12.11.2010

Outreach Ended Early

Last nights outreach to prostitutes was….strange. In a way I have never experienced in my three and a half years of doing this work. When we got out to the track it was scarce – hardly any people anywhere. After driving down the track for a while girls started coming out of nowhere. There were tons of them. We were excited to be able to interact with so many of the girls – most of them new. However, unlike most other nights, none of the girls were really interested in receiving the gift bags or talking with us. They were all very insistent in avoiding eye contact or concerned with getting away from us as soon as possible. One group of three women that I ran into began laughing about how they believed we were the police as they walked away from us. (as a side note: it has become very clear to me these last three years or so through this work I do that I would make TERRIBLE vice. Seriously, most people I run into on the street think I am a cop, I don’t know what it is about my look….probably that I’m so physically fit!).


The other thing that happened which was a first for us was a John started following us. We’ve been solicited before, but typically left alone as soon as a John figures out we’re not actually out there as a working lady. But this John was different, he for some reason would not stop his pursuit. We noticed him following our car as we drove off so we got on the freeway in an attempt to lose him. It worked for a while, but then he found us about 20 minutes later further down the track. Our team leader ended up making the wise decision that we needed to call it a night and leave since he seemed rather unpredictable showing up wherever we were and pulling over every time we were out of the car honking and trying to get our attention.


It was frustrating, because even as we were driving down the track to leave we saw around another 10 girls that we didn’t get a chance to talk to. Nights like that are a bit frustrating – and you feel like there is so much more you could have done. And most of all I don’t know why WE were the target of this man’s interest when there were at least another 20 girls out on the track that night, but it is what it is and I know we made the right decision in leaving. I pray for the girls we did not get a chance to talk to, that we would get an opportunity to interact with them in later weeks. And for those that think I’m vice, that I’ll eventually get to break down those walls and build some trust. And perhaps I am most thankful that I was given a glimpse into what these women have to face each evening – when they are stalked and perused by creepy men, except they don’t have the option of hopping on the freeway and heading home.

11.11.2010

Lunch

For lunch today I went to...............................Taco Bell! What? Yes, yes I did. My roommate talked me into it. To be fair, he wasn't feeling well, and was wearing sweatpants and slippers at the time. HOW do you say no to someone in that state?

Back when I lived in the good 'ol Midwest there was a Taco Bell pretty near our house. We would eat there every so often (don't worry marmie, I won't tell how often). I would always get the meximelt. No one has ever heard of this which just baffles me because 1. it's the freakin' meximelt, it is delicious, everyone in the world should know what it is, and 2. it has remained on their menu for the past 20 something years so SOMEONE other than me is eating it or they would stop selling it, right?

Anyway, I have not been to a Taco Bell for about 8-10 years...somewhere in that range (little bit sad I broke that streak now, but I'll try not to think too much about it). While riding the car through the drive through (that was for BOTH Taco Bell and KFC....who doesn't want some fried chicken with their soft shelled taco....). I saw that "MEXIMELT" item listed on the menu and my luxurious childhood came flooding back to me. I knew I had to try it, but I was nervous it would not taste the same, or give me intestinal issues or have adapted into something totally different containing cheese wiz or sardines.

I am glad to report - the meximelt is STILL DELICIOUS! I am serious. You should go and pick one up. And then maybe some tums.

11.10.2010

It's that time year

I just put my holiday flannel sheets on my bed. It's like sleeping in a hug.
I'm listening to Christmas music
And I'm drinking a vanilla misto in a holiday Starbucks cup.

I'm not saying I don't appreciate Thanksgiving and am trying to skip over it. I'm just saying I think it deserves to be celebrated in a similar manner.

I love this time of year. It's so cozy. I just want to light candles and fires and sit in a snuggie drinking cider all day!

10.28.2010

No longer eating alone

Good news! My roommate and his fiancee ate dinner with me on Tuesday night. I am not going to admit that the last few meals and treats I have cooked have all been just for me (don't worry....I didn't eat them all in one sitting), but let's just say that I enjoy making other people like me by cooking for them.

Secretly, I don't think they were planning on having dinner with me until Ipp woke up that morning and smelled the DELICIOUSNESS coming out of the crockpot that was already stewing with succulent chicken.

