Saturday, September 6, 2008

Observational Update

I haven't written in a while. I haven't felt completely inspired to write, but I feel I should at least update you guys on what's going on (since that's why I started this in the first place). So the last time I updated on here, I was still in Brazil, only days away from leaving. I wasn't very happy with certain people I was on mission with either at the time. Since then, that issue has been resolved and everything is fine again.

I also had written about a project that I really cared about falling through. Sadly, it did fall through completely. I was very down about it but was given a second opportunity for a video. The school on the YWAM base has no teachers. Those who have taken on the responsibilities of teaching are full-time missionaries and parents (which means they really don't have the time to be doing this). It's so much more work for them than they really should be taking on and it's hard to handle sometimes as 1 woman is teaching 4 different grade levels everyday! That would get pretty stressful. Well, I was asked to do a promotional video for them (3 days before we left - due in 2 days) with interviews and footage showing the children and school and asking for teachers to please come and commit some time to teaching at the school in Brazil.

I hope to have this video up on my filmmaker's myspace soon. It turned out really well and was a great encouragement to me. I really am happy with how it turned out and what it will hopefully accomplish for this base. There was a lot of complaining, including and especially by myself, that we did nothing but stay on the base. I had a very hard time understanding why we were there. I wanted to go into town and play with the street kids and help those suffering in slavery by documenting it and getting a non-profit from the US or UK involved in helping free them. None of that happened though. We didn't leave the base. We didn't go anywhere. We stayed on the base.

But does that mean I didn't do anything or do anything worthwhile while I was there? In the moment, and I know a lot of those who were there with me will agree, that it felt like we weren't doing anything. It felt like a wasted trip. Looking back though, was it really? Why does an outreach have to always be about saving this many people and preaching to this many people and all that? Why are our minds so hung up on this? I don't even like street evangelism and didn't want to do it (that's just not how I am. I feel convicted about it, for me - not saying it's wrong, I just can't do it). So why so hung up? I guess I built up to many expectations for what outreach would be like and when it wasn't the way my mind thought it would be, I was disappointed.

But what about servanthood? What about serving those who need it, including Christians? Why do we assume that since we're on a missionary base, that by being there, we're not helping? Why'd I do that? Why'd I think that? Looking back, I can see now how we were there for those people, for the other missionaries who live in Brazil. Not just with the promotional videos we made for the base to help the base, but even working in the kitchen when they needed us to, playing volleyball and hanging out with them, playing with their kids (cutest kids). Why aren't those helping? Why isn't encouragement considered serving?

I look back now and, while I would still probably change aspects of the outreach, I can't actually say it was a waste. If even one of the videos we did helps that base, then isn't that fully worth it? If one child there was very happy that we came and found so much joy in playing with us, if the burden in the kitchen was lessened because of us working in there, well isn't that what it's all about? Did we do good there after all?

Yeah, just not how we thought.

Now, I'm on my second week back in Hawaii (comin' home to Pittsburgh on Monday) and have been working pretty much since I got back. I am now staff here for The Redemption Project, which was started partially by a friend of mine from back in Pittsburgh, who was out here working with YWAM (and helped convince me to come to YWAM). So, being staff now (which is unpaid - missionaries don't get paid), I've had a lot of work to do.

Right now, a lot of different seminars and conferences are taking place in YWAM Kona. The leader I work under in the Redemption Project, Luke, was Kona's coordinator for the Government Strategy Conference here. Since I'm the only other Redemption Project staff here, I have been helping him with preparing for those who would be attending. I slaved over my computer making a booket with the information for the weekend, Networking Platform, and stories from speakers experiences. It turned out very nice though.

On Monday night, I fly out of Kona and arrive in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. So that is a slight update for what I've been doing lately. Hope to see most of you during my visit to Pittsburgh!

If you want good music - listen to Rocky Votolato. It'll change your life (acoustic folk. Amazing)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Audacity Of People

It amazes me how absolute selfish we can be as a race. Humans are so blind to the fact that they don't have a clue. Especially over privileged rich boys who piss and moan when they don't get their way.

Don't get me wrong, I have my own problems and piss and moan about plenty. I mean, hell, I have a blog! Read my posts, I do it often. I hope though, that I am not so careless and so ignorant to a situation that I created, which due to circumstances have emotionally hurt another person, that I completely ignore everything around me and go about my business like things are nice and jolly. No, I'm hoping I'm not that heartless and inconsiderate of others.

Maybe being on this mission trip has actually been more helpful than I thought. I know that one of the things I've often found myself thinking is - "well, now I know how not to act." I guess that's something good to learn, right? Really though, it truly boggles my mind how people can be so careless and be so focused on themselves that they see the wrongs they have done and simply something along the lines of,

"Woops, my bad! Now get over it, thanks!"

In classic fashion, what is one to do? That's what I was asked when I maybe slipped in my temper expressing his need to shut up about the situation, upon which he asked me, "what was I to do? I said sorry!"

Sometimes, especially when you make someone cry and then are completely rude to them after the fact just so you can watch your damn movie, SOMETIMES sorry just doesn't cut it! Sometimes, action is in order. Talk to the person, express that you didn't know what you were doing was a bad thing (as the actual act that I am writing about was a bit of a misunderstanding and even I was surprised at the outcome) but the response of the person responsible just shows the nature of man. This terrible nature that infuriates me so much, only begs another question I constantly find myself asking, is there anyone left I can trust? Is there anyone left who isn't completely self-absorbed? Someone that can care for someone else more than they care about watching a bad online copy of Tropic Thunder?

I hope so but that hope seems to fade more than it grows. It only seems that "I" matter to myself and no one else matters but me anymore. I can't even count the number of things I've done to try and be kind and generous to people who act this way, including who this blog is about, only to be met with more ridicule and a feeling of being used. Yet, I keep persisting to help them and honestly, probably would help this very person tomorrow if they needed it. Why do I do that? Am I just weak or do I actually believe that there actually can be some amount of good in every person, and it's just a matter of time before they realize their own potential?

I wonder what Jesus felt like when he was around Judas Iscariot. I don't think there is a verse in the Bible that says anything along the lines of Jesus being wary and cautious of Judas. He invited him and chose him to be among his 12, his group that he was closest with, even though he knew that Judas was going to betray him and sell him into the hands of his killers. What would we do if we were put in that situation? How would you respond if you were given knowledge of the future and could know the person who would later betray you in such a way, even a way that would lead to your death? What would you do?

I would avoid them at all costs most likely. I wouldn't want to deal with the pain that person's betrayal would put me through. I would rather just not know them, regardless of the insights they may have been able to give me during our time. I really don't think I would be able to handle being around that person if we were in contact. If they were apart of the group that I even hung out with, brought in from a friend, I'd be cautious around them and not let them get close to me - but that's not at all what Jesus did and he knew that this person would be key in leading him to his death.

And he loved him. I think that's what gets me the most. If you look into what I believe of love, a central point of that belief is that love is an action and I think that Jesus was a man more full of love than anyone else. He loved him. He knew all his dark secrets and knew his future and what would happen but it didn't matter because in the moment, Jesus loved him would of done anything for him.

