Saturday, September 01, 2007

Terminada.

Here I sit, on Pembina St. in Winnipeg, the little corner table unit at the local Starbucks. I feel like a foreign import wearing my stylish knee-length, hand-stitched red, cocktail-slant skirt (which, you ladies, may purchase at your local fairtrade party in November), as well as some sweet cowboy boots. Bling bling. Marcial, I wear your products proudly. My favorite drink is not as tasty as I remember it, and perhaps my tastebuds have become foreign as well.

The summer has come. The summer has gone. I was talking with my bro-in-law Dan last night about how funny it is that just under a year ago I was struggling about what to do with my summer, and now here it has passed me by.

Just in case you forgot how cute little Cindy is...here we are with trensas in our hair. All things Global Shore ended well. We flew home on the 23rd, had some debrief until this past Sunday, and then the students filtered off in the following days. My sister Jess roadtripped it out and arrived Sunday afternoon to celebrate my birthday with me, and we lounged at the Konrads’ until Wednesday afternoon, enjoying a few leasuring days in the sun, amongst the fruit trees, with fresh fare spread upon the picnic blanket. Now here we are in Winnipeg visiting the other sis, Jenn, until Sunday morning and then it is home home home. It was good to hear from each student about their observations, and the things and people that impacted them. It’s not always evident, the workings and changes of the heart, but God, in his graciousness, worked and taught and grew in every one of the students’ lives. One of the main objectives of my summer was to grow in leadership, and that happened! Perhaps the most useful aspect of this was realizing my many weaknesses, and knowing what needs improvement in the future.

I’m listening to this sweet Spanish worship song entitled “La niña de tus ojos” while I write this. It’s just beautiful in Spanish, and does not translate that well into English, but some of the lines are, “you saw me when no one else saw me…you loved me when no one else loved me….and you gave me a name….” Hmmm, why am I sharing this…perhaps it is because a chapter has closed, a new one is soon to begin, more decisions will have to be made, more of life lived, the big wide world ahead of me. And God walks with us, each of us, through it all. And it’s not worth really thinking seriously five years down the road, or really two years down the road, because, at least for me, my plans hardly ever work out the way I’ve thought them up. It seems to work better step by step by step by step, being obedient in the moment, in the best way that I know how to. The last line of this song is “Te amo mas que ha mi vida” which means, “I love you more than my life” which I suppose is what a life boils down to, n’est pas?


One final last plug for your local fairtrade party happening this autumn near you....check out this "iron art". Need I say more.

So, there we have it. The blog from this moment on shall regress into its dormant state for at least another seven months. Thanks for following.

THE END.

Post Script: I just learned what the word “pretentious” means. I was going to use it in the context of, “my pretentious Starbucks drink”, but than I realized that I didn’t quite know the definition of it, although it seemed to fit with my context, and so I dictionaried it and it means, “attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture ,etc., than is actually possessed.” In response to this definition I have two things to say to two people: Dan Konrad: I do not, in fact, own a “pretentious Mac” as you so often stated. Carolyn Konrad: thinking that I am “one of the least pretentious people” that you know, is perhaps one of the greatest compliments of my life, and I have only now realized the significance of it. Thank you for that.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Time is a Tick-tick-ticking

O to be the final post in Guatemala. We leave on Thursday morning. Things are wrapping up around here.

Hmmm, a recap of the last two weeks. Well, we had our weekend away at the beautiful Semuc Champey, all natural translucent pools, home to little fishies that nibble at your skin, fresh clean air, fresh clean nature, a few hammocks here and there….my goal of the weekend was to pay the bills and than forget everything expected of a leader, and enjoy my free weekend. O sweet mercies. Kat the recluse, read her weekend away, catching up on the latest adventures of ‘arry Potter. ‘twas lovely. Thoroughly enjoyable. Top of the line.

Ah, the cute Kinder's. This is Gloria. Keep reading to discover how you personally can be involved in Gloria's future...

Other than that it’s been two weeks of our normal schedule, ESL, Fairtrade bizzle and whatnot. Things are wrapping up in the Fairtrade department. I’m currently sitting in a room up at the Casa de la Luz, a room that is both home to my laptop and the ever-growing accumulation of fairtrade goods. I’m staring at a mound of 90 wooden carved bowls, beside me here are bags filled with 300 coffee sacs, and 150 bean sacs. In the cupboard there are belts, and jewelry, sandals and textiles. It’s coming together! This is Clara, one of the textile ladies, sewing away some purses. Consider this your sneak preview.

Oh yes, a new development in that area has been taking 75 sponsorship photos of the three classes in our school. Yes, we have this school that we’ve started. Currently, there are three classes, and Global Shore intends to add a grade every year until we’re a full-fledged school. Property has been purchased up the mountain and sometime in the new year, there’ll be ground-breaking for the new school building. All very exciting!!!! So, we’re following in the line of all good developing country initiatives, and providing sponsorships for the better-off’s of the world…or Canada…or Abbotsford…to support the students going to this school, to help pay for their education, to help cover some of the huge overhead it takes to run a school. Care to help? Well, just attend one of the six fairtrade parties going down in November in a Abbotsford, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Port Burwell, Kitchener near you, and you can sign up and receive the expected smiling photo of the student whose future you are helping to shape. Meet Freddy, him and his wife Romilia are making the leather bracelets for the parties. I don’t take pictures much of anything at the moment except students and the odd artisan shot. So, that will have to be your eye-candy for this last post.

That's it, that's all, must go have some comida before we head off for the tragedy of the Guatemala City Dump. It's sure to be a tearful, impactful afternoon for some.

Much Love, Kat

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Hilarity of Language.

“She’s brushing her teets.” Well….not quite. Let us spend some time practicing the pronunciation of “th”, so as to say “teeth” and not "teets". Good. That made for some comic relief in Andrew and my ESL class the other night. It’s sorta like how I said “What a terrible child” when little Cindy came in crying the other day. I thought, “que mala onda?” meant, “what’s wrong?”, but apparently not. The parents laughed. I thought I’d better have a conversation with my Spanish teacher about what she was teaching me.

