Monday, December 1, 2008


I have hit the breaking point (well not quite yet...I haven't cried yet, but I am getting close!). I am so over grad school right now! Part of it is the fact that I am so close to being done that I can taste it, but at the same time I can see all the assignments and reading that have yet to be accomplished and it is all a little overwhelming.

At the moment I am taking a break from the hours of reading and writing that I are still on my agenda for the evening, which will be early morning by the time I am done. I promise I am not is all just a little too much at the moment. Thoughts of what am I going to do when I graduate, will there even be jobs available with the economy the way it is, shoot I really should work on my resume, Thailand, did I already read this chapter, and maybe the assignment is due tomorrow instead of next week...are running through my head while I attempt to write about my leadership achievements and challenges...not a good combination!

It is at this moment that I remember why I never really wanted to go back to school, yet at the same time I remember how all of these late nights and stressed out days will not seem so bad in a year or two (or hopefully even after graduation!). Honestly, I feel like I just need to make it to Christmas and then I can breath...only 24 more days!! LOL!

Alright, no more whining...I am going back to the ultra boring book I am reading about restructuring organizations!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I never thought I would really have to do this...

I can't count the number of times throughout my growing up years I have gone through the exercise of "What would you grab if there was a fire and you had to get out of your house in 10 minutes." But, I guess I never really thought that it would actually hit so close to home.

I don't have tv at my house (we can't afford cable and there is no reception) so the first and only thing I had heard on Friday about any fires was that there was a lot of damage done up in Santa Barbara. Then on Saturday my dad called and he asked me if there was a lot of smoke up near me. There was nothing but blue skies! Little did I know that fires were raging in Orange County.

Because of my proximity to some very dry hills and mountains my dad suggested that I pack up anything that I would want to take with me. At first I didn't think I would do it, but as I was driving home the wind was picking up and helicopters were hovering over the mountains behind my house. I thought maybe a little preparation might be a good idea.

I walked into my room and thought about what I would take. First thing I hard drive for my computer and all my papers from grad school...they are irreplacable! Second set of things...all my journals (so many memories). At that point I looked around my room and tried to remember which of the pictures I have all over my room are ones I have taken and have saved to my computer and which ones I have gotten from other people and probably can't replace...i grabbed a few that I knew I would never be able to get again. And then began to think...what else? What other pieces of my life are replacable? I almost grabbed my oldest pair of Rainbows (that have traveled the world with me) but decided against it. The last thing I grabbed was my little stuffed lamb that I have had since I was a little girl...that could never be replaced.

At that point I realized how much I had that I really wasn't as attached too as I thought. I can live without 12 pairs of shoes, books, cds, dvds, and furniture. The stuff that matters is the memories....the pieces of the places I have been and the people I love.

Thankfully, as of right now Azusa Canyon remains fireless (and I pray it remains so), but I think I have a little bit of a new perspective on life...the things that matter and the things that really don't.

My prayers are with all the families that have lost their homes, their possions, and some of their priceless memories!

My name is not Katie!!

Alright, so I haven't given up drinking coffee yet! And maybe if I had I wouldn't be writing this little blog right here!

This morning I ditched church to go to a great little coffee shop to work on an assignment that is due tomorrow night. (I am just waiting for all the comments about me ditching church!! LOL!!...just FYI it is not something I do very often). Anyway, I walk in to this place (where I go fairly often) and one of my favortie baristas is working. I have no idea what her name is, but since moving up here her and I always have conversations when she is making my coffee. About a week ago, I stopped by to do some homework. I ordered my coffee and she (my favorite barista) was making my coffee. While we were talking I thought she called me Katie, but I wasn't too sure so I ignored it (the typical Erin response when she isn't sure what someone said...just nod and pretend like you know what is going on...this gets me in a lot of trouble!!). So back to today...I walk in and the first words out of her mouth are..."Hey, Katie! How are you?" I respond with, "I'm good, how are you?" But my mind is racing with thoughts about what I should do. Do I correct her? Do I just let it go? If I let it go, I think of the very awkward situation that will happen at some point where she finds out she has been calling me Katie and my name is Erin. Ummm...what should I do? In typical Erin fashion I continued the conversation as if my name was Katie.

I honestly think she just got me and my friend Katie's name mixed up. (Katie and I tend to go there together quite often). But, anyway...this isn't the first time that this has happened. In fact, my neighbor thought my name was Ashley until one of my roommates corrected her about 2 weeks ago. I guess I just don't look like an Erin!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You know your addicted when...

Ok, so I don't know if any of you have ever felt this way but here it goes... So all my life I have had this fear (fear is not the right word, but I can't think of the right one) of being seen in the same restaurant or coffee shop or grocery store on two consecutive days or sometimes even in the same week, the worst would be on the same day! I know I have gone somewhere earlier in the day and then had friends suggest that we go hang out there later that same evening and I will do all I can to avoid the return visit. I don't want people to think I can't cook for myself, or that I am lazy, or just I don't know...even that I eat out alot (which I really don't) but anyway to the point of the story.