As an act of servitude (something I've only done with a few people close to me who were on the 2nd Hot Metal Bridge mission trip to Mississippi) Jesus even washed his feet. He didn't say to him, "well, you're not the best of friends and I'd really rather not" or anything like that. He humbled himself and washed his betrayers feet. Would I be willing to wash this person's feet? How about any of the other people in my past who have hurt me?

What about the people I've hurt? How many times have I been a Judas? Maybe not necessarily to the extent of some but what about other ways that I've been a Judas? Will anyone accept me? Love me? Wash my feet?

Well...maybe after my time in Brazil wouldn't be the best time to wash my feet as I've worn sandles the whole time and my feet, though washed, still resemble the dirt on the roads we walk.

That's a bit off point though. I guess when it comes to my betrayers, I need to realize that I'm no better than them as every person, in their own way, has a little bit of Judas in them. That doesn't mean that we should stand by and let a rude remark, a complete disregard for another human being or even the exteme Judas' injustices go on unanswered. The Judas here won't respond to the confrontations of anyone, including our leader, as anything less than us blowing up a situation that's simple and everyone should get over it (since he doesn't care and doesn't want to feel bad, then we shouldn't care and he shouldn't have to feel bad. Right?) Not all of us are very good with confrontation though, and that's when we can still do something for those who have been hurt and showing them that we care.

I hope that anyone that I have hurt that is reading this will know that any harm done was unintentional. I know the pain that others can inflict and wouldn't wish that on another person. To those who are hurting, I hope that someone will come to your side, no matter how much pain you've been put in.

And I hope we will realize that all human beings were created equal and maybe, just maybe, that means that there's good somewhere inside us all. In some, it may just be deeper than others. I think I've said all I need to say. Thank you for reading.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Insomnia (And How Much It Sucks!)

The title's are similar cause I'm going to pick up on some things I discussed in the last one. First though, we should all be able to respect how awesome New Found Glory is and how excited I am that tickets to the show next month (while I'm home) are only $16. Someone should buy them for me. It would make me SO happy cause then I could see the perfect pop-punk/hardcore show of the year. You don't have to though, just thought I would throw that out there. Anyways...

Things are still rough. Sadly, as I was talking about before, my project that was having trouble is now defunct and dead. It was canceled due to some interview problems. Apparently, no one actually felt like answering my questions but decided to just talk about whatever they wanted, therefore giving me 3 different interviews about 3 different things. Needless to say, I couldn't really make a story out that and had to sadly pull the plug on the project. There is a glimmer of hope left in the good interview I did get though, so we'll see what happens with that. With that gone though, I'm now out of a project and don't really have to much to do. The days are long and I'm a bit burnt out from the daily routine and the lack of sleep.

Sleep. What a concept. They say that when you sleep, your bodies at rest. I wouldn't know what sleep felt like if I tried my best. I swear, I lay in bed every night and it takes me longer and longer to fall asleep. I checked the other night. I had laid in bed for over 4 hours trying to fall asleep and still I stayed awake. I am reading through the old testament right now (deuteronomy) and even THAT isn't helping me sleep. It's so repetitive and gets boring when you read the same thing over and over and yet, not sleepy. It's terrible. I can't wait to get back to Hawaii where I'll be on a normal sleeping schedule. If only I could get a Dr. Pepper and some Captain Morgan...hmm...

Granted, today it was suggested that I make use of my insomnia. Apparently, University of Pittsburgh pays big bucks to study people with sleeping disorders. I am desperate for an HVX (or at least am saving up for an HD camera) and could use some big bucks. If I can make money off my insomnia, then it's a win win! So, I think I might sell myself to the University for scientific testing (that sounds so cool and creepy when you put it that way. It's how superheroes are made!)

Until then though, I'll have to suffer through it and deal. It's really a pain though. I just want to sleep and wake up and not be in pain or tired. Can't I just have a good nights sleep? Please? Is it really so much to ask?

Pain is the other part of this that is an irritant. I wake up every morning with an intense amount of pain in my lower back. It's not anything new and I would imagine by now that I would be used to it. I'm not though and it's irritating me. I'm really not sure what to do. It's hard to get tea in the mornings here too. Pretty much, I'm just a crank who shouldn't be bother for the first 4 hours he's awake. Yeah, that makes sense. Take off an hour if I get a back massage. Take off another hour if I get a BIG cup of tea. If it's a small cup...then only take off 30 minutes.

I'm really running off the point here. I'm not sure I had much of a point. Everyone is starting to wind down since it's our last week. Sleep deprivation and morning back pain is taking a toll on me and I'm kind of tired of taking cold showers (sooo cold).

I think I'm coming to terms with not having a project to share with everyone. I mean, I can't expect everyone to be so needy. I don't really understand why I was like that but I'm starting to come to terms with it and realize that maybe, just maybe, people are glad that I am here doing what I can. I might not have an amazing story like some other missionaries, but at least I was here to serve, right?

I think I've been distracted by to much to keep going with this. I lost what I was writing so this will serve as an update. See you in about a week, Hawaii!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Stress (With A Happy Ending)

I won't lie, things have been getting heavy on me lately. We only have 2 more weeks left in the Amazon and I am still not even close to being finished with the project I'm working on. My stress is at a peaking level and I am wondering when I'm going to totally break down and start telling people that life would be better if I were an ant or something while I roll on the floor laughing and crying simultaneously. I'm waiting for the moment when somebody spills a drink and a trigger in my brain goes off that causes me to simply explode in a panic and heavy crying for no real reason other than because I'm so weighed down right now that I couldn't handle it anymore and my brain just went haywire.

More than likely, I'm totally exaggerating here, but I feel heavy. I feel like there is something on top of me and I know I'm the one causing it because I have a poor mentality. I've been working on this project for a while and haven't been able to make much progress for this reason or that. Whatever the reason though, I still blame myself and look at the impossible task of editing this and having it totally done in the next 2 weeks. Could it get done? Yes. Do I imagine it being easy? Not in any way, shape, or form. Will it require numerous sleepless nights and me screaming at walls for no reason, knowing they won't respond back? Probably. Am I going a little nutty? You better believe it!

Although, if I'm able to realize the bit of crazy that has attached itself to me (not that I was ever very normal), am I really that crazy after all? I think my stress is exhausting me and placing me into a state of delirium (which is when I write my best, interestingly enough). It probably doesn't help that I am on a lack of sleep right now too. I barely got any sleep last night. I'll take that into account with the crazy talk above.

For those of you reading this thinking, "well then stop putting such heaviness on yourself and weighing yourself down with this project," it's really not that simple. There is so much more going on here than just me wanting to get this project done, at least inside my own mentality of what this all means down here. See, for me, I can't see my being down here, with all the support that I've been given (thank you all again, I love you and am so grateful for your help) that I simply can't see anything else as acceptable for this outreach.

