God Willing

To be honest, I never really identified with this phrase as being part of my life history.

In fact, growing up as an Episcopalian, a child of Scots, Danes and the English, I never remember hearing it at all. God hung around at church, in Sunday school, youth group, choir, but I never really thought of God hanging around imposing his will.

My childhood was pretty good. Family around, great schools, church, friends. Shopped at good stores, had a great house, in a good neighborhood. Went to college.

I think I heard the phrase when I traveled south to college first in North Carolina and then Georgia, but during college I was not hanging around church as much. When home, it was the Episcopal Church, where much debate was going on around Civil Rights. To me, God Willing was not a question but more of a statement. God Wills.

God was on the side of Civil Rights, the end of the Vietnam War, and Womens Rights. God willed these things because the world needed to be better. We humans were letting God down.

When my first marriage ended, I never thought God willed it. Why would God will it? We were both good people, loved our daughter. We are still good people.

Stuff happens.

Before I remarried, I remember asking for a sign, yea or nay. I thought I received it. Yea. So, I remarried.

I am obviously not too good at reading God's will.

I never gave it much thought that God willed me to do this or that, college or not, math major or special education, marriage or not, mother or not. I have to admit, I was too busy being in the midst of living to wonder if someone was directing the whole thing, willing it.

My mother's heart problem and passing, was the body, not God. Why would he will her to leave us?

I recently had a conversation with someone who had been reminded by a friend, that when he was growing up, all they had was faith, not much opportunities. So, God willing was his way of coming to grips with was to be or not to be.

Until I traveled to Sudan, which was obviously God's will.

In šāʾ Allāh (إن شاء الله) is an Arabic term evoked by many Muslims speakers to indicate hope for an aforementioned event to occur in the future. The phrase translates into English as "God willing" or "If it is God's will". In Arabic speaking countries the term is used by members of all religions; meaning the term in and of itself does not denote a religion, but simply means "God willing."

Will there be food for my family?

Will I be married?

Will I have children and will they be healthy?

Will I be employed?

Will I have a long life? If I become ill, will I be healed?

There is a fine line between fatalism and faith.

Fatalism "a doctrine that events are fixed in advance so that human beings are powerless to change them."

Being in Sudan, many of my distractions from home, were gone. God seemed much closer, had my attention more often. Not much got in the way.

And, I began to understand the phrase, though I did not always embrace it.

Why would it be God's will to have his people poor, homeless, hungry, uneducated, mutilated?

It's not.

It's people's.

As Linus once said" I love humanity, it's people I can't stand."

These are Diana's words and pictures from the Camp in Darfur were she lives and works.

Am at the UN office, every thing is ok. the president is visiting Darfur today.meanwhile, we ve more people joining the camps,23,000 joined the already existing 50,000.`
Am going for induction training now,will talk to you later.

its very dusty here and its becomimg very hot.

yersterday,we didn't have water at the guest house, not even a drop for bushing our teeth.UN build bore holes to be able to provide us with water.

Since 13 agencies were kicked out of sudan, the refugees at the UN camp, increase everyday.Am gonna borrow a camera from a friend at work,i'll send you some pictures of this place.
At first the un gave the(m) tents but they prefer building the small huts because they are cool. the tents are very hot.
The people at the camp have now gone 3 weeks with out food because the president sent out all the NGO's yet UN/WFP had contracted these NGO's to distribute food in the camps.

here are some of the pictures from the internally displaced camp- the biggest camp in Darfur with more than 90,000 people.

yesterday,there was also a car hijack but luckily,no no was injured.

Now, my words.

I have been speaking alot with Diana. Her days are very much the same. working and then resting. She is sharing a room in the guesthouse which has three other men, no women. Two are from Kenya and one from Egypt.

Church is on Fridays, go fig. Not much else to do. Everyone must be inside by 8 PM. Diana is going to start journaling. How about emailing her?

If you would like, please respond and I will give you here email directly, rather than post it for the world to read.


Sustainable Change

Last Friday, I had to stop at BJ's to renew the Diocesan account. Slip in, slip out.

However, before anything could be done I needed to get a new card for myself, the principal listed on the account.

OK, no problem, except that I needed to get another picture taken. Not really excited about that I had already taken out my contacts and had my glasses on.

So, off come the glasses, look straight ahead, smile a little.

