Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The power of thought.

I headed down to Laura Flores a few days ago to help my friend Lydia. She is an occupational therapist from England and has been a missionary in Santo Domingo for almost a year now. She gives free therapy to the children at the school we work in, and also gives some private home sessions to a few kids around the neighbourhood and in Laura Flores.
I went out to help her give a session to a beautiful little girl called Natalie. Natalie lives in Laura Flores with her mother and 3 older sisters. She has cerebral palsy. Natalie is unable to walk and spends her days lying down on a mat in the middle of the hut built out of stone slabs that her family of 5 women call their home. She can't stand up; she can't sit- she can only roll over from her back to her tummy on the stone floor. Day in and day out she watches her 3 older sisters run around with the other kids on the block through the arch cut out of the wall that they refer to as their front door.
Lydia had me help her out in the session with Natalie. I was to put preassure on Natalie's hips while Lydia would gradually extend her legs outwards and inwards to exercise the rigid muscles in her frail little legs. I couldn't hold back the tears; the scene was heart-breaking. Her tiny body seemed so fragile; all I could think of was how much we must've been hurting her, without her even being able to let us know if we were due to her inability to speak. However, Lydia assured me that if sweet Natalie were in any pain we would see it in her face, so that made me feel a little better about the fact that us- two foreign looking strangers in this little girls eyes- were prodding around with her limbs.

That afternoon really made me have appreciation for what Lydia does. I mean, I admired her already, but to see her in action, and to experience a taste of what she has to go through everyday to help the people here in Santo Domingo that she wants to reach out to just makes me so thankful that the world has people like her. Every soul makes a difference.

This week has been up and down, emotionally. Acutally, thinking back on my time here so far, it has been very emotional, period. I find myself crying A LOT- not necesarrily because I'm sad, but because God does some crazy shit sometimes. Most of the time it's a mixed feeling between wanting to cry a freaking river and wet myself laughing at the same time. I end up doing both which proves quite problematic for the people around me ("Is she crying?" No, I think she's laughing...oh, who knows.."). The people that I have met, and some of the things that I have experienced so far show just how gracious God can be, even to the people that are struggling in life.. It's so amazing that people that have so little can live out of so much faith and can continue to turn to God without cursing the lives that they have been handed. If only the people that had so much could do the same. Argh, it's so frustrating being the one who knows the contrast. The contrast between 'rich' and 'poor', I mean. Even though you are aware that you are here helping people and making a (tiny) difference (hopefully), sometimes the feeling can be even worse knowing that 1, you cannot help all of them, 2, you can only help them for a short amount of time, which in the bigger scheme of things doesn't enable them to make much progress, and 3, virtually every single person you know could be helping a person less fortunate then themselves but most of them choose not to.

Everyday in this life there is something to cry about; something for your heart to break over. Some days are really tough. But, hey, that's easy for me to say- I get to get on a plane in a few months and leave it all. My position is the easy one. That's what's the hardest to face- the fact that the people that I am meeting have no choice...and I do. I was blessed with the choice to be here or not- they weren't. Years from now when I have a family of my own to look after, chances are that we will have a roof over our heads and beds to sleep in at night. I will live in a place with 4 walls and a front door, and I'll have something to eat for breakfast when I wake up in the morning. Then, maybe as I'm reading the newspaper over my coffee (cos I'll be old enough to do that then) I will stumble across an article about people dying of hunger, or people living in really poor conditions...and I'll think about places like Laura Flores. I'll think about all the children I'm meeting and how by that time they will either have 10 children of their own, or be in jail, or would have already died because of mal-nutrition or some diease that could have been cured with simple an antbiotic that would have been unattainable to them.

Even when your called to help, sometimes you cannot help feeling helpless.

On the other hand though, some days are great- like today. I got to go and hang out with my beloved OrphAids kids- oh my goodness, I just love them so much I want to put them all on a plane and adopt them and be on the news: 'CRAZY 20 YEAR OLD ADOPTS 15 ECUADORIAN CHILDREN IMPULSIVELY WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES'. They are just SO amazing, I wish that all of you could meet them.
Things are also going really well with the school kids- Geovany and I are making a (mini) traffic light in class. We were both so excited today that we got our two lights working- we assembled everything from scratch. Geovany was happy that he was able to accomplish something 'hands-on'. On the other hand, I was over-joyed to be able to excerise my electrical skills without the presence of a bloke. I am one step closer to being an electrician.

Just one more thing for those of you praying out there- please pray for my friend Diego. He is struggling with life at the moment, and has started asking some sweet questions about 'life as a Believer'. Please pray for his spiritual journey.
Also, please pray for my dreams. I'm having a really strange re-occuring dream that I'm singing to young girls in a rehab centre...it's strange. Please pray for God to give me clarity if He is trying to show me something.

For the rest of you, just one request- please take as little as 2 minutes out of your morning or evening to think about the people that I'm mentioning in my blogs once in a while. Maybe just a thought- even from all the way across the world, in a land that they don't even know exists, and from people that they can't even imagine are living- is what they need to put a smile on their faces. The power of the mind is bigger than we can imagine- God might use your little thought to brighten their day, even without them necesarrily knowing it.


In love and peace,
Crissi

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My unfathomable question.

I've grown quite a bond with two beautiful brothers that go to the school that I've been working with. Their names are Miguel and Geovany. They both have severe learning difficulties- Miguel can barely read at the age of 14, and Geovany still gets confused between 'yellow' and 'orange'. He's 12. The boys come from a very poor family- their parents day-job is selling freshly squeezed orange juice at the park for 30cents a cup. Imagine if on a rainy day they only sell 4 cups a day? That's $1.20 income to feed themselves and 4 children- Miguel, Geovany, their older sister and their younger brother. Obviously getting a proper primary education is not high on the list of priorities when you're struggling to feed a family of 6. However, not long ago they were a family of 7. Miguel and Geovany had another older sister who was 18. She was murdered here in Santo Domingo a few months back. She left to go out with her mates one night and never came back. Her body was found a couple of weeks later.
Imagine if something like this were to happen to an Aussie family? I mean, I'm sure that it has. I'm also sure that whichever family member was lost, there was a memorial service of some kind. Councelling would have been provided for the rest of the family, and parents and siblings would have been granted time off work/school to grieve for their loss. Not here in Santo Domingo. Things like this happen quite frequently apparently. Most of the time there is no good-bye service, there is no tomb-stone and there are no endless arrays of flowers and funeral songs. The sun goes down and comes back up the morning, as if nothing has happened. There is no leave from work- it's back to selling juice in the park the next day. No time to process; no time to reflect; no time to grieve. Life must continue as normal to provide for the rest of the family. Life must go on.

Hearing about stuff like this provokes me to pose the unfathomable question: If God is so wonderful and loving, why do people suffer?

Ah well, here it is. I'm sure you knew it was coming...