Here’s my family. There’s the dad Agustin, Franky on the left, Enma, little Cindy and Osman on the right. I am enjoying my stay with them. I am also enjoying Miss Julianna. She is our Guatemalan director, and the daughter of Robert and Carolyn. A year and a half ago she married Jacobo, a Guatemalan pastor down here. And that’s their very cute hybrid, Rebekah Samantha. Said with the Spanish rolled “r”. Rrrrrrebekah Samantha. I have found a friend in her. Julianna that is, not the baby. It’s been good, because somedays when team stuff is just weighty, it’s nice to have Julianna around, someone who can relate to all this leadership business. And she's just a great gal. Hard not to like.

Today we had a kids carnival in the street. Complete with face painting, the hacky-sac toss and all the usual stuff plus….”Paint the Baby”, where Kris and Dale came out in giant diapers, the kids painted them, and then everyone was bombarded by waterballoons. Only Kris would think up something that ridiculous. It was a hit.

Fairtrade stuff is coming along nicely. It looks like those paper journals will be an item, as I’ve successfully made several sheets now. Steph and I had a good time this morning experimenting with different colors and flowers. I think Monday I’ll pass on the knowledge to one of the moms here. My first attempt was a failure…just a bunch of mush, that’s what the paper was. Kind of like our worms. They all up and died one weekend. Dale-y and I had the “What Went Wrong” discussion, and we think we know, so hopefully by next week we’ll have some more wormies for take 2. It’s all very good. It’s good to fail, you know? Just try again. I'm all about second attempts lately.

Less than three weeks now, pretty crazy. Lots to do still!

Love Kat

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lake Atitlan & Fairtrade

Que onda.

Right, so, all of the students have just returned from their "free weekend", a weekend allowing them to go wherever their wallets would permit them. Steph, Ash and I made our way to the love-r-ly Lake Atitlan. Beauty. One night in Panajachel, where we hit up the markets, a pizza joint and Crossroads Café (a must visit), and for our second night, seeing as one night in tourist-infested Pana was sufficient, we zoomed off in a boat to the less tourist-y haven called Santa Cruz. There we stayed in a private cabin at IslaVerde, a sweet enviro-friendly establishment. Good times all around. We had a few delightful swims in the deep turquoise clear, some quality snooze time, and quite a lot of laughter. Walking one of the paths bordering the lake today, we stopped in for nachos and freshly squeezed OJ at a cafe. That OJ was goooooood. Okay, so I'll let you in on the Fairtrade stuff. The o-so-exciting initiative that I gladly give energy to. Concept: tupperware parties? Mary-Kay? Let's find a host who will invite all her girlfriends over to allow some corporation to avoid the overhead of retail and make millions?????

Right. Fairtrade parties. This fall in a town near you. Abbotsford. Calgary. Winnipeg. Port Burwell. Toronto. You are formally invited to the first Fairtrade homeparty. And not just the ladies. This party is for everyone. I will be your host. We'll schedule it for sometime in November probably. Right, so, we've been finding local artisans/establishing local artisans to strut their handiwork in Canada. Handiwork will include: hammocks, textile skirts, textile bags, jewelry, Guatemalan coffee, leather items (TBA), ironwork (TBA), woodwork (TBA), and other goods.

Definition of Fairtrade: a fair wage for the product made. The beauty of it? These people, starting in the little Tizate, are being employed. A lot of them. Work is being given to them for a product that will sell in Canada. We're broadening the market. Global Shore will simply be the go-between guy, finding product, bringing it up to the parties. No profits for us. Voluntary hosts (previous students, comme moi), voluntary homes providing some gourmet appies (if you have a large pad, are able to cook, and would like this to be your contribution to the poor of Guatemala, do contact me) and, uh, yeah. People to come out, view the goods and drop some cash. Not just to feel good about helping someone yonder across the sea, but because the product is going to rock. And will be a fair price. And there are only good things to say about this. Here, you can own a beauty of a hammock like this one Ash is enjoying. Sí? So I've been involved, along with Robert and Julianna, in selecting product, finding more, thinking stuff up, giving my opinion on this and that, finding artisans, teaching artisans, talking with artisans. Sometime this week I'm going to try and make paper out of corn leaves. It makes good paper, I've seen it, and it makes for a sweet journal. Hopefully we can figure that one out, teach someone, and have that good to go for the fall.

Anyways. There you have it. Your role is to attend the party. Will keep you posted on those details, probably in the fall.

Ciao, Kat

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Life.

Hello Canada,

Big Hug, little hug, Big Kiss, little kiss from the mountains of El Tizate. It has been a wonderful first week and a half here in Guatemala. There was a surprising sense of home upon arrival to our small town and I have settled in nicely with my Spanish family. I’ve never had younger siblings before, so it is a delight to have Osman (11), Franky (7) and Cindy (5) around all the time. Cindy is a particular delight to me, and she provides joy to me on a daily basis. Thank God for Cindy. Here she is. On the right. I mean left. That's her cousin Christopher. Cute little chubs.

I live in what I’ve dubbed the “penthouse” out back, a room far too big for one person, but one that provides stellar privacy and enough room to home a hammock. I’ve only killed four resident arachnids, one enormous grasshopper and the family gave away the cat and we ate one of the roosters for dinner the other night, so the pesky night animals are diminishing in number. Our dog Lion (said with a Spanish accent) is friendly, the other two roosters comical and believe it or not, only today did I discover that we had a pet tortuga. Apparently the little turtle has been crawling around this whole time but I never realised it. The kids and I had fun today watching it swim in our pila out back.

It has been a full week and a half and it seems that we’ve been here a month already. Here's the team on the front bridge in town.
Our full schedule is in swing now, with 5 English classes running, an art school, a music school, construction, construction, construction for los muchachos, ministry nights in the evenings, and dabblings in a bakery initiative, work with disabled children AND….the two things that I am most heavily involved with are the vermicompost and FAIRTRADE!!!!! YA! Hit that cowbell one more time! We’ve had two 4x3x3 compost pits made, and tracked down some lombrises who are having the feast of their lives in the organics that we collect from our eight student homes. It is very exciting! Such a positive step in so many ways, but I won’t get into them over a blog entry. Ask me in the fall. In fact, I'll be your local vermicompost expert and will help you set up your own. Relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain. Even in a condo.

And for the Fairtrade stuff…well, that needs it’s own entry entirely. That was what I was so stoked about in my last post, but again, you’ll have to wait until I can write about it adequately. But it’s good. Trust me. You will want to be involved, oh yes, you will.

