Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Adios, Texas!

After spending a majority of our time in Texas, we have said "Adios!" to the state for good. From now on, we will be slowly making our way towards the Eastern states, which greatly excites me (I get to see several familiar faces in the next few weeks!). In this last stretch of the tour, we'll be performing in Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, the D.C. area, Ohio, and New Jersey.

There's so much to update about, that I hardly know where to start.

Prava and I enjoyed a day off on Monday. Our hotel was snazzy for being a Holiday Inn (apparently they're revamping their look. I loved the decorating!)

The highlight for me was seeing one of my best friends since I was 14....I haven't seen Zack in three years, so it was awesome to catch up with him. He and his girlfriend (Marisa) drove two hours to spend the evening with me, which meant a lot. They live in Arizona but happened to be in Texas visiting relatives. Marisa is a sweetheart, and we hit it off instantly (chatting about our favorite books, hot tea, etc :) The three of us went to "Half Price Books" to browse. Surprisingly, I left the store without making a purchase (I didn't say I wasn't tempted ;) But I'm still reading "Jane Eyre" (I know my mom is happy to hear that I'm loving it!), and after that I have a list of other books to read.

Then we walked through World Market, followed by a yummy dinner at a Mongolian grill (Yum! I highly recommend it.) My favorite part of the evening was just sitting down, having thought-provoking theological conversations with Zach and Marisa. We exchanged opinions about topics such as "Can you lose your salvation? (ie, walk away from God)," "Do you have to be baptized to go to heaven?" etc. It was just a fun time with wonderful people.

Also over the weekend:
-A lady in Walmart asked me if Prava was my DAUGHTER. She's 19!!! Granted, she could pass for being a 12 year old....but do I really look like I'm 30??

-I saw "Seventeen Again" with Taylor, Prava, and Alan. Matthew Perry + Zac Effron were a funny combination. Cute movie.

-Our kids performed seven times in 24 hours at the same church. Kay Warren (Rick Warren's wife) was at the church for a conference, so we met her and got a photo taken. I'll be honest; I'm not a huge fan of Rick Warren, but she seems like a neat lady who has overcome battles with cancer and is still serving the Lord in great ways. [In this photo, Kay is in the back row wearing blue. Also, Noel and Cossandra--from the VA office--were visiting, so they're in the photo as well.]

I put numerous Easter photos in a Facebook album today, but here are a few.

On a random note, is anyone following this season of American Idol? I never have time to watch it when it airs, but I've gotten into it lately (watching the performances online.) I'm hoping either Kris or Danny wins. I absolutely loved Kris's rendition of my favorite Sinatra song, "The Way You Look Tonight." :) Adam just creeps me out, though he is a gifted performer.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A multicultural Easter!

"Auntie Ashley..." Ezera whispered with a giggle, "you are the only Mzungu here!" As if I hadn't already noticed I was the only white person in a housefull of Hispanics, one Nepali, and three Ugandans! :) Our "weekend church" in Lubbock, TX, was a Hispanic church, so all our kids stayed with Hispanic host families which was neat. I spent Friday evening in a house crammed with nearly 30 individuals who were not caucasian ;) The teenagers/kids watched "High School Musical 3," and since I had no other option, I was forced to watch it for the...let me think here....6th time! Embarassing, yes. However, keep in mind that only one of those times was actually by choice. (I do still enjoy belting out the songs though...)

It was neat to spend some time in Lubbock after hearing about it from Marc and Amy. Wish they could have been here to give me a tour of the city. They are such wonderful people whom I met in Lynchburg last summer. Good memories of RUF summer Bible studies at their house. Seems like a lifetime ago! At one of those Lynchburg Bible studies, I met Alyssa who was visiting from Texas Tech. Since our concert this morning was only minutes away from TT, Alyssa came to see it. It was wonderful to see a familiar face. Thanks for taking time to come, Alyssa!

I hope each of you had a meaningful Easter! Mine was unlike any Easter in my past. It started out in the Hispanic church, and let me tell you, those people knew how to worship. One of the best things ever (in my humble opinion) is worshipping our Savior with people from different cultures. It reminded me of the time I spent in Mexico in high school. We may have many differences (the language, the way of living, etc) but we serve the same Lord.

Next up was the surprise Easter egg hunt for our kids! On Wednesday, Taylor/Prava/and I went to Walmart and bought 250 easter eggs. It only took us about 30 minutes to fill them all with candy! After the concert, we snuck out to a nearby park and hid all of the eggs. That alone was quite an adventure, because the cold wind was blowing like crazy (I gave up trying to hide the eggs IN the trees...) plus we only had a few minutes before the kids arrived. So out of desperation, we ended up just scattering some of the eggs on the ground. (Not too challenging, but the kids still loved it.)

I don't know when I've ever seen children so excited to hunt for Easter eggs. They jumped up and down and screamed for joy when they discovered that they would be participating in this exciting, American tradition. (First time for them, of course!) The rest of the day, they kept talking about what a fun Easter it was. But more importantly, they know the real reason we celebrate Easter. We reminded them several times this past week of its importance. And last night during bedtime prayers, the four boys each took turns praying and thanked Jesus for "dying on the cross for us and rising again so You can live in us forever and ever." There's nothing quite like watching our kids scrunch their faces and squeeze their eyes shut as they earnestly pray.

[I will do my best to upload Easter photos soon!]

I'll close with a humorous story which has nothing to do with Easter, but hopefully it makes you laugh....

Before I tell you about the following conversation I had with Rose, you need to understand something. Our kids don't eat much beef in their countries, so they approach it hesitantly (of course meat like that isn't quite as safe to eat in their countries.) They don't realize that they eat beef many times a week here in America (spaghetti, hamburgers, barbecue sandwiches, etc.) So last week on the bus, Rose was sitting next to me. We drove by cows, and she genuinely asked me the following question:

"Auntie Ashley, have you ever eaten cow??"
I simply just smiled and let her continue....
"It is soooo good, Auntie! I had it ONCE--in MY country. If you ever get the chance, you have to try it!!"
When I recounted that conversation to Taylor and Prava, we died laughing. Little does Rose know that she eats "cow" almost daily!

Monday, April 6, 2009

News Story!

It's amazing how huge the kids' smiles are when they know that the TV cameras are rolling! Yesterday morning, the local ABC station was on site to do a story on the kids. I thought it was presented professionally and passionately...take a look.

click here to watch the news story. I hope you enjoy it! (Sidenote: do you see Ezera--front/center--dancing with his cast on!?)

[I am hoping to find time soon to update about our time in New Mexico! When we finally made it, after being delayed by the Amarillo blizzard.]