“I think it’s time for a pep talk”

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“You are a coarse devil who hurts me but little.” – Martin Luther

A post by my cousin on Facebook led me to the amazing RELEVANT Magazine. As I was trolling through their site I found a short post entitled “Now, You Too Can Be Insulted By Martin Luther.” Who doesn’t want to be insulted by one of the greatest Reformers? In no time at all I was on the Lutheran Insulter page and laughing like no other. I had no idea that this guy that was mentioned a couple of times in my Bible classes was such a boss with words. His insults are so meticulously and intentionally worded that you can either laugh your head off or hang your head in shame.

Besides that, I encourage you to check out everything else on RELEVANT’s site. The magazine is geared toward 20- and 30-somethings and it’s obvious, in a good way of course. I love that I’m able to see prompts for articles about Frank Ocean and a transgender 11-year-old on the same page while reading an article entitled “The Gospel of Immigration.”

Personal Favorite Lutheran Insults:

How this spirit makes a food of itself in all its words. You can say nothing but that it boomerangs on your own head and hits you so that you not only are blackened but are made to stagger as a drunkard.

You have set out to rub your scabby, scurvy head against honor.

I must stop: I can no longer rummage in your blasphemous, hellish devil’s filth and stench.

You abominable abomination.

In appearance and words you simulate modesty, but you are so swollen with haughtiness, arrogance, pride, malice, villainy, rashness, superciliousness, ignorance, and stupidity that there is nothing to surpass you.

This is what I feel like posting about.

I’m a little OCD sometimes about things being in chronological order and I’ve realized that it’s seriously gotten in the way of my blogging. I want to blog about so many other things besides my Christmas vacation but I hold off on it because I never finished blogging about my vacation. As much as I would like to be a super duper blogger and blog regularly and have amazing content in every single post, this has yet to happen. I’m not that disciplined about it yet and haven’t made my blog part of my schedule.

Last year in Colorado before going to recruit at a convention for my college.

Last year in Colorado before going to recruit at a convention for my college.

When I started journaling my freshman year of high school, I told myself that I only had to journal after major events and when I felt like it. I knew that the pressure of journaling on a schedule would make it a chore rather than a pleasure and also that some days I just wouldn’t want to write. I thought that this blog would be similar to journaling for me but it’s not. Blogging has turned into somewhat of a chore because I feel constrained to the content that I post. I feel obligated to time and it slows down my creative process because I don’t express myself as and when I want.

I made this blog mainly to have a record of my life for me as I mature, and also to make it easier for friends and family to keep up with me. It seems like lately I’ve been focusing more on the second reason and while I appreciate your support, I need to pay a little more attention to the first reason right now. I feel pressured to please my readers and I want nothing more to do that. However, I’ve been neglecting myself and the neglect has transferred over to you. I don’t like it and I plan to change that.

As I write, I’ll talk about my experiences travelling. I learn a lot travelling and it’s inevitable. It’ll be woven into my blog but may not be the main focus of everything. Life is happening whether or not I’m travelling and there are so many things to discuss and talk about. I like human rights, music, reading, crafting, goals, peacemaking, cooking, sharks, and, oh yeah – travelling. Those topics are all a part of me and I need to pay attention to them all. My OCD with time isn’t as important to me as feeling as if I can express myself. Nothing should constrain you from expressing yourself, especially you. 

First Moments

After arriving in El Chaltén, Tina and I spent the night camping in a campground outside of a hostel in town. I’ll do a post later of reccomendations for El Chaltén and El Calafate, but let’s just say that this location will be on the ‘where not to go’ list. After a tiresome night, we finally got out of our tent around 8 and decided to go hunt down some breakfast.