There is so much. What else. The nearby city of Antigua is just as beautiful as ever. Lovely lovely lovely. I've missed the crazed Chickenbus rides and am happy to ride them again. The bartering is still fun, even though I cheesed a vendor off the other day....whoops. My Spanish is doing alright, considering I spent the year trying to forget everything I had learned in order to focus on French. My two and a half hour spanish class Mon-Fri is good, and Cindy is a great teacher too.

Hmmm, I'll skip to what has been on my mind as of late. Team dynamics...interesting. I was reading in a book the other night about Jesus and the twelve and there was nothing in particular that was astounding about what I was reading, but for some reason I was impressed with the importance of that group, and guarding that unity and loving one another. For crying out loud, we're only twelve, it shouldn't be difficult, and yet at times it is. This brings me to my recent self-reflection on the many weaknesses and failures in my life. Wow, Jesus has a lot to make beautiful and Christ-like in me. I'm realizing there is a lot of pride in my life. And so I would covet your prayers. For a changed life. For Christ within me, and leading and loving through me. For humility. For finding approval in God and him alone.

That's a dismal note to end on and so....nope, I don't know any Spanish jokes. Although language differences always provide good humor, such as when I told my class, that yes, class was Monday, Eggs and Friday nights, instead of Thursdays because the words are similar. Bah.

love from Guatemala, Kat

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Most Ardently

Well World,

Come follow me to Guatemala, I leave on Tuesday at 3am. That’s in…61 hours. Goodbye Canada, you are a glorious land. Goodbye asparagus, you have filled my tummy to a glorious girth. Goodbye sand cliffs, you have delighted my skin with the softness of your grains. Farewell dear Erie, the twinkling moonlight upon your surface has lapsed waves of gratitude in my soul.

Oh my.

Things are wrapping up over here. Last minute errands, wrap-up meetings, laundry and packing have, and will be, the agenda until our departure. I will impart the lovely adventures of the last two days with you, and then prepare yourself for some shockingly exciting news that you can each be apart of!

Well, it started with the Konrad’s. You’ve already met them, and I’ve mentioned their lovely country home to you. Well, in the backyard of this country home stands a delightful little cabin, equipped with one of those old bells that you call toll, a lantern above the door, flower beds all around, and enough space to sleep…..six girls. I call it the hobbit-hole. Anyways, we decided to have a sleepover in there, and so we slapped down some mattresses, had a photo shoot, pulled out some locally brewed fruit wine, played a few games of Dutch Blitz, invaded the Konrad home for a cup of tea, and then curled up on our mattresses while falling asleep to the recent Pride and Prejudice. Favorite quote: "I love, love....love you. Most ardently". No commentary needed.

Moving on...here are the hobbitesses outside their hole. We had a delightful sleep until…..

Imagine our groggy awakening to the sound of violin music. Confusion. Is that live music? No, that must be the alarm clock. Wait. The alarm clock is playing the Shire theme song from the Lord of the Rings? On the violin? No, that must be live. (Kat crawls to the little window in the door and peers out). It’s the boys! All lined up like little groomsmen wearing their Sunday best! And there’s Cam! Standing on the front porch playing his violin! (insert excited giggles and squeals here). (mad scramble to become modest). The boys lead the girls out to the Konrad’s patio set, where they’ve laid the spread and promptly serve them breakfast. Ah, they looked so dashing. And those chocolate pancakes were good. But my favorite part was the Shire song via violin. Etched in the memory indefinitely.

It was a beautiful start to the day. All of us hit the road by 9am for a road trip to see St. Jacob’s market, just near Waterloo. It was lovely. What a great place, open air, cultural, diverse, sorta reminiscent/prophetic of Guatemala. Steph and I got preoccupied with one stand where initially we thought we’d get some tanktops, but instead…..we walked away with Anne of Green Gables shirts. Go Anne. I’ll think of you everytime I where it ‘LiZZZa. Here we are, sporting our lace. I feel a bit like a doily in it. It’s fun.

Our second stop was Elora’s gorge, a beauteous gorge caused by all their greedy limestone digging. The water was pristine and the cliffs ripe for jumping off of. After our water time, we walked around the little town of Elora, which is charmingly similar to Europe. The stone buildings, cute store fronts, it was remarkable. Ashley and I felt like we were in France. So, here we are, on the edge of the Seine.

From France, we set off for Millgrove, just outside of Guelph, for a BBQ at Jenna’s house. Terrible backed up traffic en route home caused us to inquire of various cars, “excuse me, do you have any toast for this traffic jam?????” Mah mah mah. Our very favorite response was, “what the #*ck are you talking about????!?!?” followed by laughter. Ah yes.

And so, we leave soon. We are very excited. There is much excitement, some anxiety, some sadness, but much excitement in the air. And we’re pretty ready. As ready as can be. And Andrew and I are very ready. I have, according to him, converted him to my “religion.” Here’s a pic of what our religion does to us: insert caption “ I sold my soul to Starbucks”.

Soon to go South, Kat

Post Script: I guess I forgot to write about my very exciting news that you can all take part in. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Konrads

Hello Friends,

I feel quite at a loss to make even a mildly interesting post for those that follow this blog, but I will try my best. Actually, I reject the notion of feeling the need to be interesting. I am what I am. And some days I am just simply not interesting.

As such, I shall talk about those that I love and not myself. There are several people who have my affections out here on Erie, but this post I dedicate to Robert and Carolyn Konrad. Here they are. They are one of two couples who founded the Global Shore program, and also Sandy Shore Farms, the asparagus packing house that we work in. Robert runs around the barn, wearing a bright orange hat so he can be easily found amongst all the machines and employees. I am often at my little table in the middle of the barn, writing numbers, numbers and more numbers, and sometimes he’ll walk up to me singing some country ditty or, my personal favorite, a remake of the Mama and Papa’s song: “This is the dawning of the age of [asparagus] age of [asparagus]…” it is quite humorous.

