Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Years Trip To Asheville

So about 4 months ago I didn't know what was going on for new years and I was tired of not doing any thing to ring in the new year so I got a group of friends together and decided we were going to spend the end of 2012 in the mountains in Asheville, NC, one of my favorite places.

I looked for about 3 weeks or so on-line for the perfect house, but being that it was about 4 months before new years, it was hard to find someplace that wasn't booked.  I had the specifics of wanting a place that I could possibly fit a lot of people as I wasn't sure how many would come, we wanted a HOT TUB!, and I wanted the possibility to bring Calvin.  Of course, the very last house I found was PERFECT and it was available and so I snapped it up and have been SOOOOO excited every since!

One by one my friends started dropping out :), but I did salvage some of them and am maybe scrounging up more because this place is too good to be true!  Cathy flew down and Ioana came from TN, her friend Becca is coming over tomorrow and my friends Dave and Leslie are coming from Atlanta tomorrow (those were all planned).  I'm actually trying to get my Greenville cousins to come for  new years eve - we'll see.... Its just amazing here and I'm definitely putting it on my list to come back to.

This is the house outside of Asheville in Fairview, NC.  Its a 3 bedroom and 3 bathrooms and it has a big bunk room in the basement with like 4 bunk beds and a double bed.  Its on 15 acres with these trails, 3 stocked ponds (and fishing poles), hot tub, fire pit, its really remote but not too far from stuff (like in Italy where we were about 15 minutes from anything).  Its so quiet.  

As you can tell I did bring Cal and today he and I hiked for about an hour.  He's been awesome just exploring but staying close.  He was a great hiker and even found the trail when I had lost it so I ended up following him back to the house.  He was very careful to mark the trail along the way so we could find our way home :)

 This is the property blue print - the house is like a dot.  The property is huge.

Tomorrow we have more people coming and we're going to the Biltmore Estate tomorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A West Virginia Holiday Greeting!

So, I told you yesterday that I would get a feel for the hospital I was working in today when I walked in the door.  Well, when I walked in the door of Purchasing to sign in, this is the sign that greeted me....

I have to admit - I find it amusing.....

And it is a very good representation of where I am.  Huntin, fishin, straight talkin West Virgininers....  I actually like them.  You know what they're thinking and they tell you their opinion, no guessing.  They don't like my product, they tell me.  They like my product, they tell me.  Thats the way it should be!

I went into the account around 8 this morning and then finished up with installation around noon or so and grabbed some lunch with the rep I was working with.  I figured I'd finish some work at a Starbucks afterwards - surprise - there are no Starbucks.  Ok, there is one, but its in the mall and its just a little kiosk Starbucks.  Thats telltale when you can't find a Starbucks.  I actually was a little surprised as Charleston isn't a huge city, but its not teeny tiny.  

I went into the account this morning and it was calm and a little warm out, even a peep of sun.  About an hour after I had been in the account, the manager came in all freaked out as it was "pouring" rain and the wind was "screaming".  Crazy.  When I did go out, it actually was a little rainy and the wind was off and on.  But they were all paniced about me going home tomorrow and the impending snow storm.  I'm sure there will be some snow, but its Chicago - what can you expect.  

We'll see if I get home for the holidays! :)  The impending blizzard on top of it being the end of the world tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Another Exotic Location

Did you guess my locale last night?  

I won't give it away yet, just in case you've not had a chance to play the game.

So - I have some friends in ........ and so I met up with them this morning for breakfast at this place called Katalins.  It was in this old gas station, very small, but kind of cute.  And the food was pretty interesting and tasted even better.  It was all even better with an adorable baby sitting right by me :)

I then had to jump in my tranport-o-mobile and transport myself across the state line to West Virginia -- or as people call it - West Virginie....  No, they seriously do.... But right before you get to the state line, you're still in the state of ---- (I think we're still guessing but if you don't know by now, you really want to brush up on your geography...) and apparently, didn't realize it, a one Mr Bob Evans is from some small podunky town in the state of ---- and they have where you can see the farmstead and the original restaurant where the dynasty was first begun.  They even have a local highway named after good old B.E.  You can't really see it, but trust me - this is the exit for the B.E. Homestead.

