Monday, June 21, 2010

ASTANA and the Southbound Train


This past weekend was quite possibly one of my best in Kazakhstan. Veronica, Steven, and I decided to venture across the country on the train and see the capital city of Kazakhstan—Astana. For starters, Steven and I didn’t know where the train station was, and we were waiting in our apartment for Veronica. However, there was a change of plans that we were unaware of so at the last minute we realized Veronica was at the train station. We started walking towards where we heard the train station was and couldn’t find the bus we were looking for so in a panic I flagged down a taxi and paid him a little more than I should have, but I was happy I did it because he brought us right to the front door. We ran up to the train, tried to find our wagon number, and hoped that Veronica had made it on. After showing our passports we hopped on and found Veronica.

I had once taken a small train to the Grand Canyon for fun with my parents and grandparents. They surprised all of us and it was great fun, but this was my first real train experience—with the beds and everything. On our way to Astana Yelena (our boss) was wonderful and bought us tickets on the nice Spanish train, so we got to enjoy some luxury and it only took 12 hours. On the way back, we had to pay our own way (except for Veronica, she flew back early because her boyfriend was going to be in town) and of course, we chose to buy the cheap train tickets on the crappy train. The crappy train wasn’t so bad, the worst part was that the air conditioning was broken. So we had to fight with the window and prop it open with a water bottle still to have our compartment feel like a sauna. The cheap train made several stops so it took us 20 hours. The Spanish train wasn’t bad at all because we left at 8:00pm and arrived around 8:00am so it was just like sleeping in a small, shaking hotel. On the way back our train left at 2:00pm and arrived at 10:00am. It finally started to cool off around 8:00pm and I was able to breathe again. For the first several hours I just laid in my bed with a towel, trying to read and wipe the sweat off my body. You would never believe how hot it was.

When we arrived in Astana we had no plans except that we had tried to make some vague sleeping arrangements at our church conference that operated out of the city. So we got out of the train station, hopped on a bus, and got out at the first sight of something interesting. The first interesting thing was a big orthodox cathedral. We wanted to go inside, but we found out that they weren’t finished building it yet. So we saw all of the big buildings in the distance that made up the “new part” of the city. Astana is only about 10 years old. The president moved the capital to this city and renamed it Astana (which means Capital in Kazakh). Now he is pouring tons of money into making it an impressive and sought after city. I must admit the buildings are impressive, but it seems as though there are no people yet to fill them. I’m pretty sure they are building faster than people and businesses are coming, which I think could cause some problems pretty soon. But anyways, we walked all over the city and through big parks, occasionally sticking our heads in the sprinklers trying to cool off. The climate in Astana is ridiculous. In the summer it gets over 40 degrees C while in the winter it gets below -40 degrees C. That is crazy. We first came to a big pyramid they call “The Palace of Peace and Accord.” We got to tour this pyramid and go to the top where they have a ring of chairs and translation booths for when Kazakhstan has peace conferences every 3 years. It was actually pretty neat. We then walked across the river, having a great view of the Kazakh “White House” where the president lives and continued to just walk, seeing everything, with no plan or schedule. We ended up touring some fancy and expensive Chinese hotel acting like we were considering a stay in the place, but it cost over $400 a night so there was no real consideration going on. We then came to the famous tower of Astana which is on all the Kazakh money and tourist signs. The real name of it is hard to pronounce so we just called it the Chup-A-Chup which is what people here call suckers or lollipops. We went up inside of it and got a great view of the city and then went down walked a whole bunch more, until we hopped in a taxi to go to the MEGA center (which is like a big, fancy mall, they have one here in Almaty too). There we replenished ourselves with some lunch. Veronica and I got a whole bucket of colonel’s fried chicken at the KFC and some amazing frappucinos from a coffee shop. Since we were both vegetarians, and both had given up on it when coming to Kazakhstan, we had determined that before I left we would indulge in some good old fashioned fried chicken. And we did it. We polished off a whole 16 piece bucket along with some French fries. It was amazing.

After lunch we headed across the street to the national aquarium. It was pretty cool. They have a very large shark tunnel, and for being the largest landlocked country in the world have a good collection of ocean fish. We also paid some extra money to go on a 5D ride which was like a cheesy motion ride that I used to ride in Las Vegas as a kid. I always loved them and even this cheesy one was worth it. It was Veronica’s first time in an Aquarium and in a motion ride. She is older than all of us (by a lot) and it seems she has done the least as far as the crazy fun stuff goes, so we have had a blast introducing her to all the crazy attractions of the 21st century. The three of us have a blast in whatever we do.