Cream Cheese Chicken - by Stephanie O'Dea

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (or large thighs)
2 Tbsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 Tbsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon sugar
1 10-oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 8-oz block of cream cheese

Put the chicken into the cooker. Combine the seasonings and sugar in a small dish and pour on top. Add the mushroom soup. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through. Shred with two large forks, and mix in the cream cheese. Switch the cooker to high, and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the cream cheese has fully melted. Serve over pasta.

I took a before picture, but was so excited to eat, I forgot to take an after picture so you'll have to use your really great imagination.











I served it with a green salad, asparagus with basalmic vinegar and goat cheese, and dinner rolls.











This was delicious. My roommate said he liked it even better than beef stroganoff which is just blasphemous, but quite a compliment.

10.27.2010

Sweet Treats

And now my sweet tooth has taken over.

First I made Lizzo's famous pumpkin cookies. Seriously, so good. I am not even going to be humble. These were AMAZING cookies. Even ask my staff...cause I shared.











Then I decided to make another drink in my crockpot. This time..........

PEPPERMINT HOT COCOA

3 cups nonfat dry milk [wanna know a secret? i didn't see the DRY part on this sentence when i first read it....so my batch was SUPER rich...you MIGHT want to make the same mistake]
1 cup confectioner's sugar [known as powdered to the common human]
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup milk chocolate syrup
1 to 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
7 cups water

Combine the dry ingredients in the stoneware and stir with a spoon. Squeeze in the chocolate syrup, and add the peppermint extract. Add water a cup at a time (this is also were I started adding milk, one cup at a time) - and stir well. The chocolate mixture will be bubbly and look powdery. It's okay - Stephanie promises it will cook together. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or until completely hot. Serve with marshmallows and candy canes (if you want to be super cute).

I promise that soon (but not quite yet) I will talk about something other than food.

10.26.2010

Life is fragile

I don't think I could articulate it better than Robin.

I miss you Paris.
Your laugh, your wisdom, your guy advice, your positive outlook on everything. May we all remember to live our lives with a little more of your spirit.
Love,
Nicole

10.24.2010

Asparagus

I love asparagus. like, a lot. i have no idea why. but i could eat that vegetable at every meal.














so, i thought to myself, self....you might enjoy a good "cream of asparagus soup"! so here is another crockpot recipe from stephanie o'dea.

1 1/5 pounds asparagus
1/2 white onions, chopped
1 medium white potato, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup half and half (this is optional, but let's be honest...why would you not use it??)
kosher salt

Wash and trim the woody ends of the asparagus, and cut the rest into 2-inch lengths. Add them to the crock pot, along with onion and potato; no need to peel. Pour in the broth and add the seasoned salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours, or on high for 3 to 5 hours. The soup is ready when the potatoes are tender. Carefully use a handheld immersion blender to soupify (but, really, WHO has one of these) so, go all MacGyver in your kitchen by blending the soup in batches in your traditional blender. When you are done return the soup to the crock, stir in the half and half and make sure it is heated through again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

BEFORE











AFTER











This soup is very asparagusy (what??? i know, shocker). but it does lack any real flavor other than that. kind of bland. i enjoyed it, and i am glad i made it once just to try it, but i don't think it's a recipe i'll be adding to my book of delicious treats and tricks.

10.23.2010

PUMPKIN!

What I love most about fall are
...the decoration
....the smells
.....the meals!

fall is one of my favorite times to cook.

but on this lazy, chilly, cloudy saturday afternoon what I decided to try for the first time was a pumpkin spice latte in my CROCK POT!! glorious. if you have never heard of stephanie o'dea you NEED to know her. especially if you love your crock pot as much as i do. look her up here.

this is her amazing recipe and it is delcious.

3/4 cup strong coffee
2 cups milk (i used skim)
2 tbsp canned pureed pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract

Add coffee and milk to your crockpot. Whist in pumpkin, spices, sugar and vanilla. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Whisk again .Ladle into mugs, and garnish with whipped cream and additional cinnamon. You can add a cinnamon stick to be FANCY! The recipe serves two so be sure to double or triple it if you are having people over or like to drink your body weight, like me :)











see....don't i look HAPPY!

10.22.2010

10.21.2010

Another little foodie post

A friend of mine, Tammi, has passed on some of her wonderful food magazines to me. Tonight I decided to try the "Beef Sirloin Tips with Smoky Pepper Sauce" from Better Homes and Gardens October 2010 edition.

