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Boba, Becky and Barb

Hello, again, hello. . .

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote on here. I moved in with my sister and went on a few trips. I’ve been back in school and made straight A’s. 🙂  Only a few more years, and I’ll have a degree!  Despite all the good things that have happened, though, I experienced some hard times as well.  My sister was diagnosed with kidney failure (read her blog for more on that).  And tragically, I lost my best friend, Becky, to a stroke.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve been through. 

I’m still trying to heal, and my sister thinks that writing will help.  I’ve also had a few people tell me to document some of the memories I have so that her daughters can share in those memories.  Hopefully I can do these memories justice. 🙂

I want to start by talking about an obsession, and I only have Becky to blame for it. 🙂 I wasn’t much of a fan of Star Wars until college.  I went to College Station to visit Becky one weekend, and we watched all three of the originals that weekend.  I fell in love.  To make it worse, she also introduced me to the book series (which has now become extremely huge!).  When a Star Wars convention came to Plano on one of our breaks, we decided to give it a try.  And we were hooked.  We started going to them whenever they were around, and we ended up making a lot of friends with the vendors (which is so typical of Becky.  She could make friends with anyone).  We were also some of the very few girls who attended back then. 

So Boba. . . I don’t know exactly when the Boba Fett part of the obsession began (maybe it was my past obsession with men who were over confident, or men in uniforms), but I have great memories of him. First, there is Jeremy Bulloch, the actor who played Boba Fett in the originals.  We met him at one of the conventions when we were getting autographs.  When he asked for our names, he seemed to be amused at them.  He smiled up at us and repeated, in a British accent, “Baarb and Becky, Becky and Baarb.”  For some reason, Becky found this amusing and repeated it many times for years to come.  We enjoyed seeing him each time we went to the conventions, since he’s always there.

The best Boba Fett story happened at a convention as well.  We were walking from booth to booth looking at merchandise, when I happened to notice that this guy (we assume) dressed as Boba Fett seemed to be following us.  So we decided to test the theory.  We moved a few booths over and stopped.  So did he.  We did it again.  Same result.  Finally we turned a corner and turned around, and he turned the corner, then stopped suddenly when he saw us watching.  He inclined his head, then walked away.  We laughed about having a bounty on our heads and continued our day.  Later when we came out of the bathroom, Boba was walking past.  He stopped, walked up to me, took my hand in his, bowed to me, then walked off.  So Becky loved to say that Boba Fett was in love with me. 🙂 

Those memories were just 2 of the best Boba Fett stories.  I think that’s a long enough stroll down memory lane for today, though.  If I’m not careful, I could talk forever.  It was something Becky and I had in common.  🙂

The Letters

We recently started what some in Fusion are calling the Bible Challenge.  We all got a pamphlet that lists out a reading plan to get us all started reading the Bible.  The first pamphlet is called Letters 1.1.  This started a week ago, but I haven’t been on yet to talk about what I’ve learned. 

It’s funny how we are all reading the same books, but such different verses stick out to us.  Here are the ones that have stuck out to me the most so far.

James 1:3 “You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”  Lately it’s been crazy in my life between work, the start of small groups, a lot of loss, and more personal issues.  I keep wanting to just hide under my covers and make it all go away, but I realize that this is happening for a reason.  I become a stronger person, and closer to God, the more trials I get through.  Just keep swimming. . . just keep swimming. . .

James 1:13 “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.”  Don’t know about you, but to me, that just shows how strong and loving God is.  To not be tempted by evil would be hard for any human, but God, well, He’s God.  He scoffs in the face of evil. 🙂  And to know that He won’t tempt us to test us, that makes me feel relief. There is enough evil tempting us without our amazing Father tempting us too!

James 2:17 “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  We can talk and pray all we want, but if we don’t go out and spread God’s love by our actions, well, how is anyone gonna know how great He is?  Note to self. . . more service and love to others. . .

