Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shake It Up, Baby!

"Shake it up, Baby, twist and shout!"

Well, there was a lot of shaking around here, but no twisting and shouting in my apartment! If you haven't heard yet, there was an earthquake here in Southern California. The epi-center was located in Chino Hills, which is about 30 miles from me in Long Beach. It's actually quite a bit closer to Jim and Marilyn but they're okay as well. I guess they had a few things topple over, but I didn't have any of that.

I was sleeping, since I worked last night, but it was strong enough to wake me up. I woke up, realizing almost immediately that I just felt an earthquake. My first instinct was to hop out of bed and when my feet hit the floor I realized it was still shaking. It stopped quickly after that, and I wandered around my apartment, saw that nothing had moved, and was so tired I went straight back to bed thinking "I'll inspect stuff later and check out the news later". Remember, it was the middle of my night!

So, I woke up a short time ago and can see that nothing in my apartment moved at all, except that my cell phone fell on the floor. I think that's from the vibrations of people calling to check in on me, though! Thanks for worrying about me!

I flipped on the news to see that it was a 5.4 magnitude earthquake, which is considered moderate. No serious injuries have been reported yet, and there have been some structures damaged, but it doesn't appear to be anything to major. Speaking of "major", for all you Twin Cities blog-readers, you might be interested to know that when I turned on the news, I was greeted by Paul Magers face! He was a 20-year anchor at KARE TV in Minneapolis, and since I haven't actually lived in Minneapolis in a long time, I haven't paid attention to the fact that he's no longer there. It turns out he's originally from CA and has come back to his home state (I read the website). He's a little blonder from the California sun, but otherwise the same calm and funny guy that I enjoyed getting my news from.

Well, I better get ready for work, but wanted to let you all know that I'm safe and sound, and secretly excited that I felt an earthquake while I lived here -as long as no one and nothing got hurt!

UPDATE: As I looked around my apartment a little better, I found a few picture frames that tipped over, and a couple of pictures on the wall that aren't centered anymore. I'm so glad that's it!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Being Bold

I've decided to be bold and put a copy of my support letter for my Africa mission trip here on my blog. THANK YOU for being willing to pray for me as I'm preparing for the trip, and THANK YOU to those of you who are able to help financially! I know that not everyone can give financially, but I wanted to open the doors if you're able. The first 50% of the funds are due August 6th, and the second half is due October 6th. It is such a blessing to know that people are encouraging me as I step out in faith with this amazing adventure.

Dear Friend,

As you know, Africa is a place that is near and dear to my heart! Since I grew up hearing stories of Africa every day from my missionary-kid mom, I am very passionate about the people of Africa. I have often wondered how God would use this passion in my life!

I am writing to let you know about an exciting opportunity I have to be part of a short-term mission team going to Cameroon on November 6, 2008. Our team will be led by e3 Partners Ministry. Together we will take the Good News of the Gospel to the people of Garoua, Cameroon!

Our team will partner with the national Lutheran Brethren churches and believers to target areas that are unreached with the Gospel. Each day I will team up with several national believers, including a translator, and go home to home sharing Christ with those we meet. The nationals we work with are committed to following up with the people who make professions of faith throughout the week. They are further committed to establishing new churches in these areas!

As I’ve been getting to live this great life as a traveling nurse (you can read more about it on my blog: www.karijoy514.blogspot.com), and not really part of a permanent home church right now, I’ve also been praying about how God might use me in ministry. I’ve been thinking of the verses found in I John 3:16-18 that say “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (NLT).

I would like to ask you to prayerfully consider partnering with me on this mission trip. I believe God is calling me to go, and I would love to have you involved in sending me. Would you consider this? First you can commit to pray for me, both now while I’m preparing to leave, and also during each day of the trip. Second, you can give financially to help cover some of the expenses. The total cost is $3,890. The first installment of the funds will be due by August 6th, 2008.

If you would like to be a part of my sending team, please make your check payable to "e3 Partners Ministry" with my name in the memo line and use the enclosed envelope to mail your contribution*. Your gift will be placed in an account under my name. You can also make payments online at www.e3partners.org. All gifts are tax deductible, and e3 Partners will send you a receipt.

Thank you in advance for your prayerful consideration of this request! I look forward to seeing how the Lord will move as I take this step of faith. Your prayer and financial support are a blessing to me, as well as to many who will have an opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel as a result of your sending me.

In Christ,

Kari Swanson, Campaign Code: CM08A

*e3 Partners address:
e3 Partners
Attn: Finance Department
(Kari Swanson, CM08A)
600 Development Drive, Suite 120
Plano, TX 75074

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lots of Posts!

