Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Last of the Last

A big thank-you to all for keeping up with this blog and taking an interest in my summer. Thanks to those who left comments, I read each one with delight. This will likely be the last entry for a while, or until the next exciting adventure, at which time the blog will be resurrected.

Global Shore ended yesterday, and I am currently in Edmonton until Friday, revisiting the homeland and the handful that I've kept in contact with over the years. It's good to be back.

The summer ended well. Three days of debrief back in glorious southern Ontario, with each student having the opportunity to share about the summer, the good, the bad, the growth, the stories. It was wonderful to see our leaders again, Ken and Julie, Robert and Carolyn, Wally and Shirley. They are truly wonderful people who have impacted my life. The same goes for my teammates. I can hardly believe that we are now dispersed across the country, or rather I am, being the only left-fielder out in BC. I will definitely feel the loss of this team in my heart over the upcoming weeks and months, for they had truly become as brothers and sisters. This has been the most positive missional experience, and communal experience that I have ever had. I think maybe this experience will really have changed me...that's always the hope, but not always the reality, but this time....I think maybe it's really happened. Heart change.

So, you've all (hopefully) been waiting on the edge of your seat for a first and final look at this mural thing that I keep talking about....well, here you have it. I didn't really get a good pic because I was out of time and my roommate had taken more...but her camera got lost during our travels home. So, this is the best that I've got, unfortunately. Key Concepts: "I have come to bring life, and life abundantly" John 10:10. God offers this abundant life to us, and if we choose life in Him, our response is the offering up of the best of our labours (our firstfruits) to him through a life of worship. There you have it. That's the main jist, but there is a lot of biblical imagery present, and because of that, there are nine scriptures painted throughout the mural encompasing those symbols too. Jenna did the figures, I did the trees, and we both did the background and fruit. The whole thing was just a gift from God, and we hope that it will continue to glorify God in the years ahead in Tizate.

I don't know what else to write. My head is full of memories and moments that can't be put into words and that you'll never hear about. My mind can see all the images that a camera cannot capture and that you will never see. I feel very full in this moment, full from this experience. Thanks again for reading, I've enjoyed writing over the months to the named and nameless. Take care.
Much Love, Katrina

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I Won't Forget You

One more dinner, one more sleep, one more breakfast. The last week has flown by, and now I cannot believe that we are leaving tomorrow. Where did the time go? This morning I had a last hurrah in Antigua. What a wonderful city with so much character, O Antigua, I shall surely miss thee.

Here is a pic of my wee-little spanish teacher, Brenda. She is sixteen and wonderful. We had many a laugh, and I am certainly going to miss our spanish classes together.

Today I managed to photograph two graveyards, one for the wealthy, and one in the hills here for the poor. What a contrast. I went up with one of the families from town, and the little girls went right up to the grave of one of their friends who had passed away in December; an eight year old little girl who had fallen and hit her head. Fue muy triste.Here are our three wonderful English students, Jabes, Christian and Misael. Kev alternated lessons with me these last two weeks for some teaching experience, yeah Kev. What a great time we had with these guys! I don't know why I'm surprised, but believe it or not, I thoroughly enjoy teaching enlish.

Monday night we had a celebration for both the completion of the mural, and for the students of the music school. For minimal planning and minimal promotion, we were thrilled to have a crowd of 70 come out. Jenna and I had the opportunity to share the meaning and purpose behind the mural and the “Life of Abundance....” that awaits anyone who is willing. Stay tuned for photos....

And just in case you were wondering what chicken buses look like...
There are probably fifty of these guys parked near the market at any given time, in typical Guatemalan color. "Outrageous" is really the only word for them, and I can hear them blaring their horns all the way down the hill past Tizate. They are awesome...and I'm not even being sarcastic. Yes, there are many things that I will not forget about Guatemala... and chicken buses are one of them.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Buenos Dias,

With just over a week to go, things are getting into wind-down mode. I will have to get used to alarms, sirens and crosswalks signals instead of hearing firecrackers, violent dogfights, and roosters crowing at all hours of the night. I will miss the crazy chicken buses and kids in the street and I will miss hearing my Spanish mom say “Si mi nina” which means, “Yes, my child” in response to saying her name. It is wonderful. But, let’s not start the sad business of reminiscing quite yet, I still have a week to go, no use in jumping the gun.
Our wonderful boys decided to bless us ladies again, and this time they carted us off up a mountain to an establishment called “Earth Lodge.” There we drank in the stunning view of the valley bordered by two volcanoes while lounging in anarondak chairs. Some of us went on a hike to scope out the view of the vast coffee fields in the area and later we enjoyed a marvelous dinner while watching a lightning storm. 75 flashes in one minute, can you even believe that? Add “lightning storms” to the top of the list to things I will miss about Guatemala.

