Monday, May 7, 2018

Day 4 and 5


Today is a pretty bland day in my memory. Maybe it's because the day is getting farther and farther with each passing hour. We just started VBS for the kids and I went to an English class which I'll explain on day 6. So I shall skip Tuesday and start my journal back up at Wednesday. See you there - 


10:00-3:00 - The Parade! But first the waiting.... Fact while we wait: it is very bad manners to salute their flag. Don't do it. Just to justify myself - I didn't. 
    It is the hottest day of the week. The sun beats down while I try to take in all the cute costumes and displays. At the end, we learn that this is the last year the town will do the parade due to the cost.:( 
   Then on to face painting! The paints smear instead of stick but we're still able to have conversations with the kids that come up. Two girls want matching hearts on their cheeks. Another one wants a purple star. We try and it turns out cute! An adult hands us tamales to eat. I've never had one. They taste - interesting. 
   The face painting team heads into the only van available to go tour some stores. All the evangelism teams have to walk! We go into the only grocery store, bakery, and pet shop. Even though we're the face painting team, we still get to pass out Bibles and tracks!
Finally, we meet up with the rest of the group to pick out some shoes in the shoe store for the kids at the ranch. 

Annaka face painting a little boy.

Andrew and Brooke teaming up for a smash war of eggs filled with flour or confetti. On the far left, you can see Jo Jo ready to smash a flour egg at me. He pounded it into my head only to discover it wouldn't break. He kept doing it but the egg was merciful.

5:00 - We all separate to go eat with the ranch kids in 4 different houses. Last time, I went to one of the boys' houses and drew race cars for a 15 year old. This time is a lot different! My group goes to Monica's house which consists of about 8-10 girls ranging from 10 to 15. I get what I consider the prime spot: right between Jacera and Ferrenanda. They have us get our food first. I pass on the tortillas because I'm not sure if they are wheat or corn. But I hear whispering behind me at the table. I turn around to see Jacera with a very sad face. She tries to smile when I come back and sit down but I can tell something is wrong. Ferrenanda explains, "Ella fries them up especial and now you don't like." Oooooh. I explain, "I do like but I can't have wheat and I don't know if they are wheat or not." Hmmm, Jacera's still looking at my plate like I scarred her for life by not taking a tortilla. I ask the lady in charge on my second helping of food and she says the tortilla's are corn. I take one! After I finish my food, Jacera divides my hair and gives one half to Ferrenanda and starts french-braiding her own half. Then Angelina comes along and braids them together!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Day 3


6:30 - Wake up time, Bible time.

7:15 - Breakfast time and devos.

9:00 - I volunteer to help cut celery. I've never cut celery before! A couple of us girls make PB+J's for everyone including all the orphans. They're going to come to the beach with us!

10:00 - We load up in our vans.

11:00 - At the beach! The rutty road behind us, I look across the vast expanse of water and then behind us at the towering sand dunes. An occasional ATV crisscrosses over the hills.

11:30 - Busy playing Infection Tag. Some people play football, others talk, still others look for shells or play in the ocean.

12:30 - Well past my knees in ocean water when calls come from the adults. Lunch time! 

1:00 - In line for the food, I notice a boy named Daniel staring at me. I make a funny face and he does a fish face. Throughout the whole week, we kept up the comedy!

1:15 -  I eat with Jazera, a 12 yr. old ranch girl who speaks very good English.

Getting food in line at the beach. Jazera is in the red shirt next to me.

This is Daniel.
2:00 - Head off to the the dunes for jumps, jumps, and more jumps.

4:00 - We travel back the way we came
Head over the dunes 
pass the sandy lane
Start the vans 
the vans are full
with seashells and with sandy rolls
Head over the rutty road comes next 
In the car we hold our breath
no one becomes 
too car sick
we drive and drive 
who knows the time?
finally we are at the ranch
back from sand dune lane.

5:30 - Dinner!

6:30 - Devotions, songs, announcements, and recap of the day. In a circle, everyone goes around sharing what their favorite part of the day was or something they learned. Eli happens to start out talking two nights in a row and so the tradition got started. Every night, Eli starts out the circle and then the people on either side of him try to make the other person go first since its was hard to think of something right off the bat. By the time the circle gets completed and everyone has talked, it's late. Time for bed!

