Saturday, April 30, 2011

Passover

It’S been a few weeks since I last posted. Nothing dramatic happened, but life in general has been pretty full of… just life. Last weekend was our church retreat. I took on the awesome challenge of preparing the Passover seder for my church. In the past, when I’ve held Passover Seders I’ve gotten stressed from all the prep work that goes into it. Last year, I really worked hard to put together a haggadah that I could use for years to come. I imagined my children growing up with this haggadah and my children’s children. I know, it’s way sentimental, but that’s me. So when it hit me this year, that I wouldn’t be able to use that haggadah but I would need one in Spanish, I felt a bit overwhelmed. After some research, I found a messianic haggadah in Spanish. Between Spanish haggadah, using google translate with my own haggadah, and a TON of hours I was able to produce my own Spanish version. It wasn’t perfect, but time ran out and I used what I had. Then came the challenge of finding all the materials needed for the Passover. Things like Matzah and a lamb’s bone are not so common down here. I found Matzah and bought 4 big boxes of it. I ran all over town trying to find a lamb’s bone, but eventually settled for a cow’s bone. I boiled it for about 6 hours, scrubbing off all the meat as I went along. I got the rest of the materials ready: candles, a white linen, horseradish (also a challenge to find), the charoset, parsley, and all the bowls and plates to go with a seder for 30 people. People kept asking me beforehand what I was doing. Was it a dinner? Kinda. Was it a church service? Kinda. What was it? I always struggle to answer these questions.
But the whole thing went really well. I even had kids present this year so we could have a real hunt for the afikomen! One of the coolest parts was that I found out that one of the guys in my church has a Jewish grandmother. Hence, in some way he is Jewish. He doesn’t really have much of a Jewish identity, but still we got to share a bit about Jewish heritage. (And by the way, it was his son that found the afkomen!) While I’m sure that I butchered some of the Hebrew and a lot of the Spanish, I was really excited to share this part of my cultural heritage with those who can claim this as part of their spiritual heritage. The whole night in general went really well and afterward people told me that they were really moved by the whole thing. They all seemed really touched by the ceremony of it all.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

counting my blessings

I have nothing special to say at the moment except that I feel extremely blessed. Tonight, walking home from church I was overwhelmed with how much God has blessed me. Beyond all the obvious (a relationship with Him, grace for my ridiculous self, etc.) He has placed me here in this season to live a pretty sweet life. Here are the blessings I see in my life: 1. I am living in the country I love. There are definite moments when I get frustrated, but ever since I first came to Chile, I have considered this country my own. I waited for 4 years for God to open the door to return here and now I get to live here for a loooooooooong time! 2. I have an awesome apartment. Really, my apartment is so comfortable. I've lived in so many places and the last few years I've begun to feel the need to "nest" and here I have it! I have a beautiful apartment and I love spending time in it. 3. I have a wonderful church! We are by no means perfect- and we know it! But we are striving to live out the gospel, to live a life worthy of the gospel, to serve one another. I am so blessed by the conversations that go on in our bible studies. 3a. I have an awesome pastor. My pastor Cristobal is really a gift from God for me. From him, I learn not only about the bible, but this guy has some serious gifts in leading groups of people. There are NUMEROUS times in our small group that someone says something that makes me think, "oh my goodness, how would I respond to that question/comment?" and I have learned so much from him in how to lead people. SO much. 4. I have a good job that offers a great schedule and the work isn't too bad. It's not what I LOVE doing (which is theology in both the academic and practical sense) but it's not too bad teaching English. I work for a quality institute and in a fun environment so I have no complaints. 5. I have always been drawn to various very diverse ministries. Orphans, women stuck in the sex industry, the gay/artist community, university students. And here I find that I have the opportunity to work in so many ways. In my church, I'm going to start teaching two of the younger girls (well, same age as me but younger in their faith) how to study the bible. This honestly is a dream come true. I moved into a building that is full of prostitutes. Little did I know that God was going to give me such an awesome place to minister. I live in this building with them. I take the elevator with them, deal with the same street noise, and when the elevator is broken we climb the stairs together. The the next building over, there are tons of peruvian immigrants. They are like the bottom of society. They come here, often illegally, to take the lowest jobs, for the lowest pay. And I get to live with them! I get to live here and be a part of these peoples' worlds. This is the kind of stuff that I dream about when I hear about people serving in different parts of asia or Africa. And I have it! Here! In Santiago. 6. I can see the Lord changing me each and every day, making me more and more like His son Jesus. I can feel Him ripping away my idols, one by one (and Lord knows I have a lot!) He is so faithful to me and He hasn't abandoned me at all. He has brought me here and is teaching me that "to live is Christ" means that I am alive to serve. My time, my money, everything in my life is for His purposes. What grand thoughts. And while I still spend a good amount of my life being self centered and selfish, I know that He is working in me His good and perfect will. AMEN! So yeah, these are the reasons I feel so very blessed right now.

