Tuesday, December 26, 2006

When you Guata go...

Hello readers! I am on my way to Guatemala!

Have I told you that I'm going to Guatemala? Well I am. Tonight.

I'll be down there with a team of about 20 people for about 10 days. For the majority of that time, we'll be staying and serving at a girls' orphanage in Monjas. Activities should include teaching English and Bible classes, construction, VBS, doing hair, playing with stickers, a lot of soccer, and singing.

Almost the entire team is comprised of return-trippers. They've been before and are itching to get back. Some of the guys have been down five or six times. As a newbie, I'm excited to see what has them so excited.

If you are a friend of the praying variety, I'd appreciate your prayers for this trip. I don't know what will be accomplished in the lives of the Guatemalans or the lives of our American team, but I know that it will be exactly what the Lord has planned.

Please pray especially for the song that I'm going to try to teach the girls down there - the books of the Bible.

In Spanish.

With a dance.

I know that my pronunciation is going to be whack, but I hope they think I'm funny and not a doofus. Or at least a funny doofus.

Praise God for the global church and the power of the Gospel!!


Friday, December 22, 2006

Winter Solstice - and not a moment too soon.

John Donne called the winter solstice "the year's midnight." So now we wait for the dawn.
It's been snowing in Anchorage for the past few days - our first real winter storm. The snow is airy and abundant and slick - the kind that falls into your car when you open the door and fluffs over the tops of your boots as you scuff across the cul-de-sac. My brothers have shoveled me out three times in a spirit that a friend of mine termed "competitively helpful." Hey, I'll take it.
Daylight and snow are increasing. Snow machines and skiis and sled dogs are being primed all over the city.

Life is good in AK.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A difference of opinion.

The Bud and I both went on vacation this fall. I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to who went where.

Friday, December 15, 2006

And I hear it kills 99.9% of all germs, too.

Listerine is my new favorite.

Tonight I had a revelation. I realized (after several weeks of increased Listerine usage) that I do NOT have to pour the mouthwash into the little cap before partaking. I realized that I could drink DIRECTLY FROM THE BOTTLE. That's right.

Who knows how much is four ounces? I do, that's who.

Who am I sharing this fine bottle of Listerine with? That's right, the germs that are annihilated are mine and mine alone.

It saves a whole step in the morning AND I get to feel like a rebel.

Just don't tell my mom.

Hmm. Addendum. Now that I think about it, I don't think that four ounces is really the serving size. I mean, that's a lot of Listerine. Unfortunately, when I tried to look at the directions again they had stuck together (one of those blasted peel away labels). If anyone has a bottle at home and would care to clue me in to appropriate serving size, my mouth and I would be greatly appreciative.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Vocabulary kills.

Let’s face it. Christianity has been around for a while. So it only stands to reason that over the millennia certain ideas and thought structures would be codified into a wonderful little system we like to call…vernacular.

A friend of mine recently asked me if I was “born again.”

“Well, yes,” I said, a little awkwardly.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

Twenty-three years into my faith, one would think that I would have an appropriate response. But how do you answer that simple, important question without unleashing a steady stream of incomprehensible jargon? Depravity? Redeemed? Saved? Grace? Repentance? Sanctification? Holiness? Glory?

Christian Vocabulary.

It is easy for me because I have grown up in it. I’ve gone to schools where my homework was to understand the meaning behind these words. But I find myself ill-equipped when I face a person who has genuine questions about the fundamentals of my faith. My mother tongue is Christianese and I get timid when I have to speak in Layman’s about things of the faith.

The message does not have to be complicated. Christ certainly seemed to pull it off. John and Paul and Luke were able to relate to their audiences, to spell out the meaning of redemption and the price of grace. But now we have this lingo that we have worked so hard to establish, so the meaning should be clear, right?

I am constantly tempted to hide behind the smoke-screen of jargon. I convince myself that having sufficient knowledge of words means I have sufficient knowledge of the truth.

But if I cannot explain to my friend what it means to be born again, then why am I even here?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Some pictures of Beth's neice

Being an aunt is the best (especially when it comes to delivery). Here are some pictures of Beth's neice (also of my neice).

Jill is apparently comfortable with her newfound freedom.
Jess and Jill
Callie Jane and Jill Lorraine

She's Here!

I am happy to announce that Jill Lorraine Gates has made her way into the scene. JR, Rachel, Callie, and Jill are all doing fine.

8 lbs. 7 oz. (holy cow!)

