Here is a review of what sounds like a fascinating new book analyzing the religious symbolism in Disney animation — both during Uncle Walt’s time and in the Eisner era.
Martha, one of our Kenya team members, has been struggling with the serious illness of her husband Jimmy. Jimmy passed away this week. He had, according to Debra, told Martha repeatedly during her hospital stay that she was to go on and make the trip, no matter what; he did not want to be the one who kept her from it. She is going to honor that request, although we all know it will be difficult for her.
Please keep Martha in your prayers.
Real Live Preacher, one of the finest Christian blogs (the blogger, Gordon Atkinson, has a forthcoming book collecting some of his best work), offers a truly powerful and moving post today about a man whose faith was evident in the way he treated children. A powerful story, masterfully told.
I will leave on the Kenya trip one week from today (Thursday).
LEAMIS likes to use a preparation journal with various scripture references and questions to enable team members to prepare themselves spiritually and personally for a trip. I found the trip journal for the Nicaragua trip to be unhelpful and the discussion questions too abstract or silly. I gave up using it after the first day or two. Then, I was embarassed when Gail and Debra asked us to refer to parts of it during our on-site training and our debrief at the end of the trip — my journal was blank, except for the portions we worked on as a group during the on-site training.
As a writer, of course, I was journaling all during the trip — not in the pre-packaged journal, but in a hardbound blank book which I used partly as a journal, partly as a diary and partly as a reporter’s notebook for the newspaper articles I knew I was going to write upon my return home. I will take the same type of book on this trip, for the same purposes.
This time, LEAMIS has assigned us a different spiritual journal, and I like it much, much better. It’s much more Bible-based. It’s “Before You Pack Your Bag, Prepare Your Heart,” by Cindy Judge. Because our trip will be longer than the number of daily entries Judge has allocated, LEAMIS has also put stickers on some of the blank pages with additional scripture references and questions.
Hyperscore is a seriously fun piece of software. I had it on my old computer, and have been playing with it again this week after downloading it to my new computer.
It’s designed for children, as a music teaching tool. In fact, the lack of text labels on most of its buttons and tools, which was probably meant to lend a kid-friendly appearance and encourage experimentation, can be a little frustrating for an adult. So print out a copy of the tutorial or the full documentation ahead of time so that you’ll have it when you need it.
Hyperscore lets you compose remarkably complex little pieces of music. You place teardrop-shaped notes on palettes, creating separate little melodies. Then, on a larger palette, you draw little colored lines — each color represents one of your smaller palettes — and then the program helps you to harmonize the little melodies together into a sort of simple symphony.
Best of all, Hyperscore — a product of MIT — is free.
I went to buy a couple of nice new colored T-shirts, with no messages (see below) and when I got home I realized I had one T-shirt and one sleveless muscle shirt.
The people of Kenya have, I’m sure, been through enough without having to see me in a muscle shirt on top of it. I now have the two T-shirts I intended to buy in the first place.
I got a generous last-minute contribution for the missions trip this morning (a member of my father’s church handed it to him yesterday). It was much appreciated. Even though I’ve long since paid off LEAMIS, and have purchased most of what I need for the trip, I have a few last-minute purchases to worry about, plus spending money for the trip, plus making sure that any bills which come due during my two-week trip are paid before I leave. And I’ll need to have a little left over after the trip so that I can make photo CDs to send out to all my contributors. This contribution really takes a load off my mind.
My parents also bought me a new short-sleeved button-down shirt to wear on the trip.
We are packing very lightly for this Kenya trip, just as we did for the Nicaragua trip a year and a half ago. LEAMIS’s rule is for each team member to check only two small suitcases: one for ministry supplies (such as the supplies for my cottage industry workshop, plus some school supplies for the church) and one for clothing and personal items. That leaves you very little room — two or three changes of clothes at most. You need something presentable to wear for church, and something more casual to wear during the day. We will have to find a way to do laundry during the trip, or allow our host families to do laundry for us, as the situation warrants. At least Nairobi will not be unduly hot, and so we may not get as sweaty there as in Nicaragua. Blue jeans are out — they take too long to air-dry — and so khaki or other similar light fabrics are needed.
