Thursday, January 28, 2010

In the thick of it..

Apologies! Apologies!

I apologize for my total lack of communication with everyone!

But, like my title says, since Wales its been GO GO GO!

Besides the busyness of life, I don't have much exciting news to tell ya'll.. I'll just kind of show you what my week looks like..

OH!! GEEMAKNEE! I dont' know how i could've forgotten, but some of you might know that while i was waiting for my visa, there was also another girl from Ukraine, Veronika, who was also waiting for hers. Tuesday we heard the great news that she finally got it and she arrived yesterday evening! It's great to finally have her with us!! It's wonderful to have a complete year group, but unfortunately, we haven't all had the chance to be in lectures together yet. Some are out due to sickness and/or work...

I think most of everyone is all caught up on rest since Wales. I thought I was, but my body is telling me otherwise. Tuesday maybe, I fell asleep on the couch at 7:00 P.M., woke up at 7:30, looked at the clock and went directly upstairs to fall asleep again. I didn't wake up the next morning until 7:00 A.M!! A whole twelve hours of sleep!! Its UNHEARD OF!

Lets see..

I've finally been assigned a Third Place group. A Third Place group is our way of getting out and doing things for the community. A group of us usually four or five go out into the community on Thursday afternoons/evenings to do some thing or other. Last Thursday I wasn't in a group yet, but I heard that there was a group going down to the Social Club, located in the middle of Pinnocks Way where I live, to have Kids Club. So, I asked if I could join for the evening. I had a name tag and everything! We had about six or seven kids show up and we played games with them, challenged them to cracker eating contests, colored with them, and shared with them the story of the Good Samaritan. I played Wop It with some of the kids and really enjoyed myself!

I have a feeling I'm making the name of that game up, but it had something to do with sticks and a ball, kind of resembling hockey, but not hockey. OH, and I lost the cracker eating contest, but these crackers were horrible!! They were so dry! PLUS, being the big kid, I had to eat four and the two little girls only had to eat two each! COMPLETELY unfair ;)

But, I'm finally assigned to a Third Place group and it is located at Tumbling Bay, an old people's home? I'm sure thats not the best way to say it...what else would it be called? It wasn't a nursing home, but more like an apartment building filled with the elderly.

I'm going to be really honest right now, please don't judge me. For years, I've been afraid of old people. I'm going to blame it on a scary incident I had with my dad's grandma years and years ago when we were living in Mexico, but, nonetheless, I wanted to go to Tumbling Bay with an open mind and an open heart..

I LOVED the old ladies! We had tea out of beautiful fancy china and we had wonderful biscuits and hilarious conversations! They love UNO and next week we are going to play other games with them.

Every other Wednesdays we have Emmaus Groups. I'm not sure if i've mentioned them before, but they are basically homegroups. We all eat together then go over a book. Right now my group is reading "Down to Earth Spirituality" which I need to get started on for next week.......

I know I'm skipping around a lot, but it's late and I'm just writing the first thing that comes to mind.

The last few Fridays we haven't had classes, but a number of us have walked in anyway to spend some time in the library working on our assignments due that next Monday. Simon, our principal, said "Wow..look at that! The library full on a Friday afternoon.", praising us for our efforts. Once he left the room, one of the gents said, "Doesn't he realize we're actually the bad kids. Everyone else would have their assignments done and we're just starting it." So, tomorrow, I"ll be at the library. I'm one of those 'bad kids'.

Lectures this past week were brought to us by Mark and Nesta Mumphurd (Mumford? I have no idea how to spell their last name) from Derby. It was three days about Leadership. VERY GOOD and very practical. The last lecture was basically just us asking practical questions about what to do in certain situations of leadership. They are such a sweet couple too and they just showed a strongly connected partnership as they sort of tag teamed in their lectures to us.

Today we had lectures, well, more like "mission prep" for our trip to North Africa in May. We ran through the reasons for us going, why we are going where we're going, and what we are going to be doing there. It's all very secretive, mainly because the place where we will be going, public evangelism isn't permitted, so we have to be somewhat secret about where and why we're going... I was threatened to be beaten with a stick by one of the staff if I shared too much information about it, so please, no questions!

Funny stories as of late:

I went on the bus the other day and it was really full, so I ended up standing in between two poles. I was balancing my self by holding onto the pole in front and my bum was leaning on teh pole behind, which happened to have the "stop" button for the bus driver to stop. TWICE when the bus had bounced over a bump in the road, my bum had hit the "stop" button and the bus driver stopped. Both times I knew it was me who accidentally stopped the entire bus, but said nothing to no one, and at both stops no one got off! Uber embarrassing...

Thats actually the only funny story i can think of at the moment..

It's been too busy to stop and take pictures of much of anything, not that i've been seeing anything too different. My days have consisted of waking up, walking to college, staying there until one or five, it varies, and walking home. Everything is still fun i think!

OH! I went to Basingstoke for my church placement on sunday finally! That was lovely! The Basingstoke church is split up into four (?) different churches. West is split up into two different parts and we are in one of the parts. But i think during our term we will be visiting each of the churches and once a month all four churches meet together. The pastors of the West church are actually American, Earl and Rebecca. They are young and seem like a lot of fun. Earl preached on Sunday about the Armor of God. In my church placement group its me, rachel, chris, and henry. And we each have job and some time soon we will be leading whole meetings. YIKES!! but..a good yikes.. a good stretching yikes....

I'm trying to think of some more exciting news, but I'm running out of things to say. My apologies..

I hope you enjoyed this little update..


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Hi all!

I feel like I've left everyone high and dry, but I haven't!

First things first, I made it back from Wales alive. Phew..glad I got that off my chest. This past weekend will be extremely hard to explain in a blog, but I'll do my best. This blog post won't have any pictures or videos. It will be mainly me just trying to give you a run through of what happened during the weekend, but after I post this, I'll post second one immediately showing pictures and videos so you can get a visual too!

On Thursday evening we arrived in Wales. We were all ushered into a room where we were given a quick brief of what the weekend held in store. The basic jist of the weekend was we had to do five major tasks to receive "generator parts" which we would use to build a generator that would give us some "code" which we would in turn use to open some safe where we would find some prize. The five main tasks were the following:
1) Present a presentation (Everyone)
2) Rock Climbing (Team B)
3) Rock Climbing and Abseiling (Team C)
4) Mountain Expedition (Team B&C)
5) VIP Meal/ Moroccan theme (Team A)

We had to raise money to do all these things; we had to rent cars and drivers; we had to navigate our drivers through Wales; we couldn't ask the Red Rock leaders anything or we got penalized. Red Rock was the name of the organization that put this on for us.

