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Showing posts from February, 2007

Culture of Complaints

I may have commented this before, but someone recently pointed out to me that our culture bonds over complaints. Want to strike up a conversation with a stranger? Complain over the weather, the slow bus, the crappy sports team... Someone asks how you're doing? "Not bad, except for..." It's way too easy. And I don't like how often I do it. Maybe I should give up complaining for Lent. (I know Lent started last the chaos and excitement of Scotland, I didn't really think about whether or not I'd be observing it.)

Spotted today:
Button on a backpack: "Jesus is coming back. On three, everyone say, 'Surprise!'"
Old Navy gift-card slogan: "Who says money can't buy you happiness?"

My Grampie, after losing weight due to his recent illness, comments that he's thinking he might get a job as a Fruit of the Loom underwear model, now that he's got the figure for it...Oh, and today is his 88th birthday.

Scotland Pictures

portobello surfer
Originally uploaded by bethaf. What, you weren't expecting a surfer?

Well, there might be other pictures you're not expecting either...and even if they're predictable, they're still great. I hope. Enjoy!

Scotland Summary

This post is a mile long. But someone asked for it, so here goes...Corresponding pictures are pending.

Arrive in Edinburgh at 10:30am. Meet everyone and bus it to the city centre. Walk to our hostel. We congregate on a corner and I’m reminded how much I dislike traveling in big groups. It is hard to be discrete.Head to orientation where it all seems a bit surreal. Do some sort of orientation. Then split up for a scavenger hunt, which is ends at a restaurant, where we eat supper. I am exhausted, having slept only 25 minutes on my 10 hour flight over Friday night.After supper we have a staff team meeting, where we make many Spirit-filled decisions. I eat a delicious strawberry-mousse type cake. In bed by 9:30, I’m awake at 5:30 in the morning. I lie there, thinking and resting, until 7am.SUNDAY:
I like our hostel, especially the view from our window. It is the back of EdinburghCastle. Kelley, Terra and I have a little room together. When I turn around between our beds, I accident…


It's true. My conceit has won out over my desire to be different (just like everybody else), and I've joined Facebook.

End of story. Please, no "I told you so"-s.


I almost didn't go to small group tonight. I am glad I went, and not only because the cookies were good. I'm glad I went because we took 20 minutes to go through some questions personally, and it was a much needed time with God. One of the questions was about thirsting for God - when was the last time we thirsted for Him, when was a time we remember thirsting and then being satisfied. And I realized that I left Scotland thirsty. I spent the whole week thirsty, actually. I know that God worked while we were there, but I felt like I was standing on the other side of a glass divide, watching it all happen but somehow removed. I don't even like to admit that - I'm a leader and am supposed to be in on what God's doing (at least, that's what I think). Tonight was one more piece in a puzzle that's slowly getting clearer. A puzzle I've been piecing together for a couple months now. I have a feeling breakthrough/breakdown is almost here. I hope so. It might mean…

More In-Transit Thoughts

Ok, so the last leg of the journey home was the 10-hour flight from Amsterdam to Vancouver. Stellar food by KLM, and decent entertainment. I had a great conversation with the guy sitting next to me - a part-time DJ who was on his way back from a tour somewhere in Europe...We spent nearly the first three hours of the flight talking about God and morality and Jesus and life. It was the most significant conversation I think I had all week. It was a good reminder that "ministry" isn't my job, but my way of life.

I fell asleep listening to my music, and one song I must have heard somewhere along the flight stuck in my head. I can't find the lyrics to The Normals "We Go On," but here's part of it:

Cause around here everybody's tryin' to find
Someone to be
Every guy's trying to find respect in the eyes
Of a girl who just wants to be loved
We're children playing with guns
Children playing with hearts

And we go on
We go on

Driving out of the city
Sometimes …

Written In Amsterdam

Gravol. I don’t understand how it works, but I love it. Flying doesn’t stress me, but my body doesn’t like it much. One little pink thing, and everything is a-ok again.GonzagaUniversity. It’s a real place. I saw someone wearing a sweatshirt. Oh, Barats and Bereta…8 hour layovers bite. The way to make them better is by not sleeping the night before, so that you are so exhausted it doesn’t matter if you are curled up on a single chair and end table, you can still fall asleep. Little Cultural Nuances:
Arthur’s Seat is not King Arthur’s Seat.
White coffee is different from black coffee because it has milk in it.
GeorgeIVBridge isn’t just a bridge. It’s a street (I think? Maybe I’m wrong on this one).
‘Cheers’ vs ‘Cheerio’ (see previous post)
Holding two fingers up with your palm outward is fine. Turn your palm inward, and you might as well have given someone the finger.St. George’s Square is in Guelph. George Square is a campus at EdinburghUniversity.You can’t get a Tom Collins’ to drink at …

Cheerio and Cheers...