He is quite an eclectic man, running a farm year round (asparagus, cauliflower, cherries…), heading up a student summer program, planning new projects down in Guatemala…and that’s not even getting into his hobbies which including hunting (they supply us with summer sausage from the caribou they caught up in northern Quebec….plus deer and turkeys), he also plays JC in his spare time, being a fabulous carpenter, forming little coconut rings for us girls, making some of the furniture in his home and here at the ark. He has an arrow head collection and a shark tooth collection, one that I have now too, after the delightful gift that he gave me of a hand-made wooden bowl filled with the shark teeth he had gathered on their recent vacation to the beaches in Florida. Which leads me to make mention of his extremely generous nature. I think that is one of the ways that he loves people, is by doing what he can for them, pleasing them with little gifts that he can make, it is very loving and very delightful.

Miss Carolyn. I think many of us girls look at Carolyn and think to ourselves (or to one another), “now that’s the kind of lady I would like to develop into”. Peaceful, caring, hospitable, wise. Thoughtful. Loves the earth. Loves people. Loves God. Pensive. Open. Reverent of God. Finds the beauty in life. Finds the beauty in others. Her home is her sanctuary, and what a beautiful home it is. I find a lot of ways of inviting myself over to their enchanting abode. I think I might find some excuse to go over for tea later today. Lots of tea at the Konrad’s. Carolyn introduced me to Rooibos Citrus Spice loose tea. (it’s delicious. Go find it at your local grocer.)

Despite these notably charming characteristics, Carolyn also has this spicy side to her. She drives a Volkswagon Passat. Her first hunt after receiving her hunting license was to shoot a ten point buck. I didn’t know what that meant, so maybe you don’t either, when you see a deer, if you could the number of points on their antlers, the higher the number, the greater the buck, literally in size. A ten-point buck is quite a catch, she made it into the hunter’s prize book or some such business. Incredible.

So now you’ve met them. Two tremendous people in my life. My life is better to have known them.

Love Kat

Monday, June 11, 2007

Anne with an 'E'

Nick, Nat, Jenna and I are sitting in my sub-arctic, corner motel #1 abiding place, with music and recording on our minds. Thank God for Saturday nights. I think there’s a bonfire on the agenda for later, somewhere down a sandcliff, on the water, with driftwood for fire starter. I want to be there. You want to be there too. Admit it.

Maybe I’ll take some time to give you a better glimpse of what our weeks look like here in Ontario. Monday through Saturday, we work in the asparagus packhouse from 7am – 5pm or so, sometimes a bit later. There are six asparagus lines in the barn with about twenty workers on each. One night a week we have Menno Night (girls night/guys night), doing girl/guy things and sharing with one another. For the last five weeks, we’ve been having a night for testimonies, and Kris and I wrapped that up this past week. And there's other team such stuff, and of course, some general chill time to end a long day in the barn. There is, thankfully, adequate time to run to the lake for a dip. Always enjoyable. And, let us not forget, The Sabbath. Truly a holy day, what else can I say.

Now, on a more morbid note...Allow me to introduce you to Anne. That's part of her tombstone in the pic. Here is my confession: I have a mild obsession with this tombstone. It’s true, Sometimes I run there and then just sit there looking at what, in my opinion, is the most beautiful tombstone I’ve ever seen in my life. I should precede this story by saying that I have thoroughly enjoyed the presence of graveyards for about...oh, the past five years or so. Graveyards and Laundry. This graveyard in particular is a bit of a sanctuary for me. Anyways, Anne died in 1853, at the age of twenty-three. I’m quite certain that had I been alive 150 years ago, Anne and I would be the greatest of friends, and as such I’ve gotten in the habit of depositing lilacs and other such favourable flowers at her grave. Andrew laughed hysterically upon discovering this and I suppose it does firmly place me in the category of lunacy. I have no defense other than an unexplainable connection through the centuries.

To end this entry, I give you a portrait. Of myself. It’s entitled “Kitty”. Yes, Kat the feline, how clever. Thank you Dan for having too much time on your hands and being a master at Paint. Later, Feline

Post Script: Laugh at the small things, let the big ones go, and love, love, love even when you don't want to. (thanks for that Linds).

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Criks and Drugs

I must share a memorable experience with you all. Last Sunday, several of us went canoeing on Big Creek (Big Crik if you pronounce things like a hick). In short, it was a delightful, tranquil paddle on the creek with overhanging trees, and birds twittering everywhere until….John threw a mudball at me. He missed of course, due to his severely underdeveloped motor skills (burn), but the action, obviously, demanded retaliation. Our canoe paddled ahead, loaded up with our own sludge balls and strategically planned our attack. As the enemy canoe approached, we suddenly turned on them. Kat, with her above-average motor skills, threw a well-aimed mudball at her opponents, and all four of them, John, Steph, Cam and Dale, simultaneously leaned left to avoid being hit and…..capsized! Oh it was brilliant, brilliant! Unfortunately, our canoe, in our attempt at a quick get-away, ended up capsizing ourselves (hmmm, didn’t plan that one), and all ended in a full out mud war in the shallows. The only downfall to the day was the saturation of my newly purchased pack of cherry Prime Timers, however, I am happy to say that once dried out they were still quite smokeable. Since I don't have any shots from the mudfight, I offer another fog shot. I really need to start pulling out the camera a little more.

It is now Sunday again, so let us recap the week. Ummmm, asparagus and…..some more asparagus and…..asparagus! We seem to have hit a plateau and days are going until around roughly 5:30 – 6:00pm, so it leaves sufficient time to enjoy the outdoors, run to the beach, and plan some group nights. I finally made time to get lost with Jesus outside, and that was a needed evening watching an orange moon rise over the lake. I think I will have to make outdoor Jesus-dates at least once a week.

What else. Today eleven of the twelve of us started our four month drug dose. It’s quite an intensive schedule of taking two pills a day for a week, and then three, and then four…at the end of the summer, we’ll have injested something like 350 pills. What kind of preventative measures is that????? You may ask. Well, Global Shore has done some experimenting with Essential Oils and one of their products, called Parafree, is a pill containing all kinds of essential oils and a family that was on it in Guatemala for three months didn’t get sick even once, not even stomach sickness (and that is quite something). And so, most of us have taken the plunge and deem it a worthy endeavor. It fights parasites, and cleanses us of parasites that we likely already have (the stats show that 85% of Americans contain parasites….wow). Anyways, the whole essential oils thing is quite interesting, and the presentation that we saw was very thought-provoking. Ask me about it sometime.

your drug addict, Kat

Monday, May 28, 2007

Journey Into My Cerebrum

Did Jesus ever say, “I love you?” I don’t think he did. He certainly implied it through verses such as “the greatest gift is to lay down a life for a friend” and he, obviously, did just that. “Love one another as I have loved you”, and many more, but did he actually say those three words? Theory: our culture = too much emphasis on words and not enough on action. Did Jesus SHOW his love? Absolutely. Daily.