To get money we had to do "voluntary tasks". Some were more fun then others. I ate a whole can of cold baked beans along with five of the guys to earn some money. I don't think I'll be enjoying baked beans anytime soon. Not all the "voluntary tasks" had to be done by everyone. Some were just whoever wanted to do it, others were an entire team, and some included every single person.

I apologize for my skipping around so much. This whole weekend is really hard to just explain in a blog, so please bear with me and hopefully it makes sense in the end.

Concerning the different teams mentioned above (A,B, and C), everyone got to choose what team they wanted to be on. I chose team C. Mountain climbing and abseiling.

Okay, so back to Thursday evening. Three of the guys from our year group were appointed the leaders, Andy, Pete, and David. They downloaded us with information about what was expected. Everyone picked their groups, then broke off into three or four smaller groups to discuss the presentation. The presentation had to be presented that evening, explaining how we were going to go about getting money, buying food, what everything would cost, what times everything would be, and present it to the Red Rock Leaders later that evening. If the RRL approved of the presentation, we could be done for the evening and do some voluntary tasks to make some money before we went to bed, and that could be that. If they didn't approve of it, we would have to present it again.

What do you think happened?

Yep! We had to do it twice. The first time we didn't have enough details about prices of food items and climbing gear and such.

That night we made it to bed around 2:30 A.M. Well, some of us. Little did I know that that would be my last night in a comfy bed for the next sixty hours...

The next morning we woke up at 6:30 and breakfast was at 7. We were out by 7:30 and we cleaned up the kitchen. We discussed what the day would hold and at 8:00 we had a half an hour of complete silence. This was one of the voluntary tasks. Everyone had to sit together and be completely silent for half an hour.

Whilst sitting silently, I used the time to write in my journal about the previous night and I'll write what I wrote then...

Presentations at midnight; again at half two in the morning. Falling asleep to the sound of rain pinging on the skylight;being shut in a closet with twenty other people in the dark for three minutes (voluntary task...AND it was a tiny closet);cheering while watching the guys do sit-ups and push-ups (voluntary task); and eating a can of cold generic baked beans. These are the things I've so far endured.

Things i have to look forward to today: climbing a mountain in the rain, abseiling down a cliff in the rain, sleeping outside, probably in the rain.

Luckily, in my handy-dandy, heavy duty hiking rucksack, i have water-proof trousers and jacket set, a really attract set might i add....NOT! I do have water-proof trousers and a jacket, but they are by no means attractive, but I'd rather be dry!

At the moment: We are all doing another task to earn money to buy hiking gear. that task is to sit together and not make any noise for thirty minutes. i was enjoying a competitive game of ping-pong, but apparently "silence" means no pinging or ponging. also, i keep swallowing back those baked beans, they insist on slowing making their way back up.
Yummy right?!

8:20 : Nearly done!
I just got silently told to help clean the kitchen

you forget how useful words are until you can't use them...

I wish i had my camera to snap a picture of what everyone else is doing at the moment. the majority are sleeping, some are staring into space; others are journal-ing; a couple are even passing the time by playing a game of hangman. finally others know their weakness and have taken extra precautions by gagging themselves with scarves!

:) geez , I love these people!

That was my journal entry for those thirty minutes of silence.
How innocent I was.. and how clean too! That would be the last time I wouldn't have sand in my hair, dirt under my nails, or mud all over my skin.

That same day Team C went to Overton to rock climb and to abseil. Every group had nine or more team members and to receive the "generator part" every team member had to attempt to rock climb and to abseil. In my head i had a wonderful image of what rock climbing was going to be like and it was nothing like that. It was so much more intense and like proper rock climbing then I had anticipated. Just wait for the pictures and videos. WE also had a time limit. We had to do it by 4:00 PM. Seems like a lot of time, but driving to Overton was included in the time as well. I really enjoyed the rock climbing. I was the third person to go and the first person to make it to the top! Out of the nine team members, only three of us made it to the top.
Abseiling was a different story. I'm not usually afraid of heights, but this was a bit intimidating. I had to make sure I asked the lady how much weight this rope could hold and all the important questions like that. BUT, and my mom is going to love this, I did manage to multi-task whilst abseiling. I took a video on the way down...... ha.. just way to see it.

Everyone but one team member attempted abseiling. Around 4:15 we were starting our trek back to the two Land Rovers our team was split up into. The Moroccan themed VIP meal was being served at 6:00 PM and we had to be there on time. For every minute someone was late for dinner they were penalized 50 Welsh pounds, per person. Needless to say, our Land Rovers got separated, one got lost, and we were late by at least half an hour. Not good...

On a better note, the food made by Team A was absolutely delicious. We had a traditional Moroccan meal which we ate with our hands. But before we ate, team members came around with a bowl and a bar or soap so we could all wash our hands. We then all ate from one big plate in the middle. Then afterward we had Moroccan mint tea. Simply delightful.

Sometime after dinner, Teams B and C gathered all their hiking gear piled it in the Land Rovers.
That night we were going to sleep in a cave. Thats right, a cave.

Minor interruption: All weekend the days seemed entirely too long. You would remember something you did that morning and you'd think, "It was just this morning I did that?" this point, my memory of the weekend is all running together, so I'm really just trying to capture the main points of the whole experience.

Alright, it was probably around 9:00 PM that Teams B and C set off to start their caving experience. We drove for about two hours and parked the Land Rovers around 11:00 PM. We all got our hiking gear. By the way, it was pitch black and pouring. The heavens had opened and the rains were relentless. We trudged through mud, balanced along grassy slopes and drop-offs, and used our knees to climb up the rock face to get into the cave.

Again, I had this nice little image in my head of a perfectly cut out circle in the rock, evenly leveled, warm and protecting. I was wrong. Dead wrong.

