Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cohabitating With Critters

As I have mentioned before, I am currently living in Fehr's, our SBFM house in Paia. As much as I love living here, I do not like the critters that we often find living among us. Our house is a bit dilapidated and there are plenty of unseen openings that the critters can come in through. This sets us up for some interesting adventures with critters and a losing battle in trying to get rid of them.

Cane Spiders
When the nearby cane fields are burned, cane spiders invade our house. They are pretty freaky looking with small bodies and long legs. See the picture to the right. They can often be as big as a hand. Cane spiders move very quickly, which makes them difficult to kill. I don't mind killing them but I get a bit jumpy when they suddenly scurry away. Sometimes I lose my nerve and make my roommate kill them for me.

We also have tons of tiny ants that seem to appear from nowhere. They have invaded our microwaves, refrigerators, and counters so thoroughly, that we barely even pay attention to them anymore. I just stick my oatmeal in the microwave amidst the hundreds of ants, who by the way, don't seem at all affected by being nuked in the microwave. All day and night, I find lone ants crawling on me. Thankfully these ants don't seem to bite too much and are easily killed.

Another commonly seen critter in our house is the centipede. These painful spawns of Satan like to lurk in our bathrooms and bedrooms. My friend, Shannon woke up to one on her while she was asleep. Thankfully she didn't get bit but she did wake up her roommates when she turned on the light in the middle of the night. I watched a 4-5 inch, fat brown centipede wiggle out of my room as I stood frozen in horror. I was so startled that I didn't even try to kill it and let it just saunter out of my room. I recently killed my first one- a tiny blue guy intruding in my bedroom. They are hard to kill because you have to chop them into bits.

My least favorite critters (as if I like the others one bit) are rats/mice. The ones that live in our house are very bold. There is a tiny mouse that runs around our lecture hall even in the middle of class. It's hard to pay attention when there's a mouse frolicking among our sandals. One night, I watched a mouse (who I didn't know was visiting)  run out of bedroom. I don't want mice around but I also don't want to kill them. I am not some huge animal lover but for some reason, the idea of killing an animal with blood and fur creeps me out.

Plan of Attack
Our guys are good at killing critters when they are around but they tend to be absent during most of the critter visitations. They have also set several mouse traps without much success. Having all these uninvited guests makes me feel violated. One big cause of all these critters is the fact that my bedroom door has a 3-4 inch gap at the bottom that pretty much any one of those critters could fit through. This means that even when my door is closed, I am not safe. I have rectified the situation by taping three sticky traps to the bottom of my door to create a barrier between me and all the creatures who want to come in. Unfortunately, the first day I set this up, a mouse ran in while our door was opened and therefore trapped inside with our new sticky trap door. Definitely not what I wanted to happen. I am not even sure that my barrier works but it does make me feel a bit safer.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Exercising My Spiritual Gift of Cheering

Every year, my base volunteers at the Xterra world championships, a hardcore off-road triathlon held here in Maui. I am sure there are previous blog posts about my experiences with this event. Even though, I've only volunteered at the 5K/10K run event, which is held the day before the real race, it's always been fun and inspiring to help cheer these athletes on. I even thought about participating in the main event, though after finding out the actual length of the race and the qualifications to participate, I quickly abandoned that idea. Here's the website's description of the event:

The world’s premier off-road triathlon, combining a 1.5-kilometer (1-mile) swim that starts in front of the Makena Beach & Golf Resort a 32-kilometer (20-miles) mountain bike that climbs 3,000 feet up and down the lower slopes of Haleakala, and a 12-kilometer (7.5-miles) trail run that traverses lava rock, forest trails, and beach sand. 
Since I quickly realized I would never be participating in this type of event, my new dream was that someone I know would do the event so that I could cheer them on. This dream has finally come true! Last Sunday, my roommate, Rachel and I went with three of my students to the fancy side of the island to watch Suzanne Vernau, someone I've known for like 15 years, compete in the Xterra. It was so much fun! I made neon signs for each of us to hold with sayings like, "Texas Girls Tri Harder," and "Hey Suz, you can't lose!" We all had a great time even though I was the only one of us who actually knew one of the participants. At one point, when we hadn't spotted Suzanne yet, Maddie turned to me and said that she wasn't sure Suzanne really existed but she didn't care because she was having fun.