We had seen a cute coffee shop the night before and decided to go there to plan detail our trip a little more and have some breakfast. The coffee shop turned out to be a restaurant and also have a hotel in the back but was surprisingly quiet. The dark brown logs in the interior gave the shop a home-y feel and the two ladies behind the counter were really nice and helpful. After ordering my tea and her coffee, Tina and I sat down on a the wooden couch. The fabric on its cushion was well worn and for good reason. It was placed in its own section of the shop right in front of an enourmous window that had the perfect view of Cerro Fitz Roy. For the next hour and a half, we sat there watching the town slowly wake up beneath Fitz Roy.

 tea service

my tea service, yum!

A father and his young daughter walked by hand in hand on their way to school. Her pink jacket flapped behind her as she broke free from her daddy’s handhold to chase a friend before returning to his hand. A shopkeeper opened her doors and began to set out her artisan ware’s. A car passed by every now and then. Hikers with big backpacks trailed past the shop from the bus station in groups, pairs, and, most commonly, solo. Guests from the hotel came in for a cup of coffee and hiking directions. I took it all in as I sipped my tea and admired the torres looming over the town.

I feel like that morning set the tone for the rest of our trip. Everything was done in its own time and nothing was rushed. We took our time to just ENJOY. I like that word, enjoy. I feel as if at certain times on the trip I was litterally in joy. I never would have imagined that I would be in some of the places I was, seen the things I did, and did the things that I did. I was living one of my travel fantasies and I couldn’t help but marvel at my circumstance. Like I said in the last post, the trip just felt like one long Sabbath for me and I feel like my rest started in that coffee shop that morning.

One of my favorite mornings here so far: with Tina, sipping hot drinks, watching Fitz Roy. Amen.

One of my favorite mornings here so far: with Tina, sipping hot drinks, watching Fitz Roy. Amen.

First Glimpse

I don’t even know where to begin about Patagonia! The place is just GORGEOUS and you have to go see for yourself. Pictures don’t even come close to it. My camera broke (again) literally minutes after I posted my last post so any pictures you see are from my friend Tina or the internet. The whole trip felt like a long and restful Sabbath. I saw a lot, experienced a lot, and learned a lot. I guess I’ll just start at the beginning and work my way through some of my favorite things about the trip. Here goes…

My first few glimpses of Patagonia were confusing and disappointing. We flew into El Calafate, which is in a desert and so appropriately brown and gray. After alternating between hilly farm country and busy Buenos Aires for 3 months, I think expectations were a little more than excited to be in the forest and mountains. After getting our baggage and waiting for a few hours, we started the three hour shuttle ride to El Chaltén. About an hour and a half into our ride, we glimpsed our first mountains. Though far away, their snow capped tops peeked out through us every few turns. We finally got our first full glimpse the mountains when we turned onto the final road that leads to El Chalten.

As we turned onto the last road, the mountain range unfolded itself with Fitz Roy standing tall directly in front of us. Everyone was enthralled with Fitz Roy. It was hard not to be. The 11,117 mountain of solid rock dominated the mountain range and commanded our attention.The night was clear except for a few clouds and the sun was finally setting around 10.  Fitz Roy was silhoutted against a clear sky, the sunlight highlighting the red rock with snow draped over the lower mountains beneath it. The surrounding torres only accented how much bigger Fitz Roy was than them. I spent quite a bit of time looking out the windsheild of our shuttle just staring at it. When I finally broke my gaze to look out the window to my left, my jaw just about dropped.

Though there were no clouds around Fitz Roy, there were quite a few in the west where the sun was just melting into the horizon. The top edges of the clouds were ablaze with light. It was as if God had dipped his finger in glowing sunlight and then individually outlined every single cloud. I swept my eyes from the horizon and up into the rainbow that was being created in front of my eyes. As the clouds glowed above the setting sun, the sky progressed from a clear blue into a healthy pink before plunging into a deep purple and then a velvety navy to finally rest in a  robust dark blue on another mountain range far behind us that I hadn’t even noticed before. As the sky progressed in color, the stars were more and more apparent until just over the mountain range behind us they were twinkling and happy in their dark blue backdrop. Beneath it all, a large lake reflected the colors of the sky.

