Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More than a proposal...

More than just a man with a proposal, Adoniram Judson was a man with a passion and a purpose. He was a real man. By that, I don’t just mean he wasn’t a fictional character. He was a true man of God, with courage and passion. I love reading the letter of proposal he wrote to Ann Hasseltine. Every time I read it, my hope is renewed that someday I may be so blessed as to meet a man with such passion to reach a lost world and follow God no matter where He leads.

(This may not be the whole letter. I can’t seem to find my book on the life of Ann H. Judson.)

"January 1, 1811. Tuesday Morning
It is with the utmost sincerity, and with my whole heart, that I wish you, my love, a happy new year. May it be a year in which your walk will be close with God; your frame calm and serene; and the road that leads you to the Lamb marked with purer light. May it be a year in which you will have more largely the spirit of Christ, be raised above sublunary things, and be willing to be disposed of in this world just as God shall please. As every moment of the year will bring you nearer the end of your pilgrimage, may it bring you nearer to God, and find you more prepared to hail the messenger of death as a deliverer and a friend. And now, since I have begun to wish, I will go on. May this be the year in which you will change your name; in which you will take a final leave of your relatives and native land; in which you will cross the wide ocean, and dwell on the other side of the world, among a heathen people. What a great change will this year probably effect in our lives! How very different will be our situation and employment! If our lives are preserved and our attempt prospered, we shall next new year's day be in India, and perhaps wish each other a happy new year in the uncouth dialect of Hindostan or Burmah. We shall no more see our kind friends around us, or enjoy the conveniences of civilized life, or go to the house of God with those that keep holy day; but swarthy countenances will everywhere meet our eye, the jargon of an unknown tongue will assail our ears, and we shall witness the assembling of the heathen to celebrate the worship of idol gods. We shall be weary of the world, and wish for wings like a dove, that we may fly away and be at rest. We shall probably experience seasons when we shall be 'exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. We shall see many dreary, disconsolate hours, and feel a sinking of spirits, anguish of mind, of which now we can form little conception. O, we shall wish to lie down and die. And that time may soon come. One of us may be unable to sustain the heat of the climate and the change of habits; and the other may say, with literal truth, over the grave--
'By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed;
By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed;
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned;'
but whether we shall be honored and mourned by strangers, God only knows. At least, either of us will be certain of one mourner. In view of such scenes shall we not pray with earnestness 'O for an overcoming faith,'?”

* Ann and Adoniram were married on February 5th, 1812. They started their missionary journey on February 19th, 1812.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Packing Again

This time I'm only moving an hour away but I'm taking ALL my stuff. Marlena and I will be renting an amazing house, thanks to some great friends. There will be plenty of room for all our stuff and for the kids to play. I'm feeling what April and Matt have experienced for the past several years. They have tried to move away from Lewisburg a few times but always get pulled back. I'm not sure what it is about that place but it's where I want to be, for now at least.

I'll be looking for a job soon. I don't want just another job, something to fill in my time. I want one that will be a stepping stone to greater things. I almost did it again. I almost settled for what was there in front of me and what was easy to say yes to. But thank God He reminded me of my dreams and encouraged me to keep moving forward. I know He will provide!

I'm looking forward to a great family reunion this weekend! A little nervous because of where it will be and the memories that come along with it. But all I can do is be thankful I have them to remember and start making new ones. I'm really looking forward to spending time with my grandparents. I love watching them with Seth and Alex. It's so much fun. Maybe we can get Granny to play a board game with us. That always brings a lot of laughter and fun.

I have a book I've agreed to read and write 9 blogs on, one on each chapter. I desperately need to start working on that. Things just still feel so crazy. I'm hoping once I get moved and have my own space I can just relax and get some things done.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I've been home for 3 weeks now. As sad as I was to leave Paraguay, I am really happy to be home. While I was packing my things to leave, I came across a letter my sister had written me at Christmas. The phrase running through my mind the whole way home was "ADVENTURE AWAITS." Those were her words for me as I left for Paraguay. But they were also words for me as I came home.

I have no idea what the future holds. I have no big plan right now. The big plans are up to God. I have ideas, dreams, desires. I trust that if those fit into God's plan, He will provide and He will fulfill.

I honestly don't feel rested yet. I have a few days I plan to "slip away" for a time of rest. I plan to spend a few days in a house in the country, just me and God.

Not only did I change the name and theme of my blog here, I also started a new one.... For now it's only a blog....but remember I have ideas.

Today I'm going to church with Marlena. It's a church I've never been to. Then later this afternoon I'm going to a cookout at the house of the pastor at Rolling Hills. I'm very nervous about that. Don't know how to get there. Have never driven in Franklin. And I'll be meeting new people. You all know how I am at that....horrible. will be an adventure. And....I'm sure there will be dessert.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Last days in Paraguay

Thursday, Christie and I rode the buses to Itagua to get Heather. My last bus rides in Paraguay. Heather came and spent the weekend here with us. We had a blast. A great way to end our time here.

Friday, the two of us walked to the market to look for a few more souvenirs. We stopped and got an ice cream to eat while we walked back home. I love this town and everything about it! I love walking through the town, looking in stores, seeing people I know, having someone drive by on a moto and honk and wave because they recognized me. It’s just amazing here. And I have no words that will tell you why, no pictures that will show you. It’s something you would have to feel for yourself. I thank God everyday that I got the chance to be here and feel how special this place is! I know that sounds cheesy but if you know me, you know I don’t care.

I spent Friday afternoon doing what I love most – baking. For the first time ever I baked cookies that both looked and tasted incredible. And I’m not sharing my recipe with anyone outside of Paraguay. I also baked a chocolate cake. I have used this same recipe several times since I’ve been here. That one I may share. It’s a recipe from the great depression. It doesn’t have eggs or butter. And it tastes amazing. I made two small cakes, layered them with chocolate peanut butter bon bon filling. The only icing here comes in a bag. You have to heat it up to make it soft enough to use. Then it hardens back up if you put it in the refrigerator. It made for a super tasty cake. Unfortunately, it wasn’t big enough. The people who showed up late didn’t get any cake.

That night we had my despedida, going away party. I think by the end of the night about 30 people showed up. We had a lot of fun playing games and hanging out. I didn’t make it to bed til about 3 that morning.

Saturday we got up early and headed to Asuncion. We went to the zoo. I really don’t know what to say about that. I saw some of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen in my life. The animals were cool. I loved the monkeys. There were a lot of beautiful trees and flowers there.

That evening, I baked more cookies. Fun and delicious. That night Heather and I walked with two of our friends to Mana, a great little restaurant by the plaza. I wanted to eat one last lomito before I left. It was fun, sitting outside eating, seeing the usual weekend in the plaza stuff going on. We walked around the plaza and took a few pictures. Then we walked to Metamorphosis, a great youth outreach here in town. We listened to a great lesson, then played games and had fun. We walked home around 11. I’m going to miss those quiet walks home at night.

Sunday morning I made popcorn and kool-aid for la hora feliz. Then I napped most of the afternoon, since Heather and I were up late again the night before. That evening I went to church one last time. The pastor had me say a few words. Of course I was scared half to death but thankfully I had Camille translating and she could make it sound a little better than I had said it. Everyone at church was so sweet. Lots of hugs! I will miss them all so much!

On Monday Christie, Oscar and I rode out to the country where we visited with some friends. I needed to leave some of my clothes and shoes behind to make room in my suitcases. So I wanted to give them to someone I knew needed them and that they would fit. We also visited with the little grandma out there. I just love her! She’s 92 years old and just as precious as can be! We gave her a couple more blankets. The room where her bed is we would probably call a porch. It only has one wall and the rest is open to the outside. She only speaks in Guarani. So Oscar was translating it into Spanish, then Christie would translate some into English.

Tuesday night, I went to visit with my pastora one last time. Camille and I visited with her for about an hour. She served us coffee and bread. She is such a sweet lady! I pray God gives me the chance to visit here again someday. But if He doesn’t, I know I will see them all again and I can’t wait!

I should be in the bed by now but I’m wide awake. I have a big day ahead of me. We will try to leave the house around 9 am. My flight leaves Asuncion at 2:45 pm. We have a 3 hour layover in Argentina that includes an airport change. I’m praying all of that will go smoothly. Another layover in Atlanta. Then we should land in Chattanooga around 9:45 am tomorrow (Thursday). My mom and dad, grandparents, Matt, April, Seth and Alex should all be there waiting for me. We plan to stay in Chattanooga until Saturday.

When I get a chance I will be changing the name of my blog. But I still plan on blogging because I still plan on having adventures.

Monday, June 28, 2010


A few months ago, my sister told me about how my nephew, Seth, was having a really hard time with change. A chair being put in a different place, the garbage man taking the trash away. It all seemed to bother him and cause a complete meltdown. This broke my heart because he’s only 4 years old. I thought about how this is the one thing I have always struggled with and still don’t know how to accept change. I wrote him a book and put it on Power Point for her to show him and read to him. It was called He Stays The Same. Tonight I had to read it for myself. Here are a few lines from it:

Things around us will always change….
the weather, the seasons,
the people in our lives.
But no matter what….
God will always be the same!

He calls us His children.
He watches over us and gives us peace.
He hears us when we pray.
He meets our every need.
He knows our thoughts and our hearts.
He loves us all the same.
No matter what may happen in life.
God will never change!

