Friday, June 30, 2006

music fix

today i bought four CDs on amazon. they are as follows, and i quote:

keane - under the iron sea
johnny cash - 16 greatest hits
frank sinatra - reprise - the very good years
nat king cole - the greatest hits

(end quote)

i am thoroughly happy about this recent purchase. the total including shipping: $33.

amazon is so sneaky though. whenever you look at something, they give you little pictures of other appealing "items similar to the one you just viewed." so i usually end up buying a few things, all great deals, but when i got on there to find a Sinatra CD, the others hadn't even crossed my mind (well except for the Keane one). that's just how they gives me goosebumps how they can manipulate people like that!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

yes, i made it out alive.

hey all! so sorry i haven't updated this since i got back from ecuador. i kind of hit the ground running and went to work the next day...where i actually had to *work* (huh??) on stuff that had kind of piled up. i am currently sort of sick of sharing about my trip, because everyone i know has been asking me about it, of course with varying levels of interest and time available to spend listening to my stories. but i know YOU all want to hear a little more than my now-standard response "it was a great experience" that i've reserved for the polite coworkers that know i was away for two weeks and are vaguely suspicious that it was "some kind of religious thing." hehe.

so, the day after my last post, we packed up *some* of our stuff...make that *one backpack* for the entire next week...and made the several-hour trip to our camp in Shell. on the way, we stopped at a catholic church in a town called Banos. the church was pretty much built as a shrine to Mary. Banos is built at the bottom of an active volcano (whose retarded idea was this?!?) and the church contained giant murals recounting stories of how Mary saved faithful catholics from the fury of the eruptions. the church was, of course, very beautiful and ornate in the tradition of historic catholicism. but it was very sad and a little surprising to see the bold idolatry that is the south american catholic church. in their view, mary is the way to heaven, and Christ doesn't really factor in (so his death didn't really accomplish anything). it's north american catholicism that has been watered down (disguised?) to make Mary far less prominent or essential to salvation. i haven't decided if that's good or bad. i mean by all means, get further away from misplaced faith. but i think a lot of the watered-down stuff is very misleading. the point of Christianity is simply Christ's death and resurrection. Mary doesn't significantly factor into the equation, apart from the fact that her virginity means she didn't contribute her own sinful nature to her son. that's an important fact, but it has nothing to do with how we can know God!

so after that philosophically stimulating little excursion (and a wonderful lunch of street-purchased croissants and cheese) we drove another hour or so to our camp near Shell. it is an empty summer camp which is carved out of the jungle and let me tell you, there were some STRANGE noises coming from the trees at night! the camp was incredibly beautiful with several buildings and an outdoor basketball/futbol court. mountains rose up on all sides and they were almost always shrouded in fog (due to the high humidity). we were there for two days, relaxing and just having fun. we visited a jungle-animal wildlife refuge and some other cool places, including a much-hyped but somewhat-disappointing waterfall which took a long rainforest hike to find, but oh well, the hike was beautiful. :)

then we drove up, up, up to a high mountain village called Colta. this was the national-geographic-esque part of our trip. the people there are farmers and the village consisted chiefly of mud huts. everywhere there were women in bright shawls, men in striped ponchos, and herds of pigs, cows and chickens. some little kids even carried littler babies on their backs. we did a lot of work here, but one afternoon (after a delicious (or not) lunch of guinea pig and Coca-cola) we visited an after-school program for about 300 local kids. this was amazing. at first the kids (probably ages 5-12) just kind of stared at us, our white skin and colorful hair. but once they saw that we were friendly, they mobbed us! it was just plain fun...we played duck duck goose, futbol, and the most chaotic game of freeze tag EVER. then they all lined up and we sang to them, and they sang to us. that afternoon was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip.

after our time in Colta, we visited Mount Chimborazo. now, they tell me that if you measure from the center of the earth (as opposed to from sea level), Chimbo is actually the highest mountain in the world. measured from sea level, it's only marginally smaller than Everest. it took us a couple of days, but we made it to the top! ok not really, but we did hike up to over 16,000 feet and we still had a giant mountaintop towering above us. while we were here, tourists kept asking to take pictures with us! or more like they'd walk over and put their arms around us. i think the only english words they knew were "pretty" and "charming" and "thank you". we definitely laughed about that for a long time.

i don't really know how to wrap this up, except to say we were all very blessed by the trip, particularly the hospitality and generosity of the local people that we stayed with. denise and i are going to get some gifts for our family...we already got matching "MOM" and "DAD" Nebraska mugs for Mauricio and Amanda. what a cool family to stay with!

well that's all for now...i have a lot more to say but due to the perceived short attention span of most of my readers, i am generally trying to cut back on the length of my posts. at least the non-crucial ones. :) thanks for reading, friends.

