Friday, July 9, 2010
A very special post dear to my heart....Meet Joanna
I was widowed very young. In the vein of Ruth and Naomi, his family became my family. My husband's eldest sister's first born daughter is Joanna. I remember Joanna and her sisters (and brother) through many dear memories, as they were part of my life for many years. As family's sometimes do, I lost contact with my nieces and nephews as the years went by, and they grew up to live and define their own lives. Recently, through such mediums as Facebook, I became reacquainted with many of them. I found that Joanna was living in New York as a photojournalist. I few months ago I found out about Joanna's new adventurous quest that has taken her to many new and adventurous places. Her blog, Joanna in Action, documents her travels in Asia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, China, and other countries of the far east. Her drive is admirable in my eyes, as she seeks to be in community with the people; to get to know the people she meets, and love them for who they are and what they are...nothing less, nothing more. Her pictures are at level of what one would find in a National Geographic magazine. If nothing else, I would encourage you to look at some of her pictures. (Scroll down through the blog to see the photos). She is able to capture the soul of the people she meets, and the land they inhabit. In her most recent blog, she writes,
"So many places my eyes have seen and my soul has absorbed…Glowing neon, China’s buildings are wrapped with sparkle. Purples, blues, reds and greens, China is eccentric. And when it’s not, it’s filled with acres upon acres of organized farming, and when it’s not, it has boxy brick buildings, gray, bland, repetitive, with the occasional watch towers with giant antennas… big brother, I can feel you watching. China is a place where the name tags have numbers and people often times treat each other like they are one.
In Beijing, there is an immense lack of random personal expression, outside of spitting. That being said, I picked up a plastic face toy… black circle glasses connected to a giant red nose, connected to a black curled mustache connected the birthday toys you blow into that make the sound of a horn. After touring a beautiful palace, my travel mates and I head town to the rush hour packed subway…"
"Wheels clanking heavily and swiftly along the tracks of the Trans-Mongolian railway. I lay on the top bunk with my head out of the window, feeling the soft, refreshing, open blue sky send it’s wind across my face. Small patches of green are placed evenly among the flat sandy plains of the Gobi desert. Groups of horses graze as the elongated sky stands bright with vibrant dashes of white clouds. A lone ger (a circular home allowed to be built anywhere in the county) stands evoking the curiosity of immense solitude.
Here, the nomad’s life is celebrated, respected and rewarded. When you are in the middle of no where, you know they are the ones who have explored it. The Mongols. The untamable. With their chubby faces, thick skin, rosy cheeks, grand smiles, sly, all telling eyes and their complex language, their culture seems untamed and ambitious… I can feel the same feeling billowing in my chest.
I exit the train at midnight in the town of SainShand… In the Gobi Desert. Somehow manage to get settled somewhere and the journey begins.
I pray for Joanna's safety, but the adventurous spirit once alive within me coupled with a true love of all of God's people, can only be immensely proud of her. I think to myself, wow when she returns home, what a story she will have to tell...it would make an excellent movie. And who would play the lead character carving out her own story and exploration of life in all its marvel?