Saturday, June 30, 2012

...And We're Back!!

My sincerest apologies for our recent absence. We have both been busy and life is keeping us on our toes! We will try to do our best to give you a post every day throughout the summer, but please give us grace for the times that we miss.

I have some exciting news! I took my driving test this morning and...I passed!!! So I now have my license. =) Yes, I will be seventeen soon and got my license way after a lot of my friends, but I am just happy to finally have it. =) The driving test examiner was so nice and I managed to miss the thunderstorms. Esther, don't worry. When you go to take your test at some point, you will do absolutely great!

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So, I am starting a Bible study for incoming 6th grade girls on Monday. I was at Walmart today and was buying several journals for the girls. The lady at the check-out made a comment about how I would be doing a lot of journaling soon. I explained the purpose for my purchase and she was quite pleasantly surprised at my answer. She called as I was leaving, "This is a good thing that you are doing. They need guidance!"

This got me to thinking. Yes, they need guidance. We all know how miserable middle school can be. However, they aren't the only ones that need guidance - We, I, need it too. Can you imagine what would happen if we had no one to look up to, no one to ask questions, no one to work things through with? What would happen to us? I have found that I grow the most when I am being held accountable, when specific people are speaking into my life about specific people. Others see what we cannot because we are blinded by our own perspective. People can see things in us that we cannot see in ourselves because we are biased in our view. Perhaps we don't notice how often we get upset, or how quickly we tell a white lie. We need to have people in our lives that we can trust to pull us aside and say, "Hey, I think that you need to work on this." We need the counsel of wise people. Notice that I didn't just say "people", but rather "wise people." That is an important distinguishing factor.

"The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps."
~ Proverbs 14:15

"Without counsel plans fail,
but with many advisers they succeed."
~ Proverbs 12:22

"A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother."
~ Proverbs 18:24

If we listen to the words of the world, we will likely make some of the stupidest decisions ever. However, if we listen to godly, wise counsel, we will be much more likely to make wise decisions ourselves. We need people to speak into our lives. 

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Do you all ever have days when you just feel out of it? As in just way out of your normal attitude and personality. However, life has just been a bit different lately and I think that it is affecting me in strange ways. =P Although, you never know, it could be just the strange music I'm listening to at the moment, like this and that

Blessings,
Hannah

Prometheus Review

Big things have small beginnings.
Hi, my friends! Sorry it took so long for yet another update. I have been busy these past two days. It really isn't much of an excuse, though. I will work harder in the future.

So, I finally went to see Prometheus yesterday! I have been wanting to see it for quite some time now, and can you blame me? It looked, quite frankly, like it would set your pants on fire with its sheer atom-vibrating awesomeness.

Before going to see Prometheus, I learned that it was actually a horror movie.

Oops.

You see, my overactive imagination causes even some of the more mundane of images to haunt my nightmares. Why, the other day, I looked up pictures of opussums and I nearly scared myself sleepless. I never thought opossums were nightmare worthy. Seriously, Google them.

I also looked at the Parental Advisory Warning on IMDB for this movie, and I grew terrified. In reality, the Advisory Warning made the whole thing scarier in my mind. When I actually watched the darn thing, it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. Actually, it doesn't really qualify as horror. It's more gorror. It wasn't nearly bad as that manga I once read called Uzumaki.

*Shudder*

Here is my review of Prometheus!

                                                                        -------------------

While on an excavation in Ireland, two researchers make a fantastic discovery. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) finds a cave panting that is a replica of a dozen others. The only quirk is that all of these replicas were made by different civilizations, during different time periods. All of these paintings or glyphs show a person staring up into the sky, looking at a certain star constellation.

This constellation is way to far for our ancestors to have known about, but for some reason, it actually exists. And there is a moon, completely capable of sustaining life in that little cluster of atronomy. After jumping to some conclusions, the researchers decide to head over to that moon because they think that the creatures that live on it are what created humans. They call these aliens engineers.

After riding in cyrostasis for two years while the spaceship glides through space, the crew wakes up and sees the moon looming before them. It's time to go on an adventure to find if the engineers still exist, and if they can answer all the questions about the origins of humanity.

Instead, they find a parasitic lifeform that is doing its darndest to kill them all.

Myahahahah....

Visuals

Prometheus, simply put, is a beautiful movie. The special effects are fantastic and realistic to boot. The director, Ridley Scott, does not push the use of CGI. Instead, he uses real sets and characters as often as possible. This gives a tangible feel to the movie, which adds to the creepy feel. Let's face it, you're going to be more afraid of things that actually exist, than things that are drawn on a computer.

The engineers and the aliens are well designed. The engineers look very real, and human too, just with a ridiculously high uncanny-valley appearance.

The horrific aspect of this movie is the gore, and it is very well done, I must say. Any bodily damage delt is anatomically correct. Bones that are broken jut through the skin in just the right way. I totally almost gagged!

The makeup is also excellent. Anyone who has been -- erm -- violated by an alien gets some very realistic makeup effects.
Please tell me why I want to lick this three-dimensional projection.
                                                                                                   
The CGI is crisp and clean. Spaceship Prometheus looks awesome. I love its propulsion design. The 3D space maps that always touch my inner geek also make me squee.

Squee!

Characters

Prometheus has a relatively large cast of characters, but you don't get attached to any but two. Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and David (Fassbender) are two incredibly memorable characters. Rapace's performances as the shell-shocked and resourceful Elizabeth is great to watch. Her bravery, especially during a particular scene including a ceaserean, is almost haunting.

Fassbender plays the android David, an invention supposedly devoid of emotions, but for some reason capable of jealousy and intense pride. It is impossible to tell whether David is neutral, evil, or even good, and his is a refreshing character. Fassbender's performance is spectacular, and I have a crush on him. A very large crush.

Charlize Theron plays the nearly-unflappable Meredith, who is the boss on the ship. Her character is predictable and shallowly written. It feels like Charlize was wasted a little here. However, Meredith does have a few moments that make you cheer her on or just smile. Meredith is also very genre-savvy. She seems to know that letting a suspicious creature on the ship is a bad idea, and that flamethrowers are the answer to everything.

Idris Elba has a notable performance as Captain Janek. He is arguably the only comic relief in the movie.

Any other performances aren't notable, and actually fit typical cliche stereotypes. You can actually predict which characters that will die based on the character they play. For example, the arrogant guy usually dies first, and this is the case here. The only characters that aren't cliche are David and Elizabeth.

