Friday, August 31, 2007

Back in School

On Thursday (yesterday - somehow, I always write one day after the fact), I went to an advertising class at 8am at Adams State College here in Alamosa. Ugh, that was early for everyone to be in class; I can remember those days! They have a new professor there that is very energetic about the courses she is teaching, and like any new teacher, wants the students to have a hands-on, gotta-love-it project. So, I went with Lance (La Puente Home's director) to present information about Milagros Coffeehouse. There were a few other businesses presenting as well. Next Tuesday (when students return to class), they will decide on a project they would like to be a part of for the semester. I returned at 11am for the Marketing and Research class to do the same thing with the same professor and even some of the same students. The good news is if the students that choose Milagros take it seriously, I will have help doing what they asked me to do with in the afternoons - Marketing and Advertising. Yea, me! I will say that I did learn the difference between marketing and advertising.... marketing/research - the process of determining the needs, wants, and perceptions of your consumers through research tools and then working to apply and test some of these out; advertising - taking the products and services that you offer and getting the word out in the most effective way to the potential patrons of your business. For those of you who are thinking, "That's not exactly what I learned in college...", I made those definitions up based on what I learned :) Anyway, I need to go eat breakfast and then head to work because it's FRIDAY!!!!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Week 2 :)

We didn't do a lot this weekend. I scrubbed the bathroom - walls and all - for almost 3 hours Saturday. I feel much better about the now white walls ... they had orange-y rust spots from the water (I think) on them before. The thing to do in the house when there is nothing else to do is play the Wii by Nintendo. Jeff just bought one this summer, and we are all enjoying it. It is pretty fun to play ... and to watch. I will try to capture the hilarity of it sometime. For instance, last night Jeremy and Jason were playing boxing and I thought they were really going to knock each other out - on accident, of course. For those of you who have never seen this, you hold controllers in your hands and the Wii senses movements of the controllers and the players/objects respond. So, when boxing, they were actually swinging and ducking in the living room - and working up a sweat!

Monday, I worked at Rainbow's End, the thrift store. To get an understanding of it, I sorted clothing donations for 4 hours. (The picture above is of the sorting area and bailer.) It makes you think twice about the quality of what you donate because someone has to actually sort through it. So, my advice is if it is completely out of style, dirty, torn, damaged, stained, etc.... don't donate it. You are wasting people's time. I wonder how many times I did just that in the past. That being said, I learned that one source of income for the thrift store is bailing them (throwing them in a trash compactor and then tying them into big bales of clothing), and then shipping them to a third world country where they may be able to use them. (Look to the right to see bales awaiting transportation out of here.) I will say that not all of what is bailed is junk; some of it is just out of season, and they have no where to store it. Oh, what you learn in the back of the thrift store. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Work Week: Part 2

My afternoon project on Wednesday and Thursday was working at Re-Threads. This is basically set up as a small thrift store, but without any charge. So, people who are at a point where they cannot even afford the clothing at Rainbow's End (La Puente's thrift store) come here to gather the clothes they and their family may need. Re-Threads has been significantly understaffed recently with the volunteer switchover. So, there is still at least 10 large bags of donated clothes to sort and hang; this would give people more opportunity to find what they need. There is a shortage on 0-24 month old clothes for boys and pants for men, as well as new underwear and socks. There are a number of beautiful handmade blankets (see close-up to left) in the store right now that customers love! Unfortunately, they are only allowed one blanket per family unit because of the shortage that is always there - especially as winter approaches. Can you imagine that - only 1 new blanket... maybe your only one! One man yesterday had two blankets. He wanted one to sleep on and one to make his "free for the taking" couch presentable. I feel like such a meanie telling them they can only have one. There was a mother that came in with 3 young children today. They were on their way from Texas to Washington on the Greyhound bus when her husband became ill. Now, they are staying at the shelter and trying to find some clothing for the kids. (My assumption is that most of the money they had is - or will be - put toward the bus tickets.) The kids were so cute, and the mother seemed to have a peace or joy about her that I haven't seen in many other people. The one boy was so excited because the store has a dressing room and he could try on his clothes first! - He came out to inform me that the pants did not fit, but I cheered him up with a Yu-Gi-Oh shirt I had just found while sorting clothes. It was nice to be able treat people in need with respect and dignity, which somehow I have found difficult in the past when they are just begging on the street. It reminds me that the beggars deserve the respect, too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Work Week

