What I’m Into: November 2013

November has been a quiet month. Being the only student in class has been great for my Spanish learning! As I write this, though, it’s December and I’m going home tomorrow so it’s a little difficult to concentrate on Spanish learning right now. Also I’m taking 6 tests today so I can finish Level 3 early (when Emily and I bought tickets, staying an extra week cost $300 more per ticket, so we chose to save $600).   It’s been a quiet month, but a great month!  Like last month, I can’t believe it’s already time to review another month of What I’m Into (inspired by Leigh Kramer). 

Carnival

The little town I live in has a festival every year in the first week of November. There were many events, including free barbacoa (meat) night, licuado (smoothie) stands everywhere, terrifying carnival rides, a rodeo, and more. Many events, like the rodeo, were expensive so I did not take part. However, buying cheap chocolate milk drinks and going to free barbacoa night were definitely highlights of early November.

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Carnival

Books

I read a lot in the beginning of November and finished quite a few books. But by the end of November, I got distracted by Mexico and friends so my reading time diminished. Maybe over my Christmas break I’ll write some reviews of the books I’ve written? But maybe not, I have a lot of pop culture to consume in a month. I only have 4 books left to read to reach my goal of 50! It’s definitely within reach.

Some highlights from November include:

Columbine by Dave Cullen (one of the best nonfiction books I have ever read)

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss

What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang (I started this in September, but trailed off: the first half is better than the end. I’ll see how the sequels are when they’re published)

Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain

Cocinando Buen Pollo

In early November, my Mexican host mom told me she wanted to learn how to cook American dishes. so I started this month by making my other mom’s recipe, Good Chicken. But, since we cooked in Spanish of course, we called it Buen Pollo. Essentially, Buen Pollo is chicken cooked in a pan with chicken broth, thyme, bayleaf, and tons of garlic, then served over rice. It is delicious and tastes like America. It was a great dish to make with my Mexican mom, because it is similar in style to Mexican dishes but with American sabores (flavors). We had so much fun cooking together and it was great practice for my Spanish.

Buen Pollo

Skyline Night

One of my favorite foods in the world is Skyline/Cincinnati Chili. Other people would eat a bag of chocolate or a whole pizza: I would eat an entire pot of Skyline Chili. You can make Skyline Chili on your own with a packet of Cincinnati Chili seasoning (purchased at Kroger in Dayton), ground beef, tomato paste, and water. And of course spaghetti, onions, and cheese. So after an adventure at Super Che, Emily and I bought the necessary ingredients and made Skyline for our friends Dave and Laura. They had never enjoyed this delicious dish before we introduced them—and now they have been converted to Skyline! Nothing tastes like eating Skyline in the restaurant on the way to Lakeside, but it was amazing to eat a taste of home and vacation here in Mexico.

Skyline

Tiny Death Star

Have you heard of Tiny Death Star? It’s just like Tiny Tower, except STAR WARS. If you didn’t know, I love Star Wars (thought not as much as my sister does). So of course I downloaded this awesome game. If you have an iPhone or a PC, you need to download it. It’s fun and addicting and it makes your phone make R2-D2 noises.

Thanksgiving in Mexico

What do you do with nearly 50 Americans (and 5 Canadians) in Mexico who want to celebrate Thanksgiving? You plan a large fiesta, of course! My sister was the main planner for this event—it takes a lot of planning to make sure there’s enough delicious Thanksgiving food for that many people! We had a delicious meal together, complete with three turkeys (including a smoked turkey—I never want to eat not-smoked turkey ever again), mashed potatoes, rolls, vegetables, and more. My contribution was stuffing, which I made with my Mexican mom. It was so good—it smelled and tasted like America. After dinner, we had a small variety show that was hilarious and included impressions of all the Spanish School teachers. Then, to cap the evening, we watched Elf projected on a sheet on the side of a house. Nothing says the start of the Christmas season like this festive movie!

I had grand plans for live-facebooking this festive day, but the internet service here conspired against me. The day before Thanksgiving, the internet went through some reconfigurations, and we in the Spanish School didn’t get internet back until Thanksgiving evening. While my live-facebooking plans were dashed, Emily and I were able to talk to our parents on Thanksgiving night.

It was a little strange to eat turkey and stuffing underneath palm trees, but it was also awesome.