Here is the dish

















1.5 lbs. beef sirloin tip steak
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika or paprika (I thought I had this at home, but turns out I didn't [oops!!] so I used cayenne pepper)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 12-16 oz. jar roasted red and/or yellow sweet peppers
1/2 cup hickory or mesquite flavored BBQ sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh italian flat-leaf) parsley

1. Trim meat and cut into 1-1.5 inch chunks; sprinkle with paprika. In 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add meat; brown 5 minutes or to desired doneness. Remove from skillet; keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, drain roasted red peppers, reserving liquid. Cut up roasted peppers. Measure 1.5 cup of the reserved liquid (if needed, add enough water to equal 1/2 cup). Add peppers and liquid to skillet. Add barbecue sauce. Cook uncovered, 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently until sauce is slightly thickened. Return meat to skillet; heat through.

3. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 4 servings. Each Serving 367 calories, 18 g of fat, 111 mg chol, 510 mg sodium, 13 g carbo, 2 g fiber, 36 g pro.

















Shhhh, don't tell, but I added some asparagus. I think it added some nice flavor, color, and a delicate crunch.

I complimented the meal with a little Pinot Noir and some mixed greens with grapes (topped with creamy balsamic vinaigrette.)

YUM!!!!!! You should give it a try. I give it 3.7 out of 5 stars [I have NO idea what that is based on]. It was super easy and really tasty!

Happy eating.

10.15.2010

Chance

I am on my second cup of coffee at 9:30a.
I have been completely tired this week.
This morning I set the alarm for 6am as usual, hit snooze three times.
....then reset it for 7am - and hit snooze three times again.
Do you ever have weeks like that?

On a happy note - E came over last night and we watched "Temple Grandin" - SUCH a good movie. If you have not seen it yet you should. So moving.What a motivating story.

The question/word I am pondering at the moment is CHANCE. How much do you let life dictate itself - taking you where it will and being a willing participant in all of the twists and turns that it brings, and how much do you will it to go where you want it to? Taking chances that scare you and make you hesitant and that you have NO IDEA how it will turn out? I've been thinking a lot lately about love and relationships and....Nepal.

Throughout a lot of my life I have just let relationships develop as they will, not invested a lot of myself into them, perhaps because I am used to being a bit transitional - having people that move in and out of my life. I tell people that are in my life now that "I don't say goodbye" - and it's true. I'm not good at it - and I think I offend people becuase of my lack of emotion. But I've been thinking lately that I have three of the most phenomenal women I have ever met in my life right now - surrounding me - investing in me. And that's something I want to take a chance on - invest in - pursue. Who knows, maybe something really deep and meaningful could come out of that. I don't always like being vulnerable, but as I have begun to open myself up and share the embarrassing or vulnerable things with them - they have also opened up more and the love and grace I have received in return has already been amazingly transformative.

Love is something that has never come easy to me. And perhaps it never will. Running? That comes easy. But what is especially hard is when you care a lot for someone that lives half way across the country....and you hate phones more than most things in life. Moving doesn't quite seem an option. So you wait for life to make more sense.

Nepal is perhaps what occupies most of my minds time. Potential opportunities present themselves - and they are EXACTLY what I have wanted to do with my life, in the country that I love more than life itself. But then the logical questions of finances, language barrier, abilities, etc. pop into my head and the opportunity seems unattainable -- or a bit more foolish to chase after.

When do you let go of logic and logistics and just take a chance? When do you decide you don't watn to follow life anymore but make your life follow you? And how do you know you're making smart choices?

I don't necessarily think there are any right answers to those. But...they are the pondering thoughts of the day.For now I am going to go camping with my girlfriends, enjoy some concerts and save the decisions for another day...

9.29.2010

Mali Slave Camps

One of the most devastating stories I have read in a while...

Read the full story from BBC News HERE.
----------------------
Nigerian girls are being forced to work as prostitutes in Mali "slave camps", say officials in Nigeria.

The girls, many of them under age, have often been promised jobs in Europe but ended up in brothels, said the government's anti-trafficking agency.

The brothels are run by older Nigerian women who prevent them from leaving and take all their earnings.

The agency said it was working with Malian police to free the girls and help them return to Nigeria.

There has been no official comment from the Mali authorities.

Nigeria's National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (Naptip) said officials visited Mali this month to follow up "horrendous reports" from victims, aid workers and clergy in Mali.

