Archive for ‘The Round Table’

August 27, 2010

To Reblog or not to reblog

ALIM2603

Image by Scuola Yoga Camerino

It is 3:39 am so I cannot be held responsible if this comes out incoherent and full of mistakes. I figure I’d start out with that disclaimer so you can’t say that you weren’t warned.

For those of you that use wordpress as your blogging platform, you might have heard of the “new reblog” feature. This feature allows you to repost something that you found on another person’s blog, with your own comments to boot. Personally, I thought this was a great idea and have reblogged a post before. However, not everyone agrees.

I read through her post (and most of the comments) and I decided that I agreed with her. WordPress has not given people the option of “opting out” of these reblog posts leaving them at the mercy of others. I may not mind being reblogged or reblogging others but what about those that do? So I decided to stick to the old school way of just linking posts I liked.

Why am I writing about this now? I’m glad you asked (just play along). I started this blog over two years ago. I cared about my idea then but I wasn’t as focused as I should have been. Recently, I had a renaissance of sorts and attacked this with new enthusiasm.

Part of doing that involves getting the word out and learning from blogs that get a lot of traffic. I have been enjoying reading the “freshly pressed” blogs daily on wordpress. That was where I found this post that I simply had to share. I can relate to it because that is what I am trying to do everyday. I find encouragement in seeing other people trying to do the same.

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August 18, 2010

Things on my mind

1. “Combat troops” leave Iraq

Crossing the Iraqi desert


“Operation Iraqi Freedom” is officially over. President Barack Obama stuck to his timetable of August 31 and today, the last 14,000 U.S. combat forces crossed the Iraqi border into Kuwait. This effectively brings the 71/2 year war to an end. There are about 50,000 troops left in Iraq but their job description lists them as “advisors” and trainers for the Iraqi police and military. It is definitely a historic day but with the Iraqi democracy in shambles and sectarian violence always a threat, time will tell what is to come.

2. The flood disaster in Pakistan

An example of the devastation


“The flooding in Pakistan has been of epic proportions: 20 million people affected; more than 1,400 dead; 900,000 homes damaged; 3.5 million children at risk of waterborne diseases. More people have been affected than in the 2004 South Asia tsunami, the 2005 South Asia earthquake, and the Haiti earthquake combined” However, aid has been slow to come in despite the fact that the United Nations is asking donors and countries for half the aid that they asked for in Haiti. Please find an organization and donate to the efforts.

3. My friends helping in Chile

Temporary shelter in Chile


As recently as February, there was a massive earthquake in Chile. The amount of destruction caused by the 8.8 quake was tremendous. Yet, Chileans remain as warm and loving as ever. I have two friends who are currently in Chile doing what they can to help. One of them has agreed to write about her time in Chile. Keep coming back to be a part of the experience.

August 18, 2010

Adversity Wrapped in Hope

The past few days, we had some pretty atrocious weather here in Chillán. At night, I would lay in bed bundled up in my sleeping bag and with the wind howling at the window beside me and the rain rattling the roof above me, I found myself thinking about the families, who lost their homes in the earthquake and now live in temporary shelters, referred to by Chileans as “mediaguas.” I thought about my complaints of being cold or inconvenienced during our time here and suddenly it all paled in comparison to the plight of these people.

Angry clouds promising the threat of rain rolled in on Sunday, while I stood over a pot of boiling hot chocolate. After stirring the hot chocolate to perfection, we poured it into thermoses to deliver to families in mediaguas along with the chocolate chip cookies and brownies that we had spent baking and packaging the day before.

Rain tapped on my hood as I stood at the front door of the first home. We knocked on the front door and suddenly every insecurity that I’d been intentionally ignoring rushed to the front of my mind like the cold wind blowing at my back. “What would they think of these gringas showing up at their door? Would they understand my Spanish? Would they be blessed by our gift or would they find it impractical and possibly even insulting- the door opened and we were immediately invited in to take shelter from the weather.

