Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thanks Kyrie!

You may notice that I now have a kick-A header and some colors that you can actually read. This is all thanks to Kyrie Howard. But don't ask her to make you one or she will probably hate me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dear Mom,

You won’t believe this but I almost voted for that Barack Obama. Fortunately this funny lady came to talk in chapel and helped me realize that I was making a huge mistake. Did you know that Obama is actually the Hitler of our generation? I mean after all, Hitler started as a young and popular leader of the people! He wanted change too and he said that he would help fix the economy! It all fits mom; I don’t know how I didn’t see it earlier. The word “obamanation “ has never made so much sense.

She taught me all about how it doesn’t matter if you are nice as long as you are right. Even Winston Churchill was mean to everyone he didn’t agree with. (She showed a picture of her bulldog and said that he was like Mr. Churchill. It was SO fat and I laughed really hard!) And according to her we have to fight fight fight! Does that mean I can be mean to all those evil liberal people? Yesterday I got into an argument with a guy about whether we should be nice to Muslims. He kept telling me that we should love them even though they don’t love Jesus. Mom he just wouldn’t listen! Finally I got sick of it and walked away.

I’m just glad that she came in time for me to change my decision. I can’t believe that all this time Obama has been fooling everyone into thinking that he wants to help people when really he just wants to take over the entire government and single-handedly rule the world with extreme forms of tolerance, socialism and cultural relativism. It scares me to death mom to think what is in store for all of the poor, un-expecting people of America. I wish everyone could know the truth like us but I guess the only way for more people to find out is for me to get out there and start spreading the word.

Isaiah Smallman

Thanks for sending that great Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America from Focus on the Family. That stuff all sounds really scary. What if they really did take away all of our personal rights as citizens and we all lived in a scary world of “hardship,” “persecution” and “suffering”?

Friday, October 10, 2008

What on earth was that?

Last night we went to see Of Montreal in Asheville, NC and it was one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen. Just to give you a taste...

The show started with several aliens carrying out a large golden box [I think it was supposed to be the Ark of the Covenant] Barnes climbed out and people went NUTS as he jumped right into "Id Engager," a song where the hook line is "I can't help but it's true. Don't want to be your man, just want to play with you. Play with you." And that set the tone for the rest of the show. It was in your face, sacrilegious, provocative, homoerotic and one of the coolest shows that I have ever been to.

It was much more than a concert. Barnes had about 15 costume changes. Just to name a few examples, he came out in a gold Speedo, shaving cream, a centaur costume and a purple bathrobe. One of my favorite additions was a giant, pink fanny pack, which he tossed away in order to take on his guitar.

At one point he left the stage for a change but came back after a few minutes sporting only his Speedo and looking slightly disappointed. He said, "I guess it's pretty professional of me to stop a show to look for my cheetah jacket. I just really want you to see it." Later, a roadie came out and put the cheetah jacket onto him and he interrupted the song with a cool look and a, "what do you think?"

In the middle of the stage they had a big set, which rolled on rails and spun around. Every few songs they would introduce a new set and with each new set came a new troupe of actors. Most of the "skits" were visualizations of the lyrics and the lyrics at times can be a little abrasive.

One of the sets was gallows. Barnes walked out in a bathrobe and throughout the song was encouraged to commit suicide numerous ways by actors on stage and was eventually led to the gallows. He put the noose around his neck and one of the actors kicked out stool he was standing on, leaving him hanging by what appeared to be his broken neck. It took a second for me to realize that he had on a harness beneath his robe.

But despite the sometimes-disturbing things happening on stage the music was tight and the way it was played was incredibly creative.

Barnes is notorious for being a perfectionist about his albums to the point that most of the recording does not involve the other members of the band. After the show the main drummer, Ahmed Gallab, a newer member of the band who originally hails from Sudan, commented that the band had only a couple months to learn all of the music.

He and the other drummer [Yes there were two drummers. And yes it was amazing] had locked themselves in a warehouse with drums and a lot of pot for 3 weeks in order to learn how to play with each other. The two played off of each other perfectly. Gallab said the idea originated with bass player/drummer Jamey Huggins.

