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Sunday, December 11, 2011
Sunday, December 04, 2011
Part of me misses some foods that I ate in Canada, but part of me is excited to discover all the new foods here! In Costa Rica, the grocery stores were much smaller and limited (although there were some stores with a bit more variety and imports) so when I arrived in Caracas I was blown away by the size of the supermarkets and the variety within. Venezuelans are the second largest consumers of pasta in the world (Italy being #1, of course), and imagine my surprise to see a whole supermarket aisle devoted to pasta. A whole aisle!!!! Of course there are some things that I can't get here that I was able to get in Costa Rica (ie: Kraft Dinner--you'd think with a whole pasta aisle, good 'ol KD might catch on down here) but all in all, I am happy with the food in Venezuela. And don't forget arepas....I love arepas! And the rotisserie chickens. And the papaya....
A little update on getting into the Christmas spirit....Friday I started reading "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, and yesterday I made myself.....drumroll.....eggnog! Tonight...well, tonight I'm going to do some online Christmas shopping while I drink tea out of my Christmas mug.
Another little update on Christmas happenings....I am happy to share that this Christmas I am going to be spending in Canada! I am looking forward to spending time relaxing in Cold Lake (most likely with long underwear and a few sweaters on) with my family and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be spent with family in Saskatchewan...hurray! I'm looking forward to seeing snow, breathing deeply the fresh air and enjoying some quiet time. Would appreciate any prayers as I travel on the 12th!
One of my fave musicals...
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Last year while I was in Costa Rica, I admit I didn't really do too much to get into the holiday mood. We had loads of Christmas decorations up in my host family's house, and I even put a couple up in my room. We drove around and looked at the Christmas lights downtown. But I never once broke out any of my Christmas albums. I did not drink an eggnog latte. I couldn't go for a walk in the crunchy snow. The sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas can be found in Latin America...but sometimes they look a little different than what I'm used to. Christmas lights are strung up around palm trees. Inflatable lawn decorations are sold on the hot concrete (my favourite is the inflatable snowglobe with fake "snow" blowing around on the inside). Beautiful Spanish and English Christmas carols play in the malls (yesterday at a mall we saw a giant Christmas tree, strung with lights that flashed in time to Trans-Siberian Orchestra). Christmas "shops" are set up under a tarp on just about every intersection, many selling "Canadian Pine Trees" (the scent is intoxicating). But something just seems "off". And I realized today that it's ME who's a little "off". It's like that feeling when you confidently hop up the stairs but your toe catches and you trip. Or you turn a corner in your house that you know like the back of your hand, and suddenly catch your shoulder on the wall. Being in a new culture means having to re-learn so many things that you did with ease before or that you took for granted. So I decided that each day that I am here in Venezuela this December, I am going to do something "Christmasy", so that I can remember, and relearn how to celebrate this season.
My decorations went up a few weeks ago, and it was pretty easy since all the decorations I own here are a couple strings of lights for the window, a little nativity that I bought in Costa Rica, some snowflake ornaments my mom sent me last Christmas, and a stocking that I made with my Tica mom.
Today, I went to the International School where Mackenzie and Lukas attend school and enjoyed the elementary Christmas program. Mackenzie was a shepherd and Lukas just plain sang his heart out. There was a song with the best use of kazoos I have ever seen in a musical number. There were plenty of bearded and mustachioed little boys who were dressed as various shepherds and wise men. There was the child who alternated between crying and singing and a general look of stagefright. But best of all, there was the reminder that the reason this season is so wonderful, is that God chose to come and live among us, to change lives and history, to make a pathway for us to heaven.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
So I was thinking that there must be a lesson in this. What can God teach me through a toilet? The first thing that comes to mind is that things can look bright and shiny on the outside, but on the inside there's a storm a-brewin'. I think I'm managing pretty well here in Caracas, and I try to embrace being pushed out of my comfort zone. But at times, I am still confused about what life and ministry should look like here, and I do miss my family and friends. And some things (like continually broken-down toilets...just off the top of my head) drive me crazy and grate on my nerves. It doesn't mean I don't love being here (I do), it's just hard sometimes.
