Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Fury of the Raptor

So, Jonathan had told me over the phone in one of our many conversations that he was really into bowling and pretty good at it. But, little did I know what a suprise I was in for.

We went bowling last night and as we went up to the counter to buy the games and rent shoes, Jonathan refused the shoe rental. That's when I noticed the nylon bag on his shoulder. Yes, it had his own personal bowling shoes as well his own bowling ball. Now his bowling ball isn't any normal, run-of-the-mill ball. But it is entitled "The Raptor" with a picture of a raptor on it above his engraved name on it. Cool. (wink, wink.)

Needless to say, after two games, I was tired of getting a thumbs up when I had actually knocked at least a single pin over and seeing Jonathan disappointed when he only got down 9 pins.

Final Score Game 1:
Sarah: 55
Jonathan: 176

Final Score Game 2:
Sarah: 43
Jonathan: 172

Ouch. But when you're coming against "The Raptor" can you expect any better?

Monday, December 03, 2007

My Favorite Things

This is way cool. Check it out!

Free Rice

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Egypt is Strange

I'll admit I didn't actually take these pictures, but I can testify to their legitimacy. Oh, land of crazies, how I miss you!



Leaning tower of...Cairo???


Aren't they on the wrong continent?


In a city of 20 million, you have to use every last inch I guess.

Turn too hard and you could tip over!

When there are no parking spaces, the middle of the street will do.

Apparently every has to fill up sometimes.

Avoiding the cost of a taxi.

Again, don't you think a taxi would just be worth it?

Wanna talk bling?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

All's Quiet on the Southern Front

Well, it turns out the U.S. does have some amusing aspects to it...or at least things that make me laugh. Here are a couple of the funny things I've run across.

1. On Halloween the neighborhood kids decorated pumpkins and left them on the corner for us to admire. My favorite was the pumpkin that had both Tyrese's name and phone number written across it in black marker. And that was that.

2. Driving through Wisconsin a couple of days ago, we pulled up behind a car who's trunk wasn't closed all the way. On closer inspection we watched the trunk bouncing up and down on the neck of a deer head that was sticking out of it. I'm assuming the rest of the deer was inside the trunk.

Well, that's about it for now. All's quiet in my world...too quiet actually. I'm quite bored. I'll try to find ways to amuse myself outside of trying to enjoy chai even though Starbucks discontinued cinnamon syrup. A good book would be nice, but all of my things are still in boxes and we have yet to find the library. Oh life...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Iraqi Jumping Jacks

This is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time--so funny that I actually found myself acting it out this morning.  If you don't get it, watch it again!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Luxor/Aswan


I realized tonight I never posted anything from a great trip to Upper Egypt. Joy, Su, Heather, and I took the train down to southern (i.e. Upper because the Nile flows from South to North) Egypt for a couple of sweltering days seeing temples and heiroglyphics. Here are the highlights!



Luxor Temple is really big and sits in the middle of the city. We ate lunch at McDonalds and looked into it from the windows.




Hmmm. I don't remember where, but it's cool!




Wow, don't remember this one either.






Overlooking Lake Nassar on the Aswan Dam. I tried to get the crocodiles to visit, but they never came.




Two cool statues.




King Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.




Queen Hapshetsut's temple. It was my favorite.




Heiroglyphics! They were all over the place!



We also went to Karnak Temple, which is the biggest temple in the world.

All in all it was a cool trip and I'm glad I saw it, but don't need to see it again. In my opinion (sorry history people), if you've seen one, you've seen them all. My favorite was the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser--it was beautiful.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Stone Mountain

On Saturday I finally got to play in the mountains (or on the "mountain" if you're from CO and your perception of mountains is a bit different than the GA perception)! Andy, Carrie, Jonathan, and I spend the morning exploring and adventuring around.


I felt like a puppy skipping and jumping around. I was nature deprived in Egypt.


Everything's better with Jonathan...


And more fun!


Okay, let's talk about how there's a sheer drop off with a gated fence. Did you really need the gate?


How could we resist? It's cliche, but still sweet.


Our trusty mountain buddies Andy and Carrie


How cool is my new family?

