31 March, 2006

Militants in Wheelchairs?

..or disabled veterans.

Friday I’m In Love*: Weekly Highlights

-Last Sunday our whole team missed church because we weren’t aware that Europe switches to Daylight Savings Time one week before the U.S. does. They really, really need to come to an agreement about this and just do it on the same day.

-Our student visa applications have now been officially rejected, and we are in the process of re-applying for work permits. More copies, more forms, more phone calls, more emails, more visits to MUP (the police station). Awesome.

-About a week ago there was some kind of police activity on a boat in the harbor here, and after the bust (or whatever it was) was over, 52 (52!!!) guns were recovered from the surrounding area that had been tossed overboard by various panicking unauthorized carriers.

-Someone was talking about the concept of EQ (emotional quotient- following the idea of intelligence quotient, only in the psycho-social realm). Tim conveniently summed the conversation up with: “IQ is nerdy, and EQ is nerdier.”

-On Tuesday, Pete and I went to Pula (about 2 hours away by bus). We considered it more of a vision trip than anything else. Not a spiritual vision trip, but a recreational one. We only had a few hours there, and it was cloudy, and we didn’t even find the main area of town, so next time we will: bring more people, go on a sunny day, find the walking street, and bring flashlights for these rad crawl spaces we found tucked away underneath the old Roman arena.

-I recently realized that in all of my time here, I’ve failed to mention that we live next door to a toilet store. This fact, I’m sure, will prove to be a humor-spawning gem. So, yeah, if anyone’s looking for a suit or something…

*I’m not actually in love. It’s just Friday, and I really like that song, so I figured it would make a good title.

30 March, 2006

Not just for humans anymore…

Tonight we had some students over to watch this movie called Man On Fire (Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, violence and gore, made me cry at the end…) and discuss the topic of rage. And one of our friends brought her little dog, too. So, Svaki Student is not just for people anymore, and I guess it is good that we’re expanding our horizons and avoiding prejudice of any kind.
Apparently these folks feel the same. I wish I were feeling clever enough to weave all of this together into some kind of comic/philosophical masterpiece including Budweiser draft horses, Nancy Drew, the JFK assassination, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but I’m not, so I won’t. But you can imagine it, can’t you….it would’ve been brilliant.

27 March, 2006

Papa Sauce

This is Sara making the most of Amy Grant’s “Baby, Baby.” Ahhh, Sara… she knits, she cooks, she plays the mandolin, and she’s got a rad fashion sense. She’s also a hella good line dancer. She’s humble, bold, honest, funny, and poetic all at once. And we like to say “Damn straight!” to one another on occasion- sometimes for no reason at all.

Someday I’m going to live next door to her and Tim- maybe even in a little dog-house type structure out back. Hopefully, though, it will be an apartment and I will be exactly like Lawrence from Office Space- right down to the bottle opener. I don’t think they will mind. Another thing I appreciate about Sara is all the visiting friends and relatives she has shared with the team (see Matt and Jesse under Other Blogs). Sara has also inspired the rest of us girls to really embrace the domestic arts, which is great. And sometimes she screams, “I’M NOT A MONKEY, YOU’RE A MONKEY!!” at Tim. But that’s confidential.


It’s hard to know where to start with Tim. I suppose the hair is as good a place as any. Tim’s hair is incredible, and with a mere change of style or cut, he is able to completely change the way he looks. He’s really good at dancing (Sara likens it to a little boy discovering all the neat things his body can do- this is surprisingly accurate), the best in the universe at Stack Attack, and also really good at Boggle. The other night he wasn’t even playing but busted out words like “glut” and “maw” complete with definitions (though he later explained that he learned these words playing Halo…).

Tim has really weird dreams. Earlier this year he dreamt he was an African antelope, so now I play Simon & Garfunkel’s “At The Zoo” on occasion in his honor (one line is ‘antelopes are missionaries’). He also has a knack for saying completely hilarious and quotable things. Last week in language class our teacher was collecting the paper cards we had just used for a game, and as she put them in the envelope he quietly and undramatically sighed, “Ciao, papir,” with the most amazing combination of affection and resignation. I guess you had to be there. Anyway, Tim is awesome. He’s super nice and caring, and even brings us single girls flowers sometimes.