The first and foremost thing to remember is that I cannot provide you with a straight answer to this question because I simply do not know- '..then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out...' (Ecclesiastes 8:17)
God's ways are so super-duper-ridiculously and frustratingly higher than anything that we can comprehend. We cannot understand what He does and why He does it. We can question His ways all we like- we can battle with Him to give us a reason, an explanation for why things happen- but it's no use. No Christian, nor scientist, nor happy hippie living in the hills of Spain can give an accurate answer.

The Bible tells us that is that suffering is the result of human sin. The world is not as it was intended to be. We were the ones to screw it up- no one is innocent, therefore every single person on the planet is vulnerable to suffering- 'for ALL have sinned and ALL fall short of the glory of God.' (Romans 3:23).
Also, God may be letting evil run it's course to prove that by not abiding by His word, or doing things contrary to His will is harmful to us?
Well, though these answers provide a response that's accurate in relation to scripture, they don't really comfort us emotionally, do they? I mean, can we find comfort in the fact that Miguel and Geovany's sister was brutally killed because the Bible says that we are all worthy of suffering? Not at all. However, maybe you will find some comfort in something that God taught me though my own personal experience:

My life is wonderful, it really is. However, it has taken me a lot to get to where I am now. I've had to live through a lot for a 20-year-old- including the death of a parent. Looking back on the last 6 years, God has taught me how much positive can come from an experience so negative. Not just taught me, He has SHOWN ME through certain events that have happened in my life since the death of my father. I can SEE IT with my EYES. Once you are able to see positive effects come out of a painful event in your past it's harder to resent it. Not that I'm trying to say that 'I'm glad my dad is dead'-that's not it at all. What I'm trying to say is that I can see how God used such a dark phase of my adolensence to bring about so many positive things that are happening today. Before I knew God, it was as if all the events in my life were just tiny dots randomly spread about on a huge piece of paper, starting from the biggest spot that is my dad's death. When I became a Believer, God handed me a black marker and helped me connect them all into a wonderful pattern that leads me to where I am now. Lesson learned: God used the BAD in my life to bring GOOD.

How easy would it be for ME to be angry at God? How easy would it be for me to say- 'Screw you God,- you left me dad-less.'? How easy would it be for me to dwell on the negative? We have become so accustomed to looking at the bad that we usually don't see the good. It's like that old saying- 'When one door closes, another door opens. We are usually too fixed upon the closing door that we cease to see the one that has opened for us.'......We are so accustomed to complain. We think that everything is crap, and we continuously pose the same questions- 'If God loves everyone, why do people get raped? If God loves everyone why do innocent little children get hurt? If God loves ME, then why did this happen?'

No one knows. But give Him a chance to show you why once in a while.

You may be thinking- "Okay, so maybe God uses good to do bad, I can get that. But why doesn't He just stop all the suffering in the world so that we can all get by like happy little teapots? It's not fair!" You want God to change all the bad shit in the world? Are you willing to change yourself first? Are you a wonderul, all-loving, always-righteous person? Are you FAIR to everyone that you meet, in your actions and in your mind? No? Me either.
"What causes quarrels and fights amongst you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.." (James 4:1)
All because we don't get things our way we think badly of one another, scream profanities at one another, place hands on one another, turn evil against one another. Evil is evil whether it is thought of or physically carried out. So, If God were to put a STOP to ALL evil, wouldn't that mean that He would be controlling our thoughts? And by controlling our thoughts, wouldn't that take away our freedom of will?

God gives and gives and gives, we take take take, and then we question why when something doesn't go our way. God probably never intended to have to use our suffering to show His grace, but because of the mega-ways that we have-excuse the French- completely fucked things up in the world, He does. Wouldn't it have been easy for Him to just say 'Nah man, screw this, what a pack of dick-heads those humans are, I'm getting out of here..'?  Further, most of the time we are too self-absorbed to believe that there's a slight chance that we actually might be accountable for what happens. My dad smoked more than a packet a day of Marlboro reds since he was 19. When he was 45 he had a heart-attack. No offence (to me, I guess) but only one word comes to mind when I do that math... OBVIOUSLY.

No matter how much you love God, you are going to suffer. Take it from me- I read the Bible everyday and think about God more than I think about anything else, but my life isn't perfect. People see/hear about me going here, and going there; doing this and doing that- I get that's it's difficult to buy that being me isn't just one big party. Don't get me wrong, I am so fortunate to have been blessed with the opportunities to have been the places I have been and to be doing the things that I'm doing- but it's not always easy. Everyday is a challenge. Though my healing process has rapidly increased since finding God, I still struggle as I grieve the loss of my father. Most days are good, but some days are really bad. Some mornings I have to curl up in a ball on the floor of the bathroom and cry for 10minutes to take the edge off and release some emotion. As I grow older, and as I grow closer to God, these days aren't so frequent. But yeah, God and I have fights about it. I scream a little and tell Him that He's an asshole. But you know what? I get through it. I get through it because He WANTS me to get through it-
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Did God give me more than I could handle and then just piss off? Nope. Is there anything that He has handed YOU in your life that you have not lived through? Well no doofus, otherwise you would not be reading this. I'm sure that you have hurt, and I'm sure that you have struggled, and I'm sure that you think that life is a big bull-shit joke most of the time. Guess what? Me too. But God hasn't given me anything that I have not lived through yet, and even in everything that has occured, He has been there to guide me and lead me on the path of healing; lead me to the 'way of escape', because...GOD IS FAITHFUL.

"There are times when you choose to believe in something that would normally be considered irrational. It doesn't mean that it acutally IS irrational, but it surely is not rational."

If you are currently grieveing or suffering, I am sorry, and I hope that you can share in the hope that I was able to share in, even after what I have lost in my life. I know how it feels to hate God, I really really do. I can't tell you why bad things happen, but I can tell you through personal experience, that something bigger and better will come out of whatever negative process you are enduring. You may not see it right away- it took God 5 years to show me how He'd worked things out. It may take ages for you to put pieces together. He might not even show you while you're in this life- maybe He'll show you when we're up 'there'- 'chillin' with Jesus.' I still question many things that happen- like what happened to Miguel and Geovany's sister. It's hard for me to see what good can come out of that situation for that family. But believing in God is not based on anything 'rational', it's based on having faith- 'Faith is the assurance of things HOPED for; the conviction of things unseen' (Hebrews 11:1)- and I have FAITH. Faith that everything that happens 'happens for a reason'. With every mollecule that makes up my insides and outsides, I believe that God is going to bring sunshine after every storm. How can one expect to see the grace and glory of God if he doesn't fully believe that it's there? How can people expect to have their prayers answered when they don't have faith in the power of God in the first place?

That's my unfathomable question, really.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall their be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." Revalation 21:4

Peace and Love,
Crissi

Friday, November 19, 2010

'All the women who independent...throw your hands up at me.'

