Monday, December 31, 2007

HAPPY NEW YEAR--12 more weeks

I flew in yesterday for my last 3 months here in the Philippines. I can't believe how fast the time is flying by! Coming here from the US is much easier than getting back to the US, haha. All my flights were on time, and I even had 2 extra seats next to me on the long flight, so I could stretch out and sleep.

I haven't really battled jet-lag here yet. I had a huge problem in Washington, but not much here. I guess I'll know for sure when I try to go to bed tonight.

It was a great break from being here, and very refreshing to be with family. I tended to take family for granted when I was home, always going out with friends and hardly ever talking on the phone with my sisters or grandparents. I guess it's just been a little bit of a wake-up call for what really matters in life. Thanks mom and dad for helping me out financially--I was really glad to be there! :D

Here's the pictures from the break:
Christmas in Washington 2007


I'm not sure what is happening tonight. I've heard a few fireworks, but haven't heard about any formal gathering or anything. I might take a walk down to UP square to see if anything is happening later on. All of the students are still at home, so it's just the international students.

Please pray that I will adjust. I'm fighting off a bit of a let-down from being in the US, and getting re-acquainted with life and culture here. I'll get there, it will just take me a few days. Have a great party/ball drop/whatever you do on New Year's Eve! :D

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I'm sitting here, about to go to bed, and thinking. Tomorrow is a big deal, and I'm realizing that it's a world-wide big deal as I've been in the Philippines, and I ask myself "how in the world did this holiday get to be such a big deal?"

I can tell you why. On Christmas, we celebrate the beginning of a Man's life that would change the world--FOREVER. So many people celebrate a "season of giving" or a "time with the family" very conveniently bypassing the entire true meaning.

Genesis discusses the fall of man. Romans 3:23 states "For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God." This is undebatable. We're all sinners, even if a person think they're "not that bad." None of us ever had to be taught to disobey our parents, we just did; it came as human nature.

What does sin do? It separates us from God for eternity, unless it is dealt with. This is where Christ comes in. Without the birth of Christ, there could be NO salvation from our wrongdoings. In John 14:6, Jesus Himself states "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Christ was the sacrifice that paid for our iniquity.

Salvation has two parts. In order to spend eternity with God and be sanctified, a person must come to a realization that they are a sinner and accept God's grace and forgiveness. Christ's death on the cross and resurrection (celebrated at Easter) signify Him paying the price for our sins--we just need to accept it. The other part is bringing God in as Lord of your life. His lordship is crucial to growing in Him and getting to know him better--it's A RELATIONSHIP.

Forget the rules and regulations you may have associated with Christianity, God just wants to know you, and for you to know Him. A person does not intentionally hurt a friend, just as we then should revere and respect God for what and who He is. The desire to serve God arises from one's relationship with God, and accepting that Lordship.

None of this can be done on our own. We cannot work our way into God's favor. No matter how many gifts you give or homeless people you cloth and feed, it will not save you. It says in Ephesians 2:8-9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." It's SO not about us! It's ALL ABOUT CHRIST!

So, back to Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Christ, who made this all possible. Christ is fully God and fully man, and the BEST gift a person can ever have been given.

What are your priorities today? Why are YOU celebrating? Forget about the gifts and the business of the holiday, and focus on it's true meaning. I hope this truth can make a difference.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! :oD


Saturday, December 22, 2007

SNOW!

I went skiing at Stevens Pass with Aryn and Tim last night, and it was A-MAZING. It was crazy because the runs they have here are so much longer than anything we have in Michigan. I borrowed Ben's skis and boots, so all we had was the lift ticket.

It was a beautiful area, too. The mountains were totally white, and all the trees had a fresh coating of snow. And it wasn't crowded at all! We didn't even have to wait to get on the lift. I only took one spill, and it wasn't even that bad. Just got some snow up the jacket was all.

Today Mom and Dad fly in at some point. I'm almost fully adjusted to the time here, so hopefully I'll be coherent and can spend some time with them before going to bed. :o) HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Longest day EVER

So I didn't sleep on the plane like I was hoping to. Pretty much, that means that I was awake for about 34 straight hours--but it was all on December 20. I did break and allow myself to to take an hour long nap yesterday afternoon, but I am managing. I woke up around 10am here, and I'm feeling pretty good right now.

I'm pretty sure that my "stay up all night before I fly out" strategy is NOT the way to go next time, haha. Had I gone to sleep early that night, I would have had a little more sleep saved up and wouldn't have been so loopy and incoherent when I got here. I was rambling and babbling more than usual, and I had very little control over what was being said.

Skiing at Steven's Pass tonight is going to be a blast. I've been looking forward to this for quite a while now! Ben let me borrow his boots and stuff, so I won't have to rent, which is going to save a bunch of money. I'm just so excited to see snow! Last year's slush-skiing at Caberfae didn't quite cut it in terms of quality, so this will be the first real skiing for me in a few years. I'm totally ready for it though! Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I didn't throw up!

I woke up late today, and spent the morning packing. I caught the bus from Olivarez to Magallenes, and for the first time on any sort of public transportation, I never felt sick! Thanks to all of you who were praying for me, as that has been a pretty big battle for me since I got here.

I had to take a taxi to the hotel. I don't like taxis. I don't care where it is, I'm just not a fan. Have any of you seen "The Bone Collector?" You know what I'm talking about. I got in the taxi and the handles were broken, and the locks were unuseable. I couldn't open the door from the inside. I thought to myself "this is NOT good." The driver even had a little figurine hanging from the rearview mirror.

But I made it. He didn't take me away and kill me. =D Oh the things that movies put in our minds...

My flight leaves at 7:55 am, and my next post will come from Washington! Have a great day tomorrow! :o)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm done for a while...

I just had my last class period for two weeks! I had an exam today, and I have no idea how I did. I'm hoping to keep above that 60% cutoff they have here. Anything higher than a 60% in a class means that I don't have to take any finals. It sounds low, but MSU curves most of their classes, so a 60% might be average. We'll see how it goes. =D

I bought a duffle bag today for 620 pesos at an army surplus-type store. I was happy, because thats like $15. I didn't want to have to lug my huge suitcase onto the bus, then into a taxi, and then to the airport. It's big enough that I can fit everything I need, but small enough to carry around.

It's crazy that I'm leaving tomorrow! It's going to be a great trip. I may update from the hotel tomorrow night, if I can get access.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Never a dull moment...

I just have to blog this...

I am sitting here in the lobby at SEARCA minding my own business, and I'm pretty much right beneath a mirror. There are very few actual glass windows in the dorm, so it's mostly open.