They said there were hundreds of brothels, each housing up to 200 girls, run by Nigerian "madams" who force them to work against their will and take their earnings.

"We are talking of thousands and thousands of girls," Simon Egede, Executive Secretary of Naptip, told a news conference in Abuja.

"We are talking of certainly between 20,000 and about 40,000," he said, but did not give details of how the figure had been reached.

In a statement, Mr Egede said girls were "held in bondage for the purposes of forced sexual exploitation and servitude or slavery-like practices".

"The madams control their freedom of movement, where they work, when they work and what they receive," he said.

The trade is centred around the capital Bamako and large cities, but the most notorious brothels are in the mining towns of Kayes and Mopti, where the sex workers live in "near slavery condition", said Naptip.

Many of the brothels there also had abortion clinics where foetuses were removed by traditional healers for use in rituals, said Mr Egede.

9.24.2010

Sickness Sucks

A family friend facing devastating odds, diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder.
http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/toddmacdonell

If you're the praying type, please lift up Todd MacDonell and his family.

9.23.2010

Wrestling Demons

A friend posted a status on facebook asking some of us to comment on Mark 5:1-20. I read it...and these were just a few thoughts that stuck out to me.

I think the saddest part of that passage for me is the fact that the whole society had been binding the man up with chains. No one knew what to do with him. I think there are a lot of people in our own society that we just throw in a corner, or a box, or try to put chains around because their problems are too big and overwhelming - they are burdened by a freaking LEGION of tormentors. I mean, we can handle hunger - give them a meal. We can handle financial difficulty - pay someone's rent for a couple of months.


But what happens when we try to care for our drug addicted or alcoholic family member? The one that continually hurts the family and us? The one that drains all of our emotional and financial resources again and again? There are so many compounding factors facing him or her – we just give up. We want to put a chain around them and forget about it. Leave them to cry out to the sky on their own. But Jesus confronts the demons. He does not let the man wrestle alone. He knows that he is powerless to overcome on his own. The crying out to the sky won’t work. The man needs someone to step into his life and HELP HIM.


Maybe that’s not the point – but I think there are a lot more people around us with demons trying to fight them on their own – shouting into the darkness – and they could use a community to fight alongside them.


9.13.2010

AT&T

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
I have an iPhone.
I am on a family plan with the wonderful and amazing Maines family.
The wonderful and amazing Maines family has moved to Japan.
Due to some difficulties - they have had to suspend their cell phone service.
Thus...I must now become a full grown adult and get my own cell phone plan.

CURRENT TIME:
I walk into a local AT&T store to switch my cell phone plan. The guy is really nice at first, asking me for my phone number to pull up my plan.
Once I explain the situation be proceeds to tell me that there are three authorized people on the account that can make changes and I am not one of them (ONE of them, might I add, is not even apart of the family plan and does not have a cell phone that is a part of this plan, I digress....)
BECAUSE I am not an authorized person on the account I can't start my own cell phone plan.
I have a cell phone in my hand.
I am standing there in person.
Because my name is not JEANETTE, I can't start me own plan.
Is anyone else frustrated yet?
I told the man that she lives in Japan and it would be really hard for her to call customer service, but they would not do anything for me.
The only exception they could make would be allowing me to break contact and start my own plan, WITH A NEW PHONE NUMBER. I've had that number since I was 16...I am not about to change it now (although that would really help me out with some of those bad decisions I made when some of those salsa guys asked me for my number.....I digress again)
So now I am waiting. To be authorized. So I can switch to my own plan.

AT&T....why do you make it so hard to like you???

9.11.2010

hope

I got a new tattoo...




















HOPE is such a powerful word. i feel like it so eloquently summarizes the place i find myself on this life journey - especially when it comes to my relationship with god. i am a CAPTIVE of hope. although god does not look anything the way he used to for me, i still find myself hoping that not all is lost, that i can come around again to this place of belief and a relationship that i once had. but this hope is a double-edged sword. it is a battle between waiting for what lies ahead and falling into despair over the fact that it is not yet here. how long must i wait in this desert of a place completely helpless with no direction of where this journey is headed? some days i think i get it - other days i know i will.

a huge influence in his concept and understanding of hope for me came from my favorite poet ladonna witmer. and especially her work "the secrets of falling" - i really encourage you to check it out.

