Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Social beings

I know that we humans are social beings, and I even believe that God specifically made us that way (the whole "it is not good for man to be alone" thing). I was thinking about that this morning as I was attempting my practice run. I didn't run very much. I ran for about 10 minutes and walked for about 30 minutes. I was supposed to run for 25 minutes according to the training program. When I have my running buddy (Becky) with me, I can run for 25 minutes. Why is that? Is it the motivation? Honestly, we are complaining half the time we're running! We do encourage one another, and talk about random things to keep our minds off of the running. But my favorite running times are when we are just next to each other, not talking, just running, just listening to our feet hitting the path beneath us. It's common knowledge that it is easier to exercise (especially if you are new to it) with a partner or group. Why? I just am curious as to what my body does differently when I am by myself as opposed to when I am with Becky.

So as I walked this morning, I also thought of other things that are easier when other people are around. I am so much more productive when someone else is nearby. They don't even need to be doing the same thing I am doing. For instance, on Tuesday evening, Jonathan was home and in the office grading papers. I did three loads of laundry, washed the dishes, sanitized the kitchen, and cleaned the bathrooms all while he was sitting there. Had he been out with a friend or out of town for something, I would have sat on the couch watching mindless TV all evening. I know this because we have been married for three years and I have seen the pattern. Why is that? Is it because he is being productive too? Nope, I act the same way even if he is just playing video games. Just having someone else at home seems to motivate me, and I don't understand why.

If anyone has any thoughts on this (especially if you were a psych major in college) I would love your input! Does this happen to anyone else? Is there a way to cure this? Jonathan is going to be out of town for a week in August, and I cannot afford to be nonproductive for an entire week!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Memphis needs a train!

Or a subway...or more buses...or something! The Hulgan household already operates on one vehicle and MATA. Jonathan takes the bus at least once a day, twice a day if I can't drop him off at school. I take the bus to work about once a week - usually less because Jonathan lets me have the car.

The Jeep is being difficult, and we actually looked into going completely car-less at one point. But we can't. Because MATA doesn't function before 10am on Sundays. And we need to get to church! Honestly, if MATA had an earlier schedule on Sundays, I'd totally chuck the Jeep and completely rely on public transportation : )

Also, I am never cosigning on a car with someone who lives in a different state. I am very grateful for my dad cosigning on my car loan with me four years ago, but now that the car is paid off and I'm trying to get a title...having the first signer 500 miles away is causing a bit of a red tape nightmare! Thankfully, my dad just happens to be driving to Memphis on Thursday, so he'll get to hop out of his car and join me downtown at the county clerk's office to get the car title and immediately sign it over to me : )

Seriously, cars are quite a lot to deal with! I am slightly jealous of my sister, who at 30 has never owned a car because she has lived in cities with such great public transportation, you should be ashamed if you own a car. Until Memphis becomes one of those cities, I suppose we'll make through with our little Jeep.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ear Infections and Lightning

Two interesting things have happened to me in the past 24 hours. First, about midday on Friday, my voice almost completely went out and I started burning up. The office first aid kit's thermometer measured my temp at 100. I'm a 97 degree kind of girl, very rarely do I actually register "normal," so I was slightly concerned. Around 3pm I got a headache and was concerned (please don't make fun of me, but I have some mosquito bites...and yes, West Nile did pop into my head), so I got an appointment at my PCP for later in the afternoon. Well, I have an ear infection. I thought only babies and toddlers got ear infections! I seriously did not think adults got these, but now I have one. This is why Jonathan and I skipped out on our Sunday School class's game night. With all the babies and pregnant moms out there, I didn't want to give my germs to anyone.

I did end up getting out to the Friends for Life 5k this morning. I didn't run the whole thing : ( I walked about three stretches that probably totaled 3/4ths of a mile. I finished in 40 worst time since I've started training. Uggh... But, interesting thing that happened is this. Around the 2.5 mile mark, it started raining. For a few minutes it was wonderful and felt great! Then the lightning came!! When I reached the 3 mile marker, I saw a huge bolt of lightning and immediately heard the crash of thunder. I mean immediate! Like, the lightning hit quite close. Eek! I sprinted harder than I ever have that last tenth of a mile and ran into the building. So even though I didn't run a very good race, I think I came as close as I ever have to a lightning stike!

