Thursday, May 25, 2006

I Do Exist

Hello my friends. I typed a fun update on my life but my blog ate it. I have no time to retype it in full but here's the basic version...

I've had a lovely time hanging out with my family the last couple weeks. We went to Cape May last weekend and enjoyed spending a few days wandering around a fun new area. My uncle has a beach house barely a block from the beach. However, it was closed because during this week hundreds of horseshoe crabs crawl up onto the beach to lay their eggs. Then, thousands of seabirds make a pit stop mid-migration to snack on the eggs. It is an event that attracts bird watchers from all over the world. Pretty cool.

Next week I'm off to FOCUS training. I'm mostly over the "completely daunted" stage (ask me again Monday) and just really excited about facing new challenges and meeting new people excited about their faith. Of course leaving behind my family, Larry, friends, and everything familiar will be hard though. I'm also excited about the classes I get to take--I know, I'm pathetic. Barely two weeks after ending a crazy semester and I'm already missing being challenged intellectually and have been diving into C. S. Lewis, Chesterton, and Flannery O'Conner to satiate my craving. :) For updates on FOCUS life see my new blog: http://MeetTheUnknownGod.blogspot.com . I'll still probably post here off and on too. That site will be for FOCUS specific stuff to update friends and donors [not that those groups need be mutually exclusive!] Pray for me!

I hope you all are enjoying a lovely summer thus far. Keep in touch!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The King Stands as They Sing

My thesis is officially done and handed in. I think the final page count was 68 or 69 (one citation may have run over onto the next page).

However, I think my brain ran away to file a lawsuit against me for abuse. Ergo, I managed to lock my keys in the car for the first time yesterday, 5 min. after handing in my thesis. Then, trying to explain what happened, three times I proclaimed that I locked my "car in my keys." Betcha didn't know I was THAT talented huh? Grrrr.

Now I'm off to write one more paper, prepare my thesis defense, get stuff ready for graduation, spend some quality time with God (my time with Him has kinda been on the clock lately--15 min...ok good-bye), and SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS. Since I effectively locked any of the possible work I could do in my car last night, Lars and I went for a drive. We saw a really big black bear cross the road in front of us and slowly ascend the rocks on the other side. Too cool. We also saw about 40 deer (and I'm NOT exaggerating AT ALL, Michele.)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thesising

At this school, we don't complete a thesis [noun]. We thesis [action verb]. It's long enough and drawn out enough to qualify a state of being, definitely a state of mind. Of course that state of mind borders on monomania but we won't talk about that. Clearly I'm not affected since I'm writing a blog about thesising when I could be doing much better things, like thesising.

Anyhow, mine is currently 39 pages long (the minimum is 40 pages) and a chapter too short. I'll be working on that this weekend before my Monday due date. The last chapter should be the easiest though because I don't have to read more feminist propaganda to complete it. :) Keep praying! I know it won't be the illuminative masterpiece of the age, but I would like it to be scholarly and logically sound as much as possible. Oh, lucidity would be good too.

My friends have been wonderful this week. I love living in a tight knit community with thoughtful Christian friends. They bring me flowers, treats, hugs, and good wishes often. Best of all they pray for me. With a support group like that it makes mountains into mole-hills. Mole-hill are big enough problems to deal with anyhow. Thank you to any of you reading this who have taken the time to stop your own very busy lives for a second, look me in the eyes, and sincerely ask how my day went and how I'm doing. It means so much. Generosity is sorely lacking in our society--especially generosity of time and interest. However, it can make someone's day a bit brighter and more hopeful. Thanks!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Press START to Begin Play. . .

Sunday, the school opened a new student center. It's lovely with a mail-room, game room, lounge area, cafe, and large multi-purpose area. It's called the John Paul II Student Center and it was dedicated today, on the anniversary of his death. They played a moving video on his life and death that had all the former Rome students more or less in tears. It made me want to return so badly.

On a more joyful note, the game room is a blast, despite the fact that I'm only a proficient at one of the games: air hockey. We used to own a full-sized air hockey table at home and it's the only arcade-ish game I've ever bothered to get good at. Apparently, practice pays off--ask the people I've played against. ;) Of course, they also say I'm violent; maybe they're too scared to play to their best ability. . . The other games however cause much more of a dilemma.

Fooseball for instance . . . I understand the basic concepts of soccer and my feet occasionally move with some measure of dexterity. However, fooseball makes soccer a hands-only sport and any competency I had in the game is instantly destroyed. My specialties lie in accidentally leaving a row of defenders suspended upside-down and getting jabbed in the stomach by the other player's violent pole thrusts, while my defenders are still waiting to be relieved of their head-rush as they watch the ball roll unmolested into my goal. Sound painful? It is.

Thus, I move to something less active, pool. It is the only sport in which I can take all the time I want and am completely unchallenged by the movements of others while I cautiously aim and fire; yet, I can still make a COMPLETE fool of myself. Charming.

The next game in the room is ping-pong. Unlike my multi-talented boyfriend with his special paddles in foam-padded cases, for me, this game is a desperate attempt to play fetch like a dog as little as possible. The goal for me is to limit the game to it's name, table tennis, NOT under-the-couch tennis, in-the-trashcan tennis, wayyyyy-under-the-table tennis, and certainly not David-hits-Dr. Goliath (replace with favorite prof.'s name)-in-the-face tennis. Daddy said all I have to do is keep my eye on the ball and hit softly. I have a funny idea there's more to it that he's not telling me.

The challenge that beats all the others, however, is not your typical arcade game. It's a game called, "Get your bum off the incredibly soft couches and go do your thesis." I stink at this game. No matter what I do, those couches are like a black hole on steroids--I get sucked into them and then stuck there like gum on the bottom of your favorite shoes. If I get into heaven some day it will be primarily due to the extreme amount of heroic effort it takes for me to win this final student center game.

