Sunday, March 29, 2009

Johnnie Reb

I will be getting a puppy for my very own this April!! The Puppy Express (a.k.a. my friend Sarah) stopped by tonight with Janie and her litter of five Queensland Heeler pups. I picked out a blue female that has a blue eye for myself and a blue male for my dad. The puppy with the red collar is my dad's and the puppy with the blue collar is mine. I'm sorry they're not very good. I tried uploading videos tonight but had some issues. You'll have to settle for photos for the time being. Oh yeah, I think I'm gonna name my puppy Johnnie Reb. There's no good reason behind it. I'm just gonna do it and I have a feeling the name will fit. You can call her Reb for short.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nothing will be able to seperate us

I missed my entry for a Thankful Thursday yesterday, but I still want to share how thankful I am for God's love. For some reason, there was a chunk of time starting in grad school where I didn't feel like I understood God's love. I'm still not sure I will ever understand it completely, but after consistent prayer and searching I have a little better handle on it. Today though I wanted to remind you all of how great God's love is and how thankful I am for it.

In Romans 8, verses 38 through 39 Paul states, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God that is in Chris Jesus our Lord."

Wow, how amazingly powerful is that short statement? Pretty much sums it up for me. It is a little stifling to know that nothing, absolutely nothing can seperate us from God's love. And you know the best part? We didn't do anything to earn or deserve this love. God has this love grip on our lives that has nothing to do with us--who we are, where we came from, what we've accomplished. No resume is great enough to earn God's love. I love that. I can never make God un-love me no matter how un-lovely I am acting. Now don't get me wrong, I don't take that as permission to make God angry by pursuing my will on purpose. It is incredibly liberating to know that no matter how focused, or unfocused, on God I may be, God's love is never shaken. Take that thought with you today. May it bring you comfort, confidence and peace.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Brazil Pictures

Click here to see my pictures from Brazil! I can't figure out how to link them directly to my blog, so for now you'll have follow my link-a-roo:-)

Ciao, and love!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ciao Brazil

Ciao Brazil and oi the US of A. In case your portuguese is as rusty as mine, that means goodbye Brazil and hello US of A. I am officially back in Buckeye but wanted to recount the events of the second half of the trip because I didn't have internet access.

Day 6: Tuesday (Argentinian side of Foz)
We started this day with an amazing tour of Itaupu, the world's largest hydroelectric dam on the Parana River. The tour was amazing--the dam is split between Paraguay and Brazil and when I say split I mean exactly 50/50. 10 of the 20 turbines are in Paraguay and 10 are in Brazil. Half of the control room and computers are in Paraguay and half are in Brazil and so on and so forth even as far as the number of employees and managers. 50 percent of the electricity generated is owned by Paraguay and 50 percent is owned by Brazil. Paraguay only uses 5% and then sells the remaining 45% that they own to Brazil. Of this 5% of energy generated, it takes care of 90 percent of Paraguay's energy demand. Of the 95 percent of the dam energy that Brazil utilizes, it takes care of only 20 percent of Brazil's need.

Following the dam tour, Amanda and I crossed the Brazil-Argentine border to view the Argentinian side of Foz. This too was amazing, but I would have to say that viewing the Falls from the Brazil side was better. We got a much closer view of the Falls and it was almost as if we were standing on top of them. When we were finishing our tour, we ran into this group of four guys from England that we had run into once a day for the past several days. They had come to Argentina the day before but were heading to the bus station to take a bus to Florianopolis--same as us. They were a fun group to bump into and it was quite ironic how similar our schedules turned out to be.

Our driver, Marley, dropped us off at the bus station in Foz and we set out on a 14 hour bus ride to Florianopolis. Doesn't that just spell f-u-n?

Days 7-9: Wednesday through Friday (Florianopolis and Santa Catarina Island)
After a gloriously short bus ride to Florianopolis (I joke, I joke, there is nothing short about 14 hours on a bus) we rented a car and set out for Santa Catarina Island. I forget the exact number but there are a ton of beaches on this island which is yet another popular vacation spot for both Brazilians and Argentinians. After selecting a quaint pousada right on the beach, we spent the majority of our time just relaxing, reading and walking on the beach. The weather was a bit overcast, but we also had our fair share of sun. The only bit of sunburn I walked away with was on the tops of my feet and I'm pretty sure it just may be close to a third degree burn...or at least a second! :) Yikes! All three of us looked pretty funny with our sunburned feet.