To really understand Tim, though, go here.

Tush is a less-harsh word for butt.

The other day, Taylor declared, “I’m beginning to think in blogging posts!” So at least there is someone out there who is as addicted to the internets as I am. Taylor loves people and cultures and adventures of all kinds. She is also the most wholesome human being I’ve come into contact with. In January, our team considered it a major breakthrough moment when she started quoting Wayne’s World for the first time.

Last week her and I were eating lunch together in the student restaurant with two girls we had just met. Sara sent us both text messages asking when we would be home, and she ended the message with the phrase, “Shine your shoes, govna?” This was meant to be read with a cockney accent and was intended as a mildly amusing but basically meaningless addition. Well, Tay-tay just skimmed through and when she saw ‘govna’ she assumed it was a new Croatian word, so she asked our new acquaintances what it meant. We learned that, in Croatian, govna = a certain four-letter word (ending in ‘it’) for excrement. I couldn’t keep from laughing and poor Taylor just squirmed and blushed.
Taylor loves Jesus and hates cussing, and right now she’s in Italy with her family.

26 March, 2006

Saddle Up

Peter enjoys mathematics and logic puzzles. One time there were some advanced equations illustrating a frame of a Sunday comic strip, and he sat there for almost an hour working them all out on a napkin. Pete loves Eve 6, and also likes rock and roll, country music, and “the alternative punk the kids are listening to these days.” As far as I can tell, one of his chief pleasures in life is making me turn red, which I do at the drop of a hat, or at the mere mention of words like: red, blush, embarrassed, etc. This year was Pete’s first on the pro freestyle walking circuit, and he is almost a professional snowboarder, so that’s pretty much the main reason he’s moving back to Bozeman, MT next year. That, and all the ladies, of course.

Pete introduced Elbow Rodeo to Europe, and it’s really taken off here. I hope you’ve had the privilege of playing- if not, we can work something out, I’m sure. He loves games of all kinds (especially Saboteur if Tadija is playing), and movies. Apart from saying ‘sweet’ too much, Pete is a guy with integrity and good character, and is pretty nice most of the time.


John, our fearless team leader, is the most organized person I’ve ever met. Period. He also appreciates a good notebook and a quality pen (I stick strictly with Pilot Precise Rolling Ball V5’s, but he’s a tad more liberal). John is good with children and makes a decent effort at keeping his apartment clean, and he also enjoys a good dark beer and a quality cup of tea. According to the D.I.S.C. personality test, John is a DIC (“dominant/inspiring/cautious”). Take that as you will.

John is not afraid to sing in front of others, and rocks out to such classics as “Lemon Tree” by Peter, Paul and Mary but isn’t afraid of death metal. Back in the day, John did a lot of drugs. I find this fascinating, and he has some amazing stories, but he’s changed a lot since then so you’d probably never guess. In general, he is very thoughtful and kind, he’s good at nodding compassionately and listening to girls who are freaking out and/or having emotional/mental breakdowns, and he studies the bible like a madman. He was born in Wichita, KS.

24 March, 2006


Andy is very passionate about tea (favorite kind: P.G. Tips) and coffee (preferred brand: Illy), and makes the best lattes and cappuccinos in the world. Actually, Andy is passionate about everything, and does most things very well. As far as human beings go, he’s pretty much an anomaly. He speaks English, Spanish, Croatian, Mandarin Chinese, French, and Nasu (a language he invented). Andy plays piano and guitar, enjoys gourmet cooking, and may go to Harvard to get his MBA. Just writing all of this is exhausting…

Andy is working a lot on his freestyle walking skills this year, and once drank an entire container of salsa. The Perfection Sequence blog (under Rijeka Tigers links) is his, but he forgot the username, then he started a new blog but forgot that username, too. And, yes, he is the one in charge of team finances. Andy is cool and we’re glad to have him around this year. Oh yeah, this one time Andy was literally galloped at by a bouncer in a Slovenian discotheque, and he shouted “I don’t speak Slovenian!” on the way out the door when he was forced to leave because he was carrying a Coke bottle.

