Out of the Box

Getting creative with Christianity, crafting, cooking, copious usage of alliteration, and the rest of my life

Vegging out July 28, 2010

Filed under: Lifestyle — Grace @ 4:41 pm

So… I’m seriously considering becoming a vegetarian. (And all the people who just saw me eating fried chicken at the funeral say: “Huh?!?” I didn’t really want to, but I wanted to answer a lot of questions even less.)

Anyway, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I have no way to justify killing something so I can have a few moments of gustatory pleasure. Especially when I have other options.

Actually, if I’m going to take morality into account, I should probably become vegan because of the cruelty that dairy animals and egg-laying chickens no doubt face, but then I wouldn’t be able to eat anything. *sigh* What to do, what to do…? I guess I probably won’t go that far, although I may change my mind. Well, maybe someday I’ll get some chickens and goats and the problem will be solved. 🙂

To clarify, I don’t think it’s inherently wrong to kill an animal – think of the Native Americans from way-back-when who didn’t have much else to make tools and clothing out of. And I’m pretty sure they didn’t have soybeans either. 😛 But the thing is, I actually have a choice.

There’s no question that becoming a vegetarian would make life somewhat inconvenient, but dying needlessly makes animals’ lives pretty inconvenient too. But where do you draw the line? Is it okay to eat it if you didn’t buy it? It’s too late by then anyway. And what if you’re in some foreign country where you’ll become anemic or something if you don’t? This is a multifaceted issue. Or maybe I’m just making things too complicated. Anyway, I think I’ll abstain as much as possible and continue to think about this.

Oy vey. How in the world did my extremely conservative family wind up with “liberal wacko” me? 😛


Well… July 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Grace @ 11:30 am

I’m going home early. My mom died.

It’s sort of a strange situation, because she was in a car accident in 1999 and ended up with pretty severe brain damage, so she’s been in what the doctors call a vegetative or nonresponsive state ever since. That basically means that she lay in bed mostly unconscious and couldn’t talk to us, and we’re not sure if she could understand what we were saying. It was like a coma. So even though she technically died recently, she sort of died ten and a half years ago. That being the case, I’m not sure exactly what to feel.

Anyway, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be flying home Tuesday. The funeral will be on Wednesday. And then I’ll try to stay sane until school starts. Wish me luck.


Calling July 23, 2010

Filed under: Theological Thoughts — Grace @ 4:11 pm

So what am I going to do with my life?

I’ve been wondering this for quite some time now, as everyone does. Once I thought I would be a writer, but then I found that I’m not very good at writing and don’t even like it that much. Then I thought I’d be a veterinarian – until I realized that I wouldn’t be playing with cute, fluffy animals; I’d be giving them pills and shots and they wouldn’t be happy about it and they wouldn’t like me much. Other dreams have come and gone, but eventually I came to realize that whatever else I did, I would have to live as a full-time Christian, as all Christians should. (Never mind that I presently stink at that. :P) As to what that would look like… well, I know that I’m easily distracted, so I might be able to be more effective in some sort of inherently Christian career. All of this led me to seriously consider planning to become a missionary.

No, for those of you who might wonder, I haven’t felt a “call to missions” as such, but it just makes sense. And I haven’t been “called” to anything else, either, so what in the world exempts me from the Great Commission? (Hint: The answer to that question starts with an “N” and ends with “ot a darn thing”.).

I basically thought about three possibilities: A) North American missions (career or lifestyle), B) International missions, C) Bible translation. This summer that list has been refined a little.

For starters, at a conference here in Toronto, a former missionary to the Philippines told me some shocking statistics about the percentage of resources spent on North American missions vs. what goes to unreached people. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was ridiculous. Anyway, North America is getting more than its fair share, so I think I should go elsewhere, preferably to some of these unreached people who will otherwise remain so.

Then I started thinking about Bible translation. I fully support it, just as I do North American missions, but in the same way, I now believe that it’s not what I personally should devote my life to. Is it what Jesus or the early apostles devoted their lives to? Didn’t the early Christians (and early Jews, for that matter – Abraham, etc.) get along fine without a Bible? Not to mention that I’m still trying to figure out where I stand on Biblical inerrancy and all that stuff.

So – international missions. Just like those three emerged as the possibilities that made most sense, this one makes the most sense of the three. It honestly looks like that’s where I’m heading.

The next step is figuring out where. The world is a pretty big place, after all. One strong possibility is the 10-40 Window. (I’m a little confused about that page’s “Historical and Biblical Significance” section and why in the world that matters, but the rest of it has a lot of information.)

Don’t tell my dad that I might go somewhere dangerous. It’ll scare the heck out of him. 😉

Anyway – this is all just speculation, but hey, maybe someday I’ll really go to the 10-40 window – maybe to the Middle East or to North Africa or to China or somewhere else entirely. Then again, maybe I’ll go somewhere outside the 10-40 window. Or maybe God will tell me to stay in North America. Or maybe they’ll find life on Mars and I’ll be the first interplanetary missionary. Whatever. There’s no way for me to know now what’ll happen in five or ten years.