GAME OVER . . . Wanna play again?

Friday, March 31, 2006

DR Trip

“Mi casa es su casa!” My house is your house. This generous phrase greeted me as I entered my host family’s home at the commencement of my second trip to the Dominican Republic. Though bumpy truck rides, long work days, unfamiliar food, fires, whips, sea urchins, and strawberry daiquiris on a pier make great stories, it has been my interaction with the Dominican people that has made my trips to the DR unique and memorable. The people are incredibly open, community oriented, and fun-loving to a fault—foreign attributes to workaholic, individualistic Americans.
The Dominicans have a wonderful sense of humor. I remember going up to a cave where Esteban used wads of gray, curling Spanish moss to transform himself into an old man with a mop of hair and full beard. Another time, we couldn’t help smiling as about ten Dominicans became laughing backseat drivers on a bus ride as they encouraged the driver to pass every slow vehicle on the road.
The Dominicans are also generous. The host families really do act as if I am part of the family, and the daughter, Marisol, managed to demand more piggy-back rides than my little sister at home does. The people give us what they can out of their poverty. On the worksite, a mother and her four children would laboriously tramp from some unseen dwelling several times a day to bring us strong coffee and more than sufficient amounts of yucca, rice, and beans. These people hardly have houses, and yet they want to give to us.
Finally, the Dominicans have a child-like enthusiasm unlike anything habitually seen in the US. This manifests itself in adults wandering around for hours blowing a horn because it’s fun; but it also is apparent in their joyful participation in the Mass. Five or six of them are louder than a whole American congregation. Immersing myself in a new culture is always an enlightening experience if I am willing to shed American prejudices. The Dominicans remind me to be relaxed, generous, and joyful—valuable additions to my American work-ethic, comparative wealth, and focused ambition.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Postcards from God

I've waited a while to post FOCUS news because I wanted to call close friends and tell them personally first. [On that note, if you are a close friend and are finding out this way, it doesn't mean I disowned you; it means I've been REALLY busy and haven't gotten a hold of you yet or had free time at a time when you too would be free to chat. Sorry!]

I received a call last Monday accepting me to FOCUS. After a lot of prayer the last few weeks, I said that I'd be happy to join their team. I am incredibly thrilled. I know that committing two years to mission work wherever they assign me will be a challenge, but it will also be a wonderful growing experience and a great joy. I am always happiest and holiest when I serve others. As I explained to a good friend recently, if I begin to get self-centered in my life, it's the fastest way for me to go skipping to hell.

Friends and family have been wonderfully supportive of my decision too (though I really think it's God's decision ultimately.) Maybe Nora hasn't realized yet what it really means for her big sister to go off gallivanting around the country for two years, but she seemed glad. My parents, as always, are 100% behind me. And Larry's been incredibly patient and understanding with his crazy girlfriend. Thank you so much to all of you who have prayed for me in the last month or two as I've sought discernment. [And thanks Addie for happening to be there when I got the call, so I had someone to hug and jump up and down with. ;) ] Do please continue to pray for me as I get ready to face this new challenge!

Monday, February 27, 2006

And the Verdict is . . .

I won't know for two weeks. But meanwhile, here's a quick update on the FOCUS interview weekend.

It was challenging but so awesome. The 17 applicants that joined me for the Eastern Region interview weekend were from every background imaginable. It was awesome to hear their stories throughout the weekend and their testimonies on Saturday night. The missionaries are amazing people too. They are full of energy and joy and all love what they do. I had three 20-25 min. interviews with questions about how I would react in certain situations, ways I viewed things in the faith/life/interpersonal interaction, how to bring the knowledge I have to someone who hasn't shared my background and training, etc. The missionaries are not afraid to just ask you things straight out. One day, a bunch of us were sitting around and one missionary asked, "So, what's everyone sacrificing for Lent?" Not your average chilling out conversation, but one that I learned from and one that challenged me to be open. We also spent time playing games, singing karoke, bowling, and having fun. In a funny way, that's all a huge part of evangelization too--just being able to hang out with people and be encouraging and a good sport and getting to know people better.

It's funny, I always considered myself a fairly open person, yet during this weekend, I realized so many things I was telling this group of strangers that my close friends didn't all know. For instance, only a couple friends have ever had me sit down and systematically tell them the testimony of how God's worked in my life. I've never really asked those questions of others either. I'm not saying that now I'm just going to go around blurting my testimony to everyone and following it up with, "So, what's your story?" But, this weekend has reminded me to ask real questions, to have real conversations, to participate in real fellowship, and to be unafraid to challenge and be challenged in my close friendships. It's easy sometimes to slip into the everyday mumbled greetings and cordial, "How are yous" without actually engaging the person themselves--without seeking to reach out to them, serve them with your concern and interest, and be willing to be vulnerable/open on your side and establish a real relationship/friendship with them.

Please continue to keep this all in your prayers. If they're going to offer me a job, they'll call in the next two weeks. Meanwhile, I'm praying hard to St. Paul--an amazing missionary himself--for guidance and discernment. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ora Pro Me

Dear Friends,

This Friday through Sunday, I'll be attending the FOCUS interview weekend. I'll have three interviews on Saturday plus a testimony presentation. Please pray that God will guide me & those interviewing me. If God wants me to do FOCUS, it could be an amazing opportunity to serve Him. But, I know that whatever His plans are, they are more beautiful and perfect than I can imagine now, so all I need to do is trust and try my best to leave doors open for Him to work. :)

God bless you all,
Kelly Jo