The athletes started off with a one mile swim and I spotted Suzanne as she ran by even though she didn't see me. She did very well in the swim and finished first in her age group and then moved on to the mountain biking portion. We stayed and cheered on each person until the last one came out of the water. I love cheering athletes on! I especially love it when they acknowledge you with a smile, head nod, blown kiss or a burst of speed. After all the swimmers came in, we went over to the bike area and waited for the first bikers to arrive after completing the 20-mile course. They came down a grassy hill to the transition area to put their bikes away and several people fell as they tried to dismount. It was kind of funny. The mountain biking course is hardcore and many people came into the transition area with mud all over their bodies and faces. One guy was holding his bike and tire as he ran down to put his bike up. I am not sure what happened but the tire was in more pieces than I thought physically possible. The volunteers weren't doing a very good job of directing and several people couldn't find the exit to begin their final leg of the race. We filled in and pointed and cheered to show them where to go. I think we too, deserved a free volunteer t-shirt for our services.

At the transition area, as she was putting up her bike and putting on her running shoes, Suzanne heard and saw us cheering with our neon signs. I could finally prove she really existed. After she went from biking to running, we waited near the finish line to cheer her on the final stretch. We got a chance to cheer more people on and it was awesome to be able to tell them that the finish line was within their reach. We cheered so much and so loud that we got our own fans. One lady took a picture of us with our signs. Another person asked if we actually knew someone in the race. We also had several people tell us how much they appreciated us. I felt very useful and fulfilled. 

Suzanne ended up doing well, especially for her first time on this course. She finished fourth in her age group and in the top half of the overall group, which included lots of guys. She also won a free wetsuit for being the fastest swimmer in her age group. It was so fun to root her on! It makes me want to cheer the runners on at the Houston marathon, since the course goes right by my house. It also makes me want to go support any friends I have doing sporting events. Let me know if you have somewhere I can cheer you on. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Christian Rap

I have always loved rap and hip hop music. My parents didn't really listen to music while I was growing up so I don't remember even caring much about music until I was in junior high. I still remember the first CD I owned, Candy Rain by Soul for Real.

For some reason, both my brother and I were really into rap and hip/hop, despite being suburban white kids. It's pretty much all we listened to in high school. A bunch of my friends from church youth group, along with my brother and me had a Tupac phase. We would listen to his Greatest Hits album incessantly and I think I still know all the words to each and every song. One thing I noticed about listening to Tupac was that the more I listened to him, the more I used cuss words. I have never been one for profanity but both me and my friends definitely used it more when we were listening to Tupac. We even decided to cut back for a bit to help us control our language.

Since then, my love of rap has gone through phases of adoration and conviction. I would sometimes buy CDs at Wal-Mart, since they came already edited. When iTunes started offering clean versions of songs, I was excited to buy those. Unfortunately even the clean versions can't hide a lot of rap's sexual, illegal and violent undertones. More recently I have been more convicted of these themes and have gotten rid of some music. But yet, I still love rap and hip hop.

I think I have finally found a compromise. In the past Christian rap almost always sucked. It's just true. The beats were poor, the rappers not very talented and the lyrics were cheesy. Only recently have I decided to give Christian rap a chance again. There are actually some decent Christian rappers out there and it's been fun to listen to rap that doesn't make me want to cuss. Sometimes the lyrics are a bit funny sounding but at least they're uplifting. And these guys have a lot more talent than their early counterparts. There is even an album called, 13 Letters, where they rap Paul's letters from the Bible. Pretty cool.

So, if you hear me jamming to what sounds like gangsta rap, listen carefully, because they might just be rapping about Paul's  letter to the Ephesians.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stuff I Hate

I try to keep my blog entries fairly upbeat, informative, heartfelt and funny. I try not to rant too much but today I am going for it. My last blog entry was about my thankfulness to my supporters but this one won't be quite so upbeat. Lately I have felt the Lord convicting me more to love what He loves and hate what He hates. I think there is a song with these lyrics but I couldn't find it despite scouring the internet. This process can be a bit painful as some of the stuff I love, I am pretty sure the Lord doesn't like.