Well, a bird got confused. I didn't notice it until it flew smack into the mirror above me and fell, stunned, right onto my keyboard! I didn't know if it was knocked out or whatever, so I just sort of brushed it off onto the floor. (I know, I'm such a caring individual... :o\ maybe not.) Turns out, it was still alive and semi-coherent. Now I just hope I don't get bird flu...

So what does it do? Flies -- AGAIN -- right back into the mirror!! :o) I shouldn't be getting so much pleasure out of this... Oh well. It missed my keyboard this time, and I think it was actually pretty seriously conked out. It actually JUST woke up and managed to find its way out through an open window.

I just thought I would share that story with you. ;o) Go ahead and say it--I'm a horrible person. Or at least I should never have a bird for a pet. =D

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Party #100000000000000

They love to celebrate here! I just returned from another Christmas party, the official IRRI party. They went ALL out too! I wish I had brought my camera, because there was some great cultural displays.

Each "cluster" had to make up a production to present, and then they were judged and there was a prize for the winner. Music and dance is very ingrained in Filipino culture. The productions all had music and hip-hop type dancing, but also some traditional dancing as well. The soils group won, which was pretty cool. They did a skit displaying the life cycle of rice, and the obstacles of growth (drought, typhoons, insect pests, rats). It was all people dressed up and stuff. I really wish I would have brought my camera.

Tomorrow I am going to help Jason with his prep work for an experiment. He is working on his master's thesis on sweet sorghum. I'll finish my Christmas shopping tomorrow afternoon. What is everyone else doing?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Have you ever read Jeremiah?

I've been studying for a Physiology exam for the last 4 hours, so I thought I'd take a break and blog!

Part of what I'm doing in my devos right now is reading through Jeremiah, one chapter per day. I was curious about the book because all I knew from it was Jeremiah 29:11, which is read out of context all the time. I knew that the verse spoke to the Jews in exile, but I wanted to know more about the book as a whole.

The verse I'm talking about reads like this:
Jeremiah 29:11 --
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Now, I suppose there's nothing wrong with looking to this verse for comfort. BUT, I am not, and never will be, a Jew in exile. I don't feel like debating Old Testament doctrine right now, haha. One thing that has stood out to me from reading this book (I just read chapter 12 today), is how God's justice is revealed. This is a harsh, BRUTAL piece of literature!!!

I find it interesting that whenever people read this verse, it's when they are going through a tough time. But the Jews were going through a REAL rough time, and it was brought on by themselves. If anyone of you readers have ever doubted God's holiness and justice, because all you hear about is His love, read Jeremiah.

Now, God is a loving God, and this verse proves it because He has an ultimate plan for them. The Jews are God's chosen people, and they're always cycling. God has never let them go though, and he never will. I have just really been impressed through my reading of Jeremiah, because while I've heard about God's wrath from other books, it's just very powerfully spoken.

So those are my thoughts on Jeremiah...

I cannot believe how fast time is going. One week from tomorrow I'll be in Washington, enjoying the snow, good pizza, and time with family! I am so thankful that God has blessed me so much with a great family, a ton of friends, and this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience! God is good all the time! :oD

Monday, December 10, 2007

I almost forgot what the sun looked like...

"I got myself for Secret Santa. I was supposed to tell somebody, but I didn't."
" I want the footbath."
"That's the thing I bought myself. I'm really psyched to use it. Maybe I should've taken the iPod. Oh, shoot!"

Those of you who watch The Office should know this quote. Thank you Kevin Malone. I must admit...I did this at our dorm Christmas party. Or at least something similar. :oD I had the choice between three other gifts, and I was supposed to put mine in the center for someone else...but I really wanted mine. So I put the other three in the middle, haha.

Anyways, today was BEAUTIFUL! Probably the nicest day I've had here so far. No rain, a few clouds, and breezy, not too hot. I unfortunately was in class for most of the day, but did manage to walk around for an hour or so. I can see so many more mountains without the clouds, and Mount Makiling almost was out of the clouds. Not quite, but almost.

I made reservations for a hotel near the airport in Manila. Hopefully that works out for next week. I don't want to be wandering all over Manila by myself! Ok, well, that's all for now.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

New post for a new week

Hey everyone! I have a Christmas Party to go to at my dorm, which should be interesting. It's supposed to have food from all over Asia, so I'll probably get to try a few new things. I will be staying away from any fried chicken though, haha.

I can't believe my trip to Washington is creeping up so fast! I'm leaving a week from Wednesday and staying overnight in Manila, because my flight leaves in the morning. With traffic out of Los Banos to Manila, there is no guarantee that I would make it on time. That will be an adventure as well, because I may be going by myself. Jed is flying down to Mindanao the same day, so he might go with me. I'd feel better NOT wandering around Manila by myself. Hopefully it works out. I mean, I suppose once I got there, I could just get a taxi to take me to the airport. I'm sure it will be fine though! :o)

I'm really excited about getting pizza with pasteurized cheese, and I wouldn't mind a slurpee or 2 either, no matter how cold it is. It will be great to spend Christmas with family!!! :D Have a great Sunday everyone!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Relaxing weekend

Good Morning! I went around with Jun today at IRRI and explored the long-term experiment. It's pretty complicated! I should get to do a few things with that experiment starting with transplanting next year, which will be fun. I have a work party to go to tonight, which should be a good time.


Last night in our small group, we discussed the section of James that talks about how faith without works is dead. We got into quite a discussion, and I came out with a lot of questions:
1. What defines a good work?
2. Can a non-believer do good works?
3. Is there any good in someone's life with the absence of a relationship with God?

Just something to think on. I would love it if you would post your thoughts, as we will probably do a quick recap discussion next week. Ok, I have to go shower for tonight. Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bryce: 1 Cockroaches: 0

I just realized that I have been here a month, and have no yet said anything about the enormous and disgusting bugs that I have seen. This entry will be a real treat. =D

This is a picture of what tried to live in my room. But I won. My second night in the dorms, I came in after dinner and saw it, and was like "HECK NO." I grabbed the broom in one hand and a sandal in the other, and went to town on the thing. Then I shoved a couple of rugs under the door out onto my porch to eliminate any exposure to the outside. I haven't seen one since, but I fully expect her angry offspring to return, or something similar that you might see in one of those awful giant bug horror movies.

