January 16, 2007

Fun Weekend Happenings, and some rantings about globalization

I should update more because now there's too much to write and not enough brain power!! :)

I think I'll write more about my classes in another entry (Yes, believe it or not, I actually go to class every day here!!!). This weekend we had a couple days off so a couple friends and I took a train to Interlaken, a big ski town in central Switzerland, right in between amazing mountains and 2 gorgeous lakes. We went just to go walk around the town and admire the beautiful scenery. We also took a smaller train higher up into the mountains, to a town called Grindelwald. It was interesting to be over in the German speaking part of Switzerland, rather than the French part. None of us understood a word around us!!!

Here's a picture taken from the train, so it's not the greatest quality - but it still gives you an idea of how great the scenery was!

Many people here are expressing great anxiety about global warming. It has been unseasonably warm here in most of Switzerland, and therefore there's not nearly as much snow on the mountains as there should be. The ski resorts are really hurting for business because of this. It was quite disheartening to see how little snow there was in both Grindelwald and Interlaken. Once we got a little higher in Grindelwald we were able to experience some snow...but not very much. I hope more people in the US start to realize the reality of global warming, and how widespread its effects are. We are using way too many resources, and if we keep going on this way, we will continue to kill our Earth.

Well, I just started referring to class a bit without you even realizing it, because we've been discussing globalization, and climate change is a clear result of it. But like I said, I'll go into that at another time because I need to rest my brain.

To shift subjects, take a look at the following picture and tell me what's wrong with it...

Hmmm Latino restaurant?? With a map of Italy??? Any German speakers out there? Is Latino somehow the German word for Italian, cuz otherwise I have no clue what's taking place in this picture.

Finally, yesterday after class we had the good fortune of meeting with a Human Rights Officer of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. I left the office fairly convinced that I'd be her someday....but who knows really. Tomorrow we'll be touring the United Nations as well. Something you should definitely check out when you have free time: the United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights. This should be the key reason why any human, whether you're Christian or not, black or white, young or old, male or female, etc, should fight against the injustice that globalization has caused in this world. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, rather than increasing wealth for all which is what it should do. There are basic fundamental rights that we all have as humans and they need to be upheld. So check it out....and see what you can do to hold your church and/or government accountable.

Ok, I need to get off my soapbox. If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and thanks for being a part of my life! I don't know what I'd do without all my friends and family!!!

Peace for All,

January 15, 2007

Chocolate anyone??

If any of you happen to have these following qualities:
*you're cool
*you're hot
*you're my friend
*you like chocolate

then you'd better email me (or leave a comment) in the next couple days and tell me if you have any special requests for chocolate from Switzerland! Tell me your favorite kind, tell me if you hate chocolate, etc....

I'll bring what I can fit in my suitcase....which if you are Richard or Krista you know isn't much!!! ha

January 10, 2007

Brain Dead

We finished up our 3rd day of classes today. So far so good, except I've been very tired because I'm still not sleeping well. :(

The set up of our classes are nice. We have chapel at 8:30 then from 9-12, with a 15 min break, we hear different lectures from really great people who work for the World Council of Churches or Lutheran World Federation, and we get an opportunity to ask questions. We eat lunch in the cafeteria (which thankfully is a pretty good deal compared to finding a restaurant in Geneva!). Then from 1ish to 3 or 4 (but today 2:30) we discuss with our small groups.

The evenings have been fun. For Monday and Tuesday night we went to France. I love saying that. :) Anyway, we're only minutes away from the border, so we go over there and go shopping, it's a bit cheaper, they have the Euro, and it's a fun adventure crossing the border and hoping they don't stop us to check our passports because we'd get fined because we don't have the appropriate ticket!!! That's me, always living on the wild side. :)

So then we go back "home" each night and eat bread and cheese for dinner. Fresh French bread, and new cheese every night. I'm hoping all the walking we're doing is helping me keep the cheese from going straight to my hips!!!! :)

Here's an assortment of the food we've collected...clementines, bananas, nutella, wine, cheese, yogurt, etc....

Tomorrow we are going to ecumenical institute in France for the whole day. Friday is a normal day here, and then we'll probably head on a train to somewhere in Switzerland or France for a day trip on Saturday. Fun fun!

January 7, 2007

The past 2 days

The jet lag has apparently hit me. After sleeping for 14 hours the first night here (maybe NOT such a great idea?!), I've been hardly able to sleep at all the past two nights...but would be fine if I could sleep during the day :) Aaah....I think tonight is the night I'm going to get back on track.

Yesterday Krista and I did some more walking around the area we are staying and actually found what we were looking for the day before. There's this fabulous "balcony" that overlooks the lake and the beautiful mountains. Here's a pic of me and the mountains :)

We also found a fun little grocery store and bakery as well on our walk.

Last night (Saturday) almost all of the 23 in our group had arrived, so we ate dinner together and had a short meeting. Most were super tired as they had just arrived.