Wild rice beer cheese soup

I made my famous (it is really not MY recipe, so I don't know why I say my...other than I forget where it comes from and all my friends associate it with me....I digress) wild rice beer cheese soup for my birthday Midwest crockpot party (I know, you're jealous, my friends an I know how to party!).

I was inspired by the beautiful and talented Unexperts to do a post on the food I made. So here it goes.

WILD RICE BEER CHEESE SOUP.

Here is what you need:
2 cans chicken broth
1 c. chopped carrots
1/2 c. chopped broccoli
3/4 c. chopped celery
1 1/2 c. cooked chicken or turkey
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion chopped
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 cans cream of potato soup
water
beer (12-18 oz)
8 oz. velveeta cheese cubed
3/4 c. uncooked wild rice
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
salt
pepper
1 1/2 tsp. basil

First, I had to put on one of my grandma's old apron's in order to channel her exceptional cooking skills. I don't think she ever cooked this soup, but if she had, I am sure it would have blown us all away.











* Put chicken broth, carrots, broccoli, celery and chicken (or turkey) in a crockpot at high heat setting


































*Saute in a large frying pan extra virgin olive oil and onion. Add mushroom once onion is translucent.























* Add to frying pan potato soup, 1 can water, beer (you can choose a better beer, don't worry, this is just what I had at home :))











*Once frying pan mixture is hot, add: velveeta cheese

*Add frying pan mixture to crockpot once cheese is completely melted. Turn heat setting to low.

*Add to crockpot wild rice, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper (to taste) and basil.
























*cook on low heat setting for at least 2 hours.

And then.....dive in!!!











If your life does not change when you eat this soup....then you did something wrong :)

9.03.2010

Changes

I have changed a lot since moving to California, going through 5 years of seminary, and learning to live on my own. It is expected that when one graduates from college and moves out on their own - into the world - further removed from their parents - they will make changes in their life.

The problem with me is that I've always been timid about these changes. I hate debating. So when it comes to expressing my views on theology, politics and other hot topics, I tend to shut down and simply not share my views and opinions because of my fear of being scrutinized, judged or looked down upon. It is easier to just remain somewhat vague in all those areas because then you don't offend anyone and everyone is happy. I also (surprisingly) really worry what other people think about me and how they perceive I am living my life. But these convictions and decisions I have come to aren't something I've decided on a whim and I need to realize that I am comfortable with where I am at and that's all that matters.

Because existing that way is no way to live. I want to be free to be myself. And in order to fully be myself I need to be free (and willing!) to speak my mind on the things I think and care about. I am just starting to get better at that - it'll take a while becuase my skin is still growing thicker. But I think I have great ideas, good opinions and a valuable voice. I've gotta realize that it's about time I stop hiding it from other people. They might not always like what I say - but the most important thing is that I be true to myself.

8.30.2010

Reflection on Seminary

I have been doing a lot of thinking about my time in seminary lately. I don't think I've come anywhere close to the end of debriefing my last five years and what they meant - how they will shape and change the next years of my life - but it's a start.

The thing I keep coming back to is a song. I think music, and art in general, is so powerful for helping you express yourself. The song is "They Weren't There" by Missy Higgins. If I could figure out away to put the song up here for you to listen to, I would. I guess I'll only be able to put the lyrics up and you'll just have to believe me that it's worth a download on iTunes and go get yourself a copy.
You breathed infinity into my world
And time was lost up in a cloud and in a whirl.
We dug a hole in the cool grey earth and lay there for the night.
Then you said, "wait for me we'll fly the wind,
We'll grow old and you'll be stronger without him" but oh,
Now my world is at your feet. I was lost and I was found,
But I was alive and now I've drowned.
So now I will be waiting for the world to hear my song
So they can tell me I was wrong...

But they weren't there beneath your stare,
And they weren't stripped 'till they were bare of
Any bindings from the world outside that room.
And they weren't taken by the hand
And led through fields of naked land
Where any pre-conceived ideas were blown away...
So I couldn't say "no".

You sighed and I was lost in you, weeks could've past for all I knew.
You were there blanket of the over-world and so I couldn't say,
I wouldn't say "no". But they all said, "you're too young to even know,
Just don't let it grow and you'll be stronger without him"
But oh, now, my world is at your feet. I was lost and I was found,
But I was alive and now I've drowned.
So now I will be waiting for the world to hear my song
So they can tell me I was wrong...