Weekend News...
The internet was temporarily down this weekend, so I was unable to blog - I know, excuses, excuses. :) Saturday morning, Jeremy worked on mowing the lawn and trimming the hedge row. We went and met our neighbors, Raymond and Lloyda (not sure about that spelling). They offered to let us use anything they had which is so kind. I offered to bring over cookies once I get the hang of baking in the high altitude. In the afternoon, we (Jeremy, me, Jason, and Jeff) drove to the La Jara Reservoir which is west of here and in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains. It was a great drive and only a little bumpy in the Caravan. At the end of the road (or at least the part we could travel), we took a little hike up the mountain. You can see the blue Caravan at the bottom in this picture with Jeremy. Needless to say Jeremy and I were out of breath not far up the mountain... we would like to contribute at least 75% of that to the altitude and not to just being out of shape :) On the way back to main road, we ran into a slight road block; thankfully, a little horn-honking cleared the path pretty quickly. (see picture to left) There were many head of cattle grazing in this area.

On Sunday, we went to the Nature Conservancy sponsored bbq at Medano-Zapata Ranch near the Great Sand Dunes. We ate great bison burgers - made from one of the 2400 bison raised on the ranch. In addition, Jeremy (and default, I) schmoozed with all the conservation people. Jeremy's boss was there and wanted to introduce to people who had been major players in saving the wilderness of Colorado. It was a good time. Jeremy, David, Emmy, and Jeff drove into Alamosa Sunday evening to go to a bluegrass concert in the park. It was a good time, great music, and beautiful weather for them.

Monday morning is really rough when you have been on vacation for as long as I have (months) or Jeremy has (weeks). I was thrown into the office work. Since the normal office people weren't there, I was already answering and directing phone calls! By Tuesday, I was put to work creating the calendar for September and writing receipts out for donations. I also discovered that in the afternoon I will be trying to market and advertise for the coffeehouse and two thrift stores and help to promote the sale of Ten Thousand Villages' items. If anyone out there has any suggestions, I'll take them! I feel like a fish out of water when it comes to that stuff. Jeremy has been reading up on all the Rio Grande Conservation information - previous projects, current projects, and efforts that are working. In addition, he met with a woman from NRCS (National Resource Conservation Services) who will be taking him around to various sites in the Valley, and eventually turn him out on his own. He is really excited about getting to see what is actually happening around here. I'll try to take some pictures of our workplaces so you can see us actually doing something. When I do, I'll post them.

One last picture from our little hike...




Friday, August 17, 2007

We're here!!

So, "getting there" and "we're here" posts are being typed on the same day, but I think that's okay. We left Oklahoma on Wednesday around 8am and arrived in La Jara, Colorado (via 412W to 25N to 160W to 235S, I think) at 6:45pm. We stopped along the way to see the Capulin Volcano (a national monument) in northeast New Mexico. It is a great example of the cone shaped mountains produced after a volcano has erupted.

There were brief showers on our way into town and at the sign we realized that La Jara is the pot of gold you always hear about :) ... Check out the picture to the right.

Here is a picture of our house that we are currently sharing with 4 other volunteers. We have a good sized kitchen/dining area, a small reading room, a large living room, 2 bathrooms, 5 bedrooms, a greenhouse, 2 small sheds, a "sand" v-ball court (it's more like pea-size gravel), and a garden - oh, and a basketball hoop that needs a new net. The area we live in is in the San Luis Valley. So, it is flat in all directions, but surrounded by mountains; it is like the mountains are a fence around the valley. The fourth highest mountain in Colorado is near us - Mount Blanca, 14, 245ft. We may have to hike it before the year is done; our roommates said it took them 2 days! (To see a picture, go to this website: http://www.fone.net/~blancaco/Mt.%20Blanca.htm)

On Thursday we spent some time unpacking and "nesting" in our room. We gave ourselves a self-guided tour of Alamosa (the city we will be working in) and La Jara (the town we are living in). We decided that it is more populated than we imagined it to be, which is good because we pictured it pretty desolate. (Jeremy says that Goessel looks more out in the boonies than La Jara.) In the evening, we had pizza for supper and watched a movie with the other VSers.

Today, we went to work for the first time. Jeremy has a gigantic office; although it also serves as a conference room. He seems to have learned a lot on his first day about the valley's water supply and how some things work here. He was excited to learn that he will probably be out in the field for the next two weeks scoping out different sites. He may add more to this later, but that is all I can remember right now. I did a very brief orientation this morning, with more to follow on Monday. I learned that there is already a pile of stuff for me to do, so I am sure that I won't be bored. My days, by the sounds of it will be split in half by office stuff with La Puente Home and the various La Puente Enterprises (coffeeshop and thrift store and boutique). I am looking forward to learning how this will work. (If you want more information about the organization, check out the website: http://www.lapuente.net/)

I think that is it for now. We will be welcoming 2 more volunteers tomorrow (the couple that we met at orientation). Sunday we are going to our supporting church and to a bbq somewhere near the Great Sand Dunes. We will post sometime between now and Monday. Sorry there has so much to read. Hopefully, we will find a routine and update more frequently if need be. Have a great weekend.

