Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oh Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree!

Yay! I'm excited that we have a REAL Christmas tree in OUR house. That is all. =)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Having a cold makes me icky...

...but Tylenol Cold non-drowsy makes me happy, really really happy!! I have more energy than when I am healthy if only my head didn't feel like I was underwater. Thanks to my wonderful husband though, I am ready to go to war with this fall weather illness. I got my Zicam, Tylenol Cold, Chicken soup (tastes really really bland with the decreased tasting ability caused by Zicam), onion-honey-lemon home Spanish remedy and warm jackets and blankets.

If you see me outside don't talk to me though, because my grandma always says it is not good to talk outside in the "sereno".

I am interested in knowing what the few readers of this blog use as cold first-aid other than the lame American stay at home solution...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Athletics, Mets, Cardinals, Tigers, Washington, Adams, Jefferson...

We have been playing trivia for the past few weeks and it has been lots of fun!! There is, of course, the many obscure, random and maybe even inappropriate questions. A few amazing questions that we have somehow managed to guess correctly:
1. The sitcom movie the 40-year old virgin is handed along with a box of porn to resolve his problem (Answer: Everybody Loves Raymond, Thanks to Paul).
2. The artist that proposed to talk show host Rolonda Watts in 1997. I don't know anyone who has heard of this Rolonda Watts show... (Answer: James Brown, Wild guess by Sarah and Allison).
3. The president one of the guys in Fight Club would like to take down/fight.. (Answer: Lincoln, Great guess by Gaines, Aaron and Paul based on a small hint in the exact quote that made an allusion to the fact that this president is really big... I am impressed, I did now know anything about Lincoln other than he wore a hat and a beard. For a while I thought he was contemporary with Martin Luther King and even confused the two).
4. The Bavarian doctor that in ___year did lots of research on the cerebral cortex (Answer: Alzheimer)

Then there is the, we are geeks and know what things actually should be called or look like rather than what books say:
1. When exposed to a base, litmus paper turns what color (Our Answer: Pink, expected answer Red. Every book in the world says red, but it is not freaking red, it is pink, get it right!).

And then the misses we should know:
1. The one actor from LOTR that got nominated for an Oscar (Half of us believed: The guy that plays Gandalf, the other half: The golem guy.. aparently Golem was a guy). We answered Golem, and of course it was the Gandalf guy.
2. Where some former Braves played (I tried to answer this and failed to guess ANY of them). We only live in the city owned by Turner.

In general lots of fun. Lots of learning too. I am now off to go home to get ready for the next go at it tonight, hopefully we can improve our performance.

Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Jetson, Flintstone, Huxtable, Turner, Jackson, Missipi, Maine,...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Not everything is as it seems

This is a cool example of how perspective can affect what you see if you are standing in the right place:
Right Place
Wrong Place

For those that think the earth is round, you should see what it could look like if it was really flat and our satellites just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

This is wayyy cool!!! I say we try it out!! Any takers? We need someone that can draw and someone that knows how to do sidewalk chalk and someone that knows about perspective... because as for us, 3-D effects come in PCI and AGP flavors.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Shoelaces vs. Velcro

A long time ago, Patricia and I had an interesting argument - "Are shoelaces more dangerous than velcro?" Like most of our "arguments," neither of us really cared, and were merely using the argument to justify another decision - namely, whether I should be allowed to wear velcro shoes or not. I like velcro shoes - they are convenient, easy-to-wear, look nice, and make a neat sound when you undo them. Plus you don't get "untied" easily, and have to deal with bending down to tie them (as well as strangers telling you "hey - your shoe is untied" - even though technically, it is the shoeLACE that is untied - how do you tie a shoe?). You can even change the style of how you wear them (hmmm... shall I keep the straps straight or cross them today?)

Patricia, on the other hand hates velcro shoes. She thinks they look hideous and unprofessional, and should only be worn by children (who can't tie their shoes) and the elderly (who can appreciate the convenience even more).

So, of course, I "justified" my wearing velcro shoes (for the record, I don't wear velcro shoes anymore) by saying that shoelaces are dangerous - they can be used to strangle people; they can trip someone at the worst possible moment, sending them to their death over a cliff or by getting hit by a car. (Nevermind that shoelaces are also dirtier than velcro, as anyone who has visited a men's restroom with untied shoes will note.)

