A Travellerspoint blog

What is Sustainable?

When you really start thinking about it....

Wow, so a lot has happened since the last blog entry. To bring you all up to date, we traveled from Atlanta, GA to The Farm in TN. We stayed there two nights, knowing we weren’t actually interested in living there; it was more of just a stopping point and sight to see since they’re one of the most famous intentional communities. From TN, we drove into Missouri. After many rainy days and nights spent in state parks and a stay at Tracy’s parents, we made it to the Possibility Alliance (PA) on May 6th. They are an electricity-free and fossil fuel-free community with many high aspirations of saving the world through sustainability, love and nonviolence. After a wonderful stay at the PA, we headed to tri-communities area in the far northeastern corner of MO. The small town of Rutledge (population 109 in the last census) is home to three different intentional communities (Sandhill Farm, Dancing Rabbit, and Red Earth Farms), two of which we were staying at. First we were to visit Sandhill Farm on May 13th, a small income-sharing community that was founded in the 70s and is still going strong. They have a large emphasis on growing and preserving their own food, about 90%, which was deliciously amazing, by the way. Then it was off the Dancing Rabbit (DR) on May 20th, a very different style of community, an dense ecovillage, with goals of reaching 500-1000 residents. That’s where we are now.

So we’ve literally come full circle; we’re back in Missouri. And we can’t say that we’ve come any closer to finding that perfect place that aligns exactly with our values, but that place probably doesn’t exist, even in our heads anymore. Since visiting the last three communities, our ideas of sustainability have really been challenged. We’ve seen everything from the PA’s version of radical (and we mean radical) simplicity to iPods running off solar and wind power at DR. We’ve also seen 40 year old no-till organic gardens and we’ve seen people using tractors to fill 2 by 8 foot garden beds. Everything comes into question when you start pondering “what is sustainable?” What does it really mean to live with the Earth? One example, what is the embodied energy that went into this computer I’m on right now? If you don’t know, Wiki’s definition of Embodied Energy is this: “Embodied Energy is the sum of all the energy required to produce goods or services, considered as if that energy was incorporated or 'embodied' in the product itself.” How many parts and people’s lives went into making it? According to a nifty graph made at the PA, we learned that one computer takes thousands of parts, lives, and fuel to make. If one person decided to just make a computer from scratch (and we mean from scratch, like mining for your own metals, scratch), it would take 100,000 years to make it!! That’s kind of ridiculous, we know, but it puts a lot of things in perspective when you really start to think about what sustainability means to you.
For more information about energy usage, check out this site: http://theenergycollective.com/cdemorsella/48566/embodied-energy-measure-sustainability

Another quandary comes up when different individuals in a community have different goals of sustainability. Like us personally, we first think of food, growing and preserving it, as a way of being sustainable, while someone else thinks of solar panels and energy usage, and someone else thinks of biking instead of driving, and someone else thinks education of the masses is best, and so on. It’s endless! What we’ve learned after talking with folks at DR is that it’s extremely hard for people to agree on when “to use” or “not to use” a weed-eater. Everyone has a different level of comfort for what makes them feel like they’re moving towards sustainability and other areas that they are more “lax” on. For example, for Jessica here, she’s realized that she really likes hot showers. She’s not willing to forgo that right now in the name of being sustainable. For someone else, they’re just fine with jumping in a pond and calling it clean. So basically, it comes down to what can we do now? And how can we go to sleep at night without feeling guilty that we’re not doing all that we can to help our planet out?