Eli in the green sweatshirt starting out the circle

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Day 2


9:45 - Church starts in 15 minutes. Not a big problem if I wasn't on the worship team. But I am. And we haven't all. Three of us go up to practice without finding the other two who were supposed to practice with us. In the church, we find there is no piano. We do not have a guitarist so that means only vocals? This will not work! I race down to our team to find a guitarist and recruit Zach. Isaac has the Mexicanos bring out a keyboard from storage which they set up for us. The missing two from our worship team come up. The church is now filled.

10:00 - We stand there whispering on stage. What song does this verse belong to? It's all in Spanish! (I know Spanish but I don't know it under pressure) The Mexicanos file us off the stage so that they can do their worship songs first.

10:40 - It's time. We get on the stage only to face big black mics. Now, we were told we wouldn't have to use the mics. But should we? Unamed starts singing into the key. I edge a little closer to my own mic in angst, trying to sing over her and at the same time not use the mic (also peering behind me to look at the screen because the verses in front of me are in a weird order)! Andrew tries to share my mic but I stand my ground which means it now looks like he's hiding behind me. Do you get the picture? It is not a pretty one. We definitely weren't put together!
Here's all the gracious worshippers

Side note: When I tried to think of what we did for Sunday for this blog post, I couldn't remember anything significant. I had already blocked out the mortifying experience!

12:00 - My Bible is missing. It disappeared from my seat! This is the Bible that Gabrielle gave me for my Italy and Greece mission trip. It is very precious and filled with notes of what God's taught me in the last 4 years. I ask around. No one has seen it. I'm filled with despair.

1:00 - We go on a tour of the ranch. We see the outside of all the buildings and get to watch their pigs, horses, and goats.

1:45 - We play Ga Ga ball with the orphans. This is a game where you only use your hands to hit the ball and if your leg is touched by the ball, you're out!

5:00 - One of the house moms and her troop find my Bible for me. All I can say is, "Gracias!"

9:00 - We sit under the stars, under the sweeping trees on Mexican blankets. The highway weaves around in the background, occasional trucks flash by. I see a shooting star fly down. Then people start taking selfies and I leave. 

10:30 - Lights out. In bed. Peaceful.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Day 1


3:49 - beep beep beep. Alarm turned off, I roll out of bed. Today is the day I go to Mexico. I still can't believe it. I've waited the entire year for this to happen again. This time I have memories. Revisit. Relearn. Revitalize. It has all happened before. Or has it?

6:30 - No. Now my brain is awake and I realize it won't be the same. I'm on the plane with friends. Loud friends. That didn't happen last year. The waitress hands me a cup and I give it to the guy in the window seat which is the polite thing to do. Unless the cup spills over.....thankfully it's just water.

Time? - We land in San Diego and wait. Some people are on Alaska, we are on Southwest. We don't get together very quickly. Then the thirty-seven of us flood out to the 3 vans where we head to Costco. The walkie-talkie blares in van 3. Wanted: Avonlea. Wanted: Avonlea. Why? Apparently, I've been recruited to help load up food in Costco! I hook up with one of the moms and look up and down aisles for snacks and candy. We buy a whole cart bursting of nuts, bars, and dried mangos. Carrots are wanted to keep the drivers awake so I find them and put them into cups. The entire way down to our destination I hear the crunches. . .

Halfway to the ranch, we stop for some ponchos and blankets. We pray for the lady we're buying from. Then she gives us a discount!

I'm not pictured in case you're looking for me. This was the lady we prayed for and bought ponchos and blankets from.

5:00 - We reach the ranch well before dark. Dinner is prepared while we scramble into the dorms. Sticky notes are handed out and the showers and bathrooms are named after cities (there are no locks). Moscow and New York are the showers and London and Paris are the toilets. One of the girls knocks on the bathroom stall. "Anyone in Paris?" Mary replies, "Wee, wee."

7:00 - We play tag in the dark under the stars.

10:30 - In bed, goodnight.

