Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baby Shower - Janisse

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a baby shower with Amber. 
Janisse and her husband Mark are expecting their first child, a baby girl, at the beginning of April. It was a lot of fun navigating there, enjoying the lovely breezes outside during the shower, and practicing listening and speaking Spanish at the shower. 

 Lovely Janisse at her shower. 

There were several games (ok, to be honest, Amber and I kept hoping we wouldn't be selected for the individual or competitive games). 
BUT we did participate in several of them, including one on guessing how big around Janisse is (every woman's dream! Ha!). 
Ok, people, this was a total fluke, but I guessed exactly the number of centimeters. Yes, centimeters. I couldn't even estimate measurements in centimeters, so I totally guessed. 
 Amber and I with our guesses. 

Amber even got some snuggle time with a little cutie. Adorable! 
 Look at the little buddy's eyes!! Precious. 

It was a fun, cultural night! No, we were not the first ones to arrive (even though we were "late"), so we felt really good about that! 

So fun! 
We can't wait to meet little baby girl soon! 
Congratulations, Mark and Janisse! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sold Out!

This past weekend was the annual Crossfire Retreat. Because I work with the 6th grade girls, this is their first retreat experience, which brings an extra enthusiasm and a bit of nervousness! They were great and so much fun to hang out with this weekend.

 Retreat started Friday after school. We had a lot of students come and it was fabulous! The girls were so excited to be on the bus! (By excited, I mean lots of screaming, shouting, blaring the radio to sing at the top of their lungs - this was mostly the other group of girls in our bus).
 Friday night was fun! They were tired at 9, but WIDE AWAKE at 11:30! Lord help us! Best item I took for the weekend: eye mask (Note: when using this is in conversation, most people will confuse this with an Apple product)
 Yes, they were up at the Pre-crack of dawn! Whew! Our self-attempt at a group photo!
 Had to put this one up, because Kush's face cracks me up!
 Amber came along and rescued us and took our photo! Love these sweet girls!
 We played games for a while on Saturday - there is a generational gap between card games. Phase 10 was difficult for the girls, but they tried!
 Another group playing Catch Phrase - so fun!
 We decided to name our small group The Huddle. We end our small group time praying together in a huddle. Such a sweet time.

This particular night, we talked about ways we have sold out to the world and how instead to be sold out to Jesus.

The end of our small group time ended with lots of hilarious stories.
Here are some points of our discussion:
* "Once I was kicked out of the states for having lice."
* "I nearly killed our cat because I gave it the dog's medicine."
* "When I was little, I used to ride our dalmatian like a horse. My dad gave me reins for him."
* "When I was six, I used to think I was a hen and would try to lay eggs. I was took an egg from the fridge and sat on it, but then it exploded all over my mom's good chair. I realized I wasn't a good hen."

 Spending time with these girls reminds me so often of the things that come up in middle schoolers. It is such a hard time of life and can breed so many insecurities. Praying so hard that the Lord protects these precious ones from wounds and insecurities and pours His truth over them.

Other notes from our small group time:
* Feelings of fear of loss
* Pressure to gain approval
* Desperate to know God more
* Wanting to know what it means to be a Christian
* Wanting to know the difference between Catholics and Christians
 The three people in this group talked to Cheryl simultaneously and she tracked with all of them! Hilarious! 
 So glad this sweet friend was there this weekend!
 Ok, I don't know this kid, but when I saw him I had a flashback to highschool. He totally reminded me of Bryant Sivess!!! Oh my! I almost walked up without thinking to greet "bryant". Totally weirded me out!
 This is what happens when people don't sleep more than 10 hours in a weekend!
It was a great weekend! I love spending time with my small group!
The Lord answered some very specific things He and I had talked about for the retreat and has clearly shown me new ways to pray.

As lovely as the weekend was, I'm thrilled to sleep in my own bed tonight!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cerro Punta Day 2

Day two began as a sunny, blue-skied day! It was lovely! The river running in front of the hotel makes the most wonderful sounds as it rushes over the rocks!
 We spent time after breakfast walking along the river and looking at the water flowing by quickly.
 The sky was gorgeous! I won't bore you with bajillions of pictures of the sky, but just one!