For me, it has always been the change of people in my life that I can’t figure out how to deal with. When someone dies, moves away, or when their season in my life is over. I’m an extremely sentimental person. I hold on to memories and anything that holds a memory like you wouldn’t believe. Today I sat outside of a store and I just let myself cry. I couldn’t not cry any longer. I don’t know how to let go. I know the “letting go” happens with time and usually you don’t even notice that it has happened. But what do you do with that emptiness in the meantime?

A lot of “letting go” and healing has taken place in the last 6 months. A lot of seeing things as they really were and accepting it. An absolute favorite line from a song I love: “Hope which was lost now stands renewed.” Some days I can sing that and some days I just don’t understand. And that’s ok.

I have had to do a lot of packing my things and walking away throughout the years. Even when it wasn’t my choice, I still had to turn and walk away. But why do I always feel like I’m the one being left? I don’t like that feeling one bit.

I have no idea where I’m going with this.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What will be different?

This is a great question, an important question, a much-needed question….

How do you think your life will be different when you come back because of what you learned in Paraguay? Will you use technology less, worship God differently than before, etc.?

But I’m still not sure of the answer. I can, however, answer with talking about some of the things I’ve learned here in Paraguay. And by sharing some of my desires for when I return home.

I think what has made the biggest impact on me is the sense of community. I’ve talked about this in other blogs. It’s amazing to walk down the street and see someone you’ve only met once, have them stop and greet you, then spend of few minutes with you. It feels like you’ve known them your whole life. That has amazed me! It makes me want to treat people like that, treat relationships that way. I don’t want to be in a hurry. I want to stop and let people know I care about them.

A friend asked the other day, “What is the best thing that happened while you were here?” At the time, I felt bad because I couldn’t answer the question. I’ve experienced a lot of really great things here but the best things are definitely the changes that have taken place on the inside.

At the beginning of the year, I asked God what this season is all about. The answer – TAKE ROOT. But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7,8)

I don’t know how life will be different but I know it will be because I am different. I know God has a plan for me! I don’t yet know what the next steps are. I trust that when He leads me to that next step, He is my hope and my confidence, nothing is impossible with God!

As for technology, I don’t see that changing. I’m not very knowledgeable in that area anyway. I’ve never been one to rely on technology. Since I’ve been here, I have probably spent more time emailed, blogging, and on Facebook than I did before I came. It’s been my way of keeping in touch with family and friends.

I’ve always felt that God calls us to simplicity. I do have too much stuff, compared to what one needs to live on. But I’ve always tried to live a simple life, not wanting too much “extra stuff.” I want to continue to be thankful for what I do have, giving to those who do not have, and live the life I feel God has called me to live.

I want worship to always be my life, not just something I do. I definitely have reason to wake up every morning and live a life of worship for God. He has carried me and loved me from the very beginning. This is a passage I love: I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is filled with joy, and my mouth shouts His praises! My body rests in safety. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever. (Psalm 16:7-9,11)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Questions about Paraguay - Part 2

* What kind of jobs do the people have there?

This is a really fun question to answer because I love the answer. You have your banks, retail stores, restaurants, grocery stores. What we would see as usual jobs. But then….this is what I love….anything you want to do to make money, you can do it. You don’t need a degree, a permit, a business license.

Our pastor and his wife make fruit salad everyday. He puts it in a cooler on the back of his moto and drives around town selling it. Their son and daughter-in-law do the same thing with homemade bread.

Some people sell things on the buses. They get on at one stop and get off at the next. It’s free for them to ride. They could have anything….chipa, drinks, candy, cough drops. One day we were on a bus and a man was selling dish towels.

Then in the city, you have your folks who stand at the traffic lights selling things. Literally, anything you can imagine. One day we saw a man carrying one of those model ships. It was 2 or 3 feet long. He was walking down the sidewalk beside the cars, trying to get someone to buy it. People also stand at the lights and wash your windows while you wait.

We see a lot of people in parking lots selling lottery tickets and directing traffic. They will get out in the road and guide you out of your parking space in order to make a few cents.

A lot of people have businesses in the front room of their houses. Markets, restaurants, hair salons, copying and printing.

*Do they have a lot different religions there like we do? Do they have a lot of churches?

About 90 % are Catholic. Every town has a large Catholic church. Every neighborhood has a small Catholic church. There are also a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Any church that is neither Catholic nor Jehovah’s Witness they call Evangelical. I believe there are about 5 or 7 Evangelical churches close to us.

*What kinds of food do they have?

A few of their usual foods include….tortillas (not what we call tortillas), sopa (somewhat like corn bread but much better), rice salad, bean salad, mandioca, empanadas, asado (barbecue). I’ve had several meals of what I would call stew. It was a thick soup with rice, meat, vegetables, and egg.

I expected the food here to be spicy. I was hoping it would be because I love spicy foods. But it’s not at all. Even black pepper is too spicy for some people here. I think a lot of their flavor comes from salt and garlic.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

mi abuela paraguaya

I spent the day with my pastora. She is so special to me. I have been so blessed by her love and her gentle spirit. She has allowed me to come into her home about once a week and help as her and her daughter-in-law bake bread.

Today I thought I was going there to bake bread but she had other plans for me. When I first arrived, she had me cracking open cocos with a rock. It was much easier this time. The last time she had me doing this, the palm of my hand was bruised for days.

When I finished with that, she gave me a bucket of apples to peel. The pastor and their son spend the morning peeling and slicing fresh fruit. Then they make a syrup and add to it. The pastor carries the fruit salad in a cooler on the back of his moto. He drives around town selling it for about 30 cents a cup.

After I finished peeling all the apples, the pastora gave me everything I needed for mate. As I sat at the table drinking mate, she decided she wanted me to paint. She gave me these big seed things that come off a tree here, along with a few colors of paint. I thought I was painting them for her but she ended up sending them home with me. I’m giving two of them away. But there’s one I really love that I painted a tree on. I’m going to try my best to bring it back home with me.

Then she served me lunch….an amazing soup with rice, egg, vegetables, and some kind of meat. Yes, meat. Yes, I ate it. I have eaten it a few times at her house. The first time it was because I didn’t know how to turn it down and explain why I couldn’t eat it. The other times I’ve eaten it because I knew it would taste amazing. But it definitely doesn’t come without consequences.

After lunch, she showed me to my room. Each time I’m there, she prepares a room for my rest after lunch. The after lunch nap is something I do want to continue when I get home, the eating meat is not. I slept late today and didn’t think I needed to sleep after lunch. But I thought I’d rest anyway. Before I laid down on the bed, she sprayed lavender over the bed. Within minutes, I was sound asleep. Before falling asleep, I laid there thinking about my mama (my mom’s mother). I could hear the pet bird chirping, hear the tv on and smell the bread baking. I almost forgot where I was and how old I was. For a minute I thought I was lying in my mama’s bed. I thought I would get up, go in the kitchen, hug my mama and talk to her. I was almost in tears. Then I woke up and had to remember I was not in my mama’s bed and I could not go give her a hug. But I felt her near me. I felt her loving me.

After I got up from my rest, I went in the kitchen, where there was a cup of fresh fruit salad waiting on me. As a pan of fresh baked bread came out of the oven, she gave me a steaming hot loaf. It was delicious!

We watched some of the fútbol game together. Then she turned into my Granny for a little while as we played Phase 10 and she beat me by 50 points.

It makes me very sad to think that I have to leave her in only 2 weeks. Today was a day I will never forget. God knows when we need a day with abuela (grandmother). He knows when to satisfy our souls with a love that can only come from a grandmother. And no matter where we are in the world, He will do just that!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Questions about Paraguay - Part 1

April asked: What is the population of Paraguay? When was it founded? What is the average family income?

- The population of Paraguay is around 6.3 million
- It was founded August 15, 1535
- The average man makes around $120/ month. The average woman makes around $70/ month.

* Do people seem to be as technology driven as we are or do they choose to live without it?

- The people of Paraguay are definitely not driven by technology. Most people don’t own a computer or home phone. I have noticed that just about everyone has a cell phone. That was something that surprised me when I first came here. I don’t see people talking on them often but they text all the time. And that really comes in handy. Texting has been a great way to send invitations and reminders. A lot of people even reply to let you know if they’ll be there or not.

I’ve been in a few houses that do have small televisions. You’ll never see a giant flat-screen TV in a house here. However, they are all over the malls. That was a little shocking. TVs in the elevator, in the bathroom, everywhere at the mall. I’m not sure how it is in the city but here in the country, people can’t afford to live that kind of lifestyle.

* I've read from several people that no one is ever in a hurry and there's a lot of time to just sit and enjoy each others company. How do they do it?

- That’s one of the things I love the most about the culture here! You hear that and read it but until you have actually been here and experienced it, it’s hard to comprehend that it really is that way.

Don’t take that as they have nothing to do and just sit around all day. They are extremely hard workers. They still get the things done that need to be done. But they don’t get in a hurry.

Someone can stop by to visit at any time. And when they do, you stop whatever you’re doing and you visit with them. The “things” are not what’s important, they people are. I think this goes hand-in-hand with the question about technology. Their lives are not filled with technology. So they’re able to build relationships in a way I’ve never seen before. Sometimes it may be a little frustrating when things start an hour later than you expected. But the way they treat their time definitely enriches their relationships. And it’s a healthier choice, less stress, less worry.

