Saturday, May 29, 2010

Diving for Discs

Today, I tested out the opaque waters at Mackenzie Park. I had wanted to swim with the guys before finding discs, but I just never had enough guts to go all in. Well today Lauren Riggs and I plunged right in. It was disgusting!!! The floor of the "lake" or whatever you want to call it, was squishy and slimy. Dirty is a given.  We fished for discs for around an hour. I found 10 discs total not even counting all the ones Josh found! After I got past wanting to be pristine and clean, I actually enjoyed sweeping the pits of the swampy floor blindly searching for a long time to find a prize.

This reminds me of all those situations that I just won't put myself into even though I know it won't be all that bad. I knew the water would be welcoming, but I was scared of getting dirty, of possibly finding a snake, or anything else that would potentially hurt me.  The same is for diving into my community. I'm walking around people who I know don't know the Lord, but even though I am sometimes given the opportunity for that spiritual conversation, most of the time I take the most comfortable route and stick to non-religious topics as to not put myself in a sticky spot.

Once I did finally jump in that water and realize that I could find some gems in the muck, I was okay with the grimy situation. I want to start reaching out to those around me not with the Jehovah-witness style and telling people the faith that I believe is correct, but by diving in, finding the muck, the dirty, and the story behind that person's life to bring out the gem in them they might not have known they had through Jesus Christ.

The Christian I want to be isn't measured in the good deeds I've done, how many friends I can get, or how many missions I've gone on. No, I want my Christianity to be radiant and obvious when a stranger, an outsider, an observer sees my actions, my love for others, my compassion, and my obvious relationship with the Lord.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Birthday in May?

So as most of you close to me know that back on March 16th, my birthday, I didn't exactly have the best day.  After missing the early bus to Madrid and catching another bus and riding in it for 8 hours to catch up with the group consuming my entire day, I was pretty tired finally getting to our hotel. My only desire was to play the games Spoons and there was no one willing to play. After that recap, you can conclude that my day was the average drag.

Yesterday, I was lied to, manipulated, and left hanging for hours as I waited for Diana and Amy several different times throughout the day. All this to say, IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST DAYS EVER!!!!!

I walked into Zack Esgar's house to get a game board so that Kyle, Diana, Amy, and I could play the game  Aggravation.  I hugged Zack's neck and he said the board was in the back. I walked around the corner to nearly pee my pants I was so scared when around 30 people all screamed surprise. I didn't even have words because I was confused about what was going on, why they were in unison screaming at me, and why there would be a surprise party for me.  

Diana and Amy planned out the entire party a couple of weeks ago. They called all tech junkies that like Lubbock too much to leave to join in on the fun.  I got to see several people that I haven't seen in over 5 months.  I felt completely loved and welcomed back from Spain. Sometimes I did wonder if my absence made a difference, but last night gave me a sense being wanted and it was a great feeling. 

We danced, ate, slack lined, laughed, then around 11 a big group of us went out and played sand volleyball until 1 in the morning. This day was exactly how I had imagined being welcomed back and I couldn't be more thankful  to God to have the friends He has blessed me with.

Thanks again Di Di and Amo for the surprise!!!! 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Venice and a little Treviso

The bench where I sat at in Treviso

I slept, or laid in bed for as long as I could listening to the trains until I decided to get going.  I took everything with just in case.  I was planning on heading into Venice, but I decided to catch a train to Treviso, where Giulio said he would love to retire to.  Well, that is exactly what Treviso is, a great to live in  not necessarily to visit. I arrived and realized there is absolutely nothing to do unless you had friends there. I took a walk along the river and after a while I found a bench where the river split in two and the bench at the point of separation.  I wrote and read just enjoying relaxing and soaking in the tranquility around me.

Around 1:15, I decided to head to the train station.  By 2:30 I was back in Venice.  Because I had turned left from the train station in Venice the day before I decided to turn right this time.  I decided later that left is better.  On the right-hand-side, the residence area and the not-so-polished side of Venice took me wondering for a good hour.  It was still beautiful, but instead of gondola's, there were motor boats- The Venecian "car."  This is the side of town where the schools, super markets, business' not based on tourism, and pharmacies were.  Finally, I walked far enough, I ran into the port where an enormous cruise ship blew its horn at me.  The sun was blazing at 3:30 and the Gelatateria was spilling out costumers with an icecream cone in each hand. I decided that was a good idea, I conformed into standing in the long line. I bought a double scoop, chocolate and mint chocolate- my favorite.

I made my way down the border and through some of the small streets to find Piazza Marco where there was a pier dock where a boat-bus would take me to Murano, the glassblowing island.