Monday, June 12, 2006

from ecuador

hey all! i can hardly believe our trip is almost half way done's been so, so full, but so, so fast so far. we've done a tone of painting,moving furniture, and pouring concrete...all helping to drastically improve the Wink's home. Denise and i are staying at a family's house, about 15 minutes away from here. they are an amazing family with a lot of great stories...many of which we will probably never hear because of the very frustrating language barrier. Mauricio (our "dad's" name) was a in the Colombian army and they have traveled all over the world.

yesterday was a lot of fun...the Winks have church in their house every sunday and about 30 people were here. we did a bilingual Bible study with a capella songs in three languages. it was amazing to hear people singing praises in other just makes me so excited for all the singing in heaven one day. after the study, we ate a ton of food, and then went outside and played frisbee and "futbol" (soccer) with some other ecuadorian college-age kids. it was SO much fun! then after the crazy outside games, our group went to "our parents' house" (mauricio's) for filet mignons. that's about the quality of food we've been fed ever since we arrived!

after the filets, we (like 30 of us!) were ushered into their computer/TV room for a little karaoke session (in spanish, of course). then someone turned on "la bamba" and the karaoke quickly evolved into a freestyle dance party, and from there it morphed into a salsa dance lesson! so we all got up and laughed and tried to dance the salsa, and tried to sing in spanish...and laughed at ourselves long into the night. it was one of the coolest things ever.

two nighs ago, we hiked (probably 3 miles) down into this beautiful green jungle-y valley on the outskirts of Quito. there's this really nice restaurant in the bottom, with a river running by it and horses running freely in the wind. :) after a little jumping on the trampoline (yeah, they had a trampoline) we ate beef tenderloins, which were very dramatically served to us on hardened lava they were smoking and sizzling when they brought them to us. it was wonderful.

tomorrow we drive to Shell. this is the town that Nate Saint, Jim Elliot & company flew out of when they first had contact with the auca indians. it's right on the edge of The Jungle and hopefully go into it each day.

much more to come, friends! i have to go now. thanks for your prayers!!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

a farewell to you, arms, and blogs

well, it's a little after 9 a.m. we're leaving the church parking lot for the airport at 11 a.m.

i don't think i'll have a lot of internet access in ecuador, therefore don't count on a daily update! if i can update, i will, but still don't expect it to be daily.

i am currently getting the stomachache i always get when i'm nervous-excited! nervous because i've never really been on a plane (well, since i was like 4) and excited because by this evening, i will have crossed oceans and time zones, and i will be in another country and another continent.

*is paralyzed with anticipation*

now, farewell: to you, my beloved blog-friends; to arms (my pocketknife is NOT a carryon); and to blogs! if you have my email address, don't hesitate to send me an email. then if you die while i'm gone, it'll be like a letter from the grave! won't that be great?

p.s. i don't actually read a lot of hemingway. he was drunk, like, all the time, especially when he wrote his books.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ponderance and Reflection

is ponderance a word? it should be. it sounds like...a greenish swamp with flowers in it. pink flowers. lilies.

i've been ponderance-ing this blog and how often people actually read it. i keep forgetting to check my counter. so i don't know if i'm blogging to myself and my sister, or to an elite and cultured few, or to the varied masses. pretty sure it's not masses, varied or no.

anyways...five days until we leave for ecuador! i still need some support (read: money). so i have to call some people this evening and remind them of the fact. :P

i hate asking people for money. i told my dad that, and he said "you're not asking them for their money. you're asking them for some of God's money." ok, that makes it a little better. but i still feel weird, mostly because we were raised to be pretty self-reliant: don't ask for anything if you don't REALLY need it. but i guess this must be an exception.

in any case...i'm going to ecuador, and i am getting so excited that i can't fall asleep at night. (well, i guess i can't usually fall asleep.) between the upcoming trips to El Equator and to england in july (next month! aaagh!), i'm surprised i get any sleep.

i get to eat indian food tomorrow. i need to figure out how to make mulligatawny with that special kind of rice.

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