I stepped into their home and all my fears melted away with the warmth of their greeting. Like typical Chileans, they proceeded to offer us food and drink. I couldn’t help laughing at the irony. The plan was to bless them, not the other way around. Overall, everyone seemed to be receptive. Most families were pretty open about their circumstances. One family in particular, a single mom with her aging mother and ten year old daughter, touched our hearts though.

With every family, the children were always eager to immediately try a chocolate chip cookie or brownie, but despite repeated encouragement, this little girl continued to decline. I could see it in her eyes. She didn’t want some sweet that would soon leave her yet again in want. She wanted something more.

As her mom was sharing about the hardships of caring for her family, while having no job for the past few months, the little girl began to cry. Feeling the weight of the burden this family was carrying, tears streamed down my cheeks. Trying hard to keep from sobbing, I wondered, “What am I doing here? Who am I kidding? We can’t fix these people’s problems.”

One of our friends, who came with us, circled everyone around the three of them and began to pray. I’ve been wrestling with God a lot these days and lately I’ve been finding prayer with other people to be a bit strange and often uncomfortable, but in this moment it couldn’t have felt more right. When our friend finished praying, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Though the burden was still there, it now felt lighter and a sense of peace was greater.

At that moment, I realized what this little girl wanted and every one of these families we visited are in need of is hope. I wish I could rescue them from their problems, but I can’t even rescue myself from my own. I think I know someone else, who can though. Someone, who often for reasons I never seem to understand, doesn’t always rescue us from our troubles. Yet I can’t deny the grace I’ve always seen given in the midst of those troubles or the times that I or others have clearly been rescued from unwanted circumstances. Some days it’s harder than others to believe that Jesus Christ is our only hope, but I guess it wouldn’t be faith if it was easy.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” Hebrews 10:23 (Holy Bible, English Standard Version).

August 17, 2010

Uganda and the Invisible Children

You may have noticed by the banner to the right of this page that we support Invisible Children Inc. I had assumed that everyone knew exactly who they are but it has dawned on me that this might not be true. Who am I to determine where you’ve been or what you have experienced? So, let’s start from the beginning shall we?

There was a civil war in Northern Uganda from the early 80’s to about 2008. It started as a rebellion against the Ugandan government in 1987, when a rebel group was formed; The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). No one is sure exactly what the LRA’s motives are since they seem to change from month to month. On one hand, they claim that their beef is with the Ugandan government and that they’re seeking to remove dictatorship and end the oppression of the Ugandan people. In reality, most of their atrocities were visited on the Ugandan people. The leader of this group, Joseph Kony is as mystical and mysterious as the group itself. He has been described as everything from demon possessed to Christian to Muslim. One thing he is though is cruel, heartless, evil personified etc.

The LRA has made a habit of using children as soldiers. Their modus operandi is to raid villages, killing adults and kidnapping children to be forced into battle. Along the way, they’ve raped, maimed, pillaged and so on. Their rationale is that children can easily be replaced by more raids on schools, villages etc. This is where the Invisible Children comes in.

In the spring of 2003, three young filmmakers traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a filmmaking adventure transformed into much more when these boys from Southern California discovered a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them, a tragedy where children are both the weapons and the victims.

After returning to the States, they created the documentary “Invisible Children: Rough Cut,” a film that exposes the tragic realities of northern Uganda.s night commuters and child soldiers.

The film was originally shown to friends and family, but has now been seen by millions of people. The overwhelming response has been, “How can I help?” To answer this question, the non-profit Invisible Children, Inc. was created, giving compassionate individuals an effective way to respond to the situation.

Joseph Kony and the LRA are no longer in Uganda but have moved on to neighboring areas such as Southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The movie “Blood Diamond” shows an accurate picture of the kind of horror this group has inflicted and is inflicting. The good news is that the Ugandan Army, the Republic of Congo’s Army and the Sudanese Army are hot on their trail. Meanwhile, in Uganda, the Invisible Children Inc. is part of the healing process. You can find more information on how to help here.

Social Vibe has also made it easy to help. By clicking on the badge to the right of this page, you can do a few quick easy activities to help raise money for the cause.