Basically, my mindset is that I either get this project done or my coming here was a waste of time and money. Is that true? Probably not, but for me, I view it as the utmost important thing. I don't really know why I can't see the good in my just coming down here. Why isn't it enough that I'm simply here to serve the people around me when they need me? Why do I have to have some big elaborate project done and ready to go so that I can show everyone what they helped accomplish? Do I want praise for it? Maybe a bit but I hope that's not it. I think I'm deciding what other peoples expectations are for me. I've made a decision that those who have helped me get here are expecting me to come back with some amazing stories and show them everything we've been doing and it has to be awesome or they won't accept it. It's not enough that I'm simply here to be here and serve.

Or is it? Is it enough that I'm simply just here?

I'm really not looking for praise with this project or anything, I'm looking to help. I want to help. This project means a lot to me and I want it to be something that can bring more help here in the future. It's something that broke my heart when I heard about it. That is all true, but I still have those expectations that I have decided others are expecting for me to present to them.

I still think to myself that, well if I don't have something this great to show, no one is going to be happy they helped me come here because I won't really have anything to show them. I won't have anything to connect them to what has happened, connect them to being down here. I won't have a way to indirectly make them a part of this outreach. They're going to wonder why they bothered even helping me and think it was more of a travel experience and vacation than anything. I am worried that I'll come home and not have this great project or video or story to tell and so everyone will be disappointed and I don't want that to happen.

I know I'm probably only getting myself worked up over something that more than likely won't happen. There are times though when you can't help it and this is one of those times for me. I can't help but think that my time here will be viewed as a waste if I don't have something really awesome for people to grab on to. It could be that such a mentality is there to push me and get things down. I don't know. There's more that goes into this as well besides just what I shared, but everything I wrote has probably the most to do with the stress I'm feeling right now.

This is how things are going right now for me though. Other than this, I mean, I'm good. It's rough but I'm doing what I can to stay positive. It's been raining the past few days. Heavy downpours, supposedly from how hot it's been here lately. We're in the dry season down here so it's clear skies, humidity and an ever growing heat. The rain brought out some animals that I didn't want to see though (snakes) and that has been a bit unpleasant. I only saw two (one big one and then a smaller dead one). I am not a fan of snakes so I wasn't really very happy when I saw them. An 8 1/2 foot Boa was found yesterday on the road to my cabin. Thank God I didn't see it.

I want to give you guys a positive update though, or at least leave you with something good. You went through my rant and my fear of snakes so I will talk about other things that happened this weekend. On Saturday, a large group of us went into the city to experience it some more. We didn't have anything to do there, we just went because we could. So we walked to the bus stop (2 - 3 miles away) and took a bus into the city. We walked around for a while trying to find a place to eat; I was starving. After about an hour of walking, we're finally taken to a small festival/park area where there are dozens of small food vendors lining the park and the street. One of the places had probably one of the best burgers I've ever had. I was so happy. A burger patty with a ton of sausage and bacon on top; it was huge!

For some reason though, this past week I have found myself with a huge craving for chocolate covered bananas. It was really very random but I really wanted them; I still do. After walking around the area a bit, we found a place that had Crepes on a stick. Interesting, I thought and sure enough, they had Banana and Chocolate filled Crepes. It was probably one of the best things I've eaten since getting down here. Not that the food here is bad, but it was really really good. I wish I know how to make them. Talked with some locals on the bus, including a guy who spoke pretty good english. We discussed a Mexican director who's work I love (Guillermo Del Toro - Pan's Labyrinth, Devil's Backbone, Hellboy, etc) and he asked about New York City, as he's going there in a few years. It was nice. It was nice to just get outside of the base and out of the jungle and hang out.


Sunday, August 3, 2008


I saw monkeys the other day. Finally. It was very cool. They were jumping through the trees. A whole family of them. So let's see, since getting to Brazil I've seen: Tarantula, Iguana, Strange Birds, and now Monkeys. All that's left that I want to see are Alligators and Jaguars and I've seen the animals I wanted to see. Hopefully when we go into the jungle to explore on our day off, we'll see some more stuff.

I'll hopefully be able to post some newer pictures soon. This is all I really have for an update thus far though. We're going into town to do some stuff that I may write about later. There are things that have been happening, I just don't really have the time to write about it right now.

So enjoy my shortest post ever!

Thursday, July 31, 2008


So it's 1:40am and I think my insomnia is returning. I'm not really that tired...maybe a little bit, but I'm going to write anyways because I can. Cool. Glad we got that out of the way.

First things first...Brazil update - I've just been doing some work, getting prepared for some stuff that we have coming up. I'm supposed to be going into town tomorrow, which will be really good. I'll be talking with some locals and getting stories from them. If you want to know more about it, get in touch with me through the internet or just talk to me when I see you next. Something really cool that happened the other day though - I saw some monkeys. That was cool. They were jumping through the trees, a whole bunch of them. Very cool.

Now on to the essay...

So, I think it's interesting talking to people about a fear of the future and regret. I remember when these things used to consume me. They were, often times, the only things I could think about - regretting what I've done in my past, worrying about how it would affect my future, wondering if I would ever get a good job, a good wife, do something I was really proud of, whether I would become someone who simply forgot about their dreams and died on the inside or if I would seek out my dreams with everything I could...but in this, would I jeopardize anyone by putting anything on them (like school fees getting dumped on my parents cause I wanted to tour???) and the list could really go on. I don't know that I could honestly pinpoint the exact moment when this wasn't the only thing clogging my brain, but over time, I started to see things in a new light.

There were always two choices. Most people still think their are only two choices. You have the correct choice, the one that we are supposed to choose; the path that we are meant to be walking down. On the other side of this we have the wrong choice, the one we chose out of selfishness and ignorance, the path that we weren't meant to go down, people who voted for Bush, and all that sort of stuff (Okay - before you call the lynch mob to come tar & feather me, I was just kidding. It's a joke...if you know me, I could care less about your political affiliation, so just accept it as a joke and move on. Thanks) so we have two choices. Right? What if I proposed there were more? What if we could have more choices to choose from and whichever choice we made couldn't be wrong?

My faith is important to me. Right off the bat, that's just how it is and that's who I am. I've had a strong belief in God for a long time and really strive to follow him in all that I do. Do I fail? Absolutely. Have I hurt people along the way? More than I'd like to say (if you are reading this and you are one of them, please know that I really am very sorry for whatever I did. If I can make it up to you, let me know. I would hate for there to be any bitterness between us because I'm an idiot. Please forgive me.) Regardless of all that though, I am thankful for the love God has shown me and the patience (oh, how patient God is. Thank ... well... God for his patience) that he continues to show me as I continue to distort and take apart all that he has made.

Following the words of Paul the Apostle in the book of Romans (I believe), I want to do good but do just the opposite. And for me, I'm pretty good and doing the opposite. It still comes down to my faith though and the grace that I've been shown. I'm no different than any person, alive or dead - no better and no worse. ALL are created equal, and I believe that. So - with all that being said, I really have a strong belief in God. My faith is incredibly important to me. Forgive me please for sometimes distorting the truth of God.

