Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Photos from Cuba 2005

I know that's it's been about eight months since I've come back from la pais bella de Cuba (the beautiful country of Cuba), but I really wanted to post some of these so my family and friends could see them. I've got tons of pictures, thanks to Sam who was one of the leaders, on CD, so here are some of them:

Linda, on the bike, and I testing the bike out after putting it together. The bike was a little big for her, so I had to get her going and run beside her just in case. (I'd hate to see her get hurt!)

Jen, Linda, Dave and I putting together the 12 bikes we brought down with us. They each went to a pastor who was in need of it. Behind us is Alex's house, then the ocean.

From front left going clockwise: Linda, Jen, Kaitlyn, me, Dan-Rosario, Hannah and Amy K. We had brought in acetominophin (Tylinol), ibuprofin and kid's vitamins as they can't really get them there due to the goverment ration program and their cost. We divided them into bags and delivered them to families that really needed them.

From left back: Dan-Rosario, Jen, Linda and I at "un templo al campamento de jovenes" (the church at the youth camp) worshipping with the Cubans. This was our first evening with the church congregation.

Hannah (right) and I (left) sitting with the group during lunch. The guy with the pink baseball hat is Alex, the camp director. He was a great man to talk to, for he tried his very best to use his English all the meanwhile trying to understand our slang. (smile) It was really obvious that God was using him and his family for great things. I miss having conversations with him!

From left back: Amy K., Jen, me (I look horrible...hahaha!) and the back of Linda's head. This is where we would eat our meals, share devotions and, at night, the gate would close and lock like a front door to the house.

Dan-Rosario (right) and Eric, our translator/missionary connection (left), giving Dan's testimony at one of the local house churches. Even though the house was small and roughly built, you could tell that it was so delicately taken care of by its congregation. They even decorated it with paper chains. But, most of all, you could feel the spirit of God working in that place! It was like we never left home...

Linda and I using a homemade sifter to separate the rocks and the fine sand needed to level off the floor. Jen, in the Canada hat, was working hard with the shovelling. Go Jen!

That's me...painting the roof of our house. The day before, a huge rain storm ripped through and the roof, well, wasn't quite up to the challenge. Water started to trickle down onto Jen's lower bunk (I had the top and lucked out!), so the next day, Linda, Kaitlyn and I went up to paint the roof with a plastic paint to prevent leaking. We had a total blast and got a good tan, too! Not to mention, what a great view!

From left: Kaitlyn, me, Linda and Dan (who visited us for awhile up on the roof). By the end, the roof and trim looked wonderful and we were covered in paint. (Weeks later, Linda was still trying to get the paint off her toes...which is why you should never paint in flip-flops!)

This was at a church about an hour and a half away from the camp. They hadn't been able to receive many visitors due to the distance from Las Palmas. They were so happy to see us! It was such a nice welcome, and such a great service. They praised God with everything they had inside and it was beautiful to be there to exerience it. That night, God used me like I have never been used by Him before. He led me to read a certain verse and from there, I began to openly. I could feel it...God took over my lips and my heart. By the time I (or shall I say God) was done, the Cubans were clapping and shouting, "Amen!" and, "Cristo para Cuba!" I've never quite felt joy like that before.

From left: Sam (our leader), me, one of our Cuban friends (forgive me for forgetting his name) and Hannah, the girl's leader. It was Kaitlyn's 18th birthday and we wound up having a water fight. What fun!

This was taken in Matt's hospital room is Las Habanas, a small town near the camp. Matt needed an IV, so we all kept him company for awhile. He's a very hard worker! The hospital we a little rustic, but the care was excellent. Standing at the door on the right was a Cuban friend who had also come to the amusement park with us. Great guy!

"Havana's Angels" Well, not quite, but it is a funny photo, isn't it? That's Linda on the left and Jen on the right. We are at this amusement park that looks like a blast from the past, from the '50's. I can't remember the name, but it's named after that famous Cuban whose carved bust is everywhere! We had so much fun there. One of the boys bought us the balloon hats. Sexy, eh? (Hahaha!)

Jen and I at "un restaurante en Las Habanas" (in a restaurant in Havana). We had a great meal, but boy! Was it hot...

This is us on our final day in Cuba. The next day, we were to fly back to Toronto. But here we are, standing in front of one of the most popular landmarks in Havana. From the left: Charis, Kaitlyn, Dan, Amy K., Dan-Rosario, me, Linda and Jen. From there, we went to the fort on the bay, the Hotel Nacional, then to that restaurant, and lastly to the markets. It was such a great day. It was so nice to see Cuba again, to be in Havana once more.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Little Bit About Me

Howdy, everyone!

I know that it has been a long time since I've written last, but with the last few weeks of school commanding most of my time, I didn't have much time to work on this blog. I had to prepare a project on ice dance for my Dance and Pop Culture class, which you can view the website if you just click the link for it on the left...

Hmmm, as for any new news, I now am working two jobs. I am still at Casey's Bar and Grill, but I work about four shifts a week at Booster Juice! My goal is to get in shape this summer, so I walk to and from work, PLUS I get a free smoothie each shift. They are very healthy for you, you know. To top offthis already fantastic job, the family that owns it are born-again Christians, which is a far cry from Casey's...which at times feels more like Hooters.

Anyway, I had written this bio for my poetry analysis site, link also on the left, and I thought that it might be interesting to publish here:

I love to live. As funny as that sentence sounds, it's true. I want to live life to the fullest. We really only have one crack at it and I'm not interested in wasting time. Now, that doesn't mean that I'm a parachuting, bungee-jumping, tree-hugger as far as the stereotype might go. (Well, the last description is correct...The trees and I are good friends.) I love to enjoy all things even if it's something as simple as baking cookies with my little cousin or singing in my church choir. I want to learn so that one day, I can teach my kids the way my mom taught allowing me to learn by experience and by all those mistakes along the way. And it doesn't really matter to me where I end up career-wise as long as I know that I'm following the path that God had planned for me. All I want to do is love life and love Him and live each day like it's my last.

I'm one of those "hand-me-a-challenge-and-I'm-happy" kind of people. I'll admit, I love school, but my marks aren't the greatest. All my life I have wanted to teach, but whether it is in a classroom or in some third-world country where I'm a missionary, it's all good! As for my personal goals, I really want to just finish school, settle down and do some volunteer work before I have kids. After that, though, I really want to open a foster home. Every child has a world of potential, but it seems like as our lives get busier, the little ones get jipped out of a steady home, love and time with their parents. And no matter how many action figures and dolls you can buy for them, nothing will ever replace the memories that they should have of spending quality time with their parents. I didn't have a lot growing up compared to many, but we always had just enough. And what I remember the most wasn't my Barbie RV or hot wheels (I was tomboyish growing up), but times like when my Dad, brother and I would sit at Buttonville Airport in Richmond Hill with a box of chocolate timbits and milk and watch the Goodyear blimp...or when mom and I would have our girls only movie nights featuring Bing Crosby or Alfred Hitchcock and spend the whole night color-commenting the movie.

That's me, or at least a small part of me anyway. Keep smiling and do our forests a favor and recycle! :)