I have had my fair share of odd moments living here in Venezuela. It's inevitable when you live in a culture that's not your own. Today I went shopping for groceries (which in itself is a weekly adventure full of lineups and fingerprints but that is a story for another time) and in the one supermarket I went to, I was able to find a few items that are scarce. So I filled my basket, lined up to pay, and when it was finally my turn, my debit card wouldn't work. I had him run it through again, and again, the transaction failed. I knew I had money in the account, and I had just used the card half an hour earlier, but he didn't want to run it through a third time because often cards get blocked if you try running it through too many times and then it's just a big hassle to get it working again. The total of my groceries was about 3000 Bolivares, and I took a quick look in my wallet and realized I didn't have enough cash to cover it either. I started to panic because I didn't want to leave behind my ketchup, Oreos, and corn flakes. I just looked at him and said "what can I do??" and he pointed to the corner of the checkout area, where there were two cash machines. So I walked over, looked back, and realized that he was not going to ring the next person through, but wait for me. So now I'm feeling the pressure. I insert my card, punch in my access codes and it asks me for the amount to withdraw. I punch in 3000. It tells me that the max withdrawal is 600. Sigh. I tried to do the math quickly in my head as to how many withdrawals I would have to do, and I decided with 2 withdrawals, plus the the cash in my wallet, I'd have enough. Two withdrawals later and I walk back to the till, pull out my fistful of cash and start counting. And realize I still don't have enough. By now I'm sweating and flustered, and I ask him if he can just try my card again, since it had just worked in the ATM. He does and it gets rejected again!!! So, back I run to the ATM, to do one more withdrawal, now acutely aware that I have become "that customer". That dreaded customer who is holding up the line. As I paid him finally, I turned to the man behind me and apologized, and he was so kind and just said "don't worry, I'm sorry for you it's so frustrating but it has happened to all of us." So thankful for kindness!! Needless to say I booked it out of there quickly and then spent half an hour walking around the mall working out my frustration while shopping for lightbulbs.
I share this story because as the day has worn on, I am realizing how funny it is....but in the moment I was soooooo mad, frustrated and ready to go postal on the nearest bag boy. And as the day comes to an end I am reflecting on what a distraction it was to the rest of the day....I allowed it to rob the joy from the rest of my day! So I suppose I need to continue reflecting on how I can react better in these frustrating situations. But for tonight I will just try to find a spot to store those extra bottles of ketchup.
Friday, January 15, 2016
I'm a terrible photographer; not that I take bad photos...it's just that I FORGET to take photos. When I was in kids ministry, and we were having a big event like VBS, I would ask someone to be the photographer because I knew that I would just forget to record or capture the event. It's been months since I used my camera. And now, with my cell phone I can take quick snapshots of life and ministry in Venezuela but of course I'm rarely in them for one of two reasons: a) if I'm alone, I feel ridiculous taking a photo of myself (short arms, FYI) and I usually can't be bothered to ask someone else to do it. ....or b) I admit I'm kind of afraid of falling into the selfie-traps I mentioned above.
But look at this glorious photo. It was actually taken today, without the aid of a selfie stick (just Chris' arm) and that's kind of why we all look like we're different sizes. My head is really big and I estimate it's hogging almost a quarter of the photo. But what I love about it is that we're all smiling, even though we were finishing up a day-long meeting, the last of four, in fact. And look! We're all still happy to be together!! And now I have this photo, one of just a few recent ones in which I'm actually making an appearance, and there is a memory documented here of a team I love to spend time with.
Photos can tell a great story, and I think selfies can too! So use your selfie sticks for good, not evil. And I am going to try to remember to not use my short arms as an excuse for my lack of photos. Because what I saw in the photo above is that even one imperfect photo with a big head in the middle is sufficient.
Friday, January 01, 2016
Well, I decided to sit down and dust off the ol' blog. So here I am. I make a point of not making new year's resolutions... however, I'll admit that for 2016 I have dedicated a whole page in my planner to "blog ideas". It's currently blank but who knows what brilliant ideas might come to me this year? I'm happy to have kicked 2015 out the door and I'm welcoming 2016 with open arms. Ok, my arms are protecting my vital organs, so lets say open palms. Not that 2015 was a total bust; I managed to survive 2 overseas moves in a year, spent a great year in Canada, I'm back living in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, I was able to do a bit of travelling....among other things. In fact, while I was bemoaning this past year (to myself, of course) I had stop and force myself to gain a bit of perspective. I have food on the table, I'm healthy, I get to be a part of an excellent ministry, I have friends and family and look!...I've made it to the other side of 2015 still breathing. That's a win. So no resolutions, save one....keep moving forward into 2016 in anticipation of what God might do in me and in those I know...