James 4:8 “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”  I have said it time and time again, unless we spend time with God, we won’t get closer to Him or grow in our faith. This is where our H.A.B.I.T.S. come in.  In my bible, I love what the side note says. “Do you feel far from God?  He hasn’t moved.  He’s exactly the same.”  It’s us, not Him, who pulled away.

James 5:15 “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.”  Although I know that, I feel I’m still lacking in that faith.  I sometimes pray for things, then immediately think, “nah, He’s not going to make that happen or do that.”  Hello.  He’s God.  He can do anything.

Tonight’s lesson was 1 John 2. 

1 John 2:3 “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands.”  Time for some self evaluation.  Have I been obeying his commands?  I know I want to, but I need to make sure I do.

I’ll try to keep up with this more often.  It’s a great way to reflect and learn. 

One more thing, I went to a memorial service for one of our church family members who passed away.  Looking around, I saw such love.  I love my church family.  I’m home there.

Love y’all.

I haven’t updated for a while.  I started blogs 2 times before this, but either fell asleep or it didn’t publish due to internet issues.  So, I’ll catch you up.

On Friday Shawna, Jodye and I went to 2 schools to see how they run schools here.  The rest of the team dug in and did projects around the church.  They covered the stage, redid the bathroom, and a few other things.  Grace, one of the pastors from the area, got permission to bring the 3 of us to the schools. 

The first one we went to was Greenhill Primary School.  The grades run up to grade 7.  The kids are really intelligent and well behaved.  They were excited about us visiting them. One of the class rooms won a contest for Bic.  They colored alot of Bic Men and hung them in a row.  The prize was 10,000 Rand for their school and another 10,000 Rand for the charity of their choice.  Pretty neat.  That class showed us some of their textbooks and sang a song to us.  So cute.  After the tour, they served us tea and Samoosas while we talked about differences in the schools.  It’s amazing how little money the government gives the school for books and supplies.

The second school was EPS Secondary School.  It runs from grade 8 and up.  This school was not doing as well as the primary school.  Even though the primary school didn’t have much, they were doing great with what they had.  The secondary school was falling apart.  Literally.  It’s a pretty old school that used to be really nice, but then the community started robbing from them and vandalizing the place.  One of the robberies ended up burning their library, computer lab and most of one building.  The building hasn’t been repaired since then and is just abandoned.  The community has gone so far as stealing the wiring from the school.  They no longer have electricity.  No lights, computers or anything.  The thing that amazed us was that while we were there (lunchtime) they had a building that the students were going to to hold church service.  They were shocked to learn that America (“the Christian country” as one lady called it) has taken Christianity out of schools.

When we returned, we hurriedly set up for VBS.  It went much better than the day before.  We had a lot of fun doing it, but it was exhausting.  After dinner, we did a youth service for the teenagers.  When I talked to a few of them afterward, they were saying how much they’d love to go to America.  🙂  They were all really sweet.

Yesterday we started off with our carnival.  It was so much fun.  They kids loved the prizes and games.  I worked with Magnus and he was cracking me up.  He was trying to do a voice like a side show announcer and ended up souding Italian.  The kids loved him!  We then fed them hot dogs and juice before they headed home.  We all wanted to see where the kids lived so Pastor Adiel brought us to Shadagashly (I probably butchered that spelling), the shanty town they live in.  It was very humbling.  These kids and adults made their houses out of any materials they could find.  They aren’t allowed to have a foundation or bricks (since they are not permanent residences per the government), but they take any rocks, mud, and wood they can find to build the structures.  It was neat to see how they worked things.  The kids help out with chores, like the trek to the water or laundry.  When we got to the water hydrant (the government gives them this and another faucet to get water), guess who walked up?  Asanda!  Go figure!  She was walking with her friend to get water.  We passed them and headed through the village some more but they still caught up to us.  Asanda showed me her house when we were passing it.  I only saw the roof, but it was weird to think she lived there. 

