Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Maui Synopsis

Here is the lowdown on my recent trip:

On the day I landed, I got picked up by Joshley- Josh and Ashley. The weather was strangely stormy. I went to the base to have my third turkey dinner. I had already had two at school. This year, noone got sick, unlike last year. When I got to the base, I felt like a celebrity. All my old friends enthusiastically greeted me and many of the new people seemed to know who I was as well. (This could be due to the fact that I put pictures of myself up on the refridgerator before I left.)

I slept at my friend, Kristy's house. Three former staff girls live in what used to be one of our staff houses. It looks a lot nicer now that people with real jobs live there.

In the morning, we went to play soccer. I wasn't that into it at first since it is not my best sport. I like to be good at things. It turned out to be super fun. I did not suck and definitely made some good plays. I got to be team captain. I only knew about a fourth of the people so I had to make my decisions based on external clues. I picked all people wearing cleats or soccer jerseys. I also picked anyone I knew was European. This turned out to be a great strategy and my team won hands down. The other team was a lot more competitive despite their lack of jerseys and cleats, so it was funny that we won. The game ended up lasting for over two hours because the other team didn't want to quit until they caught up. Only our team seemed to know that was not going to happen. We won 8-5.

Later I had my fourth turkey dinner at the Bartuneks' house and then we had an after-party there as well. I was getting slightly socially overwhelmed. After that, a bunch of us went to Kaanapali (the tourist side of the island.) Leah, a YWAMer, had been blessed with a $3000 a week villa at the Marriot for free. It was so much fun! The place was super-fancy- hopefully for that price, right? It had three LCD TVs, enough bed/couch space for eight people, balconies, a full kitchen and a big whirlpool tub that three of the boys got in together. You get pretty comfortable at YWAM.

I was only going to spend one night there but I ended up staying two because it was just so fun. We spent the day lounging at the pool, going in the hot tub and going down the waterslide. We had dinner in Lahaina at Cheeseburgers in Paradise. I was afraid we'd have to pay a ton for food because we were on the tourist side. I forgot that I was staying with frugal missionaries. People brought pancake mix for breakfast and mac and cheese for lunch. So smart!

I barely went to the beach at all. I was too busy hanging out in the hotel pool and catching up with old friends. I had an incredible time! It was painfully normal to be in that setting with those people. It would have been a lot easier to come home if I had felt weird or out of place. But, no such luck. I was sad to leave.

I am going to start saving up to go for Spring Break. Being with those people rejuvinates my heart and lifts my spirits so much. I feel so lucky to have those people in my life. And it doesn't hurt that they live in paradise.

The plane rides back involved a lot of sleeping so I wasn't even jet-lagged when I got home. The odd thing that happened was that on my first plane, I didn't have a seatbelt. Somehow one half of the seatbelt was missing. It really made no sense. I had to move to another seat. Who steals half of a seatbelt? When was it stolen and had the last person just defied all the warnings and lighted signs to go without one? I guess I will never know.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back from Paradise and onto the skating rink

I just got back from a Young Life skating party. I had about 3 hours between arriving home from my trip to Maui and attending the skating party. With an overnight flight in the mix, it has been a long day. For that reason, this update will be short. I will tell more of my trip in my next post.

For now I just want to talk about my feelings. I didn't know exactly what to expect when I visited Maui. Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending how you look at it), it felt amazing to be there. It was not just amazing because of the things you can read about in a Maui guidebook or see in a movie. Maui is a beautiful, wonderful place. But the real reason I had such a great time was because of the incredible friendships I have with people there at YWAM Maui. It was definitely great to hang out with them in paradise but I think it would have been just as good if we'd been hanging out in a garbage dump. Although I guess I wouldn't have gotten a tan.

I just miss those people so much. There is nothing like the true Christian fellowship you get at YWAM Maui. In what I like to call the "real world," people often approach other hurting people by saying that they should suck it up because they hurt too. That's not how it has to be. I felt so at home and at peace in Maui. It was very difficult to leave. I am already counting my frequent flyer miles to see when I can return.

Now- must sleep so I don't kill third graders!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Teaching white kids to dance

It's pointless to start this by saying I will try to write more frequently because lately it simply isn't happening. Wow that was a lot of adverbs. Eek- I really am a teacher.

I might as well talk about my weekend. I don't remember doing anything on Friday night. I think I did some pre-pre Christmas shopping. I love Maui but the mainland is the place for Christmas. It's simply everywhere even before Thanksgiving.

On Saturday morning I had to go to the post office. It was an odd experience. I went to one near my house and the mixture of people there was odd. There was a ten-year old kid playing a guitar as he waited in line with his dad. He was actually a lot better than I could ever hope to be.

There was a woman with a small child and infant who was interacting with them oddly. She was very childlike and missing a few teeth.

Most people were getting money orders or wiring money to Mexico. I had to wait with these people for 30 minutes so I had plenty of time to create inner social commentary.

Then I helped my dad move my sister-in-law's belongings into a UHAUL. She is moving to Colorado Springs to await my brother's arrival. (That's where he is stationed.) It took some creative manuevering but not much time.

I was supposed to go to my friend, Bethany's birthday party. Her Elvis-impersonating cousin-in-law was scheduled to perform. Apparently he just performs by default without much provocation. I got too scared about the freeway closures and long distance and didn't end up going. I was sad to miss Elvis. Jason and Jocelyn Fowler were in town so I went to dinner with them and Joce's parents, who are essentially my second parents. It was great times as we reminisced about my youthful highjinks. This included the time I sent a bunch of those collector's figure and plate order forms that you find in magazines to various neighbors. I don't know why I did it but the victims were certainly surprised to receive unrequested china plates featuring delicate birds.