Voila, here's my card.

Yikes. I look like my mother.

Now, that is not a bad thing, but until I began loosing weight (Thanks Sudan) my face was not as thin. It appears longer and that looks like my mom.

Mom would have turned 79 this coming April. In my mind though, she remains 65, the age she was when she passed away.

Since she really did not look like any other older woman in my family, I have no clue as to what she would have looked like at 79.

So, she never changes. Makes sense.

However, neither have I, and that was the real surprise when I looked at that new picture.
I expected to be frozen in time.

And, it is partly true. Same face, different body. (Working on that.)

However, as you might expect, the change is internal, and partly schizophrenic.

The personality from childhood stills seems very young.

This weekend, I began spring cleaning and I am still having a hard time giving up all the stuffed animals collected over the years. But I am working on it.

The other personality is the one that went to Sudan, without taking one of those stuffed animals with me. The childhood person could not have made the trip.

But, this makes me wonder, is there still another personality lurking around? Someone that might come out when I'm sleeping?

Or may appear as a cheerleader during football season? (Oh, that is not a good picture)

Or possibly make lots of money doing an on the air chef show? (My friends know that I am "stove" challenged)

Or maybe one of them might be male? (There was a movie about that with Steve Martin called All of Me)

I would love to be an actual Yankee baseball player.

This is not a "bucket list" of all the personalities that I would like to have before leaving this mortal coil. It is a list of those personalities that I would not be able to sustain.

I like having the youthful me co-habitating with the adventurous me. When I travel I revel in things others might ignore.

I like seeing the absurd, the unusual and the commonplace.

And, I like being able to pay for it.

The youthful me would still need Mom to pay for it, and that would limit the places I can go.


Excessive Certitude

I am attending a seminar at my church, The Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew located in Wilmington, Delaware. The title is Saving Jesus.

You probably can drum up any number of responses to that phrase.

Who says Jesus needs saving?

Isn't it the other way around?

From who? From what?

I will be turning 58 this year. Whew.

I have discovered later in life that I wished that I had taken religious history courses when I was younger. I am loving the experience of expanding my mind, heart, and soul.

Over the next few weeks, I am sure that this experience will have an effect on what I write. Maybe this is the stimulus for which I have been waiting.

Excessive Certitude.

For me that translates in the need to know the outcome, now, always.

To be certain in my beliefs and being.

This is the way.

This is the truth.

This is......

Since my journey to and in Sudan, I am practicing on not having ownership of the outcome. To let the process evolve on its own. Or actually with God and the universe in charge.

I am learning how to live robustly and confidently in uncertainty. This was said by Bernard Brandon Scott a member of the Jesus Society and the author of Hear Then the Parable, one of the most important books on parables for this generation. He is a Darbeth Distinguished Professor of New Testament at the Phillips Theological Seminary, University of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

From listening to Mr. Scott, I am learning to appreciate the first 300 years of Christianity, pre-Constantine, where the followers of Jesus emulated his life and works. They were doing, and not believing.

Darn Constantine. He gave us those dang creeds, unified his empire, told us what to believe, which led to the later church to tell us how and when to worship.

In doing so Christianity became what to believe not a way of life.

Get into heaven?

Attend the 10:30 AM Sunday service followed by Adult Education with coffee.


Where are we during the week?

Sitting with the homeless, cooking meals, teaching the illiterate, babysitting so mothers or fathers can work?

Jesus said take up your cross and follow me.

Crosses can be heavy and cumbersome. A nuisance.

I used to get stuck on the "follow me" part.

The cross I pick up.

But, take it where?

To follow?

Not lead?


Hereeeeeeeeeeeees Findley

Here is your introduction to Findley M. another missioner for the Episcopal Church. Findley is living in Liberia for a year. I have never met him, but after reading you will have glimpsed into his character.

My only remaining question is what is a Liberian Handshake?

Curiouser and curiouser!!
Q. Are you writing this update in response to popular demand?
A. Not really. I find that in the over two months here, I’ve just
been neglectful in keeping in touch, and this is the easy way out.

