Superman Returns

Posted on July 10, 2006. Filed under: Movies and TV | Tags: , , , , , |

DCDid you see Superman Returns? I saw it twice; I had read little snippets that there was significant Christian symbology in it, but it was much more obvious to me when I saw the movie. Warning, spoilers below, so don’t click if you don’t want to know:
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Kenya Mission, Day 7

Posted on June 16, 2006. Filed under: Faith, Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

January 2, 2006

Today’s Swahili phrase: hakuna matada, which means “Disney marketing phrase.” No wait, it means “no worries.”

I’ve received a lot of encouragement to continue this series – we’re about halfway through – but this next day was a very important day, full of eye-opening experiences, and frankly, just hard to get a grasp on everything that happened and put it into words. I probably started and stopped this post a half-dozen times in the last month, and I think you’ll see by the end why it took so long. While bathing the orphan children was a revealing experience 2 days ago, today really impressed upon us the great need and problems of the people of Kenya.

Sister FredaToday we went to visit Sister Freda and her hospital, and I met one of this planet’s finest women. Sister Freda runs a hospital near Kitale, Kenya, as well as an orphanage and a school. She told us that only 2 of every hundred patients can afford to pay, so she provides most of the care for free and operates entirely on faith. We had come to serve Sister Freda for the day, but she waited on us hand and foot and humbled us by showing us what a real servant was like. Here is Sister Freda; click the thumbnail to get a full size view.

Sister Freda's HospitalSister Freda first gave us a tour of the hospital. In the US we’re used to gleaming stainless steel so the concrete building didn’t appear exactly state-of-the art, but it was very clean and sterile. Plenty of care was taken to keep things clean and neat. We met some of the patients. A woman with AIDS and malaria who had had an allergic reaction to the drug combination and who’s skin appeared to be disappearing; in her case, the rich black skin of a Kenya had turned an off-white color. We stopped to pray with her. We met a pregnant woman; pre-natal care is almost non-existent here, but this woman had stopped in for a checkup and some vitamins. We met a little girl with sickle cell anemia. Another young child, perhaps 2 years old, was asleep; her mother lived in the nearby forest and had carried her baby in a backpack for so long her legs were folded under and misshapen from the lack of use, and Sister Freda was providing the physical therapy to help her walk. The baby was taken from the mother by other villagers when the mother drowned her eight year old daughter.

Breakfast at Sister Freda'sSister Freda serves breakfast to the orphans Next, we went outside to visit the orphanage and school. In Kenya, they don’t have public schools funded by taxes like the United States; instead, each parent has to provide money to pay for their children’s education. The result is that many children from the poorest families and all orphans remain uneducated. Sister Freda not only has 30+ children she feeds and educates, but she’s been doing this such a long time that some of the earliest orphans have grown up and now work in her medical clinic. Here we visited the children while they were having breakfast.

The children of Sister Freda in schoolThe children of Sister Freda in schoolWhen breakfast was over, the children returned to the classrooms. I think there were three rooms, each about 20’x20′ with a door, a window, and a blackboard, and not enough chairs for the children. That didn’t seem to be a problem for them, though, as the children happily sat on each other when necessary. The children sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in English and were genuinely surprised that we knew the words, too.

Bananas from Sister Freda's orchardSister Freda presents fruit from her orchardSister Freda also has a fruit orchard and we toured the bananas, papayas, and avocados growing there. Many of the medicines prescribed are supposed to be taken with food, and for many of the patients food can be difficult to come by. Sister Freda solves that problem by growing her own food and cooking in her own kitchen. We were blessed by lunch with her as she served a meat stew with ugali and some of the most wonderful bread I’ve ever had called chapati, made by rolling whole wheat flour and salt into a circle, browning in a pan, then held briefly over an open flame to puff up.

Sister Freda was a fabulous host, and we found out the reason our day of service in the town of Mbasagan was cancelled was because of a funeral being held that day. On a moonless night, dark black men are hard to see, and such a recent night saw the murder of six people in town. Possibly in retaliation for a tribal disagreement, the six were murdered in their homes. We were reminded that we were far away from home and not necessarily as safe as we felt. Sister Freda instead served us lunch and presented each of us with a rungu, an African fighting stick. (I’ve tried to look this up on a web search, but the rungus I found don’t look like the ones we received. Ours look more like a samburu war club.)