So, the other day I was walking down the street and a random grabbed my butt. Yup. Right in the middle of the main strip of Santo Domingo. I was just chilling with my ipod and some dirty middle-aged man snuck up behind me, groped my ass and kept on walking. I was so shocked that I couldn't think of anything else to do except laugh, (wouldn't be like me not to laugh at the most inappropriate of  moments, would it?) until I felt a massive wave of rage boiling up inside of me. I just wanted to chase the idiot down the street and grab his ass back to see how violated he felt. What an idiot.

After this ridiculous event, I decided that I should probably get a new walk. You know, something a little more intimidating and a little less 'inoccent-little-white-girl'. Hence, I have started walking around with my shoulders slightly tensed back and my fists clenched a little. At least judging by the way I walk, people might think that I'm one of those tough butch chicks.. Little will anyone know that I cannot throw a punch to save my life, and even if I were forced to in order to defend myself, I would probably apologise immediately afterwards...

Now, those of you who know me well know that there isn't much that I am afraid of. However, I have a confession to make- living her in Ecuador makes me a little weary of my safety ('Hallelujiah- she admits that there is danger in the world!'). Coming from someone who used to take the dog for walks at 1am around the streets of Rome, it takes a lot for me to be scared of walking around alone. However, I have been told here- 'DO NOT walk alone after 6pm.'- hence, I have said good-bye to long relaxing walks at night and hello to banging my head against one of the the four walls of my bedroom after dinnertime.

I say all this to say that the re-occuring theme for me this week has been the issue on equality for women. I have come to learn that sadly women do not have many rights and tend to be fairly objectified here in Ecuador. Yes, some of them will dress a little promiscuously, which probably doesn't help the situation, however, that is no free ticket for men to harass them daily. I mean, a girl walking around Melbourne in a short skirt might get a whistle or two, however here she will get winks from 95% of men that pass her, as well as foul comments and possible groping. If I of all the women walking around can encounter such an incident, imagine the hell the pretty girls must go through? It's proving to be quite challenging for me- it's very very frustrating to be stared at and commented on so frequently. Some days it gets to the point where I don't even want to leave the house because I don't know if I'll be able to control my anger. I've stopped brushing my hair and putting on make-up in attempt to stop the wolf-whistling, but it's not really of much use. Even if I were wearing a garbage bag some dirty man would still have something to say about it. Ah well, it's all a part of the experience and it's just another challenge that God has set before me. Sometimes we have no choice but to endure the things that He throws at us- '...we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance...' (Romans 5:3).

Next week I will be starting to work once a week with people that live in a really poor community here in Santo Domingo. It's called Laura Flores. I'm going to rock up with my guitar in the hope of delivering a little happiness and hope to it's residents- music does a good job of that. In doing a mini-investigation on the place, I learned that most of the women that live there can have up to 15 children. How crazy is that? They barely have enough money to survive, but they keep popping them out! I imagine that majority of these cases arise from the fact that they have irresponisble husbands who just want to get their freak on and are too lazy (or poor) to be responsible about it. Solution? My first guess was an operation to stop them from getting pregnant. Well- nope, sorry, think again because I have absolutely ludicrous news for you- according to the law, women need an authorisation signature from their husbands to get a tubal ligation at a public hospital. Of course, none of their husbands will agree to such a thing because they simply just don't care, and further, none of them can afford private health care to get it done privately and without having to 'ask for permission'. There goes that idea. How ridiculous. Things like this really make me thankful to be born into the society that repects women and stands for women's rights. They also make me frustrated that I cannot squeeze all the females in the world who haven't been as lucky into a big boat and take them to a place where they can come to know their worth. (Note to self: teach the women at Laura Flores an acoustic rendition of 'Independent Women.')

So these have been my thoughts this week homies. Overall, life is going great here in Santo Domingo. I am rapidly growing attached to the kids from OrphAids, who I visit once a week to play games with. They are so beautiful- I am already dreading leaving them. There is something about being around those children that gives me so much life. Either that, or it's the fact that I get to run around acting like a 10year-old and have a valid excuse....

Love and miss you all,
Love Crissi

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The best things in life are 'free'.

I just finished reading an amazing book about a stripper who came to know Jesus and became a Christian. This is what she writes about the beginning of her spiritual journey-

'And God..If there really was a God, surely He was sitting high and mighty on His throne picking out all the good people; the ones worth loving, and thrusting disaster upon the bad ones like me. I would never make the cut..'

Somewhere between all the stoned hippies and alcoholic homeless men that I have made friends with since being a Believer lies this very same opinion. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago I made friends with an Irish Aethiest on a bus ride because he asked me 'how big his pupils were' and he pretty much said the same thing:
Irishman- 'If God is real, why would He be good to me anyway? I drink and smoke and take drugs and party with topless women...He definatley doesn't like me..'
Me- 'What are you talking about, this the cool part bro- He loves you DESPITE all those things.'
Irishman- 'Well, maybe so, but what do I have to do to earn this love?'
Me- 'Nothing. It's free. He loves you for free.'
Irishman- 'Pft, yeah right, what's the catch?'

In service last Sunday, the Pastor talked about how God is divded into three components- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God shows us His love in these three ways. Firstly, He demonstrates the ways in which He loves us by the way that our parents love us- the role of a parent is to comfort and forgive no matter how many times they are wronged or disrespected by their children. Once we become parents, He demonstrates the ways He loves us through the way we love our children- irrevocably and unconditionally. Lastly, He demonstrates His love through the Spirit by bringing two people together- like when we fall in love.

The thing that people find it so hard to believe in all of this is that there is no 'catch' in the way God loves us. He just does. However, people think that you have to work for it. They think that God only loves the 'good' people. They think that the first step to getting to know God is scrapping all the junk and bad-habits from your life so that He will 'like you more'. How do I know? Because I used to be one of them.
This was me about a year ago-
'Mehh, maybe I can accept that there is a God. But I mean, I'm not willing to trade in the ciggies and the vodka-raspberry's for a bible and church on a Sunday or anything.... I might as well just wait until I'm old and I have nothing better to do than sit around in a nursing home and pray.....'
I figured that first I would have to stop doing 'bad things' in order to show God that I was capable of being a 'good' person so that He would 'like' me.  Funny thing is that for the first 10months of being a Believer I was still walking around with my Marlboro's AND a bible in my hand-bag. Guess what? I still got to know God.

I ask myself- did I have to work for my parent's love? Did my Mum ever tell me that I had to complete a certain check-list in order to be worthy of her grace and forgiveness? Further- Mothers help me out here- is there anything that your child could do that would encourage you to love him/her less? And even further- when I think back on the times that I have been in love (or at least close to it) in my life so far, is there anything that those guys could have done at the time that would have stopped me from wanting to move mountains for them?

No.

