Sunday, April 24, 2005

My Cousin

When I was little I thought wars took place within a chain linked fence - that there was a set aside space of woods in the middle of the country and around that wood was a chainlinked fence and all the way around the fence was a sidewalk. The fence was there so no one else got hurt. I used to have dreams of Moms and kids walking on the sidewalk- sticking their fingers between the cold links of the fence on their way to school, but they were untouched, they were protected. I really thought that is what war was.

I have a picture of Billy. He reminds me of the Fonz on Happy Days. Jeans rolled at the bottom with a tight white tshirt- standing barefoot, hair trendy. My cousin. My soldier. You can find his name on a big black wall in D.C. He died in the Tet offensive. I don't remember when my mom first told me- must have been a long time ago because I feel like its deeply imprinted into my memory.

The phone rang. She watched her dad answer it. He was drinking coffee. He pulled back and threw his mug against the wall of the garage. Billy had been killed. He was a little more than ten years older than my mom.

I'd never asked anything more about Billy. Not even when I sat infront of his name on that black wall. I had on an orange shirt. My hair was short and I was sweating. I had just finished the third grade. The crayon was soft from the heat as I etched his name. I could see my reflection in the wall. Someone next to me was crying. I didn't know.

Hi Mom.
Well hello daught-o.
Mom...will you tell me about Billy...your cousin.

Billy loved to surf. He was always surfing. It was always such a treat to get to see him because whenever we were at his house he was alwasy surfing. He was just enough older than me that we didn't really hang out a lot, but I remember always being excited when I got to see him. I remember when he went to college, he didn't like it. His dad came home one day and found him curled up on top of the fridge. He got married to Joey. I remember my dad and Uncle Bob and Bill all sitting around the table trying to talk him out of going. He went.

He would be 58 this year my Grandfather told me yesterday. He was drafted. Left in September, died in January.

I wonder what he experienced. The things he saw. Was he afraid? Did he save someone? Did he cry at the inhumanity? Did he feel lost? Did he see Christ? What was the last thing he thought? Was he angry? Did he find peace?

I have this strong desire to carry his picture with me when I go to Vietnam in less than three weeks. My GOsh! - I'm going to Vietnam, to that land. There was no fence. War has no fences.

I don't know where I fit in. I wasn't even alive and yet I have this internal struggle and longing to understand, to find out where I fit in. Somehow I know that somehow I fit in. I'm seeking peace for a battle that was not my own. Or is it mine? Is it all of ours? I'm profoundly impacted.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Viet Nam

A couple nights ago, I found myself crying when I was researching for a paper on the last consequences of the war in Viet-Nam. My heart grows continualously anxious aboutViet-Nam (in an awesome my heart is going to break and my life is going to change sort of way). Me and Jesus had an awesome conversation the other morning. I cannot begin to explain to you what He is doing to my heart and how He is transforming my mind concerning this trip- to the vastness and creativity of His creation- that He is the God of all nations and all people, that we can have so much and still possess nothing if we do not live for Him- and they can have nothing and still possess everything! My focus is drifting away from my own bellybutton and my heart is in pain- and its so sweet. I find myself part of a war that was way before my time and it hurts me and i'm torn by it. I'm working hard and learning and enjoying it. It is so sweet. My prayer is that He would break my heart and in so doing so that I could be His vessel. I'm not going over there to or with the intention to "save lives," but I pray that in so transforming my own, that I could live openly and change and grow with another nation of people.

One of the places I am most excited about visiting is the My Lai Masacre Memorial in Son My Village. The masacre was the single most shameful chapter of America's involvement in VN. The objective of going into My Lai was to go in, remove the civilians, and find the Viet Cong insurgency. This however was not what happened. Sparing the gorey details, a body count of over 500 civilians was totaled. This included women, children, elderly, and infants. The civilians were brutally raped, shot, stabbed, set on fire, and tortured. Not one GI was shot. It took over a year and a half for the United States Government to pursue any sort of justice for these actions. Of 25 men eventually charged with murder, only Lieutenant William Calley, leader of the first platoon into My Lai, was found guilty. First sentanced to life in prision with hard labor, it was scaled down to 20, than 10. After three days Nixon put him on house arrest and he was parolled three years later. Today Calley is a Jewler in Columbas, Georgia. Two of my friends here at school know his family. He has a son about my age. It all blows my mind. When Calley was being prosecuted much of the country wanted to see him executed, labeling him a monster and a bloodthirsty murderer, others saw him as a victim, and still others saw him as a hero. Where I can not explain the deep fear and pain I feel for the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese who were killed, I equally can not understand the emotions of the soldiers, especially Calley. All these new questions of what is murder, who are the victims, what are they victim to, what is reality? All of them spinning. I cannot judge Calley or any of those men. I wish I could meet Calley. Unlike Trip in my class who I hope doesn't find out where he is living because i'm afraid he really will kill Calley, I really just have a deep interest in his story...I'm rambling I know...my mind is so strewn apart and this is just how it is coming out...this is such an inefficient way to express myself....