So what does any of that have to do with the choices I was talking about before? Well, in order to understand what I believe about the choices, you need to understand my faith and the only way for me to do that was to just put it out there and tell you. Now when I'm talking about this, I'm talking about non-destructive decisions. Decisions that, to us, seem like a right and a wrong thing, but to others, each choice seems like a good idea. Our futures are the best example to go off of. Which University? What should I do for a job? Should I go to YWAM or work for Invisible Children (this was mine...)?

I really hope I'm making sense. Delirium could be setting in and I could just be rambling. I hope not. Here goes...

So now that you understand that my beliefs are important to me, I think I can explain my belief in the choices. So how can you make a choice about what you doing and it not be wrong? I think that when you are seeking God with all your heart, whatever decision you make will ultimately be right. Here's what I'm getting at...

So, you are seeking God with all your heart and you come to an area in your life where you need to figure out what to do next. We can spend too much time debating what this will look like, but the ultimate understanding in all of this is that you love God and are truly seeking to follow his will. So, in front of you, God puts 4 paths that you can choose from and tells you to pick your path and that none of those choices will be the wrong path. If you are like me though, you would probably sit there and think of every scenario in every way possible so that you can come up with the best solution, the right choice (even though it's already been established that there is no wrong choice.) This is where logic comes in and we assume that we could never do this or that choice because we don't have that much money to do this or we don't have enough experience to ever achieve that. We bog ourselves down by letting our (poor) logic take place and decide what we can and can't do.

For me, I had some different options after graduating from the Art Institute. The two biggest ones that stuck at 1 and 2 till I finally made my choice were to go to YWAM or to work full time for Invisible Children and be a roadie/office assistant/whatever they told me to do. So there are my two choices. I really was prepared for both, but actually starting leaning more towards Invisible Children and getting everything together I needed to send them so that I might be accepted as an Intern/Roadie. I changed my mind in this process however and chose to go to YWAM instead. YWAM seemed like a choice I might not ever get the chance to do again, while with Invisible Children, I could still help them from where I was. I didn't have to stop volunteering just cause I wasn't going to San Diego. I could keep promoting them, doing rallies and events and screenings for them, and not really stop anything I was doing already in Pittsburgh.

So I chose YWAM and went to Hawaii for my training school and now I'm in Brazil doing work. Pretty freakin' sweet, yeah? God has definitely blessed me with my decision - but I think God would have honored and blessed a decision to go to San Diego and work for IC just as much. I don't think either one was the right or wrong decision. I was seeking after God, wanting to get closer to him and help people also. Both of these gave me that chance, but I think because I was seeking after him, that either way, I didn't make the wrong choice. Things would be different, most definitely. The blessings would be different, circumstances, tribulations...a lot would be different, but I think God would still have blessed me.

So now we come back to the 4 paths. We are fully seeking after God and we have a few different options to chose from. So which do we chose? God said none of them were the wrong way to go because all are things we want to do and paths of things we can enjoy. So, we evaluate our options and choose the one we feel the best with. And no matter what, it's the right decision because it all comes back to our hearts. We are seeking God and striving to get closer to him, no matter which choice we make. If we are following, he will lead - so how can we make a wrong choice here? If we are following after God, when we make our choice, he's going to see our hearts and motivations and he will honor us...because we are seeking him.

NOW - This is NOT meant to be taken literally. This is meant to make you think. I'm not saying there's no right or wrong, but I want you to take this for what it means to you. For me, thinking about this kind of thing helped me follow and pursue my dreams. This is something I think everyone should do. Too often we try to tell ourselves and even get told by others that our dreams can't happen, they're to unrealistic and I say that such talk is absurd. Listen to your heart and follow your dreams.

That's what this story, this analogy, means to me. It helped me to realize that God knows me and sees my heart. He knows that I'm seeking him and, though I make mistakes, still desire a closer relationship. I desired that before I chose YWAM as my current future, and I really believe he would have honored me just as much if I went to IC. I don't regret my decision (though sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to be at IC and hope to still do a tour with them one day...) It is also kind of along the lines of something that St. Augustine said.

"Ama Deum et fac quod vis"
which is Latin for
"Love God and do what you want."

Love God and do what you want? How does that work?

It does.

I think this statement is profound and beautiful and deep on so many different levels. It may be my favorite quote. St. Augustine does explain this a bit but I'm going to paraphrase it and how what it's meant to me. We aren't going by a western standard of love in this quote, but the actuality of love as it's described in the Bible. A love that is giving and thinking of the other instead of ourselves. Thinking of love as an action. So if we love God, then we're doing things for him, which means our decisions and morals are going to be influenced by our belief in God and what he says. By loving God, we're aligning our heart with his. So to do what we want is to do what he wants. To love God and what you want doesn't mean that we can say we love God but go and do everything our flesh desires, but that by loving God, the things we want are the things he wants! And that's how it fits in this story of the paths. That, regardless of the number of choices we get thrown our way, when we are seeking God, we want what he wants and he will honor us and lead us down the path that will be most suited for us. It's still our choice though (and now theological confusion ensues as we could start to circle the past 2 sentences for hours and hours).

Some of you might actually be sitting there reading this, wondering if what I was getting to finally was that God will lead us down the path he deems right for us, then why the other paths? Did I do all of this just so I could write a really big post and confuse all of you? Well...yes. I rather enjoy both of those. Haha. Truth is though, that we're never given one path in life. We will always have to make decisions and choices, and a lot of those are going to be decisions that, no matter what our choice is, it's a positive and helpful choice. In choosing a college or university, you may get accepted to 4 of the schools you most want to go to. Each school has amazing academics for you to get involved so none of them are a bad choice for you. But you have to choose one. That's why I place the 4 paths.

You have to realize that this story was meant for me. This story helped me look deeper into the heart of God. I analyze and think of weird things like this to try and get a deeper understanding of the grace that God has shown us all. I share this in hopes that you will do the same and not feel so bogged down by whatever decisions lie in front of you (this only applies to constructive decisions, NOT to destructive ones like doing drugs or not. Obviously the destructive decision isn't good. It's destructive. So I'm in no way condoning destructive behavior and saying God will honor that...) But yeah, I'm hoping this helps any who read it. Even if it helps one person, it was worth staying up till 2:30am and writing.

Thank you for reading. Blessings.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Finding God In The Eyes Of A Dog

Brazil is a unique and different place to be, especially having grown up in the states. There are the obvious differences, like how it’s 90 degrees but somehow the middle of winter (which is actually kind of cool – but to hot.) There’s also that whole, rain forest thing, that’s kind of cool too. And monkeys. I haven’t seen them but these people swear they’re here. You can usually hear them; just never see them. Why do the monkeys elude me!? I don’t like it. I want to see one. There are also the stars.

The stars here are incredible. You might be able to get this kind of sight in the boons of Kansas where the closest city is 100 miles from your shanty shack. I grew up in the country in Pennsylvania and even the sight of the sky there doesn’t compare. It was still somewhat polluted by the lights of the cities that were miles away. Even when you find seclusion from cities, it seems like you can’t get anywhere in America around where I live that’s far enough away from city lights to really experience the stars.

