Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer is here.

The birds tweet-tweet-tweeted me awake this morning, earlier than I had hoped, but they are an exceptionally better alarm clock than the dog or the smoker's cough next door.  I've been feeling like a blog abandoner, and have had growing urges to type out a message or two, but with the end of the school year happening in Honduras, and wedding plans gaining speed in los Estados I developed an aversion to my laptop.  What I once checked with regularity, I started avoiding for days at a time, in order to delay the elevated heart rate and breathing that 17 new, wedding-related e-mails could induce in me.  I've never considered myself a very good decision maker, and yet that is exactly what I'm expected to be right now.  I'm working on it.
Yesterday marked the transition between school year and vacations.  My friends, Mallory, and I celebrated by taking a day trip out to a water park on the outskirts of the city called Aqua Splash. It's something we've passed many times, heading out of Tegus, but none had ever gone.  After sitting in dead-stop traffic for a half hour, we finally arrived around noon and prayed that the empty-looking expanse of colorfully painted pools and slides was open. It was.  Some of the only other guests there were 15 or so orphaned teenagers, and their puppy Pieblo, who live in a home with a Swiss couple.  It was fun getting to know them a little, and one of them, Daniel, made sure to let us know when the park turned on some of the slides that we thought weren't working.  We returned home shockingly quickly, with that tight-skin/tired eyes feeling of spending a day in the water and sun.
Mallory and I will fly out on Monday, albeit on separate flights, back to Florida...which for me is now considered WeddingPlanningLand, because the planning I had been able to try and skirt and avoid while I was busy being a teacher finishing out the year is going to start full-swing.
The next couple of days will involve packing (tomorrow the school will help me bring some furniture and boxes to my new apartment for next year... so today I actually need things to get into boxes!), moving, mole-removal, bridesmaid dress fitting/pickup for Mallory, suit-picking-out for Daniel and his brothers, one last pre-marriage counseling session with the pastors, a potential last-Sunday day trip with the in-laws, and a goodbye to mi amor until he flies into Orlando a month after I do.  I hope my dear sister can keep up the pace as she says goodbye to Tegus as well.

Ciao for now.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I got engaged in El Salvador!

I thought it was just a walk on the beach to go swimming. At 11:00 in the morning, and with my friends Cara and Sarah along for the trip, I certainly wasn't expecting a proposal! But, alas, my amor had spent his free hour in the morning, while we girls took a quick walk to town, creating this message with the rocks that are oh-so-pleniful on this black-sand beach in El Salvador. When we headed out for our swim we took a detour to walk along private property (it was easier than the rocks, and Daniel assured me it'd be fine.)  Turns out he had planned for the guard to kick us out...conveniently in front of his "Marry Me". I didn't notice it at first, honestly.  But when he took my hands in his and I felt them shaking, I knew.  
He had to ask me twice, because my initial reaction was a series of, "Oh-my-gosh-are-you-kidding-me-really???"  I hope the my tears conveyed my joy a little better than my verbal responses.  :) 

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Subtly Moving Towards Domesticity

For having a mother who cooks gorgeously, I'm sort of a novice in that area.  Oh, I've had a few short-term relationships with culinary endeavors--mostly thanks to some great friends in Mexico--but I never managed to develop routines, habits, or skills in the kitchen.
This doesn't help a girl out when she needs to, say, plan a birthday party for her boyfriend.  My idea of having a mix-and-match pasta bar was basically shot down (for logistic and practical purposes) by my mother, who was here visiting me at the time.  She revamped the menu, spent most of two days in the kitchen, and helped me realize that I may have been a little hasty in confidently proposing to feed about 40 people without having ever done such a thing in my life.
Here are some things I learned:
1.  Appetizers can, and should, be prepared ahead of time. Those dips and bowls full of random goodness don't just get thrown together minutes before guests arrive (even if it appears that easy!).  They take thought, time, and effort (and a whole lot of ingredients brought from the States!)
2.  You should maybe have some stand-by recipes to turn to.  Thanks to mom's delicious repertoire of Italian dishes, I was saved from what could have been a disaster and a bunch of hungry guests.
3.  Although all my go-to grocery stores have entire aisles devoted to tomato sauces, pastas, and cheeses, it's quite possible that the ONLY store to carry penne pasta or ricotta cheese is the overpriced american imports store.
4.  It's high time I learn my way around a kitchen.

