In To Africa

Hey everybody ... after a whirlwind visit with my parents (we had *so* much fun!), I'm off to Africa for the

Mennonite World Conference

and other assorted activities. I'm returning August 20th. So, at the end of August, I'll have lots to blog about. Stay tuned until then. Good summers everyone, and blessings.


Contest for my Loyal Readers

Here is a sentence in Dutch. The first person to translate it correctly will receive a special Dutch something from me in the mail.

Vind je het leuk om mee naar de bioscoop te gaan?

My parents are coming to visit me today! And they are staying for two weeks! Being in Europe with my parents! Yeah! Exciting!
Have you communicated with your furniture today?

So I just finished watching this documentary about the Nashville Christian Music Machine, and one of the featured bands was a group of brothers hailing from southern Alberta, called Jake.

Actually, I guess the name "Jake" has been copyrighted, because for "legal reasons" they have to go by "The Penner Brothers" in the U.S. now. (Jake is a much cooler name, no?) Anyway, from what I heard on the documentary, their music is pretty good ... if I was into boy bands, I'd probably dig it. But the reason I mention them is this ... when interviewed, one of the three Penners said something that had me rolling on the floor and guffawing in amusement:

God can speak through our music.
God can speak through whatever he wants.
If he wanted to, he could even speak through our sofa.

Whoa, dude. Now that's heavy. Next time I need some advice, I know where I'm sittin'.

Now don't get me wrong. I do not disagree with Mr. Penner's theology, per se. Rather, I am endlessly amused by the thought of divine revelation couched in such an ordinary object. Hee hee.

During the documentary I also contracted a severe case of "the creeps" when listening to the monlogues of the prez of Reunion Records.

He as much as admitted that when it comes to the Christian Music Machine (he did not call it that), looks are just as (if not more) important than talent. And later, he asserted that it is not God's will for Christian businesses to fail. At least, it's not God's will for his business to fail! I don't know about all of you, but it's my impression that success and good looks were not necessarily important strategies in Jesus' mission. Come to think of it, did Jesus have anything that resembled a strategy? Or did he just live in love for God and other folks too?

This documentary made me want to boycott Reunion Records, especially after the prez made one of the Penner brothers un-dye his blue hair (it didn't support the image they were marketing). Happily, the band Jake is no longer affiliated with Reunion. So I can still explore Jake's jingles without violating my boycott. Come to think of it, boycotting Reunion Records won't change my life much. Most of the music I've been buying lately is more of the Norah Jones or Van Morrisson or John Denver variety.

Why can't good music just be good music? Why must we box everything up with a nice neat label, shelving it away for future reference?


A Japanese Protest Song
as sung by Pete Seeger in the late '60s
thanks to my friend Frank for sending me the CD

In the place where our old home was destroyed,
We buried the charred bones of our relatives.
Now the white flowers are blooming there.
Now we must never allow,
We must absolutely forbid
Another atom bomb to fall.

Deadly rain gathers poison from the sky,
And the fish carry death in the depths of the sea.
Fishing boats are idle, their owners are blind,
Deadly harvest of two atom bombs.
And landsmen and seamen, you must watch and take care
That the third atom bomb never falls.
A Protest Song

Josie works the counter at the downtown five and dime
Anything at all to help her pass the time
Her mama keeps the baby and grandpa rambles on
About the good times playing in his mind

It’s a hard life livin’ when you’re lonely
It’s a long night sleepin’ alone
It’s a hard time waitin’ for tomorrow
It’s a long, long way home

Josie spends the evening with the people in the pages
Of the paperback she picked up in the store
Or sometimes it’s the TV or she’ll try to write a letter
But they don’t come too often anymore

It’s a hard life livin’ when you’re lonely
It’s a long night sleepin’ alone
It’s a hard time waitin’ for tomorrow
It’s a long, long way home

And I stare at the gray walls before me
And I see her face in the stone
And I try to imagine our baby
And I wish they would let me go home
And I wish they would let me go home
And I wish they would let me go home

from "Prisoners," by John Denver
Holiday Wishes

I wish you all a peace-filled day. And I wish the same for our world.
50% Behind Me

My exam is half done! Happily, I feel good about the reading and listening sections. But the hardest stuff happens tomorrow, when I tackle writing and speaking ...

Oh, and now I have a favorite Dutch band! They are called Blof. However, the "o" in Blof has one of those diagonal slashes through it ... don't know how to do that on my computer. Check 'em out here.

Once you get to the website, click on "persfoto" if you want to see pictures of the band. Click on "band" to see head shots of the musicians. (The links are at the bottom of the site.)

Why is Blof my favorite band? Well, first of all, they are one of the few Dutch bands that sing exclusively in Dutch. (These days, English is everywhere. I find that regretable!) And second of all, I simply dig their tunes! They're mellow, probably too mellow for the tastes of my nephews and neice in Defiance. But hey, mellow can also be hip ... Right Jess, AJ, Lyds? :)

Oh, and FYI -- Blof-with-the-slash-through-the-O is pronounced an awful lot like the English word "bluff." But that's not what it means. What does it mean? No idea. I think it's a Scandinavian word, actually.


Morgen en Overmorgen

Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow I'm taking a big exam in Dutch. If I pass, I will receive a diploma which will enable me to take courses at a Dutch university in the future. I'm a bit nervous. I'll let you all know how it goes. Tomorrow my reading and listening abilities will be tested. The day after I will be tested in speaking and writing.
Audience Participation Requested

So ... what's the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the words: "The Netherlands?" Please comment. I'd love to know.
Wisdom from Vincent

Let us go forward quietly, forever making for the light and lifting up our hearts in the knowledge that we are as others are (and that others are as we are) and that it is right to love one another in the best possible way--believing all things, hoping for all things and enduring all things… And let us not be too troubled by our weaknesses, for even she who has none, has one weakness, namely that she thinks she has none, and anyone who believes herself to be so perfect or wise would do well to become foolish all over again.

--Vincent Van Gogh, modified slightly by me (she's instead of he's, just for the sake of variety)


Turn the Radio Up!

Tonight two colleagues and I spoke (Dutch) on the local radio! I was -- how to put this? -- very nervous. We listened to the recording afterwards, and everyone agreed that it went well. There was plenty of bantering with the interviewer, some good jokes, and best of all, our message got across. All in all, a fun 15 minutes.

What was the topic of the program? A cookbook. Some folks here in the neighborhood (Stedenwijk, it's called) are working together to make a community cookbook featuring not only recipes, but also interviews with (and photos of) the folks who submit the recipes. We're hoping to have lots of different cultures represented -- Morrocan, Surinamese, Iraqi, Dutch, American, etc. It's a very fun, very engaging project! Hopefully in less than a year the book will be complete.

On a personal note, it was a thrilling feeling to be able to utter grammatically coherent sentences in Dutch on the radio! I still have a strong accent, and my pronunciation is not perfect ... but all in all, I was happy to be understandable. I was quite glad to have the support of two native Dutch speakers, who did much more of the actual talking than me. But I was also glad to have the opportunity to give my Dutch a go like this. What a rush!
The Weather

Remember a few months ago, when it was cold and snowy in the States, and warm and balmy here? Remember how you were all jealous of me?

Well, now I'm jealous of you. In the NL, our lovely summer weather has recently taken a turn for the worst. Rain reigns supreme. And I'm walking around outdoors in bluejeans and a flannel shirt in July.