Sunday, March 31, 2013

Caution: That Road is Paved

Good Intentions Fiasco of 2002 (as mentioned here): Laid bare.
It goes like this: We were broke college students. (Not poor, but broke.) Three of us shared an apartment in a town called Independence. The 2-bedroom place was part of my salary as assistant manager of the complex. For most of the year, it was just us three: Cortney, Jenna & me (At one point, we adopted a Japanese foreign exchange student, but that is another story).
In the time before there was a beautiful Beaverton Baha'i Center, the community conducted several fundraisers to pay for the building. Jenna hailed from 'dems parts and often made the two hour trek north on the weekends to visit. A call had been made to donate items for a yard sale. Cortney had approximately $0.87 in her bank account. I was almost twice as wealthy with $1.42 (I had a better job, really). No coins were to be found in our apartment. On a broke Friday, just like any other, we made a plan to help out the Beaverton Baha'is because we're just good people (sarcasm meets forshadowing).
Renters often leave in a hurry. You'd be surprised. I always was anyway. The manager and I often stored abandoned goods in a storage room in the complex until we figured out what to do with all the junk.
It was a perfect storm: a call for stuff + broke college students + keys to a room full of abandoned stuff + a whole lotta good intentions + Jenna driving to fundraiser all the way from college town. We had four hours 'til go time.
A little more than a decade later, I still recall the excitement as we opened the door. Our eyes widened, "I can't believe someone would just leave all this stuff!" It wasn't even in boxes. Coats, cups, shoes, plates, papers, furniture, files, photographs, and frames had all just been tossed in the room haphazardly. I kept thinking a cat would slink out from an unknown corner or we'd happen upon a dead lizard, once beloved and now drying out under a pile of unpaid bills. We got to work on the treasure hunt of our semi-adult lives. And you wouldn't believe what we found.
As we sifted through and pulled aside lovely dishware and picture frames which would surely catch a good price, we found a wallet. A wallet! Who abandons their wallet? Seriously, people. We opened it and found two buckeroos. An instant doubling of our money. God is good. We ran back to our apartment, shoved that pair of dollars in an envelope and sent it straight to National (reference to the Baha'i Fund to which only Baha'is are able to give) since we hadn't been able to give in a while. Having dropped the envelope in the outgoing mailbox, we returned to the storage room with a pair of scissors.
"These people are so lucky," I said.
"Yeah," Cortney responded knowingly, "What if someone else had come across this stuff?"
"Seriously," we kept right on, "Who else finds someone else's credit cards and cuts them up?"
We're such good people. So responsible and caring and thoughtful. And humble too!
Know what else we found? A whole box of checks. You bet we cut those up into tiny pieces too. Because we're just so helpful and caring.
When we came across all the family photographs, we paused momentarily to respect the memories that would be lost to the children of that family. They would never know what their great-grandparents looked like, how terrible their haircut was in third grade, would never have the opportunity to share and compare their baby pictures with their own future children. A family's history, lost. We sighed deeply. Then we took the frames.
Just as Jenna was cutting us off, her car full of salvaged items otherwise headed to the dump, we found it. A large and heavy wooden box. We slowly lifted the lid to find, wrapped in velvet, a full 10-piece set of silver cutlery. You know the ones you see only at wedding showers when the grandmother gets help to lift it into the waiting brides' lap and says, "This has been in the family since the dawn of time." And then everyone cries. Yup. We found one of those and shoved that in Jenna's car too. Surely, the fundraiser would be a wonderful success!
Jenna drove away as Cortney and I fell to the floor (we didn't own a couch) with elation, knowing we'd done our good deed for the day.
The main culprits.
You may have already guessed what happened next. I was sitting in my office a few days later, putting rental agreements in order and in came a woman wearing a trench coat. I looked up smiling and asked how I could help her, but she was already red in the face and pointing her finger at me.
"You're Rebecca?!" she screamed, taking two steps forward.
"Yes," I smiled (I can muster false confidence in no time flat), "How can I help you?"
"Where's my stuff?" she threw her hands in the air, making her long coat flare out. It didn't look like she was carrying a gun so I opted to keep talking instead of running. Not to mention, she was standing in front of the only exit.
"Your stuff?" I almost exhaled knowing that I hadn't taken anyone's things and then...
"Yes, my stuff," she continued, though was only yelling now, "The manager was letting me store it until I could come and get it."
I can only imagine the look of horror on my face, hand cupping mouth.
"I'm so sorry," I said, "I donated it to a fundraiser. They're building a community center in Beaverton."
She lowered her head.
"I have no idea where it is now," I continued, desperate like her, "Can I pay you back somehow?"
And just as quickly as she'd come, she turned and left.
I never saw her again.

