Friday, October 9, 2009

Louisiana: A Culture All It's Own

Growing up in New Mexico, I have experienced a different culture. I only recently discovered this after fully introducing the Axis team to New Mexico during our first trip this semester. Below, I have listed a few of the experiences I was able to share.

New Mexico is the only state where you are always asked "red, green or christmas" at every restaurant (these are for Chile Pepper variations). My Christmas (the holiday) decorations include a yard of sand and 200 paper bags. I eat tortillas instead of bread. A lawn is not necessary when I can use crushed rock and a cactus. A dust devil can roll your trampoline down the street, yet leave the rest of the neighborhood unscathed. Spanglish is an actual language. Tumbleweed-men are made during the winter because there is no snow. The Roadrunner is our state bird and the Yucca is our state plant. Every potluck includes Enchiladas, Posole, and Biscochitos. Prevalent animal life includes Tarantulas, Scorpions, Centipedes, Black Widows, Child of the Earth Bugs, Rattlesnakes, and of course the occasional Jack Rabbit or Quail.

Upon leaving New Mexico, I thought I would not experience culture shock to the extent that the team had.... that was until I visited Louisiana.

Our first night in town, the AXiS team met up with Jon Jon, a Floridian and our newest AXiS staff member; we had an incredible down home meal cooked by none other than Miss Eloise, and we cheered on the 2A Houma Christian School varsity volleyball team as they shut-out a 5A team. Starting with that first evening, I began to experience this unique culture of the South:

Boudin - deep fried pork with rice in pork casings. While in Houston, I was asked if I had ever tried this southern favorite. Upon our first meal out in Louisiana, I ordered it (not too bad).

Jambalaya - a cajun dish made of rice, seafood, chicken, vegetables, etc. This turned out to a common dish, as we had it multiple times (my favorite!)

Gumbo - a creole stew, made with tomatoes, okra, and other vegetables and meats, including shrimp and chicken.

Bayou - a body of water usually a slow-moving river or stagnant channel. Many times, I found it difficult to differentiate between the bayous and the lawns of some homes.

The French Quarter - We couldn’t see New Orleans without taking a stroll through this Mississippi port.

Cafe du Monde - A very popular cafe in New Orleans that served up their very own brand of coffee and fried pastry. This cafe came complete with live jazz music.

Chicory - the coffee made at cafe du monde. It is made with the root of the endive plant. It is roasted and then ground to be added to the coffee. (really good).

Beignet - a fried pastry covered with a thick layer of powdered sugar (a perfect compliment to the chicory)

Nutria - “Rodents of unusual size? I don’t think they exist” - try again! One night, as we drove back to our host home, we saw what looked like an ROUS; and that is exactly what it was. It was an animal that looks similar to a beaver, but is actually a rat....a large water rat. (see the title picture to find out what a Nutria looks like).

I guess there is more culture in our country than I ever gave credit. With that said, if you want some unique American culture, go to New Mexico or Louisiana!

By: Meghan

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The All-Singing, All-Dancing Passion of the Christ - Part 6

I started off this series (five posts ago and about five months ago!) by stating that I had learned a lot of bad theology by listening to sermons as a kid. Whether or not they were doctrinally correct, these dull-as-ditchwater Sunday morning episodes had me thinking that Jesus (and His Father) were about as lively and exciting as a Pez dispenser. On a good day.

When I was young, I admired church plays for their truth-telling about a Savior who was somehow mysteriously at once glorious God incarnate and humble carpenter. Although I couldn't understand it conceptually, I could understand it experientially. I experienced the energy and excitement simply by watching an actor play Jesus on stage. I felt as if I understood everything for the first time. I was caught up in a big adventure. Actually, it was the right size. It fit. It was much much bigger than me, yet not bigger than life itself. It was what I wanted life to be about.

I was excited about an enormous Passion play at my church this year. But something went wrong. The Gospel Story was hyped up with flying acrobats, flashing lights, and hollywood special effects. I felt like I was watching the latest Peter Jackson flick. Ordinary humans don't fit in that kind of epic. (By ordinary, I mean you and me, people who hope that qualifying as a disciple doesn't include looking like a J-crew model, or frolicking gracefully from one divine appointment to the next on a bright and perky CCM score.) That just doesn't fit with the way life is. Or the way I want it to be. Ordinary humans don't fit in the Iliad.

It is true that we serve a big God. Much bigger than we can imagine. His story is an epic -- in its own way. It is unique. It is unlike any other story that humans could invent. And this is the amazing part: It is for us. Whether or not we want to accept the frightening honor, God has written us into the Greatest Story Ever Told. That really is Epic.

Thanks for reading for the last five months!

Click here to read the previous post in this series.

By: Chad

Friday, October 2, 2009

Say Hi to Jon Jon!

Written 9/28/09

Hello from (humid) San Antonio!

My name’s Jon Jon Wesolowski. I’m a student taking a semester hiatus to travel and teach worldview as an Intern with Axis. In between trips, I will be doing various things around the office and helping out in anyway I can.  I’m From Tallahassee, Florida and I’m not used to seeing snow in the summer time or, for that matter, ever. I could have sworn that I was beginning to get frost bite when I went to check the mail. My roommate, however, assured me that freezing wasn’t possible at 34 degrees. I beg to differ.

Climate aside, I’m so grateful to be here and to be a part of Axis. I drove out here to Colorado Springs nearly two weeks ago and have had the opportunity to be apart of two presentations thus far. The time spent with students was emboldening; every conversation gave energy so that, no matter how much of my physical energy was drained, I was more excited about the next chance to pour into the lives of the students.  I left each conference exhausted, but already anticipating the next trip. I think I could do this forever.

On my drive out here, I came to a road block in a major city. The police redirected the traffic to the exit ramp. As I turned down my music and looked over, I could see a dead body laying in the street with a coat over his face. Immediately I began thinking about one of the biggest questions of life, and that is, "what happens when I die?" Axis inspires me because the program gets students to consider life's important questions. Most people do not consider their life, or their beliefs until it is too late, or tragedy has struck. What a privilege it is to be a part of something that enables students to consider their worldview while they have their life ahead of them.

With everything being how it is, I can tolerate the weather in exchange for the fulfillment I have in being a part of such a great organization. Who knows, I may end up enjoying the life of blizzards and storms, snow and ice. My mentor once told me, “There is no bad weather--only bad gear.”

By: Jon Jon

PS - If you are one of the students who has heard Jon Jon speak with Axis in the last few weeks, this is a great place to leave encouraging feedback for him or just give a shout out!

PSS - This PS was not written by Jon Jon:).

PSSS - To become an Axis Intern someday you must have been either a staff member for Summit Ministries or have attended the Focus Leadership Institute -