Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sincerest apologies

Hello blog followers!

I am so sorry I haven't been posting regularly. The internet here isn't completely reliable, so sometimes it just doesn't work. I will try to keep you updated as much as possible. And don't forget, if you would like to mail me something, here is my address:

Kaeli Riccardi
c/o Fackelbararna
Brunnsv. 31
57015 Holsbybrunn

The second "a" in Fackel... has two dots over it.

peace, love, and mail time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day Eight

Today was pretty uneventful. Not a whole lot to report. Although, I know that if I don't journal and post it on Blogspot, Taylor will flip. =) I couldn't post it this morning after breakfast like I normally do because I got up at 6:15am for a little thing called a Bible Marathon.
We are assigned a certain amount of scripture (in order from Genesis to Revelation) to read by a specific time. A Bible Marathon happens every Saturday, or every other, and we meet in the Bik at 6:45am to eat breakfast and then read the Bible for six hours. We stop at the end of every hour to discuss and take a break. Lunch is also thrown in there somewhere.
It was pretty difficult to stay awake until after lunch. I almost dozed off a few times. We read until about 4pm (we went a little over) and we finished Exodus. It was cool to hear things that I didn't catch but were caught be other people. (This is an optional thing, by the way.)
After that, I went and showered, then went to dinner. Heidi cooked tonight and she made some awesome baked pasta. I was wondering when an Italian meal was going to show up.
I got to talk to Cory on Skype today which was really nice. He really is a great guy. I'm so happy he supports my decision to be in Sweden, even though we can't be face-to-face until Christmas.
A game of capture the flag was happening tonight at 7:30, but I was way too sore from the ropes course, football, and innebandy. Plus we are playing American football at some point tomorrow, so I want to feel good for that. Instead of capture the flag, I went over to Heidi's and had some tea and hung out. It was fun. We told funny stories, sad stories, and more funny stories. She's probably my favorite female staff member. Along with Coral.
Well, I'm going to go get some sleep so I won't be exhausted tomorrow.

peace, love, and English Breakfast.

Day Seven

Today was an eventful day. Breakfast was a hard boiled egg; I ate it with a roll and a piece of cheese. After breakfast, we all were assigned a place to work at until lunch because it's Friday, and that means work day. I was stationed in the kitchen, oddly enough. But instead of cleaning pots and pans, I helped Tyler from Washington clean dishes. Then we had to clean the whole area we were in.
We got finished early, so I got to help make lunch - enchiladas. That was pretty cool, and I enjoyed it. After lunch I just sort of hung out and watched the last two groups do the ropes course. At 4pm, I went and played football with seven other people. (If I ever say football, I mean soccer. If I'm talking about American football, I'll put "American" in front of it.) I didn't score any goals, but I didn't do that bad considering I haven't played in a while.
At dinner we all decided to sit at one table since we smelled because we played until dinner time. We had leftovers. Dan, guy's RA, got up and gave an announcement about taking people to play innebandy at 7pm. Innebandy is basically floor hockey. I went and played for an hour and it was a lot of fun, but I'm tired.

peace, love, and incredibly sore.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Day Six

