as to how you can help.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sorry

I'm distracted by Pottermore.  I'll be back with you later.

If you look closely, you'll find my username there, too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pesach 5772

Clearly, I'm catching up on my posts today. I have today off work, as it's election day, so I thought I'd take advantage of it. Many of you have been asking how my Seder turned out, and I thought I'd share the whole story.
I went to a Fat Tuesday dinner at the International Church on KNU's campus.  I went up to their head pastor, Josh Broward, meaning to thank him for the event, and, instead, said, "Hi, I'm Jewish.  Would you be interested in having a Passover Seder at your church?".  I knew from the get-go that this was a G-d thing.  I think that's probably why I didn't stress as much about it.  Yes, there was stress, but not nearly as much as I expected.  In fact, during the all-nighter the night before, there was no stress at all, just exhaustion.  In the end, roughly 2 dozen people showed up, so I had a bit too much food, as I was planning for 40 (thus my Passover recipes that have been using it up).  However, they all seemed very interested and blessed by the event.

Here are some pictures from the night that my friend Taylor took for me:

Pastor Josh, opening us in prayer.

Raising the first glass for its blessing

The table

We did a hand-washing where we washed each other's hands,
in memory of how Christ washed his disciples' feet.

Everyone got involved.

Emma played the role of the youngest child.  Her parents told me how excited she was and how she wanted to get dressed up to fit the part.  They explained how Jewish girls in Israel today wear pretty much the same clothes as they do in Korea.  I gave her my scarf to cover her hair, to help her out a bit.  I had been debating whether or not I would cover mine, but seeing her smile made my choice for me.

Observing the piercings and stripes of the Matzah; Yeshua HaMashiach is our  Afikomen!

Passover Oatmeal (Vegan-friendly)

I'm an oatmeal fan.  It makes me very happy.  So, today, I opted to eat some, but Passover style!

It's so easy to make a serving that I'm not even going to use an ingredients list.

    Crumble one piece of Manischewitz Matzos.
  1. Add whatever fruit and nuts you'd like.  I added strawberries to mine.
  2. Pour in some almond milk (or normal milk, I just like almond milk).  You only need 1/4 c at most.  Al you want to do is get everything soggy.
  3. Mash the soggy matzos a bit, to get it the consistency of oatmeal.
  4. Microwave it for about two minutes.
  5. Add some brown sugar to sweeten it... maybe a tablespoon or two.
Wham bam.  Delicious breakfast.  (Of course, you do need to eat it rather quickly, but you can do it!  I have faith in you!)  Leave your feedback below.

Passover Nachos

Due to my inability to stay awake last night, I did not get to post this recipe, BUT, if any of you still haven't eaten, I would highly recommend it.  In case you haven't noticed, my cooking tends to have a Mexican flair to it, and you can thank my lovely friend Alex and her Mamí for that.  Their food is so good that I tried making some of it one day, and I've been hooked ever since.  So, today, I'll bring Passover (Leftovers) Nachos.  It was incredibly easy and a good way to reclaim my tupperware from the fridge.  I ate this whole thing, because I'm generally calorie-deprived on school days, but, for people who eat correctly, I'd recommend serving this as a side, or a two-person meal with a side-salad.


Ingredients:
  • 2 pieces of  Manischewitz Matzos, crushed to nacho-size
  • 2 or 3 Passover Burger patties, crumbled
  • 1/2-3/4 c Curry Rice (as found attached to the Passover Burgers recipe as a side dish option)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green jalapeño, chopped
  • Several stalks of parsley, chopped (I'm still recovering from that Seder, but if you're not, cilantro is amazing on food like this.)
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, to taste (I like a lot.)
  • Salsa (or, in my case, leftover corn salad)