“Special” is both an inclusive and exclusive term from God’s perspective. We are all uniquely known and loved by God, making each of us exclusively special to Him, but if all of us are “special” to God, the term seems to lose it’s exclusive tendencies and becomes inclusive….for several billion people. Interesting. Not exactly how our selfish culture would want to view that term, for doesn’t each one of us secretly want to be The Special One to someone, whether it be romantic, or professional, or on a friendship level? Hence the exclusive nature of the term in our very selfish culture, but is it wrong to want to be that to someone? And is it necessary? Does what it really come down to is questioning the value in being an “individual”, an idea that our culture promotes, when really aren’t we called to live collectively? Convoluted.

Celibacy. Why not? The Western Church promotion = get married, and get married young. After recently reading “Sex God” by Rob Bell, I am challenged on that point and reminded that God basically promotes celibacy over marriage to those who are able. Interesting. We missed that memo at some point in history and seem to advocate for the very opposite, whilst pointing the finger at singles, especially “older” singles, deeming them “undesirable” or asking, “what’s wrong with you?”. I reject that North American mentality. Completely.

“Child Labor.” Don’t even pretend to understand it, because you don’t. And neither do I, but I might understand a little more than you do, just enough to pass on the wisdom of Ken, one of our leaders: There’s ALWAYS two sides to every story. So the $5 wage/day in another country, yeah, it’s shocking in comparison to our standards, and we want to fight it, and throw our opinions around (as I am currently doing), and be revolutionists and CHANGE THE WORLD! but just think if the world was “elevated” to our standards of living, food, and economy. Face it, it could never happen. It’s no secret that the world would never sustain itself if the Western culture set the bar. Conclusion: we need the $5 a day workers. Swallow it. And change your lifestyle because of it. Second Conclusion: wow, that’s pretty bleak. Christian perspective: clearly all is hopeless without Jesus, the redeemer of all things. So better times are coming. But not yet. And for this time, here on this bleak earth, let’s focus on those things eternal. God. People. And watch a sunset when you can and know that nothing is really in the palm of your hand anyway. It’s in much better hands.

Pretend there is a stunning picture of a sunset inserted....here. I'm having a bloody difficult time uploading photos and it has delayed the posting of this entry for far too long and so....there shall simply be no photo. Tragic. To make up for it, I will give you all an asparagus recipe.

Deep Fried Asparagus.
(Asparagus Tip #13 of 14)

1 lb. fresh asparagus
Tempura/vegatable batter
Flour

Wet asparagus stalks with water and coat with flour, then dip into a tempura or vegetable batter. Deep fry until golden
brown. Serve with ranch dipping dressing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Quick Facts in Black & White

Fact: Lounging in the cherry fields for four hours on my Sabbath

Fact: Jenna playing the happy birthday song on her accordian for Natalie’s birthday

Fact: tractor rides through the cherry fields

Fact: 12 hour days in the asparagus barn

Fact: 12 hour days in the asparagus barn lead to....hilarious antics around the breakfast, lunch and dinner table.

Fact: my ironic promotion to brew captain of President’s Choice coffee for 130 barn staff. They made me.Fact: Enjoying how photogenic southern Ontario is. Here is the "white way of delight" of the cherry fields and a first self-portrait on one exceptionnally foggy evening.

Fact: having my language deteriorate to barn lingo. Hmmmmm. I purge my mouth with hyssop!

Fact: Ordering 2 lbs of red wiggler worms for our pilot vermicompost. They should arrive at our door…tomorrow.

Fact: firmly reprimanding rebellious Mexican Mennonite girls for not wearing their hairnets according to regulations; they’re really hot, I don’t know what their problem is.

Fact: Dale having to wear a beard net.

Fact: Our cook Marisa, having to see her husband shave his moustache off for the first time since she’s known him (they’ve been married a long time) because he couldn’t bear the beard net. He was….less than impressed when the HACCP elite came to inspect the barn and the men weren’t wearing beard nets. Apparently it’s a grey area. He could’ve kept his moustache. I think John may have hidden a shotgun in his office if those HACCP men ever show they’re perfectly stashed faces ever again.

Fact: making daily screw-ups on the precious sheets that I fill out. Numbers. Numbers representing boxes. Numbers representing farmers. Numbers representing boxes for a numbered farmer which directly affects the number on their paycheques. Pray that I would keep my head.

Fact. Swaying quietly in the hammock listening to the bird sanctuary that is our backyard.

Fact: curling up in bed on Sunday mornings with a cup of tea listening to audio sermons.

Fact: I am thoroughly enjoying the members of this team. It's memorable already.


Love from Erie, Kat

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Family

Well, the whole team is here now and that has been superb. Last week was filled with odd jobs as the asparagus season only started on Monday…more on that in the next blog...Kris and I have also been in beaucoup de meetings pertaining to our time in Guatemala and also future planning for the organization. Global Shore has bought some land up in the mountains of the village in Guaté and is currently in the beginning stages of planning a school. A full-fledged, government-approved Guatemalan school, from kindergarden all the way up. It’s pretty exciting, and a bit overwhelming for our leaders as they don’t know how the heck to start a school. They’re in the agriculture business not the education system. But it is like everything else here: you feel a leading in a certain direction, say a prayer for wisdom and direction, and take steps forward. It’s an honor to be involved.Here’s our first family photo. They (well, I suppose it’s the guys really), have taken to calling me “Mom”…interesting…and Kris “Dad.” Ahh, surrogate parents of ten children, that’s new. They are very wonderful children though, I can hardly complain. Names: top row: Dale, Cam, Jenna, Ashley, Jenna, Ashley, Steph, Natalie, Andrew, Jen, and on the bottom we have John and Nick. We went out to the most delightful icecream shop in the Northern Hemisphere called “Twins”. We took the team out to reward them for the stellar job they did on the crazed scavenger hunt we sent them on the other day. Two teams, hunting for 15 flags around the fields and in the sand cliffs. It was quite the adventure planting those flags, I came back looking…well, I don’t know what, freakishly wild like a female John the Baptist after eating some locusts and wild honey in the wilderness for a year.

