Monthly Archives: June 2010

continuing south this afternoon

After a great evening and morning with Jeremy, Petra and the boys, Jeremy drove me the hour and a half from Orahovica. We were not in too much hurry because this particular train is usually quite late. but we arrived about fifteen minutes before the train was scheduled to stop. We had have great talks and I was very well fed. It was great to be with these good friends. We talked till late and then after breakfast continued out conversation. It was really great to hang out in the country. Thanks for your hospitality and friendship guys.

Then, after waiting almost an hour and a half, I headed for Bosnia where I look forward to hanging out  with Dejan and Michelle for a day before the prayer retreat in the mountains. I am grateful for Mark who got the sleeping bag and backpack out for me to use on this part of the adventure. As the train arrived at Osijek, I moved quickly to get on the Hungarian car. I was hoping for the same good conditions I rode down from Budapest on yesterday but it seems that the guy who connected this engine to these two cars forgot to connect something and there doesn’t seem to be any electricity. Oh well.

I had forgotten that in northernmost Bosnia, the train stops at intersections for cars… I think we stopped once for a chicken… But now am in Sarajevo, already having fun with Dejan and Michelle…

to Sarajevo to visit Dejan and Michelle

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taking a train…

to Croatia today to see Jeremy and Petra and the boys.

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my World Cup hopes

Teams in bold are my hopes:

49. Uruguay vs. S. Korea

50. USA vs. Ghana

51. Germany vs. England

52. Argentina vs. Mexico

53. Netherlands vs. Slovakia

54. Brazil vs. Chile

55. Paraguay vs. Japan

56. Spain vs. Portugal

Ok, Brazil is a pick, and I guess Spain is too.

So then…

A. Slovakia vs. Brazil

B. S.Korea vs. USA

C. Mexico vs. England

D. Japan vs. Spain

and then…

I. Slovakia vs. USA

II. England vs. Japan

3rd place Slovakia vs. Japan

Final USA vs. England

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interruptions and nodding

So, I’m taking an on-again, off-again retreat until Sunday night. Part of this down-time, indeed its a Sabbath, means quietness, catching up on reading and rest. I’m just back from another failed visit to see a flat (apartment) to lease and a stop at the local box store where I have stocked up with supplies for the weekend. Today, I caught up on the two week old news in the Economist that my sweet Anna sent me and in it is their Technology Quarterly. In that section I read two articles that interested me greatly. One because it was about human behavior, the other about a software program.

The article on human behavior was in context of human-computer interaction. It was about the computer recognizing the nod. Yes, the nod. Have you ever thought about nodding? Not nodding off (which I will do in an hour or so – I just had lunch) but the nod as communication. When having a conversation, one nods. Researchers have discovered that the nod is often preceed by a gaze change to the speaker from the listener. I personally would add an “umhmm” or a “hmmm.” This shows that the listener is indeed listening and engaged. Over and against just waiting for his or her change to speak (which happens way too often in typical conversation). Communication is really happening when we nod.
The other article is about a software that prevents the internet from distracting us. Be it Fb, Twitter or just checking our email, when working on the oomputer, we are very distracted. Sometimes Ill be at my desk working on something that is time sensitive and I’ll get a call, or I’ll be driving (back home) and I will take the call. But I will sometimes warn my caller that they are only getting 47% of my attention since I’m still doing X. It’s what multi-tasking is all about isn’t it? “Dipping” into the stream of the web as we try to work really slows us down. Our attention gets divided. The software prevents distraction by protecting us from the Internet.
This made me think about God. I am glad that God doesn’t have to divide His attention. Any of us who speak to Him have all of His attention (I might have said 100% of His attention, but 100% is a concept of human reasoning and I’m not sure that that is His limit. God is unlimited. He is eternal (something we don’t really get). Thus, he doesn’t need software to keep Him from being distracted. oh, and, I think God nods a lot.

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more from _A Praying Life_

Mid day, I went to meet my Szeged friends to vsit with them on their way to the airport, I spent the ride down to see Andy, Samm and Kimbo going over my notes from _A Praying Life_. In sorting through all the quotes, I found these to be the most helpful for my own praying life:

about Jesus… “And he prays. And he prays.”

