Monday, June 13, 2011

well, well, well

Well, I finally figured out how to get back on this blog. Took me almost 2 years - but what is a little thing like 2 years between friends?

I have been very busy the last 2 years, still working at church, teaching piano, playing for the high school choir, and stuff like that. It seems like there is never a shortage of things to do.

Today I am teaching piano. Just 2 lessons, but they take time. One I already did - a boy, going into 5th grade, who will be going into his 3rd year of lessons with me this fall. He is an amazing learner - and very creative too. He named all the keys, going up by half steps, going through the whole alphabet. So there was A-Z, AA-ZZ, and AAA- something I don't remember. I figured out how to "play" his name, his brother's name, etc. So now he is writing a song, using those notes. As I said, very creative.

In a couple of hours, I will have a 4-yr-old Korean girl. Her parents have taught her "do-re-mi", using middle C as do. I am studying up on this type of teaching, as I have never been very successful at it. It works for me as long as I am always in the key of C, but I don't know how to go to G or D or F! So I guess I have my work cut out for me.

Well, I better each lunch and get stuff ready for that lesson. Hmmmm... Makes me tired just thinking about it. I better get my energy up!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

On the bus home....

It took us about 10 minutes short of 24 hours to get home. Yup. A LOT longer than we had thought. Unfortunately, we ran out of gas in rural Arkansas. Fortunately, the bus driver managed to get us off the Interstate and onto a road, coming to a stop right in front of a school! We knew God was at work, was there with us. With one exception, all the vehicles that went by stopped to see if we needed help. One of those vehicles contained someone who had a key to the school. He let us in there, started up one of those big fans since there was no air conditioning on at the time, and let us stay there even after he and his wife and grandson left. It was a consolidated school located literally in the middle of farmland -- fields all around it. We did find out that it was moderately near Wilson, AR. I haven't looked that up yet. I was thankful to be in there since the bus was VERY warm and the mosquitos were out in full force.

We were brought some fuel and we made it to Blythesburg (Blythesville?), which was our destination at that point anyway. Most of us ate at the McDonald's there. As we were finishing, they were closing up. I went back to thank them for serving us. I found out that we were the 10th bus they served yesterday!

We made it back shortly before noon today. The kids were great. They weren't fighting, they weren't overly loud. They were interacting with each other, smiling and laughing. I think we were all glad to finally get off the bus for the last time. Our drivers were fun but we were ready to go home.....

Saying good-bye to the kids and the adult leaders took a bit of time. It seems like we really 'bonded' with the folks from Mobridge. I hope we can continue in relationship with each of the churches with whom we traveled!

Again, I thank you for all your support on this trip. We will be sharing things with you over the next couple of months. We have each had our lives impacted by this trip. Thank you for making it possible for us to go. Talk to you soon!

Sunday morning worship

Hard to believe that it has been over 24 hours since we were at worship with over 37,000 other people. What an experience! To think that we all had communion together. What a fitting end to an amazing youth gathering.

The ELCA's Presiding Bishop, Mark Hanson, was the preacher and presider for the service. At the beginning of worship, he told us that the night before Mayor Nagin had told him that Nagin wished the whole city of New Orleans could have been asked to gather at the Dome with us. You see, the Dome has been a place of bad memories, a place where unhealthy things happened during and after Hurrican Katrina. But when he saw the enthusiasm, love, and happiness of those in the Dome on Saturday night, he knew that if the residents of the city could see and hear that, they might be healed. After telling us this story, Bishop Hanson prayed for the healing of the city of New Orleans, along with prayers for those of us there, that we might continue in service in our home cities and that we might be granted safe travel.

Bishop Hanson's sermon centered on the promises of God in baptism: that we are loved and belong to God forever. Every day when we wash our faces, when we look in the mirror, we can say "I am baptized." What we have done as a result of being baptized is phenomenal: the Change4Change offering for the World Hunger Appeal was at $129,591.93 as the service was about to begin, with over $7000 more in the red bucket in the Dome itself. The work that 36,000+ people did in 3 days would have taken 1 person, working 4 hours a day and 7 days a week, about 98.5 years!!!! THAT was awesome!

So I ask you, as you go about your daily work: What can you do to make a difference in 1 person's life? The power of 1 is compelling. Our "power of one" moment took place after the Bishop's prayer for the healing of New Orleans - we did (possibly) the world's largest wave! It started with one person at the front bending down while saying and continuing to say 'Jesus'. When it got to the top of the highest balcony, they stood up with arms raised high and began saying 'Justice' over and over. The sound as 'Jesus' resounded through the hall, then as both words came over us, and finally as only'Justice' was heard was unlike anything I had heard before. With that many people, the sound literally washes over you!