23 March, 2006

Marnella Jane, a.k.a. Marni Michelle Gott

Marni makes some mean lemon bars, and that is for darned certain. She’s also the current team basketball champion, with no challengers on the horizon. Interestingly enough, when she was a bit younger, Marni wanted to be black (i.e. “African-American”) and went so far as to pierce her nose and put her hair in corn rows for her Tupac listening sessions. As a much younger child, she wore an eye-patch. This was apparently doctor-advised and intended to help correct her vision, though her husband (Andrew Schneider Gott) maintains that it was really because her parents wanted her to grow up to be a pirate. He probably knows best, wouldn’t you think?
Marni drank jalapeño pepper juice for the first time this very evening, and (on a completely unrelated note) I would wager a small fortune on the prospect of her getting pregnant within the next year.
While to the best of my knowledge all of the above is true, perhaps more importantly I wanted to say that Marni is a very kind and compassionate friend who follows the Lord humbly and wholeheartedly.

21 March, 2006

14 things I just adore about Michelle:

-Her beautiful green eyes!
-The fact that she gets giggly, spunky, and talkative around 1:00am.
-Her awesome photographs, paintings, poems, and creative side in general- who knows what will happen when you let this girl loose with a set of markers!
-Her mad dancing skillz.
-The Sunday night cookie-baking routine.
-Her gorgeous and robust singing voice.
-Her inspiring devotion to prayer and insightful intercession for others.
-The fact that she alone has been present for my most humiliating experiences in Croatia so far…
-Her love of hot chocolate and generosity in sharing it with us.
-Her unparalleled humility and courage while growing in so many ways this year.
-Her complete honesty and ability to listen compassionately.
-Her patience with students and supportiveness to us as individuals and the team.
-The fact that she has single-handedly supplied the team with the best girly movies we could hope for: Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables (1st, 2nd, and 3rd installments), The Cutting Edge, and Father of the Bride.
-Her passion and talent for nogomet/football/soccer.

19 March, 2006

Ahoy, mateys!

September 19th is Talk Like A Pirate Day, and today is the 6-month anniversary, live it up.

18 March, 2006

The Mikalati

Matt and Krista are cool. Krista is cool in many ways, but especially because she is the world champion of Boggle. Matt is cool in many ways as well, and many of you probably already know this. I just wanted to state it outright due to some recent accusations.

Duck Hunt

Last night we went to a very nice restaurant for a farewell dinner with our MSU friends. It was a precious time of sharing and caring, and storytelling. John regaled Matt McComas with shocking tales from his wild past- but only when it appeared that nobody else was listening. Tim told everyone the tragic account of his and Sara’s first pet: a kitten named Chuckles. Due to the graphic nature of the story, I’m afraid I cannot relate it here.

Most entertaining, though, was Andy and Clay’s scandalous and amusing description of their desperate search for food during a cold Montana winter…

As tender young lads, fresh from the dorms and just getting used to life on their own, it was very difficult for Clay and Andy to get the nutrition necessary for survival at the University of Montana. Having no protein in the house, and no money to shop with, they set out in the snow. After a bit, they happened upon a partially frozen pond, well populated with crazy ducks that had decided not to migrate south. Certainly this healthy game was God’s provision for them, so they attacked first with an ice axe. Unfortunately, due to the curved nature of the blade, and the surprising agility of the plump fowl, this tactic was ineffective.

Next, our hunters tried shooting from a distance with a slingshot, but the ammunition just bounced off of the thick winter down. More determined than ever, they went to the nearest hardware store and purchases a thick wooden dowel and fashioned it into a sturdy spear with a lead-weighted and finely sharpened point. This was unsuccessful as well, though, as the spear did not fly fast enough.

