Thursday, January 31, 2008

Grocery shopping..

The other day, I went grocery shopping with my new host mom. We went to one of the stores that has some American products. I was surprised at the prices of some of these products. See if you can guess the prices of these...

Let me give you some time to think about this while I give you some thinking music...
(hum to the tune of the jeopary theme song...)
da da da da da da da, da da da da DA da da da da, da da da da da da da, da da dum di da da dum dum dum
I was surprised to see some of these items in the store in the first place, but they were there amongst the various Venezuelan grocery items, some I recognized, some I didn't. Anyway, here are the prices of those items, roughly translated from the Venezuelan currency...
Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing (and other salad dressings)- $6 for a small bottle
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese- $6
Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter 12 oz jar- $13
Motts Apple Juice 32 oz bottle- $15
Needless to say, I think I will be sticking with some of my favorite Venezuelan foods for the time being.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Saying hello...

As I was traveling to Maracaibo, I knew that I was going to be seeing and experiencing this city in a whole new way. This is not a "trip", this is moving. This is my new home.

I was greeted at the airport by 2 friends and one of the pastors from the church. It's always nice to see familiar faces when you get off a plane. When I was driven to the house of my friend, Michelle, which is where I am staying, I was greeted by her family. There were welcome signs, welcoming me to my new home. There was also a great surprise waiting for me. Her family had turned their den into a bedroom for me. They were excited to see me and were very welcoming of me.

Today is a day of rest for me, a day to recouperate from my traveling. It's a beautiful day outside. Not a cloud in the sky (which is so different from endless layers of clouds we have had in Ohio). Warm (actually very warm) weather. People going about their day. People living life.

Here are some pictures of Maracaibo from the view of the apartment I am staying at...

Maracaibo, Venezuela

You can see Lake Maracaibo in the background!

The view from my bedroom window...

Saying Goodbye...

Saying goodbye to family and friends is not fun. It's difficult to say goodbye. As much as I want it to be an "I will see you later" it still feels like a "Goodbye". I have spent the past week saying goodbye. I tried to spend time with as many of my friends as possible during the past week. I was able to spend some time with my family before leaving, which I really enjoyed. I spent Saturday night (and early Sunday morning) saying goodbye to my family. Many group hugs occurred.

While waiting for my flight in Cleveland, I looked out the window at the lightly falling snow. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not like the snow. However, when I was watching the snow falling to the snow-covered ground, I realized that I will not be seeing snow for quite a while. I will not feel the brisk chill in the air as I was outdoors (this actually occurs as you walk indoors in Maracaibo, due to the A/C). I will not have to clothe myself in heavy layers, sweaters, turtlenecks, gloves, coat, etc. As much as I do not like these things, I think I will miss them.

I will miss a lot of things while I am away from Ohio, but what I will miss the most are people. I will miss the important events (and even the not so important events) in the lives of my family and friends. However, I know that the blessings God is going to bestow on us will far surpass what we are "losing".

My family...
Me, Gina, & Jodi

Mom & Collin


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ready to be awed

The tickets have been bought. The suitcases are packed. The flight leaves in 33 hours. I am ready and waiting. Before I know it, I will be in Maracaibo. I am excited to see what God is going to do while I am there. I am ready to be awed. God has not ceased to amaze me and leave me in awe of his power and holiness throughout this entire journey. I expect He will continue to awe me. So I am ready... ready for whatever He brings my way.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The time has come

The music group Hillsong sings a song called "The time has come". The song talks about giving your all to God. "The time has come to stand for all we believe in so I for one am gonna give my praise to You... today it’s all or nothing all the way the praise goes out to You.. today I live for one thing -to give You praise in everything I do... All we are is Yours and all we’re living for is all You are."

The time has come for me to give Him all I have. My tickets have been purchased. I will be Venezuela in two weeks. He has orchestrated everything according to His Will and His perfect timing and I am giving my all to Him. I praise God for all He has done in my life, showing me over and over His Sovereignty.