It was hard for me to take it all in. I would alternate between watching the mountain range, the clouds, and the sky behind us and every time I turned back to one or the other it was different. The colors would change and silhoutes became more dramatic. I usually have a song in my head, but I didn’t for that sunset. It was almost as if my senses were overloaded by just sight. I don’t know if there would be a song that would fit that moment. The shuttle turned from chatter about hiking and the snap of cameras to a pensive and understanding silence as we all looked out the windows. Exhuasted, I finally fell asleep watching Fitz Roy being illuminated by the moonlight. I wasn’t even en El Chaltén yet and I was satisfied with our trip.

This isn’t exactly what I saw, but it’s close enough. The colors are so much more vivid in real life.

 

We made it!

I made it to El Chalten without any major problems. Well, there was a scary moment in the airport when the attendant said my ticket was for September 9 (9/12/2012) instead of December 12 (12/9/2012) but God took care of that and I was able to get on the plane. We arrived here in Chalten around midnight after watching an amazing sunset around 10 as we were driving in. The sky was continually changing and it looked like the sky was on fire. Just gorgeous. I think my camera has broken again, this time for good. Sad Face. We´re spending the day in town getting supplies and resting before we head out tomorrow. I´ll post again if I have time later.

It´s amazingly gorgeous if you were wondering.

Appreciating the Gear

I leave for my Christmas break in Patagonia and then Brazil tonight and I am beyond excited! I’m doing some last minute packing for Patagonia and keep thinking “Oh, I need this!” and “Don’t forget that!” but then I realize that I don’t have ‘this’ or ‘that’ haha I will be making do with what I have, and it’ll be okay. Argentina‘s camping/backpackping/outdoorsy market is miniscule compared to what it is in the States and so the gear isn’t as good quality and what they do have is exorbitantly more expensive.

I miss being able to order from sites like Backcountry, GearTrade, Steep and Cheap, Rock/Creek, etc. However, I am very thankful for what I do have and am glad I had the foresight to buy it when I did. It’s easy for me turn into a gear fanatic and overpack for trips but this time, I’ll be appreciating the gear that I do have instead of thinking about what I don’t have (and probably don’t need).

I feel like this is what I turn into sometimes and I know that I am definitely not the only one.

Ginger Apricot Granola

One of my favorite things to do is to cook. I cook when I’m happy. I cook when I’m mad. I cook when I want to celebrate.  I cook when I’m bored… The list could go on forever. As a college dorm student, my hobby has seen a few setbacks due to the lack of a kitchen and a limited supply for funds. However, I’ve always found a way to get around this and Argentina is no exception.

For our trip to Patagonia, Tina and I decided to buy supplies in the caf to take with us. Fortunately, they have a lot of raw items in bulk and coming up with different ways to combine them wasn’t very hard for us. Yesterday, I set out to make granola bars with a few of the extra ingredients and stumbled upon a new favorite original recipe: ginger apricot granola.

I had collected oatmeal, walnuts, and apricots from the caf with the intent of incorporating them but not sure of how to do so. The dried fruit got me thinking about black cake, a Carribean specialty in which the main ingredient is fruit soaked in rum, and from there the idea took off.

I rarely measure or follow a recipe so I apologize in advance for the problem this may create for some of you.

Ginger Apricot Granola

Ingredients:

My creation all set and ready to go. This will be my breakfast and snack for the next few days.

My creation all set and ready to go. This will be one of my breakfast and snack options for the next few days in Patagonia.

dried apricots, diced
fresh ginger to taste, diced
cinnamon to taste
vanilla to taste
cloves to taste
orange zest to taste
honey to taste
flax seed to your preference
enough juice to cover the apricots – orange, peach, and apple compliment apricots really well (my juice cocktail was 2 parts orange/peach, 2 parts peach, and 1 part apple)
oatmeal
flour
egg

Method:

1. Place juice, ginger, and honey in a large pot on low heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let the mixture simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. The juice should start to begin to thicken into a syrupy consistency and your kitchen should smell amazing.

