Saturday, August 28, 2010

First update from Michigan

I've been here for about five days now, so it's probably time to type up my "first impressions".   My cousin (Olga) and I traveled down together, while Ben and Papa pulled the trailer with all our stuff, since we were moving into unfurnished apartments and things like beds and desks take up lots of space.  The border went about as well as could be hoped, only about 2.5 hours, most of that spent waiting in line. I did not have any trouble crossing the border, but Olga's I-20 (similar to a student visa) had to be processed.  Other than the delay there, travel went remarkably well.  Couple spots of construction, but no major delays.
When we arrived in Holland we stopped at the bank first and got stuff sorted out there.  Or at least started sorting things out.  It took two more trips to the bank later in the week and I think we have it sorted finally. (See Mistaken Identity for the story as to why I had to sort things out at the bank)
So far seminary has been really good. We had orientation all week and sometimes it was overwhelming. Especially Tuesday. By the time we were done Tuesday afternoon I was so tired of listening and processing sound that I just took my hearing aids out and sat in my room/worked on unpacking, until dinner time. Dinner Tuesday night was at the President's house and there was really fun square dance like dancing and live music and Joy-friendly food.
Wednesday and Thursday were better days as far as having to process sound and not quite as exhausting. We only had time where we had to sit and listen for half the day...Wednesday morning was farmer's market, and Thursday afternoon was beach day, so those were both really good. Friday was all seminary retreat at Camp Geneva and sometimes the listening was tough because of the environment, but I did okay. We took communion as a body and I got to take communion too and that made me really happy. And we get to have chapel everyday, except weekends :)  Eventually I will be doing some signing during chapel, more than what I normally do, since I cannot sing without signing.
I did have a seizure Thursday night at Friendship House kickball, and people handled it really really well. Apparently I was really freaked out afterwards because I had no idea where I was or who was with me or anything, but it's all good. Evidently I told people I was going to have a seizure before I had one and they moved me to a safer spot. I don't remember any of it.
I love my roommates. They are super awesome and I think we are going to get on well. Their names are Lindsey and Jen. Last night after supper Lindsey and I made peach blueberry crisp and it was super yummy and joy-friendly. And Jen came into my room to give me a night-night hug.

Classes start Monday and I'm still exploring some internship options, so my impressions of seminary could change after those things fall into place, but I'm pretty sure it will be positive. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mistaken Identity