Ain't nothin' like a healthy dose of humility. And the good fortune to not have been shot.

"O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds." --Baha'u'llah

Will I be made to remember them all?


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Max, You're Going to Hell -- by Josh

Religious Bullying.  I'd never heard, much less thought, of this term before Rebecca made it up the other day.  She was asking me to help take care of a little problem at Max's school.
He had begun to come home with stories of kids who said he was the devil; that he was going to hell because he wasn't Christian; that he should convert as soon as possible to get money on Easter; and finally, that he could no longer be friends with a buddy from all the way back in kindergarten because Max doesn't believe in the devil.
The face of Satan.
It figures, he likes McDonald's.

I actually had an opportunity to watch first hand as Max discussed the finer points of 2nd grade theological superstitions with some classmates. I was subbing at his school and Max had asked me to join him for lunch.  It was interesting to watch and listen as Max debunked and tore apart the logic of ideas like "If you say 'devil' three times he'll lock you in a closet for 3 hours" and "God is dead, that's why we have Easter".
I was obviously in a tough spot to do anything but guide the conversation away from direct insults, given that I was acting as a teacher in their school and I'm Max's dad. However, this got me thinking.  Should I bother to talk with his teacher about it? Or is it just an opportunity for Max to show the kind of patience that his brethren (and sistren) in Iran practice every day?
Max has an amazing teacher who does a great job of helping kids think about diversity and how different people live in different places.
In fact, there has been a fantastic leap forward in the development of curricula dealing with racial, gender, sexual, and familial diversity, yet almost nothing about religious diversity.  It is a crying shame that 12 years after the 9/11 attacks, we still don't bother to teach kids what others believe, and that it's okay for them to believe it.
 I brought this up to a former colleague on a long and lovely walk and she pointed out that some people actively work against teaching religious tolerance in schools.  This blew me away, but I could see how that could be.  Yet, like my dear friend Terry Madison (a fantastic human being I got to know in Bulgaria) said, tolerance doesn't go far enough. "I don't want to be tolerated," she would say, "I want to be loved!"
And isn't that what it's all about anyway?  The common thread of Jesus and Baha'u'llah and the Buddha is not putting up with others' existence, it's full-on unconditional love.
So, I think I will stick with a page from the book of those great souls and remind Max that he is indeed fortunate to have the opportunity to suffer for his beliefs. He will continue to have the good fortune to be confronted with the chance to go past putting up with their existence, and show genuine love.
Ultimately, these soul-stirring, world-shaping ideas come from books, and the hatred and intolerance that Max and myriads of others have had to face comes from hearsay attributed to books, but really rooted in ignorant closed-mindedness.
As I think about it, I remember Max bringing home a book from his elementary school library in the States around the time that this bullying started.  It was a book showing kids around the world celebrating their religions, and Max was beside himself that there was a section on the Baha'i Faith.  I think he just finally felt normal, and after he finished reading the section about Baha'is, he kept on reading and learned about the joy that other kids get from their own faiths.
So, let's give more books to more kids, all types of books, from whimsically entertaining to thought-provokingly controversial. Then, let's talk about the ideas contained therein and not shy away from the conversations that matter.  Open books lead to open minds.  Now that's an idea I'm open to.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fundraising Makes My Insides Feel Funny