This morning I went into the Starbucks down the street from my house (just fyi I usually switch off Starbucks each time I go for the reasons/fear stated above) and there is a huge line. I am usually not in a rush so the lines don't bother me and this morning I was already late to work so I figured that a few extra minutes wouldn't kill me. So one of the employees notices that the line is getting really long and comes over to a register to help out (I think the girl at the register was fairly new and/or hadn't had any coffee yet because she was moving fairly slow!!) anyway...the girl who had just walked over asks the two people in front of me what they would like and she writes it on the Christmas cups (hello it is not even Thanksgiving yet...we shouldn't be drinking out of christmas cups!) and then turns to me and says...Do you want your usual, venti iced skinny vanilla latte? I sort of looked at her with a bewildered look like "are you talking to me?" and then realized that was exactly what I was going to order! It sort of weirded me out. I mean I have been so careful to never go to the same Starbucks at the same time of day...but it didn't work...the girl knew my order!!

So all that to say that today's incident proved my suspicion that I am addicted to coffee! I don't really now what I am going to do about it...probably wake up tomorrow morning and go get another venti skinny vanilla latte...heck I can even go to the same Starbucks without fear...I've already conquered my fear!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

When the little things go wrong...Part Two!

So I really should be working on a paper that is due in a few hours, but instead I am checking my Facebook and writing another blog about my dull life and the things that are just plain funny to me sometimes! So this week continued the trend of little things going they are in no particular order!

So a little insight into this week before I get started....It was Global Vision Week at APU! Which is an incredible week of over 30 events that is put on for the students. I am on the planning committee, so this is a big deal for me and my office. Let's just say I usually only work abou 15 hours a week (I know I know that is nothing!!), but last week I clocked about 40 hours (and that doesn't include some stuff I attended and didn't count as work)...anyway that is an intro to the week!

Things that just didn't go right...

1. An event that I was suppossed to take care of reservations for (place, chairs, tech equipment, etc.) just didn't get planned! Ahhhh!! I didn't even know that the reservations hadn't gone through until about 30 minutes before the event, thanks to one of my amazing co-workers who calmly approached me and told me the exciting news! Thankfully everything came together in a matter of minutes and no one else on the committee knew about it (until they read my blog of course). I just can't believe I let it slip through...seriously I need to get more organized!

2. Waited to the last minute to finish my final for my Counseling class (not unusual!)...go to finish it and my computer starts being weird! Great! I attempted to save the file to a memory card I had and ran into my work to use a computer there. The file I save to the memory card was not there by the time I got to work and I was so scared at this point...I already had 21 pages done! Well, thanfully I have gotten in the habit of emailing myself stuff in addition to saving it to my computer...well I had a recent copy of my paper! Soooo greatful!! So I sat at work and finished my paper. I then proceeded to call my dad and tell him my computer woes! All I can say is that I now have an amazingly new laptop! (the only thing that isn't so great about it is the pricetag...but I think I can deal with that!) The one funny thing about this whole thing is that I took the old computer home and my dad was checking it has worked perfectly ever since! Go figure!

3. On Friday morning I was trying to quickly get from East campus to West campus so I could attend chapel. I was walking to my car and making a phone call to my mom just to say hi and as she picks up I round the car parked in front of mine and notice an large blotch of white paint smeared across the corner of the front bumper of car! The first words out my mouth do you know anywhere I can get bodywork done on my car. There was no note on my car, so I just got in my car and drove to West campus. I couldn't even be mad, seriously of all the things that could bother me in life I was not going to let this be one of them.

Hmmm...none of that seems bad now. In fact most of it is funny! Ahhh my life!

Alright back to my paper that I can now work on because I have an amazing computer that works!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

When the little things go wrong...

Over the last couple of weeks I have noticed how all the little things have been off. I don't know what it is- maybe I am growing and I am going through a clumsy stage- but whatever it is I have almost come to expect it. Here are just a few of the weird, funny, and plain stupid things that have happened in the last few weeks.

1. Forgot about a meeting that I needed to go to for work. I have known about this meeting for weeks and even had it on my planner at work, but somehow I sat around doing nothing while this important meeting was taking place. About 45 minutes into it my friend (who made it to the meeting with no problem) texted me to see if I was that point I was on my way to another meeting and it was pointless to stop by for 5 minutes. Luckily, the lady who is in charge of the committee is super merciful and told me she was just thankful I hadn't gotten "sucked into a black hole" which at that point I felt I already had with all the stuff I am doing at work. Anyway, missing a meeting is not it was werid!

2. This morning I was trying to put away a box of cereal after I had finished pouring myself a bowl. I was holding onto it with two hands and everything and the next thing I know the box was upside down and all the cereal was on the floor. Now comes the question of what did I do with an entire box of cereal that is now on the floor...well (I really can't believe I am admitting this!!!) but I scooped it up with my bare hands and dumped it back into the box. Ahhhh I really hope our floor was somewhat clean! But seriously...cereal is soooo expensive, I can't even imagine throwing away an entire box of cereal just because it spent a few seconds on the floor. So if I don't offer you cereal the next few times you come over it is not because I am being rude it is just because I don't want to offer you the dirt off my floor for breakfast!

3. My roommates and I carved pumpkins...not odd or strange...but the fact that all of our pumpkins shriveled up into little orange balls of grossness and mold is beyond me. They didn't even make it to Halloween! Seriously, I don't get it! If the pumpkin is drying up, why would it grow mold. Usually mold only grows where there is moisture...not where there is dryness. Anyway, we had to throw them away because there were all kinds of bugs on them and they were pretty unrecognizable as pumpkins.

