Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why Rick Warren Should NOT Offer Invocation

From Bishop John Bryson Chane:

I am profoundly disappointed by President-elect Barack Obama’s decision to invite Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church to offer the invocation at his inauguration. The president-elect has bestowed a great honor on a man whose recent comments suggest he is both homophobic, xenophobic, and willing to use the machinery of the state to enforce his prejudices—even going so far as to support the assassination of foreign leaders.

In his home state of California, Mr. Warren’s campaigned aggressively to deny gay and lesbian couples equal rights under the law, relying on arguments that are both morally offensive and theologically crude. Christian leaders differ passionately with one another over the morality of same-sex relationships, but only the most extreme liken the loving, lifelong partnerships of their fellow citizens to incest and pedophilia, as Mr. Warren has done. The president-elect’s willingness to associate himself with a man who espouses these views as a means of reaching out to religious conservatives suggests a willingness to use the aspirations of gay and lesbian Americans as bargaining chips, and I find this deeply troubling.

Mr. Warren has been rightly praised for his efforts to deepen the engagement of evangelical Christians with impoverished Africans. He has been justifiably lauded for putting the AIDS epidemic and global warming on the political agenda of the Christian right. Yet extravagant compassion toward some of God’s people does not justify the repression of others. Jesus came to save all of humankind, and as Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pointed out, “All means all.” But rather than embrace the wisdom of Archbishop Tutu, Mr. Warren has allied himself with men such as Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda who seek to “purify” the Anglican Communion, of which my Church is a member, by driving out gay and lesbian Christians and their supporters.

In choosing Mr. Warren, the president-elect has sent a distressing message internationally as well. In a recent television interview, Mr. Warren voiced his support for the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These bizarre and regrettable remarks come at a time when much of the Muslim world already fears a Christian crusade against Islamic countries. Imagine our justifiable outrage if an Iranian cleric who advocated the assassination of President Bush had been selected to offer prayers when Ahmadinejad was sworn in.

I have worked with former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to improve the relationship between our two countries as hawkish members of the Bush administration pushed for another war. He has spoken at the National Cathedral, which will host the president-elect’s inaugural prayer service, and I have visited with him several times in Iran and elsewhere. Iranian clerics are intensely interested in the religious attitudes of America’s leaders. In choosing Mr. Warren to offer the invocation at his inauguration, the president-elect has sent the chilling, and, I feel certain, unintended message that he is comfortable with Christians who can justify lethal violence against Muslims.

I understand that in selecting Mr. Warren, Mr. Obama is signaling a willingness to work with both sides in our country’s culture wars. I appreciate that there is political advantage in elevating the relatively moderate Mr. Warren above some of his brethren on the Religious Right. But in honoring Mr. Warren, the president-elect confers legitimacy on attitudes that are deeply contrary to the all-inclusive love of God. He is courting the powerful at the expense of the marginalized, and in doing so, he stands the Gospel on its head.

The Right Reverend John Bryson Chane
Eighth Bishop of Washington

http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/faith_and_politics/bishop_chane_expresses_concern.html

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Letter from The Right Reverend John Bryson Chane

This letter was sent to clergy and congregations in the Diocese of Washington (DC). Thank you Bishop Chane!


DIOCESE OF WASHINGTON
__________________________________________________________
The Right Reverend John Bryson Chane
Bishop of Washington December 9, 2008


To the Clergy and Congregations of the Diocese:

Last Thursday a front page article appeared in the New York Times, and a smaller article in the Washington Post, about the proposed formation of a new non-geographical province within the jurisdictional boundaries of the Episcopal Church. The proposed archbishop of this envisioned province is Bob Duncan, deposed bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

First and foremost, let me assure you that the formation of a non-geographical province within an existing province is highly unlikely. Before the establishment of any such province, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church would have to give her consent, and it is difficult to imagine that she would do so. If consent was given, the Archbishop of Canterbury would then form a committee of primates to discuss the feasibility of forming the new province. If two thirds of the primates felt that such a new province would assist and strengthen the ministry of the Anglican Communion, then the primates would forward their recommendation to the Archbishop of Canterbury who in turn would forward his recommendation to the Anglican Consultative Council for final vote and action. At present, neither two-thirds of the primates, nor the Archbishop seem favorably disposed to this
development.

The gathering in Wheaton, Illinois of Duncan, Martyn Minns and several hundred of their supporters who seek the formation of the non-geographical province came as no surprise to most of us in the House of Bishops. But the press it has received, especially in the New York Times, was well beyond what was warranted considering that the proposed province is, at most, about 5 percent of the size of the Episcopal Church and that its chances of recognition are dim. I realize, however, that this most recent installment in the media’s coverage of how the sky is allegedly falling on the Episcopal Church caught many members of our diocese by surprise, and I want to allay their anxieties. We face our share of problems in the Episcopal Church, but wholesale defections to a movement committed to denying gay and lesbian Christians the birthright of their baptism is not one of them.

The Archbishop of Canterbury wisely did not invite any of the bishops consecrated to serve in the Nigerian, Ugandan, Rwandan or Kenyan incursions into the United States to last summer’s Lambeth Conference. Nor did he invite bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church, which broke from the Anglican Communion almost 130 years ago. Williams seems unlikely to reverse course now. He knows that the leaders of the proposed province have been working, overtly and covertly, to undermine the Episcopal Church for almost a decade, so what was a front page story to the editors of the New York Times was old news to him.

It would be folly for the Archbishop to even consider recognizing a non-geographical province because it would unleash chaos in the Communion, with theological minorities in every jurisdiction seeking to affiliate with likeminded Anglicans in other provinces. Unfortunately, the Archbishop has contributed to the confusion and anxiety the leaders of the proposed province have sought to foster by meeting on numerous occasions with Duncan and his allies. These meetings have bestowed an unwarranted sense of legitimacy on those who seek to deconstruct the Anglican Communion.

What Duncan and Minns propose – that Duncan become the Archbishop of a newly minted non-geographical province with the support of GAFCON primates such as Peter Akinola of Nigeria and Henry Orombi of Uganda – is a rejection of the respectful diversity and generous orthodoxy that defines the Communion. It is a repudiation of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury in our communal life. It flies in the very face of what it truly means to be an Anglican. For Minns to suggest that he is leading a “new reformation” is ludicrous and demeans the historicity and value of the real Reformation as we know it and live it.