Becky's parents both won 2nd place in their age divisions : ) Yay Jane and Tom!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The clothes make the (umm) woman

Last weekend, Jonathan was a sweetheart and we headed out to Saddle Creek to check out the Summer sales. We are going to a family wedding the first weekend in August, and I wanted to get a summery dress to wear, since all of my dresses seem to be black (yuck for a wedding). Well, I couldn't find a dress. Either they were too casual or two expensive, or not in my size. I did come across a lovely gem: a stone, summer-weight suit at Banana Republic for 60% off. I virtually got a Banana Republic suit at a Target price - my kind of suit! Of course, Jonathan looked at me as I showed it off in the dressing room and said,

"It looks great...but don't you have a suit like that already?"

"Oh no," I said, "I have a camel, winter-weight suit. This is a stone, summer-weight suit."

Thankfully, he didn't put up too much of a fuss, and I bought it. I rarely buy clothes, but when I find something like this, I cannot pass it up. I also told him that I can wear it to the wedding. And I didn't need to buy new shoes.

Since I didn't want the first time I wear the suit to be at the wedding in Wisconsin, I gave it a trial run at work today. I had a training this morning, so I needed to dress up anyway. My staff kept asking me if something was going on, because I looked so professional. Nope, I just thought I might try something other than the black pants/shirt-that-is-made-out-of-tshirt-material-but-isn't-a-tshirt combo that I wear almost every day. : ) It's comfortable and it has made the cut for the wedding. I also feel more like a professional when I have on a suit. Sometimes I think I'm still a teenager just playing at having a job.

Well, I just wrote a blog about clothes. I promise I'm really not shallow!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Adoption Success Story

If you live in the Memphis area, I encourage you to watch the local news Wednesday and Thursday to see a Youth Villages segment about a successful adoption. It will be aired on channel 24 at 6pm on 7/16, on channel 30 at 9pm on 7/16, and on channel 24 at 11am on 7/17. I normally don't advocate watching the local news : ) but this time is an exception!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Here is my week late update on our trip to Argentina. First, some explanation of why we went:

Our church, 2nd Presbyterian Church in Memphis, has a long standing partnership with the Presbyterian church in Argentina, specifically La Mision. La Mision is located in the Barrio Flores of Buenos Aires, the largest city in Argentina. Barrio Flores is a mixture of poor and middle class homes, and it has the reputation of being the place in BA to get drugs. When we asked Marcelo, the pastor, why he decided to plant his church in this neighborhood, he stated that everyone told him that a church would not grow there and his ministry would not survive. For anyone who knows Marcelo Robles, that was his invitation to plant the church. God is doing amazing work through La Mision. We met so many people who had amazing life changes (mainly spiritual, but also physical) after visiting this church. I was humbled that every story started with, "and then my friend, _____, invited me to La Mision..." When was the last time I invited a friend to church?

A large ministry of La Mision is reaching out to the poor in BA. There are three barrios they specifically target: Las Palomas, Parque Rojas, and one I don't remember the name! I probably also butchered those spellings. Don't judge me...I don't know Spanish. Everlides is the resident social worker for the church, and she goes out to these barrios everyday to check on the soup kitchens and also to make house calls and see if there are any needs the church can meet for the people. She has a beautiful relationship with the residents of these barrios.

Parque Rojas is where the "under the bridge" community relocated after the fire in early 2007. When we visited last summer, it was a community of clean, white, single story rows. Granted it looked like the equivalent of an American mini-storage business, but it was the government housing BA had provided the community. Since the government knew how much La Mision gave to the community, they gave La Mision and entire block of the new housing space to use as a soup kitchen. This year, two main things had changed: 1) the homes are now built up on with scrap wood, cardboard, etc. to make little porches in front of the buildings, and 2) the soup kitchen is brightly painted! The soup kitchen feeds breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner to approximately 200 people a day, Monday-Friday. La Mision pays for the food 4 days, and the government pays 1 day. The food is prepared and served by members of the community and also La Mision church members. The government is building* a group of 5-story apartments for the community to eventually move into. * It is actually being built by members of the third barrio that I can't remember the name, and it won't be completed for another 3 years. This means that the 'temporary' government housing will be for 4-5 years.

In Las Palomas, the soup kitchen that Crossroads and M101 jointly built last year is doing very well, and feeds 80 children a day. Norma and her family (can't remember her husband's name) live in the house attached to the soup kitchen, and she runs it. They also have cell groups at the soup kitchen throughout the week. Cell groups are the backbone of the church. They are small groups that meet daily throughout the city, and they are the places in which God is worshiped, people get to know one another better, and non-Christians are invited to learn about the church in a loving, non-threatening way.

