I Nailed It!

OK so that excitement is actually very sarcastic but it is interesting that I have yet another strange, fluke of a car problem.  Many of you read about my back window weirdness while on the way up to Washington.  If you aren’t familiar with the story then you can click HERE and read about how I managed to have my back windshield shattered while driving on the freeway.  I don’t know how it happened and I don’t know how I managed to get a nail in the side of my tire either.

IMG_9956Most tire punctures happen in the tread of the tire.  I mean that makes sense because you can easily roll over a nail and have it pushed into the tire.  But there are only a few ways to get a nail driven into the side of your tire in a way that can’t be patched or fixed.

IMG_9954You can see the nail sticking out of the left side of the tire.  The guys at the tire place said that they have seen very few punctures like this and it is not safe to be on the freeway with this type of puncture because if they nail gets loose then you will lose tire pressure right away.  Since I didn’t have a nail in my tire when I left Sacramento on Sunday and I didn’t notice the nail until yesterday, I am very happy that I didn’t have my tire blowout or lose pressure while I was between Sacramento and Southern California.  Praise God for his protection.

So now I have ordered a new tire and am stuck in Camarillo until it gets fixed.  Being stuck in Camarillo isn’t such a bad thing because I am even closer to Ryan and I am thankful for friends who are generously letting me stay longer at their home.  Hopefully the tire will arrive today or tomorrow so that I can continue on up to Santa Barbara.  But until then I am getting computer work done and enjoying the sunny and cool southern California winter weather.

 

Computers and Cars- Welcome to October

It’s October 1st and a new start to a new month.  Let’s hope that it gets better from here.  I’m not even thinking of what is happening in politics and the news but personally my patience and resilience are both definitely being tested.  These may just be little things but they impact my work, my finances and many other aspects of my life.

The Computer Update:  It’s dead.  It’s gone.  I am mourning the loss.  Less then two years old and there is a problem with the hard drive once again.  But additionally the motherboard has failed.  It seems to have been an issue from the beginning which probably caused the hard drive to fail the first time.  This makes me sad.  So now, because replacing the motherboard is expensive and doesn’t guarantee a fix, I am in the market for a new computer.  Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated.  Living without a computer would be a wonderful thing but that’s not really an option.

The Car Update: It’s not dead.  It still runs just fine but there is a large lovely dent in the bumper because I was backed into last night while backing out of the parking lot after looking at computers with a family friend.  No one was injured and, other then the dent, both cars are fine.  However, this is one more thing to deal with.  Because I was out of my space already there is a chance that I would not be liable at all and therefore not have to pay a deductible but that’s hard to prove in these parking lot things so we will have to wait and see what the insurance figures out.  Please pray that it would be resolved quickly and that I would have to pay as little as possible to get it fixed.

I would say that I wish we could just skip October but there are a lot of good things on the schedule and so I am ready to let this month redeem itself.  Happy October 1st everyone!

 

 

My Chauffeur

I’ve been making the drive from Sacramento to Santa Barbara since college.  It doesn’t even seem that long anymore, just a mere 7 hours.  I have my routine, my talk radio as well as the necessary gas and In N Out break.

Today I will be making this drive once again but this time I will have my own chauffeur.  Fatigue is one of the major symptoms of mono which means that a 7 hour drive by myself (even though I am feeling much better) is probably not the best idea.  So my dad volunteered to drive me down and then fly back up to Sacramento.

I’m thankful for my thoughtful dad.  And I’m sure everyone else on the freeway today is thankful as well.

Visiting Vancouver

Random fact about me- in all of the time I have spent internationally, I have never driven outside of the US until now.  I even had a PNG driver’s licence but I never used it.  When overseas, I usually I use public transportation, my own two feet or someone else is driving.  But now Canada is the 31st country I have been to and it holds the higher distinction of being the first and (currently) the only country in which I have driven.

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Vancouver is such a lovely place and even though I just returned to the US today, I would love to go back and take more time exploring the beautiful city.  But as much as I enjoyed the city, what made this trip extra special was my visit with old friends and getting to meet their two darling kiddos.  I’d only read about them in newsletters and seen pictures so it was fun to finally see them in person.

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My friend Priska and I met in Kazakhstan while I was in college.  We also reconnected when she was visiting her family in Berlin and I happened to be there at the same time.  And we also visited each other a couple times in California.  And now Canada.  Definitely an international friendship but that’s what makes it fun!

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Queen Elizabeth’s Park was another highlight.  The grounds are beautiful and well maintained.  The views are spectacular.  Despite the other visitors, you can still find hidden nooks and crannies.  And the weather this time of year is just lovely.  Not too hot and not too cool.  I really enjoyed just exploring this park and seeing all the different areas.

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This included a beautiful little waterfall under a bridge.  The air was sweet and cool.  I definitely could bring a book and curl up on a bench nearby just enjoying the lovely scenery and the serene sound of the water.