Procedure
  1. Lay out your matzos on a plate.  You may want to salt them a little.  It's up to you.  I didn't.
  2. Add everything on top, except potentially the Salsa (that one's your call and really depends on whether you prefer warm salsa or not).
  3. Microwave it for about 5 minutes, stopping to stir.  This gets pretty thick, so the stirring is important to get everything heated.
  4. Enjoy!
Before the cheese layer is added.  Doesn't it look lovely, even like that?
From the first bite of this, I knew it was heaven.  The Matzos do get a little soggy, and really can't replace tortilla chips, but, hey - what can you do?  They do, however present an interesting base flavor that makes it all taste somewhat like a casserole.  I like it a lot, but don't expect a fully nacho feel. :)

As always, please leave your feedback!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April Prayers

April 2012 Prayer Calendar
“You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” — Isaiah 58:11, NIV

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Sunday 1
This month, please pray for God’s refreshing of the fragile imaginations of children who live in poverty. Pray that they will learn to dream — to imagine growing up to be doctors and teachers and world-changers.
Monday 2

Please pray for a healthy recovery for 6-year-old Fatao of Burkina Faso, who was flown to India by Compassion in early March for critical heart surgery.
Tuesday 3
Please pray for the thousands of Compassion sponsors and Advocates who are preparing to present child-sponsorship opportunities at churches around the world on Compassion Sunday, April 22.
Wednesday 4
Praise God for recent rains that brought a reprieve from the severe drought in Kenya!
Thursday 5
Please continue to pray for the families in the Philippines whose children passed away or are missing after Typhoon Washi devastated the region.
Friday 6
Please pray for 10-year-old Victor in Peru, who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 3. His single mother was only recently able to get him treatment.
Saturday 7
Please pray for God’s comfort and provision for siblings Warraphon and Apiwat in Thailand, whose father recently died.
Sunday 8
Please pray for Compassion-assisted children and their families in Java, Indonesia, whose homes were recently damaged or destroyed by strong weather.
Monday 9
Some Burkina Faso caregivers who oppose the Christian principles we teach have removed children from our programs. Pray for God to work in their hearts and in the hearts of the children.
Tuesday 10
Please pray for the safety of our field staff in El Salvador —  especially those visiting dangerous and violent places. Pray also for the safety of children living in areas rife with gangs and crime.
Wednesday 11
Please pray for 14-year-old Jeanitha, a Haiti orphan who has suffered from Type 1 diabetes for several years. She lives with her sister, who struggles to provide even one meal a day.
Thursday 12
Pray for the Mbale district of Uganda, which has seen a recent cholera outbreak. A Compassion-assisted child and a caregiver have been diagnosed with cholera but are in stable condition. Our 11 Compassion centers in the district have provided education and water purification kits to local families.
Friday 13
Please pray for comfort and provision for the family of 13-year-old Rosa in Peru, whose home was destroyed in a fire that consumed 300 other homes.
Saturday 14
Please pray for a change in people’s hearts in remote areas of Togo, where idol worship is prevalent and parents do not understand that some sicknesses originate from their lifestyle.
Sunday 15
Please pray for three children from the Jesus El Camino Tamborada Student Center in Bolivia, whose homes were severely damaged in recent floods.
Monday 16
Pray for a number of children from the Ebenezer Child Development Center in Ghana who suffer from eye defects — especially for Steven, whose caregiver-grandmother is blind.
Tuesday 17
Praise God for enabling us to help Wilson in Haiti, who was dying from severe anorexia. Compassion transported him from Cap Haitian to Port-au-Prince for intensive care. He is now on the mend!
Wednesday 18
Please pray for the family of 5-year-old Desi in Indonesia, who was struck and killed by a truck while riding his bike.
Thursday 19
Please pray for God’s Spirit to calm a violent child attending one of our centers in Brazil. This boy was severely beaten by his father and needs to discover and embrace Jesus’ gentle, unconditional love.
Friday 20
Please pray for Compassion-assisted child Isai in Bolivia, who recently received a kidney transplant from his mother. Both mother and son are recovering.
Saturday 21
Tomorrow is Compassion Sunday! Please pray that God will raise up tens of thousands of men, women, teens and even children around the world to provide loving sponsorship for children in poverty.
Sunday 22
Please continue to ask for the Lord’s protection of our children, ICP staff, and their families in Cali, Colombia, where heavy rains and flooding have left a path of destruction.
Monday 23
Please pray for comfort for the family of Worachote in Thailand, whose father died in a motorbike accident.
Tuesday 24
Pray for the families of eight children from the P.A.G. Gee Child Development Center in Kenya, whose homes were damaged by heavy rainfall.
Wednesday 25
Please pray for Nimisha in India, who endured major heart surgery at age 9 and now must undergo heart surgery again.
Thursday 26
Praise God that two Christian radio networks, KLOVE and AIR1, recently partnered with Compassion’s Water of Life to provide nearly 40,000 safe water systems for families in Rwanda!
Friday 27
Please pray for CSP mothers in El Salvador and around the world who are single and are raising their children on their own.
Saturday 28
Please pray for wisdom and grace for our ICPs in Togo as these pastors and leaders reach out to a needy and superstitious people.
Sunday 29
Please pray for God’s peace and comfort for the family of Sagar in eastern India, who recently passed away.
Monday 30
Please join the staff of Espaço Esperança Student Center in Brazil in praising God for enabling Compassion to buy a hearing aid for one of their students, Carlos. The aid has substantially helped his cognitive progress!



