beautiful things from the dust

living in tents

“I was innocent and certain. Now I’m wise and unsure.” -Belle from Beauty and the Beast

June 14th

What a day! Last night, as I was biking back from Carytown with Megan, I thought of having to start my work week, and in my mind I dreaded it, thinking, “Why on Earth do I have to do this? Life is strange, because today was one of those really good days that breezed by.

It began by waking up at 6:30am. Even though I was tired, I got up anyway. I started my day with water, followed by cereal and coffee. I then watched the news in French on Youtube. After this, I worked on my novel for a bit. I did some writing in French. My language immersion learning method works pretty well.

I made my bed this morning. This is a new thing. I never used to make my bed.

My friend Lisl asked if anyone wanted her old I.D. She said that it is something that Dorothy would do, to keep other people’s I.D.s. And all I’ve ever wanted in life is to be like Dorothy, so I took the I.D. It’s now pasted into my journal. Then I went upstairs to apartment E with Cameron, Adara, and Kennedy to help plant seeds in egg cartons. When they sprout, they will be planted in the median on Broad street.

After this, it was almost lunchtime. I heated up a couple of burritos and walked with Chris M. to the Observation deck at city Hall. I thought about how much I like seeing how small things look from up high.

At home, I felt inspired to begin a very large canvas painting. It is a used canvas, meaning it already has a painting on it, but it is mostly flat grey, and so I’m going to paint right over it. I’m not sure yet what I will paint. I could do an expressionistic painting that is non-representational. I ma also do a piece that harmonizes with some of the other ones I’ve done.  I could also do a representational piece which would take the most work. I’m not sure that I am up for it. One idea is to paint a bird’s eye view of the city. I think that I’ve decided to try and incorporate all three of these ideas into the canvas, because it’s so big.

And, I would like to write more about today, but I am tired and my bed is calling my name.

-Jonny

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Long Hair, Long Beard

I have finally decided on a consistent style, after changing it so frequently. Here is a brief collage of my hairstyles:

 

See if you can figure out which one of these pictures is not me. Yeah, the one that looks like Jesus. But when I saw that guy, I decided that I wanted to look like him.

Hairking

And so I’ve arrived.

 

Celebrate, good times. Come on!

My word of the year is Celebration. What is a word of the year, you may ask? The idea is that you pick a word, instead of or in addition to new years resolution. Many people feel bad because they do not reach the goal that they had set out for the year. Since it is a word, it is simple, not specific. You can’t really fail. It is inevitable that from meditating on this word every once and a while that how you act gradually changes. The first time that I did this was in 2013. My word was thankful. I had just moved back in with my parents this year after a summer away at the Beach in North Carolina. I was so grateful already to be around the people who had always loved me unconditionally.

muppetsinspace

 

This year, I decided that my word would be Celebration. It came about from me wanting to celebrate the completion of my fall semester, passing the three classes that I was taking. It extended into my personal life, when I began celebrating my new girlfriend and her graduation from college. Then I came to the realization that there are so many things in my life right now that are worth celebrating, and I don’t want to walk through life, not giving them the proper honor. And so I celebrate life and youth. I celebrate a new year. I won’t just celebrate when things go well for me, but I’ll celebrate with others. I went to two weddings last year. I was invited to three, but I could not go to the third one because I was scheduled to work that weekend. This may not sound like a lot, but I had never really been to weddings where the people getting married were my peers. I celebrate with them because marriage is a beautiful thing.

I like to dance. I don’t know when I realized this. I have always been shy to dance. I think I’m breaking loose a bit. One of the interns this year, Jackie, was so untamed in her dancing and singing, it was insane. Kalaya, Jackie and I went on a bike ride, and about halfway through she just started unleashing all this energy in the form of music video making and karaoke. she screamed songs at the top of her lungs and danced like no-one was watching. This, however silly it seemed, was inspiring to me. It made me realize that I should step out of my shell a bit more and just dance like no-one is watching. I have a habit of taking some time when I am alone in my apartment to play dance music and just sort of let loose. I’ll play Daft Punk, Jamiroquai, Kool and the Gang, and some electronic dance music to help me take a mini vacation.

Let’s celebrate.

Celebrate good times, come on.

 

I gave up the English Language

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Why did I somehow decide that I would like to spend chunks of my free time studying foreign languages? First, it was Spanish, then Arabic, then Portuguese, then Korean, and then Mandarin Chinese. By taking all of my focus and putting it only learning the words of a new language, I can escape from the hard problems and thoughts that I have(this is an upside that can turn into a downside). It feels as if I’m starting anew. It’s exciting. There’s nothing in the world to me like talking with someone in their native tongue. This realization changed my life.

