28 June 2007

the created world and the 5th commandment

It’s been raining in Texas. A lot. And it has been beautiful.

It gets me thinking about the created world and it’s beauty. It gets me thinking about our resposibilty to that world.

I don’t know that we all need to be environmental fanatics, any more than we need to be religious fanatics. Both probably do more harm than good, serving as crazies that scare off anyone who may be interested in the truth held within. I mean, the zealot on the street corner shouting at strangers that they are on their way to burn in hell is about as persuasive as the d-list celebrity chained to a 100-year old tree, begging the world to join her there.

Maybe that’s why, love him or hate him, Al Gore was the one to break through to the masses regarding the environment. (For those of you sneering and mumbling “hate him”, remember what Jesus said about loving your enemies...) He didn’t shout at anyone or froth at the mouth when he talked about the polluting ways of Westerners or big business. Similarly, mega-churches continue to spring up, the result of pastors who,rather than shouting and threatening, understand that the life-changing truth of the message of Jesus lays in love and grace. Now, both have shortcomings, but all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so there is no need to point out their faults.

The point is, these ideas (global warming and Jesus Christ) are largely accepted by the masses because they appeal to something good within us. They appeal to our desire for fullness or redemption or doing what feels right.

Now, certainly, someone has said this before - and probably much more eloquently than I am about to. But I am starting to believe that taking care of the natural world around us is an important thing. Not just as humans on planet earth but as children of God living in His creation.

Hear me out.

Imagine my parents moved to their new vacation home in Bermuda for the summer. Nice, huh? Now imagine they tell me I have full use of their house in San Antonio for as long as they’re gone. I have some people over every once in a while, maybe invite some of me and Stef’s friends to stay and spend the summer there with us. We have a good time of it all. Then one day, out of the blue, my parents return and they find the house a mess. Dishes in the sink, trash needing to be taken out, the grass about a foot tall... It would be a pretty big slap in the face to them, wouldn’t it? Their generosity would be returned with disgusting indifference. One thing for sure: they would not feel honored or respected by my treatment of their domain.

I am starting to believe that part of honoring God with our lives - maybe a small part, maybe not so small - is in honoring the world that He’s left us to stay in. So we mow the yard and take out the trash. Maybe change the sheets before the Almighty gets home. We recycle a bit and use fuel more wisely. Maybe we walk or bike to the store on nice days to spare the world some exhaust fumes.

Now the beauty of a blog is it allows the author to think out loud, unabashed. So I sit here and think: Maybe God cares about the environment, if only as a reflection of our gratitude to Him for the wonder of His creation. It is, at the very least, something to consider. And if, after consideration, we find truth in that idea, maybe we’ll consider making some changes...

It’s been raining in Texas. A lot. And it has been beautiful.

26 June 2007

of airplanes and childhood (true that - double true.)

I realized something today.

I am really excited about this trip. Yes, of course I mean the entire move - but more specifically I am starting to get jazzed for the plane trip there.

Maybe I just haven’t flown much recently, so I forget what a drag it is. But I think it’s great.

I think flying is pretty much the only thing that takes me back to being 3 years old. I mean, think about it. When you’re three, and you get into a car, I think there is an expectation that you are going to get out of your little car seat and be somewhere completely different - grocery store, park, friend’s house, whatever. And the best part about it is you have no clue how you got there. You get in your seat, Mom gets in the front seat, and a little while later, you arrive.

I think a 3 year-old sees Mommy “drive the car” but there isn’t a real appreciation for exactly how much work goes into that, managing speed and directions, and dealing with the unexpected - whether that’s traffic, construction, or a stressed-out businessman driving angry (was that Dad that just cut us off?). =)

And that is exactly how I see the airplane. I get in, buckle my stupid 1962-style seat belt (since that helps when plummetting from 25,000 feet), look out the window and when I get off the plane, I’m in Reno or Chicago or London or wherever. I have no idea how I got there. I do know that someone in an overstarched uniform (not unlike CAP’N CRUNCH’s by the way) hops into the front seat, pulls on some levers, and gives me periodic updates that make no sense to me (something about turbulence and avoiding Milwaukee).

I know that Captain Lundquist (I think that sounds like a pilot's name, don't you?) “flies the plane”, but I have no appreciation for how that happens. For all I know, he’s checking Google Maps halfway through to make sure he’s still going the right way.I’m clueless and it’s a wonderful way to travel.

I realized something today. I am really excited about this trip.

24 June 2007

"crunchatize me cap'n!"

As Stef and I sat down for breakfast in the predawn hours of this most recent Sunday morning, I began to wonder about the origins of our beloved breakfast cereals. Stef was munching on CRUNCH BERRIES, a variation of the traditional CAP’N CRUNCH that I was enjoying - well, I was enjoying it except for the patented “Cap’n Crunch Roof Rip”, the name given to this fine cereal’s ability to shred the roof of your mouth with it's razor sharp cereal shapes. Ouch.

All of our crunching got me wondering... What in the world are we thinking? Who decided it would be a good idea to get a salty sea captain to push children’s cereal? And then what was the matter with all of the parents who decided that a cartoon sea captain looked like a good judge of nutrition for their children? Why am I eating this bizarre concoction? And what is this bizarre concoction supposed to look like anyway?

