Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Worlds apart

Have you ever tried to swallow a spoonful of peanut butter? Working on the book I'm currently trying to check off my list has almost been that tough. Or maybe worse. The first three sections (10 chapters) just about killed me. But the section I'm currently reading is on Islam, and it's very insightful! I've decided to do an independent study on Africa & Islam later on in my program, so it's exciting to me that I'm actually finding the materials on the history and beliefs of Africa's other biggest religion very fascinating. I believe it's good to know what many people around me truly believe rather than make assumptions.

But trying to get through this book is far from all I've done today. This was a WONDERFUL day! Very, very productive. Started out with breakfast and a great time with God in my gazebo. Then I got to plow through work! Easter Monday is a national holiday in many countries, including Kenya, so other than one 30-minute interruption for work-related stuff, I was able to spend the entire day just working, reading, and scheduling meetings for my time in Iowa.

Oh, and chase the cows from my yard every now and then. It's OK that they mow my lawn (and fertilize it in the process), but once they start traipsing through my vegetable beds or eat my basil plants, I chase 'em. Quite a sight, I believe, me flailing my arms about and cows scattering everywhere.

But that's was only about 3 times throughout the day. The rest of the day, I was planted firmly on my buttocks, working. Tomorrow's packed with random meetings again, so if I can get that book read before I turn off my light (around midnight), I'd be very happy.

That gives me 2 hours. Let's see...

(Grabbing a cup of decaf tea first. And paying attention to my co-dependent cat. She's currently making somersaults chasing after a cricket in my house.)

OK, it's midnight, and I still have 6 chapters to read. Not doing it tonight. The section I'm currently on is on the crusades. It breaks my heart to read what believers set out to do under the banner of the cross! I want to understand the impact of the crusades on Africa today, so I'd best leave the reading for tomorrow afternoon, after my meetings. And turn off Mahler's Symphony # 2 and sleep.

Here's a bit of fun trivia. There's a guy in the US called Gilbert Kaplan. He had a dream to conduct a symphony someday. So when he turned 40, he took a year off and studied conducting. Then he hired an orchestra to play for him. He has since traveled around the world to conduct the same piece: Mahler's Symphony No. 2. It is the only complete work he conducts. While I was living in Taiwan and was part of the Taipei Philharmonic Choir, we performed this piece under him. What's odd, though, is that the choir only sings in the 5th movement, for perhaps the last 10 minutes of a 90-minute symphony!)

It's one of those really bizarre events that I'm thankful to have been a part of. Kaplan even gave the entire choir and symphony orchestra a legal, autographed copy of the original score in Mahler's handwriting. I won't forget virtually whispering (ppp) as we sang the last movement, while seated. Then, halfway through it, according to Mahler's instruction, the choir stands as the music gets louder and louder. Good memories... Some days, I really miss that part of my life. But then I think of all the things God's teaching me in this part of the world, and I'm OK being here. My world in Kenya, however, could hardly be any more different to what it was like in Taiwan.

I should sleep. I'm starting to hear the bushbabies outside...

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