I really don’t know how to answer the question “how do they do it?” They don’t do it….it’s who they are. It’s the culture and the way of life. I love it! I want to write more about it, incorporate it into my life when I get home. I have learned so much since I’ve been here on relationships and community.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

blog, blog, blog

If anyone actually reads my blogs, you’ve probably noticed I didn’t do so good at it last month and this is my first one for June. Sometimes, I try to figure out what to write about. Other times, I know what to write about, I just can’t get my mind to focus on writing. A habit I really have to break, as I love to write and always have something to write about.

I’m going to try these next few days to really focus on writing. Until then….help me out a little. If there’s anything you want me to write about, any questions you have about Paraguay, my time in Paraguay, or pretty much anything….leave me a comment, email me, whatever. I promise to answer you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My New House

The neighbors living in the house right beside ours started moving out last week. Christie and I talked about it and thought it would be really cool if I could live there for the rest of my time here. It would give me a chance to be more “on my own.”

Wednesday afternoon we got the go-ahead on moving in. Within minutes the girls and I had all my stuff moved over here. With help from Saul and Oscar, who moved my dresser for me. Christie took me shopping for a few items I knew I’d need. We searched a few stores for an outdoor stove. Finally found one. I paid about $2 for it. That was pretty awesome!

We went by our friend’s store, where we love to go for blankets and rugs. I bought two of the cutest rugs. She’s so sweet! She gave me a house-warming gift….two little doily-type things that are crocheted with flowers. They’re so pretty! I don’t have anywhere to put them right now, maybe I can find a place for them.

My first night here, I thought I broke the shower. The second night, I broke one of the hinges on the bathroom door. Hmm….what should I break next?

Our friend Patricia is supposed to be moving in with me sometime next week. That will be fun! Maybe she can teach me how to use this outdoor stove. I’m sure it’s not hard. I got over my fear of matches last night, as I lit about 12 of them trying to get my mosquito things to stay lit.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Big steps & New things

Last week was a big week for me. Sunday evening I decided I wanted to go to the church that some of our friends go to. I went without Ken, Christie or the girls. That was a huge step for me. After I got home that night, I couldn’t even believe I had done it, gone by myself. I had a great time! The worship service was awesome. I understood some of the message but not all of it. I’m so glad I was willing to step out and go on my own.

On Wednesday, I walked to the grocery store by myself. Before going, I told Saúl, in Spanish, where I was going. After getting back and making lunch, I asked him, again in Spanish, if he wanted pizza for lunch. I know those were only two sentences but that was a lot more than I had spoken any other day. He was bragging on me to Christie. A compliment from Saúl is a big deal to me, I don’t get those often.

On my way home from the grocery store that day, I pretty much got chased down by Julio. He’s completely harmless. He’s just a friendly man who hangs out on the main road in town all day, talking to whoever passes by. He greeted me with a big, wet kiss on each cheek. He walked with me for about two blocks, talking to me the whole time.

Friday was an awesome day! Ken and Christie dropped me off at the pastora’s house around 9:30 that morning. First, she had me come out on the back porch with her, where she was cooking meat and marmalade. It was raining most of the day. It was so nice sitting out on the porch beside the fire while it was raining.

We had coffee and bread for breakfast, a typical Paraguayan breakfast. She told me to pour my coffee first. As I began to pour it I was afraid I was pouring the wrong thing and would end up with a cup full of cream. But, no, it was the right thing. The coffee was mostly cream, completely white, only a little coffee flavor to it. Very different but tasty.

Her daughter-in-law, Susan, came over and they showed me how to make bread. In the summer, the pastora makes fruit salad while the pastor goes out and sells it. In the colder months, they make and sell bread. She wanted to teach her daughter-in-law to make it so that her and her husband would have something they could work at together to make money. I think that’s sweet!

It’s definitely true that you can learn just by watching. I had so much fun mixing all the ingredients together on the table, kneading the dough, forming it into little loaves. I was there for over 8 hours that day and enjoyed every second of it.

Saturday, several of our friends came over to hang out. It was a lot of fun….a little music, some frisbee in the street, kids playing Uno.

Another HUGE step, which was not taken so willingly, as I was scared half to death of it….One of our guy friends asked if he could take me for a ride and for ice cream. After much discussion and freaking out, I said yes. We went to the ice cream shop first, then rode way out to I don’t know where. Then we hiked through the woods, to a place where we could see all of Carapeguá from up above. We ate our ice cream there. It was way too cold for ice cream though. So most of it is in our freezer now. If only they had coffee shops here. Now that’s the way to win my heart, through coffee.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Heart of a Child

An amazing friend once told me that their wish for me was that I would develop the heart of a child. What does that mean? What does a child’s heart look like? It looks like a heart full of dreams, trust, and forgiveness.

Have you ever said no to a child, only to have them respond with, “You’re not my friend anymore.” Or, “I don’t love you anymore.” Or even, “I hate you.” And an hour later, that same child is curled up in your lap, resting in the arms of the one who said, “No, that’s not what’s best for you.”

That’s how most of us were as children. Our hearts had not been hurt yet, our feelings and our egos maybe, but we didn’t yet let the words and actions of others get all the way to our hearts. We were quick to forgive, quick to trust, and quick to obey.

As we got older, we started building walls that would affect how we trusted others. We started holding onto the past and stopped forgiving so quickly. We began to think that we know what’s best for us and we stopped obeying our authorities.

Children don’t fully understand the concept of time. All they know is “right now.” As adults, we can’t forget the past. We can’t throw certain memories out of our minds. But we can make a choice to not bring up past hurts. When they do come back up, we can choose to respond with forgiveness and grace.

I’m not going to say it’s easy to not worry about the future. But we must have a child-like trust in our Heavenly Father. He’s the one who planned everything out before we were even born. He loves us more than we can ever know or imagine. He has our best interest at heart. We read in Scripture, “Consider how we, being evil, give good gifts to our children. How much more will the Heavenly Father give to those who trust in Him?”

Children are appreciative for the gifts we give. I have seen such excitement over the smallest, most meaningless things, stickers, candy, paper airplanes. Things that have no eternal value. Where is our excitement for the gifts of God?

I remember one Christmas when April opened what was, to her, the greatest gift in the world, her very first curling iron. She squealed with delight, as tears, real tears of joy, rolled down her face. We will never let her forget the excitement she had over that gift. We joke, saying it was what started her passion for hair and caused her to go to beauty school years later.

When was the last time you had that kind of response to a gift from God? Do we even recognize God’s gifts anymore? Did you wake up this morning? Did you have clothes to wear and food to eat? Do you have loved ones to hug and talk to? Start thanking God for those things, the simple, everyday gifts. You will be amazed at the difference it will make in your heart.

Children dream big dreams. They want a big life. They want to make a difference. They want to be superheroes, princesses, and astronauts. Somewhere along the road to adulthood, we laid those dreams aside. We didn’t trade them for more attainable but equally big dreams. We traded them for doubt, insecurity, and disbelief that we could ever be satisfied and have the life we dreamed of. God wants to renew those child-like hopes and dreams.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to get bit by a spider and then save the world. It does mean I can trust God to use me and change a life through me. It’s never by our own power or ability that we can do anything, but by the power and strength of God.

Those are only a few of my thoughts on the heart of a child. I pray that God will continue to show me areas where I need to surrender to Him, trust Him more, return to Him fully.

I AM by Jill Phillips

Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you like a Mother while you rest.
The tide can change so fast
But I will stay
The same through Past, the same in Future,
Same Today.

Oh weary, tired and worn
Let out your sighs
And drop that heavy load you hold
Cuz mine is light.
I know you through and through
There’s no need to hide.
I want to show you love that is deep and high and wide.

For I am constant.
I am near.
I am peace that shatters all your fears.
I am holy.
I am wise.
I’m the only One, who knows your heart’s desires.

Oh gently lay your head upon My chest
And I will comfort you like a Mother
While you rest.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I Woke Up In Paraguay

Last night I went to a wedding. Second wedding in a week. I hate weddings. When you’re a little girl, weddings give you dreams and hopes and they make you happy. But now they give me visions of a future that I can’t touch. They make me sad. They make me ask “why?”

When I got home from the wedding, I read some news that could have broken my heart all over again. It should have broken my heart. It should have devastated me. But it didn’t. Of course, I did cry. I worried Saúl. He had not seen me cry yet. Christie and I stayed up until around 3 am, talking and watching tv.

When I went to bed, I laid there for about an hour, talking to God, crying to God, letting Him take care of my heart. I felt Him close to me. I felt Him holding me and whispering in my ear, “You are my design. You are my desire.” All I need is Him, holing my hand and leading me wherever He wants me to go. God knows me inside-out. And the amazing thing is He still loves me. Even though He knows all the ugliness, all the hurt and pain, all the short comings and failures….He still wants me….He has never left me.

A few hours later….something happened that amazes me….I woke up in Paraguay. I know that may sound crazy. I went to sleep in Paraguay, of course I woke up there too. But something in it spoke to me. If God did not have a plan for me, I would not have woken up in Paraguay….I would have woken up the same person, in the same place, with no purpose. But no….I woke up 5,000 miles from everything I know….both physically and emotionally speaking….with no one next to me. And I’m ok. I’m more than ok.

