Serve Well Blog

Entries tagged 'Colleague Press'

12.18.16

Advent: Week 4
Sharing Traditions in West Kalimantan by Calista Yates

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press

Gatherings, feasting, merriment fill the weeks of Advent anticipation. Calista X shares the distinctive ways she has celebrated with friends in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Consider how you can extend the good will of this season into the new year, especially with people who share different traditions, values and beliefs.

"I live in the world's most populated Muslim country, I am in an area that is primarily animistic with large pockets of Protestant and Catholic Christians as well as Muslims and Buddhists. Christmas in America means gathering with your family. Christmas in our part of Indonesia means gathering with friends and neighbors. It is all about community. With many, many Christmas services starting in late November and running through early January there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate Christmas with your community.

Christmas EveOn Christmas Eve we gather for a long service at the church that starts with traditional music, lightening our candles, and hearing a sermon. About two hours into it, things switch to a more upbeat tempo with musical performances and dramas until late in the night. After that a large group of us heads to the hospital where we visit, sing and pray with each patient and their family who is still in the hospital over Christmas. We also give them a gift. Then we welcome Christmas with a meal at one of our senior doctor's houses.

 

On Christmas morning, after church ends around 11 am, we start visiting. Visiting our many friends and neighbors lasts for at least a week. We go to each of neighbor's or friend's house to share greetings. They serve cookies, snacks, and drinks and if you are a close friend or someone important you will get a rice meal with vegetables and meat, usually a pig that they have butchered the day before. For some the visit doesn't last long because we see each other regularly but for others this is the one time of the year we may see them, so it is always good to catch-up on their news and hear their stories from the past year like who got married or who had a baby etc.

One of the things that stands out to me about this time of community though, is that Muslim and Buddhist people come to visit their Christian friends during this time. They take the time to honor that friendship during their special days. There is a separate table for halal (prepared according to Muslim guidelines) food though so no worries about the Muslims eating pork :) This practice is then reversed during Idul Fitri when Christians visit their Muslim friends and neighbors and the same with Chinese New Year. During each of these holidays, there is a chance to ask for and receive forgiveness for any wrongs done. Then you eat together.

I wish I had a picture of this happening but I don't as we are all busy talking when we get together. I will attach a few pictures though of Christmas here. Small versions as otherwise our internet won't be up to being able to send it :)

Calista
West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Christmas eve at the Hospital


Calista Yates, '04 Colleague, served as a Medical Nurse and Trainer in West Kalimanthan, Indonesia. In 2013, she returned to West Kalimantan, serving as a nurse midwife and mentor with WorldVenture.   

 

12.10.16

Advent: Week 3
Seeking Beauty in a Challenging Environment by Peter Bittner

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press

 

Peter Bittner Advent 2016

 

"Preparing for the Christmas season during my Fulbright year in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia meant seeking beauty in a challenging environment, with horrific air pollution worsening every day." Peter Bittner

The season of Advent invites us to ponder the meaning and practice of global citizenship. Advent calls us to more deeply live out the connections between our lives and the impact on our neighbors locally and around the world. The prayer flags pictured in the first Advent reflection manifested that connection, sending intentions of peace, justice, hope everywhere the winds blow.

This week, the image of sunrise over Ulaanbaatar shows the reality of one vital and often overlooked aspect of our connection with Mongolia. Whatever the distinctions of our daily patterns and situations, as living creatures we share the breath of life. In the frigid winter, lifegiving winds do not blow through the valleys of Ulaanbaatar. Smoky stench and poisonous pollution collect in the cold air. Human produced particulate air pollution chokes the life of residents, especially the most vulnerable, infants, children and elders. Particulate rates leap seven to 20 percent higher than World Health Organization guidelines. The rates of infant mortality and pregnancy loss skyrocket.

As we anticipate God coming into the world wrapped in vulnerable infant flesh, we acknowledge the mothers, infants, children and elders who are threatened by human-made environmental crises across our planet, from Mongolia to Michigan.

With every breath our prayers fly to surround them. Our concern, awareness, commitment and accompaniment breathe fresh energy into the communities where we live and distant communities as inexorably connected to us as the air that sustains us. Together with all of creation we groan with eager longing and endure the birth pangs of all that will come alive within and among us. We are enlarged in the faithful waiting, enduring the struggle in joyful expectation (Romans 8:19-23).

This writing was inspired by Peter's recent piece on the air quality public health crisis which made the cover of The Diplomat here.