This is not the blog post I intended to write today.  I had one all thought out about blessings and leaving for seminary and such.  Maybe it will come later.  Maybe it will just go to the place where unwritten blog posts go.
Anyhow, for the story.
In July, I went to the States for a family reunion and we stopped in Holland, MI (where I am moving in 2 sleeps) and opened a bank account for me so that we could close my Iowa account and so that I'd have money in Holland when I got there. Sometimes I think ahead like that.  We got it all set up and life was good.
A few weeks ago we went ahead and got my online banking set up.  It was a bit of a tricky problem because my bank card hadn't arrived by mail yet.  I was supposed to be sent to my Canadian address.  But the bank people were really helpful and we got it done.  Life was good.
As of yesterday, my bank card still hadn't arrived in the mail.  We were going to call the bank people and have them send it to my Michigan address, since sending it here would be rather pointless. I ruptured my ear drum yesterday in my good ear and my other ear is brewing a wonderful infection, so mom was going to have to help me with the phone call anyways. We didn't get a chance to make the call yesterday, so it was first on the list of things to do this morning, after bottles, barn chores and breakfasts.  In preparation for the call I logged onto internet banking to check balances.  Knowing my account balance helps verify that I am who I say I am (when mom helps me with a call, she acts kind of like a relay operator, since I can read her lips and the telephone doesn't have lips for me to read.  Often I'll voice into the phone to assure people that I'm really there).  I logged on and tried to check my account balance and my account was gone.  There was no listing of it.  Nothing.  I thought maybe there had been an error loading it.  I logged out and tried again.  And again.  And again.  No change.  My account (and all the money I had saved for books, rent, etc) was gone.  I started to freak out a little.   We called the bank.  Now, not only did we need the card sent to my Michigan address, we needed to know what was happening with my account.
Mom called the bank and we went through the normal hoops of me verifying who I was and giving verbal permission for them to speak with mom on my behalf because the telephone doesn't have lips.  Mom asked about my accounts and was told that they had been closed and a cashier's check had been sent to me.  I just about hit the roof.  I had not asked my account to be closed, nor had I received a cashier's check.  Mom spoke more with the phone.  She was put on hold and transfered to a supervisor.  Same procedure.  I verified who I was and gave permission for them to talk to mom.  Mom told them what was going on and asked what was up.  Same answer.  On hold and transfered up a level.  At this level they needed permission in writing to talk to my mom on my behalf so we wrote a fax and disconnected and sent the fax in.  At this point, the most logical explanation was that my identity had been stolen.  I was in tears.  I did not have the time, energy or resources to have to rebuild my identity.
We sent the fax and waited for the supervisor, S, to call us back.  S. called us back and began to sort out what had happened.  I couldn't hardly follow the conversation since I was only seeing half of it, but mom's face told me that something really strange was happening.  She finished on the phone and explained to me what S. had said.  Because the bank had a non-US address for me (we had opened the account with my Canadian address), and the address they had wasn't valid/complete, and because they could not get ahold of me (the phone number they had was my new cell phone number, which has been turned off since I'm still in Canada, they assumed I was a terrorist and closed my account and took my money so I couldn't do bad things with it.  When I get to Holland on Monday, my dad and I have to go into the bank and finish sorting things out, but it should all end well, eventually.
The relief at finding out that my identity had not been stolen was so great that being mistaken for a terrorist wasn't a big deal.  We laughed about it.  I  mean, anyone who knows me, knows I am not a terrorist.  I mean, I can be scary and instill terror in disobedient children when needed, but I am nothing close to a terrorist. I do not have any plans of blowing things up or setting off bombs or attacking society or anything.
Joy =/= terrorist.
After I had some time to process what had happened, I started to think about the lesson in it, because there had to be something.  Mistaken Identity.  Someone assumed something about me based on partial information (the bank branch in Holland knew what was happening, that I was opening an account in preparation for moving, but hadn't moved yet, but the "higher-ups" didn't have that information) and it led to the mistaken identity. Someone thought I was someone that I wasn't and it caused all sorts of problems and tears and stress.  It made me really glad to know that there is one aspect of my identity that will never change and will never be mistaken for anything else, no matter what happens or where I move to.
I am a child of G-d.  My name is engraved upon the palm of His hand and He has placed His mark on me.  No one can steal that identity (though the enemy tries).  Nothing can change that identity.  I belong to Jesus and regardless of what anyone says, does, or assumes, that is not going to change.  That is an identity I can hold on to with both hands and don't need papers or signatures to support.  And it's so much more important than any other part of my identity, because it's the one part that will last into eternity and beyond.  Praise the Lord that no one can take that from me.
And, I'm not a terrorist.  That's a good thing too.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not Mine Anyways