My family and I are extremely close. My sister just had a baby this past week. I do want to be there. I want to hold Alex. I want to hug Seth. I want to go grocery shopping with my dad. I want to eat at a café with my mom. I want to cook supper with April. I want to listen to Matt talk about stuff I don’t understand. Christie thought for sure I’d change my return flight ticket and go home when Alex was born. As badly as I want to be there, something greater keeps me here. A strength I have never in my life known or felt. Sometimes it gives me comfort and sometimes it scares me.

Up until this point, I have assumed God’s plans for me based on what I feel. I have let fear, distrust, and insecurities keep me from true surrender. I want the life God made me for….whatever that looks like….whatever that takes.

I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me. Psalm 57:2

The Lord will work out His plans for my life - for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made me. Psalm 138:8

Friday, April 16, 2010

Paraguayan all the way down to my underclothes

This may end up being one of those “too much information” blogs….but I promise to make you laugh a little.

We have a wedding to attend tomorrow night. In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve gotten to experience it all….a quince, a funeral and a wedding. I have a couple of skirts and dresses I’ve bought here but nothing I wanted to wear to a wedding.

Yesterday we had a little extra time in between our planned events. So I wanted to go dress shopping. We found a little shopping area. To me, these places seem like indoor flea markets. They’re a lot of fun. You can find just about any random thing you could want there.

The first lady we stopped at and asked about dresses said, “Oh yes, I have party dresses.” She pulls out a plastic shopping bag. I thought, this can’t be good if she can fit all the dresses in that tiny bag. She starts pulling out the “party dresses” and holding them up for me to see. I knew there was no way those were going to fit on my body. That doesn’t seem to matter much here. They’re always determined that no matter what size it is it will fit me perfectly. They were all tiny, skimpy, and very bright colors that I would never wear. We asked if she had anything with more fabric. She went to look and didn’t come back. We waited for about 5 or 10 minutes, then kept walking.

Next, we found this little dress shop tucked away in the shopping center. It was very small and there were 4 or 5 young women sitting around while the mom sewed dresses. We asked about one of the dresses on the wall and one of the girls immediately pulled it down and tells me to try it on.

The fitting room was just a small curtain in the corner of the room. There was only enough room in there for me to stand. As I changed my clothes and kept losing my balance, I tried to brace myself against the wall as much as possible. I just knew at any moment I’d lose my balance and fall through the curtain. I could hardly even turn around.

I opened the curtain and asked Christie to zip the dress. The zipper was broken and would only go so far. At least that’s what they were saying. For what seemed like about 10 minutes, two of the girls were trying to zip the dress. They were determined it fit and they could get it to zip.

Christie told them I wanted something that flowed away from the body more, not so tight on the hiney. One of the girls went out to the hallway and came back in with the absolute perfect dress. As soon as I opened the curtain to show them, they were all pulling at the straps and the top of the dress, making it look just right. I’ve always wanted to be able to walk into a store and have them be so attentive and just start dressing me and even making sure everything’s exactly where it’s supposed to be, you get the point. There is no such thing as personal space here in Paraguay. If you need help getting dressed, they have no problem helping you out. I’m not always great at dressing myself, so this was an incredible experience for me. I bought a dress that was made right there in a tiny store for only $13.

Next, we went into the lingerie store because I knew I’d need a new bra for my dress. Bras, panties, those sorts of things are not things most people from the US want to buy here. They’re very different than what we have at home. I don’t know that I can even explain it. They’re mostly all the same size and extremely tiny. I just assumed that since no one else can find one here to fit them I couldn’t either. The very first one I tried on was perfect. I’ve never even had a bra at home that fit me right. This one is amazing. Like it was made for me. Who knew? I’m the only North American who prefers a Paraguayan bra. It does wonders for me, something Victoria could never do for me. I may buy as many as I can afford to take home with me.

You’ll have to wait until another time to see my dress. You won’t see the bra but you’ll see the effect of the bra.

A visit to the children’s hospital and a missions conference

Yesterday Christie and I went to Itagua to pick Heather up. From there, the three of us went to Capiata where friends of ours, Jerry and Connie White, pastor a church. A group of ladies from the church visit the children’s hospital every Thursday. They invited us to go with them and see the ministry in action. They go from bed to bed praying with the children. They give each child a gift according to their age. Then they share a few scriptures and Christ’s offer of salvation with the parents. They started this ministry five years ago. God continues to open doors and bring healing and salvation through this group of ladies. It was a blessing to be a part of this ministry for a day.

Last night we attended a missions conference at Pastor Jerry’s church. We heard two great messages from Pastors Clarence and Marion Wright from Guatemala. Ken and Christie also shared with them about Tapé Missions. Afterwards we enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship and, of course, food.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Girl Time

With our busy schedule the past month or so, we haven’t been able to have our young ladies study group in awhile. We started that back up this Sunday. While setting up the room, I started to only put a few chairs out. I thought, no, I’m going to put them all out and God can fill them up. We had 8 young ladies here and only 1 empty chair!

The book we are studying is Lies Young Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss & Dannah Gresh. This week’s lesson was Lies About Myself: Beautiful Girls Are Worth More. I want to share one of my favorite paragraphs in this lesson:

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. (Genesis 3:6)
The fruit had function - it was good for food. It also appealed to Eve’s desire for wisdom. But equally important, it was beautiful. The Enemy succeeded in getting her to value the physical appearance of a piece of fruit over less visible qualities such as trust and obedience. The problem wasn’t that the fruit was beautiful, but that she placed physical appearance above her relationship with God. In doing so, she believed and acted on a lie. And we’re still doing it today.

It’s great to see young women come together, sharing their hearts, and learning the truth that God has for them. Even in the culture here, from a very young age, they begin to believe the lies that surround them. They’re not taught above the true value and purpose of a women. They’re not taught about modesty and respect for oneself. By the time they reach their teenage years, they’re so filled with hurt and confusion, from what they themselves have gone through or what they’ve seen others go through as a result of these lies. We not only want to expose the lies, but also to teach them how to be set free by God’s truth.

This is a great book for any young woman to read. There’s also one called Lies Women Believe.

*God created me a masterpiece*
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. ~Psalm 139:14

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

National Convention

Saturday we traveled to Asuncion to attend the COGOP’s 33rd National Convention in Paraguay. I don’t want to steal Christie’s thoughts on that. So you’ll have to visit her blog and read more about it.

There’s a song they sing a lot here in the church services. The music always makes me feel Jewish. It’s actually talking about when God lead the people out of Egypt. As they sang this song Saturday night, people were dancing and having a great time. The word that comes to mind is “joy.” They were joyful in the Lord. I’ve never been one to feel free to dance and enjoy the Lord like that. I do long to though. I want to be completely free in the Lord, free to express my joy in whatever way it comes out. It is such a blessing to be in worship services here. I may not understand the words of the songs but I can still feel the Spirit of God. No matter what language you speak or what culture you’re in, God can speak to your heart in a way only you can understand and He can make His presence known to you in a way you can’t deny.

Youth Center

The front room of the house here is where we host our youth nights. On Friday nights we usually show a movie, serve popcorn and kool-aid, and offer a place for the youth to hang out.

Someone had donated a Playstation 3 to Tapé Missions. This past week we had PS3 night, instead of a movie. It went over really well, since we mostly have guys who come. They loved the car racing game. None of them were very good at it but I can’t say much about that, I was horrible at it and I do drive a car in real life. Most of them just drive motos.

I usually end up sitting out on the porch. But it never takes long for a few others to join me. I’m not much of a movie gal and definitely not a video game gal. I like the conversations on the porch better.

Earlier that day, Christie and I made a chocolate cake, all from scratch. To our surprise, it turned out delicious. That was a great treat that night when she came out with a piece of chocolate cake for everyone. Sometimes it works out for us that our desserts are too sweet for the people here, I got to eat my cake and the icing off someone else’s. Yummy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Visit to the School

Friday afternoon, we visited the school in Arazaty, a nearby town. Before I could get both feet out of the car, I had a little girl, about 5 years old, with both arms wrapped around my waist hugging me. So sweet!

The kids here don’t go to school all day. Depending on what grade they’re in, the either go to morning classes, afternoon classes, or evening classes. Many kids only attend school through the 6th grade.

When we arrived at the school, the kids were in recess. They were all so sweet! One of the teachers gave me a tour of the classrooms. I loved the classroom for the youngest kids. There was a lot of artwork and creative learning tools. The kids all wanted to show us their drawings.

Saúl is starting to teach a Bible class there for all the kids. He taught on Noah’s Ark. They were each given a coloring page. The little girl who greeted me with a hug when we first got there sat in my lap while she colored.

I had such a good time, I told Christie that I wanted to enroll in school there so I could go hang out with those kids everyday.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Great Weekend

I started feeling much better on Friday, after two whole weeks of being sick. Had a really great weekend! I will post all about our weekend fun as soon as I get a chance to sit down and type it all out.

The time finally changed here today. We are now the same as Eastern Standard Time.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Infection, antibiotics, and restless nights….

Are not good for the mind. While we were still in Uruguay, I started having problems with my sinuses. It’s just gotten worse since then. I started taking an antibiotic on Saturday and I’ve been taking cough syrup. At night, I can’t seem to fall asleep because I can’t stop coughing long enough to.

