So Long 2008 (And Thanks for All the Fish!)

January 1, 2009 at 11:50 pm (Random Thoughts, Real Life, Relationships, Spiritual) (, , , , , , , , )

2008 has finally gone the way of every year and passed into memory. It was a long year. Okay, so it was only a day longer than three fourths of the others, but I’ve come a really long way. I mean, January 1, 2008 seems like a lifetime ago. I can barely remember it.

What was I doing last New Years? No idea. Maybe shopping. I know that I spent midnight at church, wondering why my phone had not rung with a New Year’s message and somewhat unconcerned with the sudden disappearance of every youth group couple. It was a great night with my friends. What it should have been.

So, what did 2008 hold for me? There was the end of one relationship, which led to a lot of growth on my part. I learned to lean on my friends, to find strength in God. I learned to rely on myself. There was a lot of sorting through issues that had not been completely resolved from the previous summer. I grew up a lot and finally discovered who I was. Now, I’m pretty happy with who that is. It took some breakdowns, some nights where I just shook my head and wondered who I had become. I had been trying really hard to succeed in life all on my own, and that wasn’t working. So, God tore me down to the foundation and I’ve been working to rebuild since then. This time, the right person has the blueprints. As long as I can keep myself from grabbing them out of His hands, I think I’ll be content with who I am.

I started a new relationship. It’s been one of the greatest blessings in my life to date. He accepts who I am and doesn’t ask me to be anyone else. He encourages me, inspires me, and makes me one of the happiest people alive. I couldn’t ask for anyone better. And I thank God for showing me someone so incredible,

I passed another semester of college and received my first B in five years. The perfectionist in me was upset for a time, but I’m really grateful for that B. Now, I’m not afraid of not being perfect. I want to do my best, but now I’m okay with the idea that my best may not always be perfect. In fact, it’s pretty arrogant to have thought it should be.

I had a great job working with two incredible children. I learned a lot about how families with small kids work, how a family is built. I learned a lot. They were a great example to me, since I’ve really never been old enough to notice the way a young family acts. It was a lot of fun.

I went to El Salvador again and learned that God is amazing, powerful, and always at work. I saw people brought together. I saw forgiveness. I felt my heartbreak, and felt a lot of hugs putting it back together. I saw examples of servants and I saw some things very opposite. I made a lot friends. I lost a few. That’s life. It sucks, but that’s life.

I got to go to Baltimore a couple of times. ☺ Definitely a fun experience.

I saw a new president elected. I got to watch all the conflicts and debates on campus, watch as people took their stands and began to care. I did see history, as the first black president was elected. And I pray that God blesses his term and our country.

I returned to Harding and had another incredible semester. I got good grades, even if there was another B. I learned some really great study habits. Spending 3-5 days of the week in the Library does that. My spiritual habits got a lot better as well. And I can thank the boy I’ve spent an amazing 9 ½ months with for both of those things. He encouraged me to study and to make sure that God was always number one in my life. It was a blessing of a semester. I got to live through my first Pledge week from the other side and it was great. I made a lot of friends and strengthened many relationships. Again, I lost some, but time and distance does that.

So. That was 2008. What do I want to see in 2009?

I want to see my anniversary and my year and a half with Sam. (Also the year and 9 ½ months, but that’s just not as concise).

I want to have an incredible trip to Italy and enjoy myself completely.

I want to continue growing closer to God by improving my prayer life and learning how to study His word better.

I want a good paying job for the summer.

I want to continue to strengthen my friendships and to always be a friend.

I want another two good semesters of college where I learn a lot.

So, we’ll see where life goes. I have a feeling that it’s going to be a ride. And I can’t wait.

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Election ’08

November 4, 2008 at 10:23 pm (Real Life) (, , , , , )

Well, it’s over. With the West Coast closing out a few minutes ago, Obama vaulted over the necessary 270 electoral college votes and took the White House. Yay for a generation to make history.