Pancake Thursday. Yum. With a capital Mmm.
Class was good today, but since I didn't get to sleep till late last night, I thought I was going to fall asleep in the middle. Thankfully, I made it all the way to the end of the first hour, and then it was tea break. Tea break is about 20 minutes long, so I put my head down on my desk and took a 20 minute nap. Twenty minutes later, I felt completely rested and was able to make it through the other two hours.
My bro was on IM earlier this morning (about 2:45am his time), so it was neat to talk to him. He asked if I had eaten Elke's Swedish meatballs yet, and I told him no. Sure enough, we had those meatballs for lunch. And let me tell ya, the ones back home don't even compare to these. That's right, be jealous.
My family group had to go through the ropes course today. Eek. I was the last one in my group to go up. First you have to climb a rock wall and get over the top. That wasn't so bad. They encourage us to test our harnesses and stuff, so I did that and I was slightly more comfortable. Haha. I walked across a wooden bridge, a few wires, a wobbly log, foot swings, more wires, more logs, and a zip line to the bottom (although if the zip line went to the kitchen, that would've been sweet). I'm not really explaining a lot because I'm tired and I have pictures that explain better. The whole point of the course was to show the difference between belief and trust. We believed that we would be safe (the safeties hold 2.5 tons, wires 5 tons, and something else 10 tons), but we had to put that belief into action (trust) by doing the course. Same thing with God - we know/believe he's there and in control, but we need to show that we trust him in all the difficult times in life.
I was completely freaked out at the beginning, and I cried from fatigue in the middle, but if anyone ever gets the opportunity, do the ropes course. Grown men have even cried on it.
After that little adventure, I got showered and headed over to Matt and Coral's where Heidi and Coral cooked some freakin' good fondue. Another splendid meal. We just spent some time getting to know each other and telling funny stories. Matt and Coral have four extremely cute kids. No joke.
I got back at around 10pm and my mom and Denis were at Holsby waiting to say goodbye to me. I have an international cell phone now, and they got me some things from Germany. Tomorrow they head back home to the states. And tomorrow is also mine and Cory's 7 month anniversary =)

peace, love, and cuteness.

Ps. Go to youtube, and type in David Hasselhoff - Hooked on a Feeling. Funniest thing EVER. And yes, it is a real music video.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day Five

I woke up later this morning, yet still exhausted from not having slept well enough. That meant I would be tired for the rest of the day. For breakfast today, cream of wheat was sitting on the table. I was a little skeptical about it, but Wesley from Alaska said  it was god and that I should just put butter and cinnamon sugar in it. It tasted a little like oatmeal, just with a different texture.
We only had one set of lecture hours today (instead of two), and it went pretty well. We had to start picking up the pace a bit so we could get through what we needed to get through. That didn't make me happy because I really liked how in depth we were getting. I've heard the stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, Noah, and Moses hundreds of times, but we were getting so much more out of it. We had Fika (snack) today which was unusual. We normally only get a tea break and two 5 minute breaks. But the Fika was good. It was some cinnamon sugar coffee cake. Mmm.
Lunch was absolutely delectable. It was pesto pasta with salmon in it. Probably some of the best I've ever had. Again, Bekah and I missed out on the salad. We were planning on going to town today, but then she remembered today was her day to do laundry, so we decided to go some other day.
As it turns out, we overpaid on tuition, so I got 2,020 Krowns back today - cash. It's only about 336 US Dollars, but still.
Since we didn't have class, I didn't know what to do to pass the time. I figured I could finish reading a book - I only had about four chapters left, so I did that. Afterwards, I went to watch the groups that were doing the ropes course today... insane. My group goes tomorrow and I am incredibly nervous, but I know that if I don't do it, I'll regret it. While I was watching, Brad's (cook) wife, Cecelia (or Cici), came over to talk to me. She said she knew my brother. She is originally from Sweden, so she knows how to speak Swedish. I asked her to teach me so I could say some phrases and stuff. I know how to say,  "I am hungry," but that's it. Dinner time!

