Friday, January 30, 2009

Some random pictures

Well, I have a reasonably fast internet connection for once, so here are some pictures. I'll have it set up in my house in a few weeks, but for now I'm writing from the general store / internet cafe / sit by the stove and gab location.

June's sheep at feeding time... see their little feet hustling???

This is what "freezing fog" does to the trees:

and this is multnomah falls at sub-zero temperatures.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Work: Begun

My first line of duty is to meet people. The way you're supposed to do this, as a pastor, is just to show up on their doorstep and invite yourself in for a cup of tea (or whatever they want to give you) and a chat. I'm not that trusting so I call ahead. Can I come by and visit? Yes, okay, then, can you please give me turn-by-turn directions to your house? (these directions usually are more detailed than turn-by-turn -- they include such details as "the pasture on your left has two black steers in it, go past that one...")

And we sit and chat. I've heard about what it's like to grow up in a family of 13 kids... how hard it is to be a rancher and have a social life (So there we were! in our party clothes, in the field, digging out the frozen calfs and trying to get them into the house before they froze to death... we never made it to that party...) and about horses and dogs. This is the chit-chat stuff, the unimportant preliminaries, but to me it's the most fascinating. We also chat about the church and what's so great about it and what could be better. We've even ranged into interfaith discussions (this is not one of those monolithically conservative rural areas) -- can you be Christian and Buddhist at the same time? And we've discussed where (around here) I might find a good bellydancing class.
So far, so good =)


The manse at the church here was purportedly built by the "men of the church" in the 50's. It's got that kind of charm. It could certainly hold a pastor with their family, but for this year it'll just be me. The house is definitely twice the size of the apartment I grew up in (with two sisters and both parents) for the first 13 years of my life. I have a lawn, a garage, a study (shared with the pastor), and an extra bedroom. A view of the mountains. And wild mustangs roam the backyard... just kidding.

The house is Stocked. A list went around the church of "supplies needed for our new intern" and sure enough, now I have 3 sets of sheets and more than enough towels, in addition to the 47 mugs which I believe have just accumulated in the house over the years. Between myself and the pastor we have more than a full set of commentaries in the study (all in different pieces by different authors though). And they've taken care of the little things too.... from a hammer and nails to scrap paper for me to scribble notes on. Someone brought me a basket of candles. Our Local Produce Market Activist gave me an entire box of apples which I'll be cutting into rings and drying over the wood stove.

I have a walk to shovel, a garden to plant, space marked off for me in a local greenhouse, and a thousand books I wasn't able to read during school... funny how school can inhibit your education.
So this is part of the REAL educative process: How to live as if I were an independent adult. How to keep myself busy, to keep my home presentable for guests, to educate myself, feed myself, clean up after myself. I already had an incident with that pesky old-fashioned electric stove, we won't go into details, but suffice it to say it is clear I am working on Basic Life Skills.
San Francisco Theological Seminary, congratulations on finding a way to teach your students practical skills -- field ed., in a field.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I am settling down in the parsonage at Lostine Presbyterian Church, after an arduous two days of driving. How arduous was it? Let me tell you...
I drove the first three hundred miles positively dreaming, over Lake Shasta (shrouded in mist and drizzle in the early morning), singing my head off with CDs, reveling in little bits of sunshine that broke through the clouds... basically my biggest problem was whether to use the low-speed or medium-speed windshield wiper setting. But THEN (cue ominous music) I looked down at my dashboard for possibly the first time that morning ... and saw a curious little light come on next to the gas gauge... right. There I was in the middle of NOWHERE on I-5, and beyond the E-spells-empty. I passed an exit for an "airport road" and i was like... perfect, airports need gas, right? But the airport was miles away, it just happened to be the same road intersecting us. So, realizing I was in a barren wasteland, I hung out on I-5, settled down at 50 mph for gas efficiency and coasted along praying fervently for ten miles or so when I finally found a station (and I like to think I rolled in on, like, dude, my last DROP of gas).

The rest of the trip was even more arduous, I'm not sure I can properly describe it, but it involved being lost for a WHOLE TEN MINUTES in Corvallis, a really complicated series of adjusting and re-adjusting the straps on the luggage rack (let me tell you, if they're not tight they vibrate and sound like a kazoo), and that time I dropped my snack mix.

There wasn't even much weather to complain about. Along the Columbia River Gorge there was some wind gusting about and I wondered if my steering wheel was possessed by demons until I saw that everyone else was shaking as badly as I was (including the trees). Coming East I encountered an interesting form of weather known as Freezing Fog. This means, basically, fog, except possibly whiter and glarier (in my humble opinion), and when it touches trees it crystallizes. It doesn't precipitate or accumulate on the road, though, so my snow chains stayed in their packaging. darn.