It’s a strange feeling right now. Last time there was a change in office, I was eleven. Definitely not old enough to care too much as to what was happening. I was opposed to Bush, but that wasn’t for any real political reason. Last election, I still opposed Bush, but really didn’t care all that much either way still. Now though…now I feel like this will have an impact on me. I know it will. I will likely leave college and start a life of my own under this administration. His views on foreign policy could have a profound impact on my next semester. I don’t believe that it will, but there’s always the possibility.

So, I should have gone out to the polls and made sure to voice my opinion, right? Well, I am not at all ashamed to admit that I did not vote. I’m fairly disillusioned with the political process, where the people with the most money get the best commercials, the most support, and the most power. Where everyone understands that campaign promises are really just campaign lies. I couldn’t choose a candidate. On the one hand, I do not think McCain is what this country needs right now. I simply don’t believe he would be good for us. On the other hand, Obama’s lack of experience scares me. But bigger than that, I cannot vote for someone with his stance on abortion. I’ve researched the rumors about the Born Alive Infant Protection Bill, and I cannot find anything to make me feel comfortable with it. I am aware that most of the reports are, by definition, biased, but still…Abortion is something I will never be okay with. It is the height of selfishness, the mark of a people willing to do anything as long as there aren’t any consequences. I will never be okay with it. It is a social, moral, and emotional decision on my part, and it is unwavering. No, I don’t have the answers to all the questions, but I do know that there are prices to be paid for actions. Obviously, there are instances (life of mother v. child, etc.) that require more than this broad idea, but in general, you get the picture.

So, that’s where it is. I couldn’t give my support to a candidate I did not like. Frankly, I do not believe either of them was a good choice. So…why in the world would I vote to put someone in office that I don’t like? It seemed completely illogical to me, so I left it in the hands of people who actually cared. And God’s. I don’t know how I feel about Obama, but I know that it is exactly according to God’s plan for the world. And so I can go into all of this happy, regardless of the president. Because it really doesn’t matter that much to me. It’s all God’s in the end, be it for good or ill.

Here we go, friends. It’s a new day, a new face. But the same Master over it all. Congratulations, President Obama.

God Bless. ❤

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Wait Wait Wait…You Mean I Don’t Have to Wake up at Six?

August 7, 2008 at 10:37 am (Real Life, Spiritual) (, , , )

How thankful am I for that! It’s 11 and I have yet to leave my room. I’ve been awake, organizing pictures and whatnot, but still in my pajamas. It’s wonderfully relaxing.

It’s hard to imagine that twenty-four hours ago I was still in San Salvador. It’s almost impossible to believe that a few hours on a plane can change everything that much. I miss them all so much. Every year, a little more of you stays behind. I wonder what happens when all of you is there?

Everyone met us at the airport, as usual. It was a little easier to say goodbye, still drained from last night. For the first time in two or three years, I actually got to say goodbye to everyone. Then it was through security and back to the life I had put on hold.

Honestly, it’s a different world down there. It’s almost impossible to think of it as a part of my everyday life. It almost seems like there are two me’s. There’s the one writing this now who gets fifty-one weeks a year for whatever, but takes a nice vacation for one. And then there’s this person who sleeps away most of the year, but wakes up for one week in order to work so hard so that she can sleep for another fifty-one. Because, while I know it doesn’t, it always feels like time stops for a while until we get back to El Salvador. The same people are there, we do the same things. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s hard to see both realities in one frame of consciousness.

It was nice to get home. Like I said, once you’ve said goodbye, I’m just ready to get back to everyone I miss. There weren’t any major problems, except for Darrin. He caught the little bug down there and spent the entire trip knocked out with medication. It’s better to sleep the whole way (and by sleep, I mean unconscious. He had a wheelchair everywhere we went) than to spend it throwing up everything you’ve ever thought of eating.

But, we made it back safe and sound.It was a good week and I feel like a lot of good was done. We’ve planted the seeds and will return in a year to see what God has done with them. He’s the best gardener I know, so I can’t wait to see the harvest. One year done. Now let’s start planning next year.

