Thursday, December 9, 2010

Finals Day 1

The first day of finals are done and gone. I had three today. The third was for my online class. I missed 24/75 multiple choice questions. That means I got at least a 66% on the test overall.

After taking the test I did some calculations to see what I needed to get a 80% in the class and what I needed to get a 90% in the class. All I lacked to get an A is 10 points. I would need a perfect score on the test and all 10 possible bonus points to have the A. The funny thing is-- I chose not to do one homework assignment for the class and it was worth 10 points.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Its the most... busiest time of the year

December. It's the most wonderful time of the year. There is no doubt about it (other than a few instances). Strangers helping other strangers and extending kindness. People being nicer to each other. Families spending time together. Christmas Carols. I love it!

But there is no doubt either that it is the most busy time of the year too. In the past years my friends and I have gone to two nursing homes to sing carols and visit the residents. We didn't have the time this year. Everyone was so busy with finals and classes and other festivities. I have yet to begin Christmas shopping-- 20 days left until the big day. It seems like theres an event practically every day.

I've even said that between adults, I wouldn't even mind if we didn't exchange gifts-- just give to the kids in the family and leave it at that. The rest of us just get to spend time together. It seems like that would make things a lot less stressful. Every year Christmas shopping becomes more and more difficult. I don't know what to get people and I don't know what to tell them I want. And if it spread to be a cultural thing of only buying for the kids then there might not be quite as much fighting over some of the items in stores on Black Friday and other major shopping days.

Whatever the matter... In all the business of the season... in all the time with family... all the time shopping... with friends... singing... getting into the Christmas spirt... Let's remember that Christ is the reason for it. God's gift!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Final Projects

The end of the semester. That means Christmas break is just around the corner and only a single week remains of classes. That should be good right? But the thing is, we have a week and a day after Thanksgiving Break before Finals. Everything ends up being due when there is only a week left of class to work on it. I ended up spending 14 hours on Sunday to finish the following video/documentary for my Culture and Civilization: Americas class.

It did not come out exactly the way I would like. I didn't get the interviews I had planned on. There just wasn't enough time. I sent the emails to them and didn't get a response for two weeks, 3 days before the due date of the project. So I ended up having to do all of the narration. I am disappointed in the project but I did put a LOT of time into it still. On top of the 14 hours on Sunday, I probably put an equal amount or more of time into the research and gathering process in the weeks previous.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Edge

Thanksgiving break is coming to a close, but that doesn't mean ASU has some of the main buildings open. The Union is closed. The library is closed. That made studying a little difficult until today.

Yesterday we tried to go to the park to study. It was too cold. I did manage to get my Public Relations assignment done but my hands were freezing by the end of it. Later I did everything but study.

Today we came to The Edge Coffee House. I am here every Wednesday for Tertulia but very rarely come on my own. But today it provided a nice environment to study. I bought a soda and a hot drink and spent four hours there. Nice environment. Nice beverages.

Unfortunately, tomorrow it is back to the library.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Meeting Goals

At the beginning of the week I set a few goals. Two of them were major goals that I really wanted to meet. On top of the daily homework assignments, I wanted to finish the introduction to a documentary I am working on for a class and I wanted to start studying for a final.

I was happy to meet these goals today. I think by setting the goals it pushed me to actually work on some of these extensive projects rather than the typical procrastination. I have found that actually putting work into something instead of waiting until the day before, has really paid off this semester, whether it is a paper or presentation. I have tried to do homework on the day it is assigned, and that is yet another goal I have met fairly well. This semester has been far less stressful when I don't procrastinate so much.

Goals really do help!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Last night, I began my first application for what I consider a real job. It is basically a paid internship, but it lasts for up to three years. The job: teaching English in Spain.

I am hopefully in securing the position. It will be a great opportunity for me to help students learn English which is becoming more and more prevalent in the world, all the while I am learning Spanish for myself. Along with the work will be plenty of times for me to travel in Europe and improve my communication skills.

Along with learning Spanish and teaching English, it will provide another opportunity for me as well. My plan is to have two blogs while I am in Spain (if I get the job). One will be an English blog for my family and friends. It will be a travel blog. The other blog, if I have my way, will be a more feature/news type blog. I want to practice my Journalism skills in both Spanish and English. I will interview people and try to find interesting stories to write about. The second blog would probably be bilingual, with stories in both English and Spanish.

The application process is very long. Along with the application I have to work with government agencies in order to have my background checked, obtain a visa, and other things. I have two teachers who have already said they would write letters of recommendation for me. Even though it is not required, I will probably ask them to write the letters for me. I will also have to write a paper myself to submit with the application. Hopefully I can get the job in Huelva, where our university has a partnership.

This will be a really neat opportunity if I am able to get it. And for me I will call it my first real job because it is paid and it lasts more than a few months.

Monday, November 8, 2010


As if being sick isn't bad enough. I am sure the same concept will apply to those in the work force, but on top of the illness is all the catch up work that goes along with it.

I went to my classes on Friday with a sore throat. I thought it was just sinus drainage. By 7:30 that night I had a fever of over 100. Saturday I went to the doctor to find I had two infections. So then came the antibiotics. Friday night and Saturday I spent in my room, bored, and getting nothing done. Then came Sunday.

I was unable to go to the morning service because I hadn't been on the antibiotic for 24 hours yet. But I got to go to the library Sunday night in order to start catching up, although I am far behind. It is amazing how fast things can pile up. Procrastinating doesn't help.

Watching movies in Spanish and listening to Spanish music is a lot more fun than reading those stories in Spanish that are required for class on Tuesday. More to do tonight. More to catch up on.

(If it isn't obvious by now, I am running out of ideas for blogs. Any ideas, feel free to leave a comment.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Although it was a rather boring Halloween weekend, today started out pretty good. The Japanese Student Organization hosted "Little Japan" today and I was finally able to attend one of their events. Before going to my class I got to watch a Japanese dance, try some Japanese food and learn to fold a throwing star from one of my Japanese friends.

Then came class which brought with it discouragement. I love to speak in Spanish and I have been practicing, trying to read Spanish short stories. In order of proficiency, I am probably: Speaking, Writing, Reading, and listening isn't even on the chart. When it comes to the last two, I am not always exactly sure what I am reading. It doesn't always make since and what I think is happening isn't necessarily happening.

I said the character dies in the end of the story. The teacher shakes his head no and asks the class, "What do you think, does he die or not?" No one can answer and he says to have an answer for the next class. He speaks slow and I get the gist of it, he speeds up and I don't even try to take notes. He says this is how they actually speak in Spain. I believe him.

It isn't uncommon for me to ask my friends to repeat themselves when speaking Spanish. Or other times I just make up an answer and hope I understood correctly. I began asking myself, should I apply for this job in Spain that I want to get so badly? If I get there and I can't understand the majority of what they tell me it is going to be very difficult.

If English is the hardest language to learn, I hate to imagine what so many of our international students must feel like every day!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Fishing" (for people) Trip

18As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 20At once they left their nets and followed him. ~ (Matthew 18-20, NIV, Bible Gateway)
We are called to be fishers of men. In Matthew 28, known as the great commission, he tells us to go and make DISCIPLES in all the nations. He is with us everywhere we go. It wasn't a suggestion. It was a command.

This command is part of the reason I am still at Arkansas State University. My freshman year I wanted to go home. I wanted to quit. Then I met a group of Christian friends who were also trying to answer that call. I got involved with them and one of the opportunities gave us were these "fishing trips."

That is how I met the group. Two of them came up to me in the cafeteria and began to witness. I had heard it before and knew where they had learned the style from. And in the future, I would be out there with them.

I know God doesn't need us. He could make everyone know the truth, he could take away our free will, but he doesn't. He CHOOSES to use us. He chooses to speak through humans. How great of an honor is that that he chooses to speak through us, sinners, who also have to be saved through the blood of Christ!

