Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Thomas Family

Just thinking about and praying for the Thomas Family . . . Jon, Tina, Andrew, Kaleb, Kolby, and princess Sarah. . . wow do I miss them!!! They are serving in a country oh so far away, but right where they need to be!

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July in Guatemala

In July 2006 I spent a whole month in the city of Antigua, Guatemala studying the spanish language. Starting in January - April 2007 I was there again . . . Then in July 2007 I had another chance to return for a short 9 days. What happened in those 9 days? 5 clinics, 5 different villages, 1 orphanage, 3 round trip boat rides on a mezmorizing lake, 850 people given medical care, 115 salvations, saying "take this vitamin once a day" over 500 times in spanish, and a million smiles and thanks. Why do I keep going back??? If photos can speak a thousand words than you will understand by the faces in the photos below. Not a day goes by that my thoughts don't see those faces and remember the laughter of the children. They have captured my heart and I pray that I never have to let go - and that one day soon I will be able to be there again.

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Here are some of my friends from Guatemala that I got to visit with on my trip in July. There are also photos of some of my favorite places and volcanos. Such amazaing memories . . . such amazing people . . . such an amazing country!!!

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Kayaking Part 1: Our group

Ok, I've wanted to go kayaking for sooo long and I finally had the chance!!! We started out on the gravel for our brief lesson but don't worry we didn't stay there for long! It was an evening trip so we started around 8:30 and got back just before midnight. Halfway through we had a fun treat . . . but you'll have to read about that in part 2!

This is my housemate Jeannie in the front and another friend Rocio in the back. They tried the double kayak - but not me, I did all by myself and it was so great!

Here's Jen. We were waiting for all the members of the group to catch up. Most of the time the kayak's weren't so close together, but it wasn't unusual to be running into other kayaks. Thankfully I never tipped over!!! I was a bit concerned about that, mostly because the Chicago river wasn't know for it's cleanliness =) But I still got quite wet from water dripping off the oars - not sure if that meant I was paddleing wrong or not?

And Alicia.

Phil, Dan and Tara were also part of our group but I didn't get any photos of them. What a fun group. Yeah for Jen and Alicia going on this adventure, I never would have known about it without them!!!

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Kayaking Part 2: On the water

So, here is where we started on the Chicago River - nice an peaceful, not too many other boats out on the water - but we still tried to follow the rules of the water and stay to the right!!!

Then we get into downtown - it was amazing to be kayaking through downtown, the best view i've ever had!!! I wanted to take so many photos, but it was hard to get the camera out of the plastic bag, keep my oar from falling into the water, keep my camera dry, keep my boat from drifting, get the right setting on the camera, stay still enough to not tip the kayak and then get the camera back in the plastic bag.

So, once we got close to Navy Pier the water traffic picked up and we were in a traffic jam with boats that were much bigger than our little kayaks!!! Our rule of staying to the right didn't help us when the other boat was trying to dock on the right where we were sitting! But we made it through and reached our destination - here near Navy Pier!

And we made it just in time for fireworks!!! Our group connected kayaks and enjoyed sitting on the river watching the fireworks! Definately an unforgettable kayak trip - probably my favorite Chicago memory!!!
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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th!!!

Celebrating the 4th in Chicago can be so much fun!!! Well, technically this was the 3rd - but close enough and the meaning is the same =) I was able to go downtown to meet up with some friends and watch the fireworks from the lakefront. What a view and what a great fireworks show! But wow, the crowds of people are unbelievable! Here is the view in the daylight from our spot on the lawn - Navy Pier is there but hard to see in this photo.

This is my friend Regina - we're just chillin' and waiting for fireworks to start.

Here is the rest of the gang - Maria, Regina, Angela, Renee and Lawrence was there but wasn't around when I took the photo.

While we were waiting there were a few surprises. One was these globes that are all along the sidewalk that encourage environmentally friendly habits - very educational! Then, we were attacked by bugs. They weren't mosquitoes, but very annoying - people were doing anything possible to keep them away - jumping jacks, running, screaming, fire, hiding under blankets, waving things in the air, and still the bugs covered the blanket that we were sitting on, covered us, felt like they were in your mouth if you talked . . . very unwelcome guests to our celebration!!! The photo below was taken during this bug attack - and as a bonus there is a globe and the Sears Tower in the background. Nevertheless we survived and they lessened slightly just before the fireworks show started, so that we could at least enjoy that!
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Happy 4th Cont.

For some reason I couldn't get all the photos into one blog . . . so here is the best part, the fireworks!!! They were beautiful and choreographed with the Grant Park Orchestra playing in Grant Park. From where we were we could just hear the music over the speakers, but it was beautiful!!!

Here is a downtown before we met the sea of pedestrians trying to get home after the show . . .

This is just a glimpse of the millions of people rushing for the "El" trains. Every street was packed with people - you can see them in beteen the 2 rows of lights, it's unbelievable to be in a crowd that large and see so many people in one place.

