So, unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard about the earthquake in Haiti. This is incredibly, incredibly devastating. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, and nothing in that country was prepared to stand against a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. They are still experiencing aftershocks, and it is difficult to assess the full extent of the damages there at the moment.

I'm writing this as a plea: please pray or think or channel good thoughts, whatever you think works, for Haiti. I was talking with someone who went to Haiti on a mission trip a few years ago, and he said that their houses and buildings there are always a work in progress, they are always building additions onto the small structures they have. When the earthquake hit, it was like knocking over a house of cards because of the unstable nature of the structures. Everything there is devastated. Their capital city is flattened. Think about how America felt when Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast, and then imagine an entire country that lives on $2 a day trying to recover from similar destruction. It's practically incomprehensible.

As Lutheran World Relief said today, "Due to the severity of the situation in Haiti, donations are the most important thing right now---Rescue then Rebuild." I'd ask you to consider donating money to an organization that will put 100% of your donation to good use in the relief effort. There are several well-known organizations that have already mobilized efforts in Haiti, but they could always use more money to send bottled water, water purification tablets, blankets, clothes, food and other various necessities. I've listed some organizations below that have great reputations and will definitely put the money to good use.

On that note, PLEASE be wary of requests for donations that seem at all like a scam. Go directly through an organization's website; some scams say that they will double your donation if you make it through their website, but in reality, they are pocketing your money, and it will not go to Haiti. Be aware of email scams, or requests for direct transfers of money. It is awful that some will use this tragedy to profit personally, but it does happen.

Thank you for your prayers and for your donations. I do not personally know anyone who was in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, but there was a group from Wartburg Seminary (another ELCA seminary) doing mission work there for J-Term. Yesterday, we were told that they were all safe, but today, we received notification that two members of the group got out of the building they were in when the earthquake hit, and they were able to find one another, but the third member of their party is missing. This student, Ben Larson, is a senior at Wartburg; ready to graduate and become an ordained pastor in the ELCA, as far as I know. The two people with him were Renee Larson, his wife, and Jonathan Larson, his cousin. Those of us at ELCA seminaries are mourning the loss of this student; the president of Wartburg, Duane Larson (no relation), said this about Ben:
Ben's baptismal light burned so brightly in our community and for all who came to know him. We grieve the loss of so clear a proclamation, with eyes twinkling, of Christ's love, compassion, and humor. source
It seems to be a reminder that natural disasters do not discriminate. And for as much as we mourn the loss of the relatively few foreign civilians and military who have been killed, we must remember how devastated the people of Haiti are at this time. Prayers are abounding for them, and we pray for increased resources to help those who survived.

Credible Organizations
  • Lutheran World Relief- This is the organization through which I personally donated. It is Baltimore-based, and I know that they are excellent stewards of their donations. If you click on the link provided, it will take you directly to the Haiti page of their site, where you can click "Click Here to Contribute NOW." On the donation page, you can donate any amount, but make sure you select "Haiti Earthquake" in the dropdown menu. You will receive a confirmation email after donating, which can be used for tax purposes. Just as a side note, LWR has committed an initial $1,000,000.00 to relief in Haiti.
  • The American Red Cross- Always reliable. If you click on the red "DONATE NOW" button on their home page, you can select the Haiti Earthquake as your chosen cause. You can also text the word "HAITI" to 90999 to automatically donate $10 (it will appear on your cell phone bill). THIS IS NOT A SCAM. The Red Cross has this information on their website, and they have received over $3 million in donations as of this morning with this method.
  • Planting Peace- This organization has been endorsed by Rainn Wilson, better known as Dwight on The Office. He has done work in Haiti, in schools and orphanages, and he knows this to be a reliable source. As an incentive, he is offering a personally signed 8x10 headshot to anyone who donates $100 or more. Check out his twitter account (@rainnwilson) for more details.
  • Artists for Peace and Justice- Another great charity that is supported by several celebrities: James Franco, Charlize Theron and Olivia Wilde, to name a few. Their "DONATE NOW" button is on the bottom right of the page.
If you have any other charities you recommend, please post them in a comment and I will try to add them to the list. Also, feel free to use any part of this post to get the word out to YOUR followers about the importance of helping Haiti.


Dear Verizon, fire your marketing team

This past week, I've been in DC during the day for a class. This means that I woke up every day at 4:45, left the house by 5:40, arrived at the train station at 6:00, stood in the dark and cold until the train came at 6:10, slept the whole way to DC, took a bus from Union Station to Mount Vernon Square, went to Starbucks, had class from 9:00-4:00, took a bus from Mount Vernon Square to Union Station, ran to try and catch the 4:24 train (I made it on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but Tuesday and Thursday found me on the 5:20), read The Time-Traveler's Wife (go buy that and read it right now) until arriving back at the train station around 5:30, then driving home and walking in the door around 6:00. So I have been understandably exhausted. But I was alert enough to notice something while taking the Circulator back to Union Station. It was a billboard that looked just like this one:

Now, because of the building where this ad is located, you can't really see the bottom right corner from the street, because it is angled. But every day, when we passed this billboard, I couldn't help but wonder, "Why is Verizon equating their phones with buckets of angry female deer?"

Albeit, I haven't been watching as much television (or when I do, it's usually taped, so I fast forward through commercials), so I haven't seen the Droid commercials. Had I been paying more attention, I would have seen that Verizon means that it is a bucket of third-person-singular-present-indicative "do." But let's take a second to think about this, Verizon. What do buckets contain? Matter. Actual physical matter. Buckets do not contain verbs, so I would venture to guess that most people are going to think of angry female deer when they see this ad. And then the ad doesn't make sense to them, and they have little desire to buy your product. And then Apple goes and makes straightforward ads, and, well...we know who emerges victorious. Just saying.

Anyway, this billboard really bothered me, and I know I have a few editors (or at least word-conscious folks) who read this blog, so I figured you would appreciate it. If you see this billboard, just picture a bucket of raging mothers of Bambi, and it will give you a good giggle.

*And just a side note, I really, inexplicably hate the word "bucket;" you know I'm dedicated to this post, because I think I used it five times, including in this side note. And you all think I don't love you.


A little message from my sister and me

I am exhausted from this class/commuting, so I had to blow off a little steam. Aren't you lucky!


At least it still involves words...

I'll admit, I have been doing very little writing lately. Especially here, on my poor neglected blog. But I have two posts in the works right now, both centered around the books I've read since Christmas: The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose and The Shack by William P. Young. They are both incredible books that everyone should read. So, my few but faithful, hopefully I'll be back with two exciting posts in the next two days.

I'm taking a class in Washington, D.C. this week, so hopefully my time on the train will give me time to write. Love you all! Happy New Year!