Monday, November 29, 2010

The Rotten Gourd

So recently I made a typical blunder of epic proportions and forgot that I had a pumpkin riding around in the truck of my car. So as Thanksgiving approaches I begin to smell the distinctive smell of a rotten gourd in my car. Upon opening my trunk I find the dying corpse of said pumpkin. Needless to say it was truly disgusting and with much gagging and self hatred I managed to clean all of it (except for the smell) out. Not to mention while tossing out a box of ruined clothes to be donated I managed to cover the side of my face and hair with rotten pumpkin mush.

To possibly read way to much into this unfortunate mistake, I began to think of this as a physical manifestation of my(or everyones) emotional denial. I often bury what I can't seem to handle deep into the recesses of my mind. How many rotten gourds are you carrying around? How many difficult to understand situations, personal conflicts, or conflicts with others have you simply let slowly decompose in your soul? Are we polluting ourselves with ignored problems? The answer is undoubtedly obvious for me, YES.

I recently spent my first Thanksgiving away from my family, that was so terrible and so amazing at the same time. While, I felt truly depressed about not being able to eat the same food, and take part in the same traditions I found solace when everyone around me in New Orleans asked me if I had somewhere to eat for Thanksgiving, and if I was going to be alone. I have only been living in this city for three months. If I hadn't been a part of a congregation or in the YAV program I would most likely have been sitting alone with a microwave meal (I do not cook).

Perhaps the most rewarding part of not being with my family, was bonding with my roommate Tasha who also wasn't able to make it home. We spent the day after Thanksgiving watching a marathon of Dawson's Creek (don't judge me), eating Tater-tot casserole, and me teaching her how to knit. It seems so boring and normal, but Tasha is halfway to finishing a scarf now, and three days ago she had no idea how to knit.

It is with these support systems, and important communities that we begin to clean out the rotten gourds of our life and confront the things that scare and confuse us the most.

While the pumpkin debacle is typical of my forgetful nature, I know now that we all leave things unattended for too long. Even though sometimes it is overwhelming and makes you want to gag, the only way around it all is to push through. And grab on tight to those around you who honestly reach out to pull you to the other side.

This is your life on ignorance.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Read All About It!

The other day a local band The Soul Rebels Brass Band came by my tutoring site to talk to the kids about music and education. There was a pamphlet on what Lamar (a band member) was talking to them about. I was leading the child I tutor, Manny through the words by underlining them with my finger. As Lamar went on explaining the different instruments Manny started to underline the words on his own, and he was following them in perfect order with what Lamar was saying. It seems like no big deal, but it made my heart swell. I knew that I was giving Manny the tools to become a better reader and that he was actually picking them up and putting them into practice.

Literacy is big deal, and in NOLA music is an even bigger deal. Prior to Katrina there were a lot of music programs for elementary school aged children in place. As of now, very few exist at all. Lamar told us that through his elementary school music program he became hooked into something positive that gave him focus in school. Lamar has both a BA and a Masters, and currently tours the world with Soul Rebels. Imagine the possibilities for the current generation here in NOLA.

Tutoring programs like STAIR (Start the Adventure in Reading) is only a small piece of the puzzle. Music and arts education isn't suffering, it is practically extinct. In a country where we are supposedly "leaving no child behind" it seems that several are neglected and discarded everyday. I urge you to get involved locally. Ask the tough questions, demand answers.

You can check out,, or

The list goes on folks. It's up to us to make the changes, and be the light. The spirit is alive in me, and I see it everyday in this city.

Hence my diatribe...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Halloween has been under fire for many years. I am pretty sure most people are aware of the pros and cons. However, this year it seems the pumpkin guts hit the fan when it was put in motion that Halloween be switched to Saturday. I was really surprised by how heated people got by this. 

I was listening to the radio and this women verbally accosted the radio host in the name of the Lord. Being that her idea was it was "unholy" to have Halloween on a Sunday. 
When people like this pop up on media outlets like the radio I just feel sick. I mean really? Are we still of the mind that our beliefs give us the right to go around chastising people and feeling superior in the name of our God? I certainty hope not. 

Okay, so there are people who feel that Halloween is about the devil and celebrating evil things. Those people are totally entitled to feel how they want to. The same way other people are entitled to see Halloween as a time to let kids be creative and dress up in costumes, and then let them fill themselves with sugar. While, throwing a Christian "Fall Festival." 

Here is 's 3rd option for Halloween:
Christian hybrid Halloween.