4. The internet at my house is working....but my computer won't pick it up! This is just frustrating! However, I think it makes me very very aware of how addicted to checking my facebook and email...maybe this is a good time for me to break that habit. I just feel like I am missing out on the world! I'll get over it!

5. The other day I was wearing my super cute pink shoes and I was walking on a tile floor in one of the cafe's at APU and I slipped and slid about 2 feet (luckly I didn't fall...God only knows how that happened) but about 20 students were standing there and saw the whole thing. I even chuckled a little bit when it happened...but talk about embarassing moment.

Those are only a couple of the things I can think of right now...but everyday something happens and I am like...really?? could I be any more clutsy or uncordinated?? But that is why all of you love me right...because I always have a good story about something that happened.

Alright, I have to head home from the coffee shop to my apartment that won't let me have internet so I can actually finish my papers for school!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bangladesh Video

Hey all!!

So I haven't written in has been messy and crazy and all the fun stuff that life throws our way...but I wanted to post this link to the video that one of my staff made about Bangladesh. It isn't quite finished (just some wording that goes in the beginning and end) but this is the jist.

Now you will get an insight into what I do when I am in far away places! Enjoy!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's Raining

I am sitting in one of my favorite places...a coffee shop on a quaint little downtown street near my home. It's raining outside and I am warm and cozy inside listening to music and suppossedly working on a project for school. Something about rain, and quiet, and music (and maybe even homework) drives me to reflect on life and the state of my heart.

Life is so interesting right now. Not amazing (a phrase I use way too often) but definitely not awful, or bad, or unliveable. My overbearing, always having to plan, and super stressed out personality has slipped into a laidback, super flexible, and not worried about much of anything way of life. I find this change intriguing and wonderful, but am not too sure when or where it happened.

School is good. This quarter has been very kickback, but somehow I still manage to wait to the last minute to do projects and papers...oh well...I am still getting good grades (I think...I haven't gotten a single assignment back yet!). I am leaving for New York and Vermont in just a couple of days for a conference for my Law and Ethics class. I am super excited! I bought these plane tickets almost four months ago. I almost can't believe the time has come for this amazing (see there I go using that word again) adventure!

My internship has been good and hard all at the same time! I am thriving in Student Affairs and I am ready to get out in this huge world and figure out where in the heck I am going to be serving in the next few years; however, that desire to get out makes being a "student" tough because I tend to fight "the man". I am also learning how to plan for my departure, yes even 7 months in advance. The program I am running is actually starting to become sustainable, but I need to leave it in a place of sustainability and growth for the next graduate assistant that comes along. I tend to find myself in this place...creating and growing ideas and programs and then having to move onto something else new. I think with this internship I am learning to embrace this trend, but it doesn't make the moving-on any easier.

Personally I have been very contemplative lately. I tend to find myself with an urge to sit and think and write. I think I am at this place right now because I am still trying to process all the changes in my life: relationships, vocation, me, jobs, residence, etc. As much as I verbally process things (sorry to all of those who have heard the many ranting of Erin in the last few months...and years!!) sometimes sitting down with a blank page, a pen, and my rambling thoughts is the best therapy I could ask for.

Church...AMAZING!! As some of you may or may not know I have been church shopping since June and well I really didn't shop too much and I was blessed to find a great church family. I was telling someone about it the other day and they commented about how perfect is was for meets at a coffee shop (can't beat the atmosphere), is new and fairly small (about five months old and about 40 people on a Sunday), is different every week, and is super focused on missions. My goal for the year is to "not get involved" (thanks to several of you who really emphasized the importance of this goal in my life) in church ministry. It sounds like a weird goal...I know...but I really need some time to just "be" and go to church for time with God and community. Not getting "involved" has already been difficult as I was already asked to lead a small group, but I really feel that I need to rest and that I need to focus on my ministry at my internship.

It has stopped raining for the moment and the project I should be working on is begging to get finished, so it is time to be responsible and not let too much of this rainy day pass me by.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back to School

Well I have officially started my 2nd (and final least for this degree) of grad school. I really do not know how to feel about that! Last year went so fast and I can only imagine how fast these next 8 months are going to fly by!

This quarter (the next 8 weeks of my life) I am taking two classes...Legal and Ethical Issues in Student Affairs and Counseling: The Helper Relationship. Going into these classes I wasn't exactly sure what to expect...but after attending classes this week...well I love both of them! For my law and ethics class I am actually getting (an optional assignment) to go to Vermont for a conference (with a little pre-trip to New York City!!!...the plane tickets were actually cheaper to go from here to NY to Vermont and home than it was to go from here to Vermont and I am just being frugal...well sort of!). The counseling class is amazing! I get to learn how to better listen and work with doesn't get any better than that.