Plot

Plot is where Prometheus falls on its pretty little face. The premise is interesting, the lore is seemingly well-thought out, and this movie has the potential to be quite deep.

However, there simply isn't enough plot in this two-hour movie. Questions are in abundance, and barely any are answered. In fact, we get even more questions as the movie progresses. It leaves a certain mysterious feel to the movie, like we are only catching a glimpse of the major events of history. In this way, it's pretty cool. Still, the movie feels underdeveloped, like the director didn't quite know which way to go with the movie. At some points, the movie feels philosophical, and then it switches over to the typical traits of a horror movie. It's frustrating, but forgivable. The story that exists is interesting, although at many points it is predictable.

Sound
Prometheus has a relatively impressive soundtrack. No song in particular stands out. Even the Prometheus Theme is only somewhat impressive. The sound effects and the general ambiance are very impressive from the soundtrack is impressive, however.

I've always found sound to be the thing that scares me the most. I think lots of others would agree. It would have been nice to have the sound contribute more to the horror, instead of having the visual effects doing all the work.

Overall

Prometheus is a haunting movie that I thouroughly enjoyed. It is a peek into a fascinating type of lore, but only a tiny peek. You may feel disappointed for the lack of plot, but ignoring that you'll find the characters and the experience very enjoyable. It seems that the director was unsure whether to make this movie a phillosophical commentary or a straight up horror movie, and this unprofessional blend makes the movie's tone and moral abiguous at times.


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Don't touch the squid,

Esther

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ethiopia Travel Post - Part Three

Continuing on from parts one and two...

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July 1, 2011
Well we just performed, with them, the story of Jonah. It was a lot of fun. Kristin, ___,___, two guys, and myself acted as the sailors. Korie led two guys and a girl as the Ninivites. A boy acted as Jonah. Josh was the fish and plant (he is 6'7") and Keren narrated. It went well; we probably looked absolutely ridiculous! It was fun and gave them a good example. =)

Last night, Korie and I were trying to fall asleep and couldn't quite get there so we decided to make up a story. You know, one of the stories in which you say a word, then they do, and so forth. Well we made a story about Albert the frog. He lived in a pond far away from the land (after-note* I'm really not sure how this got in there, but remember that we were running on little sleep and it was about midnight when we were saying all this). He hopped across London and Paris. In Rome, he sang a song about home - and failed. (I don't understand this part either lol.) Then, a big bird swooped down and picked him up and took him back to the pond. The End. It was hilarious! We were laughing so hard!!!

We will head back to Addis this afternoon. Our teaching will be finished up in a little under two hours. I think that today has been the best day of teaching so far. It's been fun! =) I'm not ready to leave (remember that this is the same town that completely freaked me out on my first night there). I want to stay. I love the people. I love the community aspect that penetrates the foundation of the country. I don't like the food (very much), but that
s survivable. I'm not home sick. I love it here. 

It's sunny outside for the first time since we have been in Gedo. It brightens up the town. I need to take more pictures here. I want to be able to fully remember it. It is probably the worst place that I have stayed (ever), but it is worth it. I am no longer afraid of what might happen. I feel safe again. God is here.

Well there was a huge bee/spider/something (yellow in color) that landed on Josh's leg. He screamed, as did I. It was freaky. (Okay, so this thing was insane. It was like a huge bee. No joke. It was at least the size of half of my palm. Seriously. Carolyn, co-founder of Hope in View and a licensed M.D., said that it probably was a form of bee and could have seriously hurt him if it had bitten him.)

July 2, 2011
We partook in some more home visits today. ____ story hit me the hardest. She is twelve and lives in a home near the dump. She lives with her mom, who is HIV positive; her dad has passed away (which is rather an unusual situation. This was the only time that I heard that the dad died, in every other case, the father had simply left. I would say that a majority of the mothers in Ethiopia are single because their husbands have left. Commitment is something that is not really discussed.). Her mom remarried and that man raped her, causing her to become HIV positive as well. Her stepfather went to court and was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Both she and her mom surrendered to Christ this afternoon. It was a joy to be a part of it!!

We went to a cultural dinner tonight, which was fun.(Basically we went to a place which served Ethiopian food - like most places - and had cultural dancing as well). All of the girls on the team were given Ethiopia names tonight. It was a joy to be brought into the culture in such a way by our dear friends. My name honors me in a way that I do not feel as if I deserve.

July 3, 2011
We are at Safari Lodge in Nazaret. (The purpose of our time in Nazaret was to debrief from the trip, relax, and use the time to unpack what we had experienced.) It is very nice here, and there is even a shower curtain here! (Something that is very unusual. We only had one at the guest house, because Ron and Carolyn own it; in Awassa, there were not any, so it was a joy to have them here. They are just something that are not used commonly in Ethiopia.) Sometimes I think about what will happen when we get home. Will we forget all that we have experienced and just "fit" back into American culture? Will we apply what we have learned to our lives? How do we do this? What are some practical ways to incorporate these experiences into our daily lives? Will we shed it like a coat upon our departure?

July 4, 2011
It's the 4th of July, and I again miss it (at home). I don't really miss it, though the time with friends and family is fun. Right now, I am sitting in a chair in our bungalow waiting to go to breakfast in about fifteen minutes. The windows are open and outside you hear the buzz of people, the birds singing, maybe some monkeys (very likely), and a few cars. It is very peaceful here, very serene. I feel relaxed here. 

July 5, 2011
Our last full day in Ethiopia. I'm sad to leave, but I don't like living out of a suitcase. I really don't know what I feel. I'm not happy to go home, or excited. But at the same time I miss some of the comforts of home. 

We are going shopping today....I'm excited! =)

>>Shopping was a blast. We all had a great time. I bought a couple Bibles (it is a goal of mine to buy a Bible in the language of each country that I visit). I bought two, because I was primarily in the regions which spoke Amharic or Oromiffa. There are over eighty languages, yes, eighty, in Ethiopia. I also bought some scarves, purses, jewelry and a couple wooden animals (I collect wooden elephants)...some for me, but also some for gifts to my friends and family. I have included a couple pictures below to show you what the two languages that I mentioned look like, as well as what the typical food looks like. 

Amharic



                                         
                                                 Oromiffa


Ethiopian food - the bread-like item is called "Injera" and is eaten with every meal of the day.

July 6, 2011
Well, I will land in about forty minutes. It's hard to believe that I am almost home. Our flight to Istanbul was delayed about forty-five minutes, so Korie, Dan, Josh and I played Euchre on the airport floor. We played again in the Istanbul airport. 