And if anyone is interested in the things I didn’t get to see, Waverly had a blog of their very own! So, for more information on some of their jobs and mnistries, go to http://missiontrip08-wavcoc.blogspot.com/

See you all later!

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Days 5-7: The Universal Language of Sweat

August 5, 2008 at 11:55 pm (Real Life, Spiritual) (, , , )

So, as you probably haven’t noticed, I’m a little behind in the blog. It’s been a long few days, and today has been just as exhausting, but I don’t have to be awake quite so early, so I’ll try to make up for lost time.

Sunday was church and sightseeing– a relatively easy day by all standards. We woke up and went to chruch at various places. Waverly’s group went to San Mauricio with Jorge and his congregation; most of the youth stayed at the hotel to hear Billy preach; the reast went to El Centro where Mo was the predicador. It was all in untranslated Spanish, but I did pretty well keeping up. Enough to get the gist of the lesson. There were four baptisms after worship, which was a beautiful thing of course! It was a lovely Sunday morning.

From there we went back to the hotel to pick up the rest of the Una group. Everyone was hungry and ready to do something, so we headed to the mall for lunch. I ate at some crazy Mexican place there. It was pretty good, but it’s really almost too hot to eat here. Anyways, the mall was a very short trip and we made our way to the ruins. I had never been to the Mayan ruins here- we had tried once or twice without success- but this year we suceeded. It was pretty incredible. Everything was pretty well-preserved, so I was shocked. There are, obviously, tons of pictures. At the ruins, there was a Mayan guy selling some trinkets and whatnot. He went on about the country’s heritage and the people’s heritage. It was pretty crazy. He kept switching between as Mayan dialect I won’t pretend to spell and English, so it was interesting. Occassionally, I couldn’t tell which was which.

We left as the park was closing (only around four. Weird), and traveled out to the artisans market fir a few minutes. We saw Waverly as they were pulling out of the parking lot. So, we shopped around there for about half an hour. I had seen everything many times before, so I just kinda wandered in and out of the stalls. It was all good, relaxing. Peaceful. After that (everyone was beginning to close up shop then), we went back to the hotel for dinner and devo. It was all good. After waiting and waiting to pay, the youth spent some time wandering around, looking for a good place to play cards. We finally found (and illuminated) a deserted ballroom, but quickly decided it was too hot and went to the lobby.

And that was Sunday, quickly and in a nutshell. From there, it was anearly seven a.m. departure to El Chaugiton. It is a small village only a few miles from the coast that we have dubbed “The Hottest Place on Earth.” It truly is scorching, even when it’s relatively cool elsewhere. We had the usual there- glasses, food, and VBS- and then loaded back up for the two hour trip back. There and back- and to the following location- was some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. It was utterly breathtaking. I took tons of pictures, but a still photograph can never induce the same awe and breathlessness that seeing it face to face did.

Everyone was alseep as we made the  long drive across the countryside. It was about a two-and-a-half to three-hour drive. About twenty to thirty minutes out from Zaragosa, right when I had nearly fallen asleep, the bus was declared to heavy and we all had to switch to the other bus. There wasn’t much room, so I ended up crammed on a seat with the Webbs. But, at least I had a seat. A few of the guys had to stand.

We survived with both buses intact to the second location and repeated the process from earlier. Zargosa and Chaugiton were only different in the amount of heat. Chaugiton is near the coast and hot; Zaragosa in towards the mountains and cool…er. So, we worked quickly, finished up, and began to get loaded. As we were getting ready to leave, we were informed that the church had made us dinner. They had made subs for all of us, washing eveyrthing in bottled water and taking special care. It was chicken ( I think), tomato, lettuce, mayonaise, and bread…obviously. I didn’t feel very risky, so I opted out. besides, I’m really not a lettuce, tomato, mayonaise kind of gal. I picked at the bread so it would look like i had eaten, and then we loaded up. Since there haven’t been too many deadly outbreaks today, I’d say the food was safe. Still, it wasn’t worth a miserable plane ride tomorrow for me.