This morning, however, the snow started falling and shall most likely continue all week.
I spent the day unpacking and discovering things in this lovely house. Some hospitality fairies readied the place for me, from fresh flowers and fruit on the table to travel-size shampoo in the bathroom. An entire frittatta in the fridge... a loaf of bread struck me as particularly poignant due to my habit of praying "give us this day our daily bread."

No internet yet. I'm posting from the general store, which has wireless. My cell phone kinda works. I get a couple more radio stations than I expected!!! And since this house is old, there is only one three-prong electrical outlet in the entire place, so that means when I need to plug in my computer... I'm typing this standing up in the kitchen.
In that way, it reminds me a lot of working in Uganda. With the exception that here, there are fewer than a dozen small children in my room at any given time, and my house is 23824 times larger. Also, I was not greeted with singing and dancing. Oh well.

Friday, January 16, 2009

God is so poetic...

"coincidences are God's way of staying anonymous"

I had a big discussion with someone yesterday afternoon, about the willingness to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. I'm kind of "there" right now as I'm about to uproot and must trust God, must trust, must trust, or I'll have nothing to stand on.
Faith is a muscle - it must be exercised. I decided to start asking myself "am I willing to turn __(some small thing in my way)__ over to God?" [say yes] As in, am I willing to turn over the results of this shopping trip? [say yes] If I can manage the little things I may get up to turning my car over to God (at least, after having turned it over to a mechanic who gave me the go-ahead to do so -- but I still worry there'll be some mysterious problem inside!!) and maybe even turning over the whole move-to-Oregon thing [say yes - at least pretend you mean it - yes]. Maybe someday turning "my life" over.
So I'm going to keep asking myself "Am I willing to hand this over to God?" when i hit the little bumps. I'm going to keep asking "Am I willing?" and I know deep inside me the answer is yes -- so I'm going to keep practicing the asking and the assenting.
This is in the afternoon.

In the evening I show up at choir practice with all this rattling around in my head and God (in the form of our choir director -- she does that!) says "okay, let's sing this song: Yes, Lord, Yes."
Then she says: Talitha, you'll have to sing the solo.
Then she says: This will be the anthem on Sunday.
God!!! thanks for being obvious. Honestly, though, this was a little over the top in obviousness.

The other one -- very poetic, God, thanks for your sense of humor --
was when I took my little macbook to be fixed up by the nice people at the Apple store. The CD drive was dead. They gave it back to me a few days later (I survived 4 agonizing days of not being able to establish internet contact with everyone at any time) and also gave me the *foreign object* they had removed, which had caused the demise of my CD drive. It was a little cross. "Jesus is Lord."
I haven't figured out if this means Jesus is Lord over my petty problems, OR if it means Jesus is trying to derail me from technological life as I know it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Internship coming up

Pre-reqs to moving to the middle of nowhere and "learning about rural ministry"

1) buy a car


2) snow tires... chains... deer whistles... bumper stickers... this car needs accessories.

3) throw myself going-away parties

4) compulsive shopping for commentaries (what will I ever do, away from my theological library??)

5) oh, maybe I should pack.


In conclusion: my feet aren't exactly on the ground. I'm a little distracted by the details and not entirely focused on the enormity of the task at hand (uproot my LIFE? what?)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Preach it

I preached on Seminary Sunday (which is the day after Christmas when all the Real Pastors want to take off and rest a bit). I have a sarcastic little sister with a very low tolerance for academia (and polysyllabic words) so I let her edit (slash, dictate) my sermon.
Sister: well, okay, your sermon needs a lot of work but you can do it. Get to work. Just one thing - DON'T use the word propitiate!
me: i never used that word!!!
sis: okay, maybe so, but i felt like you might have, y'know, slipped one in without me knowing what you were saying.

She eventually approved enough to take full credit for singlehandedly writing my sermon. Her approval was not complete:
sis: You said propitiate!
me: I so totally did not.
sis: you did. What's a platitude? No one knows what a platitude is. You can't say platitude in a sermon.

Platitude. n.
A remark or statement made too often to be meaningful. A dull, trite, or commonplace statement.
Platitudinous, adj.
My complaint about Christmas cards
Platitudinosity, n.
In my social circle: a stock insult against Christian Kitsch (esp. landscape/bible verse wall calendars)

the propensity to use one fifteen-letter word rather than several shorter ones. Epidemic in grad schools. Apparently not contagious. Some sisters may have a natural immunity.