We met all sorts of people today. Aaron and I went to tailgate city before the football game to talk to people. The first man that I talked to was saved. Not only did he know the gospel, he told it to me and then he turned back to me and asked me if I knew where I would go when I die :). This was the first person we talked to today and it was encouraging. The second was a group of two guys and Aaron talked to them. He used the same tract as I did, the survey with trick questions. After a few silly questions it was time for the serious questions; they had heard the gospel before. There seemed to be some conviction when you looked at their faces and listened to their voices.

The next person was an older lady. I asked her a few questions and then moved to the serious ones. She said you got to heaven by doing good things. Aaron asked her if everyone went to heaven. She said she never really thought about it. And then I told her the bible says works can't save us and she responded about Jesus. I know know if she believes or not.

After we talked to her we went in prayed. After praying we got up and started again. We started using the million dollar bill and asking "Have you heard the million dollar question?" We were able to talk to one member of the Methodist church. After that we went to the student side of Tailgate city and I talked to what appeared to be a family. I went through the gospel with them and they had heard it before. Again, I don't know what they believe and they are not involved with any churches or anything.

I think my favorite was with an alumni behind the stadium. He and his wife were here for the game and he knew the gospel as well and was saved. He was from Helena and we actually had a conversation about changes. He talked about how Satan had gotten a foothold here and there was a lot more violence and drugs on the campus that when he was a student. One of my teacher's family members plays the piano where someone in his family goes to church. It is a small world!

In total I think we talked to 8 people and/or groups of people. Afterward we went to the cafeteria and ate with two other friends. One I don't know what he believes. The other is Catholic. We were able to discuss religion and different beliefs as well as international and domestic policies. It was a very educational lunch.

I also had the opportunity to witness to one of my good friends last night, and pray for some others. God is moving and I can't wait to see what else he will do on this campus and in this community and in my life.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I got to briefly relive my summer today for about an hour. As part of getting credit for my internship at ASU, I had to talk to two FYE classes today, each for about half an hour. It was an interesting experience and a new one.

I have sat in my own Journalism classes when we have had guest speakers. But today I got to be on the other end of that-- I was the speaker. I saw the expressions on the students faces. I saw the emotion, or lack thereof. I was able to take questions if the students had any.

The presentations were about the internship I had this summer. Mine included how I got the internship, what I did, and what I learned from the internship. (Click here to see the first version of the PowerPoint that went with it.) It went a lot better than I expected. I didn't put much preparation into it. All I did was make the PowerPoint presentation and practice a real quick run-through in my room about a week ago. After all, with all of the presentations in Spanish, an English Presentation would be easy. And it was.

But, no matter how easy it is or what language it is in, it never goes as expected or intended. There were things that I said in one class that I didn't say in the other. There are things I wanted to say in both classes but I didn't. There were ways I wanted to begin that I didn't. But it all worked out anyway. It was a great opportunity. It was a lot different from an Oral Communications class.

I remember being extremely nervous in Oral Communications. Today wasn't that bad. I went in to the classes looking forward to it. I looked for the opportunity to put a little bit of public speaking behind me. Who knows how much I will have to do in the future. And being on the other side of speaking, I am able to see how all our guest speakers might feel, or even the instructors.

When we as students slouch down in our chairs and look bored, they can sense it. It doesn't help the professor and in turn it probably makes things worse for the students. I honestly wondered, especially in the second presentation, if anyone was even paying attention. It had been my intention to answer more questions in the second, because they had already listened to another presentation before mine. But only one person asked a question.

So, from the internship I learned just how important some of my classes are. Even though I didn't understand how much I needed some of the information, it turned out very valuable at the internship. And then, from presenting that information today, I learned a little bit more about what it is like for teachers and presenters. As students, we should give them all a little more respect. Ask questions (assuming it is that kind of class). Sit up. Use body language appropriate-- smile, nod... something to show we are paying attention and understand what is being said. It could all make a world of a difference.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

20 horas despues

Hoy, esperamos con los Chilenos. Mañana celebramos con los Chilenos. (Today we wait/hope with the Chileans. Tomorrow we celebrate with the Chileans.)

It is so nice to finally hear some good news for once. The Chilean miners were trapped for more than two months, almost 70 days, in a the San Jose Mine. Today the world has been watching the TV as live broadcasts from the site, show us the rescue mission.

It has been about 20 hours since the mission started. Twenty-Seven miners have been rescued leaving 6 miners and 5 rescue workers in the mine. Eleven more to go!

Let's continue to pray for the safe return of all these people to the surface and a speedy rescue.


Es muy bien para oír noticias buenas. Los mineros chilenos estaban atrapados para mas de 2 meses, casi 70 días, en el mino San Jose. Hoy, el mundo han sido mirando por el televisión donde muestran viva vídeo desde el sitio.

Hace 20 horas desde el empece del trabajo para resecar los mineros. Veintisiete mineros han sido rescate, y le falta once mas gente en el mino.

Necesitamos continuar a rogar para el vuelto seguro de todas la gente y para el rescate pronto.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pedestrians in Jonesboro, AR

I had an interesting yet fun hours tonight. It was not an average night by any means. A friend and I took off about 8:20pm and got back to campus at 12:20am. We took a 9.5 mile hike, but not in the mountains or hills or even in the woods. This was a far more dangerous hike. This was a hike across busy roads, down dark roads, and roads without sidewalks. This was a hike from Arkansas State University, down Matthews to Stadium to Harrisburg Road to S. Caraway Road and back to ASU.

View Larger Map

Once we got to Stadium Blvd., the fun began. Many areas don't have crosswalks. Some have crosswalks but no signal lights. Where there are signal lights, as soon as they tel you to walk, they start flashing the red hand to stop. They don't give enough time to cross a road. Of course, in Washington, D.C. we just ignore the signs all together. If there was no car coming we went. I'm not sure how Jonesboro Police would feel about that around here.

I don't even know how many ridiculous things people were doing. Countless cars blew their horns for no reason. Even more had their windows rolled down and started to yell at us. I don't know what they said. It was annoying is all I know. The weirdest was when we were almost back to campus, someone yelled my name.

There were a few times I was walking on the shoulder of the road-- NOT a turn lane-- and a car tried to run me over. Of course, there are almost no sidewalks in Jonesboro so we had to walk through ditches, yards, in the road, and on the shoulder of the road. Jonesboro needs more public transportation but I think they need to work on some major sidewalk and pedestrian improvements first. Even if we had the transportation, there is nowhere safe to walk. Yet there are students and other people around here that have to do it almost every day.

Friday, October 8, 2010


I thought I wasn't even going to be able to write this blog tonight because it takes so long to load a BLANK page. I don't know if you have ever seen the text editing page for blogger. If not, here is a screenshot.

The following is a Facebook status in which I tagged Arkansas State University-- although I do not know how much good it will do. They don't seem to do anything that makes since.
Video Length: 1 minute 12 seconds. Time to load and watch- Cell phone: 1:12; computer: 14.5 minutes.... CONCLUSION: Arkansas State University - Jonesboro should start charging less for athletic fees, and recreation fees and allocating money in areas we really need it like technology and academics.
 The story behind the status: I was talking to friends today and said I could probably load a Youtube video faster on my cell phone than I could on my computer. I got so tired of it that I finally tried it tonight. Sure enough, the results were not a big surprise. It loaded more than 13 minutes faster on my cell phone! It only took the length of the video, a minute and 12 seconds for me to load and watch it on my phone.

Another one of my friends posted a status around the same time as I posted mine saying she had just lost an entire homework assignment because of the internet.

I do not know for sure about hers but my experiment was performed using ETHERNET, not wireless!

Something has got to change. Classes depend on the internet now! It is the primary source of research. It is one of the main ways teachers and students communicate, especially outside of the classroom. It is how many students take classes. In some classes, videos are a part of the class. They have to be watched outside of class and are streamed through blackboard and/or Youtube.