On Sunday I went to church and ran into my friends, Jane and James Chastant and Elizabeth Austin. They didn't know each other. We all went to Katz's to eat and it was lovely.

Afterwards, I went to our Young Life banquet. That's where we serve people dinner, tell them about Young Life and ask for money. It was a good chance to hang out with the kids. I also like to watch my urban kids interact with the super preppy white kids at Memorial High School. They always want my kids to teach them to dance. Weird.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Black God

This weekend I got to have Sarah fun day. I wanted to have a really fun day with Sarah for her birthday. We went to Galveston. I was a little bit sick still but I tried my best not to blow my nose on her sleeve, so hopefully her few red blood cells will do their thing.

We went to Galveston, which is Texas's version of Maui. Ok, it's totally different but there is a beach. First we sat on the beach and read magazines. In true Houston fashion, after a couple weeks of cold Fall-type weather, the day was sunny and warm. It was good for a beach day. Then we ate some amazing hamburgers. Unfortunately Sarah has discovered that her taste buds have become dull. Food no longer has as much flavor as it used to. This is a shame since as I just said, the hamburger was a-mazing! Apparently the taste buds thing can be a side effect of chemo. Thankfully the chemo is working to shrink the cancer so I guess taste is an ok sacrifice.

Then we did a little shopping. During our shopping, we found out that the UT game was on tv an hour earlier than we thought. We decided to return to Sarah's house to catch the rest of the game with her husband, John. UT played pretty well and a fun time was had by all. Then we had dinner and more shopping. It was a great day!

And now a funny story from this week:
At Young Life on Wednesday night, Andres, a fellow leader, was giving a talk about sin. He used a visual where he poured a small amount of black food coloring into a mason jar of water. The water quickly turns black. He was trying to make the point that God can't be near sin. But instead he announces with great flourish that, "God cannot be black!" This causes a small uproar in our predominatly black group. Andres's face turned so red as he stammered to correct himself. It was pretty hilarious.

black God

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cheese decisions

I think I am getting sick yet again. These kids and their germs!!! It seems to be some sort of sinus thing. I am going to use tylenol, ecchinecea and orange juice to hold the illness at bay. I need to be completely well by Saturday because Sarah and I are going to have a day 'o' fun in Galveston. I can't hang out with Sarah if I am sick because of her low white blood cell count. She did get a check-up and they said the cancer is responding to the chemo and shrinking. Yay! Definitely an answer to prayer!

This weekend I hung out with my Chinese friend for the first time. Her name is Bing and she is from Beijing. I can definitely see the need for International students to have American friends. It took her a really long time to figure out what kind of hamburger to order. She couldn't figure out what she would like and I had to try to explain the six different cheese options to her. It's a lot harder to explain cheeses than one might think. You should give it a try?

Her English was very good but she did need a clarification on some words during the movie we watched. She wanted to know what the word, "bookie" meant. I made sure to explain that the average American has no business with a bookie. She also asked me if my high school experience was like the movie- Mean Girls. It was hard not to laugh at her question. I explained that high school is not actually like that and I really enjoyed my experience there.

Actually I drove by my old high school this weekend. It made me feel a little weird. A lot has changed but it felt the same too. It made me miss the time in my life when so many of my friends lived so close and my personal life wasn't complicated by cancer and war. I know that this stormy time in my life will end but sometimes I want to hit the fast-forward or rewind buttons. Wouldn't that be great?

Friday, November 02, 2007

the thorn in my flesh

In the Bible, Paul talks about the "thorn in his flesh." Theologians have speculated about what this means but as far as I know, there isn't a consensus on what this was for Paul. Well, I too have a thorn in my flesh. It doesn't sound too serious but it is driving me crazy. Literally. There is a weird humming, buzzing, vibrating noise in my car that occurs constantly at speeds above 35. I can't figure out what it is. I try to turn my radio up really loud to drown it out but I can still hear it. I know it is coming from somewhere near the passenger seat. Because it only occurs when I am driving, it would be too dangerous for me to launch a full investigation into its cause. The only passengers I have had lately have been my Young Life kids and they weren't too interested in finding the cause of the noise. They certainly noticed it but I don't think it would drive the average person as crazy as it has been driving me. Hitting the dashboard and glove box doesn't seem to be working. I really want this noise to stop and soon!

Life is a bit tough right now. School is pretty stressful. I can't go into detail because I have heard too many stories about people getting fired for things they write candidly on their blog. I will say that my principal and I have a difference of opinion on things but she's my boss so I need to do what she wants, regardless of what I think. This is not easy as I was given a hefty dose of the Hightower pride at birth. Luckily my HISD-appointed mentor has been an enormous help. She helped rearrange my classroom for about three hours yesterday. I am thankful to have someone looking out for my best interests.

On a lighter note, tonight I am hanging out with my new Chinese friend, Bing. She is an international student attending the University of Houston and we were assigned to each other through a student friendship program I found out about at my church. It is not supposed to be an evangelistic thing. The point is to befriend an international student and expose them to American life. Many students come from other countries and spend 4 years here without ever going into an American's home. THat is such a shame. We are definitely more wary and less hospitable than most other nations I have been to. In Bangladesh, people you meet on the street beg you come into their homes. We could use a little more of that in America, for sure.
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