August 28, 2008

Put Your Money (and Teeth) Where Your Mouth Is

I saw this link on my friend Ben's blog and thought I'd put it up here by way of interest. Maybe the tooth fairy can start doing even more with our teeth than we thought.

Japanese scientists create stem cells from wisdom teeth

A team of scientists in Japan have devised a method of creating stem cells from wisdom teeth that would otherwise have been discarded, enabling them to seek cures to diseases without the controversy inherent in using embryos.

"I hope this will prove to be a major breakthrough," said Dr Hajime Ogushi, from his Osaka laboratory of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

Dr Ogushi's team was able to extract dental pulp from wisdom teeth removed from a 10-year-old girl three years ago and had been stored in a freezer. From that, stem cells with the ability to develop into replacement human organs or nerves can be grown.

To date, research on stem cells taken from human foetuses has attracted criticism, notably from the Vatican, for destroying human life.

The research has been seeking cures to a range of illnesses, including diabetes and cancer.

"These teeth were extracted three years ago and would have simply been thrown in the rubbish," said. Dr Ogushi. "Skin or bone marrow for this sort of research is quite difficult to obtain but this sort of operation is routine and very straightforward."

The cells were extracted from the wisdom teeth and encouraged to develop for a period of 35 days. Tests then confirmed they were in fact stem cells.

Dr Oguchi added that it is also easy to store the cells and he plans to develop a tissue bank - as long as the funding is forthcoming. He estimates that will take a decade to achieve, but will give future scientists a range of genetic codes that can be matched to a patient to minimise the risk of transplanted organs of tissue being rejected.

Dr Ogushi said that people who have their wisdom teeth removed as youngsters could have them frozen and use them later in life for treatment.

August 19, 2008

Tuesdays Are the Worst

Who said Mondays are bad? Give me a Monday anytime, just let me skip Tuesdays! A day in the life of my kindergarten class:

8:45 Circle time comes to an early close...too many wiggles to sit still.
9:45 Kids dropped off at music class. (Praise the Lord!) Only I discover there is no cream for the much needed cup of coffee, must resort to hot chocolate.
11:35 Tamara spills cup of milk on Ju'Cariun's lunch.
12:00 Demont pees on Myreuntay's left pant leg and shoe. (It is discovered by vice principal that Demont is just trying to be silly and pee sideways...Myreuntay was on the wrong side.)
2:00 Tiffany puts playdough in her ear and it is thoroughly smashed "into the depths".
2:10 All children resting on mats, Mrs. Woods takes a breather and tries to nurse the headache that is TUESDAY.

January 25, 2008

Can't Sleep, Why Not Blog....for the First Time in Six Months?!

Sorry to interrupt the complete absence of blogging. However, tonight I couldn't sleep thinking over the last year and half or so since Rachel and I have been back from Japan. When we came back from to Memphis my plan was to pretty much get my degree and get out of town ASAP! I grew up in West Tennessee outside of Memphis. No one who grows up in this area outside of Memphis wants to live here. Its the news stations' default mode to tell our area everything that is wrong in Memphis unless a cat is occasionally pulled down from a tree limb by a good fireman (by far the exception to the rule in news).

However, after a pretty severe bout with doubts in my faith in Japan and deciding I am indeed sold on the Christian faith I decided to come back and finish at Harding Grad School. We began worshipping at Sycamore View where we learned what the kingdom of God is and what that means for our occupations as Christians. This has really molded Rachel into taking a job in a private inner city Memphis school (something we really never dreamed would happen). Through this study I also learned that all those things we had perceived as reasons to leave Memphis were, for Christians, the exact reasons we should stay. Luke's gospel is like the Century 21 pamphlet for Christians. After seeing how many times Jesus ministry is directed toward the sick, oppressed, slaves, poor, risque, and other fringe people it seems that Memphis is just the kind of place Jesus would breaking all kinds of social norms. What better advertisement for figuring out where your home should be as Christians than amongst those broken people Jesus desires(ed) so badly to heal!

Last summer I got the chance to go on two life-altering trips. First was a Holy Lands tour of Egypt, Jordan and Israel (maybe we'll get those Israel pics up someday). There faith and sight intersected in some new ways for me although I still have a long way to go in my formation. Second, and probably one of the most pivotal trips of my life, was a trip to Ghana to the Village of Hope. I had no idea that an unexpected call from Courtney, a White Station youth minister, would lead me to the really amazing point which I now dwell. That trip connected me to some great people I had no idea were in Memphis and also touched me in ways words don't really do service. However, the burden I felt to love on the kids at the orphanage translates well to ministering to the hurting and hopeless students at the University of Memphis. The kingdom of God motif continues to chisel my understanding of ministry.

I can't tell you the whole story but this is one time where I have seen convergence! Things that have played out to bring myself and others to this point is blatant. I usually shy away from this kind of talk but I can't and shouldn't be so timid in this convergence. The confirmation of being in this place at this time is clear. I write this now to remember it and have you remember for me as well lest I need some reminding as the psalmist notes is the case with the Israelites so often. Anyway, I've rambled enough even though I've included so little of the story. God is good and he continues to help me understand the many layers of what 'good' means in a world that doesn't look the kind of 'good' I and especially He wants it to look.

