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