What better way to bring in the always overdone, way too corny and yet "festive" Christmas season than the classic Ugly Sweater Christmas party?! I can think of nothing better.
This is exactly what Jana, Amy and I attended Saturday evening at the Brown House (in Milner next to where Bjorn lived last year). The evening started off with the awkward 40 min. phase of waiting for the party start, which eventually led to the traditional white elephant gift exchange (which I definitely won w/ a ultimate disc and leather journal). The gift exchange naturally transitioned into a Christmas dance party featuring a circle, in which people performed "Christmas themed" dance moves. On the list of moves that Jana and I performed was: reindeer, elf, candy cane and pregnant Mother Mary (with Jesus under the sweater). After this, 20 of us climbed onto the very slanted roof and sang Christmas carols to Glover Rd, all of which were led by Michael Harloff, our honorary choir director.
After this party, we returned to the Fort (Langley) and had more fun at Bjorn, Dan and Mark's house. By the end of the evening Jana, Amy and I agreed that we all successfully pulled off a Christmas mother look from the mid nineties. Talk about a way to take a break from papers and finals!
So, it's true, the snow has hit Canada, and it's been here for A week and a half now--this is major for BC! And for TWU students, who due to cancelled school have now had time to make up all of their work, it has been quite a nice experience.
I am rejoicing because I just had my last class and have finished 7 papers in the last 7 days (ranging from 2-12 pages) and now am ready to take at least a 2 day break before finals-writing!
Anyway, just wanted to put up a little Greeting Card my TWU friends and I made to get the Christmas spirit going, so much love from Ft. Langley.
I haven't written here for awhile, because it seems impossible to me to write about life in East Van. So much happens in just one day. And moods change so much. One day I am ecstatic and overwhelmed with hope over what's going on in our youths' lives and the next day, everything has come crashing down.
But alas, hope is the one consistent here. As long as I have that, I can do well here. God is showing me on a whole new level what it means to hope.
Tomorrow afternoon, I will load my luggage along with 12 other youth and 2 leaders to drive down to Seattle to begin our newest adventure: a mission trip in Ensenada, Mexico.
The challenges we face on this trip:
6 of our kids have never been on a plane
None of our kids have travelled past the state of Washington
this is our all of our kids first mission trip
unity isn't a common theme in East Van
All of our kids battle against the welfare mentality (everything should be given to them)
meaning they also struggle with giving to others
Why this trip is going to be so XTRA awesome with our kids:
they get to give when they have so little
they will see that there are other people more needy than themselves
they will see that $ doesn't = happiness
Most importantly though, the success at every level will be all the greater because of what they have to overcome.
God loves the East Van Youth.
Today, Tracy, Fathanee and I talked about Catholicism in Guatemala. I feel that Catholicism is drastically misrepresented and misunderstood by Protestants. For one thing, Protestants still try to dissociate themselves too much from Catholicism, yet Catholicism is a denomination WITHIN Christianity, NOT a separate religion! Protestants seem quick to forget that it came from Catholicism and thus is guilty of much of the sins that the Catholic church has committed over the centuries.
The intentions of the Protestant Reformation were excellent, to reform the Catholic church of its corruption, but the much later result of the Reformation by Protestant churches of this century separating themselves completely from any form or Tradition is a substantial (and catastrophic) loss.
Welcoming Parade: tomorrow afternoon 3pm, Reser Stadium, police escorts. Be there. I know I will be.
Way to go Beavs.
Sorry for all the sports news, but the OSU mens Baseball team are in CWS (College World Series)...yes that means they are playing best of 3 for the National title. They lost their first game Saturday, but tonight they came from behind, 5-0, to win it 11-7. The final game is tomorrow evening starting at 4pm. They haven't made it this far since 1955.
Cool sidenote: The 2nd baseman, Chris Kunda, a Philomath High School graduate, was a friend of mine. Actually, he was my homecoming date and chemistry partner junior year. It's fun to watch him play now. He was even named Pac 10 defensive player of the year. It's Beaver Fever here in Corvallis. Go Beavs!