This, by far, was the worst, though. I hadn't noticed anything for almost 2 weeks. No big bugs, nothing to freak out about. But when I saw these, I FREAKED OUT. I can't help but look above me whenever I walk under anything, because I'm convinced that eventually one of these will land on my face. Heaven forbid.

These spiders are ALL OVER THE PLACE on the walk out to IRRI. They've spun webs between all of the power lines, and they're maybe the size of my hand, perhaps a little bit bigger. It was all I could do to get close enough to get a good picture. I hate these things. If I ever see one of these in my dorm room, I will be on the first plane out of Manila, because I don't know if I could kill one. It would leave goo all over the place!

Now, this is all a learning experience, and one I'm grateful for...but I have no desire to come into direct contact with any bug larger than my fingernails. God created them, yes, and therefore I'm sure someone can find them beautiful. I, however, cannot.

Hopefully you get a kick out of this, because I do...from a distance anyways. ;o)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Puerto Galera!

Well, I just returned from Sabang Beach after a weekend of snorkeling. Let me tell you, God created a whole other world that is AWESOME to experience. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like that without it being inside of a glass aquarium. It was one of the most peaceful experiences I have ever had. After diving down into the water, it's almost completely silent, but there is so much life!

Unfortunately, I didn't have an underwater camera, so I couldn't take any pictures. But I have plenty from above the water:
Sabang

I did manage to see a sea snake and one of these:













It was a great experience, but I wasn't a huge fan of the boat ride out there from Batangas. One of the things I am discovering about myself here is that I am more prone to motion sickness than I ever knew. Hooray. :o\

It probably didn't help that I was coming down with the flu on our last day there. I'm feeling much better today, but last night was absolutely awful. I don't think it was food poisoning, but I suppose it could have been.

Well, I'm off to class pretty soon. Have a great week!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

slightly behind

Wow, I'm a little behind on my blogging! I am successfully moved into the dorm here, and glad to be using their free internet. I don't have a good enough connection in my room, but the common room works out pretty well. I'll be posting pictures and probably a video at some point today or next week. =D

*Edit: I've uploaded 4 pictures of the room. I'll do a video next week! :D

My Dorm Room and Apartment


I am leaving early tomorrow morning for Puerto Galera. I'm really looking forward to this trip, as it will be my first "touristy" thing I've done after a full month away from home. I suppose Manila was somewhat like that, but it was nothing like snorkeling and hanging out by the beach.

I was thinking about it this morning; I left my house in Michigan around 1:00 pm on October 31. I have officially been away from home for a full month! Tomorrow is the start of December, and I only have 2 and 1/2 weeks until I leave for Seattle for 10 days. When I get back from there, almost half of my trip is gone! :O!

Time is indeed going fast. BUT, I am not missing anything here, I'm seeing and doing a lot, and am thoroughly enjoying myself. It won't be long until you see my smiling face in Michigan again. :o) I'm glad that I will at least get to see my friends before graduation at MSU, and also get to finish off the year with the LCC Bible Study! That will be so great! :D

Well, as you can tell, I'm feeling a little sentimental today. That's ok, though, every once in a while. Have a GREAT weekend, and I will write more when I get back from the beach--WITH PICTURES! :D

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Skunked again...

Well, it rained last night. This is turning into a pattern. I went with Kuya Wency to Victoria, and a couple of his technicians, and it was just too wet for planting. The place looked like a lake, I think there was a river where there wasn't supposed to be. They're currently draining the research plot as quickly as possible, and planting will probably happen this weekend...if it doesn't rain again.

Here's a few pictures (click to see them full size):







I will miss planting because I will be in Sabang near Puerto Galera. I have been assured, though, that I will have plenty of opportunities to be out planting rice. I was happy to hear that. I want to do it at least once! I'm so grateful for everyone at IRRI, they've all been so nice and helpful!

I move into the dorms tomorrow, which is exciting. I'm going to pack everything up tonight. It will be nice to not have to worry about utility bills, and to have laundry close by. Well, I have a class at 4, so I'm going to head out. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 26, 2007

It's almost December...

Hi! I found out I can move into the dorm on Thursday, so I will be packing up my stuff and settling in on Thursday afternoon. I'm looking forward to it. I haven't been sleeping too well on my current bed, so I'm hoping this new one is softer. =D

Tomorrow I'm going out to Victoria where I will participate in planting rice. It should be interesting, because it's nothing like planting anything we grow in the States. I have a lot to learn. I'm excited though, it's a new experience, and something I could never do at home!

I hear it's snowing in Michigan again. I never thought I would miss winter... But somehow it just cannot be December when it's sunny and warm outside. I'm even going to the beach this weekend! I don't know if there will be snow in Seattle, but when I get there for Christmas, I'm hoping there's at least enough to cover the ground. I'll have to wait and see, I guess. =D

Have a great day!

Just a little something to think about...

Well, seeing that I don't have to much to update right now, I'm going to fill you in with what I've been studying in the mornings:

Galatians 6:14--

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

It's been interesting, because Oswald Chambers has been writing about so often we make the Cross about ourselves. We don't necessarily focus on the implications of the Cross, or what happened there, but moreso what we GET out of the cross. But it's really not about us, and what we get, it's about Christ, and what He did for us.

Now, there's definitely a place for discussing grace, mercy, etc. But just so long as we don't lose touch with what exactly happened there. Christ gave His life as a sacrifice for all mankind. It was an act of obedience, an act of purpose. So often it's so easy to make the cross about us and our redemption, and not look at it as a moment of Absolute Glory for God.

Part of what is discussed in the devotional is what it means to "preach Christ crucified." It should be enough to share what Christ did for us on the cross, to open people's eyes to the Truth. We shouldn't have to make it about ourselves in order to make it appealing. God is good, that is for sure. =D

So that's what has been on my mind the last couple of days. For some reason, My Upmost for His Highest had the same verse for 2 days...so it must be important. At the end of the year, I'm going to switch out that book for another one my mom gave me, called "A Shepherds look at Psalm 23." It should be interesting.

What is going on with everyone at home?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

For those who are wondering...

... I'm still alive! :o) As of right now, we are still waiting to see what will happen with the typhoon, but models are showing we don't have too much to worry about. It's pretty much just sitting over the ocean right now, building strength. It's only moving about 11 km/hour, or about 7 miles/hour. That's really slow. So we're hoping that it speeds up once it hits land, or it will dump everything it has moving only a few miles an hour, and thats when the floods come. So yeah, its actually quite pleasant outside right now, but I'll have to wait and see about later tonight.