Secondly, I'm thankful that only one piece of the toilet breaks down at a time. Sure, it would be easier to just do a complete overhaul but there's no guarantee that the new toilet will keep working anyway. I think it's better to just replace once piece at a time. God could do a complete overhaul on my life right now but instead he continually works on my heart bit by bit. Getting rid of the stuff that's useless and broken and replacing it with the best quality, which only He can provide.
I'll end there, at the risk of dragging the toilet metaphors out too far. I just want to take something other than frustration away from this experience with my "inodoros"...and I know that God has a sense of humour. If He didn't, I think the hope would be flushed right out of me.
Darn. I tried not to be tempted to use a toilet joke. Honestly.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
On a side note, we are not able to buy fresh milk in the grocery stores here. We buy the "long shelf life" milk that doesn't need to be refrigerated until after you open it (and maybe even then it doesn't really need refrigeration...I don't know). There is often a little spot cleared in the refrigerated section for fresh milk, but it usually sits empty and if the store does happen to get it, it sells out super-fast.
Anyway, eggnog. Last week I left the country for a few days to renew my visa (I'm scared to disclose where I went for fear that my friends in the frozen north will pelt me with snowballs the next time they see me) and in one of the grocery stores there I spotted canned eggnog. I picked it up and took a quick look and then put it back, thinking how odd it would be to drink eggnog out of a can. Although in retrospect, I guess it's no more odd than drinking a raw egg. Now I'm sad I didn't buy it...but I am determined. I now have a mission, and that mission is to drink eggnog in Venezuela, out of my Christmas mug, while listening to Christmas music and watching my Christmas lights twinkle.
I'll just have to shut my curtains to the palm trees and blast the air conditioning.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
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Wednesday, November 02, 2011
-I still don't have internet! I talked to someone in customer service this week and they basically said to "just keep waiting". Needless to say, I'm going to try to find an alternative provider...
-I am settled in my apartment, and I'm slowly finding things to fill it. Shopping here can be a full-time job with the time spent waiting in traffic and comparing prices!
-I am enjoying my church here in Caracas, "Encuentro con Dios". Everyone welcomed us with open arms and I am slowly getting to know a few people. I have also been able to meet an American who is here with the Southern Baptists, and I'm hoping to get to know her better too. We got connected because she lived with the same Costa Rican family as I did, just a year before me!
-Yesterday I attended my first meeting with the children's ministry team from the church...what a great group of women and I'm looking forward to meeting with them regularly and assisting them in any way that I can (while learning from them too of course!!)
-In 2 weeks I will begin working on my Spanish again with a tutor. I feel that I am getting a little rusty with some grammar, since my practice is not as concentrated and focused as it was when I was at language school. This extra help each week will hopefully help me to gain more confidence.
...and the best update I can give you is that I love living in Caracas! Some days it has been very hard to be here as well, especially those days when I just can't seem to communicate or understand Spanish. But I just try to cling to Christ each day and somehow I have been stumbling my way through. But when I look at the "big picture", I am so happy to be here, and living in such a beautiful city with amazing Venezuelans (and the weather doesn't hurt either!).
Please continue to pray:
-for our safety, things have been pretty great, but we still don't want to let our guard down when it comes to safety.
-for travel and mercy at the border as I'll be flying out of the country this weekend for 4 days so that I can renew my tourist visa. We are working on getting a one year renewable resident visa but it is taking a little longer that we thought so the Hiebert family and I do need to exit the country.
I will be sending out a newsletter soon so if you would like to be on my email list, please leave me a message here or email me at email@example.com.
If you have any questions about life in Venezuela or my ministry, please feel free to send me a message, I would love to hear from you!
**I did try to post some photos on Blogger today but it was as if they were saying to me "Don't push it, missy"...they just wouldn't load.
Monday, October 03, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Well, we're still hangin' out at the hotel, but it has become a good temporary home. I am repacking some of my suitcases because I seem to be running out of clothes. I have been digging down deep into my bags to find clean pants and shirts, because I used a lot of my clothes to pack breakable things. Genius at the moment of packing, so annoying on a Sunday morning when I can't find my pants! We headed off to church Sunday morning and had a great time visiting afterward. We met our pastor's son, who is a Canadian citizen because he was born in Regina while his dad was attending seminary. Right now he lives in Victoria and attends UVic so it was great to chat with someone who has a frame of reference for our homes in Canada. He'll be heading back in two weeks to return to University.