Here are a few posts for you to enjoy while I go back to work for a few days. It turns out I'm not getting much blogging done when I work 6 out of 7 days in a row, and my days off are so packed that you'll get a few updates all at once to enjoy! Read at your own pace!

This week off has been busy, mundane, fun, hard, cloudy, sunny, and FULL! I've gotten to spend time with family, see a couple of museums, historic sites, the beach, did some people-watching, shopping, eating, spending time with friends, and oh yeah, got a few immunizations for Africa. My arm is really sore! My next assignment (read further down!) will still be busy and fun, I'm sure, but with less sight-seeing and more hang-out time!

Have I piqued your interest yet? Read on!

Enjoy your days!

I'm Going Home, to the Place Where I Belong

Yes, that's right, I'm coming home!

I think I've mentioned in the past how most things in my life relate to some song title or lyric. Well, this week I keep thinking of the song that used to be sung at the end of American Idol called "Home" by Chris Daughtry. If I could play just a clip for you, I would, but in the meantime if you google the lyrics, it's the chorus that really rings true for me!

Enough about that, I'm coming home! I've taken my next assignment back in the good old state of Minnesota, where I'll be heading to Mankato!

I'll be signing the contract tomorrow, to work 12-hour nights at Immanuel St. Joseph's in Mankato, on one of their adult med/surg floors. I'll be back in the Mayo system again (Franciscan Skemp in LaCrosse was as well) and am looking forward to the great Midwestern work-ethic I miss.

I was pretty sure I'd go back into pediatrics for this next assignment, but the draw to be home was stronger than anything else! Since I started as a traveling nurse, this is the first job I could even really apply for in Minnesota. All the other openings have been in specialty areas other than med/surg or pediatrics. I'm glad it's finally worked out!

The most important part of this next assignment for me was finding somewhere that would be okay with my plans to go to Africa, since those weren't going to change. Fortunately, that worked out well here! And, to extend the contract by a few weeks to account for Africa means that my contract will go from September 9th until January 3rd. I'll be home for Christmas!!!!

Mankato is only 65 miles from my parents, so I plan on spending lots (most!) of my free time back in the Cities again. One fun thing about Mankato is that's where Jill lives!

I pretty much hold the belief that you can have fun wherever you're at, as you know from all my fun sight-seeing trips. Well, during this assignment the pictures will change from sight-seeing to family/friend-seeing. A little different, but just as, or even more, fun!

We'll see what happens after the first of the year (will the warmth be calling my name again??) but I'm pretty excited to be back in Minnesota for a few months! I plan on lots of great time in the Cities, and am also REALLY looking forward to getting to Fergus. I can't believe how long it's been, and it'll always be home to me! I also would love to explore southern MN some, and won't be too far from friends in LaCrosse or Rochester! Hint, hint!!

I'll sure miss my time here in California, it's been just what I needed, but am so excited to see my favorite little nephew again I can hardly stand it. You'll get to see lots of great pictures in the coming months (and if you can't wait that long, check out the fun stuff on my mom's blog)!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Hope for You

I am so blessed. Who could ever ask for better friends/family than I have? I don't think it's possible...

Being a little homesick these last few days has led to having conversations on the phone. I'm so glad the world is smaller with telecommunications!

I was going to title this blog with a specific friend's name and say "I hope you all have a "___________" in your life" and then realized that I wouldn't know what name to fill in that blank. There are so many to choose from!

I am blessed with so many different friends (which includes my family) and they all bless me with similar things and yet also meet different needs in my life.

I hope that you're able to say the same thing about your life.

I hope you all have a friend that points you back to Christ in every circumstance.

I hope you all have a friend you can call when you run into an old crush.

I hope you all have a friend who's the first person you'd want to tell when you get a new job assignment.

I hope you all have a friend you can call when you want to share about the beauty of God's creation that you're witnessing -and pretend that they're right there next to you.

I hope you all have a friend that understands and listens when you tell them you learned your ex-boyfriend is dating someone new.

I hope you all have a friend that you can call when you need to be reminded of God's faithfulness and love.

I hope you all have a friend that lets you into their family-life and understands you love their family as your own.

I hope you all have a friend that gets excited for you and your future, who might believe even more than you do that things will work out in God's perfect plan.

I hope you all have a friend that prays for you.

I am so thankful for you, my friends. Thank you for the huge blessing you are to me! !

The Getty Center

On Tuesday I had the enjoyment of going to the Getty Center. It's a free museum in Los Angeles that's pretty incredible. You pay $8 for parking, take a little tram up the hill, and arrive at a place where you'll want to have quite a few hours set aside to enjoy the beautiful scenery either in the garden or hanging on the museum walls!

There were too many pictures to upload individually, so here are a few slideshows instead. Enjoy!

