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Jewel in Cambodia Scarves for Cambodia Journals for the Journey

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another day goes by in Missouri..

From L to R:: Sheree & Nathan, myself, Geovanni, Jael, Daniel, George, Christine & Kiara

Another good day in Table Rock, Missouri.. Daniel woke me again this morning to play until George awoke with Nathan, I then returned to my bed in the dark basement and slept until 12:15, when George brought Daniel in to take a nap. We went to a 3:00 dinner show in Branson at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, and it was quite exciting.  While we ate they entertained us on primarily horses; raced pigs, chickens, ostriches, and wagons; and dramatically performed the history of the wild west.   The tickets were $48 each, but Sheree's grandma has connections and was able to find us tickets for $12.  Jael and Daniel loved the action and the animals and took turns sitting quite impressively tranquil on my lap. Afterwards we went to a really pretty outdoor mall.  We rode a tram from the parking lot to the opposite end, then walked back in the shade.  We stopped once for ice cream, once to buy a small gift for Sheree's grandparents (who bought our show tickets), and once to use the restrooms in the Bass Pro Shop - my brother's favorite store (it wasn't the same without him.)  Geovanni has once again begun his internet quest to find the perfect used Chevy Dimax truck in Ecuador, which keeps the two of us up late at night.  He has all these particular wants, which are actually pretty important for driving in the often-turbulent streets of Racar and Cuenca, but make if difficult to find what he wants.  In the morning we are leaving for Kansas City, which really should only take 2.5-3 hours this time.  My intentions are to wake up early enough to take a swim in the lake with Daniel and Jael.  
As promised, here are pictures of the basement treasures::

A doll hanging from a hat rack.. who does this??

They obviously use this machine alot..

A creepy people-bunny family that haunts the basement..

A really cool lamp..

In order to avoid any potential offending.. these are all nice things, just done in the wrong way or in the wrong place.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tito, we're not in Kansas anymore....

I guess traveling through Kansas includes a 3-4 day stay at Sheree's grandparent's lake-house near Branson, Missouri. We arrived around 9:30 last night. George thought it would be a decent 2.5-3 hour drive, and it was definitely 7.5-8. We are on a mini-vacation now. Geovanni woke me up this morning at 9:30 and after breakfast and a shower, we went swimming off the
dock. After lunch Daniel and Jael took naps, and the five of us (Geovanni, Christine, George, Sheree, and myself) went out on the boat with Sheree's grandpa and the two babies (Nathan and Kiara). The lake is something like 13km long, and the water was beautiful and a perfect temperature. George taught me how to water ski, and eventually I was pretty decent! They tell me I will be sore tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure I'm stronger than they think. In the pictures to the right you will see baby Nathan on the boat, a view of the lake, and in the third, George is attempting to to assist Geovanni with his skis - a job that took both men.
Sheree's grandparents are very amusing. They say the darndest things.. really. Everytime Sheree's grandpa speaks he follows his sentence with "tell him" and points to Geovanni. Geo really does understand a decent amount of English, but doesn't speak any because he is afraid of making mistakes. The house is also interesting. There are huge mirrors (like 7 ft in width) in almost every room. The basement is full of interesting things that I will definitely be taking pictures of (expect that post very soon! haha). I'm sharing a room with Daniel in the basement. I slept two nights with Jael at the hotel and they were two miserable nights. That girl is 3-years-old, but she took up more room than I think Sun Ming Ming would have.  Se mueve mucho! (She moves alot!)  At one point I think we were sharing a pillow, I know I found her foot in my eyes and/or back alot, or her head was on my stomach.  So needless to say, I prefer Daniel.  He woke up around 7:00 this morning and I played with him until 7:30 when George woke up to relieve me, and I went back to bed.
Here is what our itinerary looks like.  There is alot of traveling between distant cities to speak in churches and reconnect with supporters of the ministry in Ecuador. 