I use half of the money they charge me for laundry each semester. This semester I pay 50 dollars to be able to park anywhere on campus for 3 hours per day, 5 days per week. I pay 180 dollars in Athletic Fee. I pay 180 in Information Technology, 50 in infrastructure. I pay 105 for Student Recreation and 150 for Student Union. Then another 20 for Student Activity.

If I go to every home football game and buy a ticket, it would cost me about 85 dollars. There are 95 dollars left for basketball (men and women), baseball and soccer. Most students don't go to every football game, much less all the other games. I would rather pay to enter a game than be overcharged.  And where does all the other fee money go? Obviously some of it goes to watering the sidewalks around campus. Some of it (a lot of it) goes into searching for a new president.

Why don't they decrease some of these other fees and put the money into EDUCATION? We need reliable internet. We need reliable computers in the library that do not have viruses or crash in the middle of typing a report. We need new academic space more than we need a new place to work out. Academics should be a top priority. I would rather be known as a university that turns out some of the most educated students in the State of Arkansas than a university who is all about partying, playing and sports.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Technology and the Future

It doesn't matter what I am studying, I will always find something to distract me. Today it was technology and the future. As I sat in the library thinking about some geocaching, I began to think of an idea for a "travel bug" that I could put in my first regular sized cache.

I decided it would be really cool to buy a 2 gig flash drive to use for the bug. On the first part I would put a text document with directions and the purpose of the bug. There would then be folders labeled by Country. Inside each country folder, sub-folders with state names would be created and then further sub-folders labeled by cities.

The directions would be something like this: Please create a new text file and title it with your username and home. In the text file write a little bit about yourself and about the area in which you live, whether it be your city, county, or state.

The purpose: In one aspect this is like a time capsule. It is also a chance for learning about other people and communities. Each time the bug is found a new entry would be saved inside the respective folder and the next people who find it can read it.

Then I began thinking about the use as a time capsule type thing. What if the earth is around for another 5,000 years and someone finds this flash drive. Would they know what to do with it? Computers as we know them might cease to exist. And what about energy?

Even if scientists had found old computers that would still function, would the forms of energy still be the same? Would they be able to run a computer to see the information on the computer or external memory devices?

What will scientists be able to know about so much of our culture and our civilization during this time. That information is stored on thousands of computers. Devices which require power. Devices that require other devices to function. Files corrupt. Water destroys the systems. Dirt isn't good for it. So in 5,000 years, after it has faced all these elements and new technologies have developed how much would be availible to study our history?

The example I will leave you with: 3.5 inch floppy disks. You remember those large square, plastic-covered disks. the ones that you slipped inside a slot on the front of a computer. The things that, if left in the computer, caused a delay in the boot-up sequence. The things that would hold 1 picture if you are lucky with today's cameras. The things that were replaced by CD's which are gradually being replaced with flash drives. When is the last time you used one?

So when all that time passes how will things change? How will they be different? Will they use electricity as we know it? Will they have power chords? Will computers have keyboards or be all voice control? Will they be big or small? How will information be stored? What information will be available about our society for future generations?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fees without use

Want to walk down the sidewalk from your dorm to the Union? There's a fee for that. Want to go to a single football game? There's a fee for that. Fees, fees, fees. Everywhere a college student turns, there are more fees. They seem endless. Most of them seem pointless. Where is all of this fee money going? Probably not to the wisest places.

Students at ASU are charged an athletic fee. When we go to the games we don't have to pay which is nice, but for those of us who go to maybe a baseball game, and four or five football games the fee is much higher than what we actually use.

Living in an on campus apartment or dorm? I don't think there is a specific fee for laundry, but it is built into room and board. We have a certain amount of money on our student ID to do laundry each semester.  It does not roll over from year to year which is unnecessary anyway. There is way too much money to use. I could probably do my laundry and a friends laundry and still have money left over. But I don't get a refund.

Then there is recreation fees and student union fees and the list continues. But one of the fees that I try to make use of is the library fee. It is about 100 dollars each semester. It covers printing for "single, academic copies." Of course some classes require multiple copies, but they are understanding and just tell you to print one copy, then go print a second on another trip. That is fine. But the problem this year seems that the printer is never working.

I make special trips to the library sometimes to print. I have my own printer in my room but I am paying a large fee for printing in the library. I don't want to run my own printer out of ink and paper if I can use the supplies I already paid for in the library. Not to mention I spend more time in the library than my room anyway.

It seems that every time I go to print something the printer is out of order. They finally bought a new printer and they got rid of the other two printers they have had since my freshman year. I wonder what the deal is-- are there more students printing this year? Who knows. I just hope it doesn't continue.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The popularity contest is here; well, one of them is here anyway. Every year we have homecoming. For some reason people hand out fliers, stick them on cars, windows, and doors, stick signs all over campus and other annoying things to try and get voted as homecoming king or queen. It is a popularity contest. But all this campaigning only makes many of us loathe the whole thing.

This is only one small piece of the mess on campus. Other yards are littered with these signs as well. To make things worse some people but 5 of the exact same signs all together. All this does is make our campus look bad. But it happens year after year.

It might be understandable to have a couple of signs around campus, but to have them all in one spot is ridiculous. Not to mention there are so many signs that they cancel each other out. And I am sure more and more will keep going up.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

MWF vs. TR

I've often wished that I had the gap between my Friday class and my Monday class that I have between by Thursday class and Tuesday class. It just doesn't seem fair to go to the same classes back to back with the weekend in between.

The diagrams in this blog are represented by colored blocks. The red signifies having no class. The Yellow is what we typically call a MWF class. The blue is what is typically a TR class. The red column on the left is Sunday, the red column on the right is Saturday.

The first diagram I have is of how the current system works:

So I was thinking, what could be done to change this. The first idea I had would look something like this:
 But, I know this is not feasible. The checker-board design would be nice with a few exceptions. Most of us students would forget which class to go to on which days. It would change each week. Then there also comes the time difference. Classes that meet twice per week meet for 75 minutes per class. Classes that meet three times per week meet 50 minutes per class. This year I have 4 classes on MWF. When they are converted into TR classes, that would be 300 minutes of class, compared to the current 150 minutes that it is currently. That would be insane!

So I came up with a more feasible idea, that again has the problem of how the hours are divided. Just give us Fridays off and make all classes meet 2x per week!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another fire for Wilson

Before Arkansas State was a university, it was Arkansas State College. In its early history the old Administration building burned to the ground and very little was saved from the fire.

About 1:40 on Wednesday afternoon faculty, staff and students evacuated the building because of smoke. The smell began at least fifteen minutes earlier but the smell of smoke increased throughout the hour. No fire alarms sounded, though smoke could be smelled all the way up to the fourth floor.

The Jonesboro Fire Department did respond to the call. According to one firefighter there was a fire in a trash can in the building.

They opened windows in the building and everyone was allowed back in the building by 2p.m.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Scholarships: Those things that help keep many of us from going into debt (or lower it). The things that allow us to go to school. Why do they have some of the regulations they do?

Time Limits: Most scholarships expire after four years. Why not agree to pay for a certain amount of credits (maybe the maximum a student could take in four years)? If it were not four the four-year time limit on my scholarships I would take fewer hours. But even that is not possible under the full-time student requirement.

Full-time Student Requirement: A full-time student is usually someone who takes 12 hours in a semester. That is the case here. But in terms of full time for many scholarships it is 15 hours. Why 15 hours? Probably so that we graduate in four years. Although, my major requires so many hours that (even though one is for tuition and fees) my scholarship won't even cover all of them. I have to take more than 15 hours in some semesters. Why all of these technicalities? Maybe their intention is for students to drop below the GPA standard and lose the scholarships? I don't know.