August 13, 2010

Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup

Jacked from Homeless World Cup site

I love soccer. It is one of my favorite things to watch and I thoroughly enjoy watching the World Cup. The idea that every four years, people around the world get together, plop down in front of a television set and watch the same spectacle always amazes me. There is truly nothing like the World Cup. Battles have actually come to a stand still as warring factions agree to take a break to go watch a match or two. That’s how powerful soccer can be and that power is now being turned towards fighting homelessness?

Yes, you read that right. Doing some reading, I stumbled upon this article on former College soccer star Lisa Wrightsman, who is now homeless. She had succumbed to addiction and ended up finding herself in a very bad place. She checked into a shelter to find a job and get her life back together but was also recruited to play for the soccer team there.

While I was excited to read about the positive changes she was making, what caught my attention was the tournament she was playing in; The Street Soccer USA Cup.

This was not the style of free-form street soccer played in many places around the world. Instead, it was an Americanized version, a fast-paced four-on-four game with referees ensuring adherence to rules and walls confining play on a 52-by-72-foot field, the goals being 12 feet wide and 4 feet high.

Apparently, “About 200 players came from teen shelters, refugee resource centers and recovery houses from across the country, as well as one team from St. Petersburg, Russia. The Russian team won the title, beating a team from San Francisco in the final, 6-1.” I also couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw there was indeed a World Cup which would be going down in September in Rio. 64 nations will be participating and I for one will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings. More to come but for now I’ll leave you with this….

August 12, 2010

La belleza de la humanidad

It’s been a week since we arrived here in Chile and I still can’t seem to believe that I’m actually here.  Memories flood my mind with every familiar sight, smell, and sound.  Friendly faces greet me with warm hugs and kisses asking, “Te acuerdas de mí?  Me acuerdo de ti!”  (Do you remember me?  I remember you!)  To be honest, there are some individuals that I don’t remember, but I have never forgotten the Chilean people as a whole.

Anyone, who knows me today, knows that I have a border-line obnoxious love for Latinos.  However, this wasn’t always the case.  In fact, the first time I came to Chile, I didn’t really want to be here – for many reasons that would take far too much time and detail to explain, but my heart just wasn’t here.  I didn’t completely hate my experience, but I clearly remember counting down the days until we finally got to leave.

Sitting in the Santiago airport waiting to board our flight back to the US, I remember staring out at the massive Andes before me wondering whether I had squandered my time.  In that moment, as clear as the marvelous view before me, I heard God say, “Yes, this is a sight to remember, but you will soon behold it again.”

Ever since my feet left the land of Chile in 2005, my growing passion for the country has confirmed the common saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Never in a million years, would I have wished the devastation of the February earthquake on my dear brothers and sisters, but in a way, I’m thankful that it motivated me to return.  My love for Chileans is so strong that I can’t help, but let it overflow.

When I was asked to contribute to the roundtable during my time here, I wondered, “What could I possibly have to contribute?  I’m just a crazy white girl with an unexplainable infatuation with Latinos.”  However, in the presence of my Chilean friends these last few days, I’ve been humbled by both their strength and contentment despite the many adversities of this year.  In only a few days, I’ve already been challenged to consider what really matters in life.

I am reminded of a quote from Mark Twain, which is my mission statement for traveling. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  For those of you, who may never make it to this beautiful country and those, who still may, it is with this new perspective during this experience that I intend to share my thoughts with you – thoughts not merely about Chileans, but about the beauty of humanity.

August 6, 2010

The Vision redux

It has been over two years now since this blog was started based on an idea. My plan was to have the blog and my idea evolve over time. What has happened though is that I have evolved and the idea hasn’t grown much. This was made clear to me last weekend. I was talking to a friend of mine about her passion and she was struggling to put it into words. It wasn’t that she didn’t know what it was, she absolutely knew and understood. It was just that important to her that she wanted to do it justice in explaining it. Like all intelligent people, she turned around and asked me about my passion and it was time for me to struggle. The issue wasn’t only that I struggled to articulate my thoughts. I just realized that I was still trying to tell it from a two year old perspective.