Two nights ago, it was 5am before I was able to fall asleep. Last night I got in the bed early, hoping to get more rest. I was able to fall asleep pretty quickly but woke myself up coughing. When I looked at the clock and saw that it was only 11:00, I was so upset because I had only slept for an hour and a half.

Remember now, I’m sick and I was just starting to wake up….I became even more frustrated, as these were the thoughts going through my mind….”I’m coughing in English. It’s supposed to be in Spanish. But how do I do it in Spanish? I don’t know how. They’re all going to get mad at me because I can’t do it in Spanish. Maybe if I can stop, they won’t hear me. But I can’t stop. I have to figure it out in Spanish.” A few minutes later, when I was fully awake, I thought, “I’m going CRAZY!”

It was about 4 hours later when I was finally able to go back to sleep. I had crazy dreams, which is pretty normal for me. But there was one that I didn’t even remember until later this afternoon. It was about the Judds….yep, all 3 of them. It was supposed to be Naomi’s wedding. I’m not sure if I was in the wedding or just attending it. She started out in a red dress. Then about half-way through, she suddenly had on a black dress with a gold jacket. She joined Wynona and Ashley on a different stage. Wynona was wearing a matching outfit. Ashley was wearing a different looking gold jacket with black pants. Then they all sang “Love Can Build a Bridge.” It’s amazing that I didn’t wake myself up during that. What’s funny is that I always remember my dreams, especially the really strange ones. Somehow I pushed that one way back in my mind for several hours, until hearing Ashley Judd mentioned in a Brad Paisley song. Then it all came back to me.

I’m praying for better rest tonight….for my cough to be better and no guest appearances in my dreams!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Law of Sacrifice & The Law of Victory

The Law of Sacrifice: Jesus Gave Up His Life to Gain the World
Mark 15:15-24

Anywhere worth going carries a price tag. Jesus chose to endure torture, mocking, humiliation, and an excruciating death, even though He could have stopped it at any moment (Matt. 26:53). The Leader of humankind, the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), decided that gaining the world was worth the pain of the Cross.

The Law of Victory: Jesus Defeated our Greatest Enemy
Matthew 28:1-20

Jesus raised several people from the dead, but each case differed from His own resurrection. Those people would eventually die again. But Jesus rose from the dead, never to die again. He defeated mankind’s greatest enemy: death. All other problems are problems because they kill us. Once Jesus defeated death, His followers could operate in total security.

No struggle is too big for God. No question is unanswerable. No problem is too difficult. The resurrection of Christ trumpeted good news from the graveyard! In spite of the black prospects, in spite of the big problems, in spite of the bad predictions - Jesus practiced the Law of Victory, decisively defeating even death itself.

Marks of Leadership in Jesus’ Ministry

Mark 1:16-35

Jesus clearly was a different sort of leader from the scribes and Pharisees of His day. Mark 1 reveals the following qualities in Him:

1. Competence: He took responsibility to “make” them fishers of men (v.17).
2. Comprehension: He had a thorough understanding of the scriptures (v.22).
3. Command: He had authority and command of every situation (v.25-27).
4. Compassion: He served and healed the pain of others (v.30,31).
5. Control: He maintained organization and control in messy situations (v.34).
6. Communion: He stayed renewed by connecting to the Source of His Power (v.35).

*Maxwell Leadership Bible

Friday, April 2, 2010

Profile in Leadership: Jesus

Luke 7:1-17

There exists no better example of a godly leader than the Lord Jesus Christ. Every word He spoke, everything He did, served to model what godly leadership looks like.

We see Jesus spending a day ministering, not to those who seemed by human standards to be most worthy, but to those who needed Him most. He healed the sick and lame, cast out evil spirits, even raised the dead. And when He entered the home of one of the religious leaders of the day, He spent His time ministering to a lowly sinner.

All of those to whom Jesus ministered had one thing in common: They knew of their own need. They came to Him with empty, outstretched hands, hoping He would show them compassion. And He did not disappoint their hope, for when the people saw Jesus’ loving power in action, they glorified God and said, “A great prophet has risen up among us,” and “God has visited His people” (Luke 7:16).

Our world is full of needy people, overflowing with men and women who know they’re missing out on something, bursting with hurting individuals who come to us with hands outstretched. As leaders for Christ, it is our job to reach out to the whole world so that those who admit their need have a chance to come to Him.

Mentoring: Jesus Spent the Majority of His Time with Twelve, Not Twelve Hundred
Luke 6:12-19

In less than one generation, the disciples of Jesus progressed from ignorant laborers to bold spiritual leaders. How could this transformation occur?
It happened because Jesus spent the bulk of His time with them. The Son of God invested the vast majority of His time with twelve, not twelve hundred. Jesus practiced the axiom: More time with less people equals greater kingdom impact.
Like all good mentors, Jesus provided:

1. Handles: He simplified truth into something his men could grasp, practice, and pass on to others. He took complex theology and made it usable.
2. Roadmaps: Roadmaps give you the big picture: they reveal where you are; they show you what roads to take; and they tell you what roads to avoid. Jesus did this consistently with the Twelve.
3. Laboratories: Labs are safe places for experimentation. Jesus didn’t just lecture, He provides labs for His disciples to practice what they learned.
4. Roots: Jesus gave His followers a firm foundation and a sense of heritage. They sunk their roots into solid ground and were willing to die for Him and His teaching.
5. Wings: Jesus empowered His men to soar beyond where He went Himself (John 14:12). He pushed them and cheered them on in their victories.

*These were taken from the Maxwell Leadership Bible

A Small-Town Girl in a Big City

Even though we had done research on Uruguay and even put together a PowerPoint presentation, I was not prepared for what it was actually like. Montevideo is the capital, with a population of one million people. If it had not been for the language, I don’t know if I would have believed we were still in South America. It was definitely the largest city I’ve ever been in.

It was beautiful there! The day we arrived was the first day of Fall. And it actually felt like Fall. There are beautiful trees there, amazing parks, fountains everywhere. The architecture is amazing, beautiful buildings, wooden doors, stained glass windows.

My favorite thing, of course….there are bakeries everywhere, tons of desserts. Here in Paraguay they don’t eat desserts like we do at home. Even the cookies we make are too sweet for some people here. So it was incredible to see all the desserts and sweets there. I didn’t try any of them that I didn’t love. All the food was very different. More variety. I got to eat fried fish one night. I was very excited about that. We ate pizza three times while we were there. So far, the best pizza I’ve ever eaten has been here in South America.

We met a lot of really wonderful people there. They made sure we had plenty to do during our stay there. One night I attended a college class with two of the girls I met. It was a law class. Law + Spanish = I was extremely lost. I just sat there writing in my notebook the whole time. The teacher never even noticed I was there. After class, they took me to McDonald’s. Both McDonald’s I went to there were like “super McDonald’s.” They were huge, with two levels, and a huge indoor play place. Much nicer than any I’ve ever seen in the US.

We could walk from where we were staying down to the beach. It wasn’t a nice beach or anything but it was a pretty walk down there. One day I laid under a tree by the beach and took a nap. That was really nice.

I love the vendors on the street, selling everything you can imagine. The sidewalks sort of freaked me out at times. There were people everywhere. We rode the buses a lot. The buses there are so much nicer than the ones here.

I do plan on writing some more about our trip to Uruguay. Stayed tuned….

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It Feels Like Spring

And, yes, that does surprise me. It’s Fall here in the southern hemisphere. The temperature is still much higher than it would be back home in the Fall.

I haven’t been feeling good for the past few days….runny nose, sore throat, coughing. I was laying in bed this morning thinking about how much I feel like Spring. I say, “I feel like Spring” because I’m not sure anyone else feels it but me. The sun is shining in my windows and I hear birds singing. I knew this Sunday would be Easter but it didn’t seem like it until today.

After breakfast, I started reading my Bible chapters for today. As I read about the disciples right after Jesus ascended into Heaven, I began to feel a mixture of peace and excitement. I have been reading out of The Maxwell Leadership Bible. There are a lot of things I want to take the time to type up and share about the life of Jesus.

Prayer Seminars

We got to spend almost two weeks with Dr. Henry as he taught prayer seminars here in Paraguay and in Uruguay. Every seminar was very different and God worked in great and unique ways in each of them.

The song that was sung at the beginning of each seminar was He Decidido Sequir a Cristo (I Have Decided to Follow Jesus). That has always been one of my favorite songs. By the end of the two weeks, we were all singing it without even realizing it.

We really enjoyed the time we got to spend with Dr. Henry during the days. It was fun to hear him talk about all the places in Tennessee that we both know so well. I mentioned where my parents’ church is and he said he loves to eat hushpuppies at The Catfish House in Smyrna. He says they’re the best he’s ever eaten.

When he left Uruguay, he had been gone from home for a month. I’m sure he was so happy to back at home with his wife and all of his family.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Obligation or Obedience?

A friend, who I highly respect as a man of God, once said that oftentimes God gives us a vision and we add so much of our own ideas and plans to it that it no longer looks anything like what God intended for us. He was honest in saying that he and his wife did this to some extent and then God called them to change directions.

Does God give us ideas? Yes. Are they creative? Yes. But not all of our creative ideas are from God nor should all of them be put into action using the name of ministry as an excuse. Ask yourself, does this glorify God? Is this just an excuse for me to look “busy” in my ministry? Does it make a difference in the lives of others? Am I just entertaining others for my own benefit and glory?