I have another thanksgiving dinner tonight with the vet student I met last week, and some of his friends. It should be a good time. Sunday's here aren't too exciting, so there isn't much to report. Have a great Sunday!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Traveling Around...

Hope everyone had a GREAT Thanksgiving! I know I did. I went to the IRRI Thanksgiving dinner and we had turkey and gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, and pumpkin pie. I ate way too much, but it was wonderful. We had it at the IRRI Staff Housing Guest House and it was outside in a garden, lit up and very tropical. It was so much fun! I also got to meet a lot more IRRI staff, so that was also great. It was also great to get some good ol' American food in my stomach. It's been a while. ;o)

Today, I went to Manila with Paul and Veronica. Aryn, if you think the traffic in Seattle is bad, you would be totally miserable on this trip. Los Banos is about 62 km south of Manila, about 40 miles. It took us about 2 and a half hours to get home on the bus! It took us about 2 hours to get there as well... it's almost in constant gridlock it seems. It was ok though, the bus was comfortable.

Manila is a very historical town. We visited the "Intramuros" (which means inside the walls). It's the historic part of the city, with walls that were built a long time ago, and a fort that was constructed in 1571. We were able to walk on top of the walls and walk around in the fort. It was also a national monument to the Philippine Jose Rizal. Inside the walls was the Manila Cathedral and San Augustin Cathedral (The oldest church in the Philippines.)

We then went to a museum devoted to Chinese culture and history in the Philippines. Paul and Veronica had never been there, so we decided to check it out. There was a bizarre video at the end, but I can't really explain it. We got a good laugh. After that, we went to the Mall of Asia, one of the largest malls in the world. And it was very large.

There are a lot of security checks in all public places here. Every time I go into a shopping center or public area, even on the bus, they check all bags and around the waist. I don't know what they're looking for, as they don't even really look at what is inside. But hey, I guess it makes people feel more secure.

Here are the pictures of our adventure in Manila:
Manila - Nov 23


So tomorrow night, the typhoon is supposed to come through. I'm watching it online, and checking to see how seriously I need to take it. No one here really seems to be worried, so I won't be. Jason and Sarah have offered to let me stay at their place for the night, so I might take them up on it. We'll see what the forecast says tomorrow afternoon.

Alrighty, have a great long weekend, and don't wear yourselves out too much doing all that crazy shopping!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Forget anything previously that I had said about rain. Last night, we had RAIN. It started at about 5pm, and didn't stop until 7 in the morning, and I mean, it POURED. I have never experienced anything like it. I have no idea where it all goes either, because I was legitimately concerned about flooding. When I woke up this morning, it was still raining, but no standing water on the ground. Must have good drainage...the river through campus is pretty much doubled or tripled in size though, so obviously it rained quite a bit.

These "tropical storms" are new for me. I'm not too concerned because there was almost no wind at all, just torrential rain. Supposedly there's another one coming, Tropical Storm Mina is on it's way, and the one we had last night was "Lando." I'm not a fan of these.

I actually rearranged my apartment last night to get everything off the floor, in case water did decide to seep through the floors. The rainy season is almost over, and soon I will be on the second floor in a dorm with a generator. I am really looking forward to it. :o)

So, don't worry about me, I'm sure everything is fine. No one here is freaking out, so it must be a normal part of life. It's nice, sunny, and dry today, so maybe some of the water will evaporate before we get dumped on again. I hope so anyway! :D

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

As Promised...

video

I had pizza for dinner...I miss little caesars...

It's. Still. Raining.
BUCKETS.

I bought some sandals today so I could stop sloshing around in wet shoes and socks. I just don't understand how this island isn't completely under water! Lucky for me, my dorm room will be on the second floor, so if we have flood, I'll most likely survive. :o) There's 2 options here:
1. It's raining, but cool
2. It's not raining, but blistering hot.

Either way, I'm always wet, whether it's sweat or rainwater doesn't really matter. But at least I don't have to clutch my backpack super tight when it's just hot. My folders and notebooks are not weathering well.

I had a thought today, though, and it made me chuckle. I was debating the whole possibility of a flood today...and it made me think of Noah and what in the world must people have been thinking then? I suppose they had never had rain before, so it was probably pretty confusing. And then I thought about how God promised to never again flood the earth, and it reminded me of His faithfulness. You know, His promise and covenant with Noah. I never had put it into that perspective before. I always thought it was a weird promise-- (Genesis 8:21,22)

"Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

"As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease."

This sounds bad, but I used to think, "Big deal, Noah was really old anyway, so it's not like he cares if God floods the earth again." But that's not the point is it? God made a promise, and it wasn't just for Noah. It's just a reminder that God is in supreme control, and He always keeps His promises. So now, when it rains, just think about all of God's promises to us. ;o)

It's interesting to me how whenever I get out of my natural element (Lansing), and away from my influences (family, friends, school, anything american), my faith in God is FORCED to increase. I can't coast here, and that is something to rejoice over. Even in the beginning stages, when I wanted to go home, I knew that I couldn't. I knew I needed this. I needed God to make Himself real in my life, to a point where I couldn't miss it. With increased faith, comes increased growth and maturity, and a general understand for God's purposes in my life. So if I'm ever talking with you on AIM or Skype or whatever, and moping and complaining, please remind me of this entry. I might chew you out or tell you to shut up, but I'll take it to heart. :D

WOW, this went long. When I get on my soapbox, you all know I can go for hours. I'm pretty sure a video blog will pop up sometime tomorrow. And people...there's been a significant drop in the comments. Where's the love? =D

Monday, November 19, 2007

Character building day

Growing up, Dad had this phrase that I hated...It was one of those things that I knew he was right about, but frankly, I didn't really want to hear it. Well, Dad, it sunk in. Today was a day of "Character building experiences." In other words, this was one of the most challenging days I have had here yet, and I'm sure there are more to come. But lets focus on the positive, and see what I learned...

1. I got up at 5:30 to be ready to go to a farm for my internship. I was really excited. I waited on the side of the road for a half hour, with no one showing up. As it turns out, my supervisor had lost my cell phone number and we didn't go because of the rain...which leads to #2.

2. It rained all day...ALL DAY. and I had to walk all over the place. So I was wet all day.

3. My history class is only taught in Tagalog. I have to drop it, I don't really have a choice. I have 3 days to find a class to substitute for this one, and get course equivalence from MSU.

4. I've hit my head on every awning, jeepney ceiling, umbrella--anything that I could possibly run into.

SO--what did I learn?
1. One of the goals Dad and I have discussed as a result of this trip is DISCIPLINE, being flexible, and rolling with the punches when things are not in my control. These things are a huge struggle for me, and I am learning to cope...slowly...with not being in control.