Last night, I thought I could hear the stars sing. It was really beautiful. Almost every night that I walk back to my cabin, I stare off into space and am just amazed at how it all looks. I simply began to sing the end of a song that I’ve been trying to write since Kona, a really beautiful song that I hope to record someday. But I just sang it and stared at the sky in awe.

Walking in the pitch black, with a light pole every 60+ feet or so that is dim anyways is intimidating but rewarding all at the same time. As I was walking to my cabin, I got to where I was about 20 feet from the door and in the distance; I saw a dog just sitting outside. I’ve seen this dog a number of times. It belongs to one of the staff living on the base. It recently had babies too. Very nice dog. It was just sitting there in the middle of the dirt road that runs around the base here. So I called it over. Without hesitation, this dog jumped to its feet and was at mine in seconds. It laid on it’s back and looked up at me saying, “rub my belly!” So I leaned down and began to pet the dog while I was still signing that song.

Then I made eye contact.

The dog and I just stared into each other’s eyes and the words; “hallelujah” quickly fell from my lips. Such a kind and beautiful dog. The moment made me smile and I really forgot about what else was going on with me, and just sat there, petting this dog and enjoying being lost in the moment.

Those moments are really wonderful, aren’t they? This little dog was able to bring a smile to my face by just wanting to be loved by me. Such a small thing, yet such a big thing at the same time. I don’t entirely know what was going through my head at the time. Maybe I was missing my dogs back home. Maybe it was nice to have something really want to be near me that much, or maybe it was something completely different.

Maybe, just maybe, that was God’s way of saying, “I’m happy with you.”

Of course, many can scoff and say that it was just a dog that wanted to be pet because it was lonely sitting outside and other’s can debate on how I can compare the acceptance of God with a dog that just wants to be pet, but you weren’t there. You didn’t experience what I experienced. It was something so small, and something so big all at the same time. Honestly, if I was on the reading end of this, I would probably be scoffing at it to, but I don’t think I had smiled like that, with real emotion in that smile, in a very long time. Not without help from a joke or funny movie or something. I was very content in this moment though. It was a comforting moment. Such a sweet dog.

Is this the kind of stuff we really live for? Is this the kind of event that God rejoices over? The small things that, to most, go overlooked and abandoned in thought and memory, but to some, have such depth and meaning that they’ve been looking for? I think that happened just at the right time for me. I was looking for it, praying for it, hoping for something like that to happen. When you go through a course that teaches on getting closer to God and yet still feel like God is somewhere off in the distance, moments like this are needed. Moments like that are the ones that say, “Look around, I’ve been here the whole time.”

That doesn’t mean that I won’t find myself wondering where God is again at some point. More than likely, I will. It won’t stop me from obeying and following though because truth is; I know that I’m just selfish and that God is there with me anyways. Sometimes, you just need a small reminder.

I really hope that I can take this moment for what it’s shown me though. Hopefully some of you can take it for what it was too. There are so many big things in life that are intimidating and frightening when you look at the big picture of it all. The future (which I’ve been worried about) and what will happen to us. Where we’ll go after this and what will happen a few years down the road. Will I have a job that I like and can pay off my school fees? Will I still stand up for the things I believe in? Will I find someone to love me for who I am? Will I still have my friends or will we have all moved on and lost touch? Does anyone else worry about these things or am I alone? Will I achieve my dreams?

There’s so much to worry about. I know because I do it all the time. I worry about the things above constantly, which I hate because at the same time, I could care less about some of these things. Why am I worried about my future? Is it because someday I want to have a family? Is it because my school loans are going to have to start being paid off while I’m still doing missionary work? Probably…that last one is scary to think about. My lack of funds is not helping me to feel very secure in a situation where I’m going to have to start paying off a few tens of thousands of dollars. I would love to keep doing what I am doing though. I have so much I still want to do after this. I don’t really want to just settle down and get a job. I want to go on tour again, this time, a long tour. Not some 2-week ordeal that starts and then is almost immediately over. I want to be on the road for a long time, living off of whatever we have and whatever kindness we find in people along the way. I also want to use touring as a platform to launch some ideas that I have. I want to serve the non-profits I believe in more, especially Invisible Children.

I guess it finally just comes to something rather simple. I want to fulfill and accomplish my dreams. I want to tell my kids and grandkids to chase their dreams someday, but not out of ignorance that most of us have been given through out the years. An ignorance that tells us to do it but has already concluded that we won’t succeed because we are so bogged down in this society by what we deem success and our dreams are usually what some would say are unrealistic. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be real. I want to tell them to chase their dreams and support them because my parents and grandparents supported me as I did the same thing and fulfilled my own dreams. I want to live the example that I’m telling them to go after. I want to have stories about my triumphs and my failures, but I’m okay with it because I still tried. I don’t just want to sit back, settle into an unfulfilled life that simply follows routine and slowly fade away into a hidden slavery. I want to live.

So what does any of what I just said have to do with wanting to hear the stars sing and petting this dog? If you’re wondering that, then you haven’t been paying attention. It has everything to do with this, because it was in that moment that these worries that have been weighing me down were finally lifted from me. Even now, I’m not worried about them. Having those worries fade, even for just a mere second, was worth it to me. I felt free. I felt alive. When I looked into that dog’s eyes, I looked into my own. Laugh all you want at that statement, but I saw a creature that is simply looking for it’s place and looking for love at the same time. Am I any different by what I expressed above? No, not really.

It took me about 4 tries to get away from this dog so I could go to bed. If I got up and started to walk away, it would run in front of me and lay down at my feet. It was cute. While I could have gotten upset, I didn’t. I thought it was really wonderful how much this dog just wanted my company and attention, and each time it made me smile a little more.

I don’t want to live a life where I take such small things for granted anymore. I don’t know how often I have left things like this go and simply pass by, unnoticed. Probably more than I would like to know. I don’t want to do that anymore though. I want to find pleasure in the small things that, regardless of it mattering to anyone else, matters to me – and knowing that it matters to me is all that’s really important. While I wish to live a life of a servant, being there for those who need me, I need to make sure that I’m not forgetting about myself in the process. I still need to make sure I am living my life as well. I need to take the time to see the small things and find my humanity that I loose when I bury myself in work.

I looked back and saw that dog one last time before I went inside. I stared at it for a minute. I considered going back and just sitting with it all night. I eventually turned around and went inside though, knowing that I would have to be up in only a matter of hours. I couldn’t help but smile though. I couldn’t help but feel warmth and love. I couldn’t help but feel God was near.

And as I closed my eyes for the night, I could hear the stars sing.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Savior vs. Servant

It’s 9:07 AM as I write this, and I am so tired. I feel like I am not sleeping at all when I wake up in the mornings here. Maybe it’s the bed. Maybe I just don’t get rest on that bed. I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just a horrible morning person (I think we figured it out…) Either way, I’m near ready to pass out as I type this, but we have a meeting that was supposed to start 10 minutes ago, and since it hasn’t, I figure I will update you all. If our leader doesn’t get here in the next 10 minutes though, I’m taking out one of the floor mats and going back to bed.

