Monday, February 26, 2007

Physci & Farming

The core curriculum here at U of C requires that we take some kind of physical science. Being a history major, the physical sciences aren't really my gig. However, Anne liked her Physci class last year and recommended it. So, this quarter I am taking The Dynamic Environment--it is kind of about the history of the earth and the rise civilization through the eye of a physical scientist. It is cool because it is a way of doing history that is completely different from what I am used to. I have learned about glaciers, climate change, hominid evolution, Mitochondrial Eve and today we started on the emergence of agriculture. I obviously haven't gotten that far into the subject after one day, but the emergence of domesticated crops such as wheat and corn is really interesting to me. It may seem kind of weird, but my interest stems from the food sensitivities that I have developed recently.

For over 10 years I have had headaches that I couldn't pinpoint to any specific cause---they aren't migraines, but they occur pretty much everyday and often make it difficult to concentrate. They aren't debilitating to the point of keeping me from work, but I sure feel a lot better and energetic when I don't have them! Anyway, for over ten years, I just kind of dealt with them. When I came to college, I developed a lactose intolerance which is relatively common for people as they get into their 20's. While I was sad to give up cheese and ice cream, I realized that my headaches seemed to have reduced in their frequency. I did a couple of experiments and realized that in addition to not being able to digest lactose, milk products did give me headaches. As I began to pay more attention to how I felt after eating different things, I realized that there were a number of foods that affected how my head felt. I react to soy products and pretty recently I have come to believe that I am sensitive to wheat and corn. As I have done more research, I have come to learn that milk, wheat, soy, and corn are four of the eight most common allergens. This is kind of where the interest in the domestication of crops and emergence of farming interest me. Because wheat, soy and corn have become such "essential" crops (they wouldn't have survived 10,000 years ago without the care introduced through farming), and because many farmers have government subsidies, there is an over-production of sorts. These foods find their way into pretty much all processed foods--for example, there is soy in cans of tuna and wheat in Twizzlers. Also, because most livestock are fed food comprised mostly of corn, the meat that we eat contains corn. Thee more I research about the food industry, the more I want to start a People of Praise farm in the fertile land of the Mississippi Valley where we grow obscure cereals and grass fed cows. There are a few books that my Physci professor recommended if we were interested in learning more. I thought I would share them with anyone else who might be interested in learning more.

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan

Also, a cool documentary that I watched in this class is about the different migrations that the first peoples made out of Africa to populate the earth. It traces the first peoples, who are related to the San Bushman of Africa, to Australia where they became the Aborigines. There are many other branches that would be to complicated to explain here. If anyone is interested in knowing about the journey of early humans, check out the website for the Journey of Man--you can even send in a sample of your DNA to find the actual paths that your personal ancestors traveled!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Guests for the Weekend

Claire Mysliwiec and Liz Loughran, our fellow Campus Division members from Notre Dame, came to visit us this weekend. When they arrived Friday evening, Gina, Anne and I met them at the train station, and together we set off to find a place to eat dinner. We ate at Noodles, a Thai place, and shared about our studies and about the work we have been doing for our project teams. Liz is on a Missionary Project team like us, so it was cool to hear how that is going on the Saint Marys and Notre Dame campuses. And Claire shared about her work on the Vine and Branches project team.

After having our fill of Pad Thai etc, we rushed to catch a bus to get to our apartment. Then we spent the rest of the evening talking, sharing more life, in our living room.

Saturday, since we all had a lot of school work to do, we spent most of the day studying. In the afternoon, though, we took a break to walk to campus, and Gina, Anne and I gave Claire and Liz a quasi-tour of campus. Then we found a good study spot there and continued working. For Lord's day, Gina prepared an amazing Guatemalan feast. We had gorditas with pork and all the fixings. (so good!) It was a wonderful time. We sat at dinner for three hours sharing about the Lord and the blessings of the past week, about what we are learning in our classes, and more. After dinner we cleaned up, and Gina served us dessert: coconut flan and fried plantains (picture)! Amazing...

This morning we set out for 8:30 church in the freezing-ish rain. It was quite an adventure getting there and back (it's a 15 minute walk), walking through rain and slushy, icy puddles. Once back to our warm, dry apartment, we settled down to more studying with hot tea to warm us up. It's been such a delight to have Claire and Liz here with us for the weekend, to share our life in Chicago with them, hear about their life at Notre Dame, and grow in friendship. Glory!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nothing to Fear

Anne, Margaret and I went out on campus today to talk to women about the Lord. This was the third time that we had gone out, and, while some women had shown marginal interest in talking to us more about getting to know the Lord, we hadn’t had any huge successes.

We met at the student center, as we had the previous two times, but it soon became clear that it wasn’t the best place for us to be. We decided to split up and walk around the Quads and stop individual women to see if they were open to hearing more about the Lord. We decided that Anne and I would team up and Margaret would go it alone.

This being our third excursion, I felt like I was kind of getting the hang of this whole going-out-and-talking-to-strangers bit—the fear that I had had the first day before going up to people and saying, “Hi. The Lord wants me to talk to you” had significantly decreased. I had faith that the Lord would take care of me and loved me even if the women that I talked to thought I was a weirdo—I probably wasn’t going to see them again anyway. However, as I was praying this morning about our missionary expedition, the Lord told me that I didn’t need to be afraid of talking to people that I knew or that I saw on a regular basis. I found the prospect of talking to these women scary—if they thought I was a weirdo, I had to see them and KNOW that they thought I was weird. However, armed with the word of the Lord, Anne and I went out.

We talked to a number of women that we didn’t know, and while making our way back to meet Margaret, we saw a woman that I recognized from one of my classes last year. I recognized her from my class, but throughout this past year had noticed her on campus and was kind of drawn to her. Even though I was drawn to her, I also felt very intimidated by her. However, watching her walk closer and closer, I knew that I needed to talk to her. It turns out that Anne had also had class with her and felt the same apprehension to talking with her. However, strengthened by each other’s presence and the word from the Lord not to fear, we talked with her and it ends up that she was uniquely poised for an invitation from the Lord for a deeper relationship with him. As we talked with her, my fear vanished and I saw that the Lord was right—I had nothing to fear. She was really receptive to what we told her and wants to get together to talk more. Praise the Lord!