Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Adventures off the Beaten Path

About a week and a half ago, I got to go on a road trip and as with any adventure in Venezuela, it was quite the ordeal!  We started by heading out to the C&MA National Pastor's retreat...no wait, first we started with a prayer that our vehicles (ie: my car) would make the journey without incident.  After picking up some pastors and lay leaders in Cartanal, we managed to fit 10 adults, 2 kids, an infant, a stroller, and all our luggage into our two vehicles (my car held 6 adults and the baby so I'll let you use your imaginations).  We traveled through pouring rain and arrived in the town near the camp we were going to.  Our only instructions to arrive at the camp were to stop at the town square and ask for directions from there (!).  After asking 6 or 7 people, and a few wrong turns, we found our way to the country road and made it to the camp safe and sound.  I am convinced that if we didn't have any Venezuelans with us, we would have never found our way there!  It was a great weekend and I was able to enjoy time visiting with some of the leadership I have been getting to know over the past 2 years.  Blake &Kathy came all the way from the Island to speak at the camp and I am so thankful for their insight, encouragement, and investment in the pastors of Venezuela.

From the camp, the Hieberts, Blake and Kathy and myself headed to Colonia Tovar for a few days of rest and relaxation (see photo above). My car sure got put through it's paces on the switchback roads heading to the little town in the mountains! Colonia Tovar was settled by Germans many years ago and they built the town to basically remind them of being back home in Germany!  The descendants still speak German and serve delicious German food so I got my fill of schnitzel and sausage.  What an interesting mix of Venezuelan and German cultures. It's a great little place to visit and although touristy, it's so much calmer than being in the city! 

And the added bonus?  My car survived! Prayer answered :)

Friday, September 06, 2013

Seasons in the... Sun? (my cheeziest blog post title yet!!)

Sometimes, living in South America makes me a little disoriented (to say the least!).  What I mean is that Canadians learn to live life through the seasons, and you look forward to each of the four seasons for different reasons.  I loved winter because it meant breaking out my cozy sweaters and my ice skates.  Spring brought fresh breezes, the joy of the snow melting and adventures awaiting as the days get longer.  Summer meant making the best use of warm days to hang out at the lake, go on road trips, and BBQs in the back yard; and fall meant a return to routine, and the smell of the falling leaves.  These are things that I admit I miss from Canada, and one reason is because they marked the passing of time and my movement through the year. 

Now here I am in South America.  I am close enough to the equator that the sun basically rises and sets at the same time.  Every day.  There is a dry season and a rainy season, but they both just feel like “summer” to me.  Right now it’s “fall” in Canada, but here the leaves remain green and intact.  I know that if I feel like it, I could go to the beach and it will probably be sunny and hot no matter what day I choose, whether in July or January.  And there is no need to consult ‘The Weather Network’ or even discuss the weather with strangers….it’s basically always the same.  These are things I love about living in Venezuela! But good grief, it makes it difficult to mentally pass through the year!  As a Canadian who has arrived into Latin America a little later in life, I think it’s one of those things that might always be hard to get my head around. 

But I’m thankful that this past July and August, I was able to have quite a distinct “summer” season.  Stacy came down to visit and we started out with a bang and a few days holiday in Aruba. Then a week and a half enjoying the ups and downs of life in Caracas.  The day after she left, I was off to Mexico City for our field retreat and it was so good to be together once again with others serving with the C&MA in Latin America.  Plus I saw some of the sights in Mexico City and even got in a trip to Sears and Walmart!  Shortly after getting back, the Hieberts and I welcomed a short term team from Abbotsford for 2 weeks and had some really great experiences including a 4 day VBS at the international church here in Caracas.  And just like that, “summer” is over.  With holidays and VBS, it actually almost felt like a summer in Canada!  But now here I am looking out my window and the perpetual summertime continues…although life moves onto other things as kids get ready for back-to-school and I start planning for the next 4 months.   I think it’s as good a time as any to remember the consistency that God brings to my life.  He is never-changing, always-present and ever-faithful, and no matter if you live in the north or the south, that is a good anchor to hold on to.