Christian Living

Why are YOU here?


I walked up to the counter and handed the woman my passport and paperwork. She examined in closely, scanned my passport, and looked over my paperwork.

30 seconds go by.

60 seconds go by. She is still clicking on things on her computer. Tension builds.

“Tell me why you coming to Canada.”

“I’m speaking at an event.” She types that into her computer.

“OK… what type of event.” 

“It’s a retreat for Lutheran church leaders. I’m just here for a couple of days.” 

“OK… but why are YOU here? Why did they invite YOU to speak?” 

This went back and forth for about 5 minutes. She would type on her computer and occasionally ask a vague question. I stood there waiting for her to give me my passport back.

I’ve visited about 30 countries and gone through tons of passport checks. I know that the longer you stand there the worse it is. The first stage is standing at the counter answering questions. Then, if they aren’t satisfied with your answers, they take you and your passport into a side room and ask more questions. And if that doesn’t go well you officially get detained. Time is not your friend. You want this process to go quickly and on this night it wasn’t going quickly.

In the back of my mind I was trying to figure out why this wasn’t going well. After all, I’m an American and I’m going to Canada for 3 days to speak at a small gathering of Lutheran youth workers. Our countries are friendly. Lots of people travel back and forth for a wide variety of reasons each day. But the longer I stand there the more introspective I get. I’m wondering if my newly renewed passport has an error. I’m kicking myself for checking the “business” box on my declaration. I’m wondering if I have an unpaid parking ticket or something. And I’m wondering if her computer told her that my dad was recently deported from Canada when he made a wrong turn and illegally entered Ontario on his way to a coffee shop. Why DID this group invite me to speak? Yeah, what made ME an expert on those topics? Why didn’t they bring a Canadian to do this?

Finally, I put on my smile and asked her, “What haven’t I told you that you need to know?

She smiled, (always a good sign) and said “I’m trying to figure out if you need a work permit. Is this event open to the public?

I described the event to her, that is was just for denominational pastors and wasn’t open to the general public, and 30 seconds later she handed my passport back to me and loudly said, “Next.”

Why are YOU here?

Her emphasis has stuck with me. It’s a great question. And a question we all need to wrestle with, no matter what God has called you to do.

Why are YOU here? Why you? Why not someone else?

He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Ephesians 2:10 The Message

Culture hmm... thoughts

An Ode to the Cranberry, 2010

Photo by rjzii via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Discovered in 1427 by Cardinal Joseph Cran, the cranberry is useful for many things. It is delicious. It is tasty. It is tart. It is good mixed with various other fruits. It floats. It is from heaven. It’s amazing canned shape invites my gobbling. It’s juice keeps away urinary track infections.

Cranberries are magical.

More fun facts about cranberries:

  • Cranberry and brain share the same latin root word, cranium. The Romans believed the cranberries tart flavor stimulated the brain.
  • The cranberry has medicinal values. It cures everything from a hangover to gout.
  • Cranberry bogs are protected in Vermont. It is unlawful to visit one without a permit.
  • There is a Cranberry Festival in Iowa in which the Cranberry queen is carried on a litter as citizens stuff cranberries in their cheeks like a hamster.
  • In secret ceremonies, sacrifices are made to the cranberry god in Nova Scotia.
  • It’s a little known fact that the color red in a Canadian Mounties uniform comes from the die of a cranberry.
  • There is even a cult band funded by profits from farmers, The Cranberries.
  • In 2002, George W. Bush invaded Prince Edward Island for the secret stash of the giant cranberry DNA. It’s trade name is nukler.
  • The french word for cranberry is Ponce de León. When boiled, the cranberry releases essential oils originally flowing from the fountain of youth.
  • When John F. Kennedy declared he was a jelly donut in Berlin, the jelly inside his donut was cranberry flavored.
  • At the first Thanksgiving in 1619, the leaf of cranberry trees was rolled and smoked.
  • The female cranberry is separated from the male cranberry in the processing plant. Males are bagged and served fresh. Females are jellied and canned. Left together they would multiply their goodness and overtake the world.
  • Starved for delicious fresh cranberry– Christopher Columbus discovered America. A state secret of Spain, it was recently revealed  that the Columbus party actually had 4 boats. The Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria, and the Cranberry.
  • The red in the United States flag… symbolic of the ancient order of the cranberry… 1749. (Betsy Ross was secretary of the order at the time)
  • It is against the law to serve turkey on Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce in the city of Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Up until 1983, cranberries were acceptable currency in Maine.

Oh cranberries… you are welcome in my home all the time. But especially in November and December.

Do you know more fun facts about cranberries?

Ode to Cranberry, 2009

Funny Stuff Video Clip