Monday, June 20, 2011

An update...

Random fact: My current favorite.
So, even though nobody really reads this blog, I thought I'd keep it well updated for my approaching time in Germany. That way, I can share my experience with whoever may be interested...

2 words: It's coming.

In 16 days I'll be (Lord willing) boarding on a plane heading Europewards. First to Lisbon, in Portugal (they have a funny accent :-D) and then off to München, or Munich, as most of you know it. I've got some mixed thoughts and feelings in relation to leaving. Now that I'm officially done teaching, I have all this free time that is heavily being used to spend time with my family, improve my German and take my daily pictures. It's very nice to be able to get some rest after all that school work, but boy does time slow down when you're not working! I guess you can tell I'm excited. Very excited, as a matter of fact.

Some other friends of mine will be showing up here soon so it will be great to see them again and change my currently established routine :-).

Things I need to do before I leave:
1. Eat açaí in a bowl again. You poor poor people who have never tried this amazing piece of Heaven. Highly recommended to anyone coming to Brazil.
2. Go to Recife and take pictures of the old part of town. It's beautiful.
3. Maybe go to a steak house again? That sounds lovely.
4. Pack.

I guess that's it for now!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Apparently Taylor Swift reminds me of blogger? As I was randomly listening to "Fearless" it occurred to me that it had been way too long since I last updated this blog. So here we go.

I am so excited for the good things that should be happening soon and yet feeling a little trapped, at the mercy of time and its slow pace..........................

*3 days - My sister Alyssa gets back from Europe. I can't wait to give her a hug and hear all about her time in Hungary. She has been away for 9 months and we'll only have 28 days together!

*12 days - School is out for the break. It happens the same way every year. Whenever the end is near, I start doing things automatically and feeling like a schedule slave. But God is good and He continues to give me strength whenever I need it. I can hardly believe we are this close to the close of the semester! It has been a very blessed year so far. I have been privileged to be used by God in the lives of my students and to watch them grow.

*31 days - Germany. I don't really know what to expect anymore. It seems like my plans always turn out to be completely different than anticipated. But I pray the Lord will do His will through me. I want to be a blessing there. To the children I will be teaching, to my dear friends and to whoever else I may meet. I've had my heart set in that country for the past year and I do not believe it happened purposelessly.  In just over a month, I'll be able to unveil a bit more of God's plan for my life. Pretty exciting stuff...

~Please pray for one of our students who has been diagnosed with leukemia. His name is Samuel and he is only 2 years old.~

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

God is Good

Why, hello.

It has obviously been a while since I last updated this blog. I think I was subconsciously aware of the fact, but it was not brought to my attention until yesterday. So here I am :-).

I am amazed by the Lord's goodness. Even though I constantly fall short of His standards, He is so quick to take me as I am and love me anyway. Here in Brazil, I've been spending most of my time working at the school, teaching English in the morning and Bible classes in the afternoon. It has been challenging. The age group is different and therefore my classroom dynamic has had to drastically change from what I was used to doing. So as time went by, I slowly got caught into the whirlpool of routine. Even my photographic efforts have become a part of it. Every day doing the same thing over and over again until you get dizzy. It is most dreadful.

And then it hits you. At the end of the day, where are your friends? Who is going to lie under the stars with you and have those late-night conversations you desperately long for? Who is going to tell you they love and accept you the way you are? And when it comes to you, can people begin to understand just how much love and loyalty you have to give away!? But there is no one to take it. And it weighs down in your heart like ice.

That is what I felt like this morning. And as I silently prayed about it, God reminded me that all I need is Him. But He didn't just stop there. He cared about me so deeply that at the end of the afternoon, as I frustratingly tried to call my best friend who is overseas, my Skype rang. It was an old friend of mine, Frederik Knoll, from Germany. I hadn't spoken with him in a whole year. But there he was, like clockwork, when I needed a friend the most. I didn't even talk to him about what I had been feeling. For that moment, all the pain was gone and it hasn't returned since. I turned off my iPod with a huge smile across my face. 