Q. Is it really that hot?
A. Yes, indeed, it is. Afternoons hit 100. But we have wicked
thunder storms in the evening/night now, which helps, and keeps the
dust down a lot, but seems to encourage the larger insects to march
indoors. There is no Enya "Storms in Africa" in the background.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add to your prior mention of
the “itty bitty” bugs?his you will have glimpsed into his character.
A. Yes!! They love to play! Whenever I put my eyeglasses down, they
seem to be very attracted to the lenses! And I always forget, put on
my glasses, and get “bug eyed” as they do a march across my lenses!
It's so cute.

Q. Have you seen any wild animals yet?
A. No, but the roosters really crow !!!

Q. Do you live in a barn?
A. Oddly, my very mother used to ask the same thing many years ago.

Q. Do the roosters awaken you?
A. Nope. Ear plugs. (Combined with old age deafness, and I don't hear a thing)

Q. (Very high frequency question) What do you do?
A. I'm a missionary.

Q. But, what do you actually do.
A. Interesting question! Many people have asked that same question
for many years! My children. Many prior bosses. Thank you for

Q. Really.
A. Well, I act as a “business/financial advisor” to Cuttington
University, and the Diocese of Liberia, in Monrovia.

Q. Have you been able to avoid the effects of the global crisis with
their portfolios?
A. We’ve lost truly minimal investment funds.

Q. Your good advice?
A. No, there’s no capital to invest. I’m supposed to be raising it.

Q. So, with your linguistic background, what is the official language
in Liberia?
A. English. I'm doing O.K. with it.

Q. Isn't that....unusual?
A. Not at all. I studied Spanish for eight years, worked
internationally for five companies, but never in a Spanish-speaking

Q. Any book that you’ve read that has prepared you especially well
for this assignment?
A. Yes. Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.”

Q. (High frequency question) Do you have, you know, “tummy troubles”?
A. No. But I do wonder why everyone seems to ask that. Even here.

Q. Can you tell us about the secret handshake?
A. No. I took a pledge not to reveal that handshake to anyone other
than a fraternity brother.

Q. I mean the Liberian handshake.
A. That is not a secret! Everyone does it! When I traveled to
Monrovia in the late '70's I did it! But, truth be told, eye-hand
coordination is another casualty of aging. I try! Everyone helps!!

Q. So, the Liberians must appreciate your efforts.
A. For the most part, other than those who’ve had jammed fingers as I
push instead of pull at the end of the “shake”.

Q. Any good Liberian jokes you could pass along?
A. Not really. This is not a funny place. I am, by far, the largest
source of humor, possibly in all of Liberia.

Q. Are you telling jokes, then?
A. No, just stories of past experiences. (And, yes, I’ve heard many
times “You already told us that one”. I may need to seek out a new
audience sooner than I had anticipated.)

Q. Do you travel from the campus to Monrovia then?
A. I do, indeed.

Q. How?
A. Private helicopter. (I'm kidding.) I am driven in the Cuttington
school “bus”

Q. How's the ride?
A. I have no finger nails. Real kidney blaster. Four hours, 120 miles.

Q. Rough roads?
A. The world's longest pot hole. Even the pot holes have pot holes.
There is a really interesting way of avoiding them. Gives new meaning
to “off road” and “all terrain”.

Q. So, did the water purification facility go on line?
A. Yes, and I attended the dedication ceremony with a group of
visiting dignitaries.

Q. That must make a difference.
A. Alas, getting the water from the treatment plant to the buildings
hasn’t worked out yet.

Q. Are you learning anything?
A. Yes!! More than I did as a student. I’ve now walked through the
rice farm four times! (Long story, but my presence is greatly
enhanced as students, faculty, etc. all line up with their cameras as
I leap over the canals, hoping (praying?) to catch a picture of me
falling in. Not yet. I may have to, though, to avoid the constant

Q. Do you have a nickname in Liberia?
A. Yes, “whyman”, or from children, “whyman, whyman, whyman!”

Q. ?
A. Took me six weeks to figure it is “White Man”.

Q. Is that somewhat….aggressive?
A. If so, it goes right over my head. Actually, I like it! Everyone
says “hi”, just in a different manner.

Q. This “Q&A” seems to be a bit “rushed”. Any reason?
A. Yes. At this writing, Hobart lacrosse, nearly written out of
Division I at the end of last year, is undefeated, 3 – 0 thus far this
season, and all road games. Big game tomorrow.

And for the obligatory quote: "Make your life a mission - not an
intermission." Arnold Glasgow (I've no idea who he is.)