When someone is talking in English as their second language, it sometimes sounds a bit robotic. It’s a tool that they use to communicate, where communication would otherwise not be possible. But if I can talk to them in their native tongue, whatever it may be (Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, etc.) I see their face light up. I hear the emotions they express through their own natural language. The tones flow with ease from their vocal chords, they are not trying so hard. I love this. I don’t want anyone to have to give this up. As much as I can, I want to learn to speak in other languages, it is one of the greatest joys in this life to me, to branch out in this way. The kinds of relationships that I can have when I am speaking another language are so special to me. That is why I have this goal to be “intermediate” in Arabic, Korean, and Chinese, by 2026. I think that it is so worth it. In Richmond, I can definitely find people who speak all three of these languages.

 

So, this is why I get tired of English. There are many other languages to speak, and I only have so much time…

 

Speaking of the downside of this (a brain poop* session):

Branching out is freeing, trying something new. It’s adopting a bit of a new identity.

What I need to guard against is giving up my own identity.

Sometimes I just want to get rid of the “identity” I have, whether it’s being a Christian, a college student, being American, or being white.

Nobody likes white people anymore. I don’t think that I like them either.

It’s better to be brown.

I’m getting tired of old clothes and an old hairstyle.

Like a spoiled kid with old toys, I want new ones.

However,  there is something special about the identity that I have, the one that is reality, that I think I need to learn how to appreciate rather than just continually seeking new identities, but never actually completely owning one.

 

*brain poop: something that comes from my mind that I’m not sure what I mean, but I needed to write it down. Sort of like the relief that you feel when you use the toilet.

 

(**disclaimer: I do like white people. Some of the feelings expressed in this blog post are not more than feelings, and writing them down helps me to distinguish them, so I hope that you do not take this the wrong way.)

Feliz Sábado

lunch

Lunch which consisted of Pita bread, tomatoes, فول مدمس , and sausage.

     My day yesterday was amazing. I woke up and got ready to go to church. I rode my bicycle to 5201 Bethlehem Road, where there is a Brazilian Community Church which has a service Saturday morning at 11:00am. It was Seventh Day Adventist. They welcomed me like a brother, even though I have never been to a Seventh Day Adventist Church before. I understood about 50 percent of what was said. I enjoyed singing the praise songs in Portuguese. After the service, I met Steve who was also visiting. And I met Paula. They both play piano. A lady invited me to join the choir rehearsal at 5:30pm. I started riding my bike back home, when I saw a sign for a yard sale. I followed the signs but saw no yard sale. It turns out I was too late. It was over at noon. I rode my bike back down Libbie Avenue to Broad Street. I took a right on Broad street and rode down the sidewalk. I walked into EL REY Latino Market. They have pool tables, and a restaurant inside. A Spanish television station was playing. I used the bathroom and then browsed the aisles. I grabbed two tomatoes, a pack of lentils, and a pack of chick peas. I also grabbed a water. When I checked out, I spoke Spanish to the clerk. He is from El Salvador, and I can’t remember his  name. I don’t think I had ever heard that name before. Our whole conversation was in Spanish. He was going to El Salvador that same day for vacation to visit his grandparents on his wife’s mother’s side. He likes football, but I don’t know what team he watches. I felt awesome that I got to practice my Spanish with a stranger.
kunafa

Kunafa. My first try. A little messy. And I should not have used kefir cheese because it is more akin to sour cream. I need to use a sweet cheese next time.

     I rode home. I took the time to make Kunafa and put it in the oven. Then I ate lunch which consisted of sausage, tomato, ‘fool’ madmoos, kefir cheese, and khobez, or pita bread. I ate it middle eastern style, (using the bread as my silverware).  At four, I started biking back to church. I got to church at 5:00pm. I waited 30 minutes. No one was there. I walked over to the creek. I looked at the sky and the trees. It was beautiful. I was alone.
     At 5:30pm, someone showed up. Her name is Claudia and she said the rehearsal starts at 5:30pm. Ooohhh. I am glad that I stuck around. We went inside and I was greeted by the grandfather of Kevin, whose name I can’t remember. He speaks mainly Portuguese, which is good because it helps me to practice mine. I sat down in the pews, and started talking with a lady who I also can’t remember her name. We talked in English and then a bit in Portuguese. She was very nice. She told me that the men usually sit in front. I sat down in front and I was joined by Robert. There were six men including me, 3 tenors. I was a tenor! I followed along with Roberts pitch, since I did not know the harmonies. They were songs in English that I knew, but they were medleys, so a bit different. Moab spoke Portuguese to the group to let us know what were doing. He was the conductor.
BrazilianCommunity

The Brazilian Community Church. A little slice o’ heaven.