Finally, on the third night, they constructed and laid out a net with an ingenious pulley system and went about trying to lure their quarry onto it with bread. But by now the birds were quite skeptical and refused to set webbed foot onto the net- even when chased from behind by a third hunter that had been recruited for the purpose of herding the animals towards the trap.

In exasperation and anger, Andy “Gottskulz” Gott picked up a stone and hurled it toward the flock on the pond. The rock bounced and skidded, and then clobbered one of the birds with fatal accuracy. Energized by the prospect of victory, Gottskulz grabbed his spear and ran toward the pond. Noting the danger of potentially thin ice, he carefully tiptoed toward his prize, and then, throwing caution to the wind, plunged the spear deep into the animal for the killing strike. He strung it up on the spear and walked back triumphantly with the stick resting on his shoulder, dinner hanging off in back.

The three boys (now men, actually) returned to the apartment complex where they gutted and skinned the duck- feathers flying everywhere, and ate the best meat they’d had all week.

Free your mind.

An email I received from Tobin this morning:
“When you’re done with your stint in Croatia, lets bum our way to Asia for a month, mmkay? No shoes either, that work? See you soon baboon, don't let the man keep you down----I’m sorry I am feeling very grassroots today!”

One day later.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I forgot to wear green and I didn’t even get pinched.

The Dedication of St. Patrick:
Christ, be with me Christ before me
Christ behind me Christ in me
Christ beneath me

Christ above me Christ on my right
Christ on my left Christ where I lie
Christ where I sit Christ where I arise

Christ in the heart of everyone
Who thinks of me
Christ in the eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me

Salvation is of the Lord
Salvation is of the Christ
May your salvation, O Lord
Be ever with us

17 March, 2006

Montana State University

A team of 9 people from MSU has been here all week, and it’s been fun hanging out and getting to know them. Last night we hosted a showing of this movie called “Ski Biscuit” (an independent film with really cool extreme skiing and snowboarding put together by some people from MSU) for our weekly student event. God provided a location, speakers, and a screen to show the movie, as well as translators and the equipment and people with the technological know-how necessary to get Croatian subtitles set up. Around 30 students came, and it was awesome!

16 March, 2006

The Grass is Always Greener

Recently I came across an old email I wrote to some friends last year. I had just finished reading a letter from one of them who was in Sudan at the time, participating in deeply significant work to reconcile various tribes as well as working towards a peace agreement in the civil war that has been raging for decades.

“Well, after just reviewing Ross's Sudan newsletter, I figured I could send a bit of an update myself. Two days ago, I was babysitting. I decided to go the route of negligence and did my best to research the peso crisis of 1994 while two 3-year-old boys played upstairs. After about 5 minutes I realized it was time to check on them... Both had stripped off pants and underwear and were seated on the bathroom counter trying to brush their teeth. There were sprinklings of pee in various buckets and corners, but none in the toilet as far as I could tell. What WAS in the toilet was about half a roll's worth of toilet paper... When asked if they had put anything else in the toilet, one child responded wide-eyed, "Coins."
Coins? What kind of coins?
"Four (with same # of fingers to demonstrate) pennies."

This is representative of normal events in my life at this point. I (perhaps erroneously) anticipate a change when I graduate, a change that will allow me to maybe be involved in something just a few steps closer to universal significance. Until then, though, I will enjoy observing the strange and fascinating lifestyles of small children, and acting to avert disastrous injuries to either them or my academic performance.”

So here I am, all graduated and whatnot, living in Croatia, and I miss those little kids like crazy.


Sara and I went to the Scorpion Gym to work out with some of our friends. It was refreshing.