Ok, I decided to jump the gun. Ana-Julia, our Spanish Mom, will undoubtedly top my Most-Missed list. She is such an incredible lady, and here are the reasons why. She makes the spanish language beautiful, gives her very best to ensure that we are comfortable and happy in her home, she has made it our home and embraced us as her children, her heart is bigger than the whole of Guatemala, carrying burdens of the community and the pain that exists here, and personifies the beauty that exists in the guatemalan people. I will miss my Spanish Mom dearly. Here's a shot of her, doing what she loves to do, provide for her four new children, big though they are.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Smooch Champagne

We just came back from our second incredible weekend away, and it was beautiful. Paradise, that’s what it was, minus the killer-man-eating-hugest-frickin’-spiders-I-have-ever-seen-in-my-entire-life! Go-ooooo arachnids!

Semuc Champey (sounds kinda like Smooch Champagne...both are good), a little hidden paradise of clean water pools. All natural, and well preserved, what a place! It did my little heart good to see that there are some areas of Guatemala that the government puts priority on to maintain a healthy, clean, natural environment, and I just lapped in the beauty.

There were these sweet caves that most of us enjoyed an hour and a half guided tour of, a tour that would never exist in Canada without a lengthy waiver form attached. In Guatemala, well, you take your life in your own hands and if you decide to sue, well, you just might get shot, so no waiver forms are necessary. It was the greatest adventure ever! Picture me swimming through a dark cavern in a mountain, with a candle in one hand to light the watery grave...I mean way...ahead of me. Oh yes, it was quite the spelunking adventure. And can you believe that there was a waterfall in there? No daylight, yet here was a gushing waterfall coming right through the mountain! We went under it and then jumped into the turbulent current yonder. What fun! I do recommend.
Here's the view from the mirador, the lookout, see all those tiny wonderful translucent pools? Yah, I was in them. dang. With Jenny. That's her in the pic. She's a "dang" kinda person too.

And now we are now safely home in Tizate with just over two weeks left. Incredible. The mural is going well (stay tuned....) and I am enjoying English class and am proud to say that I can converse half decently in Spanish to some kind person like my Spanish mom who will dumb down her speech and talk at quarter speed so I can understand. 'Tis truly wonderful.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

La Basurera

Hola mis amigos,

It seems like a lot has happened since I last wrote! If you saw that amazing race blog, just disregard it, we put a day on for our guys here, sending them running all around Antigua. It was a good time, and that blog entry was one of their clues.

Last Saturday, we went to the dump in Guatemala city with our Spanish teachers. It was a difficult day. It is the biggest dump in Guatemala, and 15,000 people live there. As I stood there looking at this foul place, two things came to mind. The first was, “We are destroying our earth”, and the second was “these people are living like scavengers.” There were hundreds and hundreds of vultures circling overhead, sitting in nearby trees, and ravaging through the trash alongside the people, and it was just horrible that these people had to live like these scavenger birds. It is not at all as God intended it to be.

These thoughts led to the question, “where is God in the dump?” Because we do believe that He is there, but the evidence is scarce. This is what I’ve concluded. There must be some form of beauty and hope present in the people that live there, because if there wasn’t, the suicide rate would be through the roof. That’s just my take on things, if a person finds no hope or beauty in life, why live, right? So, going on that assumption, yes, beauty and hope must exist in the dump, and it likely exists in the relationships there, between friends, and between family members. This is a universal thing that anyone, in any culture can relate to, the value of relationships. There may be vast differences between cultures, but when it comes down to it, the things we value are the same, people and relationships.

What else...I was talking to my mom here, Ana-julia, about the day at the dump, and we agreed that there is just a lot of hurt and pain in this world, and it’s a good thing that Jesus is coming back one day. That’s a cliche answer, but there is definitely truth in it. This past weekend, I was having a quiet time, and I was grieved by the fact that as a race, humans have managed to fail at fulfilling one of the only commandments that was given to Adam and Eve in the beginning, the one about having dominion over the earth and all that lives in it...aka, take care of this world. And another question I had was how was I going to let this experience change me? Because it should.

