“In a Cabin in the Woods” (Naples, NY)

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Josh and I were blessed beyond belief by a graduation present in the form of staying for four days in a rustic cabin owned by our pastor’s family. The property is in Naples, NY overlooking Canandaigua Lake–an area that I have loved as I’ve grown up because it is near my grandparents’ beautiful home. The above photo depicts the view from our front room during our stay.

That’s not even the best part. Josh and I left the laptops at home and only brought one of our two phones along (with internet capabilities turned off.) We wanted to get away from everything during this first week of freedom from college life.

And, boy, did we.

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Took this picture by accident while trying to take one out of the bedroom window . . . and Josh loves it

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We talked for long hours, wrote poetry, photographed and sketched pictures of nature, cooked and ate great food, chopped wood, drove down winding roads around the lake, and cuddled. There was a lot of cuddling. It didn’t get above forty degrees while we were out there! Thank God for wood stoves . . . both for warmth and for making my husband feel like a dashing woodsman.

So yeah . . . that’s where we have been ๐Ÿ™‚

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The best woodsy little brunch I have ever had

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The view out of the window of the best cafe Josh and I have ever had the privilege to enjoy . . . and it’s in the middle of nowhere

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Awkward and Awesome Thursday: Party Empanadas

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Awkward:

  • Kristen, Neme, Josh, and I spent St. Patrick’s Day last weekend with just the four of us, some snacks, and one Guinness each. After experiencing (and in Neme’s case, growing up in) the party culture of Spain and spending last St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, nothing we could do this year seemed incredibly exciting. What we lacked in booze we made up for in food!
  • Those savory pastries in the picture at the top of the post are bacon-date empanadas. Bacon. And date. In an empanada. Sweet and salty paradise.
  • This picture of Neme where he is obviously wiping away tears of joy because my empanadas are so beautifully delicious. Not really . . . but he was close.

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Awesome

  • Okay, so seriously, I completely winged the empanada recipe based on something that Kristen’s host mom Ale (who owned a bakery) had made us in Spain. I was really nervous for Neme to try them because 1) he knew how good the originals were and 2) he is a cook. He had one bite and said the only thing in his limited English that I really wanted to hear . . . “Oh yeah.” Major win!
  • Spanish cheese on baguettes with cranberries and candied nuts. To die for.
  • And they sell them at Aldis. Whaaaaat?
  • A friend offered me a puff on a cigarette one chilly night, and for a split second I was like “Thanks! Wait, what? No!”

Why We Should All Move to Sweden

Josh and I are members of the life-changing (albeit controversial) online network known as Couchsurfing. While most people would discourage sleeping on the couches of strangers in foreign cities, Josh and I can’t recommend it enough! That is, if you do it safely . . . i.e., through Couchsurfing.org where members are verified by local community leaders before they can surf or host.

Basically, Couchsurfers get to spend their world travels crashing with locals for free instead of paying for a hotel. In return, you promise that if you are ever able, you will do the same for a traveler passing through your home town. After surfing with fabulous hosts in both London and Stockholm, Josh and I were finally able to make good on our promise to return the favor when a guy named Joel decided to take a bus from Toronto down to the American East Coast. 

Our postcard from Joel

I accepted his couch request when I thought he was a Canadian . . . Imagine my delight when I realized that we was natively from Sweden, the country where Josh and I left our hearts almost one year ago! Joel stayed with us for two nights. Their was sangria, beef stew, Taco Bell, late-night explorations of Wegmans, some jokes about Swedish and American stereotypes, and a lot of guy-talk about hacking computers and playing RTS games. 

Joel was a pure joy as a guest, and we were truly blessed to spend time with him. He reminded me of everything that Josh and I loved about Sweden and everything that we love about Couchsurfing. In his words, “Facebook is for staying connected with old friends, and Couchsurfing is for making new ones.” I compose this post in his honor ๐Ÿ™‚

For the record, I love Abba.