The movers of the proposed new province embarrass themselves, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion by the self-serving media coverage they have worked so hard to achieve. The news of the proposed province appears at a time when more than 28 million Americans are living on food stamps, one out of every 10 new mortgage holders is facing foreclosure, unemployment is at its highest level in decades, the auto industry is “tanking” and the real danger of deflation or a possible depression looms large on the horizon. In the global south, millions live on $1 a day, and wars, ethnic and religious violence, poverty and the AIDS epidemic continue to wrack the African continent. To learn in this context that Duncan, Minns and their allies think that the most important issue facing the church is the sexuality of the Bishop of New Hampshire suggests a level of self-absorption that is difficult to square with the teachings of Christ. And to learn that the New York Times considers the complaints of these deposed, retired and irregularly consecrated bishops to be front page news suggests a fixation on “culture wars” reporting that deprives readers of a true sense of the challenges facing the church in this country.

I write this to you because our clergy and congregations need to know the current status of the irregularly proposed new province within our church. I also need to share with you my disappointment in the behavior of men who were once bishops in the Episcopal Church. Some of these men have been my friends, but they have now taken their own personal agendas for power and control beyond the limits of common Christian charity and decency. As you may already know, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has deposed Duncan and John-David Schofield as bishops and priests in the church, and the Presiding Bishop has recently inhibited Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth and determined that he has renounced his orders. The case of Keith Ackerman, the former Bishop of Quincy, remains to be reviewed.

During this season of Advent, please keep Rowan our Archbishop in your daily prayers, as I know you will continue to pray for Katharine our Presiding Bishop and primate. Pray for the church, the body of Jesus Christ, that it might be a center of strength and a beacon of light and hope during these very tough economic times for those we serve here in the Diocese of Washington and in the global community.

In Christ’s Peace, Power and Love,
The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, D.D.
Bishop of Washington

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Same-Sex Marriage

[from the San Diego Tribune]

Same-sex marriage
A question of how we feel about each other After Election 2008
By James R. Mathes December 4, 2008


When the Diocese of New Hampshire elected as its bishop a gay man living in a faithful, monogamous relationship, the Episcopal Church became a target. And so did I.

I received hate mail and even a death threat, so you can imagine that when I went to the Lambeth Conference in July – a conference of all Anglican bishops held every 10 years – it was with a certain degree of anxiety. Human sexuality is a charged issue in the Anglican Communion, so charged that the bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, was not invited.
Although he was not recognized as a participant, Bishop Robinson was permitted to make presentations twice during the two-and-a-half-week conference. Bishops from Africa, India, England, Asia, Australia and South America met Gene. Many of these bishops, who had rejected the very concept of an openly gay leader in the church, came to know the person and their perspectives changed.

On election night, friends who gathered at our home to watch the returns witnessed another change. When Barack Obama was declared the winner, we all sensed the history of the moment. I felt chills watching the president-elect in Grant Park in Chicago as he addressed the nation he would lead. As he spoke of healing and bringing unity to the United States, I remembered feeling similar chills when I met Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has taught us so much about healing divisions and reconciliation. Archbishop Tutu often leans on an African understanding called ubuntu, which can be captured in the words: “I am because you are.”

As I watched my friends listen to the president-elect, I felt connected to a constellation of people who had the capacity to overcome division and fear. I found myself filled with hope in the same way I had been when Bishop Robinson patiently met face-to-face with people who rejected him as a minister because of his sexuality and life partner.

Later in the evening, when it became clear that Proposition 8 would likely pass, the mood in our home changed again. Another historic moment had come. The state of California was changing its constitution to take away a right. A gay couple, who have been together longer than any of the straight couples present, quietly left our home, but their pain remained.

Many people say they have lots of gay friends, but they just don't approve of their “lifestyle.” In fact, Frank Schubert, the chief strategist who helped raise more than $40 million to pass Proposition 8, says he is not anti-gay, that he has a lesbian sister. I wonder if he celebrated this victory with his sister and her partner?

I feel a bit odd as a straight, white man making the case for gay and lesbian rights. It will seem even odder to some that I do so as a church leader. Nearly half of that $40 million war chest was contributed by Mormons, and we now know the Mormon Church was recruited to the cause by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco. But here's the rub. On Election Day, we voted to take away a right, a right that hurt no one and that did not threaten traditional marriage. In taking that right away, we hurt people and demeaned their humanity.

There are reasonable people who think I am wrong and that the right side prevailed on this issue. However, the ongoing protests so widely criticized by Proposition 8 supporters speak to the level of pain this measure has inflicted. Those who favored the proposition, especially, must own their share of responsibility for that pain.

The solution may be another proposition; but in the meantime, I suggest that we follow the lead of Desmond Tutu and remember that the dignity of each person depends on every other person: “I am because you are.” We need to come to fully understand the other: straight, gay, black, white, brown, disabled, smart, not so smart. History has taught us that when we do, the world is changed because we are changed.

* The Right Reverend Mathes is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.
http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20081204/news_lz1e4mathes.html

Sunday, November 9, 2008

President-Elect Obama and The Hug

As soon as the announcement was made on CNN that Barack Obama was elected as the next President of the United States of America there was a collective shout of JOY and elation from folks in my neighborhood!! Then the fireworks and honking of car horns started and went on and on and on!!!! What a wonderful and historic evening and a new era for our country!!!!!

Unfortunately Potter, the cockapoo, was not so thrilled with all of the noise, especially the fireworks. He was shaking so much it was pitiful! I held him close and eventually he calmed down. He stayed close all night long!

I think Archibishop Desmond Tutu says is best:

"Today Africans walk taller than they did a week ago -- just as they did when Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994. Not only Africans, but people everywhere who have been the victims of discrimination at the hands of white Westerners, have a new pride in who they are. If a dark-skinned person can become the leader of the world's most powerful nation, what is to stop children everywhere from aiming for the stars?"

On Weds I walked across the seminary campus with one of my classmates who is a mature African American man. I asked him if he ever thought he would see this day, and after a pause he told me that he might cry again. He said that what surprised him was how he welled up with emotion as he walked into his polling place! Then I shared that my impluse is to hug my African American classmates. He said "that would be okay" so in the middle of the road we stopped and exhanged a heartfelt celebratory hug.