After the aquarium we got in touch with Altyn, a former teacher of our center who had just moved to Astana a few weeks earlier. She offered to pick us up and take us to the conference since we had no idea where it was. She had planned to pick us up in a few hours and in that time we had to get Veronica to the airport. We tried to find a bus because we heard that taxis were super expensive. We walked a ways, with no luck of finding a bus. We didn’t know where the airport was and on the bus map it didn’t look so far, but when we offered the cab driver 800 tenge he laughed and told us it was very far. So I ended up negotiating a taxi for 1200 tenge (less than $10) and we put Veronica in this taxi with a weird looking guy and said goodbye. Our cell phone is broken and since we leave next week we didn’t bother getting it fixed or buying a new one. Veronica decided to leave us with her cell phone and we were just going to hope that everything went well. As I watched Veronica drive away I thought, “What in the world were we thinking?!” Putting an American girl, who doesn’t speak the language, into a taxi with a creepy looking guy is a recipe for disaster. But, all we could do was pray at that moment and sure enough, everything turned out fine. She got to the airport on time and got back to Almaty safely to spend some time with her boyfriend. Steven and I now had some time to kill before Altyn picked us up. The first thing we did was look for water, it was an incredibly hot day and neither of us felt as though we could get enough to drink. We then meandered through a little more of the city, but moving slowly because by this time our feet were aching and our bodies had had enough walking. We went to the Central Mosque of Astana, took our shoes off and walked inside the beautiful building. When we got inside I really liked what I saw. There were a few tables and some chairs and then a huge wide, open space. There were people off by themselves chanting a prayer or two in the corners, while others grouped together and seemed to have casual Quran studies. In that moment, I thought it would be great to have a church like this. Just a big open area where people could take off their shoes, study their Bibles, and pray. For a moment I was pondering how my churches would react if we just took out all the pews. Maybe Central Asia is getting to me, but I am a big fan of sitting on the ground.

After the mosque we went to the nearby market to pick up some bread. The next day was to be Sabbath and we didn’t know when or where we’d get a chance to eat again. So I stuffed a couple loaves into my bag and soon Altyn arrived to give us a lift to the place we were staying. The conference was described to us as “simple” and simple it was. In Almaty you’d think the Adventists were like Catholics, because we have nice buildings and all the church members seem to be pretty well off. In Astana it was not the same. The building was old, the beds creaked, and the rooms were filled with a stifling heat. Nevertheless we slept well. After a day of nonstop walking through an unfamiliar city, absorbing countless rays of the blistering sun, we could have slept anywhere that had a flat surface. A choir group was in town singing at church so the “hotel” at the conference office was filled with women. When we finally decided to come out of our room they insisted on serving us some breakfast (which was soup and bread) and we were very grateful. After that we sat through church and didn’t understand more than 10 words of what was going on. But, the people there were amazing—genuine and nice, welcoming and happy to have you with them. After church we went to Altyn’s mother-in-law’s house for lunch (again soup and bread, but this time with pizza!). The house we went to was unbelievable. Mike’s (Altyn’s husband) mother is an artist. Like a real, legit artist. She runs some sort of school out of her house and has countless paintings. The walls were covered with her work, and not only the walls but the ceilings too. Also there were more pictures stacked in every corner. The piano was painted and every room filled with art work. It was a really nice house. After lunch we had to rush to the train station to catch our train back. Mike gave us a ride, brought us to our wagon, talked to the conductor, showed us to our seats and made sure everything was alright. Him and Altyn treated us very well and were such a blessing to have in our crazy, unplanned adventure.