The only answer we can come up with now is this: yes, to it all. Any level of sustainability is a movement towards being more sustainable as a species and for our planet. We only have one Earth to live on and at our current rate of consumption, resources are running out fast. I know, I know, it doesn’t seem like it. We’ve all heard people talking about the end of oil for decades now. Is it ever going to actually end?? The answer is yes, by the way. Here’s a new fact we just learned from The Humanure Handbook (an awesome book that everyone should read!). If everyone on the planet consumed as much as Americans did, we would need 3 more Earths to sustain us all. We are only 1/20 of the population, but consume like we’re 1/3 of it! So our suggestion for you and our plan (since it can get downright overwhelming at times) is this. Do what you feel comfortable with now, whatever that is. It’s one small step in the right direction, and then when that becomes the norm, take one more step, and one more…..and eventually we’ll all be living more sustainably. We can’t go live like humans did thousands of years ago right now, but we can all start being more conscious of our actions and how they affect others and the planet that we call home.

With that said, we really like it here in the tri-communities area of Missouri, and most likely we’ll end up applying for membership at one of these communities. We’re still in the decision-making process, but we’ll let you all know soon what we decide! Stay tuned!

The Possibility Alliance

Sandhill Farm

Dancing Rabbit

Posted by jessp2386 09:31 Archived in USA Tagged missouri sustainability community_living intentional_communities Comments (1)

Understanding God's Path

It's Not About Giving Up Something...It's About Getting More Out of Life

So for the last three weeks, we’ve spend our time at two different Christian intentional living communities here in Georgia, Koinonia Farm and Jubilee Partners. The founders of Jubilee actually came from Koinonia, so the structures of the two communities are very similar. Both are doing really great things for the greater communities around them in terms of service and both are slowly growing in ways of sustainability; however, neither one of us felt called by God to live there. We’ve learned that we are definitely looking for a community committed to living as sustainable as possible; we are looking to grow most of our own food (and its got to be organic!), build our own dwellings (out of local and earth-based or reused materials, and reduce the amount of stuff we buy and use on a daily basis. We have noticed that both Koinonia and Jubilee faced a divide among members about food. Its one of those topics that is very personal and ignites passion in most people; parenting is another one, haha. Some people don’t care what is in or on their food and just want to spend the least amount of money or effort to get food to the table, while others are extremely passionate about growing and eating organically and sustainably and others fall somewhere in between. We’ve learned that we’re on that far end; we know that we will have to end up in a community committed to organic and sustainable production and consumption of food. We believe that what you ingest, what you feed your body, mind and soul, is just too important. I guess food will be a “deal breaker” for us as we search for community.

Here's some pictures from Koinonia:
And some from Jubilee, with the cute refugee children:

Anyway, with that said, Jessica had been having trouble figuring out what to write about for the blog for weeks now. Being in a spiritual community setting, she thought it should have been easy, but it wasn’t until now (sitting in a motel room in Atlanta, GA) that we’ve felt God guiding us again. Maybe that’s because when we struggle, we learn and grow, and this journey is about learning and growing for our family.

We enjoyed our time at Koinonia and Jubilee. It was so nice to be outdoors, to farm, to commune with others, and to enjoy ourselves. We were starting to see what living in community is all about and we were also learning what little things about community life we like and some things we don’t like. We were excited to start camping using our new pop-up camper; we had heard back from three other communities, so our itinerary was full, and it was going to be easy sailing for the next couple months of traveling…….right?

No. That’s not at all what God had in store for us! Instead, we ended up only making it two hours from Jubilee when our van started overheating very fast and we had to pull over. On top of that, Elijah had gotten a fever the night before (102) and was still running one all day. So with an overheated baby and an overheating van, we finally made it to the next exit off the interstate (after stopping every half mile for 20 minutes at a time). Luckily, God didn’t make it to difficult for us. The nearest exit had 5 different options for motels, an auto repair shop, a Walmart and a Target, all within walking distance, and many options for food (even organic!). Well, as we got settled into our motel, Elijah’s fever began to spike at 105. So with faith that God knew what he was doing, we took Elijah to the hospital. After some children’s Motrin and a look-over, the doctor concluded that it is probably a virus and the only thing to do was treat the fever and wait it out. His fever broke before leaving and we hailed a cab back to our motel for an exhausted night’s rest. The next day was better as his fever stabilized, and eventually went away all together. He’s really a great baby and was only a little extra whiny throughout the whole thing.