I've thrown myself into the world of fundraising. Have I ever felt more awkward? Perhaps at a middle school dance. Or my first lady-doctor appointment. Maybe.
Let me preface the following with a confession: If I could survive by bartering limerick writing or stick figure drawing for food and shelter, I'd much prefer to just forget about the whole financial system. A root canal might be a few more stick figures than one could ever possibly need, but desperation can inspire creativity. This doesn't mean that I don't find money incredibly useful or that the whole world could function without it, no, no, no. Its more of a statement of absolute confoundment as relates to all things $$. I've always been curious how people spend/save/share what they get, how they decide what is necessary, what is superfluous and what they believe matters. My own approach varies from day to day, depending very much on my mood and if I was able to work for pay that day (I get myself into a great many volunteer gigs, for better or worse).
Which brings me back to the fundraising world--another arena I do not understand in the least. I've only ever given, never asked. I ask for a whole lotta things--just not money. Being the asker stinks, quite frankly. But its like teaching highschoolers. You can't take it personally. Well, some of it you should.

Josh leafs through a children's encyclopedia with two neighborhood girls.
So, here's what I'm not taking personally this week:
*Anyone who has said they'd do something, but hasn't. I've been on the road paved with good intentions--heck, I'm on it now. I'm sure there is someone I made a promise to, who I really want to help/spend time with/do something for that I'm am forgetting right now. Hopefully I'll never get as far down that road as I did during the Good Intentions Fiasco of 2002. Yowza.
*The high school kid who refuses to respond to my gentle prodding and careful conversation starters. Despite the immense frustration I feel when--every single day--I fail to reach this student, I imagine its worse for him. God knows what is happening in his world outside the classroom.
*The student who leaves their trash and little pieces of paper at their work space. Every. single. day. I leave an enormous mess at my parents' house--laundry, books, papers. I've basically taken over the back of the house and oft times the couches in the living room. Every. single. day. I have no right to complain.

But, here's what I am taking personally:

*Conversations with students like this:
Me, as they walk in the classroom door at a time other than their appointed class: "Whats up?"
Student: "Oh, we're just here to visit you."
Bless. Even if their conversation skills are, as yet, completely undeveloped.
*Your generosity. Each and every one of our 158 donors to date. Each and every one of those who have donated books, time, supplies and endless creative hours. Each and every one of you who clicked, shared and "liked" (Last I checked, there were 823 FB "likes" on the campaign page).
*Pleasant surprises. A student whose had me banging my head against the wall after every encounter showed up today with a completed essay we'd been working on (& pulling teeth through) all week. "Oh, I just did this at home," he said casually, as if he does homework or completes things on a regular basis.
*Your enthusiasm. Fitting this dream-come-reality into little boxes and putting a number next to it by which we are measured and judged hasn't been easy. Sometimes it even tricks you into thinking you should be measured that way too.
*Your time and creativity. I fear that making a list of all the awesomeness that has occurred in the last 6 weeks would have me so worried about leaving someone out that I'd get a few more white hairs just today. But I can't resist. In no particular order, I'm naming names.
This gem created our logo and has been a major asset in all visual aspects of the campaign: Atika Piff


This lovely not only learned how to Skype just so she could talk to me in the Dominican Republic, but helped me sift through all the details and ideas swirling in my head to something neat & tidy and continues to surprise & delight me with new ideas: Stephanie Baty
This treasure heard a whisper for help and brought in the troops, harnessing her energies and resources to back me up in low times and high: Melanie Fitzsimmons
This rock star went above & beyond not only sleeping on a child's bed for several uncomfortable nights to do this, but spent all his waking hours filming, editing and cashing in personal favors to put together our pitch video (have you seen this?!): Lino Sanchez

These wonders each dedicated some blog/article space/time and a whole lotta love to putting a megaphone up to the library's campaign:

Ed Rousculp & Mary James orchestrated a talk at Heritage University, which has had some fairly amazing ripple effects with some promising futures.
Debbie Wilke may have actually shared the campaign with more people than I have. She has been a tenacious supporter and has a little fundraising game going. Whenever we get close to a new $1000 mark, she donates (or gets donated) the necessary amount to push us over.
Jan House. What more is there to say? This wonder gave birth to me and everyone knows that Mom is the first one in line behind anything you're doing, not to mention my father, siblings, and in-laws.
The Woodburn Independent ran a half-page article on the library project, calling on locals to give their support. KIMA-TV.com published this.
Melissa Northway of Dandelion Moms not only donated and sent a box of books, but the whole website adopted the library as their Project Kindness for the month of March.
Books for a Better World shipped two full boxes of non-fiction Spanish language children's books (the gold standard for us). Bungie donated seven Kindle Fires.
Poderosa Mujer, an organization dedicated to maternal education, made the beads for our $75 perk.
Motherhood & More published this. Girl in the DR published this. Jewel's Future of Hope published this. Christopher Lay published this in Beijing Kids. Bryan Donaldson published this on Baha'i Coherence. Toddling in the Fast Lane published this.

The one story time we've had where a camera was present as well. :)
And these darlings held fundraisers for the library (they also happen to be generous and fierce supporters of community):
Oregon bookstore, Peaceful Pages, donated 19% of all book sales made within a two week period.
Authors Kelly Carlos and Jose Carlos sold their books, the Flowered War and The Corn People (respectively) and half the proceeds went to the library. They also founded the Co-Op publishing company, Red Road Books.
Marvelous Maria Andersson is selling her Swedish books to raise funds.
Baha'i communities in Newberg and Astoria put out a jar at their gatherings to collect funds.

And you know what? There's still more. The Indiegogo fundraising campaign ends this Sunday. But we're just getting started.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Curser and the Seer

Amazing anthropologist and author, Joseph Sheppherd has given me permission to post this here for you, dear reader. I referred to this piece in a previous post, "Perplexing Perspective". Enjoy!

Excerpt from Sheppherd's book, "The Curser and the Seer"

“What was the other dream about?” asked Elisha.
“It was about commonality and differences in perceptions,” answered Inaiduli.
Inaiduli described how the dream began with a series of questions. What if it were possible to bring together expert representatives from a wide diversity of cultures from around the world, people who were completely fluent in their own languages and equally conversant in some widely-spoken, international auxiliary language, like English for instance? And what if because they were fully bilingual they could easily describe the intricacies and nuances of their cultural perceptions and beliefs to others? What if a group of ten of these, and a moderator, were placed in front of an audience of academics and willing to answer any question asked of them? There were two conditions. The first was that the members of the audience could only ask one question, and each of the representatives would have the opportunity to answer the same question. The second condition was that everyone in the audience had to agree on what the one question should be. In the dream, the academics began to propose difficult long-winded and complex questions, and it soon became obvious that they would never achieve a unanimous agreement on the choice of the one question. In the end, the moderator had to pick the one question that could reveal the most about the commonality and diversity of human experience and perception. The moderator swept aside all the questions proposed and chose a simpler one. He asked, "How many people are in this room?" The audience erupted in protest at the uselessness of the question. It was infantile and the answer was apparent to everyone. Nothing new could be derived from such a question. Nevertheless the moderator’s choice prevailed. He turned, restated the question and gave the floor to the first cultural representative.
A first man pointed his finger at each person in the room as he began to count. After a few moments, he responded, "59” explaining that there were the ten on the stage, the moderator, and the forty-eight in the audience, exactly fifty-nine people.
The second one answered, as if correcting the first, “58,” explaining that in his culture it was improper to count oneself, that the counter was never included in the count, just as the observer stood apart from the things observed, just as the Creator was not part of the Creation.
The third one said, “70 and 2” and explained that this traditional number could be translated as “many” or “some undefined number” in English, and that after a certain point in counting large numbers of things, an exact figure becomes irrelevant.
The fourth responded with the word, “myriad”, not the original Greek definition of “ten thousand”, but rather, the more mystical and philosophical characterization of “an indefinitely great number”, “innumerable”, “countless”, “boundless”, “infinite”, “untold”. He explained that everyone is the summation of what had gone before, the culmination point of all the generations of the those who preceded him. Each one represented metaphorically a myriad of ancestors present in the existence of their progeny.
The fifth one looked around the room, and announced, “4”, explaining that only four of those present were truly “people”, full-blooded members of aboriginal tribes like his. All the rest were referred to in his culture as “non-people” and that in his language, “people” basically meant “us”, and all the rest were subsequently classified as “them”.
The sixth one had to use a calculator. He said, “45.5”, explaining that there were thirty-two men and twenty-seven women present, and that in his culture, when serving as a legal witnesses, a woman was counted as half of that of a man. An audience was a legal witness.
The seventh one agreed with the first, but admitted that he only did so because every time he counted the room he got a different number. He said that he didn't know if “59” was correct, but that it was a better number because the average of his counts was “59.8”. People were integers and not averages.
The eighth one described his culture and language as profoundly pedantic and in the end couldn’t answer the question because no one defined what the “in” in “in the room” meant.
The ninth one smiled and answered, "1”, explaining that metaphysically all of humankind should be regarded as many bodies sharing the same soul, and therefore there was only one soul present.
All during these answers and explanations the last one in line was looking carefully around the room, and squinting into the farthest corners. When it was his turn he said “178”, explaining that he had counted and recounted several times and that he was fairly certain that the present number assembled was a hundred and seventy-eight. He commented that no one new had arrived in the last few minutes. He described the occupants of the room as he saw them. Sitting and standing among them, unseen by most, was a host of spirits of ancestors, and that in his culture every presence was counted, both the living and the departed. He explained that spirits were always around, providing assistance and inspiration to even those who could not see them. His tribe, however, had evolved to level where they could perceive and interact with beings which could only be called celestial.
“At this point the dream ended,” said Inaiduli.
Elisha sat in her hammock transfixed, envious to her core of the depth of meaning in Inaiduli’s dreams.
“You truly are a seer,” sighed Elisha.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Super Servers Coloring Page - For You!