I did not feel guilt at the dump over cultural differences and the blessings that I have as a Canadian, because guilt like that is pointless and unproductive. But I do wonder how I will allow it to impact me. I hope to become a little more interested in what the garbage situation in Canada is...because we leave our crap everywhere too, or hide it under hills, or whatever it is we do with it, why do I not know? So to become educated. And maybe start a compost on our balcony (you can help me with that one Jess)...and just do something, because what is the point of an experience if you do not allow it to impact you? So those are my thoughts. And there is no picture for this blog, sorry folks. Just words, words, words.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Monterrico Pt.1

This last weekend was the first of two trips that we get to take this summer. Ten of us took the opportunity to go down to Monterrico, a little beach haven in the south of Guatemala on the Pacific ocean. Two words: oh baby. (and here we have the walkway to the beach paradise...)

It felt like home as soon as I smelled the salt air off the ocean. Black sand beaches, palm leaf thatched-roofs, hammocks everywhere, it was glorious. A little hidden oasis still kept secret from throngs of tourists, Monterrico was one of the best vacation spots I have ever been to.

It struck me as hilarious that my last vacation, on a missions type trip as well, was in….Ottawa. In the dead of winter, staying in an over-priced hotel and enjoying tours of parliament hill, it was enjoyable, but simply HILARIOUS in contrast to this newly discovered beach paradise.

Monterrico Pt.2

Here's the crew in the hotel pool...ahhh, such sweet water-ful mercies.

I must devote an entire paragraph to a wonderful establishment called Johnny’s. If the Lord called me to it, I would quit Starbucks and work at Johnny’s for the rest of my life, that is how great this place was. Right on the beach, hammocks, anarondak chairs, and a volleyball court were all attributes to this open-air restaurant. Guatemala is big on liquados, a refreshing, blended beverage, usually made with fruit and sold anywhere and everywhere. Johnny’s has the best liquados ever, especially the one that translated to “sexy mama”, which combined watermelon, ginger and…some other delicious ingredients which are especially satisfying to the Canadian taste bud.

(can't help but love a little laundry-thatched-roof-hammock goodness)

Char and I enjoyed a wonderfully tranquil 6am boat ride, in one of those narrow boats that are manually pushed along by the dude with the pole. It was beautiful. The whole weekend was beautiful, and it was so good to see some creation that I could be in awe of. That’s one thing I miss about Ontario, the beauty is just not as evident here because it is tainted by garbage and danger. But the weekend broadcasted Guatemalan beauty in a way that was truly refreshing, and much needed.

If you haven't picked up on what I'm saying, let me spell it out to you. Y-O-U M-U-S-T M-A-K-E A T-R-I-P T-O M-O-N-T-E-R-R-I-C-O!!! I think it would make a good honey-moon spot one wouldn't that be just lovely.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Constructing Mountains

We are going into our third week here in Tizate and everyone is becoming comfortable with the schedule. Allow me to take a paragraph to praise our guys for all the hard work they are doing on the construction site.

The house project that is currently being worked on requires a 40ft retaining wall to be built first. Our guys have been pick-axing and shoveling, pick-axing and shoveling at the hard earth to prepare for this wall. The last few days have found them doing some trench digging, in order to bring down the height of the wall by four feet. It is a crazy amount of manual work in the hot sun, but they are troopers and keep at it. Pray that they would know in their hearts that they are literally providing a home for a family here, and for that knowledge to be a source of strength to them when the hours get long.

The family that will live in the new house currently live in a small, one room house built of metal sheeting, equipped with two double beds to sleep the four children and two parents. The mom is one of our Spanish teachers, so that relationship has already been established. The house is probably the size of a regular North American living room, so that gives you an idea of some of the living conditions down here. We are blessed to have this opportunity to help this family!

On Sunday a few of us hiked up a local mountain, and we had such a fabulous view of Tizate. We joined hands and prayed for our little community spread before us, and something in that moment was significant. It was easy to see from way up high, how God so easily holds the town of Tizate in His hand. It is easy to forget, and easy to get lost and overwhelmed by the many needs present here, but up on that mountain I was reminded that God was holding all of us in His hand.