2. I don't trust God enough. In terms of classes, living situations, and friends, I'm less than patient for things to work out. Part of my morning ritual needs to include not just devos, but surrendering the every-day, ho-hum parts of life.

3. Don't walk with the umbrella so low above my head so I won't crash into thing. ;o) Man I've got a headache....

Some very good things happened today as well:
1. I met another American. He's a vet student named Kirt, and I'm probably going to his apartment on Sunday for a Thanksgiving party.

2. I bought tickets for Christmas in Seattle!!! I'll be with my parents, Aryn, and Tim from December 20-29th. It should be a great break near the middle of my trip, and give me some resting time with my family. Brenda and John, you'll have a GREAT time in Florida, I'm sure! :D

3. I got my laundry back, and it was all DRY!!! :D and ironed...even my socks. Dad, it sounds like that room mate you had at Taylor who used to iron his underwear.

4. I am almost all set for an ID at IRRI, so I can use the gym and the facilities without glares from the security guards!!! This is a good thing...

5. I'm having dinner with Paul and Veronica again (2 of the Filipino exchange students who were at MSU last year).

6. I get smile.fm on streaming radio through the internet...and I know, I usually hate the station, but it's great just to hear Lansing people talking about Lansing things. :D

Sorry for the long post...Have a great Monday!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Keep on Keeping on

Today has gone very quickly. Not that I don't enjoy it, but church here lasts for FOREVER. My American attention span is limited, haha :D. They start singing around 9:30am, and get done a little after 10. Then there are announcements, and the sermon starts about 10:15. The pastor talks for like an hour and a half, and then theres more singing. It's almost 3 hours in the same room in the same service. It's pretty impressive really, and it's well organize and the sermons are good. At least I have a church right? Ha ha, I'm feeling sort of like a puritan back in the colonial times where they sat in church for the entire day on a hard, cold, wooden pew. Except here they have plastic chairs. :D

No, the church is really great. I went out to lunch with my IRRI friends and we had Thai food again. I'm really starting to get the hang of this Asian food thing. No more fried chicken for me, I've had enough. Pretty much anything fried classifies as filipino food, I guess.

Tomorrow I get up around 5 so I can be ready to go at my internship starting at 7am! Ah, the life of a farmer. I'll update later on and let you know what happens, and maybe I'll even have some pictures! Who knows? Have a great Sunday, everyone.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Food for Thought...

Isaiah 30:21

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

This verse has served as an encouragement to me the last few days, so I thought I would share it with you. God never leaves us on our own to figure things out. He's always there, directing our paths, and guiding us into right decisions.

One thing that I've been learning from "My Upmost for His Highest" is that eventually we should get to the place where we trust God so much, that we are in tune with His guidance to a point where we just follow without asking questions.

I ask a lot of questions, and I'm learning that I need to just obey immediately.
Psalm 1 is another great passage I will share with you:

1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.


I don't know about you, but I eagerly await God's blessing. He shows it in odd ways at times, but it's there. I really like this Psalm because there is an element to eventual victory in it, that God's power and control surpasses anything that I can understand.

I thought I would leave this for you to reflect upon...I didn't have much else to write. Laundry and dishes today :D. Have a great weekend!

PS-How was Silver Bells?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Relaxing friday

Hello everyone! I'm just sort of spending the day relaxing today. I'm now scheduled to begin my internship at 7AM Monday. I guess the roosters aren't always a bad thing. :D

There's not much more to report since yesterday, so I'll keep in brief. Last night I had dinner with the Koreans and Dr. Merca at a restaurant. There were geckos EVERYWHERE! It was fun. The food, I'm learning to adjust to it, but it's not easy. Sinigang is a dish with pork or fish, but with a really sour sauce. I didn't like it very much. Sisig is pork parts (a lot of parts, haha), and it's not half bad. I actually sort of liked it. I also had catfish last night, haha. The biggest adjustment for me is that you don't get a knife with your meal, and just a fork and spoon. And they don't cut the fat off! I also had grilled squid a couple of nights ago...I won't eat that again. It tasted fine, but it was FAR too chewy. ;o)

God has really been working in my life these last couple of weeks. I took a walk to just reflect and take it all in, and I am so thankful to be here. I know that I wouldn't be wrestling through these things if I were at home, and I really needed to face a few things head on. God has His plan, and I must wait on Him. Ok, have a blessed day, and a great weekend!

Classes have begun

Well I officially have had all of my classes now. It appears that Plant Physiology will be my most challenging course. I'm going to try to buckle down and be diligent this semester.

I've been sleeping better. I think I'm adjusting to the heat (although it's been cooler here the last few days), and its been really quite enjoyable to be outside. It's raining today though, so I've been running from building to building with my umbrella.

Last night was fun. I had dinner with three of the Filipino exchange students that went to MSU last year, who I had met in Michigan before I left. It looks like they will be good friends. Hopefully I will see more of them.

Tonight I have dinner with the 5 Korean students! It should be interesting...the language barrier is pretty big.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This is the day the Lord has made...

I start class today! I'm pretty excited about it. I really want to start the weekly routine here.

I'm posting some pictures of IRRI up here. It should give you some idea where I am working and what I am doing. I talked with Dr. Buresh yesterday, my supervisor, and I will be working on rice-corn crop rotations. They're trying to figure out a way to get a decent crop from corn following rice, because growing rice destroys the soil structure. I'll be working around IRRI campus, but also going out into farmers fields.

I played squash again last night with Jason, but also with a guy named Henry. He's British, but has grown up here in the Philippines because his parents work at IRRI. He just graduated from high school, but it gives me another person to play squash with. The squash court is in a gym with a bunch of badminton courts too, and watching the filipinos play is quite interesting. They're much better at it than I am. :0)

Well, continue to pray that I'll get adjusted. I am starting to feel more at home here, but there are still some difficulties for me. Thanks for your prayers so far! Have a great week!

Here's the pictures:

IRRI

Monday, November 12, 2007

Registration...

Registration around here is ridiculous! Regular students are allowed to register online, but I had to go around to each department today and get my courses approved, and then I had to wait to turn in the form to a woman, who of course, told me to come back tomorrow to pick up my COMPUTERIZED approval, which I then have to take to the Cashier and tell them I am an exchange student, and then get "class cards" and have them filled out by the professors. Is this what registration was like for our parents in college? INSANE.