I love Boggle! Thanks for the b-day present, Pete! (And thanks Danielle for bringing it over from the U.S.) I have been longing to play Boggle for months, and now we have it here. This means I will be able to practice up for this summer, when I hope ‘Jamin and Ashley will let me play with them again (they are officially the Boggle masters of the universe). I do have to say, though, that John’s Boggle skills are quite formidable. Maybe at the 2007 mid-year conference John can play with Ashley and ‘Jamin and the rest of us can watch in awe. Wow, I surprise even myself with my own nerdiness.

Time-Dependent Failure: Fatigue, or, Unlikely metaphors and far-fetched analogies for your reading pleasure.

In engineering-speak [help me out, engineers, if I mess this up], stress has to do with ‘load’ and strain has to do with ‘extension.’ A material’s capacity for stress and strain can be measured while subjecting the specimen to either tension or compression. The thing is, I am not a static material, but I feel like I have been bearing weight and being over-extended simultaneously, whilst being both stretched and squeezed. Does that seem unhealthy to anyone else?

Out of concern and curiosity, I decided to look into the mechanics of this a little more. It seems that with ductile materials (such as aluminum), strain and stress cause a process that includes things like: deformation*, a yield point**, a degree of elasticity***, something called strain hardening****, a point of ultimate strength*****, and a necking region****** all before the material reaches a breaking point*******.

With brittle materials, on the other hand, the point of ultimate strength is the point of rupture- so there can be toughness, but only up to a single breaking point, and then it is all over.

So, I’m pretty sure the moral of all this is that we should all strive to be as ductile (“able to be molded or shaped without breaking”) as possible.

*I feel comfortable admitting some psychological and emotional deformity.
**Something has to give sooner or later.
***Learning to be flexible is essential.
****This might have something to do with the uncomfortable and rigid contortions people go through when they are just plain trying too hard.
*****Ultimate Frisbee skills are important.
******”Necking region”? Hmmm, sounds risqué…I vote yes.
*******Which seems to be right about now (funk soul brother, check it out now…)

You will fail this test.- Part II

The weight that we bear as we take on Christ’s easy yoke and light burden, and pick up our crosses and follow Him can be crushing. I swear it would be easier to simply be flattened for good by 48 tons of steel. But it would not be better.

The idea of picking up my cross and following Jesus sounds a bit romantic, probably because I have no concept of what a real, heavy wooden cross is actually like. It’s the same thing with yoking up with Christ- I’ve never really spent a lot of time with oxen. So I guess it’s no surprise that in my own life, when I see what is meant by my own personal cross and get a sense of what it entails to walk obediently next to Christ, doing the work He has called me to, I recoil. It is so messy, so dull, so icky. It involves doing dishes, and apologizing, and praying when I don't feel like it, and getting rejected by strangers with strange accents and peculiar fashion senses, and giving up MY time and MY personal space and MY preferences. It involves walking through emotional problems with other people that I wouldn’t have to if I were running my own life (although I’m pretty jacked up myself, so there would still be that). It involves seeing other people hurt, and finding that it hurts me, too.

There’s a song I was listening to the other day by Caedmon’s Call, and the chorus is:
Keep them coming, these lines on the road.
Keep me responsible, be it a light or heavy load.
Keep me guessing at these blessings in disguise.
And I’ll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes.

It seems so cheesy and chipper written out like that, but in all honesty it took me a few days this week to get to the point where I could identify at all with, and finally reluctantly and gingerly agree with, the general principle of acceptance and contentedness captured there.

So I am forced to face my limits, and acknowledge my selfishness, and experience my own weakness. And it is hard. It is draining. It is frustrating and I want to quit and walk away and never be responsible for anything again, ever. But it’s like that old Bear Hunt song where, with each new obstacle you encounter, you find that “you can’t go over it, can’t go under it, can’t go around it, I guess you’ll have to go through it!” Only when you’re a little kid and it’s a game it is funny, but when you’re the closest thing there is to an adult that’s around and it is real it is not funny at all.