GPA Requirement: Most scholarships require a minimum of a 2.5 or a 3.0 GPA. Some require higher GPA's. This requirement would be much easier to meet if I did not have to take 12, 15, 18 hours of class in order to graduate in four years. That is a minimum of five classes each semester. Sometimes it means taking six, as in this one. One class specifically is probably being taught like a graduate class. We are expected to read one chapter and answer the questions, read a newspaper article, along with other assignments. This generally takes me at least three hours and that's being generous. There have been several times already I have spent 8+ hours working for this class. Then I have five other classes.

I have two literature classes. I have a conversation class. I have a business class. All of them require reading and homework as well. Then there is the online Public Relations. I tend to neglect it because of having so much other homework.

I am thankful to have a scholarship; so far I have not taken any loans. But--couldn't the state find some better way to give the aid?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Graduation Preparation

I’ve been having a rough time this semester. Emotionally I have been pretty low lately and there are several reasons why, I think. One is I am having to spend so much time in the library studying for all of my Spanish that I very rarely see my friends. The other is that I am supposed to graduate in May.

I don’t regret double majoring in Spanish. I think it is a good decision and will open doors down the road. The thing is, I am a slow reader in English. When I have to switch over and read in Spanish it takes me hours to get through a page or two. Most of the time I have to study alone to get anything done. Other times I study with a friend and classmate who pushes me to work harder, but it is still too much time in the library.

 I don’t mind spending time with my friends in the library, but I miss when I was able to hang out with more than one person there. And I really miss being able to hang out outside of the library. I fear I may lose some friends this semester because I am never around. I miss going to the park. I miss hanging out every night on the weekend. I miss those late night McDonald’s runs. I miss the occasional eating out. I miss movie nights. I miss sitting around the dinner table for an hour and a half.

Then there is the graduation thing. Most people look forward to graduation. They look forward to being done with school and getting started in the “real world.” But I see it a little differently. Don’t get me wrong, I am ready to be done with my studying, but I also see the positive side. I am off on the weekends. I get holidays. I make a lot of friends. And when I graduate I see what I am going to lose. I won’t be able to take classes with my friends anymore. I won’t see my friends very much because we will live in different places, eat in different places and generally be doing other things. Or worse, I will have to move off to find a job. There may not be any opportunities in Jonesboro.

Even if I do stay in Jonesboro to start out, a lot of my friends who are also graduating will move away. The friends who are still in school will eventually graduate and most of them will also move. Many of my friends I fear I will never see again because once they graduate they will probably be on the other side of the world in Africa, Asia, and Europe. I will miss them. I try to tell myself that thanks to technology we will stay in contact, but it doesn’t help. I know from experience that when we go separate ways we begin to lose contact, even with our closest friends. Thinking about not seeing my friends again hurts.

What hurts more is thinking about how many do not know Christ and who I won’t even get to see in heaven. I know the most important thing in the friendship is to share the gospel with them so that they might believe; and pray for them. I want to see them know Jesus.

We are all sinners. There is no one reading this that can say they are not a sinner. Just taking the ten commandments and what Jesus said, I don’t think I’ve kept a single one of them. I have borrowed and not returned (stolen); I have looked at a girl with lust (adultery); I have lied; I have hated (murder), and the list goes on. All it takes to be separated from God is one sin. He is the great, fair, judge. A just judge wouldn’t let someone off the hook when they used the excuse, “I only did it once.” They do the crime, they do the crime.

But God loves us. He wants us to be with him. None of us have done anything that is too bad for him to forgive, through Jesus. He sent him, he lived a perfect life. He was tempted just like any other human, and then sentenced to die on the cross. He died for OUR sins. After they took him of the cross he was in the grave for three days before he was raised from the dead. He conquered death. He died and he rose again! Through faith in Jesus, we too will be raised. We will have eternal life with God, which is good. Being separated from God would be torture enough, the other stuff of Hell I don’t even want to think about. But Jesus paid the price so we didn’t have to. The world needs to know this.

This morning, God showed me another reason why I felt the way I do. He is preparing me. I keep saying that I don’t know what I will do when I graduate. I say I would like to stay in Jonesboro to work for a while so that I can stay where I actually know people. I don’t want to leave and go somewhere I don’t know anyone. But I also have an opportunity to apply to go to Spain for a few years and help teach English, which is only available right after I graduate. I want to do this. Then there is graduate school, seminary and/or working somewhere outside of Jonesboro and maybe Arkansas. I don’t know what to do.

Well, this morning at church God spoke to my heart. Several missionaries from our church that had returned from the field shared their testimony about what God was doing. The first told us about spending two years in the Journeyman program. (I need to look into that a little more.) She was in France for those two years; sometimes there were teams, other times they tried to build relations with those in the area.

That is when God starting bringing some other scriptures to my mind. He reminded me of those who wanted to go back to bury their family member first to which Jesus responded, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God,” (Luke 9:60 NIV).  He also reminded me of the man who wanted to say by to his family. “Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” When I gave him my life, I was giving him my entire life. My life is no longer my own. That means if he calls me to go to a far-off country where I don’t know anyone; I don’t know the culture; I don’t know the language—I am supposed to go. He will go with me. The question is not an if he sends me; it is a where will he send me.

I began studying Spanish so I could use it in missions. It opens up Spain, Central and South America as places I can communicate. But I am willing to go wherever. Through my time at ASU God has placed a lot of East-Asians in my life. We have become friends and I have had the opportunity to get the gospel in many of their hands. There are other opportunities I have missed. But God has really put them on my heart. I wonder if he is not only preparing me to leave all of the familiarity but maybe even calling me to China or Japan.

I will be honest: the thought of going to be a long-term missionary in China, a communist country, scares me. Japan scares me simply because of being a different culture and language. But should I start trying to learn those languages from friends right here at ASU? Which one? God definitely showed me that he is preparing me to leave my friends and my family this morning. I don’t know how. I don’t know where. But I want to do it, filled with joy. Life is a journey. Life is an adventure. It is a good thing that I am not supposed to be the pilot.

Please pray for me that God would ease the stress some and that I could enjoy the friendships while we are right here together. Pray that he would give me the opportunities (and that I would take the opportunities) to share the gospel with them. Please pray that God would tear down the walls in their hearts and that he would grow the seeds. Please pray for me, that God would show me exactly where he wants me to go, when, how and all of that good stuff.

God bless.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Study Break

I have never studied so much in my life! I am one of those people who just skim their notes the day before a test and I generally do alright. That won't be happening this semetser. I am taking 15 hours of Spanish and no studying equals no passing.

This morning one of my classmates went to church with us and the pastor asked her if I was a good student. She responded, "yes," to which I responded, "maybe this semester." I have spent almost every single one of the last seven days in the library. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and today in the library. Generally it is from 7pm to 12 or 1am. Saturday it was from 12pm to 6pm. Then it was time for a nice study break.

One of our favorite things to do is meet new people by playing sports. We frequently do spur-of-the-moment sports events such as Ultimate Frisbee or Soccer. We play at the student union where a lot of students walk by and then invite random strangers to play with us. It is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. It is also just a lot of fun.

Last night we played Ultimate. It was probably the best game we have ever played in the past few years. The teams were evenly matched. When one team scored the other team scored. With the new grass, fewer injuries were sustained. It is important to call plays beforehand though otherwise we will get hurt. I found that out the hard way when two of us collided while going for the frisbee. I slid and slammed into her knee. We both went tumbling.

It is always a good team building opportunity. The teams are never the same and we must learn to work together, especially with those who we do not know. We have to learn each others strengths and weaknesses. We encourage each other. None of us can do it alone.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

En espanol con Ingles

Bueno, este semestre tengo quince horas de espanol! Cuando salgo la clase, quiero hablar en espanol. Ya ha venido cerca a hablando con los trabajadores en la cafeteria en espanol. Es un semestre muy dificil. Con las clases de espanol tengo un curso en las relaciones publicas en el Internet.

[Well, this semester I have fifteen hours of Spanish! When I leave class, I want to speak in Spanish. I have already come close to speaking with the workers in the cafeteria in Spanish. It is a difficult semester. With the Spanish classes I have a course in public relations online.]

