Wonderful people who make this blog worth updating

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Update: Somali Family

So, Leila and her family have been blessed by a lot of new friends and things for their house so far. My Layla and I have been over a few times bringing things for the kids and the kitchen and trying to help them get organized. I sincerely appreciate everyone's prayers and offers for more tangible help.

Last week I thought they might be getting overwhelmed with all the attention, so I left them alone for a few days. At this point Abdi, the dad, is trying to hold it all together himself. He doesn't seem super keen to have anyone come into his home and care for the kids, but they will definitely need some extra hands once the triplets come. They have most of the essentials they need for the kitchen, and that was the most immediate need with 6 kids in the house. The three older kids have been working hard to make things easier for their poor dad.

I am still trying to get them a nice vaccuum that doesn't cost too much, which is harder than I imagined. They also want some carpet protectors for the kids rooms, so they are easier to keep clean. Its basically a vinyl floorcovering like the pads people put under then computer chairs. We're not sure even where to buy them, so I need to do a little research this week.

Leila also told me to today that some other ladies were bringing some clothes for the kids tomorrow. I think that its one of the ESL volunteers who was going to ask for donations from her church friends. I also got some clothes for her husband and brother from another friend of mine.

And the good news?

She is 22 weeks into her pregnancy. Yep, she is a little further along that I was first told, which means that the babies are more likely to be viable with each day that passes. She seems to have a little more energy the past few days too! I am so excited and scared for her at the same time.

I will let everyone know about continuing needs as the babies' birth date gets closer and we see what is provided for them locally. They have nothing for the triplets so far, so that will be another big area of need once they're ready to be discharged from the hospital.

We are going to see them again tomorrow afternoon, so I'll post again if there are any exciting developments.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The World's Strongest Man?

Only in Egypt could someone get away with this sort of brazen lying. This man supposedly bends coins with his eyes and has the strength of 30,000 ordinary men. He is forbidden from working because he may injure someone without being aware of it. He also eats raw lamb and drinks melted butter for strength so that he can have sex with his wives 15 times a day.

I'm not even sure how I found the video initally, but take a look if you need a laugh.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Friends in Need

I have the privilege of working with a Somali family that was referred to the refugee organization I volunteer for. Their situation has helped me realize how truly blessed I am in this life.

The family is a husband and wife and their 6 children who came to the U.S. after spending 12 years in a Kenyan refugee camp. The wife was diagnosed with kidney failure shortly after coming here. She was advised to not become pregnant, but ended up not only pregnant, but is having triplets.

She and her husband have very minimal English skills, and now that she has become sick, neither one of them can attend ESL classes. The wife, Leila, is 5 months along in her pregnancy. Many of her days are spent in the hospital, where she receives dialysis.

Now that she is ill, her husband must stay home and take care of the children. The oldest daughter is 13, the youngest child is 16 mos. They are no longer receiving refugee resettlement assistance, and live on welfare payments and food stamps. Their welfare barely covers the rent, and their electricity is being paid by another charity organization. They have hardly any furniture, few kitchen utensils, and no money left over to even begin purchasing these things. It would be easier if they had family in the city, but they seem disconnected from the Somali community at large.

My heart just breaks for them and the severity of their situation. Yet somehow, they are still hopeful.
I sorted through Layla's books and brought a few of them over for the children. There weren't any toys or books in the room, and each one was looking at a book when I came back downstairs :-)
I also brought some food, kitchen items, and cleaning supplies to get them started. 

The organization I volunteer for is working to get some of the material needs met for the family, but what they truly need is the help of friends and neighbors who care about them. Now that I have met them, I am going to try and cook food for them at least a couple times a week and help care for the children once I have developed that level of trust with them.

What this family needs is a real miracle. If Leila's kidneys could be restored back to full function, she could be the mother that her children need. I am praying earnestly for that miracle.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Visiting a Reform Synagogue

Although I have studied Hebrew and have a pretty good knowledge of Judaism, I had never actually been to a non-Messianic synagogue service until last night.