I was one of the first ones into the entrance of the cave and I suddenly realized we weren't going to fit all twenty people into this cave. I looked around a bit and my eyes fell on this hole. "Surely not", I said to myself. Again, I was mistaken. This hole was probably 2.5-3 feet in width and about 9-10 feet long. You had to lay on your back during some of the tunnel-shimmy down into the wider part of the cave, just so you didn't get hit in the head or face with some rock that was jutting out. The hardest part was getting yourself AND your hiking bag AND your sleeping bag down there. It probably took about an hour to get everyone into the cave. It was a real struggle for some who were really claustrophobic, but it was amazing to see people encourage and walk hand in hand with those who really had to lean on God for strength to make it through the next five minutes.

It was 2:30 when everyone was in the cave and setting their sleeping bags up. I figured with twenty people in a cave and being somewhat protected from the door that we would remain really warm in the cave, but that was not the case at all. The cave was wet, frigid, and loud! Every two minutes, no exaggeration here, there was a loud ruckus sound that would boom and echo through the cave corridors. And every time it would happen, freezing bursts of air would fly through the cave, piercing every already-shivering body to the core. I slept next to Lucy and we tried to cuddle to keep warm, but there was just no use. We got up in the morning tired for even trying to sleep and our bodies aching from shivering. I'm pretty sure I zoned out for a total of twenty minutes that night. Everyone was up by six and all trying to wrestle their wet sleeping bags back into those tiny bags they come in.

I thought I would dread going back up that tiny hole towards freedom, but all I wanted was out of that dreadful cave. It was definitely harder going back up then coming down, but I was determined to get out of there. During that night in the cave I was so angry toward the sea, almost begging it to just relent for five minutes, but the moment I made it out of the cave that morning and was faced with the majesty of God's amazing creation, all anger and frustration turned into awe and admiration.

We walked down the mountain and went back up the same way we had come down the night before in the dark and the relentless rain. I had almost preferred the dark to the daylight, because seeing it in the daylight scared me enough. We had to walk back through the mud and finally back to the Land Rovers. Sweet, sweet Land Rovers.

At this point, I'm a little hazy on exact times, but I know the day is Saturday. We have one final expedition to do. The Mountain expedition. Basically, both Teams B and C were dropped off and different points. Team A was dropped off at a base point. Team A was to set up tents and make dinner for the other teams. Team B and C were to find the place of accommodation Team A had set up.

I know Team C had to go back to the Mountain climbing and abseiling mountain to let the final team member abseil because if they didn't then we wouldn't have gotten the "generator part". That took up a big chunk of time during our day that could've been used toward the other expedition. Finally though, at 4:00 P.M., Team C starts our mountain expedition. We trudged for 4.5 hours. I really wish there were words to express the kind of tiredness, and body aches, and exhaustion, and discouragement, and fear that had been shared by all, but you would have just had to be there. We walked up hill the entire time except the last hour maybe. We walked in the dark and fog for 3.5 hours of it all.

I apologize for painting a dark, dismal picture of that evening, but it was really hard for everyone physically and emotionally. We sang though. Singing just makes things more bearable. And we, did we pray.

When we made it to base though, we were welcomed with food and praises, a nice combination. Everyone was proud of us and they said they had just been praying for us non-stop all day. We were warmed up with some tea. Everyone gathered in the upper room of some bunker hall to hear from the three leaders. They all gave a quick run through of the day and a few others had some praise reports about other people.

The leaders really wanted to remind us though that even though we had finished the expedition, the work wasn't over. The weekend didn't end until the next day at 10:00 A.M., so we didn't need to have a "we've done it" mentality. We spent a few more minutes going through the schedule for the last day.

It was probably around midnight that we made it back to the tents and settled in to get some shut eye. I figured that a tent would be much better sleeping in then the cave, but it was just as horrible. We had a wake up call at 3:00 in the morning, so we could make it back to the Red Rock facilities at 5:00, but I had been begging for morning to come since I'd crawled into my sleeping bag. I had shaken and shivered for the last three hours and my body was just utterly exhausted. The cold from the earth had just seeped through and had reached my very bones.

Nonetheless, that will probably be the only time in the rest of my existence that I will be happy to be getting up at three in the morning! We rolled up sleeping backs and took down tents and everyone was on their way by four o'clock. Once that car started moving, I was out like a light. It was the best two hours sleep since I could remember. We got to base, had breakfast, and had to immediately start on cleaning stuff up to be done by debrief at 10:00 A.M. After breakfast we washed all the Land Rovers, inside and out, hosed down all the tents, washed all the bivvy bags, and tried to make as much money as we could before time was up.

Debrief was too much to write about. It basically just went through everything that had happened within the last weekend and why the Red Rock people had made us go through it. They explained what everything was trying to teach us and how it relates back to God.
The entire Wales experience goes so much deeper then everything I have written above, because God was so involved and just expressed Himself to us as a group and to me individually.
It really would just be too difficult for me to write it all out and be able to make it coherent.

To put it plainly, God was amazing this weekend. He showed Himself to be the God in kitchen, the God on the mountaintop (literally), the God in the rainstorm, the God in the cave, the God in the roaring sea, the God in the freezing tents.

I apologize for the length of time it took me to get back to all of you.

I hope i did an adequate job giving you a glimpse of what happened in Wales. My next blog will be pictures and videos..


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Its off to Wales we go..

Hello All!

I don't have much time, but I thought I'd let everyone know I'll be gone this weekend. We are due to leave at 5:00 PM and I'm not even packed yet! I'm such a procrastinator!

I feel like I've mentioned it already a lot, but just so no one is confused, the year group is going to Wales this weekend. We are going to be hiking and doing some physically and mentally straining exercises. We've had a lot of build up for it this past week, so its good to finally have it here.

Personally, I'm pumped about it. I started out really leery about it, just worried about everything that could possibly go wrong, but now that is here, I'm really looking forward to it. I think its going to be trying, physically and mentally, but there will also be some really good relational connections made and a lot of time being surrounded by God's beautiful creation.

Good times!

This past week has been a little different compared to last week. We've had Dave Perry as our lecturer. He is full-time at the college and he does a lot of lectures throughout the year. I listened to him quite a bit when I was listening to lectures back home, so it's been great actually being here for one of his lectures. He was actually filling in. We were supposed to have Mike Beaumont (sp?), but the poor guy has had laryngitis for the past month.

Dave spoke about Genesis, particularly chapters 1-3. He spoke on Monday and Wednesday and both days we ended with debates. Well, maybe not debates, but questions that no one really knows the answer to, but everyone has a different opinion on. Such topics were, "Did God create evil?" and "Is the Creation chapter literal 24 hr days, or is it supposed to be taken more figuratively?" It was really great to just have everyone talking things though, searching scriptures and wrestling with it. I don't think we ever came to a conclusion on either subjects, but I think that is a good thing.....