We went to the mall for dinner, at least those of us who wanted to. Waverly hadn’t been yet, so they got to see that. It was fun. I hung out with most of their kids, shwoing them around and helping hem find some stores. Josh and Darrin had the great idea to by Alexito and Jorito a game for the PS2 bradley donated at some point. It was a lot of fun.

Joseph had devo. He spoke on blessings and it was really great. He said we should ask for blessings, but never take the most simple and everyday for granted. Though we wake up every morning, we should never overlook that first breath that gives us another day.

Today was another early morning, so I went to bed relatively early. I was pretty tired, hence no update. But, we woke up and loaded the last of the food bags onto the bus and prayed it wasn’t too heavy. But, with 300 twenty-pound bags loaded on, it was definitely a miracle that it made it the whole way. Yesterday, as mentioned, it didn’t. Sadly, Papa Don wasn’t quite as fortunate as the bus. He had to head back to the hotel with the stomach bug. But, we made it to Huizucar. The same old stuff was repeated again. VBS while someone preached, then food bags, and finally a glasses distribution.  It was over quicker than we expected, so we zipped into Camperos for some lunch. Which was nice since we never have lunch.

The last stop of the trip was at Santo Tomas, where Paz and family live. We skipped the VBS, instead having solely the food and glasses distribution. My arms were very thankful. Holding up those puppets for nearly an hour is definitely not appreciated by my body. While we were waiting to leave, four VERY drun guys wandered up to sing and entertain us. They were so far gone; it was absolutely hilarious. But, we got on our way back to the hotel. I’ve been feeling a little less than ideal all day. Not the nasty stomach junk, but a little heat exhaustion and annoyance at the constant changes in elevation. So, I tried to sleep on the way back. But didn’t. Of course.

We stopped at the Hotel to clean up and then went to Pizza Hut with everyone who had worked with us. It was a full house, but a blessing as always. I laughed until it hurt, which is kind of a great feeling. Of course, everyone knew what was coming. Well, the first-timers had no idea, but the veterans were ready with tissues. Okay, so I never carry tissues, but you get the idea.

We had the last night devo. The floor is simply opened to anyone who wants to speak about the trip. It is always very emtional, this year especially. With all the drama and tragedy going on, there were many things to say. It was insane. I haven’t cried like that in…a good while. So, I feel a little empty now. We hugged everyone, and then I came up to the room to rest and hopefully feel better before the plane trip. We’ll see.

We leave in the morning for a long day of travel, but 9:00 will find us right back in Nashville, the place we started this journey a week ago. It’s strange how a few hours in a plane and eveyrthing is different. Well, tomorrow is for tomorrow. Now is for goodnight. And so I say,

Buenas Noches.

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Day Three and Four: Con Dios, Nosotros Somos Uno.

August 2, 2008 at 10:35 pm (Real Life, Spiritual) (, , , )

So, I was wiped out last night and forgot to write until…I laid down to sleep. And by then, I was not getting back up to type. So, here’s two days worth!

Thursday morning, we had VBS at El Centro. It went really well with about 150 kids in attendance. I did my part for the puppet show and then wandered around downstairs while we waited for the extra beans to arrive and all the kids to clear out some. After that, Waverly went out to San Mauricio to work on their own, leaving on the Una team to pack the remaining bags. We finished up the last 600-700 in about half the time it took us the night before. Which was nice. I was baggng rice and tying up the bags. My fingers were a little sore afterwards, but it’s the price I pay. And it’s worth it!!

Well, then we had a chance to go to the Children’s Hospital. Those who have been on the trip know what an experience that is. We took bags with crayons, a coloring book, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a small toy. Mainly little stuffed animals in the hospital with a few toy cars for the little boys. It’s a lot of fun to hand it out and see the little kids pull out the coloring book or toy or whatever catches their eye. And then we have Bibles for the parents. It’s a good work, in my opinion. Who needs to know someone is thinking of them more than people sitting in the hospital with their sick children?

