World Records and Other Updates

The other day in class, two of my kids had a sort of impromptu staring contest that developed in to a pretty intense match. At first, nobody was paying attention but then as the seconds continued to tick by, everyone became enraptured.

Eventually, one of the kids emerged victorious so I challenged him to a match and he beat me soundly. I shouldn’t have favorites, but truthfully, he’s one of mine. It’s funny, because as I get to know my students they usually remind me of someone that I know now or knew in school and I think, “Oh, that’s the Laura of Polk.” or, “that is Travis as an eighth grader.” But I’ve never met anyone like this kid and there are only a handful of people who entertain me as consistently as he does. He’s hilarious.

Well, he started to talk a pretty big blinking game and so we all thought, “Hey, let’s time him and see what he’s got.”

I started my stopwatch.

At four minutes and showing no signs of stopping we were pretty impressed, so I hopped on Google and found that the world record for not blinking was…get this…SEVENTEEN MINUTES and forty-two seconds!

This seemed to energize rather than discourage him because there he sat at seven minutes still staring at the same spot on the wall with an even more focused determination.

At ten minutes and still no blinking just about every piece of artwork had been sat aside for the moment and the kids were now really cheering him on!

Twelve minutes!!!! We could be witnessing history! (But I’m still secretly thinking, “This would not be a good time for the principal to drop in to say ‘Hello.'”)

But then, at 13:19 he blinked and the magic was over.

The room sounded exactly like what a baseball stadium sounds like when a pitcher has a no-hitter going and gives up a base hit in the ninth. At first, the disappointment, “Awwwwwwww. Man! Noooo!” Next, the pause where everyone sort of gets over it and it gets quiet. Then, appreciation for the effort overcomes the sadness and you get the burst of applause. “Woo-Hoo!! Yeah! Yeah!”

In other news, the Sigur Ros concert is now only a week and a day away. We’re pretty new to the Sigur camp, but judging by any one of these videos, it’s sure to be mind-blowing (if you follow that link, let me suggest Glosoli). Shaun and Richard have been fans for a while and even drove to Atlanta and back to see them. If that’s not an endorsement, then I don’t know what is.

Support-raising for the Zambia trip is going extremely well! It’s crazy. I recently heard Brian McLaren reference another author who says that none of our descriptions or ideas about God are big enough, or good enough. No matter how grand we imagine Him or how wonderfully we try to describe Him, we realize that He is and must be even better. And that is the God we call upon and speak to and seek guidance from, a God that we are unable to conceive. This is how we feel about the response to our efforts to raise support for the Zambia mission. No amount of gratitude that we try to express will do, and only a God that can’t be described because He is beyond it could be responsible for such a blessing.

Self-Checkout

You might think that title is referring to what extremely ripped, vainglorious, macho types do in front of a mirror, but, no. I’m talking about this somewhat new phenomenon of being able to scan and bag your own groceries, toiletries and apparantly home improvement necessities.

I’ve got a love-hate relationship with the self-checkout. On the one hand, I’m thinking, “Oh, this is just beautiful. Yet another job that used to be done by humans is being eliminated. We’re now one step closer to what history will refer to as The Great Robot Takeover of the Middle 21st Century.”

But on the other hand, I love me some self-checkout! It isn’t so much that I enjoy scanning and bagging my own stuff, it’s that for the most part, people are still timid about using them. So, I can be at my trusty local Kroger during their busiest hour and the traditional lines will be backed up past the gossip rags and impulse-buy racks, but three of the four self-checkout stations are as vacant as a Young Republicans meeting in San Francisco. Or, alternately, a Young Democrats meeting in Crawford. All this to say, I never have to wait in line.

Until recently.

Lately, I’ve been noticing that the general population seems to be slowly but surely getting over their fear of trusting themselves to scan and bag. This gradual shift has led to two things: the first is that I’m now as convinced as ever that our increasing reliance upon and trust in the Robots will ultimately lead to their successful coup when the time is right; the second is that I no longer have what amounts to my own personal checkout lane. Admittedly, that second bit is pretty selfish in light of the first, but what’re ya gonna do?