Kenya girl carrying brown waterAfter lunch, we went to Mbasagan town to visit. When Mzungus like us visit, we cause a stir, and all the children turn out. The children are incredibly friendly and have none of that “stranger danger” has ever been taught to them. They walked right up along side and took our hand – those that were brave enough to come so close to a mzungu, that is. They ask for nothing but their needs are great. Some of the children would hold our hands for a while as we walked… then would also help us hold our water bottles. One by one we relinquished all of our water to the children, for we knew we could just get fresh water bottles later. What were the children drinking? The children save their bottles and walk to the river daily to refill it. Take a good look at the color of the water in this water bottle this young girl was carrying. How could we refuse? We only had maybe 6 or 8 bottles among us and there were two dozen children and I didn’t know how to choose, but that was my western materialism at play again. It didn’t matter which child we gave the water to, all the bottles ended up in the hands of a single, older girl. We were told once they had collected all the water, she’d divide it among the children fairly so they could all have a taste of fresh water.

One of the women we met showed us some maize that was at the foot of her house. It didn’t look like much, and it wasn’t. She told us that it was all she had to eat until October, but she wasn’t going to eat it. She was saving it for the rainy season to plant. She was an educated woman with a university education, and then married a local Mbasagan man. There was no opportunity to use her education and said matter-of-factly that this was just her lot in life. Her husband provided the living, carrying fruit from the market to the highway for about 35 shillings a day, about 50 cents. With that, they bought food daily. It was her job to collect firewood and water every day.

She told us of the needs of the town; many of the adults and children were dying of dysentery, cholera and malaria. The town shared a latrine, dug by hand 30 feet down, then covered with a board with a hole in it. The only well in town was also dug 30 feet down, and waste seepage had long ago contaminated the well. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was no cemetery, so people buried their dead on their own land, about a 20′ x 20′ piece of land. They only buried them two or three feet deep, so heavy rains would wash remains into their neighbor’s yard where they cooked. They asked to get word to a group like Living Water who could drill water wells 200 feet, well below the contaminated layer of ground.

We walked back to Sister Freda’s in a somber thoughtful mood, but our day was just beginning. When we got there, a man on a bicycle had carried a woman to see Sister Freda. The woman was in obvious pain; her ankle was very swollen, she could not move her arm, and she was bleeding from one ear. She had been riding on a boda-boda, a bicycle, and had a bicycle accident. She had leaped off at the last moment. Sister Freda took her inside, cleaned her up, but said she needed x-rays, something Sister Freda could not provide. We had a van, so we split into two groups. One group went back home, picking up groceries for the night. The rest of us gave the injured woman – her name was Rosa – a ride to the Kitale hospital. Our experience here convinced us of two things. One, I would never complain about US hospitals, and two, if we became injured in Kenya, please ship us to England for emergency care.

The hospital had an admission room where they grudgingly admitted Rosa because of Sister Freda’s letter, and that’s where the hospital care ceases. There are no orderlies, no nurses, nobody that comes to help. Injured people must be accompanied by friends or relatives to move them around or… they just die. There’s a payment for admission, and all transactions are handled up front with cash. If you don’t have cash… well, I guess you die. We found a metal gurney and lifted Rosa onto it and she yelled in pain; it had been several hours since her accident and she had no painkillers. Then we waited for a doctor to arrive to take the x-rays. He was traveling among other hospitals at the moment, taking x-rays, and nobody was sure when he would arrive at this hospital.

After two or three hours, Rosa lying on the metal gurney in pain, we decided we had waited long enough. It was getting dark and Rosa was getting cold, so we went back into the ward. Beds were available back here, but there were three times as many patients as there were beds, so injured and ill people shared, 2 or 3 to a bed. When we brought in Rosa, one woman moved her injured child into another so three children shared a bed, making room voluntarily for Rosa to have a place. We wheeled her as close as we could, then lifted her to the bed, cringing because she yelled in pain. We felt hopeless, unable to compensate for her hurting.

And 2 minutes later, we found the doctor had arrived. And we lifted Rosa again in pain onto the gurney, bumped her across the concrete walkway back to the x-ray room. Then we lifted her for the 4th time that day onto the x-ray table. The doctor looked at us seriously and asked us some direct questions about whether we were missionaries. I don’t know if that would have been a problem, but we answered truthfully that we were visiting sister Freda. One of us was a pastor, the rest were engineers, accountants, miscellaneous. Not full time missionaries. The doctor looked at us for a while longer, then asked for payment. We paid the doctor and waited outside.

