23 November 2014

326/365

For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.
Isaiah 28:10

My work is slow and primitive at best, but the hospitality and friendship, rich and enduring. What ever happened to the old-fashioned sewing bee, anyway?

21 November 2014

325/365

We've played t-ball, baseball, flag football, gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, swimming, tennis, golf, soccer...
I'm not tired of it yet.

(p.s.- see my girls' coach? She's 33 weeks pregnant, and not complaining even when the game gets closer and closer, down to the last couple of possessions. She jogs onto the court when her player goes down with a rolled ankle. She rocks.)

324/365

It's just a little thing, this beautifully simple hand-cut hand-made snowflake, but it was a sweet gift at a moment when it meant an awful lot to me, and reminded me of a much-too-far-away friend who means an awful lot to me as well.

323/365

I smile that the trailer for the newest princess movie can still be dreamily magical...

19 November 2014

322/365

She came to me before dinner started, holding two papers in her hands. “Teacher,” she asked me in Spanish, “is this good?” I looked at the papers, which screamed in bold-face type, “A $5000 loan has been approved for you!” Easy! Fast! The paper made no mention of the penalties, fees, and sky-high interest rates that typically accompany such offers. The promise appeared so very enticing to my student, who could undoubtedly use extra cash to supplement her very tight budget. I was able to warn her that it was unlikely to be the great promotion that it appeared to be, that in the end she would likely pay much more, perhaps even double, than the original loan amount. “Oh thank you!” she told me, clasping my hands.

Another student arrived, away from class for the last couple of weeks and surprised to find that it was our Thanksgiving dinner night. I welcomed her, so pleased to see her, and asked about her sister, who is also a student. “Please pray for her,” she told me. “She is depressed because she has not been working.” “I will,” I promised. And I am.

One of our students wants to come to classes more regularly, desperate to learn better English, but without family or friends to care for her young and very busy children during class time. Another is seeking out more opportunity to learn, recognizing that she isn’t speaking the language enough but finding few options for formal learning in her everyday life. Every one of our students has a story to tell, the path which led to our classes, the factors which motivate them, the obstacles they face in their quest to master a new language.

As in all of the world, we meet people who have marital problems, who experience family difficulties, who battle constant economic struggles, who face health issues, and so much more. But for a couple of hours each week, our students push those things aside as we gather around a table and stumble over English pronunciation. We learn new vocabulary and unfamiliar sentence structure and the nonsensical irregularities of this non-native language. We laugh together with one another, and encourage each other along the way. We care for one another, and share a small sliver of life together.


And hopefully, with specific intentionality, we share our faith that in this world where struggles are many and real and there are very few EASY! FAST! solutions, we have hope. We believe in the son of God, Jesus, who came to save all nations, tribes and tongues, who offers eternal salvation for those who put their faith in him. What a privilege, to know Jesus, and to know these dear friends as well, to share a bit of their walk along the way.

17 November 2014

321/365

we know, we know. by the standards of most other places in these United States, it's not really very cold here. but, we felt just a tiny bit justified when we saw the birds at the pet store puff up and try to stay warm, too.

320/365

Two of the most loyal fans a player could ever have, these two.

317/365

And then, just as we were approaching the coast of France, a little plane zipped by, white contrail drawing a chalky line across the sky, speeding to cross the Ligurian Sea.

316/365

We heard stories that Pope Francis sneaks out of the Vatican at nighttime and goes into the streets of Rome, to meet homeless people, to pray with them.

I wondered if he ever wants to sneak into the Sistine Chapel, but he'd probably be even more annoyed than I was with people talking in not-so-low-whispers and taking surreptitious cellphone photos. Besides, if he wants to go into the Sistine Chapel, the Pope just says so, right?

(I am thankful that I will never be important enough to have to sneak out into the street..)

315/365

Doesn't one of the most wonderful parts about learning and experiencing culture come in eating?

The food.
Pizza and cappuccino and bread and pasta and mozzarella cheese and olives and olive oil and wine and...
gelato.
Almost every day,
gelato.




16 November 2014

314/365

Because, really-
how can you be at the Leaning Tower and NOT try to take this picture?
It's not as easy as one might think, to get a decent shot, the hands right, the tower completely in the frame, no random strangers showing up in the viewfinder.
Yet one more reason to be thankful for digital cameras!

And yes, when we turned the corner and saw the Tower through the wall... yes, I gasped.
(because really, in my mind, I confess, I guess I thought that the Tower stood alone, maybe more like Stonehenge, not in the middle of town, not with shops and a cathedral and A LOT OF PEOPLE right next to it...)

313/365

It was very difficult to tell who was the most delighted- the kids, the puppeteer, or everyone else watching them.

312/365

"The world is a book, and those who don't travel read only one page."
- St. Augustine of Hippo

311/365

I had to smile. Because I can see forward to the time when I might sit on a wall in the town plaza with my friend...

(well, NOT feeding the pigeons. ok, and probably not "sit on a wall," at least, not for very long. but the "with my friend" part, definitely.)

And I had to smile, because I pictured exactly the friends I might be sitting with.

(by the way, I'm pretty sure that none of them would be feeding pigeons.)

310/365

“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” ― Francis of Assisi

05 November 2014

309/365

Not much a traveller can do to change the weather, to dissipate fog, to make an impossibly late connection, to speed up the waiting line, to hurry up waiting on hold, to will away the hours of waiting for the next flight.

But you can always admire the tulips.


308/365

"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list."
- Susan Sontag

03 November 2014

307/365

What is it about the net that makes little boys want to get all tangled up?

306/365

I must have wiggled when they traced me, because my leg looks abnormally swollen. I must have giggled when I saw the finished representation, because hey- it's pretty groovy, don't you think?

305/365

"I love these festivals," I said, surveying the scene around us, food booths of tacos and tamales and burgers and egg rolls and pancit, kiddie rides beginning to light up, karate kids kicking their way across the stage up front. "I know. That's why I asked you." I laugh.

Two streets closed off at the crossroads of the Catholic parish. We arrive in the neighborhood and find nearly every spot to park even a little car already taken. We slide into a space at the end of the block and make our way towards the crowds.

We pass all the traditional carnival games- little kids trying to stand up a coke bottle with a ring, Go Fish, plinko, balloon darts. Even a cake walk.

Pink tickets trade as the currency of the day, one ticket for a dollar. I exchange my 12 quarters, fished out of the change basket on my way out the door. 3 tickets spend quickly. I split a gordita plate, mine filled with picadillo and drenched with salsa verde, with my friend.

The stage sets against the street and the girls line up, ready to dance, school girl style short skirts, tube socks and pony tails. Perhaps the troupe is more than the stage anticipated- the platform and lights sway dangerously to the left and tho the right as the girls kick. We will and pray the show to finish. The smiling dancers take final bows without incident.

My friend gives up a ticket to try the basketball toss. The first shot goes in; the next is an air ball. It takes two shots to win the blowup hammer prize. Alas. Kids line up to slide down the inflatable.

Our final stop will be the cake walk- one ticket buys two chances. My friend puts her token down on number 4. The lady spins the wheel and we wait the clickclickclick of the rotation around. She calls out "5!" So close. My friend considers a change. "Should we move the token?" she asks. "No! Leave it, " I exhort her. The wheel starts to turn again. "4!" she calls this time. We shout and jump, winners!

Her daughter laughs out loud when she sees our little cakes. We laugh right along with her. "I love these festivals," I think again.