The main thing I have been convicted of lately is the trashy TV I watch and the trashy magazines I read. I used to  be really into those trashy reality shows like "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," "Jersey Shore," etc. There aren't really a lot of redeeming qualities to those shows and they definitely don't portray a Godly lifestyle. Trashy magazines present a lot of the same problems. In addition to the wonderful pictures of celebrity babies, many trashy magazines simply attack famous people in petty, unfounded ways. These also don't have a lot of redeeming value. I haven't given up People magazine yet since it tends to be mostly informative and entertaining with a little bit of trash while the others are primarily trashy.

In a good way, the Lord has given me a much stronger heart for orphans. I think about the ones we spent time with in Asia just about everyday and I long to adopt children myself someday. The Bible is full of references to taking care of the widows and orphans and I know it is something God longs for. I am thankful for this heart I have for them now.

On a less personal note, I have felt more anger towards things I believe God also hates. One of these things I hate, though it will certainly sound intolerant, is the new Mormon church website. There are many awesome people who are Mormons but their religious doctrine does not line up with Biblical Christianity and is therefore false. I don't want people to believe in a false religion, especially one that unashamedly piggybacks Christianity. Even their logo is designed to feature the words "Jesus Christ" as the biggest and most prominent part despite the fact that they believe he was brothers with Satan and not at all God (as He himself claimed). I've always been interested in Mormons and Mormonism but their website makes me mad. It's very slick and well-done. It's visually appealing and its main feature is testimonies, both written and videoed of real-life Mormons. There are people who work on Capital Hill, a man with severe Cerebral Palsy, mothers, fathers, athletes, etc. Whoever designed this website did a great job and this is why I am mad. This slick advertising campaign may very well bring new converts to a church that has changed their holy book over 4000 times since its inception. They once praised polygamy and now condemn it. They once said no black people could be elders in their church because they were cursed but now it's okay. Wishy-washy theology like this is just one of the reasons Mormonism can't be trusted. I just pray people learn the truth of Mormonism before being sucked into their slick ad campaign.

Now for the issue I have been the most fired up about lately. It's the Westboro Baptist Church. You may have seen them in the news lately for the lawsuit against them picketing soldier's funerals. Here's their disturbing website: http://www.godhatesfags.com/ I recently watched a short news special on them and was brought to tears of anger. These people believe they are serving the Lord through their hatred. I am thankful that I don't think there is anyone but the members themselves who would consider these people Christian. It's hard to believe that they are reading the same Bible as I am. Their main "ministry" is picketing soldiers' funerals. Now, my brother is in the military so I know the feeling of having a loved one in harm's way fighting for our country. I can't imagine the pain these families must feel at the loss of their children. The idea that this church pickets these heroes' funerals saying that God creates war because he is so mad about homosexuality makes me want to punch them in the face. These soldiers aren't even gay, as if that makes any difference. I know there is talk that stopping this is some sort of slap to their first amendment rights. I fully support the first amendment but I don't believe there should be any picketing of any funeral, ever. I don't care if someone is a serial killer, every family deserves to bury their loved one in peace. It should be a basic human right. Their signs make me want to get violent, though I know it's not the answer. They have signs that read, "God loves dead soldiers" and one I hadn't seen that depicts a breast cancer ribbon and says curse. Having a brother who's served in Iraq and a best friend who battled breast cancer makes these unbelievably offensive to me. I think almost everything they do is offense but these two campaigns make me especially angry. I know it makes the Lord angry too! These people claim to know the Lord but it reminds me of the following passage in Matthew 7:18-24:

 8A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
 21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Please pray for these people to realize God's love for all his people and stop hurting people.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


On Mondays, we have something called staff fellowship. This is really a glorified staff meeting with snacks. I don't necessarily hate these meetings but they can be tedious sometimes. They always involve prayer, announcements and the reading of our Bible passage of the day. Sometimes we have teachings, skype with our YWAM friends abroad or watch a video. It's not the content of these meetings I dislike but the amount of time they take and the time of day they occur. Mondays are crazy with worship at 8am, SBFM lecture from 9:30-12:30. Lunch at 12:30 and then staff fellowship at 2pm until anywhere from 3:30-4:45. I also try to squeeze in a one-on-one with one of my girls in the afternoon pre or post-staff fellowship. Then dinner at 5:00pm, house meeting at 6:00pm, house cleaning at 6:30pm and then sometimes a night lecture at 7pm. Those days with night lecture kill me because they mean I sit on my butt at least seven hours that day. Not fun. I'm not sure how this turned into a rant against Mondays but I figured you might want to know what my Mondays are like.