Please continue to pray for the safety and health of our team as there have been various ailments ranging from severe bug bites, intestinal issues, stomach problems, lack of energy, sore wrists, allergic reactions and difficulty sleeping at night. There is also the expected spiritual warfare going on here, which different team members have been experiencing in different ways. Pray that we would be mindful of this, but not to fear as we serve He who has overcome. Thanks for reading.

Guatemala Antigua

Aside from being a fabulous blend of coffee sold at your local Starbucks, the city of Antigua has also proven to be quite fabulous...(i know, i know, put a sock in it, I just couldn't pass it up...)

So, allow me to introduce you to the lovely town of Antigua, which is a twenty minute chicken-bus ride away. Yes, I said chicken bus, regular school buses that have been driven down from America to be the local transport around here for the vast majority of those in poverty, and for your neighbourhood, myself and the team. Painted in typical Guatemalan flare, they are colorful and obnoxiously loud, with over-confidant drivers who roar around corners carrying sometimes two to three times their capacity of people. They are an experience, but like all new things, it too has become the norm.

Antigua is the tourist ville of Guatemala. There are many markets, both artisan and normal, and it is fun to wander around bartering with the vendors. “Muy caro” is my most frequently used phrase meaning, “too expensive” which is quickly followed by the typical bartering transaction and a potential sale. The streets have been left in their original cobblestone state, and there is lots of color everywhere. El Parque Central is quite the hangout for both the locals and the tourists. With big trees and benches all around, and a large fountain of lactating women adorning the centre, it is a nice place to sit and people watch. Sunday, Jenna and I were wandering around the park, and with a live saxophone playing over loud speakers, and lovers walking hand in hand everywhere, it seemed like the Paris of Central America. It also lights up quite beautifully at night. If you are ever in the area, don't pass it up.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

El Tizate Pt.1

Hola mis amigos!

I cannot take credit for these photos, as I have not yet busted out the camera. Thanks to team-mate Kev for capturing some Guatemalan goodness.

I have now been in Guatemala for a week, and every day I enjoy it more. There were some overwhelming sites and smells upon first entering the village of Tizate, my new home, but I am adapting well. I guess that could be considered my first experience of culture shock, minor though it was.

Our village is a twenty minute bus-ride from Antigua, and there will likely be a weekly visit into town, on Super Sunday, our day off. The girls` daily schedule starts off with breakfast (desayuno) at 7:30am, followed by 2.5 hours of Spanish lessons. Each one of us has our own teacher, so it is definitely an ideal learning environment. Every day I can speak a little more, which I am thrilled about. 1pm is lunch, and from 2-3:30pm, Nicole and I teach an English class for teens ages 13-17. We only have two students thus far, but it is a good time, and it is encouraging to see the improvement and their excitement. Following that class, Nicole and I are leading a women`s ministry. What this will look like we don`t know, but it will likely include baking, as there is some interest among the women to learn this skill. There is a baking facility available here that needs to be put to good use, so we are excited about this possibility.

My Spanish family is wonderful, four of us girls are living with a mother, Ana-Julia, her two daughters Ana-hudit, Leslie, and her son Misiel, 12, 9 and 14. They are really wonderful, and we feel at home already. Ana-Julia is a fabulour cook, and I am enjoying Guatemalan cuisine. Yeah for fresh pineapples and mangoes. Jenna is my room-mate, and we get along splendidly, and there are many laughs that erupt from our room.

El Tisate Pt.2

The beauty of this place is the people. They are so gracious and hospitable, our house was invited to a birthday party, which will remain a special memory for me. I’ve already decided to pack up three of the kids in my luggage to bring home to Canada. They have such joy here, and just come running down the street and jump in your arms. One of the little boys, Anderson, he has this cardboard cutout in the shape of a cross. We asked if it was a cross, but no, it was his toy airplane, and then a toy train, and then something else, etc. They have so little here and yet seem more content than a lot of children in Canada. What a concept. Note to myself for when I’m a parent one day.

A wonderful opportunity has come up for Jenna and I. We are taking on the massive project of painting a mural on the inside wall of the new building that Global Shore is working on, Casa Grande. It will act as a community centre for now, but there is hope that one day it will host a church. We have been sketching and re-sketching for the past week, and have come up with a VERY exciting proposal, which was given the go-ahead, and we will likely start next week. It will take up all of our spare time, but we are so thrilled to have this opportunity. You’ll have to stay tuned till the end of the summer to see a photo of the finished product.