Since not much is certain, I think I’ll stick with the strategy I’ve been using. Graduate high school. Go to college. Continue to study language, because I love it and because I can use that knowledge anywhere in the world – yes, even here. Prepare for as many possibilities as I can. Learn how to live this missional lifestyle, because I won’t get far as I am now. And wait. It’ll be clear when it needs to be.


Thinking positive July 18, 2010

Filed under: Adventures in Toronto — Grace @ 10:23 pm

Hooray for well-timed conversations with a particularly insightful housemate. Anyway, a new realization: Having a bad attitude about this… situation… isn’t going to help. So I’ll try not to.

Who knows? Maybe this sports camp thing will actually turn out to be a good thing. If nothing else, I’ll give 125 kids some entertainment as I attempt to be athletic. 😛

And I may be able to reschedule the ESL for weekends. We’ll see.

No, it’s not okay that the CNBC is acting like jerks, but I’m not going to help anything by acting like a jerk too.

Maybe I should still contact them and ask that they show people a little more consideration, but ironically, now that I finally feel calm enough to do so without being extremely rude, I don’t feel such a desire to.

It’ll be okay. It may just look a little different than I expected.


I spoke too soon July 15, 2010

Filed under: Adventures in Toronto — Grace @ 10:21 pm

So, you know how excited I was about finally getting to teach ESL?

Well, that won’t be happening anymore.

Yesterday night, Pastor Shawn and his wife came over to the house to discuss a possible transfer with Anna and me. There’s a church in another town that needs help with children’s camps. We wouldn’t have to move. Anna was thrilled to hear about the opportunity, and rightly so. She decided to agree to be transferred. Since I’m actually teaching now, and since I didn’t want to leave our current church with no help at all, I decided to stay. It seemed like the ideal solution.

No such luck.

This morning I received an email from the national convention saying that we could either transfer or go home. Staying was not an option.

I emailed them and told them that things had changed. I wasn’t unoccupied anymore. I was teaching, and it looked like there were still more people who could use help.

How silly of me to expect them to care.

No, they offered some convoluted reasons why both of us had to transfer or neither. They didn’t want either of us to travel alone – which I had already been doing. They didn’t want to split us up by having one of us live at a different location – when they had already told us that transferring wouldn’t require us to move. It was important for us to function as a team – when we had had different jobs from the beginning and had accepted this assignment with that understanding. None of it made much sense, but hey, they don’t have to make sense. People in positions of authority are apparently exempted from that kind of obligation.

Is this really supposed to be a choice? I can go to this other church or go home. If I go home, Anna probably has to as well. Either way I have to give up what I was just beginning to be able to do. I mean, after chasing a bunch of kids around all day, how much energy am I going to have to make an hour-and-a-half trip, teach a lesson, and go back home? That’s five hours, or four if I shorten the lesson. Could I teach on the weekend? Maybe. Even if that somehow works out – even if I’m not too tired and people are willing to give up their weekends to come listen to me – it ticks me off that CNBC thinks they can mess around with my life regardless of how I feel about it. It ticks me off that they helped to set ESL stuff in motion, and now they’re trying their hardest to take it away from me.

In case you’re curious about my decision, I’m staying in Toronto and accepting the transfer. I’m not going to ruin this for Anna, and I’m not going to give up the slightest possibility of doing anything useful. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy about this. Quite the reverse. Not that there’s a single thing I can do about it.

Whatever. Let’s just hurry up and get this over with so I can go home.


Life is better (and yummier)

Filed under: Adventures in Toronto,Culinary Stuff — Grace @ 12:17 am

Things are starting to look up.

I’m finally teaching ESL. My “class” consists of a mother and daughter. Both of them are much better at English than had been implied. The mother needs practice with listening and speaking, while her daughter needs practice with reading and writing, so it’ll be interesting figuring out how to help them both. Monday afternoon I met with them for the first time, accompanied by Gloria (the pastor’s daughter), who translated as needed. We went to a mall near their house and, when the library was too crowded (yes, there was a library inside a mall), we found a table in the food court. It worked just fine. I spent most of that time conversing with the mother; she seemed to do fine, and I’m not exactly sure how to help her further. The daughter spent most of her time with Gloria working with her on writing. I met them again Wednesday, same time and place, this time without Gloria. Thank goodness for Google. It’s helping me a lot with ideas.