On the actual 4th I was able to spend time with a friend and her family and friends at a cookout and swimming in the pool. As we were driving back to my apartment on the express way, there were fireworks going off in every direction all around the city - that was actually quite spectacular as well. Then we continued to see great fireworks from our back deck as people set them off all around the neighborhood and nearby parks, we had such a great view!!! Amidst all the celebrating it's easy to forget the reason for it - how thankful I am for my country and the many sacrifices that have been made for our this country's Independence!
Happy Independence Day!!!
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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Dumpster Diving and New Housemates

Ok, so dumpster diving in Chicago can pay off from time to time, but how often do you really find something that you need and something in good condition in a dumpster???
Well, this couch was in an alley near our apartment, somebody was throwing it away - and there is NOTHING wrong with it. And better yet, we needed a couch! The catch was getting it down the street, through the entrance way and up the flight of stairs into the apartment. I'm sure we could have won something on Funniest Home Videos because it was sure quite a site to see my roommate Becca and I trying to manage this . . . but all in all, it was worth it!!!

Here are my new housemates - Becca and Jeannie. They are great - we were out celebrating Jeannie's B-day

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Nottingham Girls Reunion

So, many of you know of the Nottingham Girls - you might have even had a Christmas photo of us on your fridge the last couple years! Well, we've all moved out of that great house on Nottingham Ave., but of course our friendships continue on! The other night it was practically a miracle that we could all get together for a brief time to reconnect during this time of change and transition for all of us! Ya, these girls have been such a huge blessing in my life and I am so thankful for each of them!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

the house with the red door

Well, here is my new apartment . . . and yes, it's often referred to as the house with the red door - and you can see why from the below photo =) It's such a great Chicago apartment!!! It's so crazy to look out windows and see the neighbors houses just a few feet away, to look out the back door into an alley and have to always wonder if i'll have a parking space. But the apartment is great - wood floors and beautiful woodwork, a fireplace, stainglass, large windows, a pretty street with lots of trees, a great deck over the garage . . .and a newly painted room!!! Most of all I'm thankful for my 2 new roommates - they are so great! Don't have a photo with them yet . . . I'll have to get one soon!

This is a photos to show the door that I spent hours upon hours taking the paint off of . . .can you tell which one? of course, the one on the left that still looks unfinished =) i wish that i had a before and after photo - it looks sooooooo much better than it did before!

A photo of the living room. What a fun place! Brick-exposed walls just add such a fun feeling . . . now if i can just get all my boxes unpacked that are in the living room it will look so much better!

Well, that's a glimpse into my new place. It's been a blessing to be living here!
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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Transitions . . .

So, I moved my stuff up to Chicago and into my new apartment on Thurs. I thought I was getting settled and was happy with the progress. Then, I realized how much I hated the color of my bedroom. I don't get it because this apartment is beautiful with great painting throughout the entire place . . .except my room. So, Friday I undo all the unpacking I had done the day before and get things ready to paint. That's when I realized that the beautiful wooden door and very antique door knob was painted over in this hideous color. Ya, that's when I got the horrible idea of stripping off the paint from this door. I thought it would be a quick, easy task. well, it wasn't, but i had to persevere once i got started because I only had 2 days to get this all done - so, 1 day for removing paint, the next for painting the walls. After many long hours I finally finished and still had a day to do the unpacking once again. Although, it's still not completed I got enough done to feel ready to start work on Monday. Well, kinda ready considering that I was completely exhausted!!!
So, that was my transition into the new apartment.
Now for the transition to this new clinic job.
How can I describe this job in one word? . . . OVERWHELMING =)
But it's that just how all new jobs go. You have to learn everything about their system, learn other peoples roles and everything! For me this is a double challenge because I'm learning a lot about prenatal care - and don't know much about this area of nursing. And any Spanish that I thought I knew seems totally inadequate to begin teaching prenatal care to the Spanish speaking patients. But the staff is great, of course they are the best in my department =) But throughout the whole clinic everybody has been wonderful to meet!
As far as I'm concerned I can do without any more big transitions for quite some time!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


So, everybody knows that Guatemala has the best coffee, right?!? Well, they do =) And after living in Antigua, Guatemala for just
2 1/2 short months and drinking multiple cups of coffee every day, I now continue to start every morning with a cup of Guatemalan coffee. Maybe that will change once I'm rushing off to work every morning, but for now I will savor each and every yummy cup! While I never toured any of the coffee farms around Antigua, I took a tour of a village called San Antonio Aguas Calientes where a group of ladies showed us some of their customs and traditions like weaving, marriage rituals, coffe-making, religous customs, and cooking.

This is a photo of coffee, it's all picked by hand. The coffee pickers are paid per pound that they pick, it gives lots of people jobs but doesn't pay good, and just imagine how much work would go into picking off every one of those coffee seeds.

Then, ladies like this woman from San Antonio Aguas Calientes have to de-shell the coffee bean after it's been dried and get it out of the shell. After that they use the same device as in the photo below to crush the coffee bean in order to have coffee grounds. Now, it looked easy, but believe me I made some coffee grounds and it is hard work!!! I'm so thankful that I don't have to do that in order to make my cup of coffee =)

Once there are coffee grounds the coffee is ready, but there weren't any coffee makers in this village . . . well, a pot, water, and a fire - that's all they needed! So, the little black pot kinda in the middle of the below photo has the coffee in it! These ladies also made chicken pepian, a traditional Guatemala dish and tortillas for our group from the language school. I did get to make a tortilla also . . . and it got cooked and I ate it, but let's just say that my tortilla didn't look like theirs!!

