Thursday, July 20, 2006

Northwest Yearly Meeting

So it's not travelling all that far, but I believe the four of us will all be at Yearly Meeting next week!

Yearly Meeting is always held in July on the campus of George Fox University. It is always one of the hottest weeks of the year. This year they are calling for temperatures of up to 105 degrees on the weekend, but luckily "cooling down" to 95 by the beginning of the week.

That's it. I'm moving to Alaska!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Check out to see what Chrissy is up to! I've just posted a comment re: grad school and learning on my blog as well.

Delonna, I think the interactive picture might be at the new and improved World Gathering wegsite: oh, just found a more direct link to the actual Group Picture:

Love ya!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I miss you guys!!!!

I know.. I missed the last Area Rally in SEattle...

Anyone remember the online address for that cool interactive photo from WGYF? I think Simon sent it out, but I can't find the link any more.

Shouldn't we be packing or planning something? My summer is almost here!! when are you coming to visit, huh?


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Where next?

The next FWCC Section of the Americas meeting will be in Providence, Rhode Island next March. That would be fun to go to. And the Triennial will be in Ireland next August! But I'm not a rep so I don't know that I'll go.

Anyway, so I don't know where (or when) I'll be traveling next. Any suggestions, or free tickets somewhere?? =)

home again

Well, I'm back home again. I got home Saturday, sorry for the delay in posting.

I've been looking through my posts and realized they don't explain things all that well! While I was in Antigua I stayed with a family a block or two from the school. The father and mother worked at Probigua. They had a pretty big house so there were actually 4 bedrooms for students. While I was there the other students were a woman from the midwest, a guy from Germany, and another guy from the US who had just gotten out of the Navy and was going to be going into law school.

We all ate meals together and walked to school together sometimes, but mostly everyone had their own schedules. They were all there for several weeks or months - I was only there for a week. =( Each weekend people would make plans for travels around the country or the city or parties or whatnot. I think I could get used to that. =)

Well, sorry it wasn't as detailed this time as times in the past - but I was only there 10 days and didn't have much computer access.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Going where no bus was ever, ever, ever meant to go

This morning at 8:30 we left on a school trip to visit a school up in the mountains. We left school and walked down the street to the biblio bus - bookmobile! It's basically your standard school bus with a few seats taken out and a some bookshelves in it. There are also shelves full of books above the seats the entire length of the bus - both sides. On top of the bus were tied 50 desks for the school - those little one piece things.

After 20 minutes of driving or so we hit the mountain. I thought the cobblestone streets of Antigua were bad (and cobblestone would actually be a vast improvement, let me tell you!) - these mountain roads were unbelievable!

There were mostly dirt and gravel. There are no siderails so when we got up high, on one side was the mountain and the other you could look way, way, way down into these deep valleys. The shocks are so good and the road is really rough so it was like sitting in one of those vibrating massage chairs. Add to that the rutted road and switchback curves hugging the mountain - it was like riding in one of those chairs on a little boat in choppy seas, going about 40 miles an hour - for 2 1/2 hours!!

I truly believed today would be my last day on earth.

All the way up the mountain huge trucks were coming down the road and we had to get over to the right, precariously close to the edge, while still driving and rocking back and forth. Ay! I was gripping my shoes with my toes so hard - as if hanging on to my shoes would save us from a plunge to our deaths! Sometimes I just had to close my eyes.

When we finally arrived at the school there were several kids to greet us. As we got out of the bus they were very excited and wanted us to take their pictures. They were amazed by the digital cameras and seeing their photos right away. After a few minutes and exchanging names and trying to understand what they were saying, I heard this noise. I looked up and from a block up the hill came dozens and dozens of children running down the road toward us yelling and laughing - they were so excited to see us! It was an amazing experience. Amazing.

Of course all the new kids wanted photos to. I immediately had several new friends attached to both hands and whatever else they could get hold of. Several of them asked Marcos to take a picture. He turned his camera on us and the other kids saw this. There was a huge rush and suddenly I was surrounded by maybe 30 or 40 kids jumping up and down trying to get in the picture and giving the peace sign. Again, it was amazing.

As soon as we had arrived the kids climbed to the top of the bus and started handing down the desks. In no time they had all the desks down, then each picked up a desk and started walking up to the school. A little boy, perhaps 8, wanted to hold my hand and carry a chair on his back at the same time. I tried to help, or offer him his other hand, but he liked it that way.