But they weren't there beneath your stare,
And they weren't stripped 'till they were bare
Of any bindings from the world outside that room.
And they weren't taken by the hand and led through fields
Of naked land where any pre-conceived ideas were blown away...

But they weren't there beneath your stare,
And they weren't stripped 'till they were bare
Of any bindings from the world outside that room.
And they weren't taken by the hand and led through fields
Of naked land where any pre-conceived ideas were blown away...
So I couldn't say "no".


Now, I realize that this song was probably written about a boy, but like every good Christian, I have easily applied it to the Lord.

I think it's the chorus that I found resonated so strongly to my seminary experience. I came in so wide-eyed and excited to further study theology. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on things, I was a pretty passionate person. But then it was as if everything I had ever known was ripped right out from under me. I was stripped til I was bare and every pre-conceived idea I ever had blown away. I'm still a passionate person, just not in the same ways - and I've developed a pessimism about things that seems so comfortable yet so foreign.

I am now left standing in this nameless void. I no longer hear or see anything. I know it'll all make sense again one day - but until then, I sit in a place of wondering, and hoping. You see, hope is a double-edged sword. It's hard to stay on the positive side of hope, the one that gets you up in the morning and keeps you pressing on - but I am determined to stay there. I know that this journey is leading somewhere - somewhere great, in fact - I think it's just going to take a little while longer before I figure out how.

8.25.2010

IDL's

I must have been doing something wrong (like procrastinating to the very last week to finish up all my assignments that were supposed to be spread over a 10-week period) - but IDL's never looked this peaceful and meditative for me.









How did she get internet access at the beach? And wasn't she worried sand would get in there? And how did she actually TYPE her 15 page paper with the laptop balanced on her knees? Did she listen to all 20 lectures with posture that impressive? I bet the sun got hot - wasn't she worried her laptop would get taken when she went to jump in the ocean for a cool-off? And how can she even see her laptop with the sun shining so bright? Get her some sunglasses!

8.02.2010

Stigmatization of prostitution

I am avoiding the research I have to do for my last paper in seminary....by doing other research. This is the first paragraph I came upon in a very old article about prostitution - but the problem is, this is still a very common belief. I share my frustration with you:
All acts of prostitution and solicitation are presently criminal offenses in California. Increasing public concern over rising crime rates and the rising costs of law enforcement and the administration of justice have caused some observers to question 'whether we, the public, are not asking the system of criminal law and justice to do too much.' In particular, attention has been drawn toward the area of 'victimless' crimes, those crimes in which an attempt to enforce moral norms replaces the protection of complaining victims as the primary impetus for the law. Prostitution in many respects is a 'victimless' crime, in that it often is a private transaction between willing participants.
How long until people realize that prostitution is not a victimless crime? How long will these women be stigmatized as women that enjoy selling their bodies - and actually PROFIT from doing so?

In a class on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking I took at Fuller Seminary a professor shared this with us...I still find it hard to believe. We were discussing how a prostitute were to report cases of rape to police officers since they are stigmatized in this way. If they have sex all the time anyway, why would anyone beleive them when they say they have been treated wrongly. This professor told me that they have a file labled "NHI" they put reports in. This stands for "No Human Involved" and this is what they put any case for or against prostitutes in.

Article by: Jennings, M. Anne. California Law Review, Sep76, Vol. 64 Issue 5, p1235, 50p

7.27.2010

Are orphanages really so bad?

I also did a lot of thinking about where is the best place for these children? The orphanage I stayed at was amazing. The couple that runs it are two of the most amazing people you will ever meet. They do their best to love all of these children and create a family atmosphere for them to grow up in. They will tell you themselves that their goal is to get the children out of their orphanage and either back with their families or into other homes. They believe children need to be raised by families. But they also have so many stories of children that end up with families that don’t take the time to understand where they come from, or simply adopt a child because they think it will make their life “more complete.”


There was one child that walked four hours back to the orphanage because he hated his adopted family so much. Every night as he fell asleep he heard his “mom” and “dad” arguing about whether they should keep him or not. They were a couple with no children thinking this was the logical next step – get a child – it would make them feel like a more complete family.


I don’t know how you can take a child away from that – they aren’t harming him in any way physically – or in any way you can really prove. But how is being raised in a family like that better than the love that child would get in the community orphanage home?

And how can we stop situations like this from happening? How can we come up with better screening methods so we are sure that this child’s life will actually be BETTER rather than worse once they get placed into a home?