Well, last Monday in staff fellowship, we had a prayer time where we expressed our thankfulness to the Lord. I thanked him for my amazing supporters. I feel so blessed. I may not have the largest amount of support of anyone on the base but my supporters have come through for me so many times throughout my seven years in and out of full-time missionary work. I figure I have raised probably $25,000 in the past seven years and with that, have been privileged to go on outreaches to New Zealand, Thailand, Bangladesh, Qba, and three times to that big Asian country that starts with a C. I've had people loan me their car while I've been visiting the mainland. I had a supporter give me $500 to pay for my last team's visa run in Hong Kong (something I didn't even ask for). I've had people support me monthly even through college and their own time in YWAM. One friend sent me over 100 packets of my favorite Crystal Lite drink. Another friend prays for me at a specific time each week. Another friend arranged for our girls' Bible study to get a free Beth Moore Bible Study kit, which retails about $400. I have received so many words of encouragement through letters and emails. And these are just things I am remembering off the top of my head. I am just so blessed and I want to thank any of you who are reading this who have supported me with prayers, finances or encouragement. There are so many missionaries here who don't have the kind of support I do.

There are plenty of things I will miss when I go back to Houston for grad school. One of those things is this relationship I have with my supporters. I am sure I will get some sort of job and even though the security of a regular paycheck is nice, I will miss that feeling of support and encouragement I get when someone has chosen to support me with their money. The Bible says that "where your treasure is, your heart will be also." I know that when someone donates to me, their heart is with me. A regular paycheck will never provide that same feeling.

The day after I publicly thanked the Lord for my amazing supporters, I eagerly checked the mail as I do every day. One of my supporters had sent me his usual monthly check along with a $100 "early Christmas bonus." What an unexpected blessing! Also very timely since I have 10 birthdays to celebrate between now and the end of November. I love to give thoughtful gifts so it's nice to have a little more money to do so. Yet again God has come through for me through the generosity of my supporters.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Wacky Weekend

I have been meaning to recap my weekend all week and now I have finally gotten around to it as this next weekend is almost here. I find that I spend most of my time here focusing on just the tasks for each day without looking ahead much. I guess this is good for living in the moment.

On Friday I went to my friends, Abbey and Wil Brillinger's house. I helped our friend, Rachel babysit for a bit. I just love the Brillinger kids. They are so cute and funny at two years old and almost one year old. I tried to be helpful and make some Kraft mac and cheese. I put the sauce in the bowl first and as I dumped the noodles in, the cheesy sauce sprayed all over me. I looked pretty ridiculous. Israel, the two-year old wouldn't even come near me with all the cheese in my hair and on my shirt.

The next day I went to Shannon's house, like I do every Saturday to watch college football. Her parents are great and even made us breakfast. Unfortunately it seems like all the teams I am rooting for lose and that day was no exception. I guess this is what they call a rebuilding year for my Longhorns. After about 7 hours of football, which included a unintentional nap on the couches with Shannon and her dad, Shannon and I drove back to Paia to pick up some of our friends.

We piled a bunch of people in Shannon's truck and headed to the Maui County Fair. There's not a whole lot to do in Maui at night, so the fairgrounds were packed. There were people everywhere. There aren't that many rides so the lines for each are very long. I mainly spent my money on fair food. I got these doughnut things called malasadas, a chicken taco, a snowcone, a drink, popcorn and cotton candy. I am surprised I didn't throw up. I probably would have if I had ridden one of the rides. There was a livestock show (very small) with lots of live chickens on display. I never thought chickens were particularly good looking but these were some beautiful chickens. After our fill of games, fair food, rides and people watching (Lots of little boys with rat tails.)

On Sunday, I went to church and then attempted to be productive for a few hours with limited success. Then Rachel and I went to see the movie, "You Again." It was a cute movie and refreshingly non-sexual. After the movie, we went to a party at some of our friends' house. There were lots of good snacks. I need to gain some sort of party snack self-control. I pretty much stuff myself at every event I go to here, and there are a lot. Overall it was a busy weekend but a fun one spent with lots of good friends.
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