Hmmm, I suppose I’ll let the world in on some prayer requests. 1) my theme song for the summer has this great line “beholding is becoming” and that’s what I want. To behold Jesus and therefore become like him. That goes along with the “seek” word for the summer that I mentioned earlier. What else. 2) According to John, I look like a space case half the time, meaning, he’s concerned that I’m not quite me and need to delegate more and shouldn’t burn out….which is not quite accurate, I have simply had a week of trying to find balance in this new leadership role. And whose standards am I trying to meet here? And the answer needs to be God’s otherwise I’m screwed and will get caught up in trying to impress and trying to be everything and simply finding that I cannot. So for that as well. Seek God and lead for God.

That's all for now.

Your Imbalanced Kat

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Shoot dat der Turkey

Well, it started with a plane ride of course. Looking down at the rapidly diminishing land of Abbotsford, I was struck by the perspective of it all. Birds’ eye view, God’s eye view, Kat’s eye view for a few seconds, everything, instantaneously, all problems and emotions and farewells, lack of farewells, worries, they all in the span of a few seconds seemed completely….trivial. A day later, the theme of perspective carried on as some friends and I sat at the Alex P. Keaton’s in London and debriefed our lives over the last eight months. I love these two friends in particular for their activist/environmental streak and similar non-conformist views of the world. I felt in good company and was reminded why I held the views that I did and why I had struggled to act out my views over the year, in the Abbotsford sub-culture that I call home. I was thankful in that moment for the perspective that I would not have gained while still in BC. That is a vague re-telling of the thoughts that were swirling, swirling in my mind that evening, but it is hard to concisely articulate just what I was feeling and realizing and releasing.

After the little jaunt to London, I moved home into the little renovated church that is aptly named The Ark, along with three other students who had arrived that day. More students have filtered in over the last few days and we’re up to seven, and the rest will be here by Tuesday. What have we been filling our time with, you may ask? Well, six of us went through a three-day ESL training in preparation for our time in Guatemala, so that was good. A few movie nights, including the recommended Motorcycle Diaries, and the not-so-highly recommended Nacho Libre.

Last night we hit rock bottom when we donned our best ‘80’s garb and busted out with Richard Simmons. I wish I were joking. But I’m not. We definitely worked out with Dick Simmons. I have a theory that he has a beer belly under that baggy turquoise sequenced tank of his.

Saturday I went turkey hunting with one of our leaders Robert, and his son, Dan. Again, no word of a lie. Here’s a pic of Dan and I all camou’ed up ready to blast dat der turkey if he came to mate with the lovely decoy hens, but no luck, the turkeys were not up for any reproduction rites last night.
Today we spent our Sabbath scaling the 60 ft. sand cliffs of Erie. It is hard to describe these cliffs, and photos really don't do justice, but believe me it is an experience scaling these cliffs. You’ve never seen sand crafted into rock-like formations by the wind until you’ve visited Erie. Or the mud holes that you can sink in up to your thighs if you wiggle with enough vigor. Or the variegated browns, reds and blacks of the sand all mixed together in a horizontal rainbow at my feet. Kris and I excavated what we suspected was a deer skull. That was interesting, I felt like an amateur archaeologist on the verge of proving evolution. Good thing it was a deer.

And so it goes. We're getting to know eachother and having fun while doing it. Today is Sushi Sunday, and I've already prepared the rice for a sushi feast tonight. Let the good times roll.

Your hunter-gatherer friend, Kat

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Final BC Ramblings

Riesling is the greatest wine. Everyone should have a happy hour while they pack the afternoon before they leave. That is my recommendation to you all. I would also recommend brushing your teeth in the shower. I’ve been meaning to fit that little piece of wisdom into one of these blogs, but it never seemed to fit. Now is the time. It is quite astounding how powerful the minty freshness becomes when liberated to foam and froth in reckless abandon. I will never go back to sink-side brushing.

This week has been a blessing. Finished up work at Starbucks and the Korean School the other day, and those were great farewells. One of our regular customers at Starbucks full on pulled out his wallet and gave me the cash he had on him to go towards the summer. Amazing! And I met with another friend to hear about his recent trip to Scotland, and hearing about my belt campaign he said, “so….if I give you $25 right now, you’ll get me a hand-crafted, custom-made leather belt from Guatemala?” "Yes, that is correct”, and there he goes, whips out his wallet, m’a donné l’argent, and yeah. 6 paid customers, 11 more who’ve expressed serious interest, hopefully we can hit 20, 25 belts. Still taking orders, it’s never too late.

Time for a top-up, hang on a sec…mmmmm. One of the leaders at my small group had the word “seek” for me for this summer. Sounds good to me. Interesting how my theme verse for a previous missions trip was “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteous, and all of these things will be added unto you.” So good. Bringing it back. Looking forward to keeping that in the forefront of my mind. Hmm, every blog needs a photo….let me share with you what has often been the last thing I gaze upon before sleep claims me….the beauty of Southern Ontario. Check out this cherry tree grove. That is what awaits me. It is utterly romantic, even solo-style. I can’t WAIT to get lost in those cherry fields.

Soon-to-depart, Kat

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Reflections on Easter

There’s nothing like bottomless bean salad and a 2L jug of Ginger Ale to get over an unfortunate semester of advanced French composition. Sigh. I’m in the wrong state of mind to write this entry, but alas. It is Tuesday, and it’s time to post. Here’s the bright side though: I’m privileged to have the opportunity to fail spectacularly at post secondary when many don’t even have the opportunity to attend. How’s that for a little sunny-side up. Moving on.

Reflections on Easter.