Anyways, we made it on the train and in some ways I liked the cheap train better than the expensive train. The people seemed to be friendlier. There was this older Kazakh woman in our compartment. She understood a little English and we understood a little Russian and so we were able to make some good conversation. She was the sweetest woman, always offering us nuts and food, coffee and tea. We began to feel very safe in this train because we knew that she wouldn’t let anything happen to us. Eventually two police men came into our car and wanted to see our passports. We showed them, but they were in no hurry to leave. They tried to make conversation, talking way too much. I tried to relax and just talk with them, but I certainly do not trust the police here and was never able to let my guard down. Most of the conversation was light, but they wanted to see our pictures and started talking to us about money. I was nervous, but good old train mama (that’s what we started calling her because we couldn’t remember her Kazakh name) was there and I knew she would fight for us. They eventually left and we were finally able to get some sleep. The day was ridiculously hot, and all the bed came with was a sheet. I thought this would be fine until I woke up in the night with the freezing wind blowing through the window. I shut the window and went back to sleep. Sleeping on a train certainly isn’t an easy thing to do. I woke up frequently because of the noise and bounce that comes with traveling. But, all in all I think I like trains much better than airplanes. I spent hours just looking out the window, enjoying the scenery, and literally seeing the world.

I now feel like I’ve seen pretty much everything there is to see in Kazakhstan. I’ve seen much of the country by gazing out the windows of trains and buses. I’ve experienced village life, as well as city life. I have seen the mountains, as well as the Capital.

Coming back on the train was interesting. Although I knew I was just going back to Almaty, I felt as though I were saying my goodbyes to Kazakhstan. I felt as though I was going home. After all a week is going to fly by and pretty soon I will be in the arms of my mom and dad and eating my favorite American food. I was sitting in that train contemplating going home. I’m at a stage in my life where it’s difficult to pinpoint where home actually is. If someone asks where home is for me I will unthinkably say Phoenix, Arizona and I suppose that is because it’s where I spent most of my years growing up and because that is where my parents and brothers are. But really, I’ve only spent maybe two or three months out of the year there in the past two years. I feel like I have homes in Tennessee where I go to school, in Northern California where I spend my Christmases and parts of my summer, and now in Kazakhstan where I have lived and grown for the past six months. One thing is for sure, home has nothing to do with location, it has nothing to do with buildings and belongings. Home, for me, is all about people. My home is where my loved ones are waiting to welcome me with open arms back into their community.

Am I excited to go home? Absolutely! But, I do recognize that upon going “home” I will be leaving a “home” and I may never see many of these people again. Goodbyes suck, but thank God for reunions. I’m looking forward to a big one coming up here soon—a really big reunion where the goodbyes will be done away with. I think after that reunion I will finally be able to tell you the meaning and the significance of the word “home”.

до свидания


до свидания is Russian for “Goodbye.” Today was Emily’s last day in Kazakhstan. After teaching last night we headed over to a small, old-style roller rink on the other side of town. To get there we hopped on a bus after work (it is never easy to find a bus late at night) and we got on the craziest bus possible. It took us for a loop all around the city and finally dropped us off in some crazy part of town we didn’t know. Luckily, we just kept walking and came to some familiarity. It wasn’t long before we joined everyone and tied on our quad skates that were very popular before my birth. We skated around to some pop and disco music. It was my first time skating like that and so I was trying new things and trying to learn how to do the cool moves the other guys were doing. I failed, but it was fun anyways. We had planned after that to go back to the girls’ place and stay up all night partying, but everyone wanted to go home after we got done skating around midnight. Needless to say, we didn’t stay up all night. We went to their apartment and took part in the few hours of sleep we had available until we had to wake up to see Emily off to the airport. We woke up early, Emily got in a taxi with Brian, Veronica, and her luggage while the boys (Steven, Orken, and I) hopped on a bus. By the time we were almost there we got a call and heard that her flight had been delayed (something I’ve noticed is quite common at the Almaty airport. It was delayed until later that night.

Emily was in Kazakhstan for an entire year before getting on that plane. She loves this place, you can tell. Life is so simple here in Kazakhstan, at least for us volunteers. Sure we have the occasional plumbing problems, and the normal inconveniences that one has living outside his/her homeland, but aside from that we have to show up to work, teach some classes, and then do whatever we want to do. We don’t make a lot of money, that is for sure, but we make enough to have fun, and occasionally buy some imported peanut butter. Life in America, at least my life, never seems to be simple. I’m sure it is because I make it this way, but it always seems to be filled with a good amount of uncertainty, difficult decision making, friendship drama, financial trouble, overly busy schedule, and more lovely parts of this mess we call life. I was thinking about this and all of Emily’s mixed feelings she wore on her face seemed to make sense. Not only was she leaving many good people, and her familiarity, she was leaving a simple life, going into the uncertain future.

