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Tira Ingersoll

The Rock From Which I Was Cut

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

As I go about life at home, writing papers at the library and working at the plant nursery, as my family and old friends ask questions about my summer and my time in Europe, I am forced to look back. I weigh gelato flavours against one another to give my opinion on the best ones and quickly evaluate all the coffee I had so I can say which country had the best. As I look back it is easy to live in the past, to wish I’d spent more time doing this or that, to wish I could be sleeping on the ground in a tent with Lois instead of sweating, carrying trees and loading manure into people’s vehicles. It’s easy to wonder why writing papers and serving irate customers does not compare to strolling the streets of Europe soaking in the culture or eating a sandwich beside the Eiffel Tower.
There is a healthy way to look back and a destructive way to look back. Isaiah 51:1 says, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord…Look to the rock from which you were cut…Look to the quarry from which you were hewn.”
I think this verse offers two applications for myself specifically and perhaps others reading this…
1) Remembering Europe and the time we spent there, the people I spent it with, what I learned (academically and about myself) and using that knowledge to help shape my time here at home, to remember the way we did life in Europe and apply it here at home.
2) My experience in Europe was coloured by the theme of restoration (specifically the Frauenkirche) and as I think about the “stages” that I’m processing, the time has come to be at home with my parents and brother, to look back to the rock from which I was cut – to my parents, to my Heavenly Father–and to allow them to speak life into me; to allow God to define me.
I am on the path of restoration. Europe was the beginning of this journey and God is my companion.

He Restores My Soul

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

While in Dresden we visited the Frauenkirche, a church which was destroyed during World War II in the Dresden firebombing. The story of this church became intensely personal to me and has been colouring the trip for me.

The Frauenkirche was originally thought to have survived the bombing, however, two days afterward, the dome collapsed thereby reducing the church to stones and dust. It stayed this way until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The church was then reconstructed using the blueprints from the original church as well as sandstone from the same quarry the original sandstone was from. All the rubble was gone through to see what could be reused. Some of the stones were placed back where they had been originally, other stones were used to make up entire sections. The church was consecrated in 2005.

At the beginning of the trip Gregg Finley read to us Psalm 23. He emphasized verse three which reads, “He restores my soul”. In Jeremy Wiebe’s philosophy 300 class last semester we read an article on sexual violence, I don’t remember the author or the title of the article, but there was a particular sentence which stood out to me, I will paraphrase: “When our lives are shattered and lying in pieces we are given the opportunity to pick them up and choose what we want to keep and what we want to throw away”. Is it possible that the restoration of a church such as the Frauenkirche could speak not only of the restoration of  a building but also of individual human souls?

Last semester was very difficult for me, not academically, but personally. I spent most of the semester bitter and angry, broken hearted and lost; my life felt, and to some extent still feels like a pile of rubble. Just as the rubble of the Frauenkirche was gone through, some reused, some thrown away, so am I going through the pieces of my life, choosing what I want to keep and what I want to throw away. And just as the Frauenkirche was restored to its original beauty and brilliance in the Dresden skyline, so is God restoring my soul.

Simply Poppies

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

I stand inside an ancient cathedral with beautiful architecture and stunning frescos, or in a museum staring at a great and famous work of art known around the world; but I am unaffected. More often than not on this trip so far I have felt relatively apathetic about most of the art and architecture we have seen. There have been a few things that have stood out to me and which I have very much enjoyed or felt changed by, but 80 percent of what we have seen has not stunned me. However, I am realizing that this is okay; that everything does not have to have a great impact on me, that I can go through the trip slowly and subtly affected by things and still come out a better person. And rather than trying to fabricate a certain type of experience or trying to be affected by things that I feel like I should be affected by, allowing Europe and all that is offers touch me when and how it wants to.

I remember being in Carcassonne, a very old, very beautiful fortified city which I felt no connection to whatsoever. I remember our walk into the city and the large field of poppies we passed; hundreds of thousands of brilliantly red poppies. It was at this moment that I understood why great artists painted; I understood why they were inspired. I am writing this blog on the bus. Looking out the window every few words to keep from getting motion sickness. As I look out at the Italian countryside; the mountains, the fields of grapes, olive trees, the magnolia, the tall regal cypress` and the red poppies colouring the otherwise green landscape, I understand again where so many great painters got their inspiration. I understand why van Gogh painted so many cypresses and why Gaudi was so inspired by nature and used it to create such unique architecture. This small and simple realization is of greater value to me than standing in front of a great basilica or in front of  the Roman forum thinking: this used to be the centre of the world. I am looking forward to many more simple realizations or experiences which in turn bring so much joy.

Tira

In an ideal world…

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

In an ideal world I would have been thinking about my blog sooner than half an hour before the deadline. Then again, in an ideal world I wouldn’t spend 15 minutes trying to think of a witty opening line. Therefore, due to time contraints and brain farts this entry will be very rushed and raw. Actually, that is probably a good description of how I feel I am going to Europe. With so many assignments and readings, packing and last minute logistics, I haven’t had the time to mentally prepare myself to spend two months with the same 38 people, tenting, eating, riding a bus and walking through museum after museum after museum.

We talked the other day at one of our orientation sessions about the idea of being pilgrims. That really stuck with me, and I think it is how I want to live in Europe. I want to be intentional. Intentional about how I interact with my peers, intentional about how and where I spend my money and intentional about how and where I spend my time.

In an ideal world I would have more time to prepare myself to be a pilgrim, but then again in an ideal world I would have brilliant words to leave you with. Instead I will leave you with a few words from Enya’s song “Pilgrim”.