An up & coming artist, Andrea Correa's favorite medium is crayons. I wish I had some photos of her stuff to show you (that's on my ever-growing to-do list). She does some pretty wild things with Crayola. Correa, in collaboration with Biblioteca Comunitaria Dr. William House, put together an 11-page coloring book featuring kids and youth offering community service. How awesome is that?
I'm happy to offer you a page from that very coloring book here. Go ahead. Print it as often as you like and share it with all. You have my blessing. Heck, you have me rallying behind you with pom-poms as you print the thing. Too creepy?
If you want the whole thing, let me know. We can work something out. Bartering is my favorite. Or you could just go here and order it delivered to your inbox, stat (Psst. Its the $9 donation perk). And know what? All the money earned goes to this little library I know in the Dominican Republic. The people there are pretty serious about it.
Psst! The file link here includes the text. This here's just the image. Obvio.
Super Servers read or pray with friends, neighbors and family (even if its your little brother and he drives you nuts). Sounds like a legit message to me.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Perplexing Perspective

Its one of those tricky things, perspective.
Sometime last year my world view and perspective were challenged more fiercely than they ever have been before. Sparing you the details, I would say things or write things and the other person understood--quite literally--almost the exact opposite. This was so incredibly frustrating to me for two primary reasons (outside the obvious fact that my message was not getting through which gave way to all kinds of very unfortunate events).
First, I'm an educator. I have a Masters degree in what is essentially relaying information. It is the best thing I know how to do according to my resume. Was I really failing that spectacularly? Secondly, my primary hobby is writing. Did everyone entirely misunderstand my writing? Was I a complete failure at life? The jury is still out.
Coming back to the States, after relatively little time outside the country, I already notice my perspective changing in subtle ways. The world blurs into swirls of color and nuance that can be exhausting and beautiful all at once.

Picture Credit: Cuny.edu -- American History
I'm reminded of a lesson on perspective I used to give my high school students.
The story credit goes to anthropologist, Joseph Sheppherd, though I don't have his copy any longer and so have written it here in my own words with my own shady memory. He's just brilliant and you will thoroughly enjoy his book that I've linked for you.