I've seen a lot on this trip: 6x6 houses, lots of dead carcasses, an Ethiopian midget (it was awesome!), three dead hyenas, several hippos, devil-cats (seriously, this one cat was freaking us out...), monkeys so close that you could almost took them, and much more. The places are no longer just sections on a map, but real. The people are no linger just nameless faces or named people, but living, breathing humans. What is happening in the Kingdom of God globally is amazing! It is fascinating what you can see when God opens your eyes!

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Well, that concludes my travel memories. What do you think? What questions do you have? Honestly, I would love for you to ask me questions about this because that helps me to know what to talk about, and also to know what you are interested in. In my next post, I will probably include some of the language, so that you can see a bit more of the culture. Anything else I should try to include?

Blessings,
Hannah

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

If I Were a Superhero

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I were more fantastic than I already am. I realize that the only way to make a great thing better is to either cover it with cheese or make it a superhero, and since I don't want to be eaten by a rodent, I favor the latter.
So, what would I do if I were a superhero? I would save lives, naturally, but I must be practical about this. There is no way that I will get up to Superman's level of saving planets every other month. (Superman is cheap, anyway) I need to be able to do what I do in an efficient manner that allows me to be useful to the general populace, but also in a way that will prevent me from ever losing a love interest.

I've already lost Mark Wahlberg. I can't go through that again. I'm not Batman.

So, here is what I would do if I were a superhero!

I would never have a sidekick

Sidekicks make everything so complicated. Let's take a look at Batman. He has Robin and Batgirl. Robin made things complicated by either being a damsel in distress or by being just plain obnoxious, and Batgirl made things more complicated by being a woman.

Curse you, irresistibly tight costumes.

Anyway, as a superhero, I'm already going to have so many connections that having help from a constant source would be more of a hindrance than a benefit. I could get attached to my sidekick, so he would become a liability. The enemy will constantly go after him.

So my sidekicks would die so often, it would cost more to keep having them than not.

Let's take a look at Batman again. He has Robin. Did you know that there isn't ONE Robin, but tons of separate Robins? This is because most Robins have the pleasure of dying horribly. (Unless he goes solo and becomes Nightwing. Sheesh.) In fact, Robin used to die so often that one comic cover had Batman entering a room, see Robin hanging by a noose from the ceiling, and shout, "Robin! Not AGAIN!" I'm not sure why Batman keeps getting Robins. I would get a falcon.


It might be cheaper to buy and train an actual robin.
I would live in an area completely consisting of one story buildings.

This way, if my love interest or Almondo gets kidnapped, the villain can never drop him off of a building, because the drop wouldn't be enough to kill him.

Unless the kidnapper is Batman and he's counting on it.

I wouldn't have superpowers. I would be insanely rich.

Let's face it, having superpowers is actually a bit of a pain. They come will a lot of strings attached. Even Superman has his kryptonite. Rogue kills whatever she touches. Mystique's natural form is blue. Flash has to worry about running into walls all the time.

No, I shall be rich! Rich I say! And I will build whatever I need to save the day. We are getting to the point where technology can cover just about anything. I think I might have to marry Tony Stark to have access to these kind of things, but I can live with this.

The only problem with being rich is that being wealthy comes with being famous, so it would be easy for my cover to be blown. The only way to avoid this is either just give away my identity, or be so overt that I'm covert.

I would wear a practical costume.

I feel sorry for female superheroes. For some reason they feel like they have to wear outfits that give everything away. Wonderwoman wears a bathing suit, for Pete's sake. I guess that makes it easy to move around, but what are you trying to do, distract your enemies into submission with your triple D bra size?

My costume would probably be shorts and a suitable top. This way, I will be modest and not be flaunting my limited assets.

I guess I don't have the proportions to be a female superhero, anyway. Remind me to buy an inflatable bra and a corset.

I would kill my arch nemesis

I'm not sure why superheroes can't bring themselves to kill their arch nemesis. I value every human life, but certain people have wasted the gifts they have been given and chose evil instead. Some people just like to watch the world burn, and these people need to go.

I would stay away from science labs.
I told you, I don't want superpowers. Get me away from those things.

I would stay away from vats of toxic waste.

Hey! No! Why do you leave those things uncovered anyway?

I would stay away from outer space.

What lurks out there, I don't know. I'm staying away from it. Besides, I don't want the radiation from an exploding star to give me superpowers or anything. That would be awful.

I would treat everyone fairly.

People can hold a grudge for the smallest things. It's best to treat everyone equally, lest they go rotten and try to kill you. I mean, all it takes is a lab spill to turn your best friend into a bald, raging psychopath.

I would do everything in my power to make sure Gotham City never exists.

NEVER.

I would do everything in my power to make sure Metropolis never exists.

The buildings are too high.

I will resist playing games of chess with my enemy while the world descends into chaos.

Chess is fun, but it isn't that fun.

I wouldn't let my unclean elephant run rampant in the bubblegum fields.

Just . . . why?

I wouldn't get married.

The death rate of your loved ones seems to go up once you marry them.

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Well, there you have it. Sorry for this pathetic post, but I hope you enjoyed it a little bit. I've decided that being a superhero might be too much work.

I'm going to be a ninja!

Don't go swimming in toxic waste,

Esther




Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ethiopia Travel Stories - Part 2

Continuing on from my last post....

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June 25, 2011
Today we went to Pastor ___ church, where we taught about fifty 13-14 year old children about the story of Jonah. They acted it out and were wonderful! We played "Red Light, Green Light" (game referring to obedience, which is a key issue in the story of Jonah). It went really well! Then we went to ____ orphanage. There is a little girl named ___. She is about four and a half years old. She has Hepatitis C. If she doesn't get adopted and treated soon, she will die. Of all the kids there, she struck me the most (obviously not physically, just to clarify, but in my heart). I couldn't touch her since she is contagious. It hurts so much!

Later,
We hiked up to the almost-top of a mountain today. It was a bit of a climb, but well worth it. We were able to look out over Lake Awassa. It was gorgeous! There were a bunch of kids up there and one had a machete. It kinda freaked me out...One of the boys picked me a few flowers...so sweet! We went over to a hotel to be near the water, and a group of Africans like "pounced" on us and forcefully took a group picture with us. Really weird....!!! At dinner tonight, we were waiting for our food and the electricity went off, then on, then off, then on. And there was a crucified monkey. Strange. (It was really, really bizarre.)