We’re still not sure why God decided that we needed to stay awhile in Atlanta. Maybe it was to remind us how much we can’t stand the city, haha? Just in case we needed extra motivation to find a community. Or maybe it was to experience an all-Black church; it was like being at a concert for God! Whatever the reason, at this point, we are sooooo ready to live simply and sustainably (traveling is not the life for us), we might just stop at the next community we like, hehe (Jessica is having daydreams of raising chickens and planting seeds). Maybe we’ll never know quite what God had in mind for us, but a couple good lessons were learned while we’ve been here. So since we can’t really decide on one topic for this blog entry, here’s a little bit about a few different topics. Feel free to give us any feedback too!! We’d love to hear others insights on what we’re doing or experiences you’re having!

Topic 1: Community Life

Can Americans really live together in community? Are we too territorial? Too independent? Has our sense of community been bred out or our culture? Watching a living, breathing, functioning community is very interesting. You get all these individuals with different personalities and ideas of how things should be done, but somehow they are making it work, ever so slowly. It seems that there needs to be a common goal, a way of life that is shared by the group to make it work, whether that is stewardship to the Earth or service to God, there’s got to be a common thread to bring people back together when there is disagreement. It also requires a reprogramming of the mind, body and spirit to a state that is truly communal and sees that we are all one. It’s really hard to fathom, this concept of oneness. We know its true with our heads, but can only see fleeting glimpses of it within our hearts. It’s this concept that we feel is lacking in most Americans, ourselves included. We’ve been trained to be independent and think with our minds, not our hearts. And because of this, it is really hard to see the oneness, the connectedness, between us all. You can get a glimpse of it after a tragedy, but what would happen if we channeled that energy each day to celebrate wellness and cheer on our fellow person?

Topic 2: Faith

What does it mean to have faith? We mean real faith in God’s plan for you? We were at a local church a week ago and in a small group discussion after the service. We were talking about “change” and how that makes us feel. What if God called you to make a change in your life that you were uncomfortable with? Would you do it? Or would you resist the feeling? It was interesting hearing other people speak about it because they mentioned things like “mergers happening at work” stressing them out, or about changing the field of work they were in and how that impacted their daily life. To us, these changes seemed superficial, but we realize to most people “jobs” are extremely real and dictate everything in their lives. Once in Peru, someone said you can pick out the Americans because they always ask the question “What do you do?” in conversations. We, Americans, seem to define our life, our life’s importance, by the work we do. So we got to wondering, do we really have faith in God or do we have faith in our jobs? Do we really let God decide what we do each day or do we let our boss or our schedule decide that? Unfortunately, it seems to be the latter. So what would you do if you felt called to do something that meant giving up your job? Do you have faith that God would provide for you?

Topic 3: The Meditation Effect

So back to a topic regarding oneness. Some people (more and more every day) believe that there is this universal consciousness that connects us all. There’s actually a lot of scientific research out there that supports this. Look up the "100th Monkey" or check out David Wilcock’s site for more info: divinecosmos.com. So the theory behind the meditation effect is that if enough people focus their attention on one thing (whether it be happiness, peace or fear), it will enter the minds of even more people, with the potential of reaching the entire human race. Have you ever felt the difference between a bustling city and the quiet of nature? Why is one calmer than the other? Why do certain places emanate a different vibe than others, some positive, some negative? We think that in many cities, a lot of people are stressed, rushed, and generally have negative feelings; you can see it in their driving (especially in Tampa, FL, man, that was an angry city). It seems to get into your mind, these same feelings, even when your day didn’t start bad or negative. How is this so? Maybe it’s the universal consciousness. This is one reason we feel called to live a more simple and sustainable life; we think that if we do it, naturally others will follow too via this universal consciousness that we all tap into, even unconsciously, every day. If we start having wonderful feelings of loving the Earth, being thankful to God, and being mindful of what we consume, maybe others will too. We can only hope!