I attended the synagogue with some Messianic ladies that I am friends with. Two of them attend regularly even though they are believers in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah. The rabbi knows this, but is apparently accepting of it as long as they do not proselytize other Jews.

The service contained a fair amount of liturgy, all done by a female cantor. I was more familiar with the Hebrew liturgy being chanted, but this was all sung. The congregation had a small band consisting of 2 acoustic guitars, a drum, and an upright bass to accompany the cantor. Most of the liturgy is done with the congregation participating. I was able to follow along pretty well.

I felt surprisingly comfortable in the service, it was not so confrontational as a lot of church services tend to be. It was actually a good balance between a church service and a service at a mosque.

Since this was a reform synagogue, seating was not separated by gender. Gender separation is the norm in Orthodox and Chassidic groups, however.

The Rabbi's sermon was on the opening parasha of the book of Exodus. He talked about Moses' experience as a shepherd in Midian and how this prepared him to be the shepherd of the Israelites. (link to sermon at lower right of page)

Another thing that is done regularly at Jewish services is the mourner's kaddish. I thought this was really interesting, as it constantly calls each of us to remember our own mortality, but also that we were each created as eternal beings.

I think that Christianity has lost a lot in leaving its Hebraic roots. If you look at the New Testament, Jesus and the disciples all worshiped at the Temple and synagogue and followed the Torah. Unfortunately, many Jews are distrustful of both Christians and Muslims because of terrible atrocities that have been committed in the past. I pray that we are able to move past this and treat each other as siblings.

The service was ended by a blessing over Challah bread and wine (and grape juice) in the next building. This is the custom that became communion in Christianity. The traditional blessings over these foods are to remind one of the Creator's constant provision, and also to set apart the Sabbath as a time of worship and rest.

Would I attend the synagogue again? Definitely.
While I am not contemplating becoming a reform Jew, I think that there is a lot I can learn from this tradition and their way of living out the Torah.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How is this ok?

I actually took some time to study Ashura this year and came to appreciate the tradition of remembering the death of Hussein. Then I was reminded of these types of images...

Does anyone really know how widespread these types of self-mutilation ceremonies are?
There are tons of them online from Shia communities worldwide.

So my question is, how does someone justify forcing a child to participate in a bloodletting ceremony?
A baby?

Its just not ok.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I want to live here!

This is a video talking about a traditional Somali nomadic home, called an Aqal. He explains the materials that are used in its construction which are types of grass mats, sticks, and various animal skins. The Aqal is lightweight, keeps out wind and rain, and provides shade. Containers used by the nomadic family are also discussed. The old versions of the haan, a container used for milk or water, were made of grass so tightly woven that it could hold liquid.
He talks about how parts of the material culture are being lost, plastics and metal have replaced many of the traditional materials in construction. He explains about some of the different woods that are used and the individual characteristics of the different trees, and how they are useful..

I love watching this, but I am also heartbroken that so many Somalis in the young generation don't even care about their culture.

Eggnog Pumpkin Pie (Recipe)

A few days ago I got a bunch of organic eggnog really cheap at this place down the road. I love eggnog, but there was no way I was going to finish it before it went bad. That's when I had a genius moment and came up with this recipe idea.


1 Large (29oz.)can of pumpkin or equivalent.
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 ts. each of ground ginger, and cinnamon.
20oz of eggnog
2 pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425F
1. Add sugar and spices together in a bowl, mix well and then add eggs.
2. Beat the eggs well, then add the pumpkin.
3. Gradually add the eggnog and beat all together well.
4. Pour mixture into prepared crusts.
Bake at 425F for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 325 taking between another 45 min to an hour to bake.
Pies are done when a knife or toothpick in the center comes out clean.

It doesn't taste that different from a regular pumpkin pie, but its a good way to use up extra eggnog!

See how the crust is too dark on the edges? Layla decided to turn the oven up to 500F while I wasn't looking!