These are important questions to ask in any ministry. Whether you’re the pastor of a church where hundreds of people attend each week, with professional-sounding worship, 20 different study groups to choose from, ‘round-the-clock childcare. But the people are hungry for spiritual meat, they’re not growing, they’re not reaching out to the community or even each other.

Or if you’re a youth minister who buys into every gimmick there is for bringing new youth to your events. The only measure you use to know if the event was a success is, “did they have a good time?” You place your focus on entertainment and fun so you can avoid the work it takes to develop relationships and disciple young men and women.

I think some of these situations occur because so many people take positions they not called by God to take. They fill the position because there’s a need, not because they have a calling, vision, or desire for that particular area. And in some cases, God called them to that ministry long ago and since then has called them to move on to something new. Because they have become so comfortable and secure in their current position of ministry, they refuse to move on to where God is calling them. Both of these will eventually lead to a sense of bitterness toward that ministry because you feel obligated not obedient. God desires obedient over sacrifice. You may sacrifice your whole life for a ministry position you were asked by man to fill but if it was not God who called you to it, He does not care how much you have sacrificed.

If you want those under your authority and leadership to walk in the roles in which God has assigned them to, ask them what it is that God has given them a desire for. Ask them what God has given them a vision for. Find out what gifts they possess. Encourage them in developing those gifts and using them to glorify God. Filling positions out of necessity, starting ministries out of obligation, that’s not the way God intends for the Church to do it. He may have shown you the need but if He didn’t give you the heart for it, the end results will not be success in His eyes. If you see a need but you don’t feel it is your job to meet it, pray for God to show you what you can do, pray for Him to send the person who does have a heart for it.

Sometimes we stay in a position or place and do for others what they can do for themselves, not with a servants heart but with a controlling spirit. God doesn’t call us to run the whole race by ourselves but to take what He has taught us, teach it to others, and pass on the baton. When you continue to treat others as though they need your help, what you’re really doing is refusing them a chance to grow and mature in their walk.

Out of Character

One day Christie and I were talking and I mentioned that I’m the shyest person I know. She said she was really shocked. She knows I’m very quiet here because of the language and cultural differences. She was surprised at that because I flew 5,000 miles from home to live with a family I had never met before. She said that even before I came here she thought about what a brave person I must be. I’ve never been accused of being brave before either, quite the opposite.

Sometimes I just sit and think about this whole experience and wonder how in this world it’s happening to me. I think it’s funny to think about how comfortable I have been with the Hagermans from the very first day they picked me up from the airport. Before I came here, I felt like I had already known them my whole life. Normally, I would be nervous even spending the night with someone for the first time. But I never got nervous, worried, or uncomfortable about coming to live in someone else’s house. They have done a fantastic job of making me feel like part of the family.

When things seem a little hard and I get overwhelmed, I have to remember that this was all God’s plan, not mine. Most of you reading this know me personally and probably have known me my whole life. You know that I would not come up with an idea like this on my own….and if I ever did, I would never follow through with it. I’m a quitter. When things get tough, I quit, I give up. This is a quality I don’t want to possess. But I have to admit that so far in life, that has been my way of handling things.

I want God to teach me perseverance. I know it’s a little risky to say that or to pray that. It’s like asking for patience. You know He doesn’t just hand it you, He will start trying your patience more than ever. Asking for perseverance is sure to bring testing and temptation to quit. I love these verses in James 1.…Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be STRONG IN CHARACTER and READY FOR ANYTHING. I had a homework assignment last week. Part of it was to write down what qualities and characteristics I need to have in order to do what God has called me to. The first two I listed were courage and perseverance.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A busy and productive week

It’s been a productive week. Sunday night Ken and Christie went to pick up Dr. Henry at the airport. His plane was late getting in. I think they finally made it home around 4:30 am. Monday we spent the day getting to know Dr. Henry better and went over the material for his prayer seminars.

Monday night we had a surprise birthday party here at the house. It wasn’t a surprise for the man who’s birthday it was but a it was a surprise to us. We had been invited to celebrate with this couple but didn’t realize they were planning to have the party here and that they had invited about 40 people. We only found out they were coming here an hour before people started showing up but even then we were only expecting 4 people. Things like that happen a lot here but it always turns out to be a lot of fun. Unlike us, the lady was not surprised at how many people showed up and she came with enough food for everyone.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights we had seminars in a town about an hour away. There was a great turnout. Also, they did a seminar for the workers and house parents at Hogar Ganar this morning. I decided to stay at home with the girls today since it was going to be a full day, 6:30 am - 10:30 pm.

As busy as things have been, our days have seemed really quiet this week. We’ve gotten a lot of work done. I finally finished reading my second book for missions class.

We have seminars scheduled here in Carapeguá during the day tomorrow and Saturday. We have to be at the airport at 6:30 Sunday morning. Our flight leaves for Uruguay at 8:30. I’m really looking forward to this trip. I know God will do great things through the prayer seminars and the services we will be visiting.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I scream like a girl!

I just posted that about how the bugs don’t bother me much. God reads my blog and my mind. I think maybe He thought He’d have some fun this week and see just how tolerant I can be of His little creatures.

Tuesday we took a trip to a nearby park. On the way there, I saw a huge spider web with a huge spider in the middle of it. Within a few minutes, I had counted about 4 of these that I had seen in trees on the side of the road. When I can see it riding down the road, that’s way too big for it to be anywhere near me.

As we walked the trail at the park, we sent the guys in front of us so if there were any spider webs, they would knock them down first. It didn’t always work out that way. At one point, Christie walked through one of the webs and the spider fell down right across her face. I think I would have died right then.

One of the guys who went with us actually got bit by one. He was knocking it out of the way and it bit his finger. He was just as calm as he could be about it. Apparently they’re not deadly because he didn’t die.

There were too many to count, all along the trail. Once, everyone just sort of stopped and stood there looking at me. That scared me because I knew there must be a reason for it. Christie said, “Look right above your head.” I said, “No, that’s okay.” I looked anyway. I couldn’t move. I just stood there for a minute staring at the big scary spider. Then I took a picture if it. I didn’t scream yet because that one wasn’t moving.

Later on, while we were all in the water, I looked over and saw one on Caroline’s flip-flop that was sitting on a rock right beside us. I pointed it out. One of the guys tried to hit at it. When he did, the spider jumped into the water and was moving toward us. I took off running and screaming. I don’t know that I have ever screamed like that. The boys were able to chase it down and kill it.

I hate spiders! The ones in the house don’t bother me much because they’re much smaller than the ones we saw that day. The ones in my room just stay on the ceiling. They’re high ceilings and I believe the spiders stay up there all night long. They may not but just let me believe that they do.

The park was so pretty! I mentioned that we should go there and camp sometime….then I thought about the spiders and changed my mind. When I was little, I prayed every night that there would be no spiders, ants, or bugs anywhere on me or near me during the night. Seriously I did….and to be honest, sometimes I still say that prayer. I can not handle the thought of things crawling on me during the night.

Last night we were sitting out on the porch and a cricket flew up on the porch. Yes, it flew. I’m not making it up. The crickets here fly. The frogs walk and the crickets fly. It flew on me….and again, I screamed like a girl. Yes, I know, I am a girl. But it’s still funny. I didn’t know I screamed like that until this week.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lizards, Bugs and Frogs, Oh My!

Some of this may fall under the category of “things you don’t blog about.” I’m not a good blogger. I don’t like to have to sensor myself. I’d rather tell it all. But I know that’s not always appropriate.

We have tons of bugs and creepy crawly things here. When it gets cooler at night, all sorts of strange things come out. And they’re not like what we’re used to at home.

Lizards - We have normal looking lizards here but we also have these teeny tiny ones. From their head to the tip of their tail they’re no more than two inches long. They’re so cute. They don’t bother me much because they run fast. And if you get close to them they run. So I’m pretty sure they won’t try to get on me. The only time I was freaked out by one was when it was in my bed. It was actually in a plastic bag that I sat on my bed. It crawled out of the bag and under my sheet.

The bigger lizards, I call medium-sized because I’m sure there are bigger ones somewhere here that I haven’t seen yet. They like to crawl into the dining room. I always see them on the wall or the window. One night I was sitting at the table and I saw one crawl in through the window. Then another one crawled in. There was a third one also but it stayed on the outside of the glass. I thought I had just stepped into a National Geographic show on lizards when I realized what was going on. Now of course I’m not going to describe it, only to say it was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. I sat at the table with both hands over my mouth. I couldn’t wait till morning so I could tell Christie about it. I warned her first that what I was about to describe was a little gross but I felt like if I had to see it, I had to at least tell someone else about it.

Bugs - There are these bugs here that are very strange. It’s like once they land, they die. They’re not very big at all. They’re black, with wings. They come out a lot when it’s cooler. A few nights ago I think they decided to have a party in my bedroom. I had my light on, which I do most nights before bed. There are usually bugs flying around the light but never anything like this. I had been on the computer for awhile. When I went to my room to go to bed, I noticed the whole floor was covered in these bugs. It was like a sheet of bugs across my room. I looked at the curtain over the doorway and it was also covered. I then looked at my bed. My sheet was covered from top to bottom. There was no way I was getting in that bed. I took a sheet and blanket that were not on the bed and were free of bugs and slept on a mattress in Camille and Caroline’s floor. The next morning I explained to them why I was there.