visas and life here

Yesterday was my 3 month mark. I didn't even realize it until this morning when I was thinking about the great and awesomeness that was yesterday- I GOT MY RESIDENCY VISA! That's right, for the next year, I will stay here on my temporary residency visa and then I can apply for my permanent residency visa. It feels great to have this stamp in my passport. POR FIN! To be honest though, it doesn't feel like it's been three months here. Three months is such a short time. I feel like I have been here for much much longer. It feels very much like home to me and even though there are still a lot of parts of the culture that I don't like, or appreciate, it nevertheless feels like it's where I am supposed to be. I've had to learn to extend grace to myself over these past few months. When living overseas, everyone has this idea of what their life will look like or should look like. And the failure of that vision is unavoidable. We won't ever adjust as much as we think we should, and our lives tend to be much more boring than we think an overseas life should be. But extending grace, allowing ourselves to take the waves as they come, this is the key to not just surviving, but living well.

Monday, April 11, 2011

more cabbage soup?

Yes folks, that's right. I finished my cabbage soup diet, made myself a beautiful pancake topped with lots of syrup, had a candy bar, and decided that for dinner, I wanted more soup. Crazy. But this weekend, I was talking about food to my friend and we came upon the topic of korean food. She asked me if they really eat kimchi at every meal there. As I was explaining the importance of kimchi in Korean culture, I realized that my cabbage soup is quite like kimchi chigae (kimchi soup). Granted, the cabbage in my soup isn't fermented, but I make it in a red (tomato juice) sauce and I make sure it is nice and spicy. So in a lot of ways, a bowl of hot spicy cabbage soup is similar to one of my favorite Korean dishes. No wonder I've enjoyed it so much!

a good sign

I live near a long thin park called Parque Forestal. It's really quite a nice park and it has a long stretch of a lane for riding bikes or jogging. And since I have a fear of riding bikes in this city, I jog. It's really pleasent. I usually listen to radioDisney on my mp3 player and jog along to Jonas Brothers, Beyonce, or Julieta Venegas. Great stuff. Yesterday on my jog I noticed that the trees were beginning to change. Fall has finally arrived and I am glad for the change. But as I was jogging through the falling leaves, I began to think about how much I like fall. And I had this special moment when I realized that I want to be here in Santiago, jogging through this park for many falls to come. After the past few weeks of cultural adjustment being a little more painful than normal, this was a nice thought to have.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Detox- Day 7 The finish line

So I made it! I cheated a little. Yesterday I fried up two eggs for dinner, and I had a handful of peanuts the other day. But overall, it wasn't so bad. I think I might try to make the cabbage soup a more permanent part of my diet. Not that I want to spend days eating ONLY cabbage soup. But I think its a good way to get some extra veggies in my diet. I am definitly looking forward to eating sushi and chocolate. But during this week, I started going on runs. I looked into buying an eliptical machine for my apartment. And in general, I want to be smarter about what I eat. I love sugar. And Im not planning on giving it up permanently. But it was good to see that I could go a week without it. I've been reading a book called The Weigh Down Diet. The basic idea is that people who are overweight, are so because they eat more than their body needs. That they eat even when they aren't hungry, when their bodies don't need more food. I know I do it all the time. I eat when I'm bored mostly. But this book is all about figuring out when you are actually hungry, and only eating what your body needs. I like the book so far. The author is a dietician and she takes time to describe the digestion process. She's a christian and her book is based off the idea that our souls hunger for God which we understand as physical hunger and we overeat to compensate our lack of connection with God. Her hermaneutic is off. She uses verses to back up some of her claims that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. But in general, I like what she says. More than anything, I like the fact that it's forcing me to deal with my "boredom" eating. So for now, I'm going to enjoy life, some more soup, some chocolate, and maybe get myself an eliptical machine.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Detox- day 3

