Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Vote Early. Vote Often.

Thanks, ladies, for your submissions.

Now the rest of you all can vote on your favorite photo that best depicts, "Sign of the Times." Or just vote for your favorite photographer. We encourage ballot box please send all your friends this way to vote. The photo with the most votes wins an iTunes gift card! ($15). Voting ends on Tuesday, April 6 @ 11:59 PM.
Have fun with this contest! Happy Easter, dear friends.

PHOTO #1: C. S., RAC

I’m a new int’l worker in a county where we don’t have a reliable power supply. One night in the middle of doing some language study and reviewing a video of my lesson, the power went out. So, as usual, I lit some candles in my apartment and brought one back to my computer so I could continue to study (I was taking notes/reviewing vocab with the video). Struck me as odd – studying with my laptop, but not having electricity!

PHOTO #2: Claire Plantenga, Bolivia

Here's a photo I took on September 12, 2009 in Sucre, Bolivia where we serve with Food for the Hungry. The girl on the cell phone (left) is dressed to participate in a downtown parade celebration, while the woman on the right (probably her mom) is waiting and wearing the traditional everyday dress for this area of Bolivia. Just down the block from where I took this photo, I also saw another parade participant dressed completely in ancient cultural clothing--and using the ATM! Wishing I took a photo of that. It really made me smile to see the "old and new" together.

PHOTO #3: Michelle Kiprop, Kenya

This picture is from a Kenyan wedding we attended on New Years Eve 2009. The bride and groom are showing her family the cows they will be receiving for her dowry. Meanwhile the entire event is being captured on camcorders!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Techy Side

Today, once again, I am thankful to be living in this particular time in history. I appreciate the blessing of modern technology. Now I can keep in touch with family and supporters, not only with email, Facebook and blogs, but also with VOIP (voice over), phone lines and Skype. It keeps the communication two-way. I love that!

When my dmil* (refer to Jamie-Jo Speak in sidebar) suffered a stroke a few months ago, we got the news right away. Dbil* was able to make a local call from Ohio to our Lingo phone here in Mexico and keep us in the loop. We can make weekly calls to dmil even though she has no Internet access.

In the fall I used Skype to connect with my daughter before visiting her in California. She had not been home for ten months and wanted me to bring some clothes and keepsakes she had left behind. Using the web cam, I walked through her room and showed her each item in her drawer and closet while she instructed me whether to pack it, store it, or donate it to the “missionary boutique.” I felt like the thoroughly modern mother.

Taking my techy side up a notch, last week I attended my first ever Cyber Bridal Shower. My ddil*-to-be (my son’s future bride) attended a bridal shower at her home church in Wisconsin. So I wouldn’t feel left out, she put a computer right on the gift table and then called me on Skype. Via web cam, I could watch her open all her presents. We chatted back and forth—almost like we were in the same room. I met some of her friends and relatives and even one of her bridesmaids. All via computer. How cool is that?

Another way we enjoy this technology is on Cyber Sundays. Each week we download sermons from our kids’ church in Simi Valley, California, where they are attending Eternity Bible College. We invite other English speakers to our house to watch podcast sermons of Francis Chan and other good preachers—the same sermons my son and daughter watched live the week before.

Lastly, we’ve also used technology to connect with supporting churches. Once we had a long-distance, live interview with a pastor who wanted to introduce us to the congregation. That was the simplest meeting we ever attended. All we did was straighten up the room, make sure the lighting was adequate, plug in the microphone and web cam, and then visit with the pastor as we were broadcast on a big screen. From Mexico. It boggles the brain.

In some of my imaginary time travels I see myself listening to “goo-goo, ga-ga” and talking baby talk with my yet unborn grandchildren sitting on their mothers’ laps watching me on a computer screen. It’s not the same as living in the same town with loved ones, but it sure is a nice consolation.

I just love the possibilities for staying in touch. Thank you, Lord, for technology!

IRL* Let's put our techy, digital side to work and participate in the contest...


“Sign of the Times” CONTEST!!!!!!!!

Win a $15 iTunes gift card by submitting a fun photo depicting the clash of living in the 21st century while living in your global community.

For example, a mental picture I have, but never caught on film, is of an indigenous man plowing his field the old way with oxen, with a cell phone on his belt and a Megavoice (audio Bible MP3) in his pocket....

Submit your photo to by next Monday, March 29 @ 10:00 am (MST). We’ll post the photos and then vote on our favorite one!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Time Travel

Why do I find it so difficult to live in the present?

Maybe I'm just not busy enough, or maybe I'm not disciplined enough to remain in the here-and-now. For some reason I forever find myself either rewinding the tape to relive, examine, and critique scenes from my past, or else I am fast-forwarding it to pre-play future events, trying out different possible scenarios.

For instance, I picture myself staying here in Mexico, growing old together with Methuselah*, and having grandchildren take turns coming to visit during the summer. I'll show them all the places their parents used to play, and read our favorite stories to them. (At this point in my pondering, if I'm ever careless enough to wonder aloud, Jim, I mean Methuselah, will jump in with some ridiculous comment like, "What will you serve for lunch that day?" or "What outfit will you be wearing?") Argh.

An alternate ending I dream up (usually after he bursts my bubble with some stupid remark) is of me as a widow living out the remainder of my old age in some unknown location. This particular ending gets less frightening the more I preview it. There is no terror in facing the uncertainty of the future because whenever I fast-forward the tape, in spite of all the blank scenes and potential tragedies, the one constant feature is that Jesus is always by my side. I take great comfort in that.