Monday, April 9, 2012

Passover Pancakes with Homemade Strawberry Syurp (Vegan and Dairy-Free Options)

Today, while browsing the Lotte Mart (grocery store/Wal-Mart equivalent), I was struck with the desire for pancakes, and, ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to announce that I mastered it.  Now, for the pleasure of your (and let's be honest, your kids') taste buds, I present Passover Pancakes (loosely based on this recipe):


Ingredients:
  • 1/2-3/4 c Matzo meal (I made my own by putting 3 pieces of Manischewitz Matzos through a food processer.)
  • a dash of salt
  • 3 medium eggs (Leave this out if you're vegan.)
  • 100 grams of cream cheese (Leave this out if you're vegan or have a dairy allergy.)
  • My delicious almond milk
  • 1/2ish c leftover Charoset put through a food processor (I know, I can't believe I had leftovers either!  If you didn't, applesauce with cinnamon added at home should be fine... pass on the cinnamon stuff in the store - too much sugar)
  • 1/2ish c almond milk (Tonight was my first experience in making my own, and let me tell you... this stuff deserves a standing ovation.)
  • 1.5 t vanilla (I use imitation.)
  • cinnamon to taste (I'm incredibly heavy-handed with this.)
  • Optional: Add fruit or nuts

Procedure
  1. Turn on THIS playlist.  This is crucial.  Your food won't taste as good if you're not in a good mood. :)
  2. Mix all the ingredients, dry ingredients first, of course.  Just go in the order I put them on the ingredients list, stirring constantly. It should look like this when you're done:
  3. Cook on a lightly greased frying pan, flipping only once.  They'll look just like normal pancakes:
  4.  Serve warm, with strawberry syrup on top, and eggs on the side (and maybe some turkey bacon/sausage, if you're not of the vegetarian inclination): Throw several heaping handfulls of fresh, rinsed, de-stemmed strawberries in a food processor, along with whatever Charoset (cinnamon apple sauce) is leftover from your cooking process (~1/4 c).  Heat it on a stove, adding brown sugar to taste.
No, it's not tomato sauce; it only looks like it.
Happy eating!  As always, let me know if you try it out.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Passover Burgers (Vegan Option)

Tonight's Passover dinner was based entirely on my friend Tera the Awkward Chef's legendary black bean burgers.  I modified the recipe a bit to fit my kitchen stock, and off we went.  Watch the video below for Tera's recipe.


