Saturday, November 24, 2007

Travel Trials

On Tuesday, November 20, we left for Rockville, MD, just outside of D.C. We were going to stay two nights with friends, visit with a dear friend in town from FL, then have Thanksgiving day with a friend in Baltimore, and finally stop for a night in Richmond to see my aunt and cousin before heading home.

We had the phone numbers and directions for our first friend on our laptop computer. So when we arrived in Rockville, we got off the freeway and stopped in a random neighborhood to look up our directions. Alas, our computer would not work. Steve kept trying to get Windows up and running, while I began knocking on doors trying to find a phone book to look up our friends. But it turned out that our friends, having only cell phones, were not listed. We had no way to reach them, and had no clue where they lived.

In the mean time, our kids were tired of sitting for 3+ hours in the car, so I let them play in the leaves and grass on the curb in this neighborhood. The sun had set and now darkness settled over us. Our empty computer bag was on top of our car, but I moved it to the grass to show the kids a large moth that had rested on it.

The third neighbor we spoke to asked if we needed help. We asked for directions to a library, hoping we could get online and find an old e-mail message that contained the information for our friend. I hurriedly buckled all three kids in the car again, and found Josiah's sandals that he'd thrown on the grass. We zoomed off, trying to find the library, when finally our host called us and we were directed by phone to her home.

We did not discover until the next afternoon that our computer bag was missing. With a sinking feeling, I remembered that I'd placed it on the grass, and forgotten about it when I loaded the car in the dark. We returned to where we'd left it, but saw no computer bag.

Since people had seemed so kind the previous night, and since it was a quiet cul-de-sac, I figured maybe somebody had rescued the bag for us and we just needed to locate it. So Steve and I began knocking on doors (again!) and leaving notes for people asking if they had any information regarding our lost property. We left our phone number on several doors, hoping we'd get a reply. We also drove by the police station and asked if it had been turned in. Sadly they answered "no."

Twenty-four hours after we had last seen our bag, we were online, buying a new power supply for our computer. We had lost two flashdrives, a power cord and power supply, and many papers of Steve's. Meanwhile our computer still didn't work.

Forty-eight hours after we had last seen our bag, we were in Baltimore and it was Thanksgiving night. We received a phone call saying that a neighbor's son had found our bag the night we lost it and would meet us to give it back. We could hardly believe it. On Friday, en route from Baltimore to Richmond, we stopped at this cul-de-sac in Rockville one more time and gratefully retrieved our computer bag. What an answer to prayer to have found what we'd lost.

Now we just have to get our computer working again... it's better than it was, but not back to normal yet. Hmmm...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Caring for God’s Creation

    There is a BBC production that I highly recommend called “Planet Earth.” My library has it and I’ve been watching it a lot lately. It is a 5-DVD series, four of which teach about various ecosystems (shallow seas, plains, jungles, deep ocean, etc.), and the fifth giving analysis and commentary. I’ve only seen two DVDs so far, but I’m hooked. 
     The video footage is simply stunning, revealing places and organisms I’ve never seen before. My kids sit and watch because of the beautiful shots of amazing animals. I also enjoy the narration, which is informative, interesting, and in a pleasant voice. I feel like I’m taking a biology class, but this time I like it!
      My overwhelming feelings at the end of each episode are 1) WOW at God’s creation – the beauty, complexity, and interdependence, and 2) shame of how humanity (myself included) has plowed ahead with our industrialization and insatiable desires even though we are disrupting and endangering the very ecosystems that sustain us.
      I’m not an extreme environmentalist, and I certainly don’t value nature just for nature’s sake (though it’s tempting after watching these videos!). I care about people and ache deeply at the living conditions of much of the world. But we are all intertwined. My habits and lifestyle as an American affect people in developing countries. Their industries affect the environment. And when the environment suffers, all of us suffer. 
      In addition to the BBC series, I’m reading two books called “Lives Per Gallon” (by Terry Tamminen) and “When the Rivers Run Dry” (by Fred Pearce) which discuss the consequences of “petroleum addiction” and water over-use respectively. I’ve only read a chapter or two in each, but it’s enough to make me concerned and anxious to change if I can. Steve and I are cutting back on our car travel and increasing our recycling efforts, and I plan to look for more ways soon as I read these books. 
      One concept that was new to me was “virtual water,” which means the water it takes to produce the crops that make the food and goods we import and export. For example, it takes “130 gallons of water to grow a pound of wheat, 250-650 gallons to grow a pound of rice, and 3000 gallons to grow the feed for enough cow to make a quarter-pound hamburger” (Pearce 3-4). It’s easy to think that water will always be with us, especially when we live in places where we have running water. But it’s not true. 
       Pearce’s second chapter describes the Rio Grande river as essentially drying up from El Paso to a place where a Mexican river feeds into it. And the rest of his book will describe other river emergencies, as well as the depletion of underground water sources. I’d always thought of water conservation before in terms of reducing my home use, but now I’ll think more in terms of what I eat and buy, and how much water it took a farmer to produce that for me. 
      It’s something to think about… watch the videos so you get inspired about creation, and then read the challenging books so you get concerned enough to do something!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

First Steps and New Nephew

The milestones just keep rolling in!

On Saturday November 3, Ethan took his first steps, and hasn't stopped since. He loves to walk!

But bigger than that, my sister gave birth to her first baby yesterday, November 5, in Nigeria. His name is Timothy Marc Dauda Nege, and is healthy and cute =) I'm sad that we can't visit them in person, but thankful that everything went smoothly and glad he's here! To see pics, look on Flickr under Timothy Nege. I couldn't seem to attach one here; sorry!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween 2007

Steve and I have slightly disagreed about celebrating Halloween over the years. I've been more eager to dress up, trick-or-treat, and carve jack-o-lanterns than he has. This year I thought we'd avoid the norms since we live out in the sticks. But the kids' friends asked what they were dressing up as, and the moms asked me if I was taking the kids to the downtown trick-or-treating (to the shops during daylight).

So I let the kids use their costumes from last year and we made papier-mache pumpkin buckets again. We went into town in mid-afternoon and waited in a long line for a free horse-drawn carriage ride. Then we walked around with a few friends from church and received candy from local businesses, which just thrilled the kids.

The highlight, though, was going to a church's "autumn fest" in the evening. I left Ethan at home with Steve, and took Naomi and Josiah. The church had a bunch of games set up that were simple and perfect for little ones. Both kids had fun playing the games (Naomi's favorite was throwing balls through a hanging hula hoop, and Josiah's was knocking down a pyramid of cans using a ball) and were tickled to get tickets (especially when I said they'd be worth a prize later).

Naomi especially agreed that getting her prizes was even better than getting candy. She picked out a make-up kit and a pink purse. Josiah picked cars, frogs and snakes. They've been playing with them all day today!

I'm thankful for a local church that endeavors to give kids a safe place to have fun on Halloween. And I'm thankful for a fun day with my kids! In Naomi's words, "Mom, at the beginning of this day, I did not know we were going to do all this fun stuff!"