God is good. I've only a month left to get through... And I've got Him on my side.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Twin Problem

Last night I decided to try to work on grasping Einstein's theory of relativity for my bucket list. Even though I knew this was one task bound to fail (especially at 11pm), I went ahead and looked up "Theory of Relativity for Dummies" on Google. If your brain hurts just to think about trying to understand how complex this is, you don't know the half of it!
It all starts very nice and sweet: An astronaut leaves his twin brother on earth for a space adventure of light-speed proportions. After taking off, he probably spends his time reading old books and eating crappy food while doing all his secret NASA business. Day after day he works and eats and is bored, for 10 years. After that, it is finally time to return home! He lands in Washington D.C and even though he is still 45 years old, he is ready for the shock of his life. His twin brother is 75!


Yes, exactly. Apparently space traveling is also time traveling. Whoever thought of THAT!? I don't get it, you don't get it and yet Einstein was brilliant enough to come up with this. The worst thing is his theory has been proven in Switzerland's labs! I am extremely tempted to scratch off that item from my bucket list. Does knowing what the theory is trying to say to a certain level count?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Julie & Julia

I just had the pleasure of watching this amazing movie last night :-). Although my days of working at a pizzeria are long gone, the very basic plot had so much to relate to! Julie Powell is a frustrated writer working a boring job at a call center. She finds the adventure she'd been waiting for in her kitchen, daring to cook over 500 recipes in just 365 days. On top of that, she has to blog about every single recipe. I am sure I do not have to say much more to make you understand how this hit me close to home (although there is certainly much more pressure on Powell's challenge when compared to my recent photographic efforts). But it was, nevertheless, simply delightful to watch this true story unfold and to imagine what I will still have to go through in my own little experience. So far, I have enjoyed it very much and I am very thankful for doing this while I am still young and single. But who knows? Maybe when I have my own wife and kitchen I'll find myself inspired to pick up a copy of Mastering The Art of French Cooking and get to work. It's never as fun to cook just for yourself, is it?

Current favorite picture from my album.
Tell me yours!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

10 Days In... What I've Learned So Far

It's been ten days since I first started my 365 Days in Photo album and I've already learned so much! Perfection is definitely a tough nut to crack, but I try to cling to the widespread knowledge that practice makes it into a reality. So as a disclaimer, I am still very much new to this game and there is still room for lots of improvement but I'd like to share some of the things that I've picked up along the way.

1. Forget about the old notion that a good camera makes a good photo. Some people take awful pictures with very good cameras and some people can pull off minor masterpieces with a normal point-and-shoot camera. Of course, there are many practical advantages that come with a quality camera and this is why I can't wait to buy one! But it really boils down to the photographer.

2. Editing your photos is not a crime. Just don't go overboard. I've found that good editing can also save a picture that would have been amazing (generally because of the angle) if it weren't for the lighting. This is why I like to play around with the brightness/contrast and color settings. These simple tweaks can really bring out the best in your work. I don't think editing should be used to hide imperfections, but to enhance good qualities. If it's that bad, take another shot.

3. Use your camera settings. Don't be content with the Auto option. Play around with your camera and read about what it can do to help. Your shutter speed and correct use of the flash can really shake things up so submit that contraption to its master!

4. Good lighting = better pictures, most of the time. I don't think I can overstate how much lighting is important. Most people know this but neglect it severely. Sunrises and sunsets are particularly appropriate, as they seem to provide just enough light to make everything look better. This last point was the cause of some frustration for me yesterday. I got done with my classes at 4:00pm with an idea for my day's photo in mind, about an hour and a half before sunset. My dad called me over and I found out we weren't going home but instead I was off to get a haircut. I sighed... Even though my hair was quite in need of a pair of scissors, this meant having to take pictures at night. To make a long story short, I did take some good ones but none of them felt right and the lack of light made me take many more shots than I normally would have. This should explain the day's quote for March 15th, if you clicked on my album's link. The picture I chose was taken in the one bathroom in my house that is lit by an incandescent lamp. So I guess that gives us an extra point:

5. Incandescent lamps are MUCH better than fluorescent ones. And that's all I'll say about that.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

How Far is the East from the West?

One thing I've been fighting against recently is a feeling that I don't belong to the Lord anymore. In the morning, as I open my eyes, it weighs down in my heart like ice as I whisper, 'Please don't leave me'. I know it isn't true. Far from it, in fact. But it is a reminder that the enemy is always trying to convince me to abandon my first love. I think he likes to take advantage of my loneliness and fears. As I was reading Hebrews last night, He said  "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." 

And again, 

"So that [...] we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us".

I think if I could hear his voice, He'd be whispering back, "never".