On Tuesday, Mary Hippsley (sp?) spoke about identity. We had an assignment last week to "world watch" about how the world views identity and where you get your identity. She then took that and basically flipped to how God views us and how we find our identity in Him. This was actually a really good day for everyone.

We also got a communal assignment this past week. A communal assignment is one we have to do as a year group. We have to perform the story of the Old Testament in a play. We are doing this on Feb 12th. This was also really great to see the year group work together, appoint leaders, and leave room for each other's ideas.

Another thing, I was on coffee and teas this week. All this means, is that at 10:25 AM a few of us slip out of lectures a couple minutes early to get everything ready for coffee break and we serve the rest of the group. I was actually thankful for a chance to get in there and help serve the people here.

Yesterday afternoon my bio group met for the first time and I can already tell I'm really going to enjoy this! Bio groups are new this term and basically its just a group of three people who meet once a week (at least) to just share what they're struggling with, pray together, and reflect on the Bible. I have Lucy and Kass in my group. I'll be sure to take a picture one time so you can put a face to the names.

This week has been really good too as a house, we've had more dinners together, more cooking together, and even a little bit of dancing. :)

Well, I really should go pack!! I'll really try to take a few pictures of Wales for you!
Please pray for us if you get the chance. Everyone is dealing with Wales a bit different. Some are looking forward to it and some are a bit more anxious. We also have a very wide age range of students. We range from 18-60 somethings. There are also some with families and hiking three girls under the age of 10 can be a bit difficult. If you think about it, could you please pray everyone would feel God's peace and that everyone would meet God this weekend.


Be back Monday!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The weekend..

Good afternoon everyone!

My mom's been asking for some more blog posts, but i'm sorry to say that not much has happened that is considered post-worthy.

Friday we didn't have classes at the college, which I think that happens pretty regularly.

Also, its still really snowy here, so my church placement group couldn't make it to church today. So it has just been a long, free, relaxing weekend.

Thursday was a long day though, so it was nice to have a day to relax after wards. Everyone had to bring their kit stuff in on Thursday so that Rachel could check to make sure we have everything for next weekend. I'm not sure if i've mentioned it, but the college is going to Wales on Thursday of next week. We are doing hiking, caving, kayaking, and the like. Also, its very snowy and wet there, so we all have to bring these humongous bags, sleeping backs, warm dry clothes, utensils, flashlights, and other intense hiking gear. We were going to have to carry these all the way into school, but thankfully, George and Andy said they could come and pick up our bags and the boy's bags and drive them to school. We had to walk in the snow again to school, but at least we didn't have our bags and it was actually pretty fun. On the way to school, we walk past a big field, but that day, we decided to wade through it instead of walking around it. So, we waded through knee-high snow just for the fun of it.

After classes, I had a meeting with Rachel just to go through the handbooks and get shown around the library. I was going to walk into town by myself to get some last minute things for Wales, but Tom was still in the library when I was leaving and he needed stuff for Wales too, so we walked into town together. It was nice to have someone who knows the town with me, because it gets dark really early here and we still had to walk all the way back home. We went into Millets and Blacks which are both out-doorsy type stores. Then we went to Sainsbury and Boots to grab a few other things. We dropped in to Starbucks to refuel before we started our long trek home. We had a great time making fun of the way each other talks and impersonating each other's accents. But of course we all know, I'm the one without the accent. :)

I made it home around 6:30ish. Andy and George were over at my house and Lydia was cooking dinner. I ran upstairs to drop my stuff off, okay, I lied. I was too tired to even go up stairs, so i just dropped everything off at the bottom of the stairs, went into the living room, and plopped myself down on the couch. We had dinner, cleaned up, played some cards, and I took a bath to soak my aching feet.

Friday was a stay-at-home day. The girls went into town and into the college. I stayed home with Steven and Loralie. We didn't do much that day, but it was nice to have a lie in. Oh, that reminds me, one thing i find humorous about how they talk here, is when they change verbs to be nouns. Like this, "I need to have a think about that." or, "It's time to have a sing." So, that "lie in" bit was just something i picked up. Friday evening though, we had movie night at our house. We had about four movies to pick from, but it was pretty evident that everyone wanted to watch The Prestige. The only problem was, is that it was a bluray and we were watching it on the projector, so it wouldn't have worked. We decided to watch The Constant Gardener instead, and we would watch The Prestige the next night at the guy's house because they have the HD tv and the Bluray player.

The Constant Gardener was a terrible movie in my opinion. After the movie, we had a think about it, listened to music, and told funny stories.

Saturday was pretty much the same as Friday. Everyone had a late morning. We gathered around the table to enjoy breakfast together. We played more cards then decided we wanted to go play in the snow. We have a park right around the corner, so we all got bundled up and went outside. We played Frisbee with a white frisbee.... in the snow... white...yeah.. anyway. We had some of our neighbors join us so they played a quick game of rugby. Then we played on the teeter-totter, by the way, I forgot how much I LOVED those, and we finished it off with a nice, competitive game of football, well, soccer.

We went home, warmed up, ate dinner, then headed over to 88 to watch the Prestige. That is such a good movie! I love watching it with people who haven't watched it and just seeing the confused looks on their faces. After the Prestige, we popped in Inglorious Bastards. After the movies, Lydia and I were walked home.

This morning should've been church, but like I mentioned before, we couldn't make it. I'm pretty bummed about that, just because I haven't made it to my church placement since I've been here, and I won't be able to make it next week either because we will be in Wales.

Anyway. Its 1:50 pm here and my house is empty besides Loralie and Dalia. I'm not sure what the rest of the day holds, but for now, I think I'll go and play with the baby!
Love you all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Good evening!

First off, I want to apologize for my extremely boring previous post! I re-read it just now and was disgusted! In my defense, I was practically dead. Hopefully this blog will be more entertaining.