As previously mentioned, I have evolved since then. I spent a lot of the time getting my feet under me. I couldn’t handle carrying this along as well. I started to wonder if this wasn’t just a naive, fantastic dream. Then recently, I had a renaissance of sorts. I was discussing things with another friend and I realized that the fire still burned inside me. I had gotten involved in various other things that ended up turning out successful. As a result, I was re-energized and believing again.

I am still trying to gather a group of dedicated, intelligent people who will come alongside me. This is important to me because my perspective isn’t broad enough. I have issues that I feel strongly about and other equally important ones that I don’t. By having them with me, I always seem to catch their passion like a fever. Also, more of us can do more together than we can do by ourselves. So two years later, the idea remains, find people who feel strongly about things and are willing to do something about it. Then partner with them and see where it leads.

July 13, 2010

Why I write

I write because my pen was touched by the hand of God,
destined to get high off my ink until I touch the sky.

I write because I am going to change the world or die trying,
embracing both fates because I have two hands that hold two pens, mightier than two swords.

I write because the struggle is a struggle and is only beautiful when it is a struggle.

I write because I want you to share, and above all to care, and after that to dare,
to be more than ordinary.

I write because my sisters are hungry and my brothers are angry and it is time to give them a voice.
I write for the little boys with no fathers, the silent screams muffled by pillows in the middle of the night.
I was listening.

I write to point to Him as the answer, the one that went before me so many years ago.

I write to break the cycle, and identify myself as a disciple, of all that is good and right.

I write because I am a gift and when I stop giving I get bigger and it becomes all about me.

And so, I write, for you.

June 6, 2009

A Letter to the Baby Boomers from my Generation

Dear Baby Boomers,

We would like to take the time to thank you for all that you have done for my generation. You gave us the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr., Women’s Rights, Hippies etc. You taught us a lot of lessons that no doubt will be useful for years to come. Lessons like “All you need is love…..” and you spoke out for the downtrodden. Which is why it saddens me to say this; with all due respect, you’ve lost your way.

Where did it all go wrong? When did you become fine with being the same establishment that you loathed all those years? Was it too much self love or were all those things fake? Is this who you really are or did you just get fat off the nicest piece of the pie?

It certainly appears that way when you consider the huge National debt that we have right now and the current state of the economy. I find it ironic that while you were spending and mismanaging the money, you never once thought of us. Now all of a sudden your big bubble has burst and now you don’t want to pass on “this huge debt to our children”. A little too late for that isn’t it?

Well don’t worry, we’ll be just fine. We are going to change things and they will be for the better. We still remember those lessons and we know that money isn’t everything. We still remember that what made America great was not her government, rather it was her people. People who were willing to sacrifice and to share. People who were willing to give and yes, to love. So while you argue over policy, we’ll still be here. Look up the statistics, we are mentoring people younger than us more than ever before and we are taking up causes like you used to a long time ago. When Katrina happened, we were there to help and we’ll continue to go where we are needed.

There is a revolution coming and it won’t be legislated. You won’t be able to call it “Socialism” or “Capitalism” or put it in a box. We are going to change the world and we are going to do it by affecting one person at a time.

So thank you for the final lesson you have taught us. Greed and selfishness never pays. Money comes and goes but people remain.

February 13, 2009

A year and some odd days

Just about a year ago I started this blog. Back then I didn’t know it would last this long. I hoped it would but I just didn’t see how it would. I had a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of fire. I knew that I was too intense at the time and I ran the risk of burning out before I started to see the benefits I longed to see.

I started out like gang busters and I thought that I was going to take on so many problems at once. I definitely bit off more than I could chew and while I tried recruiting others to help me, it was very difficult for me to articulate my vision enough to share it. So, it didn’t work like I thought it would and I figured it was doomed.

Yet here I am a year later and the dream is still alive. Above all, I have grown more in this last year than at anytime I can remember. As a result, I am more focused in on what this is about, what I try to be about. The Round Table doesn’t have all the answers. It is about a search for the answers. It is about a sort of think tank. My vision is to get people interested and involved and by doing that, get them thinking of ideas and solutions. I am also about bringing people on board that have their own ideas since there are other viewpoints and perspectives that I might otherwise not think of.

Here’s to another year and better results than the past one.