Pictures to come (I'm still at the hospital!)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Living in twilight

Sunrise: 10:00 am
Sunset: 3:45 pm

5 hours and 45 minutes of daylight.

Come quickly, winter solstice! I'm ready to be on the upswing of this bell curve.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

You are not alone.

The Way to Go Kevin! craze is sweeping the nation.

Or at least, some of my friends occasionally say it to me.

Here are some other famous phrases that involve the name of a person that nobody really remembers:

1. Bob's your uncle
2. Kiss me quick and call me Kate
3. Rob Peter to pay Paul (is that one actually 3?)
4. Simon says
5. Charlie horse
6. Where in the Sam Hill have you been?
(alternative: what in the Sam Hill are you doing?)
7. The "john"
8. Heavens to Betsy!

Society obviously accepts the first-name catchphrase.

So don't be afraid!

And when people look at you funny just say, "Yeah. You haven't heard that? Geez Louise!"

Confession time.

You may have noticed, dear readers, that the posts of the past week have been a little heavy on the images and a little shy on prose.

“Jessi!” you may well have protested, “We thought that you wanted to be a writer. That you were going to use this corner of the world wide web to hone your craft and entertain the masses with your turn of phrase and cheeky humor! Yet all we see are photo captions, the poor man’s post. Shame.”

Well I have a good excuse which I will share with you now.

I must first admit to you all that occasionally I am irresistibly drawn to that fickle mistress, the “Next Blog” button. Usually I find myself in the world of Linux How-to, or the high times of Cindy Sorority at Party U. Normally I glance at the page and I move on to something more interesting, like cleaning the bathroom or shoveling the driveway.

But a few weeks ago I came across a good one and now I’ve been too busy to write because I’m reading about the life of Katrina S., a stranger who lives in Idaho. She is funny and heartfelt and an excellent blogger who makes purse shopping entertaining and scrapbooking non-distasteful. So during the midnight hours when I used to compose my posts, I have been clicking through the months of her life, starting in September 2005. I wish that she lived next door to me.

I left her a comment to that effect (I believe the words “best friends” may have been used), but she hasn’t responded. Perhaps my reputation has preceded me.

The great thing is that if she evades me here, we shall meet in the here-after. That’s right, folks, she’s a sister (in Christ, that is).

There's no getting around it, Katrina S., you can’t run away forever.

So here’s a shout out to cool people who are Christians and random blog addicitions.

Way to go, Kevin!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Annual Gates Family Tree Trek

Here's a few pics of the tree trek.

Waiting at Mom and Dad's. We never get out on time.

Ty and The Bud

Suiting up.

The Papa Tree. Yes, that's what Christmas trees look like up here.

JR and Callie found a tree.

Me too. Laura and I have an impeccable sense of winter fashion.

Zach cut my tree down for me.

Annual ornament earrings.

Annual ornament juggling.

Ahh, finished product.

In context.

I love the tree trek.

It is becoming imperative that I learn flickr.

New York City - Asian Style!

Hanging out with Jenni is the best. She never makes fun of me when I try to eat Korean Barbeque. I love it, but I'm clumsy. Here's how it works.

First you have to decide what you want.
Then you wrap it up in a piece of rice cake or thin radish or lettuce leaf.
Then you have to use your chopsticks to get the food from plate to palate.
Or you can just use your fingers.
Now you're ready for round 2!

Brilliant. Here's to you, Jenni Kim, and your peoples' most excellent barbeque.

Monday, December 04, 2006


If I saw a mango in a fir tree,
I'd start evaluating my state of mind.

But who knows?

Maybe squirrels like mangos.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

So, these might be a let down.

After so much hype, I'm afraid that the pictures are not going to live up to your anticipation. Keep in mind that more will follow (especially when I get on the flicker train).

Times Square

Jenni and me in the Met (notice VanGogh's cyprus behind us)

A mosaic that I didn't like

Friday, December 01, 2006

This is a filler post.

Okay guys, so pictures are coming soon. I was planning on posting a few last night, but I had a run-in with my internet connection and he won. Like always.

It’s been snowing all night and all morning, so we should have a nice white Christmas. It’s also warmed up to the twenties, which makes a person happier to be alive.

Rachel and JR’s c-section has been scheduled! By noon on December 10th I hope to be holding my new niece. That is, if I get a turn.

Okay, well anyway I just wanted to post something so the blog wouldn’t feel neglected. This post will soon be replaced with a marvelous multimedia extravaganza.

So stay tuned.