I didn't blog yesterday, but I'm sure it was for good reason. Tuesdays are long days here. We have normal lectures from 9-1ish; we eat lunch; we head back into the lecture room for our assignments and announcements; then on most Tuesdays evenings, except for last night, we go back to the college at night for some sort of meeting. So, after getting home from college pretty late into the afternoon last night, I was a bit tired, but I had to cook. So, I cooked Keira's Chicken Enchiladas, and they were a hit! Well, at least I think they were a hit. They were all gone, but there were only eight enchiladas and six of us eating. Everyone could've just eaten it because they were all really hungry from all the walking they did. Hmm......

After dinner, it started snowing! Properly! We cleaned up and headed over to the the boys house for a game night. It was the three of us girls, the boys house, some study breakers (people who come to the college for specific weeks to just sit in on lectures) and the Clarks. Before we crossed the short back alley to get to 88 Pinnocks way, we stopped in the little park and ruined the beautiful, untouched snow. Does anyone else enjoy ruining snow? It's a highly exhilarating feeling! We had a some fun in the snow, then hurried into the warm house because Andy Clark had arrived and started chucking snow balls at us.

We warmed up in the living room and played some intense Pictionary. I hardly ever played that game back home, but it's a pretty popular one here. Everyone put in four things to draw and there were about twelve of us there, so we it became a long game. It was fun until the very end though! We stayed until about nine o'clock, when the neighborhood kids had curfews to be in by, so they couldn't ambush us with snowballs, which they had been planning!!

We started leisurely walking home until we walked through our neighborhood court and found about 8-10 college students in the middle of a snowball fight. "What have we walked straight into?" we thought to ourselves. We tried not to draw too much attention to ourselves, but once we started picking up the pace a little, they noticed and decided to chuck snowballs at us too! In that case, we booked it around the corner and into the safety of our home.

Apparently it had snowed all night, because this morning we wake up to this:

I'm rubbish at estimation, but I gather there was about 6-8 inches of snow. I titled this blog "Blizzard" because someone here said it was the most it had snowed since 1981. Also, when it snows six inches here, everyone acts like its a blizzard. No one here is prepared for it. I'm sure you are all tired of snow back home, but I've been waiting for proper snow the whole time I've been here! The tree picture is where our "neighborhood court" is.

I absolutely love the snow and I think its gorgeous, but I think its RIDICULOUS to have to walk almost an hour in it, so Loralie and I talked Steven into trying to take the bus to school today.

This is Steven, Loralie, and Dalia waiting under the bus stop for the bus to come by. We waited for probably twenty minutes for the bus and realized that no buses had come either way in the last twenty minutes, so it was highly probable that the buses weren't running today. We have to be at college at 9:00 and it was about 8:53 when we decided to stop waiting for the bus and to just walk it. I was thought to myself, "You have to be kidding....". Nope, there was absolutely no kidding involved. Thankfully, Jesus loves me.
We were probably only about 1/3 of the way there and Paul and Ruth Hettler pull over beside us. Paul rolls down his window and calls out, "We can take two of you." Without hesitation Steven tells Loralie and I, "Go ahead!". I literally said out loud, "Thank you Jesus!" I was just really excited about not having to walk the rest of the way to college! Now, before you think badly of me for not letting the man with the baby ride in the car, Steven is all into this outdoorsy, manly, trudging through snow craziness, so he actually ENJOYED walking/running, through the snow with a stroller. Absolutely outrageous.

We arrived to college around 9:15 and devotions had already started. This morning every desk had a blank sheet of paper. On one side we were to write something we were like before Jesus had redeemed us, and on the other side of the paper, how that's changed because we've been redeemed. Then a few of us went up, shared our papers, and prayed into them. Then we had a time of worship. I really enjoy the worship here. It seems very raw and real. That is the best way I can put it. Raw...

Michael was our lecturer again today. It's been a treat having him. He has such new ways of thinking, and its been great to be able to see into how he thinks. After devotions though, he didn't want to get into teaching before coffee break, so he decided to do a little prophesying first. I was expecting it to be slightly different. I think i was expecting lights to be dimmed, back ground music playing, everyone standing up and praying in tongues, then Michael bringing down the "Thus Sayeth The Lord" on us, but it wasn't anything like that. The way he prophesied was so down to earth and relaxing. Don't get me wrong, the presence of God was still clearly there, but there was just some sort of "down to earth" capacity of the way he communicated with God and in turn, shared that with us. We were all sitting down in our chairs and he would just look at you and you just knew it was coming. I think he did nearly everyone in the room. Then we did some practicing for ourselves. Simon, the principle who comes into the room randomly, picked out about seven of the students to stand up and go to the front and to basically do exactly what Michael had been doing. It was just a good example of how EVERYONE can be tuned into the Father and ANYONE can get a word for someone else.
It was really great to see it worked out and some amazing words came out of it all.

We had coffee break in the freezing hall again, but although its freezing in there, I always look forward to coffee break time!

We finished the afternoon with Michael teaching on adjusting your life and setting realistic goal for yourself, so you can allow the Holy Spirit to be expressed in your life, and tons of other stuff. :)
We prayed for Michael and the bible college he runs in South Africa.

We (sorry I keep starting everything off with "we". I'll get better at this writing thing as time goes on) had lunch then, SNOW TIME!!

Every other Wednesday we have what we call "Emmaus Group". Basically its like a homegroup. You have two leaders, usually a couple, and a group of students in one Emmaus group. Some groups go through books, some go out to eat. I haven't been to an Emmaus group yet, so I'm actually not sure what it's like, but I'll let you know when I find out. Tonight was supposed to be our first Emmaus group, but instead, we were all assigned to go watch Avatar! Not a bad deal eh?? There is an actual assignment behind it, we have to answer all these deep questions about the "hidden meaning behind the movie" but I wasn't complaining about watching a 3-D film for homework. The movie didn't start until 4:15, so we had plenty of time to play in the snow. The car park was practically untouched, so we had loads of snow to play with. We started off with a harmless snowfight and moved on to building snowmen and igloos.

Lou and Tom finishing up the amazing igloo..

Me, Lou, and Lydia in the igloo. We did manage to get five of us in there, but we had to squeeze!

I tried to take a picture of all of us in it, but I couldn't get into the igloo fast enough before the timer on my camera went off! Well, nice smile anyway Chris! :)

Georgina and Lydia starting on the snowman and Andy in the back with the snowballs...

After the igloo and snowmen were complete, everyone was tired and hungry. We hurried inside to grab our bags then we headed into town. We had another snowball fight on the way into town! The road we were walking down was really skinny though, so we were all basically in a single file line, so we were throwing snowballs from the front of the line to the back of the line and vice versa.