Let's all think of one thing we can do each day that will impact the life of at least one other person -- and then let's put that thought into action! Then we can talk later....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

2 things

I forgot to tell you two things last night:
  1. Don Miller, our first speaker, is the founder of The Mentoring Project, whose purpose is to bring positive male role models to boys without fathers in the home. As other creative projects grow quickly, he noticed that his did not. The reason? They were all based on giving money towards something. It makes people feel good. But his project requires the giving of ones self, which is something else indeed. It is not that one is better than the other -- it is just that both are needed. Let's try to find projects that require them!
  2. Venice Williams of Chicago talked to us about going green. Plant those gardens, change those bulbs, do whatever it is one can do to help sustain the earth. But the statement of hers that caught me most was this: Going green is honoring God's imagination.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday evening

Our congregation is truly blessed to have such amazing young people - the ones with us in New Orleans as well as the ones who are still in Vermillion. The kids here have been outstanding on this trip. They have learned to help others, they have thought about the way they treat others, they have participated in praising God with 36,000 of their peers! It has been an incredible experience for all of us. Where has the time gone? We only have our worship service tomorrow and then we will already be on our way home.

The first picture is so that you can get an idea of the sheer number of kids who are here. Tonight we got a greeting from New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, and then Bishop Hanson read a letter to the Gathering from President Obama. Those were wonderful moments -- the kids erupted into cheers at the conclusion of each. (Sorry -- my pictures are blurry....)

One of the musicians tonight was Guyland Leday, an under-ten-year-old self-taught zydeco artist. Here you see him along with his brother playing the washboard. I think that accordion is probably heavier than Guy!

At the end of the evening, we lit the Dome with our cell phones. It was just like Christmas Eve, when we light the candles -- starting from the front with one person and going all the way to the top of the Dome. It was beautiful and moving to watch -- as each row opened its phones, the people stood. Here is a picture, which really doesn't capture the moment in its glory. But hopefully you can get an idea. If you look carefully, you can see all those thousand points of light.

The Katinas closed the evening. They began with a lovely song about waiting for the Lord. As you can see in these pictures, the kids felt that music. They put their arms around each other and swayed back and forth in time with the music. It was beautiful to behold. Aren't they beautiful?


Sorry! I didn't get a chance to post last night.

Yesterday we had our ServantLife day. Here we are at our training session -- a sea of orange shirts.

We went to McDonogh26 Elementary School and read to students there. It was an amazing project. I think that most of us were kind of disappointed that that was our project, but it turned out to be SO rewarding. I read to Ayanna, who is 6. She was so cute and very talkative, once she warmed up. When we reflected on the day, I think that most of us were in agreement that this was our favorite experience to this point.

This was our whole group of 40 who went to that school. Never mind the wheelchair -- I was just having a bad day, after having walked a lot the day before.....

And here is the front of the school.

And then, here OUR kids.... funny thing was, the kids from Mobridge were also at our school! That was fun, too!

We were in the 9th Ward, where the levees first broke. A lot of work has been done, but as you can see from the picture below on the left, there is still much work to be done. This city is a city of contradictions. This morning my daughter came from Baton Rouge and took me to the Garden District (where Loyola University is). The houses there are incredibly huge, ornate, and well loved (see the picture on the right below). This is an extremely wealthy area, where there was virtually no damage during the hurricane. When I contrasted this with where we were yesterday -- and with some places she took me that were closer to the river -- it seems that they could not possibly be part of the same city.

I know that I, for one, am SO glad that we live where we do. I am thankful that we have been able to be here and I wouldn't even mind coming again. It is just that I now realize it is easy to take for granted what we already have.

Keep praying for us -- we are only here for one more day and then will be on our way home. We have felt your prayers and are very thankful for your support.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


So first thing today, guess who we see? Bishop Mark Hanson, the presiding bishop of the ELCA! He is such a gracious man. He will be with all of us through the closing worship on Sunday. Here is a picture of him with the kids.

Then he spoke to us a bit about wealth and poverty. After him was another gentleman, who talked about what poverty is and how it affects us, especially as children. Then we went into the interaction center and spent some time there.

We had a free afternoon then went to the Dome again tonight. Tomorrow is our ServantLife Day!

Tayler and Christie, just before the meeting at the Dome started. Aren't they beautiful???