'For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the Gift of God.' Ephesians 2:8

During my spiritual journey I asked myself the very same questions. I discovered bad news and good news: Bad news is that it doesnt matter what you do, bad shit is still going to happen to you. Being a Believer is not a free ticket out of suffering- otherwise everyone would be one, wouldn't they? Bad stuff still happens to the nannas praying in the nursing homes and even to the people that dedicate their lives to the church and to the preaching of God's word. Bad shit even happens to the pope, and some people rekon that he is the most holy man on Earth. It's inevitable, it's un-fixable, it's life. Even as a Believer, I accept that there will be moments of struggle in life, and that I will still have to power through pain to get to the good stuff. I am no different to anybody else.  The important part for me is just turning to God; trusting that He will work it out, and that He is going to use certain experiences- no matter how negative- to teach me something for the future.
Good news is that even if you spend every weekend popping pills and partying, or smoke weed for a living - 'God shows no partiality' and He WANTS to have a relationship with you. He thought you were awesome even before you were created- He liked you after every time you effed something up when you were a kid, He still likes you after everytime you eff something up now, and He will continue to like you after everytime you will eff something up in the future.The first step isn't picking up the pieces of your somewhat scattered life and storing them away in a box called 'the past' before picking up a bible and seeing what's in it. The first step is letting God into your life to show you who He is and what He does, and most of all, accepting that He already loves you...no strings attached.

After all- the best things in life are 'free'.
That's all folks,

Love,
Crissi

Friday, November 5, 2010

Simple. Easy. Done.

Well guys, I know I promised to write when I was able to properly re-construct sentences again, however that is yet to happen. This week has left me speechless. After all the hippie action things just kept getting more and more overwhelming. I will give this a go anyway...

I am currently in a city called Santo Domingo. I will be staying here for the next couple of months. I'll be working with the local Baptist Church here- mainly teaching music to kiddies, but also helping out with some English lessons. Once a week I will head out to a really poor community with my guitar to play some worship music to the homies out there, and one afternoon a week I will be playing games with kids that belong to an organisation called OrphAids- for orphans with AIDS, if the name doesnt give it away already. I think that these last two activites will be the biggest struggle emotionally, however I am confident that with constant prayer and the correct mind-set, I will be able to handle it.

This last week has been an absolute roller-coaster. I went from visiting these beautiful orphan kids one day, to hanging out in a giant tree-house and walking through a jungle the next. Crazy, crazy, crazy life. The thing that has been the most overwhelming for me is the fact that the churches I'll be working with have really stressed their need for someone to teach/work with music within the church. Such a 'coinsidence' that the thing I love doing the most, and the last thing that I thought I would be doing, is the thing that I find people begging me to do (funny that..hey?) This is the biggest re-inforcer for me that I have come to the right place, and that I will be able to contribute something during the next couple of months.

It's things like this that really make me believe in the power of God. The day I walked into that travel agent in Highpoint I had no idea what I was doing. I literally closed my eyes, pointed out a date on the calendar and asked for a ticket to anywhere in Ecuador. At the time I could not explain why God had put the thought in my head, and remember expressing my confusion as to why I was not ABSOLUTLEY crapping my pants about going with no plan. I couldn't verbalise it, it was a force bigger than me. It just felt right. Now, look at what has happened- I am doing everything I want to do- serve God by working with music and helping people. What are the chances? There are none. Bottom line is it's God's doing. What a freaking legend.

In saying all of this, I read this verse a few days ago...

Trust the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. - Proverbs 3:5

...and I realised that I know nothing. Honestly. Zip. Zero. Nada. Nothing. I have NO IDEA what is going to happen...ever. The future is completely and utterly out of my control. There is no point sitting back and thinking 'this is going to happen', or ' then this will happen', cos guess what- chances are it won't. Chances are that God's plan is way better than mine anyway, and I'm an idiot for thinking otherwise. DO NOT LEAN ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING. That sums it up. I know NAH-THING, He knows everything, so just go with it, and He'll fugure it out. Simple. Easy. Done.

That's all I have for now, sorry peeps. Will be able to write better once I have ceased walking around with my mouth hanging wide open.

Love you all,
Love Crissi

Note to self: 'Live in a tree-house' has definately been added to your list. Maybe sometime after 'learn how to ride a motor-bike' and 'get from Italy to Australia without flying..'?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is this love that I´m feeling¿...I really, really think so..

OH MATE. I have found it- the closest thing to heaven on Earth.

I´m chilling in a place called MontaƱita, and guys, I am telling you, if there was ever a place where I wanted to set up camp and never move, this is it.

It´s a beach town- the surf capital of Ecuador. It pretty much consists of about 5 streets full of little shops and restaurants. Its 3pm in the arvo and walking the tight streets feels like being in a movie as the music blares from all angles (I´m telling you, these people love music!). There are kids on the side of the road playing guitars and drums- busting out the reggae beats and singing their hearts out. I´m struggle to concentrate as beautiful-dread-locked-tattooed-hippie man after beautiful-dread-locked-tatooed-hippie man pass by me while I´m strolling. I´m literally speechless- finding it hard to get the appropriate words down on this thing, cos I know no matter what I say, my words will not give this place justice.

OH MAN. Seriously. OH MAN.

It´s hard to concentrate when you´re busy falling in love, however I was able to construct some vauge, mind-challenging thoughts this morning (just).. I´ve been contemplating this passage in 1 John, chapter 1:
For God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all..
When I have more time and I am back in the right state of mind to build full-sentences, I will share my thoughts with you.

For now, I have to run.

If by any chance Bob Marely is still alive, I have no doubt that I am going to find him here. Will keep you updated.

Oh and P.S- if I fail to make it back to Australia for another couple of years, this is where you´ll find me- on some random beach in MotaƱita, Ecuador- with flowers in my hair.

Peace out,

Love Crissi

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh man, how embarassing.

No really, how embarassing-

So, Evelyn and I are in Guayaquil city for the day getting the last minute things done regarding my visa. We have woken up at 4am, and after a 3hour bus ride from Machala, we have arrived. To get to the Immigration Agency, we must catch another bus. Luckily, I have lived (and driven) in Rome before, so being stuck in traffic chaos is nothing new to me. Buses and cars stopping only inches away from eachother, brakes slamming left-right-and-centre, vehicles dividing into five lanes instead of two, and Nonna's squealing as pedestrian crossings are completely ignored, are all things that I grew accustomed to while I was living in Italy. When I was learning how to first drive in Rome, a very dear (Roman) friend of mine described it like this- "Driving in Rome is like raging through a jungle. Do not pay attention to what people are doing around you- just use your indicator, and keep your eye on the destination, and you'll be fine." Duely noted in Ecuador too, obviously.

One novelty that I do notice however, is that people are jumping on and off buses anywhere (so, not necesarrily at a bus stop)......while they're still going. These drivers don't stop. Their aim is merely to get from A to B- 'if you get hit or break a leg in the process, we do not apologise, because we do not care..' On the positive, I have realised that even whilst behind the wheel, Ecuadorians manage to maintain their sweet natures. They will toot their horns at eachother (over and over and over again until you cringe at the sound), however will proceed in all their road rage with smiles upon their faces. Unlike the Romans hanging out of their car windows- middle finger in full-view and screaming things that translate something along the lines of 'I curse your mother, and I hope you get cheated on'- Ecuadorians will toot until their little heart's are content, yet will not yell a word of abuse at one another. How lovely of them.

