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.