Well, that is all for now. Please pray for the safety of our team, for the women especially, and for health. Pray for spiritual safety, as this is a place of oppression. Pray for the people of Tizate.

Love Kat

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The End of an Era

The asparagus season has come to an end, it’s true, it is true. I can't believe how fast these two months have gone by. This will be my last update from Canada, for we leave for Guatemala this coming Wednesday, the 5th. This is a final ode to the asparagus barn, and to Ontario.

(Here's an overgrown asparagus field I lay in last night)

O asparagus barn, how I shall miss thee!
Thou tender spears so green and tough
Make life in the barn sometimes rough
Though never would I choose to flee

The task of bunching able I endured
And shall mourn the loss of friends beside
Me in the barn to whom I confide
All deepest thoughts of which I am cured

O Beautiful Ontario! Not am I weary
Of thy lakes and fields, wind and grass
You’ve made me explore, not sit on my a**
And appreciate the greatness of Erie

(Self-portrait on my beautfiul beach...o how i shall miss thee)

And there you have it. I really have grown quite attached to this land, and I’m trying to figure out who I can marry in order to live out here forever! I spent three hours last night walking through the cherry fields, an overgrown asparagus field, and back over to my lake to watch a lightning storm. It was a wonderful time, getting “lost with Jesus”—I do recommend doing that sometime.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My Coffee Jesus Pt.1

There are many wonderful things in the world, and one of them That is probably a thoroughly predictable statement coming from a dedicated barista like myself, but it's the truth. Now, settle in as I tell a tragic story, but like any good tragic story, it has a good ending.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Kat who got accepted into a summer program. Believe it or not, when emailing one of the leaders, she asked whether or not the accomadations came with a coffee maker. It's true, she is a very anal, obsessive type of person when it comes to coffee. The answer to her question did not satisfy her or give her peace at heart, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. She brought two pounds of Starbucks wholebean coffee, a coffee grinder, and a Starbucks solo press thermos cup to Ontario with her.

One day, about two weeks into the program, the very vital stainless steel filter in the thermos went MIA. She looked high and she looked low, but Kat could not find the filter, rendering her cup...USELESS. (tear). All hope was not lost, as teammate Nicole bought her a mini french press that she had found at a local Value Village. Kat was thrilled, and used it a total of three times before the glass broke and it too was USELESS. (second tear). All hope was STILL not lost, as she could still brew a Starbucks cup of coffee in the coffee maker, although it was not as luxurious as her own personal cup. This worked alright until the coffee grinder broke (sorry Jess), and she could no longer have any Starbucks coffee at all, for without the grinder, she could not grind the coffee. Despair set in. (torrent of tears)......

My Coffee Jesus Pt.2 Kat is a thinker, and she thought to herself, "good friend Sarah is coming to visit this sunday, how utterly convienient that she happens to also work for Starbucks. Perhaps she can bring me some ground coffee, and also the missing filter part for my cup." This was a good idea, and like all good ideas, it came to pass. Sarah came to visit, with coffee and filter in hand (tears of joy), she had saved Kat from a life void of coffee. She was Kat's coffee Jesus, saviour to a body in withdrawal of caffeine. Kat was forever grateful to Sarah, and lived happily ever after. The end.

(Here is Kat, happily reunited with her now-functional solo press thermos)

That is my story, and what a happy ending it is. Coffee aside, it was FANTASTIC to see Sarah, one of my very closest friends, and to hang out with her and boyfriend Chris. We ate foot-long hotdogs in the little surf town of Port Dover, then headed to Niagra Falls for Sarah had never been there before, and en route back, we hit an icecream parlor. A great day of catching up with a good friend. What a wonderful gift that she is randomly visiting the same side of Ontario as I am, and that our time was able to overlap. We also hit the wonderful beach of Lake Erie before they left, and that beach in itself defines why I love it so much here. It was great to be able to share it with friends from home!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Divine Encounter

So I’ve written a lot about a lot of things, but I haven’t touched much on the subject of God and what He is doing in my life and in my heart. My prayer for many years has been for God to change my heart to be more like his. I often don’t feel like there has been a lot of answered prayer in this area, and there are different moments in life where I am more desperate for this to occur than at other times. I have had a few moments of that desperation here in Ontario.