It’s not Halloween, it’s not. Is it held in October? Yes. Do kids get candy? Yes. Do kids dress up? Yes. Are there pumpkins involved? Yes. But it’s not Halloween, it’s a “Fall Festival.”
Also, I really don't understand the response from those who don't consider themselves religiously affiliated. I read on facebook a certain persons response to the question "Why is Halloween being moved to Sunday" to be that, "They feel like they know "best" and should set an example for all us unwashed masses and shove their fear-based "beliefs" down our throats." Does it make you any more of person to direct so much anger and hatred at an entire religion. If you feel that you need to use the word "they" to cover what you are about to speak on, here is my suggestion, don't say anything else. 
I am just ready for a time where we can all relax and respect everyone's ability to make their own choices. Here is a what I consider to be a pretty practical response to all of this. 
If in your community (whatever that may be) you want to keep the trick o' treating on actual Halloween, go ahead and do that. If you want to switch to Saturday, so you can have your party on a Saturday and not be to tired for work in the morning on Monday, do that. Perhaps you want to watch the Saints game on Sunday evening and you want trick o' treating to happen on Saturday, hey you knock yourself out Saints fan. 
Also, no matter what your personal choice or group decision turns out to be you don't try to make it out to be any thing besides what it is. We could all use a little less animosity and a little more acceptance. Not everything in life is about one thing, and ultimately what I choose to do will be just that. 
Hence my diatribe...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

emotional rollercoaster

Oh to be a Saints fan post super bowl championship. I suppose with my years put in with the Wolfpack (N.C. State) I should be used to such a consistent build-up followed by a crushing let down. I am mostly feeling the stress of getting everything done for all the different things I am doing for my job. I have random lists on all kinds different pieces of paper. I know I have heard many of my elders express that once you get older your memory starts to dissipate. So what's my excuse? I suppose it's just my general nature to not be terribly concerned with details, however I am now in desperate need to remember, recall, and execute everything that is said to me. It keeps me up at night on a regular basis. 

On the other side of this I honestly cannot find the words to express how much of a relief it is to come home to the best roommates ever. They always let me vent, followed by making me laugh, followed by handing me a frosty beverage. I cannot get enough of shouting movie quotes at one another, and then busting gut over silly stuff. It is necessary to have some comic relief, when we are stuck in such a crazy situation.

It's strange to work in Kenner/Metairie where things seem so normal and together after Katrina, and then live in New Orleans where five years later the city is still a mess. It's tough to live in the neighborhood we do. I worry about taking the trash out at night. Apart of my year is to be immersed in the community and culture, so far, mission accomplished. 

I am really looking forward to Halloween. My roommates and I are dressing up as Mario Bros characters. I am dressing up as YOSHI. It is going to a lot of fun. 

It is a series of positives and negatives while I am working my way through this year of work, discernment, spiritual growth, and intentional living. Most days are emotionally draining, but I wouldn't trade anything for this experience. 

Hence my diatribe...

I would also like to acknowledge that today is my little sister Maggie's 21st Birthday. Happy Birthday Sissy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Flood The Market

Cafe du Monde has now set up shop on the same road I take into work each day. I find that just rude. Cafe du Monde how dare you seduce me each day with a charming building and delicious beignets! I now must overcome the your gravitational pull every time I pass. Alas, I shall win this epic battle against the best thing to ever happen to dough.

Often this is what happens to a good thing. Music/musicians, restaurants, silly bands, and all great thing as they become popular the market becomes flooded with them. That is how political agendas are even executed these days, you take down your opponent by flooding the media with negative ads about them.

This is not going to turn into a one of my political or even religious diatribes. It isn't really going to turn into a diatribe at all. I just want everyone to think about my main idea:

What if you flooded the market with "nothin' but love."

Meaning that what if all the opposing and varied groups of society had "nothin but love" for one another?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meet Me in The Middle

Currently I am involved in so many things here in New Orleans. I am doing my job at Chinese Presbyterian Church which includes being the assistant Christian Education Coordinator, layout and design for the church newsletter, assisting in special event planning, and a number of other bible studies and side projects. I am also taking one Saturday a month doing community service projects, tutoring through STAIR ( every Thursday, and I want to get my church to begin making mats for the homeless out of old grocery and other plastic bags.

Doing all these different things can be totally overwhelming and I often think perhaps I am taking on to much at once. However, I know that at the end of the day while I may not be able to tackle everything I want to, I am doing the most fulfilling work that I have ever experienced.

Today I led Chinese Presbyterian’s Revelation circle Bible study. We studied Rev. 2-3, which is John’s letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor. In John’s letter to Laodicea, he calls out the church for being “lukewarm” Christians. This passage really resonated with me in what it means for me personally to be a Christian. So often, I felt that being a Christian was something that I should not make waves about or make others feel uncomfortable about. That is the opposite of what we are called to do, God wants us to have hearts on fire for his word and for him. I would normally shy away from writing a blog so frank about my thoughts on Christ, however I think that the time is now for us not to move forward with intimidation, but with vigor and love.

