Showing posts from January, 2024

I Planned it Like That

Well, not completely.  Maybe somewhere deep down I knew the Concordia Seminary St. Louis (CSL) team's arrival day was a holiday in honor of one of the DR's patron virgins, but I was totally taken aback by the sight approaching Parque Colón, the meeting spot for our 4:30 pm street art walking tour.  Not only could I not park in one of my normal angled spots along the edge of the park, I had to wade from a paid lot a couple blocks away through swarms of vendors selling cold drinks, empanadas, quipes , and religious icons to find an entrance that was open.  The park itself was packed, too. What the...? It alllllll made sense when I noticed the church - Nuestra Sra. de la Altagracia - bore the name of the virgin in question.  Gotta love unplanned cultural experiences, even when they make dropping off and subsequently meeting up with 13 estadounidenses  who don't speak Spanish and were operating on very little sleep by this point a bit of a challenge. Thankfully, I've done t

Symposium, Jr.

What I'm about to write about was THIS month, but it feels like it happened a century ago: the 2nd annual FPH conference for Concordia the Reformer Seminary's distance pastoral formation students.  I knew it was going to be a scramble to get ready when I got back from South Carolina , and it was. This year, though, I was mentally prepared for the challenge. In 2023, the planners scoffed at the ease of putting on an event for a measly 43 attendees + supporting staff (compared to the Symposium's nearly 80); having been squarely put in our place, we knew what to expect this go-round: Symposium, Jr.  I had the pleasure of hosting Katie Ervin (right, at Jamielynn's baby shower on Sunday 1/5, the day before Arrival Day) from the LCMS International Center's business office. She came to run point on all things money-related. All week, I was relishing getting to know such a lovely woman of God better AND relishing being back in my house so I can host people, period. I'

Whip it Good

I'm blessed to be able to get everything I need in the Dominican, along with most things I want.  Most.  Not Cool Whip.  We have Reddi-wip (and multiple knockoff brands of aerosol whipped topping), some $$$ brand of vegan, coconut-based whipped topping, and heavy whipping cream, but none of these is synonymous with pumpkin pie's perfect contains-less-than-2%-light-cream partner.  Elsewhere in the region, I've seen it at a gas station in Belize, of all places, and at S Foods in Kingston, Jamaica. I have no idea what it cost in Belize but totally regretted not snapping it up for awhile there; in Kingston, I made the conscious decision that it wasn't worth nearly $10.  With El Paso, TX, for Thanksgiving as the last stop on a 3 1/2 week tour of duty in November 2023, though, I hatched a plan.  I didn't even have to make a special trip to Wally World; Communication Specialist Luz and I went on my first full day.  I'm cheaper than I am brand-loyal ;) Also on our list

Spontaneous Indoor Day of Fun

The days between Christmas and Epiphany are...relaxed in Latin America.  I got home from South Carolina on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 2. While simultaneously having a panic attack about the fact that I'm hosting FOUR teams before home service which is now THIS year...and oh yeah, welcoming 24 out-of-town guests for a conference starting in a WEEK, I embraced the final few laid-back days of a de facto break.  Spoiler alert: they did not go as planned.  Four of us were supposed to hike Montaña Plana Wednesday after Tirzah & I had a quick conference powwow; Kelsey was already on an early bus from the capital to come with. Enter a drizzly morning and Katie waking up with a cough, and we needed a new, indoor  itinerary (Kelsey was already en route and Katie had to work the next day, so simply postponing was out). Our collective brainpower concocted the following Spontaneous Indoor Day of Fun: 1. Checking out Santiago's newly remodeled IKEA location. I've since been

Plunging into the New Year

My parents and sister were in the air as the final hours of 2023 (12/31/23 - 123123!) ticked by. Back in Charleston, my brother, my sister-in-law, her parents, and my nephew went to a family friendly party at a bar/restaurant called Tattooed Moose, where patrons can "tattoo" pretty much any surface with Sharpies. There was a bounce house, live music, and at 9:00 pm, fireworks and a [beach] ball drop.  The next morning, we toasted 2024 with brunch in our PJs. I don't know what the neighborhood around the restaurant was called, but it had a south St. Louis city vibe.  Then.  We did a polar plunge.  Yes, that's first person, as in I did it, too. When Chelsey first brought up the idea, it was a done deal that I'd be the photographer/videographer, but I slowly warmed up (no pun intended) to the idea of participating. If you know me at all, you know I  hate  being cold, so I'm still not sure what got into me. FOMO at its best, I guess. All I had to was get in and ge

Christmas in the Holy City

No, not St. Louis, home of the LCMS International Center, or Perryville, where some of first Lutherans to emigrate from Germany settled, or the Middle East's so-called "Holy Land" where Jesus & His walked.  Evidently Charleston, SC, is known as the Holy City because it's skyline is peppered with church steeples. It's not an inaccurate observation. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew (now 7 1/2) moved there in July, so I snatched a deal on a ticket and spent just under two weeks exploring Lowcountry and doing life with them. They've lived there  just long enough to have identified their favorite attractions, stores, parks, and eateries but not long enough to have done it all.  I landed at midnight and retraced my steps when I decided this installation in the arrivals terminal was photo-worthy (pineapples are a state symbol). Little did I know it was part of a city-wide holiday scavenger hunt for multiple instances each of HOPE, JOY, and LOVE.  We spent my