My internship has been a little hectic. I am trying to figure out foundational elements for the Global Relief program (like mission statements, goals, brochures, the vision for this year and the future...which we all know is like pulling teeth for me!), wrapping up the loose ends from last year's Bangladesh Relief Effort, putting together a new weekly program (not a tough one but it is launching next week and well I haven't printed the posters yet...oooppps!), assisting with the planning of a relief team to go to New Orleans over Thanksgiving (which is only what 10 weeks away...yeah no worries!), sitting on a committee for Global Vision Week (a campus wide theme week that has about 31 events in 5 days), meeting with my student worker for an hour a week, meeting with my supervisor for an hour a week, and trying to pull together all the details so we can launch our new Global Relief: Global Water Concerns campaign for the entire school year...yeah the first two weeks have been a little hectic! Was that a run-on sentence??? Despite the slight feeling of being overwhelmed (which I know I am feeling because I lay awake at night remembering emails I should have sent and coming up with amazing ideas for our fundraising campaign that I tend not to remember by the morning) I am really enjoying my second year in the Office of World Missions.

Which sort of leads into the reason that I am so nervous about this year "flying by." Because after May 9th 2009...I am headed out for who knows what! I am so open to what God may have in store...but I don't even know where to start looking! A big part of me is excited about the possiblity of moving to Thailand and doing some sort of missions and/or humanitarian work there but the other big part of me is dying to work with students or with a non-profit here in the states or at a Christian university working in a missions office or the list goes on forever!! I found something I love...but there are so many options! My "plan" is to not plan for what is next. Instead I have just been praying that God would put the pieces together so that I have a more focused direction once the decisions have to be made.

Life at the apartment is great! We are almost done decorating...I have a difficult time hanging pictures on the wall straight and our table is still not completed put together...but we definitely have made it home. (I will post pictures once we are finished). I am loving our apartment and our location...super close to some amazing running trails and at the base of the mountains...seriously it's beautiful!! My roommates are great! Heather and Meghan and I have classes together and are home together quite a bit...we all get along great and we have a good bond due to the fact that we all have the same load of homework on our plate every week. My third roommate Megan (same name different spelling) just moved to California from New York and is just starting the same master's program as the three of us. We don't see her as often because we have class on opposite nights.

Other than that life consists of grocery shopping, jogging, and sleeping (when I get the chance)...its great! (But it is only the first week of school!!)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer is Over

Summer is over! Wow I really can't believe it. I honestly am so blessed to even get a summer! Most of my friends are working office jobs where summer vacation is not even part of their vocabulary anymore. Instead of that, I got one more summer vacation. Every year I think about how this could be my last "real" summer, but every year somehow I am blessed to not be stuck in an office "working".

Instead, my "working" consisted of traveling around the world: an unexpected visit to Hong Kong, two weeks in Bangladesh building homes for Cyclone Sidr victims, two weeks at the California Delta enjoying beautiful sunsets and amazing water, and a week of sightseeing in Southern California when some of my friends came from Oregon and Chicago to visit.

I also had a lot of time to just sit and "be" this summer. I am learning to enjoy all the down time because as classes quickly approach I am realizing more and more how little time I have to "be" when there are papers to write and books to read. The only downside to all this downtime has been the amount of time I have had to think! For a summer that was suppossed to be transition free...well there has been way too much change and transition, but that is life! One big thing I have learned this summer (or relearned maybe) is that I think about things too much sometimes. I just need to live life and stop think sooo much!

These last couple weeks of summer I have spent moving into my new place for this year. God was so good to give me an amazing place to live this school year. Just a side-note...I had to move because APU bought the apartment complex I was living in. I am living with three amazing girls...all of whom are in the same Master's program as me. We have a 2 bedroom plus a den (which we are using as a bedroom), 2 bathroom condo. We have a garage, appliances (thank goodness we didn't have to buy a fridge!!), tennis courts, a big kitchen and THE MOST HIGH TECH WASHER AND DRYER that I will ever have in a home for the rest of my life!! (If you read the blog from a few months ago about my washer and dryer you will be privy to the reason I am soooo excited about having an awesome washer and dryer!).

Our place is "in process" right now! For the first week is was just one of my roommates and I...hello huge rent check!! We got the utilities turned on...hmmm they make so much money when people move in...they didn't even have to come out to turn them on, but they did charge us $75! I bought a tv stand at a thrift store that barely fit into my civic...but honestly I have hauled so much stuff in it the last two weeks you would think it was a truck! I got my sofa and chair (which I got from a friend...thank you sooo much!!) however one of the cushions flew off on the way back to the condo so if you look closely (you don't have to look that closely!) you can see where it got run over by a car! At least my sofa has a story...does yours??? We also got a supercheap kitchen table from Walmart that we had to put together...yeah that only took us 3 hours! We should have known it would not have been easy...there were two returned tables at Walmart from customers who "didn't think the finished product looked like the picture on the box" and the guy at the store kept asking us if we really wanted to buy this table. The table still isn't completely put together...suppossedly you are suppossed to be able to attach the seat cushions to the chair frames and the table top to the table frame with just the screws and a manuel screwdriver...I don't think so!! I spent 45 minutes trying to put one stupid seat cushion on a frame and it is only slightly attached. And trying to put the table top on...yeah right I am not strong enough to make a hole in 1/2 inch of solid "fake" wood! Hmmm...going need to find someone with some powertools! (Sooo...just remember not to sit down too hard on our chairs or try and lift the kitchen table by the table top...because it all just might fall apart!). Other than that we are slowly decorating. My third roommate moved in on Tuesday and the fourth roommate should be moving in next weekend. So hopefully, we will be settled in a week or so!

