America, Culture, Family, Fashion, Funny

Name DroppingĀ 

Sometimes I wonder if other people notice what a spaz I am, or if it’s just me? I feel like it’s pretty noticeable. I trip over things, spill stuff on myself, get my words confused, ask unnecessary questions, and the list could go on. I always hope that it comes off as endearing. If not, atleast my intentions are pure. That counts right? 

There are a few areas where I shine though. I make friends easily, so that’s a positive. And, I’m usually good with remembering names. Also very useful. I’m afraid my skills might be lagging a little bit lately, though. 

I don’t usually run deliveries for Skyline. There are a few reasons for this:

1) I’m bad with directions. And when I run deliveries, I have to string together a bunch of different places into one cohesive drive so that I’m not back-tracking. It’s a difficult task for me, to say the least. Which is to say that I back track a lot. 

2) I’m the one who sits behind a desk all day and answers emails for all of the customers that we make the deliveries to. So, it’s hard to get away at the time that the deliveries need to be made.

But, occasionally, I’m the one who has to go out. Which happened this week, twice. 
I had to go one day to meet with a teacher that saw us at the Teacher Expo. He’s a spry, little old man, with wire rimmed spectacles. I hope you’re getting a good picture of him. His name is Leroy. He’s sweet and called me to talk for 10 minutes about his robotics team that he needed to order polos for. We had a good chat and I told him I’d bring by some samples. 

Fast forward to me walking into the school. I walk up to the desk in the office and they ask me to sign in. The secretary informs me that they would usually scan my driver’s license, but the machine is broken. (Which was good for me, seeing as how I had forgotten my driver’s license at home that day and was driving around all day without my ID. What was that about being a spaz?) So, sign in. Check. 
Then, she asks me: who are you here to see? 

At this point, I remember his name is Leroy, but I can’t think of what his last name is. So, instead of just saying that, I say the first last name that pops in my head. 

Brown.

Leroy Brown. 

As in the baddest one in the whole town. The one who is meaner than a junkyard dog. 

(If you’re not following me, check out Jim Croce’s album: Photographs and Memories. One of my favorite albums, lots of classics.) 

The secretary looks at me and I’m not even sure she understood my accidental reference. Instead, she says his correct last name questioningly, to which I say, yes! and take off towards his classroom. Like a spaz. 

Next up: an elementary school to deliver 5 cases of shirts. This is a whole new level of obstacles for me. We have a little cart that folds up nicely and fits in my car. But, getting it out and unfolded to haul the boxes in? Not very easy. 

I get it out, stare at it for a few minutes in the parking lot, trying to decipher how all of these parts work together, finally get it unfolded and load 4 of the boxes on, and barely make it in the door without all the boxes spilling off in the entryway.

I bring them into the office, the secretary instructs me on where to put them and goes to take care of something else.

As I’m unloading them in the designated area, the principal (who I’ve never met before) walks by. He greets me and thanks me for delivering them as he’s walking into his office, right by my boxes. So, I respond conversationally, still moving boxes around. He had just walked into his office, when I heard him say: and your name is who?

So, I respond by saying my name. 

I hear him say again: your name is who? 
(I realize this isn’t exactly proper grammar, but we’re in Arkansas and it actually is a “what’s your name?” phrase that can be used.) 

So, I respond again, saying my name more loudly this time. 

He, then, comes out of his office, laughing. And he says, Brittney, I’ve got a student in my office. His name is Who.
 
Guys, I’m officially giving up the name game. If you need me, I’ll be at my desk. 

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America, Animals, Culture, Family, Food, Health, Mexico, Summer

T-Shirt Trade

I traded a t-shirt for a grilled chicken salad. And, it was a great swap. We were at a teacher’s fair (which basically amounts to a bunch of crazed teachers trying to get free stuff as quickly as they can) and our shirts were the most popular item.

As we were setting up our table, (pre- crazy teachers) a girl from another table representing a local restaurant came over and asked to swap gift cards for a shirt. She held out 4 cards for free salads, which just happens to be my favorite meal, and I gladly gave her a shirt. I’ll trade veggies for t-shirts any day! 