Yeilds: 7-9 burgers

Ingredients (that I used):
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • Seasonings at your own discretion (I opted for my favorite - Italian seasoning - and chili powder)
  • 1/3 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green jalepeño pepper, diced (leave the seeds in this time)
  • 5-6 parsley stems, diced (I'm using up all of my leftovers from my Seder).
  • 2 pieces of Manischewitz Matzos
  • Red pepper paste
  • Tomato juice

Procedure
  1. Mash the beans in a large bowl.  This takes a while, so you may want to put on a TV show while you're doing it.
  2. Slowly add your spices, vegetables, and herbs.  Stir well.
  3. Instead of bread crumbs (as Tera prescribes), crush up the Matzo (I just used a knife to crunch it up), and mix it into the beans.
  4. Add the red pepper paste and tomato juice to even out the consistency, until it is ever so slightly sticky.
  5. Heat some oil on the stove.  Like Tera says, you want a high smoke point oil, so I used soy bean oil.
  6. Add your patties when the oil is hot enough to make them sizzle on impact.  Try to only flip them once.  As there is no egg in this mixture, they don't hold together quite as well.  A little char is definitely okay.
  7. Serve warm.  I, not being vegan, opted to add some pepper jack cheese and ketchup to mine.  Buns aren't kosher for Passover, so I opted to eat it just like that, but I contemplated serving it on a piece of Matzo.  Let me know if you try it that way.

As a side, I made a Curry Rice Pilaf (as adapted from this recipe), which turned out pretty well, but I think my oil was too hot.  If I made it again, I'd do it before the burgers and just reheat it if necessary.  It's pretty simple:


Serves: 3-4 people

Ingredients:

  • 1c white rice
  • 1.5c water
  • Curry powder, ginger powder, Italian seasoning (I, unfortunately, rarely measure.  I put enough of these things in that I could no longer see the rice below them.
  • 1/3 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/3c slivered almonds

Procedure:
  1. Put the rice, water, spices, and half of your onion into a rice cooker and turn it on (yes, I'm lazy, but it works).  Stir occasionally to get the spices worked all the way through it.
  2. Sautee the other half of the onion and the almonds.
  3. When the rice cooker is done, mix the sautee in.
Tada!  Easy-breezy, and delicious.  Enjoy!

This dinner was just as happy to see me as I was to see it.
Let me know if you try this out, along with what you think of it!

Easter

CHRIST IS RISEN!


HE IS RISEN INDEED!





Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Passover Pizza

Tonight marked the beginning of Passover, and I've had this lovely idea percolating around in my head all day for some Passover Pizza.  So, I called up my friend Taylor, and we decided to experiment based on this idea.  The result was this:

Our delicious Passover Pizza.
It turned out well enough that I would like to share the recipe with you so you can try it this week.  I did not, however, measure, so please bear in mind that all measurements are estimates.

Ingredients:
  • 4 pieces of Manischewitz Matzos (I used the plain kind, but I'm eager to try out the whole wheat sometime.)
  • cream cheese
  • 1c Prego tomato sauce
  • 1c Pace picante sauce
  • Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 can of corn (My Ashkenazi Jewish friends can feel free to omit this ingredient)
  • 1/3 yellow onion, diced
  • 5-6 stems of parsley - shred the leaves, dice the stems
  • 1/4-1/3 c cut up mushrooms (I used enoki)
  • 2 jalepeños (I used one red and one green) with most of their seeds removed and diced.  (Normal bell peppers would be fine if you're not into spice)
  • shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese


Procedure:
  1. Grease a cookie sheet with olive oil.
  2. Cover matzos with cream cheese.
  3. Spoon desired amount of sauce into the middle of each matzo, then sprinkle Italian seasoning across them to taste.
  4. Add the toppings evenly across each matzo, then cover with cheese (generally, you need more than you think).
  5. Bake at about 375°F for 5-10 minutes or until the matzos are browning and the cheese is melted.  Everything is already cooked, you just need to get everything warm.  (I'm cooking in a convection oven, so my timings could be slightly different than yours.)
And voila!  Deliciousness.  This is one the kids are sure to enjoy.  I'd recommend serving it with a Romaine, strawberries, and feta salad and a side of quinoa (mixed with spinach wilts, cranberries, walnuts, and feta - if you're not a vegetarian, some baked chicken is good in this too).

Enjoy!

Sickening Hope

There is something entirely sickening about feeling hope rising in me while reading about a series of murders, but that is what's happening right now: A series of murders, targeting the leaders of North Korea. And even in typing that sentence, I feel hope rising in me.  I feel the desire to get on the phone and call my family, saying, "See, aren't you glad I took you to the DMZ?  There isn't much longer to be able to say you saw it when they weren't letting people in!"  But then, I remember that nothing is set in stone, and an ousting of this regime can also mean the entrance of one even worse.  If you don't believe me, do a little research into modern Cuban history.