Here you can see some of the amazing architecture at the Getty Center:

Here is some of the amazing art I saw. It's all organized at the Getty Center by genre or years, but I skipped around a bit so that's how you'll see it as well! If you click on the picture in this slide show (or hover over it) you can see the title, artist and year.

Here are my pictures of the garden, and also of some of the interesting people I found. I really love people watching, and so often snap pictures of the scenery I'm enjoying. I'd like to start taking more pictures of people I see (to go along with the stories I make up about them! Hee, hee!!)

I ended the day by heading over to Santa Monica to the Third Street Promenade for some more people watching. I found many musicians (including a great violinist), a movie being filmed (I didn't recognize any stars, however), and the biggest dog I've ever seen (my asking to take his picture led to the whole street doing the same thing!) who was in the same family as one of the smallest dogs around! After Santa Monica, I went to Manhattan Beach to watch the sunset. I ended up finally parking somewhere between Manhattan and Hermosa Beaches, and had a great time praising God with my singing when no one else was around. I realized I missed you so I wanted to let you know!

That was our fun day in LA, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Mission Inn

It was a busy Sunday! I woke up early in order to get to Rancho Cucamonga, to go to Victoria Community Church for their worship service. It was such a blessing to be there! It was great to see some old friends again, and I also ran into a family friend who was there with his family on vacation! I used to do a lot at VCC back in my days with Youth Ministries, and have been able to keep in touch with some of those friends throughout the years. It was great to hear my friend, Erick, preach a great sermon on forgiveness and gratitude, and it was great to worship with familiar songs!

After church, I drove to Riverside for something that I knew would be hard. I went to the funeral for a friend's 3-year-old daughter who passed away last week. My mom lived in California for one year of high school and became good friends with Annette. In my growing up years we would come to California to visit Chuck and Penny fairly frequently. Whenever we did that, we usually also got together with Annette and her family. Her oldest daughter is Adrianne, who is two years older than I am, and Adrianne and I became great buddies. We would spend all our time together when I was in California (including going around Disneyland alone at ages 10 and 12!), and we were also pen-pals when I was back in Minnesota. I remember feeling very proud in second or third grade when I could spell "Pasadena" when it came up in school once. It's because that's where my pen-pal lived! Well, I last saw Adrianne at her college graduation party back in 1996 or so and then not again until Sunday when I went to her daughter's funeral. It was so good to see her, and for such a hard occasion. Please keep Adrianne and her husband, Mark, in your prayers as they learn to go on with life without their only little girl. I never got to meet her, but could tell from her funeral what a beautiful little girl she was -both inside and out.

After talking with Adrianne and all her family, I headed out. I was going to go back to Jim and Marilyn's to get my stuff before meeting friends for dinner, but Marilyn reminded me of the historic Mission Inn that's right in Riverside. I had seen a show once on The Travel Channel (I love Samantha Brown!) and wanted to see this old historic hotel in person.

It was a beautiful place to visit! Wonderful architecture, attention to detail, and friendly staff.

I was ready to hop in my car to head back to Fullerton when my eyes caught sight of an Antique Store/Gift shop. It's hard to pass those by, so I decided not to and headed right in! I wandered around a bit, enjoying all sorts of beautiful antiques, started dreaming of owning a home again someday, and then came upon one corner where a lady was selling wonderful hats. She was there and encouraged me to try on a few, so I had fun obliging her!

I finally left, drove back to Fullerton, packed up my stuff from the weekend, met someone from their church that's thinking about going to Africa on the mission trip I'll be on, and headed out again. This time it was back to Rancho Cucamonga in order to meet up with Erick and Melissa and their boys for dinner and hang-out time. It was SUCH a blessing to be with them! I've known Erick since about 1995 or 1996 and got to meet Melissa when they lived in Fergus for a bit. They are two of the nicest people you'll meet, have their heads on straight, and are so easy to be around! It was such a fun evening and I drove back home again feeling so blessed!

If you were to look at a map from the area, you'll see that I did a TON of driving that day, but it was so worth it to be with friends/family and was a great end to a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nixon Library

I experienced a "first" on Saturday -I went to a presidential library! Jim and Marilyn live only a few minutes from The Nixon Library so Marilyn and I headed over there for a few hours. It was really interesting!

I have never been to a presidential library before, and knew that while I'm in California I'd like to get to both the Nixon and Reagan libraries that are in the area. Because I'm a patriotic person, I enjoy presidential history, but admittedly haven't studied it very much. I really learned so much from my visit!