For dinner, we had the leftover pesto pasta with salmon, but it was baked into a quiche. Definitely still good the second time around. Spencer, who got a bee out of my hair today, basically told me I was sitting at his table over dinner. He's Canadian . Marie was sitting next to me and she is German. All the Canadians, except Jenn, say, "eh?" all the time. Some of them don't even realize it. And all the Germans say, "ya." It's just funny to pick those things out.
We had some time after dinner before we had to meet up for Dorm Life so I took a walk down a trail behind the chapel. I had my camera and my iPod with me, but I forgot to charge my iPod, so it didn't work. I did get some neat pictures, though.
DL was neat. We got to talk about some thing and just be girls. Danielle, my RA, said she had a little somethin' somethin' for us. That was fun to try to explain to the Germans what that meant. It ended up being Fika - nachos. We also had a little "What Not To Wear" about modesty. Since there really is no dress code here, they just wanted us to be aware of what is and isn't modest.
After the mingling, we all went into each other's dorms and we had to present something about ourselves - sort of like show and tell. It was really cool to hear more about the girls. When it got to me, I started to get a little emotional and slightly vulnerable, but I shrugged it off as quickly as it came. It's weird because I don't have a problem talking about it with my friends at home, but here I do. I guess that's because everyone at home already knows my story, and no else's parents (here, in Sweden) are divorced and have gone through my situation. If I have to explain it here, I know it'll be something I'll have to relive.
I was really hoping to get to talk to Cory tonight on Skype, but because of the room tours, DL went on until 11:10pm. The internet shuts off at 10:30pm, which is curfew (curfew is when you have to be in the building your dorms are in, not necessarily in your room). I really miss Cory. =(

peace, love, and tireddddd

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day Four

I woke up this morning, still exhausted from jet lag. I don't know when I'm going to finally get used to being six hours ahead of home. For breakfast, we had cold oatmeal with fruit in it. I declined. I wasn't feelin' the cold oatmeal. Dave from Alaska bought a jar of Nutella last night and brought it to breakfast. I tried some of it on bread and it was brilliant. So for, breakfast I had two pieces of bread with Nutella, and a piece of cheese. Yay for nutrition!
The first lecture hour was more orientation stuff, and that made me really tired. Not cool. But then Todd started telling the story of how he met his wife, Debbie. That poor girl. I don't know how she had that much patience with him. To make a long story short, he was basically afraid of letting someone that close into his life at age 25, because he never had a girlfriend before, so he kept changing his mind. We haven't gotten to the end of the story though; we're supposed to finish it at class in the afternoon.
Lunch was pretty good today. We had Kasespatzle. It's a German meal that has these weird noodles, onions, and cheese in it. Cookies for dessert. I wanted to get some salad as well, but I like to eat my salad last and there wasn't any left when I wanted to get it. (When I say last, I mean after the main meal.)
It was surprisingly sunny out today, and sort of hot. I had to take my jacket off. I hope if gets colder again.
I met my family group leaders today - Heidi, and Matt & Coral Huyle, or however you spell it. Matt and Coral went to CCC and they are 33 and 34, I asked them if they knew JJ or Beth. Matt said that JJ's last name sounded really familiar. I wonder if JJ and Beth know them? I meet with my family group on Thursday night and the leaders are cooking us dinner.
I played soccer on a real team when I was about eight. And I played for a few summers when Josh was the youth pastor at FSCC. But I haven't really played a whole lot since then, not that I was very good in the first place. All of this to say, I signed up for intramural soccer. That will be interesting.

Todd just finished telling the story. Wow, props to Debbie for sticking with him through that. It really is a long story (it took him three hours to tell it), but once he proposed to her, he never got scared again. Then he tied it all in to the fall of man saying that we can't hide from God like Adam and Eve tried to do - it doesn't work. It'd probably make more sense if you were here to hear the story.
Then he gave a side not on marriage and love that I thought was really neat:

"The tide goes in and the tide goes out. Those mushy gushy feelings that we call love will be there at times, and at other times those feelings won't be there. But when those feelings aren't there, just do what you are supposed to do as a husband/wife, and those feelings will come back."

After class this afternoon we had dinner and it was leftover night. It wasn't horrible. I haven't really been eating a whole lot lately. Just enough to satisfy my hunger for the time being, but then I end up being hungry an hour later. Eh, oh well.
A bunch of people played soccer around 6pm and I just went to watch for a bit. As it turns out, almost everyone that signed up for intramural soccer has had 10+ years of experience, whereas I've had 1. Kjell is the only one that hasn't played at all, but I have a feeling that he is going to catch on quickly. I am going to do so bad, haha.
I feel like I'm having a harder time making friends than I thought I would be. I know I'm not being myself, but I guess it's because I'm not comfortable being myself. I've never been shoved into a place where I didn't know anyone. The only people I've been me around are Christy (roomie), Luke, and Joanna. I really hope I make more friends soon.
Tomorrow, Bekah and I, along with Josh from England and a few others, are supposed to go into town so that should be fun. I don't really know what to expect.
Well, it's hardly after 9pm right now and there's not a whole lot to do so I'm just going to go read.

peace, love, and loneliness.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mail's here!

