Friday, March 31, 2006

Getting info online for Newfoundland

Fun ... an article on travel to Newfoundland, on the anniversary of the day Canada officially welcomed Newfoundland into the country. Awww.

Went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls in Charlotte, NC today. More later.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The lowdown

I pretty much felt like I was on auto-pilot for the last week.
  • Monday - Trauma.
  • Tuesday - Morning class as usual, finding out about Derrick's death just before lunch, meeting with a pastor in the afternoon, translation to do for Wednesday
  • Wednesday - Morning class as usual, translation to do for Thursday.
  • Thursday - Finish homework in the morning, class in the afternoon, special service in the evening to purify the area of the violence.
  • Friday - Spent a not insignificant portion of time wandering online looking for something to get mad about. Began to assemble notes for the upcoming Greek Readings quiz. Watched Hitch in the evening with Rob and Beth.
  • Saturday - Translated the next portion due before the test, a Galatians passage. Realizing that the GR class did an entire chapter of translation that I had not known about (which was potential quiz material), I did that as well today; translated Revelations 5.
  • Sunday - Visited Ebenezer Lutheran for the morning worship. I then compiled "clean" notes; grammar portions, vocab, special topics, all translations done side-by-side with the Greek originals. All this so I could know what I might be expected to draw from for the quiz.
  • Monday - Class in the morning, attended Derrick's funeral with a few other classmates in the afternoon. Choir practice at 3:15PM, dinner afterwards, Young Living Ningxia Red seminar in the evening. Also working on readings (due for class the next morning) after the seminar.
  • Tuesday - Class in the morning, followed by library reading time. Made it to the lunch-time Greek reading group, where we translate together the passage for the coming Sunday. Back to studying for the quiz for the rest of the day. I do take an hour off at dinner time to watch half of Mystery Men. Get to bed shortly after 10PM.
  • Wednesday - Get up and study some more before the quiz, which happens at 10:15AM. Take the quiz, get out by shortly after 11AM. Talk with Pastor Largen about synod assembly and other pieces of life for a bit. Go to Chick-fil-a for lunch, get groceries after that.

Today is absolutely gorgeous, weather-wise. It's a nice change from the cold junk we've been having. When we got back from the store, Rob and I walked over to the office to pick up a package. When we got back, we did a thing or two around the apartment but then went back outdoors. Sunshine is so important; we've not been getting enough, I can tell.

Now, I'm catching up on blogging before dinner. I think my plan is to not do any work this evening. Today is my Saturday, the one I didn't get last week because of all the mayhem in my life. Tomorrow - thanks be to God! - will be business as usual.

Note that I've updated our speaking schedule, at the bottom of the page. Hopefully, more speaking dates to come ...

Getting back on track

I have a quiz (which may be a lot more like a test) in a little less than 2 hours. My primary task since Friday has been preparing and studying for this test. I hope to blog sensibly once this is through. If you're reading this in the morning, pray for us all in the class.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What you miss if you don't watch sports

CBC.CA - Torino 2006 - Curling - Headlines: "Gushue, Nichols and Korab became the first Newfoundlanders to win a medal at the Winter Olympics since Dwayne Norris of St. John's won silver with Canada's men's hockey team at the 1994 Lillehammer Games. "

I had no idea. I just tripped over this excerpt from the Throne Speech in a news story referencing Newfoundland:

"A bold new attitude has taken hold in Newfoundland and Labrador – an attitude that considers a challenge an opportunity for triumph, not an omen of defeat," read Roberts.
"Nowhere has this new attitude manifested itself with more fire than on the icy rinks of Pinerolo, where our province's Olympians have spun granite rocks into gold."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 Columbia story

There's more video footage than I was expecting. My same classmate is featured in this report as well.

WLTX News 19 story

Here is yet another news story on the shooting. This page includes streamable video of the evening news. The blond guy with the glasses being interviewed is one of the people we were standing with in the parking lot when it happened. The white buildings pictured are the apartment complexes that we live in.


Please note: I accidentally put prayers in our Speaking calendar at the bottom of this page, rather than in the prayer calendar. Please get the prayer requests there until I have time to change their location sometime later. I'm on my way to class right now.