Quarter after midnight. My suitcase is pretty much packed (minus the slightly wet socks that I'll take off if my shoes are dry when I'm ready to go). A few more paperwork things to fill out before I can be officially finished with Project.

Goodbyes are an unfortunate thing I don't know how to do properly - students I may never see again, some people I'll miss more than others, the inevitability of getting on my flight back to Vancouver; it all makes it...something I don't look forward to.

Nor do I look forward to an 8-hour layover in Amsterdam followed by a 10-hour flight home. I'm thankful that Wendy will be meeting me at the airport. The plan is to catch up on Studio 60 (apparently going on hiatus!) and The Office. How's that for some non-spiritual downtime?

I still need to process the week. I've mentioned this a few times. I haven't thought through what God has been teaching me and what that menas for my life at large. I'm not quite ready to thi…

Disconnected Things I Don't Want to Forget

a) I love walking on cobblestone, even though it hurts my feet.

b) I'm a sucker for social times, even when I'm tired and know that I need time to myself.

c) This city is gorgeous at night.

d) Glasgow "Uni" is even more beautiful architecturally than Edinburgh. But yes, overall, Edinburgh wins the best-looking card.

e) I still don't like playing tourist. And although I pull out the "I'm Canadian" card, it grates on me a bit. A wee bit. It means I have taken far fewer pictures than I would like to have. I guess it's the cost I have to pay.

f) God is so gracious. To my team, and definitely to me. I haven't taken much time for processing yet. Maybe I will tomorrow. But I know that He has given me more than I've deserved this trip. I may post more on that later. I may not. The problem with the growing popularity of a blog is that it's harder and harder to be fully honest. I like to be selective in who sees my weaknesses. When I don't know…

Travel Log

Originally uploaded by bethaf. It's official. I'm in love with this place. I love the history that you see even in the cobblestones. I love the accents and the little vocab differences (a paper-cutter is called a guillotine, which is not that reassuring, but definitely humourous). I love that I can relate to these students, or at least I think I can. I love how friendly people have been. I love that men wear scarves and it isn't weird. I love that Kirk Durston is speaking on Friday. I love my coworkers.

I am in an exceptionally content mood this evening.

Going, Going...


Last year when I went to the UK, I had a broken arm. Everyone is nice to you when you have a broken arm. If I still had my splint and sling, I'd be tempted to wear it tomorrow.

Singles' Appreciation Day

(Title courtesy of Nadine.)

I was going to post about how great the UBC boys are. Nancy corrected me, "No, they're not UBC boys. They're C4C men." I stand corrected.

A wonderful surprise for the girls: dinner, music, a small speech, and even chocolates. Appreciation all around...and no hidden motives. Just genuine brotherly love. Setting the standards high for all y'all other men.

You might notice my drawl there...I'm watching Sweet Home Alabama, undoubtedly one of the funniest love stories of all times. Sweetest too. With great male characters. Yup. Love it.

Scotland in 2 days. Super excited, as I have been these past few days. I was reading through my journal from my trip 5 summers ago (as if it were 5 years ago!). And it hit me - some of these kids could be at university now. They probably won't be, cause they probably won't even finish high school. I hope I'm not being pessimistic, but by the time they're 13, most of these kids are in gangs dr…

Blueberries and Travelling Mercies

I am eating frozen blueberries. They are the most delicious things I've eaten in quite awhile. (I am taking a break from sweets/desserts, and man, do I love sugar.)

With only three days before I leave for Scotland, I am starting into my pre-travel-sickness-paranoia. I cannot get sick between now and then, and fear it with many fibres of my insides. I'm even taking the vitamins someone gave me - something I haven't done since elementary school.

Speaking of Scotland, I will be staying here. I am so ridiculously excited. I even wore my Scotland t-shirt today. It has a bagpiper on it. This time, I want one with a highland cow.

I also borrowed a book tonight: Travelling Mercies by Anne Lamont. It will be my travel read.

Mmmm, blueberries, you are delicious.

Lent and Chocolate

I was in a Lenten conversation today, about people's experiences in the past and plans for this upcoming Lent. Chocolate came up as something a few of us aren't sure we could give up...I, forgetting that Sundays don't count, can't quite conceive of the thought. But as another girl pointed out, some people have coffee, some have their tea, I have chocolate.