Ok, so I haven't received any mail yet, but that can change! And it can change today.

Here is my address if you want to mail me something. It can be anything from a letter, or a package with who knows what in it.

I would really like some pictures and some letters from you all. I have a bulletin board next to my bunk I can hang them on.

Kaeli Riccardi
c/o Fackelbararna
Brunnsv. 31
57015 Holsbybrunn

The second "a" in Fackelbararna has two dots above it. I couldn't copy and paste it onto blogger for whatever reason.

Please mail me stuff!


Day Three

Last night, we got our chores; they are called "duties" and everyone is given a job to do at a certain time of the day. Mine is washing pots and pans after lunch. I work with two guys, Manuele and John. I hate washing dishes, and lunch is when the most pots and pans are used. I would rather clean toilets, but I guess God is trying to teach me something. Probably something along the lines of, "It's not about me," or "Humble myself to serve others;" something like that.
For breakfast today, we had hot oatmeal with cinnamon sugar. It wasn't too bad, but I didn't eat very much.
Morning lectures started at 9:30am and went until 12:35pm with a tea break in the Bik and another five minute break. I was so tired that I thought I was going to fall asleep in class. I didn't, but now I have a huge headache because of how tired I am.
Lunch was pretty good today. We had rice with stir fry. I met a girl named Bekah, and she has a short pixie hair cut. The color is platinum blonde with a pink section. It looks freakin' sweet. Turns out, she graduated high school a year early and went to beauty school for a year. She said she'd cut my hair if I wanted her to.
After lunch, we had duties. It wasn't that bad because I just had to dry and put things away. John is from England, so we were speaking like him for a little. It was funny.
My headache still hasn't gone away.
Around 3pm, I got my laptop and went to the internet room. Cory was on Skype and so I got to video chat with him. That made me happy =) I also got to video chat with Taylor through iChat. It was good to see her again as well.
Well, my head is pounding, so I'm going to catch some z's. Thankfully, there is no singing in my room today.

I got about a 40 minute nap in today. I set my alarm to go off at 5pm, and it did, but I fell back asleep. Thankfully, my roommate, Maddie, woke me up at 5:20pm.
Tonight was soup night, and it tasted a lot better than it looked. It was some sort of potato, ham, and corn soup and it was fantastic; so was the bread. Unfortunately, corn messes up my stomach and makes me feel nauseas, so I had to try to not dish any out to myself. I sat with Stephanie and Kjell at dinner. They are a lot of fun to talk to.
I spent a little more time on the computer after dinner, just checking Facebook and whatnot. I talked to John J. via instant messenger for a bit and that was neat. Except for when he was looking up Holsby Brunn and saying he was going to stalk me. Okay, John J.
Class tonight was really good. We talked about the unity of God, and the Trinity, and how it's basically a tri-unity. We also talked about some of the names God gave himself. "God," being the first one in the Bible; in Hebrew, it's "Elohim." "Eloh" meaning strength and power, and "im" being a plural. "Adonai" mentioned in the Psalms; "Adon" meaning master or lord, and "ai," another plural. And then there is the one that the Jews thought was so holy that it shouldn't even be spoken: YHWH; or as we say it - Yahweh. It means "to be."
Then we talked about the name Jehovah. Turns out, God didn't give himself that name - man did. It is a name made up by a group of scholars who took the vowel sounds from "Adonai" and put them in the unspoken word, "YHWH." Todd brought up a good point during his lecture. He asked if we thought we should only call God by the names he gave himself, or is it okay to come up with names to call him? What do you think?
On a much lighter subject, we went up to the Bik after class and hung out. I ended up playing Phase 10 with a group of girls.
Today, Steph mentioned something called Nutella. Supposedly, it has the consistency of peanut butter, but it tastes like chocolate and you eat it on bread. I've never had it, so Steph said when she gets some, I'm trying it. That's all for now.