Reasons Why We Should All Move to Sweden:

  1. They are one of perhaps three European countries that the crippling economic crisis has not affected. They must be doing something right.
  2. They have free health care, free daycare, five weeks of vacation, and paid maternity leave. No, wait! Make that maternity and paternity leave. You get fifteen months of paid vacation if your wife has a baby.Whoa. It’s basically an amazing place to work.
  3. The people are environmentally responsible, and they have acres of sparkling clean forests, air, and water to show for it.
  4. The previously mentioned forests, open air, and water. Such a unique and beautiful landscape! Pine trees and lakes everywhere.
  5. The houses all look like pictures from a country calendar. Wooden, brightly painted, and white-trimmed.
  6. They come from Vikings. But seriously, there’s a lot of history there.
  7. They embrace whole foods and good home cooking
  8. Their pop music makes ours look like the thumping, bumping, grinding, whiny whore-fest it is.
  9. They are responsible for both H&M and Ikea. (UPDATE: Let’s not get into the horsemeat issue . . .)
  10. They make kids pick a “major” in high school. Talk about preparing for the future.
  11. They’re doing this about body image issues.
  12. They always take a coffee break called “fika” halfway through the morning and halfway through the afternoon. I like a country that respects coffee! (which Joel does not like, btw)
  13. They have Stockholm. Enough said.
  14. They created the Nobel Prize.
  15. This happened there.
  16. And this is happening now.

“Time Will Kill Us After All” (Canandaigua, NY)

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Gotta love Buddhist street art

On a whim this winter break, Josh and I decided to make a trip one dreary day to my grandparents’ hometown of Canandaigua (about an hour away). We stopped in at my grandma’s work to say ‘hi’ only to find that she had just begun her shift, and we had about four hours to kill before she and Grandpa would be able to spend some time with us.

We did get to go out for dinner with my grandparents, but we had to get creative with how we spent four hours in the freezing cold in a town we weren’t super familiar with. Pretty great opportunity for two people who love to travel if you ask me . . . minus the freezing cold.

That’s about as awkward as it got this Thursday ๐Ÿ™‚

Title is from “Cold (But I’m Still Here)” by Evans Blue

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Walking down the road with my new backpack for college

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Making fun at Michael’s

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A thrift store find that was just so me

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The consignment shop we found was a converted movie theater that kept all of the retro decor! It was too cool

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The rustic architecture in and around Canandaigua is beautiful

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“Lost in the Light” (Bahamas)

I doubt that I’ve mentioned this in my long absence from the blog (except for in Awkward & Awesome Thursday, everything seems to come out there), but Josh and I were blessed with the amazing opportunity to accompany our senior class on a trip to the Bahamas on a Carnival cruise!

It was so wonderful to be able to spend time together as a couple but also fellowship with some great friends we’ve made throughout our three years at Roberts.

Now that we’re back in the States, I’m reflecting back on happy memories from the cruise and looking ahead to my 21st birthday!
Just another excuse to spend time with good friends.
More pics of our Bahamas vacation with friends after the jump!

Awkward and Awesome Thursday: Familia Feliz

Neme, Kristen, and Kaci (Kacita)

Yesterday I photographed the intimate wedding of two very dear friends surrounded by their family in a candlelit living room in the Finger Lakes--a wedding that I’ve known about since last weekend, lol.  I guess it’s a long story.

Kristen studied abroad with Josh and I in Spain and met Nemesio while there. She already had a boyfriend at the time, and he was sure that he would never fall in love. He was wrong. After months of wooing the beautiful girl that had come into his life, Neme and Kristen became a couple–unfortunately just in time for Kristen to return to the United States.

In a move that surprised even those of us who knew him well, Neme made a trip to the US this fall on a tourist visa. While here, the two fell even more in love and decided that they wanted to be together forever. They couldn’t let Neme’s soon-to-expire visa keep them apart. Neme gave up everything that he knew and asked Kristen to marry him–which she did yesterday, the day that his visa expired ๐Ÿ™‚

How awesomely awkward can you get?