Finally, Topic 4: No Impact Man

So this past weekend, we watched the documentary film, "No Impact Man," a tale of one man (and his wife and daughter) who decided to live one year with no environmental impact on the Earth. Please, please check this out FOR FREE on Hulu.com (Top left, click Browse, then Documentaries, then scroll right and look for it!). What intrigued us the most was why some people in the film had such a negative reaction to someone doing something seemingly so positive? We’ve had similar reactions, we believe, to what we’re doing (and exposing) on this journey. So we began pondering why people don’t want to hear about all the awful things that are happening in our country. We think it makes people feel guilty about the way they’re living; they simply don’t want to hear about it because then if you know it, you might have to do something about it.

So with that, why don’t people want to do something about it? Americans are very passionate people, about certain topics, so why aren’t they up in arms about statements such as this: Did you know that an average Georgia peach can be found with 62 different chemicals on/in it? 25 are known honeybee toxins, 11 are developmental/reproductive toxins, 12 are neurotoxins, 10 are known carcingens, and an astounding 29 are hormone disruptors (and we wonder why girls are reaching puberty earlier and earlier?). More info can be found at whatsonmyfood.org. (Data comes from the USDA and the EPA) To us, this is ridiculous, that we would allow companies to knowingly poison us and our children!! But you all already know that about us :) So back to everyone else in America, why aren’t we upset?!? Why don’t we demand change? We think it’s because then Americans would have to change others part of their live, and most feel that means giving up things they like.

So back to the film. The wife in the film was a perfect example of your average American. She loved her TV shows, her quad espresso-whatever drink from Starbucks, and her daily eating-out at restaurants. She felt that if she gave up those things that made her happy, she’d be miserable. And at first, she was. She resisted her husband’s efforts to live more simply, secretly sneaking a coffee every now and then. But then something started to change, within her. She began to see that after giving up those material things she thought she loved, she first felt an emptiness, a hole--a longing--that slowly began to be filled with things like love, connection, and true appreciation. The end result was that after stripping away all this “stuff” we have in America what you find is that we’re really just filling a hole in our souls that really longs to be filled with deeper things, like God and Spirit, a connection to the Earth and the food we eat, a connection to others around us that doesn’t involve Facebook, and a sincere desire to love ourselves and others around us by forming real relationships in community. So basically what we’re trying to say is before you feel guilty, before you get judgmental or defensive, look within, to what you really want in life and what can really fill that hole in each one of us. We think you can make that change; we believe that all of humanity is capable of living harmoniously with each other and with the planet, and it doesn’t involve giving up anything, it really means getting the most out of our lives here on Earth.

So now for an update on our travels! We plan to leave Atlanta tomorrow for Summertown, TN where The “infamous” Farm is located. It’s an intentional community which started back in the 70s by a bunch of hippies from California. They are probably most known for their birthing center with Ina May Gaskin, a midwife who has birthed over a thousand babies and written countless books on birthing. Check out thefarmcommunity.com for more information about them! Till next time!!


Posted by jessp2386 18:19 Archived in USA Comments (1)

How Can We Glorify God?

How can we glorify God? This question was raised as part of a sermon this past Sunday at a local church we attended. The pastor mentioned it in a discussion about suffering and why suffering happens in our lives. Obviously life isn’t fair. We all know that fact; however, the point he made was that it’s how we look at situations that matter. Rather than asking why did this happen to me? Ask how can I use this to glorify God? For us (and I’m guessing most people), it’s been easier to see the negative in what we’re doing. Life isn’t that simple when your living out of your car, not able to be around family and friends, trying to find a new home, and raising a sweet, but very active (and accident-prone) 9 month old toddling baby. But our goal here is not to complain about what we don’t have or what we wish would happen. Anyone can do that. We’re on this journey to find God and find the Source of Life, so a great question really is: how can we glorify God along this journey?

