Monday, June 29, 2009

An Essay by My Iranian Friend

A supporter of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi protests June 16, 2009 in Tehran, Iran. Getty Images

Fourteen years ago my friend from Iran sought religious asylum in the United States. Now he is attending college and working toward his degree. As the celebration of our Independence Day approaches, I want to share with you parts of my friend’s essay that he wrote for a recent assignment in his English class. May we never take our freedom for granted. May we be diligent in protecting it! Then may we be willing to help others gain their freedom as well.

The Election in Iran

The bus stopped in front of me. “Do you want to get in?” the driver asked. That’s when I realized I was finally free.

Three years earlier in 1979, the Shah of Iran was deposed and Khomeini rose to power. After that anyone suspected of anti-government viewpoints was arrested, thrown into jail, interrogated endlessly and tortured. I was one of the many young men and women who were arrested and thrown into Evin. It was the only political prison in Iran at that time. After Khomeini seized power, hundreds more political prisons like Evin were built. Anyone daring to express anti-Khomeini views was arrested and put into prison. Evin became a living hell that I endured for one entire year. But now I was free! Or was I?

My life would never be the same. For three months I suffered a deep depression. It took a long time to become a normal person. But it was a ‘new’ normal. I was no longer the free young man I had once been. In all my records I was a marked man—a criminal. A stain was against my name simply because I held a different viewpoint than the new government. Yes, I was free! But I soon realized that I was not really free! My new ‘prison walls’ were the borders of Iran and I couldn’t leave.

Because of the actions of Iran’s new government, all Iranians were labeled as terrorists by the rest of the world. We weren’t, but other countries were fearful and would no longer give Iranians a visa. Even though I could still walk freely between Iran’s borders, I was never-the-less a political prisoner within my own country.

In order to survive I had to learn self-censorship—not ‘seeing’ what I really saw; not ‘hearing’ what I really heard and crafting my words very carefully when I spoke to anyone. If only there was someone who could be my ‘voice’ to the rest of the world. Someone who could understand and help me and the millions of my fellow countrymen break the political chains that bound us.

Finally I was able to escape my ‘prison’ (my country) fourteen years ago and I came to the United States of America. Being accepted into the ‘land of the free’ and given the privilege of becoming a U.S. citizen gave me my first and sweetest taste of real freedom.

I am free now and this freedom is priceless! However, the recent political events taking place in Iran, remind me of my days of imprisonment. On June 12, 2009, over forty million Iranians cast their ballots to elect their tenth president. It was predicted that the current president, who for the past four years has harassed other nations, would lose to his main opponent—a reformer who wants and campaigned for change. Soon, this hope faded away and the government-run broadcasting agency announced the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the winner of the election with 63% of the votes. Then the ‘supreme leader,’ Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, confirmed at a Friday prayer and political meeting that Ahmadinejad was indeed the winner.

The Iranian people reacted with major protests and riots. Now the government is using batons, tear gas, and sniper shooting to quell and quiet the people. But the people are holding up signs saying, “Where is my vote?” and the protests are growing. At night the people with new boldness are crying out from their rooftops, “Allah O Akbar!” (God is great.) This is their way of declaring their unity with each other during their protest against the present dictator government.

The people want change. It is hard to believe that this election was done in a democratic way. Many believe this was an announcement of a ‘selection’ and not a true election. In the past several weeks, millions of people rallied in the streets in silence seeking justice and freedom from their prison within country-wide walls. At least eight individuals have been killed; four of whom were university students. University professors have resigned and joined the sit-in by students at Tehran University. They are standing in solidarity with the crowd who feels their votes and opinions were not considered legitimate.

The ‘supreme leader,’ Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has taken sides against the opposition groups by calling them “enemies” of Iran who deserve imprisonment! He says it is the “cruel” Western governments who are really behind the scene of the recent reactions to the election. He believes that the Western Media are agents of the Western Empires indoctrinating the world with false pictures of Islamic Iran.