The challenges that face President-Elect Obama are great. Our prayers and patience will be needed. But our country has spoken and the global community has concurred - "Yes We Can!"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Prayer for an Election & Prayer for Social Justice

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Donna Brazile Is Not Going To The Back Of The Bus

http://jezebel.com/5059945/donna-brazile-is-not-going-to-the-back-of-the-bus

We've been waiting three days for this moment. This morning, the New Yorker finally posted video from "If I Were Running This Campaign," the Saturday morning panel featuring NY'er staff writer/moderator Jeffrey Toobin (swoon), and a bevy of his CNN colleagues, including Ed Rollins, Alex Castellanos, and Donna Brazile. Topics discussed: The GOP leadership, Bill Clinton, and Sarah Palin. As the 80-minute discussion wound down, Toobin raised the specter of race in the campaign, and Brazile, 48, let loose with an impassioned, ad-libbed exhortation that could be seen as a prescient, preemptive strike to the race-and-religion baiting tactics ("strategies"?) employed by the increasingly-ugly McCain-Palin campaign. Donna's remarks above; you can watch the entire video here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

World Blogging Day for Millennium Development Goals

My stomach is aware that I usually eat at this time. But today at this time I will not eat. I am spending this time praying, fasting and witnessing in solidarity with thousands of others who are united in support of the Millennium Development Goals.

As my stomach grumbles I am remembering the people of Finetown, near Johannesburg, South Africa, who I met this summer. In spite of extreme poverty, living in homes made of cardboard and sheets of tin with outhouses out back and a water faucet down the deeply rutted dirt road from which they carted large plastic containers of water in wheelbarrows (if they were lucky), these lovely people shared their warm hospitality and joy with this stranger. In spite of AIDS and hunger, poverty and violence, these individuals shared their lives with me. The least, the very least I can do is pray, fast and witness.

O God open our eyes to see those in need. Open our hands to give to those in need. Open our hearts to care for those who are poor and in need, and to care for Mother Earth. Open our ears to hear the cries of women and men who are victims of rape, mutilation and terror. Break open our lives to love our global neighbors as ourselves and to care for this earth, our island home
. Amen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sept. 25: Pray. Fast. Witness.

In solidarity with people of faith throughout the world and in response to the Anglican Communion's call, Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation invites you to commit tomorrow - Thursday, September 25 to:

+Pray. Say prayers with special intention for the extreme poor throughout the world.

+Fast. Skip at least one meal in solidarity with the nearly 1 billion people who go to bed hungry each night. (As possible depending on health ... consult your doctor if in doubt)
Click here for information about giving the money you would have spent on the meal(s) you skip to ERD's MDG Inspiration Fund.

+Witness. Participate in an online advocacy action promoting our government's fulfilling its promises to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Statehood for Washington, DC - PLEASE!!

The District of Columbia needs to become a state so that we are not governed by the Federal Government. Our citizens are being overlooked as the House of Representatives and possibly Senators with the President's backing EASE gun control regulations in DC.

From the Washington Post:
"The House bill would abolish the city's gun registration requirements and allow residents to own semiautomatic pistols and rifles. It also would allow District residents to buy guns in Virginia and Maryland and would prohibit the council from taking any action to "discourage or eliminate" private ownership or use of firearms. " http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/17/AR2008091701314.html?hpid=topnews

You've got to be kidding me! In the Nation's Capital, which already has a high crime rate, the government is going to allow residents to own semiautomatic pistols and rifles!!!

We need our statehood so we can govern ourselves. Then hopefully this type of legislation would never become law.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sermon - Constance & Her Companions 9.9.08

Texts - Psalm 116:1-8; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; John 12:24-28

Hear again Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.”

This is considered to be the most eloquent passage on comfort in the entire New Testament. Paul notes that all comfort comes from God who, whenever God’s children experience sufferings and hardships, provides abundant consolation through Christ.

Paul, in this pericope, uses the words ‘paraklesis’ or ‘parakaleo’ ten times. This word is translated as consolation, appeal and comfort. Comfort – a feel-good word that describes for us a sense of well-being, physical ease, freedom from pain and anxiety. And yet, the meaning of Comfort is much more empowering. Comfort comes from the root ‘fortis’, which means to fortify or strengthen in heart, mind and soul. “Comfort relates to encouragement, help, and exhortation. God’s comfort strengthens weak knees and sustains sagging spirits so that one faces the troubles of life with unbending resolve and unending assurance.”
[1] Comfort is what we seek when we pray “grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart through Christ our Lord.”

Today we commemorate Constance and her Companions, commonly known as “The Martyrs of Memphis.” During August of 1878 Yellow Fever invaded the city of Memphis for the third time in ten years. While more than half of the citizens fled the city, nearly 20,000 people remained. At the height of the epidemic the death toll averaged 200 people a day. When the worst of the epidemic was over ninety percent of the population had contracted Yellow Fever and more than 5,000 people had died.

Constance, the Superior of the Sisters of St. Mary in Memphis, and her sisters remained to care for those affected by the epidemic. They were joined by three physicians, two of whom were ordained Episcopal priests, as well as several volunteer nurses from New York. They worked out of the Cathedral buildings that were located in the most infected region of Memphis. From these buildings the women and men of God gave relief to the sick, comfort to the dying and homes to the many orphaned children.
[2]

AIDS is today’s epidemic. In the Diocese of Christ the King, South Africa, AIDS affects more than 18 % of the population – predominantly the poorest of the poor, the most vulnerable and the defenseless.

During my visit there this summer I witnessed a heart-wrenching conversation between Nandi, the Diocesan AIDS Coordinator, and the mother of a young woman with AIDS. The mother had recently learned that her daughter’s AIDS might have been prevented had she not discouraged her daughter from reporting the rape. But she was ashamed of the rape and fearful of the reaction from her community so she refused to seek treatment for her daughter; treatment which she recently learned would have included anti-viral drugs that most likely would have prevented HIV & AIDS. Now, several years later, AIDS is slowly killing her daughter. Nandi, through her words and actions, provided this Mother with comfort and consolation, strengthening her in heart, mind and soul, and empowering her to share her story so that others will not experience the same fate.

We will all encounter opportunities, during our time at seminary, CPE, fieldwork and other ministries, to provide comfort and consolation to others who need to be strengthened in heart, mind and soul. We ourselves may encounter times when we need to receive comfort and strength. My friends, remember Constance and her companions, as well as Nandi, and know that the God of all consolation will comfort us and strengthen us and will empower us to comfort those who are in any affliction through Jesus Christ our Lord.