Thanksgiving

The Rock

The mission base where I live is called Roca Blanca, which simply means White Rock. There is an actual Roca Blanca/White Rock just off the coast in the PACIFIC OCEAN. Some Spanish School friends love to scuba dive and got a group together to go in boats to the rock. I went with friends who weren’t planning to scuba dive (I prefer to breathe air above the ocean, thank you) and we climbed all the way to the top of the rock. I also had the opportunity to snorkle—it was amazing to see so many fish! By the end of our little trip, I was a little tired of the sun and the ocean, but I was so glad I had the opportunity to go.

Mexican Wedding

I went to a Mexican Wedding! A woman who had worked at the base for many years got married on the last day of November, and everyone in the world was invited! In true Mexican style, the wedding was scheduled to begin at 4, but the service didn’t begin until nearly 6. I actually didn’t sit in the audience, because I and a handful of other Spanish students were roped into helping serve food at the wedding. Now, when I was told I would help serve, I thought food would be served buffet style. Nope, I was a waiter. Who can only sort of speak the same language as the guests. But, I was waiter-ing with an American Spanish School student and a Mexican Bible school student, and all I really needed to know how to say was, “¿Necesita más tortillas?” (Do you [formal] need more tortillas?) or “¿Quiere más agua? (Do you [formal] want more water?). I don’t know if I made for a great Mexican wedding waiter, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Mexican Wedding

El Fin

If you had told me in January (or February, March, or April) that I would spend my November, my Thanksgiving (or really, any time at all) in Mexico, I wouldn’t have believed it. These last three months, September, October, and November have changed my life in so many good ways. In such a short time, I’ve gained a new language, new family, new friends. I have a ways to go in becoming fluent in Spanish, but at the end of November, I finally feel like it’s possible and that I will eventually actually be able to speak and understand. Now, I am going to finish taking the million tests I need to take to finish Level 3 before I skip out on the last week of school to go home.

Sunset at a Mexican Wedding

Sacrificios Que Dios Requiere

As part of Spanish School, every student is required to give a devotion in Spanish to the whole Spanish School. Today was my turn, so I thought I would post what I shared in Spanish this morning. Yesterday I decided I want to speak on Micah 6:8, but I wasn’t sure what exactly to say about these verses. Then, I remembered that in college, I wrote a paper on Micah 6:1-8 for my Minor Prophets class.  While this was not a devotional paper (it was 19 pages long with tons of footnotes and was mainly about the history and context of the passage), I was still able to use it as inspiration for my talk.  In my paper, I made the conclusion that in this passage, Micah is saying that God does not require grand sacrifices–instead he asks only for us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before him.  And that’s what I shared today:

6¿Cómo podré acercarme al
y postrarme ante el Dios Altísimo?
¿Podré presentarme con holocaustos
o con becerros de un año?
7¿Se complacerá el Señor con miles de carneros,
o con diez mil arroyos de aceite?
¿Ofreceré a mi primogénito por mi delito,
al fruto de mis entrañas por mi pecado?
8¡Ya se te ha declarado lo que es bueno!
Ya se te ha dicho lo que de ti espera el Señor :
Practicar la justicia,
amar la misericordia,
y humillarte ante tu Dios.
          Miqueas 6:6-8
Estos versículos hacen la pregunta y responden a la pregunta: ¿Qué sacrificios requiere Dios?  Miqueas habla de sacrificios grandiosos, como holocaustos de becerros o diez mil arroyos de aceite.  Hoy, no sacrificamos animales, porque Jesúcristo, se sacrificó por nosotros.  En nuestras vidas, sin embargo, todavía necesitamos hacer sacrificios.  A veces pensamos que tenemos que hacer sacrificios grandiosos, excepto nuestros sacrificios grandiosos son diferentes de los sacrificios del Antiguo Testamento.  Quizás estos sacrificios son dejar casa, mover a un nuevo país, o vivir en una tierra desconocida.  Estos sacrifcios son buenos, pero no son los que Dios requiere.  Miqueas dice en el último versículo, los tres cosas que Dios dice que son buenos:
Practicar la justicia,
Amar la misericordia,
y Humillarse ante tu Dios.
Estos requisitos, estos sacrificios son difíciles, pero son todo lo que Dios requiere. ¡Gracias a Dios!
Roca Blanca Beach
Roca Blanca Beach

Comebacks

Like Tom Hanks’s character Joe Fox in You’ve Got Mail, I often think of the perfect comeback for the ridiculous things that some people say to me. Unlike Joe, though, I rarely say those comebacks. Sometimes that’s due to me clinging to every last vestige of self-control I possess. Sometimes it’s because I’m a coward.