So anyway, we're on this ratty, run down bus and it's approximately 8.30am. The driver has the Latino music brawling in attempt to block out the sound of the madness around us (just as we like it..) . I am functioning on a mere 2-3hours sleep, due to the terrible dreams that I've been having which are effecting my sleep patterns lately. These dreams include visions of floating cigarettes, and me twirling happily in clouds of thick cigarette smoke (for those of you who are unaware, I have not smoked since the day I arrived in Ecuador). Last night was particularly bad- I dreamt that I was walking down the main street of Sunbury, and as people walked past me, they would acutally start turning into cigarettes, until by the end of it I was the only human standing on a street full of life-size, walking ciggies... It was heaven.
Moving on- as my fingers tap to the Merengue beats of the music, I become so lost in my day-dreams (about my night-dreams), that I do not notice the robust African-looking man that gets on the bus and sits infront of us. But then....I smell it-
'Oh, sweet, sweet, cigarette aroma, where have you been hiding, and why are you not more present in my life? My hand is incomplete without you, my airways feel empty (and clean) without you- please float, float, float to me and fill me up with Hydrogen Cionide, please, please, please don't go away..................'  The smell is sheer torture. This man must've chain smoked a whole packet (and then some) because he is absolutley reeking of the stuff. I can't fight it. I can feel my body slowly, slowly, slowly leaning forward to get a bigger woft of it. A little voice inside is saying 'What the fuck are you doing you imbecile?!' , however the sleep deprived-nicotine-addicted part of me is screaming 'WHO CARES, INHALE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN NOW!!' My body leans in further and further; my nose getting closer and closer to the back of this big black-man (no offence homies) 's head....'just a little more, just a little more, just a little more........'  And just as the driver slams on the brakes.......

BANG.

Dear God, I head-butted the black-man.

Aw, shit.

I'm frozen. The man turns around to find my face 'all up in his grill', and gives me the most confused look I have ever been given EVER, (even more confused than when I recite my surname to people). I cannot move. Meanwhile, Evelyn is in fits of hysterical laughter, although I'm not sure that she has quite caught on to what just happened. I still can't move. I'm just waiting and praying for the ground to part underneath me and swallow me up so that I dont have to sit there soaking in the utter humiliation of WHAT JUST HAPPENED. The man holds his confused glance for a few more seconds, before he turns back around, rubbing the back of his head. Evelyn is speechless. And I.....am still frozen.

And, that wasn't even the worst part. On top of this, I had to continue sitting behind the placid, innocent man (whom I head-butted) for what felt like the longest 10minutes of my life, red in the face and completely paralysed.

Guys, I can imagine your giggles, but I assure you- this is not a funny story. This is a sad, sad, terrible tale about the after-effects of ADDICTION. It will drive you insane (I should know, I'm almost there). So sad, so ridiculous, SO HUMILIATING.

What an idiot, seriously.

On a positive note, I am kicking the habit. It is proving quite hard (or anything more exaggerated than that), however, it will get easier, and I am confident that one day I will be able to sit on public transport in perfect harmony with both smokers and non-smokers, without molesting or scaring anyone.

For you people out there still smoking, have one while you think of me. And, for you others out there quitting- don't take the bus.

Love, Crissi

Sunday, October 24, 2010

From sugar to home-boy's...

So, Friday I topped the list of my 'worst experiences ever'... I went to a sugar factory.

Now, I have been trampled in protests before. I have slept with rats on me before. I have stood in a line for 12hours, had ticks, and been forced to dive into bins to feed myself before. Nothing, I mean NOTHING compares to taking a tour through an Ecuadorian sugar factory.

It was terrible. Apart from the fact that I was walking around in the sweltering heat with what felt like a 30kg work hat on, the smell was excruciatingly nauseating- and that's an understatement. I cannot even convey what this place smelled like in words- it's indescribable. I can still smell it on my clothes, and I'm pretty sure that there is sugar up my nose. Also, I'm fairly sure that I dreamt that I was running for my life from a man covered in sugar who was attempting to beat me with a 10kg bag of the stuff. The experience is haunting me. Absolutely haunting me.

When I find myself in distasteful situations, or anytime that I end up doing something that I feel is of no benefit to me, I tend to ask God why He puts me in such positions every so often? Let me tell you, Friday He was getting a mouthful from me- 'Why the EFF am I here Mateeeeee? What the EFF is the point of this??'
He doesn't always answer straight away. Sometimes when we ask something, it takes days, sometimes months, sometimes even years...but Friday I got my answer instantly..

The trip was organized by Evelyn's uni, and I happened to tag along. She and I were travelling in a car with 3 of her uni mates. Amongst these I made a very special friend- Henry.
Henry is a recovering alcoholic/drug-addict. He has been clean for 6years (mind you, he's only 21.) Henry wants to travel the world stopping at Alcoholic's Anonymous centers to tell people his story, and eventually end up in Switzerland where he can settle down with a super-hot Swedish girl and live on a farm with 10 children and grow tomatoes. Henry loves loves loves to talk. Shame that I don't talk much (ahem.) Henry and I yapped for 4hours about everything- from Australian culture, to bananas; to politics to geography...and of course, the topic that most extended conversations find themselves touching on- religion.

(**Note- Let me just mention that I really dislike the word religion. For me, having a relationship with God is not about having a 'religion', because I tend to associate the word 'religion' with the word 'rules' and for me, abiding by rules has nothing to do with loving God. Some people will disagree, I am sure.)

Henry expressed to me that he is struggling spiritually. He is finding it difficult to grasp the concept of having ‘one God’. Henry challenged me with this question- 'Why choose God over Allah, or over Buddah? What is it that makes you think Christianity is the truth?'