[1] David E. Garland, 2 Corinthians of New American Commentary. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999, p. 60.
[2] Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006. New York: Church Publishing Company, 2006, p.370.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Chapel Team Week

Week two of senior year and I've finally engaged! On hindsight I realize I've had more difficulty with 're-entry' than I thought or expected. While I successfully made it through the 3-week immersion in Greek which began a short 48 hours after returning from South Africa, I did not lock into my new schedule and responsibilities when the semester started after Labor Day! So this weekend I spent a significant amount of time getting a hold of things including my schedule, 'to do list', and upcoming deadlines.

The most important set of responsibilites this week revolves around Chapel Team! I am serving on a team with Juniors, Middlers and another Senior, as well as a Faculty Advisor. We lead daily Morning Prayer and the Wednesday Noonday Eucharist for the seminary community. Today I was the greeter; tomorrow I read the lesson from Job; Weds AM I officiate; Weds Noon I chalice; and Thurs I read the lesson from the New Testament. As I senior I am invited to preach at a noonday Eucharist during Chapel Team Week. I accepted the invitation and will stand in the seminary pulpit tomorrow at noon and share the Good News!! The text is II Corinthians 1:3-5. The thesis is that God comforts us, a.k.a. strengthens us, so we are strengthened to comfort others. Prayers are appreciated!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Summer Is Almost Over


I have two more days of Greek - a quiz and final test! I am amazed at how much I've learned in 3 weeks, and I am able to translate basic sentences - very exciting!!

My Thursday night class on Spiritual Direction starts this week. The course is offered at another seminary in the area. A number of classmates are taking this class. Should be fun to learn with them in a different environment.

My September calendar is filling up. Field Education begins on Sunday, Sept 7th. I serve on chapel team the week of Sept 7th and will preach in the seminary chapel on Sept 9th - Constance & Her Companions. The following weekend (9/19-20) is our class retreat and I will be facilitating a workshop on the labyrinth. Our class gift, at this point, MAY be an outdoor labyrinth which, personally, I think would be a tremendous addition to the campus.

The metaphor of the labyrinth is applicable to life, especially to life of a senior in seminary! One needs to remind oneself to take one step at a time, and even though there are twists and turns, it is important to stay on the path. Breathe, pace yourself, rest when necessary, and keep your eyes open! And so I will!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's Greek to Me!

I'm immersed in Biblical Greek and it is Greek to me! I started the three-week summer course last Tuesday, three days after returning from South Africa. In addition to daily quizzes, we have two major tests the first of which is Thursday. For me Greek has been easier, maybe more logical, than Hebrew, which I took the summer of my Junior year. It does help that the professor is engaged and enthusiastic about the subject! So far we've memorized more than 50% of the words in the New Testament, of course that includes all the "ands, buts and fors."

Surprisingly I am one of two Seniors in the class, except for the TA. I think there are about the same number of Seniors in Hebrew.

Well, I need to study vocabulary, and work on parsing and translation! Wish me luck!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cape Town

We arrived in Cape Town late on Tuesday, August 5th. We stayed in De Waterkant area in a very nice, three story townhouse with a roof deck where we had a wonderful view of Table Mountain. (seen here).

Marla & I went to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and others were held as political prisoners in the 1960's, '70's and '80's. Our second guide was Eugene, a former political prisoner, who was arrested when he was protesting against the unequal education that blacks received. He shared stories of other prisoners asking him to read their letters and write letters as they were illiterate.

Our first guide showed us the quarry where prisoners including Nelson Mandela worked in the hot sun splitting rocks into gravel. The cave served as a class room in addition to a place of shade. Several years ago there was a reunion for political prisioners and Nelson Mandela was asked to demonstrate the labor of splitting rocks. As he left the quarry for the last time, Mandela picked up a rock and put it down at the entrance to the quarry. The other former prisioners followed his example and this pile stands as a memorial.











It was too overcast on the day we tried to take the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain. It was the only day of our two weeks that the weather was somewhat inclement. A nice tourist took our photo! We left South Africa on 8/8/08 and returned home on 8/9/08. We had a wonderful time with our friends and loved South Africa. It's a beautiful country. Thanks for sharing our journey!

Boesmanskop & Vineyards

Last week, on our way from Knysna to Cape Town we stopped overnight at Boesmanskop, an amazing bed & breakfast which is nestled in the mountains at Kruisrivier. Boesmanskop is a dairy farm, as well as a vineyard. In addition there are ostriches and sheep on the farm. The views were spectacular and the food was delicious!!! And our accommodations were amazing!! http://www.boesmanskop.co.za/

Here are some photos.

On the way from Boesmanskop we stopped at the Jaubart-Traudauw Vineyard for lunch. Some more amazing views and interesting shadows!!




Then, while in Cape Town, we drove to Stellenbosch to the Warwick Vineyard where we enjoyed a wine tasting. Milla's nephew, Theo, who's studying wine making and agriculture provided lots of good information!


South African wine is very good and we brought some home to enjoy with friends!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Knysna Sunset

We've had a wonderful time visiting our friends in Knysna. Last night they hosted a braai or barbeque with 10 of their friends. It was a wonderful evening and a nice opportunity to meet some really fantastic women. Here's a view from the deck.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Photos of People - Christ the King Diocese

Here are photos of some of the wonderful folks with whom I spent time during my "plunge" in the Diocese of Christ the King: The Rev. Horace McBride (Archdeacon) & Lorraine, The Rev. Joan Hepburn (Archdeacon) & Jean, Nandi & Shirley, Betty & the Maropefela family, Beth & Sharon and The Rev. Gijimane.






Thanks to all of you for your warm welcome and hospitality. My ministry will be forever impacted by my time with you and my experience within your Diocese.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Big Five!!!





Marla & I enjoyed 3 wonderful days at Kruger National Park. Our homebase was the Skukuza Camp where we stayed in a 'luxury bungalow'.
http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/camps/skukuza/

We enjoyed a sunset and a sunrise game drive, and we drove around part of this massive park in our Toyoto Helux (big, big diesel) truck. Hopefully I will be able to post photos soon, but suffice it to say we got up close to many animals including lions, elephants and giraffes! The big five include lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinos and leopards. We were fortunate that at the end of our drive yesterday we finally saw the elusive leopard!