Sara helped me a lot by simply reminding me that I need to recognize and deal with my selfishness, and be about what God is about, and embrace what He has called me to here. I’m thankful that God is gracious and He allows me to be honest with Him about how I feel. And I’m thankful that He is also Righteous and, in the end, gives me the strength to get back up and follow Him anyway, regardless of how I feel.

15 March, 2006


We are in the process of applying for work permits here. This will probably take several months. Nobody knows if we will be approved, but it doesn’t look like we will get kicked out in the meantime. We are happy. The end.

Of pocket protectors and color-coded closets...

Sometimes I get confused and think that I have a type A personality. I go on for a while trying to be pulled-together and organized and on top of everything, but in reality, I’m so not. After a while, my stomach starts to hurt and I get pretty cranky until someone who loves me clocks me over the head with a whiffle bat and tells me to take a time out, take a nap, take a walk, drink some tea (or bambus?), and lighten up. Thanks to those of you who have done that for me from time to time, I appreciate it.


I would like to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly recommend the music of John Van Deusen and the Lonely Forest. Thanks to Carolyn Culbertson for telling me about Mr. Van Deusen, et al. And Extra Special thanks to Carolyn Culbertson for watching Zoolander with us for Pete’s birthday, and for the deep and transformational wisdom she shares every single time I talk to her.

Also, Rocky Votolato’s newest release, Makers, is really great.

Last Sunday

I missed the bus on the way to church, got soaking wet, didn’t understand much of the sermon except verses, missed the bus on the way home, got soaking wet again, went through a snow hurricane on the way to the guys’ house, got soaking wet for the 3rd time, came home, talked with Carolyn, and went to bed.

13 March, 2006

Obey my dog! or, Under Pressure

“...pushing down on me, pushing down on you…” It’s too bad the beginning of that song always makes me think of Vanilla Ice. Anyway, I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure over the last few days (even longer, probably). But the source involves a combination of personal issues, other people, and sensitive topics, so I won’t go into all that here.

What I will say, though, is that according to the Ideal Gas Law: nRT = PV, where T is in Kelvins and P is in atmospheres, temperature increases with pressure. I take that to mean that, with all of this pressure, I’m definitely getting hotter and hotter by the day. Sweet.

11 March, 2006


There are a lot of people named Tim in my life- I just thought of 7 different Tims in less than 10 seconds. But my brother Tim is (of course) the most important. For some reason we don’t stay in touch very well, and that is no good. This has been on my mind for a while, and thinking about Tim has revived quite a few memories. I’d like to share a few here so that those of you who want a reason to kill 5 minutes or so of paid company time can do that and learn more about my brother while you’re at it.

When we were little (roughly 4 and 6 years old) we liked to pretend that he was the dad and I was the daughter (he would call me “honey” and I called him "dad"- we didn't really have names) and we would go on adventures. Whenever we got hungry we would go to “Millie’s Restaurant” (the kitchen) and order food from Millie (my mom).

Later on (7 and 9 years old), we would pretend that we were much older, “teenagers” actually. We were still brother and sister, but his name would invariably be Brian (an older cousin we admired) and I would usually go by Stacy or Christy (no explanation, I think I thought they sounded sophisticated or something). We usually just did this when we were playing basketball together, to make it more exciting than just playing boring 7-9 year old one-on-one in the driveway. This was also the period in which we both saved up our money and bought an original Nintendo Entertainment System (with Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt) together- these are the only video games I’ve ever gotten any good at.

When we moved to the country a few years later (about 9 and 11) we spent many, many hours making forts and shelters in the woods, aided only by our trusty Swiss army knives. On particularly rainy days, we often roller-bladed around the basement or the attic and argued over whether the radio should be set to the oldies station (97.3 KBSG) or the country station (94.1 KMPS). Sometimes we practiced kick-boxing, as well, but these were always friendly (if spirited) matches. Around this time we also developed a solid routine of making lunch (tuna sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, or macaroni and cheese were our specialties) and watching Matlock every single weekday, 12:00-1:00. This was one of the primary joys of the home-schooling lifestyle.