It was an early morning at the Christensen house today. My cousins, Alicia and Sara, and Sara's fionce had all spent the night, and were up early in anticipation of the US-Ghana game at 6:55am. At 6:30, we were all huddled around the TV to see the pre-game coverage. It was a morning of promises and hope as US stood to defend their future in the World cup.
But the result was devastating (for the best playbacks, check out: video highlights). US fell behind due to a Ghana striker breakaway in the middle of the first half. They did come back in the 43rd minute with the first US scored goal (Italy game was a self-goal) of the 2006 World cup. A penalty kick put the US down again, and despite attempts they couldn't catch up.
It is disappointing, but in all honesty, the US's performance in general this year was weak. They played with heart during the Italy game, when they were down 2 players, and they had moments of energy in this last game. Overall though, they didn't play agressively, lacking an offense during their first two games. Nevertheless, great effort US men.
From Group E, Italy and Ghana advance to the next round.
(When we visited a sinkhole, a local place of Mayan Worship)
Carefully stepping down in the darkness, the peaceful scent of incense enters my lungs. I take a deep breath and let the “tranquilo” overtake my body. Such a journey to embark on to offer a prayer! What sincere faith it must require to desire this sacrifice.
prayer Originally uploaded by ericantonrice
I stop in complete awe, hypnotized by a row of humble candles. A feeling of evil overtakes my being and I sense for a second the syncretistic darkness present in Mayan culture (and religion, which are one in the same). It is overpowering. The weight of it forces me to my knees and I cry out to God. Little do I know how to pray for these people; little do I know their lives; yet still I know this is in His hands alone. I realize my smallness and feel very humble. I am nothing in this world, one tiny piece of a complex, confusing universe that I cannot fathom.
Deep is the corruption of these mountains, and impossible the problem to meet. Yet I am amazed, Lord, at the work You are doing through Impact Ministries. Every couple hours, I turn to hear of another school they are able to open. The amount of work these servants are accomplishing is incredible…work of eternal rewards...in the hearts of the Pokemchi. School upon school, opened through You. Increible!
I took part in Mayan wedding. This is what I was told I had to "look forward to in marriage." It was a fun experience wearing the clothes that I saw all the indigenous women wearing everyday for 6 weeks.
As we traveled home, I couldn’t help but feel in our conversations and debriefing, that we made 1,001 assumptions. I don’t blame us. This is what we do, how humans process experiences, through analysis, we make sense of what is around us; this is how we create our reality (aka our worldview).
Yet I still felt that perhaps we are quick to think we understand part of Guatemalan culture. This I think is a dangerous place to be. We have moved quickly past thinking our culture is superior, and are in the honeymoon phase. We see the beautiful aspects of Guatemalan culture and instantly assume that’s the way it is. But we are able to judge and critique our own culture because we have lived 20+ years there. It is our own and we truly know it. Guatemalan culture, though, is a new experience for us, and we all, especially myself (because I have a tendency towards prejudice) need a lot of time to observe. Even Les has only been part of Guatemalan culture for 5 years and he is careful to judge certain aspects.
We have got to step off of the judgment wagon and talk a slow walk down observation lane.
One day, only 24 hours, or was it an eternity? One day, this one day, has been an explosion in my mind. What I know, what I think and hold as reality has all been turned around.
The things Les, our ministry leader, confronted us with represent complete shift in thinking, not even from the Western perspective, but from what we view Central America as. He caused us to realize our Western worldview was superimposed even on the Latin American culture we thought we were observing! Our solutions of Fair trade laws against child labor are not universal ideas, but our answers to what we see as a real need! We failed to see the “perceived” needs of the Guatemalan people. This is what our text, Make Haste Slowly warned against: we must focus on perceived needs or else the solutions we offer will not benefit the people, and in essence, will not be effective in their purpose.
It is interesting though, that through all of the mind-transforming issues Les addressed today, the thing that sticks out is holding the hand of 9-year-old Maria, as we hiked the infamous hill that everyone complained about. Funny thing though, I was so focused on talking to her that I didn’t notice the hill half as much. When she placed the flower in my hand and gently set her hand in mine, I was transformed. I experienced the Guatemalan worldview; I embodied it. At that point, time became relative; nothing mattered but this single relationship between Maria and I.