Once we made it into town, we bought our tickets at the cinema then ran across the street to Coffee Republic.

I had to take a picture of my coffee and muffin. This was a Rolo Latte and a Blueberry Cheesecake Muffin. Sinful. Absolutely sinful. And by that, I mean AMMMMMAAZINGLY DELICIOUS!

We ran across the street to make it to the film on time. We received our 3-D glasses and had to snap a few pictures:

Lou and I. Apologies about the picture quality, my camera was still a little wet from the snow..

Well, at least Tom was looking at the right camera....

After the movie, we all went to refuel with some food. We hung out around dinner for about an hour or so, then started our hour long walk home. I was not looking forward to it, but the conversations that were had made that walk go by a lot faster.

Now I'm home, trying to warm up and looking at the list of stuff I need to do before bed. I wanted to let you all in on my fun day though!

Have a great day/evening/morning (Whatever time it is when you read this!)
Love you!!

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Monday, January 4, 2010

That wasn't so bad

Hello All,

Today was first day of classes and it went great. We left the house at 8 in the morning, stopped at the co-op (grocery store) to pick up some biscuits, and arrived at the school around 9ish.
Devotions started with a very happy and excited Jane Perrott, a fellow student. She started with just a few testimonies that happened during the break, followed by a few others who shared testimonies as well. We did some praying and worshipping until 10ish.
Michael Newman, who is from South Africa, started teaching around ten and did so for the next thirty minutes. He is a very engaging, very fast talking lecturer and I really enjoyed him. I can't remember quite what he talked about right at the moment because I'm currently sleep-typing, so I'm sorry if this blog is extremely boring. I just wanted to let you all in on my day before I hit the sack.
At 10:30 everyday we have "coffee and tea break" where basically we all go out into this freezing cold hallway, grab some coffee/tea, munch on some biscuits, stretch out legs, and try to wake up a bit before returning for more hours of teaching.
Elevenish is when we're due back into the classroom (or lecture room. Lydia think it sounds too childish to call it a classroom, so she corrects us when we do.) Michael continued on about many good, lecturey type things. Don't worry everyone, I took notes!
There was a five minute standup/bathroom/drink break at noon ish, but after that we carried on with lectures until we finished around one in the afternoon.
I think most days we'd have assignments to be working on, or some meetings to be going to, but today being the first day back, we were free for the rest of the day. A group of us walked home together, stopping at Meatmarket and ALDI to grab some last minute things for dinner. Yes, I said ALDI. They have ALDI here. I don't know why that amuses me so much, but it does.

Michael Newman was/did come to our house for dinner. I really admire how he really strives to get to know the students. This is his fourth consecutive year that he has come from South Africa and he only comes for a week, but every night he asks to go to a student house for dinner so he can get to know the students better. In his lecture today he went on some rant about how much he loves Thai food, so for dinner we of course had to make him Thai food. It was the first time I have ever had homemade Thai curry and it wad AMAZING to say the least. We finished dinner off with some super good dessert Loralie made, Apple Crumble. It was really cool being able to have Michael over and to just be able to pick his brain about different things. We talked about things ranging from cricket, to the effects of horror movies, to what the "new heaven" and "new earth" actually mean.

"We got along like a house on fire."

One story I particularly enjoyed from him was one about himself. He said that God told him to stop reading his Bible. Other people around him were telling him he needed to read his Bible, but God had told him, for one month, to stop reading his bible. "You're getting too weird Michael", God had said. Michael listened and he didn't read his Bible for one month, even when people were judging him or disagreeing with him. When the month came to an end, and he picked up the Bible for the first time in a month, he said that the new freshness of the Bible, and just the new way he looked at it was just amazing and something he'll never forget.
I didn't like it because God told him to stop reading his Bible, but I just liked it because I really admired just how confident Michael was in how he heard and perceived God.

Another thing he said was, "Christians aren't supposed to live ethically, they're supposed to live by the Spirit." This evolved into a very in-depth conversation about living by the Spirit decision by decision, but how it becomes so familiar that it becomes like second nature. Almost like how a husband and wife can just look at each other and know exactly what they're both thinking. That is how I want my relationship to be with God. Not familiar in the sense of it being dull, but familiar in the sense of it being second nature, and where I'm confident that I've heard him, and I have the grace to carry out anything and everything He asks of me. No matter how crazy it sounds..

I'm going to stop now, I'm literally falling asleep at the desk.

More to come soon....

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Here we go....

The alarm for tomorrow is set for 7:00 A.M. Haven't seen seven in the morning for a long time, yet, not quite long enough.

Lectures start bright and early tomorrow morning at 9:00. No, it doesn't not take me two hours to get ready. We leave the house, as a house, at eight in the morning. From 30 Pinnocks way to the KBC entrance is about a 45 minute walk. .........yay...... (That was my sarcastic way of saying "yay" :P)

Tomorrow we have Michael Newman lecturing. I mentioned him in another post. He is hailing all the way from South Africa. He spoke a little bit at church this morning, and by a little bit I mean seriously five minutes.

This morning I went to OCC for Church. Oxford Community Church. This is the same building where we have classes everyday, but luckily we didn't have to walk to church this morning. We got a ride. Which means I got to wear high heels today! Whoop whoop! :)

Church was pretty different/cool. We worshipped the same way I'm used to worshipping, but the songs were just a bit different. We sang a song about "Jesus is abubbling over". Yeah......
Then the children church kids came up and showed the church a little bit about what they had been learning. Then Simon Shaw, the principle of KBC and an elder at OCC, pulled on about 10 different people to pray for different things concerning the new year. Then Michael Newman came up and have a short sermonette about the story of building your house upon the rock.
We worshiped a bit more, then dismissed. After every service they offer teas and coffees. I met yet again a few more students who had come back from Holiday and headed to the Clark's house for lunch.

All together it was the Clarks (couple who picked me up from the airport), the Lawtons (I met up with her in downtown a couple days ago to have lunch), and a few of the boys from the boys house down the street. We had an amazing lunch cooked by the two married gents. They cooked Andy's "Special" chili, rice, chicken and cheese enchiladas, and fajitas. I felt at home. ;) We ate, had tea, had pudding, cleaned up, and talked all the while. James and Bex Lawton left to pick up one of the guys who was coming back from France and Andy Clark took the Pinnocks Way gang home.

