Thursday, December 28, 2006

ending classes

I meant to post this a couple weeks ago, and was reminded of it today.

At Oberlin, we ended most of our classes (on the final day of the course) by applauding for the professor. It was great.

We didn't clap at the end of my pastoral care class; we prayed instead. I liked that even better.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Guatemala #4: Map!

If you're the moment I'm living in Zone 6 of the city. Zone 11 isn't marked (where the MCC office and my language school are) but it's more or less to the left of Zone 7, I think. So, to get to language school, the bus goes through Zone 6, through Zone 2, across a bridge with a huge chasm underneath (the green spot on the map) through Zone 7 and into Zone 11.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

tribute to Quakers

I would just like to tell the world that the Boise unprogrammed Quakers did well by me these six months. They learned my name and welcomed me, chatted with me after, invited me to breakfast and Christmas parties, and asked me how they could support me going to Nicaragua. Then on my last Sunday they dedicated the whole meeting to holding me in the light, and then they all signed a card and gave it to me. And before July they never knew me.

Thanks, Quakers, with love from me (Rachael).


I'm experiencing premature homesickness: realizing that I have only one more day with my mom, brother, stepdad, and David, before my sister and I fly to my dad's house.

Physically, I'm pretty much set for Nicaragua. Which is to say that I'm fully vaccinated, health insured, funded, plane ticketed, and my clothes and books and music are packed.

Psychologically I'm a demure mess (I'm not sure if that's the right adjective), which is to say that one minute I'm excited and laughing and the next minute I'm cranky and irritable, the next minute I'm taking deep breaths to keep from freaking out, the next minute I'm feeling beautifully overwhelmed by the support of friends/family, and the steadfast love of God, and the next minute I'm weeping. All of this is without throwing any tantrums or missing any appointments. It's kind of exhausting.

You know what it's like? Finals. You study and stress and work really hard until all you want to do is get it over with. I think that once I'm there, I'll feel better, because instead of wondering and anticipating and worrying, I'll be interacting with an actual environment. I can respond to the surprises instead of imagining what they'll be. It'll be a relief.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got ecclesiology

Yesterday, Rachael took me to her swing dancing place. I'm not very good at swing dancing, and I'm not very interested in getting better, so I mostly watched.

Here's what I realized: Swing dancing is like Methodist polity. Improv dancing, of the kind I did at Oberlin, is like Baptist polity.

In swing dancing, you can pretty much plug in with any partner in any state or country and dance effectively. It's great, as long as you find a place that is dancing east coast swing or whatever. It's got a set form, and there's advantages to that.

But there's also disadvantages. In Improv you make it up as you go along. Every improv experience will be completely different. This can make things harder, more varied, stupider, or more interesting. Sometimes all of these.

See what happens when I'm out of seminary for a week? My church nerdliness spills over and gets the internet all nerdy.

Oh. I mean, more nerdy?


Guatemala #3: Attempt at a summary

Hello, I´ve tried several times over the past week to sit down and type up some thoughts, or descriptions of my experiences, but it´s proven to be really hard. How do I know what to share, what things are facts, what things are just my impressions (possibly mistaken because I´ve only been here in Guatemala 6 weeks...), what things I should be saying about a country that is not my own. I decided to adopt Emily´s approach from one of her posts from India, and see how it works.


There are lots of buses, and they get packed full...the only way they could get more full is if people started sitting on other people´s laps. I take a bus to my language classes every morning, and return home in the afternoon. It takes about an hour to make the whole trip. I`ve appreciated brief moments of grace or richness on the bus, such as the bus driver going out of his way to give some money to a kid juggling limes on the street. Such as the bus assistant (the guy that helps the bus driver) making funny faces at a little girl on the street, and her sticking her tongue back out at him. Such as a bus assistant who sings, whistles and laughs his way around the city along with the bus driver every day.

I experienced my first earthquake a couple of Sundays ago. I was sitting in my bed, and all of a sudden, the house gently shook from side to side! I almost didn´t believe it was an earthquake, but it really was moving! Later I found out it was about a 5.8 on the scale! Not too scary, but definitely unexpected and a bit unnerving!

Thanksgiving and service...

I spent Thanksgiving with the other MCC workers here in Guatemala. There are 16 of us (10 adults, 6 children). Of the adults, four of us are working in Guatemala City, four in Altaverapaz (farther north), one in El Salvador, and one who travels around Guatemala working with different communities. It was really good to get to know all of the different workers: each of us has a pretty different job description, but it´s good to get together and, especially for me, learn about the country, churches, and general context.

After Thanksgiving, I participated in a service project with youth from different places in Guatemala and El Salvador. There were youth from Guatemala City, Santiago Atitlán (where there is a big lake, and volcanos), the Cobán area and Nebaj, as well as El Salvador. Guatemala has a diverse population-about 60% indigenous, the rest Ladino (meaning of Spanish or mixed heritage) speaking about 23 different languages. In the group of 30 youth there were three indigenous groups represented and five languages between all of us. Traveling from one place to another in Guatemala seems to be a fairly difficult for the average person, so it was an amazing experience for me, and for the youth to get to know youth from other communities in their country. It was also an amazing experience to spend some time after Thanksgiving (given the history of the holiday) with youth from indigenous communities, learning about and practicing service. We did some work at a school, planting grass to help feed rabbits, and prevent erosion, as well as helping to build a women´s dormitory.