Egyptian Life

Here's a great article on life for women in Egypt. For perspective, this family probably lives off of 600-700L.E./month. The average salary is around 450L.E., and my 3 bedroom appartment (with no ammenities such as dishwasher, heater, etc.) was 1750L.E./month.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/07/middle_east_egyptian_family/html/1.stm

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

6500 Miles Later

Salamalakum...er, hi...i mean, howdy. Two and a half weeks ago I lived in Cairo. Then I lived in Boulder, and now I'm in Atlanta. Well, Norcross to be exact. And, I have these three great roommates named Andy, Carrie, and Jonathan. Yes, I'm living with Jonathan's brother and sister in-law. We've had a blast together, cooking dinner, watching movies, playing scrabble, and learning what Guitar Hero actually is.

My time with Jonathan continues to be immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine. Who knew love could continue to grow so quickly!

On Sunday, I met the entire Pascual clan. After church, we spent the day picnicing, playing games, and enjoying one another. I'm continually amazed at the favor and goodness of God. I feel like I was built for a family like this! We got to tell our story for everyone, and I've had such a great joy in sharing life with Lola Esther, Jonathan's grandmother whose ring I'm wearing.

No new news on the job front, but the wedding planning is coming along nicely. I'll post again when I have something post-worthy. Until then, call me or send me an email and let me know how you are!

Here's our fun Save the Date:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ma Salaam Ya Masr

Well, I've made it back to the states. It's almost sad looking out the window and seeing mountains and fall leaves rather than buildings and desert. I find myself wanting to speak to people in Arabic and am disappointed when they don't respond. And I surely shed some tears watching Cairo disappear from the plane.

But, the sweetness far outweighs the bitterness. I have left Cairo to step into God's next big dream for me--marrying the most amazing man I've ever met. I've never been more excited for anything in my life, and know this will be the most exciting and best adventure I could ever have. For this, I have no words to describe how thrilled I am.

More to come soon. I promise!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Adventure after Adventure

I returned last week from a great business trip to Jordan and Thailand. Here are my highlights:

Amman is stunning. Why didn't I visit it before I came to Cairo???


I also hit up Mt. Nebo, the place where Moses saw the Promised Land.

Here I am overlooking the Promised Land. If you're wondering about my hair, it was quite windy!



The Dead Sea. I didn't get in, but took a lot of pictures!



My flight from Amman to Bangkok was overbooked (who does that?) so after a sleepless night, I was able to fight my way onto a flight leaving for Bangkok the next day. We connected in Abu Dhabi, so I had to take a picture proving that I've been to UAE.


Many of you remember that I taught English in Thailand 4 years ago. I spent a day with some of my closest Thai friends. It was such a delight!

Me, Gaa, Ben, and Aom after church


Nute, me, and Pui. These girls were 2 of my closest friends!


Amanda (one of my dearest friends who also went to the conference) and I in Thai transportation.


Some friends and I used a free day to take a Thai Cooking Class. I can make a mean curry, but don't plan to make the fish stuffed banana leaves again.



And, believe it or not, I actually did some work on the trip as well, though there was nothing exciting enough for pictures. The people were a blast though! I laughed a lot!

I'm down to my last 2 weeks in Egypt before I return to the states. I can't believe I'm saying goodbye already! It's feeling quite bittersweet. I'm absolutely thrilled to begin this new stage of my life with Jonathan, but also grieve saying goodbye to a place that has finally started to feel like home. More updates to come soon!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Meet Jonathan

So, as most of you know, there have been some pretty dramatic changes in my life over the past 2 months. So, I’m going to do my best to tell the story succinctly but in all of it’s glory.

Meet Jonathan Pascual. He and I immediately hit it off when we met 4 years ago and spent the summer teaching English in Thailand.

His first impression of me, according to his journal was, “Sarah is an interesting girl. I can’t wait to get to know her!” My first memory is sitting outside with him while he played guitar. (Is there anything better than guys and guitars?) We became early-morning running buddies and co-teachers for our 7 weeks in Thailand. We definitely delighted in one another’s presence, but had no dreams beyond a friendship (though our boss tried to set us up on more than one occasion).

After those seven weeks, I returned to CO and Jonathan spent another 5 months in Thailand until he returned to Rome, GA to finish out his Psych degree.

We saw each other the next March (2004) for a few days when Lesli and I met up with him and some friends at Mt. Rushmore.