There were two kids that were adopted while I was staying at the orphanage. They went to go live with a family in Michigan. When the couple came to pick them up it was evident they didn’t speak any Spanish. While this isn’t a prerequisite for adoption, you’d think it’d be something they’d work on when in the process of adopting five Mexican children. I understand the children will be learning English – especially since they are moving to the United States – but since they are already being ripped from everything they know and are comfortable with, isn’t it just an added stress that they won’t be able to communicate with anyone, especially their parents? I guess if I was going to adopt a kid from another country I’d try to learn the language – if I expected him or her to be bilingual I’d expect the same of myself…


We think all the time that orphanages are like "holding cells" for children until we get them to better places. But are we really giving them a better future than an orphanage would? What's the best way to care for children who have been abandoned or abused?

7.25.2010

journal

I just spent the last week living at an orphanage in Chihuahua, Mexico. It was awesome – and really difficult. I think I am going to write down some of my thoughts on here. I'll mostly ask a lot of questions. I don’t exactly expect answers, just want to do some thinking and processing. Thanks for walking with me…


Here is one of my journal entries from while I was there:

if I actually stop for a moment to think about where I am and what I’m doing I just start weeping. Who could ever give up these kids? Or fuck up their life so much they would be taken away? How could you look into R*****, E*****, M****, or P****** face and not do everything it took to be able to keep them? And who the HELL are L*** parents that could hurt that sweet boy in that way, or V***** parents hat could kiss that sweet face goodbye forever just because of a simple kidney defect? I don’t understand how messed up the world is sometimes. And the suffering of the cross does not make it any more understandable. Why didn’t Christ suffer so these kids would not have to? Why wasn’t his sacrifice enough? Why are there only TWO people that will give everything to make sure these kids are loved and taken care of? And how do I help when it all overwhelms me so much and I can’t even speak the language well enough to tell these kids how beautiful and special and loved they are…..

7.02.2010

Total immersion

I am in Chihuahua, Mexico, right now spending six weeks with my beautiful friend Specca. This is to fulfill my LAST requirement in my MA in Cross-Cultural Studies!

While I am here I am taking about 6 hours of language lessons a day - ALL IN SPANISH. No English allowed. I do think this immersion way of learning really is the best way to learn a language, but it is so HARD. I seriously have no idea what is going on - ever. Yesterday I was ready to go into classes as normal but when I arrived we were headed into the main city square for a tour and shopping. Not a big deal - but everyone else knew the plan for the day and were prepared because they speak Spanish...and the rule is always NO INGLES! So literally the entire morning I just walked around in silence. There was one poor man, Doug, that tried to talk to me a couple of times - but no one else really attempted more than a few phrases because they all know how frustrating it is when I don't understand anything. sigh.

It really made me painfully aware of those that come into our county for better opportunities and have no idea how to speak the language. How frustrating. And so many Americans are just jerks that expect them to learn English perfectly or get out. We are not a very hospitable country. And learning a new language (especially by immersion) is hard. A friend of mine also reminded me about some of the Fuller students that I run into who's English is hard to understand, but back in their home country they were leaders in their church and community, or that that are actually excellent communicators and very intelligent people. That's humbling for me to realize, and a good reminder. Because none of these people here would ever believe that I have two Master's degrees...

I think it's good for me to experience being on the other side. I do enjoy learning compassion for others - but at the same time wish i could just learn it by reading a book :)

6.25.2010

Rape Condom

I know this story came out a few days ago, but I've been busy wrapping things up at work before heading off to MEXICO for six weeks!

At any rate, I thought it was worth some discussion. The rape condom. Have you seen the article about it yet? If not, take a second a read about it here on CNN. com.

My first reaction is - amazing! It is difficult to express with words the kind of anger and helplessness you feel when you speak to women and children who are victims of trafficking, sexual violence, exploitation and sexual slavery. Any little bit of power or dignity you can empower them with is exhilarating.

I realize that there are a million things that are wrong or could potentially go wrong with a device like this, but all I can think about is the liberation this could give a woman that has to live in constant fear. The little dignity and ability to hold your head high knowing that you cannot be as easily taken advantage of.

Obviously one of the downsides is the fact that the device has to be worn at all times. But I think the even bigger issue is that we have females in the world today that can totally and completely take advantage of this product. They live in such fear and reality of rape that wearing one of these all of the time is the actuality of their situation.