Pilgrim, how you journey
On the road you chose
To find out why the winds die
And where the stories go.

All days come from one day
That much you must know,
You cannot change what’s over
But only where you go.

I Still Hate Potatoes

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For as long as I can remember I have detested potatoes. I still eat them, and do not complain when they are served, but I do in fact hate them. I was thrilled when we were heading to Southeast Asia, where potatoes are not a staple in every meal; I was looking forward to two months of a potato-free existence. Throughout the two months the only thing I ate that involved potatoes was the occasional plate of french fries when I found myself tired of rice or fish or unrecognizable foods. Though I did not love the food in Asia, I loved that I could eat freely without worry of eating a potato.

When we were in Asia, before we came home I remember thinking that I would be a very different person; that I would have changed drastically in the two months we were gone. I could not pin-point how I had changed and figured I wouldn’t be able to until we came home, but I knew that I was different. I remember feeling anxious on the bus-ride from Saint John, and especially as we turned the corner and our eyes met the familiar big yellow house on top of the hill. I remember looking forward to interacting with people who hadn’t gone on the trip so that I could see the change in myself. But as I stepped off the bus and began greeting people, hugging and talking to them, I could not see it. In fact I felt almost exactly the same as I did when I left. I was horribly confused. I had had so many great experiences, I had met so many interesting people, I had learned so many new and exciting things. Why could I not see the change in myself?

As the days went by, and then weeks, I could not see a drastic change within myself. And still after having been back about 25 days, I am not an entirely different person than I was two months ago. I know that I have changed, how could I not. I have seen things I had never seen before; I have met the most interesting people and learned from them; I have listened to lectures and to my peers and I have learned from that. I have become more aware of the world around me and developed a true concern and care for it. Even small things like my tastebuds have changed as I find myself enjoying spicy food now. All of my experiences in Southeast Asia have changed me, I am different, however, in spite of all these things there are parts of me that have not obviously changed. I still hate potatoes.

Those Fat Americans

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*footnote: when I say “American’s” I am referring to those who come from North America.

I was at the hospital with my homestay dad – Nui ; I had a bad cough and he was taking me to get it looked at and hopefully something to help it. The nurse had to do some general “test things” such as blood pressure and weight. The blood pressure was fairly smooth; she had to do my left arm twice, but other than that…flawless. It was when I stepped on the scale that the hospital experience here in Thailand truly became a cultural experience. My homestay dad was standing behind me, translating (the best he could) what the nurse was asking and my answers. I stepped on the scale, and up the numbers went from “0” until they stopped. As soon as they stop I hear the voice of Nui: “O MY GOD!!!!”, at a considerable volume and with laughter following his outburst. I smiled at him, stepped off the scale and walked back to my seat.  I was more amused than offended, and since we had been warned of episodes such as this one, I was not surprised.

Comments about weight or size are not unusual here in Thailand. People have had vendors tell them not to try clothes on because they’ll “break them.” Even some of the homestay families requested to have only one student because they didn’t think that two would fit into their house. It’s strange to be in a place where weight is dinner table conversation, and calling someone fat, or making comments that suggest it are acceptable. Thai people are so small, in height and size and I cannot imagine how big we look to them.

I am looking forward to my next Big Mac.

Self Identity – Tira Ingersoll

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Only a few days after landing in the Philippines I learned that “Tira” is a word in one of the dialects spoken there. You can only imagine my excitement when I learned that it was spelled and pronounced the same way and even more so when I learned its meaning: “Go for it.” The example the woman gave me was, if a bunch of people are in a bar or drinking together and someone starts chugging, people would start chanting, “Tira! Tira!.” How encouraging it was to know that my name is being chanted in bars all across the Philippines.
I decided that I would keep this in mind during the trip; that I would transfer it to situations in which I felt a little apprehensive and let it serve as a reminder that I am there to experience all that I can. Though one thing I’ve been learning is that experiences cannot be compared. Not in the sense that you can’t exchange them, but in the sense that you can’t measure your experience against someone else’s. It is also true that the same experience is not meaningful in the same way for each person; therefore what is significant for one person, may not be significant for another. It’s hard not to do this though. It’s hard to be the person who hears about all the exciting things people are doing and feeling like the things you’re doing aren’t as fun, and you’re not taking advantage of opportunity. It’s also hard to be the person who’s having the great adventures and still being sensitive to others, and not coming across as arrogant or demeaning to the experiences of others.
I’ve decided to keep my name in mind and “go for it” when something interests me; and let my experience here in Asia be significant to myself.

Just Another Drop

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Lately my life has been a bit of a rollercoaster. There have been many new experiences, things I never thought I would do. I’ve been pushed in ways I never thought I would want to be pushed. The thing about rollercoasters is that right when you get to the top of the drop there’s that tickling feeling in the pit of your stomach, and for a brief second you want to get off. I would equate the feeling I had when I came to SSU with the feeling I get on a rollercoaster. There was even a moment when we got to New Brunswick that I thought “take me home. I want to get off”. But the other thing about rollercoasters is that once it’s all over, the cars stop, you sit in your seat, your hair windblown, you look to the person beside you and say: “That was AWESOME!”

Asia is something very new for me. I have not done much traveling, so even that aspect of it is new for me. We talked about expectations in class the other day, and I was thankful that we did because it was a reminder to not set my expectations too high, but to just enjoy the experience for what it is.

I think Asia is just another drop on the rollercoaster that is: SSU. I am both excited and nervous, as I think most people are, but I know that it is adding to the experience and that at the end, I will look back, and to the person beside me and say: “That was AWESOME!”