On m way, this gondolier, 22 years old, asked me if I'd like to go on a free gondola ride.  I asked him if he was serious, and he said it was no problem.  I wanted to go to Murano, but I just couldn't pass up another magical gondola ride for free!  He asked me to wait 30 minutes until he could take me... I waited at a near by plaza.

He took me around for 30 minutes telling me the history of some of the buildings.  We passed by several churches, and one place in particular, Mozart's house, that is now just an apartment complex.  The gondolier's name was Andreas.. the V.  He was the fifth generation and he was driving his dad's gondola.  He pulled it up to a different dock where he puts it at night.  he helped me out and then proceeded to cover it in tarps and secure cushions, floor boards, chairs, etc.. packed tightly together under the tarps.  Andreas told me I could stay in his motor boat, but after second thought I declined and decided just to stay in my hotel.

It was 6:20m and I still wanted to make it out to Murano.  All the glass making is in Murano now because the entire town of Venice kept burning down and it was dangerous; whereas, Murano is an island so that if a fire ever does break out, there is water all around to put it out. I took a bus boat 40 minutes around to Murano.  I walked around a bit, then I went into a glass blowing shop. The entrance had small show cases of their glass and it was covered with white canopies.  In the actual building, anything you could think of this company made and original design of it.  I bought Freda a blue glass tiny container.  I knew she'd love it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


After Tiramisu that morning and drinking tea with Giulio drove me to the train station.  I hopped on the train to Venice at 10:35am and the when the ticket man came around he said that it was a 50 euro fine for not having my euro rail pass signed and 18 euros instead of 10 for not getting the reservation at the station, but he said everything was crazy because of the volcano that he wouldn't charge me.  Well, he only charged me 10 euros for the reservation.

Tom, the guy I was supposed to stay with in venice apparently a total creep.  Giulio told me around 50 out of his 500 couch surfers that he has hosted that have stayed with Tom said its a horrible experience with him because is surch a perv.  He is said to hang all over girls and he won't stop even if you say no. Therefore, I took the safe advice in my gut and I didn't meet up with him.  I actually didn't mean to, but I missed the train station stop I was supposed to get off at. I was to stop at Mestre Station before the actually city of Venice, but I ended up going all the way to the little island. Because I didn't have a phone, I couldn't tell Tom that I missed the stop. I went to an internet cafĂ©, and I found an ugly email from him, but I responded and said I was sorry, but my plans changed. I decided just to spend the day in Venice alone!
I bought a new backpack for 15 euros because my sad little backpack was about to die.  After i crossed this bridge I asked a gondolier if I could take his picture.  He said it was much better if I was in the picture with him and he asked someone in Italian to take it for me.  I asked Victorio how much the gondola ride would cost and he said if I came back at 6:30 he would give me a ride for free. I was ecstatic! I was trying to find a coffee shop to sit down, have some coffee, read my map, and transfer everything from my old backpack to my new one, but it was too hard to fine one that would let me sit down without ordering food let alone alone just coffee.  I finally found a place where I could read my map and drink a cappuccino for a whopping 3.95 euros. So expensive.  All over Venice there are stage looking platforms in stacks, but really they are an alternative sidewalk when the water rises and floods the streets.

I sat down on one of them and put everything into my new Italian bag. When I was finished I ran into these two men, Stephen, 55, and Jeff, 43.  I could tell they were American so I asked where they were from. I actually said, "Where y'all from," emphasizing the Texan accent.  "North Carolina."  They were on a business trip.  They asked if I'd like to join them walking to Piazza Marcus with them, and I gladly accepted.

I told them about my backpack and as I was putting it in the trash can, they said someone might want it, so I went to set it on one of the platforms and Jeff decided he needed it for his souvenirs. It was perfect! Jess was entertaining as he looked into every single window of each store and bought several random souvenirs for his family.  I was able to get some good talking time in with Stephen though.  He told e his daughter who just graduated from Ole Miss and is now living in New York is a Pi Phi as well! On the way, Jeff bought me an espresso shot and bought us all Persian chocolates... they had hazelnut and I thought I was going to die they were so delicious.

In the Piazza, we sat down beside a live band, and they ordered a special drink kind of like sparking champagne for all of us. It was called Spritz.

They each had two and I just kept it at a polite one glass. The tapas, or small bite size snacks, provided included croutons with olive oil and garlic, two kinds of chips, and another bit size snack.  The bill totaled up to 70 euros!!!  I about peed my pants, but I still asked how much I owed.  Stephen said not to worry about it, that it was on him.

Jeff came up with the idea that Victorio might let them come a long for the free ride, but Jeff actually kept insisting that I be smart about taking a free right and really just wanted to make sure I was going to be safe.   We walked all the way back up the Guglie Bridge for 40 minutes and found Victorio.  I was able to ride in a gondola!!! Something I never thought I'd get to do! And even more, I rode for free with two friends!!! The day was spectacular!