I don’t usually blog on Sunday but I have so many thoughts swirling in my mind after the medical mission’s conference here in Pasadena that I thought I would commit some of them to the blogoshere.
First the bad news – I was stunned to hear that there are 3 counties in Memphis Tennessee in which infant mortality is higher than in any African country. In Glasgow Scotland there is a 30 year difference in life expectancy between the rich and the poor. And to add to this the World Health Organization estimates that the world is short 4 million trained health workers. Not surprisingly 1.3 billion people – about 1 fifth of the world’s population, lack access to affordable and adequate health care.
Now the good news. Ted Lankester founder and director of The Community Health Global Network and one of the plenary speakers, had to leave early because he was on his way to Geneva for meeting between faith based organizations and the World Health Organization. Evidently 40 – 70% of health care in SubSahara Africa is provided by faith based organizations and for the first time ever the WHO wants to work collaboratively with these groups.
It was so good to be together with health care workers who care passionately about those who lack adequate access to health and who also take their faith seriously. So many of the speakers are God’s unsung heroes – missionaries, nurses and doctors who work with the marginalized locally and globally. This was a great conference to be a part of and I am already looking forward to the possibility of participating next year.
This was also a great time to reconnect to people I have not seen for years too – like some of the medical students I used to meet with regularly back in the mid nineties – now all doctors of course, and Jude Tiersma Watson who is a part of Innerchange, and Eithne Keegan a strong advocate for HIV/AIDS sufferers in Africa. I also made some new friends like Holly Hight who works with Bread For The World
I always return home from an event like this energized and excited by all that God is doing in the world. Thre may be great need out there but God is still at work healing the sick, providing for the poor and setting the oppressed free. God is still working through the mustard seed – the small and the insignificant – to change our world.
At least that is what my husband always tells me. I have just arrived in Pasadena for the 2008 West Coast Healthcare Missions and Ministry Conference and feel as though I have been nickelled and dimed to death as I travelled. Now they are not only charging for checked luggage but also for drinks on the flight – soft drinks not alcoholic I’m talking about here. At the same time we find that conferences are covering less and less of our expenses. If like Tom and me you live on a shoe string budget than this is probably starting to pinch if you feel called to travel and speak. Even if you are just travelling for fun it can add a lot to the expenses of a trip.
So what can we do to cut down on the expenses – say no would be one thing. It would also help cut down on the carbon emissions and that is something to be taken very seriously these days. This last week we took the train down to Portland which was both much cheaper, less stressful and less polluting than flying, not an option many of my friends in the US even consider because they are obsessed with speed and efficiency. However to fly to Portland from Seattle takes almost as much time as the airport security and other hassles associated with flying – and guess what you can still use your cell phone and have a place to plug in your laptop.
Packing a lunch or breakfast is another way to save. I also travel with a small electric kettle which means I can make as many cups of tea at the other end as I want too – another great savings. Staying with friends also helps and I must confess for me it is a much preferred way to be accomodated. This staying in hotels on your own gets very lonely. Crackers cheese and fruit from the local supermarket instead of expensive sandwiches also helps if you have to buy your own meals. It is amazing how all these savings mount up and they often don’t just help our budget but also that of the people we are working with.
So what helps you economize in these challenging financial times?
Well there has been quite a discussion about my zucchini muffin recipe though mainly through email and on facebook. Joy’s comment about how much more fun it is to cook together has made me think alot about the value of community in mundane everyday tasks like this. Cooking was once a community affair. Women gathered at the community oven to bake bread and cook meals. They walked together to collect water – of course in many parts of the world they still do. The men hunted together, and the women gathered berries and nuts together. They worked together out in the fields and of course the highlight of the week was often the village market at which people gathered not only from the village itself to share life and produce but those from other villages often joined in too.
The preparation of food was part of the community life of a village that drew people together in mutually co-operative and supportive ways. A friend of mine who worked in Africa once told me that when she shared with the women in a village she visited that we all had water piped into our houses their first reactuib was “How lonely when do you talk to each other?”
What have we lost by our modern lifestyles where everything we do is geared to efficiency and convenience rather than to socializing and being community together? A few things are obviousl. We have moved from co-operation to competitiveness, from mutual care to selfcenteredness, community to isolation and loneliness. But I think there are other more subtle things we have lost because of our growing isolation and individualism. We have lost even simple things like the joy of working together and the wonder of laughter shared over a cooking stove. We have lost the generosity of sharing when we produce more than we can consume ourselves. And probably most insidious of all we have lost the security of belonging. So much of Jesus time with his disciples revolved around meals – not just the eating of them but the preparation of them too. Lessons are learned and valued because they are learned through the interactions of everyday life. That is part of what we see in the feeding of the 5,000, in the story of Mary and Martha, and in Jesus preparing breakfast on the beach for his friends.
What are you aware of that you have lost because of lack of community or what have you gained because of your involvement in community?