The State | 03/22/2006 | Gang member dies in seminary shooting

There has been more news and clarity, now that the media knows it happened on a seminary campus. I'm not sure if that should piss me off or not. I think I'm functioning in a state of low-grade anger right now, anyway.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The shooting

It's in the Columbia paper so I guess we're free to talk about it now. There was a shooting at the end of our driveway last night. Rob and I were both in the driveway, about 50 ft away, conversing with 2 other students when it happened. We only heard a bunch of shots, saw a black car driving out of the corner of our eye as we ran. I assumed it was a drive-by, ran for cover, called 911. Went back to the scene when the 911 person asked if anyone was shot because, at that point, I really didn't know. Turns out there was someone hiding in the bushes who jumped out, shot a teenager walking along with his sister and ran off. Apparently the person may have escaped in the car that we saw up Wildwood Avenue. We were present from about 6:45PM, along with many other LTSS students, some of who are trained first responders, with the boy who was shot until he left in an ambulance at around 7PM. According to an intern who was ministering at the hospital where the boy was taken, he was in critical condition last night. He was reported in The State newspaper to have died last night around 10PM.

Please pray for his sister and his mother, who were both at the scene last night.

A differetn experience but at a different office

Seattle Citizenship Interview -- SUCCESS!!!!!! : British Expats: "I'm also waiting for my citizenship to get my wife here through DFC. I applied for citizenship on April 2002 and had my citizenship interview in Oakland, CA on January 24. The interview went really well (I didn't have any issues to worry about). The history questions were very easy and all from the 100 questions list. The officer was very kind and friendly. It took about 20 minutes to go over the application and sign all required papers. At the end, he gave me a paper saying that I passed the English and history tests, however, no decision is made yet and that I should receive a letter
from the INS within a month or 2 with the decision and the date of the ceremony! I was a little surprised by that because I thought he will just tell the date of the auth ceremony. I'm now more surprised because seems like you got your auth on the SAME day! When I asked my lawyer about that
she told me that they now require extra security checks!! Has anyone had similar situation?"

One person's INS interview story

Seattle Citizenship Interview -- SUCCESS!!!!!! : British Expats: "I arrived at the INS building at 7:00 am and was one of the first people inside. There were other people with interview letters I could see. After sitting in the waiting room until about 7:35 a.m. my name was called out and I followed a man down a hall into his office. There on his desk was my
original application that I filled out with my favorite black pen. The interview started out very relaxing and remained that way the whole time.
The man went through each page to confirm all of the information. However, it got a little interesting when he arrived at the page that listed all of my time away from the USA. I told him honestly where I had been and why. He told he needed to re calculate the total days I was gone just to
make sure. For about 1 minute as he wrote I literally bowed my head and began to pray. Then I heard the words 'Looks like you're ok!' At that moment I knew I was home free. I was prepared to pull out my tax returns and various other supporting documents, but he never asked for them. The only thing left was the test. I was fully expecting to be asked about the original 13 states or about specifics of the bill of rights but those were NOT asked. I don't remember all of the questions but I do remember him asking about - what is the purpose of congress, what is legislative branch of government, how many supreme court justices are there, and what is the introduction to the constitution called - the rest of the questions elude me
at the moment. After that was over he shook my hand and gave me a letter to come back for the oath ceremony the SAME day.

I was out the door at 8:02 am and I came back at 4:00 pm for the oath ceremony. There was 68 of us who took the oath and received our certificates. It was a nice ceremony, and I was so glad when it was finished!!!!"

An encouraging story ... just thought I'd share it with you. So, yes, it looks like the Oath Ceremony can be done same day. Yay! I'll have to inform the local (to Seattle, that is) family.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Intercultural Issues - Namibia

Intercultural Issues - Namibia: I was actually searching for "relations namibia canada", looking for tips on which citizenship I should use to apply for residency there. But this site seems to be very informative and helpful, if it is indeed accurate. It's a "general code of conduct" document.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Another INS appointment!

Got an email today, right after we came back from a meeting with a pastor up in Little Mountain; I have another appointment with INS! So, just one month after my last flight to Seattle, I will be flying again. My appointment is on April 18. This is a bit of an awkward time, again. I will miss yet another 3 classes. Ack! If they had made the appointment for one week sooner, I would be able to go during Easter break, like a sensible person. Of course ticket prices might be higher. Ah well, at least everything is moving along rapido. At this rate, maybe Rob will be able to come to my Oath Ceremony after all, if it happens prior to mid-May. That's when he's flying to Namibia for a couple of months.

Here's what this appointment is all about:
  • the Interview - I knew this was the next step so this is not a surprise. That's it is happening so quickly kind of is a surprise. To this interview, I bring the originals of my documentation to support the validity of my marriage to Rob, the stuff I photocopied for my Naturalization application, the N-400.
  • the Civics Test - This is just a flat out surprise. I thought that the test was what you did the day you went in for your Oath Ceremony. At least the week before this appointment will be free of classes so I can focus on memorizing U.S. history and government trivia.