There are so many more weird and funny things we did together, but most are too hard to describe in writing, and this post is pretty long already. So, yeah, that’s about it. I miss you, Tim!!!

09 March, 2006

Deep Thoughts

Last Friday morning Michelle and I were on our way to the women’s conference that had really started Thursday night. We were planning to catch the 8:00 am bus, so I stayed up until around 2:00 doing some cleaning, packing, etc. and set my alarm for 6:20. I woke up around 8:05 to Michelle on the phone with Marni. Somehow we both slept through alarms and phone calls… I was pretty frustrated and stressed out, but we pulled ourselves together in time to catch the 9:30 bus. But that bus actually didn’t exist, so we ended up with about 45 minutes of time to kill while waiting for a 10:00 bus. We decided to find some breakfast and get coffee, and Michelle remembered a little bakery about a block away so we headed there first. About 2 weeks ago I discovered my first muffin in Croatia, and here at this bakery they had muffins, too! Delighted to find them again, I proceeded to order in Croatian, confidently repeating the pronunciation of the pastry’s name used by the bakery lady of several weeks past- “moo-fin.” Somehow, it wasn’t working as well this time. I repeated “Chokolada moofin, molim vas” several times and a firm look of consternation was my only reward. Finally, I resorted to a meek combination of pointing and grunting and Bakery Lady exclaimed “Oh, chocolate muffin!” (note the normal, American pronunciation) and placed one in a bag for me.

About 10 minutes later, Michelle and I were sitting in a café with our beverages and muffins when we noticed the music. It was a Croatian rap song, odd enough in itself, but it was even weirder due to the fact that the music in the background was a bizarre concoction of Arab sounding polka-ish music, heavy on the accordion. We discussed this briefly, and after a few more minutes got up to leave. On our way out the door, one of the waitresses called out “kishobran!” and ran over to the table where I had left my umbrella. It was such a tiny thing, but in that moment it was unbelievably gratifying to realize that I had known exactly what she meant and hadn’t needed to consciously translate the word for umbrella. And Michelle and I were going to get on a bus, and we had tickets, and plenty of the local currency (and none of anything else, actually), and this is our city, darn it, and we know our way around, even if I can’t always get a muffin on the first try.

a continuation...

Okay, so I didn’t actually go on a date with Pete. It was technically a friendly/work-related appointment, for all of you jealous ladies out there. More birthday updates: I got some daffodils and an amazing chicken curry dinner from Andy and Marni, some phone calls from family, and some other totally rad gifts. Unfortunately, Tim blew my Stack Attack score out of the water with a whopping 3884 or something ridiculous like that. I think I might have to just give up and stop playing the stupid game altogether. So, thanks for the memories, everyone [sniff], it's going to be a great year.

08 March, 2006

Happy Birthday to me!

It is really beautiful outside today, and my birthday is getting off to a great start. Here are the highlights:
-To start with, I went on a date with Pete this morning and because it was my birthday he paid for most of my hot chocolate (I threw in 110 lipa) and also invited me to come be homeless with him if I’m not married in a few years. It was a serious offer, I think, and I’m seriously considering it.
-This afternoon I played some Stack Attack (an incredibly dull, primitive cell phone game I’ve become addicted to) and set a new high score of 1880! I think I may have the highest score on the team right now.
-Also, last night when I was at the Serys for dinner, Tim said I was well adjusted for a homeschooler, and I have to admit that felt pretty great. We also got to watch The Royal Tenenbaums, and it was fantastic! It really is one of my favorite movies, and I was reminded of all the reasons why.
-The most exciting aspect of my birthday so far, though, has to be the fact that we got an internet connection set up at our apartment today!!!!! That’s right, people, I am at home right now, writing this, and I won’t have to wait a few days to post it. I can also email friends from the comfort of my own couch, and now we can hang out with Pete and John without being accused of having ulterior motives. What an amazing day.

01 March, 2006

The truth.