I started back at the Office of World Missions at APU this week for Graduate Assistant training and next week our entire office is going on a retreat from Monday through Wednesday. I start school the week after that! Ahhhh summer is over!

The cool, scary, and exciting part is that I will be done with school in 9 months and by next summer I have no idea where I will be! So here's to an amazing school year where I get to learn, work hard, do missions, work with students, live with friends, and see where God is going to take me for the next part of my future!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I could sit here forever!!

Just wanted to post some pictures from one of my favorite places in the whole world...the Delta at Sunset! I say one of my favorites because I have a hard time deciding between rain storms in the jungles of Thailand or Sunsets at the Delta...honestly both are just so amazing!

Anyway, I got to spend two weeks at the Delta this summer with college and high school is always a pleasure! Plus I get to wakeboard, tube, and sit on a dock and watch God's beautiful creation for as long as I want...enjoy!

Monday, June 23, 2008

I'm Back!

I am home in California...though I have not quite settled in yet...sleeping and eating still seem to be a problem, but that will go away soon enough!

I want to start this part off with a quote from a book I was reading while I was in Bangladesh...

"'The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die,' he said, laying his hand warmly on Mortneson's own. 'Doctor Greg, you must make time to share three cups of tea. We may be undeducated. But we are not stupid. We have lived and survided here for a long time.
...Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them." -Three Cups of Tea, Mortenson, p. 150)

This quote speaks volumes of the lessons God has taught me over the last several years of travels and continued to teach me (quite literally in regards to sitting down and having tea) on this trip to Bangladesh.

As I mentioned in the last entry we were suppossed to start officially working on building, but of course things changed. We left the hotel early and drove for an hour an a half to the World Vision Office in the area we would be working in. Upon our arrival we were served coffee, biscuits and mango (let me tell you the mango is amazing here!). We also were briefed, in a little more detail, about the families we would be helping and what our time in Bhanaderia looked like. At the end of the meeting we were informed that we would not begin construction that day because the supplies had not arrived from Dhaka. So we went to the village to meet the reaminder of the families...or so we thought. Upond our arrival we walked out to a clay foundation (raised) and we were introduced to a widow and her mother whose home was completely destroyed by the Cyclone...i nfact all that was left was a pile of debris that had most likely been sitting around for the last 7 months. Then we were told to work and clear away the debris. The team went to work-sweating incessently. In the process many frogs, centipeds (which a woman crushed with the heal of her bare foot, cockroaches, and large spiders came out of hiding. The villagers just laughed at us. I was able to bond with some of the children by taking their picture and showing them the picture on my digital camera. The children interacted with us by giving us beautiful flowers-which we proudly wear in our hair. After about an hour and a half we had cleared the site and we headed back for lunch at the Office and then drove back to the hotel to get ready for church.

On Monday morning we headed out to the villages and really got to do some work. The supplies began arriving to the village. The measurements for the home were taken and three foot deep holes were dug by hand (and coconut shell) for the concrete pillars that would serve as the supports for the first home. During the afternoon some of the team continue work on the first home, while the rest of the team started demolition on the second site. Some of the orginal home was still standing and the woman was still living in it so we had to clean it out and then tear it down. Once again...the big critters came out, by this point I was so over them it didn't even bother me anymore! By the end of the day the first home had a frame and the second home was measured and ready to get going the next morning. After a long day of work we were ready to go home, but it was time for tea. So we were invited into one of the villager's homes and we had tea (which by the way is amazing here!) and biscuits in our very sweaty clothing...I am sure we all smelled wonderful.

Tuesday was very similar to Monday. The team was working in groups on several sites. One group continued working on the first home by helping put the tin roof on. The second group dug holes for the supports at the second home. And the third group...well we got to deconstruct a clay home! Cockroaches, termites and rats!! It was actually pretty fun! At 11:30 am it was time for tea and then we headed to lunch. After lunch we continue work on our sites. The Third group used the clay from the demolished home to level out the foundation for the new home. Around 5pm it was time for another round of tea and then we went back to the hotel.

Wednesday was very simliar to the two days previous...continued worked on the different sites. Late in the afternoon it began to pour! The ground turned into a super slippery mess! Working became almost impossible and walking...well, I didn't fall but I came pretty was funny! We finished the first home on Wednesday which was great timing since it was my last day down in the village. It was really unreal to be handing over a brand new home to this family...there are really no words to describe it!

On Thursday morning my boss and I left for Dhaka. The trip was normal until we stopped at a dock. I thought we were going to put our van on a ferry like before, but we quickly found out that our driver was staying on this side of the river and our host was waiting on the other side of the river for us. So, to get to the other side of the river we had to hire a speed boat to give us a ride. I was so excited (though our hosts and several other people have told us how "dangerous" this is)! The boats were not anything super amazing, but they were we hopped in! All I could think was...I should be wakeboarding right now...but the ride was incredible! We got to the other side and they pulled the boat up to the muddy side of the river and we had to hop out with all our luggage...we really stuck out! After about another 2 1/2 hours we were back at our hostel in Dhaka (about 1 1/2 hours of that was stuck in traffic in Dhaka...LA traffic has nothing on traffic in Dhaka!). That evening we had one last dinner with our host family and then I was headed to the airport for my 1:30 am flight to Hong Kong. Thankfully all my flights were failry on time and I got home on Friday afternoon as scheduled!

