Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Teen Missions

A blogger that I read regularly recently used it to try to find people from his past. I don't know if it worked (did it, Welblog?) but I thought I'd do the same. I've been thinking about my Teen Missions experience lately. At the ages of 14 and 15 I participated in Teen Missions International teams, first to Egypt, then to Norway. Teen Missions is an organization that sends out teams to foreign countries to do mission work, either purely evangelistic or alongside work projects. I did one of each: in Egypt, we helped with some projects at the Lillian Thrasher Orphanage (or is it Lillian Trasher Orphanage? I thought it was the former and I'm finding both ways on Google) in Assiut (multiple spellings of that one; for the keyword search: Asyut, Assyut). The next year I went to Norway with a bike team, where we got to ride all over the gorgeous Norwegian countryside and do coffeehouses and door-to-door evangelism. I remember one woman who invited the girl I was door-to-dooring with into her home. She was not in the least interested in being nagged back to Christianity. After we got that out of the way we had a very enjoyable conversation.

I no longer agree with the methods used by TMI, but I am highly curious as to where my teammates ended up. I can't remember the full names of anyone on either team, though, and even if I could, probably most of the girls would have taken husband's names, making googling difficult. (A downside to women taking husband's names, in my book!) So, if any of the members of the Egypt Orphanage team from 1983, or the Norway Bike team from 1984 find this, please drop me a line either in the comments or from my email, which can be found in my profile. Any other TMIers are also welcome to comment!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Teen Missions

A blog I read regularly recently used it to try to find people from their past, and I thought I'd do the same. Not sure if it worked--did it, Welblog? Anyway, I've been curious to find people from the two Teen Missions International teams I worked with when I was 14 and 15 years old. This is an organization that sends teams of teens to foreign countries to do mission work, either solely evangelical or working with construction, too. I did one of each--the first year I went to Egypt and we helped with a few building projects at the Lillian Thrasher Orphanage in Assiut (many different spellings on that--for keyword searches, it's also Asyut, Assyut, etc.). The second year I went to Norway on a bike team. We rode all over the beautiful countryside in Norway and did coffeehouses, where we'd sing and someone would preach. I can remember one woman who invited us into her home, one other girl and I. She established very early on that she is not interested in Christianity--she was an agnotic, I think, and not interested in organized religion. But after we got that out of the way we had a wonderful conversation. I think that any foreign travel is so educational and I have taken every opportunity that I've had to take my kids to different places. If you have to choose paying for private school or traveling, I say travel.

I no longer subscribe to the methods used by TMI, but I am interested to find out what happened to those folks. It was certainly a memorable time in my life and I was forever changed by it. I cannot remember the full names of anyone on my teams, and even if I did, the girls have likely taken their husband's names--the big problem with googling people you knew way back when. If any of you from Egypt Orphanage, 1983, or Norway Bike, 1984 find this blog, please drop me a line in the comments box, or go to my email address in my profile. I'd like to know what you're up to!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Trip Home

I forgot to add some finds we found on our trip home. First off, the only decent place to eat in Crescent City, it seems, is The Good Harvest, and it's not all that. 'Nuf said.

That was lunch, and dinner was much better, thank goodness! We had decided to stop for pizza in Eugene, but didn't know where. We were listening to the local NPR station just before we got there, and they happened to list a sponsor, which was CD World. Well, we'd been trying to find a place to buy the new Indigo Girls CD (turn up your volume and click) and this was it! We went there first and asked for a pizza recommendation. They recommended Cozmic Pizza. Mmmm, yum. Some of the best pizza I've ever had! And they have a bookstore right in the restaurant, and a coffee shop with an internet cafe, and a band was getting ready to play. (Though the band was pretty noisy setting up--loud sudden noises kept making me jump.)

I could have spent a nice evening in Eugene but certain others in my family were definitely ready to be home. So, we left, but we'll be back, Eugene.

Patrick's Point

Part two of our vacation.

