Wednesday, July 15, 2015

this is the day - the last day!

Whelp, this is the day (pun intended). Not only is it the first update to my blog in about 4 months (oops), it’s also my very last day of missionary service! I thought it would be appropriate to post a little update on my life since it’s been so long. By-the-month highlights - here we go:

  • March Madness at the Seminar Program: hosted 9 groups from Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
  • Bucket showers for lent: experienced a deep appreciation for water as a resource and gift from God, and remembered my baptism pretty much every day as I poured water over my head.
  • Visited home for a few days and hosted my family in DC for a few days.
  • Finished physical therapy with great improvements in strength in mobility associated with my spinal arthritis.
  • Married off one housemate and welcomed a new housemate into our home.
  • Experienced US-2 End-Terms, the final formal gathering of our missionary class.
  • Summer season at the Seminar Program begins with 4 seminar groups.
  • Began co-leading a Bible study and fellowship small group with The District Church, studying the book of Ecclesiastes.
  • Spoke at Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference on my call to mission, my work, and Generation Transformation programs.
  • Facilitated a workshop and screened a film, both on human trafficking, at the Youth2015 conference in Orlando, FL.
  • Hosted 5 more seminar groups.
  • Had the first ever “Find-a-Dave-a-Job-a-Thon,” where my generous friends volunteered to gather at my house to look up jobs they thought I would be good at, and then explain to me why I should apply. Discernment is best done in community. I highly recommend this for anyone engaged in a job search.
  • For the first time in 3 years, rode a century (100 mile bike ride) with my roommate, fulfilling one of my little known DC goals of biking to the beach and back.
  • Celebrated Independence Day with my roommates and friends here in DC.
  • Hosted my last seminar group.
  • Had the honor of witnessing a good friend be baptized.

What’s next? My first item of business is a bike ride across Iowa called RAGBRAI (Registers Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa). This is simply a huge bike tour I’m doing for fun with 3 friends from DC and about 15,000 new friends I’ll meet there on the journey. The ride will take 7 days and cover 585 miles.

After that, I’ll continue the job search, focusing here in DC for the near term, but expanding beyond as needed. As always, if you know of something at the intersection of engineering, education, and ministry which provides ample time for working with people or hands-on work, please let me know!

I have so many more things I would like to share, but this is all for now. Blessings friends!

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So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.
Ecclesiastes 2:24 NLT

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

creative: holy

Nothing cerebral this week - just a sketch I did on some scratch paper (it reads "holy" in case you didn't get it), a song (I had Holy is the Lord stuck in my head when I drew this), and some scripture. Enjoy!

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’ 

Isaiah 6:1-3

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This post is tagged creative: I discovered that one of my great joys in life is doing work with my hands - manual dexterity - tactile thinking and learning and processing. I actually do some artsy things on occasion, like drawing, writing, playing music, poetry, alternative prayer styles, cooking, and many others. Creative posts are my way of being vulnerable and sharing this work and creativity with the world.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

devotional: where is their God?

“Where is their God?”

Do people say this in spite of your faith in God? With the seemingly innumerable accounts of suffering in the world – poverty, human trafficking, and violence of many kinds – even we Christians may ask ourselves, “Where is our God?”

When we see or experience despair, it’s easy to lose hope and faith in God. In those times, and as we solemnly journey to Easter, let’s remember that we know how the story ends. God didn’t forget about us – God sent us Jesus. The world tried to extinguish this Light, but the darkness could not overcome the Light. The tomb will be empty.

Further, Paul urges the Corinthians, “let us not accept the grace of God in vain.” The invitation is to team up with God and all people in the restoration and renewal of God’s creation.

Creator God, in the times of darkness when faith eludes us, please clear our vision so we can see the light of hope and empower us to live into your call on our lives. Amen.

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This is a brief Lenten devotional I wrote for Capitol Hill UMC. I thought I'd share it with the rest of the world as well!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

why I’m giving up showers for lent


Awesome – I lured you in with my ridiculous blog title. Now let me explain so you don't think I'm throwing hygiene out the window until April 5. True, I won’t be showering in the Lenten season, but I will be changing the way I bathe.

I was in Liberia for 3 weeks in 2012 to facilitate an engineering summer camp for local high school students. Liberia is one of the most impoverished nations in the world, and you might imagine that folks there generally don’t have access to indoor plumbing. Ok, we did stay a few nights at a guest house in Monrovia which had gravity fed shower system, but most of the time, we bathed in the time honored tradition of bucket showers, and this is how most of the population stays clean.

The idea is simple. You fill a bucket, and that’s all the water you get to use for your bath. I was a bit apprehensive of the idea, but to my surprise, it’s really enough water to completely clean yourself! Taking bucket showers in my American shower stall is a fast that’s been on my mind literally since the day I got back from Liberia and took my first hot shower with running water.

Why would I do this for Lent?

I take indoor plumbing for granted. You too? This engineering marvel (maybe miracle?) delivers clean, temperature-throttled water by the simple turn of a knob. I use it every single day and rarely think once, let alone twice, about it. Though I will still fill my bucket using indoor plumbing and not pumping from a well a half mile away, I will have an opportunity to pause and appreciate it. I hope this can also be a way to be in solidarity with my friends in Liberia and other places in the world who don’t have access to running water.