peace, love, and chocolate.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Day Two

3:07 am
I was so afraid of falling off the top bunk that I willed myself to not move while I slept. Big mistake. I woke up just now and both of my legs were asleep. Not cool. Another uncool thing, my cell phone doesn't work over here. I shouldn't be surprised, I guess. I'm going to try to go back to sleep now.

I woke up around eight this morning so I could shower and get ready before breakfast. We ate this homemade chocolate granola with corn flakes and milk, sort of like cereal. It was interesting, but not bad. We had some times before church so I checked my email and Facebook and stuff. Church was pretty cool. Jesse and Danielle led worship and did a few songs I didn't know, but the rest I knew. The Principle of Holsby Brunn, Todd, was the speaker today. He was speaking on our theme verses for this year, which are 1 Corinthians 1:30-31. Basically, he said that in whatever we do or whatever we have, we need to remember that God gave it to us and that we didn't get it or do it on our own.
My mom and Denis came from Vetlanda again to go to church with me before they headed off to Germany for a week. It was neat to see them again and sort of show them around.
For lunch, we had grilled chicken in some sort of sauce, with the most amazing french fries ever. Chocolate pudding followed as the dessert. I sat with some different people at lunch today and they are all really cool. They are from Germany and Canada. But I did meet two guys from Alaska. That's a first.
Speaking of guys, all of them are super polite and whatnot. If they're sitting at a table with girls, they offer to serve them first. (When we come in for meals, the food is already on the table.) Not to say that the guys back home aren't polite; it's just different.
We had an hour or so after lunch to do whatever, so I took my guitar to the benches outside of the chapel and had my own praise and worship session. It was pretty rad.
At two, we all met in front of the main building to go on a hike up to a ski hill. It took about an hour to get up there. Some parts of the hike were really easy, but toward the end, it was all steep and uphill. I'll be feeling that in my quads tomorrow. The hike was really cool because I got to get to know more people. Mostly, people are either from Germany or Canada, eh? There's probably five or so of us that are from the States. It's cool though because I love hearing about their culture. And I think it's neat when they ask me to help them with their English. There's this girl named Marie, and she's cool. Her name sounds a lot cooler when she says it in her German accent.
I bet you just tried to say it like that.
So we just got back from the hike and everyone is really tired and sore. I am especially tired because I woke up last night and stayed awake for two hours. Yikes. Hopefully that won't happen again tonight.

I forgot to mention something earlier - as we were hiking back, a thorn poked my pinky and it stung for a while. Now it just hurts.
For dinner tonight, we had ham and swiss cheese sandwiches with baked oatmeal for dessert. My favorite was the baked oatmeal, surprisingly. They had this natural yogurt with strawberry jam in it to go with the oatmeal, but I decided against it. Normally, I'm not a big fan of ham, unless it's on a #1 at Firehouse Subs. Mmm.
We had two hours of nothing to do after dinner before we had to meet up again. I got my laptop and went to the internet room,  but it was full so I went down to the Bik (the room above the chapel). It gets wireless internet. I video chatted with Alyson, Kaydee, Karam, Brent, and a few others. It was really good to see them all again. It started to lag after a little bit, and I wanted to take a nap, so I went back to my dorm.
Before I left for the Bik, Madeleine (from Germany), one of my roommates, asked if she could play my guitar, so I said sure. When I came back from the Bik, there was a small group of German girls with my guitar and someone else's singing and playing praise and worship on the floor of my dorm. So much for that nap. But it was neat to hear them praise God in German.
At 7:30, we met back in the chapel for some "Get to Know You" games. They were fun,  even though I still can't remember half of the people's names. I guess I shouldn't expect that on my second day.
So that's basically all that  happened today. Oh, and I uploaded some pictures on Facebook so people can sort of see what I've been up to.
I am really excited to see what God has planned for me while I'm here in Holsby.

peace, love, and going to class now.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day One-ish

I am going to be journaling every night and posting what I've written on blogger every day at some point. Last night, I did the opposite. I blogged and then I wrote in my journal. So yesterday's blog is my Day One entry.

