Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So what DO I do all day and where do I do it?

(This has turned into a fairly long blog. So, for those of you who may be short on time, I have the main and important ideas in bold lettering for your convenience. )
Welcome to a sneak peak into my day. Here's a video tour of where I work!

Every day is different for me depending on which day it is. For example, Monday mornings are team meetings so I have to be at work early....that means leaving my house at 6 a.m. to avoid rush hour but I get to leave work around 3:00. Wednesdays, on the other hand, are bible study days so I come to work around 1 p.m. and am here till about 9 p.m. So you can see how things change.

Instead of giving you a daily schedule, I will tell you the various jobs that I have. I am given various projects to complete during the week. This week and next week I am working on translating the UCU website. To see it in spanish, click HERE. So that is a big job I have at the time being. I am also diligently preparing materials for my ESL classes which I will start teaching at the end of August. I'll write more about that as it approaches. Lastly, I have been asked to be a major planner for UCU's 40th anniversary. The big bash is scheduled for the first week of June, 2009. Keep in mind that in Latin America everything takes twice as long, so we'll need these 10 months to get it right! I won't bore you with the details of it but trust me, its a project with a capital P!

I also, in time, have an opportunity to possibly pray about and begin a program for student moms. These would be single moms who are attending university and trying to be responsible moms at the same time. These are brave girls who choose to pick up the pieces of their lives and make something of themselves. Again, this would be WAY down the road, but I am thrilled to have been asked to start thinking about this as it is where my heart lies: with the young single moms of Colombia.

Wednesday nights are bible study nights here at UCU. Various student leaders are asked every week to speak. Here are some pictures of the Wed. night event:

In other news (just a side note) I am going to be moving! Yomaida (who you saw in the video) and I are going to be moving into an apartment together. I have decided that after nearly 2 weeks of my very trying commute, I need to be a lot closer to the office. This will be especially important when I start teaching evening classes as it is dangerous for me to make such a long commute every night. We'll be apartment-hunting this Saturday, start the paperwork, and should be moving in sometime towards the middle/end of August. More to come...

I realize that many of you may not know what UCU is and what we do. So, if you would like to find out, read on past the quote where I have outlined the basics of what we do.

QUOTE: "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
Thomas A. Edison

UCU (United Christian University)
-UCU is a professional and student movement that seeks to:
1. Evangelize: to promote the kingdom of God and His righteousness in the field of Colombian students.
2. Build up: providing spaces in which students grow as a community of disciples of Jesus Christ.
3. Send: encourage students and graduated professionals to understand their careers as an opportunity to serve and
share as they identify with the poor and oppressed.

UCU does these things by discipleship training, bible study, and retreats. We have built relationships with students nation wide and the objective is to create student leaders who will be a key to Christ in their communities. We are not affiliated with any particular school, students from all universities are welcome. We are, however, very conveniently located directly across the street from the National University of Colombia.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I had my first Sunday in Bogota. I went to the church that I have been supporting and will be attending during my time here. It wasn't my first time there so it was nice to see familiar faces.

At the end of the service they presented me with flowers and a big welcome and asked me to say a little something. It was a bit nerve-racking but I succeeded in doing it all in Spanish AND they said they completely understood me. HAH!

One of the single moms at the church makes and sells Tamales for money. These are Colombian-style and boy are they good!

Then we went to the park with a huge group from the church and my big family. Its called the Simon Bolivar Park and its right in the middle of the city. Its beautiful and we simply sat around, played games, ate snacks and fellowshiped. All in all, I'd say it was a great Sunday!

QUOTE: "Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."
Russell Baker

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hanging out of MOVING vehicles!

Since this is such a huge part of my day, I felt it necessary to blog about my transportation situation here. I´ll try to keep the words at a minimum but seriously, this stuff can get pretty funny.