Here's where the relaxation really started! This was our fourth Patrick's Point campout with the fun folks from HomeSchoolers of California. It's a community we've lived with, a week at a time, and it's been interesting to see the kids grow up, and the adults evolve and change. We went to our first Patrick's Point campout in 2000, a year of foment for us--we were just on the brink of change ourselves, and I think HSC has been a part of that change.

So, days at Patrick's Point go something like this: wake up (at a later hour as the week progresses...) and fix coffee on the campstove. Sit by the fire with others and drink. Then make breakfast (I was sick of cold cereal by the time we got there, as we'd eaten it every morning during the first week, so I made oatmeal, french toast, bread pudding, etc.) Clean up, and the day's activities begin. The kids go to games in the meadow: british bulldog, capture the flag, foam swordplay, and the adults read, knit, cook, hike. I never made it to the beach or even to an ocean view while we were camping....I was more in a mood for relaxing and camp cooking.

My one big accomplishment this year was learning how to use the dutch oven by the campfire to make yeasted bread! I did this early in the week, and it came out so good that I tried it again later in the week. It burned the second time. Oh, well! I still have some of the burned stuff--even though I cut off the burned part, the burned flavor went all the way through it. It was fun to experiment, though.

I expanded on my tradition of making a dutch oven apple pie. You can find a recipe here for the Campfire "Spicy" Apple Huckleberry Pie I made this year. I'll be posting some of my other dutch oven recipes on Elizabeth's Vegetarian Kitchen, as well, hopefully soon.

On with a typical day at Patrick's Point: everyone comes and goes and gets lunch whenever they're ready for it. More reading, discussions by the fire (one really nice thing about Patrick's Point is that it's always a bit cool to downright cold--which may not seem like a good thing, but it keeps lots of people sitting by the fire, so there's always someone to chat with or just read companionably with) and then around 3 or 4 the dinner cookers start getting busy. On any given night there might be up to 6 dutch ovens in the campfire at the same time! I first got inspired to cook this way at Patrick's Point and I saw a few weeks ago that there was a dutch oven event in the Portland area. Maybe next year I'll make it to that. I think I used my dutch oven every single day at Patrick's Point, except the day we got there and the day we left.

Dinner at the campout is an optional potluck, and most people do potluck it. There's an amazing variety of tasty dishes, and enough people are vegetarian that there's plenty for us to eat. This year we instituted a "vegetarian side" of the food table, and there were just as many veg dishes as non-veg, maybe even more. Dinner is really an event at Patrick's Point!

When dinner is over it's time for the dish washers to spar for room at the sink. Oh, there's a nice kitchen at the group campsite, though they took out our stove. There used to be a big, four burner stove and they said it was too much maintenance and too costly for the propane. But at least there's hot water!

After that everyone gathers at the campfire for making s'mores, singing, chatting, and staying up way too late. Thus ends a perfect day at Patrick's Point!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Park Day in San Francisco

Oh, good, now it's working! The top pictures are of Zac (long hair) and his buddies, Isaiah (with hat) and Atticus (dark blue shirt).

Hibi, with tongue sticking out, with her friend Jenna.

Highlights of our Vacation

We're back! A great vacation. Really got away, not just physically, but mentally, from the daily stuff and had lots of relaxation.

The first week wasn't all that relaxing, as we had lots of driving and lots to do, but it was fun. We started off with driving to Sacramento and spent the night with our dear friends there, Bob and Kathy, and their six children. We left the next morning, early enough, we thought, to drive to San Francisco, check into our motel, rest a bit, eat lunch, take a shower, and get to the wedding we were there to attend in plenty of time. Instead, directly after leaving Bob and Kathy's house we got a flat tire! And the lug nuts were on way too tight--we couldn't get them off. Fortunately, this occured right in front of Johnny's Lube and Smog (I think that's the name of it) where the owner, Johnny, was kind enough to help us out without us even asking. He used his air gun to remove the tight lug nuts and did just about everything himself, and then almost refused the money we offered him. :-) I just wanted to give him some good press, because it's hard to find good guys in this business, and we found this one by accident.

