Monday, January 26, 2009

hiking at over 7000 feet

For the past week we've been at MTI (Mission Training International) in Colorado. It's a three week training, so we're just really getting started. So far it's been pretty good. There are 40 different missionaries here from all different missions organizations, so we've had a good time getting to know them and hearing about where they're going and what they want to do there.

Yesterday we and some of our new friends went on a hike up a trail that goes by a few reservoirs in the mountains nearby. We're already at 7225 feet, so hiking up the mountains on the trail was a serious lung workout!!!!!

Since it was snowy and the water was frozen we took some videos to show when we get back to Guinea-Bissau. I think our friends there will get a kick out of them.

I took a few pictures, and I thought you might like to see them.

Yes, you are seeing this picture correctly, Jason is wearing his Chacos on a hike through the snow. He insisted that his toes were not cold, but I was not buying it :-)

At the second reservoir the water was completely frozen so we took a video of Jason jumping on it.

This is our friend Ian standing on some boulders in the middle of the frozen river.

Our classes end at 4 each day so we have some time to get a few things done and hang out in the evenings. We brought the game "Pit" along with us and we had a rousing game on Friday night!

This is right before the market opened!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Big Dog

I never really grew up with any pets, but Jason definitely did! His family had (at one time or another) rabbits, a chinchilla, various birds, a cat, fish, chickens, geese, hamsters, a mouse (that Jason randomly caught and fed until it died... yuck), and lots of Golden Retrievers. Out of all of those pets I think the dogs have the largest place in Jason's heart. He really loves big, playful, friendly dogs. When we were staying at Amanda and Scott's apartment he had a lot of frolic time with their dog, Mocha.

Mocha is super cute. He's mostly chocolate lab and he loves to play (although he is frequently distracted from whatever game you are playing with him). He is also apparently very interested in the world of computers...

You can't fool us Mocha, we see you looking out of the corner of your eye at that magnificent laptop!

Like I said before, I've never had a pet before, so I've never really bonded with an animal. Maybe all of you guys are pet people and you are just shaking your head at my callousness... hehe It's pretty obvious that Jason will always be a big dog lover, so I hope to join you one day :-)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Song of the Year

I know that a lot of people make New Years Resolutions, I don't know a whole lot of people who actually stick to them... hehe Human nature I guess. I used to be a big resolution maker, I really like goals, so it fits. A few years ago I was in a chapel service at Olivet (ok, that was probably my junior year in college so at least five years ago... yikes!) and I heard a song that literally changed my life. I think that most of us have had a moment where a song perfectly captured exactly what how we were feeling at the time, and this one captured how I had been feeling for years. I decided that I would make the song a mission for my life. It's really simple so I put it here for you to read it:

One Pure and Holy Passionby Passion

Give me one pure and holy passion
Give me one magnificent obsession
Give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow hard after you
To know and follow hard after you
To grow as your disciple in the truth
This world is empty, pale, and poor
Compared to knowing you my Lord
Lead me on and I will run after you

I think about that song whenever I'm making a big decision and it just seems to bring the focus that I need. The reason that I bring this up along with New Years Resolutions is that for the past few years I feel like there have been a lot of times where God has given me a song that teaches me something I really need to hear. Sometimes they are for a year and sometimes they are for a particular season. All of the songs really made a huge difference to me and in light of the New Year's season I thought I would share a tiny bit about them and how God used them.

The first time we went to Africa we had been there for a month or so and I was listening to some music that Jason had gotten right before we left. There was one song that I had heard a bunch before but when I heard it surrounded by the particular circumstances that I had the song took on a whole new dimension. It became my motivation to seek God's plan for me everyday in Guinea-Bissau. Sometimes I would really doubt my effectiveness as a missionary, English teacher, etc and this song would really give me reassurance. The whole song is awesome, but here just the first verse:

In the Blink of an Eye by Mercy Me

You put me here for a reason
You have a mission for me
You knew my name and You called it
Long before I learned to breathe

Sometimes I feel disappointed
By the way I spend my time
How can I further Your kingdom
When I'm so wrapped up in mine

If I knew I was going to have a hard day I would put on my MP3 player when I was getting ready and just play that song a few times. I usually ended up singing along at the top of my lungs... The second time we were in Bissau God gave me a song that really helped me focus on His most basic plan for me – that my purpose is to love God and to be loved fully by Him. Here's the chorus:

Made to Loveby TobyMac

I was made to love You
I was made to find You
I was made just for You
Made to adore You
I was made to love
And be loved by You
You were here before me
You were waiting on me
And You said You'd keep me
Never would You leave me
I was made to love and be loved by You

I say all of this to say that right around January first I was listening to the radio and a song just touched a major nerve in my heart. The guy singing is just asking God to pull him out of his self-centered way of seeing the world and to open His eyes to really see people the way that God does. Sometimes in Guinea-Bissau it's hard to see people the way that God does. They are so different and sometimes it can be really frustrating struggling to understand the culture and the people. This song reminds me that what I really really need, more than anything else, is to have God's perspective when I see the people around me. So here's the chorus:

Give Me Your Eyesby Brandon Heath

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

So, that is my song for 2009, or at least this phase of it. When I look ahead to the rest of the year I know that in a lot of ways I've never been more excited or nervous or sure about any other phase of my life. I can't wait to see the changes that God is going to make in the people of Guinea-Bissau!

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Daddy-Daughter Date

A few times when I was younger my Dad picked me up from school and took me out to lunch. We called it a Daddy-Daughter date. I don't know if any of you ever had this tradition in your family or not (maybe we're just weird... ok not maybe... probably?... No, I think I have to go with definitely... we're definitely a little weird). When Jase and I were in Little Rock after New Years I made my Dad take me out on a lunch date. We went out for Mexican food, which is a shared love of ours and we got to talk for about 2 hours. We had a good time and I felt kinda like a little girl again.

The whole family was in Little Rock for New Years and since our last good family picture was a little while ago we took a new one. Not a bad looking bunch :-)

Back Row: Jordan, Scott, Amanda, Emily, Jason, Rachel

Front Row: Dad, Mom