“When Jesus tells us to believe, he isn’t asking us to work up some spiritual energy. He is telling us to realize that, like him, we don’t have the resourcesto do life. Whenn you know that you (like Jesus) can’t do life on your own, then prayer makes complete sense.”

“We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking something is wrong with us. God looks at the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy meandering prayers.”

“If you slow down and reflect, you’ll begin to see whole areas of your life where you’ve been prayerless.”

“Until you are convinced that you can’t change your child’s heart [or anyone elses for that matter, even your own], you will not take prayer seriously.”

“I often find that when God doesn’t answer a prayer, he wants to expose something in me.”

“You can’t walk with the Shepherd and not begin to change.”

I think one of the things that I am taking away from this book is that to connect to and hear from God I need to soak often in the Scriptures and I need to abide quietly with Jesus day in and day out. This is how I am changed, not from regret and remorse, but from biblical repentance: recognizing my sin (and not being surprised at it), crying out to God asking Him to change me, and rejoicing as I receive the work of the Spirit changing me from the inside out.

I urge you to go buy and read this book. As one friend who took that advise said, “It is changing the way I think about prayer.”

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Auschwitz Response I

This is my first entry. I traveled with the group but went without headset, I’d been there five time before, I didn’t need commentary. I took notes from which the following submissions come:

“Prayer Shawls”

They hang neatly

striped prayer shawls

worn many times

while reciting Hebrew prayers

the fringes, decorations, embrodery

the trim, frayed

from use

the Shema quoted from heart.

How many prayers were said

while wearing these shawls.

“Braids”

Shuffling through the rooms

visitors hear of

systematic destruction

of tragedy,

pile and piles of hair

burlap sacks filled with hair

cloth and netting are the product

these didn’t affect until the braid

lying just as it is was cut

from the terrified head of the

woman just hours

before her death

her ashes, now scattered,

but her braids remain,

reminding us

never again;

but never never comes

and again keeps coming

again and again,

Babi Yar,

Auschwitz,

Vukovar,

Srebrenica,

Darfur,

Somalia,

Bishkek,

again and again.

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experiencing injustice

While serving in the former communist world, (or any part of the developing world, I guess) one must be prepared for experiencing injustice. Last night a couple of us had a tussle with the local public transit officials. First the lady (?) at the ticket window intentionally closed the blinds instead of selling us day passes. Great. So we will buy tickets at our destination. I inform the checkers of our dilemma and they say no problem. So off we go. When we arrive at our next stop, we realize that the ticket windows are all closed and I can’t bring myself to paying single ticket prices. So we pool our change and are able to buy 24 hours passes for those in need of tickets! Off we go to our destination.  Later, the crew is checked by the ever present checkers who seem to be targeting foreigners these days and are always watching the adolescent portion of the population. Lo and behold, they singled our our crew and tell them, erroneously, that their 24 hour ticket was only good if they stayed underground. It would seem they though our crew was in possession of transfer tickets (these machine made tickets DO NOT look like normal 24 hour passes). So the leader of the crew wisely bought single tickets and off they went.

There are a couple of lessons here. One, if you are a foreigner, beware. If you are a foreigner who looks like an adolescent, watch out. If you are a female foreigner who looks like a teenager and are travelling with teenagers, you may be targeted. So be sure you know the deal, and be ready to think fast as our leader did last night. Don’t expect justice in an unjust world. The other lesson is this, the world is full of injustice and trips like our crew are on are a great way for people to gain an appreciation for those who are experiencing far greater injustices, like Aung San Suu Kyi. Check this out.

I am off to Poland tonight. Part of the journey will be to visit Auschwitz. I’ve been there five times before, so this time I am going to take along two larger texts I have chosen to meditate on as the team takes the tour. I might guess that I will have some thoughts for you when I return. I will be thinking and praying about justice and injustice on this visit to a place where the experience of injustice has been profound.

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