Some Real Nice Pretty

I have had an annual Spring tradition of visiting AL's Fruit and Shrub in Woodburn for as long as I have lived in Oregon. I made the trek this year with some real anticipation, because one of my Anawin Friends, Bruce now has a job as a creator of art displays at AL's.
I expected great things but I was stunned by the beauty that I found. I especially enjoyed the "Breathe Deep" Signs. Don't know if those were your creation Bruce, but you know how passionate I am about breathing!

The combination of plants, art and found objects was inspiring.

Amazing what you can do with a little paint!

I spent more money than I planned, but that is the point, isn't it!


My Friends in Burundi

This is worship at Kamenge Friends church.

The view is from the elders bench.

The drummer is pastor David Niyonzima, who usually sits quietly on said bench but on this morning was so moved by the spirit that he rose and took the sticks away from the female drummer. This caused quite a rucus in the house.

The choir is the "Choir of the Mothers." You have to be the mother of many to get in. They are the social core of the church. Musically they are the most conservative of the choirs.

The beautiful lady at the far left is Alexia, she is the clerk of the meeting.

Today, everyone you see in this video is in harms way.

Any of them could be lost to a mortar round tonight.

I am praying for peace.


From Philemon - SPG stringer

Philemon is a young member of Kamenge Friends Church.
He writes to me:

hello Peggy. It is wonderful to hear from you. I hope you are ok. 3 weeks ago I finish the exams of this 2nd term and I was really quite proud of my grades. I hope in some 2 months I will graduate from secondary school. Pray that God will give peace in my country. Because there is no safety in all over Bujumbura and people begin to take refuge toward country side. Since Thusday 17 april our town have become a battlefield betwen the rebel troops and the government army;several bombes are dropped all over Bujumbura. Before yersterday 3 of my classmates were arrested and taken in jail by the policeman. Our head master tried to interven but in vain. We are now scared of going to school. But I hope our on-time God will guard us safe and free in this hard times that fell on our country. thanks a lot and God bless.

The "on-time" God is a favorite theme of my young Burundian Friends. A God who may not be early with help, but who will not be tardy. The help will arrive absolutely on-time. It is a practical faith that they have.


Prayers for our Friends In Bujumbura

There has been a week of renewed fighting in Bujumbura. Kamenge Friends in right in the middle of it. SPG internatinal desk is waiting on reports. More News Later. More Prayer now.
Thank you


Regression Towards the Mean

A week ago Saturday we had an unbelievably beautiful day with temps bumping up at 80 degrees. Should have known that we would pay for 20 degrees above average! This is my blooming pink dogwood and snow on the roof.

This week it was 20 degrees blow average and we had mixed snow and hail!

These are my snow peas! HA!

Note the open dandelions behind them. Some of the dandelions had already gone to seed. Floating dandelion seed and snow are not supposed to go together.
What will happen next?
Fireflies and snow?
Will the Cubs win?


A little Machete Work

So there I was, Gitega Burundi, deforesting land in a country that has been 97% deforested.

This was just over a year ago. David Niyonzima, director of Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services of Burundi had some rather important visitors.

A group of ten engineers and architects from Colorado Springs had come to survey the land that THARS had been granted by the government and draw up plans for the regional Trauma Healing Center that he is building.

Derek Lamson and I were in country at the time, and David pulled us from our diverse duties as trauma healer and music director to be the big brother and sister to the engineers. It felt good to be the big kids.

What happened, of course was that we got put to work.

The land in question is sloping and sports a very dramatic ravine. It was populated by eucalyptus trees, which the local women cut for fuel - 'cut and come again' as my dad would say. The surveying team needed clear lines of sight. So they needed volunteers to go out and hold the big counting stick - Here is Derek marching off into the brush.

I got to do cool stuff like carry water on my head and keep the local children away from the surveyor's tripod. One morning, the middle of the week David had to go down to Buja for a meeting and left me in nominal charge. The surveyors asked us to clear some brush for their lines of sight. A machete was found, but it was pretty dull. I asked our driver, uncle Venant if he could get it sharpened. Venant loves to humor me. When it came back it was sharp enough to slice through 2 inch branches like a hot knife through butter.

The rest of the day became me and/or Derek standing a quarter mile downhill till somebody yelled "that one - there! take that one out." And we did the African Paul Bunyon thing. Then we would wait a while for another such instruction. It was hot and dull. I got a tremendous sunburn through what I thought was plenty of clothes. At some point I realized that Derek had his camera. He talked me into displaying some of my bladework. Here it is for you, accompanied by Derek and his Burundian Musical Friends.