After a few moments, he told us her foot was merely sprained, but her clavicle, her shoulder was broken. The blood from the ears indicated some head injury, but his equipment could not x-ray a skull. There would be no way to tell if her head was damaged seriously, nor any way to treat it.

We lifted Rosa for the 5th time back onto the gurney, wheeled her along the bumpy path, then lifted her for the 6th time back into bed. We now had a prescription for a painkiller, so again we divided up, half walking down the street to get the medicine, the rest staying with Rosa for comfort. We could pray for her, but she spoke no English. Jason translated for us that we had been visiting a local church and would stay with her as long as we could. At a nearby store before they closed we bought a shawl for Rosa to stay warm, milk and fruit for when she became hungry, and made a quick trip home to grab some personal pillows we had brought from the US so she would have something to rest her head on.

In the meantime, the rest of our group, waiting in the van, had spent the afternoon witnessing to the security guard. I didn’t get the whole story, but he was Muslim and afraid of what would happen to him, but then gave his life to Christ. I hope one of our group gets the courage to post in the comments below what happened out there. :)

That was all we could do for Rosa that day, so we left, vowing to come back and check on her when we could. Her brother was with her so her needs could be met. The needs of the Kenyan people showed so greatly in even this hospital – no assistance, no food, no medicine, and you had to pay first or you didn’t receive care. The Lord had opened our eyes today on many things, things we would never forget.

Again, I apologize for the length of time it took to write about this day, but it was such a powerful day, and I haven’t had the time at lunch lately to write like I did earlier in the year. If you thought our day of bathing the orphan children was the most emotional experience, today was exponentially more powerful. And tomorrow? In Day 8 we will find that there’s even more needs than we could have possibly imagined. That’ll take a while to write as well, so I hope you’ll be patient. And those of you that went to Kenya with me, and especially those friends still in Kitale, please comment and correct anything I didn’t get quite write, I’ll be happy to fix it. Just comment below or email me.

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One Another and Each Other

Posted on May 3, 2006. Filed under: Faith | Tags: , , |

I came across this collection of “One Another and Each Other” verses as listed in the bible. I didn’t know where to put it, so I’m putting it here. :P

One Anothers and Each Others

Bible Verses (NIV)

Accept one another Romans 15:7
Administer true justice to one another Zechariah 7:9
Admonish one another Colossians 3:16
Agree with one another 1 Corinthians 1:10
Philippians 4:2
Be at peace with each other Mark 9:50
Be compassionate to one another Ephesians 4:32
Be completely humble and gentle…with one another in love Ephesians 4:2
Be devoted to one another Romans 12:10
Be kind to one another (or each other) Ephesians 4:32
1 Thessalonians 5:15
Be patient…with one another in love Ephesians 4:2
Bear one another in love (or bear with each other) Ephesians 4:2
Colossians 3:13
Build each other up 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Clothe yourself with humility toward one another 1 Peter 5:5
Confess your sins to each other James 5:16
Do not deceive one another Leviticus 19:11
Do not lie to each other Colossians 3:9
Do not slander one another James 4:11
Do not take advantage of each other Leviticus 25:14
Leviticus 25:17
Do not think evil of each other Zechariah 7:10
Don’t grumble against each other James 5:9
Encourage one another Judges 20:22
1 Thessalonians 4:18
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Hebrews 3:13
Hebrews 10:25
Fellowship with one another 1 John 1:7
Forgive one another (or each other) Ephesians 4:32
Colossians 3:13
Give presents…to one another (or each other) Esther 9:19
Esther 9:22
Greet one another with a holy kiss (or with a kiss of love) Romans 16:16
1 Corinthians 16:20
2 Corinthians 13:12
1 Peter 5:14
Have equal concern for each other 1 Corinthians 12:25
Honor one another Romans 12:10
Instruct one another Romans 15:14
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:26
Live in harmony with one another Romans 12:16
1 Peter 3:8
Live in peace with each other 1 Thessalonians 5:13
Love one another (or each other) John 13:34
John 13:35
John 15:12
John 15:17
Romans 13:8
1 Thessalonians 3:12
1 Thessalonians 4:9
2 Thessalonians 1:3
Hebrews 13:1
1 Peter 1:22
1 Peter 4:8
1 John 3:11
1 John 3:23
1 John 4:7
1 John 4:11
1 John 4:12
2 John 1:5
Offer hospitality to one another 1 Peter 4:9
Pray for each other James 5:16
Serve one another in love Galatians 5:13
Show compassion for one another Zechariah 7:9
Show mercy to one another Zechariah 7:9
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs Ephesians 5:19
Colossians 3:16
Speak the truth to each other Zechariah 8:16
Spur one another on toward love and good deeds Hebrews 10:24
Stop passing judgment on one another Romans 14:13
Submit to one another Ephesians 5:21
Teach one another Colossians 3:16
Wash one another’s feet John 13:14
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What I Have Seen Since Katrina:

Posted on September 24, 2005. Filed under: Guest Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The poor and the wealthy hurt by the storm, Black, white, Hispanic,
oriental and Indian all hurt by the storm.

Christian people giving, giving, giving.

Churches going all out to minister in Jesus’ name Neighbors going door to
door helping one another Thugs and hoodlums going door to door looking
for someone vulnerable.

Ice and water being fought over as police tried to keep the peace.

People coming up from New Orleans taking over empty houses because
shelters are full.

Out of town volunteers coming with food and staying for now a week still
serving it.

The Churches all over this part of the country doing what Christians do
in a crisis.

Fema doing a wonderful job in getting help to us The red Cross doing a
great job in the shelters.

The Salvation Army doing a great job in the community.

Four Hundred crewman from everywhere bring back the power to our homes,
churches and businesses.

Lines at service stations a block to a mile long.

National Guardsman patrolling the streets of Mccomb along with Kentucky
policemen protecting us from the hoodlums and thugs of McComb, Pike
County
and New Orleans (the most dangerous city in the world before Katrina).

Drug dealers working outside shelters.

Doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel working tirelessly, even
sleeping in the hospital to do the job God called them to do.

WHAT I HAVE NOT SEEN:

The ACLU setting up a feeding line. People for the American Way helping
in
the shelters The NAACP doing any work whatsoever The American Atheist
organization serving meals in the shelters. Jesse Jackson directing
traffic
at the gas stations

I could go on but you get my message. Its the Christian people with love
and compassion who do the work. The gripers in Congress should come on
down
and get in line to pass the water and the ice.

Boy I feel better now.

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How the D-Day Invasion Would Be Reported By Today's Press

Posted on August 18, 2005. Filed under: Fun Stuff, Iraq War | Tags: , , , , , , , |

NORMANDY, FRANCE (June 6, 1944) Three hundred French civilians were killed and thousands more were wounded today in the first hours of America’s invasion of continental Europe. Casualties were heaviest among women and children. Most of the French casualties were the result of artillery fire from American ships attempting to knock out German fortifications prior to the landing of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops. Reports from a makeshift hospital in the French town of St. Mere Eglise said the carnage was far worse than the French had anticipated, and that reaction against the American invasion was running high. “We are dying for no reason, “said a Frenchman speaking on condition of anonymity. “Americans can’t even shoot straight. I never thought I’d say this, but life was better under Adolph Hitler.”

The invasion also caused severe environmental damage. American troops, tanks, trucks and machinery destroyed miles of pristine shoreline and thousands of acres of ecologically sensitive wetlands. It was believed that the habitat of the spineless French crab was completely wiped out, thus threatening the species with extinction. A representative of Greenpeace said his organization, which had tried to stall the invasion for over a year, was appalled at the destruction, but not surprised. “This is just another example of how the military destroys the environment without a second thought,” said Christine Moanmore. “And it’s all about corporate greed.”

Contacted at his Manhattan condo, a member of the French government-in-exile who abandoned Paris when Hitler invaded, said the invasion was based solely on American financial interests. “Everyone knows that President Roosevelt has ties to ‘big beer’,” said Pierre LeWimp. “Once the German beer industry is conquered, Roosevelt’s beer cronies will control the world market and make a fortune.”

Administration supporters said America’s aggressive actions were based in part on the assertions of controversial scientist Albert Einstein, who sent a letter to Roosevelt speculating that the Germans were developing a secret weapon — a so-called “atomic bomb”. Such a weapon could produce casualties on a scale never seen before, and cause environmental damage that could last for thousands of years. Hitler has denied having such a weapon and international inspectors were unable to locate such weapons even after spending two long weekends in Germany. Shortly after the invasion began, reports surfaced that German prisoners had been abused by American soldiers. Mistreatment of Jews by Germans at their so-called “concentration camps” has been rumored, but so far this remains unproven.