I live anywhere from 20-40 minutes from work, by bus. The timing is relative to traffic. And so I do what any other Colombian would do: take the bus. Are you picturing it? Are you just imagining a lovely bus stop with an overhang to shelter you from the rain? Are you picturing a nice busdriver that waits until you are on the bus with both feet before slowly pulling away? Yeah, well, IF ONLY!!!!! Here in Bogotá the driver will sto p just long enough for you to grab ahold of the handle and put a foot on the step. After that, its up to you to hang on! And as for the overhang...
THIS is a bus stop in Bogota! Where? You might ask. Oh, anywhere along the side of that road that you might be able to catch a driver´s attention and where he may be able to have time to stop. And are you picturing nice big numbers at the top of the bus that you can see from a distance and that indicate your desired destination?
THIS is what you have to look for in the front left window of the bus as it approaches you at 60 MPH. It can be pretty tricky and if you have anything less than 20/20 vission, well, good luck to ya.
THIS is a typical bus that you would see throughout the various streets of Bogotá. The very first picture on the blog, the one of the red bus, is of a system they have here called the Transmilenio. The buses are nice but the routes are limited and don´t include any type of convenient way for me. So I use the little street busses.
THIS is what happens when lots and lots of little street buses make their way through roads that aren{t meant for anything weighing more than a large sedan. So the bus ride home isn´t exactly an ideal place for catching up with post-card writing or makeup applying.

And finally we come to the concept of firemarshal codes. HAH. Firemarshal! Yesterday, while trying to catch a bus home, I was inconveniently ignored by at least 8 buses that were headed to my neighborhood and that I flagged down in the usual way. As they passed, it was easy to see why they weren´t stopping for me. The buses are SO FULL during rush hour that there are literally people hanging out of the doors. Yes, HANGING! Its an incredible sight and I would capture it on film if I weren´t afraid of my camera being stolen.
I resorted to flagging down a taxi for 7x the cost of a bus. But, I didn´t have to hang outside of a moving vehicle.

To be completely honest, there is a great sense of accomplishment for me as I have succesfully gone to and from work alone now. The craziest thing of all is that I thoroughly enjoy my commute and bus situation. Its probably part of that initial culture know, that part that thinks EVERY SINGLE THING about the new culture is just peachy. Well, I´m still neck deep in that stage. Who knows, maybe I´ll get to stay in that state of mind. One simply must have a sense of humor about the conditions of the public transportation, laugh it off, and chalk it up to a life of adventure. Stay tuned...

QUOTE: Today´s quote comes from a distant relative of mine, seriously.
Mass transportation is doomed to failure in North America because a person's car is the only place where he can be alone and think.
Marshall McLuhan

Monday, July 21, 2008

Home Sweet Home!

I had a wonderful LAM retreat in a beautiful retreat center just outside of Medellin.
I will take many things with me from that experience. a) an incredible sense of community with my fellow LAMers b) a better understanding of what success looks like to God and that it isn't about belongings or what the world sees, its about Christ's work in us. c) dozens and dozens of some kind of bug bites that cover my legs from the knee down and actually kept me awake for the entirety of last night. I usually use self control in not scratching bug bites because we all know that the less you scratch, the less they itch and sooner they disappear. WELL NOT THESE BABIES They itch ALL the time. Call me crazy, but I even took a picture of it. Got any remedy ideas? Feel free to put in your ten cent's worth!!!

I am officially unpacked, settled in, and had my first day of work today here in Bogota. I can't believe I can finally say all of that! My day at work was probably what you would expect for first day. We had a team meeting and discussed my various jobs: data entry, organization of various office items etc., preparing for my English classes, and-the BIG job....helping organize and plan our huge 2009 40th anniversary of UCU. Trust me, its a BIG JOB!!! I can't wait to get started!

And finally, here are some pictures of my room here. I tried TWICE to take a video of my house and it wouldn't load onto my computer, so, sorry about that. But here's a video substitute. I'll be posting a video (hopefully) of my office at UCU some time later this week. BLESSINGS!

QUOTE: (my quote this week comes from a card that my sister gave me as I was leaving. I thought it quite appropriate. THANKS JILL!) "I have but one candle of life to burn and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light."
John Keith Falconer

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Safe and Sound, almost

There I one of my many airport waits today. I have arrived in Colombia safe and sound. I'm so thankful that I had no problems with luggage or security. None of my flights have been delayed and I'm here in Bogota waiting to board my flight to Medellin. Incase I haven't mentioned it before, I am on my way straight to a Latin America Mission retreat. One of my friends picked up my larger suitcases at the airport so that I could take just a carry one with me through to Medellin. I'll be back in Bogota on Sunday and you can expect a much longer blog at the beginning of next week. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Houston, we are a GO!

