Sunday, April 29, 2007

just taking a break from an essay.....just one break...honest

So I'm in the middle of an essay on the myeloproliferative disorder polycythemia vera (it's absolutely fascinating....I had to pull myself away to write this)....when I took a break and went over to the CNN website. I like the CNN website cause it lets you watch video clips for free.... and since I'm without TV at the moment, it's a welcome distraction (also I've been on a YouTube fast since lent so that hasn't been an option- otherwise i'd never get anything done).

Anyway, one of the "most popular videos" was a story about how several churches across America are giving sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. It's interesting. How do you feel about it? The woman who they profile is a mexican immigrant whose young son was born in America and is a US citizen. She has received a deportation order. She isn't hiding where she is and forwarded her new church address to the immigration authorities, but now she is permanently living in a church with her son, and trying to campaign for legalization of undocumented workers. Part of me, the part who looks at the human situation, loves the story. This is what the Christian church is meant to do, following from the many biblical commands to take care of the alien among you, to give them justice. It's good to see that the church is participating in civil disobedience because it helps to remind people that the church's positions should never be coopted by the political state in which it finds itself.

There's the other side of me too though, the big picture side, that knows this is not a permanent solution, this is temporary relief to a few, from a massive issue. It highlights yet again that the US based church needs to committ itself to helping alleviate poverty in the countries surrounding it, so that people don't feel they have to become uprooted, leave the families, countries and lands that they know and love, and make often dangerous journey's in search of hope, often a false hope. Anyway, I'd appreciate your views if you have any.

It's sort of interesting to compare this situation with a similar one in Dublin last summer where 41 Afghan assylum seekers held themselves up in St. Patrick's Cathedral demanding that the government look at their cases. In this case, it was more the traditional model of sanctuary that the Afghans were using, the church leaders hadn't encouraged them to do this, but protected them none the less and tried to seek for a swift and peaceful resolution. In the American situation, church leaders are actively inviting people into this. This seems like more of a living church model than the traditional because it is active, reaches out to others, like Christ did for us.

Here's the link to the video:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Vineyard weekend away....

I had a great time away this past saturday and sunday with the good people of Southampton Vineyard whose community I've joined since moving here. It was a good time of getting to know new people I hadn't met and getting the know the few I had better. It was also good to get out of Southampton (even though we were only half an hour away).

click on the link below to see more pictures of the weekend

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cambodia on the mind....

So for some reason or another, God has really been putting Cambodia on my mind recently. Over the past few weeks I received a couple good emails from friends in my community updating me on their lives and the lives of my friends and host family in Phnom Penh. It's been Khmer New Year recently and i know it's a time of great joy and celebration for the entire country, one of the celebrations people look forward to throughout the year.

Craig, who was my mentor with Servants while I was there, was in Cambodia with his family recently to help with the orientation of some new Servants workers, attend Servant's 25 year anniversary in Thailand, and oversee some work with an organization he began in called Big Brothers and Sisters of Cambodia, where young adults from Cambodian churches take on a child orphaned by AIDS as their little sibling and bring them on outings and help mentor them as they grow. One of my good friends and my host mother's niece Serey, is now helping to run the organization. Craig sent me an email with some updated pictures of my community there. It's brought back a lot of memories.

Some great news is that Teara my roommate in Cambodia, and his sister Sunti, (both who lost their parents to AIDS) have now taken on their own "little brothers and sisters" to help share some of the love that they've received with others. It's amazing to see them wanting to give life to others after they've had so much taken from themselves, they're both a constant example to me.

It's been great to email Cambodian friends (one great thing about globalisation), and keep in some sort of contact. I still don't know when and if God will bring me back there. I'm planning on doing a medical elective next summer for a month or so, and am trying to see if God would have me go back to Cambodia, to continue relationships and learning, and gain some valuable medical experience, or if God's calling me somehwere else.....I don't know, but i know he'll make it clearer and that i don't need to know just now.... Anyway, I could ramble on and on about Cambodia, so i won't.