Patricia, of course, joined in on the argument, saying that velcro was more dangerous. Like many of our "disputes" we "solved" it with a google search. Of the two phrases "velcro death" and "shoelace death", whichever received more hits on google would be the more dangerous. (Of course, this method of solving our argument is not logical or accurate, but neither of us cared - it is enough to decide how to determine a winner of the argument. Heck, I'm sure we would even go for coin flipping on some of our "arguments.")

The results? The phrase "velcro death" received many more hits, and thus velcro was deemed more dangerous. (Apparently, velcro death was the name of a band.) Today, the phrase STILL gets more hits, although I don't see any mention of the band in the 1st 20 results. People just have a fascination with the word velcro and the word death, I guess - because none of the results seem to actually be a death caused by velcro.

Anyway, today I found a patent for a shoelace warning system. Now, I ask you (the reader), would you need a warning system for velcro being "untied"? I think not! Hence, velcro must be superior to shoelaces! =)

Note: This is the part where some geeky reader decides to search the patent office for patents involving velcro, and links to them in the comments... :-P

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

American nonsense sayings series: Break a leg

If you have ever spoken with me, you probably have heard my rant about inferior (compared to Spanish) American sayings. "Slipped my butter", "Break a leg", "Like water running down the goose's back", "Serious as a heart attack", etc., etc.

American sayings are very grim not to mention cryptic. I am going to get some "grub". I am not sure what this "grub" is but I would never guess you would want to eat something that sounds that bad. Well, they say that when in Rome you should do as the Romans do (again, w00t? do you mean speak Italian, wear a toga and complain about Americans? why would you do that??--disclaimer: I love all of the above including Rome, togas and Italians). This does go along with my belief that you should blend in the culture of a country you visit rather than disturb its culture with your presence while at the same time sprinkling some of your culture's goodies.

Then, it is not surprising that while I try to sprinkle my igno... I mean American friends with our superior Spanish sayings ("The donkey talking about ears", "Slower than a caraban of lame people"--a non PC saying, "Slower than a tar IV"--its PC substitute, etc., etc.), I too have assimilated and acquired some of these sayings and included them in my every day language. That is how often, I explain to my boss that he is "Preaching to the choir" (probably not PC), or how come I can be "dead serious" (I am not serious very often just to be on the safe side), see people "buck nekkid" (I recently learned that a buck is a deer type thing-- I also recently learned you don't say butt naked, but buck nekkid) and even "feel butterflies in my stomach" (which I am not sure how I feel them because I have never had butterflies over a meal).

The one thing I will never ever ever ever (I know, never say never) assimilate to the death wishes of the famous "Break a leg", regardless of where the saying comes from and especially after what happened last night:

Last night, after a healthy dose of music practice and TV watching (do not bother with this stupid show called Celebrity duet--gag), I pondered on my next steps. Really, literarilly pondered my next steps as my foot was asleep which meant I had to get up form the floor and figure out how to make the numb foot not tingle like it did. Since sitting down would make it tingle more, I remained standing, until the numbness was almost gone. That's when it happened. I noticed the plates from dinner were still sitting on the table. Normally Jamil does a nightly routine which includes putting stuff away, but yesterday I decided it would be ridiculuos since there was only 1 desset ceramic place, one take-out plastic container and 1 fork left.

I forced myself to be nice and take the plates to the kitchen. Then in the kitchen decided I should go all the way and actually throw away the plastic container rather than my initial "I will just put it in the sink tonight and throw it away tomorrow thought". And so it was that I proceeded to throw the plastic container away while still holding the dessert plate and fork thinking "Let's do it this way so that I do not dirty the counter with any food residue there might be on the bottom of the dessert plate".

