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Posts Tagged ‘countries’

It was an eight hour flight to Paris from Chicago. For the most part, the trip itself was uneventful. I was not able to sleep as much on the flight as I would have liked, but there were no delays and no problems encountered. When we arrived, it was nine o’clock am local time in Paris (about two pm Chicago time). I’m experiencing more jet lag than I thought I would, but for now, I’m okay.

Getting off the plane itself was an experience. Contrary to expectation, the international airport in Paris is small. Instead of docking next to the terminal, we got off the plane near the runway (via a set of stairs they set up), and we were shuttled by bus to the terminal (it was fun and different from what I’m accustomed to). The airport was small in comparison to the O’Hare Airport, which was probably for the best for us since neither my father nor I speak French, and not quite as fastidiously clean and “sterile” as those found in America. I realized that despite the small size of the airport, it seemed to be much more “international” than its American counterpart: signs for various different languages were set up and many of the people who worked there seem to have some knowledge of English. They were able to help us locate our baggage. 🙂 It’s such a contrast to America where you basically need to know English to function.

It wasn’t just the airport; everything in France seem smaller, running at a slower pace. It’s as if time has slozed down three steps. This is actually quite nice for a vacation. The cars are smaller and fewer (less traffic jams!), the roads are more narrow and have less lanes (presumably because they do not need it otherwise), there are hardly any traffic lights (they employ a system of roundabouts, which is infinitely superior to our traffic lights in my opinion… we hardly had to stop), and the streets in general seem to have less bustle from people. Some of the countryside I saw in our “detour” seems quaint in comparison to America in a old world, rustic sort of way. If it wasn’t for some of the amazing old architecture they have here, you might have mistaken much of the countryside for American rural areas. Lush green vegetation, crops just beginning to grow, not many hills and valleys in this part of France. It really is beautiful: The exception to the smallness seems to be their traffic signs, which are large, diverse and colorful. 🙂

Mind you, I have yet to explore Paris; we are currently residing in a village outside of Paris, so I’ll see how things change in a day or so when we visit the city. 😛

And of course, I can’t forget to mention the family that we are staying with. We are currently residing in my uncle’s house (from my mother’s side), so I’ve got to meet him, his wife, and his son, Remy. Also visiting is another uncle, the second eldest in the family on my mother’s side) who lives in a different part of France. He can speak a bit of English, so naturally, I’ve spoken to him the most. He and I took a walk around this village so I could see the houses and some of the small shops.

Anyway, that’s it for now. The French keyboard is different from the qwerty keyboard, and it’s been difficult to type. You don’t realize how often you use the letters “a,” “m,” and “w” (as well as various punctuation) until you keep hitting the wrong button. -_- I’ll hopefully write some more on my adventures tomorrow.

P.S. – I love it here already. I had a minor “panic attack” when I realized that this is the first time I’ve been in a different country where I haven’t been able to understand the language at all (with the exception of a few cognate words)… but I’m over that now, and I’m taking in all I can. Being in a new place makes me want to laugh with joy: To think that so many who could experience this would not want to…crazy.

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One thing I really enjoy about Dr. Bird’s class is that he does a pretty good job at integrating the information he gives us with critical thinking and application of the Christian life. Or, to say it in Taylor terms, there’s an “integration of faith and learning.” I don’t always appreciate this as much as I should, I suppose. Sometimes, it seems shallow at best. But when it’s done well, it can be a wonderful thing. With Bird, he has such a desire to push students to where they’re uncomfortable. And I really like that.

The topic of this class revolved around the biblical concepts of justice and relating them to the countries which we are learning about. My country of study is Sri Lanka, and learning about the human rights violations going on there is surprising. Things that we Americans don’t even have to think about… We had prayer time in class for the different countries to address directly some issues that pertain to each. It was actually very moving for me, and it was a challenge for me to pray for things beyond my individual scope of life. I’m so selfish that I always pray for me or for things pertaining to me. Our “individualized” and “personal” Christianity is cheap when we realize Christ gave himself for the whole world. If we claim that missions and evangelism is important to us, what better place is there to start than just to pray?

It must be hard for him. To know so much, to have those types of things on your mind, to feel very limited in our individual ability to act against such systematic types of oppression. I’m at a loss because I do care, because I know that God cares, because I believe scripture tells us to look beyond ourselves, and because I believe that the Gospel carries along with it freedom in its Kingdom concept, not only from personal sin but from injustices as well.

I honestly get a little annoyed when people speak of things such as disallowing homosexuals to marry as the greatest form of societal oppression. Give me a break! Even when I grant that there are some oppression and discrimination that shouldn’t be there, it pales in comparison to…. human trafficking, torture, female genital mutilation, genocide, child soldiers, etc… So why then do people spend so much time on more minor issues when they turn a blind eye to the much more serious injustices? That’s not at all to say that we should ignore the other issues because there are still injustices around us. But comparatively, the suffering caused by these other issues are are significantly greater in scope and individual harm than, say, the “deterioration of the family” in America (Sorry, I can’t pick on one side without jabbing at the other. At least now we’re all offended). It’s funny that some things that people often crusade for become just as much a source of oppression or alienation to others as the things which they claim are the “oppressors.” Just something to think about…

What types of injustices are particularly important to you and how do you go about doing your part as your work of faith?

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