Another downfall I see is the ineffectiveness of this product in situations of gang rape. Rape happens more and more often in gang and group settings. While this product will fend off the first male to enter, it will only arouse or anger the other men that are present at this ritualistic beating.

Cost will also hinder the effectiveness of this product. It is being handed out for free right now, but when the cost becomes $2/condom those who truly need it will not be able to afford it.

Lastly (for now), this only helps a select group of women. And, frankly, doesn't get to the root of the problem. I am not complaining, I am thankful for what it does do - I am simply saying we have a long way to go and a big fight ahead of us. The demand is great, that's what we need to tackle.

Until the last lock breaks....

5.07.2010

Mother's Day Idea

Just got an email from NASCAR.

There are not many mothers that this would work for...but I hope I am this kind of mother some day.

Make Mom's Special Day Unforgettable

To celebrate Mother's Day, Auto Club Speedway is offering an incredible package for the Pepsi 400 that offers a little something for everyone at an unbelievable price.

- Pepsi 400 Reserved Grandstand Seat
(rows 1-23, turn 1 sections 93-119)
- Lot 3 Parking (closest to your seats)
- Race day treat for mom: Sprinkles CupcakeAdults - $34.00
Children (12 and under) - $19.00

HOW TO PURCHASE
By Phone: 800-944-RACE (7223)
In Person: At the Auto Club Speedway ticket office
So...thought I'd pass it on if anyone is looking for a last minute gift idea.

5.05.2010

I'm still here

Hey! I’ve been off the map for a while. I’m still here – I’m just trying not to fail my LAST QUARTER of graduate school. Seriously, after being in graduate school for five years, you are so unmotivated at the end I think they should provide you with a personal assistant. And I am taking one of the worst classes I have taken my entire time here – that does not help the motivation at all. And yet I press on. 4 weeks left – I have no idea how I will get all the work done, but I say that every quarter so I am sure I will somehow manage. (HOWEVER, if any of you wants to write a paper or two, I am more than willing to delegate!)


Anyway, I graduate on June 12th – you’re all welcome to send me money, flowers and presents to say congratulations!


Then I will head off to MEXICO for about two months. I get the privilege of staying with and observing Becca Wynia who is the interim director of the Interaction Language School. I am excited to refresh (er…learn) Spanish and the other various things we have planned for this time. It will be nice to just get away, relax, debrief and begin to contemplate this next phase of life. What am I planning on doing? No idea – if you have ideas, let me know (but I kind of need a paycheck!)


Pretty crazy all that Maoist activity going on in Nepal right now, yeah? I remember a couple years ago, when I was trekking the Annapurnna’s, getting stuck in Pokhara for a few extra days because of a strike. Those strikes are no joke – everything gets shut down and food begins to become scarce. I hope things get resolved soon. It is pretty frightening how much damage those Maoists can cause when they get together. I fear for that fragile country.


On a totally unrelated note – I am real excited about how popular my blog is becoming with spammers. 51 comments in two months…not one of them real. Awesome.


That’s all I’ve got for right now. Pressing on….

1.31.2010

Who to trust

The BBC reported THIS STORY today on Haiti children being take across boarders when they are not actually orphans.

Here is just a little exert from it: [full story here]
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The five men and five women, from Idaho-based charity New Life Children's Refuge, were arrested on Friday night.

They were stopped while travelling on a bus with the children on the border with neighbouring Dominican Republic.

The Americans said the youngsters had all lost their parents in the quake.

But George Willeit, a spokesman in Port-au-Prince for SOS Children's Villages, which is now looking after the children, says at least one of them, a little girl, said her parents were alive.

He told journalists the girl said she had believed she was being taken to a boarding school or summer camp.

Mr Willeit said many of the children had been found to be in poor health, hungry and dehydrated.

One of the smallest - just two or three months old - was so dehydrated she had to be taken to hospital, he added.

Haitian authorities said none of the children had documentation or proof they were actually parentless.

-----------------------

This story brings such sadness to my heart. Such vulnerable children in the face of tragedy, scared, looking for someone to trust, and all they are met with are a group of people essentially abducting them. This is what happens when children are not given a voice - someone should have been listening to that little girl when she tried to say her parents were still alive.

I don't know whether this group was trying to actually help these children, or just make a buck through the adoption process - but it is already a scary world for children - and now they can't even trust the relief workers that come in claiming to offer them aid and protection.