Life in a Guatemalan village isn't easy. These ladies aren't in costum, this is the clothing that they wear everyday. Making coffee or tortillas this way isn't a thing of the past, it's just part of their daily life. It is always a reminder of the luxuries that I enjoy daily and usually just take for granted! So, if you've never had a cup of Guatemalan coffee I highly recommend that you buy some and try it . . . I think that you'll love it! And you can support the coffee industry of Guatemala while your at it =) Enjoy!!!
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day weekend . . .

Memorial Day weekend was quite fun this year! Saturday was a friend's wedding. Then Sunday, well, first I have to go back many years. While I was in youth group we would go to the Dunes every Memorial Day weekend to do the Sunday morning campground service. For those of you who don't know what the Dunes is, it's a State Park on Lake Michigan. It's huge and beautiful with lots of beach area and lots and lots of sand dunes. So, some of these years of going there with the youth group we'd camp and go to the beach, mostly depended on the weather. Sunday morning we'd have a short church service, usually a skit, we'd play a couple bell songs and somebody would give a testimony and talk about Jesus. Well, this year the youth group was going, and I was in the area so I decided to go with them. We didn't camp, just went up on Sunday morning, but the service hasn't changed much - just different people! Then we played football on the beach and enjoyed the beauty of the sand and the lake, took some walks, and then made a campfire and roasted hot dogs, made "pudgie pies" and just had a nice time. It sure brought back many memories of all those years of spending Memorial Day weekend at the Dunes! Sometime that afternoon my mom and I left and drove down to Indianapolis to visit my brother Mark and his wife Jen. Monday we spent some time doing yard work, pulling out a fence, and a little shopping. It's always good to spend time with the whole family!

This photo is of Mark, Jen, Mom, and me! It was taken on the beach in Florida last thanksgiving.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I had an interview today at Lawndale Christian Health Center. I met so many amazing people and was very impressed by the variety of services offered at this clinic! They offered me a job working as a Maternal Health Nurse. It will involve a lot of teaching and coordinating of services for women who are pregnant. Now, it is just a matter of figuring out a start date and dates for orientation. I could start tomorrow, but with my car still in the shop that won't work out. This will give me time to pray about this decision and make sure that this really is the right place for me to begin working. If I take this job I can definately stop worrying about forgetting all the spanish that I learned in Guatemala . . . half of the staff is bilingual and half of the patients are spanish speaking. God knows, I just am trying to be open to His leading and guiding right now!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Car Angels

Wow were my car angels working overtime today!!! I was driving in the center lane of a busy 4 lane road and all of the sudden it feels like i can't accelerate anymore. So I quickly get into the outside lane thinking it would be safer, but then I can't accelerate at all . . . i see an entrance to a restaurant and quickly pull in but it was difficult because my car died and the power steering locked up. I was able to coast out of the entrance and to a safe part of the parking lot. I tried to restart it, it starts then dies, and this happens over and over again but I can't seem to keep it running. So of course I call grandpa! He comes to try and rescue me, but he can't fix it - the car has to get to the shop, but I'm not about 20 min. from home. Thankfully I was able to use my roadside assistance to get a tow-truck to take my car to the mechanics. And, my grandpa is so great, he stayed with me so that i didn't have to ride with the towtruck driver, and he even took me to the store to run my errand while we were waiting! It should just be a couple days and couple hundred dollars before I get my car back. But I have so many things to be thankful for, including getting safely off the road before my car died, and that it was today and not tomorrow when I'll be on the expressway in Chicago headed to my interview!!!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Mountains in Indiana?

Mountains near Guatemala City
The other morning I was especially missing the mountains of Guatemala . . .well, later that day as I was driving in Crown Point, Indiana I had to do a double-take as I saw what appeared to be mountains. Of course there really wasn't any (no, none anywhere close to Indina), but how thankful I was to see God's artistry as He had painted the clouds to look like there were mountains right here in Indiana. Not only did it make me smile and remember the beauty of the mountains in Guatemala, but I was also humbled that God loves me enough to give me even the smallest desires of my heart! Here are a few photos from Guatemala, I realized that I have lots of volcano photos . . . which don't technically fall under the category of mountains, so photos of those will have to wait until another day!

Mountains around Antigua

Mountains around Panajachel

Mountains around Lago Atitlán

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

believe it or not . . .

So, with a little bit of time off work right now I decided to set up a blog page. For this first post I'll tell you the meaning of the title, "In the Sand?". A few years ago I heard this saying, "We often write our complaints in concrete and our blessings in the sand". I want to be a person that writes my blessings in concrete so as to always remember them and my complaints in the sand so that they quickly disappear. God's blessings surround us daily, we have so much to be thankful for! What are you writing in the sand???