When we left the village, we had to go up a steep hill that nearly killed me.  But that made me love this team more.  A few were very encouraging and helped each other (mostly with jokes).  I nearly collapsed when we got back to the church, but I had to pull myself together fairly quickly in order to go to the mall.  🙂  It was like any mall you’d see in the US.  I bought a book of phrases from the 11 languages of Africa.  I’ve been trying to pronounce some of the words (including learning some clicking), but I get giggles from the kids. 

Last night we had our first service of our Purpose Driven Life crusade.  It went really well.  Dennis taught, but a few of us fell asleep during it.  Thank God he’d excused us since he knew how exhausted we were.  As tired as we were, the guys, Taylor and I still stayed up for awhile joking around.  We were laughing so hard, my cheeks hurt.  I crashed when I finally laid down. 

It was really hard getting up this morning, but we dragged ourselves from the comfy beds.  Actually, they aren’t comfortable.  They’re actually really hard.  But when you’re this tired, you’ll sleep on the ground and be comfy.  Service this morning was really good.  Matt Minor taught this one. 

We are currently waiting for lunch to be ready, then we are heading back to AE to nap/quiet time.  Tonight we finish the crusade with Matt Vogel and Dennis teaching.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow because we’re supposed to go to a drive through safari and the Indian Ocean!!!!  🙂

Hard Day

Today was pretty much a hard day for all of us.  Emotionally and physically.  We all had to be up early in order to leave before 7:30 to make it to the church for a meeting of the area pastors.  We had a prayer meeting with them.  Before we got there, we had a stop at McDonalds since the dining hall hadn’t been opened by the time we left (tastes the same as America).  Once we arrived at Entabeni, we learned a lesson from Dennis about using encouraging words instead of always feeling the need to let people know what they should do better. 

After the meeting, we had snacks while we mingled.  We had the samoosa’s that we helped make the day before.  Jodye and I were laughing at one point because they tried to give me a samoosa, but they weren’t positive it wasn’t fish.  So before I could eat any, I had to give them to her to take a bite of.  Lucky we did this because the ones they thought were corn were really fish.  The corn ones were good!  🙂 

After snacks, we headed to the orphanage to throw a carnival for them.  When we arrived they were sooo happy to see us.  I couldn’t decide who was more happy, them or Shawna who was literally bouncing on her seat dying to hug them.  She was one of the few in our group who went last year.  The kids were all so lovable.  When we had to leave them, it was heart-breaking.  Especially when Alex had to put down this boy who clung to him, and the boy started crying. 

We headed to a restaurant called Nando’s afterward hoping to raise our spirits.  We all had chicken, and it was pretty good.  After Nando’s we headed to the church to set up for VBS.  When we pulled up the kids were already there!  One of the first people to make it to the bus was Asanda wearing a little pink shirt that I had pulled from our clothes drive for her.  🙂  She was so excited to see me, and I have to admit, I couldn’t wait to jump off the bus and hug her too! 

We did our VBS, which was EXHAUSTING, and helped the kids get their snacks before rushing them off before it got dark.  It’s too dangerous for them to walk home after dark here.  We wanted to walk them home, but Dennis quickly stopped us informing us that it is safer for them if we’re not with them.  Plus he said something about bayonets.  Not messing with that. 

We had dinner with the church group and practiced singing for the services the next few days.  After practice I hit my wall (not literally, emotionally).  I got homesick and sad and you name it.  But I’m going to be okay.  I just need sleep. 

A few things that are different here. . .

The kids all call me and the other girls “auntie”.  I asked about this and basically that’s what they call the women who work at the church. 

The kids travel in packs for safety.

Most of the older siblings take care of the youngest kids in the family, and trust us completely with them.

The kids don’t wear shoes a lot.  They have them, but choose not to use them.

Okay, it’s off to bed for me. I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open.

Wow for a busy summer.  I have a lot to write so I apologize for the length.  But I hope you enjoy all the stories.

