Monday, May 31, 2010

I Just Might Be Crazy

This was not the blog post I intended to write.  I have had all sorts of wonderful thoughts and ideas and lessons brewing in my head over the last few weeks....you know me, I can't stop analyzing and processing everything.  I had a wonderful blog post about how sad I was to leave my family in Chicago and revelation about why that's so hard.  I had another wonderful post about a book I am reading called "Perpetua" and all of the cool revelations about that.  I had several others ruminating on the back-burner of my mind about life in general.

Yet, I am not posting about any of those.

Instead, I am posting to say: I think I am going to try to get into law school.

This idea has been hovering in the back of my mind for over a year.  Well, truthfully, I have had people off and on my whole life tell me they thought I should be a lawyer.  Even my own parents have said this to me.  I think most of the time this is because I argue so well (grin), have to understand the ins-and-outs and whys of everything, and always have to have an answer for something.  A lot of why I like science correlates directly with law: science has laws too!  I like that a+b=c, and all of that other stuff.  It just kind of makes sense that if I like the order and analysis of the laws of science, I'd probably like the order and analysis of the legal system.

Last year I had a housemate who really stoked this fire under me.  Probably because I stood there for over an hour discussing a point with her until she laughed at me and said I needed to go to law school.  She then couldn't seem to let this idea go.  Then, my other roommate piped in and agreed.  Both of these women periodically ask me about it, and have even gotten other people who happen to be in the vacinity into the game. 

This idea always seemed like a pipe dream.  But, the last few weeks I have not been able to shake the idea. 

I started looking into this and I am actually kind of excited at the thought.  Especially because quite a few law schools, including Seattle University, have specializations in International Law.  This intrigues me a lot.....there are a lot of ways to go with this specialization, and the more I think about it...the more I wonder if this isn't the route I am being led internationally.  Specifically in human rights/trafficing/social justice arenas....this piques my interest greatly.

So....here's the point of my post.  If I am going to start applying...applications are due starting in October.  The LSAT, which is required, is also in October (or December).  If I am going to take the LSAT in October, I need to take an LSAT prep course which starts in JULY!  That's right folks a little over a month.  This course is $1200.  So, this is a decision I really probably need to make within the next month.

I could really really really use some advice, wisdom, thoughts, etc. on this.....anything, really, will help.

Gulp!
Erin

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Chicago In Pictures

My sweet sister-in-law Becky and Brady's 2nd birthday cake.

Brady got his own kid-sized wheelbarrow for his birthday.


Brady is VERY orgainzed.  Here's some of his handywork.


Brady and my mother sitting in the wheelbarrow that was getting assembled.


Brady wearing my brother's gloves and "working" in their backyard.



Me and Brady before taking him to the zoo for his birthday.


Me holding the newest nephew, Kason


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Post Before the REAL Post

Hi all (sheepishly ducks head)...I promise I am alive.  I just got back on Monday late at night from a week-long visit to my family in Chicago.  I have been out of the loop and promise for an update and some pictures ASAP. 

I have returned, however, to most of the previous blog's list of "to-dos" and have hit the ground running back here at home.

Update or post coming soon...promise!
Erin

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Busy, busy, busy!

I have been too busy for  my own good.  I apologize for the lack of posts since leaving for Turkey.  Upon my return I have been going non-stop:

1.  Final tallying of the commitment forms from the Turkey event.
2.  Helping a friend edit and write a book.
3.  Writing curriculum on the side for a zoo down in California.
4.  Developing a lesson plan for Friday's Sozo Kids (which I am teaching this week).
5.  Getting my yard under submission! (read: weeding the whole thing, mowing and weed wacking)
6.   Unpacking from Turkey and re-packing for my trip to Chicago next Monday.
7.  Starting a new workout routine with a personal trainer.
8.  Oh yeah, just normal working hours, church, and friends too.