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Visiting Vancouver wouldn’t be complete without a trip downtown.  We had a meal with the whole family and then I got the walking tour.  This included the sculpture where the Olympic flame burned in 2010.

IMG_9779We walked all the way to China town and I was impressed that the little legs with us made it the whole way.  This kids are city kids.  They love riding the bus and the train and even at 2 and 4, they know how to walk!

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Although a lot more sites were pointed out to me along the way, the last little gem before heading back home for a restful afternoon was the world’s narrowest building.  The Sam Kee building was built in 1913.  It is so narrow that you can stand and touch both walls.

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I certainly enjoyed playing tourist in the city as well as doing more local activities like our evening walk by the beach which was ringed in by the amazing mountains.  It was lovely to reconnect with old friends and be a part, even a little one, of their lives as a family now.  While it is certainly hard having friends spread out all over the world, this is definitely a benefit.  I hope to return to Vancouver someday and see even more of this beautiful city.

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Shattered Expectations

This is a story of my car, my northwest roadtrip and the unexpected things that God uses in the process of sanctification.  I did use the word process so this means that it is still happening.  The end is yet to be determined but read on for the saga thus far.

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On Wednesday I left my place in Sacramento at 5:50am.  By 7:30 I was well on the road, I-5 between Sacramento and Redding.  The road was wide open, the closest car to me about a 1/2 mile behind and I was using cruise control as well as listening to my book on CD.  There was no need for me to be in the fast lane so I moved over.  Then came the POP!  It sounded like a balloon bursting or a paper bag when you fill it with air and pop it.  I flinched and looked in my rear view mirror.  The back window had completely shattered.  I didn’t go under a bridge, there was nothing around me on the road, I wasn’t driving backwards but something hit the back window.

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So I pulled over and called my dad.  Because, let’s face it, dads can help with almost anything.  After a short chat and determining that everything was ok (except of course the shattered window), I continued onto Redding with the broken window slowly falling in behind me.  Long story short, by 1 in the afternoon, I was back on the road with a new window ringed in blue tape.  I was happy to be on the road again but I was about 5 or so hours behind my intended schedule.

IMG_9734Because of the delay, I missed a couple meetings in Eugene but I made it safely to Oregon by 7 in the evening.  I was exhausted but a good nights sleep and some blueberry picking in the morning made things a bit better.  So where does the sanctification come in?

From the moment my window broke, I considered turning around and heading back to Sacramento.  The whole way to Redding, I talked to God.  I can’t even really explain what I was thinking but this was the beginning of God’s latest work in my heart.  I am a planner, I am an organizer.  When my window shattered, I felt in some ways that all my expectations for this roadtrip shattered as well.  Despite all the emails, phone calls and scheduling, I still can’t anticipate everything.  Meetings fall through, plans change, windows break, road construction and traffic happen.  Now I am 6 days into my trip and while I am thankful for the meetings and reunions I have had, I have to admit that I am very disappointed that it hasn’t been what I thought it would be.  And if I am honest, this isn’t all about the trip.  There are plenty of other things going on in my life and God is slowly working on my heart in many ways.

I believe in a sovereign, omnipotent God.  I may not be in control but God is.  However, the ways he chooses to work in us isn’t always pleasant.  Sometimes it’s like having a deep infected wound cleaned out.  You know it has to happen in order for the healing to start but the process is extremely painful.  The shattered window in and of itself was just a blip on the path but that blip was a catalyst  for change.  And it’s not over yet because this is a process.

I’m continuing to pray and listening to what God is telling me.  Sometimes things have to be broken before they can be fixed again.  Please pray with me.

 

 

How I Buy Plane Tickets

Today I’ve been searching online sites to try and find a good deal for my upcoming trip to Atlanta.  For the most part I find domestic flights easier to book than international flights.  But they all have their own challenges and I generally have more experience booking international tickets.  I was contemplating writing about “How to” get the best deal but I realized that it would be silly because I don’t know really “How to” do that.  Instead I just have a system which seems to work for me.  Maybe I don’t get the cheapest flights all the time but I tend to generally get reasonable deals and that makes me happy enough.

So here’s another aspect of my search.  I do pray over the airplane tickets that I buy.  This may not be a typical starting place for some people but I feel like I need to give decisions like these to God.  Partially because it’s built into my job and partially because it is his money anyway.  Yes, I also have an obligation to my financial supporters but even if I didn’t, the money I use would still be God’s.

With that said, I always begin the internet part of my search with multiple searches on multiple travel booking sites.  I still haven’t found one that always shows better deals so I tend to look through them all or at least a good portion of them.  I also put in different airports.  Sometimes it isn’t an option but it doesn’t take that much more effort for me to get to and from San Francisco or LAX so if the deal is amazing enough to cover the gas then I could make that choice.  And of course being flexible on the days you travel sometimes makes a $100 plus difference.  I do generally prefer the travel sites (and the airline sites) that allow you to see the difference in flight costs by the day easily.  If i’m traveling internationally, I generally contact travel agents and get them in on this part.  I have a few different ones that I contact based on where I am traveling and the deals I know they have gotten me in the past or based on recommendations from friends.