There once was a room full of people. Tall people, short people, fat people, skinny people. Black, white, brown, Puerto Rican. Dressed up, dressed down, not noticeably dressed at all. Young, old and everywhere in between. Are you picturing this?
Each person in the room was asked the same question: "How many are in the room?"
And you know what?
They all had different answers.
Here I discuss with my students how this would be possible. A few theories are offered up. Then I tell them that all the answers were correct. They seem puzzled. And I continue my story.
A man in a suit, looking slightly uncomfortable starts pointing his finger at each person in the room while counting, "2, 4, 6, 8, 10..." After a few moments, he responds, "189 people."
And he was right.
I pause, because that is the same answer that all of my students would have given, so I know they're all wondering what's next.
A teenager leaning against a wall called out, "About 200!"
And she was right.
My students begin to nod, having their first clue.
A small, older woman wearing bright wraps responded, "Why there are probably representatives of about 45 different villages and cities here!"
And she was right.
Some students look surprised, but you can tell that their world is widening. I love this part where you can see them peek through a newly opened door.
A youth answered, "Us, them, foreigners and spirits."
And he was right.
A small child said, "I see men, women and children."
And she was right.
Another person spoke, "There are two people here: believers and unbelievers."
And they were right.
Then, a lovely answer rose from the crowd. 
"One. We are all human, diverse and beautiful, sprung from the same root. We are one."
And that person was right.

Seems like something we should remember. And take into account when we're frustrated to tears. The thing is, each of those people had the wrong and right answer as individuals until we stepped back and allowed the scope of our vision to widen:

"Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self." --Baha'u'llah
(Gleanings, p. 94)



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Otherwise, the Cat Would Be Dead

Had it not been for this beautiful Venezuelan, our cat would be dead.
I stand by previous statements that I could care less about the cat, but coming home to that smell would be horrific. And the kids would be traumatized. So, I see great benefit in keeping it alive.
We've been away from home now for longer than I wish to admit and have another 6 weeks before we'll be making the trek back to our island paradise. The question keeps popping up here, "Do you have a home there in the Dominican Republic?"
They're really asking to borrow our hammock (which they assume we normally live in, hung between coconut trees, on the island). They've decided that we're nomads, hopping from one place to the next and when we're out of options we end up here, at my parents' house. Driving them crazy. Its good that my parents understand Josh & I are a package deal with what they really want: the grandkids. 
I digress.
Our San Francisco de Macoris familia. Apologies for the photo quality--err, complete lack thereof.
The Venezuelan in question is on the left.
A wonderful woman by the name of Vanessa has graciously agreed to house sit for us whilst we're away. Oh, but its so much more than that. She is also keeping our two pets alive: Titi the fish and Danger the cat. Although Titi's owner, Zora, has been biting at the bit for Titi to go belly up so she can finally carry out the grandiose funeral she's planned, that fish keeps swimming around in circles. As far as I know, both children want Danger to live as long as possible. 
Our dear, dear Vanessa. She is also maintaining the core activities. That's right. She continues both our children's class and junior youth group on a weekly basis with the assistance of Nabil, our partner in crime and pseudo-neighbor in San Francisco de Macoris. A youth, Erika, also moved into our home, on the same day that we left, to dedicate a period of service to the community. So, the house, pets and community are all likely better off than they ever were whilst we were there mucking things up. Unfortunately for all of them, we will be returning. Though there is still so much on our stateside to-do list, I'm counting the days.
That gorgeous Venezuelan (inside & out), Vanessa. Photo credit: Jermain Garcia Gonzalez
Isn't she adorable?
I recognize a serious debt here. And wondering, what do you do for someone who steps in and maintains all things most important to you while you step away for four whole months? 