We are now in the Johannesburg Airport awaiting our 2nd delayed flight of the day. We are flying to George where we will visit with our friends Milla & Elizabeth who live in Knysna (pronounced NIZE na). On Monday or Tuesday we will all drive to Cape Town where we will stay for a few days until 8/8 when Marla & I begin our long journey home!
p.s. These are actual photos we took, not stock photos! And we do not have a high tech zoom lens. The animals were really close to us and our vehicle (in which we stayed)!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Apartheid & Oppression

Since I have been in South Africa, I have learned a lot about Apartheid and about the oppression that blacks experienced in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to watching some of the documentaries in celebration of Mandiba's (Nelson Mandela's) birthday, I have been taken by my hosts to Soweto and the Hector Peterson Museum. The Hector Peterson Museum in Soweto commemorates the 566 people who died in the student uprising that followed the events of June 16, 1976. It is named for Hector Peterson, a 12-year-old boy who was the first person shot dead by police on the day that changed South Africa, and is located near a memorial to his death. http://www.gauteng.com/content.php?page=Hector%20Peterson%20Museum


After touring the museum we drove by the nearby homes of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Winnie Mandela. The Nelson Mandela home is being turned into a museum.


Today I visited the Sharpeville Museum and Memorial. The Memorial commemorates the 69 innocent victims who were shot by police, also known as the Sharpeville Massacre, when blacks protested over the mandate that they carry a pass (or something that looks like a passport) with them at all times . http://www.southafrica.info/about/history/sharpeville.htm March 21st, the day of the Sharpeville Massacre, is also known as Human Rights Day in South Africa.

I also saw the nearby stadium, also in Sharpeville, where Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected President, signed the South Africa Constitution on May 8, 1996.

These are both important historical events and places for South Africans, as is Robben Island - the prison where Nelson Mandela and many other blacks were held for years. I will tour Robben Island when I'm in Cape Town on August 6th. The stories and the photos remind me of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/about/about.asp

We need to know and understand our history and our complicity in oppression of people who are different. Last week at the stakeholders meeting a report was being given about a failed attempt to persuade a local shopping mall to allow for 'health and information fair' of HIV/AIDS providers. The mall's marketing manager flatly refused to allow this event and was reportedly rude and abrupt to the stakeholders. From behind me someone asked if the woman was white. I paused and reviewed in my mind the images of the people in the room. It was then I realized that I was the only white person there.

Part of the challenge is that AIDS is unfortunately still considered a black person's disease in South Africa. While there are some white people with AIDS who have come forward, there is still a great racial stigma.

Still I wonder, how often do we make statements or ask questions that oppress the other? How often are we the one being oppressed?

We have so far to go and so much work to do to build a world where all people are treated equally and where the basic needs of people are being met. There is so much poverty here and around our world. We must consider our global family and begin to love our global neighbor as ourselves. We have much to share and there is so much need.

Please consider making a contribution to the AIDS Program at the Diocese of Christ the King. For more information please go to: http://www.christthekingdiocese-anglican.org/theme.php?id=57


Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Madiba!

This was the sentiment all through the country on Saturday - celebrating Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday! There have been some wonderful tributes on television for Mr. Mandela! Over the weekend my hosts, a beautiful family named Maropefela, showed me a wonderful time from a family dinner to a braai. A braai is the word in South Africa for big barbeque with lots of meat - sausage, steak, chicken, etc. and other foods - beans, salad, rolls, etc. I attended church at Holy Trinity in Turfontain with my host family and found the liturgy to be almost exactly the same as ours across the ocean! Holy Trinity has a very active children and youth education programs, and they are very involved at the refugee camp.

Speaking of refugee camp, we tried on Friday and Saturday to enter the camp so I could visit with some of the displaced people; however, we were not allowed. A new registration program was recently started and some of the people in the camp revolted on the previous Weds. so visitors have not been allowed to enter the camp. Even Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children representatives have been turned away. Because today is the deadline for the registration program it is expected that more violence will break out today. And the South African government says it will close the camp at the end of this month.

The refugees are from countries like Zimbabwe where they fled for fear of being killed and if they register in South Africa they will not be treated as refugees by the United Nations and will not have protection. If they are sent back to their country they most likely will be killed. It seems to be a 'no-win' situation. Someone said that it is only when the situation becomes a crisis that the United Nations will come in and help resettle these people.

I did not take any photos of the camp as photos were not allowed. But the camp was basically a large park that had been filled with large white tents like we would see at a wedding reception. Hundreds and hundreds of families and people - young and old - are living in these tents. The area churches serve the government issued food three times a day. Before the violence, the churches and NGOs were able to provide counseling and assistance. Please pray for the people in this camp, for the government officials and for the countless volunteers and staff and that this crisis will soon be peacefully resolved.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bits & Pieces

Today was a day of meetings. Nandi picked me up at 7:30 AM so we could make it to an area HIV/AIDS stakeholder meeting by 9:00 AM. We picked up Sello on the way and arrived by 8:50 AM. Representatives from various governmental agencies, including the Health Department and Social Service Department, as well as NGOs and business (Nestle) were represented. The meeting began 'promptly' at 9:30 AM and ended at 2:00 PM!! The good news is that this type of collaboration and communication is new to South Africa and this monthly meeting has become a model for other jurisdictions. After the meeting finished the hosts served a light lunch.

Tonight at 5:30 PM I attended with Nandi an Executive Counselors Meeting of the Diocese. The meeting started on time and ended by 6:40 PM. Much better than this morning!

I am eager to get back out in the field tomorrow. We are visiting the refugee camp that 'houses' a number of people who have fled from Zimbabwe. It's sure to be an interesting day.

I thought I would share a bit of my experience since I've been staying at the Diocesan Conference Center - St. Peter's Place. I'm currently the only guest and the staff are feeding me like there are three or four people here. The food is delicious and water is always available for a 'spot of tea' or coffee. I've become a tea drinker since arriving in South Africa! I have a lovely private suite with private bath. The bath doesn't have a shower so I use a cup to pour water over my head to wash my hair. It works quite well!

The staff has also been packing lunch for me. The other day we were sharing lunch - Nandi, Sello & I - when I spotted what looked like a peanut butter & jelly 1/4 sandwich. I, a lover of peanut butter, took a bite and immediately realized that the 'jelly' was fish paste! Not wanting to be an ungrateful guest, I continued to chew and swallow and to finish the 1/4 sandwich! There was another 1/4 fish paste sandwich in the lunch which no one else ate, so it was returned in the container. I haven't found another fish paste sandwich in my lunch box!

