Wednesday, 2 May 2007

:: Fantasia 2000 - Rhapsody in Blue - Part 2/2 ::

Second part.

:: Fantasia 2000 - Rhapsody in Blue - Part 1/2 ::

I loved this clip in the movie Fantasia 2000. I wish they had the whole clip online but they don't. It's art!

Monday, 30 April 2007

:: Wyclef Jean - Million Voices ::

This is a song that was made for the movie Hotel Rwanda. I really like the song, and seeing it played live was especially cool cos they actually had the children's choir singing there! Check it out.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

:: Thoughts, mid-time report ::

Wednesday 24th of January

Well.. here are some of the results of the reflections that I mentioned in the previous posts.

Clear change
I had expected some kind of significant change before I came here... but I could never have predicted how profound and how immediate this change would be. I did not expect to see myself changing, as if I was an outsider, observing myself from distance. It is amazingly how clearly I can see myself changing.

Prayerful way of life
Already during the first week I got immersed in an ocean of prayers and meditation. I have learned a lot about the meaning of prayer, but also emotionally gained a new attachment, almost addiction, to prayerfulness in everything I do. I truly hope that I can preserve that when I get home.

Learning through tests - communication problems

We grow through tests. Some of the first tests I got here was using a language that is not my mothertongue and a bodylanguage that I am not very used to. In the English language politeness is shown with many words. I had to learn that really fast, because in the beginning people thought I was impolite for not using as many "thank yous" and "of course, I would love tos" and "you are welcomes", and also my bodylanguage was much more restricted than I think it is now.
Another thing that I have had to deal with has been, that I'm not able to express my thoughts as well as in Finnish. It is very frustrating to constantly realize that I didn't say this or that as well as I know I thought it. It almost feels like I am a lot younger than the other volunteers, because my self-expression in the English language is several years behind theirs. Also, interacting with the other youth serving here, I feel like my humour has become so much more silly and childish, because I'm not able to be witty in English! My friends, however lovely they are, tease me when I say funny things, because they think it sounds sweet. They know that this can be frustrating for me so they are very kind in trying to overlook some of the things I say, and teach me when necessary. These two things have taught me to show kindness in much more than just words, use my body language a lot more, and keep patient when I feel like I'm not fully expressing myself.

I have also learned about living on my own, since I have to constantly keep my trailer in good condition. This will be very useful when I start studying.

Rough conditions
I have never seen children who have truly gone through such hard times in their lives. This was a shock as I first started teaching a children's class, because it really reflects on their behavior, and it keeps surprising me every time, but I am also surprised how pure these children have remained despite all the hardships they have faced and the materialism they see on television.

New beginning
It has been amazing to be in a place where no-one has any pre-conceptions about me. I have been able to mold the image of me in other people's minds, because they don't have much expectations! It is a very refreshing feeling, and it has enabled me to recognise and get rid of behavior that I used to have only for the sake of expectations.

Concept of time
Already now, after the fifth week of service, I feel like I have always been here. The everyday feeling is like I have always lived in NABI and my whole life is here. It's like living in a bubble. The outside world matters only when it has some significance to NABI.

Family love
The ties to my family have really gone through a healthy transformation. I can truly say that I look forward to see them again, even though I'm not the homesick kind of a person. I feel like my Service here has affected my home a lot, and it seems like things have really changed. I want to go back and test my new relationships with my family members in real life. I think also me learning to express love and caring has affected my relations with my home. I have truly learned to see amazing qualities in my family members that I couldn't see before I took a little distance.

Thoughts fly in beauty
The skies of Arizona are so high! I will miss the millions and milions of stars that I see every night, the beautiful, beautiful sunsets that are different every single night, the amazingly pure dusk, and the wide, deep blue skies of the daytime, that are seldom covered with clouds.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

:: Tuesday Night Dinner ::

Tuesday 23rd of January 2007

It was my turn to serve the Tuesday night Staff Dinner! Amy, Jerry, Alice and Ben were off campus, but Ruhiyyih, Phil and Peggy were still here. I didn't have time to go shopping last Saturday so I had to try to find something to make food from. I found spaghetti and ground beef in the kitchen (I call it minced beef and no-one understands what I'm saying, so I've started calling it ground beef, too). I decided to make a Bolognese. It turned out pretty good, even with spices that I wasn't 100% sure of what they were! Ruhiyyih and Phil came first, and a bit later a happy surprise arrived in the forms of Harrison and Carol. We talked with them about going off campus some weekend and seeing around, maybe Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly.
I also found out they have horses, so I'll try to persuade them to teach me how to ride! That would be a dream come true. The dinner was lovely and when Peggy came, we started singing with Phil playing his guitar. It was a great night. Everyone left at around 10:30, but I decided to do all the dishes anyway. It took me 1,5 hours, but I enjoyed it, because it was a good time to spend time with myself and reflect on the things I have experienced during my stay here.