Firstly, have it known that while I was 'searching' 10months ago, not only did I begin reading the Bible, but I also did an extensive re-search on many other 'religious' groups too, so I am not completely oblivious to other belief systems. Personally, the Bible spoke to me the most. I COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY believe in, and respect, man's free-will to choose what belief system best works for him, so the following is not intended to offend anyone, or by any means try to convince anyone that what they think is 'wrong'. The following is simply a summary of what I believe and why I believe it. Seeing as I make quite a few references to God and the Bible in this blog, I think it's important for people to understand how I feel in order to try and comprehend where my reasoning comes from-

Yes, I am a Christian, meaning that I believe in Christ. Again, certain words were not intended to cause division amongst people, however during the course of the ages unfortunately it has come to be this way. Hence, I prefer to use the word 'Believer': I am a BELIEVER in God, and I BELIEVE that His son Jesus Christ came down to save the sinners of the world- you and me and your mother and mine and my best friend and your best friend and every single person that we have ever met, and every single person in the course of history. EVERY SINGLE ONE of us- "For all have sinned, and all fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

I am a sinner. By sinner, I mean that I do things against what God desires of me all the time. I say mean things to my friends about other people. I look at photos on Facebook and judge people be what they look like and the things they write. I do harmful things to my body, like drink and smoke and eat the wrong foods. I gossip (is not my most frequently asked question 'What's goss?'). I snap at people. I do a shitty job at being there for people because I'm too caught up in my own stuff and I am constantly complaining that I don't have this that and the other. The list goes on. There are many, many things that I do wrong as a human being. Many things I don't even realise I am doing. I am aware of what is right and what is wrong, but there are some things that I do that are completely unconcious.  Of course, there is the big stuff like murdering and stealing that are a conscious acts of malice, but I'm talking about the not-so-conscious ones. For example, in the Old Testament of the Bible one of the 10 commandments includes 'Thou shall not covet'. The act of coveting is the act of being jealous. Jealousy is an emotion that comes from somewhere within me; never have I actually wanted to be jealous, it just happens. I mean, how can you help not being jealous when you see the Princess of Monaco fluttering about the pages of your newspaper? (God, 'Why don't I have my own castle?') This is an illustration of the fact that SIN lives within us- it is inevitable that I am going to fuck-up- even in ways which to some may seem petty and unimportant- but it's going to happen..every single day.
'For I know that nothing good dwells within my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out..' (Romans 7: 18)

Now comes the cool part- no matter what I do, no matter how much of a fuck-up I am, or how many times I screw Him over, God continues to grace me. I look around me, and I have absolutely everything that I need (plus more). Even from a bigger perspective- thinking about the world in general- with all the people that are atheist, or with all the people that turn to other god's, does God not continue to grace them as well? Have not most of us got everything? Okay, so maybe I don't have a Ferrari, or maybe I don't have a jet-ski, or a hut in the Bahamas, or a private jet, or free plane tickets to anywhere in the world, but I have EVERYTHING THAT I NEED TO SURVIVE. God may not necessarily grace me with material things, but He has given me so much more than that- I have a home, I have food and water whenever I need it, I have an amazing mother, and great friends, and all my limbs, and a heart that works properly. I am surrounded with LOVE and above all- I have been given LIFE. Despite the fact that I disappoint God multiple and uncountable times a minute, He keeps giving and giving and giving. And do you know all that He asks for in return? Love. Love for my life, love for the people in it, love for HIM, and above all, love for His only son- our good mate JC. In the words of John-
'And this is the commandment, that we believe in the name of his son Jesus Christ, and LOVE ONE ANOTHER, just as He commanded us.' (1 John 3: 23)
And in the book of Romans-
‘For the commandments- you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and any other commandments are summed up in this word- YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF.’(Romans 13:9)

This is my truth. This is why I am a Believer. This is why I read the Bible. This is why I chose to get to know God...because that's all He wants- LOVE. God knows me, and He does so much good in my life that it brings tears to my eyes. For me, it is my duty as a human; it is my duty as a creation of God, to love Him and serve Him. I owe it to Him after all, don’t I?
People think that loving God is about ad-hearing to certain rules, attending certain services, saying certain prayers- yes, the Bible does tell us that once upon a time, God’s people were instructed to live by certain regulations (the 10 Commandments) in order to do right by God, but the new testament confirms that Christ’s death served to erase the sins of everyone, so that God should grant us grace- regarless of our imperfections- because He LOVES us. So, for me, it’s simple. Love God and love people. Because of this, I have chosen to live my life loving God and serving Him.  God has blessed me for a reason and it seems logical to me to use that to help others. This is why I am a Believer. This is why I read the Bible. This is why I chose to get to know God.  That’s all.

Henry shed a tear, and I felt accomplished. After being able to share this with someone, and touch someone in this way, I decided that I definitely would take a tour through that sugar factory again, and even 10times over, if it meant that I got to express this and get a reaction like Henry’s with people every day.

Enduring 2 hours of utter sugar-hatred was worth it in the end.
And- just for the record- Jesus really is my home-boy. Can someone please buy me that on a T-Shirt?

Love, Crissi

Ps, Shame I’m not very elaborative- I could have made this longer…….

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Keep on moving, keep on moving.

When I walk the streets of this city, I feel like I'm the monkey in Aladdin...what's his name? A-poooh?

There are people, people, people, everywhere- mothers grasping their chidren (two on each arm), teens sprinting through the chaos- dodging things at every angle, and of course, just like in any Melbournian shopping centre- there are those ones that walk slow that you always get stuck behind.
To give you guys a visual- the centre of town is like one big market. For every shop, there are about 5 banquets all lined up on the foot-path, leaving little room for commuters to get from A to B. While some retail shop-keepers relax comfortably in their shops, tending to customers from behind the iron bars that provide security from robberies, others prefer to manage their business from behind a table on the side of the road. There are food stalls everywhere (mangoes, bananas, popcorn, disgusting fried concoctions), thousands of taxi's honking at eachother, and my favourite thing of all- salsa music blaring around every corner. I am afraid that eventally the rhythm is going to get to me and I won't be able to hold back a dancing-with-myself-party in the middle of the street.
While we're on the subject- today was a really good day, shopping wise. I managed to find an elecritcal adaptor for my computer worth about $15 in Aus for 70c. SEVENTY CENTS. And they wouldn't even keep the change from $1... We also went grocery shopping- packed enough food in a trolley to get us through to next year- and the checkout chick looked at me and said '$50'. Are you serious? With food at this rate anywhere else I would shout everyone meals for...well forever.

Tonight I'm feeling relaxed knowing that we managed to accomplish everything that we needed to today.  Yesterday was not a good day- I was forced to spend most of the afternoon infront of the computer giving my email account a work-out as I attempted to resolve issues that I was having with my Mastercard. I tell you, it is so so frustrating to have to deal with things like that when you're so far away and do not necessarily have all the resources to do so ie, a functional phone to call Australia with. It was a challange, but it all got sorted in the end thanks to my mum and a nice man called Shane. My accounts are now accessible, and Westpac Sunbury has apologised for the inconvenience. Thankyou very much.

As I reflect on the events of the last week, I have to admit that I have never had so many set-backs while travelling in such a short period time before. Starting with the terribly irritating rash on my chest and arms the morning of my departure (did I mention that?), followed by the 'attack of the contaminated water' last Friday, it was all topped off with yesterday's mess. 
I say all this to say, that I've been thinking a lot about how the enemy will do anything to hinder us from proceeding in our calling smoothly. He is lurking around every corner- ready to stand in the way- and will take any opportunity to make things harder.

Due to these thoughts, I've been reading up in the book of Ephesians, chapter 6. Verse 12 tells us-
'We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil..'
Some things are just completely beyond our control. There will always be set-backs, no matter the situation. We cannot always expect everything to go perfectly, and furthermore, I personally should not always assume that things are going to go smoothly without any glitches whatsoever. I always assume that things will go according to plan, and when they don't, I get so worked up about it.