Phew, that's a long list.  I have meant to update on the rest of the Turkey trip, and, as you can see, just have not had time until now:

After the conference got started, I did not see much of it!  I spent a LOT of time for the conference in our "bunker room" where all of the photocopying, printing, powerpoint-making, and detail finalizing occurred.  My time was spent, finalizing the workshop times and rooms, making sure the rooms were stocked with what they needed, getting sign-up sheets in the rooms for the workshops, photocopying workshop and plenary session materials, helping check in participants, arranging speaker transportation back to the airport, tracking payments and budget for the event with the tourism agent/travel agent we worked with to plan the event, helping pass out materials, developing a powerpoint for the final day, and just general troubleshooting for the event. 

The final day of the event was my birthday.  Praise the Lord, the event was over by 1pm, and we were cleared out of the hotel and on our way to downtown Istanbul by 4 pm.  As a "thank you" for helping, Martin, the lead coordinator paid for my taxi into Istanbul, one of my nights at a hotel in Istanbul, and bought me dinner that night.  He, a friend of his named Roedolf, and I shared the taxi into downtown Istanbul and had dinner in town that night.  We walked around downtown Istanbul a bit after dinner (which was AMAZING...really the food as a whole in Turkey was absolutely delicious) and had coffee and apple tea (basically apple cider) and some Turkish Delights.

The next day I woke up and took a tour bus for the morning to see some sites around old town Istanbul.  We stopped by the Haghia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Obelisk (where four-horse chariot races used to be run), a rug-making factory, and spent an hour and a half in the Grand Bazaar (basically a big giant outdoor covered mall).  I met a gal on the tour named Toby, who turned out to be in town for just a day on her way to Israel. She was an Orthodox Jew from London and we made a plan to meet back up later that afternoon at the Grand Bazaar to do some more shopping.

I went and grabbed some lunch: grilled chicken kebabs, and then headed over to the Archaeological Museum for two hours, which was just heaven for a history buff like me.  I then met back up with Toby at the Grand Bazaar for some more shopping.

The Grand Bazaar probably deserves a whole post on its own, but I will say this, Turkish vendors are NOT shy about luring you into their shop!  As a whole, I felt Turkish culture slightly more aggressive and "in your face" than America.  Yet, there was not any outward anger and at no time did I ever feel like my safety was in jeopardy.  Turkish culture is also a bartering culture.  Once you step up to a booth (or even just glance that way) it's kind of like the shopping process has begun.  For sure once you ask a price, you are expected to buy, unless you really can't come to an agreement about a price.  For example I saw a vase I just adored, and the price (while jacked up to accommodate the bargaining process) was WAY too steep for me. It was pretty clear by the look on my face that there was no way I was going to be able to afford this vase, so the bargaining process ended pretty peacefully.  However, my friend Toby could not seem to figure this whole thing out and was pretty stuck on the western way of shopping....ask the price, browse the merchandise, no negotiation, etc. 

At one point she stepped into a vendor's jewelry booth and proceeded to look at probably 6-7 pieces of jewelry, asking the price on each piece, not bargaining, and then putting it down.  I think the vendor finally figured out that she wasn't probably going to buy and basically shoved us out the door.  He began yelling at us in Turkish and then in English "if it's free you like it!  If it costs money, you don't!"  We hustled out of there. 

Some of the lines we heard to try to lure us over to their booth were pretty comical: "Ladies, I can help you spend your money here!" "Leather, you want leather?  I have leather...you NEED some leather!"  All in all, it was pretty fun.  I managed to bargain my way into four cashmere and silk pashminas, a box of Turkish Delights, a "Turkiye" sweatshirt, and a Turikish tile for my kitchen.

After shopping, Toby and I headed to a Starbucks and chatted for probably an hour.  I asked her lots of questions about being an Orthodox Jew and in turn shared the gospel with her.  I'm not sure if anything will come from this, but we are now "friends" on facebook and I continue to pray for her.

I went out to dinner by myself that night, wandered around old town Istanbul a bit, then went back to my hotel to pack as I was leaving at noon the next afternoon.