Adjusting to time differences, food, and life have been a little easier this time around...though I am still tending to wake up at 3 am and not being able to go to sleep!

So Bangladesh...I am still processing! It is beautiful, hot, crowded, and definitely a place that I have been blessed to get to serve! I am thankful to all of you for your prayers and support as I continue to explore what God has in store for me all over the world as I continue to chase after Him and His heart for the world!

Friday, June 13, 2008

I made it to Bangladesh!!

Hello from Bangladesh!! We finally made it!

Our flight from Hong Kong to Bangladesh was very interesting. Since the airline we were going to fly to Dhaka only has 2 flights a week from Hong Kong, we were put on a flight with the Bengali national airline. There were about 50 people on the flight (and it was a very large plane!) at least we got to sleep on the flight. Though there were other Americans on the plane, my boss and I were the only ones aboard who were not of Bengali descent...let's just say my height and skin color truly make me stand out. Alot of the passengers were very curious why we wanted to go to Bangladesh, it was wonderful to be able to tell them that we were going to help with the Cyclone Relief.

We arrived in Bangladesh at 2:30 AM and were greeted by our host. It was raining when we arrived. We drove directly to our hostel in Dhaka City. On the drive, my heart was just opened to the need of these people...this country is definitely one of the world's poorest. The city is chaotically beautiful...extremely crowded, polluted, loud and hot...but the people are beautiful and wonderful. The country is predominately Muslim...only about 1% there is great need there also.

On Tuesday we were able to spend time with the team from APU and fellowship in our host families home. (The team had just arrived from India the day before) We spent the day getting supplies for our trip down south and trying to recover from jet lag. Our host family and all the people we have meet from World Vision and local churches have been incredibly hospitable. We are always invited in for tea and biscuits (still so much English influence here) and conversation.

On Wednesday we had a 6 hour drive down to Barisol. Driving here is an adventure! One of the most interesting parts of our journey was a 20 minute ferry ride across a river. We had to stay in our vans because it was not safe for us to get out. It was incredibly hot in the van, but it was very memorable!

On Thursday we drove about an hour to the village we are going to be building the homes in. (We are staying in the city during our time here instead of the village) We got to meet 3 of the 10 families...thank the Lord for World Vision and all they do! The village we are working in was not completely destroyed (it is about 40 kilometers from the coast), but there was a lot of damage to roofs (completely gone) and walls (trees falling). There has been absolutely no relief in this village (or area) due to the lack of "severity" of their circumstances. The families we met truly are the least of the "least of these." One of the families is living out of their little kitchen area of their home, the dad has gastric cancer and cannot work, and one of their three children is mute. Another family is composed of 1 woman who has no one to take care of her...she literally has nothing! The villagers were very leary of us at first (we are probably the first Americans they have met) but by the end, the little boys of the village were showing off by jumping off trees into the river and the women were trying to keep us girls out of the heat by welcoming us into the shade with them. There is at least one young woman in the village who speaks English very well, so we are praying that God will use us to be able to minister to her and to others through her interpretation. God truly has prepared this village of Bhanderia for this team and this time!

Fridays are the day off here (due to the country being Muslim...that is their holy day) and some of the staff that we need to begin have been delayed in other parts of the country (the World Vision staff is not getting paid to help with this is all volunteer for them to be assisting us...and we could not do it without them because they are our go between between the government and I said we are so very thankful for them!) So we went to a "pond" that used to be part of a King's home. I have never experienced heat and humidity like yesterday! It was incredible! In the evening we were invited to meet with the pastor and some of the deacons of the Barisal Baptist Church. They are partnering with us in building the homes by sending four of their college students to work alongside of us...we really are getting to partner with the global Church! These four guys have become inseperable from the team! Their English is wonderful and we are able to share life with them here in Bangladesh. After visiting the church we were able to also visit the home of one of the World Vision staff. We all crammed into their humble home and enjoyed laughter and some ice cream...quite the treat on a really hot day.

Today we are spending time as a team to prepare for the work ahead. (The team has spent 4 weeks in Calcutta, India and these four days have really served them as a time to rest and debrief before they spend 5 more weeks in ministry...they will not get any days off until they fly home).

Tomorrow (Sunday) we should begin work on the homes! My boss and I will stay until Wednesday morning and then head back to Dhaka so we can make contacts with some strategic people for further ministry here in the future...then I fly out Thursday night.

I spend most of my days intentionally hanging out with the students and being in utter disbelief that God is using our tiny Relief Effort to really do huge things 1/2 way around the world. This still seems like a dream and I do not really know if I will ever fully grasp why God decided to use me (and this project)...but He has and I am so very thankful that I get the chance to witness it taking place. I have also had the amazing opportunity to build some great relationships with our APU students and am looking forward to continuing to invest in them when we are all back at APU.

So...I think that is it! I am healthy and so blessed! I hope all is well at home!

Love you and miss you!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Stuck in Hong Kong!

Things don't always go as planned...that is what I continue to learn on this trip!