Many international broadcasting agencies were invited to cover the presidential election. They were granted nine-day visas which would allow them to cover both the election and post election events. The day after the election, many cell phone recorded movies showed members of the revolutionary guard opening fire on people--killing several including a pregnant woman. This is not what Iran’s dictator government wants the world to see and the members in the international media were suddenly confined to their hotels until they left the country.

Now there are no international reporters to echo the voices of the voiceless Iranians to the world. But despite phones being controlled, and internet access being limited and filtered, many smart Iranian people are finding ways to allow the world to hear their cries. Even though a few international reporters were silenced, millions of amateur journalists have evolved to cover the events, but they are still bound by the chains of the present regime.

Just as the doors of a jail can only be opened from the outside, so too, must the doors of Iran be opened by the ‘outside world.’ Now that the world can hear and witness what’s happening in Iran, it is our turn to act on behalf of the seventy-two million ‘prisoners’ of that country. Iran’s citizens have found ways to project their voices against their oppressors, but they are powerless to open their own door to freedom. Now it is the responsibility of the free world to open it for them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

I've just received an award from Cee over at Cee Lew.
Thank you, Cee, for your kind words about me. (Blushing here)
I discovered Cee's blog by reading her comments on other's blogs. What she wrote was simply stated, yet so eloquent and I wanted to find out more about her. In reading her posts, I have found her to be full of wisdom and creativity and to have many talents--at a young age! A rare gem wrapped up in a beautiful package!

Cee won my first giveaway. We sent many e-mails back and forth and I found that the way she is on her blog, is the way she is in real life. It made me wish I could go to Australia just so I could meet her in person!

Now here are the rules that go with my accepting this award and then passing it on to others:
1) Say thanks and give a link to the presenter of the award.
2) Share "ten honest things" about myself.
3) Present this award to 7 others whose blogs I find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged me.
4) Tell those 7 people that they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving it.

10 Honest Things About Me:
1. Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord of my life. I can't imagine--don't even want to imagine--what my life would be without Him!
2. In God's eyes, I'm a 'diamond in the rough' and He is still grinding, faceting, and polishing off all my rough edges. Unfortunately, He still has a long ways to go!
3. Hospitality is my "gift". Not so much the cooking part (which I'm not very good at), but more the part of welcoming people from all around the world into my home. I love getting to know them and I have many, many wonderful international friends. I also love trying their foods--which directly ties into #3...
3. I need to lose weight!
4. I'm a late night person by nature, and though I make new resolves to go to bed with the chickens and get up with the roosters, I start slipping back into my old ways and find myself finally going to bed just as everyone else is waking up! It's a constant inward battle with me!
5. I enjoy playing the piano, although I'm just an amateur having had only a smattering of lessons from different teachers here and there (about 2 years total) when I was between the ages of 9-19.
6. I love to read just about anything. I used to read books, but now I find myself reading blogs much more often (maybe too often!).
7. I love to go hiking in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. (The mountains and lakes are why I love living in Washington State). But unfortunately, I haven't been hiking as much lately and that is a problem I need to correct real soon!
8. When I was much younger and living in Hawaii, I owned my own sewing school and taught ladies and teens how to sew. I enjoy sewing but don't sew as much as I used to (same reason as in #6!)
9. I have many friends who are politically liberal, but I tend to be politically conservative.
10. I try to be a good steward of the earth. I recycle, re-use and try not to waste. I don't use pesticides, herbacides, or insecticides. Hence, my lawn is full of moss but the fruit on my cherry and plum trees and blueberry bushes are all organic.

And now, in no particular order are the 7 People I have Chosen because their blogs are brilliant in content and/or design, or because they have encouraged me:
1. Candarbry Garden by Karyn Rosebrook-Morris! (For her cleverness, creativity and interesting posts)
2. The Old Dairy by Mandy (For being an inspiration in the way she lives and writes )
3. Tatersmama's Take on Things by Tatersmama (For keeping me in stitches with her humor)
4. Red Pine Mountain by Mountain Woman (For her interesting, thoughtful posts)
5. Gizzards and Calf Fries by The Wife (For her design and outstanding photography)
6. Yes They Are All Mine by Gramma2Many (For her political rants from a heart that really cares about our country)
7. Bridget Beaver is in Japan by Bridget Beaver (For her interesting photos and posts about Japan)

Passing the award on to greater bloggers than I.