The documents they want to see are:

  1. The letter notifying me of my appointment
  2. My green card
  3. My passport
  4. Our marriage certificate
  5. Rob's birth certificate

Rob's birth certificate is the only item that may be sticky. He doesn't think he has one around and isn't sure how to go about getting one. I'm going to call the INS hotline and see if I can bring his passport instead. Meanwhile, Rob is going to check with his parents, see if they have a birth certificate for him kicking around.

The other thing I need to ask on the hotline is whether or not there's a possibility that the Oath Ceremony will be offered after the Civics Test. If so, Rob will want to fly out for it. Also, I know a number of other people who want to be there and live in the area.

In about an hour, we have that appointment with the bishop. My homework is all done and printed out so we can rush back from the appointment, grab my stuff and I can whisk off to class, at 4:15.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Latest project

I'm starting at the "Greek helps" thing again and testing my stuff out on a fellow seminary student. My latest endeavor is a rough-and-ready exegetical aid. A person should be able to take the following 2 sheets and, provided that they know what a given verb means, translate a verb. The guide should work most of the time. No guarantees for Aorist forms, though [shudder].

Monday, March 13, 2006

And the beat goes on

I got caught up this weekend on all my translation for the week I missed. I finished most of my reading as well but there were some things I couldn't do without a reading guide, which would have been handed out in the classes I missed. [sigh]

Visited the contemporary service on Sunday morning at the chapel at Ebenezer Lutheran here in Columbia. It was the most like Cross of Christ of any place we've been here in SC.

We have our first meeting of the week at 3PM today. I hope to fit in a good hour of translation before that. I have an outline and form/style study due on Thursday for Galatians 3:19-29 as well as a translation due on Wednesday, of 1 John 4.

Rob is making lamb and black bean chili for dinner tonight. We're pretty excited about it; it smelled great as soon as he put it in the slow cooker, before the heat had even begun to go through it. We're testing recipes for a chili competition on March 31. We tried a jazzy one, Maui chili, last week. It was very tasty, just didn't taste like chili is all. I kept calling it "curry", for days later, as we contemplated consumption of the leftovers.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Where I've been

A little Saturday morning diversionary activity.

The States I've driven through or landed at in an airplane:

create your own visited states map

These are the countries I've visited:

create your own visited countries map

My countries map is looking sparse, but I'm surprised at the completeness of my US map. Nothing like a YWAM east-coast tour and 3 cross-country moves to fix that, though, eh?

OK ... now I do homework.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Health site I like

This is a pretty good website, listing a lot of supplements by name, giving well-rounded information about each one. Not all supplements are listed but most of the major ones are. A good site to peruse if wondering about the value of a particular supplement.

To the top

Rob's dad had suggested that we speak to the local bishop, see if he could help us out, and we thought that was a great idea. I just didn't know how something like that was done. After contacting a bunch of churches this week (both meetings in the last couple of days went well, by the way), I did think that it might be easier if we could get some "street cred". But where would I find a bishop? How could I go about meeting him?

We got our break today. We met with Pastor Dwight and Dennis, the lay person who manages the church. They were very receptive and encouraging. They were also very informative and practically helpful. It seems Dennis has done some fund-raising for a radio ministry and had gotten in touch with the bishop himself for that purpose. The bishop's office then wrote a letter of endorsement for the ministry, a foot-in-the-door for many churches. Dennis not only suggested that we do the same but Pastor Dwight went immediately to call the synod office to try to arrange an appointment with the bishop for us! How cool is that? He got a time and a number for us to call back in the afternoon. We did so and we will be meeting with Bishop Donges next week, on Tuesday or Thursday. Yippee! Here's the bishop:

Looks a pleasant sort, does he not? He was quite personable on the phone, put me at ease. There's something about the title "bishop" that makes me feel all butterfly-like. Although I got on well with the only other bishop I've had direct contact with, Bishop Leonard Whitten.

And now I must adjourn to the library. I have a slew of reading to do for next week and I'll have to fit in as much as I can this weekend as my days seem to be getting fuller with meetings all the time. That's a good thing.

While I know that God is in control, it's nice to recognize Him in action from time to time.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Happy Birthday, Peter!

Stay out of the backs of pick-up trucks traversing winding dirt roads today. Just a small piece of advice. You never know when it'll rain, man.

Later that day

I got a call from one of the pastors I had left a message for and we're meeting next week. I'm realizing now just how full next week is going to be. Gak! But we need to meet with people as soon as possible.

