Sunday, June 26, 2005

No crying here!

Here is a continuation of my last post.

What I will not miss:

--Two seasons. Rainy (winter) and summer. I like four seasons, and am looking forward to spending a large portion of this coming fall and winter in the midwest or on the East Coast--bring on the snow!

--Transiency. As I eluded to earlier, just when you get to know someone here, they move. I'm somewhat of a "long-timer" now that I've been here almost three years! This concept, and a number of other factors, have made life difficult socially. In just two weeks in Cameroon (in September), I felt like I had made better friends than many of my relationships here.

--Driving. Though my Saturn is a great car, I do not like owning a car, nor do I like driving it. I am very much looking forward to selling it in August! Included in this are all the other ugly things associated with driving: finding a place to park, remembering where I parked, street cleaning days, etc.

--Accordion Man. Several nights a week, a man attempts to make money by playing his accordion (and unfortunately, singing) on the corner across the street from our apartment. The "music" invades directly into my bedroom, making reading impossible (I've tried earplugs to no avail) and forcing me into the kitchen or to play my music louder than normal. (As I write this, I have opted for the latter option with Accordion Man playing in full force.)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Tears will be shed

One of the most popular questions that I've been asked in the past few weeks, as my plans for post-CSM continue to come together, is what (if anything) will I miss about San Francisco. Here are my thoughts on that. (And stay tuned for the flip side of this in a few days...)

What I will miss:

--The Salvation Army Turk Street Central Corps. What we at CSM call "Turk Street" is my favorite ministry site (but not that I play favorites!). They have a large after-school program and summer day camp, with dozens of kids (K-6ish) enrolled. I lived in this building for my first three months in SF, and my ties to both the kids and the staff here have always been tight. They have dubbed me "Spiderman" and I try to "swing" in as much as possible. (The nickname goes back to when some of the kids thought I looked like Tobey Maguire; then some of the younger kids thought that I actually am Spiderman, so the name stuck.) Tears will be shed on my last day here.

--Geographical beauty. Northern California has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. I currently live just a few miles from the ocean, 30 minutes from wilderness backpacking, and four hours from Yosemite National Park. And there's a lot more that I just don't have room to write here.

--Friends. Of course, when leaving a place, one will miss the friends they've made. For my first year and a half here, friends were few and far between, but things have improved and there are a fair amount of people I'll miss. Small group, church, ultimate, house, CSM, Hope/Calvin alumni, etc. But the Bay Area is a transient place and two of the people I've been closest to have moved, so some goodbyes have actually already been said.

--The CSM full-time staff. We have great people in each of our eight North American cities. Even though we only meet a few times each year, many of our staff have become some of my closest friends. I'll miss our Sonic runs, late-night card games, and sharing of stories that only other CSM staff can fully appreciate.

--Ultimate. Hands-down, the Bay Area is one of the best places to play ultimate in the world. This summer, I could play six days a week if I wanted to--though I'll probably only play three. Good players and good spirit.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Our Summer Staff!!

2005 Staff
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
For you pray-ers out there, here is a picture of our summer (and full-time staff) so that you can pray for them by name and face.

Back Row: Wynter Olson, City Director; Sean Anderson, from Arlington Heights, IL; Drew Reding, from Pittsburg, KS; me; Kyle Staley, from Folsom, CA; and Shelby Bossert, from Reno, NV.

Front Row: Lisa Trump, from Tinley Park, IL; Leigh Anna Ridge, from Ruston, LA (she's in training to take over my job); Abby Rogers, from Katy, TX; and Quinn Ellsworth, from Portage, MI.

Praise God for the miracle of having three male hosts this summer!

A sad passing

I found the following announcement in my home church newsletter, and couldn't help passing it along on my blog:

With all of the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed a short time back. Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey," died peacefully at age 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in...and then the trouble started.

Monday, June 06, 2005

George Bush and Calvin College

Interesting topic, huh? George Bush and Calvin College. If you haven't heard, Bush recently spoke at the Calvin graduation (Calvin is the rival school to my alma mater, Hope College). It was supposed to be a perfect location for Bush to speak--super-conservative west Michigan and supposed college students who would fall into the trap of "Christians must be conservatives." Karl Rove thought he had met the ideal venue--instead he met his match.

Jim Wallis explains it in an article in a recent issue of SojoMail, an e-newsletter that I have come to read regularly. In short, progressive Calvin students, faculty and staff responded with their hearts, "protesting" Bush's policies regarding the war, the environment, the poor, etc. Graduates wore "God is Not a Replican or a Democrat" pins on their gowns. Many faculty and staff wrote an open letter in The Grand Rapids Press (the complete text of which I looked for on-line but could not find), outlining ways in which they disagreed with the President.

Unfortunately, the reaction to the protest--instead of applauding students for stepping up against an administration that thought it could just waltz onto campus without controversy--was extremely negative. West Michigan is an area where Bush's campaign visits are to raise money, not votes. Staunchly conservative. And the public didn't like people at Calvin objecting to the President's policies. While I didn't find the original ad, I did find the letters to the editor the week following. Not pretty. Almost every letter was against the fact that the students, faculty and staff spoke out against Bush. One of the letters I found belonged to one of my own professors at Hope, Dr. Jack Holmes.

While at Hope, I did not like anyone from Calvin. They were the "enemy," especially when it came to sports. But since I've left campus, some of my best friends have been from Calvin. One Calvin friend was telling me that people have actually written to the college, telling them that they should remove "all references to being a Christian college" because they disagreed with Bush. They are even expecting enrollment to decline for the fall, in the wake of the protest.

After all this, here are my thoughts: First, I have a lot more respect for the people of Calvin--I admire their willingness to stand up in a tough situation. Second, I value my time spent in west Michigan, but I'm SO glad that my worldview has been shaped by influences outside of the region!

Any thoughts on this?