2. Add vanilla, cloves, and cinnamon to the mixutre. Season the juice mixture to perfection. It will carry the flavor of the granola so make sure it is well done. Don’t be shy with the spices – feel free to add others.

3. Last but not least, add the apricots and allow to simmer until the apricots begin to soften and absorb the flavor, stirring occasionally. Reward yourself with periodic tastes.

4. While the apricots are bathing in their spice bath, prepare to mix up your granola by placing the oatmeal and flax seed in a large bowl. (I added a little bit of flour to my oats simply because I’ve been experimenting with it lately. I was thinking it would help the granola stick together, but I honestly can’t tell you if that’s true or not. You experiment and tell me what works best for you.)

5. Heat the oven. I was using a gas stove that didn’t have much of an indicator as to what temp it was on. I imagine it was in between 350 and 375.

6. When your apricots are done, add them to the oats and mix thoroughly.

7. In order to get my granola to stick together, I whisked and added eggs to the mix until it started to clump a bit. I prefer to have larger clumps of granola because they can always be broken apart later if need be. This is my first time making granola and because of lack of supplies, I didn’t look into any other method. I’m sure that this recipe has the ability to be 100% vegan though so feel free to try something else out.

8. Oil the bottom of a pan and distribute the granola evenly without layering.

9. Place the granola in the oven and check periodically, about every 7 minutes. You should begin to see the top of the granola start to brown. When it’s browned to your liking, take it out and let cool before stirring the mixture. If you have multiple pans of granola, don’t forget to put them in as the other granola is cooling. Stir and bake the granola until it is browned to your liking.

10. You’re all done! You can eat it hot or cold, but just make sure you take the time to appreciate your own homemade granola properly.

If you try out my recipe, please let me know! I would love to find out how it turned out for you. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated.

The Joy of Curiosity

I used to spend coutless hours researching and learning about things just for the fun of it. When I started college last year, that curiosity that was once a rushing river pushing my horizons and pumping my dreams with life slowed to a lazy river. The strong current was still running deep below but I was floating lazily along on the surface, relaxed and absorbing what came my way. But I’m tired of floating and absorbing. I have been tired of this passive state for a long time and I’ve finally decided to dive down and once again feel the current; to be swept away as the thirst for knowledge propels me forward.

Over the last few weeks, I have rediscovered the joy of curiosity. It has uhsered in a new excitement for life, one that I know will be renewed with each new finding. My mind is once again turning over an in and through concepts, ideas, opinions, images, and feelings. It’s impossible to ignore and I have no intention to  disregard it whatsoever.

I retrieved my joy intentionally. I pursued my joy and found her eagerly awaiting my return. Funny how all this time she was just a few minutes away. Just a few minutes of me Googleing something I was curious about – African royalty, narwhals, Marie Antoinette, whatever! – and we were off. Terms, places, and people that I didn’t know jumped off the page at me until I had a list for our next adventure, Mz. Curiosity and I.

It has only been a week and I feel more inspired than I have in months. For me, this means a number of things: I’m blogging once again, I have a new career plan (which will probably change in a few weeks if not days), and my passion and love for people and helping them enjoy life has awoken from it’s slumber. I wish that none of things had left me, that I had never had this stagnant period, but I am thankful that I know how to get them back. I am thankful that I know how to pursue my joy.

Don’t become a stranger to your joy. Pursue it.

There are a lot of things I’ve enjoyed discovering, but the French Foreign Legion by far takes the cake in the visual department. Fun Facts: the FL is open for anyone to join (within reason) and they literally march to their own beat. They’re march is so much slower (31 beats less than the normal 120), that they always have to go last in parades, like a boss.

El Chalten!

I’ll be spending part of my Christmas break in one of the places I’ve always wanted to go for a while: Patagonia. These are just a few pictures that I was looking at. I can’t wait to see and experience all of this with my own eyes. Enjoy!

This is a small part of the town, El Chalten.

The weather is fairly fickle but when it clears it reveals amazing backdrops and gorgeous scenery.

