Friday, December 21, 2012

I will dance, I will sing...

What a beautiful morning...

As I sit and reflect... Abounding joy stirs my heart.

Coming on this journey, I knew the dangers and the risks. I knew, and I accepted.

I think back... 4 years ago was the first time I traveled alone. I was pick-pocketed in Milan. My distress and my anguish back then was far more disheartening than I have felt in the past 12 hours.

How can I sit here and be thankful? Be joyful? Be excited? Feel honored and blessed? Truly ecstatic for the joy in my heart?

I could sing of this love forever...

"...from violent people you save me

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies.

In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.

Out of the brightness of his presence He reached down from on high and took hold of me

They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.

With your help I can advance against a troop with my God I can scale a wall.

As for God, his way is perfect...

The Lord’s word is flawless...

he shields all who take refuge in him.

For who is God besides the Lord?And who is the Rock except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.

You make your saving help my shield...

You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

You made my enemies turn their backs in flight...

The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!

...from a violent man you rescued me...

Therefore I will praise you, Lord, I will sing the praises of your name.

- 2 Samuel 22

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My God Is My Shield and Protection...

I am sitting in some sort of liquor market waiting on the police... They are next door talking to the man who robbed me. I don't want to see his face again.

I don't want to tell a story, but I want to praise my God.

I was walking toward the beach while the sun was high in the sky. A man approached me and kept saying "bolso...bolso" (bag...bag). Right away I knew he was robbing me, but I couldn't believe it, so I acted like I didn't understand. He lifted his shirt to show me something, and he started grabbing my bag. With my strap across my chest, I had a moment to reach into my bag as he was ripping it off me.

The next thing I knew, I had fallen onto the rocks next to the sidewalk that separated the street from the sea. I looked up and saw the man was running off with my bag, and in my hand I had both my wallet and my phone.

People began screaming, and I wanted to flee, hoping he wouldn't notice that the bag he was carrying had nothing of value. I saw him jump onto a moto, but for some reason it wasn't moving... Traffic was blocked on both sides and a crowd was gathering... The next thing I knew, there were police there and both men from the moto were on the ground.

The crowd summoned me and at this point I became hysterical... "tranquila... tranquila..." They wanted me to go identify my things and the men, but I didn't want to go near anyone. They brought me to a theater to sit and relax. The police came to talk to me, carrying the giant butcher knife that the man was armed with.

I am unharmed. I have all of my things.
My God is amazing.

I found 500 pesos on the ground, which I stopped to pick up as la policĂ­a laughed at me, and I got my first moto ride... A sunset, a bridge, an ocean, a breeze.

My God never ceases to amaze me...

"If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone." - Psalm 91:9-12

My first moto ride...

Friday, December 14, 2012

You're not an orphan...

On Thursday, we took some of our students to an orphanage as a service project...

She took about 1,000 pictures of herself :)

 I fell in love with a boy...
and he gave me the best hug of my life...

Funny girls :)

"See how very much our Father loves us, 
for he calls us his children, 
and that is what we are!"
- 1 John 3:1

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I swear I work, too...

Although it might not seem like it, 5 days of the week are spent inside the school walls, and it would be no surprise if you found me there on a Saturday or Sunday as well. I love what I do... I am not working to live nor living to work... I am just living and loving :)

Here are some of the atypical/typical events from the past... what month are we in? With very little weather change, I swear it could be August or December, and I could not tell the difference...

Less recently, I was one of the soccer coaches for our 4th-6th graders. We had a huge soccer jamboree within the Caracas international school community. The three international schools ("the British school", "the international school", and "the Christian school") got together on a Saturday morning for a day full of intermingled small aside tournament games.

Some time after that, one of my friends from Germany came to visit for two and a half weeks as he traveled around Venezuela. We went to Morrocoy (check a couple posts back) and saw things around Caracas. Lucky for him, he has now seen more of Venezuela than me! I'll get there...

Weekend Beach Buddies...

My dear friend celebrated his birthday at our house, which turned into an awesome dance party... Gringos got some great salsa and merengue lessons, and then we brought the soulja boy...

We worked on Thanksgiving for half of a day, and the secondary students served us a pancake breakfast...

This past week we had our precious Christmas concert...
This is 2nd - 6th grade

4th - 6th Grade

One of mine...

Last night, we got to visit a family's restaurant. Delicious dinner turned into a dance party... 
Food and dancing, this is my typical life :)

Another of mine...

I'm trying to play Christmas music, and remind myself that although I am still running in a tank top and shorts, it IS December!

For Christmas, I will be traveling by myself to Colombia for 8 days, then I will experience a Venezuelan Christmas. 

 ~ Desiderata ~

"Go placidly amidst the noise and haste..."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tiempo De Gracias...

