Saturday, November 5, 2011

Walking the redwoods with Ian

We are visiting Ian this weekend to see his apartment, campus, and to meet his 4 roomates. We spent the morning walking through the redwood groves in muir national monument. It was a beautiful and different climate with the humidity supporting ferns, moss, and other smells.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Layover in Miami

Because we had an eight hour layover in Miami, we decided to take a tour of south beach. We rented a 12 person van so our whole group could go together. A bagel at panera was the first stop for breakfast since we were up at 3 am to catch our early flight from santo Domingo. One of the highlights was the architecture in the art deco neighborhood. Since we were too late to join the walking tour, I took some pics on my own and then walked along the water on the beach. I was surprised how nice the area was. The water felt like bathwater and the beach uncrowded. It was fun to see the ornamental buildings and bright pastel colors. Some terms used were eyebrows for the ledges jutting out.There were young people out and about, roller blading, biking, and on segways. It was a nice drive Along highway 1A looking at all the fancy homes and yachts . Finally we had lunch at a Recommended Cuban restaurant called Larios on the beach. The rental guy told us about it and that Gloria Esteban owned it. Relaxing in the bright green beach benches was a great way to finish off the trip. The water was so aqua blue and I hope to come back and do the walking tour.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sabada Perdita

The parenting class was held at night and was well attended.

Sabata Perdita is the church/school we have been working at this week. It is in a poorer neighborhood of santo domingo where VisionTrust has a project. Our church has sponsored many children that attend the school ages K-7th grade. Today was the final day we will visit and spent our last afternoon at lunch with the administrator Estephania. She is an amazing cook and baker. She showed us wedding cakes she did on her laptop. We were invited to her lovely home to share closing thoughts. It was unusual to see the chickens, rooster and wild turkey residing in her front yard. We sang some songs together in both Spanish and English. Our group prayed for each other and the future joining of hearts. Later tonight we held our last parenting class up on the roof. There were 60 attendees that listened to Bible references on parenting, discipline, and living as husband /wife. We had a Spanish translator and sang some praise songs in both languages. We saw many kids at church with their Beaded cross necklace from
VBS that morning. After our last goodbyes it was time to head back to the hotel. Tomorrow is a leisure day touring the town and market.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our mission Team

One of the benefits of serving in the mission field is forming relationships with those you are serving with. This is my first time organizing a mission trip at PEPC and of course I am learning as I go. On our team we have 7 men and two women. The ages span from 20 to 70's and in-between. Getting to know everyone whether it be working side by side painting, eating breakfast, or riding in our van through dangerous near death intersections, has been a fun part of our trip. Jim can always entertain us with a story from one of the 60 countries he has lived and it's always an adventure what he will say next.  Learning to be flexible with dominican timetables has not been difficult with our team.  We are all being stretched in our abilities as we share the work and needs of the school whether it be praying with our Dominican families via a translator, organizing games with 75 kids on a roof in 95 degree heat, leading devotions,
Painting faces on a mural, leading worship songs in another language with unfamiliar tunes or communicating with an 8 year old in Spanish.  God has used each one of us for his work beyond what we thought we were able to do. Working with our team have been wonderful (and necessary) translators along with the VisionTrust staff who are with us to and from our destinations on the agenda. It has been great getting to hear their stories and the countries they have served in. I know we will form friendships that will bind us together and we will share our stories in church so others may be involved in missions next time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hospitality in Sabana Perdita

We were given an opportunity to visit the community surrounding the project Sabana Perdita. This is an outlying area near Santo Domingo.Several pastors and a translator, Naucho, went along with our group,of 6. We sat down and visited in their homes or out in their backyard area on plastic deck chairs. We asked about their family, children and line of work. One was a manicurist another an ice cream seller. We recognized several of the children that attended the bible school that morning. After asking for any prayer requests, along with a translator we lifted them up to God. Some of the sights were a group of men playing dominos under the shade of a big tree and an unusual vendor announcing his wares on a speaker for buying things. All of a sudden a computer monitor came crashing down from an upstairs window. One house had four generations living under one tiny roof. I took some interesting pictures of the homes and gardens. There was a lot of wrought iron designs in many shapes. All the electricity is obtained illegally as seen in the jumble of wires overhead. The city routinely turns off the electricity to punish those that are tapped in. Many little markets were open for business in the blocks we traveled. All the people seemed happy and content and were very friendly to shake our hands. It was a unique experience to have three native Dominicans show us around and to feel completely safe.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Worship the Dominican way

