Thoughts on The Hunger Games

Monday, March 26, 2012

Winning means fame and fortune.
Losing means certain death.
The Hunger Games have begun...

I think at this point most of you have at least heard of the Hunger Games and probably have a vague idea about the plot. What's that? You say you've never even heard of it? Well, that's okay. To be perfectly honest, I hadn't heard of them either until a month ago. But it's high time you became acquainted, if I do say so myself. True, I don't know you, but I think there's something in these books for everyone to learn from.

Let me give you a brief overview of the plot in case you don't already know.
Katniss Everdeen is a sixteen-year-old girl living in District 12, the coal mining district of Panem. The fruits of the district's labors are all sent to the Capitol, in exchange for a meager amount of food. Every year the Capitol holds the Hunger Games, a televised event in which twenty-four children (one boy and one girl "tribute" from each of the districts) are thrown into a massive arena and forced to fight to the death. The day of the reaping has come, when two names will be chosen from the list of children ages 12-18. Katniss fears her name being drawn, since she has entered her name several times in exchange for more food. However, her name isn't drawn at the reaping. Her sister's is.
Katniss volunteers in her sister's place, and is shipped off to the capitol along with Peeta Mellark, the male tribute from District 12. As they prepare for the games, both Katniss and Peeta have choices to make, which will indeed be the difference between life and death. Compassion, or survival?

I started reading the first book in an airport in the Dominican Republic on the first of this month. Last week I completed the final instalment of the trilogy. And yesterday I watched the film. My feelings of excitement and anticipation were mixed with some nervousness. What if they do a terrible job staying true to the book? What if the acting sucks? What if my brother starts dancing a jig in the middle of the film and gets us kicked out? Well, perhaps that last one wasn't real big on my list of reservations. However I was somewhat unsure of how I would be able to handle the violence and intensity. I'm quite a squeamish person, and while there's a lot of things I can read about in books, I don't really want to be watching them on tv.

Surprisingly, the movie was incredibly true to the book. I was quite impressed with its accuracy. This is both a blessing and a curse, seeing as half the book was focused on the Hunger Games; The killing, survival, sickness, festering wounds, you get the picture. However, none of it was portrayed in graphic detail.

The most disturbing thing about this movie (and the books as well) though, is not the killings. It's not the fight for survival, the sickness or the wounds. It's that this thing, this world portrayed in the books, could one day be a reality.

I know, you probably are thinking I'm being overly dramatic over these books. We can't imagine living in a world where people could cheer and shout as children are filmed murdering each other in the most revolting ways. Even the most morally askew person can see that this is a hideous evil. But look at the state of our government already. Children are murdered before they can even see the light of their first day. The rich spend their money on trivial possessions but do nothing to help children who are dying of preventable diseases and hunger.

There's something Peeta says in the book that I really love.

“My best hope is not to disgrace myself and... I
don't know how to say it exactly. Only... I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense? ...I don't want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not. ...I keep wishing I could think of a way to... to show the Capitol they don't own me. That I'm more than just a piece in their Games."

Maybe the world will never reach this state of depravity. I desperately hope not. According to some, it already has. But whether it does or not, I find Peeta's words quite convicting. How can a person seeking to do right by others and God keep the world from changing them into a kind of monster that they're not? If you know the answer to this, please let me know. I'm still trying to figure that one out. Reminds me of the Bible verse on living in the world, but keeping oneself separate from becoming like the world.

The Hunger Games has really struck a nerve for me. I would definitely recommend them to you, if you haven't read them yet. Watching the movie is okay too, but it really doesn't compare. If nothing else, read the books to find out what the big deal is. And to meet Peeta.


If you're interested in reading the books but don't know how to get a hold of them, message me and I'll send you a link to reading them online. (That's what I did. O.O ) Also, if you'd like to know more about the movie, check out this trailer.

Adventures in the Dominican

Thursday, March 22, 2012
Hello, friends and family! :)
I think the majority of you all probably already know about the missions trip I took to the Dominican Republic in February, and several of you have asked to hear an account of what our team did there. I have been very slothful in my attempt to fill you in, and for that you have my sincere apologies. Thank you all for the prayers and support before and while I was away! They meant so much to me, and I know you made a difference.

Well, I get right into the juicy stuff now: The adventures we had!