When I got home, I remembered that Lou and Lydia were coming home today. I saw Steven in the kitchen, talked to him for a bit asking about his afternoon and vice versa, then headed upstairs to say hi to the girls. Only Lou was home at the moment, so I popped into her room for a few hellos and a chat about the Holiday break. I went into my room to change from my Sunday clothes and to check on the world (via facebook ;) ). Steven decided to treat us all to Indian take-out which is now my new favorite! Lou and I headed downstairs when we heard Steven return with the food.

After the table was set and drinks were poured, we all sat down to enjoy some Chicken Korma, Peas and Cheese, Chicken Masala, Buttered Chicken, and a few other things I can't pronounce let alone spell correctly. While we were enjoying dinner, Lydia finally joined us! It was our first dinner all together! We talked about our breaks and our expectations for the new term. Dinner being over, we cleaned up. Lou ran upstairs to show us some super uber cute shoes she has gotten for Christmas. I asked what size shoe she wears and she wears a 36, same as me! (wink wink)

We gathered in the living room with some cafe mochas and loosely planned the week. We chatted for awhile, but a few of us were quickly fading and Lydia still needed to unpack. We decided to pray before going our separate ways. We prayed for grace, strength, wisdom, and all the things we thought we might need to get adjusted to all living together and starting a new KBC term. Lydia got a word about giving permission for each of us to speak into each other's lives and being accountable to each other. I think it will definitely be a new experience for me living in this house, but I think it will be a positive experience.

We said our good-nights and the girls headed upstairs. I stayed behind a bit to share with Steven and Loralie a few fears I had about adjusting to this next phase. And I'm sorry if this next bit is really selfish of me, but it was a sincere fear of mine. Lou and Lydia are very close and with good reason. They were the only two who lived here for a few months before Steven and Loralie moved here. When Steven and Loralie moved in, it took some adjusting on everyone's part. When I moved in, the girls were gone, so i had some really good one on one time with SnL. I have really enjoyed getting to know them and being able to settle in and explore Oxford together with them. Tonight I saw how easily Lydia and Lou related to each other and how close knit they were, and I'm a bit worried about me coming in. I'm not sure if it will be easy for me to connect with them being so close to each other. I shared this concern with Steven. I was sure he was just going to say, "Aeriole, you're just being selfish. Get over yourself and stop worrying. You'll be fine." But he didnt. He simply told me that my relationship with each of the girls wasn't going to look like the relationship they have together. And although that might be really simple, it helped me. I'm excited about living with the girls, learning more about them, and becoming friends. I'm not as worried anymore. You have to become friends if you're living with someone right? There's no way around that one. Well actually, I'm sure there is, but that most likely won't happen in this case.

After that conversation, I headed up stairs. Lou had her music playing loud enough for Lydia and I to enjoy. It was good music. The kind of music Stephanie and I used to play really loud in the car and dance to. I felt a little bit at home. Lou was unpacking. Lydia was unpacking. And I was cleaning up the room and getting prepared for tomorrow.

I'm going to be the "new kid" tomorrow and I don't really like that feeling. I wish I could've been the "new kid" when everyone else was too, but alas, such is life. Anyway, I'm sure it will go fine. My nerves are just getting the better of me.

Thank you for reading..

Love you! (whoever you are :P )

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Keep your eyes peeled


Another day. Another adventure.

This morning we woke up a bit earlier then usual, because we're all trying to get into some sort of schedule since classes start on Monday and our sleeping-in days are officially over!

Steven, Loralie, the baby, and I all headed into town. There was some confusion as to if we were all coming back together, since Loralie had a hair appointment later on in the day, so we all just bought one-way bus tickets into town.

Minor rabbit trail: I will not be getting my hair cut while I'm here. I asked how much it would cost and Loralie informed me that it was between 30-60 pounds ($60-$120). thank-you....

Okay, so we get off the bus and we hit Debenhams, which is a giant popular department store. We split up and met each other down at the ground level after an hour or so. We hit Blacks, an outdoors store, because we all still need a few more things for our hiking trip to Wales. Then our last stop was Sainsbury, the small grocery store. I was informed on the bus into town that I was on dinner duty that night, so I had to come up with something to make so we could buy the stuff we needed. I decided on Tortilla Stacks, a favorite of mine that my mom makes, and so we picked up a few things from the store.

At this point, we split up. Loralie took the bus to her hair appointment, Steven and Dalia went home, and I stayed in town to look for a birthday gift for my father.

I got scared.. for two reasons..

The first reason is this: See that pretty building in the picture? Yeah, well I completely missed it. Now maybe it's because I was trying to navigate my way through mobs of people and find a post office (Oh dad, you have a package coming in the mail ;) ), but when I stepped out of the post office and looked around, I was appalled that I could miss such beauty that was sitting there the entire time I was walking up and down that street! I know that probably just sounds silly, but if I've only been here two weeks and I'm already taking for granted, or completely missing out, on all the amazing stuff to see here, then I don't even want to know whats going to happen next!! (Okay, I'll cool down the drama now..)

Here is the second reason I was scared:(I'll tell it in story form) After the post office and snapping a picture of the building, which I think is St. Marys Church, but I could be totally making that up, I headed for the bus stop. Finally finding one, I checked the time to see when the next bus should be due. Three minutes. Wonderful. I looked up the road I had just come down and saw the bus I needed had a stop there too, but it was headed to my stop next. A family had joined me under the bus stop, so I just assumed they were needing the same bus as me. So, I watch the bus come down the street, briefly stop at the bus stop I was standing at (well it was really more like a rolling stop, an ILLEGAL rolling stop might i add), and then speed off again only to leave me with my out stretched hand, standing at the bus stop with the family just looking at me like I was stupid. I felt stupid. APPARENTLY I wasn't aggressive enough and you have to almost dance in the street with your arms waving wildly for the bus driver to realize you want on the bus! Well, I couldn't' stand in my stupidity any longer, so I walked back up the street I had just come down and decided to wait at the first bus stop instead. I got on that bus perfectly fine, and asked for a one-way to Dean Court. I found a seat and sat down appreciatively. (Is that a word?)

