Traveling to Portland

I have come down with some bronchial problems. This time, I went to the doctor’s early, so I am on some meds. Please pray for my health. I travel tomorrow to the Board Meeting of the LWML. We will get to see the convention center where we will have this summer’s national convention. I will be finalizing the program for the preconvention program for the Heart to Heart women. The list of women is not yet finalized. Pray we are led to those women leaders in our ethnic congregations who are just waiting for some access and opportunity to be able to contribute to the mission and work of the LWML and the church at large……and to be encouraged in their work in their ethnic specific ministries.

Grandpa received his crown of glory this morning

It has been a long day…..a long, hard day.  While I was in church this morning, the Good Shepherd took his beloved son to heaven this morning after giving him 99 1/2 years of life.  I was so proud of Elizabeth who was the first one reached and she comforted her grandma and stayed with her.  I was proud of Andres who had to finish out the closing music at church before joining the family and kept running errands to provide whatever was needed.  Both pastors who visited mentioned portions of the 23rd Psalm.  Dear friends brought words of comfort and food.  It was a hard day but a very good day………through the tears and pain of being separated from a loved one, is the joy and celebration that comes from grandpa reaching the goal…..arriving at the heavenly mansion, being in the presence of God and being reunited with loved ones who have gone on before him, especially his beloved Gregorita, my grandmother.

Montaigne: “I am a man, nothing human is foreign to me.”

Have you ever heard of the Great American Think Off?  It is an annual national essay contest.  The question for 2009: “Is it ever wrong to the do the right thing?  Intriguing, huh?  Last years topic was: “Does Immigration Threaten or Strengthen the United States?”  They were interesting, thoughtful essays such as this one:

J. Deana Cavaliere is a recent graduate of Vesper College in Minneapolis, MN. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Ecological Architecture. Deana loves learning and finds she thrives in the classroom, whether as teacher or student. She has combined her desire to help others achieve their academic goals with her motivation to facilitate cultural diffusion through her work with study abroad programs. She is a wife, mother, cat lover, sculptor, poet, philosopher, collage maker, motorcyclist, lecturer, designer, traveler, gardener, gourmet cook, and historian.

pro immigration by j. deana cavaliere

Up until recently, a drive through any of the multi-cultural neighborhoods in my area would often leave me disgruntled with thoughts running through my head. Why can’t they call the mercado what it is, a strip mall? Why can’t they speak English? Why can’t they just assimilate into the American culture?!? Perhaps I have been persuaded into having these opinions; presidential candidates, mainstream media, even my own husband, a proud union member, have all influenced my thoughts on immigration. But is this what I truly believe?

A rather innocuous event helped shed light on this subject. While flipping through the glossy pages of a well-funded travel magazine, I saw all the wondrous, exotic places I could visit: private beaches, sequestered resorts, brand-name hotels…For the right price, I can rent my own little piece of America anywhere in the world. Just how much interaction with other cultures does this type of behavior afford? I recall a family vacation, standing in front of a café in Rome with my mother-in-law. She was reluctant to go in because it was a “local” restaurant. She was afraid of ordering something she wouldn’t like, yet was too stubborn to take out her Italian phrase book and try to communicate.

It occurred to me while browsing through the travel magazine that when Americans go abroad, they blanket themselves in their own culture, whether for protection or as a badge of honor. In strange places, we attach ourselves to the familiar. Michel de Montaigne made similar observations on a trip across Europe on horseback in 1580. He commented in his Essays on the behavior of his fellow traveling companions:

Once out of their villages, they feel like fish out of water. Wherever they go they cling to their ways and curse foreign ones. If they come across a fellow-countryman…they celebrate the event…With a morose and taciturn prudence they travel about wrapped up in their cloaks and protecting themselves from the contagion of an unknown clime.

I have concluded that what the Hispanics, Hmong, and Somalis in my area are doing is not rejecting American society. They are only doing what is natural…surrounding themselves with the familiar. How could I, as an individual, judge these local immigrants for what appears to be basic human nature? Perhaps my sense of nationalism has clouded my judgment…

Looking to the European Union, I find inspiration. Theirs is an innovative form of government not based on physical borders, but on political philosophies. Any country in the world can apply to join the EU. Once a member, that country’s citizens are free to move within and around the EU as we do from state to state in the US. In a slow but steady process, Europeans are shedding their national identities in favor of “European-ness.” They can see their place in a global context.

America seems to be lagging far behind in this process of globalization, with the immigration issue a glaring example. Building walls and fences, adding more bureaucracy, increasing security…to what end will these actions achieve? Build a wall to keep people out, and soon its function will be to keep people in. A different mindset is in order. We must strive as a culture to find our place in the world. A simple first step would be viewing other nation’s peoples as our PEERS.

Inscribed on Montaigne’s library ceiling was the quote, “I am a man, nothing human is foreign to me.” In that spirit, I have engaged the idea of immigration in its purest sense. The diffusion of cultures is a founding principal of our country and fuels the efforts of globalization. So now I stop and do some shopping at the mercados. Tasting exotic foods and meeting foreign people happens not too far from my own back yard. The exchange of cultural information is what will keep this country strong and vibrant. It starts on a personal level.

Committed to 365 Acts of Kindness in 2009

Join me in the 365 club. Melissa

365 CLUB – Committed to 365 Acts of Kindness in 2009

365 (2) Last Friday I was walking into Kinko’s to do some work on a book proposal that is due at the end of this month.  I walked in with my Starbucks in hand and was greeted by one of the Kinko’s employees, George who joked, “Hey where is mine?” I immediately said, “What do you want…I’m buying!” I looked around and there were two other people working in the store that morning and I felt prompted to buy everyone at Kinko’s the Starbucks of their choice.  When I got back with their favorite drinks in hand you would have thought they won the lottery!  They were super grateful and it was just a fun and spontaneous random act of kindness.  After I settled in behind my computer I decided to post my experience on twitter and remind the people who follow me how a small act of generosity can make an impact.  That is not where the story ends.  The next thing I know Scott Couchenour took the idea and set up a facebook group 365 ClubThe premise of the 365 Club is simple:  it is a group of people that are committed to doing 365 acts of kindness in 2009. This all started on Friday.  It is now Sunday night and the 365 Club already has over 240 members who have committed to doing more than 78,000 acts of kindness in 2009.

Michelle Thomas is one of the first members of the 365 Club and here is what she posted yesterday:  “Yesterday, I waited until around 2:30am and I gathered up a bucket of hot, soapy water and took it down to the parking garage in my condo building. I found the dirtiest car on my floor, washed it, dried it, and left a note card in an envelop on the windshield with the words, MAKE THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE, PAY IT FORWARD on it.”

If you want to join the 365 Club on facebook, click HERE.

Courage

Each year I pick a word that is a focus for me. Last Year I did a mini book on my 2008 goals around the word “ENJOY”.  I really wanted to focus my year around enjoying a deepening conversation and relationship with God and with those in my family that I love and cherish and with my purpose driven work both in Tijuana and with the new mission launch with Concordia.

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This year the word that has come to me in prayer time is “COURAGE”.  I know that there are things I will face this year that will require courage to accomplish and courage to overcome and courage to withstand too.  C.S. Lewis wrote, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” You can probably guess what my guiding verse is this year.

Joshua 1: 5-9, “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.