I'm going out to IRRI today to meet with my supervisor for the internship. I'm excited to get that going as that will be a totally new and different experience. ok, its a short one today. I'll keep you posted! :D

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A day of firsts

This is a hefty one for you...lots of stuff packed into one blog. :o)

Saturday was a day of firsts for me:
1. I played Squash for the first time. Similar to Raquet ball, but with a different ball
2. I rode on the back of a moped!
3. I talked to someone successfully over a webcam, and it was AWESOME. :D
4. I explored campus for the first time. Mom will remember this, but when I was younger I had a HUGE fascination with rainforests. I even had a 3D poster of one I hung on my wall (yeah, I remember that), and I played Amazon Trail all the time on our old computer. THIS PLACE IS AMAZING. I'm starting to remember what was so intriguing to me about jungles, and you'll get to see some of it in the pictures.

Here's the video tour of my apartment as promised. Pictures will be posted below.

video


video

I went to church today. It was refreshing. They sing here even more than we do at home. :-O I then went with Jason, Sarah, and Christine (IRRI people) to a Thai restaurant, and enjoyed it quite a bit! It was also nice to talk with Aryn for a while. Talking with people really makes the distance feel much less significant.

Tomorrow I go in to meet with an advisor for school, and then I am going out to IRRI to meet with my supervisor for my internship. Photos of IRRI will come soon. It's pretty western, but the surroundings are beautiful!

Here's the albums:

My Apartment

UPLB Campus

Around Los Banos

Friday, November 9, 2007

Talking is wonderful

I just got off the phone with my parents. It was SOOO good to hear from them. I fully anticipate the next few weeks to improve when I actually have a routine. I'm also talking to Laura, Katie, Emery, Dana, and Shannon right now on a webcam! :D I also got to talk with Steve Kallman for a bit on aim.

I love hearing from you guys! I'm going to do some exploring today...take some pictures maybe. I have a video tour of my apartment...but I'll upload it later. It takes a while. Have a great day!

God is good--ALL THE TIME.

Last night I met Sarah and Jason Beebout, and a guy named Ryan for dinner, and then went to a bible study. All three are americans and work at IRRI. It was sooo refreshing to have fellowship, because I had started to feel sort of alone here. I prayed yesterday morning that God would provide fellowship for me while I'm here, and He came through, BIG TIME.

We went to a filipino couple's house, where they and there son Jay, and a german woman who also works at IRRI joined us. We're studying James, and we discussed the first part where James talks about considering trials as joy. EXACTLY what I needed to hear!

One thing about waking up at 5 is that I have a lot of time for devotions. Mom gave me a morning and evening prayer card that I've been using, and Aaron gave me "My Upmost for His Highest" which has been really encouraging.

And today, I went to IRRI to see where I was going to work. It's AIR CONDITIONED! :D And the facility is really nice, and they have good food. It should be really interesting to work there. I'm going to be studying a rice-maize crop rotation. Pretty much irrelavent for US agriculture, but in Asia, the push for bio fuels has increased the desire for corn in rotations. Should definitely be educational. :D

I also got to talk with Katie H and Katie W on my webcam today! So it works! It was nice to talk with someone familiar. Once I move into the dorms, I'll have wi-fi, so I'll be more available to talk with the rest of you! Alrighty, talk to you all soon!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Check out the video blog!

Well, here's your first look at me in the philippines....not a pretty sight. :oD It's short, so enjoy!
video

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Day 2, and my towel won't dry.

Aryn, I think I understand the problem that you had when you first moved to Seattle. Nothing dries here! EVER. It's far too humid, and my apartment gets very little sunshine.

It's rained here, really hard, for the last couple of days on and off. It's nice though, because it cools the temperature for a little while.

I have a cell phone now. I feel like such a sinner. But I didn't really have a choice. I would give out the number, but I don't know how international calls work...it was a cheapie. Skype is still the best, but it has to be planned. My screen name is brycecr if you want to add me to your list.

I've decided to move into the dorms. The apartment I'm currently living in is a good half-hour walk from campus, and I don't want to have to ride jeepnies everywhere. Plus, it's safer, among students, and there are laundry facilities and internet. Also, I won't have chickens as a natural alarm clock anymore, at 4 am.

Well, I will probably update close to every day, so I will keep them relatively short. Please pray for me because I'm having a little trouble adjusting to being so far from home. I miss you all. :D Yay for the internet and email! please feel free to email me at brycecr@yahoo.com . I will definitely respond, and it's encouraging to hear from all of you. Yay for comments! :o)

I am going to a small group Bible Study meeting tomorrow with one of the Americans that works at IRRI. I think I will feel much more comfortable here once I get plugged into a group where I can have fellowship. See you later!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I'm here, and it's HOT.

Here's a good intro:
1. My first memory of being in Asia is barfing on the landing in Taiwan. Welcome to asia, huh?
2. Traffic is INSANE here, lanes are pretty much just guidlines...no one actually uses them.
3. I have chickens in my front yard. Awesome. I won't even need an alarm clock.

So yes, I am here and am already picking up a few tagalog phrases...though I'm not totally sure what they all mean. I'll post some pictures of my apartment soon, as well as the rest of the area. I've been a little too wiped out today to be touristy.

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragements. I had a hard time leaving the states. As I sat on the plane, I couldn't help thinking "WHAT are you doing?!" But now that I'm here, things have improved, although it's hard to believe that this isn't just a vacation, it's actually six months. I am here because this is where God wants me, where He can use me best. I anticipate that this is going to be an enormous growth period for me, because I can already tell being here is going to be a challenge at times. Nympha (the lady to who picked me up at the airport) just left me to find my way home on the jeepney...I made it, barely. It rains like crazy here, and I couldn't even see where to get off, let alone remember what to say to make them stop driving. :o)

It doesn't look like I'll be getting internet in my apartment...it's too complicated. Things are far more primative than I anticipated. But that's ok, there IS a wi-fi connection near campus where I can use my laptop, so I'll be available to talk on AIM and skype every once in a while...it just might need to be more planned than I thought. It turns out that Michigan is a 13 hour time difference, and Seattle is 16 hours (sorry Aryn), so I will have to make an effort to get to the cafe's at the correct time.

Anyways, I'm just rambling now. More to come later. :D Spread the word about this thing, I like getting comments!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Today is the BIG big day!

It's odd for me to think that I am going to be in Manila at 9:40 tomorrow night (here, anyway). I have a feeling it's going to be a long, long, looooooooooooong day. :D But, it will be exciting of course. I just hope that I don't have to sit next to a screaming baby for 13 hours.