Los dos dias principios, estudie con un amigo y companero de los clases en la biblioteca. Anoche, no podria concentrar. Pero, finalmente, a las tres en la madruga, termine la pelicula "Los Diarios Motocicletas," para mi clase de conversacion.

[The first two days, I studied con a friend and classmate in the library. Last night, I wasn't able to concentrate. But finally, at three in the morning, I finished the movie, "Motorcycle Diaries," for my conversation class.]

En el termino del semestre, quiero hablar espanol muy bien. Tengo que esperar para ver.

[At the end of the semester, I want to speak Spanish very good. I have to wait and see.]

Se la gramatica problamente es horible. Lo Calificuen en un comentario si quieren.

[I know the grammar is probably horrible. Correct it en a comment if you want.]

Monday, August 23, 2010

Semester Begins

Today was the day: that day that so many students dread, but some may look forward to. Today was the first day of the Fall 2010 semester. Today was the first day of a college career for many freshman. Today began the last semester for some seniors. Today was the day when people began to make more long-lasting connections with classmates and new friends.

To me, it is a bitter-sweet day. I don't mind going to classes (although 7 a.m. is not my favorite time of the day); it is all the homework and studying that gets to me. Classes mean I am learning. Classes mean I get to see my friends. Classes mean I get to make new friends. But then the homework and studying are a necessary evil. But I understand. Even when all the homework and studying, it isn't that bad. I have spent countless hours studying late into the night with my friends in the library.

This semester I am taking 18 hours of class: 15 hours of Spanish and a 3-hour online Public Relations class. Today I had twelve hours of Spanish. There is one person who I have all of my in-class courses with. The first class I was in this morning, the teacher began speaking in Spanish-only when she got to the door to unlock it. I don't think she said a word of English, and I understood 50-80 percent of what she said. When I got out of the Spanish classes, sure enough I was in a mode where I was thinking to some degree in Spanish and had to stop myself from talking to people in Spanish instead of English.

This will be a hard, but fun semester. I look forward to making new friends in classes and during lunch breaks. (There were only 40 people in my apartment this weekend for a welcome back get together. We were surprised that many people showed up, and that they all fit in a 4-person Collegiate Park Apartment.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Collegiate Park

I am officially a resident in Collegiate Park now. I moved in this morning. I like it a lot. The closet is a lot bigger which means the bedroom itself is a little bit smaller but honestly, it doesn't seem smaller. There seems to be a lot more storage space actually. The only thing I don't like in my bedroom is the bed can't be raised.

The bathroom is even a good arrangement. Unfortunately this morning I did have one problem. I left Conway at 7 am and checked in here at 9:15. I had my car unloaded by 10 am. At that point I went to take a shower and realized I'd forgotten something important: ASU no longer furnishes a shower curtain. I took a shower anyway and splattered water all over the place. But the showers are nice. They have shelves and everything built in. I did find the towel bar falls off the wall...

It will be a fun year.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rough Draft

This is the unedited, rough-draft of the paper I wrote in a few hours for my internship class. Hopefully there is not a lot of stuff to change, but I know I will need to take some stuff out to add other...

Sitting in classrooms at Arkansas State University, I often wondered why a professor was talking so much about some topics that seemed to have no value any more. Counting headlines seemed to be useless now, and no doubt, during my internship I did not have to count headlines. However, I did have a discussion with the editor on counting headlines. He remembered having to do so before computers simplified the process. I wondered why I had to learn so much about editing stories, other than my own. Now my question is answered. I wanted to be done with my general education courses such as history and political science. Now I wish I had paid closer attention and had the time to take more of those classes.

I have learned a lot about myself and my abilities during my internship at the Army News Service. I have learned a lot about why we learn what we do in our classes. I learned a lot from practicing those skills in a real-world setting. Coming to the internship, I really did not know what to expect. I did not know exactly what I would be doing at the internship or the type of people I would work with. I was not 100 percent clear on the audience. I was not 100 percent sure where all of the stories went. What I did know was some of the preparation I had to put into it. Before going to Washington, I had to fill out paperwork in order to receive security clearance and a building badge for the office and Pentagon upon arrival. I had to take two online security courses about protecting information, both personal and government. I soon found out the other stuff upon arrival.

The internship did not officially begin until the Wednesday June 9, but I made arrangements to meet with the editor the Monday beforehand. That is when the learning began. The first mistake was being in such a hurry that I boarded a train going the wrong direction. The lesson I learned: every metro station is different. Some have multiple levels for trains traveling in different directions. All metro stations have poles with directions to the correct track.

The next encounter was getting to the office from the metro station. The office is located between six and eight blocks from the station. I had looked at a map on Google to have a vague idea of what the area looked like. The problem was, ground-view was not an option for the street on which the office is located. I started walking. After finding what looked like the building I had seen online, I walked the block around it. The road names were unfamiliar. The signs around the building said nothing related to what they should, if the office even had signs. I asked several security guards around the building where the intersection was. None of them had any idea. Then I called the editor. He told me I had gone the wrong direction. Lessons learned: Handheld GPS devices do not work well in cities with tall buildings. Some areas have maps around the metro stations.
The editor said I was close to the Pentagon. I really had walked the wrong way. That is two metro stops from where I had exited the system. He said to walk to the Pentagon and he would send an employee over. I still had to get the building badge and since I was already over there, it might as well be at that time. During all of this, I was also with another person participating in the program and interning with the Army News Service. We waited, and after meeting the reporter, he escorted us into the Pentagon, and took us to the badge office. After we waited, we went into the office and proceeded to answer questions. I did not have my social security card on me, or even bring it to D.C. That was a problem. They would not give me the badge. What I learned: Though it may be a bad idea to carry your social security card regularly, when applying for a government identification card, it is important to have it. I had to have a photocopy emailed to the editor, and asked my mom to overnight it and my passport.

We took metro back to Crystal City and the employee, Todd Lopez, showed us how to walk to the office aboveground. As we exited the metro, he showed us the map and the direction we would go. He also pointed out there were tunnels underground that went all the way to the office. We arrived at the office and because I did not have clearance yet was required to go through security screening and check in as a visitor. At that time we met the editor.

We arrived at the office Wednesday morning and immediately went to the editor’s office. We went over a contract that The Fund For American Studies gave us and everyone had to agree to and sign. He told us a little about what we would be doing in the internship and told us about the organization. The Army News Service is “internal media.” It is owned by the Department of Defense. The audience is primarily Soldiers and their Families. (I capitalized those in staying with ARNews style.) The stories are posted to the website where the entire world can see them. The editor also emails a list out to military publications. The audience is not the one to whom publications such as the New York Times, or National Geographic or other community publications write. That meant a different way of looking at things.


The first day was spent clipping articles that had been published in newspapers around the country and getting my badge. It was not long before we were able to attend an actual event and help cover it. That is where we really learned about the different angles. In June there were stories about management changes at Arlington Cemetery. Graves had been mismarked, more than one person may have been buried in a grave and the management received heat. Lopez told us the difference in the stories would be something like this: most of the publications would focus on the problems at the cemetery. The Army News Service would focus on what the Army is doing to improve the situation.

Adjusting to a new audience was one of the biggest learning processes for me and even at the end of the internship I still struggle with it. I have tried to adjust, but still fall short. One story I wrote was about a senate hearing on funds for the protection of convoys in Afghanistan. Most news outlets would focus on the problems; a lot of the money was going to warlords. But realizing a different audience I focused on the senate holding the hearing and investigating. It was still the wrong approach. The correct approach was focusing on what the military officials said to the senate and what they were doing to fix the problem. There were at least three different angles to approach the story.

The service is not public relations, but there are some restrictions. We have had discussions at different points during travel and even in the office about two that stand out. When we attend meetings at the Pentagon, if there is limited space they cater to the external media. Even if we were there two hours early and ten minutes before a speech a crowd of external media came, we may be told to leave. I asked if the Freedom of Information Act would not apply to that. The response I received was that a government agency cannot file FOIA against another government agency.