Today we got up and went to the worship service at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Geneva...English speaking :) It was really cool, with people from all over the world, and many languages spoken. Here's a picture of the church....looks more like a chateau, which we found out is because churches aren't allowed to look like churches in Geneva!! Why? Because John Calvin was real big back in the day of the Reformation, and the Cathedral of St. Pierre where he preached is a great big cathedral that is very noticeable in Geneva's "skyline." And apparently anything that wasn't a Reformation church wasn't allowed to look like a church at all...

Since there's so much history here with the Reformation, they have a wall that is like a monument for it. We went by that wall, plus we even got to go to the Reformation Museum :) Here's me with Martin Luther's "statue"...ie a big block with his name on it. Apparently there's some Germans in Geneva who are pushing for a "real" Luther statue - Calvin and others actually have their bodies as statues in this same park...but not Luther....oh la la

And finally near the end of the day we went up the 157 steps to the top of the tower at the St. Pierre Cathedral. As you can see below it was a pretty amazing view. We found out at the bottom that one of the guys in our group proposed to one of the girls!!! (Yes, they knew each other before today!!!) How romantic!!

Tomorrow class starts....which means I have to go do some reading to prepare! And I have to be up at 7 am tomorrow - eek. Please feel free to email me and let me know how you're doing!!!

January 5, 2007

Busses, Phones, Walking and Fondu

Well we have almost made it through our first whole day in Geneva! It is about 7:30 pm here and we thought we'd check our email before heading to our room to watch a dvd on my laptop and eat Swiss chocolate :)

Several interesting things to note today:

*Bus. We waited in the rain last night for a bus that only comes once an hour. It came. We stood right outside the doors and waited for them to open. The people on the inside looked at us. The bus drove away.

So we learned the hard way that we are in control, and we must push a button to get the bus doors to open or it will drive away from you!!!

*Phone. When we finally arrived "home" last night, the phone cord was mysteriously pulled out of the wall so much that all the little wires were separated and it wouldn't work anymore - how? we don't know. And we'll never know. They fixed it while we were out exploring today.

Here's Krista trying to figure out the phone situation...

*Sleep. We went to bed at 9 pm and woke up at 11 am. Aaaah.

*Walking. We decided to "hang low" today, so we took a walk around the block. Which turned into walking all the way to downtown and the lake and such.

This picture doesn't do justice to the amazing view of mountains we have right behind the place we are staying...

The famous jet d'eau in Lake Geneva.

*Fondu. We had some delicious, and expensive, cheese fondu today, with a lovely waiter who smiled at our silly American-ness. I kept blanking out and couldn't remember how to say a single French word. Also, the restaurant was pretty fancy, fancy glasses, fancy tableclothes, etc...however, there was some lovely rap music playing the whole time. And not just regular ole rap, but Shaggy and Salt N Pepa....all I can say is"very interesing."

Yep - that's me eating fondu :)

January 4, 2007

We made it

Hey everyone! Well, my roomie and I are safely in Geneva, Switzerland after a mostly smooth ride. Well, ok, we DID miss our connecting flight from Zurich to Geneva...but hey missing flights really isn't a new thing for me unfortunately!! ;) We got on the next one immediately after, and our luggage even made it too. Bizarre thing though - we had to go through security again at the Zurich airport...so they took my water that I saved from the earlier flight. Weird.

There was supposed to be someone picking us up at the airport in Geneva but there was no one to be found (and it turns out they just forgot or something - it WASN'T because we missed the flight...which did I mention was not our fault? We sat on the runway in Chicago for almost an hour...). Anyway, we were adventurous and took a city bus to where we are staying...the John Knox Center. What little French I have left has come in very handy so far!!

So it's almost 5 pm here, but our bodies are telling us something much different. We are 7 hours ahead of the central time zone by the way.

Roomie and I are gonna head into town for some breakfast...wait I mean dinner. What time is it again??!!!!

January 3, 2007

Happy New Year

I rang in the New Year in New Orleans this year. I was there for my 7th and final National Gathering, and this year happened to be an ecumenical event called Celebrate.

For all those who go to New Orleans and only stay in the downtown area, they may be deceived by how the city looks. The downtown area is a fun place to be, and mostly redone and making tourists happy. As soon as you head into actual residential neighborhoods, however, you can still see the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, a year and a half later. Entire neighborhoods are still empty. For sale signs and construction crew ads are everywhere. Trees are down. Water still sits. You can see the flood line on many buildings that you pass. Perhaps the toughest thing to see was the markings on each building. Each building had to be marked that it had been gone through, and the number of bodies found inside was included in this marking. I suggest if you have the opportunity to go down to the Gulf Coast area and help out, do it! They still need so much done. The people of New Orleans have an amazing spirit, and were so so thankful for our presence there. I have a new hope for that city than I did before I traveled there this New Year's. Some pictures....I have more if you're interested.

Gutted out houses...

Vacant strip mall...

Torn up house...

It was hard to get a good picture of the markings on each house, but this is an example...