July 23: Travel from Guayaquil to Kansas City
July 24: Rest at Nick & Stephanie’s house
July 25: Travel to Hutchinson
July 25-27: District conference
July 27-29: Vacation at lake house with Wuertz’s (Table Rock Lake, MO)
Aug 1: Day to reconnect with Conley family in Kansas City
Aug 2: Celebrate Daniel’s 2nd birthday with Wuertz’s and meet George and Sheree’s families
Aug 3: Visit Heartland Christian Fellowship for the morning service then to Manhattan in the afternoon for a special Sunday evening service at Westview Community Church
Aug 4: Someone drives us to Colby, KS
Aug 4-6: Spend time in Colby with Gene and Joy and do a special mid week service at Colby Wesleyan
Aug 7-8: Travel Thursday morning to Philipsburg, KS and do a special service
Aug 9-10: Travel Sat morning to Concordia for the Sunday service
Aug 11: Return to Kansas City - Jewel flys to Indiana, Geo & Chris fly to Arizona

It should be interesting...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Blogging in Kansas...

Blogging from Hutchinson, Kansas...
It's been an interesting trip so far. I had no idea what to expect. When I flew in I was a little worried about connecting with Geovanni and Christine and our ride (Aunt Sheree) from the airport, but it was very easy and I landed at a gate just 10 away from Geovanni & Christine in the same terminal - no problems at all. Their plane was late, so I anxiously waited an additional hour (3 hours total). As I sat on a bench close to Geovanni and Christine's gate I noticed a woman pacing at the same gate, and an hour later she sat and asked me if I was Jewel. It was our ride! We stayed 2 night at George's (missionary to Ecuador) brother's house in a suburb of Kansas City. We basically did nothing at the house for 2 days except rest and talk and eat. The homeowners worked until 6pm, so day 1 we sat in these stranger's homes.. we didn't know them.. they didn't know us. We were quite hesitant to make ourselves at home, but eventually it came easier. We made 1 venture to Wal-Mart with Sheree's (missionary) aunt, Aunt Sheree. Geovanni has never been to Wal-Mart.. has never been to America, so I helped him find nice shorts and jeans in his size. Jael (Geovanni & Christine's 3-year-old daughter) has attached to me, and will no longer allow Christine or Geovanni to do certain things like fix her hair, or strap her into her car seat. It's only been 2.5 days.. so it's still fun! My Spanish-speaking abilities have been greatly challenged as Geovanni refuses to attempt his English, and Christine refuses to translate so I can learn and get better. Yesterday evening we walked about 1 mile to a beautiful little park (I know.. I haven't taken ANY pictures yet!) and I played with Jael. They have never seen squirrels before -- culture shock! Jael was so funny at the park because the other children were speaking English, and she understands some, but doesn't agree that anyone else should be speaking English, especially me! We drove 3 hours today from Nick and Stephanie's house to Hutchinson. We are staying in a really nice hotel called Grand Prairie Hotel and Convention Center for a big conference of the Kansas district of the Wesleyan District. There are alot of people here! There is a nice indoor waterpark called Kansas Splashdown that I will probably experience alot of with Jael over the next 2-3 days. Geovanni and Christine are speaking some, so I will watch the girls alot. Jael is napping now, and Kiara just woke up. Kiara is even more beautiful than her pictures. She has her hungry/sleepy moments, but is a very happy and smiley baby. I will probably be sleeping with Jael tonight, Geovanni and Christine in the other bed. George and Sheree should be arriving late tonight from Kansas City, so it will be nice to see them again too in the morning. We lost our itinerary so we really have no idea what our schedule for the next 3 weeks looks like. A man came yesterday to Nick and Stephanie's house and said hello I'm Dwane and I'll be driving you to Hutchinson tomorrow, what time do you want to leave? And we were like.... tomorrow? Ok. haha. No idea what is going on... we just go with the flow and follow whoever is leading, which eventually will be George and Sheree, who should be very familiar with our itinerary, Funny story... I accidentally left my charger in Indiana. Geovanni has a very similar phone, but also forgot his charger. Christine remembered her charger, but forgot her phone. So basically.. the 3 of us are worthless. Hopefully it won't be too inconvenient to find a Verizon and pick up a charger.. haha. Because we would really like to have a phone while we are traveling. Let alone.. period. haha. Until next time...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Update on Life