Monday, March 4, 2013

Homesick

I'm homesick like nobody's business. I know exactly what it is.
I miss my community. And sunshine. I miss walking my kids to school and having 12 conversations with neighbors along the way instead of a rushed car ride too early in the morning. I miss slow mornings with my husband as we tend to our online duties, drink a slow cup of Dominican coffee and share amusing stories we've collected instead of trying to learn kids' names faster than they can get in trouble while substitute teaching--here we're temporaries. I miss telling time by when my neighbors come up the stairs to bring us lunch and the latest news instead of planning each minute of the day, waiting for the alarm or next bell to ring. I miss picking the kids up from school and talking with doorman Chepe and all the shop keepers along the way. I miss food in a package being a rare treat instead of my only option in a hurried day. I miss tank tops, flip flops, house skirts and warm air. I miss children's class, junior youth group, story time and our hammock. I miss traveling in a car just once a week to haul groceries back home. I miss taking Max to Taekwondo classes, the guagua ride and getting thimble-fulls of coffee for my 5 peso coin. I miss spending most of the day with my family & friends as opposed to over-tired coffee breaks and short evenings spent getting ready for the next day.
I may even be a bit delusional because I think I miss tripping over our cat and swatting at mosquitoes. I don't miss the power going out or really crappy water pressure, so I can't be that far gone.
I do enjoy being so close to family and friends I've known for years instead of months. I like being anonymous in public. I appreciate the reliable healthcare, good education, kid-centered parks, Baha'i communities with enough people to mean that you're not planning & hosting everything yourself, libraries in every city along the way, security of police & fire stations, clean drinking water, cheap groceries and big paychecks, flushing toilet paper, hot water, cold water, warm water--every time you turn the faucet--water.
And some people will read that list and think we're crazy to live in a place without all those things when we have the choice, the option to stay here in a developed and resource-rich nation. Then again, we've also created the circumstance where it is a choice.

Standing on our roof. Pan left for drying laundry and mango tree.
Nevertheless, it still begs the question we're continually asking ourselves:
Are we here to serve or be served?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

All Work and All Play




My friend who created the library video shared this video with me after we'd filmed a story time at our neighbor's house. He listened to me laugh about how crazy we were for launching a community library that Josh and I were happily dedicating the bulk of our time to with no material reward to speak of. I get so many skeptical/quizzical/whatareyouthinking?! kind of looks, I've started prefacing our dreams with "I know its a bit insane, but..." I did the same thing when we moved to the Dominican Republic. People would ask if we had jobs, a place to live, knew where the kids were going to school and it was always the same answer, "I don't know." I think the unknown is scary for a lot of people. And rightly so.

So, at the end of the video the narrator asks, "Are you doing what you love right now?" I've never been more sure. Yes. While I don't need anyone else telling me so, it sure is nice to get some confirmations instead of quizzical looks now. I fully credit Lino Sanchez, the videographer, for creating a small glimpse into our lives and dream so the looks from people are now half-excitement and half-You'reStillCrazyAsAllGetOut.

Today, I wanted to share with you a couple of people who are responding with excitement and helping to make this library a reality. There are so many of you, so please know that each and every one of you--including you and you--is uber-appreciated by this girl.

Christopher Lay is one of those friends for life. We've got stories in our back pockets. I met him when I was 10. And he still claims me, so I figure its legit. He wrote this lovely article for Beijing Kids, an online, international family zine in support of the library. Chris gets it.

Then, Chris introduced me to children's book author, Melissa Northway. Not only is she sending some books to the library, she has taken "support" a step further. Dandelion Moms takes on a Project Kindness each month.
So if you're dandy, you will certainly be supporting the library this month. You heard it here, folks. Biblioteca Comunitaria Dr. William House is the focal point for March's Dandelion Moms Project Kindness. How kewl is that?

Dandelion Moms is made possible by Melissa and a team of amazing women. Pay them a quick visit and you'll soon see, these are people you should team up with. Their goal? To encourage you to reach yours! Melissa writes, "I am a big proponent of carving your own path and going after your dreams. I hope you are inspired by the women who write about their journey and please share with us yours!" Kinda sounds like she wants to make dreams reality too, huh?
Maybe we should stick together.

Wait! There's more. Speaking of moms and incredible people, allow me to introduce you to the lovely Lua Siegel. She has awesome parents too, who taught me a great deal about community and what is most important. Lua owns a bookstore, Peaceful Pages. Check out what this wonderful business owner is doing for the library:



If you're fasting today, along with millions of others around the world, (and even if you aren't) consider buying a book instead of lunch. You'll be feeding another part of yourself, supporting an excellent business and helping a library in the Dominican Republic. You can't lose!