The hotel, which had an amazing view of the Bosphorus and lots of other cool sites, had a free breakfast, which I ate the next morning. It was an amazing breakfast and puts our hotel's continental breakfasts to shame.

I negotiated a ride to the airport with a taxi driver (I told you it was a bargaining society...even taxi rides are up for negotiation) and headed home...purchasing some Turkish coffee at the airport.

I arrived home at about midnight on Friday night, May 1 after being gone 10 days....and woke up at 6 the next morning for work.  It was a trip that was a lot of hard work, but so worth it.

I'll post pictures later!
Blessings,
Erin

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Real Picture of Freedom

When I arrived in Turkey, I was met at the airport by a driver who picked me up and drove me to the hotel of the conference, which was over an hour outside of Istanbul.  I was the first to arrive of the group into Istanbul, as I had booked tickets to arrive early so I could sight-see before the conference.  Those plans got changed up when my friend who was supposed to meet me there couldn't come due to the volcano.  The last-minute decision was made to go to the venue hotel rather than stay in Istanbul.  I was grateful that I had someone to meet me there, even if I was disappointed not to be in the city.

When my driver dropped me off at the hotel, the gentleman at the front counter and I had a comical exchange.  He was not expecting anyone from our conference to arrive for two more days.  I am sure this was compounded by the fact that I knew zero Turkish, and his English, while good, was clearly not his first language.

Somehow I manged to communicate that I was there for a conference.  He said something about it starting "last Sunday," to which I replied, "No, next Sunday."  He called someone on the phone and about thirty seconds later, a very lovely woman came into the lobby and greeted me.  Somehow we figured out that yes, starting *last* Sunday, a women's conference started in the same venue.  We quickly figured out that I was *not* supposed to be there for that conference, but for the one starting *next* Sunday.  It was quite funny.

At this point I had been awake for over 24 hours, and I needed desperately to take a short nap.  So, after settling into my room, I set my alarm for two hours later, and fell asleep.

I woke up, took a shower, and headed down for dinner.  I saw the 50 or so women from the conference in the dining hall, but not knowing Turkish from Gibberish, I assumed that these women were from Turkey based on their dress, hair and makeup.

After dinner I went upstairs, got some work for the conference done, and then went to bed, waking up the next morning at 6AM.  Throughout the next day, I stuck mainly to my room, working on the conference, and watched some movies online; only heading out for meals.  I saw the women again throughout the day eating in the dining hall, but still assumed these were Turkish women.

The next day, late in the afternoon/early evening, the rest of the leadership team arrived to begin final prep for the conference.  While we were touring the facilities' breakout rooms, we ran into some women from the conference and began to tentatively speak to them.

It turned out that these women were not Turkish at all.  Though, by looking at them, you would never know it.  These women were dressed to the nines: full hair, makeup, jewelry, nails nicely done, and in full "western" clothing.  However, these women were not Turkish.  They were Iranian women.  They were Iranian women in Turkey for a Christian women's conference.

Think for a moment about those two words. Christian. Women.  I don't think you can find two more persecuted descriptors in Iran than those two things.  Even in our own country where there is still discrimination that occurs, there is no fear of death (at least at the hands of our own government).  These women risk death for what they believe on a daily basis.  This is so true that these women have to leave their country to have a conference.  I teared up as we were talking to them....looking at what they were wearing, the joy on their faces, the freedom they felt by being in Turkey.  I knew that when they returned home, they returned home to full burqas, fear and truly being the least of the least.  In many Muslim countries dogs have more respect and are treated better than women.  No where is this perhaps more true than Iran.

Their conference ended the day ours started.  However, we invited them to be a part of any of our first day they wanted to. Some of them could not come to the conference as they were returning home that day, but about 20 of them agreed to come as long as no photographs were taken (which there weren't any taken the whole conference, nor was anything recorded). 