Here is a quick quick short update on my life, as I sit today. This week is our district Family Camp at Fairmount Wesleyan Campgrounds. I'm leaving for Kansas at 4:30AM tomorrow, so I left camp this afternoon to ensure I am packed and ready. I love camp and wish I could do both - Kansas and camp, but Kansas is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one I would NOT choose to miss. I enjoyed my 3 days at camp. I saw good friends I only see at camp and reminisced good-ole family camp memories! There is a special needs man who washes dishes and he really likes my sister and I, and I have quite the partiality for him too. haha. Jessie and I have worked in the walker nursery for quite a few years now. It was a joy to have Bryan in there this year. He is a little Mexican boy that comes to my church with a family friend, and I love him! I watched him one evening for a couple hours and he laughed and smiled and chattered and held my hand the whole time, something no one sees when he is in a crowded nursery surrounded by little white kids. His family has moved to Illinois, so it was sad to hug him for the last time. Well, I believe I am all packed-up for Kansas. The plans were that I would stay the night with my sister and brother-in-law in Fishers because my plane leaves at 7:30AM, but Joni had surgery yesterday and will still be in the hospital tonight. So gracious Dad will take me to the airport at 4:30 tomorrow morning. UGH! Please pray for my sister as she heals. I hope to have the chance to blog some while in Kansas, but I have no idea how things will play out. Thanks in advance for your prayers as we travel and speak and reconnect.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

and I'm thankful there's more than the twenty-first time!

Between packing, I just finished my last video project.  If you don't have 5 minutes to download and view this video, I encourage you to at least read the lyrics listed below.  I believe it's a powerful song and I hope the video moves you to thought or action.

The Twenty-First Time by Monk and Neagle::
Nowhere to live, nowhere to fall
he used to have money, but he’s wasted it all.
His face is a photograph burned in my mind,
but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He sleeps under stars, that’s all he can afford
His blanket's an old coat he’s had since the war
He stands on the corner of Carter and Vine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He may be a drifter, he’s grown old and gray
But what if he’s Jesus and I walk away?
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

She’s twenty-nine but she feels forty-eight
She can’t raise three kids on minimum wage
She’s cryin’ in back of the welfare line
but I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

She may be a stranger tryin’ to get through the day
but what if it’s Jesus and I walk away?
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
t I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

This is a call for a change in my heart
I realize that I’ve not been doin’ my part
when I needed a Savior, I found it in Him
He gave to me, now I’ll give back to them

Drifter or stranger, father or son
I’ll look for Jesus in every one
’cause I am the body and drink of the wine
and I’m thankful there’s more than the twenty-first time.

And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.
Isaiah 58:10

footnote:: Monk and Neagle is a Christian John Mayer/Jack Johnson/Bebo Norman jazz/acoustic-pop fusion, and my newest discovery of musical pleasure.

Friday, July 18, 2008

To boldly go where no one has gone before

GOOD NEWS!  (Not necessarily for you or, in reality, the large majority of anyone, but for me.. and a few others!)  I have plane tickets to Kansas City for July 23rd and returning to Indianapolis on August 11th!  Kiara (my goddaughter), her 3-year-old sister (Jael), and their parents (Geovanni & Christine) will be making their first appearance in the States and will be traveling throughout the Kansas Wesleyan district to speak in churches about their ministry in Ecuador.  They have asked me to join them for 20 days and I am beyond excited.  I believe George & Sheree Wuertz, the American missionaries from Kansas to Ecuador, will also be traveling with us.  Some aspects of the trip don't seem to be the most thrilling, for example:: 3-5 hour car rides through the nothingness Kansas with 4 car seats, but I know that will mean excitement.  Aside from traveling and speaking in churches, we will also be attending some sort of missions conference.  During this conference we will be staying in a hotel with an indoor water park.  We will also be spending a weekend at a lake-house, going horseback riding, and going to a renowned dinner theatre.  Other details remain unknown to me, but I know it will be a good time.  Aside from the hotel and lake-house, we will be staying in supporters houses, which will potentially be an interesting experience.  I am so anxious to meet and hold Kiara, who will be 6-months-old on July 28.  I expect there will be lots of nanny time, but I know Geo & Chris want me involved in everything they will be doing on the trip.  Hopefully there will be updates in the next 3 weeks, but I cannot guarantee internet access.  Unlike Keetha, I will probably not choose to sit in the library parking lot. =/

Some thoughts as I begin to prepare physically & mentally for the trip::
-When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.
-No place is boring if you've had a good night's sleep and an empty digital memory card.
-Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone?
Geovanni, Christine, Jael, and Kiara Saltos