I love communication, and I love getting inside people’s heads. I empathize with people, not always for the good reason that I care so much as the fact that I find people hugely interesting. And so I found myself trying to get into Emily’s head as she was going through this crazy time. I was trying to feel her feelings and then it hit me that in just two weeks, these feelings will be more real to me that I might want them to be. So very soon I will be the one saying the goodbyes and stepping into the complexity of normalcy—stepping into the uncertainty that lies before me. It’s quite frightening, but I guess all I can say is: Bring it on!

Saturday, June 12, 2010



So for the past week or maybe more Steven and I have been without any hot water. This is common in Kazakhstan because we are on a central heating system. So for 2 or 3 months out of the year, during the summer months, they get to work doing repairs and construction. At first the girls didn’t have hot water and we were told that we would have it until we left. We laughed and politely rubbed it in their faces, but it wasn’t long before we were served. But, this morning I sit writing this earlier than I want to be awake, having no water at all.

In one of the books we teach from it talks about meeting your neighbors the usual soviet way. The soviet way is meeting your neighbors very early in the morning because there is a leak in your apartment building and they are having water drip through their roof. This has happened to Steven and I before. But, tonight was different. At 4 in the morning our door bell was going haywire. Someone was out there ringing, ringing, ringing. I lay in my bed, in shock from just waking up and unable to understand what was going on. I couldn’t hear any water running...We hadn’t taken more than a 2 minute shower (because of the cold, COLD water) and that was the morning before. So I laid in my bed letting my thoughts get the best of me. I thought for sure I was in trouble. It must have been the KGB sending us a warning that they were after us. Ok, ok so maybe not that dramatic. I thought maybe it was a burglar checking to see who was home or looking for an easy entrance. I couldn’t understand the fact that it was 4 in the morning. I drifted back to sleep after about 15 minutes of worried fright. I had a dream that I was telling people about the crazy ringing at 4am, but nobody believed me. In my dream, I had just dreamed the whole thing. However, not more than 2 hours later the doorbell rang again. This time the guy rang it in pulses for about a minute and then laid on it for over a minute. I got up, trying to move quietly so he didn’t know I was there. I was angry, but at the same time worried. I figured I was in deep trouble now. He finally gave up after an unusually long time, and I decided it was time for my morning bathroom break. As I went into the bathroom I saw the entire floor flooded with water and the toilet leaking a tiny, tiny little trickle. I sighed, and headed for the phone to call Yelena. She didn’t answer right away so I spend a few minutes frantically worrying about what to do and praying for some wisdom. They rang, but I can’t answer the door. The only thing I can tell them is “Sorry, I don’t speak Russian” and that doesn’t help resolve big conflicts.

Anyways, I grabbed all the towels from the linen closet, got on my hands and knees, on the disgusting bathroom floor trying to slop up as much water as I could. I turned the water off right away, but as I turned it on for a quick second to wash up, I realized they had already cut our water. Luckily we had a Sprite bottle in reserve for times like this. So this morning, after a crappy sleep, a load of worrying, and about 30 minutes on the bathroom floor...I’m tired...I’m annoyed...I’m ready to go home!

(This isn’t saying that I won’t miss everyone here and that I still don't have mixed feelings about leaving, I’m just ready to get back to my own home and the American plumbing system :)

Behind on Blogging!


Today I realized how behind I am on blogging! So many great things have happened and I have failed to record them both for you and both for my future records.

I should have told you about how Emily’s boyfriend, Brian, has come to Kazakhstan. He’s been here almost two weeks and in just a few days him and Emily will be leaving us. It will be sad.

I also should have told you that last Friday we went to a little theme park called Fantasy World. It was just a fun little park where we rode some freefall rides, little rollercoasters, and a bunch of twirling, spinning things that made me feel a little woozy. It was funny because we went there after some other plans fell through. The park was just across the street. When we got there we found that the summer camp we had just come from teaching at, had taken all the students there so it was like a continuation of work, but nonetheless fun to hang out with the kids. Speaking of this summer camp I just realized that I have not yet talked about that, but that is a different blog entry for later.

I also need to mention that last Sabbath I preached. It was on very short notice, but I ended up having enough time to prepare. I talked about kids, and childish love. Something similar to the first blog entry I ever wrote on here. You can check the archives in case you missed it. And after church we went and had some delicious Lagman, and then headed up to Kok Tubye. Kok Tubye is a cool place on top of a mountain that overlooks the entire city. We took a gondola across a little part of the city and up to Kok Tubye. We watched the sunset and were able to see all of Almaty. This place is marked by a huge radio tower thing, but filled with different attractions, carnival games, and shops. We rode on a giant swing (it’s a Kazakh tradition), shot some crossbows, rode a mechanical bull, and all sorts of other fun stuff. I’m working on getting a video up here shortly.