Sometimes we’re privileged to have special moments of God. Divine moments when something in you is stirred beyond the point of emotion to the level of encountering Jesus, and those moments are memorable and significant. On Monday night, I went for a run over to one of leader’s houses down the road to catch the end of the Stanley Cup. The sun was setting, and I had a full view of it as I ran. By the time I got there, and was walking through the cherry grove on their property, the sky was just alight with beauty., I put the game on hold a little longer, as I could simply not stop myself from walking over to the lake to have a better view by the water. It was just breathtaking, in the full meaning of that word, for my breath was literally catching in my throat at the wonder of the creation before me.

The sky turned more into the reds and purples as it was reflecting over Lake Erie. I could hear the surf in the background of the worship music I was listening to and I was struck by the thought that if my God is the one who created the heavens and the earth, who created the beauty and vastness of what I was witnessing through the sunset, then this same God surely has the power to transform a heart like mine. It was a hope-filled, and awe-inspiring moment. I became aware of the lyrics of the song I was listening to, one called “The Stand” by United, and it’s lyrics were an exact reflection of what my thoughts had just been.

In that moment I was also reminded of what our basic, foundational purpose in life is, and that is solely to bring worship and glory to God. I was reminded of God’s faithfulness and his provision. This last point was significant when thinking of the leaders of the program and the difficult season that they have had with poor asparagus crops, yet knowing that God will provide for their needs. It was also comforting when thinking of my family, and the many transitions that the fall holds, and the effects that they will have on me. I had not slept well a few nights ago, worrying about stuff, but again, in that moment, before that kind of splendor of creation, I was comforted with the knowledge that the Creator of the earth is also the Creator of us and promises to take care of us.

Reading back over this, it may not sound like anything more than a nice sunset, but in my life I have learned that it is through creation that God chooses to touch my spirit. He took a sunset and refreshed my spirit, giving me hope, it was a very special moment. I hope that each of you reading this may find one such moment this summer as well.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Random Story-time with Kat: to Amphibian and Beyond!

This is the first installment of “Random Story-time with Kat”, where I get to retell some silly little story just for the heck of it. Today’s episode is entitled, “To Amphibian and Beyond!!!”

So. One day not all that long ago, the Twelve Amigos were working out in the cherry fields instead of in the asparagus barn. They were laying down water lines along the trunks of some young trees. Kat was taking a breather, maybe a drink of water, I can’t remember, and it’s not important, but Kevin and John come walking up, each having a mischevious glint in their eye. “Uh-oh”, Kat thought, “what are they up to now???”

“Hey Kat”, they said, and suddenly, Kevin opens his hand to reveal a two-inch long frog! He picks it up, and with all four limbs splayed, he tosses it at Kat! “Aiiiieeeeee!!!” Kat yelps, and hops around trying to dislodge the creature that is sure to have landed on her. In the end, Kat is alright, but she is thoroughly unimpressed with her two amigos, for although she likes froggies, who would want one thrown at them??????

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Bonfire on the Beach

Today is massive update day, two blogs within ten hours! The reason is this: the internet has been working off and on, and never long enough to post anything, so I must take advantage of it while it is working!

Last night we had a bonfire on the beach. It was the greatest bonfire of all time. Yay for driftwood, the boys were boys and kept finding bigger and bigger logs to throw on, and soon the flames were twenty feet high and the base had at least a ten foot diameter. It was sweet. We had fun with cigars and enjoyed each others company, and then Jenna says to me, "Hey, do you want sleep down here tonight???" to which I replied, "heck yes I do!" So the two of us, plus John and Kevin, slept under the stars. We went all survivor style and gathered long grass reeds for a bit of comfort under our sleeping bags. At 3am we restoked the fire, watched an amazing moon set (picture giant orange orb sinking into the lake), and even managed to catch a few hours of shuteye.

The beach was beautiful, and I never knew that there were fireflies out here until I saw them blinking last night. A memorable night to be sure. Everyone should try and have at least one beach bonfire this summer, and if possible, a slumber-party under the stars.

The Big Drip and G-man

Monday, we had the day off, and took a trip to Niagra Falls. Last time I was there, I don't remember a thing, being hardly out of utero, so it was high time that I made another trip. The falls themselves were spectacular, and at certain observation points overlooking the falls, the mist comes off and rains down on you. It was pleasantly refreshing.

The "Maid of the Mist" is the tourist boat that goes right up to the falls, I could almost see Jim Carrey doing his thing from that scene from Bruce Almighty. The city of Niagra Falls is completely pathetic, it's a Canadian Las Vegas, and the entertainment business has set up camp for life, to milk as much money as possible from the tourists. Visiting tip: enjoy the falls and the surrounding parks, but stay far away from the surrounding streets. Even Starbucks sold out to the hotels and charge $2.50 for a small coffee....