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the dinner, but here's a picture of some wild horses that the Rez was full of, and another one of our morning walk on a wintery day to the office, to say prayers with the rest of the staff. Both pics are taken by Phil.

In addition, there are two pics of what my home looks like. Here's the kitchen where we cook many meals together with the other volunteers, and the living room which is used for prayers, meditation, discussion, fun, eating, tv, 19 Day Feasts and many other purposes! It is simple, and I have learned to love this place.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

:: Diner & Route 66 ::

Saturday 20th of January 2007

We couldn't go to Gallup this weekend so we went to a nearby Diner instead. I had anticipated seeing the Historical Route 66 ever since I saw the movie Cars, and this was finally my chance! The Diner was very small, very quiet and very stereotypically Route 66-ish! The food was delicious and greasy and we did riddles, it was great fun. Peggy was with us, too, and we enjoyed her youthful company. And can you believe it , AIR is FREE in America!!

:: Photo Walk ::

Saturday 20th of January 2007

There was still a lot of snow in the ground today so we decided to go outside and make a little tour around the campus area with our cameras. Here are some of the pictures I took. We also found rabbit tracks, tons of them, and we followed the newest looking ones and found a rabbit! I got pretty close to it, about 2 meters, before it got scared and ran away. Pity I didn't get the picture from a better angle. There seems to be a lot of rabbits here, I see them quite often.

:: 19 Day Feast ::

Thursday 18th of January 2007

I got to experience my first 19 Day Feast at NABI. Bahá'ís celebrate the change of the Bahá'í month every 19 days, and these feasts are important channels for the Bahá'ís to discuss about the developement of the community. It was impressive how Chester, a Native Bahá'í and the chairman of the meeting translated all discussions between Navajo and English languages. I was happy to notice how Feasts all over the Bahá'í World follow the same pattern of having first the devotional part, then the administrative part and finally refreshments and socializing. The atmosphere, the spirit, the love was very similar to our Feasts in Rovaniemi, even though the topics of discussion were different. But the consultation always draws its' resolving power from the same Source, the Bahá'í Writings.

It's amazing to notice how people join songs. We had prepared some devotional songs to play at the Feast, and already after the first few words everyone had joined in.

:: Boos in the Snow ::

Tuesday the 16th of January 2007

We got a 20 cm snowfall during the past two days! It feels like home, and I really enjoy it! Tonight we went outside with Ben, Phil and Ruhiyyih, and we "played" in the snow for hours. Amy thought we were nuts. Maybe we were. When we came out with Ruhiyyih, the guys were trying to hide from us and scare us, but we guessed it, so we cunningly took different paths around the trailer to the back, where we assumed them to be. We tiptoed there silently and tada - there they were. Phil saw Ruhiyyih coming, but he somehow assumed that I was with her, so when he turned around and saw me on the other side, he screamed (like a girl, really!) and just RAN AWAY. He ran so fast that he didn't notice a clothesline that was on his way, so he hurt his ear. Ben also got scared, but not so severely... but they both ran away, trying to hide AGAIN. We found Ben pretty soon, but Phil just wasn't anywhere. We kept looking, and Ben was clearly trying to direct us somewhere. Finally Ruhiyyih decided to look a bit further and I decided to climb a tree. Ben also dissappeared somewhere, so I was the only one near that trailer. Suddenly Ben came back, walked to the trailer and opened a little hatch in the wall of the trailer. He was talking to Phil, who was under the trailer. They thought we had both gone out to look for Phil. But HAHA! I was in a tree next to them! So us girls got them double-busted!

We went to the playgrounds and had a lot of fun. It was good to get some fresh air and also, we needed some relaxation after the tough week. We climed trees, we swinged, we almost threw up after the carousel, Ruhiyyih and Ben were doing handstands, we sung songs in the pavilion and whatever you can imagine anyone doing in the snow.

:: Mentionables from the first week ::

Here are some things worth mentioning from the past week. I will not write this accurately about every week, but as this is the first one, I thought some of you might wanna know what my weeks are generally like. CLICK THE PICTURES TO SEE THEM LARGER!