June 26, 2011
We taught at the church today. We taught the 4-10 year old children about the creation story - with moves to help them remember it. It was so sweet! Then we went to the church service. Jerry (my pastor, who happened to be leading the trip) was sharing on Ephesians 4:11-16. It was really goof! The worship is amazing!!! There are so passionate! It is a great experience! =) We went to lunch and then to the orphanage. I loved played with ___, ___, ____, and ____. Them, we went to see the new orphanage (as of the time that we were there, they were going to move locations soon), which was cool. But we went to Lake Awassa and went out on a boat and saw about 12 hippos!!! Sweet! =) I got to re-email my dad at Hotel Pima, which was really good!

June 27, 2011
I am in the van heading back to Addis. I really liked Awassa. It was so peaceful. It's clean and the people are friendly. I love driving through the little towns. We are about forty minutes north of Ziway - our lunch stop. We are driving through a little town right now. I love seeing the people who walk everywhere and spend time just talked to others. 

Later,
Well it poured. There is flooding. We are waiting to cross a bridge while the water is gushing underneath it. Everywhere is like a river. I seriously thought that we might go over the edge and get swept away. We are okay now. I got slightly dramatic...(everyone was kind of freaked out - not just me)

Later still,
We went to ___ house tonight. They fixed us traditional Ethiopia food, which including special dished. They also "performed" a traditional bunna (coffee) ceremony for us. It was really sweet! I'm exhausted though; I really need to sleep! So....

June 28, 2011
We have hot water here! (Previously, the water was ice cold at the guest house. Basically, it is either freezing or burning, and the temperature fluctuates even when you don't move the nozzle. So either way, your shower is about 3-4 minutes long and you are huddled in the very corner - of a less than 3x3 shower - trying to stay out of the water.) And the shower leaks like crazy!! I spend a good 20 minutes mopping i[ the floor. We head to Gedo this afternoon. We will see where this adventure leads us....

Later,
We made it to Gedo. Which is good. We are the first and only guests at the hotel (they opened early for us and were still doing construction and painting while we were there). Honestly, I am kinda afraid of burglary or/and rape (Josh, who had been here before did not help this feeling in us - others felt the same way - by his comments)....Obviously, I am not trusting God like I should be. There are an insane about of bugs. It stormed, majorly, for a little while and the electricity went out. So I really need to trust God. 

June 29, 2011
Well I made ti through the night. I am fine. There were a few slamming doors, prayer calls (there is a good sized Muslim population in Ethiopia), and screams (also, perhaps a dying cow....Korie and I are certain that we were near a butchers), oh! and moths but it was fine! Korie slept about 2 hours; I slept 4 1/2 - 5 hours. We are all tired today, but the teaching is going well. Korie and I both kept waking up. At like 4AM< she was standing on the end of our bed with a flip-flop and a flashlight trying to kill a moth (she is afraid of birds, and, in her mind, moths are somewhat similar). It was pretty funny, though she was seriously freaked out. 

The teaching this morning went well. ___ said that it went really well. We have about 67 teachers. They represent 9 communities. They do not have Sunday school as of now, but have a desire to start. They are very active and participate. They answer questions and discuss. It's great!

June 30, 2011
The last day of June. The year is half over. My life is flying by! It seems like each individual day is long, but then you look around and it is gone. Life is so short. How we spend each day is vital. Time is precious. Time is precious (Yes, I meant to repeat that). Once it's gone, you never get it back. Each day that I like is momentary, w, when I compare it to the big scheme of life. We spend three days teaching in  Gedo, two days in Addis, one day in Awassa - all that we can do is hope (and pray!) that it makes some sort of impact. We may never know, but we have to have faith that God will carry what we are doing through to completion. 

Later, 
Well they started praying shortly after we arrived this afternoon. They felt and attack and there was a very intense time of prayer for about forty minutes. I got the chills (feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit) every once in a while. Right now, CJ is talking about learning techniques for ages 13-16.

The days that we teach are usually very uneventful. There is not much to tell about sitting in a chair for 6 hours. =( It's hard to look beyond the dreariness of today to see the success of the future. 

Later,
The little kids that live near the Bible school came inside and worshiped with us today. It was sweet!!! =) I was so pumped to see the adults/teacher let them inside the building! (Children are not well respected in Ethiopia.)

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Well, I will probably conclude this mini series in one, many two, more posts. I hope that you are enjoying having me relive my memories. =) If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. =)

Blessings,
Hannah








Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dancing Queen (I'm Only Seventeen!)

What's up, my bros? I love you guys.

Anyway, I have been writing novel for most of the day (up to 27,000 words) so I haven't been thinking of blogging that much. So today's short blog post will be about my mad dancing skills.

I know what you're thinking: a woman as beautiful and as graceful as me can't help but be wonderful at dancing. I know what you're thinking: since I said, "I know what you're thinking" the reality must be the opposite of what I know you're thinking. I know what you're thinking: since I know what you're thinking is actually the opposite of what you're thinking now that I told you that I know what you're thinking, you're probably thinking that I'm just making really long sentences to confuse you.

You're right.

Back on the track, I have always been horrible at dancing. I feel like I have a sense of rhythm, but it doesn't translate well into articulate movement. I think dancing is a lovely art form, so it's kind of a shame.

But at some point in my life, I'm going to have to dance. And I have. I've been to prom and a few other dances, so yes, I have danced in front of the general public. You know that story in the news where an entire ballroom population was reduced to stone?

That was me! They call me the "Ballet Medusa"!

In order to tone down my horribleness, I use a very special strategy. Allow me to bestow it upon your face. You see, it consists of a repetition of non-offensive moves. I do them in a very special order. Here it is:

The "Boom Boom"
I put my arms out in front of me, and then I bring them close to my chest while also thrusting my hips out. Then I bring my hips back in and thrust my arms. I repeat this to the beat for several seconds before I do

The Angry Fat Mushroom
I hold my arms to my sides, and then I lift them up as I squat towards the ground, arching my arms to form what looks like a 2-dimensional mushroom cap. Then I reverse the motion so I am standing with my arms at my sides again. Of course, this can only last so long, so I then do

The Caucasian Mexican in the 1860s
I motion my hands as if I am putting on a sombrero, and then yell and point as if I am telling an African American to get back to my plantation. (To the beat, of course) But, you can only get away with this for so long, so then I do the

Hypo-allergenic Cat
I put my arms out in front of me as if I am carrying a cat. I put on a sad face. Then I bring my arms in as if I am putting the cat to my face, and then I knock my head back as if I am sniffing it. I then put on a surprised face, realizing that I am not allergic to the cat and that it is indeed hypo-allergenic. I then proceed to pet the air. Finally, I do the

Sprinkler
I stick my arm out as if I am a spray nozzle, and then proceed to make pew pew noises because I'm shooting aliens out of the sky with my laser cannon.