I arrived home from India on Friday in the late afternoon.  I enjoyed a relaxing evening with my mom and dad watching TV and putting my feet up (majorly swollen from the plane ride).  The next day I slept really late and met up with Erik for lunch and TV.  I hadn’t seen him for about a month at this point since he’d gone on a 2 week cruise, arriving home the same day I left for India.  That night my cousin Addison and my sister joined my parents, Erik and I for Snuffers and games. Always a good night.  🙂 

Sunday morning (after going to bed late) my family and I headed to the church with my bags.  Pastor Kyung prayed over the group for our mission trip, and we headed back to finish packing.  That’s when the fun began.  I checked my phone for messages and saw an email from Delta.  Our flight to Atlanta had been cancelled.  Um. . . okay.  I told Dennis, and he immediately got on the phone and, calmly, talked to many people to arrange a new flight for us.  They arranged a flight on AA, so we hopped on the bus and headed to the airport.  I wish we had a picture of the group pulling 2 suitcases each as well as carry-ons and jackets.  We were definitely not the most quiet group. 

As Dennis started getting us checked in, AA informed us that there was no way that we could get on the flight since we’d be landing when the flight to South Africa was taking off from Atlanta.  They sent us to Terminal E to talk to Delta.  We all lugged the many many suitcases (again a really funny sight) and headed for the next terminal.  We sat in Terminal E for about 3 hours waiting while Dennis (still calm) waited for Delta to make new arrangements for us. 

I loved the fact that our group was still in good spirits while we sat waiting for news on a flight.  We would break into prayer (individually and group) and even in song (Josh gets bored, he plays guitar) in order to be able to get a flight to South Africa.  I believe (as usual with these trips) that the Enemy really didn’t want us to be here since we were working against him.  Our faith paid out in the end.  We not only got a flight, but we had a 6 hour lay over in London.  Not many complaints from our group on that one.  🙂  God’s great! 

We headed over to Terminal D, and finally got to drop the suitcases off with the airlines.  After a great lunch and a long wait, we headed to London.  Our flight was not full and we were able to move seats in order to be near each other and spread out.  I was in a middle row, but it was with Harlan and me and an empty seat.  🙂 

London wasn’t too exciting since we weren’t allowed to leave the airport, but we got a lot of shopping in. 🙂  Then we boarded a new plane to South Africa.  This was great since Taylor and I had a 4 seat row all to ourselves.  We were able to kinda lay down to sleep on this flight.  When we landed in Johannesburg, it was a mad dash through customs to our next gate with all our luggage in tow.  We had people from the airport helping us with our bags as we ran (sometimes literally) through crowds and up escalators.  Our last flight was only 45 minutes, but it was nice. 

By the time we landed in Durban (39 hours after we left Dallas), we were all pretty tired.  We took a bus to Pietermaritzburg to meet the people at Entabeni Community Church.  They fed us (hot dogs) before we headed to AE (our camp type place) to unpack.  Mine and Taylor’s room is cute with 2 twin beds, a desk and a closet.  Very cozy.  We like it.  I decided to take a shower when we were done unpacking, but unfortunately our showers weren’t working and it was ICE COLD.  No one else in our “house” took a shower. 

We then went to a place called Howick Falls to shop and sight see.  Taylor and I enjoyed the shopping immensely.  The guy driving our bus (Devon) decided to take us around to other places since we had time, but most of us fell asleep during the drive. We headed back to Entabeni to eat and pray.  We had a dish called Briony (I don’t know how to spell it) that is basically an Indian dish with rice and chicken.  We were all falling asleep during the prayer so they let us go early. 

This morning we had a normal breakfast at AE (eggs bacon and toast).  Then we had our morning devotional.  I love the group I’m with because everyone has such a great sense of humor, and with all the flying time, we’ve gotten really close.  🙂  We headed to the church to unpack the supplies and get ready.  Some of the kids arrived and we sang songs and played games.  The kids were fascinated with us.  Especially our hair.  Shawna, me, Taylor, and Rachael sat on the ground while they braided our hair and sat in our laps. 