My church put on a wonderful event entitled “Journey with Jesus” this past Friday, in which there were seven or so stations set up around the church ranging from Gethsemane, to the trial before Pilot, to the tombside, and so on. It was profound. I attended by myself, which is probably the best way to maximize on the reflection aspect of these events. I spent some time thinking. There were tears. And here’s the conclusion I came to, one that has been building for several months now: this world is stocked full of pain. It is endless. I don’t even understand the things we gripe about with all the hurt that exists. Everywhere. I shed some tears for my friend’s family, the dad of whom has test after test bearing worse and worse news, the most recent telling of the tumors found in his brain. The girl that was recently killed in an avalanche, an incident that has deeply affected one of my friends. The heartbreaking stories of adultery that I have heard in recent months. The teens that walk my neighborhood who are often victims of sexual exploitation and unfathomable injustices, right here in bible-belt Abby. There’s no escape, pain infiltrates everyone’s life in some fashion or other.

(This is Char. Being amazing. Spending time with Melanie, one of the disabled children in Tizate.)

Second Conclusion: We are called to be comforters of that pain. Right? To bring hope in the midst of that pain. To bring beauty. To bring truth. To bring healing. To bring tears.

Last Wednesday, our young adult pastor stated that in the times when he doubts his faith, he falls back on the historical Jesus, knowing that there cannot possibly be any other way. For me, sure, the historical evidence plays a part, but mainly, I see just such an incredible amount of pain in the world, often the result of our own sin, that there simply must be a Savior who can conquer it.

(This is Jenni. She rocks my world. The two of us visited the children's sector in a hospital in Antigua. I think we both felt like Jesus that day.)

Guatemala. I remember my mom Ana-Julia who willingly takes on the intense burdens of that community, the sins of the people, the grief and injustices that permeate that society. She’s amazing. She has a lot of tears. Maybe I’ll get to live with her again, there’s so much I could learn from her. This summer, again, I have the opportunity to be involved in helping to comfort some of the pain in this community, ease some of the grief, through the practical provision of needs, through hugs, through listening, maybe through tears. To bring a little hope. Isn’t that what Jesus calls us to do.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Miss Kat's Hick Fashion

Once upon a Guatemalan town, there lived a wee-little man named Marciel. He was a bootmaker by trade, fashioning incredible cowboy boots made from genuine leather, customizing to the preferences of his clients: Would you, Señor, like the dark brown leather, or the more variegated lighter brown, Would you, Señor, like a pointed toe or a rounded one, What sort of stitch, Señor, are you interested in, one of exquisite design, or does one of a more simplistic nature reflect your style better?


-Would you Señorita Kat like a pair boots?

-Why Marciel, although they are stunning to the eye, I’m afraid that I’m not much of a cowgirl. I would, however, pay a pretty quetzal for a leather belt as I have been looking for one for many a year, but refuse to pay for the over-priced product in Canada. Can you help me Marciel?

The good man was indeed able to help. Although he had limited experience in the belt-making department, he was up for the challenge.

-Miss Kat, what type of leather would you like me to use for your belt?

-Why Marciel, I quite enjoy that variegated brown stuff that you have.

-Done. And tell me Miss Kat, about how long would you like your belt to be?

-Excellent question. About yay long (holds arms out).

-Fabulous. And Miss Kat, what sort of buckle would you like on there? There are many to choose from in the markets.

-Really. Do tell.

-Well, I can get some big-ass ones sporting designs of either guns, boots, horses, or an eagle, you can get a gold one, a silver one, a plain small one, a plain big one, a square Levi Strauss one….really anything you can think of, I can get it.

-Hmmm….what a conundrum I find myself in. Although the guns are appealing, I think I will have to go with the big-ass eagle one. That sounds about right.

-I’ll get right on it Señorita.

-Oh, and Marciel….do feel the liberty to be as absolutely creative as you possible can. You are an artist of leather, and I would feel great pride in sporting a genuine Marciel piece of his own design. So go nuts, have a hay day, there’s no possible way that I can be disappointed in what you give me. Just remember, more is better.

And so, the work began. Very soon, Marciel announced to Miss Kat that the belt was finished. So she came with her 150Q, about $25 Canadian, to close the sale. And Miss Kat was absolutely and completely astounded with her belt! The big-ass buckle was everything she had hoped, the sizing was just right, and Marciel had indeed been creative, using not only the lovely leather, but also alligator and snakeskin! Great Chariots of Fire! He had even carved “KTA” in it. Miss Kat was highly amused by this, thinking the man was slightly dyslexic and had accidentally mixed up the spelling of her name. As it turned out, however, he was not in fact dyslexic, but rather had sounded out the syllables of her name, KaTrinA. Absolutely brilliant.

Miss Kat returned home to Canada and was true to her word, wearing her belt nigh on 5, 6 times a week, with pants, with skirts, with shorts, it didn’t matter! She simply loved her Marciel belt and wanted to wear it ALL THE TIME! She wanted to tell the world of its greatness, and did manage to tell many a person this delightful story that you yourselves are reading. Although Miss Kat may look like a hick, she is a proud hick, and will continue to sport her belt with pride for likely the rest of her life, till death does her part.

What’s more, Miss Kat started a bit of fashion trend, and there were at least 10 other belt sales within a week of her ordering her own. But she would like to say, for the record, that hers and hers alone, is the true Marciel original.

What’s MORE more, is that you, yes you, can also have a delightful belt. I’m not even joking, I would love nothing more than to return to Guatemala with a hundred belt orders for Marciel. Believe it or not, the ten or so belts that Marciel sold to us greatly helped their family out of a bit of a tight spot. They are always in tight spots down there so not only could you sport an extremely fashionable belt that you would probably pay $60 for here in Canada, but you could also literally support a family in their basic needs of food and shelter.

Seriously. Buy a belt. Please. In fact, I’d rather you buy a belt than contribute to the $1000 that I need to raise. It’s that important to me.

Let me know if you are interested. I expect my inbox to be flooded with orders in a matter or hours. We can then discuss sizing, style, buckle, leather, skins or no skins, etc.

Still a Hick, Kat

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ramasser les Fonds

Salutations.

I think English probably borrowed that word from French’s “salut” (just in case you wanted the origin of that word). How about the word “fundraise”: well, that one is not borrowed from French but it does translate to “ramasser les fonds”. Sometimes they like to make things three times as complicated in that language, which I will choose to see…as the beauty of it? Yes, it is beautiful. The Spanish translation is, “Colecta de fondos”. From this little exercise, we can gather that English speakers are simply lazy in speech and would rather choose the briefest, most simplistic manner of expressing something rather than the more elaborate, shall we say, poetic way of the French and Spanish. This could lead into a debate on rhetoric, but let’s just let that one lie.