I used to joke about writing my entire life story in advance and then complaining about my kids' refusal to follow the script! (They were all going to be the perfect kids, and I, of course, the perfect mom....) Actually it's twice as fun my way, because I can dream and imagine one ending, and then enjoy the real story as it unfolds. God's story is always better than my imaginary one. Imperfect kids and mothers are more colorful and genuine than perfect ones.

How about you? Have you ever done mental gymnastics like burning your house down and then imagining which things you would miss if you lost them forever? Have you ever peeked into the future, not liked what you saw, and then made some changes to avoid turning into that person, or to avoid facing that preventable problem? Or just flitted to the past or future simply to find joy that eludes you in the present?

Then again maybe the rest of you are too busy to play these zany games. In your defense, living one day at a time is actually scriptural. And look hard enough, you’ll find plenty of joy and even hilarity right in front of you. No time travel required. Maybe I’ll try living in the present tense for a while, and stop dreaming about driver’s licenses I don’t have yet.

What a novel idea.

IRL*fast-forward or rewind, I'm still pushing "play."

*please refer to sidebar dictionary [Jamie Jo-speak] for the definition of starred item.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mission Impossible

Last week I was sketching out a possible blog post, which after five attempts to get spell-check to recognize my intent, I was going to title “Bureaucracy – more than a wicked spelling word.” However, my purpose was to ultimately share my success in getting a driver’s license of some sort. Well, that didn’t happen.

Already I am laughing over the ridiculous twist of events from my weekend. If I didn’t laugh, I would cry. Maybe I actually did cry once. Down deep it was immensely frustrating.

A stateside ministry paid my round-trip airfare to Houston, Texas from Thursday to Saturday so that I could bring back some donated audio equipment for our Scripture recording studio. Since I have old friends from high school who live in Houston, my husband gave me the privilege of making this quick trip. Aha! I thought. I can kill two birds in one bush, or whatever it is they say, and also get a Texas driver’s license since we actually found all the required documents.

After almost three hours of waiting in the Department of Public Safety on Friday, my number was called. I couldn’t wait to get that piece of paper saying I was legal. Mentally, I had already finished my "bureaucracy" article rejoicing over my victory. Mentally, I was already doing the happy dance. Mentally, I was not prepared for the written exam I didn’t know I’d have to take. Sparing you the gory details, I flunked royally. It was not a happy moment.

Then on my return to Mexico, after a very fun time with my friends (making the trip well worth it in spite of it all!), everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Traffic jams, arriving late, discovering an embargo on boxes going into Mexico, demonically slow elevators, jammed parking lot computers, long lines and on and on.

It was a miracle I made my flight at all. The crowning insult was when the captain finally removed the “fasten seatbelt” sign and I jumped up in desperation only to find the one and only bathroom door locked with no one inside it. I was doing a dance in the aisle while waiting for someone to help bust the door open, but it wasn’t a happy dance. Whew. It was a close call, I assure you. I’m relieved to report the door busted before anything else.

Now I am home. Mission not accomplished. On my list for this week besides finding a courier for the two boxes I left behind, is my second trip to get my Mexican license. First attempt there was unsuccessful, too. Bureaucracy. Fun times. God is still good. Life is still good. I’ve gotta laugh or I’ll cry. Then again, it’s fun to do both together sometimes.

(Spelling tip for the day: type it out three times in context, then once just for fun: bureaucracy.)

IRL*is it possible that closed doors are a good thing?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Extenuating Circumstances

Last week I sent out another memorable prayer update. A classic. I started my email by relating a story about my daughter’s school assignment in which she was to calculate her father’s age in Roman numerals. The worksheet mistakenly said that “M” was fifty, so my daughter wrote that her dad was MVI. I thought that was so cute, since our sending agency’s initials are MVI. Then I added something about the following day being my Mth birthday.

The joke was on me. Soon I had a flood of responses teasing about how we are both older than Methuselah, since M is actually 1000, not 50. Hopefully people will remember some of the prayer requests and ministry news, and not just my silliness. I had to send out a retraction saying it was my Lth, not my Mth birthday.

I did have a very good birthday, by the way. Thank you. Except… turns out my driver’s license expired on that very same day.

Some of you are groaning. You already know what I’m discovering yet again. People outside the U.S. borders cannot renew driving privileges online, post 9-11. Not in Ohio, anyway.

Methuselah and I spent long hours trying to finagle a way to accomplish this simple task. One option was to fly to some other random state where the regulations are friendlier to persons who do not fit within “the box.” I hear Arizona is a great place for online renewals until you turn 65. That’s tempting. (One photo of the 50-year-old me for the next fifteen years.) No can do. What proof can I possibly provide of residing in that state?

It is impossible. For the first time in sixteen years of living in this country, I am forced to apply for a Mexican driver’s license. By the time we drive to the U.S. for my son’s wedding next summer, my application will have red flags all over it due to the time lapse of seemingly not having a license. I’ll be required to get a learner’s permit for two weeks (and drive again with Mommy in the front seat, I suppose?), and retake the written and driving exam. That’s a memory I do not prefer to repeat.

The last time I took the test in Ohio, the examiner was a stickler for petty details like coming to a complete stop at stop signs. What kind of craziness is that? In Mexico that would get me rear-ended by other drivers. I explained to the woman that she simply had to pass me, or I would never hear the end of it from my sons whom I had taught to drive. She did not think that was her concern. She didn’t even smile.

Just once I wish there would be some tiny allowance for people like me who live their lives smack dab in the middle of extenuating circumstances.

IRL*Just like stop signs, driver's licenses are a necessary nuisance...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...