     It was great. I will try and come back to the service as well as the Choir practices as long as I am not working at 7-Eleven. During the school year, I should be able to do this. It will be awesome.
     This is perfect. It is exactly what I wanted, but better.
     After choir rehearsal, I biked down to find Cookout. I stopped by ROSS. I walked out to use a bathroom, and found one at Duck Donuts. I bought a donut sundae. I walked back to Ross, and bought a muffin pan, a laundry hamper, a trash can, a sketchbook, a pack of watercolors, a jar of fig and muscat jam, and a cheese grater.
     I now have everything that I need to be happy.
     After shopping, I stuffed all of this somehow in my backpack, and with the hamper on the caddy on the back of my bike, I rode to Cookout for a milkshake. I ended up getting the BBQ Plate, which consisted of pulled pork, coleslaw, french fries and hush puppies. I also bought a banana pudding milkshake.
     I sat there on the bench consuming this great stuff.
     Then, I went home.
     The end.

Floating

Spongebobsquarepants

 

Yes, I have been overwhelmed. I am in the midst of a what-do-you-call-it where I can see my life going in any number of directions. It is a temporary lapse in identity. It feels like I am floating out of my own control sometimes.

 

This morning during devotions, we read Romans 9. Paul refers to God as a potter and says, “What right does the clay have to say to the potter, ‘why have you made me like this?'”.

I so want to control my own destiny.

 

I am inspired by the anonymous quote, “If you don’t write your own story, someone else is going to write it for you.”

When I hear so many different voices, I need to go with my gut, to follow my own desires. No one else is going to do that for me. That responsibility lies with me, if that’s what I want.

 

On the other hand, there’s Christianity, which says,

“What you plan doesn’t matter, it’s what God plans that endures. Serve God and not your own desires and wishes. God is in control of the person you are going to become. You can either submit to His will, or follow your own selfish desires. God’s will is for good, but your will is for evil.”

It’s hard to hear sometimes, but as a Christian I need to trust God because ultimately I need him for life and peace in eternity.

 

 

 

The Worst Blog Post Ever

Hmm…

What do I want to post on the internet?

Maybe you would like to know about my life. Maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe you would like to hear a story. Maybe not.

Maybe, in 50 years we will have computers in our brains.

But our brains are already computers.

And this is the worst blog post ever.

bye.

Refresh Button

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

I am grateful for my home church. My relationship with God has been greatly shaped through the hard work and dedication of the staff at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church. I thank you. It is not only the people who have supported me in the past 3 years, but everyone who has been a part of the congregation. You are like family to me. I feel like I have a connection with you because of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

As a result of believing in Jesus, I came to the conclusion that wherever I am, I must be a missionary. I must be a representative of the gospel, whatever that looks like.

Now, at Hillside Missions, as an intern and now a staff member, I feel called to go to unreached people groups to share Christian community in these places. I hope that a desire grows in you to support the work of ministry in these places, for I believe that it is not just the calling of a select few of Christ’s followers, but every single one to pray for the unreached people groups.

43% of all people groups are unreached. We can change this statistic.

Doubts about Faith

It has been said that there is no faith without doubt, and I totally agree. doubt has been a huge part of my faith journey. It is one that has never gone away, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I feel glad that I am an individual who thinks differently. You think different, too. I’m glad that it’s this way.

The church is not a static thing. It grows, changes, and evolves. It is influenced by it’s members.

I have also heard it said, “If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.”

Many people leave the church and I can’t blame them, because that was their decision, and I don’t believe that God is far from them.

Why would we want to bring something that we know is imperfect (church), to a people group that doesn’t yet have it?

Aren’t we just introducing more problems?

I think that if we believe that we have the solution, then we should bring it to them at all costs. If not, and we don’t believe that we have the solution, we may be part of the problem.

The beginning of a solution is hope.

The Ordinary Life

Routine.

Same old same old.

Menial.

Ordinary.

These are words that I have had a hard time swallowing for the longest time. Finally, I am beginning to realize that everything loses its initial excitement and glamour after awhile.

I can’t be satisfied with the same old same old. Or can I?

I am learning that God can be found in even the most menial tasks. What is ordinary is actually extraordinary. It’s all about perspective. I can get so caught up in the idea of what I want, that I forget what I have, which is, a whole lot of good things.

I am not satisfied with where I am at. Or am I?

I am working towards something bigger. This thing is bigger than me or my family. It is the day when all the nations will worship Christ. This is the purpose of my life. So I cannot ever be fully satisfied in this life. The goal is not yet accomplished.

I moved to Richmond a year ago to do an internship with a mission organization. It is no less cool than when I first arrived, and yet at some point it slipped into the monotonous, due to my own perspective. I got used to it so it wasn’t fun anymore. It became work.

Work is good. I am learning to enjoy the simple things, like plumbing. Plumbing really isn’t that simple though if you think about it.

Anyways, God bless, and thanks for reading.