Almost there

Here is the catch-up...

We had a great time in Kansas City. We ate great food. (Hats off to my cousins who are amazing cooks!) We were able to see all my cousins that live in that area which was a nice surprise since we were only there for Sunday afternoon/Monday morning.

We headed to Hesston area in Kansas next. We went first to the National Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (the only national park with this ecological system) in Cottonwood Falls, KS. Then we went to see my dad's sister (Jo) at her workplace in Newton. We followed that up with a visit to the Mennonite Church USA offices in Newton as well. We were able to say "hey" to people that helped us along the way with the MVS process. Next, Jeremy and I toured my very small hometown of Goessel. I was very disappointed to see the park equipment that I had played on as a child was gone. Then, we went to visit with my Grandpa Ediger and his wife in Hesston. He was doing good. He was moving home the next day from the care center he had been and was excited about that. Finally, we arrived at our final destination for the night, my aunt and uncle's house (Sherry and Bruce). Sherry had fixed a great meal that my uncle (David) stayed to eat with us. We had a great time there and headed onto Okaloma Tuesday morning.

In Oklahoma, we stayed with my Grandpa Jantzen. He gave us a tour of the farms he and my uncle (Gary) have and told us great stories about his life. In the evening we went to Gary and Darlene's house for a bbq with them and the rest of my family in the area. It was so nice to see everyone again. There were some new additions to the family that I had not met yet. It is just a blessing to have had the opportunity to see them on our way out.

I'll do a second post of our arrival.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mostly picture update

Hello, again. My cousins had a card reader so I thought I would put a picture or two on the blog.

Our moving day was quite the experience. We had a number of people that came out to help and more that offered. Here are the final pictures - one of the storage unit of all the material stuff we are leaving behind and one of what we are taking. I think we did a pretty good job of packing - if you saw it in person, you would be even more impressed! Thank you to all those who helped and offered.

Here is a picture of our mode of transportation we picked up on the ride out West; we didn't want to have it too easy... or maybe we are just going back to our roots :) Also, I included a picture of some of the wildlife we saw along the way.




In St. Louis we went to a Cardinals vs Dodgers game. For those who like sports... Ankiel had 2 home runs and another nice hit, the Cardinals won 6-1, and we had seats high in the stadium, but in the shade.





I think that is it for pictures. We are having a great time with all my cousins in Kansas City. It is good to see family on the way out. We are headed to Hesston today.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

On our way

For those of you checking everyday for new posts, thank you and we're sorry :) We have had limited access to computers since moving from our house last Saturday morning. I will post pictures of the move and our farewell, but can't do that right now.

We have spent the last week near Sturgis, MI at Amigo Centre at orientation. It was a great experience to be with 25 other MVSers getting ready to head out to multiple locations. We were able to meet those traveling to the La Jara unit - David and Emmy Lou (married couple) and Jeff. We think they will be a great group of people to get to live with and form relationships with for the year.

We are now on our way to La Jara and are at our stop in St. Louis. We are going to the zoo and the baseball game (Dodgers vs Cardinals) today. Tomorrow we will take off for Kansas City. Our travels have been smooth and I am sure the prayer support back home is helping. Thank you everyone.

Until we can blog again, take care.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Small Group Farewell

Tuesday (too bad I can't go back in time, so you don't realize that I am posting this late!) Our small group from our church had a final farewell for us. We had a bbq, played cornhole, and talked. There is a picture of the group to the left. They are a lot of fun to be with. It has been such a blessing to have an encouraging group of people to meet with every Tuesday night. Jeremy was a part of the group before I married him, and they have welcomed me without question. We have appreciated their prayers over this whole volunteer process. They would ask how the process was going, what are biggest concerns were, and what they could do; it was so nice to have that support locally. So, thanks, small group!!!

Thursday... well, I think we are pretty packed up. At least I hope so because we are getting low on boxes. I went to Goodwill today to buy 2 spoons and 2 bowls because when I went to eat some cereal for lunch, I realized I had nothing to eat with! I am doing laundry now, and then am going to attempt packing the clothes and shoes up. That is the biggest job and the one I am dreading the most. We will try to get a blog in before we leave, but we may not since the computer will be taken to the storage unit tomorrow. Tomorrow is M-Day (moving day). (Note boxes in our stairwell to right.) I think we are starting around 2pm and will hopefully be done in a couple hours. My mom is coming tomorrow to for the night. She wanted to help with the final cleaning, and I won't turn away help. So, if we don't blog tomorrow... have a great week!