Monday, June 26, 2006


For most of Southern California, today is a hot, muggy day. For me, in Bloomington, I feel like I'm an eskimo just trying to stay warm. Maybe I need to gain some weight for insulation against the severe weather inside my office. When I say "office," that's a very generous term. It's actually more like a storage room with a piano in it. But, it's fine for me, except for the cold part.

The preschool room is right next door to my room, and they have control of the temps. Even Rob gets cold in my office...that's a true sign that it's cold. I have a space heater that I've been running all day. Yes, a heater in June. I'm the weirdo who walks around campus in jeans and a sweater in weather like this. That's because even when I step outside for my 2 minutes, I'm still not thawed.

I have this new voice student who is the cutest little girl ever. She's so confident in her singing abilities, and when she sings you can tell she's trying to sing like all the people she sees on American Idol. She's fine at singing, but she's also only 9 and is no child prodigy.

I love teaching her. I love her confidence. But, it also makes me want to laugh because it's so darn cute and obnoxious at the same time. I almost lost it today when she was singing "Part of Your World" for me. I kept it in, but I did have a huge smile on my face that could've given it away easily.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Our last day

Yesterday was our last day in London. We were too pooped to do anymore sightseeing, so we just went out into the city and went with the flow. When we were about ready to head home, we heard the rumblings of a "football" game. We didn't get to watch the Italy game in Italy, but we had one last chance to watch the England game in London.

By the way, I think the English are just as crazy about soccer as the Italians are. We went into the closest pub we could find, and sure enough, England was playing. That place was packed. We stood shoulder to shoulder to cheer on England. It was great. I definitely enjoyed the people around me more than the actual game. When England scored, the pub errupted for like 20 seconds straight. And, it was loud. I cheered, but I mostly just laughed at the people around me. That was awesome.

Then to top off our last day, we got to see and feel rush hour on the tube (the subway). That was hilarious too. That normally could have been very stressful and uncomfortable, but yesterday I was in the mood to enjoy the culture and the every day experiences of these people. There were so many people in those hallways and jammed into those trains. At one of our stops, I wasn't sure if I could get off. I kept saying "excuse me" to the guy in front of me, but he was literally unable to move and said, "Just go." So, I squeezed my way through.

It was a good way to end the trip: a day in the life of a Londoner.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I am thankful for this trip, and sometimes still can't believe where we are and how spontaneously we decided to do this. But, I'm learning a few things about myself.

If I want to have a lot of continuous fun on a trip, going from country to country and city to city isn't the way to go. Every time we go somewhere new, I feel nervous and stressed out. Once we know how to work the transportation system and know exactly how to get where we're staying, then I'm cool and can relax and have fun. This trip has been up and down because we're constantly encountering new things for me to figure out and adapt to.

Rob has been great because he's the exact opposite. He doesn't get nervous for anything. When we miss our flights or have to take a crazy taxi ride, he goes with the flow and can appreciate it all as part of the adventure. You see, I can appreciate those things too...really appreciate them...3 weeks later. In the moment, I'm looking for homeostasis.

It's funny because I have experienced this every single time I've been out of the country. I thought it would be different having Rob with me because we could do it together. But, I think what I was really thinking was that we could stress about it together therefore easing the pressure. But, he's just not stressed. I don't need to be stressed, but something inside of me tells me that someone has to stress and if no one is doing it it better be me.

So, that's something that Rob and I just figured out on this train ride. I'm not sure if I need to work on changing that or not. It would make traveling a lot more relaxing though.

The ceiling

When we first arrived in London, I thought to myself, I bet these people take for granted all the amazing things they have around them...the history, the beautiful things, the beautiful parks...Well, in only 7 days, we are beginning to be desensitized too. It is crazy. By now we are more interested in the people than the old things we are seeing. We are in Venice now. Everything seems like a storybook or a movie. It is hard to believe that these people are real and that they really live their everyday lives here. I think I still do not believe it.

Yesterday we saw the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. It was amazing. It was only cool because we took a while beforehand to read through our book and understand some of the history behind it. It took Michaelangelo 4 years to complete it. It is huge. Reading the history behind it shows me that it was very much an expressive piece for him. He started it, did half of it, took a 23 year long break, and did the rest of it with a different view on life. The Last Judgement is the back wall. His perspective on life and god had changed from when he started it. It is much more reflective. You can tell that Michaelangelo was really thinking about what he was painting. It was amazing. Again, hard to believe it really exists even when I am looking directly at it.

Worked again

Apparently, we are not done being worked by the transportation system.

On Sunday, we decided to be crazy and stay in the center of the city past dark to see some sites that are best under moonlight. We were sitting on the Spanish Steps and reading about their history in our Rome book, when I happened to see the part about the last metro train leaving at 11:30. It was 11 and we would still have to find the station.

Our campsite is way out of the city. There is no way to get there except by train, so we have to get to the metro before it stops running.

We cannot find the metro, so we stop someone who lookds like he might speak English. He tells us where our station is, but unfortunately, the metro stops running at 9 right now because of construction.

We ended up having to jump in a taxi and trust him to get us home. This was an interesting ride.

Right when we get in we realize that he does not speak any English at all. Our first mistake...we should have gotten out right then and found one that did. Oh well. Second reason we should have gotten out...he did not know where Prima Porta was. I had to show him my map, and still he was unsure. But, he started driving.