My flight was delayed 2 hours from LAX which was not a huge deal until they informed us that we were going to have to make an unplanned fuel stop in Korea due to massive that took over an hour....needless to say by the time we got to Hong Kong (11:30 pm) we had missed our connecting flight to Dhaka.

The airline put us up in hotel and informed us that our flight (on a completely different airline) would not be leaving until the next day at 7 pm. Which meant we had a whole day in Hong Kong. We (my boss and I) decided to enjoy our time here and do a little site seeing. So today we took a train to one of the islands and went to Victoria Peak on this oldschool cable car (wish I coud attach pictures, but I can't download anything right now).

We rushed back to make sure we got checked in for our flight and then we were informed that our flight would not be leaving until 11:30 they checked us back into our hotel for the evening. We just checked out of the hotel and finally got our real boarding passes to hopefully get on a plane to Bangladesh. Our biggest concern at this point is that our luggage gets there...our luggage spent the night at the airport instead of with us...hmmmm we will see if it gets there.

So yep that is it for now...I will try and update more when I get to Bangladesh. But so far we have heard that the plan is for us to head down to southern Bangladesh on Wednesday to start some relief work.

Hope you all are doing well!

Blessings from China!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Leaving for Bangladesh Tomorrow

I'm packed, ready and I really can't believe I am going to Bangladesh in just a few hours!

I have no idea what to expect! Seriously! All I know is that I am flying from LAX to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to Dhaka (the capital of Bangladesh)...from there all is unknown.

I am has been a long time since I have headed half-way around the world and not had a clue as to what to expect when I arrived. But at the same time I am so excited!

So just in case your wondering why I am going to Bangladesh (I know, I know...everyone still thinks I am going to Thailand tomorrow because that is where I always go)...well, this year I was the Graduate Assistant in the Office of World Missions at Azusa Pacific University. Somehow they thought I would be the best candidate to work on developing a brand new program called Global Relief. The goal of this program is to provide for humanitarian aid needs globally by engaging the APU community and working alongside the Global Church.

A student at APU grew up in Bangladesh and his parents still live and work there (for a prominent non-profit that I probably shouldn't publish here just in case random officials read this!! joke!!). Well, when Cyclone Sidr hit in November this student and I had a conversation and the idea came up that we could do some sort of relief effort for the victims. This idea turned into a full-fledged semester long, campus wide fundraising campaign to build houses for those who no longer had one.

Throughout the semester we had almost every student life office on campus get involved (which is amazing!) and we raised over $6,000 (or approximately 10 houses) for the victims of Cyclone Sidr. The amount is not what I had hoped for, but I know it is just the beginning of a program that has the ability to change lives.

So what am I doing in Bangladesh? That is the question even I am asking...but I will have the answer very very soon (oh in about 48 hours when I arrive in this new foreign land). For sure we know that the supplies are on their way from Dhaka to the relief effort site...that was probably one of the most amazing emails I know that the money was actually going to work on the other side of the world. While in Bangladesh we are more than likely going down to the relief site (with a team from APU...students that have been overseas for over a month) and hopefully getting to help do some construction. We are also more than likely going to do just about anything we are asked to do (which is very exciting) and meeting lots of people and sharing the TRUE reason we are show some LOVE!!!

So yep, that's it! I will try and update you from Bangladesh and post some pictures...but just not too sure if I will even be able to get anywhere near somewhere that has internet access. But I will for sure post stuff when I get home!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Washer & Dryer Saga

So, I am starting this blog and the first thing I am going to write about is my washer and sad is that? Anyway, my hope is that through this blog all the people I know can stay updated about my life as I experience it.

So the saga of the washer and dryer...

Let me preface this by saying that I promise I have done my laundry in the last three weeks (I just had to go to my parents house to do it!)

So four weeks ago we had a note posted on our door by the maintance people of our apartment complex, which is now in the hands of the school I attend (I am going to try and keep their name out of it because I work for them!), that our water was going to be shut off for two days the following week. Inconvient yes, but okay, at least we had some warning. The next day we had another note posted on our door that during a two week period there would be people entering our apartment to do some repairs required by the city. No big deal right? They had come in to do repairs before.

Well, the next Monday morning at 8 am there is a knock at our door. My roommate answered it and a contractor walks into our apartment and begins to tell us about how they need to take the washer and dryer out of our apartment, knock a giant hole in our laundry room wall, rip out all the shelving, and redo a bunch of plumbing. All of this was news to us! He told us that if we wanted to make some phone calls and try to stop the whole process we were free to, so we asked him to wait while we tried to figure out what was going on.

My roommate made some calls and asked very nicely if this could wait about 20 days until we moved out of the apartment (we have to leave because all the undergrad students are going to be living here next year). But, every office she called told us they had no control over the situation and there was nothing we could do about it. So we cleaned all of our cleaning supplies out of the laundry room and moved them to the living room (super convient) and in came the workers! By Monday afternoon we had a 4 foot wide by 3 foot high hole in our wall (we could see the adjacent apartment....thank goodness no one is living there right now) and a washer and dryer out on our balcony.

That night it rained on our washer and dryer. I honestly didn't think much about it...but just wait the rain will defintely come into play later!