This combination has been pretty successful. Sure, no hot guys ask me to dance (As if that would ever happen) but I manage a very good "hey, I'm at a dance and I'm not sulking in a corner" facade.

                                                        ---------------------

In other dancing news, we were watching "Red" the other day, and my brother went to the bathroom so we had to pause. While he was gone, I suddenly felt energized, so I stood up from the couch and began reciting my limited ballet knowledge in front of my mom and my sister.

"Look! She's dancing! She's dancing!" my mother decreed.

As she praised me my movements got bigger and fancier, taking up more space. My sister got mad for some reason.

"That's not dancing -- " she said before I smacked her in the face accidentally with my waving arms.

So yeah, I'm dangerous.

Wouldn't want to meet me in a dark alley, huh?



May all of your children be able to have a sense of rhythm,

Esther



Friday, June 22, 2012

Ethiopia Travel Stories - Part One

Well, since I received the most feedback regarding my Travel Post, I decided that I would comply and share some of my travel stories. Just a warning - there will be crazy stories, funny stories, sad stories, and probably some boring stories over the course of these posts (though I will do my best to avoid incorporating the boring ones.).

June 19, 2012
Well, technically it's Sunday. (USA central time, it's about 3am) Our plane left on schedule. I think that we are somewhere over Europe. Where in Europe, I have no clue. It's broad daylight here. I don't feel very tired, but I know that I will be. The medication that I took didn't put me out for very long. I slept through the first meal. I woke up partway through and tried a bite of Korie's chicken, rice, thing. I could barely see it, and was likely about 75% asleep (after-note* I was more like 97% asleep). It would have been hilarious to watch. 


Later,
Well, I've seen France, Germany, the Alps, and some other miscellaneous countries. I'm pretty sure that I are breakfast over France. Fun! =) I couldn't find my camera for a while. But I didn't freak out. Well, not too much...The flight so far has been good. Right now we are over Bulgaria. We should land in about 50 minutes. Europe is beautiful, I can even tell this from some 39,000 feet in the air.


Even later,
We landed smoothly. Security in Istanbul went easily for me. ¡No problemas! =) I am sitting in the plane in Istanbul, waiting for take0off. It's hard to believe that in 5-ish hours, I will be in Africa, in Ethiopia. I'm so excited! I can't believe that today has finally come. It's hard to believe that just a little over three months ago, we have our first meeting - and God has shaped us into a team!


June 20, 2011
Today we toured the city. We went to Entoto and saw the museum and palace (note* it is nothing like the palace that you all are imagining. It was the home of the old emperors, but is not much larger that about three large, wooden/stone buildings.). It was cool, not spectacular, but good. We saw the old, very colorful Orthodox church up there as well. We saw some people bowing and praying - one to Mary. On the way back down we saw some boys who had some whips which pretty much sounded like a machine gun. Josh and Dan tried to crack the whip, it didn't work great. It was humorous though. We went to the Sheraton Hotel, which happens to be one of the nicest hotels I have seen. (It runs at over $300 per night.) It's shocking to see the difference between the two cultures. There is even a painted scene behind the pool so as to block the other view (of the shanties, so that the guests do not have to be faced with the poverty while they are relaxing). It was ridiculous! While we were there, we saw the former presidents of South Africa (not Nelson Mandela) and Nigeria, and a government official from Bombay. We were so excited!! =)


The hopelessness in the eyes of the beggars is devastating. It breaks your heart to tell them "no." There are so many people who need help and love. I was asking God, "Why would you allow a place like the Sheraton here and next door a hut filled with people who would have to work for years just to stay one night there?" And He said, "If they lived in a place like the Sheraton, they wouldn't need much on earth. But placed where they are, they need, to experience My love and care. You get to give it to them."


June 21, 2011
We started on home visits this morning and we are going back out in about an hour. I got to meet ____ (my apologies, I am choosing to omit the names of the Africans, just for the sake of ministry and safety. The person that I am currently referring to is a child that my family sponsors through Hope in View.). It was amazing! I went with Josh, Korie, and a few translators. The specifically told me not to worry about time, and to just enjoy it. Such a blessing!! =) He (the sponsor child) is missing his two front teeth. He held my hand and told me "I love you". He was so precious! His mom kept saying that she is so thankful and that it is only because of our sponsorship that he is able to go to school. 


Later,
Well, I got to visit ___ this afternoon. She is so pretty! Her mom is a day laborer and is, therefore, very this and is often sick. We did not get to meet her as she was working. I am so blessed to be able to meet them! It was such a great day! I'm just so happy! =) Little kids will run up to you and just say "hi" and to touch your hands. It makes you so grateful. It reminds you that all that really lasts is relationships. The relationships are what is precious. 


June 22, 2011
The first day of teaching. It went pretty well; we can obviously improve. I really like ___, ___, and ___. They are so nice. We went down to a field not far from the guest house (owned by Hope in View) and played soccer in a field with about a ton of kids - while avoiding cows. It was totally a fiend that you could easily sprain your ankle in. 


June 23, 2011
We finished the lesson today. The comments on the training were really good. We prayed together, and it was amazing! They prayed numerous blessings over us. 


I experiences the first feelings of sickness this morning. I think that it might have something to do with my malaria pills...I feel much better now. (Note* never take malaria pills on an empty stomach unless specifically instructed to do so by a doctor or on the prescription. Also, keep plenty of pepto bismol on hand.)


I think that we experienced that first trials tonight. Some of us, myself included, kind of got on Korie and then Keren played a prank on Josh. 


June 24, 2011
I am on my way to Awassa. It is a rather bumpy ride. We passed so many people just sitting, passed so many huts. We have so many people, adults and kids, out plowing the fields with two oxen and a hand plow. The country is beautiful. There are fields and trees everywhere. It's gorgeous!


Later,
We made it to Awassa sate and sound. The five of us (the girls) are staying in one house-like building (three bedrooms, two bathrooms, one living area), and each of the guts had their own little one-room "house". It's pretty sweet - minus the bugs. We went down to Lake Awassa and went out to the pier - which was amazing. We took pictures. = Just feeling the waves role over your feet just made me feel grace, love, peace, faith, hope, joy, patience, just wash over me. I felt God saying "I am here." It was so amazing. 