 


 

Peter Bittner, '13 Colleague, is a current student at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, where he reports on global development, environment, and health. Peter is passionate to not only help share countries' unique developmental stories but to contribute to their success via collaborations with local leaders. Peter has traveled in Mongolia extensively and documented his experiences through a successful Kickstarter project exploring Mongolia's widening rural-urban divide via photography and narrative writing.

 

11.30.16

Advent: Week 2
The God Who Comes Over for Dinner. by Annie Mesaros

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press

 

Peter Bittner Advent 2016

 

As I read scripture, I'm struck by the persistent theme of God's people continually asking God to be near them and awed by the ways God chooses to respond. Finally, God-ever mysterious-shows up in a backwater town, occupied by a violent empire, as a baby.


For this, the third year of my seminary program, I'm interning at Thank God for Sex, an organization committed to a community approach to healing religious sexual shame. One of the nasty myths we're combating is the notion that flesh is evil and we need to practice hypervigilance in a never-ending battle against our bodies' natural impulses-our sexuality.


But Jesus didn't hate bodies. First of all, God makes humans embodied and called the entirety of the created order very good. Secondly, God generally operates in a kind of body-optional existence, and in Jesus, God opts in.


The last supper image pictured here is a mural behind the pulpit of the church I attended in Papua, Indonesia, during my service year with the Mennonite Central Committee. It's not a picture of Jerusalem-it's Jesus in Papuans own home, the lowland forest of Papua, nestled into the foot of the mountains. It includes all kinds of Papuan residents-different tribes from the island, but also colonists and occupiers. There are women, men, and gender-ambiguous folks. And you're there too, in the seat that's been left empty.


Immanuel is with us, eats with us, and even feeds us with his own body. This-in his culture that is almost as purity-obsessed as our modern Christianity can be. He heals with touch even though a distant thought or word would suffice-even though it will discredit him in the eyes of purists. He makes a point to feed people and wash their bodies. He invites touch from a woman who steps outside her social boundaries to bathe his body in oil and tears and dry him with her hair.


I suppose I could Google why our elections take place in November, but instead I prefer to imagine it's a divine intervention that serves to elevate our awareness of our need for God to BE HERE NOW PLEASE BECAUSE I CANNOT EVEN WITH THIS GARBAGE. It's a reminder for Advent that will last us all year long.


Bodies are collateral damage in the vitriol of U.S. politics. Not unlike Jesus' culture that was concerned with who's in and who's out, we are either actively in the process of legislating or threatening to legislate the dehumanization of our bodies and others. Rights to health care, marriage, citizenship and residency, faith, and reproductivity make effective weapons because they're so intimately critical to our personhoods and our humanity.


We believe in a God who made Godself vulnerable to hunger, exhaustion, and death just to be near us in a world rife with uncertainty and violence. A God who actively chose to get dressed in human flesh in order to walk up to us, treed in a crowd, to say, "Come down from that tree-I'm coming to your house for dinner."


Come, Immanuel, and show us your way. Maybe after we eat?

 

 


Annie Mesaros, '09 Colleague, is a theologian and writer in Seattle, working on her MDiv at The Seattle School. You can read more of her musings at anniemesaros.com or by following her dog on Instagram @twmesaros.

 

11.23.16

Advent: Week 1
photos by Ross Feehan

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press

In this season of transition, when our nation more directly than ever faces into the future with uncertainty and trepidation, we journey together through Advent. The Christian church calendar designates the four weeks before Christmas as Advent, a season of hope and of longing. Not simply anticipation of Christmas with its lights and gift exchanges and cheery music, Advent is also an opportunity for the community to look honestly at life from the view of God's desire for creation. These weeks we cry out for the afflictions in our world, yearn for the power of God to set us free, and reach out and deepen hope by confronting evil and fostering change.

Ross Feehan Advent 1For several years the Krista Foundation Christmas card has featured art from different places in the world - a mural in Central America, South African figures, images from varied U.S. artists, including Krista Colleagues. This year we invited Krista Colleagues to submit images and stories particularly from Asia a region not yet highlighted on our Christmas card. Through these weeks of Advent we'll share some of their submissions, to inspire our longing and hope. The global lens expands our perspective and helps us recognize the extent of God's family and the vast reach of God's love.

This first week of Advent we ponder images contributed by 2013 Krista Colleague Ross Feehan who spent time with Jesuits in India. Prayer flags are a Buddhist tradition especially in Tibet and Nepal. The flags bear prayers and writings of peace, compassion, and wisdom for all. The wind is thought to spread their good will to every place and people. Let us keep every people and place in our prayers for healing, peace, mercy, justice and joy.

P.S. yes, that is Mt Everest in the background.


