Sunday, January 23, 2011

got a bit of time to sit and write on this Sunday afternoon

It snowed from 3 pm fairly well into the night last night, and I am proud of myself for weathering my first morning of -1 degrees, at least 5 inches of snow, and making it to church by 8 am. (Don't worry, East Coast-ers, the roads were fine, especially by the time I left church and it had warmed up to 16 degrees AND the sun was out.) After church I got home and it seemed like everyone was doing their chores, so I got one of the bathrooms clean and did some serious shoveling. This is after not leaving the house/sleeping a lot yesterday, so my arms and back are a wee bit tired at the moment.

Before I go any further, it must be known that this song is a crucial part of life at Hillstrom House, and I want to share it because it is awesome, and the video is cool too. ***Courtesey notice...the F-word bomb is vehemently, effectively dropped.****

So, besides listening to this band's CD on repeat and my housemates getting this song stuck in their heads, what else is going on, you ask? Well, plenty...

- the South Sudan referendum for independence or not was January 9th - 15th. Many Sudanese refugees live in Omaha, which was one of eight centers in the U.S. for refugees to come and vote, so here, people came from Des Moines and the Twin Cities. One of my churches, Grace Lutheran, hosts a Sudanese congregation that worships after Grace's congregation - I've had lots of good conversation with one of their leaders and I know he's been very busy organizing registration and go-vote stuff, so now it is all over...and here is the latest news from the New York Times.

Continued hopes and prayers for Sudan from this heart.

- Weekly Wednesday Evening Community Meals at St. Luke's start this Wednesday at 5:30 pm and I am SOOO excited. I think we're going to have enough food AND enough volunteers, and I've been doing my best to get the word out and may do a little more before Wednesday, but I'm thinking we'll have a decent turn out. And we are going to go weekly through the end of Lent, I think, so whoever doesn't hear about it this time will hear about it eventually.

Awesome, awesome things have been happening around planning for the meal. I announced it at a non-profit meeting held at St. Luke's yesterday, and someone who probably has a very busy schedule and is not at all affiliated with the congregation came up to me and volunteered to come help! And I know there are some at St. Luke's who are pretty excited about serving too.

-After-school at Grace has it's good days and bad days. The girls' most recent game is Fashion Show because we have these cool spotlights on the stage in the basement, and I wish I had had my camera available to take pictures of some of the outfits they made. We were off all week last week because of two snow days and a sick day for me, but they made it back last Tuesday and Thursday.

-Last Monday, I got to go to a Martin Luther King, Jr. day luncheon at the Qwest Center, Omaha's big downtown indoor sports/big concert/rodeo/whatever arena. It was hosted by the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a group made up of mostly (but not all) black North Omaha pastors, and was held in one of the smaller ballrooms. Elected officials were there, including our mayor who is facing a wasteoftime recall election this Tuesday. (The Omaha World-Herald voter's guide headlines give you a decent idea of what is going on.) There was much spoken in support of him - I wasn't even expecting quite that much - most of the cry for recall has come from outside of the inner city.

One cool thing that the mayor announced that was really good news is that an Atlanta-based African-American owned company is going to come to come to a new building in North Omaha, where a lot of the black population lives, which means JOBS. Talking with Pastor Damon about this afterwards, I started thinking about anti-racism training again (it's never really far from my mind) - Pastor mentioned that at a workshop he had gone to over the weekend, the point had been raised that not only do many white people feel scared to come to North O, many people of color feel scared to go west of 72nd street because of racist attitudes and actions there. (ie., being watched in a store. I remember this example being brought up by the black man - think about that now - in my anti-racism training group at LVC orientation.)

Phew, this is getting long, so I'll call it done soon, but it must also not go unmentioned that I had a WONDERFUL time visiting the St. Paul house of volunteers, Beth Shalom, last weekend. It was kind of a big trip for the weekend, but I'm so glad I went, and so glad my housemates encouraged me to go! Pictures will be up on Facebook relatively soon-ish.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The soil is very good, but the plants still need a lot of water and sunlight.

Sometimes I forget to celebrate the good things. So,

-I'm alive, if a bit congestedly so today, and in a warm house on a night with negative degree windchills. Amen.
-I turned 23 ten days ago.
-I will never forget the excitement in my after-school program girls' eyes as they came running into the basement to hug me on the first day of the program in 2011. 
-Congregation members signed up to volunteer for the Wednesday evening community meal, some are very excited about it, and no one has voiced any strong objections to it.
-Last night, I went to the ordination of an African-American woman in a church that fifty years ago had congregation members who were opposed to interracial conversation and worship, as documented in A Time For Burning. The pastor who preached was black, and afterwards I was so happy to see the signs proclaiming Augustana Lutheran as a Reconciling in Christ congregation.

Really, a lot of good things are happening. I feel the presence of concerned people who want people of all skin colors and immigration histories to be welcome in Nebraska and the USA.

Still got work to do.