That being said, I want to keep you up to date with the situation.  The following is copied from The Korean's blog:
More indications that North Korean regime is falling apart at the seams:  since last year, there have been a series of murders targeting the North Korean equivalent of police chiefs. According to the Dong-A Ilbo article by Joo Seong-Ha, there have been five cases of murders or attempted murders of high-ranking security officers, who are most directly involved in conducting surveillance on and extorting people. In February 2011, a local security bureau chief was killed in Cheongjin by getting hit by stones at night. In June 2011, a brigadier general working at Kim Il-Sung Political University was axed to death in Yanggang-do. In November 2011, a local security bureau chief was severely injured in Yanggang-do after having been attacked with an ax. Around the same time, a local security bureau chief was axed to death in Pyongyang. Finally, in January of this year, a security bureau chief and his entire family was found murdered in their home in central Pyongyang. 
This series of murders are significant for two reasons. The more obvious first reason is that these are not simple cases of errant murders. Killing a security bureau official in North Korea is a crime that would damn the entire extended family to a gulag. The reports say that murders of low-level security bureau officers have so common that they are not even newsworthy in North Korea any more. 
The second reason for the significance of these murders is that two of these murders happened in the middle of Pyongyang, the capital that is not only supposed to be safe, but also supposed to hold only the most loyal to the regime. What is more, the last murder in Pyongyang occurred during the mourning period for Kim Jong-Il, where North Koreans were admonished not even to breathe too heavily. 
North Korean regime is slowly losing control, and the loss of control can only accelerate. 
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

 ***Don't forget to sign the petition to save refugees from North Korea!***

Lent: Saturday

Blessing #40 - G-d is dead.
THE MADMAN----Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!"---As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?---Thus they yelled and laughed 
The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him---you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. 
"How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us---for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto." 
Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars---and yet they have done it themselves. 
It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?" 
Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882, 1887) para. 125; Walter Kaufmann ed. (New York: Vintage, 1974), pp.181-82.]

This parable was included in my Philosophy for Philosophy II class, taught by Professor Brent McMillan, one of the two classes I took for my philosophy minor that was not taught by Dr. Nathan Kerr.  In an unexpected turn of events, it has fundamentally shaped the way that I look at Christianity so much of the time.

I think everyone in America has probably heard the horrible misquote and summarization of this parable: "G-d is dead" (which isn't even the actual quote printed) as printed by TIME Magazine in 1966.  But I wonder how many people have taken the time to understand the parable from which it came, rather than angrily dismissing it as an attack on religion (which TIME, undoubtedly meant it as).

But I think that the story is mishandled entirely.  You see, the most important quote from it is not the infamous, "G-d is dead."  No, the most important part lies buried deep into the parable, something you cannot find if you're busy steaming over what appears to be an attack on Christianity (mind you, it is an attack, but not on what you think): "This tremendous event is still on its way..."

Nietzsche is not attacking G-d.  Nietzsche is saying that
WE are attacking G-d.
                In the way that we live.
                In the way that we speak.
                In the way we look at each other.
                In the way that we even think.
We are killing G-d, removing him from our society, making Him unbelievable to a society that doesn't want to believe in ultimate consequences and retaliations.  WE are still nailing Him to the cross, two thousand years later.

It's Saturday.

Christ has died.

And it's funny - just like this day every year, I feel dead, too.  I don't know if that happens to anyone else, or if it's just because I'm always so involved in Holy Week services, or if it's something so much bigger than me, but I feel dead.

The question now, is how will I live when Christ rises again tomorrow?  Will I allow him to rise again in me?  Will I finally turn from nailing Him to the cross?  Or will I only pause long enough to smell the lily next to it and continue pounding away?

