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Monday, April 26, 2010

65 days 4/26/10

I'm not one for countdowns. I never have been. The reason why is that times and dates aren't at the top of my priority list. My doubt of the existence of time is innate.

After dabbling in the profession of education, being a teacher has brought an extreme shift in this belief. I now own a watch that I wear. This timepiece tells me the date too! I am constantly nudged to belief of time.

At the beginning of the term our bell system was working accordingly.  Ingeniously, I set my second hand to exactly when the bells were scheduled to ring. This enabled me to know know exactly when the bells would sound. Needless to say, the kids were AMAZED, or mildly amused. Now, novelty has shifted to annoyance. This annoyance has bred from my ability to commence ordering them to line up when they are supposed to. The annoyance is much more evident when the bell is declaring the termination of recess.

Apart from this school anecdote, life in Doha has defined its normalcy.  My adjustment to a different culture takes time, I suppose for most people it does and even varies. It was definitely difficult adjusting to life here. Although I have grown to thoroughly enjoy my life here. The enjoyment is mostly found outside of the walls of the school. Save the kids and some staff, I find it hard to get motivated for the school day.

Physical Education is not the meaning of life, but I have had to learn how to make it educational while maintaining the fun aspect for the kids. This is much more challenging than I had previously believed. The allotted time they have outside the classroom is very precious to them. They are a tough crowd to keep entertained inside my class periods. It has been much harder with the older groups, the 5th and 6th graders.

This life in Doha (I am now almost in my 9th month here) has become very enjoyable mainly due to a church and new spiritual adventures. Doha Fellowship, the church, has provided me the opportunity to dust off a few areas of my life that were collecting dust in the attic for quite sometime. Being involved in a local church has been so important no matter how dysfunctional or problematic it may seem at times. I suppose it is a reflection of me anyhow. Fortunately, this church has been a great haven for so many here in Doha. I thank God daily for the space it creates for the ex-pat community here; for some of them at least.

I have been playing in the worship band (including drums!). Going to Tuesday night prayer meetings, my favorite days of the week now, and helping with the youth. This week I will be sharing "my story" with the youth and speaking to them. I look forward to see how God  kindles my soul to share with the unique group of youngsters.

I am not counting down. I am counting up. The simple act of counting numbers. Time. Days.  I get to head down under to see my sister, to Argentina to visit mi Buenos Aires querido, and then back to the states to see Family and friends. God is faithful. Time does not exist.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Universe, Hobos, Aliens, and the Universe: 4/17/10

"Now I see that the only question is, 'Is the universe friendly?'... I have begun to discover its physical meanings but the question that haunts me is, 'Is it friendly?'"
Albert Einstein nearing the end of his physical life.

My childhood memories are beautiful. Some carry hints of fright while most could be categorized as travel-adventure. Nostalgia flares up when I think of all the moving, different states, schools, houses, duplexes, apartments, secret forts, clubs, and neighborhood novelties and hangouts for those neighborhood denizens fifteen years and younger. But like most kids I had a lot of insecurities and fears in the world I was living in. Young me was DEATHLY afraid of the forest, its big trees, hobos on trains, and above all, extraterrestrials. Naturally, the fears were nocturnal, except for the hobos. My fears of the forest, trees, and hobos formed while living in Thermopolis,Wyoming and Missoula, Montana.

At our house on S. Easy St. my room had a huge sliding glass door. This particular door overlooked our backyard, the Clark Fork river. To my disdain the rivers view was heavily guarded by forestation. Across the river Mt. Jumbo towered out of the ground covered in more ominous forest. From the frontside of house, if you were standing there looking to the other side of the neighborhood, there were train tracks. The trains frequently passed, maybe a few times each day. The legend goes, every time an empty boxcar has an open door, there is a hobo on the move and close by. Every time I saw an open empty boxcar, my heart would either race or drop into my stomach. If the hobos were present, I just knew that they had jumped off to capture all of us kids from the neighborhood. If that wasn't enough to keep my imagination on edge, I had a vast wilderness for my mind to ponder during the night. For a good year I spent my days exploring the neighborhood. I always made sure to keep a low profile in order to avoid the hobos. It was imperative to not be seen, unless I wanted  to be captured. From time to time my mini explorations ended in sprints home, through the memorized secret routes of the area; trails, streets, and passes between the yards without fences. It seems I was always faster and more clever than the hobos.

Every day as I would watch the sun set down behind the mountain, my mind would ponder the bears, wolves, mountain lions, and curious deer that would be creeping up to my sliding glass door. Throughout the night, they were usually looking for dinner, or even worse, take a stare or glance at me, the mysterious human.

Fortunately, I was blessed with a tiny and secret cubby hole under the stairs that descended down right by my room. It was furnished with a bean bag. For hours, or so it seemed, I would sit in there and hide. Usually, I would stay until the creatures of the night satisfied their hunger. If the secret bunker could not ease my mind my sister's room was down the hall. To my dismay, Kate also had a huge sliding glass door.

Then came the day when I discovered that the world was much bigger than this great Western territory. From the train tracks to the river bank, there was a vast sky with stars, planets, and galaxies. Some others of the neighborhood called this place simply, Space. Others called it the Universe. Supposedly this place had no end. The worst news of all was that other beings existed and they did not come to earth to be friends. They were not human either. They were Aliens! This fear began with E.T. the supposedly friendly little extraterrestrial that just wanted to phone home . . . I had my doubts. This long necked, wrinkly, weird voiced, glowing heart, sickly, candy eating alien was out to get me.

Luckily most of these fears subsided around my mid-teens even though E.T. still tops the list on most evil and feared things in my life. But one that has not passed is the thought of the universe.

This fear is not rooted in what is out there, rather in what is not out there and the emptiness this instills in me. The sense of being nothing; nothingness itself. There are no boundaries. It goes on forever; its eternal. 
During certain moments I try to imagine the universe. I put myself in the picture and I am unable to see myself in the mental image. The ominous belief of death and the thereafter. I imagine my soul rising up, or down, and floating out into the vastness of an unending eternity.

But then comes God. There must be a creator.
The God who created Mt. Jumbo, the Hobo, the Alien, all things; the Universe. The God who formed the Clark Fork river. The God who carved the Bitteroot Valley. The God who created every hobo, every animal, every imagination in every young child and human. The God who created me. The God of the universe. The God that gives a place in this universe to all creation. 

Everywhere I go, everything thing I see, touch, smell and hear. God is there. God is here.
Now I ask, is this inclusivity good?