Here's my lady-bug buncher buddy Jenna and I, in front of the falls. She's a pretty awesome lady and we have grrrrreat fun together.

On Sunday, friends Gareth and Moureen Jones came all the way from Toronto to visit me for an afternoon. It was so great to be able to show them the place, introduce them to the team, and galavant on the sandy shore of Erie. Here's G-man and I on the beach.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Charitable Status!

Hey, did you check out that attachment on that email that I sent out a month or so ago? The one about fundraising for the Guatemalan family this summer, for a sum of $1000? In that letter, there was a paragraph that noted how at that time, Global Shore Opportunities had not yet received its charitable status, meaning we could not issue tax receipts for donations.

As of last week, however, we have been granted this status and can now issue tax receipts! Yay! To find out more about this opportunity, see the link on the right, entitled "Donation Info". The invitation is still open (to date, I’ve received 10% of the target), and I would like to emphasize that none of the money is for me, all of my costs are covered by the program, so 100% of the donations will go straight towards the materials needed to build a home for a family, and English teaching supplies. It is truly a unique giving opportunity!

Thanks for reading, love Kat.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Twelve Amigos

Here we are! First team photo, bottom row we have Kris, Kat, Jenni, Char, Nicole, moving up counter-clockwise is Nick, Steffen, John, Jenna, Charrisa, Greg and Kevin. Coming from all over Canada, this is one stellar team, really REALLY amazing people. God is building such healthy relationships between us, ones of encouragement and uplifting. It is a priviledge to be part of this team. Each person brings personality, and I am learning so much from the differences that we have and the wisdom that is brought by people from different walks of life. The guys are hilarious and the ladies just are constantly laughing at their antics. Looking forward to my first family of twelve.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rural Ontario and the Great Lake

Well, I have to dedicate an entire blog entry just to the beauty of Ontario. It is truly astounding. To all the BC-ers out there....we are far too arrogant in our province, "Beautiful British Columbia", oh how true, but there are certainly other forms of beauty in Canada aside from mountains and oceans, even in the plains of Alberta through to Ontario here. Perhaps I have a unique appreciation to the great outdoors after my truly horrifying experience of living in Abbotsford for the summer two years ago, in our third-floor story condo, without an inch of green space to my name. That was truly tragic, having lived in the country most of my life, and than inhabiting an island for three years, and THEN to move to the middle of a city was a bit of a shock to the system, one that was intensely felt during the fine sunshine with no lawn to lay on during the summer of 2004. All of that is to say that I am thoroughly enjoying being back in the country again. Fields of asparagus, fields of cherry trees, fields of everything, and beyond those fields, great big Lake Erie. ASTOUNDING. I have never quite seen a body of water like this one.

I like to go for runs down the road to this cemetary, which has become a little sanctuary for me. I have an appreciation for cemetaries if you don't already know, so I like to frequent this one, and wander around it 'til I run home, and the other day I wandered out the back of the cemetary, through an asparagus field to get a view of the lake. Hear me when I say (or type...) that I have never, in all of my life, even when living on the ocean for three years, seen a body of water look that beautiful. If I had to write a one-liner on Lake Erie, this is what it would be, "If God were a body of water, He would be Lake Erie." I'll try and describe.

The weather at that particular moment when looking at the lake was overcast and it looked like a storm was coming. The lake is aptly named "great" because it's simply water all the way to the horizon, but it's unique because there's not a single boat on it. No boat streams disrupting the water, just glassy. The blue hues from the overcast were muted and soft so that I couldn't distinctly separate the water from the sky on the horizon, and there were patches of lighter, turquoise almost, and closer to the beach it was sandier colored, and then this beautiful muted blue color. I wish all of you could have seen it, there just are not adequate words other than to say that I couldn't help but just sit in quiet awe for a good fifteen minutes.