We can glorify God by living the way that God intended for humans to live, which we believe is with one another, with the land, and with love. Jessica’s been reading a great book called “Return to Creation” written by a Native American man, Medicine Story. He explains beautifully how people ought (and probably really desire) to be living like, and that involves community, cooperation, and love. If you ever have the chance to read any of his books (see his website here!), we’d highly suggest doing so, as they are very inspiring and uplifting to the possibilities and potential of human beings.

Anyway, before we left many people told us how brave we were to do this because they wished they could do the same, but felt stuck in one way or another in their current situation in life. Hopefully by setting out on this journey we can set an example for others to follow, wherever their path should lead them, as not everyone is meant to do the same thing. We want to show others that it is possible to find your bliss and live it. That’s really what everyone is striving for, isn’t it? To find love and happiness, and live it? Every choice we make in life is really about looking for love, happiness, and contentment; we all desire those things. Of course, sometimes we go about that in very wrong ways, like trying to make more money (because we all know that makes people happy) or lashing out at someone who we felt wronged us (that really just makes us angry too).

For our little family, we believe our bliss can be found living for God and with God, as in nature, with the Earth, and with others in community. We believe that’s how humans were made to live. There isn’t the saying “it takes a village” for no reason. We are social beings, yet this culture we live in now is trying to separate and segment our lives so that we feel isolated and dependent. For example, when Jessica was working with refugees from other countries, they could see so clearly through our culture and would make comments like “Where are all the people?” when referring all the houses and seemingly empty neighborhoods, or “We need a TV because in my country we had community, but here the people use their TV as their community.” One family from Burma told Jessica that they cried for a month straight when they arrived in America because they felt so alone here. But we can change that. We, as humans, are changing, evolving. Many are realizing that the “American dream” is not a dream; it’s actually a nightmare that just puts people in more debt and leaves a longing for something more. Many are turning to a simpler way of life for themselves and their children. Just a year ago, when we were looking at intentional communities in the US, there were very few waitlists to join these communities. Now as we search, many have waitlists, especially for families.

Clearly more and more people want to raise their children in a different world. They want a world that nurtures the family, the individual and the earth, where children are able to learn about and experience real life, not watch “reality” on TV. They desire a world that doesn’t include a commercialized, “one size fits all” education for their children. They long for a simple, yet profound world that based on love and cooperation, not fear and competition. The Hare Krishnas’ had a philosophy of “simple living, high thinking.” They believed that we should spend our days simply praising God and his Creation. We can do this in many ways, like serving others, serving the land, and coming together in love. (And by the way, no we didn’t decide to become Hare Krishna. For numerous reasons, it just wasn’t the religion/way of life for us. But nevertheless, they were some wonderful and amazing people to be around.)

So we apologize if we sound negative sometimes about the culture we live in here in America, but we just believe so firmly in our hearts that this is not the answer for us, or for anyone. This culture is consuming, commercialized, materialistic, competitive, and fearful. It leads too many people to a life of debt, destruction, and longing for more. If you can’t see that, please look objectively and wake up to the realization around you. Please stop making up excuses in your head to justify it; listen to your heart. Know that you’re not too old to change, it’s not too late, you’re not too far in debt, you’re not too entrenched in it, you’re not stuck; there is always another option. There is always hope for a better life for all of us. We live in a world of abundance and love. Just look at nature, there’s always enough for the animals and plants; it’s the same for us, we just have to have faith, not fear, in God and in the abundance all around us.

So with that said, we are heading to our actual first farm community in a week from now. We are so thankful for our friends, the Hare Krishnas and Paul and Rebecca in Florida, as we hung around there because of weather and the community didn’t have any accommodations for us until April 1st. We’ll be heading three hours north of here to Koinonia, a Christian intentional living community, located in central Georgia. It will be nice to be around other families, as Elijah is getting so much more social, and loves being around other children. He can walk now too! (not very well yet, lots of bumps on the head) We’ll let you all know how it goes and whether humans can actually live together. We are very excited and hopeful!