Another pastor is checking with his vicar and getting back to me to arrange a meeting. Another I was calling back at 4PM but he's not in yet. She told me to check back in 20 minutes. I'm blogging in the meantime.

I also reached an answering machine, where I didn't leave a message because it was long distance, and stopped midway into a phone call because I got an email from an LTSS student who was going to be giving that church's pastor a packet for me, right at that moment. Like, I look at the name and phone number of the church, dial, put the phone to my ear, it rings once, the email pops up in the right corner of my screen with the church's name in it. Freaky. I hung up right away.

15 minutes until my last phone call of the day. After our meeting tomorrow morning, I'll do a few more call backs. I just finished our monthly report to LBT head office so that's done as well. I guess I still have receipts to submit, I could be working on those. Naw. I'll take a 15 minute blog-breather.

Morning update

I've made my morning's calls and just have a few left to do after lunch. Here's how it went:
  • left 4 messages with people
  • left 3 messages on machines
  • pastor on vacation, call back next week
  • pastor not around, try back later
  • pastor's daughter getting married, call next Tuesday
  • no answer at 2 numbers
  • meeting with Pastor Ralph on Tuesday, March 14
  • meeting with Pastor Gary on Monday, March 13
  • caught pastor in the middle of a meeting, call another time
  • call back after 12:30 today

That's 16 calls. I'll be making 5 calls after lunch.

Now, I can get dressed for the day.

smilies © copyright by

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Panda chews!

These are my new favorite recommended licorice for respiratory health:

Since my last post, I've been chewing on these, trying to get the fluid in my lungs to go away and the coughing to stop. I'm no longer in pain now and the fluid seems to have dispersed ... woohoo!

I may sound like an ad but that's OK ... right now I also feel like an ad.

Best laid plans

I was going to start walking, along with the ELCA's Here I Step plan for Lent. Yesterday, we did walk the daily 2 miles on this route.

Today, I had the brilliant idea to run. The much shorter route you see here is as far as I got. 1 mile. And I'm utterly zonked. And I've got fluid in my lungs! I mean, what's up with that!?! I'm coughing, hurting in my throat and wiped out.

Rob says I should have started slower. How slow should I start? I don't know what slow is, when it comes to running. I mean, I was an actual runner in high school. Mostly sprint but I did do cross-country as well. Could I be that delicate, just shy of 2 decades later?

The work continues

Today was far more productive than yesterday. Here's the lowdown:
  • Scheduled a meeting with a pastor on Monday, March 13
  • A "no" (they already have a missionary they support) with a recommendation to contact LTSS alumni for possible support
  • Scheduled a meeting with a pastor on Thursday, March 9
  • Left our number with 3 secretaries
  • Left our number on 11 answering machines
  • Scheduled a meeting with a pastor on Friday, March 10
  • Scheduled a meeting with a pastor on Tuesday, April 25
  • A disconnected phone
  • Instructed to call back on Wednesday, 3 calls
  • No answer at 5 numbers
  • Call back next week, a death in the church that day
  • Scheduled a meeting with a pastor on Thursday, March 16

Out of 30 churches called today, we will be meeting with 5 of them and only got one direct "no". That's encouraging to me. I just need to get back on the phones tomorrow and see what God brings out of that. I've stopped calling for the day because I started getting a string of "no answers" and I was calling long distance on my cell phone. No need to unnecessarily eat up those minutes, eh?

So, for you praying folks, here's what we'd like you to keep in mind when you pray:

  1. Pray that each of the meetings on the dates listed above will make good connections for us, with fellow Christians who want to be a part of this ministry.
  2. Pray that I will reach every pastor that God wants me to reach, that nothing would hinder those key partnerships.
  3. Pray that I would be clear and engaging on the phone, not all stumbly and halty.
  4. Pray that we would have clear guidance as to which churches we should visit on the Sundays when we are not speaking.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Back in SC

I left for the airport at about 6:30AM on Sunday, arrived at home in Columbia, SC after 8PM. Was zonked. We stopped at a Steak 'n Shake on the edge of Columbia for dinner on the way back, had patty melts. I was ravenously hungry. I didn't actually eat breakfast before leaving the house that morning (too early for my tummy) and managed to not get a meal on any of my flights. Didn't have time to eat on my stopover in Atlanta either. So my total food intake, prior to the patty melt at 7PM, consisted of:
  • latte
  • 2 ginger ales (I forgot that I had given up soda for Lent until I had started the second one ... oops!)
  • assorted packets of snacky things, airplane "refreshments"

Yikes. It's a wonder I'm not wasting away to nothing. Oh, wait ...