And that I did. I put the plastic plate in the trash can but the lid closed back on it while it was still sticking out, then I pushed the trash further in (still holding the other two items). So I thought, I am never going to make it with my hands this busy. The great idea: "Shove it in real quick then retrieve your hands so that the lid will close quickly". 3 seconds later as I lost my grip on everything and saw the ceramic plate fly in the air while the plastic container pushed its way out of the trash, I realized this might have not been such a good idea. But, I was convinced when even though I could not see the ceramic plate near me my foot was throbbing in pain. Then I heard the plate bounce on my right side and roll and finally break on my left side.

Thought number 1: Oh! Crap, I hope I am not bleeding!! We only have light colored sheets!
Thought number 2: Ok, the plate only broke once.
Thought number 3: the broken side of the plate looks like a knife I better look under my sock.

And then, whoa!! there is no blood but my foot hurts... A LOT!

Thought number 4: Where are my toes?
Thought number 5, 6 and 7: That was really noisy, I can't really put any weight on my left foot, now why would Jamil not come see what happened, what if I had died?!

Moments later I say sweetheart loud as can be and there came my trusty hubby who looked like his thought process was something like:
Thought number 1: Patricia is making too much noise in the kitchen, I can't hear my WoW game.
Thought number 2: Maybe something happened I will call her out and that will make everything better no need to get up from the computer.
Thought number 3: Silence... that's more like it (this likely happened while I was trying to determine where my toes were).
Thought number4: There she is calling again!
Thought number 5 (as he entered the kitchen): Oh oh, I hope she is not bleeding (and when I confirmed I wasn't: I am glad she is not bleeding).
Thought number 6: OK I now have located all plate pieces, put the fork in the sink and the plastic bowl in the trash, can I go back to play.

But little did he know that going away was not that easy. I couldn't put any weight on my foot and he couldn't put any of my wegith on him without threatening to hurt my foot.

Patricia's thought number 8: I knew I should have gone on that diet!

So after many attempts and ideas, I made it to bed, propped my foot up and put ice on it. I have never broken anything, but this hurt more than anything I have ever felt before (other than those darn menstrual pains in the winter), which made me think it was broken. Jamil, who is used to me thinking stuff is broken, ignored this but suggested we go to the emergency room. I am known for exaggerating and I was pretty sure that pain was not like anything I have ever felt before but the way I figured, hmmm, well, there was NO WAY I would go to the ER unless I was dying. Let me say that again, NO WAY especially at 11PM or so when everyone chooses to get shot and stab themselves or have heart attacks and food poisoning. The way I saw it, I had never heard of anyone dying of a broken bone and the thought of a doctor trying to put stuff in place in my foot and paying a $100+ medical bill later helped me win my case.

In the end, I slept the night. I was able to walk around 2AM when nature called in the middle of my sleep. Mark (our good friend and WoW companion for Jamil) suggested this would indicate non-brokenness. My sleepy sister suggested if it was broken I would be in horrible pain the next day. I took my chances and although it hurts, I can live. However, I will never wish anyone to "break a leg" and especially not "break a foot".

Stupid American sayings!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Mmmm... iPoDonut

No, not a quote from a simpson's episode, but rather a cool non-invasive iPod accessory by Japanese iPoDonut company.

When I got my iPod, like many others, I got to thinking there were some things I would need. The first thing was a case. I figured I would hate to break a $300+ item in a fit of stupidity, and figured a case would help with that. In searching for such, I came accross other ways of protecting your iPod without adding to the thickness of it, one of them being the iPoDonut.

Most cases out there will protect the iPod pretty well, but forget the click wheel. This is where iPoDonut comes in. It protects the clickwheel from scratching and hand grease where some cases will not. Even nowadays when the number of cases that protect the click wheel are increasing, the iPoDonut with its glow-in-the-dark finish (and sillicon glue so that it does not leave a residue on the precious iPod comes in quite handy. If you ever fall asleep listening to the iPod, you don't have to turn on the lights to figure out where it is and move it away from that snoring heavy set husband sleeping next to you endagring the precious gadget or even just to find it in a dark foreign hotel room. And now when I fly, I don't have to roam through my whole bag to find out where I stuck my iPod anymore, I can just look for the green glow.