Amanda's friend, Josie, met up with us on Thursday morning and spent time with us. She was great--her husband will continue studying at Purdue through July when he too will return to Brazil. She was a fun tour guide and we had a chance to check out the beaches on the eastern shore of the island which are pretty famous in Latin America as great surfing spots. We headed to the southern most tip and had coffee and ice cream (yes, in one sitting!) at a cute cafe called the Sweet Fisherman. The beaches were small and cute, and it was fun seeing the small differences between them all. And we ended up seeing our English buddies again- once crossing a street and then again on Praia Mole (Mole Beach).

Day 10: Saturday (Sao Paulo)
We woke up early and boarded a flight to head to Sao Paolo. Kirsten flew out in the early afternoon but Amanda and I navigated the city. As a little background, Sao Paolo is the world's third largest metropolic with roughly 20 million residents. Like other large cities in developing countries there is a striking comparison between the very rich and the very poor. More rich people own helicopeters in Sao Paolo than rich people in New York City. Needless to say, after spending all of our days in the swamp and cute country towns, I wasn't too excited about the smog and traffic. It proved to be a nice change of pace though--we used the Metro system to get around and wound up seeing the Se (sp) Cathedral, an old train station (don't know the name), the Museum of the Portuguese Language (really cool), and then the ritzy area known as Paulista. The people watching was great, and at times a little overwhelming.

All in all, the trip was amazing and I praise God for his traveling mercies and such great health for all three of us. Brazilians are such a welcoming and friendly people that I would come back again...actually I hope many more times! I loved listening to the Portuguese language and now have an interest in maybe learning it someday. I would encourage all of you to visit if you ever get the chance! I will be posting pictures and several short video clips this week...keep checking back!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Brazil update #2

Wow, time has totally flown and I can hardly believe that it is Monday night. Everyone in Brazil has been more than hospitable, I feel like their motto should be "welcome, sit down, stay awhile." I didn´t know what to expect but I love it here and totally plan on coming back. As with anyone country or city, there are parts that aren´t the safest but we have found the most reasonable and highest quality hostels and pousadas (a step up from a hostel). God has blessed every step and every stop with helpful, warm and welcoming people. Here are some more daily recaps-

Day 4: Sunday (Bonita plus Rio de Prata)
We actually had the chance to sleep in a bit and didn´t even leave our room until about 7am. Breakfast was pretty typical-ham, cheese, lots of bread, butter and all types of fruit preserves. We weren´t getting picked up until 10:30 by Joe so we walked around Bonito´s main street to check it out. We kind of forgot it was Sunday so not much was really going on in town but we still got to see the town. Once Joe picked us up we drove about 40 kilometers to a fazenda on the Rio de Prata (Silver River) to go on a snorkling trip for three and a half hours. Again, I had no idea what to expect but the fazenda was crazy beautiful. It was actually a working farm and had Brahman cattle, sheep and a small garden. The snorkling was fun--kind of reminded me of some rivers in Florida. Very clear and over 50 different varieties of fish. When we were done we had a late lunch at the fazenda and it was pretty much amazing once again. The largest spread of vegetables I´d seen up to this point and five different types of meat. We took quick showers and then settled in with Joe again to head south four hours to pick up an overnight bus in Dourados. On the way there though we passed through major Ag country here--a ton of soybeans and sugar cane are grown in this region and as we drove we saw tractors still working in the field and truck after truck bringing the soybeans into different silos. We boarded the bus at around 11pm and settled in for a long drive south to Foz de Iguaçu.