Not a Mr. Big or KitKat kind of chocolate, but dark, smooth, 40% cocoa or higher, $4 a bar chocolate. Unreasonable for chocolate you say? I beg to differ. Say a coffee drinker buys one latte a day (not at all unreasonable here in Vancouver). Let's even say it's a tall, which I think is a small. Roughly $4. Lasts 10 minutes. My chocolate bar, however, at $4 a pop, will tarry over a four day period. Anyone who eats dark chocolate knows you don't eat the whole thing in one sitting. So economically, my chocolate is a better choice. Caffeine and calorie-wise: I can't say for sure, but I'm guessing they&…

The Idea of You

I watched a new release this past week, and in the big break-up scene, a man says to his wife, "You don't love me. You love the idea of me."

This seemed profound, until I realized it's something I've heard a lot of recently, in movies and conversations. And it sounds a bit like a cop-out to me. This is leading me to ask: what exactly is the difference between loving someone and loving the idea of someone?

I mean this: whenever we're attracted to someone, or have even a friendship with another person, we have in our heads a perception of what/who they are. And at least for me, I can sometimes put parameters around who I expect my friends to be: I have an idea of them, and I like that person. So when they act outside of my expected borders for them, it forces me to reevaluate and redefine who I perceive them to be.

Does that mean I never loved them? Or does that mean that love is about allowing our "ideas of you" to be continually reworked, with a commit…

Sheet Sets

I need to buy a second set of sheets. I want to be asleep, but I forgot to put my sheets in the dryer, so here I am, killing time (I don't like that expression. who wants to kill time?) while my sheets get nice and toasty warm for me.

Also, rotating a mattress does wonders for a good night's sleep.


One of the things I strongly dislike about myself (I am trying not to use the word 'hate' in reference to myself or other people) is my two-facedness on the issue of homelessness. I get so frustrated with the stereotypes and general ignorance that I often hear among my peers.

Then tonight, I am asked twice for money and reply with my standard, "Sorry, I don't have any change." Which is true. And I think to myself, At least I am stopping to acknowledge them and respect their request.

A man with a sign sits in front of the grocery store: My name is Jack. I am 71 years old... He looks pathetic (and I mean that in the actual sense of the word) and I think to myself, He could be someone's grandpa even as I walk past him...Two blocks later I am still wrestling with God. I know I could and should go back. I have a debit card and a credit card and money in my bank. I can offer this man food and compassion and kindness.

But I kept walking, knowing I wouldn't turn ar…

25 Word Vocab

So, a friend asked me if I would rather have a vocabulary of 25 words of my own choosing, or have a magnetic head that attracted all small metal objects within a 5-ft radius.

I opted for the 25 word vocab. You can say a lot in 25 words, especially if you've got good adjectives/adverbs. Sign language and pointing would be a boost as well.

This would be my list of words:
plethora, minute (not the unit of time, but the unit of size), exceedingly, assinine, quite, jarring, lovely, shortly, regrettably, fortunately, massively, thoughtfully, sweet, unfortunate, honestly

Key phrases would be:
Would you....?, Please!, Absolutely, No........(can be said SO many ways), Is that...?/That is..., I'm... (that's only one word! ha), ...and..., Jesus (just for good measure)

To stretch things a bit further, I think I could drop the -ly off my adverbs and end up with adjectives or nouns that could further my conversational skills.


Argh. I still have noise on my camera. Even after changing the ISO to 100. I don't know what that means, but I did it... and the noise problem isn't solved. The downside to having a new camera is figuring out how to work it. And that has to happen before Scotland.

Yeah, Right.

Someone apparently registered me for Facebook.

Well, I'm not finishing the registration. Nice try.

I wonder if it is one of my students. I made a joke at our weekly meeting that I think it would be fun if someone started a "people who wish Beth would join Facebook club." But really, it would just be another ego game. Which is why I'm not on Facebook in the first place. I'm only anti-Facebook because I know it's bad for me. Plus it's a trend, and I am anti-trend too. Ha, rebellious nature.

Last Waking Thought

Ok, maybe not the very last. But somewhere near the end of my coherency last night, I thought: Sometimes, I admire (am jealous of?) girls with eating disorders, because they seem to have the will-power that I seem to lack. I know that it’s the other way around, that food rules them, and I know they are acting out of belief in a deep-rooted lie: If I am skinnier/prettier/healthier, then my life will be better. But at least they are doing something more about their discontent than changing the channel to see what’s on after CSI.

This morning, I know it doesn’t make sense. But it was there and it has been there before. I understand how easily girls can get dragged down that slippery slope.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Stephen! Your card is in the mail.