Things I´ve found inspiring, and\or funny
-Talking about service and development, and just talking in general with the country representatives here, as well as the other members of the MCC team.
-Hombre is the word for man, and people seem to use it kind of like in English, when we say "yeah, man", "no, man"...etc. However, it´s really funny to hear one 6 year old girl say to another, "Noooo, hooombre" with lots of gusto. (the o in hooombre is pronounced like in the word poke.)
-There seems to be a lot of interest and excitement about music classes...people in general want to learn how to play instruments, to sing, etc. The challenge will be figuring out what the expectations are, and which ones I can meet, and which ones I can´t!
-The natural beauty of the mountains and volcanoes is pretty stunning.
-I´ve also really enjoyed learning local Spanish expressions, about the way people really talk! Before I`ve always had Spanish classes in the US, where we were smushing together a bunch of different countries, but now I can learn Guatemalan Spanish...learning actually how people talk!

Surprising things
-I`ve been surprised several times during my time here, at how natural it feels to be here. I hardly feel like I´m in a foreign country...despite the huge language, cultural, societal differences! I think the differences are, and it´s pretty incredible, that first, I´m here for a long time, second, I´m getting to know "normal" people (I don´t like to use the word normal, but oh well) and third, I´ve only been to one tourist spot so far!
-I´ve also been surprised by the economy, and I don´t know much about it yet, and I don´t know much about economics in general, but it´s not hard to see that the majority of the economy is in very small family or personal businesses, or individuals making money however they can...such as hundreds of tiny little neighborhood stores, selling things on the street, repairing clothes, etc, etc.

More in a month or so,


More Fun

I know this is late...but since I don´t have a digital camera I have to steal pictures from other people`s blogs. Another picture from MCC orientation, yes, we made the fish.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

my kind of town?

Today I was taking the El home from church, as I always do. I was reading a book that I had picked up that afternoon at the Harold Washington public library, as I often do.

Today's book was "The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground." (Ron Jacobs, 1997, Verso Books.) It's about (you guessed it) the Weather Underground, a radical offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society active in the late 60's, early 70's, notable for being more openly revolutionary and violent than a lot of the other anti-war, anti-imperial, anti-racist organizations of the day. It wanted to be an appropriate venue in which white people/kids could be in solidarity with the Black Panthers.

Anyway, I'm reading about the movement, and Jacobs is talking about the October 1969 "Days of Rage" actions, in which hundreds and hundreds of Weather-types brawled with police officers. In the Chicago Loop. AS my train enters the Chicago Loop.

I read a little further and learned that the centers for the Weather types in Chicago were "churches and seminaries", including McCormick, the Presby school in Hyde Park.

So: a)this is really interesting. b)I'm really curious about whether CTS housed Weather Underground folks during this action. c)Can I get CTS to house radical activists these days? I bet I could! d)I'm still unconvinced my arguments for violence, but it's interesting that a group designed to, basically, do what Cone calls white people to do, to become ontologically black and radically in solidarity with the oppressed, so quickly turned to violence... e)The "Weatherbureau", the group's leaders, did some pretty sneaky/vile things in order to maintain control over local groups. This seems to be counter-revolutionary, and is certainly counter-Anarcho-Baptist. So there. f)this is a pretty good book and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it.

Heck, it beats studying.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Guatemala #2: On Giving Thanks

I´m thankful for good people, health, and food to eat. I hope you all had a rich Thanksgiving experience. Last week I was about four hours north of Guatemala city, here with some of my coworkers. There are incredible mountains (the best way I can think of to describe the mountains and hills is that they look like big hugs) and I heard some great marimba playing at one of the local churches. I´m also thankful for you.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Study Suggestions for Ted Jennings' History of Christian Thought

Here are my suggested study terms for Ted Jennings' History of Christian Thought final. I just went through my notes, and pulled out some terms and names that I think are likely to come up. I think I got all the weeks, but I might have missed one. It's obviously only updated through last Tuesday's class, but I think it's a reasonable starting point. It doesn't have many women on it. Each term/name is conveniently linked to Wikipedia, everybody's favorite open source encyclopedia. And, hey: if you really like the list, buy my history of christian thought related t-shirt.

The list follows: And here is the rest of it.


Justin Martyr




Clement of Alexandria




Council of Nicea



Gregory of Nyssa

Gregory Nazianzus

Basil the Great






Council of Ephesus


Pope Leo's Tome








iconoclast controversy

John of Damascus

communicatio idiomatum?

Psuedo Dionysius


Simeon the New Theologian

Saint Anthony




sic et non


Theories of Atonement


Thomas Aquinas

Julian of Norwich

John Wycliffe

John Huss

Martin Luther

John Calvin

Keep your eyes out for the ent wives,