Then I take what I learn from these searches and put them in myself to the airlines websites.  Sometimes I am surprised because the ticket costs less from the airline directly.  Sometimes the search site has a better fare.  But always compare the total cost because both airlines and ticket sites can sometimes have hidden fees that don’t show up until you are actually being charged.  If I get a quote from a travel agent then I also check to see if I can get a better price myself.  However, if travel plans might change, booking through a travel agent is nice because you have someone to help you.  Sometimes they can fix things with a small fee that would cost you an entirely new ticket.  This is also true when you have close connecting flights.

After this step I weigh my options and include information like what time of day the flights are available, which airport, days of the week, non-stop or multiple stops and other factors that make a difference in both cost and convenience.  For example, I shouldn’t book a flight out of LAX on a weekday morning since my ride has a job that wouldn’t allow him to take me to the airport on a weekday morning.  And a cheaper flight with a layover in a snowy place during storm season could cause more headaches than the difference in ticket price.  International travel should include thinking about visa issues in layover countries and careful calculation of time zones.  Once again, a travel agent is super helpful if it is a trip you haven’t ever made before.

Once I find myself leaning towards one ticket, I check with my airport rides on either end and then I usually wait at least 12 hours before buying the ticket.  I also pray over the decision again.  And finally, I buy the ticket.  Notice how many time I wrote sometimes or generally in the above paragraphs?  For me airplane ticket buying is not an exact science.  There is no formula that works %100 of the time.  Sometimes your flights get messed up, sometimes it is your fault, sometimes it is the airlines but hopefully in the end you get to your destination.

Alright, enough talk.  I’m going to book some tickets today!

Another Way to Travel

I recently found some extra magnets that I had designed with pictures from Papua New Guinea.  These were made as a reminder for people to pray for my life and work in PNG.  Even though I will not be returning to Papua New Guinea at this point, the magnets are still a sweet reminder of the special people who I lived and worked with.  I think that 99% of supporters and friends would keep this magnet on their refrigerator but some friends get a little more creative.  It looks like my magnetic self’s preferred form of transportation is motorcycle.

Yeah, Pismo!

Camping at Pismo Beach with friends was pretty awesome.  We endured sand showers and lack of other showers in order to enjoyed a bit of Jeep off-roading on the sand dunes, campfire cooking, late night jam sessions, long walks on the beach, trips into town to relieve our windblown faces, great community and all sorts of other fun!

I haven’t been camping american style in years so this was a great treat.  The picture below was taken from Pismo Pier and you can see the sandy dunes way in the background.  The weather was great except the afternoons which were super, ridiculously windy.  We all definitely came home with enough sand to make our own commemorative sand art.  Gotta love the beach, friends and California!

Back in the Car

I would say most Americans take driving for granted.  It’s just a part of what we have to do each and every day.  I don’t know if the average American would remember the last day they didn’t drive.  However, I definitely do not take driving for granted and I am reminded of this fact every time I come home from a trip.  I’ve only been gone for the past month but I didn’t drive at all and was using public transportation more often then I was even in a car.  No, I don’t forget how to drive but it’s just different if you haven’t driven in awhile.

I guess that I do forget what it feels like to be in control of a car.  The spacial awareness of where the tires are and how close you can get to other cars as you drive by.  I forget what it is like to have to multi-task; keeping in your lane, noticing traffic lights, checking for other cars, adjusting the air conditioning, using your mirrors, etc.  I know that each time I come back from not driving the first couple of times behind the wheel will throw me for a loop but the feeling does go away fairly quickly.  It really is nice to be back even if it means that I have to drive.

A Traveler’s Life

Monday Košice, Tuesday Budapest, Wednesday Berlin, Thursday Sacramento.  It may sound adventurous, it may even sound romantic but when I realized this is how my week would look, I just wanted a nap.  Modern travel by train and airplane, as well as the wonders of a close together Europe make this trip very possible.  However, it takes a toll on the mind and body to be in so many different situations, hearing and using multiple languages, interacting with people from various cultures and the stress and mental energy it takes to navigate multiple train stations, airports and taking care of other transportation needs.

For me this is the home stretch.  Just the final few hours before making the trek to the airport and getting on a plane to bring me back to California.  It’s been quite the month of travel.  And now I am tasked with taking all the information i’ve compiled about different people and places and using it to make a decision about the future.  I’m very thankful that I was able to put my feet on the ground, get my hands dirty and see the different cities and work options from a close-up and hopefully more realistic perspective.

At this point i’ve made no final decisions.  I’m going to give myself some space, pray, have a few more conversations to fill in some gaps and see how my heart pulls me.  It’s an exciting yet nerve-wracking time but I don’t think I would have it any other way.