Thursday, January 29, 2009

a happy thing

Yesterday was a very special day because I got something INCREDIBLE from my littlest sister Erika. My Mom sent me a package with some cards, pictures, toothbrush, and other practical things, and also this cool gift idea from Erika. She had written me a little note that said:

"On each pink scallop there is a number and a task. This number refers to the number of day. The task is mandatory and will result in serious punishment if not obeyed. It will start on February 1 and will end on February 28! Have fun!"

So here is the list of things "to do" for each day in February:

Please note that on February 1st I can't have any coffee! "Does the term cruel and unusual punishment mean anything to you??" (Name that movie Shorty)

I thought it was such a cute idea and so thoughtful. I love you so much Erika! :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

a saturday chinese food experience...

Yesterday noon, my 4 Chinese friends came over to cook authentic chinese food for Sarah and I, the Americans. It started at 12 and they cooked, and cooked and cooked, until 3:15, when we started eating. And it was sooooo good, and VERY spicy! Sarah and I sat around in the living room for most of the preparation time, as we were not very useful or helpful in the kitchen. We served drinks, ate pistachios, and took pictures. :)

The "before" picture.

Angel is stuffing the chicken with spices.

My stove has never had all 4 burners going at once! I was so excited to use it to its full potential!! And please notice the 2 covered pots that are on the stove. Both have rice cooking in them. Cooking rice for us 6 was my only task of the day, and thankfully it turned out good! What pressure.

Those are hot hot peppers getting cooked with pork

Ta-dah! The "after" picture with all of the yummy food and 4 splendid cooks!

Here is Sarah... notice she's holding chopsticks, but using a spoon. She also just ate some of the spicy potatoes and her mouth is on fire!

While things were cooking, we went into the office to look at the world, and take pictures. They are trying to decide where they live.

Sarah, the American, lives very far away (Georgia) from China.

This picture makes me laugh a LOT, everytime I see it.

It was a great afternoon and soon Sarah and I will make a good ol' American meal for the 4 of them. Any suggestions what we should make? :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

dinner out on the town!

My staff team and I decided to eat our dinner last night with homeless people on the streets of Rennes. It was a great and adventurous experience. Everyone met at my house at 6 to prepare our food: Sandwiches, fruit, and steaming hot soup.

Lisa, Laurie and May making sandwiches

Dan cutting bread for sandwiches

Hubert heating up the soup

We put the soup in these thermoses and it stayed super hot!

After everything was ready, we split into different groups and found people on the street to eat with. I was with May and Francis and we walked for about 30 minutes before finding someone. Finally, we saw a man and a woman sitting by themselves, so we went up to them and told them that we were looking for someone to eat our dinner with, and wondered if they'd eaten or if they were hungry. They right away said yes, and were so thankful for hot, steamy soup to eat (it was VERY cold outside!) So we sat down and were eating with them, when 3 more guys came up, also very hungry, and we were glad to serve them also. One guy had 4 bowls of soup! It was sobering to hear their stories of how they ended up on the street, what their day to day life was like, etc. One of the guys explained the reason why he drinks so much alcohol -- it solves a lot of his immediate needs; it takes away the hunger pangs, warms him up, and allows him to fall asleep (almost anywhere). They were so thankful for the food, and I think it meant a lot that we weren't just distributing it, but that we also took time to sit down and eat with them and listen to their stories. Hopefully we'll see them again sometime!

As you can imagine, with a situation like this, there were many humorous moments... my favorite was when we gave Patrick his bowl of soup and immediately, he added A LOT of alcohol from the bottle he was holding in his hand. And I must have had some kind of perplexed look on my face (I mean, why was he adding alcohol to our good soup?) because he said, "oh, this will make your soup so much better, do you want some too??" But as he asked me if I wanted some, he had the bottle tilted over my bowl of soup, the liquid just about coming out of the neck of the bottle, and I quickly responded, "oh that's very kind, but no thank you!" I think a drop or two fell into my bowl, not really sure, but it was indeed good soup!! :)

Good experience, hope to do it again! It's motivating to do it when you know that God loves Patrick and me the same, and He died on the cross for him too. What joy to be able to share dinner with others!

Monday, January 12, 2009

meet baby Samuel!

These are my friends from Argentina, Matthias and Cecilia, and their new little baby Samuel! Cecilia is the one we are throwing the baby shower for, in case that wasn't clear... Their baby is SOOOO cute!!

first family picture

my friend Celine

and this is my favorite picture. :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

i heart babies

I received a marvelous phone call today. I was standing in the grocery store, in the baby diaper aisle, trying to figure out if I should buy newborn or 3-5kg diapers (will explain later) when my cell phone rings and it's Cecilia, who is the expectant mother that I'm throwing the baby shower for tomorrow. So I answer and it's actually her husband, Matthias and he's like "MELISSA! I AM A DADDY! I AM A DADDY!" It was so sweet! Baby Samuel came 3 weeks early! Both Mom and baby are doing great and Matthias informed me that he already loves his "fatherly duties". What a great phone call to get while shopping for baby diapers.

Speaking of baby diapers... I was getting some stuff for her shower tomorrow (which, incidentally will be postponed) including some diapers to make these infamous diaper cakes, like what Jess made at the baby shower she hosted. Jess is amazingly creative and has such good, cute ideas -- I just steal them all! :) As I was shopping for these baby things and looking for the perfect baby gift, I observed several things:

1. Baby stuff is EXPENSIVE!
2. Most cute "french" baby clothes have English things written on them, like "sweet baby", "i love trees", "nature is my friend". WHAT?!?! I'm in France. I want cute FRENCH things and aisles of baby berets to choose from!
3. There are some very disgusting sounding baby foods for sale.
4. There are a million choices for types of bottles, pacifiers, etc. you can buy.

Oh man. It was a great experience to shop for baby things, though it made me want to buy everything.

Needless to say, I now have baby diapers in my apartment, that will be here for a while. But sometime in the coming weeks, we will throw a great shower for Cecilia and little Samuel! Oh, I should also mention that baby showers (or wedding showers) are not at all French, and do not occur in this country, unless thrown by an American, like moi. :) Since you can't literally translate baby-shower in French without people imagining bathtubs, babies and water, (which makes them uncomfortable, and rightly so), I had to write a brief descriptive phrase on the invitations, explaining what they are.

Oh the joys of living here!

And because Shorty will be so disappointed if this post doesn't have any pictures, meet my friend Laura! She's American, doing a one year program with Campus Crusade (like what I did in Nantes) in Montpellier (in the south). She's hilarious, and TONS of fun! We were together at the Christmas Conference in the Alps and we sang in the street...

Monday, January 5, 2009

I found another picture that might be of some interest... there I am in my skis. :) I got my cool hat for like 3 euros -- oh yeah!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

in the French alps....

After a wonderful Christmas / New Year's Conference in the lovely French Alps, I'm once again back in Rennes. It was wonderful to come back "home", though I am missing the view of the snow-capped mountains from my window!

Shorty, these pictures are for you, since you are so easily bored by my ramblings... :)

The Castle that we stayed in for our conference was at the top of this hill, overlooking this little town!

Notice that it's not "starbucks cafe", but "agape cafe" (agape is Campus crusade for Christ in Europe.) Oops, for the copywright...

Ski slope. OH MAN. :)