I have especially enjoyed my early morning visits with the manager of St. Peter's Place. Sharon is an ordained priest, and we've discovered that we have common interests, especially around healing ministry. I have a new author, Mike Endicott, to read when I return home.

Tomorrow at 4:00 PM I will be picked up by another member of the Plunge Committee and will spend the weekend at her home. I will return to the McBrides Sunday night and will be housed with them for rest of the week. I will be spending the days with various clergy and lay people who also serve on the Plunge Committee. I am not sure what we'll be doing next week, but I'm sure I will have experiences to share!

I am most grateful to Nandi and the HIV/AIDS staff for sharing this time with me and allowing me to experience their ministry. I am also grateful to Sharon and the staff at St. Peter's Place. Thank you all for your gracious welcome and hospitality. I hope we meet again.

"Finetown"

Today Nandi & I, Agnes, the head of the Mother's Union and Sello, the local coordinator, went to the shanty town called "Finetown". There's nothing fine about it, however! Most of the homes were made of tin - siding and roofing with gaps between the tin sheeting. All had outhouses with new-looking vent pipes (to keep people from dying from methane gas). And some had water taps in the "yards" while others had no water and the occupants had to go to a community water supply which had several faucets to fill jugs of water. I saw someone pushing a wheel barrow with 2 or 3 large plastic containers of water back to their home.

The 'roads' were not paved and were deeply rutted making hard for Nandi to drive. Dust was everywhere! We visited several clients in Finetown, sitting outside on borrowed chairs, stools or benches from neighbors. One lady invited us to sit inside her home. A curtain separated her bedroom (I think) from the kitchen, dining, sitting area. She has no ID so she cannot receive services - food & financial support - for herself and her family (3 children). She lost her birth certificate and only has a baptismal certificate. Nandi talked with her about presenting the baptismal certificate as ID to see if it's acceptable; otherwise, she told the lady that she would get an affidavit to say she lost her birth certificate. If anyone can find a way to get this lady an ID it is Nandi!

Some of the neighbors in Finetown were drinking beer that Nandi told me they spike with battery acid to make it more potent. You can see, she told me, their red lips that have been burned from the acid.

Today was quite shocking for me. It's so sad and yet Nandi and her staff & volunteers are doing amazing work and providing so much support, but as Sello said to me, "the need is overwhelming."

Lesedi La Kreste - Light of Christ


Today and yesterday I traveled around the Diocese with Nandi Tshaka, the Diocesan AIDS Coordinator. We visited two homes where children as young as 2 months and as old as 18 years are being cared for by women with help from the Church, government and private companies. We happened upon an event being sponsored at one of the homes by ABI - African Beverage Incorporated. Nandi was delighted to see the business and community collaboration that has taken place since her last visit to this home. The walls were freshly painted, the rooms clean with new bunk beds, mattresses and blankets and an office for the staff. We also visited one of Nandi's clients who, in spite of many attempts to receive anti-viral drugs at the local clinic, kept on being denied. Nandi escorted the client to the clinic and was successful in getting proper treatment for her. As we visited yesterday the mother shared the story of her daughter's rape and how they told no one because of fear and shame. The mother had recently learned that if the rape had been reported to the health clinic her daughter might have received the anti-viral drugs which would have prevented HIV/AIDS. The mother wept as she told Nandi how responsible she feels for hiding this secret. Nandi shared that this is not uncommon - the shame and stigma of rape and HIV/AIDS is pervasive in South Africa. And more often than not the men are set free and the women have no rights to pursue action against them.

Today we visited an Anglican Primary School - Lesedi La Kreste (Light of Christ) - which has 1200 students from 5 years to 7th grade. The children were having lunch as we walked through the campus, and they smiled and waved to us. We visited with the principal and the school counselor who shared stories of the needs and challenges facing some of the children. The counselor told of a 2nd grader, probably 7 or 8 years old, who was raped by her step-brother and who hadn't told anyone until the counselor spoke to the class about sexual awareness.

These stories are heartbreaking and yet, it is wonderful that the Anglican Church in South Africa, specifically the Diocese of Christ the King, is committed to HIV/AIDS education, awareness, counseling, treatment, support and advocacy. Nandi has championed this effort for many years, first as a volunteer and now as a full-time staff person. She has established an impressive network of coordinators and counselors who lead these efforts in the Diocese. Some parishes are still reluctant to support this work, but Nandi continues to encourage their involvement. As she says, "Step by step we are making a difference."

I will spend the rest of the week with Nandi visiting more projects, clients and programs. She is a strong woman who is deeply passionate about her work and her clients. Thank God for her commitment and for the support of the Diocese, government and other organizations. She and her staff and volunteers are definitely making an impact in this part of South Africa.

Winter in South Africa

It is winter in South Africa and while I don't exactly know the temperature I am guessing that at night it goes down to 35 or 40 degrees. Fortunately for the past two days it has been sunny during the day so I have been warm with a light sweater or polartec vest over my turtlneck. At night, however, I use a space heater to stay warm. The first night I did not feel comfortable turning it on, but couldn't sleep because I was cold so for the past two nights I've used the heater for at least part of the night.

This week I am staying at the Diocesan Conference Center - St. Peter's Place. This Diocesan offices are here, but unfortunately I will not meet Bishop Peter John Lee. He is attending the Lambeth Conference. Since I was confused, I will mention that this is a different Bishop Peter J. Lee from Bishop Peter J. Lee of Virginia! The Virginia Bishop's middle name is James, I think.

My accomodations are wonderful. I have a private suite and am currently the only guest here. Sharon, the manager who is also an ordained priest, has been very gracious to allow me to use her computer in the evenings. We've also enjoyed some wonderful conversations. I eat in the dining hall (by myself) and have enjoyed delicious meals. I hope to upload some photos in the next day or two so check back on the posts!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Arrived Safely in South Africa

A quick post to say I arrived Saturday evening in South Africa after two flights totaling about 16 hours with 2 hours in Paris. The McBrides, my hosts, were there to greet me. They are a lovely couple with whom I've enjoyed some wonderful conversation. The Reverend Horace McBride is an Archdeacon in Christ the King Diocese. His wife and I went to the Sunday service in the chapel next door to the Rectory yesterday morning. I hope to post photos when I am able to use my laptop.