Awkward:

  • US immigration laws. Not sure where I stand on those after having an experience with them that was so close to my heart.
  • Trying to take artistic photos in the dark with a flash. It’s a losing battle.
  • Josh couldn’t come because he was a) taking the Spanish lit final exam that Kristen missed to get married and b) studying for the GRE he has to take this Saturday.
  • Driving an hour and a half to watch my friends get married instead of studying for my two hardest finals.
  • Said finals. Two essay exams back-to-back. I think I have carpal tunnel.

Equally Awkward and Awesome:

  • Kristen’s wedding was officiated by her high school driver’s ed teacher and interpreted by her high school Spanish teacher! So sweet and funny ๐Ÿ™‚

Awesome:

  • Their wedding date is 12-12-12!
  • Such a small and intimate wedding. It was absolutely beautiful.
  • Finally seeing these two start a life together. I’ve been waiting for this for months ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Ferrero rochet cheesecake for a wedding cake.
  • Being done with final exams.
  • Getting to see The Hobbit soon!
  • The brand new Garcia family–Neme, Kristen, and little Kaci the yorkie-poo.

Our Decision to Serve


Greetings from dreary Rochester, NY! I hope and pray that you’re safe from Hurricane Sandy wherever you are. 

Josh and I are keeping warm by scrambling through the toughest part of our fall semester (a feat made more difficult by the fact that classes are cancelled until further notice.) Weโ€™re looking forward to taking our final courses here at Roberts Wesleyan College before we graduate in May, as well as (perhaps unwisely) tacking onto our schedules several fun extracurricular activities such as theater ministry, dinners out on the town sponsored by our senior class, a young adult church group, and even intramural water polo. The way we see it, when will we get an opportunity to do these things again?

 
We have been blessed by many amazing and unforeseen opportunities while studying at Roberts. As followers of the blog may know, at the start of this past summer we returned from a semester abroad in รvila, Spainwhich was required in order for Josh to complete his major in Spanish. Even now, we can hardly believe that we spent five months in Europe as a young married couple. God has been so good and has never failed to provide the resources we need to accomplish His will.

Josh and I absolutely love travel. We love exploring languages, history, cultures, and of course, food.  The truth is, we have both been somewhat convicted lately by how self-serving we have always been in our traveling. We have put a lot of effort into planning out our adventures so as to get the most possible enjoyment and excitement from them, rather than planning how to give something back to the communities that we have visited.

This is why we have decided to travel with a student organization known as Enactus to Guatemala City, Guatemala in August of 2013. 

We are planning this trip with the express purpose of giving of ourselves in order to serve others. In particular, we plan to serve underprivileged children and single mothers who have been delivered from physical and emotional abuse to live at the Hogar Mama Carmen. Some of these children are orphans, but through vacation bible schools, English classes, and even basic entrepreneurship classes for the older children and mothers, our team hopes to show them that someone loves themโ€”and more importantly, that Jesus loves them.

The mission of Enactus is to enable global progress through entrepreneurial action. Their values include imagination, courage, determination, and accountability, as well as placing a strong emphasis on teamwork. Enactus (formerly known as SIFE for Students In Free Enterprise) has active chapters in almost forty countries of which Guatemala is just one. Last year a SIFE team from Roberts traveled to India for a similar project to what we are anticipating in Guatemala. Enactus’s approach to missions is to meet the immediate needs of the poor and hungry, but to then go a step further by teaching them practical business skills that they may be self-sufficient members of the kingdom of God. Our hope is that the people we help will be empowered to help others in turn.

As excited as we are about this project, we are also scared. Of course there are more pressing things we could be doing with the few thousand dollars it will take to visit Latin America for two weeks. We could be saving up to pay back four years of college loans. We could be planning to start a family. 

The thing is, we don’t feel right about asking God for His blessing, financial or otherwise, if we are unwilling to give back to His kingdom in some way.

It may seem unwise to some, but we are taking a leap of faith and trusting not only that God will provide the funds to make this mission trip a reality, but that His eternal rewards will far outweigh this small sacrifice. 

We would appreciate your prayers as this life-changing opportunity approaches!