We then helped the church with a feeding line for the kids and adults of the area.  We had a dish called Samp.  Two little girls were attached to me by the end of the songs that they wanted me to eat with them.  They were Asanta and Chantell.  I spent a lot of time with those two.  Taylor had a little girl attached to her all day named Shashawna, but we thought her name was Cindy Lee for the longest time.  Not sure how we got that name from Shashawna.  After everyone ate, we opened the doors to pass out clothes.  It was insane. There was one point where 3 of the guys had to hold the doors (literally) to keep the crowd out.  

We didn’t have time for VBS today, but we’re rearranging our schedules to do what teaching we can the rest of the week.  We had a lot of time to relax in the evening after the kids left.  All the girls joined Taylor and Rachael who had been pulled to help cook and made a dish that I can’t wait to eat called Samoosa.  I’ll let you know tomorrow if it’s good. 🙂  We had hamburgers and fries tonight.  Yum!  Oh, and I got my diet coke!! 

We’re all heading to bed now.  I have had a warm shower so I’m all good. 🙂

I’m sitting at LaGuardia airport waiting to fly to Dallas. I decided to compare the differences I’ve found from my trip. There are many differences.
First I’ll start with the driving. The most obvious difference with the driving is that they drive on the left side while we drive on the right side. At first it was weird but the driving distracted me from this fact. Even though lanes are painted on the roads like in America, they don’t actually use the lanes. I guess they’re just guidelines. If you can fit your car (which most of them drive small cars or motorcycles) you can drive there. Even if it’s the shoulder. My drive to work was on a 2 lane street but there were always 5 lanes of traffic.
They honk all the time. But unlike in America its not mean and competitive. They are usually just letting the people around them know they’re moving up or passing.
Language- I’m not talking about the national language (although each area has a specific type of Hindi they speak). I’m talking about cursing. I never heard anyone say anything harsher than “shoot”. It was really nice.
I’ll write more later. The exhaustion is hitting me. Hopefully we’ll be boarding soon so I can close my eyes for a bit.

Shopping Day!

Today Shalini met me at the hotel, and we went to a place called an Indian Haat.  Basically they’re booths outside that people sell their products (a lot of times handmade) from.  We didn’t stay long since as soon as we visited a few booths, the heat got to us (well, mostly me).  The heat was horrible.  It had rained earlier in the day, so you’d think it would be cooler, but it was just really hot and humid.  Got some good gifts, though! 🙂

After the Indian Haat, we met Pragya at a mall nearby called Shoppers Stop.  We started in a department store there, then looked at the smaller stores.  One of the food stands in the mall is a corn stand.  They enjoyed that a lot.  We also had McDonalds there.  They don’t actually sell burgers there.  It was all chicken or vegetarian.  I got to see a lot of ethnic clothing that they wear.  Really cool.

We then took a rickshaw to Cannaught Place.  I had read about this online and couldn’t wait to go.  However, when we got there, it wasn’t as great as I’d hoped.  They were yelling at me the whole time trying to get me to buy stuff.  Kids were running up to me and asking me to buy stuff from them.  We went to a few places, then we went to an Indian restaurant across the street.  It had airconditioning so I was happy!  I had a milkshake, and Pragya and Shalini ordered this food called idly.  Idly is basically rice and lentils smooshed into little “bread” patties.  You then dip the patties in different flavors of chutney.  I liked them plain. 🙂 

I  bought a lot of stuff, but didn’t spend that much money.  🙂  Always good.  Since we are all used to sleeping during the day, we were pretty exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel.  I tried to stay awake, but didn’t make it an hour.  I took a few hours nap, but I made myself get up in order to get back on the night schedule for tonight.  (It’s monday morning here right now even though it’s only 2:15pm on Sunday at home). 

4 more days till I go home!  I have enjoyed my time here, especially how nice and fun the team I work with has been.  But there’s no place like home.  🙂 

I’m going to watch some hulu now. 🙂  Have a great day/night!