Then, that summer, Jonathan and I road-tripped to TX in order to visit Lesli before she got married. (I might add that this road trip never would have happened had I thought clearly and realized that there are a number of states in between GA and TX!) The coming August, Jonathan moved to S. America for the next 1 ½ years. He lived in the jungles and gave his time to developing relationships with the people. We talked on the phone every couple of weeks or month, and were able to share in a lot of personal growth together. It’s amazing how we could be learning similar things, but in completely different environments. And yet, we still remained just friends. I won’t deny I didn’t entertain the thought that there could be something more between us, but it was merely a fleeting thought.

He returned to GA in Jan 2006, as I was beginning my preparations to move to Egypt. We continued talking on the phone and Jonathan came to CO to visit me for a week that July. We, as seems to be characteristic of our friendship, road-tripped to Chicago for a Cubs game, and enjoyed every minute!

My parents also fell in love with him and told me a number of times that there is no one in the world like Jonathan. My response was always, “Yes, I know. And if something is to happen, that would be great, but now is not the time. We’re not there yet.”

The past year I’ve been in Egypt, Jonathan and I continued our friendship and talked ever couple of weeks. Through the spring, Jonathan became one of the people I shared the most about my life with and was an incredible blessing support to me.

I returned to the states for a couple of weeks in June for a wedding and Jonathan offered to visit me, but I told him not too since my time in the states was already short. We talked quite a bit on the phone while was there, and during one of our conversations, he ended up sharing his feelings with me. I accidentally forced him into confessing his feelings (ha!), so neither of us were really expecting a conversation like that. In all honestly, I was completely shocked and quite speechless, because I had no idea it was coming. I had talked quite a bit with my roommates in the past year about how much I valued my relationship with Jonathan, but kept feeling that there was nothing there. I spent a few days praying about it and came to the conclusion that I wasn’t ready. So, I called him back and said to him, “I think I’m crazy for saying this because you’re so amazing, but I’m not there. This isn’t to say I’m never going to be there but it’s also not saying I am going to be there.” I realized that with Jonathan, I couldn’t just step in and feel things out for a bit. Because of the length and depth of our relationship and our respective personalities, we would get serious quickly and I was terrified of hurting him, so I decided to say no. Jonathan’s response was, “I’ll wait for you.” I was shocked! So, I reemphasized that I wasn’t there, and he, in great nobility and humility, reaffirmed that he would wait. So, after a long conversation, we decided we would talk again once my first year in Egypt ended. (I committed to not date for my first year overseas, so I didn’t want to break any rules.)

When I returned to Egypt, my heart was very torn. I wasn’t there with Jonathan and was so afraid of hurting him. I was also having a mini-crisis feeling that I wasn’t even ready to enter into a relationship with anyone, nor did I want to because of how much I loved being single! But, one night, I was writing an email to a friend of mine about marriage and I realized that all I long for in life is to be closer to Jesus. As I sat in that knowledge and presence and desire of this, I realized that no one in the world would show me Jesus more than Jonathan. His heart and passion and desperation for the Lord leave me awestruck. It was at that moment my heart was suddenly liberated from all fears holding me back and I began to see Jonathan with new eyes. Before I knew it, I was in a place where I couldn’t imagine life without him, and as my love for Jonathan grew, my love for the Lord grew, and vice versa.

We began to talk a couple of times a week, and with every conversation I became more and more convinced that what we could have was “immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine.” We had our official “us” talk on August 9th, in which we both spoke that we were absolutely committed to one another. Our first step in the relationship was that we needed to see one another, so considering the busyness of my schedule, he ended up getting a ticket to come the next week. I had no doubt in my mind that this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, it was just a question of when and how, considering that I live in Egypt and he’s committed to his work in GA for the next couple of years. I shared everything with my bosses and language tutor and they were all completely behind me, giving me their blessing to return to the states when I felt it was time. Jonathan and I both have the dream of living overseas again one day, so I don’t think I will be leaving forever, and I will look for opportunities to use my Arabic in the states as well.
Jonathan arrived on the night of the 20th and after spending a couple of hours with my language teacher and her family (where he was staying), we went for a walk. Neither of us said much because we were so overwhelmed with being in one another’s presence. We were walking around in Meryland, a very Egyptian park, when he invited me to sit down. He then began to quote a poem to me he wrote for another friend’s wedding last December, called “Invitation to Run.”