I can still use iChat and Skype and stuff so I will be getting on periodically throughout the day to see if you are on. If you see me, IM me! I miss you all so much and would love to talk to you.

backwards, and love, peace.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

First Impressions

The plane ride went really well, shockingly enough. I slept great (with a little help from Tylenol PM), and the food wasn't horrible (but it was worse than Cathcart). We landed in Stockholm at about 11am here, which would be 5am where you guys are. We rented a car and drove to Vetlanda, which is about four hours south. I got to shower at the hotel room my mom and Denis have, so it was good to be able to get clean before I met 50 of my peers.

And now, here I am at Holsby Brunn Bible School, just finished playing a game of Apples to Apples while getting to know some people. They seem pretty cool. I met two guys from England, one from Austria, one guy and three girls from Canada, a girl from California, and I don't remember where the others are from. Everyone's accents are neat.

It's about 10:49pm here, 4:49pm there. I have no idea what the schedule is because I got here late (big surprise), but everyone else does so maybe I'll catch on.

Expectations for the next three months:
-To be pulled way out of my comfort zone
-To fully experience God
-To be open to what God wants me to experience
-To make a ton of friends
-To not be overcome with distractions
-To learn to trust God more

So far, that's all I can come up with, but maybe I'll add more later.

peace, love, and halfway around the world.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hotlanta's not so hot, after all

Hello everyone. Would you like to hear about my day so far? I guess that's why you're reading this thing, isn't it?

I couldn't sleep very well last night, because I was nervous. You know, the whole Sweden thing? Yeah, that's definitely happening right now. Neat. I was only hoping to get an hour and a half of sleep. I'm glad it worked out. So I had to get up at 3:30am, but since I was awake by 2:30am, why not just get up then? So I got out of bed and the first thing my mom does is bombarde me with questions. For those of you that know me fairly well, you'll know I'm not a morning person. After dealing with that, I got everything else packed up that I hadn't already put in my suitcase.

So one of Denis' neighbors drove us to the airport and we checked our bags and went to get a quick breakfast and go through security. At 5:15am. By the time we finished eating, the plane was ready for boarding.

A little over an hour later, we landed in Hotlanta. From here, we had a 12 hour layover and had nothing to do. In the Atrium at Atlanta Airport, there are a ton of comfortable chairs and couches to catch some Z's on. Unfortunately, all the couches were taken, but we found three chairs next to each other. We had another breakfast, and then I fell asleep in the chair. (I didn't mention this before, but when I was still at home, I had breakfast, so I ended up having 3 breakfasts today.) About two hours of me sleeping in a chair, I woke up, and we decided we didn't want to be doing this for the rest of the layover. So we went to a near by hotel and got a room, and now my mom is sleeping on one bed, I'm on the other typing this blog and watching old Full House reruns, and Denis is at the desk working.

All in all, it's been a pretty uneventful trip so far, but this is just the beginning.

I miss you all already.

peace, love, and freezing cold hotel rooms.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fear of Blogging

Ok, so I'm not exactly afraid of posting my thoughts. I was just trying to be creative with a blog title. I've realized that nine out of ten blog titles don't actually go with my blog. I think I subconsciously do that on purpose.

Last night was my last Alive before I head off to Sweden. Tonight was my last Pipeline. I am overwhelmed with mixed emotions; what with Sennit, Kenny's family, me leaving the country, and now Sayra's situation. My heart aches for all of these people that are dealing with cancer or deaths in the family. Know that I'm praying for you guys. Keep lookin' up.