And then came the joyous moment where I crossed a bridge and came out in the wonderful West Virgin-ie!

I'm in Charleston, WV right now - where the capital of West Virginia is, as a little educational piece.  I'm "downtown" (its glamorous...) right across from the Charleston Mall.  I went across to the mall just to find the Starbucks and as I strolled around, I don't think I saw more than 15 people under 175 lbs.... I really tried.  I looked and looked and people are just a little bigger here.  But - they did all seem very nice.  They had these nice little southern accents and they were very polite.  I'll be interested in working at the hospital where I'm working tomorrow.  You can tell a lot about the community from the ammenities at the hospital (ie extra large wheelchairs, fatty foods in the cafeteria, etc).  We'll see.  

I will say that driving through the area, it was absolutely beautiful!  The sun was out and the hills/mountains were glowing and there were cows and horses grazing.... and then, as the comedian Kathleen Madigan says, after about 2 hours you begin to realize that you haven't seen a house or another car or another person for the past 100 so miles and you begin to get a little concerned...

But I'm here safe and sound and watching White Christmas on TBS.... My second time this year - can't beat Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby.... love it!

Theres supposed to be some type of snow storm tomorrow so we'll see what I wake up to.  It was in the 50s today here in Charleston....  Can it drop that much?  Don't answer that....

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guess Where I Am Now....

Last week I was in Myanmar being transported back to Thailand....

This week - you'll never guess where I am...
I'll give you three hints...

1.  I've been singing "Why Oh Why Oh Why-o -- Why did I ever come to ----

2.  Here's a little rhyme that I've discovered that might give you a clue -- "In 1400 and 82, -------- sailed the ocean blue."

3.  This is the big goofy face thats plastered all over the area I'm staying in tonight....  Go --------!

Thats it - I'm not telling - you've got to figure it out!  Lets just say its not quite as exotic - or warm for that matter - as Myanmar or Thailand.  But its only a 45 minute plane ride from home so thats gotta be a plus!

Tomorrow I drive three hours over to - oops - I can't tell you until you guess so you'll just have to get back on-line tomorrow to find out where my Jeep Liberty rental will be taking me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Sunday was a day long awaited for me.  I've been wanting to go to Myanmar for years - since college in fact, but one thing after another and every time I went to Asia, there were problems in Myanmar that made it impossible for me to go.  So, I guess I wasn't surprised that I couldn't really even sleep on Saturday night.  We had to get up around 4:30 so we could get in a cab for 5 and make it to the airport for our early morning flight.

A few months ago, through some googling on-line, I was connected with a woman who connected me with another woman who has learned a lot about Ann and Adoniram Judson and she's started a touring company based on their lives.  I hired her for $30 to give us a tour around the city and it was great.  She arranged for the car and all and met us at the airport in the morning.  

As we drove out of the airport and towards the city center I was actually pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and tidy things were.  Below are pictures around one of the large lakes in Yangon with these beautiful walkways and greenery all around the lake.  I later found out that all the greenery going into the city center was only 6 months old as it had all been added to spruce things up for when Hillary and Obama came to town.  Rachael, our guide, does think that they will continue to care for and tend to all the beautification that they did.

Our first stop going into the city was the Shwe Dagon Pagoda.  This is a pagoda thats about 2500 years old.  When the Judson's started their work in Myanmar, they started with a little booth/house right on the road going up to the pagoda.  Adoniram would teach the Bible as the people went up to pray at the pagoda and within about 6 months they actually had seen their first convert who would come everyday to hear the Word and ask questions.

This is Burmese writing on the walkway going into the Pagoda.

And inside the Pagoda.  There are booths all over inside that people build and then put their names on and upkeep.  People will walk around and then just chose a booth to worship in.

This is Rachael and Rachel... :) 

If you notice the yellow "paint" on the small boys faces.... Its actually a tree that they take the bark, grind it up and mix it with water and then put it on their faces as sunscreen.  Its crazy though as people will do all kinds of painting on their faces and I don't even see how it acts as sunscreen when it only covers a part of your face?