September 29, 2007

Flashback to May: Part Two

We ended our adventure in Egypt with a camel ride up to Mt. Sinai and a tour of St. Catherine's Monastery, where incidentally we saw the "Burning Bush" (Exodus 3:2-3) and Moses' sandals. (Just kidding...surely Moses put his shoes back on. He needed them to lead his people out of Egypt.)

This is the Burning Bush inside the monastery.

Part Two began with a ferry ride to Jordan. Once there we met Omar our guide.

We were in Jordan for only one day. So what do you do if you only have 24 hours? You visit the site where Indiana Jones found the Holy Grail of course, Petra!

The main attraction of Petra is the treasury. It's the first "building" seen as you enter the city.

It was quite a walk into Petra. It is nice that there is an easy slope going down to the city, but it made the hike out seem double in length. The colors in the rock are gorgeous. All along the road into the city are carvings. Parts of the original road have been restored, but it didn't mean an easier walk because it was like large scale cobblestones about the size of cinder blocks.

The coliseum: It seated approximately 3000 people.

There were many tombs in the city. Bedouins lived in these up until Petra became a major tourist attraction.
The Roman Road: This part of the road used to have Roman columns all along it.
Other sites in Petra:
Dr. Lewis on his trusty steed.

This was the water system used to get water into the city back in the day. This trench goes all through the city.

Our final destination on the tour was the Promised Land and it definitely lives up to the name.

August 19, 2007

Flashback to May

Our summer adventures began early when all the planets aligned to create an alternate universe where Rusty no longer was the recipient of random acts of bad things happening to him. Instead, as many of you know, his name was randomly drawn from a hat to receive the trip of a lifetime to the Holy Lands. And due to the fact that we have been graciously blessed with generous friends and family, I was able to go too, thus effectively preventing any marital discord between myself and Rusty. (Just kidding...kind of. Cut me some slack, he did after all get a second free trip this summer.)

So can you guess which country was our first stop? Can you name the object in the picture below? Can you find Waldo?

Here are some facts about Egypt from various sources:

- The Sphinx was cut from natural rock.
- The lion's body is symbolic of bravery and strength.
- Modern Egyptians don't walk like The Bangles suggest in their video of "Walk Like An Egyptian". I also suspect that ancient Egyptians didn't either.
- The lungs, stomach, liver, and intestines were the organs saved during the mummification process, the heart was left in the body.
- Everyone in the entire world has Egyptian blood in them because... everyone came from Egypt. (source- Haney, our tour guide in Egypt)
- The pyramids were 700 years old before Abraham came along. (source- Dr. Jack Lewis)
- The Nile flows south to north.

In the next installment, we will visit the country of Jordan. But for now, please enjoy a few more pictures from Egypt.

July 05, 2007

Rusty and Rachel are Separating

Separating for two and a half weeks that is! I'll be going to Ghana to work at the Village of Hope and some other places. Rachel will be staying in Memphis. This is the longest number of days (by two weeks) we've been apart since getting married more than five years ago! Crazy. So, Rachel can have a much deserved vacation from me :)

The White Station Youth Group has a website for the trip if you'd like to follow along: I think it will be updated daily depending upon electricity availability. I just met the group I'm going with a couple nights ago and they look like a great group of mini-missionaries. Teenagers have a certain energy that is great to have around so there should be some fun and crazy times ahead!

Here are some random thoughts about the trip:
  • Africa/Asia. This trip will be good in letting me balance my love for Asia with something else. I must admit I have been less interested in Africa because everyone and their mother in the Harding world talks about it. Not to mention the glaring imbalance of interest in Asia at the moment. So, this will give me a dose of Africa that I wouldn't have chosen otherwise but now am excited about having! While I'm certain this trip won't subtract from my Asian interests, it could give me a broader depth of interest and experience.
  • Adoption. Rachel and I have already thought about this option along with having our own biological children in the future. I wonder what this will do to my mindset in that regard.
  • Travel. I've gotten to travel more in the last two months than most have their whole lives. When we left Amsterdam from the Holy Lands trip I didn't expect to be back that way quite so soon. I'm sure my travel fix will be fulfilled by the end of this summer... for a while.

Hope you're all doing well. Grace and peace.

June 27, 2007

The Village of Hope

Well, within the span of three or four days it has somehow worked out that I (Rusty) will be going to The Village of Hope in Ghana, West Africa. This trip is not about liesure travel and seeing sights. This is about humanity. It is about co-suffering to the extent possible with people who suffer. I'm a little overwhelmed about the trip, I know it will be demanding and hard. However, this trip puts many things in perspective. I haven't even gone yet and I'm already deeply touched by the web site: It is a place where great light pierces intense darkness; where charity meets poverty; where compassion meets suffering. We need more places like this and through Rachel's interviewing process I'm learning Memphis has some visionary leaders making similar endeavors in our communities. There really are some remarkable people using there resources to do some great good in the world (I somehow missed that fact in my more angstful youth).

I still don't know the history of Village of Hope very well. However, I feel like the women and men who created the place should get a special jewel in their crown. The travel group leaves out on July 6th and returns July 24th. So, Rachel can finally have a vacation from me :)

Well, hope all of you are well. I'll try to keep you updated on the trip.