Several thousand Americans died during the first hours of the invasion, and French officials are concerned that the uncollected corpses will pose a public-health risk. “The Americans should have planned for this in advance,” they said. “It’s their mess, and we don’t intend to help clean it up.”

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The Mousetrap

Posted on July 27, 2005. Filed under: Faith | Tags: , , , , |

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” The mouse wondered – he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning.

“There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow and said “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The cow said, “Wow ,Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house — like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock.

To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them. The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think itdoesn’t concern you, remember — when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. In the book of Genesis, Cain said this to our God about his brother Able: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.

- author unknown

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Christianity Today Book Awards 2005

Posted on May 31, 2005. Filed under: Faith | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Looking for Christian reading material? There are so many titles out there, it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Christianity Today has listed the top Christian books for 2005, divided into several catagories:

Apologetics / Evangelism:
The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God

Christian Living:
The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others

Biblical Studies:
Africa and the Bible

History / Biography:
The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys

Christianity and Culture:
The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design

Missions and Global Affairs:
Encountering New Religious Movements: A Holistic Evangelical Approach

The Church / Pastoral Leadership (Tie):
Christ, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper: Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches

Fiction:
Gilead: A Novel

Spirituality:
Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God's Transforming Presence

Theology / Ethics:
Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross: Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition

There are more titles that have won an “Award of Merit” so visit Christianity Today for the full list.

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Worst Baby Name Ever

Posted on April 20, 2005. Filed under: Odd Websites | Tags: , , |

I suppose you could come up with something worse than “Urhines Kendall Icy Eight Special K“. How, I don’t know.

According to Lonestar Times, the first name is pronounced “Your highness,” but it looks more like “Your hineys” to me.

I’m told that “Urhines” is pronounced “Your Highness.” I wonder if the parents used old family names. Grandma Icy Eight and Grandpa Special K will be so proud of Urhines.

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Baby 81

Posted on February 20, 2005. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , |

Remember the “Baby 81″ stories from the New York Times the last several weeks? How this baby was the 81st admitted to a Sri Lanka Hospital and 9 separate women all claimed the baby as their own, one mother claimed the baby had been washed out of her arms during the tsunami, and it took a DNA test to prove she was the right mother? Very touching stories, and the birth mother eventually got her baby back.

Except large parts of the story were fabricated. Only one mother ever claimed the baby as her own. Details at Lanka Business Online.

* Thanks to Wizbang and Michelle Malkin for the tip.

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Weekend Recap

Posted on February 14, 2005. Filed under: Personal Stuff | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

My brain is not yet in gear this Monday morning, so I’ll just recap the weekend.

Friday night Diane and I caught “Million Dollar Baby.” Highly recommended; although it’s a boxing movie, it’s not what you expect. Hilary Swank was terrific; she sure can throw a punch. In the race for Oscars, I thought this movie was far superior to “The Aviator.”

Saturday morning we went to M3’s basketball game. Young girls play basketball with a different set of rules. In pro basketball, for instance, you rarely see an official time-out so the referee can tell all the players to make sure their shoes are tied. Thoroughly enjoyable. Afterwards, I hit the gym and Diane went to visit a home for troubled kids.

Saturday evening Alex came by early for his birthday party. DIane baked a strawberry cake, and I’m pretty sure Alex ate the whole thing in one night. We went to Joe’s Crab Shack (meh – it was ok) and then played Monopoly. Alex used to whup us at Monopoly when he was younger, but the luck wore off as an adult. He’s coming back for a grudge match soon.

Sunday was church (Romans 8) and bible study (Luke 22), then we visited Irv in the hospital. He’s looking good; he’s out of ICU and in a private room now. All the prayers were fabulous; Irv says obviously God has one more task for him and he’s not ready yet. We stopped by Mom’s to visit, too; she caught the flu and hasn’t seen Irv since Thursday, so we brought her a first-hand update.

Back home for a little early Valentine’s celebration. Diane brought some candles and we camped on the sofa and watched “Second Hand Lions.” I had heard wonderful things about the movie, but it’s eluded me; I haven’t seen it playing anywhere, so I finally just broke down and bought the DVD.

That’s about it; a very pleasant weekend all around, but way too short, as always.

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