We had some more downtime after that. A few of us went to the store across the street and bought a papusa from the lady cooking them outside. It was tasty, and that’s all I have to say. We then returned to the hotel incredibly early to wait for Waverly to get back so we could go eat. After we waited for an hour or so, they called to say they would get dinner on their own. So, we went to Biggest, a fast food/burger place. It was, as always, delicious. i discovered these addicting ranch french fires. I could have eaten those forever…Then it was off to Jungle Snow. That is some of the best ice cream ever! I got some chocolate watermelon concoction that was delicious. We played Apples to Apples while we waited, and then went home for devo.

After devo, we decided we had to get to know the Waverly youth that was there with us. We all went up to the roof and sat there getting to know each other, Pretty much, we went around in a circle and told anything we wanted to about ourself, and then commented freely on whatever. It was a lot of fun. But, we eventually had to go to bed, what with such an early morning today. Sadly, I couldn’t sleep and only got about four hours for today.

Today, as I said,was early. We left the hotel at seven and headed to El Centro to pack up food bags and VBS bags for San Mauricio. We got that together and headed out. I distributed eye glasses during the VBS. We take reading glasses to hand out to everyone when we’re there. We test them using a primitive eye chart and then give them a strength that we think will work. Usually, that process is repeated many many times. It helps out a bit.

From there, it was back to Centro to hand out food and glasses at the Widows’ Day. All this little old women balacing food on their head and getting new glasses. One lady pushed the chart away and pulled out her Bible. That was what she was concerned about seeing. So, we made sure she could read the tiny print in there, and she was on her way. They are so sweet, so kind, and so grateful. But everyone knows we take away so much more than we give to them.

As soon as the widows had left, it was time for the youth rally. Bradley, Brant, and Joseph had the lessons for it and did an incredible job! We played a bunch of games, ate some pizza, and got to learn about Love, Faith, Cooperation, Communication, Respect, and many other concepts. That’s where this entry’s title comes from. They handed out bracelets with that phrase on it. Translated, it means “In God, we are one.” It was very well done, talking about how we are all a family, all one body. No matter what, we are one in Christ. That’s important. Something we have to remember, but is so easily forgotten.

Almost as soon as that was over, they started the Gospel Meeting. I opted to sit downstairs and play cards. It wasn’t translated, so i didn’t want to sit and try to think that much when I was so tired. We all played Spades and had some fun. It ended quicker than we were willing to believe and we all got to go and get Papusas. Waverly left again to do some work on their own and returned right after our devo tonight.

Brant had devo tonight and talked about hugs. It was short, simple, and to the point. Hugs are nice, but simple. And sometimes we all just need a hug from God. I had to smile.

Tomorrow is church and sightseeing. Sunday is always easy and laidback. But, Monday and Tuesday promise to be busy enough to make up for all the down time. Well, I’m going to bed shortly. So, goodnight!

 

🙂

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Day Two: It’s Off to Work We Go!

July 31, 2008 at 8:59 pm (Real Life, Spiritual) (, , , )

Well, everyone arrived today. Which is really nice, since the trip feels a little more real and normal now. I’m exhausted, but in a good way. Not beacuse I’ve been awake forever, but because we got a lot done. Well, we got a good amount done. We could have done a lot more.

Everyone arrived in one piece, which was good. That is always the preferred outcome. There was no drama this year, for which we were all EXTREMELY happy. Still, it took a little while to get everyone on the bus, suitcases in tow, and on their way. But, we got to the hotel, got everyone checked in, and…waited. Apparently, some people thought today was a good “stay in the hotel and rest” day. Yeah, we don’t have one of those. They were given thirty minutes to drop their stuff, freshen up (why you would, I don’t know. You sweat as soon as step outside the AC), and get back down to the bus. Forty-five minutes later, we were finally heading to the bus. I as kind of annoyed, because we have stuff to accomplish. This isn’t a day we can use to just sit around.

