Well, hello and welcome to my blog. I never really thought of having a blog before, and all of a sudden I had this random thought the other day that I should start a blog. The reasons are many: I like to write, I have friends all over the country (and out of the country) who may be interested in what I am up to, and people ask me all the time to tell them my stories from my travels and to share my thoughts. So now I am creating a space in which to do that. I must also give credit for my inspiration to my dear friend Suelo (a.k.a "Zero Currency Man"), who has a fantastically interesting and engaging blog which I love to read.
There are so many things I could say to get started. I am probably going to have a lot of posts in the first week or so, to get things caught up to where I am now, and then I may drift off a bit.
The Short Version
Here follows the shortened version of my last few months. Let's back up to November... I had just spent a fantastic time traveling with my JC brothers around Southern California, and then we had headed north up the beautiful CA coast. We got to San Francisco in time for a kidney transplant - a donation involving me sharing my "extra" kidney with a young man who has become a dear friend. Most of you reading this have already heard all about that, but this is the starting point I have chosen. :)
Then the guys and I took a plane and spent the holiday month of December in London, England (which was cold). On the first day of the New Year, we landed in Nairobi, Kenya, where we spent three wonderful months doing all sorts of interesting, engaging and positive things. I will definitely share much more about my time in Kenya, as I see that as one of the best things I have done in my life up to this point.
After Kenya, most of the JC community flew back to England, to begin a three month spurt on the big island. But shortly after landing at Heathrow Airport in London, I made my journey back to the US, and I ended up back in the concrete jungle of Los Angeles, to start a new chapter of my life on my own. That was three weeks ago.
That brings us to now. I am in a nice suburb called Pasadena, staying with a kind freegan friend I met in my first week of my return to Cali. I am very thankful for his hospitality, friendship and inspiration. On Friday, I hope to move in with my friend Paloma for a while.
So that's the short version. I will go into more details as I go along.
The Jesus Christians
First, I want to say thank you to the whole JC community for the three years I spent learning, traveling and growing with you. (to the right: a photo of the East Coast US team in Jan 2007) I still consider the JCs to be my family, and will always be grateful for the ways they have opened my eyes. I am now what I suppose they would call a "friendly ex-member", but I see it more like I am an independent member of their community, a traveler carrying out the ideas and beliefs that God planted in me through them. My goal is to plant those ideals in the soil of my surroundings wherever I go and in whatever I do.
The JCs are a small, radical Christian community that I joined when I was 18. They describe themselves like this (and I would say it's an accurate description): "A live-by-faith, work-for-God-not-money Christian community. We distribute Bible-based comics and other tracts, and do free (voluntary) work. Against hypocrisy and self-righteousness in the church. In favour of honesty, humility and love." (jesuschristians.com) They have about 30 members total in 4 countries around the world, but they have had a big (IMO positive) impact on the world around them. I send my love out to them all! (at right: US team, Jan 2008)
JC Music Videos
While I'm at it, I'll promote my friends further by posting the link to their Youtube page, which has 5 new music videos that they produced while we were in Kenya. All of the music is original, positive and deep. It's good quality stuff produced on cheap equipment. You can also listen to a large collection of their music here on Soundclick.
Life at the Holy Gardens
"Holy Gardens" is the name of the volunteer center where the JCs and I spent most of our time in Western Kenya. It is a lovely place situated across from the bustling open markets of a small village called Shinyalu in the remote rural area of the Kakamega District. The city of Kisumu (located on the shores of the famous Lake Victoria) is about 2 hours away on bumpy (treacherous in their bumpiness!) dirt roads.
Life in rural Kenya is much different to the materialistic culture we take for granted in the wealthy West. In Kenya, life is simple, almost nothing is wasted and dust covers everything. Being barefoot or wearing flip-flops is the norm, chickens, cows and pigs can be seen roaming the roads and children with no entertainment systems or video games are happy and have fun.
While in Kenya, my friends and I involved ourselves in several different projects that the center is engaged in. My favorite activity was the Easy English Program, in which we would go to the small, poor schools in surrounding villages to help teach English using a series of books and flashcards that my friend Dave created years and years ago in India. On the right is my friend Kim, having a student read one of the books aloud.
Another thing we worked on is a new permaculture garden that was beginning to really spring up before I left. Digging, planting and watering was a large and enjoyable part of my experience.
There are many, many things I could say about my time in Kenya and my thoughts on the poverty and way of life I witnessed. I have a lot to say about the inbalance of wealth in the world, too... which was clearly displayed in my mental comparison of the place I grew up (the US) and the place I have taken in my heart as "home" (Kenya). But I will share those thoughts another time.
Life in Pasadena
While in Los Angeles, I have been trying to get involved in different ways of sharing the dream of a better world. I pass out literature ("positive propaganda") with a Freegan/Christian bent and seek to volunteer my time. I have made many new friends and interesting people. One thing I have been really enjoying is the "Dumpster Meetups" my friend Eric has been organizing. We have been scheduling a time for people to meet at a certain place, and then gone bin-raiding. Often there are a few "newbies", which is always great fun. The events (there have been three since I have been here, I think) have been great sucesses, with every attendee getting a large share of the perfectly good food that we "rescue" from the wasteful clutches of the landfill-destined dumpsters behind our favorite market.
I have been brainstorming and have plans for more fun things to do to make people think. I am also contemplating going traveling again, possibly with Zero Currency Man. Tune in soon to see how it all plays out!