I propose a simple solution. I think if we spread the word that the self-checkout lanes are unreliable they’ll get a bad reputation. Then people will trend back to the good ol’ days of waiting in line for a pro and I can go back to banking on a no-wait trip to the Krog.

Zambia or Bust!


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Many of you probably received this letter in the mail, but in case you didn’t, read on! :)

Greetings to you all! We are writing you because we are bursting with excitement over an incredible thing God is doing in our hearts and lives and we want to share it with you!

Last year we prayed about going to Africa on a mission trip serving children who have been orphaned as a result of the AIDS epidemic. God told us, “This is right, but not right now.” This past year we have prayed asking God what His desire for us is in the summer of 2006. We feel the resounding answer has been, “GO!” God is calling us to minister to AIDS orphans in Zambia this summer and has put so much excitement and passion into us for His children and His work there. We are going with an organization called Family Legacy Missions International (FLMI), and we will be doing Camp LIFE June 15th-27th. You can visit their website at www.legacymissions.org. We know there are some incredible things God wants to do in the lives of His children there, and we desire to offer ourselves completely to Him to be used for those purposes. We would like to invite you to take part in this journey with us – by supporting our mission through prayer, and if you feel led, financially as well.

I (Laura) was given a very real and powerful vision while praying in December over this ministry. God showed me face after face of little Zambian orphans, and I knew they were the faces of the children Brian and I will meet this summer. The sight of their faces left me weeping, and I was reminded how individually God loves and cares for each one of us. That simple truth blows my mind. We were originally motivated by heartbreaking statistics such as those found in the accompanying newsletter—like the fact that 1 in 3 children in Zambia have lost at least one parent to AIDS. But seeing those faces moved them from an abstract group of numbers that need help to very real individual children. Children who desperately need to know love, tender care, and their worth. We feel God has been preparing us through our current jobs to be a part of providing these things to those very deserving little ones!

One thing that we really love about FMLI is that we have seen how they are very discipleship-minded. We will be a part of (and you, as well, as part of our support team!) sharing the Good News with these orphans, and then investing in their lives (through FMLI’s year-round work with the orphans) as they become not just believers in Christ, but followers of Him as well. We are driven by three very strong hopes. First, that each one of the kids God brings into our lives this summer would feel special because people have come from very far away to love on them; and through that, they might understand how Christ also found them so special that He would go to the greatest lengths imaginable for them. Second, we hope that they have such a spectacular week that for a short time, they could be able to just be kids and forget about the things they don’t have and discover one awesome thing that they do have – a heavenly Father, who loves them immensely and is with them always. Finally, we hope that as they grow into Zambia’s adults with a personal and strong relationship with God, that it would have a transformative effect on their entire generation, their children and their country, so that they all can know God and know Him as their Father!

The thought of you all joining us in prayer over this trip is exciting! How awesome will this chorus of voices sound as we pray for these precious children? The children of Africa have been referred to time and again as “the forgotten children”—but we will not forget them!

The cost of this mission trip for us together comes to $7,000.00. This amount includes the cost of producing “camp” for 5,000 orphans over six weeks this summer—facility rentals, transportation, food, activity supplies, a new shirt for the orphans (most of whom have never owned a “new” anything!), and a team of Zambian workers. Individually speaking, for each missionary that goes, FLMI is able to bring 50 more orphans to camp! The cost also includes travel and lodging expenses for us. We know this is a huge amount of money, and trusting that God will provide is a huge (and sweet) walk of Faith. The first half of the money is due at the end of February, and the total is due at the end of April. We’d really appreciate your prayerfully considering joining us on this mission trip through financial support.

We also have a DVD that FMLI has created from the last few summers, and we are going to try to put some videos up here so you can see the camp! We love you each and pray for God’s love and grace to fill you in abundance!

If you have questions about the trip you can leave a comment here on the blog or e-mail us at lrhea@irvingbible.org or rheab@cfbisd.edu.

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