Posted by jessp2386 17:41 Archived in USA Tagged children nature love community abundance Comments (1)

Don't Waste Your Hate....

....Rather Gather and Create.

We wanted to start this entry off with some partial lyrics from the song, “Manifesto” by Nahko and Medicine for the People. I highly, highly recommend listening to this song.

You can do so at this link:Manifesto
If that link doesn't work, copy and paste this into your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsP2hPVOuZ8

“I see people stressin’ over space and possessions,
Out of fear and a need for visual aids of our abundance.
Give me examples or somethin’ tangible,
Something I can get my hands on and find real meaning.

Where is the medicine?
Well I’ve been searching,
And I suppose each will find their own kind.
Well everything’s at stake,
It makes it hard to concentrate.
And there are men who see a war and see a paycheck,
Such different programming,
To live so fearfully,
Terror this and terror that, terrible reality.
There is no medicine on the television,
So turn it off and turn yourself around.

And let’s just face it,
The world’s fucking racist.
Even the most peaceful of us gets caught in the trend.
To live cohesively is almost a fantasy,
And we oughtta know it starts with humbling our egos.
What is the medicine for cultural wounding?
Has its moments, has its melodies, has its time.

Well I was listenin’ to the outgoing seasons,
About climate change and some other reasons.
When the sky opened like I’ve been hopin’
And there came horses by the thousands,
And there was thunder on their tongues,
And lightening on their minds,
And they were singing this old melody from some other time.

They sang, Don’t waste your hate, rather gather and create.
Be of service, be a sensible person,
Use your words, and don’t be nervous.
You can do this, you’ve got purpose,
Find your medicine and use it

So we’ve been on this journey to find our medicine, our source, our provider…God. He surrounds us, yet he is so hard to really grasp in today’s world. When we got back to the US we landed in Tampa, FL, and we were immediately overwhelmed with distracted and stressed out Americans rushing around the airport. After 24 hours of traveling, exhausted and hungry, it was a whirlwind to say the least. Luckily, we have an amazing baby, Elijah. He somehow didn’t even cry or complain the entire time, and stayed up way past his bedtime (usually 7 PM) to almost 1 AM when we boarded our last plane to the US from Lima.

Before we really get into the essence of all this, we want to say that this is in no way meant to offend anyone who is an American. We actually love Americans! We came back to America because we like Americans; however, don’t get that confused with America as a country or a whole though. We believe that this system created in America (and other Western nations) was purposefully set up to keep people distracted, brainwashed, separated, dumb-downed, and immature (spiritually, developmentally, etc). Luckily, humans are amazing and resilient, and despite so many very well thought out attempts to keep us sub-par, many of us have still managed to evolve and awaken to realize our full potential as human beings on this planet. Right now, we, as in Tracy and Jessica, are simply trying to explain our perceptions and experiences along this journey in hopes of opening up someone’s eyes and possibly awaken more Americans to what we believe is the real nature of the toxic system that we are living in. And of course, how we can rise above it and live peacefully and happily together.

So with all that said, it was in Tampa that we were bombarded with a reverse culture shock coming back into the US. This poisonous culture was even more apparent to us now that we had been out of it for three months. Nearly everyone we came into contact with was angry, depressed, stressed, or annoyed. Road rage rules the streets and everybody else is driving horribly (get the sarcasm?). It’s a culture based on money, fear, and control, and that’s the bottom line. It’s not about people or relationships or love. It’s definitely not about God. And if you don’t like the rules, you better shut up or get out. The saddest part of it all is that most people don’t even realize they’re in it, that they’re being duped and controlled, and that they can break free.

Long story short, it immediately starting pulling at our souls.

Originally, we thought we were going to have a happy-go-lucky mini vacation. Unfortunately that’s not in God’s plan for us. So off we went, in our newly bought minivan, to check out some off the grid intentional living communities, and hopefully find some like-minded folks living with nature and with God. Our first stop would be an eco-village just outside Gainesville, FL called Gaia Grove. They were also having an Intentional Communities Conference that weekend we were there, so we signed up for that too. We were pretty excited!