Now, keep in mind, that our conference was specifically for Christian leaders from the Middle East.  However, we did not, up until this point have a single person from Iran there.  There were many reasons for this, one being that Iranians speak Farsi, not Arabic....but the real truth is that Iran is so closed and hostile, that there is really no way to know who believes what in that country.

On Sunday the conference was just getting started when these 20 women arrived.  Some spoke a little English, some spoke a little Arabic, and so they sat in the back as things got under way.  The leader of the conference was going down a list of countries represented there, and having everyone from that particular country stand up when their country's name was called.

Even without the addition of the Iranian women, these men and women have something that as a Westerner, I do not....they too face persecution, imprisonment, hatred, and threats.  Even without the addition of these Iranian women, the sheer courage, strength and fearlessness in the men and women in that room was enough to blow me away.

But, as "Mohinder" began to explain that there were some "special guests" in the room, the atmosphere changed.  He asked these Iranian women to stand, and as they stood, the whole room rose simultaneously in a thundering standing ovation for these women.  All two-hundred plus Middle Eastern men and women rose, acknowledging these women, honoring these women, blessing these women.

I stood in the back of the room and wept.  I stood in the back and prayed for each of those women, knowing that even that very day, they would board a plane, and somewhere along the route home, they would don their burqas, remove their makeup, jewelry and nail polish and step off the plane as once again the lowest of the low.

Yet at the same time I know that these women are blessed.  These women are blessed to know persecution in a way I have yet to experience.  I know this because in Matthew 5 it says that

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

It also says: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven."

And in Luke 21, "All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life."

And finally in 2 Tim 3, "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."

They have the kingdom of heaven in a way I don't.  They have a reward that I don't.   They know something about Jesus and life that I don't.

I was humbled by the amazing Chinese believers at the conference last year in Hong Kong, and I am humbled by these believers too.

Blessings,
Erin

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Called to Call2All?


One of the purposes for this trip, in my mind, was to come to a conclusion about whether working for Call2All full time was something I felt I would do.  I prayed ferverently about this before I left, hoping it would become clear.  I am grateful that I feel this has happened.

The bottom line is this: I don't want to, nor do I feel called to do administration.  This is what I'd be doing if I were to move to Kona specifically to work for Call2All full time. 

I had a short talk with Martin, one of the Call2All staff members in charge of the conference while I was there about this decision.  This was a divinely orchestratd appointment because Martin had no idea of my wrestle....so he was able to speak about the situation.  What he said was this: there is not currently full-time work *in* Kona.  However, if I wanted to continue to stay in Tacoma and just help out as I have been doing with the conferences once or twice a year that I "had a good thing going." 

If I moved to Kona, I'd be doing two things: admin for the organization part-time and doing event coordinating the other part time.  If I stay in Tacoma, I can actually continue to help with the events (which is separate from the admin aspect) from here and not have to move to Kona to do the other part-time admin (oh the magic of technology like the internet that allows something like this to even be possible!).  I could continue to work and then help with a conference or two a year. 

I actually really enjoyed doing the conference once it got started.  I enjoyed meeting the people involved with the conference.  I liked a lot of aspects of the conference....I do not think I'd really be happy doing full-time administration work.

This does not mean I won't do a DTS, that is still an option on my radar screen.  It does not mean I won't continue to explore other international options, but I feel confirmed in my heart that specifically moving to Kona to do admin for Call2All won't be happening.  I feel confirmed in my heart that doing what I have done for them for the last seven months, which is helping to coordinate events, will continue to happen for now, from Tacoma.

In fact, there has already been an ivitation to help with their conference in India sometime this coming fall. 

Blessings,
Erin

Monday, May 03, 2010

I'm Baaaack!

I'm still alive. And, I am back on US soil.  However, I have come down with a cold and my brain is not functioning well enough for a proper blog post.  I do have a few great stories about my trip rumbling around, and I will be back to post as soon as possible.

Also, just on a small side note....I also feel I have some pretty good answers regarding working for Call2All full time.  I'll write about that as well.

Meanwhile, off to the store to get some food and cold medicine.

Blessings,
Erin