Day 5: Foz de Iguaçu (Falls of Iguaçu)
Amanda and I slept pretty well on the bus but Kir didn´t sleep much at all. We were picked up by another driver and dropped off at Hostel de Natura--basically the best hostel we´ve stayed in so far. Located outside of town, the hostel is surrounded by farmland. It is so quiet and serene, it is just what we needed this morning. The hostel owner offered us breakfast right away and it couldn´t have hit the spot anymore. After breakfast we walked to the road and caught a city bus to the Foz. The Foz de Iguaçcu have been described as taller than the Niagra and wider than Victoria Falls in Africa. They were amazing--I wish I could upload the video I took of it tonight because my words will not do justice to the amazing creation we saw today. One of the neatest parts of the park was seeing a plackard that quoted Psalms 93:4 from the bible-God can calm the biggest waves and water. It is true, but it was awesome to read it while standing next to the Foz. Next we headed to an aviary across the road and it was pretty neat--I´m not really into birds but it was still pretty cool to see so many varieties of parakeets, macaws and toucans all in one spot. By the time we had traversed the aviary I was more than ready to jump in the pool at the hostel to cool off because it had become quite hot. The pool was great and again, the tranquility of the hostel was great. We have access to free internet (yay), an awesome dinner tonight and the shower was really hot. That was actually my first hot shower of the trip.

Tomorrow we are going to check out the Argentinian side of the Foz and actually take a boat and go under/behind them. We are also going to check out Itaipu, the dam that generates most of the electricity for Brazil. We board another overnight bus at 6:45pm and will proceed to travel about 13 hours to Florianopolis. Floripa (the abbreviated name) is a very popular vacation spot for Brazilians and has also been called the surf capital of South America. I can make do with another overnight bus ride but am anxiously awaiting stepping off the bus in Floripa.

Again, much love to you all! I can´t wait to post pictures upon my return!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Brazil from Bonito

It is day number three in Brazil and all is well! We´ve done so much already in such little time that it will be hard to share all that we´ve done. Do not fear though because I will post more later if I get a chance. Here´s a quick recap-

Day 1-Thursday
I arrived at 9am in Sao Paulo and waited for Kir and Mandy to arrive. We made it through customs just fine and checked in for a connecting flight to Campo Grande, a smaller city (about 700,000) west of Sau Paulo. We arrived around 3, got picked up by Joe and he drove us to the Pantanal. Pantanal in portuguese means swamp. We arrived at our pousada (kind of a hotel) around 9:30pm and had a late dinner--the best beans I have ever had! We went to bed early because we knew we had a big day on Friday.

Day 2-Friday
Our guide Rone (pronounced Honee) took us on a drive, went hiking for about four hours by foot, had lunch at a little fazenda (ranch/farm) and then went horseback riding. God totally provided great weather--it rained in the morning and then was overcast the rest of the day. The day ended with another great dinner and then a spotlighting boat tour on the Miranda River which is about 100 feet from our doorstep.

Day 3-Saturday
After breakfast we went out on the river again. It was beautiful. The sun was out and it was great. We saw lots of birds and a caiman (smaller gator) up close. We parked the boat at the place where the Miranda and the Red river joined to fish for piranha. We all caught several and little did we know we´d get to eat the for lunch later. After packing up and saying good bye to the best Pantanal guide ever, we loaded back up with Joe and he drove us south to Bonita a popular vacation spot for Brazilians. We had a great dinner--caiman (gator), wild pig, and copicava (water pig). It was all really good.

Love to you all! Sorry I didn´t upload any pictures, I forgot my cord. All three of us are feeling good so far--besides some hornet stings on Amanda and Kir from our hike. Pray for Mandi because she got stung on her forehead. Big hugs...

Monday, March 9, 2009


According to some "Photo Enforcement" tools in the city of Peoria, I supposedly ran a red light on January 23, 2009 at 5:47pm. If my memory serves I was patiently following my students on a school bus as the bus driver quickly drove us to the WRONG high school for a leadership conference. Maybe it's just me, but sticking with the bus through thick and thin is in my FFA advisor contract.

Details aside though, I am now trying to clear my impeccable driving record of this supposed wrong and you know what I found out? It actually costs more to take a defensive driving course rather than just pay the court fine. Ironic, huh? I thought I might save a buck or two but they actually charge you a court diversion fee. I hate those smarty pants sitting up in their photo enforcement offices. They probably sit up there all day thinking up ways to outsmart good citizens who may or may not run red lights. Lesson learned. I'll just pay the court system and save myself a Saturday.

Family Video Clip

Here's a short video clip that my brother took at my birthday dinner a few weeks ago. Just wanted to share. It's fun to hear all the kids speak. I love watching my dad try to share his cheesecake with Peter. I tried this same thing with Gracie last Thanksgiving and sharing quickly turned into the surrender of my plate and fork. Enjoy!!