Anyway, through all of this, my lesson (because there is always a lesson...) has been this: 
'Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.' Ephesians 6:11
I need to remind myself every so often, that yes, while God has got it all worked out for my benefit, the enemy is always waiting on the side-lines ready to pounce- not only do I need to expect this, but I need to be ready for it. Therefore,
'In all circumstances, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one..'  Eph 6:16
Yes, I should have faith that everything God does in my life is working toward something bigger and better, and put on this confidence as a shield against everything that could stand in the way in the process, however, I have to bear in mind that I'm not the one who's in control, that there will be slips,  and that I have to power through the set-backs to get to the good stuff. Or, as 90's boy-band Five would say- 'And if the sun don't shine there's a meaning- it's telling me not to let things get in my way..'
So, don't lose heart, keep pushing through, and at least THINK about the possibilty of negatives occuring rather than assuming 'rainbows and smiles' all the time. And further, when things do go a little bad, don't get too worked up cos it will all work out. Remember that Nikki rekons you stress too much to become a hippie anyway (note to self: prove her wrong.)

That's all.

'Keep on moving on anyway' kids,

Love you all,
Love, Crissi

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Everybody laughs in the same language.

Now that I'm feeling alive again, guess it's time to get back into the blogging.

It's harder than I thought to have to document all my thoughts/feelings on this thing. The past week (yes, only 1 week!) has been an emotional rollercoaster, my brain is having a hard time keeping up. I tend to find myself having random outbreaks in which all I can think about is crying- but then there are moments that everything disappears and I manage to get a grip on my surroundings for at least an hour or two.

In saying this, this weekend has acutally been quite nice. We have spent most of it at the local church (Evelyn's uncle is the head pastor here). The people are lovely, and very welcoming. All but one have absolutely no knowledge of English, so I've been racking my brain trying to get my point across, however I can feel my Spanish is becoming more fluent and it's becoming easier to communicate. I am looking forward to working with Machala Baptist Church and getting to know that locals for the next (almost) two weeks that I will be here in Machala.

Contributing to the day's general 'good-feeling' is that tonight has been the first night that I have acutally laughed. Laughed hard.
Evelyn, a friend of hers and I went to the 'park' for ice-cream this evening. Now, when I say park, I mean massive traffic island with a ferris wheel and two massive fountains on either side- and no, it's not a Luna Park, it's just a park (evidently). People were everywhere. The girls made me try 'fried gelato'- some foul mix of pistacchio ice-cream dipped in an oily batter- a pathetic excuse for a desert. (Hello, you're dealing with an Italian here- I have tasted possibly the best ice-cream in the world, and you have no idea what you are doing- sorry). After this, we proceeded to walk around the fountains and bright lights. Note: I love that this city has dirt tracks as roads, but they have parks that resemble the Melbourne Show. Really?
Anyway, after exploring a little, me being the kid I am suggested that we take a ride on the choo-choo train that was choo-chooing around the streets, and OH MAN, what an idea. This thing was like Puffing Billy on crack, except without all the scenery and stuff. I can't believe that mothers acutally let their kids on it! I could have sworn we were ripping corners at about 60kms....such fun, such fun. You can imagine how temped I was to yell out 'rip a burn-out!' (classic Sunbury style), however I held myself back for fear of confused looks and people thinking I could potentially be trying to terrorise their children. I let that temptation slide....and somewhere between our screams and hanging out the side of a tiny carriage hanging on for our lives, I realised... everybody laughs in the same language.

Futher, something to report for you other 'churchies' like me out there- God showed me something really awesome during the service today-
It all began last night. I was having one of my ICM's (Irrational Cri Moments) as I lay down to go to sleep. I was hysterically sobbing for really no reason at all, except that I am a massive fuck-up and I always hurt Him who loves me the most (you guys get me, yeah?) yada, yada, yada- cry me a freaking river. Anyway, I prayed- really hard- for God to start answering some mega mega requests that I have asked of Him as of late. Most of them are fairly long-shot, but we all know that He can do anything.
Anyway, this morning, as I listened to the pastor preaching in Spanish, and flipped back and forth through my English bible trying to keep up with the passages he was reading, he read out something really special-

'Have faith in God...whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him..'
- Mark 11:22

Do not doubt in your heart. Do not doubt in your heart. Do not doubt in your heart.
Thanks mate- I'll try my best.

That's all for today dear friends. The mozzies are telling me it's time for a cold shower before sleep.

Talk soon,
Love, Crissi.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Listen to your mother.

Oh wow, welcome to the world again.

I've spent the last 48hours drifting in and out of conciousness somewhere between a bed and a toilet bowl, enduring what could possibly be the worst sickness of my life so far (then again we always say forgetting that it there has been worse somewhere along the line).
Thinking back to the morning of my departure- my mother slipped a packet of pink pills in my bag saying 'This is incase you get sick- your body might find it difficult to adjust to it's surroundings during the first week, ' to which I replied, 'Please mum- I never get sick.' Well, after vomiting up my soul, and arguing about it with my body for about 10hours ('I will not take the medicine, I will not take the medicine..') I decided that it was my only option. Thankfully I packed those pills because they saved my life. Lesson: Listen to your mother.
I'm feeling much better now, so for those of you worrying, don't stress. Completely normal for my body to react in this way- especially when I'm told that the air here in Ecuador is contaminated by various bacteria (not to mention the water that should not be drunk straight from the tap- fairly sure that I did a couple of times without even thinking about it).
Anyway, all good guys, all good.

It is currently 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon. I managed to drag myself out of bed at approximately 12pm and force feed myself 3 dry crackers. After a (cold) shower and a fresh change of clothes, I can feel my sanity slowly starting to creep back again (woohoo!).

In saying all of this, I don't have much of an update for you (assuming that you don't require a detailed summary of everything that went on in the last 2days).

Missing you all today. The only thing worse than being sick in a foreign country is being sick in a foreign country and not being able to find comfort in someone who's familiar. However, I am thankul that Evelyn is so wonderful- she really looked after me.

Talk soon guys,
Miss you- really really really. (already? geeeeeez.)

Love,
Crissi.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

just a quick update...

Today I had a really good session with my guitar- I love that. I feel that I didn't get much time in Aus to express myself musically, so one thing that I am really looking forward to here is having the time to sit down and sing everything out.