I worked on Thanksgiving Day. It made no difference, because I spent time with my friends and family. We had a feast, and I entered into a food coma to awake at 4am the following day to head to Margarita Island.... ah, gracias...

We have arrived!

Buenos Dias, Playa

Don't think you can get away with no sunscreen here... mas SPF!

Dinner on the beach...

Great friends, co-workers, family...

Roomies and Friends...

Beach Food

 Sunday morning brunch... 
It requires a flower in your hair...

Roomies and Friends...

More Beach Food...

Friday, November 9, 2012

We Speak Americano...

This past weekend a friend from Germany came to visit, so three of us decided to get out of Caracas and visit Morrocoy for the weekend to check out some of the islands along the Venezuelan coast.

We left after school on Friday to catch a bus from a local hotel. Walking through the city with backpacks is an instant target of tourist. With a little uncertainty, we finally made it to our frozen cocoon of a bus. All of this country is tropical; however, it contains very limited air conditioning. The entire sum of Venezuela's need for air conditioning occupied this coach-sized bus. As soon as I sat down, I immediately entered into a natural state of hibernation.

I was awakened to de-board for arrepas before returning to the wintry cave on wheels.

Once on board, I fell fast asleep again into my comatose. All of a sudden I heard, "Mira... the national guard just boarded the bus... He's checking cedula's... Pretend you don't know Spanish." A cedula is the key to being a Venezuelan national - we have none. National guard = army attire, complete with machine guns.

Finally he made it to the back of the bus... "Cedula." We hand over our paper copies of our passports. This isn't going to cut it. "Get your bags and get off the bus." He walks away with our papers in his hands.

"....he wants us to get all our bags?! We're going to jail... they're going to deport us... we're losing our jobs... I'm not going to be able to buy a ring for my girlfriend!"

"Dude, chill.... what's the worst they can do?"


I sleepily make my way off the bus... ignoring all of the stares that are now magnified ten fold as the rare gringos who entered this portal are now being forcefully removed off of the vessel.

We enter the humid heat of the night... nearing midnight, we stand in the headlight glare of the bus in front of two national guards armed with machine guns who begin to yell at us about our missing papers: "Where are your passports?!"
"Ho-tel.... Car-a-cas"
"Why would you not have your passport?! You can't be here without your passport!"
"You cannot be here without a passport!"
"......Ho-tel.... Car-a-cas.... La playa....No se....."

The national guards are getting angry, frustrated.
"You are in Venezuela. You don't have a passport! You cannot be here without a passport!"
"La playa..... Venezuela a Venezuela..... Ho-tel.... No passport..... Ho-tel"
(If only I could fake my fluency as well as my lack of comprehension...)

One army official says to the other... "GRINGOS!"
With a sorrowful look I peer at our bus driver, he says, "Get back on the bus."

Oh Morrocoy... with all of the drama.... I can't wait to see you again (passport in hand).

Friday, October 26, 2012


Oy... Where has time gone?!

I can hardly believe that it's almost November...

Awesome Things:

Elections are over.


Trying to get warm before sleeping in the airport in Santiago, Chile 

2 nights at Casa Teresa in Porto Natales, Chile

Wild horses coming to check us out and drink from the creek

Sunrise from our camp site

 Reaching the end of the trail

Filling our water bottles from the lakes, rivers, and creeks

Checking out a glacier

Trekking with no one in sight as far as our eyes could see

Always noticing the small rays of joy

Indoor evening tea before tackling the extreme winds in the camp tent

nature's phenomenal beauty

Hiking and trekking in Patagonia's extremely diverse landscapes

Camping for 5 nights in a row

Living on granola, trail mix, crackers, and Fuch's bread 
(salami and tuna for luxury items)

 Having all of my thoughts turn into songs

Awkward Things:

Don't trust anything in Venezuela to go as planned. 4th-6th grade planned a field trip to an insect exhibit. The other teacher and I went to the exhibit to plan the event for our classes, but on the day of the field trip when we arrived with parents and kids, the exhibit had just disappeared. Hmm... so we took the kids to see Valiente (Brave).... T.I.V. (This is Venezuela...)

I finally got my health certificate... Immunizations, OBGYN samples, blood samples, fecal samples, urine samples,... I offered a finger donation, but they said it was not necessary. I'm not sure which was the most interesting:

OBGYN: live video recording of my organs (3-4 hours)

Samples: all given/done at school - community-building activity

Immunizations: wait in line outside to get a number to wait in line inside... waiting room (cement walls and partially outside) of 20 people, when they call your number, go to the table, get pricked and shot up in front of everyone in the waiting room - no bandaid - sit back down. Wait to get your paper stamped. Wait to get your name written in a book. Done, 5 hours later.

Trying to pick pasted dough out of my hair as I type this... We had Fall Festival today. Three students lovingly put me in "jail" where they got to dump water and flour all over me. Hm... time for a new strategy on this predicament... Cheers :)