We went out to dinner at a hotel (pretty much the only place that we could eat because of food safety issues). We went to buy some water and bug spray after dinner and there were some kids who came up and asked us for food - not money, food. It hurt so much to tell them no, especially after we didn't finish all of our dinner...(some of you are surely asking, why couldn't we give them the food? The problem was that giving them the food could actually hurt them. There were many more kids around that just the seven or eight around our car. The other kids, or even adults, bigger and stronger and just as driven by hunger as these kids, would have fought them for the food. These kids could have been seriously hurt if we had given it to them.) CJ grabbed my hand afterward and told me that it was okay to feel the hurt, that it is Jesus's hurt too. At our debrief time tonight, we discussed helping others - when it's right and when it's not. We all cried a lot. But it was good to let go of those tears (and to share the burden that we each were bearing). It hurts.


-------------------
Well, there is part of my account of the first six days of my trip. The funnier parts are still to come - I promise. I hope that these re-accounts will show you some of the fun that we had, but also the hurts and trials that come with ministry in any context. It wasn't easy for us, but God is faithful. I did leave out some details in these writings. What I shared included exerpts from my travel journal, so I am not just relying on my memory. I left out some things for a number of reasons, but just know that I am glad that you are interested in my trips. I am more that happy to be able to share some of my experiences with you all.

Blessings,
Hannah



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ultimate Rap War

Hello everybody!

Well, I must say that our most recent guest post was a breath of fresh air. I really enjoyed it, and liked the pictures too.

So, my younger brother Ethan was sitting at the computer, playing some game about dolphins, when I broke through the door wearing a cape and said.

"YO BRO! I CHALLENGE YOU TO A RAP WAR!"

He turned to me, his eye squinted with rage.

"Sure, okay," he said.

So we began our battle. I've never had a rap war before, and let's just say that it gave me a little respect for the rappers that exist. Sure, I still hate them, but it is really, really hard to create a good rhythm and rhyme. The rules were as follows:

1. The challenger makes the first rap, then reads it aloud
2. The next challenger has seven minutes to come up with a responding rap
3. Then the other challenger writes another rap in seven minutes
4. It goes until we get bored

We stopped at I think five raps each. My first rap was terrible, but I improved as I went. Ethan maintained a steady force throughout the entire thing. It was an epic battle. If you are interested in viewing epicness, behold our entire rap war:

video

The entire thing is about five minutes long. In it, you can watch me fumble on dozens of words, crack up laughing, and make silly faces. Did my brother mess up while reading his raps? You'll have to watch and see.

If for some reason you do not like videos, here is the transcript of the raps here:


RAP ONE: CHALLENGE (ESTHER)

Yo, yo yo my bro
I issue you a battle
So get your butt in your rhyming saddle
come on and try to beat this
in just five minutes
 can’t beat me
can’t you see
the whole world’s cheering for me
Want to surrender?
That’s too bad
I find your cowardice pretty sad
so come up with a rhyme and then we’ll see
if you’re good enough to conquer me

RAP ONE (ETHAN)
Now that rap was hot-headed, wouldn’t you say?
And after that insult, I’m gonna make you pay.
After this rap, just give me the crown.
Since it is quite obvious, who is the clown.
Now it’s my turn, to give a verbal beat-down.
Now this rap’s just a tasting, of my rhyming skill.
Next rap I’m swoopin’ in, comin’ in for the kill.

RAP TWO: What was that?(ESTHER)
Are you trying to scare me with your little words?
cause I think you winning is pretty absurd
You’re like a peacock, strutting and proud
but all you’ll ever be is so dang loud
Give me a shout out
give me a hoot
cause I’m giving your butt the boot
Step aside, if you please
cause all your rapping smells like old cheese.
RAP TWO(ETHAN)
She dares to call me “so dang loud”.
When all she ever does is scream and shout.
But I’ll take that shot, and deliver a smack.
‘Cause I know all she sounds like is a furious yak.
Her raps make sick, they’re making me hack.
‘Cause when it comes to talent, all she has is a lack.

RAP THREE: (Esther)
I have a bat in my hand a sword in the other
no holding back although you’re my brother
your rapping is a mess just plain garbage
you rhyme so poorly your mother pressed charges
You think you’re Ratchet when you’re just clank
I’m taking this one straight to bank
No crying no sobbing when I say
It’s gonna be my rap that wins the day
RAP THREE(Ethan)
I was going to apologize, my last rap was mean.
But I’m taking it back, after that scene.
Insult after insult, can you do something else?
Your rap was so hurtful, it gave my heart welts.
It’s easy to insult, so I won’t stoop so low.
So I’ll give a praise, you’re a nice warm glow.
NOT!

RAP FOUR: (Esther)
You want a compliment I didn’t know you were soft
so here’s a little one I think you’ll like it a lot
You’re as pretty as mole
And smart as one too
You smell like rotten apples
and taste like them too
So maybe I’m mean
I’m maybe the Grinch
But I’ll cool off my raps when you clean off that stench
Are you kind of sleepy?
would you like a nice nap?
cause I’m sure you’re pretty tired
from all your poor raps
RAP FOUR
Now that was a cheap shot, since when do I stink?
Even if I did, it’s better than being mean.
But since that hit my heart string,
And by that I mean ouch.
Could you please quit insulting, and being such a grouch.
Since it doesn’t even matter, I could beat you on the couch.
RAP FIVE:
You try to hit it home
but instead you just strike
You drive into a cone
when you’re riding your bike
The captain goes down when his ship is sinking
and it looks like your rap is kind of leaking
you want to win but here I’ll tell ya
there’s no magic you’re not Cinderella
so let’s call it quits before the damage is done
because your expression is pretty stunned
so here I’m going walking out the door
until you call me for another rap war
RAP FIVE
You keep hitting me, with those verbal knocks.
When you’re the scared little kitten,
And I’m the massive ox.
Well I’ve had enough you, you hear me, that’s it!
You said I struck out, but there you sit.
Without a hit,
I think it’s time for you to quit.
----------
Well, there you have it! Our first rap war. Perhaps I will improve over time. I doubt it, but hey. What do you think of our mad rapping skills?
Peace out, yo,

Esther



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rainbows Come After Storms {Guest Post by Miss Raquel}


Life is full of storms.  Hardships…trials…emotional instability…depression…sadness…pain…

But just like after real storms…with rain and thunder and lightning…there is always a rainbow.