El Chalten is known as the backpacking capital of the world and the trails are really well maintained.

The tallest mountain in the background is called Fitz Roy and is usually obscured by bad weather.

 

despertarse

Irresponsibility should have no place in my life. I have no reason not to take care of business. If something needs to get done, make it happen. Do it now before it’s too late. No matter how much time I have later, it never seems to be enough. How much time is ‘later’ anyways?https://i2.wp.com/image.spreadshirt.com/image-server/v1/designs/11535002,width=190,height=190/THE-PRICE-OF-GREATNESS-IS-RESPONSIBILITY---CHURCHILL-quote.png

Irresponsibility has a place in my life. I’ve built a palace for it on an estate of procrastination. But it’s time to grow up. It’s time to  kill this habit. I used to say “It’ll all work out”, and it usually does, but a lot of times it could have been better if I was just a little more responsible. Responsiblity is a small thing that makes a big change.

Two Bible verses come to mind:

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. – Luke 16:10 NLT

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. – 1 Corinthians 13:11 NLT

When I think of Thanksgiving, a number of memories come to mind. There was the year Tofurky appeared for the first and last time on our table and made the side dishes superstars. I remember another year when we drove six hours to northern California for Thanksgiving dinner and then drove back the same night. And who can forget the Thanksgiving when my mom announced that she was fasting and not cooking for the day at 11:00 am? This cook sure doesn’t. With all of these memories, no matter how extrano or stressful they were at the time, I treasure them because of the time I got to spend with my family. There was a feeling of togetherness that is different for every family but just can’t be replaced. This year, my study abroad program didn’t try to replace that feeling but we made our own. Thanksgiving this year was a hodge-podge of happiness, to say the least.

I was in the kitchen cooking for the majority of they day. The result and my peers smiles were definitely worth it.

Normalmentela Universidad has a special cena para los alumnos en the study abroad program to celebrate Thanksgiving. But this is not normal, this is Argentina. Somehow another party for staff got planned on the same day as Thanksgiving and took presidence over our holiday and couldn’t be moved. The study abroad program was going to rent a room for us and have pie, but that’s all. A Thanksgiving that consists solely of pie consumed in a rented space sounds incredibly impersonal and cold to me. In response, I and the other officers in Centro de Estudiantes (Student Association for my program, I’m the president) did our best to create a special Thanksgiving memory for our peers.

Our plans were simple: an American football game at 4:30 and a potluck dinenr at 6:45. What made the day special was all the time we spent together. Manyof us were in the kitchen cooking, tasting, and helping each other for numerous hours. We had a few problems – no pots, pans, or any utensils, missing ingredients, and stretched funds – but we all struggled together and in the end it all worked out.

As the night unfolded, the stress that I had amounted over the week leading up to the dinner melted as I saw my Argentinian family enjoying themselves. There was a miscommunication with our professors about time and so we didn’t start the dinner until about 7:40. Most of the group showed up around 6:45 and so for about an hour we cooked more food, took pictures, and just spent time together. When we finally did eat, we had more than enough food and everything was delicious. We had a time when people could anonymously post their thanks on a decorated board and then we had our pumpkin pie. The night ended with a prayer and everyone holding each others hands in a circle around our tables.

Later that night, the officers delivered notes from families and friends that we had collected through email. I heard a lot screaming when the letters were opened. So far, Thanksgiving has been one of my favorite memories with my study abroad group. Despite everything, we were able to come together and still have a good Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving is one that I think we’ll all remember for a while.

 

Just so you know.

1. I appreciate the United States and all of its options.

2. I will be going to Patagonia and Brazil for Christmas break, hollllaaaa. I am so, so excited and even more grateful for my family who supports me.

