Friday, December 05, 2003

Hometown Hero 

I've been in training class the last couple of days and haven't had the time to write. Today, as Fridays are, is poetry day at my blog. Today's poem is dedicated to the troops who are defending our country all around the world. God bless them!

Not a simple gesture
Not a small sacrifice
In humble regard for our country
Quietly the soldier serves

A soldier in uniform
Home visiting relatives
Expecting to go back overseas
Not knowing if or when he will return home

Do I stop to say I’m proud?
Do I stop to say “thank you”?
So many people are trying to get close
I make eye contact and smile

I hope my smile says you are my hero,
For you are a hero to many.
In a time of war
A hometown boy becomes a hero

My prayer for you, hometown hero:
May God be your guide and
May God be your strength
And may He bring you home safely. Amen.

Our troops overseas need to hear how much they mean to us, and how much we care. May we make it publicly known how much their service means to us. May God bless our troops and bring them home safely!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Philippines 1999--Entry #1 

Did you know I am married to a Filipino man? He was born here in Minnesota, first generation born in the U.S. His parents moved here, met and married, and settled in Minnesota. His parents' families live on different islands in the Philippines: his father's on Luzon and his mother's on Mindanao. About four years ago my husband and I went to the Philippines for a visit.

At the time our firstborn son was about a year and a half. My husband, son, and I departed with and traveled with my husband's parents and his autistic brother. We could only stay for a short time--two and a half weeks. Our schedule was tight due to trying to fit in visits with relatives and time for shopping and sightseeing. It was our "vacation", although we would need a real vacation by the time we returned home. No amount of planning could have prepared us for the adventure that lay ahead.

We arrived in Manila at the wee hour of 3:00 a.m. after having been in transit for about 24 hours. After passing through customs without incident, we lugged our bags and variety of boxes outside. Of course we had brought the maximum number of packages allowed. My in-laws make no trip to the Philippines without bringing as many gifts and convenience items as they can. On this trip it included boxes that met not only my husband's baggage quotas and mine, but our son's as well. We somehow got all of our baggage and ourselves to my father-in-law's brother's house in Manila.

Once there, we were able to sit and visit briefly. This was really just a "lay over" in Manila, since we were scheduled to take an early flight to Cagayan in just a few hours. Oh, how I wanted to sleep! After a lot of visiting and a little eating, our hosts decided it was time to go to bed. There wasn't really room for all of us to sleep--no extra bedroom and not much furniture to speak of. My husband, son, and I ended up catching a few winks on the couch. (Sleeping on the plane had been more comfortable.)

I was introduced to my first Filipino shower early the next morning. I was looking forward to taking a shower since more than 30 hours had passed since my last one. It was hardly the shower I expected. Have you heard of a tabo? It is a plastic dipper used in a larger bucket for scooping out water for your "shower". Even though most homes have the plumbing for the shower, the shower is rarely turned on. I never asked, but I assumed either the cost of the water or heating the water must be excessive, thus the need to conserve. So much traveling and so little sleep--let's just say I wasn't ready for that kind of shower.

To be continued...

Monday, December 01, 2003

Bar Mitzvah 

I attended a bar mitzvah this past weekend. I had never attended a Jewish service before and was pleasantly surprised at what I learned.

Of course, there was a lot of written and spoken Hebrew. What I didn't know was that Hebrew is written right-to-left. I picked up the prayer book and was befuddled momentarily until I figured out that the entire book was from right-to-left, or front-to-back in comparison to the English standard. Another thing that came as a surprise to me was that no photography was allowed in keeping with the Sabbath. I'm really glad I left the camera at home.

So much of Christian tradition is based on Jewish tradition. One example that really stood out in my mind was the touching of the man's ceremonial garment or worship book to the Torah scroll and then to the lips. In the Catholic church, prior to the gospel reading, the faithful attendee gestures to his forehead, lips, and heart with the thumb making a small cross. Although I do not know the significance of the symbol in the Jewish ceremony, I am guessing it is the same as the symbol in the Catholic ceremony: signifying desire to proclaim the preached words with his lips.

The Torah reading was from Genesis, the story of the blessing of Isaac given to Jacob instead of Esau. I had participated in a 10-week kids' ministries session covering the same story earlier this year. The familiarity with the text made me feel at home in a place where I might have felt much like a stranger.

The ceremony was long, but I was enchanted. I know and believe the Jewish people to be God's chosen people. I was delighted to be able to participate.

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day 

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln

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