Here are some of the campaign slogans/posters.
An area describing his vice-presidency to Eisenhower.
The hall of various leaders from around the world during Nixon's time in office. These statues are life-sized, and we were surprised at how short some of the leaders were! (Charles De Gaulle was the tallest, and look how tall he is compared to Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev from the USSR -standing on the left side of your screen.)
I enjoyed a nice conversation with Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle, and some other guy I can't remember...
Nixon was instrumental in opening up the closed doors of China.
An actual section of the Berlin Wall. It was pretty powerful to see this in person.
Nixon's Presidential Limousine

The outdoor courtyard. I love the red, white, and blue flowers!

There is an exact duplicate of the East Room of the White House (where many of the balls or formal events are held) and it can be rented out for private parties. Marilyn and I got to see the finishing touches be put together for a wedding reception, and by the time we left the guests were starting to arrive.
The "wedding favors" for this wedding included a teacup and saucer that looked like they could've been taken right out of the White House collection!
This is the actual gazebo that was used for the White House wedding of Tricia Nixon in 1971. It sits outside in the garden.
There was a beautiful garden outside.
Marilyn and I had a great day together! I'm SO thankful I live close to her and Jim again!
A perfect yellow rose.
I love benches.
Mrs. Nixon's gravestone reads "Even when people can't speak your language, they can tell if you have love in your heart."
President Nixon's gravestone reads: "The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker."
President Nixon's father built this house in 1912, from a kit! It's never been moved, and had been used for many years by the local school's caretaker. I love the character on the inside, but we weren't allowed to take pictures...
This is the helicopter that gave President Nixon his final ride away from the White House. I guess in the past you could look around inside, but it was closed for us that day.
Trumpet flowers, which can also be found in Africa.
An "artsy" picture to end your tour of the Nixon Library and Birthplace. If you ever have the chance to visit any Presidential Library -you should jump at it! Very interesting and educational!

Thanks for the fun day, Marilyn! I'm really glad we went! (I'm excited to see your posts on the rest of our day -at Fullerton Lake and the park overlooking the city!)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Huntington Gardens

I know, it's been a while since an update! I worked all week (6 out of 7 days, 12-hour shifts -- which is exhausting) and am now hanging out in Fullerton with Jim and Marilyn having fun! You know how much I love to update you on my life, but like I said to Marilyn this morning "I'm too busy living my life to have time to blog about it!" There are definitely times I have more down-time, but I guess this month isn't one of those...

On Wednesday and Thursday last week, I got to hang out with Penny again! On Wednesday, we spent time walking around Old Town Pasadena. It's a VERY COOL place to spend time! We wandered in and out of fun shops, ate dinner, enjoyed a delicious dish of frozen yogurt, and people-watched!

On Thursday morning we went to Huntington Gardens in San Marino. It's a place I've heard about every time I come to California and had never made it there yet. It was beautiful! I have a couple slide shows at the end of this post, because there were so many great pictures, but I wanted to tell you about a few of my favorite.

This garden is near the entrance. A bunch of little ponds surrounded by bamboo. Beautiful!

I love the look of all this bamboo together. I hadn't realized just how tall bamboo gets!

I have no idea what this flower is, but I think it's one of most unique I've ever seen! I love the structure of the yellow thing in the middle (yes, very technical terms! I'm sure it has a name, but... If you can offer any insight, let me know!)

Penny and I had a great time exploring around together!

I love hydrangeas, and look how big these ones are!

The Japanese garden was incredible! I love bridges, and thought this one was especially nice. It didn't really go anywhere, but is lovely just the same!

Another love: benches! Imagine how great it would be to grab a good book and sit under this tree-covering and overlook the Japanese garden!

I really love spending time with Penny!

In the Rose Garden, we came upon these women that just made me giggle! One of my quirky traits is that I often make up stories about people I see out in the world (I love people-watching!). I imagined these women, FAST ASLEEP on a bench, having just arrived from Japan the day before. They landed at the airport, were picked up by their American family members and did a little shopping before heading home to bed. Since they wanted to get their full American experience, they headed out early that morning to start sight-seeing and went to Huntington Gardens first. They wandered around and saw everything, then found a bench to sit on and rest their feet. Before they knew it, they were both out like a light, not quite snoring, but close. You should click on the picture to enlarge it to get the full experience!

After walking the gardens, we toured the house that the Hungtinton's lived in. He made his money in railroads and had a HUGE house. It's now filled with his art collection -which was quite extensive! Here's a slide show that will give you a taste of what we saw.

After the house, we saw the library, which is quite famous I think. One of the amazing things there is a Guttenberg Bible! There are only a few copies left, and one is here at Huntington Library. It was pretty incredible to see it in person!

Here's that slide show of more pictures of the garden. When you come to Southern California next, make time to stop in at Huntington Gardens. It's well worth it!