14 April 2010

Spring Break, Easter, 10k, Food & Water Challenge

I hadn't realized how long it had been since I'd updated the blog! Things have been crazy since the beginning of March...then came Spring Break...then came Easter...now comes FINALS!!! It's so hard to believe that we only have 2 more weeks of regular class before finals week. What a crazy, wonderful, exhausting year it has been. Today is also ONE MONTH away from when Michael and I will see each other for the first time in 7 months. I cannot wait.

During Spring Break, I'm not sure I ever got a night's sleep longer than 7 hours...which I know is still considered "enough"...but when you're goingoingoing it is not really enough! I flew out to San Ramon, California, to visit Jes for 5 days in the sunshine. We had a great time catching up, running, and having some great meals together. My mom touched down in Chicago one hour after I did for a 5 day visit of her own to me, during which we shopped, sight-saw, and just had a great time hanging out together. It was COLD, though! Definitely didn't feel too much like the first week of spring. One highlight of our week was seeing the baby mammoth that they recently uncovered in Serbia (or Russia? I should know this...) that is the most complete specimen found to-date. Amazing - scientists were able to determine her age at death, the approximate date of her death, what she'd been eating, how she died, etc. from her internal organs, which were just as well-preserved as her outsides. The Field Museum is always a fun visit, but this was pretty astonishing.

The weekend after Spring Break was Easter. I headed out to Wheaton to visit Tony & Marianne Payne, dear friends who I met last summer at an arts conference on Orcas Island and with whom Michael and I shared a wonderful dinner when we first moved up this summer. It was a chaotic yet fun couple of days, and it was good to be with a family for the holiday.

Over the past month and a half, I have been training for my first 10 kilometer race, which took place last Saturday in Grant Park here in Chicago. It was so fun to train running in California and then along the lake which is so close to my apartment, and it definitely was rewarding to cross that finish line without having stopped! I won't say I was feeling at my best, but my friend Sarah ran it with me and kept me going through the sweat and sideaches. We ran it in about 1 hour 3 mins, so approximately 10 min/mile. We aren't speed-demons, but I was happy to have kept a consistent pace no matter what it was.

This week, I am participating in the "Food and Water Challenge" with my church, Willow Creek. It is in conjunction with their "Celebration of Hope", an annual 3-week period following Easter during which they raise money and awareness about the 50% of the world who isn't fortunate enough to have daily access to clean water and regular, nutritional meals. A week from Saturday I will be packing seed-packets for families in Africa (each one will eventually yield approximately 1,000 POUNDS of fruit & vegetables!) with hundreds of other volunteers. The packets will be going to villages close to where Willow bored wells last year, so that irrigation is possible with viable water. The "Food and Water" part of this started on Monday and will continue through Friday - those participating agree to eat and drink as that 50% of the world does. We are limited to plain oatmeal or Cream of Wheat in the morning, and throughout the day a cup each of rice, beans, and vegetables, as well as a couple ounces of meat...and all throughout only tap water for drink. It hasn't felt impossibly hard like I thought, but hunger isn't a very friendly companion, that is for sure. I find it fascinating how the mind can overcome the body for very long periods of time - I find myself forgetting the fact that I haven't eaten much at all for several days...until the night when I am lying in bed and wishing I could have something as substantial as a yogurt! (It doesn't help that I have about 10 of them in my fridge.) But in those moments of hunger and of grumpiness from it, I am doing all that I can to channel my thoughts and prayers towards those who don't choose to live this way, and who are forced to live in uncertainty each day as to whether or not they will even get this amount of food. I urge you to pray for that half of the world's population - and if you are able, look into donating to an organisation like World Vision or Compassion International whose goal is to seek out and help those people, especially the children. There is 2 times the amount of food necessary to feed the ENTIRE world's population - why isn't it happening? If you think about it, we are really the sole solution. So whether you are a believer or not, it is up to you - and me, and our friends, family and acquaintances - to make that difference. Even $5 can be the last money needed to bore a well or pay for a shipment of seeds.

I'll get off my soapbox now to post up a few pictures from the events I've talked about.

Jes & I heading out to celebrate one of her friend's birthdays.

Jes & her man Jon when we met up with him in Santa Cruz - amazing day and he's pretty cool, too :-)

Holding Eliana, the baby that Jes nannies for.

With Mom at the Field Museum.

Out to dinner at the Creperie.

All ready for the race, dorky hat and oversized-shirt and all!

Afterwards - we didn't really care about overexposure, we were too sweaty to! Whew, a job well done.

All my love to all of you - I hope that this finds you well. God bless.

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