So today is Wednesday. I leave for Sweden on Friday. Kind of a scary thought. It didn't really hit me how far away I was actually going until I was on the phone with Cory tonight. He doesn't really like the fact that I'll be so far away, but he's trying to support me, and I appreciate that. It was after that thought crossed my mind that I realized how much I'm going to miss everyone. So I thought I'd write some notes for people. If you know they don't read my blog, please get it to them somehow. Thanks.

It's been so awesome getting to know you over the past few weeks. I love the fact that you're from England and how you still have the accent. I'm fascinated by it. I'm going to miss you a lot when I leave, but I'll still be able to check email and whatnot, so feel free to say hey. I know what you're going through is tough, and if you check my comment on your other blog, you'll see what I mean by that. I love you, and I'll send you pictures from Sweden so you can do cool stuff to them =)

It's bad when you're bigger than the ice cream truck. We need to read that book! Haha, I love your purple pants. I'm glad we got to go shopping together so I could convince you to get them. I'm glad you're coming to see me tomorrow because I'm going to miss you a lot. I have loved hanging out with you and being your Bud E. I'm not going to say goodbye because I'm not going to be gone that long, so don't be sad. You have been such an encouragement to me since the day I met you. You are upbeat joyful, and that rubs off on the people around you. Thanks for being someone I can always lean on when I don't know what to do, or if I just need to vent. Love you!

I love that we've been meeting together the past few weeks to just get to know each other better. It's really helped me get a different view on some things that we've talked about. Thank you for being so trustworthy. Sorry we couldn't meet this week, although I really wish we could've. We will just have to continue with it when I get back! See you soon.

Jahid, Hamee, and Karam,
I love you guys so much. You are like my younger siblings. I love how we can goof off with each other and just have fun. Thank you for being so accepting of me. I'm really going to miss hearing one of Jahid's inventions, Hamee's snide remarks, and playing the HSM2 game with Karam. You guys mean so much to me. See you when I get back.

SISSSSSTERRRRR! Ah, what more can I say? So I pretty much love the fact that I can relate to you so easily. I love how we have so many inside jokes, but can't remember one of them. Thanks for being my tubing buddy, even though I hit you off one of those times. But it was fun doing cartwheels across the water with you. I don't know if you realize this, but I look up to you in a lot of ways. Sometimes, you can approach situations a lot more mature than I can. You're always open to hearing other people's opinions about things, even though you may act like you don't want to, you still listen and consider them. Thank you for putting up with me, even though I can be completely and utterly annoying - just like a little sister. You mean a lot to me and don't take that lightly. You have kind of stepped up as my best friend in my book. I know you're dealing with a lot, but know that I'll always be here for you, even if I'm on the other side of the world. Don't ever hesitate to email me or something. I love you sister!

I don't even know where to start. You are such a blessing to me. Beth saw it coming, but I had no idea that we would actually end up together. I thank God for you every day. The thing is, we've argued and taken our frustration out on each other and then we've had great days where nothing went wrong. But at the end of every day, you still remind me that you love me, just to make sure I know. Thank you for supporting me even though it's been hard for you. I know it has, and it means so much that you still want me to do what I think I need to do. Thank you for encouraging me from the very beginning, even if you don't think you did a good job, you have. Thank you for putting God first in our relationship and being the spiritual leader of it. You are truly a great guy, and I'm just a lucky girl. Thank you for everything you've given me and done for me. I miss you, baby.

Ok, I know I have a biological mother that I live with and who takes care of me, but thanks for being my other mom. Thank you for relating to me from the very beginning. Thank you for treating me like one of your own kids and taking me in. I've known you for four years now and through all four of those years, you've been there for me through it all. I've been through some of my toughest times with you always available to talk or to listen. Thank you for helping me face my fears and reminding me I'm not alone in this world. Thank you for loving me and dealing with me when I complain or when I'm completely thrilled and can't shut up. Thanks for buying me a tray so my food won't touch. Thanks for pushing me to step up in my faith and to step up in leadership. I'm glad you did. Thank you for including me in your life. Thank you for letting me come over and watch Psych on Friday nights, and for staying up with me to play Rock Band, even when you're exhausted. Thank you for getting on my case when I need a swift kick in the pants. Thank you for cheering me on in everything I do. I miss you and I love you, mom.