And of course, last Sunday we went to the mountains. I think this was the first time that I went to the mountains and had the fullness of Spring thrust upon me. We hiked up a boring road for quite a ways, but then followed a large, flowing stream of snowmelt up this amazing valley-like area which was overflowing with greenery. Trees, bushes, flowers, with steep green mountains rising on both sides of us, snow covered peaks in the distance in front of us; it was a little taste of heaven. We actually didn’t hike too far, but stopped for picnic and then headed back in order to miss the rain. One of the things we did was cross the river on an old pipe that ascended from the ground, went over the river and above the valley for a little ways. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the greatest idea. The pipe wasn’t that large, our feet were wet, and it wouldn’t have taken much for someone to slip and fall to the raging waters below, braking a few bones and possibly worse. But, it’s over and nobody is hurt so it couldn’t have been that bad of an idea.

Things are really winding down now. This week we will be having usual classes, but saying goodbye to Emily. On Thursday we will be leaving by train to spend some time in the capital of Kazakhstan—Astana. After a long, long time on the train and a short time actually in the city (by our choice—we hear there is not much to see there) we will be back for only one more week of classes.

I have many mixed feelings, and am once again sulking in the fact that all I ever do is say goodbye. But, that is my life right now, at this stage, in this age. Thrusting from one crazy adventure to the next. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The big question I am asking: What now, God?

God and Religion: Why am I a Part of this Mess?

June 12, 2010

Recently I’ve been pondering some big questions. In our day we here so many negative things about religion and I myself have been an avid critic. So many people these days claim to love God while thinking that religion is corrupt, man-made, and just shy of worthless. So I decided to force myself to really think of what I thought religion should be. After all, if I’m going to criticize something, I better have an idea of how to better it. Thinking about religion got me thinking about bigger questions like “Why do I follow God?” and “What Would My Life Look Like without God?” And so I decided to dabble down some thoughts and have been asking some friends to the same. I think these are important questions for us all to answer. So take some time and think hard about the following questions. God is too big for us not to have questions.

Why do I follow God?

Many people argue that God is a crutch and I think this is sometimes true. I know sometimes I treat Him as only a crutch. When I can’t stand, He props me up, but when things are good, He can stay in the closet. But if I wanted a God solely for holding me up, I think I would be Jewish. Or maybe Muslim. I’m not saying anything against these religions, I’m just saying I think Christianity is the hardest religion to choose. Some people might scoff at that and say I’m tearing down grace, but I believe in grace 100%. The thing about Christianity is that all our beliefs are based on this crazy, radical, intense God. This Jesus who came to earth and shook things up so much that we are still talking about Him all the time 2000 years later. The problem with this is that our Jesus told us to follow Him, to be His disciples. In other words we are supposed to be crazy, radical, and intense. Jesus loved everyone around Him so passionately and so freely, and He wants me to do the same. That is not easy. I got some pretty hefty expectations to live up to. Yes, if I fail His grace covers me. But, the point isn’t about failing, I have to and I want to try to spread this insane love all over this desperate planet. While many people have turned Christianity into a lame, but somewhat comical show—going to church every week with their nice, pressed clothes; not saying the “F” word out loud in public; and trying to get a word of prayer in before they fall asleep—this is not the Christianity that was meant to be. The Book we Christians claim to follow tells us simply and plainly that religion is about caring for the widows and the orphans—in other words, the people in this world that have no one to help them.

That is one of things I like most about the gospel. It compels us to live better lives. But these lives, while more meaningful, are also much more difficult. This image that we are created in, is that of a crazy God. Sometimes I wish I could just be a selfish bastard and climb high up on the career ladder, make a butt-load of money, attend church occasionally, and feel ok with my life. But, I can’t. I’ve been enticed by the love of my Creator, and have fallen into the most difficult religion.