Actually, recently I received one of these guys for the iPod video (also available for the iPod nano) for review. I will have to say that the glow-in-the-dark finish which makes the sticky look almost white is a good improvement on the gray click-wheel look of the naked ipod. It also does not add any bulk to it which is good. It was pretty easy to stick the iPoDonut on the iPod. It does certainly change the feel of the click wheel however as it the material is less slick and more, I want to say porous. This is good, if like so many others you find it hard to figure out whether you are moving in circles over the clickwheel or some other part of the iPod. I have a screen protector with click wheel protector and so I stuck the iPoDonut on the clickwheel directly (I like that glue better anyway) and then put the click wheel screen protector on top to make it feel slick.

I do not know how that arrangement affects the iPoDonut's glowing ability however, because like I said I do not like the idea of having a $300+ item at the mercy of my hands with no cushion around it. So I came upon a blog where this guy who owns the same case I own uses an iPoDonut on top of the case because he likes the ability to find the iPod in the dark, but like me is afraid to drop the thing and have it shatter in pieces. I tried this out. As far as functionality this is great. I, however, have a blue case, which is not so hot with a white sticky on top. It is not bad at night when it glows (let me suggest to the iPoDonut guys to research blue hue glow-in-the-dark--and I believe iSkin blue glowing cases), but in the day it looks somewhat bad. I am getting used to the white circle.

In general, I think there is plenty of utility to have some part of your iPod glow without having to touch it as it allows you to find it without knowing where it is. I do not love the setup I have right now with the donut on top of my case, although it would be awesome if I had gotten the arctic white case rather than the blue one. The glue is also somewhat weak on the case's sillicon. However, since the donuts were not made to go on top of a case and it actually looks pretty good on the naked iPod, I will have to say this is a fun item (a little pricey for a sticker @$6.95 which includes shipping) that brungs back many good childhood memories and will give it a thumbs up. If you go for it, let me suggest you forgo the simple style one as it is just white (displayed bellow) and somewhat boring, spice it up with their designs from nuclear to bricks!

Here is a picture from their website (really accurate). I am having trouble uploading my own pictures to blogger, but will post my ugly guy on here when the problem goes away.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Weekend in Nashville

We went to Nashville on Saturday after much mini-golf, good chicken and rice and Hoodwinked on Friday. I will I could tell you how Hoodwinked was, but I fell asleep 15 minutes into it. My body is not made to stay awake past 10:30PM anymore, especially after much mini-go and good chicken and rice.

The trip to Nashville was not only good, but important as we went to see a cousin of ours (like 5th cousin or something, to put it in perspective he went to school with Fidel Castro, that's how old he is) who is battling lung cancer. Like every other Hispanic family, my mom and grandma have predicted his death day many a time now and it is not uncommon for me to get a panicked call to see if I know something because my grandma heard he was skinny or simply hasn't heard from me. I guess the fact that I live in the States makes me immediately knowledgeable of people who live in the States too. I am not sure what the logic is here, but it reminds me of the days when they would call Cuba and speak really loudly because they were calling long distance :)

My mom will be staying one more week, and this rocks!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mom is in town... Hooray!

We have been eating well. Sometimes she has cooked and others we have gone out. Regardless, we have eaten well. My babysister has tried tons of new food and everything new she tries she says it is her favorite. I am very impressed by the way she tries new food even without being expected to. She is not a picky eater like I thought. Maybe is the novelty. We took her to eat chocolate fondue and her face was worth $1,000,000.

Yesterday they went on an expedition to the Atlanta Zoo. They took MARTA and it took them about 1.5-2hrs to reach the Zoo. We later went to the laser show at Stone Mountain (if you haven't been in a year or so, you would find that there are some brand new cartoons).

This experience of trying to entertain them during the day without having to be with them has made me realize that there is no good central place were Atlanta tourists can find a list of attractions with attraction reviews and such, geared for the "family visitor" to our great city. And even if there are some guide books and such, it wasn't until they came back and told me so that I knew for example that all Zoo animals seemed to be sleeping in the afternoon or that the MARTA bus takes 30 minutes to come back. And even if that information is available, our great city changes so fast that it is hard to keep up. And even if there is really all that, I am in any case going to start a set of posts with Atlanta attractions, information about them and reviews based on theirs and my experiences. So stay tuned. Also stay tuned for our vacation review.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lots of work on the Atlanta front

We are hard at work these days. I have been travelling a good bit: twice to Red Bay, AL, twice to Winston-Salem, NC and once to Bloomington, IN. Each trip was a good bit different and although each of these towns is quite a bit different from the city of Atlanta, I am glad I got to visit and get to know parts of the US I would probably not have seen otherwise.

