Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Big Race/Reunion

Every time I get together with my college friends I'm reminded of how blessed I am by their friendships. And then I, of course, wish we didn't all live so far away. However, I love that we've made a point to get together every summer so far. This year we met up in Okoboji, IA and rented a little cabin for a couple of nights.
What better thing to eat in Iowa than corn? Yum...having a picnic in the park.

Playing games in the park...

The inspiration for meeting in Okoboji was the half marathon race taking place that weekend. I tried to coerce more people into running, but was successful with two! :) Here we are eating pasta the night before the race!

"Pasta to make us run fasta!" as Ellen says. :)

Here we go! No turning back now! :)

You can tell by our energy levels that this is about 5 seconds into the race... it was a hot day, so the water stations, sprinklers, and home owners who dumped water on us were life savers! :)
...and we're almost there! I've never been happier to see that finish line. :) Overall, it went really well. I met my goal, and it was a fun accomplishment to check off the list! :)
With our awesome cheerleaders at the finish line!

Chelsey was able to come up and hang out with us at the park for a few hours after the race. :)
After a few days in Okoboji we went to Sioux Falls and hung out at Erin and Tracy's houses. We got to meet Tracy's sweet little girl Anah! :)

Until next time...

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I'll have to blame my lack of posting on having a fantastically fun summer! I've been so tired by the end of the day that I have no energy left to blog. :) But alas, it's time... on July 5th I set off on a jet plane yet again to visit my dear friend Tawnee, who served with me at Haven of Hope in Ghana. It was such a wonderful reunion filled with good conversations, plenty of laughs, lots of reminiscing, and enjoying God's beautiful creation. We spent 3 nights camping outside of Yosemite National Park, and that was amazing. We slept under the stars all wrapped up in our sleeping bags. The days were warm, but the temperature really dropped at night-time. Here are some pictures of our time together:We went on a hike one day and that waterfall in the background is our final destination. (Warning: Objects in picture are farther than they appear!) :)
Lovin' the campfire food! We felt like such good girl scouts with our campfire skills! ;)
The first full day we decided to be adventurous and go whitewater rafting. Here are our feelings after the safety briefing before heading out on the river. I consider myself a pretty brave and adventurous person, but I was so scared! However, I jumped that hurdle of fear and went for it, and boy, was I glad I did. After the first intense set of rapids, my adrenaline was pumping and I was able to relax a bit more. (We did have one guy fall out in the raft ahead of us and one whole raft behind us flipped on some big rapids, but thankfully everyone was okay.) It was not only extremely fun, but we were surrounding by amazing scenery and I really couldn't think of a better way to spend a morning! :) Definitely a highlight of the trip!

In front of Yosemite Falls...
We thought we were ready for a dip-- until we felt the frigid mountain water! :) This was as far as we made it!
Tunnel View
As we were grocery shopping, we began to see a pattern. Our cart was being filled with many items strikingly similar to our grocery lists in Ghana! I guess that just reaffirms my idea that Ghana living was a lot like camping. We just had to get a picture with our Velveeta-- a staple (delicacy) while in Ghana! :)
Here we are on the Mist Trail on the way up to the waterfall you saw in the first picture. We were soaked by the time we got to the top, but it was so refreshing!

After our Yosemite adventures we checked out Balboa Beach on Sunday. The waves were so strong, so we had a lot of fun playing around in the water...another adrenaline-pumping activity!

What a great week! :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Korean Finale & Fourth of July

Now that summer has finally come to WI (Translation: The average high is above 60 degrees.), it's more difficult to motivate myself to blog. I'm loving being outside and enjoying the weather and relaxation. However, today being the 4th of July seemed to perfect day to conclude my Korean entries. So, here goes: The last day I was in Korea, Brent and I took a two hour train ride to Seoul (sweating every minute as we thought we might be late for our tour) where we caught a bus to begin our tour of the DMZ (de-militarized zone), which is an area of land about 2.5 miles wide and stretching across the whole Korean peninsula, splitting North and South Korea, that was created as a peace zone following the Korean war. On the bus ride there was a lady who'd recently defected from North Korea (2009). She answered questions about life there and about her escape...what a sad, sad story...

South Korea has built a train station that is ready to be connected to North Korea in hopes that the two countries will one day be reunited. Knowing the pain, suffering, and persecution that happens in North Korea, that would be a beautiful sight to see and I hope I'm alive to witness it. It was strange being next to the tracks at a beautiful station that has never been used.
We were able to visit the Joint Security Area (where N and S Korean officials meet in peace) but there were very strict rules on picture taking, clothing, and gestures. We even saw one of the North Korean soldiers checking us out with binoculars! Although it was really interesting to see, it was also really sad to see the division and the paranoia and hatred that results.

Upon returning home I've been reading a book put out by Voice of the Martyrs called "North Korea". The persecution that Christians face there is unbelievable, yet their faith is unwavering and inspiring, as they give up comforts, safeties, and securities of this temporary world and trust in full expectation that their abandonment of earthly pleasures will be well worth it in eternity. What a great mindset and a lesson I too must take to heart daily as I feel the pull of the world vs. the calls of God on my life.

John gives me a good reminder of where my priorities should be in 1 John 2:15-17:
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

So as we celebrated Independence Day today I was especially mindful and thankful of the freedoms we enjoy in this country. I'm so thankful for the ability to worship, speak, and live freely. Please join me in praying for Christians around the world who do not have the same luxuries.
Enjoying fireworks at "Rhythm & Booms" in Madison with friends...
In attempt to be festive I decided to make these cake pops...take a good look, these will never be made by me again! haha....okay, perhaps that's a bit strong, but they were not easy for me to make!
We had some family over swimming today...and my mom was getting festive...check out the impressive ice cubes! Way to go Mom! :)

Happy 4th of July!