Sunday, July 31, 2005

Hope and Calvin Unite!

Hope and Calvin Unite!
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
When I was a student at Hope College, I hated Calvin College. Okay, so maybe hate is a strong word, but I really did not like anything having to do with the "other" Reformed college in west Michigan.

Then I started to meet students and graduates of Calvin. And as it turns out, they're quite nice and have actually learned something while there. It started with my semester in Chicago, where I became good friends with a Calvin student and really picked up after moving to San Francisco.

Since living out here, so far away from Dutch west Michigan, I have befriended four Calvin grads who have made my stay in the Bay Area much more enjoyable. Steve and Amy Carlson, East Bay residents and fellow hard-core A's fans, have been a breath of fresh air when needing to get away from the city (along with '03 Hope grad Lisa Canterbury).

And then there's the random story of meeting Ryan and Kelly Dubois (Calvin '02) at the 4th and Geary Farmer's Market. I now attend their small group and they have been a great support in the past six months--many thanks to Kelly for wearing a Calvin shirt that fateful day!

So with this newfound support for Calvin College, I approached Steve with the idea of co-hosting a joint event for alumni from both Hope and Calvin: a tailgate party and A's game. A quick call to Hope's alumni office showed me that with their help, planning such an event could be fairly easy, so we embarked on preparations.

The final result, which took place yesterday, went better than we could have imagined! Nearly 30 alumni and friends (including a professor and some current students), from both schools, gathered for good food and fellowship at a tailgate party and then found our way into the stadium to watch the A's beat the Detroit Tigers (how appropriate!).

Somehow, I've overcome my prejudice against the Knights while maintaining my pride for the Flying Dutch!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

My Buddy Daragh

My Buddy Daragh
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
If you want a close look at one of the things that I'll miss most when I leave San Francisco, check out this article and accompanying photo gallery. This picture really encompasses my job--working with people that are homeless, along with kids who grow up around such situations.

I love the Tenderloin neighborhood, where this photo was taken, and especially the kids I've come to know and love there. This means that I'll have to stop by there much more often in my last month here in San Francisco!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

It's Official!!

As many of you know, I have been in the application process to join Wycliffe Bible Translators since Novemer of last year. Though it's had its ups and downs, I've kept pressing on for about eight months, and just this week, I heard that I am officially a member of Wycliffe!

With this news comes a wave of emotions. Relief at the fact that the lengthy process is completed. Excitement that things are in motion for me to be moving overseas in the next year or so. Frustration at the thought of moving twice in the coming months (from SF to Michigan and then Michigan to DC for an internship). Some fright at leaving the US to live in the developing world, even though this is something that I've dreamed about for a long time.

Not the least of my emotions is confidence. (On second thought, is confidence an emotion? For the sake of argument today, let's say it is.) I am confident that this is the direction that God has called me--a lot of prayer has gone into this decision, and God has opened and closed the right doors at the right times. And in the same vein, I am confident that I will be able to do well in my future job, and will like living overseas.

My good friend Ryan, whose blog I was reading in between moments of typing this, just posted an interesting entry on his struggle with uncertainty as to his calling. I suppose I would be one of those people of whom he is jealous, because of my aforementioned confidence. (By the way, Ryan is one of my closest friends and I know he would love to engage in further dialogue on this topic; nothing I said here is meant in a negative way.)

So now I return to the long and tedious tasks involved with picking up and moving across the country. More boxes were packed today, probably the last until a few weeks before the move. But it all has a different tone now--I'M IN!!!!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Pics Coming Soon

For those of you wondering about the lack of pictures on my blog, it has to do with my lack of a digital camera (see my previous post on this topic ). I have since purchased one (thanks for the advice, Steve!), received it, and promptly had to send it back because of a defect in the viewing screen. It should arrive any day now and I'll have a lot of pictures to take in the next month and a half.

That's right, only a month and a half left before leaving the city of San Francisco! Crazy. My room is trashed right now (this would be an opportune time to use my non-existent camera) because of shipping so much stuff home. A lot of my clothes are going out today; books were all shipped last week. I'm realizing that there is a lot that needs to happen before I move, so I'm doing as much as I can now. Anyone have tips for moving cross-country?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Missing the Fireworks

The fireworks here in SF are scheduled to start in the next half-hour or so, and here I sit, in my room, with absolutely no intention of leaving the house until tomorrow morning. For the first time since 2001--and only the second time in my entire life--I'm missing live fireworks on the Fourth of July. And to be honest, it doesn't bother me in the least.

Fighting crowds and attempting to see the show through the city's notorious low-hanging fog (although this year it looks like it might actually be clear), I can certainly do without. I'm tired, I've got things to be working on and honestly, I'm sick of the ethno-centric American attitude.

What really bothers me is the song, and the general theology of, "God Bless America." Should people really be asking God to send blessings down on America as a country? Should the richest and most powerful nation in history (arguably) be petitioning the Lord of the Universe to bless it? One of my former roommates, and others (including a bumper sticker), says that we should turn that phrase into "America, Bless God!" Why do we insist on asking for more, rather than attempting to live our lives for the one who gave us everything we have? We ask God to bless our financial situation, rather than asking him to use our tithes and offerings to bless others.

Our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and other countries of the world struggle daily with fear of war and terrorism. It strikes once in the US, and the entire nation freaks out. At Yankee Stadium in New York, they still play "God Bless America" during every seventh inning stretch, a tradition that was started following 9/11. Even the tragedy of that day wasn't enough to bring America out of its ethno-centricity; if anything, it deepened it.

I don't think we should stop praying for God to bless people or aspects of our lives. I'm saying that we need to make sure that we are blessing God and living a life pleasing to Him. Plain and simple, that's my view. My Bible dictionary lists several definitions of "bless." Only in one definition is it referring to God's blessing of people (e.g. Psalm 33:12). The other four definitions are about men blessing God and others around us.

Take note, America. We need to be honoring God.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Chris the Bouncer

My job allows me the opportunity to wear a lot of hats. Really, no day is ever the same, which in many ways is good. My former roommate Ryan had one of those jobs that was the same thing every day, and I doubt I could ever handle that.

That hat on Thursday was bouncer. Seriously. Those who know my physical make-up, know that Chris Winkler serving as front-door security--the only front-door security--at a soup kitchen in a tough part of Oakland is something like Steve Urkel playing quarterback. It's just not a natural role. As a skinny little white guy, I don't quite exude "Don't even think about going through this line until I say it's okay."

Needless to say, this role got off to somewhat of an awkward start. But once I got the hang of how the system was supposed to work, and some of the regulars (guests could come back through the line as many times as possible) started to open up with me, things were rolling. Only one small scuffle broke out, and I was able to carry on some fun conversations with guests as they were waiting in line. What started as a somewhat nerve-wracking job turned into one of my favorite "hats" to wear.

If anyone was wondering, I was serving at the St. Vincent de Paul Free Dining Room.