Maybe for a brief second, on flash in my existence, I did step out of my Western worldview and took one shy, half step into the Guatemalan world. It may have been only this one-second, but I know it will have an eternal affect upon me.
I've been reluctant for a little while (alright so 3 months) about blogging. This is because I have been thinking about what I really want to say, the energy I want to put into it, and if I even like blogging.
I go back and forth between wanting to just post pictures and tell fun stories, to writing about more serious things, to quoting beautiful writings and scripture that i have been reading. So finally, I've just decided i'm going to do it all. This is going to start with thoughts from my most recent adventure in Guatemala. For one of my classes, i was required to keep a daily journal of reflections of stuff we'd seen, problems we'd had, and the observations we made of such a different culture. This process was everywhere from intriguing and interesting, to downright aggrivating...but the result was much more than I had expected. I'll give you one every day (perhaps every other day) just to keep your appetite wet ;).
Much love from the top,
Bjorn had told me to leave an hour free in the afternoon. I didn't really think we were going to do anything that big, which was fine. I didn't mind either way. Well, was I ever wrong!!
The night before Bjorn told me we were going flying. I couldn't quite comprehend this at first, and then when I did, i went so crazy that I made Bjorn carry me around the living room with my arms in spread-arm, "airplane position" to prepare for the next day. It was a beautiful day, perfect conditions minus a bit of wind.
We were stoked, well Bjorn was a bit nervous getting into the plane (it was cute). Caleb, who had just a year ago gotten his pilot's license, was a professional. Once we were in the air, and Bjorn and I had our first "ooos,aaahs" and "wows", Caleb looked back and said, "Welcome to my world."
I replied, "Caleb i love your world." We really got the best of everything: the day was perfectly clear, air traffic was free so we got to fly over downtown Vancouver, and then out to Horseshoe Bay, and of course over our houses and TWU. (I waved to everybody there and was quite upset that none of my friends bothered to wave back! ;)) It was fields, mountains and skyscrapers--honestly, what more could a girl ask for?!
The whole ride there were a couple of bumps and hops due to the wind...not a big deal I thought, until the ride back. Caleb whipped out a bit of a fancy turnaround (gave the sensation of a roller coaster), and that's when the feeling began. It was a slowly growing stomach sickness.
The rest of the trip back was spent with me silently watching the beauty and trying to hold on. It didn't too bad in the plane, but by the time we were back on ground...i knew i wasn't doing well. Luckily there was no vommitting, I just couldn't drive and had to sleep off the feeling for an hour and a half. A minor event in the mix of an incredible adventure.
I've haven't spent anytime bragging in peoples' face about my boyfriend, but after this, I think it goes without saying: Bjorn proved himself again to be one freaking cool guy.
Some of you probably heard what happened already with my car. If not check out Peter's blog. Many of you can imagine the range of feelings I probably felt: Anger, frustration, confusion, hopelessness...the list goes on. Actually though, I wasn't THAT upset about it. I think a lot of it had to due with how awesome the weekend was up at Big White. It was a beautiful time up there: good food, good company, beautiful mountain, incredible view...so really in comparison crappy car put into the mix can't cancel out all the fun.
But when the car crisis did occur (Monday morning around 10 am), I had to get my game face on. I called Langley Chrysler and gave them a piece of my mind several times. Luckily my car was not permanently damaged, but as I found out today the total bill @ Kelowna Chrysler was $707.55 CDN (including the tow from Big white, which was only $200). This was disheartening for sure. Around 10:30 this morning I went into Langley Chrysler to discuss why I hadn't been told about needing a coolant flush.