I guess you could say that I started packing 9 years ago. I have been mentally and spiritually packing my baggage and saying my goodbyes since March, 1999. Nobody could see it. But I knew it was happening. And now, for all the world to see, this is what nine years of packing looks like as I am at the eve of my launch: (yeah, I have a flare for the dramatic...but after nine years, who wouldn't?)

My Week started with a little packing.....

Then came a going away party at my house with about 35 guests in the Atlanta area...

Then I said goodbye to my family at Aaron with a dinner at Cheesecake Factory...

And then I was DONE!
Off to the airport!

QUOTE: "I tell people I'm too stupid to know what's impossible. I have ridiculously large dreams, and half the time they come true."
Debi Thomas

Monday, July 14, 2008


I can't believe it. I can actually call this my official moving week! I wasn't sure if this would ever come. But here I am, overly excited and overly stressed. I find myself walking into my room and asking "where do I start???" Since I won't have my own place right away, I'm trying to decide if I need apartment essentials. Basics like sheets, towels, pillows, bla bla bla. I think I'm going to wait and bring those after Christmas. So yeah, its just the little decisions that will make a BIG difference when trying to stuff all my belongings into 3 suitcases and a backpack. I'm trying very diligently to not have to take more than the airlines allow. This will save a good $150 on Thursday when I fly. Well, when its all cleaned up and packed I'll be sure to take some pictures. I have seen some of my married friends/families move to other countries and, well, lets just say that being a single woman has some major advantages!!! :)

QUOTE: "Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is."
Francis Bacon

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Boy Named Aaron and a Place to Call Home!

This week, I am very busy finishing up packing and saying my goodbyes. I was approved for my visa today and am thrilled to announce that I may legally live in Colombia for the next year! A lot of hard work went into that and I would like to thank everybody who helped with the various paperwork!!! In other news...

I HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE! Yes, this probably should have been established a while ago but with everything going on, it just hadn't been decided. Through my visits to Colombia I have become quite close to a particular family. My pastor's wife's parents (try to follow me here) once offered for me to live with them. The commute to my office will be significant and so I had to think long and hard about that option. But since nothing else was really coming up and since I know how well I get along with that family, I have decided to take them up on their offer. I'll be sure and post up a video of my home once I arrive. For now, you can know that, on Colombian terms, it is quite a large house with two stories. I'll have my own bedroom of course and, included in my rent, I'll have breakfasts and dinners there with them. It might sound strange, but after discovering my official place of residence yesterday, the excitement factor has been kicked WAY UP!

I have thought long and hard about this entry. I have all types of viewers out there, after all. I have my family, my close friends, my long-lost friends, my financial supporters, and my prayer partners. All of you play such a unique and wonderful role in my life and I have decided that since I share most everything on this blog (financial stuff, moving stuff, cultural shock, spiritual hurdle etc...) it is time to introduce a new little addition to my life. By little, I mean a 6 foot, tall and handsome, originally-from-India gentleman. Meet Aaron Das:

Aaron and I met a few months ago at our mutual friends' wedding. He was a groomsman and I was a cliche, I know. Well, we hit it off immediately seeing as he too is a missionary. His family is originally from India and he has lived here in GA since he was 9 years old. He graduated from Emmanuel College in North GA and has since worked at a bank while waiting for the right doors to open in the mission's world. Aaron was recently part of a YWAM discipleship training school and, after some unexpected turns, is coming home just barely in time to see me leave. Such is life. He's hoping for a possible October visit to Colombia. We'll see. While the long-distance relationship comes with its share of difficulties, we will communicate as best we can and enjoy taking our relationship one day at a time.

Now, back to packing. So much to do and only 8 days in which to do it!!! YIKES!

Quote: "Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you're alive, it isn't."
Richard Bach

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Short short

I'm back from Canada. This may be the shortest blog ever as I am neck-high in stuff to do before I can leave next week for Colombia. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, appointments, and packing. Wish me luck! I'll blog better next week, I promise.
p.s. Canada was amazing!

Quote: Every man has his follies - and often they are the most interesting thing he has got.
Josh Billings