Monday, June 28, 2004

Happy Birthday To Me!

Hello! Well, it's only 1:30 here and I've already had one of the best birthdays ever!! I ordered my airplane tickets through Expedia about two months ago and had them sent to an APO address that I've been allowed to use (they would only issue paper tickets). I expected that it would take a long time (hence the ordering mega-early), but I hadn't gotten them yet, so I emailed the mail clerk yesterday hoping against hope that just maybe the tickets (and several other boxes which had been sent to me) had gotten here.

Well, not only were my plane tickets there, but so were five other boxes for me and one for my roommate Jaime!! What a birthday present!!

Not only that, but, SURPRISE!!! They transferred sovereignty two days early, so it's now Iraq's birthday too!

It's a good thing that my tickets made it too because I had somehow convinced myself that I was flying AirFrance when I'm actually flying British Air. If the tickets hadn't made it, I was going to spend a little time sweet-talking the AirFrance people into new tickets. They would have thought I was a little crazy since my reservation's not with them!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Evan Update

I mentioned in my "things to think about list" that I've been experiencing some Evan-induced pain recently, so I figured I'd give y'all a little update on his status. He's still there.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Evan is a "fibroadenoma" in my right breast. He's lump #3 for me and was discovered in January/February 2004. He was most likely caused by the quantity of caffeine that I've ingested for politeness' sake since being here (tea is the drink of choice and it's impolite to say no when offered it, although I avoid it whenever I can).

I call him Evan Hoai because it means "HE is good, always." I name my lumps because it's a lot less blush-inducing for me to talk about Evan or Bart or Thaddeus than it is for me to talk about my breast lumps.

My recent pain was mostly due to moving from my old house into Jen's house (lots of motion), coupled with some other things and has subsided somewhat as the week has progressed. My fear is that, since it's been irritated into painfulness, it will never go back to there only being occasional twinges of pain. Once I get going with an action, the pain usually isn't too bad, but often, overcoming the initial pain is enough to prevent me from doing things.

So my two requests Evan-wise are that the pain will continue to subside, but also that I will push through it and not allow it to prevent me from doing things.

Common Sense

Living where I do (and being who I am), I've heard a lot of the phrase, "He gave us common sense and expects us to use it."

I have a problem with that idea. I've been searching the Book and have yet to find someone who did the "common sense" thing after being told to step out in faith. It didn't make much sense for David, a "lad" with no battle experience and no armor of any kind, to approach Goliath, a trained warrior about twice his size with full armor and a really big sword, with only a sling-shot and five smooth stones. It didn't make much sense for Peter to step out of the boat onto the water when asked. It didn't make much sense for Gideon to bring 300 men with a torch and clay jar in one hand and a trumpet in the other to "fight" thousands of the enemy. It didn't make much sense for Ruth to leave her family, her gods, her traditions, and her culture to go live with her mother-in-law. It didn't make much sense for Noah, who'd never seen rain, to build a huge boat.

It seems to me that people (here especially) seem to think that simply being in a "dangerous" place is enough. He told me to come to Baghdad, so here I am. I've stepped out in faith. He's big enough to protect my life since I'm here due to His request....BUT I'm not going to leave my neighborhood because it's not "safe." He gave me common sense, so I'm going to use it and stay inside my office. He's big enough for me to trust that it's ok to be here, but He's apparently not big enough for me to be able to actually do anything while here.

The thing is, I think this holds true no matter where you live. Being a once (and possibly future) risk analyst, I look at things a little differently than many. I'm personally of the opinion that every town is about equally dangerous. Granted, I'm probably a little more likely to be killed in a bombing here than I would be in DC (although a maximum of 20-30 people per day out of about 6 million in the city is still pretty good odds), but then again, there haven't been any planes falling from the sky here, and my guess is that my chance of being an innocent bystander to a crime here is probably far lower than it would be in the DC-Metro area. Some probabilities increase, but others decrease. The probability of being caught in and killed by a farming implement is pretty low in DC (or here), but much higher in a small farming community.

And if you don't look at the probabilities and only look to Him, the bottom line is that when it's your time, no matter where you live, He'll take you home or elsewhere. There's nothing you can do to prevent why not trust Him in the meantime and live so that your life (or death) will bring glory to Him? The issue isn't "is this a 'safe' part of town?" or "am I using my common sense in befriending this person who may drag me into their sinful lifestyle?" The issue is "are my eyes firmly fixed on Him and am I currently doing His will?" If those things are the case, then the apparent "safety" of your location or action is completely irrelevant.

We were called to have the faith of a child. When children jump from "on high" into their earthly father's arms, they don't stop to calculate rationally whether or not their father can or will catch them - they just blindly leap. It's only after we experience a few failures in the people around us that we learn to "look before we leap." But HE will never fail us. We don't have to "look first" or use our "common sense," because He has promised that what time we are afraid, we can put our trust in Him.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three...

Hi Everyone!

Well, here it very first blog. I've finally given in due to a severe lack of ablility to connect to my VPN email and send out mass emails that way. Hopefully this will allow people to keep up with my activities on an easier (and more frequent) basis. I will do my best to at least be as regular with my posting as I was with my emails prior to the great email outage of early March. My guess is that I'll be _really_ good about it for a few weeks, then will slack off a bit.

Some rules of this blog. For the purposes of web posting (and my security), my name is Leia. Those of you who know my real name already know it and those of you who don't either don't need to or can find it out in another forum, so there's no reason to mention it here. I currently live in Baghdad, Iraq and work for a humanitarian organization. If you've been watching the news at all these past few months, you'll understand why I don't exactly want the world to know exactly who I am, who I work for, and what I'm doing here. The organization for which I work will be referred to as my "company" or "the company," but I assure you that it's not the CIA. :) Similarly, the neighborhood in which I live will be called my "neighborhood" or "the neighborhood." It's really nothing nefarious, just a bit of code so that those who might want to know for nefarious purposes will have a little more difficulty in finding me and those with whom (or for whom) I work.

I'm not going to allow comments, but if you'd like to email me, you're welcome to: I know I'm not the best at replying to emails, but I really do love to get them.

I'm also going to make this blog as inaccessible as possible so that only those who know about it can find out about it. If you're a friend of mine who blogs frequently, please _don't_ link to my site from your page. This is just my way to communicate with the people back home (and elsewhere).

I'll get a real post up here soon, but right now I think I'm going to spend most of the day sending out emails to a few of you on my list at a time to let you know about this site. I love you guys and miss you and have a whole lot to tell you about that's happened to me recently or that I hope will happen soon.

BTW...the date down below will be the local time for here.