Why do we travel so light? We may be staying in cramped quarters, and our host families might be inconvenienced if we traveled with too much luggage. But I think there’s also a spiritual lesson to be learned. When I used to attend the Tennessee Conference UMC singles retreats, the Rev. Jim Hughes did a sermon about traveling light — not having too much baggage which could hinder us from following God’s itinerary. I wish I had a copy of it, or had taken notes, because the concept has come back to me many times since. I wish I could say I’d always been successful at traveling light; I haven’t.
I’ve got to buy a couple of new solid-color T-shirts, preferably with nothing written on them so that there’s no possibility of anyone misunderstanding or taking offense. A Christian T-shirt that one culture finds clever, another culture might find sacreligious, and so I’m going to play it safe and avoid any type of printed shirt.
I’ve looked up several articles on the web about coping with jet lag, and shared them with my teammates. I know not everyone agrees on the efficacy of melatonin, but I’m going to check the local health food store anyway, and I will also try to follow the medical suggestions — drinking plenty of water, avoiding caffeine and alcohol (I already avoid alcohol, so no problem there), trying to follow my new time zone even while I’m on the airplane.
Experts also suggest that you be careful to get your required sleep before the trip — which they admit is easier said than done, given the stress of trying to put everything in order before departure.
I’ve had what I assumed was allergies for several weeks now — over the past week and a half, it’s been mostly sinus drainage and a persistent cough. Last weekend it was accompanied by a wrung-out feeling, which might have just been that I’d had a ridiculous week and was behind on my sleep.
I still have the cough, and tonight I also have, er, digestive ailments that I won’t describe in any further detail.
Sharon and I were at a Walk to Emmaus gathering tonight and she heard me cough.
“I sure hope you can get rid of that before your Kenya trip,” she said.
I do too. On the bright side, the trip is more than a week and a half away — plenty of time for me to get over whatever this is. And maybe if I do have some sort of mild local bug, the process getting over it will increase my resistance for the trip.
Sharon brought me the filtered water bottle tonight that she purchased for me this week at Academy Sports. As far as I can tell, it’s just like the ones we used in Nicaragua. We all drank the well water in rural El Triunfo from those filtered bottles, and had few problems. In fact, our worst sickness came at the very end of the trip, after our return to the Nicaraguan cities of Granada and Managua, and the person most affected was Amanda, our long-term missionary contact! The bottles we used in Nicaragua belonged to Amanda, so for this trip LEAMIS asked each person to purchase his or her own filter bottle.
This particular bottle is intended for outdoorsmen — the package boasts that it removes giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium, “the most common parasites in lakes and streams.” Hopefully, that also means it will work on any bugs in the Kenyan water that could give us traveler’s illness. If it doesn’t, of course, I’ll be bringing along a supply of Levaquin, as prescribed by Vanderbilt International Travel Clinic.
I just hope I can get rid of non-traveler’s ailments before I have to worry about the traveler’s kind.
By coincidence, I’ve gotten several unrelated pieces of feedback this week from blog readers, some of whom I knew and some of whom I was introduced to for the first time.
It’s nice to know people are reading; the web statistics on my hosting provider tell me how many people access the page each day, but that can be misleading. For example, someone might call up the page because they were referred to it as a search engine result, but when they decide it isn’t exactly what they were searching for they move on without reading it any further. But when someone drops you a line, or leaves a comment on the blog, you know they actually intended to be there.
Robert, a Mountain T.O.P. Adults In Ministry camper with whom I’ve worked in the past, asked if I was going to blog during my Kenya trip. I doubt it. We will be in and around Nairobi, so web access isn’t out of the question; if I get the chance I might post a quick sentence or two. But I doubt our schedule will leave much time for that, and I doubt the people with whom we’ll be staying will have web access in their homes.
I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about the trip once I return, of course.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank all of you for dropping by and listening to me ramble on from time to time.