The whole drive, I am praying that God will just get us home. This guy does not know where he is going. finally, we see the sign for Prima Porta, but he passes it up. We trust him for a couple minutes and then try to tell him that we passed the sign. Oops, we do not speak Italian. That will not work.

He pulls over and has another look at my map. Finally, I think to have him just call our campsite. Ok, now we are golden.

At the end of our trip, the ride cost 26 euro. Too much considering he did not know where he was going. So, I told him in Spanish to bring the price down. That worked...just 3 euro though.

Our adventure continues.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

1st day in Rome

I wrote this yesterday:

Things are definitely more confusing and more interesting when in a place where you don't know the language at all. In Mexico I can communicate at least a little bit. Most people here can speak some English, but I still feel handicapped because we have to rely on people being nice and willing to help us. I do have to say that the Italians have been very nice so far.

We didn't do much in Rome our first day because we didn't get in until 6 and knew that our camping site might be a challenge to find, so we got dinner and figured the whole thing out. The place we're staying at is awesome. It was the cheapest we could find and probably the best too. Like I said, we're at a camping place, but we get our own little trailer all to ourselves. We're in a beautiful place, and the people are a great mixture of ages, ethnicities, and even families. On the ride to our camp site, we definitely get to see the not so glamorous parts of Rome. But, I guess that makes it all the more authentic.


I wrote this two days ago:
We had our first conversation with a random English person. I say random because we've definitely visited with our many hosts, but this was the first spontaneous conversation with someone we didn't know.

We were at a pub just getting ready to pack up when Ralph came up to Rob and asked him something about the "football" game on the TV. Whatever the question was, Rob answered with "Si." It was an involuntary response because the guy had a different kind of accent and looked more latin.

The guy was offended and said, "Don't you speak English? Why do you say si?" So, Ralph is Italian, but to him England is the best! It's the best because here it's all about intellect. In Italy it's all about fun.

Anyway, he proceeded to tell us that Americans have no brains, Chelsea Clinton is ridiculous, so is Bush, and all we have to do is be nice to all the people we meet and people will be nice to us via a story about Aristotle.

It was all in good humor. We were glad to get to interact with a random "Englishman." We were just saying last night that we wanted to switch the focus of this trip and have it start to be more about people than old buildings. Maybe this is preparation for what is to come.

Friday, June 09, 2006

2nd day in Oxford

We're sitting in the Oxford Union right now which is only for "members". But, we're finding that if we just walk in places, look confident, and hide our camera a bit, we look just like students and can get in most places. One more reason why it's good for us to take this trip before we have kids and not when we're retired.

We are also on a mad search for new shoes for me. I have really bad blisters already with six more days of walking to do.

Blogspot is being dumb and not working for pictures, so check Rob's blog for all of those.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Day 3 or something like that

We haven't blogged in a day and a half, and it's because England has been running us around like crazy. London is the busiest place I've ever been. I've never been to New York, but from what I've heard, it's probably similar. So, it's London's fault we haven't blogged. If you stop to blog, you get run over.

We got to London yesterday morning and right away had to figure out the Tube. The Tube is the underground subway of London. Wow, I've been here before but never had to do that thing. Really, if you want to stop to think, you better move to the side. You can tell who's a foreigner. If someone is walking directly at you and they make an effort not to run into you, they're a foreigner.

We eventually made it to the house of our hosts, Jim and Juliet, the nicest people in the world. They have done so much for us already. After meeting them, we went back on the tube to conquer the big bad city. We only have 2 days in London, so we felt the need to just walk around and see as much as we could. We saw the Parliament, Westmister Abbey, Big Ben, the National Gallery, and by the time we got lost and found Buckingham Palace our feet were about to fall off and the park next door to the Palace looked much more inviting.

To finish the day we got tickets to see We Will Rock You. It's a show of all Queen songs. It was so fun to watch. Definitely the highlight of the day.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A woman of God

Today I had the privilege of listening to Carole Vezey talk about Uganda, God, prayer, love. She is a missionary in Uganda who has moved there permanently. She said that she moved there and will some day spill her blood there. What a powerful statement, proof of the death she has died for Christ so that she can live for him doing what no one else would in a place no one would want to go.

I have never met anyone like her. Today I am so inspired to seek God more, learn how to pray, and let the Word speak to me about the world I live in right now. Usually when I meet a superhero of the faith, I get discouraged and think, "Why can't I be like her." That's where my problem with envy comes in, I guess.

But, today I was only inspired. She's a superhero in my eyes but gave me all the tools to follow God in the same way. She's a superprayer, and she said that the only way to learn how to pray is to start praying. How easy!

Just like Jesus did only what he saw the Father doing, she said that we need to seek God in prayer and see what he's doing. Once we see what he's doing, we should follow and do it too. She saw God in Uganda. She saw him in the overcrowded camps full of mutilated, forgotten, and discouraged people. She saw him picking up the poopy babies and just holding them. So, she moved there and will continue doing what she sees him doing.

She said that we will see God doing different things according to what he wants us to do. We are to see God crying, look in the same direction, and ask him what's wrong with what he's looking at. And then go...even if it's next door...even if it's Uganda.