The second difference was in attribution. Within the Army, there are many offices that work on a project. The first step is often calling OCPA (Office of the Chief of Public Affairs), who will help us get in contact with the right sources. If the sources refuse to talk with us, we do not have the leverage that external media has. We are not allowed to write things like, “source name refused to comment.”

Another important skill I continued to develop at the internship is research. It is a aspect that, though encouraged to do, does not require a lot of effort when working at The Herald. Stories are relatively simple. In mid-June I was sent to a three-day conference hosted by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement. The Command and Control Summit focused a lot on technology. I learned a lot from these assignments. I did not know what to expect at the conference and had problems researching topics beforehand. I did not know what the story would be. I knew nothing about military technology. It was all new(s) to me.

The first day of the conference, the editor decided to kill the story because it was from the private sector. The second day I wrote a story about what the speakers had in common. They both spoke about the necessity to consolidate systems that the Soldiers are using. After writing the story, the editor called me in his office and asked me, “What’s the news?” Because I was unfamiliar with the topic, I thought I had written it clearly. He said it was not new. So I skimmed what I had written, in effort to pull something else out. I decided on the technology that the Army wanted out by October.

I got that information by asking a question at the end of the presentation. Again, I did not know anything about LandWarNet, one of the focuses in the presentations. I asked a question along the lines of, “When do you want this to be released to Soldiers in the field?” With that, I could hear laughter in the room and wondered what was so funny. He answered the question, and it sparked another question from someone else about security. I continued in my ignorance.

It was not until writing the story I did more research on what LandWarNet really is. That research led in an entire new direction, one that would change the story from being focused on the conference to one that is on the technology itself. I spent at least a week and a half researching the topic which I had found was not concise as I had imagined it. LandWarNet turned out to be much broader. A diagram I found showed it as a cylinder with many other systems and levels within it. As a network I pictured it like an internet router. Not only did I have the wrong image of it, it was already in use. The project began in 2005. It is supposed to be complete in 2015, with additional technology being added to it. A lack of research embarrassed me.

The internship has helped me in other ways than just factual knowledge. It has also helped me personally. Hard news has been my forte since I began journalism in high school. I absolutely hated feature writing. I enjoyed writing opinions if I had one. But news was what I wrote most of the time. Since then, things have changed, especially after the internship.

I find that I really enjoy writing features and news-features. Three of the best examples I can give are two news-feature stories on the Army Birthday and the Korean War anniversary celebration, and the feature on Task Force Smith.

The news-features were relatively simple. The first story was a shared byline. The second we coordinated and I took photos. But both were events. We went to the event, did interviews on the spot, returned and wrote the stories. The feature was different.

For the feature, I first did some background research on the internet about Task Force Smith. After having a general idea of what it was, I began searching for a few names of veterans. That led me to a Korean War Veterans Association based in Texas. I emailed the two leaders and asked if they were part of Task Force Smith; they shared the name of some veterans I had found listed online. They were not, but did send me the contact information of another person who was and also held a leadership position with another group. I called him and we talked for a few minutes. He gave me the name of a veteran close to D.C., but told me he was not sure of his condition, that he was in a retirement home but was undergoing treatments for cancer.
The leader, Phil Burke, told me he and his wife would be at the ceremony at the end of the week. At the ceremony (the same as we did a news-feature on), I found him and did an interview. It was horrible. Because of his age, it was hard for him to hear and difficult for me to understand him. To make things worse, a generator was running in the background. We proceeded with the interview and I got useful information for the story. The group had to leave and the interview was cut short.

After returning to the office I began work to track down the veteran in the retirement home, Jack Doody. I searched for the retirement home by the location around Fort Belvoir. After a little searching, I found a phone number and made a call. It was the wrong place. I continued searching and then made another phone call. They told me he did live there and was in good condition. They transferred my call and we set up an appointment for an interview.

A week later, after a train and two busses, I arrived at The Fairfax by Fort Belvoir for the interview. I went into the interview prepared with questions. That is not how the interview went. It could be summarized with this statement: “Tell me your story.” When I arrived and got my notebook out he asked me a little about the publication and why I chose the story. I answered his question and then he just started talking about his experience. During the next hour and a half he showed me maps, and told his story.

That lasted until lunchtime. The area I entered was the same as where the dining room was. I asked a couple of questions on the walk from his apartment to the dining room. I was so excited about the story that I pulled out my laptop on the bus ride back to the office and began working. I was already thinking of how I was going to write the story as I took the 15-minute hike back to the bus stop. The story turned out to be one of the least changed stories I wrote on the internship.

The story left me questioning whether I want to focus on news or features. The experience at the internship left me with no doubt I do not want to cover technology when I can avoid it.

Before Washington, I was willing to relocate to find a job. My desire was to stay within an eight-hour drive from Little Rock. Eventually I would move further away and try to work myself to a more nationally-known publication. It was never my desire to live in a big city. I could see myself working somewhere like Philadelphia and living in the suburbs. But living in a place like New York or Washington was a definite no. I had no desire to live in the city.

Washington has changed that. It has broadened my horizons. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. During the week it is internship in the morning and afternoon and class in the evening. But on the weekend the choice is mine. I can sleep. I can cook. I can go out and see the city. I can study. Even sticking with commitments I made before entering college I am still able to enjoy the experience. Even without bars, D.C. can be a fun place at night.

I had the opportunity to see the Pentagon Memorial one night. Other nights I spent just walking around the Georgetown area. Because I did not have a car in Washington, I relied heavily on public transportation and walking. Georgetown University was within walking distance of the grocery store. Friday nights were often the time to shop. There was never a hardship in coming up with blog ideas. In fact, I had to write three in one night because I had too many things in the same night.

The transportation itself was an adventure. The thought crossed my mind multiple times to take advantage of free bus transfers and get on random busses and transfer all day to see where I end up. Truly getting lost in Washington is a difficult task. Just get on another bus heading the opposite direction and eventually a familiar street will pop up. I never did the random transfers for an entire day, but I did familiarize myself with the bus system by using different features offered by the agency. It is an important piece of knowledge, especially if I consider working in Washington sometime in the future.

There is no doubt that almost all of the classes I have taken at ASU have helped me some way in Washington. I never did well on AP-Style quizzes. But I learned how to navigate the book. I find myself going to some pages in the guide so often that when I open the book, I open straight to the page. I finally put a paper clip as a bookmark on some of the pages such as state abbreviations.

Although not very useful in college, knowing names in a given hierarchy is helpful. I had to familiarize myself with Army leadership on the job. In interviews people would refer to “the vice” or the “ASAALT.” It is important to know that when they refer to the vice, they are talking about Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli. When they refer to the ASAALT they are talking about the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.

I took both photography and photojournalism. Having these classes gave me an advantage at the internship. I had knowledge of how the camera worked. I knew about shutter speeds and apertures. I knew the rule of thirds. The reporters at the news service generally cover the story and take the photos.

Classes such as feature writing, news writing, news reporting, and communication law and ethics helped me when it came to writing stories and taking photos. I knew to write a lead. I knew what I was able to take pictures of and what I couldn’t. I knew what I could write about and what I couldn’t. I was able to apply skills I learned in news-editing at the internship. Part of our responsibilities included editing stories that came in from around the country and around the world and posting them to the system.

Other classes just provided more of an entertainment and education opportunities while I was in the district. The most interesting thing about history is being where something happened. Learning about the assassination of President Lincoln is one thing. To sit in the theatre where it happened, with a storyteller pointing to the room is entirely different. It brings it to life. I had that opportunity. I had to see businesses used in the classroom such as Blackboard and the Newseum. I had to opportunity to see the Gutenberg bible at the Library of Congress. I had the opportunity to use skills I am learning in my minor/other major, Spanish, while attending a cultural festival.