So, it’s been a really weird time here in Brazil. So far I’ve seen 3 Tarantulas, 1 Iguana, and heard tons of monkeys but seen none. Bummer. It’s also been a time to read a lot and self reflect on some things. I feel like I am not doing anything worthwhile down here, but then again, I may simply be overlooking it.

*break for prayer*

So anyways, so Brazil has been very weird and I feel like we’re not really doing anything. A question comes out of that feeling though that makes me wonder what I’m overlooking. I mean, I gave up so much just to get here, there’s got to be more than I’m seeing right? By just being down here alone and being available to these people, am I not in a state of servanthood? Why do I feel that simply being here to serve isn’t enough? Do I have a savior mentality?

Oh man, I hope not. I should know better.

A savior mentality is the mindset that a lot of groups have when going elsewhere to help. They go to these places thinking, “I’m going to do this and that and help these people.” That’s not really the attitude to have though when getting into situations such as these because the situations are not about us. We’re going there for them which means we’re leaving ourselves behind and putting them first. They are why we came, therefore they are what’s important. The new mentality needs to be the servant mentality, which is, “What do you need?” and then acting upon those needs and helping them achieve the things they are trying to achieve.

Sometimes though, I don’t even feel like I’m being a servant. I feel like there’s more I could be doing. Maybe it’s arrogance or conceit. Maybe I feel like, “I can do this and I can do that, so why not do this and that?” and meanwhile they may just need me to do the dishes and play with the kids. I can do those things too. I have done those things, but it’s not enough. I can do more.

I think I really need to learn how to just be available to serve. Maybe that’s something that I’m supposed to learn while I’m here, is how to actually serve and that, you don’t always have to be in a dangerous or highly exciting situation to be doing the good you wish to do. Sometimes, maybe it’s the smaller things that matter. I think I need to drop the mentality of “I can do this and I can do that” and come to the realization that I need to be here to do what they need me to do, even if it’s something small like do dishes for the kitchen crew or go into town and be supportive of an acting group hoping to portray the gospel through their short acting piece. I don’t want to have a savior mentality either. I simply want to do good in this world, but I can’t let my selfishness get in the way of that. Sometimes, even the best of intentions can bring the worst circumstances. Savior mentalities have done a lot of harm through out the world. When you go somewhere thinking that you will do this and that, it isn’t good because you’re only focused one what you can do and what you are going to do. I’m really trying to make sure my focus is on doing what they ask me to do and doing it well. I don’t think that is a bad mentality to have, is it?

Maybe there are things I’m doing down here to help that aren’t being overlooked by others. Maybe the people here are happy with how I’ve been helping and happy to have me around for when they need me to do more. I guess I can be happy with that if they are happy with me.

Grant me grace, Lord. Open my eyes.

On a different note, the new Thrice CD is really good and I recommend anyone and everyone to check it out.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Rant Against Myself...Kind Of...

I've been sitting here wondering how to start writing this. It really bugs me that I can't even flesh out what I want to say on here. I have a mind that moves faster than the Earth spins and yet, I sat here staring at the screen hoping that something, anything would inspire me to begin typing. I think it's slightly funny but slightly upsetting, both at the very same time.

Goodness - even still, on the second line, I'll begin to type something then erase it and sit here and stare! What is going on? Why can't I write like I used to write? Is it lack of inspiration or excitement? I enjoy writing. I view it as very therapeutic. It's why I write privately too. Writing is something that is very helpful when the situation calls for it. For, I'm not even sure how long though, I haven't really been writing. I keep a private journal, sure, but I enjoy the conversations that can get started by things I've written. I enjoy going into discussions about the world, about life, about God and having intelligent discussions and debates on anything and everything. I won't lie though that, selfishly, I also enjoy getting the comments and compliments that I have received on previous posts. It’s just how I am.

But back to the point -

I really miss writing like I used to. I'm not sure why I stopped, to be honest. I think it may have been a lack of inspiration. Maybe it was the way I was feeling about life though. I don't think I've really felt much for life for a very long time. Maybe that's when the writing stopped. Maybe that's when the inspiration was lost.

Maybe I simply wrote about so much that I finally ran out of stuff to say...but if that were the case, I'd stop thinking about the horrors that plague this world, about the corruption of government, the deceit of man, the beauty I see in creation, the hope I see in people, the injustices that go on unanswered and unnoticed by most of the world and how angry that makes me. We can probably rule out that I ran out of anything to say - so honestly, it's probably the way life has been.

Life has lost its excitement for me. In almost anything I do anymore, I'm just not excited about it. I don't get excited about it. I'm writing this while in Brazil and am saying that I don't feel excitement. I wasn't anxious to get here, nor was I entirely anxious to get to Hawaii. It's not that I don't like living in Hawaii and it's not that I don't like it here in Brazil, but the whole thing is just sort of - meh.

Meh - that's the best way to describe how I feel about almost everything anymore. I feel like I'm loosing my humanity. I'm very indifferent on everything anymore. I feel bad when people ask and expect me to be intensely excited about going to Brazil or doing this or helping with that and my response is, "eh, I'll be excited when it's happening" which so far hasn't even been the case. I'm still waiting for the excitement of being in Brazil to set in. I highly doubt it will. It's really saddening though, cause I want to have such excitement and energy for what I'm doing but I feel - I don't know. Stagnant? Redundant? Complacent? I think complacent is a good word. They might all be good words to describe how I feel.

Here's how I'll describe this. Put yourself in a car, on a straight road and throw it into neutral so you're just coasting. You're not really moving forward, nor are you really moving backward. You just sort of, exist. You're just there. That's how I feel. I feel like I just kind of exist and that there's not much significance in anything anymore. I love my God, I love my family and I love my friends. I really believe in the things I believe in (like Invisible Children). I really like writing music and making movies and I love to sing. It's really not anything against the people I know or the things I do, it's simply how life feels for me. I feel stuck in the same place in life. I don't feel like I'm making improvements but I don't necessarily feel like I'm doing anything wrong either.

Re-reading that, it actually sounds like a rather nice place to be...but I can assure you that it's not. It's a torturous place to be. I want to excel and prosper forth. I want to feel emotion again and be excited about such silly, miniscule things. This place, this complacency, leaves me feeling like I'm taking the whole world for granted. It makes me feel unloving towards other and it makes me bitter. I want to spread love and fight for justice, not help breed injustice through bitterness and hate. I want people to smile and I want to help them smile. I want true relationship with the people I know and love. I want them to know, without having to second-guess it, that I really do care about them and their wants and needs, joys and pains, happiness and sorrow. I want people to see Christ, living out in me. I want to be respectful and be given a respect that I often feel I'm not given. I am selfish and I am arrogant. I am bitter and conceited. I feel annoyed and irritated by far to many things. I'm nowhere near the person I want to be. People tell me I am good, but I'm not. Sin has engulfed me and I simply cannot break its snares. I constantly fight everyday to try and be joyful and it's hard, so very hard.