Friday the 12th of January

First work day! This was a very light day. We only cleaned up the big hogan after the community dinner and the classrooms after the children's classes. Besides that, there wasn't much to do. But it was very interesting to start learning the rythm we follow at NABI! We also invited some kids over so this was the first time I got to see some of the kids who often join our activities. We played a name-game I introduced, and the kids just loved it. We went outside, did some art, had a snack... goodness, it's amazing how much we managed to do! The kids are fantastic, they have very strong characters and they have a LOT of potential!

Saturday the 13th of January

Amazing! I had only been here for two days at this point and as I look back now, it felt already then like I'd been there for weeks. We went to Gallup, the city about 45 minutes from NABI, and we did some grocery shopping at Wal-Mart. SO many stereotypes were confirmed during this visit. Gallup has ten times more fast-food places than the city of Rovaniemi, even though the population in Gallup isn't even half of the population of Rovaniemi. This was also the first time I saw a drive-in ATM and all those shops that I know from tv, like Midas, Wal-Mart, Sonic, Pizza Hut, TacoBell, Blockbuster's etc...

Monday the 15th of January

Today was Martin Luther King's day so we had a day off, which was good, because I still had a bit of a jetlag.. I woke up very early in the morning and got tired before midnight. We invited the Murphy kids Marsha, Mariah and Kraig and their friend Shelly over again and decided to do an art project with them. The US National Bahá'í Children's Magazine, Brilliant Star, has a contest going on about nature arts, and we decided to participate with the kids. We paired up, one youth and one child, so we had four pairs. We collected materials from the campus surroundings and made really beautiful pieces of art! Ruhiyyih and Shelly made a house, Ben and Mariah made a squaw dance hogan, Phil and Kraig made an eagle and Marsha and I made a nine pointed star. The kids also wrote short statements about their works and we sent them with pictures to the Brilliant Star Magazine! It was a really nice, beautiful sunny day!

Tuesday the 16th of January

We had a staff meeting in the morning and because Jerry and Alice were back, we shared last week's news. The staff meeting took about an hour this time, everyone had so much to share! Harrisons boys were going to have a basketball game at a nearby school, so we decided that Ben, Phil and I would go and watch their game. It was so much fun! The teams had really cool uniforms... the Warriors (Harrison Jr.'s and Garold's team) played against the Cougars. There was a girl's game at first, and after that it was Harrison Jr.'s and Garold's turn. They were playing numbers 14 and 21, and they were really good! Some of the best players of the team! And the game was so exciting! The teams were taking turns in leading, and in the last seconds of the game the situation was 26-28 to the Cougars. Harrison Jr. jumped up with the ball in the LAST SECOND of the game, and scored! Everyone thought it was a square, but apparently the alarm to mark the ending of the game had rang 3 seconds too late, so actually the game was JUST over when Harrison scored. So the game ended 26-28 but both teams were very excited!

In the evening we had a staff dinner at Ruhiyyih's and Peg's, and we really enjoyed seeing everyone under the same roof.

Wednesday the 17th of January

Today we had a lot to do! We had children's classes, study circles and junior youth classes at Barbara's (a local Bahá'í) house. Junior youth stayed at Barbara's with Ruhiyyih, and I went with the kids and Peggy to the children's class. We had a nice lesson about the Wilmette Bahá'í House of Worship, and in the beginning of the class I got the chance to talk with the children. I showed them where I'm from and we looked at the globe and talked a bit about Finland. I also sung them some Finnish and Karelian songs that they really liked. Norman has been asking me to sing those songs again many times.

Earlier during the day Carol the Chef came with all the groceries. We have a deal with the Community Pantry, and we get loads of food that has been discarded by Wal-Mart and other shops, with a small fee. The Community Pantry also gives food to families and individuals with rough economical situations. There was a lot of good stuff, and we are also allowed to take a lot of food to our own trailers.

Thursday 18th of January

Today we served community dinner again, as every Thursday! In the morning, something special happened. I had my first visit to the Prayer Hogan. We had our daily morning prayers there, and it was so warm and comfortable there that we could have stayed for hours if we didn't have work to do. At five o'clock we gathered in the Prayer Hogan again, and the fireplace was lit, and a lot of people from around the community came to praise the Creator in their own ways. Many Bahá'í prayers and many Navajo prayers were recited, and it was impossible not to notice how they ressembled each other. Even though I didn't understand the Navajo words, I saw that the prayers in Navajo language were said with the same devotion and the same meanings as the Bahá'í prayers. After the prayers we took the children and went to the classrooms with them. I went with Peggy to the children's class, whereas Ruhiyyih took the junior youth. Peggy and I did the same class as yesterday, and it worked even better this time. I really enjoy spending time with the children, they have incredible potential, but it is very hard to make the children show it and use it.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

:: A Normal Week @ NABI ::

Workdays start different times on different days. Here is a programme of weekly things.