Well, we got to the church and started working after some quick introductions. Everyone started running around, bagging food. It’s a crazy scene to watch; I recorded some for later. It’s somethign you have to see to believe. In the end, we bagged about 650 bags of food. There was this adorable little girl putting the sugar in everyone’s bag. She was four, named Daniela. So cute. I’m a little surprised she could lift three pounds of sugar and put it in the bag! We ran out of beans because, after being told to put seven cups of beans in the bags (we re-bag the beans form the one hundred pound bags into three pound ones), the people began putting seven four cup scoops into each bag. Which shouldn’t have fit, but somehow did. So, that was crazy. But, we got enough for tomorrow, and that is the important part.

Everyone is worn completely out. I don’t blame them; in fact, I understand completely. We had Campero’s brought in to the church tonight. If you’ve never had it, you’re missing out. Delicious. But, afterwards we had our daily devo and then loaded up. No one was too concerned about hanging around for goodnight’s. Primary concern was getting on the bus and home. To the hotel, I mean.

Oh, I saw Francisco, Isaac, and Daniel today. So, it feels a little more like home. Isaac was nearly killed a few weeks ago on the bus. Leaving the Bible School one night, the bus was boarded and robbed. They were taking his backpack (from what I understand, he was letting them take it rather than do anything taht would provoke them) and they tried to shoot him. It grazed his head, requiring six stitches in the end, but they missed. Before they could try again (which they were about to), his sister threw herself in front of him and begged the men not to shoot him. So, he was fine. I’m really glad we don’t ride the public buses down here.

Well, that’s all I can think of for tonight. It was good, fun, and all that stuff. I’m just tired now and need a shower desperately. So, goodnight!

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Day One: Safe and Sound in San Salvador

July 30, 2008 at 9:36 pm (Real Life, Spiritual) (, , , )

Well, the video refuses to work. The risk of trying to use a computer running old programs. I should have brought mine, but I didn’t. So, I learned a lesson. I just don’t have the energy to fight it anymore. Maybe I’ll post some pictures later, but given the speed of this computer, I would be here for months. So, I’ll probably just wait and get back to my nice, working computer.

We had a good day. I’ve been up entirely too long, but that’s okay. The flight’s went well. We met a group leaving Atlanta that was going down for mission work as well. They were a Baptist/Methodist group from NC heading up into the mountains. It was a lot of fun to talk to them. And then I sat next to Margaret, an older woman from College Park, MD, who had set up Mental Health teams. I thought that was pretty cool. She left these people going into the school systemns and counseling and whatnot. It was a lot of fun. cause it’s something i could actually do one day.

We got here and got loaded up in the van for today. It ran out of gas and the group following us had to run and get gas. But, we made it to Santo Tomas and saw Paz and Priscilla. Fancisco was at school at the university, but he’ll be around later.

We left to go and buy food (after dropping our bags at the hotel), but discovered that our work was done for us when we got there. So, we stared at the piles and piles of food, and then wandered into the market. It was pretty crazy. People yelling, selling everything imaginable. So many people. It was pretty much a sensory overload. But, I thought it was pretty exciting. A new place.

After taht, we headed back to Centro, then decided to grab some dinner. Dad, Mo, and me. We were going to meet Udi, but after waiting thirty minutes or so for him to show up, we decided to go on to La Unica. I had four papusas, each as delicious as the one before. It was nice. And now I’m sitting very sleepy in the hotel. So, I’m going to say goodnight.

Mom, I really liked what I read of taht book so far. I didn’t get very far because they played 21 as the in-flight movie and I wanted to watch it. It was pretty good too. Daddy’s staying pretty calm, but tomorrow is when it’ll get a ilittle crazy.

Justin, Dad is telling everyone about your concussion. I know you probably aren’t reading this, but someone will pass on the message.

Calea, I miss you. I want to have coffee with you once I’m back. Oh, and Logan sent me a message about a room in Kendall. Don’t know if he sent it to you as well, but someone might want to call. I don’t think it’ll do any good, since there’s already a waiting list, but who knows.

Sam, I miss you lots and lots and lots and lots. I can’t wait to talk to you again….

To everyone, love you and miss you. I’ll try to write something every night, but it depends on how many days are as long as today. So, for real this time, goodnight!

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