I want to be an example of a modern Christian working towards creating a community of love and understanding. To do the work for others that I would see a modern day Christ doing. What I ask of my friends and family reading this blog is to meet me in the middle. Find a way in your life to give back to your community and stand up against the ugly we see in our world today.

“Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.” – Revelation 3:13

Peace and Love

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I have Stockholm syndrome?

When someone is kidnapped sometimes as a coping mechanism they start to identify with their kidnapper and they call this behavior Stockholm syndrome. Okay, so I have clearly not been kidnapped, however I believe slowly but surely I have come to identify myself as a New Orleanian. I root for the Saints with all of my energy, and take it as a personal downfall when they do not win. My current food of choice is fried catfish and gumbo. Furthermore, I am totally in favor of the drive-thru daiquiris and I cannot seem to understand why other states have not picked-up on this brilliant invention. I do believe that Louisiana is creeping its hooks into me and I am not sure if I should be excited or slightly worried.

On a more important note I recently went to a lecture at Loyola University, called “A Women’s Work is Never Done: Reforming and Rebuilding New Orleans.” It was about the history of women’s work in New Orleans, and the leadership of women through Hurricane Katrina and afterwards. There was woman from the Broadmore community who was a leader in her community before Katrina, and following helped to fight to keep her community and not let it go to “green space.” There is now a new school, library, and community center. There was also another amazing woman from the group Women of Storm. What is truly important about mentioning this woman is her passion towards saving the coastline and wetlands of Louisiana. So to anyone reading this please take the time to "Be The One"and go sign the petition at or (where you watch the video seen above)

I got to recently take a personal step forward towards rebuilding the wetlands through my YAV community day where myself and my fellow YAVs worked for Bayou Rebirth propagating horse grass. The plants we duplicated will be fostered in their makeshift ponds and then replanted into either a bayou or a rain garden ( is a planted depression that allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas like roofs, driveways, walkways, parking lots, and compacted lawn areas the opportunity to be absorbed). A rain garden has already been created in the Lower Ninth Ward and it is planned to be the largest in the city. 

Take it from a New Orleanian these wetlands and Louisiana in total is worth saving. 

I leave you with a non-partisan battle cry:

"Rebuilding the City of New Orleans is not just good for the Gulf Coast or the State of Louisiana . It's good for our nation." - President Barack Obama 

"It's necessary for every member of Congress to come down here. You can't appreciate the enormity of it until you come down here. We have an enormous long-term environmental challenge here. I am doing what is necessary." - Sen. John McCain 

Peace and Love 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lost in Translation

All is well in New Orleans and the Blue House. I am getting the ball rolling at Chinese Presbyterian with the start of regular youth meetings, creating lesson plans for Sunday school, and helping to plan special events. It has been great getting to know all the members of the church and learning new things about the Chinese culture.

It has also been apart of my job to give English lessons to some of the Chinese immigrants who either do not speak English at all, or just need help improving. What these lessons have brought to my attention is that as a culture, we need to open our eyes, minds, and hearts to immigrants. Many (including myself) tend to think of immigrants as those who come from Mexico, and South America. However, many different types of people who come into America for jobs and greater opportunities.

We pass over those who look different and speak a different language missing an opportunity to hear a compelling story. I am currently teaching an amazing woman named Chunling who in China was a doctor who worked in a large hospital, however here in America she is making sushi in the local grocery chain Rouses. Her medical degree is not recognized in the US. She is here because her husband is here to do cancer research and while things are not always fair, she is still very sweet and caring.

It is important to keep in mind that when you encounter someone who might not speak the most fluent English that you treat him or her with the same kindness you would want if you were in foreign country. Just smile and try your best to communicate. Maybe even take the time to let them share a piece of themselves, for you to carry on to others. 
Generations of Chinese Women in CPC

Love and Peace

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Catch of The Day

Perhaps one of the most fabulous things about Louisiana is the outstanding seafood. While the oil spill has caused multiple fisheries to close, the seafood here is still good and available. Good may be an understatement, it is outstandingly delicious actually. Today my roommate and fellow YAV Lauren and I attended the New Orleans Seafood Festival. There were a ton of restaurants with booths dispensing everything from charbroiled oysters
Oysters Roasting

 to shrimp and crawfish penne pasta. I sampled as much as my stomach would allow and got a delicious snowball (snow cone or shaved ice for my east-coast readers).