There is no doubt if I had participated in this internship after my freshman year I would be lost. I would not have the skills to be successful. Though there are future sophomores in the program, I am thankful I am not one of them. As important as the skills learned on the job are, the skills provided in classes are important in preparing for the experiences in the job. Without those classes, I would not have been able to get the internship. Without the classes, I would have been unprepared to successfully write stories, take photos and edit other people’s stories.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Faith (part 2)

(If you have not seen yesterday's post you can view it here)

Starting college was a very difficult thing for me. It meant living on my own for the first time. It meant leaving my support group at church. It meant leaving all of my friends behind. Those were hard things to do, especially with my timid personality. I had a lot of obstacles thrown at me that first year.

Struggles that I had, became even bigger. I began trying new churches my first Sunday. Again I ran into the issue of finding a church that fit me. I rarely went half of the time because I was frustrated. It took until the end of my sophomore year to find a church I could call home.

I made friends fairly quickly at school. Some were Christians and some weren't. I did my best to try and keep from slipping. Some of the problems I had in high school were past. I had a fresh start. I didn't have to be involved with coarse joking which was a big struggle in high school. It worked for a while. I even had a friend that when I would get involved threw stuff at me. Most of the time I would get up and leave.

But I was not plugged in. I went to the Baptist Collegiate Ministry occasionally. I went to family groups on Monday nights regularly. When I could, I went to TNT. But again, actually going to church was few and far between. I wasn't really growing all that much spiritually. I felt like I had walked backwards. During a few of the breaks I would sit in with the youth group at my "home church" in Conway.

In short I absolutely hated college. I didn't want to go there. I wanted to go home. It wasn't until second semester that things began to change. Around February or March some people came to the cafeteria table where I was sitting with a group of friends. God sent them there. They proceeded to ask us a trick question, one I knew the answer to because I had done it before. They were using tracts from a ministry I was familiar with. I pulled out one of my own and gave to them. They invited me to a student led, non-sponsored, non-denominational bible study group whose sole intention was to reach out to the lost.

I decided to go. That semester I went sporadically. It wasn't always a regular thing, but it was better than nothing. The following year, my sophomore year I made some new friends. I continued to attend the bible study and more regularly. Eventually I told a friend about it who also came.

As I attended more and more relationships grew within the group. Finally during my junior year I considered them close friends. These were my brothers and sisters in Christ. I felt a love and trust in that group. The focus has gradually changed in the group. We are still all about evangelism but it has transformed into a different aspect. It is lifestyle yet intentional evangelism. We still invite non-Christians to come. We won't tell them to leave. But that is no longer the focus. The group transformed into one for Christians to come together and go out to our non-Christian friends to share the gospel. Non-Christians feel awkward attending, much like they might at church, so though the door is always open, we no longer ask people to come to learn more. We try to do that in our own relationships with them.

Some of the new things we do are things like Ultimate and Soccer. We get a crowd of people to play a game and then get contact information and build relationships with them. It then gives us an opportunity to share the gospel with them.

Along with the new focus, we became a closer group. Often we split off into guy and girls. That gave us opportunities to talk about what we were going through as men and women, apart from the other sex. Again this helped us build trust and strengthen our relations. I had a major issue just this past year that without the support of one of my Christian brothers in that group could have ended very badly.

Also in January I made a decision to become a member of Highland Drive Baptist Church. That is yet another decision I have no regrets on. Whether I really consider myself a Baptist or not, it is theologically sound. Yes, there will be things I disagree on. If there weren't there would be something wrong there. If a person agrees with everything a preacher says, they probably aren't reading the Bible and spending any time on their own with the Lord. But I have a church home. 

Some things come at the end of ever semester though. Bad things in a sense: break!

During the summer the support network is not built up. We all go our separate ways and do not have the accountability. That is something that I need to work on in my life. I need to be able to hold my own, without other Christians around. That is not to downplay the importance of having a network of Christian brothers and sisters. Fellowship will always be important.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Going to college is one of the most trying times for a Christian. It is often the time students leave their parents and begin life on their own. College throws temptations out there: drugs, alcohol, etc. It throws the temptations of not doing things out as well. The decision whether to attend church or not is in the student's hands. It is at this time that most make their faith their own.

I was "saved" during high school. I grew up in the church to some degree. I did not attend regularly, but I did go to Sunday School at my grandparents church every now and then. After my sixth grade year my parents and I moved to Conway.

All of this time I knew about God. I did not deny his existence. I believed in heaven, I believed in hell. I even had a desire to know more, and even go to church. But during middle school when one of my friends asked me to go to church with him I kept making excuses. I was nervous about the dress and things like that on a Wednesday night. I had never been before.

Finally, my ninth grade year, he convinced me to go. It wasn't bad. It wasn't what I expected. I liked it. So I started going to youth group on Wednesday nights. Eventually I started going to Sunday morning services. That lasted maybe 6 months or so. Then the youth pastor left to start another church. I stuck around a little while, but without a new youth pastor, ended up leaving the church to try and find another.

I was never able to find one quite right for me. My eleventh grade year, some of my friends that still went to that church told me they had a new youth pastor. I went back and again loved the group. I stuck around again. And I am so glad I did.

In the youth group we talked a lot about missions. I began to feel a tug on my heart in that direction, but I knew I had to get some stuff straightened out first. I knew that I did not know enough about the bible. I began to realize the reason I had some of the depressed feelings was because of sin in my life.

One Sunday morning the pastor used an analogy to describe our relationship with Christ. He said that Salvation was like a life preserver. A person could fall overboard on a ship and a shipmate might throw a preserver. The victim can know all day long it will keep him afloat, but unless he actually makes an effort and grabs hold he is drowning. I hadn't grabbed hold of Christ yet. I was in that stage of just knowing facts about him. It was time to grab hold.

I was saved during my senior year of high school, after calling myself a Christian my entire life. And there were so many times before then that I should have died. One of the things that will forever stick in my mind happened one November (or December) during what must have been my eighth or ninth grade year. We were preparing to go hunting so my Dad sent me upstairs to pack the guns. One of them was a .22 revolver.

I wanted to make sure it wasn't loaded so being a stupid kid I cocked the gun. I had it pointed in every direction, including my face. I tried to see inside the revolver whether it was loaded but could not tell. I eventually pointed it forward, away from me, the ceiling and the floor and pulled the trigger. It fired.

That is just one story where I should have died. But God had other plans. In the summer of 2007 I went on my first mission trip. I made another decision after returning. On August 5, 2007 I was baptized. A few weeks later I embarked on a new journey: college.

to be continued... (Part 2, tomorrow)

Friday, July 30, 2010

TFAS Alumni

Today was the official end of an amazing eight weeks doing just as The Fund for American Studies phrase says, "Live. Learn. Intern." We wrapped up today with the program "graduation." Tonight is the party which I may or may not be able to attend.

It has been an amazing eight weeks. It went by so fast and seemed like such a short amount of time. When I think back at all I was able to do though, I realize how much I really did in that small amount of time... There was a bike tour of the city, some geocaching, revisiting a few of the monuments and Arlington Cemetery, seeing a few monuments I hadn't seen before, doing a night tour of the monuments, art museums, white house, capital, Newseum, Library of Congress, National Archives, National Geographic, National Zoo, Spy Museum, Makiykumanta, and other things. It was a full eight weeks.

I was able to make new friends, and do some networking. I was able to learn a lot from my classes an internship. I just wish it could have been a little longer. It will be nice to see all my Arkansas friends in a few weeks though.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


 I knew today would be a rough day going in to work this morning. As I said in the previous blog, I am not sure whether I am cut out to be a journalist or not. I'm not smart enough to do all of this technical writing. I'm often vague because I do not fully understand something myself and do not want to convey something that is not accurate.

