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Archive for April, 2007

Camping in Tiwi
An Aromatic Remnant
I was sitting in London-Heathrow airport yesterday writing down a huge list of things that I don’t want to forget. I did so much fun and exciting stuff in the course of a week that even pictures, blogs, and journals don’t do it justice. One of my favorite things about this trip was the variety of smells I got to take in. That sounds incredibly weird I know, but it made the trip so much better to encounter a different scent around each corner. Some of these were scents that I had never smelled before in my life, and I feel like it made the experience all the more exciting and new to me. I enjoyed this part so much in fact, that I was actually not looking forward to coming home and smelling the same old toxins of Southern California that I had gotten used to prior to my trip. To my surprise upon arrival I was completely mistaken. The air in Los Angeles, that is usually an ugly yellowish-brown, was crisp and blue. My inhalations were in fact, not disappointing. This of course, is a rarity that is experienced once or twice in a year in Los Angeles but nevertheless it was true of yesterday. The day before I landed it had rained and there was a cool breeze that had blown whatever smog that wasn’t forced down from the rain inland and away from Los Angeles. There are actually good smells in Southern California! The flowers still smell great, the scent of freshly watered grass is still a pleasurable aroma, the Orange trees in Riverside flooded through my sinuses at 6:00am and I couldn’t help but smile. I don’t think I would have recognized them though if I hadn’t gone halfway around the globe to open my nostrils to new aromas. A friend told me recently that she is encouraged to share a common observation of the little things and ways that God reveals Himself. It’s mysteriously liberating to be caught up in our smallness, to experience God’s wonder and Grace you can’t look at life as a confinement or constraint. Instead if you open your senses and start noticing Him in the small things you’ll start to experience the excitement and freedom God’s big creation offers. So, just as I’m more eager to smell the goodness in my home state after coming from afar, I’m also more excited than ever to dive back into the Kingdom work that God is doing in my state as well. A remnant still remains of a church. There are people ready to stand up and be used to reach the lost for Christ and build up the Church. It may take seeing a new vision, hearing a new sound, or smelling a new aroma to see a bit but its there.

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Old Man at Jebel Shams
4,500 Contacts
I have two more days in Oman and then I get on a plane and head back to the US. I have a feeling I’ll be telling stories for a long time. I’ve learned a lot about the History of Oman since I’ve been here, I won’t get into it now but oddly enough people would assume that since I have a degree in History, that means I know the history of every part of the world. Well, actually yes I do; It’s called History according to Chris. As of right now, credibility is a small problem but I’m working on it. So anyway, I went to a Portuguese Fort today and really enjoyed walking around and discovering things that influenced the Omani culture that may still be intact today. A student of History doesn’t necessarily know everything about a subject, he tries, but the goal is to realize contextual clues and critical catalysts that define or defined a society and its contribution to civilization. Intense huh. (more…)

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Grass for Goats
Sights, Smells, Tastes and Sounds.
There is a shedding away of stereotypes and prejudices when someone views a culture from an intimate perspective and is willing to confront and challenge their previous understanding. This is why traditional academia and scholastic resources are only half of my education. I can only gather a subjective perspective from an expert on a subject and can only read one aspect at a time from an entire library of books. And I don’t plan on reading every book written on a subject because I don’t have that sort of time. So with traveling, though my experiences is still somewhat subjective, it adds the flavors, smells and life to my learning experience enough to broaden and deepen my grasp of culture. This happened a couple years ago after taking a semester course on Holocaust studies then following up with a two week trip to Eastern Europe to add the contextual spice of walking where the Jews walked, and visiting the places that so many books were describing. Granted, I will never know the smells, sights, tastes and sounds of the Holocaust, I can learn much more by going than I can by sitting and listening to what other people tell me is true about it. The same thing is happening here in Oman. No, I’m not in Iran hiding my bible under the sheets as I read, but being able to experience this culture is so beneficial to the stripping away of misguided understandings that are found everywhere in America of Arab nations as a whole. Actually, most people don’t know this but the Iranians aren’t even Arab, they’re Persian. It’s so easy to look at the Arab race as an inferior people and I won’t rant about this but it’s the media that insights us. We’re so angry with these people and we don’t have a clue why we feel the way we do. I don’t know enough about Islam or any other religion for that matter other than Christianity, but if I were going to jump onto a bandwagon of bigotry I would need to know that not all Muslims belong the same schools of theology that Osama bin Ladin adheres to. It’s not like that at all! In fact, something I learned this week was that the Omani Muslims practice a brand of Islam that is unique to the Middle Eastern Region called Ibadhism. Here’s the deal, I could write and write until my fingers bleed and it wouldn’t make a difference, the only way that light will be shed on a new understanding is if we take the time to check out what’s around the bend. (more…)