Invitation to Run
Jonathan Pascual

In this race called life I run
I’ve got my gaze fixed on Christ, the Son
All once was gain I count as loss
As I die this day and run with my cross

To tell the truth sometimes the road is tough
I turn black and blue, I feel I don’t have enough
But in those times I hear a whisper in my soul:
Do not fear, press on toward the goal

I rest assured I’m not alone in this race
Lacking not, I am complete in His grace
And although it’s only in Christ I abide
I’d be blessed to have another at my side
[at this point he got down on his knee]
So here I am down on bended knee
Asking: Will you run with me?

How long is this road? Only God knows
But with each passing mile my love for Him grows
And if the Lord grants another breath with the morning dew
I pray tomorrow finds me running with you

Then, he asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes! I was thrilled and though I was expecting to get engaged within the week, I definitely wasn’t expecting it only 2 hours after he got off the plane! When he proposed, he did it with empty hands, which I was expecting since we had a conversation a few days before about how he had no money. (We both feel strongly against debt, and would rather not have something than go into debt over it.) He mentioned it to me again, and I reminded him that it didn’t matter to me (which it didn’t, but I did have to talk myself through it a bit, because what girl doesn’t want an engagement ring?). He sat down next to me and began telling the story of his grandmother’s engagement.

Fifty-six years ago in the Philippines, his grandfather had just finished medical school and his grandmother was still in university. He came to her and said something like, “I’ve loved you since the first day I met you and you don’t know how deep that goes. I want you to marry me, but I don’t have much money so all I have for you is this simple ring. But, I promise you that on our 20th wedding anniversary I will exchange it for a diamond you deserve.” They married of course, but one month after their 19th wedding anniversary, he passed away, so his grandmother never received the promised ring. Obviously, she treasured the engagement ring greatly.

Jonathan then brought up a conversation we had had a couple of weeks before when he had told me the greatest gift he’d ever received was his guitar, and he said, “Sarah, when I told you that, I lied to you. In reality, the best gift I have ever received was the engagement ring my grandfather gave to my grandmother. She gave it to me and now I’m giving it to you.” Then, he put it on my finger and it fit perfectly! I was speechless and overwhelmed and stunned. This ring was more spectacular than anything I could have ever imagined in my entire life! I’ve never been more honored with anything in my life!

At this point it was almost midnight, so we sat together for a bit (and kissed of course!) and thanked God for this new adventure we were beginning together. We then had dinner at TGI Fridays (the only restaurant in the area).

The next week was more amazing than anything I could have ever imagined. Considering that Jonathan and I have been such good friends for 4 years, I didn’t think there was much more to get to know, but I was wrong! I feel like I had the chance to be with a completely new person—a person who is even more amazing than I had originally known. Every day I was with him, I fell more and more in love with him. I am still mystified that someone like Jonathan chose me! Honestly, I didn’t even think men like him existed in the world!

Here are some hilights of the week:

A falooka ride on the Nile River


We're big coffee people. Well, I drink it and he knows everything about it!




Walk like an Egyptian




I get to spend the rest of my life with him!!!!!!!!!!



So, as is characteristic of the way we do things (quickly!), I’ll be returning to the states in October (with full blessing and encouragement from those working with me in Cairo). I’ll stay in Boulder for a week or two and then move to Rome, GA where he and I will begin life together after we marry in Boulder in January.

Check out our website on the knot at: http://www.theknot.com/ourwedding/SarahPampel&JonathanPascual

Friday, August 17, 2007

Amir

So, I haven't written much on Amir recently and decided it was about time. This past Sunday, I'm sorry to say, he was deprived of his manhood (i.e. got "fixed"). Fortunately it was only a 20 min surgery and I got to pick him up afterward. For the first few hours, the back half of his body was paralized, so he resembled a kitty bobble head more than anything else. Once it started to wear off a bit, he attempted to walk, but spent more time flopping around on the ground than anything else.

His post-surgery recovery inovlved a lot of sleeping.


Here are some more recent pictures of my little tiger.

His best friend, other than me of course!


We've decided he's way less ugly these days, which I'm kind of bummed about. I liked having an ugly cat. Oh well, he's still super.