So, we got to San Francisco in time to change our clothes in the Walgreens bathroom next door to the church, and rush in at the exact moment the wedding was to start. Thank goodness Orthodox weddings never start on time! It was a beautiful wedding. The bride and groom met at St. Nicholas Ranch, our first year there, during camp. They were both camp counselors. He's Greek and she's Lebanese. I'd never been to a Lebanese wedding, and the reception was so full of joy. Usually the dancing doesn't start until after the dinner is over, but at this reception they introduced the wedding party during the salad, and then it all converged into a big dance to an Arabic song that went on for much longer than American popular songs go. It was so celebretory and fun. Ah, and we saw lots of the counselors from camp, as well as two of the adults who were integral in camp life. We sat with the latter, as well as a guy who'd been Zac's counselor along with the delighful woman he married earlier in the summer. It was great to see everyone.

On Sunday we went to Annunciation church and enjoyed catching up with lots of people there. Then we went to Chow for lunch with my brother and sister-in-law and a friend from church. Yum, Garden Noodles with Ginger cake for dessert! After that we went to the Wave Organ, which I'd never known about while living there, and probably would never have known about if it hadn't been for LaDonna's latest cinepoem. Bruce and LaDonna came with us and showed us where it was. It was pretty neat!

On Monday we went to park day with our old homeschool buddies in San Francisco. I still don't have my camera back but I have some pictures Dan sent. However, it seems that the picture loading malfunction of blogger that I've been reading about lo these many weeks since I had my camera working is still going on, and I can't seem to upload them. Maybe later.

After park day we had dinner at the home of our friends, Lisa and Mark. Their son Isaiah is Zac's best friend in the world, and I think it's reciprocal. They had an intern staying with them, and he came up for dinner. He had lived in Waco, and when we said we're Greek Orthodox, he said, hey, I know a Greek Orthodox clergyman who works in the Barnes and Noble I always went into in Waco. It took me about two seconds to say, are you talking about Daniel Payne? We met him and his wife in seminary! Small world. Anyway, Lisa made the most delicious vegetarian posole, with assorted toppings like cheese and avocado and sour cream. It really hit the spot--nice and homey. I really need to learn how to make posole. Mark and Lisa live in the mission district of San Francisco, so they have lots of inspiration for Mexican cooking.

Tuesday we hit the road and went to central California to visit my parents and 101 year old grandmother. We met her "friend"--the one she was all set to marry several months ago. They are still companions and I think the friendship is really good for her. She seemed very unstable on her feet, though, and kept trying to fall backwards. I'm really glad we got to see her--as she pointed out it may be the last time. But then we never know when will be the last time, do we?

We stayed at St. Nicholas Ranch that night, and planned to leave in the morning. But on Monday evening I'd gotten the start of a very sore throat, which morphed into a full-fledged head cold. Wednesday I was miserable and just wanted to stay in bed. So we stayed at the ranch that day and didn't leave until about 6 pm. We'd planned to stay with Bob and Kathy again that night, but we would have gotten there so late and I didn't want to spread my cold, either. So we stayed in a motel and got on the road for Ashland on Thursday.

In Ashland, we camped and saw the play Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It was excellent, but I was wishing we'd seen a more upbeat one. It was really quite dark, and I was especially worried about Zac seeing it, but he liked it fine. I still wish we'd seen The Importance of Being Earnest, but I don't regret seeing the one we did. I just wish we could have seen them both! We ate dinner at Pilaf, which was so good. It used to be completely vegetarian, but has some meat on the menu now. It's all different ethnic kinds of food, but mixed so it's kind of fusion cooking. We had grilled halloumi, french fries with both sweet and regular potatoes, falafel, and harissa. I'd definitely go back.