Red Bay has a small town charm, the people I met there were simply great and very hospitable. Winston-Salem had the best food, the people were also very friendly and just plain helpful, here I also got to spend some time with a different team from my company and got to know a little bit of what they do and how we can help each other. Finally, Bloomington was quite pretty. Again, the people here were very hospitable and the town felt like it had all the great food of the city with the looks of the country.

All this travelling always leaves a lot of work sitting at the office and so I spend most of the non-travelling time trying to clean my plate to ready ourselves for our trip to Europe (used to be trip to Rome, but that is a different story). My mom is in town with my baby sister and that is a lot of fun. I will write more on that later though.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

My leg of the musical baton race

I am now back from my civil rights trip (mental trip) and away from the world of seriousness. Life is pretty good. The math competition is this Saturday (we'll be on campus to help) and I am pretty excited and very eagerly hoping this year's volunteer T-shirts are tye-dyes again. Otherwise I think I will try to talk Alan into tye dyeing ours on Friday night. Which reminds me that Alan and Ashley will be in town (pretty cool).

In other news, Chandra tried to talk me into running (those who know me should not freak out, she didn't mean one foot in front of the other) the music baton race. Here is my leg (those who know me should know I am too attached to my leg to really let go off of it) of the race.

Amount of music on your computer?
Judging from the amount on my ipod (the best Valentine's ever), not much but certainly lots more than I thought I did, say 4 or 5 GB.

Currently listening to?
Besides the little voices that only talk to me? Just kidding, no little voices talk to me. As it turns out, I have become quite addicted to audio books and although I just put my music down I was listening to 1984 just now, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (sp?) was playing in the car this morning.

Five songs that mean a lot to you?
1. Amazed (Jamil and I's song, by circumstance if you ask him, although I like it regardless), 2. Bombero (Facundo Cabral and Alberto Cortez really put the existentialist questions of everyday's growing pains plain and simple), 3. Don't let me get me (Pink is way cool no matter how much of a weirdo she might be), 4. Ventricle (you gotta check out Ponies in the Surf, although I am not sure I like their full-length album as much as the others), 5. Anything by Ricardo Montaner (He just knows how to capture the moment). Since Chandra cheated by using an extra pick that is a hymn, I must be allowed to do the same: In The Garden.

Top five albums?
I don't usually like albums as a whole there is usually about 4 songs I like on each. If I had to say, I would have to go by the albums I can actually sit down and listen mostly through and through: 1. Wors Sound & Power (Christafari), 2. Ponies on Fire (Ponies in the Surf), 3. Donde estan los ladrones (Shakira), 4. Tributo a los Beattles (Various), 5. Lo Cortez no quita lo Cabral (Facundo Cabral y Alberto Cortez).

Last album bought?
The 4 album's Eric Peters brought to the concert at the church.

I guess I can pass the baton on to my dear husband who is ever so absent from the blogging world. Oh, maybe I'll pass it on to Kennan, unless Gaines and Allison already tagged him.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Coretta Scott King is gone

Maybe I was just tired, or maybe the sentimental overtone of the special edition CBS news last night covering CSK's funeral did it, but even though I didn't really know much about what she did and stuff, I am kind of sad. I think it is this whole change thing.

CSK's death marks the end of an era. An era of constant, physically dangerous fighting for rights and equality. While, there is still much fighting for equality around the world today, her death marks the end of the era of marching and beating and sitting down in buses to make statements. Not that people don't fight for equality these days, but that it is different.

When I started thinking about it I realized that living where I live now would be not allowed or looked down upon if it wasn't for the pioneers of that time. I would be restricted to which school I could go to, where I could live, who I could marry, where I could work, etc. And suddenly, the silliness that many associate to the civil rights movements (I like to think of it in plural because making it singular makes it sound like a one shot easy feat) is gone.