There are these big bells on all the corners of the pagoda and when you do a good work, you go up to the bell and hit it three of four times with the big stick.  People are then supposed to yell a response of congratulations to you that you did something good.   Depending on what you did dictates how many times you hit the bell.  Kind of completely opposite of what we're supposed to do as Christians - it kind of made me laugh to think how sometimes we do have our own "bell" :)

Around the large temple in the center, there are 8 pedestals, one for each day of the week, and then Wednesday is actually two days (I don't know why, but it is).  When you come to worship, you're supposed to go to the booth that is the day of the week that you were born on and you make an offering there. 


Before you enter the pagoda, you have to leave your shoes outside so all you see are barefeet everywhere.  AND, skirts -- everywhere -- the men still wear the traditional skirts that they wore hundered of years ago.

The little glass kiosk thing in front of the monk is a booth where they sell these little leaflets of gold, about an inch in diameter.  You can buy those leafs and then apply it to various areas in the pagoda as a good work. 

Back outside the Pagoda.

In our cab driving towards the river front, you can see Sule Pagoda in the distance.  The water used to come up right to the Sule Pagoda when the Judsons first came in the 1800s and this was the first site that they saw from their ship.

This is the jetty that the Judsons came to in the 1800s.  According to Rachael, our guide, its the same jetty that they came to (I'm sure it has changed slightly.... :)).

Back in the town looking at the Sule Pagoda, with the Muslim mosque in the background, while we stand in front of the First Baptist Church, across from the Catholic Church :) 

The capital building of Myanmar. 

U naw Baptist Church named after the first convert in Myanmar, U naw (can't remember the rest of his name and I gave my Judson biography to Rachel so I can't look it up :))

Thought I'd throw this in for those of you who are job hunting.... Theres a position available downtown Yangon!..... :)  I know its for a "sale assistant", but not sure what the details are.....

In the market.

I don't want to know what they're selling the cute little puppies for.... :(

The old railway station by the market.  Its such a beautiful building its a shame.  Rachael said there are so many beautiful old buildings but the government just doesn't know how to keep them up.

This ones for my brother.... its Aung San Suu Kyi's compound, the leader of the National League for Democracy.  This is where she was under house arrest for 15 years.  

We needed to eat so we stopped at Sai's Tacos.  Its a restaurant thats the woman who connected me with Rachael owns.  Its part of an outreach they have.  They're from Texas and so the food was actually really good even though it was some Burmese people that made it.  They're from the Shan tribe in Burma and its the people group that the Texas people are working with.

Rachael is at the end in the purple, she was our tour guide.  She's from the Karen tribe of people in Burma.  Sara from Texas is by me.

These were our waiters and the restaurant manager, again from the Shan tribe. 

This is the restaurant on the outside - it was actually really pretty and well done.

Our last stop was the Judson Church that was founded in the early 1900s for Adoniram Judson.

Driving back from to the airport after our fun-filled, site-packed day.

Racheal our guide and our taxi driver for the day (notice his skirt :))

At the airport.

The next day, Monday, I needed to go back to Rahan Ministry in Patpong.  Patpong is the "red light" area.

 Patpong.  Looks calm and peaceful in the morning.

This is Patpong in the afternoon, the booths are being set up for evening business.  They put all these touristy, cheap crappy souvenir booths all up and down the area so that people will come in and look and then they see all the other stuff and get drawn into the bars and dance clubs.

 At Rahab.  This is the jewelry shop where the women are hired to make jewelry.

I had the opportunity to be there during a time when they were doing one of their Bible studies during their break.  It was cool to see these women, some of them whose stories I had just been told about.

And then I had to share this.  One the way out, we were waiting for the elevator and I started reading my friend's son's shirt and I had to double take.....

I looked at my friend with this look on my face and then she started dying laughing and said when her mom had come, they had found the shirt at this store that was like Wal-Mart.  Such a kid-friendly shirt?.....