Frogs - We have several different kinds of strange frogs here. The big ones outside really freak me out. They don’t hop, like a normal frog. They actually walk. Like with one foot in front of the other. When we come home at night, there may be 4 or 5 of them on the porch and sidewalk. If they start walking toward me, I want to run.

There are also these little flat ones. I haven’t had one on me but I’m told that if they jump on you, they suction to your skin and you can’t get them off. I see them a lot on the bathroom wall. One night I took a shower with one on the ceiling. I kept my eye on him the whole time. I tried not to move around a lot because I wasn’t sure if he could see me too.

Last night I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I turned the light on and saw that there was a frog sitting on the sink. He was just sitting there looking up at me. It was a different kind than I had seen here before. He was small but not flat. I thought about it for a minute and then decided that my teeth could wait till morning.

One day I took a shower with a frog on the wall, a beetle on the floor, and a praying mantis sort of thing that kept hopping on my leg. I’m learning to become tolerant of all God’s creatures.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Unbelievable COLD

Wednesday I made the comment that I really hope we get some cold weather while I’m here. God definitely heard me and surprised us all with a “freezing” night. It rained all that day and the temperature began to drop. By that night, it was around 74 degrees. At home, that would be a great day. But when your body is used to 100-115 degree temperatures, it’s sort of a shock to your body.

Before bed, I turned my fan down to the lower setting and faced it away from my bed (I usually keep it on the highest setting and blowing directly on me). By the time I got in the bed, I had turned it off completely. I covered up with sheet and laid there for a few minutes. Then I got up and got a blanket, a think woven blanket. I folded the blanket in half to double it and then crawled under it.

I sneezed all night long. The air was so cold, I felt like I couldn’t breath and couldn’t stop coughing. It was crazy how cold 74 degrees felt.

I woke up the next morning still freezing. I took a hot shower (which I never do here) and put on long sleeves. It stayed cool out for several hours and then warmed up a little. It was cool again later that night but not freezing. Several people came over wearing jackets and some even wore heavy coats. Christie says when it gets cold like that here, everyone gets a cold because they’re just not used to it.

It felt so good to be that cold, get to put on long sleeves and feel sort of cozy.

I had to sleep with my fan off and under the blanket again last night. It's very cool again today!

A Lot of Time in the Kitchen

I love being in the kitchen….cooking, baking, washing dishes, whatever. I’ve gotten to cook and bake a lot lately. It’s fun to create new dishes and make up a meal with whatever random things you have in the fridge.

If you’ve ever been in a kitchen with me, you know that I don’t like to share my kitchen. This is something I’ve been working on. I really enjoy cooking with Camille and Caroline. It just takes some time getting used to letting others help. I apologized to Caroline yesterday for all of the times I seem impatient. I explained to her that this is a big step for me, letting others in my space and my kitchen. She seemed to understand. And I promised that I would get better at it.

A few days ago, Camille asked if we could bake something together. We chose a cookie recipe with oats, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and M&Ms. We had all the ingredients we needed and started preparing them. That’s when we realized we didn’t check to see how much of each ingredient we had. We were short on several different things….butter, oats, baking soda, chocolate chips, peanut butter. So we just used all we had of those. When we got it all mixed together, it was very runny and there was no way we could make normal cookies out of the dough. So we just poured it into a baking pan and made a cookie-cake-thing. It was so delicious! I think it turned out much better than it would have as cookies.

Yesterday was a very cold day (I’ll tell about that in another blog) and we wanted something warm for lunch. Caroline and I made chicken and dumplings. I had never even attempted those before. The recipe seemed simple and quick. And they turned out great!

Last night I was craving something fried and decided to make tortillas. What they call tortillas here are nothing like what we call tortillas at home. They’re made with flour, egg, milk, and cheese. Milciades taught Heather and I how to make them last week. This was my first time trying it on my own. The first four turned out a little bland, so I added salt to my batter. They rest were fantastic. It’s not really a good thing that I learned to make them. I’m sure they’re very unhealthy but they’re so yummy! And very easy to make!


Sundays are very busy for us. But this past Sunday included a lot of fun and a little rest. It was around 3am when we went to bed that morning. Then we had to get up, eat breakfast and be ready for la hora feliz at 10am.

We had less kids this week, about 7, all girls. First we gave them each a coloring page and let them color out on the front porch. The pages we printed off this week were of animal masks. We told the story of Noah’s ark and thought it would be fun for them to act it out. After the story, we passed out cookies and kool-aid. I usually make the kool-aid and somehow I messed it up this week. I thought the big package was for the big picture but it’s not. It’s only big because it already has sugar in it. The kool-aid here is always very strong and sweet, usually too sweet for me. But the kids would not drink it all at this time. It was like watermelon flavored water. They went on and on about how nasty it was, making faces and spitting it out.

At 2pm we had our young ladies’ study group. We discussed the chapter on lies we sometimes believe about God, such as “He’s not really involved in the details of my life.” It was a very good lesson. I also made kool-aid for that. But I made it the right way.
After our study, all the girls decided to come upstairs and hang out in the air-conditioned rooms. At first I was laying on my mattress in the floor, trying to rest. Then they all started painting fingernails. I joined in and let one of the girls paint my nails. They were pink with little flowers on them.

Sometime before the girls left, I fell asleep. Christie fell asleep on Camille’s bed, on the top bunk. I woke up about 8:30, not knowing what time it was or if everyone was at church or not. Christie was still asleep. We were exhausted and thankful that the girls let us take a nap in their room. We usually go to church on Sunday nights but this week Christie and I slept right through it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Alrededor de la plaza

I’ve said that a lot yesterday because I like that I can say it and I know what it means. It means “around the plaza.” The plaza is sort of like a park. I think it’s very pretty. There’s a walkway all around the outside and through the middle, a lot of benches painted bright colors, and a playground.

Yesterday one of our friends asked if we would like to go to the plaza after church and hang out. Saturday night is youth service at our church. Afterwards, we walked to the plaza. There were a ton of people there that we know. We just sat around for awhile talking and sharing drinks, taking pictures and hanging out. Christian was there. He walked around with us and practiced his English. We had so much fun there! I’d love to do that every week.

When we got back to the house, Heather, Milciades and I stayed up til almost 3am working on our Spanish/English. I even learned a few Guarani words.

Movie Night

Friday night was movie night in the youth center. We showed Nacho Libre. I’m not much of a fan. So I sat out on the porch where I could still hear and see it but with less volume and a slight breeze. I was sitting out there when a guy named Christian came up and started talking to me in English. I was taken by surprise and thought for a minute that I may be confused and imagining things. It turns out he teaches at the elementary school and he’s taking English classes so he can teach English. He’s a very nice guy.

After the movie, we all sat out on the porch talking for a long time. I took Heather out in the road and showed her the southern cross. You can always see it good right in front of our house. After everyone left Ken, Christie, Camille, Milciades, Heather, and I all walked to get ice cream. It was 11:00 by then. So our usual ice cream shop was closed and we had to walk to the gas station to get it. I found the most incredible ice cream bar there. It was a lemon pie flavored ice cream bar. The lady was like, she does know this is lemon right? I guess that sounds gross to most other people. It was delicious!

When we got back to the house, we watched Avatar. I liked what I saw of it but wasn’t in a movie-mood. So I snuck upstairs to shower.

The wheels on the bus

I’m starting to get used to the buses. We haven’t had a vehicle since the first day I was here. Those with a vehicle I’m sure take them for granted and can’t imagine having to ride the bus to work everyday, or in our case, every time we want to leave town. It will be nice when we do get the truck back to be able to travel more. But I really like being able to walk down the road and shop or get ice cream or whatever.

Tuesday evening Christie and I took a trip to Itaugua. We thought we were leaving at a good time and the bus wouldn’t be too full. The first bus we took was packed. We had to stand the whole hour. It started raining right before we got to our stop. At that stop, we waited for about 30 minutes to catch our next bus. While we were waiting, we went into a little store and looked around. That’s always fun. There are stores everywhere.

I came back from Itaugua on Friday evening. Heather & Milciades came back with me. That day we only had to take one bus. It was about an hour trip. At first we had to stand but it wasn’t long before people started getting off and we were able to find seats. For awhile we all got to sit together and practice what I call “Spanish/English.” That’s where Milciades helps me with my Spanish and Heather and I help him with his English. That’s always interesting and a lot of fun! My favorite thing to say now is, “La nube blanca es grande.” Haha

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Noche de Kepis

I wasn’t sure what to expect Saturday night. All I knew was that we were going to a youth event and most everyone would be wearing hats. A family from church came to pick us up in their van. We drove to the church, picked up two more people. Then somewhere along the way, we picked up two more people. So there ended up being 14 of us in a van with 8 seats. That was definitely a first for me.

This event was in the next town over, about 30 minutes away. At home when you go to things like this and they have a snack stand, they usually sell chips, candy, can drinks, things like that. Here, they always sell empanadas, hamburgers, anything with meat. The drinks come in liter bottles, not cans. And they give you a few tiny plastic cups with it. No one thinks anything of drinking after others, even strangers.