Sunday worship in the Dominican republic is usually held in the evening. Tonight we attended Sabada Perdita church (where we will be doing our mission work this week). The music was pretty much awesome as the spirit of God filled the church. Worship started off with a praise team and guitar. After several songs they moved onto soloists leading the congregation one song each, and added keyboard. The people kept coming in with their sunday best until the entire church was full with no seats left. Just about everyone was participating in the singing. Some songs we stood up and then sat down. The music lasted over an hour and the sermon began by pastor Ernie. He had so much energy as he engaged the church members for three hours . He preached on integrity in a corrupt country. I wished we could understand the Spanish of the message. The music was great in any language. Afterwards the Dominicans loved to shake our hands. Since it was pouring, we watched colorful umbrellas bob down the street on their way home. Earlier in the day, I  loved walking the neighborhood and seeing how all the houses were built on hills. Our legs got a workout climbing the steep stairs.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Medieval town of Bergen

Today was spent exploring the town of Bergen. We had a lovely guide explain the ancient history of the town dating back to the 1100's. Apparently there were numerous fires and each time the homes/shops were repaired. What was so fascinating was the style of the homes built along the wharf called double tenement. They were used for sleeping, working, and storing their goods. Todaynthey contain shops, artist workshops, and preservation projects in process.Bergen was a big fishing town. We learned they had 23 different categories of cod. There was also a castle and tower we toured as well. The biggest surprise was the great weather we had. It is usually always raining but we had two good days. We took the funicular up the hill to see a clear fantastic view of the city. After recapping all the best moments of our awesome trip at dinner, we head home to Denver tomorrow.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cruising the Fjords

What is a fjord? Today was an amazing scenery day traveling down the Sognefjord (the longest at 127 miles in Norway). We left our mountain home in Elveseter early this morning to take a gorgeous drive through a national park at the highest point in Norway. We stopped several times to get some pictures of the vibrant green mosses, grass, and lichens. We had a bright sunny day-we could hardly believe it. We boarded our ferry to see the fjords which are Formed from glaciers. They are also shallow near the edge and very deep in the center. The water can be up to 4000 feet below sea level. At the end of our ride, the fjords narrowed and the walls looked so tall. We felt so fortunate to experience God's creation and to have the sun too.

Doug sits up front -click to view whole pic

The lodge we stayed in Elveseater in Norway.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Moving Around in Scandinavia

Our coach is from a company in Belgium .RS uses Heidelberg buses exclusively.

There are bicycles everywhere in Copenhagen

Riding the T-bana subway in Stockholm
The public transportation is alive and well in Scandinavia. I have never seen so many bicycles than in Denmark. There are even lanes specifically for bikes and they stop at the stoplights. Each city we visited has a city bike program to borrow and return bikes at different locations. On the Island of Aero there are routes for bikes posted on the roads instead of interstate numbers. When we got to Oslo the bikes were less due to the extensive network of subways, buses, and trams. The hilly terrain added to the choice. Probably the most important and surprising reason besides the fact gas is $9 a gallon is the stringent requirements to drive a car. In order to get a license one must pay a $1800 fee for a license at the earliest age of 18 years. In order to buy a car a second charge of 180% tax the cost of the car you are going to purchase. These high fees discourage the use of a car for all but the older family who may have one car. The typical couple in their 20's will not own a car. We used many forms of transportation while in the cities. Our Oslo pass included boat, subway, tram and bus rides. It was a great deal.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oslo- A Seafaring City

We spent the whole day in Oslo with our pass to get into practically everything. I think we hit 10 museums not counting subway and boat rides. It really is a good deal. There was a whole island with different boat museums like the Kon-tiki, maritime, Viking ship, and polar fram boat. We learned the Vikings buried the important leaders under their ship with things for the afterlife such as sleds, jewels, weapons,, animals, even a peacock. There were ornately carved sleds on display in the museum. Next I got my art fix with the National Museum and the Edvard Munch museum to see the scream under tight security. The only museum with a metal detector. Lastly we explored the roof of the opera house. Doug's fav was the maritime museum with a panoramic movie adventure through Norway. It was fun to watch the big and small ships come in and out the huge harbor. Baltimore's Harbor seems tiny compared to Oslo. The green parks in Norway are beautifully decorated with vibrant colored flowers everywhere you look. My favorite site was the sculpture park and the unusual sculptures of the famous sculptor of Oslo, Vigeland.