Note: This series of my trip in Mexico is in a form of a diary every day. I will write day 2, Sunday, soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March Madness

March has been a crazy month. So crazy in fact that Dad (first time ever) and us forgot about March Madness basketball games that go on. It's the only sports event we participate in so it's usually a big deal (for all of us except Mom). Two years ago, I guessed correctly North Carolina all the way to the final 2 team playoffs for the championship. Last year, I put down North Carolina to win the whole tournament and guess what? It did! This year, I'm worried I won't be able achieve my high status of guessing from the past. We'll see what happens with the tournament this year!

In just a few days I head down to Mexico to the ranch I helped out at last year. I'm on the worship team this year and will be singing up on the stage in church along with my two friends Andrew and Brooke. It's been a lot to get ready and I still feel like our team doesn't have everything together so please please be praying. For team unity and for good conversations with the kids down at the ranch and on the streets evangelizing. We'll be going to the beach on Monday and hopefully the orphanage kids will come too (they did last year for the first time with LWS)!

As for school news, although I'm graduated and babysitting, I still love to learn and so I enrolled in Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center. I'm taking classes to make an audio drama by the one and only creator of Jonathon Park Adventure Chronicles, an amazing creation science based audio drama. We held auditions last Saturday and Sunday and 78 people filed through 2 rooms while we recorded voices for 12 hours. I needed German accents for my WW2 story set in Germany. One man auditioning for the bad German guy named Gunter changed up my lines a bit. I had Gunter saying, "Fat chance" and instead the man said, "Fat chance as Americans say" in a hardy German accent. I think the guy just won himself a part as Gunter!

I'll probably write another post soon after Mexico so stay tuned!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

     We headed up to Parkdale, hoping the house was clean enough to inhabit for Christmas break. To see what happened last time, scroll down to my previous post. If you're too lazy to look, here's a short summary: "When we went to the house for Thanksgiving, we discovered the heat furnace had  blown up so we had to leave but we hired some cleaners to clean the place."
     Now we came back only to find our snow coats, mittens, and hats were gone. The insurance agent had said we could come up because he would leave those necessary items for us to use in the snow. But they were missing, so Dad called the guy who told him that early that morning he had decided we shouldn't use the sooty clothes so he had taken them away but...he hadn't told us! Therefore, we were stuck up there without any snow wear. We decided to head back home. We stopped by Dairy Queen for some much needed dinner and talked through what we should do. The day before had been Christmas so we had a whole week of Christmas break before us where Dad was off work and our plans were ruined. Excitedly, we started brainstorming ideas. Dad finally gave the jackpot answer. "How about we use our year passes to go to Six Flags Magic Mountain Park down in California?"

     We had gone to Six Flags Park for spring break and had bought year passes because they were cheaper than buying a row of days together. Not expecting to come back, we had still saved the tickets and were we sure glad we had! Magic Mountain, here we come.... we drove the rest of the way home in a frenzy. Dad said we would be leaving at 5 am in the morning to get there by nightfall.
Shorts, swimsuits, sunglasses flew into our bags late that night as we got ready. In the morning, all 6 of us were in the car enduring what turned out to be a 14 hour car ride. We didn't know where we were going to stay so Mom finally just got a hotel room for Wednesday night 3 miles from Magic Mountain although we still were looking for a house for the rest of the nights. As we all piled into the 3 bed tiny hotel room, Dad checked the desk to see if they could just let us stay in our suite until Sunday night. The man said no but that they had a 2 bed suite that he'd let us buy for a reduced price. Dad agreed since we couldn't find anywhere else to stay. The next morning, Dad went to the desk to get the small suite key but the new person there said that we could stay in our 3 bed suite and she'd let us have it for the reduced price the man offered - $80 less than normal price! So our hotel room ended up being about a 4th of the price of a normal house rental. It's amazing how God orchestrated the room problem and turned it into a blessing.

     We had a wonderful sunny time down there. Upper 70's and low 80's degree weather in the end of December is not normal, the locals stated. But we sure enjoyed it! Three days we spent at Magic Mountain and another day we spent at the beach, shops, and Claim Jumper before heading back home on January 1st. Bye bye flip flops:(

They had fake snow falling down everywhere and lights glistening at night.
There was more pictures of us in the snow and roller coasters next to Christmas trees but my computer won't upload any more pics besides the one up above!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ironic Thankgivings

Thanksgiving is a time of feasting, festivities, and thankful hearts. A time of remembering, savoring, and gratefulness. Generally, most people can create that atmosphere especially if there has been bountiful blessings showered lately on you by God.