And so, this leads me to my newest (and hopefully not short-lived) routine.  Something I just deemed, "Domestic Thursdays".
Daniel has class on Thursday nights, leaving me generally very available (read: often bored).  Lately I have also been holing myself up whenever possible to avoid spending money before spring break travel plans.
SO, hungry and unable to shop, last week I rummaged through my random bits and leftovers and created Quinioa, Lentil and Veggie stuffed peppers!
On Saturday (yea, ok, not a Thursday), I whipped up some Zucchini fritters with Dill Tzatziki sauce!
Zucchini Fritters!
And, finally, tonight I just had to use up the mountains of packages of spaghetti that were leftover after the party last month, so I recreated my mom's Spaghetti Pie (a party favorite) and made it a vegetarian version.

All in all, I'm quite happy with how things are turning out... although I know I have a long way to go.

(check out my Pinterest page for links to some of those recipes I mentioned!)

Friday, April 01, 2011

A little insight for your April.

"God continually introduces us to people for whom we have no affinity, and unless we are worshipping God, the most natural thing to do is to treat them heartlessly, to give them a text like the jab of a spear, or leave them with a rapped out counsel of God and go. A heartless Christian must be a terrible grief to Our Lord."
(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, April 1st.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why English is Crazy and So Tricky to Explain....

  • Because "mature" is not pronounced like "nature"
  • "Busy" is pronounced "/bizzy/"
  • Because words like "honor" and "homage" have a silent 'h', but "home" and "hold" don't.
  • "I", "eye", "ay"
  • There, their, they're
  • and why on earth are there so many ways to spell ketchup?
I'm just glad this is my first language.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's a car!

It's an overcast Saturday morning. The kind that makes it hard to get moving. So far I'm a batch of pancakes, a cup of coffee, and one internet sermon into my day. Later I'll be heading out in the new car with Daniel up to the school to help out with an alumni soccer event they're having, while Daniel spends a few hours practicing with the worship team at the church.

So, yes, my newest news is that I bought a car here in Tegucigalpa!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A little cacti in my life...

It's been an interesting week or so, full of fun and friends and teaching and my new student teacher. As I imported some of my recent photos, I noticed a cactus trend that I thought I'd share with you. My adorable boyfriend made me some awesome decorations to use in my classroom as we embark on a western-theme. I haven't put everything up yet, but they include some "wanted" posters, a cowboy with a lasso, horse shoes, and a super cute cactus, which I incorporated into the facts and opinions bulletin board you can see in the background below:

This weekend, after an unsatisfying trip to the bathing-suit-maker's store (after 3 visits, and weeks after they said they'd be finished, they still are not finished. Viva Honduras.), and after a delightful lunch with friends and amazing food, we passed by a nursery where I picked up these little beauties, which I have since named Jude, Jezebel, and Job. I'm praying I don't kill them like the several failed attempts in college. (Rachel... I hope this makes you smile.)

Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday News

1) I have a student teacher!
After a day's delay due to all that alleged snow in the north, Kelley arrived safely and has spent two days in 3C with me and my wild things. It is unnerving and yet feels slightly natural having her there. I'm excited about what this means for the next few months of teaching. Already her help has been amazing. Today I left school almost all caught up--something that hasn't happened on a Friday afternoon in a long time.

2) Something I've been happy about in the classroom lately is how well my kids are responding to a kid's book I really enjoy: The Thing About Georgie, a fun chapter book about a 4th grade boy who is a dwarf, struggling with the fact that he'll never be a musician like his parents and fearful that the new, normal-sized baby on the way will be.

3) Pray for Honduras. Think Mexico City and Man on Fire and you'll have an idea of what has been going on around here lately. Nearly every day my students' prayer requests relate to some kid or another (or adult, actually) who has been kidnapped. Praise the Lord that one 15 year old in San Pedro Sula made it home this week! In our latest staff meeting we learned that the climate of our school's families is one of fear. Our kids are the kinds of kids targeted, and many of them are terrified. It makes me feel ill just thinking of the possibility of something like this happening to one of my own.

4) These verses from Jeremiah chapter 9 spoke to me this week. Hmm... reading it again after writing the above makes me think about them together. What do you think?

v. 23-24.....This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

not by works...