The time has come to stand for what I believe in and I am gonna give my praise to Him... today (and in two weeks) its all or nothing- all the way- I give my praise to Him... today (and every day) I live for one thing- to give Him praise in everything I do.... All I am is His and all I'm living for is all that He is!!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Life in a snowglobe

Last week, I was having lunch with a friend and I realized, as I was describing to her what life was like right now, that my life is like being in a snowglobe. It seems like someone has picked up my world and shook it, sending everything flying all around me. Everything is spinning around and changing before my eyes. However, I myself have not gone anywhere because my feet are firmly planted on the rock of the snowglobe. I have my feet planted on Christ. So it doesn't matter what happens around me, I am stable. The world may be spinning and changing right before my eyes, but I trust that I will not be moved and that eventually everything will settle down. And when things settle down, they may look differently than before, but that's ok. My feet will still be planted firmly on The Rock!

On Christ, the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.

Peppermint Tea

My dorm mates from CIT will say "ut oh" when they hear I have had 5 cups of hot peppermint tea in the past two days. They would say this because they know that there are really only 2 reasons for me to drink hot tea...
  1. Its really cold outside (nope, not the right answer this time. Its been chilly but not bad.)
  2. I'm sick

Ding ding ding, I think we have a winner. Yes, I have been feeling a bit under the weather for the past 2 days. Yet, I still have so much to do as I prepare to leave.

I pray that the Great Physican will heal my body so I can give 100% to His Service. But, I also thank God for times like this when I am reminded that without Him, I am nothing and I really need to rely on Him for everything.

As much as I don't want to get sick in Venezuela, I hope God gives me these times when I can remember how much I need to depend on Him.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A look back... A look ahead...

2007 began with me living in my apartment, hosting 3 friends from Venezuela, teaching at Crestwood Middle School, and beginning preparations for the next mission trip.
2007 ended with me being homeless, jobless, and not knowing what was going to happen in the future.

What happened in between?? God happened!! God intervened in my life in 2007 (and really before), and when God intervenes, things happen.

In April, I took a trip to Maracaibo do work on preparations for the mission trip, which took place in August. While there, I was invited to come to work with Filadelfia Church full time in 2008. It was suggested by both my church in Ohio and Filadelfia Church that my date to begin ministry be the second or third week of January, 2008.

June was a very busy month with a lot of changes taking places. Within 3 weeks time in June, I finished my teaching, took 6 graduate credit hours of classes, finished preparations for the mission trip, prepared for language school in Costa Rica, gave away all of my furniture, and moved out of my apartment.

I spent July in Costa Rica at the Spanish Language Institute attempting to learn Spanish. From there, I spent 3 weeks in Venezuela working with the mission teams.

I returned "home" mid-August, staying the basement of a friend from church. On Labor Day, I drove down to North Carolina to begin classes at the Center for Intercultural Training.

I remained in North Carolina until just before Thanksgiving. I was "home" staying with my parents for 3 weeks, doing support raising, before traveling to Oklahoma to visit a friend. While in Oklahoma, my gramma passed away. I arrived back just in time for the calling hours and funeral. A week later was Christmas, then New Year's and then now.

Welcome to 2008!!!

My support raising has been going slowly and as January approached, I started to think that God was not quite ready for me to go to Venezuela. I trust His timing and when He feels the time is right, the financial support I need will be there and I will go.

Just yesterday, I was told that a significant portion of my support has suddenly come in and while I am not quite there with my support, I am close enough to begin looking for tickets. Within the next month, God willing, I will be in Venezuela.

I trust that God will provide the remaining support that I need before I leave. He has been faithful so far, providing all I needed at the right time. I trust He will not fail me now.

Thank you for your prayers and your support over the past several months. I ask that you please continue to pray, not only for me, but for the people of Maracaibo that will be impacted by the work of the Holy Spirit throughout this new year.