As we drove up, it looked promising. We were finally going to be staying in nature, as it was in a very rural forested area, and hopefully we’d be talking community very soon! We set up camp and met Mark and Joanna, the two people that run the place. Mark basically does most of the construction that’s on site, while Joanna owns the place. We were a little surprised to find out that no one else lived there, permanently or temporarily. As Joanna began to show us around the 92 acre property, we started to see what this place really was. There was no community. It was essentially just an empty piece of land that she owned and wanted people to invest their money in it. She wasn’t the least bit interested in actually forming community, or a conversation for that matter; she cut us off every time we tried to say something just so she could try and sell us the property or some business idea she had for it. It was pretty depressing. But we were hopeful for the conference and to just relax and be in nature.

We were wrong again. The conference was awful; Joanna had nothing planned at all. We did meet some really awesome people though, like Ken, Paul, and Rebecca, and learned a little firsthand how difficult it is to even have community and conversation for two days with differing opinions and ideas. In America, we haven’t been taught to live with one another. We’re taught the opposite, how to be an individual, how to take care of ourselves, but what about us as a whole? Where will this individualistic system lead us? It can’t go on forever because we actually do need each other; we can’t be self-sufficient on our own. So the million dollar question is: can Americans really have community and live successfully with one another? One couple at the conference did have hope for humanity, Paul and Rebecca. They were such a wonderful and loving couple living and farming near Tallahassee. If it weren’t for them, the first day of the conference would have been even worse. They brought forth a method for discussion called “circle way” which really helped the discussion progress that day. We hope we’ll be seeing them again soon as we make our way north!

So after the conference came to a dwindling end, and we had been rained on for four days in our leaky tent, we were feeling pretty down and lost. We hadn’t heard back from the next farm community we wanted to visit. We were feeling frustrated with this plan, wondering if we were ever going to make it to an actual functioning community. We felt very alone at the moment, without friends, family or community. We weren’t sure what we were doing wrong, but we didn’t feel connected with God at all. Just at that moment, Jessica had a random thought to go by this Hare Krishna temple we had seen on the way to Gaia Grove; we didn’t have anything else to do, so why not? Maybe there would be some wise spiritual leader willing to give us some insight into our plan.

Immediately upon arrival, we were greeted warmly by a man that informed us there was an impeding community feast, which happens every week at that time, and soon there would be a couple hundred people there. He then introduced us to a woman Caitanya, who seemed to have all the right answers for us at that moment, and could help us along our path, if only we would try chanting the name of the Lord, Krishna (God in Sanskrit), using their maha-mantra? We thought it couldn’t hurt to chant God’s name, so we’d give it a try. Meanwhile, about a hundred or more people showed up for the weekly feast; we were so happy to be around so many wonderful and welcoming people! It was exactly what we needed!

The Hare Krishnas believe that there are two basic principles for knowing and loving God and that’s to chant God’s name and to do service; their saying is "live simply, think highly." That's exactly what we've been trying to do; live simply with nature and others, and get closer to God. So we volunteered for the week to do service with them as they serve out lunch to nearly 1000 people each day, and we started chanting God’s name using the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In Sanskrit, it basically means Oh Lord, please engage me in your service. If you do this, you will be able to reach Krishna Consciousness (or God Consciousness), which is the ultimate goal of Hare Krishna, the original state of our souls, to be at one with God.

So we never can predict where God will lead us next. We’re still not sure what our next step will be, but we’re at least for now, enjoying God’s plan for us (and next time, we’ll have a little more faith that God does know what he’s doing, we’re just a little impatient sometimes). We’re reminded of the song, “Manifesto,” again when they sing:

“Don’t waste your hate, rather gather and create.
Be of service, be a sensible person,
Use your words, and don’t be nervous.
You can do this, you’ve got purpose,
Find your medicine and use it.”