And then I started thinking... I disagree with a lot of rights being fought for today, some sound like abuse of power (not political power but emotional power, like when a kid who has been punished unjustly asks to eat chocolate because he knows mom or dad are feeling pretty bad right about now). How will my kids feel though? Is my disagreement a sort of forgoing of liberties and rights that I deserve and do not realize because I am too lazy to question the social ways of today? Will my kids look back on some of the figths won by the "fighters" of today and be thankful for them? Or will my kids look back and wish I had done something about my disagreement? Is the world truly getting worse? Are the rights sought truly not rights but priviledges? Or is the world and the fights of today simply an intact time translated snapshot of the world and the fights of yesterday?

This all probably doesn't make sense. I am very much thinking in Spanish today, things I feel passionate about usually do that. The point being that I am very grateful for those who fought so that I could go to any bathroon that was open when I have needed one. I am very grateful for those who fought so that I could vote and have a say in how my life and the world around me should work. I am grateful that we do not have to march today for these freedoms, but have different forums to obtain what we want or need. But I do have one wish for those who are fighters today: seek the wisdom of God in choosing your battles so that you choose battles which are just and honorable to God and remember that not everything that is allowed is good or righteous. Let us avoid the temptation to fight for things that are not good just because they should be allowed or they should be our right, that road leads to dangerous places and strangely enough, to many prohibitions.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Four Things

We were tagged by Chandra earlier today, so I figured I would use my lunch break and follow in the Four Things tradition. We are really boring as you can already tell though so don't hold your breath.

Four Jobs I've had:
Paper filing at Jorge's office--really not my job, but the current secretary just knew how to ask
Computer Programmer--for Jorge's company.. this job was actually mine
Teaching Assistant--throughout college
Jr. Development Consultant

Four Movies I could watch over and over (I am cheating):
Wedding Singer (really almost anything Adam Sandler)
Shrek (and Shrek 2)
Sleepless in Seattle

Four Books I could read over and over again:
Truly, I don't like to read anything more than once because the second time around I remember everything I have already read and it gets boring. Here is the closest to books I can read over and over
Harry Potter (audio book version)
Chronicles of Narnia (audio book version)--really haven't finished listening to it so I might be lying
Bible--not that I find it easy or super entertaining always, but you kinda have to read it over and over again
Harry Potter (audio book version)--there's 6 of them so they should count at least for 2

Four Places I have lived:
Carolina, PR
Caguas, PR
Cidra, PR
Atlanta, GA
I bet you didn't think there were that many towns in Puerto Rico... I didn't either until I moved to Caguas.

Four TV shows I watch (I am cheating again because I am not listing current shows):
We haven't been watching much TV, but this is what we would watch
The Apprentice--Always
Cosby Show --have slowed down recently
Quantum Leap--recently very often
Punky Brewster--on ocassion

Places I have been on vacation:
St. Lucia--honeymoon
Costa Rica--unbelievable trip
Montreal--really nice
California--not really on vacation but did vacation type stuff

Four Websites I visit daily:
http://www.cnn.com--almost --almost daily

Four Favorite foods (cheating):
Rice with Cheese
Asian (Thai preferred, Japanese and Chinese follow)
Anything that lives in the water

Four Places I’d like to be right now:
Puerto Rico
Europe (never been)
Somewhere in South America (Chile and Argentina come to mind)
My mansion that is already paid for, where I am retired to at the age of 24.

Four Bloggers I’m tagging (cheating one more time for good measure):
I don't know 4 people who know about our blog, have a blog, would play along and haven't been tagged, I actually don't know 1 person that fits that description so I will tag people I think should get a blog.
Carolina (sister)
Christian (sister's boyfriend)
the lurker out there
Elba (I'll give her the address of this blog so she can see she's tagged)

One small post about nothing...

As you know, I'm not very good at blogging regularly. I suppose that part of the problem is that I only feel like saying something when a significant event happens, or when I'm particularly upset about circumstances. When I'm upset, though, I have Patricia read over a draft of my blog entry beforehand. Let me tell you - you've been spared more than once from reading my rants about various things.