They started the night off with praise and worship. It was really good. A lot of the songs I recognized but have a hard time thinking of the words in English while I’m hearing the song in Spanish. They sang The Time Has Come, Take It All, For Who You Are and a lot of other great songs. A young woman got up and spoke. I didn’t have anyone translating. So I have no idea what she was talking about. But I’m sure it was good. We had a great time of prayer after that.

They had a few contests between the different church groups and cities represented. Several of the groups did dramas and dances. A lot of prizes were given out. They gave out prizes at the end for the best hats. Ken, Christie, Camille, and Caroline all left with prizes. It was a really fun night! We didn’t get home until around 1:30 am.

La Campaña

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week our church held services in a soccer field. The field was right behind a neighborhood of homes and had a little playground. So when we arrived to set up the chairs, there were a lot of kids playing on the playground. As the service began, all of those kids lined up and sat on the front row. They were so cute clapping to the songs.

The man who spoke every night is a missionary from Chile. He and his family are here in Paraguay for a year training to be missionaries to Africa. They have three kids who are 12, 14, and 15. Such a sweet family!

When the invitation was given to come up and pray, all of the kids went up, along with several adults. The kids from the neighborhood came every night.

The weather was great for having service outside. It cooled off a lot each night and there was a nice breeze.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

La Hora Feliz

Before I came here, they were having La Hora Feliz (The Happy Hour) for the kids in the neighborhood. After Amber left, they didn't have it anymore. We started it back up today. Some of the kids were a little late but we ended up with 10 kids. We served popcorn and kool-aid. They each had a coloring sheet with a scripture on it. A church from the US had donated a Betty Lukens flannelgraph set. It goes through the whole Bible in about 180 lessons. We did the first lessons on creation. The kids weren't paying much attention to the lesson. But when we started changing the scenes and putting up all the animals, they started paying more attention. It lasted longer than an hour, as do most happy hours. But it was fun to see the kids enjoy it!


Friday night I called my grandparents. They were so surprised when they realized it was me. My aunt and uncle were there also. Somehow I timed it just right. So I got to talk to them too. My uncle Jackie told me to blog more often because it's the first thing on his to do list when he gets to work in the mornings...."check Hollie's blog." So....HI, JACKIE! I HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT WEEK AT WORK :) I ended up talking to all of them for an hour and 15 minutes.

Then on Saturday my parents went to April & Matt's house so we could have a video chat. At times it got a little crazy because there were 5 of them there and sometimes they all wanted to talk at the same time. Not much has changed, that's what would happen when I was at home too, only then I wanted to talk at the time as everyone else. It was fun though! Seth wanted to talk to me a lot. I kept trying to get him to sing for me but he wouldn't. He had to go take a bath and I could hear him yelling for me from the bathtub :) It was cute!

This first month has gone really fast for me but they all say it's gone slow for them. Of course they were snowed in two weekends in a row. That could have something to do with it. No snow's been about 110-115 everyday. When I get back to the US, I'm going to Colorado, where it shouldn't be too hot.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Good Times

Wednesday morning we left for the capital. It took us 2 buses and about 3 hours to get there. Once there, we walked through the bus terminal, across the street, and caught another bus which took us to the mall. At the mall I was able to open an account at the bank so I can cash checks there. Then we had lunch in the food court. I had something very different but very tasty, apple ravioli. And I had a few fries from Burger King. I miss my BK Joe! The coffee at the BK here is not the same as at home. From there, we caught a few more buses and walked several city blocks to take care of some other things there in Asuncion. I was feeling horrible! If you’re not used to it, it’s very hard on your body….the heat, all the walking, bus after bus after bus, all the noise and commotion. It can be very tiring and stressful.

Finally, our last bus for the day dropped us off in Itaugua. I’m so thankful for our friends, Shaun & Sara, who let us stay the night at their house! They run Hogar Ganar, a home for abandoned and abused children. Heather, my new friend and traveling buddy, is staying with them, teaching English classes and various things there. She gave me a tour of the grounds. It’s so beautiful out there. All the kids were outside playing basketball, volleyball, or just running around. I sat down to watch and it wasn’t long before I was surrounded by kids. They were all so sweet!

After dinner, I got to do what I enjoy most, bake cookies. I was a little disappointed at first because they didn’t look pretty. But they tasted great! I doubled the recipe and we were still eating cookies for breakfast the next morning. We were up really late that night, playing games and talking. It was so much fun! I really needed that!

Yesterday we stayed in Abi’s little 2-foot pool for about 2 hours. That felt so nice! Last night all the boys there were camping outside while the girls had a slumber party at Sara’s. When the girls first got there, Heather & I painted their fingernails. They were all so cute and sweet!

It was late when we left there to head back to Carapegua. We had to wait about 50 minutes for our last bus. We finally got home around 11:40. I was so tired, I decided to go to bed without showering. When I got up this morning, there was no water. That’s a lesson for next time. I did get to shower around 1:30. It took awhile because they water was cutting in and out the whole time. But at least I’m clean….for now.

Looking forward to a busy weekend. Tonight we will be showing a movie in the youth center. Sunday we will start La Hora Feliz (The Happy Hour) for the kids in the neighborhood ages 4-11. That will be at 10:00. Our lesson this week is on creation. Also on Sunday, we have our ladies study group at 2:00. Please keep those in your prayers!

Ice Cream & The Carnival

Ice cream has never been a favorite thing of mine. Since my dad has worked for ice cream companies almost my whole life, we’ve always had it around. So it’s never been much of a treat for me. Since I’ve been here, I’ve definitely appreciated ice cream a lot more. There’s one ice cream place not too far from our house that we love. The ice cream cones are only 20 cents. My favorite is chocolate chunk. It’s not even real chocolate chunks in it but I love it. It’s vanilla ice cream with chocolate sprinkles in it. So yummy! Especially when it’s 115 degrees outside.

Tuesday night we walked to get an ice cream cone and then walked to the carnival. The carnival had four rides. One was a carousel with wooden horses. There were kids sitting on it and playing on it the whole time but we never saw it actually move. One ride had little cars and just went around in a circle. They had the ride with all the swings that go in a circle. It was going extremely fast. And it looked like all that held you in was a small belt. There’s no way I would have ridden that one! The other was a ferris wheel. That was all we rode. It was a lot of fun! It’s always fun when you get to do something different from the everyday stuff. There were a few games and an area with food. At least now I can say I’ve been to a carnival in Paraguay!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

an orange, a pizza, and a nap

Christie thought it would be fun to send me on a little adventure this week. There’s a 13 year old girl at church who says she knows some English. We didn’t realize that the “some” English she’s knows is sort of like the “some” Spanish I know. I know a lot of words but none of them go together or help you to have any sort of conversation. I get discouraged with it a lot and feel like I’m not trying hard enough. But I know I’m trying as hard as I can. I’m able to recognize a lot of words and their meanings when I listen to conversations. I just can’t figure out how to put it all together.

At church Sunday night, Christie asked this family if I could come over one day this week. I thought maybe the end of the week. No, they wanted me there on Monday. So I went with my Spanish notebook and my Spanish-English dictionary. I thought it would help a lot and thought maybe I’d leave there speaking Spanish. Haha….my dreams are always MUCH larger than reality.

When I first got there, they took me through the house, telling me the names of all the rooms. Then we sat on the porch as they taught me hair, head, eyes, nose, mouth….and so on. Because you know that is all so important. Of course, 10 minutes later I didn’t remember any of that. Apparently I’m too old for that teaching style to be effective for me.

Right before lunchtime, they were trying to ask me what I wanted to eat for lunch. I was completely clueless as to what they wanted. A few minutes earlier, they were teaching me to say orange in Spanish and apparently I asked for an orange because one of the girls brought me one. Then she took it away and brought a bigger one. I guess they thought I was saying that one wasn’t big enough for me. So funny! So I ate an orange that I didn’t really ask for. They called Christie and told her what they were trying to ask me. She said, “They want to know what kind of foods you like. They want to make you anything you want for lunch. I’ll just tell them what kinds of things you normally eat here.” So they decided I must want pizza for lunch.

The family has a small store in the front of their house, as do a lot of the people here. So they just gathered all of the ingredients for the store and took to the kitchen. Very convenient. As they made the pizza, they would tell me what things were in Spanish. Five minutes later, they’d point to it and ask me what it was. I had no idea. On a positive note, the homemade pizzas I’ve had here are the best I’ve ever had.

After we ate lunch, they asked me if I needed a nap. I think it’s so funny. I know, I know, it’s the way they do things here. I’m not making fun of it. I love naps. I just don’t have to take one every afternoon. They put on a movie for me to watch and I thought it was strange that they wanted to play it in English. I felt bad because they wouldn’t understand it. Then I looked around and realized they were all laying on the floor sleeping.

The whole time I was there, I didn’t know what time it was or how long I’d been there. I didn’t know if there was a certain time Ken was planning to come back and get me or what. I asked to call Christie several times and they never did let me. That worried me a little. I thought I was stuck there forever. I was so happy to see Ken drive up on the moto. When I got home, I found out that Christie had talked to the mom several times (who was not even at the same house I was at). She just kept telling her that I was fine and that they’d bring me home later. When Christie would ask to talk to me, she’d just tell her I was fine and I was in the other room playing ??? So she told Ken to go get me and I’m so glad she did! I had been there for over 7 hours.

I really did want to come back and be able to say I had so much fun and learned so much. Instead, I left there feeling like my head was about to explode and all I wanted was a nap.