The Viking ship museum

The opera house appears to sink into the water. There were great views as we climbed to the top.Click to see the whole view.

Walking around Oslo- The hometown of our tour guide

Monday, July 18, 2011

CruIsing to Oslo Norway

This was an amazing park in Oslo with hundreds of sculptures of human forms and shapes, young and old

The Frogner sculpture park all the work of Gustaf Vigeland

A chair to sit in a museum exemplifying the fine design in Denmark

Last night we boarded the cruise ship Pearl Seaways for an overnight to Oslo. It took 18 hours to sail from Copenhagen to Oslo Norway.
I wasnt sure what to expect on our one night cruise that carried 2000 passengers but was pleasantly surprised. Everything was shiny and new just like a week long ship. There was the usual casino, cafes, buffet dinner, discos, and shops. Most of the passengers were Scandinavians on vacation as well as some tourists. Lots of families with small children were heading to the city. In Norway everyone gets 4 weeks paid vacation that they take out a little each week in their salary to get a lump sum in June to spend on their time off. In addition they get the week of Christmas, Easter as well as other Christian holidays. Doug and I made a reservation for the buffet dinner and enjoyed lots of fresh seafood and meats. We were allowed to use any currency of the three we have been using. We paid in Swedish and Danish kroner.

Photography by remolCador

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dining in Scandinavia

Danish SMØRREBRØD - open face sandwiches.
You can predict one food you will get with every Scandinavian meal. You will always see the mini potatos whether they are served plain or with different spices or a sauce. Our breakfasts have been very hardy. With a selection of three cheeses or more ,freshly baked bread, cold cuts of meat, fresh fruit, and boiled eggs are usual. Yogurt and the BEST coffee are looked forward to each morning. One hotel even had a juicer with quartered oranges to make ourself. Each time I asked the hotel, they had gluten free bread for me. The first night in Sweden we were treated to moose meatballs and elk kabobs. They were tasty but Doug said they were dry. Here are some pics of the SMØRREBRØD's we had. They are an open faced sandwich topped with anything but at the bottom is on piece of rye bread. Salmon was a popular yummy fish I had several times.

Ice cream was Eaten regularly in sweden and Stockholm. One shop had a merry-go-round of waffle machines where she would take out the thin waffle, roll it into a triangular cone, Pour more batter in the machine, rotate onto the next and do the same.
One night in Copenhagen we had dinner in the oldest restaurant that used to be an apothecary. They served the dinner on heated stones 300 degrees with a delicious cut of beef. We cooked it at the table. I was surprised to get beef.

Salad was not very prevalent but sometimes cut cukes, tomatoes, and thousand island dressing were served. Tonight on our overnight ship to Norway I got to try crayfish and marinated herring- popular with the folks here. Doug has been lunching on a hotdog that is stuffed in a French baguette.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Biking the Island of Ærø in Denmark

Because we were given the whole morning for free time, we decided to rent bikes and do the RS biking tour. It was described as 15 miles and our tour director cautioned us thatnit was too hard and hilly. We thought no problem as we unlocked our bikes from the hotel we had a nifty basket to put our camera and backpack and headed off. The road led us along the water and u shaped farmhouses. After making a wrong turn at the church in Bregninge, Doug began to think we wouldn't make it back for lunch at noon. We had to walk our bikes up the steep hills at times and coasted down the hills. the areas we rode by were quiet and peaceful as we didn't see many people moving about. The weather changed from sunny to cloudy to fog to sun again. We were so fortunate to have a day without rain. We found a shortcut back to Aeroscobing meaning we could only do half the biking tour in 3 hours. After our lunch we did the remaining bike tour with the bus. We visited a neolithic stone burial site and hiked down to a cliff to a beach with cows staring us down the whole way. I enjoyed the bike ride but my legs were tired the rest of the day. Later that night I biked down to the beach by the ferry stop to see the cute pastel colored cottages. They were the size of a playhouse that locals rent for picnics and changing. AEro island was a relaxing ,cute Danish island- a break from the busy city of Copenhagen.