The other barrio (apologies again...ask someone else from our team - they can probably remember it) is built literally on a garbage dump. It is on a hillside and there is one main path off of which all the houses are built. Let me explain how these houses are made. There are some that are made out of cardboard, particle board, sheet metal, etc. Others are built out of red brick, although I don't remember seeing any rebar sticking out of the tops of the roofs (like I saw when I built walls in Mexico as a teen). The rebar stabilizes the brick. There are no foundations to the homes, and they are unstable. The families are pretty much squatters and get their electricity from tapping into the city's lines. Sewage is not open like it is in the slums I saw in Nairobi, but it is not as well kept as we are used to. I say that to give you an idea of the poverty these folks live in. Despite that, they keep there homes very nicely, are the sweetest people you will ever meet in your life, and the children play outside. In all of the barrios where we worked, I was so happy to see the children playing in the streets, running around, and being kids. In my Memphis neighborhood you rarely see children playing outside. I ran past a Boy Scout troop playing ultimate frisbee on the lawn of a church a while back...that is the extent that kids play outside communally in my neighborhood.

So why did Jonathan and I go for a second time? Last year was a whirlwind and we were kind of in shock most of the time, so we wanted to go back and try to have a more settled experience. Thanks to semi-following a budget and a raise I received this year, we were financially able to go. We want to use our resources and skills to serve, and we also knew that by going we would grow. We can go! Our church teaches us to be missional Christians, and you can do that by praying, giving, and going. If you have the ability to go, then go! I must admit that the week before we left, Jonathan and I were discussing short term missions, and whether it is worth it. Would it be better to give that money to a career missionary than to spend it on a week's trip? Would it be better for only first timers to go on short term trips, and for second timers to just stay at home and encourage others to go? Well, after being down there for a second time, I definitely feel that multiple short term missions trips are worth it! I was surprised at how easy it was to pick up relationships formed last year, and we were told over and over and over again by the members at La Mision that they were encouraged to continue striving in their work for God simply by us making the trip down there.

Alright, now for the actually trip details:

Members of our group: Tim Jewitt, Paige Householder, Joseph and Mandy Inger, Brian and Leslie Poole, McKee and Courtney Humphreys, Jon and Caedmon (age 7) Becker, and of course the Hulgans

Other 2PC folks already in BA: Mary Wilkes Harris, Lizzie Wilson, Frank Jemison, and Georgia Lackey

Our wonderful Argentine friends: Petti, Ceci, Ariel, Eber, Everlides, Mariciela

Friday, 6/27: Fly out from Memphis. Our original flight was canceled, we were put on an earlier flight that was actually delayed so much that it left an hour after our original flight was to leave, we had to change airports in NYC, and then our flight to BA was delayed. Ah, the airline industry : )

Saturday, 6/28: Arrive in BA! We were welcomed at the airport by Bill Martin and Marcelo, which was a lot of fun. We worked around the church most of day doing cleaning and light painting. I went to Las Palomas with Jon, Tim, and Petti to pass out information about the church and advertise that the church would be cleaning up the neighborhood on Monday. In the evening, we headed to the city center to have dinner at a food court with some university students. We got to meet two students who had just recently started their involvement with the church, and Courtney shared her testimony.

Sunday, 6/29: Morning worship at La Mision! A great service, and thankfully Jon preached (translated into Spanish) so we were able to follow the sermon. We were able to meet with some of our friends from last year. Here are Gisella, Millie and Leo:

Sunday afternoon we went to a market with gauchos! I had my first empanada of the trip at the market : ) I like this market because it is mostly Argentines there, and it is not super touristy. Jonathan picked up a cup for mate, and I purchased a woven bag.

Jonathan thought it was funny to take a picture of me looking half asleep. Wait, I was half asleep :)

We went to a very nice buffet restaurant for dinner Sunday night, and we began our week of eating way too much. We also enjoyed our first glass of Malbec of the trip!

Petti and Ceci

McKee and Courtney

Monday, 6/30: We spent the morning cleaning up the main streets in Las Palomas. There are piles and piles and piles of trash, because many folks make their living by reselling items they find in the trash. It was good work, and the neighborhood did look much nicer when we were finished. The time was also an opportunity to show that the church cares about the neighborhood and its residents. In the afternoon, Leslie, Brian and I went to Parque Rojas and helped get dinner ready at the soup kitchen. Leslie and I grated A LOT of carrots, and Brian chopped up an unknown vegetable/fruit thing...we still don't know what it was. Leslie and I both escaped the grating with all of our fingers intact, although she did need suffer a small flesh wound.