Mon starts 8:00 - Week starts. Work on the Newsletter and other projects.
Tue starts 8:00 - Ruhi 1 with Jerry and Phil as tutors, Carol and me as collaborators. Staff dinner. One of the trailers is responsible for cooking and hosting a staff dinner to the others. Very enjoyable!
Wed starts 8:00 - Children's classes and Ruhi -study circles.
Thu starts 8:30 -
Morning prayers at the prayer hogan. Devotional gathering in the prayer hogan. Children's classes etc, community dinner. People from around NABI come for a free meal prepared by Carol.
Fri starts 10:00 - Cleaning up from Thursday, usually pretty laid-back compared to the other days.

Every morning we assemble in the office and the whole staff enjoys prayers together. We also share things, both happy and less happy, that we would like others to know about, and often these moments tend to stretch and stretch. After this everyone goes to whatever they are busy with. Usually this means for Ruhiyyih, Phil and I, that we have something to clean up. It could be the classrooms, the big hogan, or it could be that we have to shovel off the snow from the pathways or chop wood for the prayer hogan fireplace. At 12:00 we eat lunch, usually the youth eat together. At 13:00 we get back to work. Often this means helping out with office work, for example writing the Navajo-Hopi Newsletter or planning the Ayyám-i-Há Feast. On Thursday the volunteers are busy with helping Carol in the kitchen. The workday ends at 5:00, after which we usually have core activities or dinner, or we just hang out together.

On weekends we sometimes go to Gallup to do some grocery shopping and have some fun. We also invite the kids over sometimes to spend time with us.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

:: On Campus ::

Here's a brief intro to what we have on NABI campus.

:: The Office ::
The office receives people everyday.

:: The Big Hogan ::
A hogan is a traditional Navajo building that has eight sides. The NABI Big Hogan has a large space and a big kitchen. On Thursdays the big hall is filled with tables and chairs and we serve dinner to everyone. There are playgrounds and a big pavilion near this building.

:: The Prayer Hogan ::
This is our own little House of Worship (Mashriq'u-Adqár). Bahá'ís have several big Houses of Worship around the globe, each serving the people of a certain continent or other wide area. However, even the smallest building can be a House of Worship, if it is dedicated to the praise of God. Bahá'u'lláh has said:

"The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is each and every building which hath been erected in cities and villages for the celebration of My praise. Such is the name by which it hath been designated before the throne of glory, were ye of those who understand."
- Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, 115

The Prayer Hogan is very beautiful and it has a very special atmosphere. Inside, there is a fireplace and benches around the walls.

"O people of the world! Build ye houses of worship throughout the lands in the name of Him Who is the Lord of all religions. Make them as perfect as is possible in the world of being, and adorn them with that which befitteth them, not with images and effigies. Then, with radiance and joy, celebrate therein the praise of your Lord, the Most Compassionate. Verily, by His remembrance the eye is cheered and the heart is filled with light."
- Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, 31

:: The Classrooms ::
The classroom building consists of two hogan-shaped rooms, one for children and one for adults/youth. The campus library is also inside this building, and you could spend hours just looking through the books in there. The classroom acoustics are wonderful, and that makes it a very nice place to clean! :D We always sing a lot in this building. There is a playground near the classrom.

:: The Caretakers Home ::
The caretakers home is going to be a beautiful building once its renovation is finished. It's located opposite the office and it will be the home of one or two of the staff members.

:: The Dorms ::
Sometimes NABI hosts Ruhi Intensive weeks (weeks when several Ruhi-courses are being held simultaneously) and we need to accomodate many people. That's when the dorms are being used. There are separate rooms for men and women.

:: The Trailers ::
There are five trailers that are used as staff homes. The trailers are very cosy inside, and they have nice bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms, as well as bedrooms for each staff member. Ruhiyyih's and Peggy's trailer is called the Highrise, the boys live in the Small Trailer and the Bathkes live in the New Trailer. There's one trailer empty, it's called the Juniper Trailer, and Amy's and mine is called the Big Trailer. But I renamed it! Amy and I both have Apple computers, so I started calling our trailer the Big Apple :P.

:: The Cars ::
NABI has a pickup truck, a minivan, a big van or a minibus and some other vehicles that are used every day.

:: The Golf Carts ::
NABI has two golf carts, which I like VERY MUCH. They are used for driving around the campus, which is spread on quite a wide area. Driving the carts is so much fun! One of my favorite pastimes ;).

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