 I loved the little row of buildings along the road as they represent peoples' homes and livelihood.
 Bougainvillea is one of my favorite flowering bushes. The bushes long the road were so lovely as they bloomed!

 The province of Chiriqui is known for its produce and contribution to the economy of Panama. There are LOTS of little stands selling vegetables and fruits! So delicious, affordable, and lovely!
 Look at these little onions growing in someone's front yard. Reminds me of living on the farm!
 Love this picture!!!! Sister - remember growing sweet corn in the garden???? Love that!
 This is where we stayed (well, the sign for it at least!). Such a lovely place!
Yes, more of the river!

Ok, by far, one of my favorite pictures!!!!
We came back from our walk and went up to the Spa for our massages (they were a part of the package). Remember, we had walked up here the day before and all was well.This particular morning, a mere 18 hours later, this is what we saw...
Yep, that is a burned out spa. Jen and I looked at each other.
Me: Jen, I think the spa burned up!
Jen: (Looking around) Abby, are we in the right place? This has to be a joke!

No, it was not a joke. It has burned during the night and we heard nothing - no sirens, no shouting, no hearing of the flames or smelling smoke. We went down the receptionist desk and our masseuses were waiting for us and totally tranquila about the whole situation. Hilarious! Apparently it was being investigated, but it was believed to be an electrical fire.
Our next adventure led us to Parque Internacional La Amistad. We parked at the entrada and then hiked quite a ways up a hill to the actual office (we did not realize it was an actual road, but not sure I would have wanted to drive up it in Verdecita (my car's name).
We made it to the office to pay the entrance fee. The park ranger did not have change. He told us to come back after the hike while he radioed his buddy for change. Oh Panama! (This is quite normal to find places that don't have change).  
 Finally, the trails! Jen pointing the way to our trail.
On the trail! There were times we thought we had digressed because it was overgrown, but we survived.
 Lovely Jen!
 It is amazing how the jungle overtakes and grows over everything!

 These tree branches had twisted as they grew. Incredible!
 We kept trying self-timer and this was the first attempt - hilarious!
 Yes, we are pioneers of the forest! Hurray!
 I really like this sign and picture. It is such an amazing example of what our lives are like after we come to know Jesus. We are a death that is full of life because of salvation! Amen!
Yes, I really like water. I so badly wanted to go tubing on the river out front of our hotel, but Jen reminded me that the water would be FREEZING! So instead we looked and enjoyed and took lots of pictures!
 The jungle is full of so many interesting things!
 This was two tree trunks growing over the trail at an angle - incredible! I thought it was a slab of rock at first!

 After the hike, we hiked back up to the office and the park ranger greeted us. No, he still did not have change, so we were able to visit for free! Score!
 We had crossed the bridge this is referring to on the way to the park and saw this on the way back. fantastic! No, it hadn't really collapsed, but it had made us nervous the first time. Now we knew why.

 The moment we had been waiting for - Fresas con crema! Oh yum!
 This picture above is the first time I went to this particular place and to Cerro Punta in 2007 with friends. It cracked me up as I looked back and realized I was freezing both times!
 Y'all, this is delicious goodness!!! Oh my!

Yes, this looks just the one from the day before!
This is after dinner which has a fun story! We went back to the hotel restaurant for dinner. I was craving salad (a good salad is not always easy to find in Panama). So there was a chicken caesar salad on the menu, so that was my choice.  During this discussion of what to order, Jen mentions that she would love a job editing English translations of menus and such. And I say, "Like this description of the caesar salad. Look, it says with anchovy dressing."
How little did I realize it was a literal translation. It tasted like tartar sauce with whole anchovy fillets on the salad. It did not work out so fabulously. I ate mostly the chicken. Such a disappointment. Note to self, when it says "anchovy sauce" take it literally!

Lots of fun memories! Thus ended day 2