The sound was slightly different from the album but it wasn’t at all compromised. Even the strange electronic beats and sounds were all played live by Gallab on an electric drum pad or by guitarist, Bryan Poole.

Everything worked both musically and dramatically. Nothing was missing…except hope.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Was it a good trip?

Since the minute that I got home people have been asking me, "Was it a good trip?" At first I was a little annoyed, but soon I realized that the more I get asked that question, the more I really consider it. Was it a good trip?

So far the answer has come back a firm yes. What is an awesome trip? Sometimes. There were times when I thought I could stay there for the rest of my life and be totally happy. But there were also times when I wanted to find the next plane home and go back to what is normal. The Wills, my host family, warned me from the get go that they didn't really have a summer internship and that I would kind of be on my own. I wasn't worried about it though. I mean I would be in Spain! How could I ever get bored? They also warned me that once the "honeymoon" stage was over it could get a little harder. Again I brushed it off, thinking, "There is no way I could get tired of something in just two months."

For a few weeks I was walking on the clouds. I was riding my bike around Granada, meeting Spanish people, and eating at tapas bars about twice a day. It was awesome. Everything was totally new and exciting. But after about 3 weeks things started to get less interesting. I had seen just about everything in Granada, I had spent way more money than I had planned to so I couldn't just go out all the time, I had no responsibilities so my days were LONG and kind of empty and I had gotten just a tad tired of not being able to have a normal conversation with someone because we don't speak the same language.

That is when I hit the low point of the trip. I spent week just moping around and feeling sorry for myself. I didn't have any friends so I didn't have anything to do. But I couldn't really make friends because I couldn't speak very good Spanish and even if I could, Spanish circles are really hard to break into. I just wanted to get out of there and go home.

Now that I look back on that, I see that there were two sides to that week. It's true that I didn't have many friends. And it's true that because I didn't have many friends I didn't have much to occupy my time. And it's also true that it's hard to make friends without good Spanish in a culture that isn't all that open to new people. BUT it's also true that I did have SOME friends who would have loved to hang out with me and some of them spoke English.

I think that the biggest problem was that I had no idea why I was in Spain. I kept wondering when I was going to have the opportunity to teach someone something. Or when I was going to do something useful for the the ministry there. But finally I realized that I wasn't there to help everyone. I realized that I was there to be taught. I know everyone always says that but I really mean it. I really had nothing to offer. Short trips in places like Spain are really hard because the people there aren't poor. It's not like I was going to go out and build some guy a house. All of the ministry is relationship based and good relationships take a long long time to develop. But I didn't have a long time to develop relationships.

After that I realized I just needed to relax and go with the flow. From there I learned all kinds of things about myself and how to interact with people. How to enjoy a little down time. How to really listen to someone when they are talking. I realized that I talk too much and that when I am having a conversation I need to be more interested in what the other person has to say rather than only being interested in what I have to say. I also realized that my friends can't replace God. That was a big one.

The trip was good.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I'm Back

I am back in the US of A. I have been back for a week but I have been at the beach and haven't had time to write until now. It's great to be here. I keep forgetting that I don't have to fake that I know how to speak Spanish, and that I can call people on my cell phone without worrying about waking them up at 6 in the morning. It's nice.

It's hard though to put everything into words. I have been trying to tell people about it and the picture just doesn't really get through. The only way to really experience it is to go there. BUT I have to try to talk to about and process it through other people. Everyone keeps telling me that if I don't talk about it then I will forget about it.

I think the first thing I will do it make 2 top 5 lists. The first will be the top 5 things that I will miss about Spain. And the second will be about the top 5 things I missed when I was in Spain.

Top 5 things I will miss about Spain

(1) AWESOME coffee. You can get really good coffee on every corner. When I got back and had my first cup of American coffee I almost couldn't get it down, it was so bitter.
(2) Being of age. It's really nice to be able to walk into a café or bar and order a beer.
(3) Clear skies. It rained for a total of less than 20 minutes the entire 2 months I was there.
(4) Huge mountains. I had no idea that the Sierra Nevada mountains were big. But right outside of Granada are 3 of the top 5 tallest peaks in western Europe. There are GREAT places to climb and hike right outside of the city.
(5) Kebabs (AKA Shwarma) These things are soo good. Kebabs are basically pitas, stuffed with chicken and salad. If you ever see a restaurant with one of those giant skewers in the window, go in and ask for a kebab.

