Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pray for NASA

This post isn't really related to my ministry in Maui/Asia but is an issue near and dear to my heart. I grew up in Clear Lake, a suburb of Houston that developed around NASA. Most of my friends' parents worked for NASA or Exxon. I knew several kids whose dads were astronauts and one of those astronauts was even my Sunday school teacher. A large percentage of people who go to the church I grew up in work for NASA. Some of my supporters, family friends, church friends and high school classmates work there right now. My best friend, Sarah and her husband, John both work in mission control.

I say all that to show that I have a close connection with NASA. As far as I know, Obama has cut funding to some of NASA's programs. Unless something changes, NASA will only work on the International Space Station, no longer launching its own shuttles but paying Russia to essentially hitchhike on theirs. If this happens, many people that I care about will lose their jobs. I feel especially bad for Sarah who basically has her dream job now and has never wanted to do anything else. Please pray for all the people who work at NASA. Pray for peace for them and their families as their jobs are in limbo. Pray that Obama will do the right thing concerning NASA, whatever that may be.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Beginning Again

I think this past opening night was my seventh in my YWAM career. They don't really ever get old. Opening Night is our big celebration to welcome the students to our base. Usually there is no real theme to the event but the staff makes a funny video to introduce themselves. The videos are hilarious to those of us who know them but often the students don't get the inside jokes. We tried to lessen the awkward feeling the students inevitably get from being in a new place with strange people telling inside jokes. We gave the night an Academy Awards theme. We had the staff dress in fancy clothes and the DTS staff, like myself went over the top in thrift store finery. To give you an idea, my dress was black velvet with rhinestones and the biggest, poufiest shoulder pads I had seen since the 1980's. We laid out a red carpet and tried to decorate our venue in star-studded fashion. We even had red carpet interviews against a YWAM background. I think people had fun. I made a video montage of pictures that made it look like all the DTS had starred in obscure made-up movies like "Little Trouble, Big Sandwich." People seemed to enjoy it.

 It was pretty surreal for me to realize that I was committing myself again to the crazy 24/7 job of DTS staff. It is both an amazing privilege and a difficult sacrifice. Part of that sacrifice began at the end of the night when Exodus was announced. Exodus is something our base does to start each DTS. It's basically a multi-day camping trip that helps the students break down barriers and get to know each other better. I've been on two of these before and I don't particularly enjoy them but I understand their purpose.

The students and staff are limited in what they can bring with them on Exodus. We could only bring: one shirt, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, one sweatshirt, one pair of socks, one pair of shoes, one pair of sandals, Bible, journal, pen, swimsuit, hat, sunscreen, backpack, sleeping bag and camera. Note that I did not list toothbrush or deodorant. The deodorant is the one thing that bothers me the most. I hate the smell of B.O, especially if it is coming from me! I am always tempted to cheat since the staff's bags are not checked but I know it is wrong, so I don't.

We woke up really early to pack a lunch. Then we headed to a local park to play games. We formed three different "tribes" and made up names and cheers. My team was called CaHaGerTex because we had people from Canada, California, Hawaii, Germany and Texas. We ended up winning probably because we did a human pyramid. Everyone loves a human pyramid. After establishing our tribes, the students then went on a scavenger hunt throughout the island to give the students a chance to get to know each other and the island. They had to hitchhike everywhere to complete their assigned tasks, which was a stretch for some. One group got picked up by someone early on who took them to all the stops and took their pictures for them. Obviously they were the first group to arrive.

The staff met up with the students at the final stop, Iao Valley. We ate lunch and then all had a quiet time with God. It's easy to feel God's presence in such a picturesque place. After Iao Valley, we drove to our campsite and set up camp. The last time I went on Exodus, four years ago, we slept under a tarp. This time we slept in tents because there had been too many centipede bites in the past. I was grateful for this minor improvement in accommodation.

We had to eat Ramen noodles for lunch and dinner. Unfortunately I hate Ramen noodles and having that for two meals a day was not my idea of fun. We also had plain oatmeal for breakfast to spice things up. We had to use the same bowl and chopsticks for every meal. It's funny to see how much my attitude can be based on what I eat. Eating Ramen and oatmeal made mealtime borderline disgusting when I usually enjoy eating. In addition to eating bland foods, we spent the time getting to know each other better and spending time with God. It was good but I really wanted deodorant. One of the funniest things was when we had a contest to open a coconut. Myles, a fellow Texan made our team win by a mile. He smashed the coconut repeatedly on a rock and just ripped the thing apart. You'd never guess he'd never opened a coconut before.

We ended up spending two nights out there dirty and deodorant-less. Afterward, we drove to my church for Love Feast- a fancy dinner to bless the students. It is always such a relief for the students to be back in civilization and eating delicious food instead of Ramen. I was so grateful to be back. My friends had brought me deodorant, toothbrush, snacks and perfume. It made me feel loved.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Island Hopping

I am writing this on my Blackberry at the Maui airport. This is not the ideal blog writing scenario but my friends are late to pick me up and I am bored.
I am getting back from my mini-trip to Hilo. My cousin, David lives there and his mom and our Aunt Nancy came for a visit. This is probably the worst time they could come: me with no extra money for a plane ticket and the Dts students arriving and our school about to start. My cousin tried to convince me to come via facebook and clearly it worked since I went. Luckily the money part worked out due to contributions from my cousin, aunts and parents. It turned out that I had a day off while the aunts would be in Hilo so I asked my bosses if I could go over for about 2 and a half days. They said yes and off I went.