Sunday, April 03, 2005

H two O

I think that if I had to choose to drink only one other drink for the rest of my life, it would have to be water. Besides the fact that my body is like 75% water and needs it, it always tastes the same. I mean, have you ever gone to a little league baseball game and had that crap that has about twice as much sparkling water as it should. Just give me acid please. And then you go to a Mexican or Chinese restaurant and they always seem to mix the soft drinks in the perfect amount, except for the ones that are a litte watered down. The second to most important reason (the best is yet to come) is that ice is made out of water and I have to have ice in my drinks or I would melt. The sweetest thing about water is that it is completely transparent and looks cooler than anything when it rests in a clear glass. I would just miss not being able to drink something that looks so cool. --by David (Blair just needed a blog; she has forgotten that blogs make her cool and I want her to be as cool as possible.)

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Cool People...

This picture is actually from Christmas when I was in Birmingham with David's family. David isn't actually in this picture, but some of his cousins, two of his brothers, and his roommate/bestfriend are!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Shot Into The Real World

Sooo...Today I had to get two shots- and what an ordeal that was. First I went to my doctor, she said she couldn't do it & sent me to the health department...the health department in town said they couldn't & that I needed to go to the knoxville health department. I arrive at where my directions have led me, and it is only a part of the health department- I needed to be at the main building which just happens to be on the other side of town..so, three stops latter I finally arrive at the right building, sign in, wait and wait and wait, get registered and am handed a huge packet of information on Viet Nam and the different vaccines I need. My goodness. It was insane- Rabbies, Tetnus, Hepititas A, Hepititas B, Malaria, Taphoid, MMR, Pollio, some sort of Japanese flu vaccine, and TB. Um...yea. I got a little nervous. Then after I read that book I continued to wait and wait. The office was really crowded, but it was such an experience.

In the waiting room there were six service men on their way to Iraq, On guy born in 1880 (I read it on the sign in sheet) who was headed to India, a couple guys going to Russia, an immigrant from Mexico, an Asian family who just moved here getting required immunization, another Asian couple with a little girl, and a young mom with her two year Screaming daughter while she nursed her other baby under a blanket. There was also this one old cranky man who I was seriously about to tell off. Now I know he had been waiting a long time, heck we all had been, but then he was convinced that he had been skipped. He yelled at everyone and he would not stop. He wanted to find the one person who he thought was responsible and when she walked back in he started yelling and blamming her. I was so close to saying, "excuse me sir, they didn't do it on purpose. There is not reason to talk to them that way." Luckily he shutup and realized that everyone had been waiting long and they had not skipped them and he decided to just pout about it. So, that was the waiting room.

When my name was finnally called and I went back for my millions of shots. I was happy to find out that I only had to get a Pollio and Hepititas A shot and take some pills for Taphoid. However, before they would give me the shots, they had to ask me a million questions and then they had to read me all this stuff about Viet Nam and heath precautions and about all the different things about water and bugs and living conditions. I was really just blown away to think that there could be that many dangers, ones I have never had to deal with. Something so essential such as water is such a danger over there. You constantly have to be worried about what you eat and where you sleep and different bugs and such. Its unbelievable how compfortabe our lives are in the United States. This was my first small bit of culture shock, I know when I get that I'm definitely goign to be torn apart at what I experience. I am so thankful for what I have and so blessed. To experience this new country with all the risks and precautions, is going to be life changing.

So, needless to say, this was quite an experience. I had to be a big girl and find this place all by myself and sit and get shots by myself (by the way I had to lay down to get my shots because I was getting kind of quezzy..I know I'm a wimp) and fill out all the paperwork and stuff (no mommy or daddy around). In my waiting and all the different people around me I felt small, and in that small room I felt the vastness of this world. I was reminded of how blessed I am and how little other people have. It may have been a lot of driving and my arm may be reallllly sore right now, but it was actually an awesome experience- a taste of the real world.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Prayer for Katie Kozar

I'm not sure who reads this blog, but I am asking that if you are reading this now, that you would take a minute to pray for my friend and my sorority sister, Katie Kozar. She has been having back problems all semester with slipped disks and great discompfort. She had surgery once last month and has been recovering. However, this morning she went back to the hosipital with a horrible headache. They discovered that she has spinal fluid leaking into her brain. She is in a lot of pain and discompfort. She will be having surgery sometime tomorrow morning. As can be imagined this is a really hard time for her and her family. I ask that you would keep them all in your prayers. Pray for her compfort and health. Pray for the doctors, that they would have knowledge and skills do do what is needed, that God would guide their hands in the surgery tomorrow. Pray for her and her family, that they my rest in the compforting arms of Christ and know that He is Sovereign and Constant among all things. Prayer is so powerful. Thank you for yours.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Thousands in Africa died Yesterday

"When a once-in-a-century natural disaster swept away the lives of more than 100,000 poor Asians last December, the developed world opened its hearts and its checkbooks. Yet when it comes to Africa, where hundreds of thousands of poor men, women and children die needlessly each year from preventable diseases, or unnatural disasters like civil wars, much of the developed world seems to have a heart of stone....

...Jeffrey Sachs, the economist who heads the UN Millennium Development Project to end global poverty, rightly takes issue with the new media in his book "The End of Poverty": "Every morning," Sachs writes, "our newspapers could report, 'More than 20,000 people perished yesterday of extreme poverty."'

This is an awesome article from the New York Times- really give you some perspective on the world we live in and the extreme need of our fellow man.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/27/opinion/27sun1.html