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Re:action – My Friend

The Beautiful Wadi Tiwi
My friend
I’m going to transcribe what i wrote in my journal last night, April 13, 2007.
I have so many stories to tell, starting with this one. I’m sitting in a room right now with big heavy pillows lined up against the wall. The Air Conditioning is humming and frankenscence is burning. Juma and I just finished having coffee and discussing the differences between Hollywood and the rest of the state of California. I try to change the subject and discuss his life and his culture. Omani culture is a great one. It’s full of grace, beauty and rich tradition unlike any culture I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe how nice the people are. They honk the horn to wave and say “Salam Alekem” which is a polite greeting and means “Peace be upon you.” Everyone is what i would consider the absolute definitition of polite. The country is very beautiful, something about the places that haven’t been completly ruined by civilizations technical advances makes me feel absolutely blessed to see. The government is in the process of putting a major highway from the big crowded cities down into this beautiful land of wadi’s and white sand beaches. Last night we camped at an incredible beach with the purest white sand i’ve ever seen, and calm warm water splashing onto the shoreline. I think i’ll be forever spoiled from enjoying camping, beaches or nature in general. I’ve only been in this country for two days and already I feel welcome and at home. The conservative culture creates a very quiet atmosphere with less busy-ness and more relaxing and enjoying life. Juma, my friend calls it the simple life, I would consider it bliss. It will be interesting comparing their conservative lifestyle to our secular/liberal life. One of my favorite things about this life and the conversations i’ve had with several of the Omani people is the use of the phrase “My Friend.” I’m so happy to be here and I’m going to enjoy the next few days in this wonderful country.
At this point I quickly fell asleep and woke up many hours later. Jet lag is a punk.

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Re:action – Almost there

Manchester Church
Almost there
Alright, several many hours later in my journey I find myself surrounded by little children. I’m half awake, half dead from the miserable night’s sleep in the center aisle middle seat of a 777. I’m in London now, but technically I’m still in the airport. I walked through a maze to get to another security checkpoint and now I’m waiting for 1900 (7pm) for my next flight to appear on the screen. Apparently when you fly to Muscat they only give you an hour to figure out where your gate is and then you have to run to catch it before it takes off. This will be fun, especially since I have the worst sunburn I’ve ever had and my shoulder strap bag is heavy. It hurts. No it really hurts.
I sat next to a couple from Manchester, UK on the way over here from LA. They were extremely nice and for about an hour we discussed things like why David Beckham is no longer playing for his football team and is now in a place where football isn’t football. We also discussed spirituality and religion a little bit. I learned a little bit about the political correctness that is looming over Britain and not allowing people to wear symbols of their faith. This of course doesn’t mean you can’t be a Christian over here, it just means it’s not so popular. The parish that my new friends got married in conducted two marriage ceremonies last year and theirs was one of them. All the other marriages were done in Hotels, parks and courthouses. They went on to say that this year the 5 parishes were combined into one because the church couldn’t afford to keep them up or pay their parishioners. That means 4 more than likely beautiful churches shut their doors in Manchester. Hmm…this sounds very similar to California.
I need to get some sleep on this flight because once I get to Oman it will be Thursday Morning the MacFadyen’s have a camping trip planned for the virtual weekend. The weekend starts on Thursday over there, not Saturday.

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Re:action – New to Me

Surfliner
New to Me

Everyone it’s today, the day that I fly away from this continent, away from California, away from home, away from everyone. I’m visiting something new, well…new to me. Oman is a pretty old place. I’m really excited about doing this; anyone that knows me fairly well knows that I love traveling to distant strange places. Apparently this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. A lot of people don’t take pleasure in going to far off places and exploring something new. They prefer the beach closest to home and the mountain most accessible by major freeways; some will pay fortunes to live in areas where both are extremely accessible. It’s some people’s life goal to accomplish this dream. I think California is the place to be if you’re that kind of person. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with you. I think you’re great just the way you are. (more…)

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Empty Pulpit
That’s Just Life

I’m not going to slander him because slander is one of the things I’m so disappointed in him for doing, but this is what he said: “Well I guess you had some story to tell.” The story I told was my testimony, the audience was a group of people that could be greatly affected by it, Pastor’s Kids. The person who said those words was my dad. He was a Pastor for 21 years, and a couple years ago his decisions caused him to leave the church and take on a sinful lifestyle. The impact that these devastating decisions have had on his family, the congregation and himself have had significant consequences. I should say we’ve all experienced a great deal of trauma throughout the course of this phase in our lives, but my testimony is about how God is using it to bring me closer to Him, to strengthen my faith in Him and to make me into His servant. I’m not there yet, but who said a testimony has to be complete before you share it? He told me he was sorry that I had to go through this. He told me that “that’s just life.” I hope not.
I don’t think it is just life actually. I think that’s a very negative way of looking at life; like life is just another let down. So anything bad that happens to someone in life is just because life is a cruel thing and naturally will end in disappointment. Again, I hope not. I tend to think there’s a purpose for me here. That life means something more than just surviving with the most stuff still intact before life could take it away from us. I think it takes things like faith, love, patience, and self-control to do with life what is beneficial for us, but more importantly to get over our selves.
Who is it about? Just a thought…

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