Top 5 things I missed about home while I was in the Spain

(1) My family. Immediate and extended.
(2) My friends. Going somewhere where you don't know anyone at all makes you realize how much you rely on all the people that you love.
(3) Cold milk that doesn't come from a box. For some reason the people in Spain don't keep their refrigerators very cold. It's not a big deal with most things, but milk HAS to be cold. Unfortunately my milk was usually kind of warm. AND they all drink boxed milk that is made to last on a shelf for about 3 months. It took me two weeks before I could even eat cereal.
(4) Good toilet paper. The only things that are less absorbent than the toilet paper in Spain are the napkins. And the only thing that is less absorbent than the napkins is wax paper. I got used to it after a while but when I came home I thought I was wiping with silk.
(5) Using dollars. Euros stink. Everything is too expensive.

Friday, August 1, 2008

There is no way this is happening

With my seat FULLY reclined, a glass of champagne at my side and an incredible meal in my belly, I write. Yes today is a good day my friends. I was bumped up to “business class” on my British Airways flight back to the states. I mean I am actually wishing that this flight were longer…

This is what I'm talking about...

It all started this morning when I walked into the Madrid airport. I was preparing myself for the first of two 3.5 hour layovers when I realized that I hadn’t reserved a seat for my flight from London to Washington. For most people that wouldn’t really be an issue, but for people who are 6’3”, sitting in a normal seat for 8 hours is not pleasant. Normally I reserve an emergency row or something similar so that my legs aren’t banging into the seat in front of me the whole time. But this time I was going to have to deal with whatever I ended up with.

I started thinking if there was any way I could avoid a normal seat. I could find someone with a good seat and beg them to switch with me. But that probably wouldn’t work because they wouldn’t have picked that seat if they didn’t want it. That woudn’t work, but what if I casually asked the flight attendant for a new seat and she casually showed me to an empty seat in first class. It could happen!

I had a really good feeling about it. I seriously prayed, right then as I was walking, that God would somehow work it out for me to sit in first class. After I prayed about it I still felt pretty good about it, what’s stopping God from bumping me up? I mean sure he probably won’t, but there isn’t anything that says he couldn’t. So I found my terminal and plopped down for a good read. The longer I sat there the less and less likely it seemed that anything would happen. I would probably just end up between two severely overweight people with B.O. [After the bus rides I have had over the last few days I really wouldn’t have been surprised if that had happened. But that is something I will write about later.]

I spent the rest of the day in the airport. 3 more hours in Madrid, then a 2 hour flight, then a 4 hour stop in London and then I saddled up for the 8 hour flight home. FINALLY they called the boarding for my flight and I joined the seemingly endless line of people. I looked out the window and saw that we weren’t even flying on a 747! It was a lousy 777 and the seats in the regular section are even SMALLER on those. This trip was going to suck.

Finally I made it to the reception desk area thing and the woman took my ticket. She started typing something into the computer and I thought, oh boy what’s going on. She took my ticket, scratched out the seat number and wrote a new one. I thought, “great, at least before I had a window seat [I had realized I had a window seat] now what will I end up with?” The new seat was 11-f. I walked down to the plane and got on. I started walking down the isles past the those gigantico seats where all the rich people sit [the ones with the dividers and the reclining chairs] at this point all hope of getting a good seat was lost. I saw the seat number 11-f right there in the business class section and thought, “Oh great, thanks for mocking me you stupid airplane designers. Did you have to make it so that you reused numbers? I mean why does there have to be an 11-f for the good section and the crappy one?” I kept walking, expecting the numbers to start over at one once I left first class. But they didn’t. They just got bigger. Did I get bumped up? NO WAY! Before I got my hopes up though I checked with the flight attendant. I showed her my ticket and she pointed me back to the front with a big smile. I seriously started skipping down the aisle. I mean up to this point the day has sucked. Bad. But my prayers had been answered. No getting around it. I asked God to make a way and he did!