You know, some people don’t think so – because they don’t see one every time.  But it’s a scientifically proven fact that around any form of water source and sunlight, there is always a rainbow. 

When we go through a time in our life when we are experiencing defeat…pain…or sorrow, we cannot see the reasons for the storm, but when we come out of it, we always find the rainbow.  Not always right away.  God may decide to not let us see the reason for years to come.  But He ordains every little detail in our lives to happen for a certain reason.

Whatever you may be going through right now, remember to stand strong.  Stay firm in the LORD.  He is building you up through this.  Molding you for something specific.  Into a perfect design.  Making you ready for something He has prepared for you.

Amidst whatever you’re going through,  remember to look for the light at the end of the tunnel.  The candle in the dark room.  The rainbow after the storm. 



{all photos via Pinterest}

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Miss Raquel is a lover of words, beautiful photographs, twirly dresses, bowties, Converse, frozen yogurt, all things Western and romantic sayings.  She blogs at God's Daughter, where she writes on a variety of different topics.  Feel free to stop by any time and leave her a comment!







 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Collapse in Morals

I just watched the movie To Save a Life, and if you have seen it, then you will know that it is a powerful movie. Everyone knows that people play beer pong, get drunk, smoke weed, get pregnant in high school, cut  themselves, and commit suicide. However, these things take a different meaning when you have seen them happen. In our day and age, there isn't a high school out there without someone who is involved in one of these activities. Why? Why is it that our morals have fallen so low that we resort to such activities? Our lives are in a sorry state if we rely on these things to make us happy and to get us through each day. How many people around us are involved in these activities, yet we do not care to look and see? I'm willing to guess that each of us know at least one, if not several. The hard thing is, they aren't always easy to find. I know people who have gotten high and drunk. I know people who have had sex outside of marriage. I know people who have cut themselves. I'm willing to bet that I even know people who have considered suicide, but are too broken on the inside to speak up about it.

If you haven't seen the movie, I'm sorry, as I am going to spoil it a bit for you. We all know someone like Roger. We all know people who are hurting inside. We see the people at lunch who sit by themselves, who are laughed at and made fun of. Yet, how many of us actually do something about it? Most of us aren't willing to accept the ridicule of others if we happened to step us and defend someone. Our personal pride and popularity has become more important than someone's life. We have problems, my friends. Every day we see people like Roger. I don't know about you, but I don't want to stand at someone's funeral and wonder if they would still be here today if I had been a better friend to them.

So, what can we do to reach out to people and make them feel as if they actually matter? Comments would be appreciated. What do you think that we can do to make people feel as if someone out there actually cares? I don't think that we realize how many people are hurting out there. According to the CDC, the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24 is suicide. It is also the fourth leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10-14. That's disturbing. Many of these people are from broken homes. The divorce rate in the U.S. is currently about 50% of marriages. That is just sad. It breaks my heart to hear that. In 2010, 35% of high school seniors had used marijuana in the last year. According to Teenhelp.com 62.3% of high school seniors, in 2012, have been drunk, 30.8% binge drank within the past two weeks, and 3.6% drink daily. Drugs, alcohol, and divorce are all high on the list of factors which attribute to teen suicide.

So today I have a question for you: are you willing to set aside your personal pride and popularity in order to befriend someone who is a loner, so that you might be able to save their life? What will you do to make a difference?

Blessings,
Hannah

Monday, June 18, 2012

Novel Excerpt! "The Messenger"

Hello, my buddies! I'm now 21,000 words into my novel. It's going pretty well. The outline has really helped. Anyway, I thought today I would give you an excerpt from chapter one! It doesn't give a lot of the story, but I feel like it gives you a taste of the pacing of my novel. Each of my chapters are incredibly short, averaging about 1,200 words. Oh well.
My novel's working title is The Messenger. Here is the description:

Marcus Kites is a nineteen year old messenger who delivers top-secret messages for the massive military of the Balta Empire. After losing his family eleven years ago during a raid, he had cut himself off from most people, his own thoughts for company. However, when a message delivery goes horribly wrong, Marcus discovers that the message he is to deliver is an assassination order to kill the ruler of Katania, which would start a massive continental war. Marcus has two choices: to deliver the message like he is told, or deliver the message to the enemy Katania in order to prevent the assassination. Morals are challenged and character is grown as Marcus sets off on his adventure to do what's right for his country -- and his heart.

This story also includes a talkative griffin, sentient chipmunks, strange mushrooms, pirates, and a pretty young woman that Marcus just can't seem to get off his mind.

Here is Chapter Twelve!  Rough draft, but hopefully it's readable. Comments are appreciated.


Chapter Twelve

I bolt awake. My eyes are heavy and I have trouble focusing. My ears ring like the church bell: it’s a loud, repetitive sound.  Before I see anything through the pulsing haze, I smell something.

Grass. Wood. Dirt.

Nature?

My vision clears, and I see I’m in a forest. But it isn’t any normal forest. The trees are so tall here I can barely make out their tops. Their branches are at least fifty feet out of reach. The trunks are massive. The smallest trees have trunks with a ten foot diameter. The bark of the trees is all a blackish-brown, and patterned nearly like cobblestone.

“Crap,” I mutter. I know what trees these are. They are ironwood trees. And ironwood trees only grow in one place in the world. I must be in Ironwood Forest, somewhere in between New Adlin and Maritha. 

How the heck did I get here? And why the heck am I here? The last thing I remember is being on the back of a temperamental griffin, flying away from an exploding airship.

Airship.

My head begins to throb as images ram themselves against the confines of my skull. We were attacked by sky pirates. Where did they come from? That doesn’t matter. What matters is that we were attacked, and we lost. I slam my fist against the wood of a random tree out of anger, and instantly regret the action. Now my hand throbs along with my head.

Grigory had been killed. I saw it with my eyes. I wonder who else had died, who had suffered horribly. I can’t bear to think about it. Maybe most of us had gotten away before it was too late. There were five escape pods, and each could seat several people.  General Scarn had taken a whole one just for himself, the craven idiot.

I kick another tree and now my feet, fists, and head all hurt. Rage, fear, embarrassment raid my insides. I feel like I’m going to burst. What am I going to do?

Calm down, Marcus, a voice echoes in my head. I’m stunned because it is not my own. Take a deep breath.

I obey the voice in my head, sure I’m going crazy. The air around me is warm, but it feels like ice as it glides through my lungs, cooling my body, and finally my head. I feel better. I take another breath, and then another. The world begins to clear and I feel almost human again.