George, Sheree, Daniel, and Nathan Wuertz

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Meet the Mangosteen

In Cambodia, I discovered my new favorite fruit.  Mangosteens- A delicious fruit grown on tropical evergreens in Southeast Asia.   The taste is really unique and hard to describe, it's almost a cross of peach and pineapple; sweet AND tangy, with the definite texture of a peach.  So yummy!!  The rind is a deep reddish purple when ripe, and just softer than an apple.  To open the fruit you pinch at the top by the green stem, cracking the rind, and pulling the soft shell open.  The white inside breaks apart like orange slices.  Those slimy white pieces are the good stuff.  Supposedly there are seeds, but I have never encountered any.  The rind is rather bitter, and may leave a reddish purple dye on your hands.  Oy, it's delicious!  I have done the research, and I understand that presently the U.S.D.A. does not allow the mangosteen fruit to enter the U.S.,  but they are gradually making their appearance in Asian and International markets in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles for anywhere between $4-$11.  I definitely owe it to myself today to buy a $5 mangosteen and you should too!  Contact your senator and lets get the mangosteen on the approved list! 

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pursuit of Happiness..

Here is a video I made a week ago about the piece of my heart for the children in the batayes in the Dominican Republic.  A batey is a Haitian village in the Dominican Republic that houses sugar cane cutters and their families. The housing conditions in the bateyes are humbling and inadequate; homes are dark, overcrowded, lacking furniture, and without electricity or running water. The cane cutters work long hours in dangerous conditions, and they receive little compensation for their labor. The children of cane cutters are often unable to obtain official birth certificates and without such documentation they have limited access to public education and health services. I have been on seven missions trips but the conditions in the batayes are worse than anything I have ever experienced. Hoards of young children were running around naked, dirty, and alone.  Dirt and filth everywhere.  Houses made of scrap metal, small boards, and rags.  Just to look around was heart breaking.  It was one of the most impacting trips I have been on.  Here is the link to the Makarios blog, the organization I ministered under.

Orphan twins Jakob & Isaak::

when I visited June 2006........... and now

Sunday, July 13, 2008

'Til Kingdom Come

Here is a snippet from my friend Jennie's blog.  Like mine, her heart's deepest desire is to see the world that God intended.  She has devoted her first summer out of college to pursue the heart of God in Mozambique and Sudan, Africa; ministering, living and loving with great expectations of what God will do.  She writes semi-regularly, and she always has incredible things to say.  If you're interested in seeing God's broken world draw closer to him, I definitely suggest keeping updated with Jennie's blog as she "strives to live out the Kingdom of God here on earth."

...imagine yourself as a man or woman or child who has lived your entire life knowing only the fear of curses, spirits, powerful witchdoctors, and, perhaps if you're in a Muslim village, a distant god who cares little for you personally. Living in the bush, facing illness, seeing death from a young age, and often living with chronic illness and hunger- what might be good news for you? Would a God who cares be good news? Would a God who multiplies food and heals diseases be good news? Would a God who smiles and holds children and gives all of Himself in laid down love be good news? Would power over curses and authority over evil spirits be good news? HECK YES!

Baby face, you've got the cutest little baby face!

Jeff, Joni and Leah Marie

It's a girl!  Leah Marie Sedberry arrived 11 days early on Sunday July 6, 2008 at 7:21am (7lbs, 1oz, 19 1/4 ins).  Saturday afternoon Jessie and I drove to Rochester to visit our old roommate Bethany, stay the night, and celebrate another friend's birthday.  Bethany lives on a nice big pond, so the four of us went fishing for 5 hours, and when I went inside I had 4 missed calls from home and 3 pretty anxious (CALL ME!) voicemails.  Well, apparently Joni went into labor around 5pm and my parents went to the hospital around 10pm.  Jessie and I however, being 3 hours away, did not actually experience the 9 long hours sitting in the waiting room.  Waiting isn't the fun part, but I do feel disappointed having missed it.  She is perfect and beautiful, and I am not just biased.  You're welcome to agree. =)

On the way to the hospital -- A beautiful day, a beautiful baby!

Baby face, you've got the cutest little baby face!

Bright-eyed and beautiful!


Meeting Gramps

Meeting Grams

Meeting Auntie Jewel

Meeting Aunt Jessie

Our little GIRL