Today I have comebacks and my self-control is hanging on by a thread. My threshold for crazy hit its limit. I really want to use my carefully crafted responses. But I shouldn’t.

So I attempt to take my mind off of it by venting vaguely here and by rewatching old episodes of Bones. Season 2 is really one of its best. Aliens in a Spaceship and Judas on a Pole are two of the best episodes of the whole series.

Self-control. Self-control from the Holy Spirit and serialized television. Sometimes that’s what saves the day.

Voting

I have a lot of feelings about voting. I love it. A lot. Voting is the activity that consistently inspires me to write, no matter what else is going on, no matter if I worked 16 hours yesterday, no matter that I’m trying to create content for other venues. I write about voting because it’s important.

This post may be similar to every other post I’ve written in the last two years about voting. I’m not going back to compare, but don’t be shocked if my feelings and reasons are the same as I’ve written in the past.

This is the first presidential election for which I’ve voted in person. Last time I sent my ballot in the mail. Satisfactory, but there’s no sticker that comes with an absentee ballot.  I got to wear my sticker all day today, which was exciting.

I vote for many reasons. One, I like it and it’s fun. Two, I like wearing an I voted sticker. Three, I like people watching at the polls.  Four, I enjoy doing my civic duty. Those are good reasons, but they’re really not the most important.

I vote because barely 92 years ago, I couldn’t have. It hasn’t even been 100 years that women in America have been allowed to vote. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I don’t live in an America where I couldn’t vote just because I am a woman.

I vote because I’ve been in the driveway where Medgar Evers was shot in Mississippi, where he was murdered because of his work in the civil rights movement and voter registration. We all know that soldiers have fought around the world to preserve our freedoms, and I am so thankful. But I want us to remember those, like Medgar Evers, that died here, in the name of voting and civil rights. Stories like Medgar’s, moments like standing in that driveway, must mean something. I stubbornly vote because I don’t want to forget these stories.

I vote because I believe it matters.

I love voting.

Alive!

I’ve made it! November is barely an hour away from completion. I attempted this month to post every day. When overcome by disease and then holiday, I failed. But, failure is a part of life that we must all accept. I still wrote more than I would have if I hadn’t tried.

Fear of failure is an insidious thing, which is why I try desperately to avoid that fear. So many people are held captive by “but what if I can’t?” that they don’t see what they might accomplish if they try. I used to be that way. I have my quirks still, but I am no longer paralyzed by fear of failure. It’s life. Just try to set yourself up for success and accept that there will be bumps.  Some of those bumps may feel like Everest, but hey, isn’t Everest supposed to be thrilling?

The show How I Met Your Mother is now on Netflix. I’ve always wanted to watch it, but I haven’t had access until now. It is hilarious and it is probably what will help get me through December. That and the DVD’s of Chuck I now own. Thanks Amazon Black Friday.

November, you were weird. Weird, emotional, stomach bug-inducing, and more. December, please to be more healthy for me.

Pie Pie Pie

One of the great things about working at preschool is that you get multiple holidays. For example, tomorrow we have a Thanksgiving Feast in each classroom. Parents bring different Thanksgiving foods, and the kids and staff eat it. It’s delicious. Pie! Pie! Pie! Stuffing! Potatoes! It will be delicious, this Thanksgiving the First. We also have like twelve Christmases (classroom party, schoolwide party, staff party, etc). Basically we celebrate virtually every holiday at my preschool.

Although, I just remembered that I wish I had paper plates so I have less dishes to do.

This week has been exhausting.  These last few months, really. The incentive of pie is what will keep me going to work tomorrow. That and responsibility. 🙂

Unjust Judge

This is what I’m talking about at Flock (work devotional time) tomorrow:

Luke 18:1-8: A Widow and a Judge

1 Jesus told his disciples a story about how they should keep on praying and never give up:

2 In a town there was once a judge who didn’t fear God or care about people.3 In that same town there was a widow who kept going to the judge and saying, “Make sure that I get fair treatment in court.” 4 For a while the judge refused to do anything. Finally, he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 I will help this widow because she keeps on bothering me. If I don’t help her, she will wear me out.” 6 The Lord said: Think about what that crooked judge said.7 Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night? Won’t he be concerned for them?8 He will surely hurry and help them. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find on this earth anyone with faith?

Also, three days.