The bus finally starts moving and I see familiar sights start zooming passed. We stop at a few more stops to pick up some stragglers, and we continue on. I start to think that my stop most be coming up soon. I look out my window and see the "Pinnocks Way" sign we just passed. I think to myself, "Okay? So, thats where I live and the bus driver didn't stop. Maybe he drops people off then turns around. I'll just sit and wait to see whats going to happen." We pass a lot of trees, the drive seems kind of long, I see a sign for Eynsham, a town just outside of Botley. I think, "Okay, this is strange, we're in a whole new town. Well, the bus driver has to get back, so surely he is going to turn around after this town." We keep driving. we pass more trees. I see a dead sheep in some sheep field. I'm getting kind of tired of the kid behind me who is pulling my hair and singing really loud, and I see a sign for "Witney", another town even farther from Oxford. I send Steven a text, "I think I'm on a bus back to America."
He calls me, "Whats up?"
"Well, I told the bus driver I needed to go to Dean Court and somehow I've ended up in Witney."
After trying to suppress a laugh, "Did you push the stop button when you passed Dean Court?"
" Was I supposed to? What should I do now?"
"Ha Ha yes you were supposed to! Go up and talk to the bus driver and ask him what you should do. Maybe you can stay on the same bus and he will drop you off when he goes back."

If you know me at all, I hate asking people I don't know questions, but more then that, I just wanted to get home. So reluctantly, at the next stop, I went up to the bus driver. Sheepishly (Ha ha..dead sheep--sheepishly...anyway) went up to him and told him that I "forgot" to push the stop button so I missed my stop and I need to get back to Dean Court. He tells me I need to get out of the bus, go across the street, and wait at, yet again, ANOTHER bus stop for a bus going in the opposite direction. So I do.. I get off the bus in Witney, a town I've been in only once and that was with someone who knew their way around, cross the street, and wait for the bus to come. IT CAME HALLELUJAH!! I get on, pay again, and ask for "a one-way to Dean court, please." I keep my eyes PEEEEELED, even though the annoying sun is burning my corneas. The ride home seems longer then ever, but I pass the dead sheep, so I know I'm now getting closer, finally we get out of Eynsham and I see my stop. I vigorously push that STOP button and I get off the bus. I've never said thank you to a bus driver with as much sincerity as I did then as I got off that bus.
I almost knelt down and kissed the sidewalk, but I refrained. I walk a little ways to Pinnock Way. I walk into my house and just look at Steven as he sits there and shakes his head in mockery. Yeah..epic. :)

The moral of those two stories is KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED. You never know what you could be missing. Maybe its home, maybe its just something beautiful.

The moral of my next story could be the same though, but I'll just tell you the story and let you decide.

I walk upstairs, drop off a load (of bags i was carrying, not poop) and head downstairs. Steven says, "If you're not too afraid to go out again, Paul and Ruth are coming in about fifteen minutes and we're all going to walk to The Fishes." In thirteen minutes, the other Hettlers arrived. We all got coated up ( yet again, have I coined a new phrase?) and headed outside towards The Fishes. We walked for a LONG time, a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time. I was thinking to myself, "Hopefully this place is off the chizzzzzaaaaaan because with all this walking I'm doing, it has to be worth it. :) We made it to The Fishes with was a restaurant/pub/cafe sort of thing. It had a wonderful atmosphere, delightful smells, and unexpected company! As we were walking in, we saw Mary Hippsley, a faculty of the KBC, and the Newman family. Michael Newman is going to be our lecturer for the first week we're back at KBC, so it was awesome to get to meet him and his family and get to talk to him before things get too serious in the classroom. We chatted for awhile and I enjoyed the best Hot Chocolate I have ever had in my life. No joke. Do i look like the kind of girl who would joke about hot chocolate? We finished off our drinks, said our goodbyes, and started our long trek back home.

The three girls, Ruth, Loralie, and I, are walking in front, forming some sort of defensive front line. Steven and Paul are pushing the two strollers a couple feet behind us. The girls and I are just chattering away, and suddenly I hear from behind me, "Excuse me". Out of just some sort of reaction, I suddenly kind of step to the right, only to be clobbered from behind by some running jock. I kinda chuckle, as does he, and step to the left, as does he. So we again, bump into each other. I say "I'm sorry" and step again to the right. As. Does. He. "Enough's enough" he thinks to himself I'm sure, because he grabs my shoulders from behind, literally picks me up, moves me to the left, sets me down, and continues running on his merry little way. I probably should've yelled "I'm sorry" one more time, but I couldn't' stop laughing from sheer embarrassment.

Now, I'm going to say in my defense, how the heck was I supposed to know what side to move to??

Mr. Running Man, next time you say excuse me could you please specify which direction you're coming from maybe? Or better yet, you could announce "Coming at your right" or something informative like that? With all due respect. Thank-you kind Sir. Yours Truly, the girls who awkwardly danced with you.

Well, I think that's my exciting news for the day. We made it home. I cooked dinner. We enjoyed our last meal as just the three of us since the rest of our housemates come back from break tomorrow. We played some cards and enjoyed each others company. Now its time for bed.

Hope you enjoyed a little peek into my day.
Love you all!
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Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's 2010!
Hope everyone enjoyed their New Year celebrations!

Our house sure did! We stayed in because Dalia was sleeping, but that didn't stop us from having fun!
We started off the night with dinner, some delicious potato soup. While we were cooking dinner, one of the guys, the only guy home from Holiday, stopped by our house to see what was happening in 30 Pinnocks Way. We invited him in for dinner and he ended up staying to help bring in the New Year. After dinner, we cleaned up the kitchen and discussed what sorts of things we should do for the remainder of the evening. We decided on playing charades and it was a riot! It was so fun to watch! Here are a few pictures:

Steven- "Four words"

Tom- "Card Dealer"

Loralie- I acutally can't remember, but it was funny!

Me- "Monsters vs Aliens" This was my "vs" part.. yeah, she got it..
After a few too many rounds of Charades, we switched to Pictionary but that only lasted one round I think.

Steven kept wanting to do a dance party, but all of us were a little skeptical about dancing in our little living room. So, we left the dancing to Steven. :)

He did amuse us though!

Loralie did not want to be a part though! I wouldn't blame her ;)

There was also some serenading:

AND some intense lip-syncing..

"If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you like with me and just forget the world?"

We even made it to Big Ben in time for fireworks! Pretty impressive huh?

All in all, it was very different from how I've spent any prior New Year Eves (?) but, its was definitely memorable!

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