Golly. I hope I don't cry. So I have this ringtone for you. Every time you call me, "Cinderella" by SCC plays on my phone. My dad certainly hasn't been there for me most of my life and it's torn me apart in many ways. I thought I would never have anyone to look up to like I look up to you. Thank you for acting as the father figure in my life. You have seen me be the happiest I could be, and you've seen me completely fall apart before your eyes. You've seen me at my highest points and my lowest. You've shown me what having a dad can be like. And, right on cue, the tears start falling. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for loving me like a daughter, and treating me as such. Thank you for thinking of me and praying for me. Having you and Beth in my life is probably one of the best things that's ever happened to me, and I hope you two realize that. Thank you for believing in me and helping me move forward in my walk. Thank you for reflecting God in everything you do, in every decision you make. Thank you so much for accepting me and encouraging me to be who I am. I love you, dad.

peace, love, and sappy notes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pray for Sennit

I've known Sennit for four years now. We have been such good friends for these four years. There was always something about him that stuck out, something that I was always slightly envious of. I have always looked up to him for his outstanding faith and trust in God. To be honest, I don't know how he does it. There have been times when he's gone through some pretty rough stuff, but every time we would talk about it, he would always say how he is just trusting God and that God knows what he's doing. But not only did he talk about that, he acted it out. I've not only noticed his trust in God when he speaks, but also in all he does. He is always looking for ways to praise God in what he does. And then I feel sorry for myself because I doubt sometimes, or I stray.

Well, something that I have been thinking about today is that Sennit might be in the hospital with a brain tumor, but one thing is for darn sure - he is still praising God. In his pain and suffering, he is still praising God. And I know that he would want us to be doing the same thing, because no matter what the outcome is, he will be praising God, and so should we. Yes, things are definitely hard now and there have been many tears shed and many more to come, but God is still in control. God knows what he's doing, and Sennit knows that, so we should know that too. Trust God. Have faith in him. Pray for Sennit.

peace, love, and praying for Sennit.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Scardy pants

So I got home today after youth group, and the only words that have floated through my fantastical brain are "I'm counting on, I'm counting on God." I don't know if it's because that's one heck of a catchy song, or if it's because the Holy Spirit is trying to get it through my head to rely on God.

Well, it's working.

I've developed this fear lately. A fear that I'm not sure I necessarily want to admit, but I'm going to anyway.

I am terriblyinexcusably, and sincerely afraid of college.

I'm more afraid of college than I am of going half way across the world for three months. You see, with certain things, like most normal (or abnormal, depending on how you look at it) human beings, I don't like change. It makes me worry and it makes me uncomfortable. If I had a pencil right now, there would be teeth marks in it.

But here's the thing.

Recently, I've had a strange wanting to go to Clearwater Christian College. I don't know why, but I have. And I know I would get a great education and I'd have a lot of fun with the people around me. I know there are a lot of rules, but I figured out later today, that's it's not those things that I'm worried about.

College just scares me. It means I'm considered an adult. It means I am given more responsibility. It means I have to make decisions without anyone else holding my hand. It means I need to fully rely on God. I tend to be a little (okay, a lot) on the independent side of things, and leaning on God instead of myself is a hard thing to do. It makes me nervous to think that I don't really have control over my life... not that I did in the first place.

All of this to say, I guess I want to encourage you. As I try and lean more on God, I want you to try to do the same. Whether it's with school, or a boyfriend/girlfriend, or with home situations, or anything else that you might think of. Proverbs 3:5-6 says to trust in God with all of your heart and to not rely on yourself; look to him for everything and he'll guide you.

peace, love, and counting on God