Taking the subway home after Monday’s ESL lesson, I had some adventures. I hadn’t slept the night before because I was trying to figure out what to teach (or that was my original intention, but never mind), so naturally I was tired. There were quite a few stations between my current location and my destination, so I thought, “I’ll just nap for a while. I’m sure I’ll wake up on time.” I woke up to hear the name of a station I had never heard of. Turns out I went much farther than planned. 😛

I got on the subway heading the opposite direction and went back to where I was supposed to be, no problem, but somehow managed to take a different exit from the one I normally took. I came out with no idea where I was. I knew I was on the right street, but not which direction to go or how far away from the house I was. Eventually I realized that I was right across the street from where I normally exit, so you can imagine how intelligent I felt. Remind me to look at landmarks across the street every now and then so I won’t get confused and panic. 😛

For Wednesday’s lesson, the adventure was in getting there. I got to the right subway station, but all of the signs directing us to the buses talked about buses going along the wrong street. So I thought, “Okay, I’ll just go out onto the right street and find a bus stop.”

I walked for half an hour before I found one.

I then got off the bus a little earlier than I was supposed to because I was worried about going too far by mistake, but that worked out all right because I met a man who needed directions. From me? Well, I guess he was desperate. I actually knew what to tell him, because he was headed for the same street I was. Anyway, that’s one positive thing that came from the craziness. I arrived at my destination much later than I had planned. 😛

Oh – bread. As regular readers probably know, I tried baking sourdough bread before with limited success. (I found out that it might have been because my starter was too new, but that’s another story.) Discouraged, I decided to try regular yeast bread. Crazy girl that I am, I refuse to use any white flour if I can avoid it, but rather than substitute whole wheat flour into a regular recipe, or use a “whole wheat” recipe that called for a mixture of white and whole wheat, I got smart and looked for a recipe designed specifically for all whole wheat flour. I found one.

My first attempt went pretty well, but after baking I decided to ensure it was done by cutting one of the loaves in half. I was disappointed to see that part of it looked uncooked, so I baked it a while longer. And longer. And longer. When nothing changed after about an hour of additional baking, I finally gave up. What the heck. I’ll eat it like it is, I thought. Much to my surprise, after cooling for a while, it looked completely normal. I found out that bread cooks for a while after it’s out of the oven, so the appearance of the center was probably normal. The bread was good; it was somewhat dry, and needed something spread on it to make it really good, but people liked it anyway.

Anyway, I tried again Tuesday, this time trusting that it was done after the recommended baking time. I wrapped it in a damp cloth to keep the crust soft and left it alone for a while. After resisting the temptation for a while, I finally gave in and ate a slice.

It was soooo good. Not dry at all, but moist and chewy and delicious. It didn’t need anything on it. Neither did the next slice. 😛 I don’t know if the better quality was due to not being horrendously overdone, or because I substituted the molasses in the original recipe with honey instead of just leaving it out, or both, but whatever. It was good. Very good. And now I’m fighting the urge to eat more.

ALSO. Last Thursday, Gloria, Anna and I went to a mall (not the one where I’m teaching ESL). And there I saw…

A WalMart sign

This is the first WalMart I’ve seen since coming to Canada. And it was part of a mall. Wow.

Life is interesting. 🙂


A Mixed Bag July 6, 2010

Filed under: Adventures in Toronto — Grace @ 3:13 pm

It’s been quite a while – again. This time it’s not entirely my fault. Our house had no internet for a while, and I only recently discovered that there’s another wireless network available. Now I don’t have to go to the main building every time I want to use the Internet, which is a definite improvement.

Well, life has been… interesting. A positive thing: Saturday afternoon I went with Kemi to Chinatown and bought some groceries. I discovered that the Lucky Moose supermarket (don’t ask) has very delicious grapes and oranges. Also, it has Pocky. If you have not experienced the chocolatey goodness of Pocky, let me know and I will find some for you.

Another positive thing: Monday evening Pastor Shawn took Gloria, Anna and me to an event that included foods from around the world (mmm, flan) and a concert. A not-so-positive thing: my dad sent a strongly worded email to NAMB about the fact that after three weeks here I haven’t done a thing. Anyway, instead of going to the concert, I met with Pastor Shawn and two men in charge of the organization and we discussed things. We brainstormed various things that I could do. To sum it up, there are at least two people who could use help with English (although if that’s the case, I don’t know why nothing has happened yet), Pastor Shawn is going to ask leaders of other church plants if they need help with anything, and there might be some form of outreach in the future.

But honestly, it looks like a lose-lose situation. I’ve got less than four weeks left, and judging by how things have gone so far, I don’t have much hope that I’ll actually end up with something to do. At this point, my best bet is probably to quickly learn some more Chinese and walk around inviting Chinese people to the church I’m with, but I’ll have little to say other than “There might be something ESL-ish available, but only for a few weeks.” If it’s ESL they’re looking for, I’d be better off referring them to another Chinese church here that I know of, but I doubt that would go over too well.

On the other hand, if I go home, what happens? The chances of being able to do something productive with my summer are still pretty slim. Is there a right thing to do in this situation?

Oh well. Something might turn up this week, so I guess it’s a little soon to worry.

Who am I kidding? It’s been over three weeks. The time for worrying arrived long ago…

Well, whatever happens, I’ll survive.