I am not proud of the person that I am, regardless of the things I'm doing. I'm not looking forward to the person that I think I may become. I'm fighting ever so much to change course and move to become someone who IS those things above but every night I go to bed feeling that I've only moved farther from that.

To be honest, I'm really just starting to get fed up. (Oh gosh - this is going to start sounding like your blogs, Brian. haha) I'm fed up with a culture that sees suffering and doesn't realize how it affects them. I'm fed up with people who only accept things in the government as they are and don't care to think about the effect that some of these decisions will have on us. I'm fed up with people who only want to point the finger at everyone else and not realize how their attitude has contributed to the situation. I'm fed up with friends who lie through their smiles, who say they care but they really couldn't care less if they ever saw you again. I'm fed up with people who claim to be something they're not. I'm fed up with people who condemn and judge others just because they aren't the way the condemner wishes they were. I'm fed up with going through life, existing - but that's it. Just feeling that I exist and there's nothing more. I'm fed up with feeling that God is distant.

I'm fed up with being the person above; as I'm sure I've contributed to all these things and more. I want to be someone new. I want to be happy and excited about things. I want to love and be loved. I want to support and accept people, regardless of sex, gender, religion, and the millions of other things people connect to. I simply want to look at another human being as simply that - a fellow human being who is just as deserving (or undeserving) as I am. I want to see people for who they are, created in the image of a loving God, being no different that I am. I want to love.

I really want to start writing again. I feel alive when I am writing. I feel alive when making music, and God knows how much I want that to come back to me. I desperately I want to begin writing music again. I want to write and make more movies and short films and music videos. I want to be good at what I do. Really. Not for money. I don’t care what you say, what you teach or what you were taught. I don’t play music, write music, make movies nor am I in the video business to get rich and make money. I make videos and music because I enjoy it. Plain and simple. Does that mean I’m a sell-out when I get paid to do those things? Maybe, but I don’t care. I still enjoy doing it. If I decide to get paid for it too – what concern is it of yours? In fact, I would like to get paid. I like having things. It’s nice. I like eating. A lot.

And yet, even with that mindset, why do I still worry about the future? I have been living off nothing for the past few months and it was fine. I enjoyed it. I still worry about the future though. Which is so weird to me. If I don’t do it for the money, don’t care if I’m poor, why do I worry about the future? Because, in the end, I’m selfish and I want people to recognize what I’ve done. I want to have a family someday and be able to support them and give them nice things. I want to make my mother proud. I want to feel accomplished. One of my dreams is to make a CD and a movie that, 10 or 20 years from now, I’ll still listen to and watch and love it. Cherish it.

Maybe it’s selfish and maybe my thoughts sometimes contradict themselves, but I really don’t care. I mean, the only reason I’ve really even written this much is as a challenge to myself to start writing again. I’m sure (at least I hope) I’ll touch on much of this later. If you have read through this whole thing, thanks. It was a pretty random rant, derived from talking to a friend about a lot of this. I'm sorry for the randomness of it though - sometimes my head simply moves to fast for me to really keep up.

I hope inspiration returns to me so I can write like I used to, not just these blogs but songs and movies and short films. This blog, is really a big rant against myself, really. I guess I'm fed up with myself in the long run because, really, there are a lot of things that I'm annoyed with that I could change if I really wanted to. I'm lazy though and changing things about oneself is hard. I'm trying to move past that though. Really I am.

So much in my head - so random - can't focus...

Go listen to "Ocean's Above." Fantastic worship.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love ... well ... Love?

It's been an interesting day, to say the least. I woke up late, read 1 Peter. Took some pictures. Did some work on my computer. Took some more pictures. Read a lot in UNchristian (so far a fantastic book). Not the most productive of days. I was interested in what so of the message board posts were today on SocialVibe so I checked it out. When I got there, I finally found something to do. While there were 2 main subjects I began responding to, I feel compelled to write about only 1 of them tonite, so I can do another update tomorrow.

So I got to some posts dealing with love. People who want to know what it means and why can't they understand it. How can they understand it? No one is sure and every post keeps repeating the same things...

Yeah, of course love is real! I've felt it! Even though we broke up, I still love him

Love's real, I guess - but it's a feeling that comes and goes at times.

I think love is real but I can't say I've felt it yet. I think it's something we're not supposed to understand yet though, but one day - we will!

Anybody noticing a common theme to these posts? Felt - felt - felt, everyone keeps talking about how they've 'felt' love. I guess when it comes down to it, sure you can say that love is a feeling. I mean, after all, I love my Macbook Pro and I love Dr. Pepper. I love music and I love my guitar. I love ... well... you get it.

At this point, however, most people would start to call me 'materialistic.' I don't think I am, as I was merely using those as examples. If we make love into a feeling, then we make it into an adjective, therefore defeating it's true intent and meaning. When love becomes a feeling, an adjective, it's merely describing us in that context. It's why, all to often, the one getting dumped doesn't understand what's happening because "he/she loved me though!" It, sadly, also becomes a word of abuse too. Let's face it, the word 'love' is very possibly the most abused word in the english language, maybe in all languages.

When it became a feeling, it lost it's context, it's meaning, it's identity. It became a word that no one believes in anymore and why is that? Because the girl getting beat by her no-good boyfriend says, "but he loves me. I know he does. He just gets angry." Or because when someone doesn't want to sleep with their boyfriend or girlfriend, they'll resort to, "but I love you!" I guess when a word is used in ways to gain something, I wouldn't want to believe in it either. There was a time when I didn't.

So where is there hope then? How can love truly exist when it's being abused like this? Well, like I said before, when it's being used to gain something by using the other person, then I wouldn't want to believe in it either. But what if we reversed it? What if love became a word used to give something? What if love, instead of describing a feeling, became an action verb? How would that look?

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Now, I know that is a very over used verse, but it fully pertains to what I'm talking about. God, who is love in it's truest form, obviously knows how to show such a thing. God gave. To show that he loved the world, he gave. He gave his only son, Jesus, that whoever believes may live in his kingdom.

For those who don't believe the Bible to be truth, bear with me here. Let's think about this. If love became something that was about giving instead of receiving, how would that look? I'm sorry, but love is not merely a feeling. Emotions are complicated enough as it is and if that's all that love was, then it's just another obstacle in my way. Love is something so much more though. My mother really enlightened me on this subject a few years ago. It was a really amazing talk that I still remember most of what we talked about (and I actually remember exactly what we were doing too.) We were driving in her car, on our way to pick up my computer from the Apple Store in Shadyside. She knew a different way to get into the city than I did and I think, actually, this road took longer to get to. So, we began talking about various different things. How school was going, was I enjoying living in the city, and eventually, somehow, the topic of love came up. She then said one of the most profound things I've ever been told. She said,

"Matthew, I want you to understand something that took me a long time to realize. Love is not a feeling. It's an action. You choose to love and you choose not to love."

This really hit me hard. I never had thought of it that way. She then began telling about how she figured this out and how it has helped her and helped her relationship with my father. Then I think back, and can understand what she's talking about because of the dramatic changes I saw in the both of them from just a few years prior. That's when I really did realize that love is something you do, not something you feel.