I crack up every time I look at this bit. If I had lost my grip on that thing there would now be two pieces of Derek Lamson!


Our Alivia

Look! over on Speaking Truth

Yes, Jessica, they still play the Blues in Chicago

My brother's child Jessica went to her first Cub's game recently.

When Jessica was a little younger it was discovered that she thought that Santa Claus spent HIS off season calling the Cubs games. She also thought that Santa's first name was Ron. (what smart reader can explain in the comments why this makes perfect sense?)
So recently the family got offerred a couple of early season tickets. My brother had to work so Jessica and her mother took the '"L" up to the park and took in the game. This, I imagine was rather hard on my brother - but don't worry Pete, you can still take her to her first game where the Cubs Win... maybe... sometime... before you... die.
It was reported that it was very cold, but Jess liked the peanuts. That's it baby - find something secure to enjoy, Someday you will get a beer.
So here for Pete and Jess, and all the babies being infected with this tragic and chronic infection, here's the late great Steve Goodman .
Na na na na, hey hey hey, Goodbye!



Sent to me by a Friend

"I would rather be on my motorcycle thinking about God,

than sitting in church thinking about my motorcycle."

Speaks to my condition!


Deep in the heart of Texas

I am sure many of you have been watching the events taking place in Eldorado Texas. I am grateful, as I am sure you are that this raid was accomplished without physical violence. I hope you have been praying for all concerned, as I have been doing.

While reading the first news reports I kept have a deja vu like feeling. I finally figured it out. In 1998 I rode my motorcycle up the road into San Angelo where this religious community seems to be (they were not there yet). I wrote about it in my column about Spiritual Adventure.

In today's news story there was this bit about the search of the temple on the ranch.

"Two people were arrested and 416 children were taken into state custody at the ranch -- which is run by founder Warren Steed Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. At the ranch, authorities say, men routinely took multiple wives, and girls as young as 13 were forced into sexual relationships with adult men.

Authorities say the most tense moment of the raid came Sunday night, when they went to search the group's temple. As in mainstream Mormon worship, the group considers its temple sacrosanct, and custom forbids any nonbeliever ...

We knew that the temple was going to be the most sensitive issue and building on the property...

Caver and Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran said they'd spoken repeatedly with Merrill Jessop, an elder in the church and supervisor of the ranch, in hopes the search would go as smoothly as possible.

But Caver said the elder told him the men of the church would draw a line at giving access to the temple.

They lined up about 57 people, as we counted them, around the walls of the temple,"

Caver said. "They told us if they did not do that, then they would basically be in violation of their beliefs by not defending their temple."

While some of the men cried and prayed, none violently opposed the officers."


I like to think of myself as open to learning from most faiths, and I am tolerant of my fellow humans freedom to have the relationships that they are led to have.
But a religion that takes the desecration of a building more seriously than the desecration of a child, has no claim to faith. Where were the tears, the prayers and the defense of these girls?


How the rest of the world sees us

I like to read the international press for two reasons; 1- I read things that never appear in the US press, and 2- I like to see how we look to the world.

The other morning this popped out at me.

"Oregon's Healthcare Lottery

In what is believed to be the first such move, a US state is running a lottery in which the prize is health insurance. "

The story is absolutely accurate as far as I can tell. And they make it seem just a ludicrous as it actually is. How did we get numb to this situation?


Hero of the Faith

Morris Dees

Mr. Dees is the Director and Founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He has done more for civil rights in America than anyone living. He has fought more Nazis than Indiana Jones. He makes lawyers look good. And I must say he makes righteousness look sexy. He may ride with my pack anyday!

Self-righteousness, however is as un-sexy as ever. It is rare to find something funny in the SPLC's Intelligence Report. But Jennifer, a stringer for the SPG religion desk brought this in and I just couldn't resist. In an article about religious hate groups, the poison preacher makes a list of the groups he especially despises. They include..

"The federal government, abortion providers, the American Civil Liberties Union, communists, "sodomites," baby snipers, smokers, trick-or-treaters, Mennonites, hip-hop, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, policewomen, John Kerry, R-rated movies, the Internal Revenue Service, Mormons and Satan."

Boy, being a list keeper just gets harder all the time!

(baby snipers!?! babies with long range rifles? People with guns targeting babies?)