I will be spending the week traveling with Nandi, the Diocesan AIDS Coordinator and will be staying at the Diocesan Conference Center in Johannesburg. Then I will return to the McBrides next Sunday.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Preparing for "The Plunge"

In 10 days I will be flying to Johannesburg, South Africa for "The Plunge" - a ministry immersion in the Diocese of Christ the King which is just outside Joh'burg. I am looking forward to staying at the home of the Archbishop and his wife and experiencing ministry in a new part of the world. I hope to spend time with the diocese's AIDS ministry and Mother's Union. I'm sure that "The Plunge" will significantly impact my ministry in ways that I cannot even imagine! I expect to blog during my journey so stay tuned.

In preparation I've started the hepatitis A & B shot series. I'll start taking typhoid pills later this week. Can't wait for the flu-like side effects!!! I have malaria pills to take before, during and after my three-day visit to Kruger National Park which is scheduled to take place after "The Plunge." In fact, I'm spending two weeks after "The Plunge" traveling around South Africa, eventually visiting friends in Knysna and winding up in Cape Town.

Since it's winter there I will need to get sweaters and warm clothes out of the closet! Seems odd to pack fleece when it's 90 degrees at home! I'm making progress on the list of all the other details - paying bills, car, home and pet care, etc. There is a lot of preparation before leaving for a month!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Meeting Presiding Bishop Katharine


Tonight's Service for the Mission of the Church at Seminary was extra special because Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was the preacher. As the lead sacristan for the service I introduced myself to +PB Katharine and offered assistance. I tripped over my words and said "lectern" and "podium" before arriving at "pulpit" explaining that is adjustable and she might want to check it before the service. Nerves are funny!

The service was great and her sermon was right on! I hope to link to the text in the coming days. I'm thrilled that she signed my copy of her book On a Wing and a Prayer. Tomorrow is commencement and she will receive an honorary degree, along with several other folks.

It is bittersweet to say goodbye to the graduating class - joy for their future endeavors and sadness that they are leaving. The reality that I will be a senior and graduating next year is sinking in too!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

One Down, One To Go!


One exam - Systematic Theology - is finished and tomorrow I have my final, comprehensive, entire semester worth of Ethics exam! Then preaching Sunday on the Trinity using a visual. Sermon discussion is after the service - a new experience for me! I still have to put final touches on a paper for ST before COB on Monday and then I'm truly a Senior! It's exciting and yet bittersweet. I will miss the Seniors who are graduating and moving onto new ministries. As a sacristan, I will be carrying the Processional Cross for graduation next Thursday (5/22). It's an honor.
Summer will involve working at the Seminary Library and other places before spending a week at 'preaching camp' at Villanova. A week's vacation in Miami at the end of June and then heading to South Africa for an immersion - cross cultural experience in mid-July. Fortunately I will have 2+ weeks to tour South Africa before returning home in time to study Greek!
But for now, I'm off to study for my Ethics exam!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

3rd Quarter and Holy Week!

In an interesting convergence of circumstances the end of the 3rd quarter and exams, midterms & finals, happened this week which is also Holy Week! Granted we are to be walking in the Way of the Cross and experiencing the pain of suffering of Christ's passion and death, but having this suffering overlap with the suffering of exams is just too much! Then on top of it, someone(s) removed all of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer books from the Seminary Chapel so that the Chapel Team and I, as Sacristan, were scrambling Monday morning to locate enough prayer books so people could worship at our 8:10 Morning Prayer service. The would be jokester placed 1928 Prayer Books in the pews and put "1928" on the hymn boards. The prank, in my opinion, was poorly timed and inappropriate, and the lack of comment from the powers-that-be has been surprising. I've been wondering "what would Jesus do?" and I think Jesus would have a few choice words to say! But alas, the Prayer Books were found and returned to their places, my exams are finished and the focus is now on the Tritium. For a good article on what these next few days means to Christians go to http://www.newsday.com/news/columnists/ny-opkea5615834mar17,0,6496178.column

I will be serving at my Field Ed parish for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday night and two services on Easter Sunday. It will be good to join this faithful community as we worship and journey together through this most Holy Week.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

On Month Later

I returned from Honduras and had a few days off before starting back at seminary. I am past the halfway point in my three-year seminary journey! I wonder how this is possible! My seminary operates on a semester and quarter system. Each semester has two quarters so this quarter I am finishing Church History - from 1600 to the present. My semester courses are Christian Ethics, Systematic Theology II and Colloquy which is a companion course to field education, or as I like to call it 'student priesting.' I spend every Sunday at my field ed parish where I serve at the altar, occasionally preach and proclaim the Gospel, and co-lead the Rite 13 group (teenagers). Co-leading Rite 13 is good and challenging for me because I haven't had much experience with teenagers! Also as part of field ed I meet monthly with a committee of lay people who provide me with feedback on my sermons and generally support me as I learn more about parish leadership and becoming a priest. It's a wonderful parish and I'm thankful to be there!

Speaking of parishes, my Bishop has transferred me to a new sponsoring parish. After 8 years I am moving from the parish that I joined when I moved here from Houston. This was the parish where I discerned my call for ordination and where the people joined me in that discernment, raised me up and supported me on this journey towards ordination. It's hard to leave these people and this place that has meant so much to me; however, it is my Bishop's decision to move me to a new sponsoring parish for my continuing formation. This is a time of sadness, grief and new beginnings. It seems appropriate and right that this transition coincides with the season of Lent.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Una Mas Clase!

Tomorrow is my last Spanish class here. It has been a wonderful experience to spend three weeks in Honduras at Our Little Roses and to learn Spanish. I have learned so much! I will return home able to understand a lot and able to speak a little more. I am far from fluent, but I have a better foundation on which to continue to build!

In celebration of one more class - una mas clase - and as a thank you to Belkis, we went to dinner and a movie tonight. On the way we stopped at Parque Central so I could take pictures of the statues (see Substitute Teacher). Sadly the fountains were not working, but I did get my pictures of the Honduran women. You can see they are very, very strong women! Our Little Roses is a place where strong and caring women are raised. It's been a privilege to live here among them. I have lollipops to give the girls at lunch tomorrow as a 'thank you' for their hospitality. I hope to say a few words of thanks, but I may only get to say "Muchas Gracias"!