3. I was more homesick this last week than I ever have in my life. Seeing all my friends posts on Facebook about going home for Thanksgiving doesn’t help much either. I think what makes me so homesick is knowing how much time I still have left. With all of my previous trips, I’ve known that I only had a couple of weeks or one or two months before I go home again. As of today, I have six months and a couple of days left here in Argentina. This is not to say that Iam not having fun, not learning Spanish, or having an absolutely amazing time. No, understand that my time is not being wasted here in any sense. It is just that I’ve come to a point where I would be the happiest girl in the world to just go home and be with my family if only for thirty minutes. But that time will come and when it does it will be amazing. There are many people here at the University who haven’t seen there family for years and years. I have nothing to complain about and I thank God every day for this amazing opportunity I am living.

Everyone but Daddy. Nothing can replace family.

 

Busy

Finally! I’m finally in the city of Buenos Aires! We’ll be here for about three days and I can’t wait to see more of this city. This last week was tiresome for me and this trip couldn’t come at a better time.

Yesterday was Fiesta de las Naciones at my school, which just means we had a a culture fair. I’m running for President of our study abroad group and so for my campaign I decided to take on organizing everything for the Fiesta de las Naciones. I sadly haven’t exercised my leadership skills in that context in a long time and didn’t run things as smoothly as I had wished.  Nevertheless, our group represented the U.S.A. well. We had the best food (apple pie and apples with dulce de leche and peanuts aka carmel apples) out of everyone and the simplest but most gorgeous presentation. I’ll find a video for you and put it up later :) When it was all said and done, we ended up getting fourth place out of about 20 different countries represented. Not too shabby for 4 days of planning.

In addition to planning the Fiesta, my choir performed twice this past weekend and I also played in the town’s soccer tournament.  For the past two weeks my games have been at perfect times but it just so happened that my final was at the same time as the presentation for the Fiesta de las Naciones. I spent last night running in between my game and the Fiesta which made me feel like Viola in She’s The Man. After my busy night I went back to my room to find that the internet was amazingly fast and got to catch up with many of my friends chatting on FB. I ended up staying up the whole night chatting and then packing my bag during the last twenty minutes before running out the door.

So. I’m here. In Buenos Aires. I’m tired, happy, and blessed. I already know and feel that this experience will be one of the most significant times in my life. Gotta go, more later!

My team ended up getting second in our soccer tournament. Yes, I am wearing shorts. The shirt was just really long.

Testimony Time :)

Lens error. I turned my camera off and then on again just to make sure I was reading the screen right. The  words ‘lens error’ appeared on the screen again, unapologetically screaming at me in red against a white background.

I had been expecting this. It seems that I can’t own a camera without losing or breaking it at some point. I’m actually surprised and somewhat proud that my camera lasted four months – what a trooper. My previous camera had died because it had turned on in my bag and the lens was smashed in while extended. When I bought my current camera, I made sure to buy a protective case for it and always treated it with care. Despite my efforts, the camera somehow turned on in my bag and the lens was inverted, hence the ‘lens error’.

I realized that I had two options: to worry and fret about it or give my problem to God. The answer was obvious.  “God,” I said “I trust you to take care of this.” I put the camera in my bag and headed to class. After checking the shops in town and talking with the study abroad director, my fears were confirmed: the closest shop that might be able to fix it was in Buenos Aires. Even if I was able to get to Bs As, they may not have the parts and it would be hard to get it because the government isn’t allowing most goods made outside the country in. Again I said “God, I trust you to take care of this.” and then went about my day. I knew that God could and would take care of me better than I could take care of myself.

Despite my belief, my broken camera had been weighing heavily on my mind all day. I knew that God would take care of things but couldn’t help but wonder about when He would. Later that day, I was walking with my friend to choir practice. We exchanged the usual “como estas” in an attempt to use our limited Spanish. I said “bueno”, but then realized that no, I was not ‘bueno’. I told her about my camera she immediately offered to let me use her extra camera. I felt so many emotions at once. Relief that my problem had been resolved, joy, awe at God, and shame in my moments of doubt.

I’m continually amazed at how God takes care of me. There are so many other problems He could prioritize and attend to but the reality of it is that I am His priority. You are His priority. 1 John 3:1 (NLT) says “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children becuase they don’t know him.”