We got the school and all the kids had paper and pens and wanted all of us to write down our names and other things - where we lived, what our job was. I was signing autographs forever! It was such a funny experience - I felt famous. =)

Then all the students go organized in chairs, with us up on the stage. They had a little assembly to thank PROBIGUA for the chairs and other things and thank us for our help. There were many speeches and much clapping, singing of the country anthem, etc, etc. Then the women of the school had lunch for us.

We did more and saw more and (obviously) made it home safely, but I have to leave now - the place is closing! I leave for home at 4:00 in the morning and will see some of you soon!


a day in the life

I only have 9 minutes so I'll try to type fast. So much happens every day and the days go so fast - it is hard to find time at the computers!

So each morning I wake around 6 am. Usually because it's getting too light to sleep, there is a lot of noise outside, and because I most likely went to bed at 9 the night before! Before going to the bathroom for my shower I have to turn on the hot water in the outside hallway. Though - this doesn't make the water all that hot. Since I've been in Guat I've only had one hot (warmish) shower. Brr!

Then the four of us students in the house set the breakfast table. Promptly at 7:00 breakfast arrives. Usually a lot of fruit combined with pancakes or bread or cereal or eggs or other things, and always coffee and tea. We all attempt to speak spanish with one another and Tomas, el hombre del casa. About 7:30 or so we all head to school. It's just a couple minutes down the road from us.

Classes begin promptly at 8:00. Mine starts with talking with my maestra for an hour mas o menos, en espanol. Sometimes this actually resembles a conversation, and sometimes it involves a lot of "ahh, umm, hmm, aahhh, I think..." trying to come up with the right words! And also using the dictionary a lot.

At 10 everyone takes a break for cafe, te, y pan. Then it's back to work at 10:30 - 12:00.

At 12 we're all finished. Some people run errands then or do some email. Everyone eventually heads back home for lunch at 1:00.

That's only half the day - but I have to go catch a bus - the biblioteca bus! We're riding the bookmobile bus to a pueblo up near one of the volcanos. I'll be back later in the afternoon. Not sure if I'll get to post though... I'll try!

the rest...

Lunch is at about 1:00 each day - almuerzo. Lunch is the main meal of the day so it is usually pretty big. All the students and the people of the house return and we set the table again. The food comes out and we all try to remember, yet again, how to say things like 'please pass the salt' (pasame la sal) or the words for fork, knife, y spoon (tenedor, cuchillo, y cuchara).

I think one of us has another hour or two of classes starting at 2:00 but the rest of us are free for the rest of the day. On Tuesday through Friday the school has different activities each day. Tuesday it was a 'reunion' with Rigoberto, the director of the school. Wednesday was making bolletes, Thursday a trip to a local ceramico. Today was a trip to a pueblo up in the mountains. More on that later!

The afternoons are a good time for these activities and also for wandering the city and shopping in the mercado. The Parque Central in the middle of the town is also a nice place. Yesterday there was a band playing in the arcade of one of the old buildings in the square. It was really cool!

All the students return before 7:00 for dinner. Some much earlier to work on homework! Pero there isn't usually much homework. Dinner at 7:00 and we don't usually go out after that. Well, the guys do - but I suppose it's fine for them. Usually the days are so full and it has been so warm, I desperately try to stay awake till 9:00! I guess it is my vacation - but I'm used to going to bed LATE and waking up LATE - not the other way 'round!

This morning I woke to the sound of rain. (You were right mom!) The sound of rain has to be one of the most beautiful things in the world! It stopped by 8:00 though and the rest of the day has been hace mucho calor!

Oh - yesterday morning after breakfast, Tomas said he was a giving us an examen. We each got a piece of paper and he had us write down three words each. Then he told us it was market day and we had to find these things in the market! I think mine were caimities, zapotes, and manzaniros - or something like that. Madarine oranges and two other odd things. We had to find these things after classes (or during) and bring them to the house before lunch. Que bueno!

My teacher and I went to the market during classes and found all the fruit. I also bought some flowers - some for my teacher Olga and some for the house. None of us were quite sure what this fruit was for. A big fruit salad?

Lunch came and there was no fruit, some rice and other things (I forget now). Right as we were finishing - the fruit came out on 4 platters! I've never eaten so much fruit in my whole life - combined! There were two kinds of bananas (mmmmm), two kinds of mangos, zapotes, boysenberries (muy sour!), mandarin oranges, and several other fruits I've never seen before. This combined with the pineapple, watermelon, and cantelope from the morning! Some of the fruit was good, some was weird, and others were kind of yucky. Me no gusta. It was a fun experience though!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

ha ha ha!