Wow, that was a big intro to the topic at hand which, as you may have guessed, is colecta de fondos.

Synopsis: I am responsible for fundraising $1000 for this summer’s projects in Guatemala. Emphasis on the PROJECTS, the money is ALL, get that, 100%, used directly to buy materials for the construction of the homes and buildings that our guys will work hard at over the summer. That in itself is amazing. We’re not paying our plane tickets or health insurance with your donations, it is all going to help build homes for the Guatemalans.

Objectives: To tug at the heartstrings of my friends to give generously to the less fortunate in this world. No, I am not trying to be World Vision or anything of the sort, this is just a straight-up request that if you can give to our work in Guatemala, hey, that’d be awesome. I’ll spare you the rant, but the short of it is, we are way too blessed in comfortable North America, and chances are, if you can afford to live, you can afford to give. That was catchy.

Why I’m posting this on my Blog: It's true that a blog posting is more informal than sending out letters, but I prefer it in this situation for a few reasons. 1) $1000 is not that much, and I feel confident that it can be raised through simply making the need known to the select few who view this blog. Which leads me to the next reason of 2) if you are indeed reading this, you’ve made it through the screening process and can officially call yourself my friend! You made it from the email alerting you to the existence of this blog, and three weeks after its inauguration, you’re still checking it out, making you someone who cares about what the hang is going on. So, the sticky request for money goes to you.

True Story: Check this photo out. Our guys built that beast of a retaining wall last summer. "Why the hang would they do that????" may be the question in your mind, well, let me enlighten you. The family who that wall was built for (three of the six are pictured there) lived in a shack (believe me, it was a metal shack) at the top of that hill. It was what they owned, a hill and a shack, and no money to make the situation better, no money to make the house bigger, for remember, they lived on a freakin’ incline, where were they supposed to build??? Recognizing the need of this family, Global Shore committed to making them a home, but first a retaining wall had to be built in order to make room at the top for a home. The cost of the wall itself was closely equivalent to the cost of a home, but it is what had to happen in order to help this family. So, we did it.

Worth the sacrifice of a few lattés to improve someone’s standard of living from that of a shack to a livable home? Well, I’ll let you answer that one.

Thanks for putting up with me. The info that you need to know for donating is available to the right on the link “Donation Info”. That will explain more in detail where the money is going, and will provide an address to which to send cheques. Tax receipts are available.

Sorry this is so long. It’s the nature of the subject.

Humbly yours, Kat

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Moses Syndrome

Greetings.

Tomorrow night I have the opportunity to lead worship at my young adults group. It’s craziness I tell you, absolute madness. I’m a little bit Moses-style, feeling largely inadequate and completely out of my league having missed the Worship-leading 101 course (whenever that one was offered.) Oddly enough, I seem to have a “knack” for leading when there’s a guitar strapped to me, although it is never without a measure of terror that I step into these situations. It’s kind of a good terror. The “Oh God” kind of terror, that forces me to completely surrender to Him.

So this relates to my summer…how????? Well, it does, I assure you, in the sense that in the same way that I will be leading tomorrow night with all the associated Moses feelings, well, in the same way I will be leading this summer. And not just for an evening, but for four whole months! Granted, it’s not quite the same situation, but the predominant similarity exists, which I shall deem the Moses Syndrome. Accompanying the Moses Syndrome is the notion that both opportunities are a great honor for me. Really it’s an act of obedience I feel, to accept both opportunities as they both present occasion to be stretched, used, and to grow whatever giftings are present within me. And so. The leading begins in four weeks, 5 days from today.

Allow me to introduce a Mr. Kris Kenemy to you. Our leader last summer, it will be an enormous privilege to co-lead this summer’s team with him. He’s currently in Guatemala, prepping for the summer, and will meet us in Ontario at the end of April. The general consensus seems to be that we will make a “balanced” team…meaning…Kris will curb the sarcastic, cynical, stubbornly singular side of Kat, and in turn Kat will breed spontaneity, a jocular disposition and a relaxed atmosphere and TOGETHER! Forces united, they will hopefully lead this awesome team of 12 to great feats both with our friends the asparagus and our friends the Guatemalans.

Please pray for us. For wisdom. For preparation. For servant-hearts. For unity as we lead together.

Now go back and read this entry again, but in a British voice, as that is how I wrote it. Perhaps you will also pick up on the astounding use of alliteration in the third paragraph.

Strangely Yours, Kat

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Resurrection

You made it. Welcome. To my life. I share it willingly with you. Here’s a brief recap of why you find yourself on this blog.

Last summer, you may or may not recall my involvement with Global Shore Opportunities, a summer program for university students that is run out of Ontario. Amazing, incredible, completely life-altering, if you’re interested in that experience just rifle through the archives, it’s all there.

This fall I had quite firmly decided not to do the program again for the upcoming summer for various reasons, mainly pertaining to my studies in school, when….in November, I received an email from Ontario inviting me to come and co-lead the team. Well. That was quite unexpected. I didn’t know what to do with that for a good three weeks, I was so torn, heart and mind, motives, re-evaluating motives, passions, re-evaluating passions, plans, re-evaluating plans….and wait, who’s plans were those to begin with anyways? It was a reflective three weeks, seeking out the advice of friends and family, having a few late-night, contemplative cigar dates with the heavenlies, doing lots of pondering on life and other deeply philosophical questions and…well, you know the answer already, I decided to accept the position.

Here’s my theory: we’re all just doing our best to live what we feel is God’s will, right? So, if our heart and our desire is to do God’s will over our own, and we are honestly seeking that….well, whatever our decision, He will walk beside us. Honest truth, excitement has been slow in coming for this upcoming summer, because I’ve felt a certain amount of grief over the sacrifice of some events and friendships that will be missed over the four months, BUT, I have recently been reminded that God’s timing is perfect. And if I believe this decision to be involved in Global Shore is God’s will, than I must also believe it to be his perfect timing. Which it is. So now I find myself getting more and more excited about the summer. God has some great things in store, he’s got great things to teach me and great things to grow in me.

Feel free to walk this journey with me, I shall post weekly updates starting with this one.

Hasta luego, Kat