By this point I was pretty giddy, I mean this is the section that has the curtains closing it off from the other section so that the punks in the back can’t see you eating your organic macadamia nuts. [Yeah, forget the peanuts, they go for the real deal. The king of nuts.] Before I could even get my stuff into the overhead locker, a flight attendant asked me if I wanted some champagne. “Uh yah…” I sat down in my HUGE seat and started scoping it out…

The seat fully reclines…All the way like a bed. You can even adjust the lumbar support...I am stretching out my legs right now and they fit! I looked to my right and saw a young guy about my age that also looked pretty excited to be there and sure enough, he got bumped up too! We toasted our champagne. This was perfect, because people are either really excited to be in business or totally bored of it and the bored people don’t want to be bothered by some punk who is excited about some macadamia nuts. But thank the Lord, this guy was excited like me, and every time something new came around we just looked at each other and gave the “Awwww yeahhh” nod. When they brought out the menus for dinner I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on my whole life. The menu was huge! There were 4 choices for each course and the wine menu had about 8 different choices. Not to mention there was an open bar.

I had salmon for my appetizer, incredible chicken and potatoes for the main course and an awesome chocolate torte for desert. Normally on airplanes the food is good for being on an airplane. But this food was just really good, stuff that I would be really impressed with no matter where I was. This whole time I have just been thanking God for this unexpected blessing. I mean what a great way to wrap up a great trip.

Now I am going to sleep for a little while in my BED. Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The best part of getting sick

I think the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup. And the best part of getting sick is getting better. You wake up and there isn't a thick layer of scales covering your eyes and you think to yourself, "is this too good to be true?" Then to make sure it's not, you stand up, bracing yourself for the train that is about to crash into your head. But praise the Lord you don't collapse on the floor. You're healed! Boo ya.

This past Sunday I went on a mountain bike ride with my friend Aaron up a small mountain near Granada. It wasn't SUPER strenuous but it was little over an hour of riding up a pretty steep grade [at least for non-psycho-bike-rider-types] and then another hour coming through the city, all in the middle of the day. [I think it was about 100 degrees F that day] While we were up there we did some fun stuff like riding on a little path about 3 feet wide with a huge, super steep hill just to the right. And there were these two bridges that were really scary too. They were only a few feet wide and about 4 feet off the ground with no handrails. I was too scared to ride the first one, but the second time I made myself do it and then yelled at Aaron for making me go up there.

This is Aaron.

But the ride itself is not the point of this blog...

When we got back to Aaron's house we drank some water, then some juice. Then we ate some yogurt and then I was about to explode. Aaron told me as he usually does after a ride or climb, "Keep drinking all day. Drink until your pee is as clear as water and then drink some more." So I thought, psh, Aaron you don't know what your talking about. I will be fine.

I got home and casually drank water throughout the day, maybe another 2 liters total and that night I went to bed early so that I would be able to get up for class the next day. But that night I tossed and turned for hours. I had horrible cotton mouth, my stomach hurt, I had diarrhea [which didn't help the dehydration] and needless to say I didn't feel so great in the morning. I laid in bed all day, barely able to move without getting a splitting headache. At one point my fever was up to 102 degrees. And I think throughout the day I must have drank at least 15 liters of water. I mean I was gulping it down.

Fortunately that night I felt well enough to lay in front of the TV and watch What About Bob. I thought the dehydration was ending and that I would be back in class the next day. But it wasn't...The next night was even worse than the first. This time I threw up on top of everything else that had been happening. [No, not literally on top of everything else, I made it to the bathroom] I woke up the next morning still feeling pretty crappy so I stayed in bed again, I drank another 10 liters of water and watched Lawrence of Arabia in my bed. [I had NO idea that it was more than 4 hours long. I mean it was great but what the heck?] And that night I felt a little better. I got up for the team meeting and saw people etc. It was nice.

But the real relief came this morning when I woke up. I timidly stood up expecting to get knocked down with a head rush, but it was fine. I was healed! I skipped into the bathroom where I took a nice long shower, got dressed, ate some left over pizza and rode off to school. It was glorious. It was almost worth being sick for a couple days just to get better, but not quite. Anyway, as Aaron said, chalk it up to experience. The sun can jack you up [especially in Granada where the difference between the shade and sun is like 15 degrees] so you have to take it seriously.