So I guess I'm admitting to you now that I've spent the past few weeks... well, lots longer than that if I'm honest... dragging myself deeper and deeper into pools of self-pity. Why am I even here? What am I doing with my life? Am I good at anything? Am I special? Am I as invisible as I feel? Those are the kinds of questions that would smack me in the face and leave me sad and frustrated and feeling pretty worthless.
I've been going to this church, and I have been pretty excited about it. Honestly it's the first time since the church I grew up in back in New Smyrna that I feel like I belong and people know me. The only problem is that it's been hard for me to get over this self-pity thing that I struggle with (along with feeling timid and embarrassed) and let God use me to serve in the church. Yesterday I went to a retreat the church had for servers. I think essentially I was invited because I'm with Daniel (who is like their favorite because he can do everything in sound and music areas) and, ok, so I have helped out a little with the children's sunday school and once or twice with the powerpoint during worship. But I'm not a server. I hold back and just wait for people to find something for me to do that doesn't require me to speak too much Spanish or for too many people to be looking at me at once. So anyways, I went to this retreat and I felt pretty dumb. I didn't know to which group of servers I belonged and I didn't have anything to say when we talked about what we wanted to "plant" for this new year in the church because I don't even know where my area is. Once again, I realize I'm feeling like a baby Christian... needing to be spiritually fed and guided instead of ready to pour out and love people like God wants from me. I decided to skip church today and take advantage of a quiet house and the chance to listen to some sermons in English. Two sermons later, I'm feeling heaps better. Pastor Mike from First Assembly of Gainesville preached a sermon called "mission" that spoke directly to my heart and where I'm at right now. He (well, God) reminded me of the most basic and essential element of my faith that I somehow had lost track of--that it's based on God's grace and my faith and not on any performance on my part. He helped me see that although Christianity shares several common principles and ethical rules with many other dominant world religions, it is different in one way. The one thing that makes it all make sense, and leaves me no choice but to choose this faith as my own, is that those principles and ethics aren't what matter. That a performance-based salvation system doesn't make sense because somewhere there has to be a line drawn to show how good is good enough. But with Jesus... he is the cut-off line. It begins and ends with Him. He blesses the 'poor in spirit' and not only those who have it all together. THAT is why Christianity is different. And today, that is what He showed me. That I can't wallow in that self-pity anymore because it's not, and nver was, about my performance. I even wonder if moving here (and to Mexico) was rooted a little bit in my need to perform for Him. To reassure myself that I was doing something worthwhile. However, it's not about doing anything. Jesus already did it all.
But it's funny how a whole sermon about not being able to "perform" enough for Jesus makes me so fired up to do something, anything, in His name. It's funny how the only thing required of us is to turn around and look to Jesus... and yet the simple act of doing that makes all that other stuff--serving, helping, loving on others--so desirable.
So, come on people...let's get it out of our heads that we've got to pull ourselves together in order to be good enough for God. He decided to love us and die for us when he knew we were utter crap. Knowing that he sees more than crap when he looks at me gives me what I need to make it through this day, and hopefully many more.
Happy Sunday!

Friday, January 28, 2011

This is me--trying to squeeze something blogworthy out of my oh-so-normal-for-me life.

1. I have a student teacher arriving this week! Never would I think that I would be "learned from" and never so soon in my teaching career (year four)... but I guess that's how things roll when you work in latin america and in a school with such a young staff. I'm nervous, but also excited!

2. I have to plan a field trip for our grade level... to an orphanage that they went to one year and now no one can find the phone number for. That's stressing me out a little because once I actually get that number--that's when the real work begins.

3. I want to buy a car, and might have an option... but I don't exactly have money. So, this is an obvious problem. However, the potential option may also be really cheap or perhaps even come with a payment plan, which makes it harder to refuse. But the thought of how much life for me would change just by living here with a car versus without one is mind boggling.

4. I actually regularly attend and consider myself a part of a church now, where Daniel and I go together. I'm just trying to get over my aversion to speaking spanish and potentially making mistakes so that I can actually serve. I'm really frustrated with the way I'm so automatically timid. Why do some of us turn out that way?

5. My most amazing friend, Rachel, is getting married on March 12 and I get to be a bridesmaid! I'm SO excited to be there, to see her, to see my other darling friend, Jess's new addition as well!!

I hope you, whoever you are, are doing well.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Today I was watching a movie, with the Spanish subtitles (only because they came on and I didn't bother to remove them...), and I noticed that the word "homesick" was translated as nostalgia. It got me thinking about the word, and I looked in my dictionary. The only thing it listed under homesick were nostalgia and to miss. I must say, however, that the way I feel today... the day after leaving my family after a beautiful vacation, is not nostalgia and it's more than missing. It's the first time I can say that I truly feel sick about not being there and utter dread at the prospect of working in the morning. That can't be a good way to get started again. And yet, I know, deep down, that God is faithful. He is constant. And even though I feel like a leave being tossed in the wind, not even knowing what I feel, God knows it all and is in control.
I just looked up and saw this verse that I had posted over my desk, and it seems fitting. Acts 17:26-28:
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'