Please be in prayer for my housing situation...I'm sure it's all going to work out fine, but I am just a little nervous. It's not the conditions that I'm worried about, it's just how expensive it will be to fill it. I was informed yesterday through an email that the apartment is empty, which is the opposite of what I thought I was getting. I was under the impression that Justin had left everything there for me (bed, refridgerator, etc), and that it was going to save me some money.

But God is watching out for me because... MY CAR SOLD! :D What a relief, because that's an extra $2500 in my bank account. I just find it humorous that it took my dad less than 3 days to sell what I had been working on for 3 months. Way to go Dad!

Here's the album of Aryn, Tim, and my time around Seattle. The pictures of the glass building are of the Seattle Public Library, and if I get a chance to write about that building later, I will, because its CRAZY. The mountain pictures were taken on a trail in the North Cascades, which are pretty amazing.

Seattle 2007: Pre-Philippines


Ok, next time you'll be hearing from me, I will be in the Philippines! Probably sweating buckets in my apartment, with a box fan 2 inches from my face. :D I must say, I'm pretty excited for the warmth. There's a high of 85F in Manila today.

peace out,
Bryce

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Exciting New Developments...

So, I have decided due to the addition of a webcam, I will be doing some video blogs every once in a while, which is pretty exciting! That way you can actually hear what I'm up to, and I won't have to type it all out. ;o)

And also, I received some further information on my internship. I've been in contact with Dr. Roland Buresh, my supervisor for the internship. According to him, I will be working with Filipino researchers going out into the field and observing/assisting with research operations in a rice-maize (corn) experiment. Sounds like fun! I was hoping to get out into the fields.

I've added a couple of links to my list on the right >>> . So check those out. IRRI is where I'm doing my internship, but the CGIAR is the larger organization. IRRI is just one of the research stations. It's a very interesting organization, that does research on different crops all over the world.

My next post will probably come from Seattle, and then after that, Los Banos! I'll be sure to get some pictures up ASAP! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I've been busy...

So it's been a while since I updated. I've been running around, trying to tie off loose ends, and get everything together for my departure on October 31st. Lucky for me, I have a place to live when I get there, and some time to figure everything out before classes begin.

I created a Skype account today. This is a pretty nifty feature, and it will allow me to call home for less than 1 cent/minute. It's nice to know that I can talk for an hour for less than a dollar! Lisa told me today that I could probably rescue a couple of web cams from salvage (in the basement of our building), and could possibly be able to talk face-to-face to some of you, if I can get them to you. I'll have to try and work out all of the details for that stuff later on.

I still have a lot to do! I need to get to the dentist, the health department, the credit union, and start packing. I've been setting stuff aside for a while now, but it's getting to be crunch time! Please pray that I will sell my car soon. I was encouraged to know that I should be able to live comfortably for less than $500/month, so if I stick to a budget, I should be ok. But selling the car would give me a little bit of a cushion financially.

Thanks for all of your prayers, and it won't be long until you see me posting pictures of white sand beaches, palm trees, and rice patties! :o) Have a great week!

I found a few pictures of Los Banos:







Tuesday, September 25, 2007

October 12

Well, for now I am just planning on leaving for Seattle on October 12. I'll stay for a few days, and one of the students from State is planning on me showing up in Los Banos on the 15th or 16th. I, of course, am waiting to purchase a plane ticket until it is confirmed that I am leaving.

Thank you all for praying for me during this time of transition. It has been a challenge for me to remain patient and trusting while I wait. I understand that God is in charge, and He will work things out in His own time. Whatever the outcome of the situation, I am learning quite a bit about myself and how I handle pressure.

I'm having a difficult time transitioning out of the college group as well. It's hard for me to relate to the group anymore, we just aren't in the same place. I look at this as a good thing, because it just re-inforces to me that I am indeed ready to go away. But at the same time, I'm finding myself with a lot of down time. I've been doing a lot of waiting....

So, anyways, I should hear this week, hopefully today or tomorrow (I haven't been home to check the mail yet). I have asked the Study Abroad Office to put some pressure on UPLB, and I will be checking with them throughout the week to make sure things are taken care of. I will be sure to let you all know the outcome. Again, thanks for your prayers! I really appreciate them.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Crazy Days

Over the past few days, we have had 18 teachers from China fly in and take up residence in the office. They aren't actually living here, but they are definitely taking up space. We're in the process of setting up an office for them in the Manly Miles building, but that is proving to be a pretty slow process.

Everyone around here is running around like chickens with their heads cut off. There was apparently very little planning put into all this, and I'm finding it a little difficult to function with all the chaos. People are snappy, and a lot of rude people seem to be calling and stopping by the office. It's remeniscent of when I worked at the complaint department at LCC.

Needless to say, I haven't been too unhappy that mom and dad are gone for the week, because when I get home, I'm usually not in a good mood. I am predicting a good long nap around 6:00.

Monday, August 27, 2007

School has begun

School officially started at MSU today. Campus is really crowded and I must admit I am not exactly thrilled about it. But hey, it's a university.

I met with my adviser last week and found out that I would be able to get course equivalences for Soil Biology, Plant Physiology, and Plant Pathology. Yay! I will be taking those classes in the Philippines, hopefully. I also am going to try to get an internship at IRRI, so that will be at least 12 credits. I am probably going to take one elective course bringing the total to 15 credits. That's the plan anyways, so I'm pretty excited.

I'm making tortellini for myself tonight. Should be interesting...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Things are coming together

I went in to get some questions answered about my trip today. The woman was helpful, but she doesn't really go out of her way to help you out. I just have to figure out what classes I can take while I'm over there, and then I'm all set to go! I'm hoping to turn in my application by Monday next week.

Campus is swarmed with little naive and lost freshman today. It's move in day, so everything is crowded. I cannot believe how fast the summer went this year. It's strange to think that if I wasn't going to the Philippines, I would be starting class on Monday. Thank goodness I'm going to the Philippines.

Well, I'll be sure to keep you all posted on what happens. No offers on the car yet...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

this week is S..........L.............O.............W......

The office is almost empty this week, and I was given the task of copying hundreds of DVDs of Chinese Sesame Street episodes. A slow, tedious and repetitious process, making for long days. My car is in the shop, so I'm being carted everywhere too. But I don't mind too much.

I received notice that I've been accepted into my Philippines program! Now I have to apply to the actual school there, and then I should be set to go. It's hard to believe that I'll be leaving about 2 months from now. YIKES.