My cousin, David decided we should surprise the aunts, which was a great idea. I pretended to ask them to help me read a map and they were surprised to see me standing there. My plane had come in about thirty minutes before theirs so David picked me up to plan. While we were deciding on the tourist scenario, David's seven year old son, Rowan said, "They are going to figure out you are not a tourist when you get in the car." He didn't understand that they might recognize me since they'd known me since I was born.

Hilo is pretty different from Maui. The area David lives in is a bit similar to the town I live in now. There is lots of rain and lots of vegetation. But where David's part of the Big Island looks like something out of The Lord of the Rings, Maui mainly looks like the Hawaii you see on TV: sandy beaches and sunshine. It was interesting to see all the differences. My favorite place we went had a huge waterfall and was near a giant Banyan tree. We have a big Banyan tree in Maui but this one was unattended so you could climb in it. It was really cool.

My cousin's house was really spacious and I am pretty sure it was bigger than the house I currently live in with 30 people. My only complaint about the accommodations was the loud roosters crowing at all hours of the day and night. They must not have good internal clocks because it definitely wasn't sunrise when they were loudly and obnoxiously crowing.

Quickly my trip was over and I headed back to Maui. Some of the students had already arrived when I got there. Tomorrow we are going on Exodus, our get to know you camping trip. I'll be out of technological contact for a few days but I am sure I will have great stories when I get back.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Staff Conference Extravaganza

For the last two days we've had something called, "Staff Conference." It's a quarterly event where we go over rules, regulations and procedures, as well as bond as a staff. Yesterday we sat through about 3 1/2 hours of presentation on our base's rules, support raising, YWAM International, our base's statistics and more. Luckily most of it was pretty interesting. Then after we had lunch, we were divided into three teams to compete in a serious of relays. It reminded me a bit of Young Life and I was prepared since I was wearing my Young Life shirt.

I was on a team with Joey, Fritz, Daena, Larry, Timi and Simon. We only had two girls, which is a bit of an advantage in physical competition, I have to admit. The relays were old favorites like wheelbarrow race, crab walk, dizzy bat, egg toss, etc. It was nice to see people in a different environment. I didn't realize some people were hiding such mad crab walking skills. I knew that I was competitive but I didn't realize how many others on staff are very competitive as well. At one point we attempted to play this really bizarre game. I don't remember what it was called, but I will describe it.

My team formed a circle holding hands. At this point we'd lost the other girl as she had to go prepare dinner. So it was just me and the boys. Timi had egg all over his hands so it was pretty disgusting to hold his hand. The egg goo did make them stick together a bit, which was good for the objective of the game. As my team stood in a circle holding hands, someone from the other team had to say some sort of cheesy line I can't recall and they were allowed in the circle. Then, they had to say another cheesy line and attempt to leave the circle. The game was chaos! As the only girl, I was an obvious target for escape. Apparently they hadn't factored in my years of boxing out for a rebound in basketball coupled with my fierce competitive nature. I honestly don't remember what actually happened, but my teammates were very impressed. The problem with the game is that the person trying to escape always ended up in a tangled heap that consisted of me and my teammates. There seemed to be no time limit for their escape and we turned into a giant writhing pile of bodies until someone said stop. At one point my wrist started to twist the wrong way. I decided a broken wrist was not worth it and decided to let go. The game was funny to watch, I am sure but painful to be a part of. I never really did get the point.

The last event was something we often subject our students to. It's a relay where you have to eat foods that other cultures like but we often think are gross. It is good preparation for outreach where you often have to eat food you wouldn't choose to eat. I am not the best at this sort of game. In this version, each team member had to choose something out of the bag and eat it. Everyone had to go at least once but there were three "lifelines" where someone could help their teammate eat. Some of the items were gross and some just difficult or time-consuming to eat. I went first and got some disgusting fried seaweed. I hate seaweed but I couldn't let my team down. I almost puked but I got it down. Later I helped a teammate eat a Snickers so I could get the seaweed taste out of my mouth. In the end my team dominated and won the grand prize- 30 candy bars.

Today we had more meetings about the DTS and SFMI- our Surfer's for Missions program. Then we had a beach day. We went to Kihei, which is almost always sunny. Today was one of the few exceptions. We even changed beaches midway to escape the blowing sand. We ended up in a grassy park next to the beach. It was fun but extremely windy. Overall it was a good staff conference. I feel more informed and more bonded. I am pretty sure that was the whole point.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Transition Time....Again!

The last two weeks have been quite interesting. The students left for Asia about a week ago so it was a crazy week leading up to their departure. I finished the curriculum for English teaching that I had been working on for about a month. I am anxious to see how it works overseas.

This past week we've started training for DTS staff. This involves getting to know each other better, praying for our future students and planning the overall DTS. We will continue to do this next week as well.

I don't have a whole lot to say in this blog post but I wanted to mention that I put a tour of the house I currently live in on my website. Go to www.lizhightower.com and click on Maui videos. I should be moving to a better room shortly but you can see some of our base and my living conditions for the past two months.
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