Okay, I need to get my priorities straight. I’m in the middle of nowhere, Sephryn knows why. Wherever that griffin is, it is gone now. I pat my side, shocked that nothing is there. My messenger bag is gone. I lost it when I fell off the boat. In it were the things I needed to survive. I still have my knife and water bottle at my waist. That’s good. If I find water I won’t die so easily.

I think of the package I was supposed to deliver, and then of the girl. That slave. She had taken my message and run away with it like a possessed cat.  Had she managed to escape before the airship burst, or did she burn up in the flames? Either way, the message I was to deliver was lost forever. I just needed to focus on getting back home. I have never traveled through Ironwood, and I have no idea which way to go.

I look up in the sky. The sun is high, so it must be noon. How long had I been out?

Something hard slaps me in the back.

I almost lose my balance, but I don’t. Skipping forward, I grab my knife and whirl around.
I stare into the wide eyes of Gray, the atrocious griffin. He makes a funny face. I think he’s laughing at me. I point at him.

“Don’t you chuckle at me, you bird! Where the heck did you take me?”

 He squints his eyes at me. He whips his long tail and wraps it around my wrist. I try to struggle away, but it pulls me close. Gray starts to trot, dragging me along like some dog on a leash. I consider taking a swipe at his tail with my knife, but then I see we have walked into a strange clearing. Gray lets go of me and walks over an expanse of grass.

I look at the spot, and in the ground, words have been inscribed into the dirt with large talons. The amount of writing is massive.

“Did you write this?” I say. The griffin nods. I begin to read.

Marcus Kites, the writing begins, I must begin by saying that your snoring is hideous. I could barely sleep a wink, which made me miserable. In other news, I have dropped you in northern New Adlin, on the border between it and Maritha. It should be safe here, I think. Although with your dexterity, I doubt you won’t get far without tripping. I am going to leave you here and look for Valerius.

“You mean Vale?” I say. The griffin nods.

I think Vale might have managed to get out via a secret escape pod before the ship blew up, the paragraph continues.

This still left a lot of questions. Why did the griffin help me and not his best human friend?

He told me to get you as far away as possible, so I did.

Oh. Leave it to a griffin to take something literally.

You better thank me, human.

“Thanks,” I say. And I mean it. The griffin might be a jerk, but he saved my life. “Are you sure you can’t help me get out of here?”

The griffin shakes his head.

“Why not?” I demand. His tail wraps around my wrist again and he draws me to a different scribble in the dirt.

Because I don’t like you, the writing reads.

Wow, he really planned this conversation out. I feel remarkably stupid. I don’t get angry, though. It wouldn’t do me any good, and the griffin looks really concerned for Vale. I would only slow down his search, no matter how fruitless.

Suddenly, an image of the girl pops in my head. Her back is turned away, her silky hair blowing in the wind.

“I wonder where she went,” I mutter. And I wonder why I can’t get her out of my head.

The griffin’s tail grabs me around the waist and drags me to another inscription.

It appears that you are stricken with a strange emotion. If it deals with a girl, give her shiny things. Chicks dig shiny things.

I glance at the griffin and it opens its beak in some weird goofy smile, its eyes glittering. And then it winks at me. It opens its wings and begins to fly away. The gust from his wings blows my hair and lifts my shirt up. As he soars above me, I shout a thank you.

It lets out a resounding caw that nearly shatters my eardrums. I guess that means “you’re welcome”. I smile.

Water will be my priority now. I won’t be able to travel without the necessary materials. I trip on some root that peeks out of the ground. I fall on my chin with a painful thud. I see a message scrawled in the dirt.

That caw does not mean “you’re welcome”, it means “good luck, sucker”.

I knew I had a basis for hating griffins.

                                                            -------------------------

Well, there you have it! Did you like it at all? I think it's going to get funnier as it goes on, but I'll be careful to try to maintain my inner goofball for the sake of emotional integrity. Once again, comments are appreciated.

With huggles,

Esther

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Insanity and Awesomeness of Youth Retreats

Isn't it great to have Esther back?? I certainly think so. Esther, I'm glad that you had a good move and that Daniel, Zach, and C (whoever he is =)) were able to help you. I'm sure that you will be able to become more skilled in your games of hide and seek as time passes and you become more adjusted to your new home. 

So, I had this totally awesome Wordle creation that I made for this blog that I was going to share with you...only I had a few problems in making it into one of the accepted files, so I don't have it for you right now...I will continue to work on it though. 

I'm sure that you all are wondering where I've been for the last few days, because I didn't post on Friday. Well, I was on a retreat with my youth group. This camping, lots of food, way more raccoons than should be in existence, worship, late night pranks, prayer, "sessions" (meaning Bible lessons, which are completely awesome), a challenge team hike, a challenge team obstacle course (I got the part that involved canoeing, army crawling, digging a hole in the sand deep enough to pull someone through it when under a board - sorry if that is confusing - and carrying/passing a crisco-covered watermelon -  and that was only half of it. Our youth group is pretty insane.), s'mores, talking about spiritual gifts, and super-hard ground to sleep on. Needless to say - although I just did -  our youth retreats are intense and insane. They are a complete blast. I have slept almost 15 of the last 28 hours just trying to catch up. Yesterday, Josh, Maggie and I woke up at 6am (EST) to a baseball game by the boy scouts at the campsite next to us. We had been pretty loud up until about 1:30-2am...so it might not have been intentional as a get-back strategy, but they certainly made no attempts to be quiet. 

So what was so important about this retreat? I'm glad that you were thinking this question, because I know that I would be if I were in your shoes right now. The theme for this retreat was "Aware". They wanted us to be aware of our spiritual gifts and that of others, as well as how they relate in the world. The seven gifts that we mainly talked about were the motivational gifts. These are the gifts that people are born with. They include: administration, encouragement, mercy, serving, giving, teaching, and perceiving. Everyone has parts of each of these, and each come with their own strengths and weaknesses. My three highest were mercy, encouragement, and administration. I expected all of these, though I, and others, thought that perceiving would be higher on my list. I guess that we all just saw aspects of that in me. =) 

Sorry that this is a rather short post...I have a lot more from the retreat that I could share, but I am a bit too tired to do so at the moment. After getting about five hours of sleep for two nights in a row, I'm still tired - even after sleeping so much since I got home. If you want to know more about the different gifts, let me know, because I can give you a lot of info about each of the motivational gifts.

Blessings,
Hannah