We had our family reunion this past weekend and my grandma was telling a story about how even when I was little, I’d eat anything. For me, that pretty much sums up my family reunion experience. Inevitably, the conversation turns to what weird things I’ve eaten over the past year since everyone last saw me. I’ve told the dog and egg story quite a bit. If you didn’t catch those the first time around, check them out here and here.

After being at the family reunion, Monday and Tuesday were pretty hectic, just trying to catch up. One of the churches we work with called on Tuesday afternoon (after the teacher fair that morning) and said, oh, by the way, those 400 shirts we ordered: we need those in 3 hours. And we need them delivered to the church (which is one hour from our shop). No big deal. 

Jake’s hands after printing 400 custom dyed shirts


After delivering them, we were exhausted. And, I needed a reward for surviving the day. And the reward I chose? Tacos. 

Jake and I typically eat at the Mexican restaurants that you actually have to speak Spanish at to order. Not really your run of the mill places. We order things like huaraches, tlacoyos, and chilaquiles. This place was an in between place. Not commercialized, but not way off the map either. There were a couple things on the menu I didn’t recognize though. 

Listed under the taco fillings, it had mulitas. I took Spanish in high school and Jake took German, so occasionally, I will recognize Spanish words that he doesn’t. But when he asked me if I knew what it was, I didn’t recognize that one. So, he looked it up on his phone. 

And this is what showed up. 


Armadillo tacos, anyone? 

My first thought was: surely they aren’t really serving that here. My second thought was: should I order it? 

I realized the issue though. Mulita and mulitas are two different things. It turns out that mulita is the name for an armadillo in Uruguay and Argentina). Mulitas, however, are more like tortilla sandwiches. Almost like a quesadilla, but not quite. Either way, mulitas have nothing to do with armadillo. Unless you made them with armadillo meat. So, I guess you could have mulita mulitas in Argentina. 

I played it safe and just had chicken. 

And, I was pleased to find out the next day that the church we made a late delivery for gave us a sweet gift. Gourmet popcorn. 

Trading food for t-shirts? A yes every time. Just maybe not for armadillo tacos. 

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Asia, Auto, Food, Health, Missions, Religion, Travel

Not of this World

I’ve done it, guys. I think I finally have mastered the art of riding side saddle on a motorbike. Hands politely in my lap, balancing carefully as we go around the corners. I’m officially a Southeast Asian lady. 
So far, I think I’ve had my picture taken about 73 times since I’ve been here. This morning, I saw one of the ladies in our nutrition training session trying to take a picture of me as we were preparing to begin. So, I stopped what I was doing and stood still to smile for a picture. Because, if you’re going to take my picture, I atleast want it to be a good one. Then, that opened the door for personal pictures, so some of the other women took pictures with me. 


I forget sometimes that I stand out here. I’m trying my best to blend in. I wear the Lao skirt. I sit side saddle on the back of the motorbike as we navigate the streets of the town. I know their greeting, so I greet the people that I meet in their own language. I fold my hands and bow politely when I meet someone. 

Today, one of the women brought me a Lao traditional basket of black rice (because I had asked some questions about it yesterday), so I took it for lunch. As we were walking from the hospital back to the motorbike, with my Lao skirt on, carrying my Lao basket of rice, I thought to myself, I am blending in. Adopting a few of the customs. Dressing like them. Eating like them. 


Then, I looked up, came out of my day dream, and realized that I am a blonde girl, who is about a head taller than everyone here, and people are still staring at me. Actually, they’re staring at me more than if I were dressed in my normal clothes.

Why?

Because they can see by the way I look, by the way I act, by the way I speak, that I don’t really belong here. Not that I’m not welcome here. I feel very welcomed here. But, by taking on some of their culture and adapting to some of their ways, they’re wondering even more: who is she and what is she doing here? She’s obviously different, why is she trying to be the same?

The Bible speaks about this phenomenon a little bit too. In Romans 12:2, the apostle Paul urges the believers to not conform to the pattern of this world. Again, in John 18:36, Jesus reminds us that His Kingdom is not here in this world, but beyond. 