This will be my one mean post - for those of you in the Northwest who have been inundated with rain I understand. The average temperature in Chiquimula was probably between 80-90 degrees every day. Guatemala City was a little cooler. Here in Antigua it's about 80 degrees each day. Hace calor! It has been beautiful every day and I haven't seen rain since I left Seattle. And... I got a little sunburn today walking through the markets. =)

Ahora, mi maestra digo yo necesito practicar espanol! =)

Only justice brings peace...

Okay, so last Thursday I got a ride over to the airport. I was supposed to be there around 1:30 or 2 for the bus to Chiquimula. I arrived closer to 2:00 but I hadn't had lunch and I didn't have money. I found a bank then a place to eat. It took them a long time to prepare my sandwich and I was getting nervous about the time. I finally grabbed my sandwhich and ran out to the arrival area.

There are dozens and dozens of people in the arrival area. Some are trying to sell you stuff. Some are trying to offer you a ride in a taxi. Some people have signs with names. If you even look at a person, they assume they've found the person they are looking for so it's a bit confusing! There was supposed to be a sign saying FWCC. I looked at all the signs but none said FWCC. There were a couple large groups that had arrived as well so there were a lot of people.

My directions said that if I didn't see a sign to look for some type of bus in the loading area. Well I had no idea what sort of buses they were talking about!! There were many buses in the loading area with people getting in - and the buses driving off. Did I miss my bus? Was that one of them just leaving? I don't even know who is picking me up or what anyone looks like! I don't even know how many people are arriving, if they're arriving together, how big the bus is, etc.

I started going around asking random strangers, "FWCC?" One person thought they had seen a sign, but not recently. I started to get really upset as it was about 2:30 and the bus was supposed to have left at 2:00. Surely I had missed it!! I had no idea what to do with myself.

So I'm standing there on the sidewalk trying to collect myself and figure out what to do next and suddenly there is a group of about 6 people surrounding me. I didn't notice it at first because the place was so crowded. Then one of them pointed to the button on my sweater and said, "Only justice brings peace... she's one of ours!" Yay! My group had found me!

That is one of the most wonderful things I've heard! I've been wearing this button for 7 months and have gotten some weird responses to it. All day and night traveling to Guatemala I got some funny looks from people. Some give the thumbs up, but others look concerned or puzzled and one guy looked like he wanted to get into a debate, but then though better of it. So this comment was so wonderful!

We had another 45 minutes to wait for another arrival, then we jumped into the bus and headed for Chiquimula. I think it took us about 3 1/2 hours to get there - through mountains and valleys. The roads were often narrow and steep, with a cliff face on one side and a deep valley on the other. The driver drove at breakneck speeds passing on the downhill and being passed on the uphill. Someone almost got carsick at one point - I'm glad she didn't!

Road rage...

I have so much to say from FWCC but I don't have time right now, so just one story. On Friday night we left the hotel in 3 buses and took the hour trip to Chiquimula. The roads are rather narrow and steep, in the mountains, and are very windy. There are a lot of slow trucks on the roads. Our buses were trying to pass this big slow truck who kept straddling the center line whenever there was room to pass. The first two buses finally managed it, then it was our turn.

Our driver kept trying and trying till finally there was enough room to get over. Then the truck driver started coming over and we ended up clipping his mirror! I don't think it broke, just moved a bit. But we manged to pass the truck.

A moment later the truck came speeding up, passed us, then stopped right in front of us! Big trouble! The other two buses saw this and stopped immediately. All the drivers got out and had and started arguing and fighting in front of our bus.

Finally everyone went back to their vehicles and we were off again. About two minutes later the truck had gotten in front of our caravan and stopped again! All the drivers got out and the police came. We were parked in the middle of the road on a rather steep incline headed down into a valley. Lots of other cars and trucks were passing within inches of the arguing drivers. They finally sorted everything out and we all headed on our way again.

I guess the driver said it was a 'crazy Salvadoran driver.' No se. I was getting a little scared at this situation - was it a setup? But everyone else seemed to be having a grand time and we were all okay in the end.

After the church service in Chiquimula, the city police provided two motorcycle escorts out of the city and I think another escort in a car stayed with us all the way back to the hotel.

I guess after the war there were a lot of guns left in the country and now no one knows who has guns and whether or not they have ammo. A bit of a scary situation.

Anyway, I'm off to lunch (almuerzo) and then to find a banco.


(p.s. It's already Tuesday and I haven't managed to find any postcards yet, so lo siento, no postcards this time...)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Touchdown, and a familiar face...