Homestay Mama

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Block Party

I'm positive I live in the best neighborhood in the whole state of Washington. There is a mixture of senior citizens and young families with kids. There are singles, couples and families.

Some neighbors were born here, others have come from all around the world--Viet Nam, Korea, Bosnia, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Mexico, Ethopia, Etritea.

Ours is a safe neighborhood. Everyone is friendly. There is little, if any, bickering, complaining or bad feelings between neighbors.

The kids are well behaved and play well together. When people move to our block, they put down roots and stay for a long time. I have lived on this street for 31 years, and there are three families who have lived here even longer than that!

We used to have block parties every year--they took a lot of planning and work, but they were a lot of fun. Then life seemed to get very busy. Some of the key party planners moved away and the block parties fell by the wayside.

A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time for us neighbors to reconnect. So on the spur of the moment, I invited all 33 families who live on my street for a backyard potluck.

Not everyone could come on such short notice, but the 11 families who came had an enjoyable time.

My wonderful next door neighbors helped me pass out invitations, set up the tables and clean up afterwards. They also shared their back yard. Since there is no fence between us, the party was able to spread out. The grown ups visited in one yard while keeping an eye on their kids playing in the other yard.

Everyone agreed that the potluck was a success and that we should have another get-together this summer.

Looking forward to our next block party.


Homestay Mama

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Weekend in Oregon

I was born in Oregon, and that's where most all my family, including my ex-husband's family, still live. So it is always a treat when I can make the trip down to see them, like I did this past weekend.

First I attended a baby shower for my niece, Bridgette. Her husband is my nephew Josh who helped remodel my kitchen and bathrooms.

Josh's mom made this adorable cat bag that can hang on the wall next to the baby's changing table to keep all those small baby items right where the new mama can quickly find them. As the child gets older, the pockets can hold their shoes, toys or other treasures.

These women are on Bridgette's side of the family. Her Mom is on the far right.

We women are on Josh's side of the family. Josh's mom is on the far right. Actually, these are my ex-husband's sisters and nieces, but I also claim them as mine for we are as close, if not closer, than when I was still married. We share the comman bond of being 'sisters in the Lord,' and that makes all the difference in the world.

Next I visited my youngest sister, Ruth, and her daughter, Shayla, who are very talented artists.

My niece is 18 now, but when she was 14 she drew this pencil drawing of a tiger.

My sister paints with oils. Here is a painting she did five years ago.

Their talent comes from our grandmother on my Dad's side of the family who was a professional artist. This is one of Grandma's paintings that is nearly 100 years old. Unfortunately, I didn't inherit any of Grandma's talent.

One my way back home to Washington, I stopped in to see Aunt Clyo--the amazing woman I told you about in an earlier post. Actually, Aunt Clyo is my ex-husband's aunt, but I love her as though she were my own. She's 90, but doesn't look a day over 70! Click on the picture to make it larger. Notice her face. Her skin is as smooth and soft as a newborn's. And her mind is sharper than a tack! Her memory is better than mine! She never ceases to amaze me!

Thanking God for my wonderful family and my enjoyable weekend in Oregon.


Homestay Mama

Monday, June 8, 2009

Go Visit Gramma2Many!

She is celebrating her blogiversay by giving away that sumptuous bag in the picture above that she made herself! I really hate to send you there because that just makes more competition for me--and I'd really like to win that bag! I've seen Gramma's handiwork and it is to die for! So hurry on over--you only have until June 1oth! Just click here.

And, don't forget to tell her I sent you!

Go Visit Tatersmama!

She's having a giveaway to celebrate her 200th post! We don't know what the 'prize' is yet because Tatersmama promises to tailor make it to fit the winner! Woo Hoo! You can't get better than that!

Tatersmama's giveaway ends on June 11th (Australian time), so hurry!

Oh, and tell her I sent you!