Other than the lake, there are wind turbines all around where we live, which is great, and the sunsets are gorgeous, and there's a rooster that crows obnoxiously whenever I'm within earshot, the birds twitter, the trees line the roads and are in full bloom, and walking through the cherry trees is just wonderful. So. You get the picture, I'm loving being a country girl again!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

From Barista to Buncher

Hello All! Grrrrrrrrrrrr, I'm a little cheesed because my whole message was just lost and now I have to retype it. Boo technology, what good have you done the world????!?!? alright, now that that's over, let me try and recall. So. I have started my new job in the asparagus plant. It is interesting. Work starts at 7:00am, and the team and I walk across the field and join the hundred or so other asparagus employees. That's right, you heard me, a hundred, this is quite the operation they have here. Ironic really, I use to be mildly amused when driving down the road at 5:15am on the way to work at Starbucks, up before the sun, up before the rest of the world all in the name of coffee! And now, I do similarly outrageous things but in the name of aspargus.

Allow me to describe to you the very complex job that I perform as a buncher. So you see, I stand at the buncher machine all day, the white square thing in the photo. I load it with an elastic, grap a "bunch" of asparagus, press it through the hole where it is elasticated (new verb????), reload the buncher, and elasticate for the second time. I then find the appropriate box, and begin the cycle anew. This all happens in a matter of seconds, assembly work is fast-paced, let me tell you, and everyone has to keep up or everything gets messed up. DID YOU KNOW: there are around 30 different grades (sizes) of asparagus???? Short, tall, skinny, non-fat, with whip white chocolate mocha...whoops, I'm regressing here, I meant short, tall, skinny, fat, jumbo, tips, etc. Quite remarkable really. So this is what I do, i bunch asparagus all day long, but not just for your typical eight hour work day, ho no, the norm right now is a 12 hour plus work day. Yikes! The first long day was a little rough, I actually burst into uncontrollable hysterical laughter at the nine hour point when discovering we would be working for another three hours, but now I seem to have acclimated nicely to the hours, and am faring well.

And my prediction was correct, the prediction that I would eat asparagus a lot. Every dinner, asparagus is for the taking, and here is how you all should try it. Cook it, shred some cheese on top, dribble a little hot sauce on, and sprinkle the secret ingredient to every meal on top. (in case you don't know what that is, it's salt and pepper). Try it, it's great! Alright, that is it for now, I will wait to share more delightful news on life in aspara-land some other night!

Good night! Love Kat

Thursday, April 27, 2006

First Impressions

I've arrived at my new home. Kris and Nicole were the smiling faces who greeted me at the Hamilton airport, two others on the program. It will be the three of us until Saturday, when everyone starts to arrive. Picture a small country church on the side of a road converted into a beautiful accomodation building, and this is where I'm staying. The sanctuary now is host to a large common area, with multiple sink-into couches, a long, hand-made dining table, a pool table, air hockey table, and sweet projector system, and this is where I will be spending my evenings chilling with the rest of the team. The basement and upstairs now contain bedrooms and bathrooms, and what used to be the church foyer is now a kitchen. It is quiet and peaceful here, and I can hear the dull roar of lake Erie when out for a walk. The short of it is this: I'm going to enjoy living here. I've met most of the leaders of the program, and they are wonderful people, the few stories that I have heard already of how God has brought this program into being, speaks of his blessing upon the leaders and the vision. This is the Lord's work.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What in the world is Kat up to now????

Back in January, Mom told me about this incredible summer opportunity that she had read about in the MB Herald. She said I should look into it, so I did, and within two weeks my application and references had been mailed in. I am one of the nine priviledged college students who has been accepted into the Global Shore Student Program. A two part program, I'll begin work on an asparagus farm in Port Burwell, Ontario, on May 1st. Together with the others in the program, we will be employed on the farm for the two months of the asparagus season. The beginning of July, we'll fly down to El Tizate, Guatemala, where the part two of the program will take place; the mission aspect. In Guatemala, we will take part in work projects, and teach English to bless this small community. At the end of the program, each student will receive a scholarship towards their education. It really is an incredible opportunity, and I am honored to be able to take part in it. I will be updating this blog on a regular basis (hopefully), so stayed tuned to hear more about the adventure! I would be grateful for your prayers regarding team unity and safety. Such an experience could potentially have life-changing, heart-changing, mind-changing affects, pray that this potential is met, and that God would have his way in my heart and life. Each student has the responsibility of raising $1000 to be used towards the mission work to take place in Guatemala. 100% of the money goes straight towards the work in Guatemala, and the materials and supplies needed, it is really a neat opportunity to give. If you are interested in supporting this, contact me by email. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog, and for taking an interest in what God is doing in my life.

In Him, Kat