Well, apparently, the Quaker Oats company thought it would be a great idea back in 1963. Seeing as how the CAP’N has had a 45 year run as children’s breakfast champion (that’s right, it’s the top seller), I guess they were on to something. And while I still don’t know how seemingly intelligent adults (like myself) allow a smarmy old codger like the CAP’N to tell me what to eat, I do at least know what the cereal itself is supposed to look like (thank you, Wikipedia)...treasure chests. Of course, treasure chests...how did I not see that? (Sigh...)

Moving to Africa in 15 days. I don’t think the Cap’n has invaded there just yet.

22 June 2007

borderline delirium

I don't know what gypsies live like exactly. But I never imagined them to be incredibly organized people and I always assumed that they existed in an eternally-transient state.
What does this have to do with anything? Well, we have become gypsies, I think.

It is a bizarre feeling to be living in an apartment with almost no furniture and everything either in a box or trash bag. Simultaneously, we are selling everything we own on Craigslist and that means that even our most current pitiful existence is consistently being downgraded. We had a couple of lamps. Someone bought them. We had a few decorations. Not anymore. So we had a relatively empty apartment. Now we have a relatively empty, undecorated, unlit apartment. It is strange to pack up life. Stranger still to sell it and watch it walk out the door with someone else.

The result of all of this??? Borderline delirium. We don't have a couch, but even if we did, the TV that it would look to doesn't have sound (It got zapped in a lightning storm). Well, we hooked the TV up to a little stereo with some cables and then we had sound again...but that broke, so again - no sound. That is sort of a microcosm of what life looks like. It is different, but we are enjoying the time with each other, being goofballs together - unemployed, transient, delirious, gypsy-like goofballs. In our evening downtime (in the dark), we have been working on some of our funny faces together.

It is a simple life. Glorious and simple.

21 June 2007

Pastor Willie's Words of Wisdom

"God cares more about the worker than the work."

13 June 2007

to kenya we go... (yes, kenya)

As many of you know, I (Kyle) am not particularly fond of Kenya. I have not had the best experiences in there, to say the least. And I have probably pledged (more than once) that I will never set foot in Kenya again. Too many potholes, too much corruption, too much pollution, too much sickness, too many helicopter-sized mosquitoes, blah, blah, blah. I'll never go to Kenya ever again.

Well, we talked to Pastor Willie today. And, he asked if we would go with him to Kenya in late July for a couple of weeks. Our answer, quite predictably, was:

“Of course we’ll go!!!”

So, even though we haven’t even left yet, our expectations are already being blown away. We were thinking that we’d be freezing in wintry Johannesburg and instead we’ll be sweating on the equator dodging malaria and yellow fever for awhile. There is work to be done. We will go. Send us.

The mission in Kenya is simple. There are a couple of orphanages there that require visits from time to time. We’ll make sure everything is running smoothly, we will take time out to love the children, and then we’ll remind them that they have not been forgotten. We’ll sit with tribal chiefs and they’ll feed us strange meats and ask us for favors and we’ll ask them if we can house more orphans and around and around we’ll go. And, in between, we will laugh and cry - maybe we will get out a hammer and build more space for more orphans. We’ll hug and feed some precious children who need to be reminded that even there, in the mountains of Kenya with no parents or family to speak of, they are loved.

Kenya. Whew. What a crazy place...Baboon crossings on the highways and shanty-towns with millions of poor, infected residents and wallowing rhinos and everything else you think of when you think "Africa". We don’t know exactly how we’ll get there. We sure don’t know how that $2000 is going to find it’s way into our budget. But we do know that even though this is not what we had planned, it is exactly what we signed up for.

There is work to be done. Johannesburg, South Africa. Middle of nowhere, Kenya. Wherever. We will go. Send us.

04 June 2007

Q: What are you doing while you wait to leave for South Africa in July? A: PlayPumps!!!

A lot of people have been asking what we’re doing while we wait for our July 9th flight. Aside from packing and selling and soaking up the warm Texas sun (it will be COLD in South Africa when we arrive in July, believe it or not), we are trying to raise money to build wells in Africa, to give people access to clean water.

More than just any well, we are trying to build PlayPumps, wells that are powered by children playing on a merry-go-round and sustained by advertising that funds their maintenence. There is a link to the PlayPumps website on the left-hand side of this page. Check it out. (Or simply go to playpumps.org)

Anyway, our goal is $14,000, enough to supply thousands of people with clean water for years to come, enough for one fully-functioning, self-sustaining, life-saving PlayPump.

Today 6600 Africans will die with AIDS. Sadly, there is no cure. Today, 5000 more Africans (almost 4000 of which are children under the age of 5) will die from lack of access to clean water, from diseases like diahrrea. That is 2.2 million deaths this year, 1.7 million of which are children under 5 years old. For this problem, the cure is simple. We can provide clean water. We can change the world.

If you have any interest in this, you can donate through the PlayPumps website or put your donation into the fund we have set up for them through our local church. We hope to arrive in Johannesburg in July, to the PlayPumps offices, with a check for a complete well - with a check to change the world.

Email us with questions - theburkholders@gmail.com ...