From Ashland we headed to Patrick's Point, where we had a great campout. I'm going to break this off and make this a two-parter, as I've really got a lot of unpacking and cleaning up to do from vacation. Plus Zac wants to get on the computer. :-)

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Peace, gardening, community

On Labor Day, we went to the Dorothy Day house in Portland. It was a breath of fresh air and I want to share a bit of our experience.

Dorothy Day was someone who was much like Mother Maria, whom I have written a bit about before. Dorothy Day was someone who stood for the poor and those who are swept aside in our society. The Dorothy Day house is a place where women are welcomed to a house of hospitality, women who are in transition from being homeless or in prison have a place to stay for a while. It's also a center for community, for people who feel strongly about peace and justice and good food and gardening and wholeness.

The house is run by a Catholic priest and a woman who is formerly Catholic, but now attends the Portland Mennonite Church. She started working with the Mennonite Central Committee doing peace work in El Salvador, and then began worshipping with them as well. We shared a delicious potluck dinner with them (vegetarian, even!) and enjoyed getting to know them a bit. Then they had their meeting, which we stayed for. They spoke of the work with the women they help care for, as well as the peace work they do, trying to help legislators understand the need to stop the killing in Iraq. They spoke of doing civil disobedience for their cause, because they feel strongly enough about it to risk being arrested. Hospitality and resistance, is what they are about. I felt I found the community we've been looking for. People who feel strongly about the things we feel strongly about.

A small thing to start with: they need people occasionally to stay at the house with the women who stay there, just to have a presence at the home. There are three people who live there full time but they sometimes have other needs and obligations to tend to. So, we are thinking about taking an evening now and then, when they need it, to go over and cook dinner and be there at the house. To chat when someone needs to chat, or just to be there. It sounds so homey, so comfortable, and like the community we've been seeking.

That's all until after (during?) our vacation. We're taking off bright and early on Friday morning! Have a great September, everyone.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Garden and Child Report

Ah, I wish I had my camera! These two items could best be told with pictures. One can be posted later, but the other cannot.

I just brought in five big tomatoes from my garden! One brandywine and four purple cherokees. Yum! I was going to use them in pastitsio, but I don't know that it's the best use for them. Maybe I'll use canned for that and find some wonderful use for these, like tomato soup or tomato tart.

And the big news around here is that Hibi got her ears pierced! We went to a place called Black Hole Body Piercing and a guy with hugely stretched ears and big old plugs in them pierced Hibi's ears. Now, Hibi used to have an extremely low pain tolerance. At age 7, after the dentist pulled a tooth, he came out and told us he'd had a little conversation with Hibi. He told her that when she has a baby, the word to remember is "epidural." ;-) But she chose to have her ears pierced, even though she knew it would hurt. I told her that she really cannot flinch, as it would mess up the hole. And she didn't. She just shuddered after each pierce. I thought at first that perhaps she'd faint, but she didn't. She said it didn't hurt any more than she thought it would. And her ears look so pretty!

Hopefully I'll have my camera back before Friday, when we leave on vacation. We're going back to San Francisco, our former favorite city ;-) for a wedding next week, and to see old friends. We'll visit with family--my brother and sister-in-law in San Francisco, my parents and 101 year old grandmother in central California. We'll see friends in Sacramento and then again while we're camping at a homeschool campout at Patrick's Point (see pictures and blog posts from last year's Patrick's Point campout: here and here and here and here and here).

Then it'll be home, just in time for the first jr. goya (middle school youth group) meeting of the year--rock climbing!

Friday, September 1, 2006

Heather's Blog

Heather, a friend I've mostly known from the Home-Ed list as moderator-extraordinaire (though I have met her in person several times), has created a blog. It's about her Quaker faith, which I find to be quite contemplative, matching Heather's introspective sort of writing. I've enjoyed reading her posts on the Home-Ed list for years, and am looking forward to reading more from her specifically about her faith. Go read and be nourished. It's called A Friend in Need.