25 July 2010

poetry collides [katie & nathan get married!]

another exciting part of our sabbatical this summer was the happy occasion to join with katie & nathan to celebrate their wedding.

[photo by the amazing Christopher Kuehl, Denver Wedding Photography. click on the link for the most beautiful wedding photos ever]

to my great, great fortune katie & i were matched as roommates during our freshman year at university. we spent the next several years taking lots of naps, avoiding social situations, hiding in our room (with hannah too!), listening to our evolving tastes in music, & generally working out who & what it was that we wanted to be. i can still remember how completely heartbroken i was the day we moved out of our little dorm room - katie bound for martha's vineyard & i bound for alaska.

[ok, we have a bit of a height difference, but she must have been wearing heels in this photo, right?]

it turns out that katie wanted to be a whimsical, creative & beauty-inspired artist + musician better suited to the east coast than our indiana cornfields. & in that endeavor she stumbled upon nathan, just the dear partner, muse, encourager, & dreamer for her.

[& yes, they are hipster super models - a perfect fit! photo also by Christopher Kuehl, Denver Wedding Photography]

& so they decided to get married. & it was a beautiful, whimsical, deeply inspired creative celebration.


you can check out their latest musical endeavor, Faux Fix, here. full length album coming early 2011!

24 July 2010

uganda [thoughts of faith + provision]

in the early part of the summer, i (amanda) had the great opportunity to spend a month in kampala, the capital city of uganda. i was there as part of my studies towards a masters degree in international development from eastern university.

grad school cohort
[my amazing cohort + our disaster relief professor, francois]

although i didn't have many chances to venture out from the classroom, what i did manage to see was a beautiful country, full of boisterous people ("you are most welcome to uganda" was a popular greeting), bright clothing, eager smiles & delicious coffee. it was quite a contrast to cambodia, where people tend to be a bit more reserved, shy smiles are the standard greeting & the temperature is 20 degrees F hotter!


but the trip will always be tied with sadness in my memory. while i was in kampala, a terrible suicide bombing attack took the lives of 74 people, including aid worker nate henn who worked with invisible children, a group working to end the use of child soldiers in uganda. i was within 1/2 mile of the bombing & heard the bombs go off, although i thought they were fireworks at the time - how strange to be so close to such violence & yet so unaffected.

the experience gave me a lot to think about.

firstly, i was really thankful to be with a group of christians. we spent the next morning praying for the situation together & it was a reminder to me that we really are supposed to be praying without ceasing (1 thes 5:17), together as the Church & that i don't do that enough.

it was also a reminder that Satan really does prowl around like a roaring lion seeking destruction (1 peter 5:8), which doesn't mean i should be fearful, just that i should probably pray a whole lot more.

& finally it was reminder of something that i think i have been learning throughout these last two years in Cambodia (& that has really broken a lot of my theological presuppositions)

-- God doesn't promise us earthly safety & security & sustenance --

He promises us His presence & He sends the church into the world to provide earthly & spiritual sustenance & to work for justice & the oppressed (isaiah 58:6-10 & matthew 25:34-40), but those are signs of His kingdom that is here, but that is also not yet here & the "not yet here" part means that babies in cambodia will die simply from lack of proper food & babies in canada will have complicated breathing problems & even that i could be watching the world cup & be killed by a bomb.

i know that seems like a simple lesson, but when i draw from my own life & experiences, i see a God who always blesses & provides & so its hard to line that up when it seems like God doesn't always do that for others. but I know that God is so much bigger than my own experiences of Him & that i am called to be joyful & grateful for what I have, without ever thinking that God has promised me anything that I have, apart from His presence in the middle of the muddyness & messiness of life & death.

because in the end, God doesn't protect anyone from death, but He does offer us life that is greater.

& (aside from qualitative research, cross cultural studies, micro-finance, disaster relief & advocacy)
that's what i really learned in uganda .

20 July 2010

sabbatical [brockport]

We shall not cease from exploration,
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
-T. S. Eliot


this august/september we had the wonderful oppurtunity to take a two-month sabbatical/home leave. all told, we slept in 22 beds, took 16 plane rides, were in 3 weddings, & ate 2 pizza hut lunch buffets.

the sabbatical truly was a time of rest & renewal for us. we had an amazing time relaxing with with friends & family & enjoying all the comforts of being home. it was just the break we needed to came back to Cambodia with renewed energy & sense of calling as we begin our next two years of work here.

we spent the first half of our time in north america with my [amanda's] parents in western new york. they were such gracious hosts & we enjoyed whiling away the august summer days with them.

mom & dad

[lovely hosts]

summer picnic

[summer dinners in brockport]

[pool fun]


[boating at the thousand islands, the mouth of the st. lawrence river]

[picnicking on lake ontario]


[pizza hut lunch buffet - yum, i want it again just looking at these pictures!]