Today is the last day of January, 2006. I can't believe 1 month has gone by so quickly. That's 8.33% of the year, done already. Tax papers have been coming in the mail, and I've been keeping them aside so that I can do all of the taxes in one fell swoop when I have everything. Taxes this year are going to be more complicated than last year, and last year was more complicated than the year before. Thank goodness for TurboTax.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Oratory and the little church in the mountains

When I was in High School, more than an overachiever, I was over involved. I wanted to try everything once, and I did just about. I learned a lot doing this, I also spread myself pretty thin most of the time. In about 8th grade, I joined the Forensics Club. In the beginning I thought Forensics club was kind of creepy and wondered how you would study dead corpses in High School, then I heard someone say a speech during my English class and our teacher had her explain what was this Forensics Club (English Speech club). I joined. Truth is that I would have probably joined even if it studied dead people, as long as they didn't do it in the dark. I started in Humor, but the category was always very sought after and being the youngest didn't help (the moderator at the time regarded seniority as more important than quality). Then, Ben became the moderator and everything went for the better. A few weeks later my coach Mrs. Benitez and him decided I was serious and so should be doing Oratory. I don't think for a second that I was very good at doing speeches or anything, but Oratory was a hard category and hardly anyone was any good, so I had nothing to lose. I did it. "A woman could one day be President" was the first speech I did. Later I did "And God created man" by David Van Treese. I was actually a double with a drama speech I can't remember the name of, but was only an alternate in that category (although my last year, I almost had to do my speech). There are many stories and times tied to my Forensics Club tenure, ending with a competition where our team did well enough to move up a category (I got 8th place or something like that), but we were pretty much given different rules than everyone else, (our coach couldn't speak English, he was actually the French teacher). We brought fewer people than we could because we were told the rules had changed, we came to the competition to find out everyone knew the rules were revoked, but us. Our school's English faculty was very sweet about it and after a very stressful competition day where we were done wrong and our French teacher learned to speak English in an all of a sudden burst of anger, they all came to be there for the awards ceremony and ocngratulated us all. I would do it all over again. My last speech: "And God said, let us create man in our image and after our likeness, so God created man. These words indicate God's creation of man as equals. Come with me Mr. American, let me introduce you to peaceful little quiet city, the year is ..." This brings me to the point of this post. Come with me Mr. blog reader, let me introduce you to a little Baptist church in the mountains.

The year is 2006. When I say it is in the mountains you can see that I am not kidding. The church has no walls, no kitchen, no paid worship team, no central heat (it actually gets pretty cold in the winter for even US standards), no central AC for the hot summer. When it rains you get wet. However, you must make sure you come to service early, because the Church has many more attendees than chairs.

Why do 300-400 people from a small town in Puerto Rico, some of whom don't have cars, many considered too old by most to be coming such a long way come to this church? The pastor rarely preaches just a happy message, and is not afraid to point out the things that are wrong. They don't come in search of a great praise group (but they are far from refined or professional). The choir is not bad, but have no formal vocal trainning. They don't come because the place is hip or cool or jazzy or in, just look at the picture. They don't come for food, although occasionally they used to have fund raising food cooking, this is made considerably harder by their current kitchen-less facilities. They don't come for fancy coffee, most of the time, and unless it is a sunrise baptism service, there is no coffee other than the one sitting in your stomach. So what do they come for?

They come because the Word of God is preached there. Because a Church that follows God's direction is attractive to the faithful. They come to feel the almost unbearable presense of the Holy Spirit. To witness the many lives that come to Christ week after week.

This is not to say that I agree entirely with everything they do. But it is to say that God glorifies himself in that small church in the mountains. They don't have lots of money, and if they do, they certainly don't flaunt it.

One day they dream of having a nice temple, like the one God directed them to leave in the middle of the town of Cayey, PR, in search of service to their Jerusalem. The place where they meet to worship today will one day be the basketball court of the school God is leading them to start. One day they will again have walls, although probably no A/C or heat. One day they will have a kitchen that serves warm fellowship meals and coffee, but not to be up and coming, but to enable the Church members to spend all day at Church with no need to leave to eat lunch, to reward those who made the step of faith of coming to witness baptisms at 4AM on Thanksgiving day. One day they will again have a baptismal pool inside their temple once again so that anyone that believes can be baptized like Jesus was himself one day baptized.