After church I headed out with 2 new friends, we had a great meal at a Lebanese restaurant (note to self: I MUST go back and get the labneh!!!). However, on our way back to the hotel to drop me off, the car battery died twice and we had to pop start it! I'm thankful that everyone stayed calm even while driving with no headlights and that we were even able to laugh a little bit afterward. I sure hope I have a few more adventures with those two.
Today I looked at an apartment that I really loved so I’m hoping the details can be worked out and I can move in soon. The only furniture included in the apartment is a king sized bed….Judging by the size of the elevator, I assume it was a nightmare to move in, I doubt they want to move it out again. I’m happy to have a bed, but I’m not sure how I’ll handle having such a big bed to myself! What side do I sleep on? How many pillows will I need to buy for it? Do I set my alarm clock ON the bed so I can reach it in the morning? Will I need to buy a step stool so I can actually get into bed? My legs are short: How long will it take me to make the bed in the morning if I have to walk all the way around to the other side?
I've been able to catch a few photos lately, but I'm not going to risk trying to upload them....I may crash the whole wireless connection here as I'm sure that all the people in this hotel are using the same connection...soooooo sloooooow! But I promise that as soon as I get a faster connection I'll get caught up on posting photos, including my last days in Costa Rica!
Friday, August 19, 2011
Last Friday we had our graduation at my language school in San José, and it went really well. And then Saturday morning we took off to Venezuela. I had a very hard time saying goodbye to my host family in Costa Rica. Mami and Papi have been like family to me for the past year and took very good care of me, I really am going to miss seeing them every day. We arrived Saturday afternoon here in Caracas and then Sunday morning it was off to church. I loved the service and everyone was so welcoming and gracious with our communication difficulties. The accent here is very different, so I am usually scrambling to keep up with the conversation!
Hopefully this weekend we will be able to check out some apartments, I'm itching to get settled in my own place. Will let you know if I find something.
And in breaking news....I just discovered that there is at least one skating rink in Caracas (check out the photos!). You have to take a cable car to the top of a mountain to get to it....but at least I can rest easy that there is a rink here. Sigh...
Monday, July 18, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
-Notice the people 'walking' up the aisle on their knees. This is a sign of reverence to "La Negrita" or "The Black Virgin" (statue is shown in the video). In August there is a festival in Cartago and there is a 22 km pilgrimage to the Basilica. Many people choose to crawl the 22 km on their hands and knees.
-Many people believe that the stone where La Negrita was found in the 1600's has healing powers, as well as the water that flows out near the stone. People collect the water in bottles (which you can buy there, of course) and drink it or apply it to their body. People leave offerings at the stone, in hopes of healing. For instance, many people bring a small silver charm in the shape of a body part (eye, ear, nose, arm, leg etc) and leave the charm at the stone with their prayer for healing of that part of their body. Many people also leave gifts of great value for thanksgiving. There are cases full of these silver charms on display, as well as cases full of items like University diplomas, jewelry, and trophies given to thank La Negrita.