So Tuesday and Wednesday we didn't have running water from 8 in the morning until 5 at night and men were in and out of our apartment with all sorts of equipment. The best part was one of my roommates (Monica) was getting ready to leave for the entire summer on a mission trip and she really needed to do some laundry, but she couldn't! By Friday there was still a big hole in our wall, that was nicely covered up by a piece of plywood. Over the weekend no work was done (obviously) so I took home ALL my laundry to my parents and did as much as I could there.

On Monday they re-drywalled the wall. Tuesday when I came home for lunch a man was in my apartment just looking at the laundry room. He promised me they would paint and have it finished by Wednesday. On Wednesday nobody came to work in our apartment. Thursday...nothing. Friday morning, my other roommate Alayna, calls some high up and they promise her our washer and dryer will be installed by that evening. Promises, promises! I came home late Friday night and our washer and dryer were still out on the balcony...go figure!

Monday morning I went to work and by the time I got home the washer and dryer were back in the laundry room!!! I was so excited!!! So I go to put my first load of laundry in and what do you know...there are all sorts of little flowers from the tree that hangs over our balcony inside the washer, the washer and dryer no longer fit correctly in the the laundry room (so the door to the room doesn't open all the way) AND there is now rust inside the washer! So I try and clean it all out. The flowers came out no problem, but the rust...not coming off.

On Tuesday Alayna called somebody and they said it was impossible for rust to be inside our washer and they would come and check it out first thing on Wednesday. Well, it is Wednesday and I haven't seen anyone come or go in my apartment and last time I checked there is still rust in my washer.

So needless to say I haven't been able to do laundry in my own home for 2 1/2 weeks! Ahhhh!!! I hope this story brings all of you a laugh, because seriously the more I think about it the funnier it gets. Maybe by the time I move out...oh in about 7 days...I will finally be able to use the washer and dryer!

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Amazing Basketball Season!!

Tonight was the last game for the intramural league I am playing in at APU...all I can say is that I am glad it is over! It was a lot of fun to get to play on a regular basis, but my team of old ladies (grad students) couldn’t keep up with girls who actually play on the school’s team...go figure!
Tonight we lost really, really, really badly...but I made a girl fall flat on her face (which is pretty cool!...but sort of mean!). In fact, the whole season we lost pretty bad...I think the closest we ever got to winning was being down by 8 points at the end of one game. We even lost a game to a team that only had 4 players...have I mentioned that we suck!!

We actually did win one game though...I probably just shouldn’t mention that it was by forfiet!
Well I bid farwell to intramural basketball at APU...unfortunately I won’t be able to play next year because I will have a class on Monday nights...oh well!

Monday, February 4, 2008

A 1/2 Marathon

February 3, 2008

Sometime after midnight- It starts to rain
3 AM- I wake up, too excited to sleep
5 AM- My alarm finally goes off
6 AM- I leave my is still raining!
6:45 AM- Get out of my car (it is pouring down rain) to stand in line to get on a bus that goes to the starting line.
7:00 AM- I am soaked! Monica, CK, Melanie and ANNA arrive, and we continue to wait for the bus in the rain.
7:40 AM- We finally get on a bus. I am wet and cold, but super excited.
7:55 AM- We arrive at the race; pray & line up for our start.
8:02 AM- We cross the starting line! (It is still raining!)
Mile 1- CK and I try to break through all the people who are walking the course.
Mile 2- I try to set my pace.
Mile 3- See one of my high school teachers and a friend.
Mile 3.5- Hill! (It really wasn't that bad, I just thought the course was flat)
Mile 4- Downhill (nice) And it's still raining and really windy.
Mile 5- The rain lets up a little.
Mile 6- The rain and wind pick up; I slow down.
Mile 7 & 8- Were really good!
Mile 9- I can feel the blister forming on my right foot from my wet socks.
Mile 10- Uggg!! I can see the pier (which is about where the finish line is) and I think through walking or jogging the rest of the course. I decide to finish the last 3.1 miles jogging...because I want to say I "ran" the whole thing. (Why I am so competitive??).
Mile 11- 2.1 miles to go. And oh was still raining.
Mile 12- I almost started walking...until some old man (who was walking and had started before me) talked to me and he told me it really wasn't that far to the finish line...and I had to run.
Mile 13- The adrenaline kicks in and I picked up the pace.
Mile 13.1- I FINISHED!!! In 2:50:36...not too bad for my 1st time. I was soaking wet and cold, but still moving (well sort of)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Intramural Basketball & 1/2 Marathons

What was I thinking?!?!?!

The 1/2 marathon is this Sunday...only 5 more days! I really can't believe it. In the last few months, I have gone from running 6-8 miles a week to running 6-8 miles each time I go. I am really looking forward to this Sunday...running with some great friends and raising money for a great cause (Bangladesh!!).

Intramural Basketball is another story! Some classmates and I (all grad students) decided to be on a team together (all the other teams are made up of college students). We had our first game was...alright considering we had never practiced, we only had 6 players, we had never met two of the girls on our team until game time, and the team we played had a coach! I bet you can guess the score!! But honestly...the ref was bad...the other team was fouling us like crazy! But all in all we had fun and hopefully we will get better as the weeks go on! I'll let you know if we win a game!!