"I'm so thankful for -."

"I just am so grateful to -."

"I feel blessed because -."

However, what if on Thanksgiving, something catastrophic happened? Would you still be gushing out thankfulness and joy? Our family has been put to the test for the third year in a row of a series of unexpected, unwelcomed events that have left us saying hopefully "could be worse!"

Two years ago (3 Thanksgivings ago now), we traveled up to Parkdale to spend Thanksgiving day up in the cottage. There was a thin layer of snow and so we decided to go sledding. Bad idea. We had to dodge rocks as we careened down patches of melting snow. Rose (age 8 at the time) decided to go higher than everyone else even though a certain person she should have listened to - told her NO. 
As Rose flew down the hill, she was obviously terrified, probably wishing with all her might that she had listened to the experienced, calculating person who told her NO. Slamming into a giant rock, she was thrown off the sled with a force that propelled her into the snow. Dad (who is actually the person who told her NO), ran to her rescue but it was too late. Her back pained her to the extremity. Quickly, Mom and Dad raced down to the hospital with her while the rest of us stayed at home trying to follow the Turkey Feast recipes (the turkey didn't turn out quite normal). Rose got a CAT scan and no bones were broken to our relief. However, she did have a sprain. They gave her some kind of pain killer which zonked her ability to function rationally. We never planned to have Rose crying "Mother's Turkey, I want Mother's turkey!" up and down the halls of the hospital on Thanksgiving day. But that's what Rose did. And we were thankful when the nurse asked the sly question, "Do you like your brothers and sister?'' And Rose retorted, "Of course!" That answer could be debatable in some moments. All in all, Rose recovered rapidly and by the time we headed down the mountain, she was back to her old self. We were grateful God had saved her from further harm.

 Last year (2 Thanksgivings ago), we traveled up to Parkdale to spend Thanksgiving day up in the cottage. Does this sound familiar? There was a thin layer of ice this time and unaware of impending disaster, we were playing tag with our dogs outside. Bad idea....again. As we raced up the stairs, Pearl dashed up behind us but then fell back with a sharp, high cry of pain. Her paw had caught in the opening slats between each stair. She wasn't putting weight on it so we rushed her down to the veterinary hospital. Do these verbs (raced, dashed, fell, rushed) give you an idea how hectic our Thanksgivings are? However, after the rush, there's always the wait. We waited and waited until the veterinarian declared our dog to have a "sprain" in her leg. He gave us some outrageously priced little pills to give Pearl who was doing her best to act injured. We had a crying patient on our hands for the next few days; she was worse than Rose! As we headed down the mountain, we were thankful Pearl was young and could heal easily and that she didn't need surgery.

This year, we traveled up to Parkdale to spend Thanksgiving day up in the cottage. There was no snow and no ice so we hoped there would be no worries. Wrong. Usually we stay in the warm car while Dad turns on the heat and gets things all warmed up. Well this time it seemed he was taking longer than normal. Finally Mom sent me in to check on him. I opened the door and coughed. The place reeked chemical stench. There was pure black cobwebs arranged all over the room, drifting down eerily as I walked around the place. Dad came out of the basement dusting his hands. "The oil furnace exploded," he said. Mom and everyone else came in with bags of luggage. "Take it all back out," Dad shook his head."We can't stay here." Here are the facts: Dad turned on the oil furnace but black smoke was coming out of the vents and into the house. It looked like the installation had fallen into the heat furnace and there were dead mice around its base. The whole house looked like Halloween in full decoration. Everything was covered in an oil base charcoal? I'm not sure exactly but we couldn't easily get it off anything. We're going to have to get professional cleaners to go through everything. As we headed back down the mountain after only an hour up at the cottage, we felt blessed that we weren't in the house when that happened and that our house hadn't burned down.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my family's crazy misfortunes and I hope you learned that there is always a "could be worse!" if you look hard enough. Next year, I'm hoping my family will stay home. I'll be in New Zealand so I certainly don't want to miss another ironical Thanksgiving. But if something happens, I'll let them tell you......