After 30 minutes of discussion, a couple of tears later, the service manager, Mike Williams coaxed Kelowna Chrysler to give him a discount, bringing it down to $576. He said they'd pay the bill for now, and then wanted me to pay half of it later ($288 CDN). Well, I wasn't quite pleased with this result. They did NOT take full responsibility, because it had been recorded in the back by a technician as needing coolant. Mike told me that some one had mentioned the coolant flush while talking to me over the phone. I hadn't authorized it, so they just dropped it. The weird thing is though that I talked to Andre three times after that, and asked him what was important to do on my car and he took me through a list of 10 things, but never mentioned the coolant again. My dad, who took the news rather well, couldn't understand why they would let me leave the shop in the middle of winter, with a coolant that was the consistency of water.
I couldn't either. I finally called back and after a 15-minute discussion/argument with Mike about their poor communication, he agreed to me only paying $200. I agreed to this because the coolant flush alone cost $120, which I would have had to have paid for if I had originally got it. Talk about an ordeal and a lot of time.
My dad gave me an A on my work...he was quite impressed. I am too, but I am so glad it's over. I hate arguing with people.
Bjorn's birthday isn't until the 12th of February, but Rocky Votolato, His FAVORITE (w/o overstating!) artist was only in town last Saturday...so we celebrated then. We went to the Cliffhouse restaurant in Bellingham. It's actually right below WWU, and yes, it is on a cliff. Bjorn said he felt like the restaurant was going to fall the whole time, because it was on stilts. I was a bit nervous about the food because Michael, Bjorn's uncle, had made it sound pretty bad. Thankfully, it was delicious.
Rocky was awesome. Bjorn had suspected we were going to see him, but he was still excited when he saw it was true. We saw three of Bjorn's highschool friends at th hie show, an added bonus. His repetitve comment after the show was, "Jenny, I love Rocky."
The night was a lot of fun. Bjorn wouldn't let me say "Happy birthday" because it wasn't actually his bday, but he did allow me to say "Happy Bjornday." So, Bjornday it was.
Everyone seems to love the beginning of a new semester: excitement of new classes, hanging out with friends again, NOT having papers and exams...really it is one of the best times of being in college.
I love the beginning too. But mine has been much different than I expected. After being around my brother and dad (both car guys) for the last 3 1/2 weeks, 2 days upon arriving in Canada my car began acting up. This was unfortunate. After fixing the fuel filter and still having problems, I had to cave in and take it to the Chrysler dealership. Apparently there were way more problems than I could have known, $1500 worth of problems.
More serious than that though, Senior High (high school) Youth Extreme lost its coordinator due to moving back home, and its only guy leader due to problems back home. With no other volunteers, I am left as the sole person who has stepped up to lead the senior high group. Yet, I am still co-leading a mid-week bible study. It is impossible to do both, so please anyone, everyone, pray that another leader is brought up to split the responsibilites (and privileges!) of coordinating the senior high group. We have a retreat in 2 weekends which we are going to try do a lot of planning for tonight.
I also did a 9 hour weekend class this past Friday and Saturday. I am so glad to have this class over with at the beginning of the semester, but it has definitely added to the busyness and chaos of the last week. In truth, I am not stressed right now, but I fear for stress and becoming overwhelmed in the upcoming weeks.
On a good note, I got to go snowboarding Sunday morning with Bjorn up at Seymour (where we have passes). At one point it was snowing on us and sunny in the distance, just about as beautiful as you could ask for. I think that snowflakes are one of my favorite creations of God. Their intricacy still amazes me as an "almost adult". Rock on for snowflakes God!!
We left there around 10ish to head downtown to Pioneer Square—they always drop a mini-ball like in NYC….apparently NOT this year though. We waited along with over 300 people for this ball (which was present!) to drop and nothing. No countdown, no fireworks like 2 years ago when I was there. Nothing. The one cool thing was that there was a 3-mile midnight run, that started right on the New Year. Too bad Amy and I didn’t know about it before, we surely would have joined in…what a cool idea though eh? Ring in the New Year with a fun-run!
All in all, we had a great time…but it certainly was not what we had thought it was going to be…I am glad that soon I will be 21. Not because I feel the need to drink alcohol, but simply so that I can explore interesting jazz clubs and other funky restaurants. It is like a whole new world will be opened to me. And in this new world, I do hope that Aladdin greets me, in full suit, with his flying carpet, to show me this “dazzling new place I never knew!” March is not so far away!!