Today is my first day of not smoking. Just figured it's a good opportunity to quit, and I'd rather not spend the money. Doing okay so far surprisingly, haven't really been thinking about it.
I'm also still really jat-lagged. My body is swollen as it adjusts to this heat, however with the cold showers I've been taking, it should be back to normal in no time. There is no hot water here- I'm not complaining. Even if there were, I would definately not be using it- it's way too hot.
I'm being eaten alive by mozzies- Evelyn says that she's never gets bitten so she was surprised. Guess they're loving the Aussie blood (though my blood isn't really Aussie, on second thought, maybe it's the Italian blood, who knows?).
I feel very lucky to be so adaptable in times like these. I can really see how my past experiences with travelling have benefited me so much in situations like these. When I think back to who I was about a year and a half ago, and imagine myself in such a situation, I rekon that I would be going out of my mind. Going straight from such a Western way-of-life to one like this one would be so hard to adjust. I can already see the difference in myself (one of the major ones is that I haven't reached for my make-up in about 4 days!) so I'm confident that it after a while I will feel at home. So thankful for all the things that I've experienced that have led me here now. Life is amazing.

Today has also been much better emotionally. I'm getting right into reading my bible again, so I'm feeling really peaceful and faithful that God is using me during this time to do great things on His behalf. I really feel that I got steered away proritising other things during my last couple of months in Australia, so this I'm definatley using this time to get closer to Him again and let Him guide me.

Overall, a really good day. Praying that my body adjusts to everything really quickly over the next couple of days.

Talk soon,
Love Crissi

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

....and then the reality hits.

So,

I finally made out of Buenos Aires airport. I swear, that was the longest transit OF MY LIFE. I slept the whole way through to my next stop over which was in Lima, Peru, and then from there onto the final destination- Guayaquil, Ecuador.

I was so happy to find Evelyn waiting for me. Evelyn is the name of the girl who I will be staying with for the next couple of weeks. Evelyn is 22, and she lives alone in a town called Machala- about 3 hours south of Guayaquil. We caught a taxi from the airport to the bus terminal and immediatley boarded a bus to Machala. 

The bus trip was interesting. I was shocked by the poverty of the towns that we passed through- I didn't imagine it would be quite like this. Just proves that you should always expect the unexpected. Selfishly, I'm really happy- it's exactly what I wanted for this experience. As we drove through run-down towns and rural communities I couldn't help but feel a sense of guilt. I have everything. I actually HAVE everything.
Once arrived in Machala we hopped in a taxi that brought us to the house. The ride was probably about 10mins long, so you can imagine how surprised I was when the taxi driver turned to us and asked for only $1.50. So cheap. It's disturbing that my first thought was 'imagine being able to get the Billboards for only 4 bux?' Ah, some loves never die.

Evelyn and I are communicating quite well to my surprise- her, with her gracious Spanish just rolling off the tounge (am I the only person who loves the sound of this language?), and me stuttering about 5 times each sentence trying to get my point across. I'm pretty sure that I'm making no sense, and that I'm just putting 's' on the end of what are all Italian words, conning myself into believing that I'm actually speaking Spanish. She seems to understand, so I mustn't be doing too bad...then again some people are good at smiling and nodding.

I'm currently sitting at Evelyn's computer. She's gone to uni (uni from 7 to 10pm? Huh?) I'm all alone at the house, and things are finally starting to set in.
It's inevitable to get a little teary during the first 24hours of being in a completely new place. For me, it's a mixutre of  'I'm so blessed to really be here', 'What the hell am I doing?' and 'Mum, where are youuuuuuu???.' These thoughts occur frequently when the reality of being so far away from home, and surrounded by compete strangers, finally hits.
However, for some reason, Evelyn doesn't feel like a stranger at all. I've known her for a whole 8hours, but even from the first moment we saw each other, it was like I'd known her my whole life. She has just been so wonderful already.

Guess it's time for some much needed rest, I will keep my updates coming. I can already see this blog becoming an addiction- much like my facebook status' (when you are planning status updates in advance you have a problem. A serious, serious problem).

During this small momentary thought lapse caused by me being uncetain of what lies ahead, and how challanging this experience is going to be, I will fall asleep with this reassurance in mind-

'His thoughts are higher than out thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways.'- Isaiah 55

I don't know exactly what He has planned, but I know that His plans always turn out ridicuously awesome. Thanks mate.


Goodnight peeps.
Love, Crissi.

 

Monday, October 11, 2010

The first lesson.

Hey guys,

So this is going to be my blog to keep you updated on all my adventures, and to give my mother some peace of mind at night-time.

I´m currently at Buenos Aires airport in Argentina. The journey went well- apart from working up a sweat running through Sydney airport to my connecting flight in the fear of missing it. I left Melbourne Monday morning, and arrived here in Argentina also on Monday morning- that´s the weirdest thing ever, silly international date line.
Getting on the bus to head into the centre, I met Kennedy. Kennedy is from Towsville. Typical Aussie bloke- nice kid, down to earth. I was surprised to discover that Kennedy is a Christian, and that he was carrying around a bible in his bag. As you can imagine, I was very excited and we had a lot to talk about. Thankfully, Kennedy didn't think I was weird for squealing and blabbering on about God´s awesomeness for about an hour and half, and he proceeded to walk around the centre with me all afternoon.
We sat down and had a drink with another guy that was on our flight- Ben I think his name is. Ben is staying in Buenos Aires for 5 days before he's off to Brazil with his surf-board to catch some waves and meet some hippies. I was shocked to find that Ben had picked up some chick on our flight and took her into the bathroom. I cannot imagine the awkwardness of that situation. Kennedy thought he was a legend.

Buenos Aires is nothing really special to look at. I concluded that it resembles a mixture of Madrid in Spain, and Naples in Italy. The women here are so beautiful, it´s intimidating. Here's me looking like a midget albino that's been dragged 100metres by a bus before being run-over by it. Not very good for my self-esteem. Should've got a spray tan, you idiot.

I can´t even begin to imagine what lies ahead in these next few months. The fact that I'm already on the other side of the world hasn't even hit me yet- it's just complete crazyness- so crazy but the feeling is amazing.
I feel that I've grown a lot in the couple of months that I spent back in Aus. I've learnt some really valuable lessons, but also had to reach some disappointing truths in the process. However, with the good comes the bad, always.
When I think of my most important lesson, one very special passage springs to mind-

Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on it's own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in wrong-doing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4

The greatest thing that I have learnt during my stay back home is just how important it is to love people. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? The part that makes me laugh is that it IS so simple. You just have to love everyone. That's it. How could that be hard? What bad can come out of loving? Sure, that love may not always be reciprocated by the other person/people, but who cares? The important thing is that the love is in your heart, and you can make a difference in their life just by loving them. Just loving them. That's all there is to it. None of us will every have everthing, or maybe ever feel completely filled from top to bottom with satisfaction at any point in our lives. But life wasn't supposed to be fully satisfying, otherwise we would have nothing to look forward to. Even through all the material things that we count on for happiness, everything is nothing without LOVE.

In saying all this, if you're reading, I love you. I really really, love you.

That was my day- activites and thoughts. It is currently 6.45pm. My connecting flight to Lima, Peru isn't until 6am tomorrow morning- 12 hours of nothingness and sleeping on a hard floor lies ahead

Talk soon, and will keep you updated.
Miss you already,
Love, Crissi.