About this time of the year here in Seattle people start to look askance any time that you mention zucchini – it seems to proliferate wherever you look. This year it is a little late but it is still there. For most people it is a little overwhelming but as far as I am concerned you cannot get too much of it. Everyone seemed to enjoy my chocolate zucchini muffins so much (we actually had them for dessert on Sunday) that I thought I would share another of my favourite zucchini recipes. I call these granola muffins because I make them in huge batches and freeze them.
When Tom & I travel I can grab a few for those early morning plane trips on which one no longer gets breakfast. If you are on a tight budget this is a great way to save a little money. I estimate that making the muffins they probably cost about 20 cents each – if you bought them at the airport they would cost anything from $1 – $2 each and I don’t think that the bought ones are nearly as good. When I travel on my own I often throw in some extras for breakfast because I hate sitting in a restaurant on my own particularly in the early morning. They are also great for when unexpected guests arrive – I always think that a cup of tea is not complete without something to eat with it. Enjoy!
MMMMM—– Recipe via Meal-Master ™ v8.06 by AccuChef ™ www.AccuChef.com
Title: Oatmeal, Zucchini & Cranberry Muffins
Yield: 45 Servings
2 c Wheat Flour
4 c Rolled Oats
4 t cinnamon
4 c grated zucchini,Or 2 Cups
-Zucchini & 2 Carrot
1 1/2 c Brown Sugar
2 t Baking Soda
4 t baking powder
1 c Pumpkin Seeds,Or Sunflower
1 c Cranberries,,Dried
1 c pecans,Chopped
1 c Applesauce
1 c Yoghurt
4 Eggs,Lightly Beaten
1 c vegetable oil
2 t vanilla extract
2 Bananas,Over ripe Mashed
2 c All Purpose Flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin cups Into a large bowl,
sift together the flour, oatmeal, sugar, baking soda, baking powder,
cinnamon. Stir in the zucchini, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, pecans,
and applesauce . In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs,
yoghurt , and vanilla. Add this mixture to the flour mixture, stirring
the batter until just combined. Spoon the batter into greased cups.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes for mini muffins and 25 to 30 minutes for
regular muffins or until springy to the touch. Let muffins cool in tins
and turn them onto a wire rack.
PS -can substitute 2 cups carrot grated for 2 cups of zucchini
Cost Total Recipe = $9.88 Cost Per Serving = $0.21
Per Serving: 190 Cal (37% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 4
g Protein; 8 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 3 g Mono Fat; 27 g Carb; 3 g Fiber;
11 g Sugar; 59 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 118 mg Sodium; 22 mg Cholesterol;
AccuPoints = 3.9
I really have been wondering about this as I have followed the path of Hurricanes Gustave and Ike and then watched the stock markets crash all over the world this morning. Yet of the numerous Christian blogs I have followed over the weekend only one has had a post with a prayer and a thought for those whose lives have been devastated by these tragedies. I feel that most of my blogging friends are living in a glass shell where the world and all that happens in it does not really exist. Of course most of those in the Houston area that normally blog at this time are still off line so maybe that explains it but surely for all of us these tragedies should be at the forefront of our minds.
My heart so aches for those whose lives will never be the same after this last week and I know that God’s heart aches too yet it seems to me that either we don’t care or we else we don’t know how to express our caring and concern. And I don’t just think we need just to be talking about it we should be helping each other find ways to respond too. Of course there are so many response organizations out there that it is hard to know where to start . And many churches are organizing their own response teams – after Katrina the churches were actually the best responders even though they were not well organized. Since that time a huge network of churches throughout the US have developed disaster preparedness strategies. Anyway here are some of organizations I would recommend if you don’t know what to do.
If you like to work with a small organization that is having a big impact I recommend Hope Force International They don’t just respond to disasters they also prepare people to work in disaster situations. They also work closely with the Salvation Army
Of course most major denominations have their own relief and development arm. Here are a few
Many of the larger relief and development organizations like World Vision, World Relief and World Concern are also responding. So lets all get out there and get involved and then blog about what we are doing to challenge others to get involved too.
Here is a beautiful liturgy that Kathy Escobar who spoke at our conference The New Conspirators, early this year, shared on her blog The Carnival in My Head, yesterday. I love liturgy and as you know have been very drawn to writing my own as a way to deepen my sense of connection between my faith and everyday life. One of my pet peaves is that so much of the liturgy we use has no sense of connection to the world we live in. Kathy’s however is very much connected. Read the entire liturgy
In the spirit of upside-downness & inside outness & the beatitudes & how much i love them, i thought i’d share the closing liturgy that my friend christa & i wrote together for our current sunday evening conversations focused on the sermon on the mount. may Jesus’ words sink deeply into our hearts, our hands, our feet, our minds:
blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
God, we need you.
we’re at the end of our rope. we can’t do it.
without you, we’re empty, un-filled.
God, help us realize how much we need you.
blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
It is not by chance that it is hard to find people of color as prominent figures in spreading the vibes of New Monasticism through books, conferences, and new media. This also true of many other new emerging expressions of contemporary Christianity.