I finally finished my summer-long Office marathon. One of my friends got me watching NBC's The Office on DVD. The show starts into it's 4th season in the fall, so I had three seasons to catch up on. The humor is right up my alley, so I've enjoyed seeing most of it. It's ridiculous, and and pretty politically incorrect, but that is what makes it funny. I see so much of how office life is like, and it's totally exaggerated in this show.

Well, see you all later!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Back to normal

Well, things are back to normal for me. I have nothing more planned for the summer, which is wrapping up very quickly. I am still waiting on my acceptance letter for my study abroad program, so things are pretty much at a standstill until it is confirmed that I will actually be going overseas.

Things are dry here in Michigan. Probably too dry, as we haven't had rain in a long time, and don't have any in the forecast. I haven't cut the grass in over a month...not that I'm complaining.

Last night I went over to the Philip's for my first game of croquet. I have a lot of practicing to do, because I didn't do all that well. I have discovered this summer that lawn games are a ton of fun. My friends and I frequent boccie ball, so maybe croquet will be my next task to master.

Well everyone, have a great week! :0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monday: San Francisco

WOW...what a day. 19 miles of walking can really make you feel every joint in your body screaming at you to just die already. (I'm just a little sore...)

I took the CalTrain downtown this morning, and spent the day doing a whirlwind tour of the sites of San Francisco. I was on my own, but because I don't really like doing touristy things, it worked out fine for me. I started walking down Market Street (the main shopping area) and headed up to Alamo Square. I had to climb up some pretty steep hills, but the view of the city was totally worth it. It was nice to take a break and catch my breath.

My next trek was somewhat more difficult...The Golden Gate Bridge. This thing, as huge as it is, is not that easy to find. I got lost on my way into The Presidio, and wandered around the park for a while until I caught a glimpse of the bridge...actually getting to it, well, I still haven't figured it out. I know it's possible, but I didn't make it. There were some nice nature trails and such, and a great view of the Pacific Ocean. It was cool because I could also see Alcatraz, which I would like to visit someday if I ever come back.

The next part of my adventure took me a LONG way away from where I was. Lombard Street is pretty much the steepest road in America (I think), and it is ridiculously silly. Why in the world they built it that way, I have no idea. San Francisco should fire that city planner, because they did an awful job. It looks nice, it's just so impractical. I didn't spend too much time here, as the area was completely saturated with tourists with cameras. The picture on the right shows the curvy portion of the road, but the rest of the street goes straight down the hill. I was surprised these cars didn't just roll over on top of one another.


I made my way down to Pier 39 and the Fisherman's Wharf, which was altogether too flashy for me.
BUT, the view of the bay definitely made up for the abundance of people. I remembered to eat lunch at a restaurant here...at 4:30.

Then I ran over to Chinatown...pretty much just so I could go back to work and say I went. It was cool, but I was tired so I passed through quickly. My last stop was the Financial District, and all I did was grab a smoothy from Jamba Juice. Then it was a hike back to the train station, and the ride back to Steve's apartment.

Altogether, I mapped out that I walked between 19 and 20 miles...and never took a bus once. I spent about 8 hours in the city, and now if I ever came back, I feel like I know my way around. I figured out most of the layout, and where all of the stuff is...all except for my little slip into the ghetto, which I got out of very quickly.

Sadly, this is my last night here in California. I'll be in Nevada and Chicago tomorrow on a plane, and then flying back into Grand Rapids Wednesday morning. We'll see how that goes...I'm still hoping for a voucher! I may write more tomorrow before I leave, so check back!

And check out the pictures! :o)

San Francisco


Monday, July 23, 2007

Sunday: Santa Cruz

Around noon, Stephen and I met up with his friend Kevin and left for Santa Cruz, CA. Kevin graduated from U of M last year with a degree in Graphic Design, and is living near Steve in Sunnyvale. He goes to church in Santa Cruz, so it worked out for him to drive us.

It was about an hour drive...not bad. The traffic was terrible, but the highway was cool. It was a very curvy road that went through the mountains. We spent the day at the beach body surfing, playing frisbee, and reading. The beach was actually pretty nice, and the weather was perfect! The water was a nice temperature, and the waves were just big enough to be fun. No shark or stingray sitings, but trips to the beach are usually better without those. :o)


After the beach, we went to church with Kevin. (http://www.vintagechurch.org) His church was very Soteria-esque in it's style...it must be a West Coast thing (For clarification, I don't consider this bad, just different). It's just a totally different culture out here, especially when it comes to spirituality. The service was actually really great, it was just a little strange in a few places. The whole thing was pretty much conducted by women, accept for the music. Steve said that it isn't always like that; it's more like it's different people teaching / giving announcements every week.

Santa Cruz


Tomorrow it's off to exploring San Francisco...by myself. I'm really hoping I don't get lost, because it's not like I have a phone and can call Steve for help. I think it should be okay, though. I have a map, and a good idea of what I want to see, and where that all is. I have an hour train ride into the city to figure it all out.

This trip is going by SO fast! Be sure to check back!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Saturday: Yosemite

I got into San Francisco a little late, so we slept in on Friday. Steve and I went over to In 'n Out to eat lunch. It's a fast-food chain that is only in California that is way better than McDonald's or Wendy's. Then we pretty much just hung around at the pool and in his apartment. The weather is great: about 75F and sunny all the time.

We left around 6 to go to our hotel near Yosemite. What an adventure...driving through mountains in the dark, with lots of twists and turns and obscure highways, proved challenging. But everyone got along at it worked out really well.

We didn't do very much hiking in the park. Yosemite is HUGE! There is so much to see, and we only covered a small portion of it. We started on a trail that went around some huge redwoods.
They were similar in size to what I saw in Washington with Aryn and Tim. There was even a tree that we could walk through!





Next we drove out to Glacier Point, which was 35 miles from the sequoias. The view was absolutely amazing! There was a clear view of the Half-Dome, and also of the Yosemite Valley. The park was crawling with people, being a Saturday, but we didn't see anyone hiking out there. The park is so big you'd definitely need to spend a few days to see everything.

Our last stop was Bridalveil Falls, where we did get to do some "rock-climbing" and swimming. There are more pictures in the album I'll post a link to.








Tomorrow Steve and I are going to Santa Cruz. It's a beach town where we can swim in the Pacific, and I guess it's a good surfing hot-spot. He says the water is too cold for swimming, but not much can be colder than the waterfall water. Here's the album for Yosemite, be sure to check back for more updates!

Yosemite


Have a great Sunday! I'll be home early morning on the 25th.