As believers, we are called to be different. The way that Christ lived, the example that He gave for us to follow, doesn’t look anything like what this world promotes. Where we want to hate, Jesus said to love. Where we want to judge, Jesus said to forgive. Where we want to fight, Jesus said to make peace. 

Like me in a Lao skirt on the back of a motorbike, true believers stand out, even in the midst of the world all around us. Why?

Because we don’t belong here.

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America, Culture, Missions, Religion, Uncategorized

More

They always say that as a teacher, you learn more than your students. Which I never really thought about until I started teaching.

Let me preface this by saying that I never wanted to be a teacher. It’s not really in my nature. I have friends (a lot of friends actually) who are teachers. They are all talented, beautiful people and are brightening the futures of our children every day.

That’s not me. A classroom full of little minds to mold was never my dream. However, sometimes we are put into roles in life that we aren’t necessarily called to and that’s how I found myself teaching at church. I’ve taught the younger kids for a long time, but recently, I moved up (or down, depending on how you look at it) in the rankings and I’m now teaching our Wednesday night youth group, which consists of jr. high and high school.

I feel the need to mention that while I was moved to this position, I was still not given van driving privileges. My brother told them that I didn’t need to be in charge of driving a van full of kids, so they put him on the list instead. So, I promptly planned a youth trip to the corn maze and made him drive us.

Back to teaching, though. I don’t know who seemed to think I was qualified for this. I rarely have lesson plans and spend most of my time talking about what I want to talk about. So, they just listen to me ramble. The cool thing about not having lesson plans is that you can truly experience the Lord speaking through you. That’s such an abstract idea, until it happens and then you know, without a doubt, what that feels like.

Last week, I was worn out. I had just gotten off work, rushed over to church (late as usual) and had absolutely nothing to teach about. I didn’t have a Bible story in mind, no wisdom to impart. And I had 15 crazy teens who were loud and rambunctious and I just didn’t really think I could handle it. But, once I got them calmed down, we started talking.

It’s kinda magical when you get teens talking about serious subjects and hear their ideas. (Almost) all of their goofy, awkward, wild personalities fade into the background and you can see who they are as people.

We’ve been talking about our relationships with God. About what we’ve been told about God versus what we really know and believe for ourselves about who God is in our lives and what roles He fills for us.

I told them that I had always been told that God was faithful. I was raised in church, I’ve been told and taught a lot of things about who God is. But until I experience that for myself, do I truly believe that or is it just an idea in my head? Until I experienced God’s faithfulness, I didn’t really know what that meant.

The night that I had nothing to teach, we began by talking about how we view ourselves versus how God views us. A lot of the kids that we have at church come from hard situations, where one or both parents aren’t really in the picture. I had read a quote earlier in the week about how kids become what they are told that they are. So much of who we feel like we are or what we feel we’re capable of is based simply on what we’ve been told we are, what we’ve been told we can do.

As I began talking about this, I shared with them from Psalm 139, where David is talking about how the Lord knew us before we were born, how He planned out all our days before we even existed. That sounds like a God who loves us quite a bit. But as I looked at the faces of these kids, I knew that some of them were hearing this for the first time. I knew that some of them hadn’t been told that they were loved very much. We went on to talk about how if God knew us before we were born, that meant that none of us were accidental. Whether our parents had planned for us to be here or not, we had a Heavenly Father that planned out every single one of our days. The looks on a few faces made my heart hurt a little bit. To feel unwanted or like an accident is tragic. But, how much greater does the love of the Lord wash down over that situation?
These were definitely not my words that were being poured out that night. I can’t take claim to any of that. I showed up as an empty, tired vessel with nothing to give. But, the Lord always supplies.

They say you learn more as the teacher than as the student. Yes, I’m learning the differences between a concert trombone and a marching trombone. I’m learning about soccer, the lifecycle of lice, and about ninjas (yes, all real conversations, I can’t make this stuff up). But, really, I’m learning so much more. More about myself. More about them. And more about God and how very much He loves us. Way more than I ever bargained for.

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