I have done and seen things I never would have imagined before coming here. Our Little Roses is a wonderful ministry and I would definitely recommend their language school. The impact of this trip on my life and my ministry will be significant. I have not really had time to process all that I have done, seen and experienced.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey! It's been great to share this with you. Adios!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Home & The Girls

I realize I haven't talked much about the girls here at Our Little Roses. This photo is of the center courtyard of their home. The dormitory style bedrooms and bathrooms as well as the dining room, television room, study room and workshop surround this courtyard. There are approximately 61 girls currently living in the home, and they are between the ages of 4 years to 20 years. There are two houses in the community where older girls live who are attending the university or working.

While I have had meals with the girls and have enjoyed some fun times with them (see Pulhapanzak Falls and A Grand Party) I really have not interacted very much with them. For a few days I did my homework in their study room, but the constant flow of girls in and out and their quarrels about puzzles and games was too distracting for me. And unfortunately they did not seem to welcome my interest in practicing Spanish with them! Not that I blame them. How many language students each year must say to them, "?Como se llama? [What is your name?] Me llamo _____. [My name is ____.]"

It has been interesting to watch the girls and their interactions with one another. There is a real spirit of care and compassion that surrounds this place. The older girls care for the younger girls. And there is a lot of love and protection, not just among the girls but also among the Tias (the employees who live with and care for the girls) as well as the other staff like the cooks, drivers and guards.

The girls have chores in the home and based on a merit system they may receive special privileges at the end of the week or month. There are always girls sweeping and mopping in the home and around the compound. And it is not surprising how much trash can acculmulate, especially considering all of the students, parents, and teachers that come into the compound every day.

The girls have sponsors, people who virtually 'adopt' them and provide financial support for their care. Most girls have more than one sponsor. For more information about sponsoring a girl or to contribute to OLR click here: http://www.ourlittleroses.org/

For me the lasting impression I will take home is the love and generosity that I experienced here, as well as the many, many smiles that reflect God's love for all God's children, including you and me.

















Tuesday, January 22, 2008

La Clinica

Yesterday I visited the clinic as a patient! I had been hearing a rattling in my chest for a week and when I awoke yesterday I had a sore throat and my left ear was stopped up. Fortunately OLR runs a clinic in the neighborhood so Belkis and I walked there so I could see a doctor - el medico. The small waiting room had 12 seats and all were full by the time I got to see the doctor. He diagnosed me with an upper respiratory infection caused most likely by the dust or mold here. He prescribed an antibiotic, advil and a cough syrup. The nurse/receptionist filled the 1st two prescriptions, but we had to drive to the pharmacy - la farmacia - for the cough syrup.

I'm not sure what my experience would have been if OLR didn't own the clinic, but I couldn't help think about the health care system in the United States and the disparity of people not having health insurance, and not being able to afford it even when they are working several jobs to support themselves and their families. Something needs to change.

Anyway, I took a three hour nap after lunch and slept very well last night. Hopefully all this rest in combination with the medicine will rid me of this infection! I certainly don't want to return home sick!

Copan: The Adventure! Part III

The food! I've already mentioned that on Friday night at Via Via I enjoyed a hamburger and fries. Saturday morning, at La Casa de Todo, I had a mozzarella omelet with toasted homemade bread (see photo - Copan Part I)

Saturday night I treated myself to Twisted Tanya's, a very unique and good restaurant in Copan. I selected their 3-course dinner and had homemade mushroom soup (fantastic), tilapia with a unique sauce (the name is laropa, I think) and homemade carrot cake with cafe' con leche. The whole meal with a drink was $21. Extravagant, I know!

Sunday morning I was back at La Casa de Todo where I tried their homemade mango yogurt with granola. It was delicious. I actually spent the morning at La Casa working on my Spanish. I wasn't in the mood to tour and it was raining, so I sat in their garden protected by a roof and watched the rain and a hungry hummingbird while conjugating verbs! It was a great morning!

Fortunately, before boarding the bus I got lunch in the bus terminal. Their special was fried chicken with fries for 50 lempiras - around $2.63. Such a bargain! And it was very good.

Now I know with all this talk about food you may be wondering if I've gone loco - crazy! Well, yes, maybe. You see, I eat with the girls at OLR in their dining room. (see photos below) I'm not used to eating beans and rice with every meal. I'm not used to very tough meat and trying to eat it without a knife. Typically my utensils here are a fork and 2 tortillas. I'm also not used to not eating salads or fruits. I rarely have seen fruit here except for broiled bananas.

So if I sound a little too excited about the food in Copan, it's because they cater to tourists, and I could find food that was more like what I'm used to eating. I am fed well at OLR!




Monday, January 21, 2008

Copan: The Adventure! Part II

On Saturday, after spending the morning at Copan Ruinas, I headed back by taxi (see photo in previous post) to Via Via to rest and freshen up a bit. I was debating whether to go on a horseback riding tour to Hacienda San Lucas or to go to Macaw Mountain. Having recently re-read Lauren & Robin's Adventure in Copan (seminary classmates), I opted for Macaw Mountain. It's not that they didn't have a good time, but the soreness that they experienced after horseback riding was more than I wanted to endure! It was an excellent decision for me because Sunday was a very rainy day and walking around was slippery. [And I wasn't feeling 100% due to congestion in my chest that had been coming on for a week or so, not to mention a painful knee, but more on my visit to el Clinica later!]

So, decision made, I headed by taxi to Macaw Mountain. I actually had the same taxi driver who took me to the Copan Ruinas, and he offered to come back to Macaw Mountain in two hours to take me back into town. Nice people in Copan!
Macaw Mountain is a Bird Park and a Nature Reserve. From the Macaw Mountain brochure:

"The park is nestled in a small canyon formed by the Sesemil Creek, that provides water to the town. The park has a collection of Honduran and Central American macaws, toucans and parrots that have been recovered from captivity. All the birds are carefully maintained and can fly freely in large, naturally planted aviaries. The park has a strong eco-educational component with informative tours emphasizing bird habitat, natural history, biology and conservation."

My guide, Kevin, was very knowledgable about the 140 birds in the park. He was very engaging with me and with the birds. It was a thrill to see the birds, hear their stories from Kevin and be able to actually 'pet' the birds! It's a beautiful park and a great place to visit on a very hot day - un muy caliente dia!