Here's some pictures that Craig sent me:

This is a picture of the big brothers and sisters group in my community, in our church. It's so great seeing all these youth from the community, supporting these AIDS orphans, also from our community. Serey, is second from the left in the back row. Teara, is 2nd from the right in the the row just in front of the back row, beside the girl in the green shirt.

This is just outside my house. That's Craig and his wife Nay with their daughter Micah in hand. Sunti is sitting beside them and then Heurn, my host mother is the one standing (wearing a great Calvin and Hobbes T-shirt).

This is Teara sitting on the bench in front of Vi, our next door neightbour,'s house. He's sitting with Vi's mother, who i only know as Yeay (grandmother). Yeay is one of those people who will just make you feel amazing spending a few minutes with her. She was probably one of the most welcoming people in the community to me when I was first in Cambodia, and struggling to learn the language, her patience at my poor grammar and lack of vocab and willingness to have a conversation, were huge blessings to me. It's good to see she's still doing well.

Monday, April 16, 2007


This post is dedicated to my wonderful Grandmother, Francis Kingsley.

Today my grandmother turns 80 years old! I wish I could be there to be with her and my grandpa but it wasn't meant to be this year. My dad is an only child, which makes my brother and I the only "official" grandkids (although they have many "adopted" grandkids who they have shown huge love and generosity to over the years), so it's harder that my dad and I can't be there for the occasion. However, my mother, brother and Hailey are able to be there and I'm sure they will be celebrating in style.

Even though my brother and I grew up thousands of miles away from my dad's parents we were blessed by them being able to spend huge chunks of time with us in Dublin, they would often come over and spend 2 months around christmas time with us, which means many of my childhood friends on the road got to know them as well.

Grandma is a very special woman, who loves God and people, and continues to share that love with others being very involved with her community and church in California. Both she and my Grandfather have been huge examples and encouragements to me all through my life. I really thank God for them.

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Shooting in Virginia

Wow, it's shocking to hear the news of those brutal killings in Virginia Tech. How can these things happen?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Back at School

Happy Khmer New Year!

I'm back in Southampton now since last Tuesday, I came back early to try and get some work done, but although I was able to finish some things I found it difficult to do as much as I'd hoped. It's okay now that friends are back on campus, it's always nice to have human contact. Also my mood has much improved from the depression of last week especially now that the weather has turned out so good. I feel as if i'm in Southern California, weather wise.

I was able to spend 2 weeks away from southampton. The first I spent in a small town called Bormio in Northern Italy (if you ever catch me saying I've had a hard life, please shoot me). It was such a good time to be with my parents, matt and hailey and the kids. I love my nephew and niece so much. Eoin is so cool, and has started calling me a combination of Uncle and Michael which comes out as "Mongol." I'll take it though, cause he's so cute. And Moia, still only 8 months old, but is absolutely gorgeous, and for some reason she likes me ( i.e. i can usually get her to stop crying).

I then spent a week at home, and probably one of the highlights was being able to meet up with loads of school friends who I haven't seen in years on my last night there. Well done Emma for organizing that.

Over break I was getting caught up on the news, and saw a CNN report of a woman interviewing students at Baghdad's main university. Over a hundred of their professors have been assassinated in recent months and car bombs going off on campus are a daily occurrence. Each day when these students get up for school they know they could easily be killed (targeted for trying to get an education) or that they could return home to dead or wounded family members. Yet they still press on. The courage of these students and the determination to get an education so that they can make things better for their families and their country was truly inspiring. How little I appreciate the security that I enjoy everyday, and how 'easy' it is for me to go about my studies.

I wonder what my generation in the West would be like under such circumstances. We're a generation that on the whole has known nothing but peace and prosperity. "Normal" life for us means being in "control" of our destinies and having "rights." This is actually abnormal life, most people do not have it this way. I wonder how we'd do. Would we react the same as those interviewed iraqi students, or would we have given up long ago? I wonder if some day we'll be forced to find out?