It's good to be back in the swing of semi-normalcy, as much as it was good to see the Buerers, Heidi and "Eric Go" again. Must do laundry tonight. We had to go and get groceries today. I called a handful of churches, trying to set up meetings with pastors. Results of phone calls were as follows:

  1. Left a message with the secretary
  2. Instructed to call back Wednesday after lunch
  3. Left a really awkward message on an answering machine; decided not to leave detailed messages anymore
  4. Left a simpler message on another machine, name and number, no blathering on this time
  5. Instructed to call another pastor back on Wednesday
  6. Busy signal
  7. Pastor didn't want to meet but did want us to mail him information about LBT

At that point, it was lunch time so I quit, for the time being. Then, we did the grocery thing. We also went to the library. When we got back, I called one of the pastors but he was gone for the day. I'm going to get back on the phone tomorrow morning, first thing. Hopefully some of my jet lag will be worn off and I'll be more coherent.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Fingerprinting "fun"

Here's how Wednesday looked:

10:30AM - We leave Woodinville to drive to downtown Seattle.
11:20AM - We arrive at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. We pull into the only available parking lot. We pay $5 for the privilege of doing so (Can we say 'extortion', boys and girls? Good ... I knew you could ...).
11:25AM - Kate, the kids and I enter the building. We go through security and on to the first lineup. After about 5 minutes as the second people in the line, I am called to the counter and receive a number. I am instructed to go to the second room.
11:30AM - We take a seat in the second room. There are more than 50 people sitting in the room, waiting. There are counters all around one end of the room but only one counter is taking customers; #11. There is an LED "Now serving #..." sign on one side of the room. I am suddenly glad that I came more than 30 minutes early for my 12:00PM appointment as this is obviously a first-come, first-served situation. NOTE: All times are approximate after this point.
12:30PM - I get called to counter 11. She takes my form and asks to see my hands. She pulls out a new number and paper clips it to my appointment notice along with my green card and a form that I had to fill out, of information that they already have. She tells me to have a seat and wait for someone to call my number. I think to myself that I have done that already. Having a new number doesn't make me feel any more like I am getting anywhere. I have no cellphone reception and can't call anyone.
12:45PM - I notice something odd about my green card; it says that it is class IR6. I am wondering how I never noticed this before. I decide to ask the Nice Lady at counter 11 what that means. She laughs, says, "Oh, you don't need to worry about that." Ummmm ... I return to my seat. I mean, what could I have said in response? I purpose to look it up online as soon as I get home.
1:15PM - My number is called. This means that I get to enter the room beyond counter 11 ... and take my seat in a line, in a third room. Am starting to feel like a Dave Barry column.
1:40PM - I check to see if I finally have cellphone reception; I do. I call Rob to give him an update. Also, I am killing time. We chat for about 5 minutes until, suddenly, my most recent number is called. I quickly end the call and hop to the fingerprinting station.
1:45PM - Another nice lady spends the next 10 or so minutes taking my fingerprints on a fancy scanning machine. She ends up calling someone over to help as my left little finger refuses to scan correctly. Ridge breaks mar the reading, something like that. Together, they complete the 10 print scan. It occurs to me that this is the second time since I began dealing with INS that I have had fingerprints taken on a machine exactly like this. I wonder idly where that first set of prints went. Nice Lady #2 offers me a comment card to fill out on my experience. I only wrote that parking should be free and, barring that, that it shouldn't be "cash only". I mean, it's like having pay parking at a hospital. Nobody chooses to come here. We are forced. To not come would mean denial of our citizenship applications. Yet, there is no mention of a parking fee on the appointment notice. What about people who don't carry cash? And I paid a $70 "biometrics fee" to cover the cost of fingerprinting in the first place. You'd think that would cover parking, eh?
2:00PM - I am given my appointment notice back, with a stamp indicating that I showed up, in case there's ever any question of that. I ask Nice Lady #1 how many appointments I might expect to have with INS before my citizenship is finalized. She says I can ask at the counter in the first room on the way out. By this time, however, there is a huge line in the first room. I figure 2 1/2 hours is probably enough time to have blown on this part of the process and elect to skip the line up, save my question for another day, another office.

Afterwards, we go for a late lunch at Canyons in Redmond, stop at the vitamin store to get some tooth powder, DIM and OptiZinc before heading for home. We are all completely zonked. There's something inherently exhausting and demoralizing about a visit to an INS office, even if you reasonably have nothing to fear.

BTW, I looked it up. IR6 just means that there are no conditions on my permanent residency.

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