The weird thing is that their move doesn't feel like a step backward while so many moves I experience today do. They had a church, and they had a stove and they had a fellowship area (which they rented from a business), they had fans for the summer and they had walls. The difference is that they did not arbitrarily chose to leave everything the had in search of something better, they were instructed by God to leave their comfortable situation in the small mountain city to reach out to other areas, to enhance their ability to serve others.

Over the 103 years of their existence, this small mountain town church has planted small churches in areas of this small town where people are less likely to drive and even less likely to go to Church far from their community, where the roads are not the best. Even at the main temple, it takes just a short look around at the many generations, social standing and varying degrees of education and professions to realize the long reach their ministry has had over the years. Looking around at the other Baptist churches started in the surrounding towns by missionaries from the First Baptist Church of Cayey (the small church in the mountains which is the subject of this post), and the success of these, no one can underestimate their impact in my beautiful island that sits in the Atlantic Ocean on the Caribbean Sea, made of volcanic rock.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Our house has officially been dedicated to the Lord

In the company of some very important people and with the Fireplace as our witness, our house was officially and publically dedicated to the Lord and the Lord's work.

In a series of amazing events, back in October, God provided a house for us in a great neighborhood no more than 30-45 minutes away from work in normal traffic. We have had the opportunity to have some of our friends come over and watch TV, play games and even spend the night already, but last night we had a group of friends help us do this house dedication that is so important to us.

All in all, a great night. Next on the schedule: an open house (we didn't want to do it until after the house dedication, but it is coming)... look for information in the near future in a mailbox near you.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Back from sunny island

Coming back from Puerto Rico is rarely any fun, especially when you know everyone back there is still on vacation, eating good and sleeping lots. It does get better the more I do it, but that thought alone is not comforting enough to make me want to do it too many more times. It is pretty silly because when I am here I rarely get homesick, 10 days at home and all of a sudden I don't want to go back to the place where I was happy 10 days ago. I think Hispanic family closeness is sick.

During our time in Puerto Rico we went to the pool, ate some overpriced bad food at the Beach Club, had Christmas, ate at many places but mostly the same food (arroz con gandules), met and got to know my sister's boyfriend a little, fell asleep on a hammock each night only to wake up at 1AM and realize everyone is gone, went to old San Juan, fed the pigeons in the pigeon park at old San Juan, spent New Year's eve finding ways to escape our party-destined-fate finally going to Jorge's mom's house and spending some time with her eating kid sized portions of Puerto Rican (Cuban if you ask my mom) Chinese rice and saw my grandma and great-grandma's sister a good bit. Other activities included: Alfredo's graduation party, watching movies at home, finishing my sister's Harry Potter Scarf (very cool looking... I am waiting for a picture), introducing everyone to the dangers of Sudoku puzzles, lighting matches with the excuse of lighting my sister's sparkling stars and getting nagged by my parents and sisters to have a baby (apparently they don't realize how much responsibility comes along with a munchkin).

We almost didn't make it back on time due to mechanical maintenance of our original first plane (which made it late, meaning we would miss our second flight) early in the morning and after much persuasion and hectic talking on the phone to Delta many times to try and get to Atlanta in a different way gave up and got on our plane to Orlando, half-way resignated to the idea of having to explain how we took a 10 day vacation and get to work 4 hours late. When we got to Orlando, I called on my cell phone in hopes that our Atlanta plane was delayed by the Atlanta weather and so it was. By God's provision, our plane was delayed just long enough to not only get off the plane (the next plane was thankfully accross the hall), but also for Jamil to buy us some Hot Dogs and fries. Then we thought we had lost our suitcases, but we found them. Our friend Miesha came to pick us up and we left her Hot Dog in her car and didn't tell her about it until the next day at night. We went to bed around 2AM (3AM Puerto Rico time) and then it was off to work the next day.

We'll be back soon enough, Easter. In the meantime, back to work and our very square sedentary lives, looking forward to the next vacation, summer and no babies.