Month: November 2012

 

Photos from Vietnam (part 2)

For our last two days in Vietnam, we visited some of Madame Xuyen’s friends who live in a fairly remote village with lots of land. We had to travel by boat to get there

Not very excited for pictures in the morning 😉 The house was very simple–no doors, so a mosquito net was needed! I slept on a wooden bed frame with no mattress…ouch!!!!

The family’s kitchen

Lunch! They were excellent cooks!

The village market

At the market! This woman thought it was pretty funny that I was wearing the Vietnamese hat..

Jump roping with some of the local children. We had a great time 🙂

Gifts we brought for some of the children. This is a very poor village and it was clear that the children were extremely malnourished.

Back to Vientiane! We took the night bus back, so I was able to sleep the whole way. I had an awesome trip!

 

Photos from Vietnam

Day 1 of the trek to Vietnam. This was my second bus ride of the day. After 12 hours, we finally made it to the south of Laos. The bus stopped every once and a while and women came on to sell barbecued chicken and strange looking plants (?) for a little snack.

Day 2! Laos/Cambodia border! Only 10 more hours and we’re there! That’s the bus we took-we fit 16 people in there..safe to say it wasn’t a very comfortable ride 😉

Yahoooo! We made it! Me with three Lao social workers–two of them are from the first batch of social workers to graduate from a Lao University.

My Birthday celebration in Vietnam! Cake in bed! Sep laiy (‘delicious’ in Lao)

Celebrating social work

Traditional Vietnamese dance

more singing..

Talking about social work in Laos

19th Birthday

Hi everybody! Sorry it’s been a while.. a lot to catch you up on!
I’ll start by saying, THANK YOU SO SO SO much to everyone who sent me cards on my Birthday. It really made me miss home and all of the great people in my life. Thanks to all who donated to the “Marissa McArdle Birthday Scholarship Fund”. You raised a total of $1,300! Because of your donations, so many children in Laos will be able to attend school without struggling to pay for it. How amazing is that!? I am beyond happy; I really couldn’t as for a better Birthday gift. Thank you so much!:)

This year, I spent my Birthday in Vietnam. I celebrated with international friends, and they surprised me with a delicious Vietnamese cake! Madame Xuyen and I travelled by bus to the south of Vietnam..27 long hours..on November 7th to celebrate National Social Work Day. It was a beautiful ceremony with many speeches, dances, music, and fun. Although everyone spoke in Vietnamese, I could still feel the enthusiasm and dedication to their profession and love of helping others.  Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures with me right now, but I will upload them as soon as possible. I’ll blog more today about my latest adventures–just wanted to say a quick “thank you” for the wonderful Birthday gifts!

Daily Devotional 11-25-12

Scripture: Nehemiah 5:13b
At this the whole assembly said, sovaldi sale “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

Thought for the Day: “Amen” is a Hebrew word we generally interpret as “so be it.” It’s deep meaning though, has to do with certainty, truthfulness and faithfulness. Jesus often begins his lessons with the statement, “Amen I say to you,” sometimes translated (as in the RSV) as “Truly I say to you.”

Today we say “amen” at the end of prayers, or perhaps we shout it out in church when we think something is particularly truthful. I know many of us think “so be it” when we say “amen.” But that doesn’t really convey the deep relationship “amen” has with the word “truth.” When we affirm a prayer or a command from God with “amen,” we are not just saying the equivalent of “it’s all good,” we’re saying, “it’s true, so let’s make it happen.” In this way, “amen” becomes a call to action, not just a passive response. We’re no longer saying, “so be it,” but are instead responding with action: “let’s make it so.”

Prayer: God from whom all wisdom flows, may I continue to discover ever more truths about you, truths that make me not only stand up and shout, “Amen,” but then inspire me to go out and do something about it.

Daily Devotional 11-24-12

Scripture: Psalm 145:18
The Lord is near to all who call on him, healing to all who call on him in truth.

Thought for the Day: Sometimes the most difficult person to be truthful with is our self. We seem to have a built-in mechanism that attempts to shelter us from events or ideas we just don’t want to deal with. But in order to let go of our ego and let God take control, health we have to be fairly self-reflective, and ultimately honest with ourselves about our personal joys and concerns.

While as people of faith we rely on God for strength and guidance, prayer and meditation are also vital acts of self reflection that allow us to get out of our minds for awhile and let God take control of us, spirit and soul. Going to God helps us realize deep truths about our lives, and ourselves. In those reflective moments, much about God is also revealed to us.

Prayer: In the quiet moments of my day, I turn my thoughts to you, Holy God, sharing with you all my deepest ideas, questions, and thoughts, knowing that in return you will reveal ever more of yourself to me. Amen.

Daily Devotional 11-23-12

Scripture: Zechariah 8:16
These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, click and render true and sound judgment in your courts.