I feel like such a baby- immature and weak. I wish that I were stronger. I wish that I were braver. I wish that I didn’t just want to go home, see my mom, eat cookies, and watch TV. But maybe this is part of learning perseverance and endurance. Maybe not giving in to all those wants, even though they I can’t make them go away, is part of being brave. Maybe learning to let go of my raging selfishness and insecurity is part of persevering. And maybe getting up in the morning and taking a shower and doing dishes and meeting with students is part of learning how to endure. Discovering how un-tough I really am and how quickly I want to give up is humbling, and a little disappointing.

Man, that all sounds so depressing. I'm sorry. Next time I post I will shoot for less drama and more wit- no promises, though.


The other night I was talking on the phone with my sister, then my brother. I miss them so much! They always make me laugh, a lot and very loudly. Next week my sister and I both have birthdays, and I think I would sell a kidney or part of my liver to have her come visit. I spent some time thinking about how in the world we could find money for a plane ticket but then I remembered that she doesn’t have a passport and resigned myself again to waiting until July. When Kerri, Tobin, and I finally reunite I can almost guarantee that there will be a spontaneous eruption of joy- maybe some northern lights above and a marching band playing with streamers and confetti falling from the sky. At least it will feel that way, and they will bring some pad thai to the airport for me, because I’ve been craving it for months. We might go to my Grandma’s house for some swimming, and we will definitely stay up all night, driving around Western Washington with the windows rolled down, talking and laughing hysterically.

Do What You Want, Come to the Rijeka Carnival!

The Rijeka Carnival is the third largest in the world, after Rio and Venice. It was very surreal to see our city turned upside down for a few days, especially on Sunday. Thousands and thousands of people crowded the streets, many of them adults in full costume, obviously drunk, but happy. Dozens of elaborate floats participated in the parade. People were dressed up as Native Americans, babies, pigeons, ears of corn, cowboys, hot dogs, and many other random items and characters.

At one point I was walking down the street and looked over and saw this:

Later on Tim, Sara, Taylor, and I dressed up too and headed out for some dinner and dancing.

Smackdown, or God’s 2x4

Lately I have had a pretty terrible attitude about life, and usually that means that I need a little help from what my friend Ashley and I like to call God’s 2x4. A couple of weeks ago I decided to return to Croatia for another year. There were a lot of things that went into the decision, like prayer, thought, advice, conversations, etc. and I think it is a good thing. But as soon as I decided I got really depressed. Probably because making any definite choice involves saying ‘no’ to some things, and I was thinking about everything that I dearly love that I have to say ‘no’ to in order to come back here.

Then we got to Sarajevo and saw what life was like there, and I watched that movie about the war and thought about what it would be like to live through that. And I thought about how many ugly things there are in this world and how much I want to help fix it, but I can’t, really. And I wondered if I could ever handle living and serving people in a place like Sarajevo during the war, or Iraq, or Rwanda, or Sudan where there is so much need and so little hope. Why is it that half the time I want to do something crazy and heroic and the rest of the time I just want to be completely selfish and read and play and hang out on the beach or in the park surrounded by only my favorite people?

Days, even weeks, have passed with my heart turned partly away from God, afraid of surrender and afraid of rebuke and afraid of sacrifice, just waiting in fear for the expected smackdown. But it never came. Instead, God reminded me that He loves me and that I am foolish and have no idea what I want. He reminded me that He is good and I am bent. That He is always faithful, even when I am too blind to see it. He reminded me that this world isn’t mine to fix, it’s His. And by following Him in all the tiny assignments, I get to participate in what He’s doing. And He will never ask too much or too little of me. He will always only ask me to do what is exactly right. And whatever sacrifice that may involve is always, always worth it.

So even though right now all I want to do is watch lots and lots of movies and ignore the fact that we might get deported* in a couple of weeks, I think I’m in a slightly better place than I was a few days ago.

*Actually, at this point things are looking very hopeful re: our visa situation- nothing is confirmed, but we will probably get to stay. I will let you know when we hear for sure, though.