 

 

 

8.12.16

A Decade Later: Skills for the Classroom

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Education, Intercultural Development, Education, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life

Lisa Villano 2016Sharing life alongside people with and without developmental disabilities at L'Arche Tahoma Hope Home in Tacoma inspired Lisa Villano '06 to embrace a career in special education.

"It can be easy to under-recognize the significance of cultural differences in the classroom," she shared at the recent Krista Foundation conference. To better understand and support her Native Alaskan students in Fairbanks, Alaska- and to avoid misinterpreting their behaviors- Lisa works hard to understand her own culture and perspective.

"For example, I instinctively expect a student to make eye contact. To me, it shows respect. But in many Native Alaskan cultures, to show respect a child should look away. If I don't know my own cultural tendencies and am not open to other perspectives, I disempower my student." By supporting her students' strengths and needs and equipping them with tools they need to navigate the world, she hopes her students will get the high quality of life that they- and all kids- deserve. 

8.12.16

Our Shared Experience: Spencer Uemura '16

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Advocacy, Homeless Advocacy, Community

2016 Colleague Spencer UemuraMoving to Omak, Washington to serve as case manager at a shelter for people experiencing homelessness and mental illness, Jesuit volunteer Spencer Uemura '16 got an earful of "us/them" thinking. Well-intended friends warned him to be careful of this unpredictable, sometimes scary population.

Listening to backstories of trauma, abuse, and neglect at Shove House was humbling. When an 88-year-old priest told Spencer that under similar circumstances, he too might turn to alcohol and drugs, new viewpoints and a new story began simmering. 

Previously, Spencer thought of himself as serving on the margins. "But that notion comes from the perspective of someone who thinks they understand where the center of society is," he says. Now he recognizes that while everyone has difficulties, "there is so much joy in our shared experience." As he moves toward a career in social work, he continues learning "to have an open mind and to first approach people with a mindset of love and understanding, rather than having my judgments at the forefront." 

6.29.16

Welcome 2016 Krista Colleagues

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Developing Nations, Environmental Projects, Urban America, Preparing To Serve

We are excited to welcome the 2016 Krista Colleague Cohort! Read more about each Colleague and their area of service here.

5.11.16

Wading in the Water: Taylor Tibbs '15

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Faith/Theological Exploration, Post-Service Term Reflections

Taylor Tibbs

Following two years with the Northwest Leadership Foundation's Urban Leaders in Training program, Taylor Tibbs '15 is a program manager for the Act 6 program who is beginning to claim her identity as a person of faith. 

Faith was not part of my upbringing. But in part because of what happened at the annual Debriefing and Discernment retreat and partly because of where I work, I feel I can now call myself a spiritual person.


I have never been formally engaged with religion as a practice, and it has always felt very threatening before this chapter of my life. The possibility of being judged because of my lack of faith or engagement of it has been something my mind went to. When I first heard about the Krista Foundation, I thought, this organization is way too Christian for me! But I have found the community, the dialogue, the way we try to explore service, all in alignment with what I already think. Being with the community and talking about faith, it's like I am walking along a path laid by other people, and I'm comfortable doing that now.


At the debriefing, the final discernment activity asked us to imagine what our ideal version of God, the God that wants us to be the best version of ourselves, would say to us. I had a conversation that was weird but also nice. There was a moment at the end when I was overwhelmed by a feeling of calmness which I had never felt before. And I thought that's what God is.


I've learned there is a way to be, a way you can court faith, without feeling like you have to be all in at once. It's like wading in the water and seeing people who are diving in because they have always dived and people who are getting their feet a little wet and people who are kind of like you. When I was interviewing candidates this spring, I met a lot of people who were seasoned Olympians in the water and a couple people who were like, "this is nice, it's cool." I find myself really open to people who are like me in their spiritual journey.


What was stopping me from really exploring spirituality was that it felt like an overwhelming amount of work. I thought that the practice and experience would be heavy. I didn't think I was strong enough to lift it. But after the discernment exercise I thought, nope, I've been doing it! I have been interacting with that kind of energy or entity for a while but haven't been able to name it until I was surrounded by people who could say yep, that's what God feels like. It took being in a physical place and a mental space with people to explore that comfortably.

 

1.27.16

Knowledge is the Only Sustainable Gift

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Advocacy, Global Citizenship, Education, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life

Jaleesa Trapp '14 receives MLK Jr. Legacy Dream AwardJaleesa Trapp ’14 is the Coordinator of the Computer Clubhouse, teacher of computer science at Tacoma’s Science and Math Institute, and works with the Tacoma Action Collective (TAC), which focuses on police and media accountability. In December, Jaleesa was involved in TAC’s “Die-In” at the Tacoma Art Museum in December. The protest highlighted the near-total absence of artists of color in the exhibit “Art AIDS America”—even though 44% of new HIV cases and the majority of AIDS deaths take place in the black community. Thanks to meetings with the exhibit curator and museum staff, the Museum will include more black artists when the show travels to Georgia and New York this year, and invest in staff-wide diversity training. Last fall, she spent three months in Ghana as part of a graduate class at the University of Washington.