How about you?  What will you do?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lent: She

***Don't forget to sign the petition to save refugees from North Korea!***

Blessing #39 - Momma
Let me tell you something: This woman is awesome.  I mean, let's face it, she was able to survive raising me.  I'm well aware that that is nothing to sneeze at.  Case in point:

My brother and I went from this:
to this:
Yes, I was planking before most plankers were born.  Stop thinking you're cool. :P
to this:

to this:

Which was probably caused by growing up seeing Momma do this:

And, you know what?  I appreciate that.

So, happy first 49th birthday, Momma!  I love you, and I'm so grateful you instilled a sense of adventure and a certain disregard for the rules into me.  Go find something fun to choose not to climb today.  (I know that's your preference now.) 

:)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lent: The 6 Girls

***Don't forget to sign the petition to save refugees from North Korea!***

Blessing #38 - Youth on a Mission (YOAM)
I know this one is long.  Bear with me - there's a lot of pictures, so it's not really as long as you think.

Do you remember Hurricanes Katrina and Rita?  I know, I know - "That was seven years ago, Anne.  How am I supposed to remember that?"  We are trained to have incredibly short term memories.  But, let me tell you, this is one time that I step out of that mould.

As soon as minors were allowed into New Orleans (roughly ten months after the levies broke), I traveled to the area with a team of young people and adults, sponsored by Glen Mar United Methodist Church.  What I saw there was paralyzing, to the point that it still haunts my nightmares.  I only needed the tour once.  The details have been etched in my mind such that even years later, I can still give an accurate guided tour, as I will do for you now.


On our tour of the Ninth Ward, we started in the areas that had brick houses, so the damage was minimal.  My camera got left on a plane, but I'd like to share with you some of G. Winter's photos from that day:
The crosshairs denote (starting on the far left) the team the checked the house, the date it was checked, the number of people missing from the house, and the number of bodies found in the house.




From the brick houses, we moved on to the pre-fabs, and the difference was horrific.  My words aren't going to be able to convey what I mean.  Just look at the pictures.

The houses floated across a nearby creek, landing on cars, trees, and even other houses.

But the worst, the absolute worst, was what was waiting for us at the levies.

We got to the levies, and there was nothing - only foundations.  The rest had been swept away.


So why am I showing you all this?  Because I want you to understand.  You can't understand why I'm thankful without first understanding what happened in New Orleans.

After our tour, I couldn't continue my repair work.  It seemed pointless.  There was so much to be done.  What difference would one dry-walled house make?  I sat down in the bathtub and cried.  I cried until Hannah and Katie came to find me.  And we began to plan.  Soon, we widened the circle to include Caroline, Jessica, and Brittany, and, together, we began planning the first even Youth on a Mission trip to return to New Orleans in the Spring of 2007.

The entire, YOUTH-LED group

The destruction was still horrific,

and devastating,

But we moved through it, knowing that we were making a legitimate difference, and were not just one-timers.  We knew we were in it for the long haul.
Just after the New Year of 2011, YOAM launched it's first ever collegiate trip, while continuing the high-school-run trips (yes, the leadership is comprised of high-schoolers) over Spring Break.  I got the privilege of making a return trip with that group.  (We didn't bother getting a guide for our Ninth Ward tour.  There were enough of us with it fully engrained in us that all we had to do was distribute Walkie-Talkies.  This kind of thing doesn't leave you.)

The collegiate group
My crew
So why today?  Why am I so thankful for YOAM today?  Because they just had their first day of work on the EIGHTH YOAM TRIP since its founding.  Eight.  I never dreamed that this would become what it has, but here we are.  There's still work to be done, and so YOAM still packs up and heads down to New Orleans, now twice a year.

Unfortunately, since the Red Cross and UMCOR have now both left New Orleans, funding has become a bit of an issue.  Each participant in a trip averages in around $650 in un-pre-paid expenses (certain donations handle a lot of other expenses).  If you are interested in helping to defray some of these costs, please let me know, and I will be happy to put you in contact with the right people.  All comments on my blog must be moderated before they are posted, so privacy can be maintained.

Either way, I hope you will join with me this week in prayer for my friends in New Orleans.


What have you done that the world said was impossible?