Monday, October 27, 2008

We're Engaged!

WOOHOO!!!! Aaron got here last Thursday and popped the question on Saturday. The video tells all! It also includes the actual proposal as he was able to very sneakily get it on tape! Enjoy!

QUOTE: Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Hairy Experience

I have been wanting to dye my hair dark again but havn't had the time or cash. Well, I got a little extra in my paycheck this week so I decided to treat myself. Keep in mind that when I say "treat myself" a FULL head of color and some highlights throughout only costs $40. Crazy huh? At my salon in the States (which isn't the highest priced) it would cost me MINIMUM $80. So, I figure I'm getting a great deal. I went a little funky and put in a splash of red which is completely in style in Colombia and I happen to think its super fun.

Why am I telling you this? This blog is mostly for all you ladies out there who may just get a little giggle out of my experience yesterday. I walk in to the salon and they starting oo-ing and aw-ing at my hair color which is naturally quite light. This, to them, is the most fantastic thing and they can't fathom why I would want to go dark when 50% of Colombian women pay lots of money to stay blond. But, reluctantly, they comply to my wishes and start mixing up color. Ya know, I'm not too sure if they were new at putting in color on natural blondes or not...but based on their puzzled looks and constant under-the-breath questions to one another I was getting pretty nervous. I mean, you can relate right? You're about to do something a little on the wild side and you have your own doubts. But then the TWO stylists assigned to you both seem to be lost little puppies in a closet of hair color.

For the following 2 1/2 hours I had FOUR, yes FOUR hands in my hair. Why you need two people to color a head, I'm not sure. And so you're sitting there thinking "this is either gonna come out great because of all the extra attention, or its gonna be a mixture of black and orangy-pink, fried crispy, and frizzy as a cotton ball" I sat their, praying for the prior. We made it through the washing and drying and, well, I was in awe. They did an amazing job! Exactly what I wanted! But the nerves of the morning wore me out and by 9 last night I was staggering home to fall in bed. Despite my extreme excitement over Aaron's arrival today, I actually slept great! I'm headed out now to pick him up. Bellow are some pictures of the hair. It may take some getting used to for some of you but trust me, its super fun!

QUOTE:Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.
Author Unknown

Monday, October 20, 2008

From the Word

As part of my evening routine I read The Message Remix//Pause. What is that exactly? Well, I'm sure you've heard of The Message version of the know, the one in every-day, plain speech? Its great. Well, the Remix//Pause is exactly what it sounds is a remixed version of the Bible; synchronizing old and new testament books and breaking them up in a way that allows you to read an O.T. passage and N.T. passage every day so as to read the entire Bible in one year. At the beginning of each book it gives a little history and some kind of insight. As I was reading the intro for 1 & 2 Samuel I couldn't help but have a "wow" moment. I just want to share with you what it says. It's nothing deeply profound. In fact, you may have heard something like this before. I know I have. But the wording is so understandable and applicable....I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And now.....

I'm not writing it ALL down cause that would be super long....I'm just quoting the highlights, believe it or not.

"Four lives dominate the two-volume narrative of 1 & 2 Samuel: Hannah, Samuel, Saul, and David....these four lives become seminal for us at the moment we realize that our ego-bound experience is too small a context in which to understand and experience what it means to believe in God and follow His ways...
be reminded that these stories are not exemplary in the sense that we stand back and admire them, like statues in a gallery, knowing all the while that we will never be able to live either that gloriously or tragically ourselves. Rather they are immersions into the actual business of living itself: this is what it means to be human...
These four stories do not show us how we should live but how in fact we do live, authenticating the reality of our daily experience as the stuff that God uses to work out his purposes of salvation in us and in the world...
(here's the really good parts)...
One of many welcome consequences in learning to "read" our lives in the lives of Hannah, Smauel, Saul, and David is a sense of affirmation and freedom: we don't have to fit into prefabricated moral or mental or religious boxes before we are admitted into the company of God-we are taken seriously just as we are and given a place in his story, FOR IT IS, AFTER ALL, HIS STORY; NONE OF US IS THE LEADING CHARACTER IN THE STORY OF OUR LIFE! ...
for the biblical way is not so much to present us with a moral code and tell us "Live up to this"; nor is it to set out a system of doctrine that say, "Think like this and you will live well."

Ok, it was a lot, I know. But wasn't it fantastic??? I just keep reading it. Ok, now, for just a moment I'll tell you what's up this week. We don't have internet at work which has proven to be a bit of a challenge. So I spend my time both at home and work trying to catch up on things (since I have internet at home). Aaron arrives Thursday so I'm busy getting last minute stuff ready for that. SUPER EXCITED! That about wraps it up. No quote this week as I think the excerpt from the Message is long enough! ;) Blessings as you live out of the box!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Buses, beaches, and an INCREDIBLE WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!

What can I say? I had THE MOST incredible week of my time in Colombia so far. Where can I start and NOT make this 19 pages long? Ok, I'll start with the bus. 18 hours will get you to the Northern Coast from Bogota. But the drive is INCREDIBLE...through mountains and valleys and into the tropics. WOW! Using the bathroom on the bus was quite an experience and, if any of you women out there would like to laugh your tails me and I'll fill you in on the hilarious details of that little experience.