Who knows, maybe we have found our medicine with the Hare Krishnas? We’re at least going to use this opportunity to get closer to God and to be able to serve Him, as we discover the right path for us.

Here's some cute pictures of Elijah for now!

Posted by jessp2386 21:59 Archived in USA Tagged god community hare_krishna faith spirituality find_your_medicine Comments (1)

For All You Baby Lovers....

This One's All About Elijah!

So for all you baby lovers out there, we wanted to do a quick blog entry all about our cutie, Elijah! He has grown so much in the last three months, and we want to give you all an update.

November 2012: 5 months old
We left the US for Peru when Elijah was about 5 ½ months old. He was just beginning to sit up on his own. He could push up off the ground with his hands, but hated to be on his belly; he preferred that someone hold him, so he could stand on a lap. He’s wanted to stand since he was about 2 months old! He still didn’t have any teeth and didn’t have any interest in solid food. Also, we practice EC (elimination communication) which is kind of like early potty training, except we’re the ones learning, not Elijah; anyway, at this age we would catch about half of all his daily pees/poos in a toilet (or bush/side of a building, haha).

December 2012: 6 months old
At 6 months old, Elijah was first interested in foods, and ate a bite of Jessica’s banana when we were in Puno, Peru for his first true taste of food. He loved it! Then in the same day, he tried sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. Around the same time, he got both of his bottom teeth in! Ouch! This month, he also “army” crawled for the first time in Cusco, Peru. He really hates it though, and actually grunts and groans about it the whole time while crawling. It’s pretty funny! Oh and we got better at saving diapers; we only miss about one or two per day! We’re also teaching him sign language for “potty” so hopefully he can start telling us when he needs to go.

January 2013: 7 months old
This month, he started “pulling up” on everything! All day, he’d just puts his hands up in the air for us, so we can put out our hands for him to pull up on. It’s really cute! (and sometimes a little tiring). He really wanted to stand by himself, but can’t yet at this age. So we got to help him a lot. Even though he wanted to eat food at this age, he was still having trouble not choking/gagging on solids, even when they’re pureed or mashed, so he doesn’t get much. Up to this point, these are the foods he likes: tomato, lemons, limes, onions, oranges, carrots, and bananas (his favorite like his daddy). For some reason, he doesn’t like avocados, which makes us a bit sad, but we’ll keep trying. This month, he said his first word, dada, while we were in Pisac, Peru, and then everything was dada. Dada, dada, dada, all day long. Tracy loves it! He also signed “potty” for the first time this month. It’s amazing! We are doing great with EC, and sometimes go days without a dirty diaper!

February 2013: 8 months old
We never thought we’d be so thankful for carpet, but since having it here in Tampa, FL, Elijah has been able to really get going on the floor by himself! We didn’t have many options in Peru without worrying about him cracking his head open. Anyway, he started crawling, for real, and is really good now (which just means we’ve got to be quicker)! He also can pull up by himself on almost any edge, which is still a bit scary if he does accidentally fall. But he loves it, and can stand for about 10-15 seconds all on his own without holding onto anything. He can’t wait to start walking also. He wants us to “walk” him around by his hands everywhere and it’s super cute! Most people think he’s at least one when they see him, and are surprised when we say he’s only 8 months. We have back-tracked a bit with the ECing; we think he’s a bit distracted with all this new found freedom of movement and has stopped signing to us. But we’re not giving up. Luckily we’ve got washers and dryers here in the States! He hasn’t said any more words, but he does like to babble on in his own language, and growls sometimes too. He’s definitely working out his vocal cords this month. Not much progress with solid foods, luckily he’s got plenty of breastmilk that even a toddling 8 month old won’t go hungry! Oh and we'll be seeing two more teeth soon!

Well, that’s the baby update! We will have another entry soon to let you know how our “culture shock” back into the Matrix went. It’s been a wild one!!

Oh one more thing about Elijah, he makes a lot of crazy faces, if you didn't notice.

Posted by jessp2386 03:06 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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