Thought for the Day: I’m often stunned at just how blunt Scripture can be. Here, case God is speaking in no uncertain terms: be honest. Be truthful. It’s a simple exhortation. Yet, rx we have so much trouble following it that dishonesty has become the foundation of our entire social system. Even our idea of government is built on secrets, on leaking false information, on the idea that certain truths cannot be known in the interest of national security, or because some politician in an office, completely disconnected from reality, has decided that we can’t handle the truth

I think we can handle the truth, and I think we have the capability to be truthful with each other. But I think that sort of attitude requires a complete rethinking of the way we relate to each other as human beings, and the way we think about organizing ourselves into civilizations. The truth is that the planet will never be peaceful and the human race will never make any real social or technological progress, until we learn that being honest and up front with each other conserves resources and creates strong, lasting partnerships.

God calls us to lives of honesty—the sort of brutal honesty Jesus exemplifies when he speaks out against empire, when he speaks out against hypocrisy, when he proclaims to the world that God is alive in each and every one of us, if only we’d pay attention.

We can handle the truth. The question is, can we act on it with the same conviction as Jesus?

Prayer: Help me speak the truth of your universal love, respect, acceptance and equality, God of eternal sincerity. Give me the strength to act on my convictions, even though I know that speaking against the status quo may bring great repercussions against me. Amen.

Daily Devotional 11-22-12

Scripture: Psalm 7:17
I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.

Thought for the Day: During this Thanksgiving celebration, generic may we all remember to give thanks to God for the multitude of blessings in our lives. May we also remember through prayer and action, those around the world who are struggling to find a meal and shelter, and offer thanks to the millions of people who work tirelessly to end poverty and homelessness in the world.

Today the Catholic Church also celebrates Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians. Music fills our hearts with joy and our souls with thankfulness for the infinite creativity of God. May your Thanksgiving Day be filled with family, friends, joy and music!

Prayer: My heart sings to you with the joy of thanksgiving, Holy Lord. May your love and compassion fill our souls as we gratefully celebrate today. Amen.

Daily Devotional 11-21-12

Today’s devotional is by Trudy Kellum. Thanks, illness Trudy!

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 8:1
Who is like the wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? Wisdom makes one’s face shine, and the hardness of one’s countenance is changed.

Thought for the Day: Leading up to Thanksgiving, I asked my second grade students to write at least one paragraph describing what they think happened on the first Thanksgiving.  Here is a word-for- word account (complete with exact spelling) of one student’s response:

“I think at the first Thanksgiving pilgrims celerated in 1621. Evry family celebrate libertate.  It was the year 1620 when the strange people known as the pilgrims set sail from England, crashed into Plymouth Rook and set about the daunting task of learning to spell Massachusetts.”

While the historical accounts written by each student were as diverse (and humorous) as I expected they would be, a common thread among my students is thankfulness.  They love their families, their school, the small bags of food that they take home on Fridays to see them through the weekend; any little treat, special privilege or kindness they receive.  They are thankful.

Prayer: God, in a world where our beliefs are diverse, even within the Christian faith, may be all find the common thread of thankfulness woven into our hearts. May we be ever more aware of the glorious blessings surrounding us at every moment, rejoicing in the fact that your love embraces all people, of all lands and faiths.  Thanks be to God!

Daily Devotional 11-20-12

Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:1-2
I urge, site then, sales first of all, medical that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Thought for the Day: I think there is overlooked power in giving thanks. Those of us who have much rarely stop to give thanks for our abundance, and those of us who have little may believe we have little to be thankful for. In truth though, real thanksgiving is not about ourselves at all, but about giving thanks to God for all of God’s creation, from this human existence to the planet that sustains us, and the stars that surround us.

We offer prayer and praise to God so that our leaders will be inspired to act in the interests of the common good, which often means they have to act against their own self-interests (or against the interests of those who financed their campaign). God works through every one of us, often in ways we cannot comprehend. But every single person on the planet has a divine purpose, and as more and more people begin to realize their innate connection to God, we will have ever more to be thankful for as we allow God to work tirelessly through us. God’s divine inspiration and strength allows us to turn the planet into a united civilization of love and respect, and that starts by recognizing that our real duty is to God and others, not to our own self-preservation.

Prayer: May my heart be ignited with the love of Christ and lead me to a life of service to God and others. Amen.

Daily Devotional 11-19-12

Scripture: Psalm 69:30
I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

Thought for the Day: We’ve turned Thanksgiving into a national holiday, sales but in reality everyday is a day (or could be) of thanksgiving. I believe that when we give thanks to God often, healing that we help to create a general attitude of thanks in the world. And I don’t mean we give thanks for green lights or parking spaces or fabulous wealth. God isn’t a Genie that grants wishes. No, hospital I simply give thanks to God for being—both God’s and mine. I give thanks for God’s creative spirit, loving embrace and forgiving nature, all examples of how my life should be lived.

We have so much material comfort to be thankful for in the United States. My prayer this holiday season is that others around the world can also find material comfort—that children in war-torn countries find a safe bed to sleep in and a nourishing meal to eat. While I long for the world to evolve spiritually, I also long for a world where everyone has their basic material needs met. If we are to evolve spiritually, then first we need to attend to the needs of our brothers and sisters who are dying from neglect. For in that loving action alone, we are contributing to the world’s spiritual evolution and giving thanks and honor to God.

Prayer: May we find loving generosity in our hearts today and all days, my Sweet God who is all love and generosity. Amen.