I landed in Guatemala City Thursday morning at 5:30. It was a full flight, full of screaming babies, and Iwas on the aisle - so not much sleep for me! I had been told to go to the informatin desk "you can't miss it" but it was not where it was supposed to be! I finally found it but the woman there didn't have a phone. She did have a cell phone and after awhile was able to figure it out so she could call my hotel. They arrived at the airport within minutes and it was a quick drive over.

All these months I´ve thought I hopefully understood enough Spanish to get by. It's because my roommate is kind enough to speak slow, use hand gestures, and repeat things over and over. It's not the same thing down here! I came into the little hotel and had no clue what the woman was talking about! Finally I guessed she wanted me to wait for my room to be ready. When it was I wanted to ask about breakfast. Another disaster in understanding! I was able to ask what time it was and say 'breakfast.' =) I was able to ask for breakfast at 7:30 then I went to see if I could get any sleep.

When I came out at 7:30 there was no breakfast, and wouldn´t be for another 45 minutes. I think she didn´t understand me after all. Oh well. Luckily by then someone who spoke a littleEnglish showed up and I could finally understand things. What have I gotten myself in to!?

After breakfast I wanted to try to find a market. They directed me to the museum down the road and said there was a market nearby. Never found the market, but I got an education in roads around here...The roads are crazy!

There are people hanging out of trucks and cars everywhere zooming down the roads. No seatbelts here. The buses are huge, red, and old. Huge clouds of black smoke are usually billowing out the back, and crowds of people are crammed inside. There are often 2 or 3 men hanging out the front and back doors of the bus. The guidebook says they´re´trawling´ for more passengers, which is really what it looks like! There are no crosswalks, you just figure out what direction the traffic is flowing, wait for a gap, and run for it! There are some new cars, but there are some amazing contraptions as well. Cars that must have rolled down a mountain then been left in the rain for a year - and then surprise! they still run! And run with all the clanging and clunking and no-muffler-sound you might expect. There were a number of little stores on the side of the road selling soda, beer, and snacks. Some were closed off with iron bars and chain link. I guess you look through and ask for what you want and the person hands it to you through a gap in the fence. On my way back to the hotel I came around a corner and ran into an old familiar face - the black-hatted Quaker man smiling at me from a sign over a store. The 3 volcanos I saw on my walk were cool too. =)

Just a little while till I jump on a bus for Chiquimula!

(Sorry! I wrote this on Thursday but could not log in - everything was in German for some reason too!)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

details, details

When I arrive in Guatemala City at 5:45 a.m. (TOMORROW MORNING!) I'll have about 8 hours to kill before my shuttle bus leaves for Chiquimula. I thought I'd just get to hang out in the airport or go sit in a hotel lobby somewhere...but I just found out it's so much more exciting than that!

And I quote:

There is a nearby bed & breakfast that will pick you up, take you to their hotel and give you coffee, breakfast, a place to put your bags, or whatever your needs will be. They have a nice living room area and garden area. They can also arrange or guide you in visiting a nearby anthropological museum, zoo or Guatemalan market.
The afternoon bus will be going after the two o clock arrivals come and you would need to be back at the airport at 1:30 p.m.

Well that works for me!!

The other detail is that I really wanted to get a ride home from the airport when I return home and everyone I know is either out of town, at a wedding, moving, helping someone move, has visitors, etc. Ack! But I did just finally find someone. Thanks Arlyene!

22 hours and counting...

Monday, March 13, 2006

"Packing" update

Okay, so the way I pack is I gather together everything I think I want to take with me, then I see what fits in the suitcase. Sometimes this gathering process can last for weeks; sometimes I do a lot of gathering in my mind and on lists, then I just put it all together at the last minute.

However, I just moved a few months ago and most of my stuff is still in boxes. Everything else is dispersed throughout the house in weird places. I can't find anything! Right now I'm trying to find my sunglasses and my hat. I know these two items exist somewhere...but where on earth I do not know.

I heard a funny fact about Seattle that sunglass sales are higher here than in many sunnier cities. Why? Because we put our sunglasses away for so long we can't find them again when the sun comes out so we have to buy more! I can't afford that since these are prescription, so back to the hunt...

UPDATE: I hesitate to say that blogs will solve all your problems, but I DID just find my sunglasses and my hat - minutes after this posting. Okay blogger, now I need to find my passport. =)

On the road again...

In 48 hours I'm jumping on a plane and heading for Guatemala! Unfortunately my pals Joyce, Delonna, and Chrissy can't come on this trip. =(

First I'll be heading to the Friends World Committee for Consultation Annual Meeting in Chiquimula.

On Monday I head to Antigua where I'll be living with a family and studying some Spanish for a week with PROBIGUA, a school that is helping to develop libraries in Guatemala.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a ton of stuff to do!!