That's right, everybody. It's mailbag time. Remember Mr. McFeely? Nice mailman. Creepy name. Here we go:
Jacob from Outer Mongolia: After looking at your photos of sickly children in absolute squalor, I thought I'd pose this question to you as I am at my opening MBA seminar (basically a full-day business summer camp without the fun) in Austin.
To quote the advertisement on my work desk "Would you like to enjoy world-class resort living at Barton Creek? (It is second home living at its finest.)"...
Kyle and Stef: I am more inclined to accept the reality of second
homes and incredible luxuries than the first time I was here. Not to
say that I think that believers should have these things (I am still waiting for someone to tell me that they are reading Rich
Christians in an Age of Hunger by Sider), but I am wise enough to know
that they will have them no matter how much I whine about it.
I have become very interested in the concept of "microloans". Everyone should Google "Opportunity International". It has been said that if all Christians would donate 1% of their income to financing microloans for people in developing countries (helping people help themselves), we could pull out of poverty 50% of the world's poorest 1.2 billion (less than a dollar a day people).
Tiffany from San Antonio: Okay, mailbag time... I have a 2 questions
1.) If each of you could be any mythological creature what would you be and why??
2.) What are your feelings on hip hop culture, past, present, and future?
Kyle and Stef: As for #1, mythological creatures sort of freak us out. I mean, have you ever seen a Minotaur? Weird. If I had to choose, I think I would be a contestant on one of those World's Strongest Man competitions, like Magnus Vir Magnusson. Those guys can't be real. Flipping cars and toppling telephone poles and towing school buses using only their teeth? Ya, that's normal. Stef would be a unicorn. She didn't say that, I just think that would be funny.
As for Hip Hop Culture, I have read on the subject rather extensively (I actually took a class at UT about it and then read more after graduating). A particularly good read was Hip Hop America by Nelson George. (You thought this would be a question I'd have no answer to...shame on you, now everyone has to listen to my thoughts on Hip Hop.) Basically, I can't see faulting a culture for expressing their angst and disenchantment in a particular manner. I'll spare everyone my bleeding hearted diatribe. Read the book...
Aunt Tammi from Anson: Hey guys. OK my question is tell us about a day in the life of Stef and Kyle. Do you get up early? Do you cook? What exactly do you do with your days?
Kyle and Stef:
Well, that's a lot. Let us chicken out for today and make that a post of it's own another day. Since Aunt Tammi was one of about 6.8 million people asking what we do all day, we will deliver a day-in-the-life piece very soon. Let's say that we'll have one by the weekend.
Robin from College Station: When are you coming home? Any news about a lil' Burkholder yet? How's the winter? Cold or mild? What has God taught you?
Kyle and Stef: When are we coming home? Good question. As long as you people don't find out that we've been living it up in the Bahamas this whole time, maybe never.
A Lil' Burkholder? No. Unless you mean Mia... Isn't she cute?
The winter was pretty normal for Johannesburg, meaning cold nights, warm days, and freezing indoors. Most importantly for us, it seems like winter is almost over. It'll be back in the 30s on Thursday, but after that we are hoping to transition to spring.
As an aside, one thing that I mentioned last time I lived here is how I realized how preoccupied Americans are about the weather compared to Africans.
In America, cold temperatures, excessive rain, or a rumble of thunder lead the newscast. Then, we all wait on pins and needles for the weather segment. They tell us the humidity, barometric pressure, wind speeds, and the completely unreliable forecast for the next 7 days.
Here, weather gets the last minute of the newscast. Then, they show the map of the whole country and give tomorrows temperatures for the 10 biggest cities. In case you need it, your city is also assigned one of three icons: a cloud, a sun, or rain coming from a cloud. Just for fun, they then speculate on the next day for about 5 seconds, completing the 2-day forecast. End of weather. No radars, no high pressure or low pressure... Just a number and a sun icon.
The stupid thing is that I think I need to watch the weather in the US. Most of us do. We could get "94 and sunny" in about 12 seconds from the internet. But we wait up - forcing ourselves to stay awake until 10:15pm - so that some dork in a suit (sorry, weather guy) can tell us it'll be 94 and sunny.
I mean, really. The only two questions we should ever ask about the weather are: 1) What are appropriate clothes for today (i.e. heavy coat, bikini, whatever...)? and 2) Do I need an umbrella?
Beyond this, I think we are either really crazy or really bored.
Finally, God is teaching Stef and I and incredible amount about living in the moment. Much of this is difficult and much of you are missed a great deal. As easy as it would be to sit and daydream about warm weather and American comforts, we are learning to take every day here as a blessing and an opportunity to impact the world.
Jeff from San Antonio (had a lot of questions): Shaun Alexander or Frank Gore, who would you draft first? What is the exchange rate of the US Dollar to (insert S. African currency here)? In an algebraic equation, can you cancel intergers when + or - signs seperate terms outside the parenthesis? On a scale of 1 (pretty much the sweetest song ever) to 10 (if it were a real object, you wouldn't think twice about setting it on fire), what is your feeling toward the classic radio and club hit, YMCA? If the world were coming to and end in 3 days (but for some reason, everyone was pretty much okay with it..apparently its been common knowledge for quite some time), what would you wanna do before you die? (Seeing family is a given. You have approximately the same amount of money you do now, air travel is out of the question, etc.) Will Hilary Clinton be the next president of The United States?
- Shaun Alexander or Frank Gore? Hmm. A fantasy football question... Seeing as how neither play soccer, rugby, or cricket, I have absolutely no idea. Can you select David Beckham? Ya, I think that's the answer. Take Beckham.
- 1 US Dollar buys you about 7 South African Rand. Using the international standard accepted by The Economist (no joke), a Big Mac combo meal costs about $5 in the US and $3 here. So, doing the math, $5 has the same buying power as R21. Confused?
- I failed high school Algebra once and college Algebra (literally titled "Math for Artists" - M301) twice before obtaining a D, so there will be no answers from me... As a matter of fact, I will now answer all math-related questions with snarky comments.
- YMCA? The only song that hurts me even half as much as YMCA is Lionel Richie's "Say You Say Me". My answer is 11.
- This question about dying in three days is bogus. There is no air travel? We live in South Africa. I guess we'd find the fastest boat ever made and try to say goodbye to our family and friends in the States. We'd probably die somewhere near the Cape Verde Islands.
- Hillary will be the next president. Although I think I would vote for a turtle if one could run. (Sneaky joke in there...wait for it, wait for it...)
- Send hate mail (or suggestions for his next barrage of questions) to Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send your questions and comments for our next MAILBAG to email@example.com. (If you don't send them, Jeff will - and you'll all be stuck reading more of this nonsense.)
Love y'all. Thanks for the questions.