When we begin to see love for what it is, an action verb, then we will really be able discover it's power. That's when we'll finally be able to rise up and start revolutions. Why? Because, how would it look if we chose to love those who test us and hurt us constantly. How could their lives be changed? And, if their lives are changed and they come to the same realization and begin to love the people who try them and test them and hate them, could they have a similar reaction?

With this realization, however, it still needs to be understood that love is not easy. Why? Cause love means choosing to do so even when (and especially when) we don't want to. Love means choosing to stay beside this person even though they have hurt us. Love means getting up at 1:45 in the morning and driving however far away just so you can be there for that person who is in need...and doing everytime. (I do think there is a limit on this one though, because I'm sure someone 6 hours away has other people close by who can help them, so I'm not saying to show love to drive across state, but man would that get the point across!) Love is understanding that people have flaws, so I'm not going to hold this one against you even though it really hurt me. Love means giving her the last drumstick in the KFC bucket. It's why God wastes his time on a world that doesn't care (that's a plug. Go buy Brian Morgante's

Love is complicated, but worth it in my opinion. We've seen revolutions rise up and change nations because of love. Love can still cause revolutions, and does. We can start a revolution. The revolution starts with love. Let's begin treating love as an action verb instead of just another word in our vocabulary. Let's start loving the people we really don't want to. Let's stop treating love like something that is about me, me, me and start treating it as something for you and them, him and her. Let's make love about the other person and not about ourselves.

I think I got my point across. I think I felt so passionate about writing about this because I've really been struggling with it lately. I feel so bitter. I can't really figure out why but I know my attitude isn't helping those around me. I tend to get very defensive around people who have hurt me previously too. I'm really trying. I even started praying for those who upset me now as a means to help me really learn how to love them. I don't simply want to talk a lot of talk but not be able to try and put what I'm saying into motion. I really am trying, and no where in here did I say love was easy. In fact, I think I said it was hard. I don't feel like scrolling up to check and see though is hard. There, I said it. I'm trying though. I'm trying to show these people that I care about them and would hate to see anything bad happen to them and I want them to prosper in what they're doing. When buttons get pushed though, at least my buttons, it gets difficult to respond in a loving manner to people. I'm hoping that I'll be able to though because I would hate for any of them to think that I hate them. I'm trying guys. I am. Hold me to it too!

I wonder if hours upon hours of Switchfoot and Brian Mortgante have helped influence this also. Probably, but it's something I really believe. My mother hit me with one of the best pieces of advice I'd ever been given. Thanks mom! I hope, for those of you who were confused on this subject, that it has made you think. I don't think we'll ever be able to truly grasp all that love is, but I think we can experience it a little when we leave the feeling part and move to the giving part. Have a wonderful day. Blessings.

Friday, May 2, 2008

To All IC People, YWAMer’s, and anyone who loves kids...

In America, we take life for granted. It's something that just is. We live. We die. We have that choice. No - I'm not getting into an abortion rant or anything like that. If you try to make it one, I'll ignore you. But really - we have it really good. There are so many things going on in the world that simply don't affect us because they're not apart of "our world" or "our lives". The worlds are quote/unquote - different.

Uganda - 22 year long war that killed thousands, child soldiers, displacement camps with conditions that are killing people off faster than the rebels, etc.

Congo - Genocide

Cambodia - Child sex trafficking

and there's a lot of good being done to help stop these things. And that's why I am writing this. Since my first endeavor with Invisible Children, seeing the film then participating in the Global Night Commute, I have had a growing heart and compassion for International Justice. If there's injustice going on somewhere, I want to see it stopped. It happens everywhere, I know but sometimes there are ways to get involved - such as with Invisible Children. I adore the friends I have there and the people I've met and the opportunities I've had to help them. I'm not stopping my volunteer work for IC or anything like that - but rather - presenting something going on now that needs immediate attention, just as child soldiers in Uganda needed back when I saw the film. The area of interest is Brazil.

In Brazil there are over a hundred indigineous tribes. These tribes are people to and are to be protected. It's every human beings right to be protected when injustice is occuring against them, right? The Brazilian government thinks differently. What is happening in these tribes is extremely grave and terrible. It is believed, that if a child is born with a handicap, is born as a twin or triplet, or born to a single mother - that child has an evil spirit, has no soul and deserves to die. They kill the children by burying them alive. It is believed that the child must take it's last breath underground so that the demon inside of it will die in the ground as well. Because of this horrible infanticide, some of these tribes are nearly extinct.

A group of people affiliated with Youth With A Mission have been working with these tribes for over 20 years. Many people of come to these missionaries from the tribes asking them to take care of their children because the people in the tribes think it is wrong to kill your own child, and so to protect themselves and save their children, they take them to the missionaries to be cared for. One by one, tribespeople are coming forward from many of the tribes asking for help to stop this. They go to the government and ask for help. The government, however, is not responding. Key officials within the government would rather see these tribes kill themselves off (because the tribes land is valuable) then save them.

Currently, the government of Brazil is trying to pass a law that would require anyone in the Amazon who is a foreigner to have a special permit to be there, thus kicking out the missionaries that many of these tribes are relying on to save their children and ultimately, their tribes. The government has also threatened jail time to the missionaries for helping take care of these kids - which would in turn send the kids back to the tribes where most of them would, unfortunately and sadly be killed.

A movie has recently been filmed their by director, David Cunningham (To End All Wars, Path To 9/11, The Seeker) addressing this issue, in hopes to bring attention to the world of what is happening, including the US government. Those of us who have been working with Invisible Children for a long time know the power of a story and know what happens when the world takes attention to something that was previously unnoticed. Results happen, in favor of those who need help.

The film is about a little girl named Hakani, and it's a true story. Hakani was paralyzed from the waist down when she was born and was supposed to be killed, but her parents thought it was wrong and she was spared. Same with one of her brothers. However, due to circumstances - her parents died and the oldest brother, in accordance with what the tribe believes, buried his youngest brother alive and killed him, and also buried Hakani. Bibi, Hakani's 3rd brother, dug her out and took care of her by himself for 3 years. Finally - he took her to the missionaries when she was very sick and she was saved. Go to for more information on this

Those filmmakers are leaving Saturday to present the film before congress in Washington D.C. - then flying to other areas in America to present the film. Please pray for them and help them however you can, the best way being to spread the word of what is happening in Brazil. Pray their film is seen by many and grips the hearts of the people that change can occur and these people can be saved. Spread the word, please.

And just so you know, most of you getting this know someone who has had direct contact with what is happening down there. I'm going to be down there, in Brazil in July and August, possibly helping with the documentary that is currently being prepared.

If you are interested in finding a way to help or a better way to spread the word and help these people, please go to or email Sheena -, and ask her how you can help. I'm not asking anyone to stop what they are currently doing, especially not IC people - but I am asking you to do what you can before these people are gone. If the Brazilian government passes their law which would outlaw these people being helped, it is estimated that they will die off in a matter of 10 years or less.

Thank you all for your time.