I knew that going to Ghana was going to be life changing, but I didn't expect it to be reaffirming. I went with the University of Washington's School of Informatics to conduct research on information and communication technologies (ICTs). My specific project was to see how teachers use games to teach math (with or without ICTs).

The reaffirming moments were spread throughout my research project. Seeing the disparities in education reminded me all too well of the education system in the U.S. Although I'm blessed to work at an awesome school, there are children all over the country who are deprived of an excellent education, because of where they live. In my research, I looked at how rural and urban schools teach mathematics, specifically if they use games and technology as methods. Many rural schools don't have enough books for students, let alone computers to teach math. I also learned that for most people, teaching is a last resort, extremely underpaid, and is not a respected profession. It was evident which teachers were there because they wanted to be, and which were there because they had no other choice. We met a teacher who took pride in his job and the success of his students. All of the students were smiling, and eager to share what they knew on the chalkboard in front of the class.

One teacher told me that students don't go home and practice their reading or math, and that is why they are all behind. But, as I walked through their village I saw fresh chalk on the side of homes with spelling words and math problems written on them. Students did care about their education, but had a teacher who did not believe in them.

Growing up, I could always tell the difference between those two types of teachers at school, and what type of effect they'd have on my education. This is why I agreed to become a teacher; to make a difference. I wanted to be the teacher that wants to be there and has a positive influence on students learning experience.

There was a school I went to in hopes of meeting with the headmaster to collect data, and the first thing he said to me was "What did you bring me?" Initially I was shocked. Why would he think I brought something? Historically, many Americans and Europeans have come to Ghana to "help" schools by donating, and leaving. The people are left to figure out how to maintain their new inheritances, or how to make the school supplies last the whole school year. A student at the university told me it's not fair if I conduct research and just take it home. This reminded me of my work at the Computer Clubhouse. Knowledge is the only gift I can give that is sustainable. Our motto at the Computer Clubhouse is "Each one, teach one; lifting as we climb."  This is important because funding and equipment comes and goes, but the knowledge I'm able to share is forever.

1.26.16

A Heart Full of Grace: commitment to human dignity motivates Nathan Palpant '01 in research, bioethics

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Healthcare, Healthcare, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life

Nathan PalpantNathan Palpant '01 PhD served with Africa Inland Mission before entering graduate school at the University of Michigan and an academic career.  Along with his wife Darien ‘01 and children Clara and Elias, Nathan moved from the Seattle area to St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia, where he is Lab Head at the University of Queensland Institute for Molecular Bioscience. This profile of Nathan's work appeared in the Krista Foundation's Fall 2015 newsletter.

How do we understand human suffering and human dignity?  Nathan Palpant '01 PhD has wrestled with these questions all his life-from his childhood in Kenya, as a Whitworth undergrad, through a service year for the Africa Inland Mission, into graduate school and an academic career.  

Recently honored by the International Society for Heart Research, Nathan is a research scientist probing the early developmental stages of the heart to understand potential treatments for heart disease. Last fall, he and his wife Darien ‘01, and children Clara and Elias moved to Australia, where he runs his own laboratory at the University of Queensland.  

During his service experience providing medical care in Kenya and in war-torn communities in rural Sudan, "I was trying to engage aspects of the human experience that we in the U.S. are shielded from," he
says. "Coming back was challenging. The Krista Foundation asked the right questions and helped me process the experience."

Equipping young adults like Nathan to embrace and incorporate even difficult lessons into a lifelong ethic of service is central to the Krista Foundation's work. Nathan lives out that ethic in his workplace and daily life by pursuing questions of bioethics in addition to his 9 to 5 research.  "I am working to bridge the gap between scientists who don't understand ethics and ethicists who don't understand science," he says.  As co-editor of Suffering and Bioethics, published by Oxford University Press, he gathered scholarly voices on the biological, psychological, clinical, religious, and ethical dimensions of suffering.

Suffering has a purpose, Nathan contends. "When it comes to medical interventions, we often wrestle with the dilemma of choosing between the powers we're capable of through medicine and technology versus protecting the moral goods we value in the human experience. These are not always in alignment and are difficult to distinguish or understand." As a heart researcher and bioethicist, he is animating an important conversation that will ultimately help guide us through the quagmire of decisions around biomedicine.