Friday, December 31, 2010

Mumford & Sons

After not posing for a while, I'm going all out with a serious post on the last day of 2010.

For some reason, I've heard Mumford & Sons a lot lately. I started listening to them almost a year ago now. I remember, because I thought David would really like them a lot, because they are raucous and thigh slapping with deep, touching lyrics that talk about both the sadness and joy of life. That was his style. But he went into the hospital before I could tell him about the band. He was one of my best music buddies.

 And so I continued to listen to them, while grieving, for months. But I love the music this band makes so much, I can't bring myself to stop listening, even though it usually makes me sad. I think it must all go back to the fact that the lyrics are sad but joyful all at the same time. That's just the way life is, anyway.

RIP Davey. I still miss you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Tomorrow I am going to Baltimore for work. All expenses paid. I get $25 per diem for dinner for Monday through Wednesday. There will be continental breakfast and lunch Tuesday and Wednesday. I'm going to the headquarters for one of the national agencies that we are an affiliate of, meeting with people from all over the country that have my same type of job. I'm very excited to travel for work, and I think it will be helpful for me, since I'm so new in the role. I also love that I have a job that lets me do these types of trips.

I get back late Wednesday night, then I will be in the office for a little while on Thursday, and right after work on Thursday, Kurt and I leave for Michigan! My mom is extremely excited. It'll be a time of food, fun and games, according her text. It will be so nice to have the family together, almost all of us in the same house, even. I will be dragging Kurt around all over Holland and Grand Rapids. I reckon he'll be quite overwhelmed when it's all over, meeting so many friends and family.

Right now it's 5 degrees Fahrenheit outside. That's -15 degrees Celsius. Ouch. I am more than happy to stay cozy and warm in my tidy, underground apartment with my electric heat on 70. From what I hear, it will only get colder. The questions is, as the winter plods on, will I prefer the warmer temperatures paired with excessive snow of West Michigan, or the bone-chilling, lung-freezing winds and temperatures of Nebraska, but with less snow?

Friday, December 3, 2010


They are on my mind. Today I was helping my co-worker set up an apartment for some people coming from Bhutan on Monday. Normally, I don't do that, but because we have such an onslaught of refugee arrivals next week, I wanted to make sure everything was ready. When I got into the apartment, I just got to work...unloading my car (a nice, strange looking guy in a man-dress and boots with no laces helped me out a bit), unwrapping all the goods (toothbrushes, shampoo, can opener, pencils, maxi pads, alarm clocks, etc), and putting everything away. I find it very enjoyable to see and/or set up apartments for refugees before they arrive. The whole place has such an aura of hope and excitement. As I was putting stuff away in the kitchen, though, I realized there were bugs EVERYWHERE! Half dead ones writhing on the floor, totally dead ones in the cupboards, tiny alive ones all over the walls and ceilings, cockroaches lounging on the living room wall. All of a sudden I ceased feeling excited and wanted to get out of there ASAP. And I felt bad that this was what they were going to get. Besides the bugs, though, the place was really nice. Huge kitchen, big living room, tons of counter space in the bathroom, gigantic closets. As my coworker who had this job before me says, though, "If we don't rent places that have bugs, we will never find places for our clients to live." It's an unfortunate truth. I have several refugee apartments, though, and this one was pretty darn buggy.

When churches or volunteers encounter these type of things ("Ack! Cockroaches!" Or "Why don't they have cable?" or "They have to take the bus?!") we sometimes have to explain that the refugees are very poor, and they get all the trimmings that come along with that. Even though I know this in my head, it doesn't make it any easier when I'm in a buggy apartment, or see one of those bugs scuttle out of my shoe when I get home (I did take my shoes off in the hallway, though).

Another issue of the week: bad landlords. One family went without heat for a week. I called the office manager a total of 3 times before it was fixed. I don't think I have encountered anything so frustrating as landlords who ignore your requests. I mean, it's one thing to ignore the accented immigrant, because you think they don't have a clue (this particular landlord thought the family had broken the thermostat, blamed them for all the problems, and gave me hell on the phone about it when it turned out the furnace was actually broken), but to ignore the American that can call the Fair Housing Center on you (which I did, and she was furious) is another step into horrible landlord territory. Then, this same week, I mention that my heat is doing strange things, and I get a new thermostat that same day. It's pretty amazing. And frustrating.

On the brighter side, I had a few encouraging meetings. I have another church sponsor committed for a family arriving in a week and a half, and another potential church sponsor. I met with half of the Bhutanese Community of Nebraska board of directors and we talked about their organization and what they can do to get 501c3 status and really grow to help their community. It does seem as though the holiday spirit is inspiring people to do good things for the refugee community of Omaha, and that is a beautiful thing.