It's still going well. I think adding the option for a hard boiled egg a day and some almonds made the whole thing much more doable. I still find myself hungry often, but I have also found that most of my issue is psychological. I want other food, but I'm actually fine. I eat my cabbage soup at least twice a day and I'm trying to limit the fruit I have each day to only 2 or 3. Today in class was a challenge. Not only was I hungry, but all of my students decided that they wanted to talk about food. I always ask my students how their weekends were. I ask them about what they did, etc. Well, today, as they shared about their weekends, they described the food the ate. Seriously, they all wanted to talk about the food they ate. In all 5 of my classes, this was the topic of the day. And I found myself craving BB when they talked about BBQ, wanting sushi when they shared about their favorite sushi spot in town, and just in general, wanting food! Oh well. I might have to take more control over the conversation next time.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Detox- day 2

Well, I think it's too early to tell how it's going but I feel ok. I went to bed hungry but not willing to eat any more soup (that's what I get for eating 3 bowls in one afternoon!) I woke up and had an apple and an egg. I still couldn't bring myself to eat any soup. It's a beautiful sunny day here so I went for a walk. It turned out to be a two hour walk and by the time I got home, I was really hungry. Soup sounded just right! I added some Peruvian yellow aji (pepper) paste to the soup which made it a delightful spicy soup. I do have a headache, which might be from the detox, or possibly from the seasonal allergies that a lot of people have now. I went to my friend Mauro's house last night. I thought a bunch of us were going, but there was some confusion and people decided not to go. But I went. I had been nervous about going to a party with this detox thing going on. It's really socially unacceptable to not eat or drink at a party. And don't try to explain what you're doing because the concept of healthy eating here is non existent. They have diets, and tons of women go on diets weekly. But the diets tend to be more abusive than healthy. Like thinking that an appropriate diet is to just drink diet coke until dinnertime. Not helpful. So it was nice that it was just Mauro and me so I could avoid the mass group interrogation of why I was only drinking water. Another gringa friend Natalie, an Aussie who is doing missionary volunteer work, came by and the three of us spent the night playing card games and drinking water. Let's just say, this was quite a bit different than a normal chilean party. So overall I am doing ok. I'm hungry, but ok. The real challenge will come when I go to work and I have to be in class all morning. There's no microwave at work, nor really a space for eating food. So let the challenge begin!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Time for a detox- Day 1

My dad is the most self disciplined man I know. Seriously, I defy any of you to surpass him in self discipline. And he makes it look so easy! But sadly I did NOT get the self discipline gene. No, I'm quite the opposite and I've been pretty convicted by the Lord recently on my lack of self control. I can see it in various areas of my life, but it became most evident in my addiction to sugar. I just can't say no! I've been thinking about how I want to do a makeover on my general diet. But I knew that I wouldn't be able to just moderate the sugar in my diet. First, I would need a detox. I know someone who does this cabbage diet every once in a while. So I looked into it and decided it just might be the best way to detox from sugar. I read all the different recipes out there, found one that I could make here (things like V8 juice and lipton soup don't exist here!). I added some brown rice to the soup and I think I might allow some hard boiled eggs into the diet. To be honest, I'm pretty nervous. I crave sugar. I love sugar. But I also realize that I don't want to be controlled by food. Last night I made a huge pot of cabbage stew. It's chalk full of veggies: cabbage (obviously!), green onions, greenish orangish peppers, carrots, zucchini, and tomatoes. Mix in a few spices and I'm ready to go! I hosted a pancake breakfast for some gringa friends this morning. It was a preplanned unavoidable (and delicious!) event. But besides my two pancakes, I've kept to the soup. It's gone ok today. It took me a while to fill up on the soup, but after 3 bowls of it, I met my limit and went for an hour walk to help digest the mountain of veggies. Each day will probably be a challenge. I'll want my sugar fix. But it's only a week and then I can move into a well rounded healthy diet. So... vamos!