February the 15th started out with a four-hour drive to Edmonton airport, where we went through scanners, detectors, and I even got a full screening done where I held my hands behind my head and stood in a glass cylinder. (I was apparently picked at "random" and it was between that and getting patted down.) The flight was relatively uneventful. At least I assume it was, since we didn't crash. Our team landed in Punta Cana sometime the next morning, and then came the "three" hour drive to Los Alcarrizos (a town on the edge of Santo Domingo.). We stayed at Campamento Buenas Nuevas (Camp Good News) while in Los Alcarrizos, and part of our goal while there was to help the camp with some of their needs. We fixed the house of one of the camp cooks named Ana by tearing out parts of her walls and reinforcing them with rebar and cement.
Most of our days took this form:
7:45 Wake up
8:00 Breakfast
9:00 Get to work
12:00 Lunch
12:45 Enjoy a break from work, usually involving the pool
2:00 Get back to work!
6:00 Supper
7:00 Team meeting
9:30-11:00 Go to bed

During our first week at Los Alcarrizos, we finished fixing Ana's house, built a storage shed at camp, had 11/15th of our missions team get the flu, and painted the wall of our dorm building. We girls did a pretty amazing job, not gonna lie. ;)

And then it was off to San Juan! We were exciting to try something new, but a little unsure of what "adventures" our new accommodations had in store. We'd been told ghostly stories at Buenas Nuevas of American teams who'd cry all night because of Campamento Bethel not living up to their urban expectations. But we were Canadian, and surely if anyone could rough it, we could. :) Four hours and a car collision later and we were welcomed to Bethel!
To be honest, I was a slightly disappointed to find that we not only had beds to sleep on and delicious food to eat, but also a working toilet at our disposal. (No pun intended.) The camp was very nice, and the people we met there were amazing. Our main goal in San Juan was to build a house. We had two days to do it. No big deal, right? I build houses in my sleep. However, it became apparent on our first day of work that this would not be possible. We worked hard for four days straight (managing a break on Sunday to visit the mayor's mansion and have a BBQ and pool party.) and in the end, we did not finish. But it was okay. The the family for whom we were building the house now has all the materials they need to finish up the project, and in the mean time I learnt some invaluable lessons. Patience was a big one. Oh, and contentment. Smack me the next time I complain about slow internet or left-overs, 'kay?

On the 27th, after a quick trip to visit the Haitian border and do some shopping, we bussed back to Buenas Nuevas. It surprised me how much it felt like coming home. We didn't have time to do much more than eat supper, have a meeting and go to sleep. The next day was jam-packed with finishing up our incomplete projects. I think we pretty much finished though! At least, as finished as anything ever seems to be in the Dominican. ;) Canadian standards may be set a little higher.

On the 29th, we were picked up by our rental bus (same bus driver who caused the car accident a week before) and we drove to Punta Cana for a day at the beach! Things didn't go quite as planned; Our ride was an hour late picking up and the sky had patchy clouds. But it was very enjoyable regardless. I learned how to barder (best done in groups of 3 or more), bought some trinkets for my family, and swam in the warm ocean waves.

After a less-than-ideal sleep in a hotel bed from 12:00 am to 5:00 am, the fifteen of us packed up our belongings and drove to the airport. Upon arriving, we were welcomed by the news that our plane had been delayed five hours. More patience training. So, what do you do with yourself while waiting for a late airplane? Not as difficult as I would've suspected, actually. I doodled, journaled, read The Hunger Games and drank a merengue. In no time at all, we were able to check our luggage and board the plane. More good news after boarding the plane: "Hello, this is your captain speaking. Due to a malfunction in one of our fuel tanks we'll have to make a stop in Orlando. Sorry for the inconvenience." No inconvenience, really. It left more time for reading. (What's going to happen to Katniss and Peeta?!) We arrived in Edmonton about the same time we'd hoped to be asleep in our own beds. It was now finally that I could call my mom and inform her about the delay. Due to poor road conditions, the trip back took another six hours. We were tired, stinky, and a little grouchy, but we were alive, and we were home. :)

After that, there's not much to tell. It was a little weird adjusting to be being back in Canada again (ex: not throwing toilet paper in the garbage, buckling up when you hop into a vehicle, stuff like that.) but it's been good to be home.

And that's it! If you've read this whole thing, do leave a comment so I can give you a prize of some sort. Love you all!