I follow God, because all my life I’ve felt like He’s followed me. I’ve tried to stray, honestly, I have. But this world is too amazing and people are too complex for me to say there is no God. I see evidence of a God of love everywhere, but primarily in my own heart. Love—genuine, extraordinary, Christian love—is pretty cool. I want it. I want the orphans and the widows, the homeless and the desperate, to feel it. I follow God because like, Peter, I don’t know where else to go. Nothing else works. Sure, I’ve got questions. I’ve got more questions than I really know what to do with. But the thing about God is that I can get so lost in Him that the questions just don’t matter. That doesn’t mean they go away, but when I look up into the starry desert sky all of my big time philosophical questions just don’t even seem worthy of asking. When I gaze at hundreds of different shades of reds, blues, purples, and oranges splashed across the sky as the sun retires for the day, I realize that God is so big I could probably never ask the right questions anyways. When I hike up a mountain and look down to the wondrous landscape below, or kneel down and pick a tiny, but ever so intricate flower, I am humbled. Sure I have big questions and sometimes they torture me. They dance through my head with a speed I cannot keep up with filling me with an uncertainty that I seemingly cannot contain. But I follow God, I wrestle with these questions, waiting for another moment when my thoughts grow still, and I realize for the millionth time that my questions are really not that important.

So it is my goal that I would be able to get so close to God that questions don’t matter. I know the questions will never go away and I think that is a good thing, but I just don’t want them to matter so much. I want to realize that God is huge and He is love. This is why I follow Him. This is why I follow Jesus.

What would my life look like without God?

This is an interesting question and I think it is the most difficult one to answer. As a child I was taught about Jesus. I was catapulted into a church and everything felt right at that age. When I was young I decided that God had called me to be a pastor; to tell other people about His love. Since then I have been like the ocean, coming back to and going away from God as the heavy waves run to and then withdraw from the sea shore. Without God I wonder how different my life would really be. God does provide the basis for my moral compass, and if He was out of my life, I suppose I would probably be nothing short of a man whore and a thief. Now I know I would still have morals, but how closely I would adhere to them, I honestly don’t know.

Without God in my life I would also obviously be pursuing different things career-wise. I’ve always been interested in business and I’ve always been a great liar. I probably would have dreams of being a CEO or something and having a lot of money. But, who knows. I also think that I might be just as misdirected and lost about my future. I’ll have to think about this one a little more

What is my ideal religion?

I want to see a religion that stops at nothing to share the love of Christ. A religion whose first priorities lie in caring for the widows and the orphans. Service—unrelenting, undying, unconditional, complete abandoning, all consuming service. Service that is motivated by love and big enough to define one’s life. I want to see service extend beyond the walls of our own church to the people that make us squirm in our seats. I want to see religion seek out druggies, homosexuals, prostitutes, homeless people, and hungry children; stopping at nothing to show them the love of Christ. I want to see a religion that makes people uncomfortable, but content to the core. I want to see a religion whose beliefs are rooted in the Bible and blossoming with its hope. I want to see a religion that has its eyes focused on the Great Day Jesus returns, but has a heart for the needs here and now, all around us. I want to see a religion where it is ok to be wrong and ok to say, “I don’t know.” More than anything I want to see a religion united—united in passion for this extreme God; united with a love so strong; united with One mission—proving the existence of God without ever saying a word and making His love real in this world.

What do I want from religion?

I want to learn to worship—to worship without restraint. I want freedom—freedom from human expectations and freedom from conflict. I want to feel safe in the arms of my fellow believers and have a place where all worries get left at the door. I want to feel like I am surrounded by multitudes that love me like Christ loves. I want to be able to give the fullness of myself to a cause. I want a religion that will promote healthy families as the basis for a healthy world. I want to be held accountable while never being judged. I want to know that they have God’s best interest in mind when they think of me, and never lead me in a wrong direction. I want a religion so strong that it supports questioning and holds onto doubters. I want a religion that not only waits for God’s children to come, but one that goes out in search for them. I want a religion that stops worrying about numbers and stops rejoicing over conversions. I want a religion that makes disciples—disciples with as much passion as the 12 after Jesus had resurrected. I want a religion that is marked with passion, and known for their love, with all the glory going to God.

What do think religion should be?

I think religion should be a group of people that hold beliefs similar, but not the same, as ours. I think religion’s face is the church, which is the bride of Christ. The same bride that He spent praying would have unity and finish the work He had started. I believe religion is us—those of us who have decided to choose the difficult, straight, and narrow way. It is people, who are overcome with the goodness in this world, reflecting the goodness of God, consumed with love and fighting, not to bring God’s kingdom to this earth, but trying to share His love with others before this war comes to an end.