I like the idea of conserving resources. According to USGS, showers can use water at the rate of 2.0-2.5 gallons per minute. My bucket is about 3 gallons, and I know there is no way I have ever showered in less than 2 minutes, which means I’m using a lot of water with a normal shower.

I want to connect with the elements. During the imposition of ashes today during Ash Wednesday Service, I was especially struck by the phrase “from the dust you came, and to the dust you will return.” I think it could also be argued (both theologically and scientifically) that “from the waters you came, and to the waters you will return.” For me, scooping water out of a bucket will be a deeper connection with that element than just submitting myself to the blast that comes from the shower head.

These are just the implications I can imagine now. I hope and pray that this affects and transforms me in ways that I can’t even begin to imagine. Fasting can do that, and taking time to invest in the Lenten journey can do that.

Best wishes and God's blessings on your journey to the cross and the empty tomb, however you plan to observe it. This day and all days, remember that from the dust you were formed, and to the dust you will return. Your life is fragile, precious, and important. But, you’re just a speck – don’t take yourself too seriously. I'll try to do the same.

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
Genesis 1:1-2 NRSV

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

reblogged: your servant is listening


Recently, I perceived an unmistakable call to stillness. The incidents piled up over the course of a week: first a planned meeting of friends with the purpose of discussing meditation via Richard Foster’s book “Celebration of Discipline,” then an invitation to read “The Art of Stillness” by Pico Iyer with our staff at work (he also gave a great TED talk on the subject), and finally listening to a daily podcast which focused on practicing stillness and listening for God. This was all framed by the lectionary passage 1 Samuel 3, which came up several times.

As these incidents piled up, I decided to take God up on the offer for some quiet time. I went to a coffee shop, pulled out my journal, and began to write.

But before I go further, why bother with stillness? I collected a few reasons this week:

To slow down. We are a people of motion with tremendous emotional and intellectual inertia, not to mention kinetic energy. Our modern world always demands more from us. Running nonstop is to be like the world – slowing down is countercultural, which is often a good starting place for God’s work.

To empty ourselves. Try to sit for just 3 minutes without thinking of your responsibilities or your to-do list. Many of us struggle; our heads and hearts are full. Slowing down and emptying out puts us in a posture to hear and receive from God.

To be filled. One of the differences, says Foster, between Eastern and Christian meditation is that Eastern mediation focuses on completely emptying out and retreating from the world. Christian meditation goes further – we become empty in order to be filled. We hear God’s voice, receive God’s call, stir up our creativity, and recover from the wear and tear of everyday life, but poised to engage with the culture.

I sat in the coffee shop, and as an exercise, began to write every thought that came to mind, emptying them into the hands of God. It started with lines like:

Back pain.
A friend’s name.
Curriculum design.
Desire to lead.

As the list grew, its character changed:

The wood grain in the table, and the marks and blemishes – who made them?
The spiral of metal binding this notebook, precision wound through sheets of processed tree matter.

After that, I stopped writing and started noticing people around me. One spent about 10 minutes getting the balance of condiments in his coffee just right. Another hammered away on his laptop with unfettered focus.

I didn’t hear the audible voice of God like Samuel, but I did receive a sense of peace, calm, and thanksgiving. I entertained creative thoughts and renewed my connection with God and the world.

This is the posture I want to have while seeking justice and God’s Kingdom come. I’d love to invite you to try slowing down, emptying out, and asking God to fill you. I hope we can be like young Samuel, in the quiet stillness, saying, “speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

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First appearing on Feb 8, 2015, this is a guest blog I wrote for The Book of Fellows, the blog for United Methodists Young Adult Missionaries. Check it out and see what my peers are up to and thinking about!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

creative: letter from a birmingham jail

Doodling, particularly while listening, is one creative exercise I formally discovered in the past few months. Whether music, a staff meeting, or something else, for me, it's a life giving outlet that actually helps me stay focused at the same time. It also fixes things in my memory - I can tie large concepts to these creations.

I created this little doodle while listening to an audio recording of a reading of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail." I don't have any analysis for it - maybe I'm too scared to try - but the Letter is quite the challenge for people of all backgrounds to be united, speak up for those who are unheard, and work side-by-side.

I actually created this a few days after the King Holiday, but am just getting around to posting! I look forward to sharing more adventures in the near future.

This post is tagged creative: I discovered that one of my great joys in life is doing work with my hands - manual dexterity - tactile thinking and learning and processing. I actually do some artsy things on occasion, like drawing, writing, playing music, poetry, alternative prayer styles, cooking, and many others. Creative posts are my way of being vulnerable and sharing this work and creativity with the world.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

creative: all things new

Well, the Earth is completing one more lap around the sun, and it's time to celebrate. Then it's time to start all over again. Put like that, it sounds monotonous. The same old winter, spring, summer, fall; rainy season, dry season; days, nights; breakfast, lunch, dinner; and so on.

But for most of us, these cycles are actually refreshing. Why? Because they are never actually the same. We grow older, wiser, move to new places, meet new people, have children, have new life experiences, and so on.

See, God is making all things new. The crappy things don't have to stick around forever. We also might lose some of our comforts, because when we are uncomfortable, we grow, experiencing completely new things or experiencing old things in new ways. God is making all things new, and we are also making all things new, because God commissioned us as co-creators as we steward this Earth. So go, create, re-create, and have a blessed new year!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them; 
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’
And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’
Revelation 21:3-5a