I got to work this morning and the editor called me in. I expected it. He had told me yesterday we would talk about the story in the morning. I knew at that point it wasn't good. I felt it was a good story for what I knew. Part of the problem ended up being some vague areas. Others he just wanted examples. Either way it is a little discouraging because I do not feel like I am improving.

I am alright covering a meeting or event where there is nothing technical. But technology and things of that nature just aren't my thing. That is one thing I have learned this summer. And again, I do not know where God is calling me. After leaving his office I desperately just wanted some comfort in God's word; I wanted to be alone with him. Of course that isn't an option. We are in an open office space. And we are in a city. But at lunch break I went outside to the park behind the office.

I had lunch and looked up bible 911 on mobile internet. That is a list of different verses for different situations. I scrolled down, looking for discouraged and then found, "When work has you discouraged..........Psalm 126," so I went to and looked it up.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. ~Psalm 126:5
That helped me a lot. I got out of it that I should persevere. God will use it. God will bless the effort. Then tonight I read the following chapter.
Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. ~ Psalm 127:1-2

I'm not even going to try and comment. All I have to say is God is amazing.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Change of Major?

Often college students enter without an idea what to major in. Some declare a major and decide to change it before they get too far in. Others change it a year from graduation and are delayed.

I was one of those who declared a major coming in. I was majoring in Journalism and minoring in Spanish. That is still the case, although I used a lot of electives for Spanish and have decided to double major. It means an extra semester, but who cares.

There has not been a semester where I don't think whether I am on the right path. I got from hating it one day to liking it the next and back to hating it. My internship has showed me that even in the real world, it is often the same way. I've enjoyed writing some of the softer stories. I have really enjoyed feature writing which is something I used to hate. But almost every news story I have written has had to have major modifying.

I have heard that some of editors at my school newspapers did not like my writing but I won't take them seriously. They're just students themselves. Others say they like it. My plan is to talk to the editor on Wednesday and ask him if he feels I have improved much since starting. If his answer is no, or just a little, I feel I should reconsider where I am heading. It may involve talking to more than one person.

I may end up being one of those people that change their majors late in the game, but lucky for me, I have a second major to fall back on. I may continue both and have a communications background, but maybe this is God's telling me that Journalism isn't the field he has in store for me. I guess I will find out soon.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Whether a journalist, a history buff or just an average tourist the Newseum, located on 6th and Pennsylvania in downtown Washington, D.C. is a must see. Some exhibits convey a lot of emotion, so much that one even has tissues nearby.

Washington is filled with history, but this museum has so much history stored in it. Through copies of old newspapers, documentaries, and even a 4-D movie the museum documents events all the way back to the first newspapers, before D.C. was the capital.

The museum advises visitors to go to the concourse level, one floor below the entry level. After viewing that floor visitors go on an express, glass elevator to floor 6. My fun began at the concourse.

The first thing I did was watch an introductory film/documentary. In the film they went all the way back to when the government was based in Philadelphia. It talked about how important a free press is to society.

 The first thing I did was watch an introductory film/documentary. In the film they went all the way back to when the government was based in Philadelphia. It talked about how important a free press is to society.

After the documentary I got to spend some time in an exhibit about the fall of communism in Europe. Items on exhibit included a toppled statue of a communist leader. (It was not Saddam Hussein.) Another was a pen used to sign over the Soviet Unions nuclear weapons to Russia.

The biggest exhibit in this area was of the Berlin Wall. They had a small piece for visitors to touch (top left). The information talked about how there was graffiti on the west side of the wall which is still partially visible now. Another part of the exhibit had a large segment of the wall and what appeared to be a guard tower or something; there was a door in this part. The walls were lined with headlines from that period including how people were escaping or died trying.

The FBI exhibit was also located on the concourse level. I found it very interesting. It had information about some of the cases in which the FBI was involved. One of the most interesting to me was the Unabomber, short for Universities and Airlines bomber-- they are the ones he targeted. He wrote a very long letter and told the two papers he sent it to, the Washington Post and New York Times, if they published it, his reign of terror would end.

After considering it and some convincing by the authorities , the Washington Post ran the story. The plan worked and someone recognized information in the story. The bomber was captured in a cabin in Montana. Another case exhibited was that of a cult in Texas. The FBI was in a 51-day standoff before the compound caught fire. The FBI received a lot of criticism.

A lot of other information was available about different agents and cases. I found the previous two to be some of the most interesting, even though it was all interesting.

After visiting the concourse level, I went to floor one. That is where the emotional journey began. The main exhibit here was Pulitzer Prize-winning photos. Some of them were "pretty." Some of them were "funny." Some of them were "frightening," or "disturbing." Others were plain "sad."

Some of the photos almost brought me to tears. Some of the photos I remember seeing were of the World Trade Center on 9/11, victims from the Columbine shooting, and a woman with her arms wrapped around a headstone, crying.

I was unable to stay at that exhibit long. I went on to the 4-D movie. It was an interesting experience with a lot of good information too. Moving seats, special effects and pictures that jump of the screen help tell the story of Journalism. The film is only 15 minutes and unable to cover a lot. Two of the people I remember from the film are Nelly Bly and Edward R. Murrow.

The film shows Bly as she becomes the first female "detective" reporter when she goes undercover at an all female insane asylum to expose what happens there. It showed how they were treated and the conditions of the institution. One scene shows a rat crawling in bed with her. She throws it off and then I jumped as something brushed against my leg.

It showed Edward R. Murrow and his crew as they were the first radio broadcast from a war zone. He stood on top of a building describing exactly what he saw. Planes flew overhead dropping bombs. The sky was lit up with anti aircraft fire.

 After the film, I went back down and caught the elevator to level 6. This area is what I had known the museum for beforehand. Other than a view of the city and a few other exhibits, they have a collection of front page headlines located on this floor.

I walked outside to see the view and briefly skimmed some of the history outside before going back inside to search for an Arkansas newspaper. They only have the major newspapers, unlike the larger list on their website. But I did find the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, along with some larger newspapers and even a few foreign newspapers.

I missed floor five because the staircase I took didn't go to it. So my next stop was the most difficult of all. I spent a lot of time in this area and even found myself in tears on more than one occasion. It was the September 11 exhibit. The wall was full of newspaper front pages from that fateful day. Part of a broadcast antenna located on top of the towers is exhibited. Around it is a time line with photos and stories from reporters.

I went in and watched a film about being a journalist there having to cover the horrific events. Reporters risked their lives to get the story. Many shot photos and video before having to run for their own lives as the towers collapsed. One of the most famous pictures from the disaster is firefighters raising a flag. The reporter did not realize it would be compared so much to a photo taken by Joseph Rosenthal at Iwo Jima, more than 60 years ago.

According to the exhibit, only one on-duty journalist died that day. The photojournalist ran toward the buildings as everyone else was running away. He snapped photos all along the way. His equipment was later recovered. The last photo  was taken with a time-stamp exactly when one of the towers collapsed.

I found my way to the fifth floor and browsed around there for a little while. The most interesting thing was the timeline of newspapers. Three levels of cases along a timeline were in this area. Visitors can pull out a case to see newspapers that are on lower shelves.

Some various books an documents were also displayed in this area. I was able to see books such as Areopigetica.

I found some quotes in the walls before leaving the fifth floor and catching an elevator to the third floor. They were actually a mixture of quotes and headline bloopers. The book was for sale in the gift shop but, I did not thing it was worth 10 dollars with the internet around.

On the third floor I was unable to explore much. It was 3 hours later by this point even though I was moving at a fast pace through the museum. The museum was closing in 30 minutes. I was able to see political cartoons in that area. Again, many were serious, many were offensive, others were funny, and others left me wondering what the artist was trying to convey.

Unfortunately, because I was in on a group ticket, I am unable to return a second day. I really did not get to spend enough time on floor three or any time on floor two. I think the average ticket cost is about $20, and can be used up to two days (check with the information desk). It is well worth it. This blog does little to express how great this museum is.

To see some more pictures, visit my Facebook album.