Please remember in your prayers, those in Latin America who worship and put their trust in idols instead of God.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Speaking of tranquila, I just got back from a mini-vacation, we had 5 days off of school so the Hieberts and I took advantage of the extra long weekend and stayed near Playa Manuel Antonio. We all had a great time in the pool, hanging out at the beach, relaxing and going on a "scenic drive". Angela and I often laugh at some of the odd situations we have been in here in Costa Rica, and often remind ourselves "always expect the unexpected". We had booked into a vacation rental and knew that it would be a little more secluded than most other rentals, set back in the tropical forest. Chris was driving and we all had our eyes peeled for our turn-off. We drove by a gravel road and kept driving but Chris quickly realized that was the road we were supposed to turn onto. So he backed up and we began our journey down the road. I need to mention that this was not your ordinary gravel road. In fact, this road drove right through....and I mean right through....a palm tree plantation. This plantation is in use and there is a palm oil processing facility not too far away. It was in a word: beautiful. Oh ya, and bumpy. Ok, two words. We continued on our way, navigating down potholed roads, joking that we were going to drive straight into the jungle. And then we kind of did. We passed a little village. And then an abandoned property development. And then we saw a sign for the development where we were going to stay. There was a picture of a home on that billboard, and we realized it was the house that we were going to stay in! Panic sunk in, as we wondered if the house we were renting was the the only house in the development! When we arrived, we found out that it was not the only house; it was one of 6 or so houses in a development of 200 lots! Because of the economy, many people have had to abandon their plans of building vacation homes in Costa Rica. We followed the property manager up a road, including a few switchbacks and realized that a 4X4 would have been wise....but thanks to Chris's skillful driving of the Corolla, we finally made it up to the home and after deciding it was a good thing the car was a rental....we were able to enjoy a quiet, peaceful holiday in "el bosque" (the forest). Here are some shots of the beautiful palm tree farm (please forgive the quality...they were taken through the window!):
Monday, May 30, 2011
Pops: What trip to Costa Rica would be complete without a trip to Pops? Pops is an ice cream shop chain that can be found on just about every street corner in San Jose. They have a variety of delicious ice creams, including flavours unique to Latin America like limón (kind of a cross between a lemon and a lime), cas, guanábana, mora (a type of blackberry), and kola. They also serve awesome milkshakes and a Costa Rican drink called "The Churchill". But I've learned the hard way that if you walk out of their air-conditioned shops, the ice cream will melt at an alarming rate...turning a leisurely stroll home into a frantic dash so you can wash your shirt before the stain sets.
Stores with Random Items: When it comes to all the little stores lining the streets of the city, anything goes. If a vendor can aquire items at a low price and resell them for a profit, there will be a place for the item in their store. I've walked by a store that sells guitars and musical instruments, as well as pots and pans. A while ago there was a store by my school that only sold light fixtures and hooded sweatshirts. This makes shopping a lot of fun, because you just never know what you might come across in a store. It can also make things frustrating as you might have to visit 10 stores before you find that one little thing that you were actually looking for!
The Rainforest: They say that the beauty of Costa Rica is found outside of San Jose. Although I love San Jose, I definitely agree with this statement. The beauty of the rainforest is something indescribable. The air is so fresh and clean, the innumerable species of animals (and the sounds that never cease-a little unnerving at times), and my favourite part, the tarzan vines!!! In Costa Rica, you also find "cloud forests" which is kind of like a rain forest, but it is usually veiled in low-lying clouds/fogginess. It's an amazing feeling to be standing in the middle of a cloud as it passes through...you get wet without being rained on, it's more of a mist. And the rainbows are out of this world (yes, even double rainbows....all the way!). If you ever have the opportunity to visit Costa Rica, the beach resorts are nice, but try to get out and tour the rainforest and/or cloud forest!
Well, I will wrap this up for now...I hope everyone is enjoying their spring, summer is just around the corner!
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
hockey game=partido de hockey
ice hockey=hockey sobre hielo.... as opposed to.....
field hockey=hockey sobre hierba
goal crease = zona de la portería
goalie, goaltender = portero
goalie's stick=bastón del portero
face-off spot = punto de saque
centre face-off circle = círculo de saque inicial
face-off circle = círculo de reanudación del juego
period=tiempos (tres tiempos)
blue line=línea azul
red line = línea media/roja
neutral zone=zona neutral
linesman=juez de línea
boards=valla de madera
stick blade=pala del stick
penalty box/bench=banquillo de los penaltis
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Monday, February 28, 2011
Hopefully by the end of the week we will have it memorized!
Monday, February 14, 2011
Today I came across a part of the BBC website where they offer "mini-lessons" in other languages! I clicked on the Spanish site and they have this interactive video mystery called "Mi Vida Loca" (My Crazy Life). There are 22 videos and during the videos you get instruction on some basic Spanish words and phrases then at certain points, the video stops and you get to use your phrases and words for asking directions, etc. It is for beginners and I am now working my way through the videos to see what happens at the end! After that, I might just try another language for fun! Here is the link for the website, if you have a few spare minutes give it a try and tell me what you think! (Please note, the video is from Spain, so the pronunciation is slightly different than in Latin America, but the idea is the same!)