Tuesday, 7/1: I can't really remember what I did in the morning...something probably involving painting. Jonathan and the rest of the guys went out to the third barrio and moved a mound of sand. In the afternoon, we went back to the barrio, praised the boys for their expert sand movement, and put on a children's festival.

Frank and Nathan
* The kid was laughing and giggling the entire week,
but of course he would not smile for my picture!
Folks practicing for a skit (that actually was preempted by clowns)
From the left and going in a clockwise circle:
Jonathan, Petti (semi-hidden), Tim, McKee, Mandy, and Brian

Oh yes, getting silly before the festival!

Dancing for the kids!
From the left: Anna, Leslie, Courtney, me, Katelyn (an American student from Georgia), little Caedmon, and Paige

We went out to an amazing pizza place Tuesday night for dinner! We rode the subway into the city, rode the bus back because it was so late. Some vandalism was done to the church Tuesday evening, but it happened while we were all gone, and nothing was significantly damaged. The incident was a reminder, though, that not all of the neighbors like what the church is doing. We were encouraged, though, that La Mision is able to be a bright light for God in the neighborhood despite having enemies.

Wednesday, 7/2: Jonathan and I spent the entire day at Parque Rojas. We spent the morning adding to the painting on the soup kitchen.

Paige, Mary Wilkes, and Petti

And in the afternoon, we put on another children's festival.

Frank becoming a clown

Kids eagerly waiting for us to finish setting up so they could come in!

Thursday, 7/3: We spent the day working around the church: cleaning, painting, etc. Georgia and Joseph led the way by painting beautiful murals in the children's section of the church. I did not get any pictures, but I'm sure you can get some from the other team members. We went to a tango show Thursday evening, and I ate a very large steak!

Friday, 7/4: This was our tourist day. Jonathan and I had breakfast with Claudia, the lady with whom we stayed last year. We had a great time with her catching up and looking at pictures of her daughter's 15th birthday bash. The group headed out to the city center and we got a tour of the main sights. There was a farmers strike going on due to a proposed tax being levied, and we witnessed just a few protesters. Apparently the protests have been much worse at other times during the summer. We stopped at a marketplace near the port and bought a beautiful photo that I need to get framed. The buildings are very colorful, because when the immigrants settled the area, they used left over paint from their ships. The tradition has held.

We had our farewells at La Mision, and a small contingent came with us to the airport.

Ari and Jonathan

And then it was "goodbye BA!" ...or so we thought...

After 5 hours on the plane on the runway, the flight was cancelled and we headed back to the city. We did get to sleep in and enjoy the city one last day.

"The 9th of July" Avenue

The Obelisk
You may be able to make out Jonathan, Brian, Tim and Leslie at the bottom

We finally headed out on July 5th and made it back safely on the 6th.

What a long post! Thanks for getting through it : ) It was a great trip, and I'm so glad we went. Hopefully we'll get to go again!

Friday, July 11, 2008

iPhone craze

Yes, this is my husband standing in line outside the AT&T store this morning for his iPhone! (Thanks Beth Mills for the heads up!)

He said that he tried very hard to stay out of the lime light. The photographer took about 3 pictures and Jonathan turned his back to the camera each time. Welcome to the paparazzi! He does look like the quintessential iPhone user, though, doesn't he? Scruffy beard, long hair, DS Lite in hand for queue entertainment.... He was just a magnet for having his photo taken and put up on the Commerical Appeal website!

We walked to the store around 6:30 this morning and I got my morning run in on the way home. You would think that all the Memphis crazies would have gotten off the streets by 6:30, but not so. I will not go into details : )

Unfortunately, the iPhone is not working right now, and when he calls AT&T he is directed to Apple, and then Apple directs him to AT&T. This is why I have a Blackberry : )

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Soon, I promise...

I haven't had time to sit down, sort through pictures and thoughts, and get an Argentina post out. Jonathan and I were talking in the car last night on our way home and both noted that we miss Argentina very much. Maybe it is the laid back way of life, being asked whether we wanted to eat every three hours, goofing off with the team during down time, or the 50 degree weather... We miss the camaraderie, the feeling you have when an international, multi-lingual group of people are passionately working on mundane yet extraordinary tasks together. I suppose if I close my eyes, I can smell the exhaust fumes, taste the dulce de leche, and hear the sweet sounds of Spanish praise songs. Next year cannot come soon enough.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

We're back!

A day late, but we're back from BA! I'll write a real blog post when I have some more energy....