A couple times a month I spend a half day (or a whole day once a month) at The Maple and Moose in Blythe. The Maple and Moose is a cooperative that sells all kinds of wonderful craft type stuff (finished product).  Being a cooperative, everyone who has stuff there has to put in time running the store.  The alpaca collective has stuff in at the store, and since I’m an unemployed college student home for the summer, I got voluntold to take our share of shifts.  It’s not hard work, but it can be long and boring, especially full day (10 hour shifts).  To pass the time, I bring my computer with me.  Being in town, there are often unsecured wireless connections just floating around and I piggy-back off of them.  There is one that generally works very well.  I can be online and blog (see “What we have”) and talk to people on facebook and just in general amuse myself, while still tending to customers as needed (some days hours can go by with no customers).
When I got to the store today I couldn’t get my computer to connect to the connection I usually use. I found myself getting frustrated.  What would I do with myself on a 5 hour shift with no internet?  What if there was a swim team crisis that I had to solve? (I do all the data entry and meet set-up stuff…finals are tomorrow afternoon) What if I had a problem and had to use Skype to call Mommy in for back-up? How could I monitor the weather forecast? (swim meet tomorrow is an outdoor meet, the weather is crucial) I tried repeatedly to get connected and finally ended up restarting my computer and starting over.  I got my connection and spent about 2 hours bumming around the internet and selling some stuff at the store.   Then, about 2 hours and a bit into my shift, I lost my connection.  I tried repeatedly to reconnect.  It was gone.  The connection I usually use wasn’t even showing up on my list of available networks.  I tried a different connection.  No luck.
I sat, realizing I had about two and half hours left of my shift and no internet.  I played a couple games of frogger (that seemed to work even without internet) and realized that I am even worse at frogger now than I was when I was little and we used to play on the DataTrain and Atari (very old computer system and gaming system, respectively).  It does take real skill to get a final score of 10 in frogger…And then I just sat for a while in a state of frustration about the internet (or lack there of).  Then it hit me.
What right did I have to be upset about the internet not working?
It wasn’t my internet to start with.  I don’t pay for it.  I don’t make sure it stays bug free.  I simple enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labors and pocketbook. I sat uncomfortably with that for a time, knowing there had to be more to it.  Usually when something like that lodges in my head and makes me uncomfortable, there is something more to it.
I thought and thought (and ate my supper).  Where had I heard that question before:  “What right do you have to be upset about ____?”  I paged through my brain (today my brain is a book) and finally found it.  Jonah 4.   Jonah had finally gotten to Nineveh (after a detour that involved the stomach of a big fish) and preached fire and brimstone to them.  If they didn’t repent G-d was going to destroy them.  The people of Nineveh weren’t stupid and repented, and G-d relented.   Jonah was not pleased.  He yelled at G-d, angry that G-d had spared the wicked people.  G-d asked him: Have you any right to be angry?  Jonah didn’t respond but went away and pouted.  G-d, being the kind, loving G-d He is, caused a vine to grow up near Jonah to give him shade.  Jonah fell asleep in the shade of the vine, and G-d, being a kind, loving G-d who always strives to teach His children in a way they will understand, caused a worm to come eat the vine.  Bye-bye shade.  Enter super grumpy Jonah.   Again Jonah ranted and raved, and again G-d asked him: Do you have any right to be angry about the vine? You did nothing to cause it to grow, you did not tend it, yet you are angry about.
It made me think (with no internet and no customers, I had lots of time to think)…how many things do I worry about and get upset about when it’s not my place?  I fret about the weather and whether or not it is going to storm at our swim meet, but that’s not mine to worry about.  I wonder about the choices my friends make and how they live their lives, but that’s not mine either.  Really, the only things I need to concern myself with, is the choices I make.  That’s mine. 
Hey look! Internet is back on!  I can stop thinking now ;)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Would You Rather...?

There is a game that is often played as an icebreaker or just a way to pass the time called "would you rather...?" in which participants are asked a question in the form of "would you rather option a or option b?" and are forced to choose and option.  The questions can cover a wide range of topics and answers can be easy (would you rather eat chocolate or vanilla ice cream once a day?) or more difficult (would you rather have just one close friend or 10 friends who weren't as close?) depending on the purpose.  They can also be outright silly/gross (would you rather have no bladder control or no bowel control?)...the silly/gross ones often come out when you are playing with pre-teen boys...something in the age I think.
Anyhow, the other night while I was making supper the boys decided that I was either lactating chicken or a dairy goat that laid eggs.  They couldn't decide which.  (Their reasoning was that I had to be one or the other because I "make eggs" using egg replacer and water for baking due to a severe egg allergy and I make the milk for our bottle babies.) After we got done laughing I started thinking more seriously about the question. (this is a definite sign that I need to be back in school!)  Being a goat has definite advantages.  Goats are cute.  See how cute Jumper and Josie are?
But chickens give you cute baby chicks.  See how adorable the baby chick is?
There are also definite disadvantages to being both a goat and a chicken.  Goats eat garbage.  Chickens can't really do much...most can't even fly.  The more I thought on it, the more it became clear to me that there really wasn't a better choice between the two.  It didn't really matter if I was lactating chicken or a dairy goat that laid eggs.  That wouldn't change who I was, so there had to be a reason why I was stuck on this questions.
So I thought more about.  I tried to ignore option A and option B and focus on the form of the question.
What "would you rather" situation was I getting stuck in?  It didn't take me long to come up with the answer...Would I rather things stay the same or change? Would I rather stick with what I know or step out in faith?    The answer to this question really does matter, it matters much more than my answer to the lactating chicken/egg laying goat question.  Its a question between growing stagnant and being fresh, it's a question that I have to answer for myself, and a question that you have to answer for yourself.  Would I rather stick with what I know?  Sometimes I think it would be nice, but I'll never know what I'm missing if I don't step out in faith.
So my answer:  I'd rather be an egg laying diary goat who steps out in faith to embrace change, even though it terrifies me.