We then checked out the arts and crafts merchandise available at various tents. There was some really cool prints of local scenes around New Orleans, and were I flushed with extra cash I would have walked off with a couple of them. I really wanted to be able to post some pictures of the crafts, but most tents were not allowing photography.

It was outstandingly hot but if you could catch some shade, it was comfortable enough to hang around for the live music. I got to hear the musical styling of The Boogiemen and Luther Kent. They were both fun and talented bands, however I must say I really wish I could have caught Rebirth Brass Band ( that played on Saturday.
Rebirth Brass Band

All in all, as Lauren so eloquently states it was a “wonderful jaunt” about the amazing city of New Orleans. Lets remember folks that the seafood from here is not contaminated and is safe to eat, so purchase and enjoy. The people in the fishing industry here need to go back to work, and wouldn't that be what you would someone else to do for you? Hence, my diatribe on Louisiana seafood. 

Peace and Love  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Louisiana Left

There are many things unique to Louisiana for example, the existence of parishes instead of counties. Another gem unique to New Orleans and possibly Louisiana, is the awful fact that you cannot make any left turns, unless you are at a major intersection and even then it may not be available. Therefore you will find yourself making dangerous, haphazard u-turns all over the place. It is possible that there may be enough space between the median for your car, and it is also possible that you will be get rammed at 80 by another car because you could not make your "Louisiana left" fast enough. The traffic in general here is a complete mystery to me. Like the fact that there are cones and such everywhere yet I rarely see any type of construction going on. My roommates and I remain frustrated and terrified while trying to navigate a city that is totally unfamiliar to us.

I am well aware that a lot of this nonsense has to do with underfunded projects and the destruction from the hurricanes. However, the "Louisiana left" has no excuse! Why did anyone find this clever or useful? It slows things down and makes it more unsafe. I can't even park on a specific spot on our street because of the tendency of people to make their u-turn into peoples car and take off.

This phenomenon is beyond on me, and has caused me quite a bit of obvious rage. Hence my diatribe on the infamous "Louisiana left." Despite that I leave you with this readers: "If there was no New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people dying of boredom." -Judy Deck in an e-mail sent to Chris Rose

Peace and Love

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wednesday Reflections

We are all sitting around tonight in the Blue House aka Andrew House listening the musical styling of a Mr. Evan Ponder. It is a truly relaxing experience to enjoy his amazing talent, oh and did I mention he baked oatmeal cookies? Be envious. The girls of the blue house are a lucky group.

Last night a few roommates and I went to go experience some original New Orleans jazz, in the form of the Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf. It was life changing for me. I have never been a jazz fan, but the sounds of the Rebirth are like no other jazz I have ever heard. I was dancing and singing so much that my legs ached this morning. I believe they will be having an album coming out sometime in November (fingers crossed).

Even though orientation is over, we have been continuing having meetings here about community, living simply, and spiritual formation. Today we split in half and did a scavenger hunt that Lauren, Evan, and Tasha thoroughly won. I then decided I officially was uncompetitive and rightly named our team “Epic Fail.” We did not actually do that poorly. We simply lacked the appropriate motivation.

That concludes my Wednesday reflections, and stay tuned for more.

Peace and Love. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Welcome Home to New Orleans

I moved into Andrew House on Franklin Ave on August 17, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. I am starting my year of mission work through YAV (Young Adult Volunteer) through PC U.S.A.

I moved in with five other inspiring young adults, Katie, Tasha, Maegen, Lauren, and Evan. It had only been about five days, but we were already sharing our own personal stories and laughing till we were gasping for breath. 

Then as we began to settle into the city, we were flown to New York and driven to Stony Point Conference Center for YAV orientation. There were 68 other YAV volunteers who were placed among the 15 sites both national and international. As a part of orientation we opened each day with worship and bible study, which was followed by "conversations" on race and power, culture shock, good self-care, and globalization. We closed each evening with vespers and The YAVAs (Young Adult Volunteer Alumni) told stories of their year as YAVs which resonated strongly with me. 

On Sunday before we left to return to New Orleans, Tasha, Maegen, and I were commissioned by Larchmont Presbyterian Church in Larchmont, NY. That was an enriching experience, the members of the church were very welcoming and it cemented the reality of my year of mission. There were also a few members from North Carolina which was exciting for me. 

The orientation was a great time to get to know other YAVs, but it was slightly disorienting to me. I felt that I has to again mentally adjust to moving, and there was a lot of information to digest without a lot of alone time to process. However, I am truly excited about becoming apart of the New Orleans community, and continuing the process of making things right after Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill. 

Now we are all back in Andrew House, and ready to get to work. So stay tuned to future posts and feel free to check out my other pages. I have posted the sermon I gave at Larchmont. 

Peace and Love.