I seriously can't give the day-by-day account of things cause it would take too long. I'll just sum it up. I went to the beach for an afternoon which was fabulous! We had two days of planning before the students started arriving from all over the coast of Colombia. There were 29 of us in total and we had an amazing time. The theme was "Can you have power without corruption?" How great is that for Colombia? Its also great for me! I'm learning to have some authority and "a say" here but I hope to learn to practice these things with complete humility and with an attitude of service. It was a great theme to study in detail and, even more, I UNDERSTOOD the lectures! WOOHOO

The retreat ended on Monday afternoon. We got all packed up and then hopped back on a bus for a 19 hour ride home. The travel time always depends on traffic and weather. I would make that trip again ANY TIME. I even had the thought more than once of "I could see myself living here". The culture in the coast is very different from the food, to the relationships, to the language. Its very very HOT and nobody has AC. And the coast tends to have a poorer population in general. But the people make up for it and I have definitely fallen in love with more of this country. The video will say it all! Enjoy the 2:30 minutes of my most incredible week so far!

QUOTE: Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, the first often tasting like the second.
Edward Abbey

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Times

It has been pretty ordinary around here lately. I'v been teaching classes and doing my normal UCU thing. So, at the risk of sounding a bit boring, I just wanted to update you on what lies ahead this month as it is already packed!

Tomorrow evening I leave, by bus, for the coast of Colombia. Its about an 18 hours ride up north to Santa Marta. I'm headed up there for a UCU regional retreat. Our team will be arriving a few days before the retreat to make the appropriate preparations before the students arrive. The retreat ends on Monday the 13th at which point I will head 4 hours south to Cartagena to spend 2-3 days with my roommate and her family (Yomaida is originally from the coast). I should be arriving back to Bogota on October 17th. I have never been to the coastal region of Colombia and am excited to visit.

The other exciting thing happening this month is that on Oct. 23rd my boyfriend will be arriving for a 10-day visit. He has been in Honduras for 2 months doing a short term missions program, language learning, and traveling. It will have been more than 3 months since I last saw him and we are very excited about seeing one another. I'll still be working during his visit but we'll have the evenings and 2 weekends to do touristy things and show him around.

Other than that, I suppose no news is good news. I continue to become accustomed to the many Colombian differences in culture and am truly enjoying my life here. I'll have a much more exciting entry after the retreat with all kinds of fun pictures. Until then, God Bless!

QUOTE: Life loves the liver of it.
Maya Angelou

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Culture: Take 2

I got some interesting reactions to my last blurb on culture, so I figured I'd keep it up! This one isn't quite as long....but hopefully just as entertaining!

Bills bills bills...
You may be interested to know that paying bills here is quite different. Whether it be a cell phone bill or electric for the house. First, the bill arrives at your mailbox (some of us are lucky enough to even HAVE mailboxes, others just get it placed in the lobby of their apartment building) You then take the bill to any bank that is listed on the bill. You generally have a VERY LONG line to stand in (particularly if your bill arrives at the end of the month). The teller takes your bill and the CASH ONLY that you pay it with. The money is deposited directly into that businesses' bank account and you're set for the month. Weird huh?

Cucumber juice
This one is a new one for me. I woke up this morning and my roomate was making cucumber juice. I gave the "what on earth is that" look and she explained candidly that there was no more fruit in the house and so she was making juice out of the cucumber. Ingredients: Cucumber, water, and sugar. BLend until mushy, strain, and drink up! I did not try it, but it smelled like a fresh salad. I think I like my OJ better! ;)

Cross walks.
What Cross Walks? There are absolutely NO pedestrian rights here. You wait until there is a clearing and then you run for dear life. If you take too long, you will either get run over or cussed out. I say this too lightly. Because the fact is that there are MANY deaths every week from people who don't quite make it across in time. It can be very dangerous!

Gringo tax
Any of you who have traveled have probably noticed that upon hearing your North America accent, local venders will spit out a price that is WELL above the item's worth. Something I'v noticed...they don't do that with the locals! Well, I'm not one to really accept that kind of treatment. So I generally firmly mention something like "Sir, around the corner they are selling this same item for 10,000 pesos Less ($5). Would you like to match that price or should I go back to that store?" Their faces usually drop momentarily before they give me the item for the lower price.
Taxis are the WORST about this. They either try to short-change you or up the price. The other day, for a 7,000 peso ride ($3.50) I paid with a 20,000 peso bill. He only gave me 3,000 pesos back, hoping I wouldn't notice. When I quickly corrected him by "asking" if I hadn't given him a 20,000 bill, he looked at me in the mirror and reluctantly handed me the remaining 10,000. He said in a mumbled Spanish "you're no gringa" HAH! What a compliment. What can I say, its the "gringo tax"

That's all for now folks. Just remember, when in Rome...

QUOTE: I think foreign countries really do like it when American artists sing in their language. And when you go over there and say, 'Hi, how are you?' in their language, they love it. It makes them feel like you're doing it just for them. We in America take so much for granted.
Natalie Cole