My Big Fat Greek Slap

15 minutes left on internet card... must blog quickly. On boat from Greece to Italy.

Slapped around by border crossing guard while crossing border between Macedonia and Greece. OK, I am being dramatic, but apparently my leg was not where he wanted it to be and smacking it is the international signal for move your big fat leg lady.

Eastern European trains = bad. Anything that gets you away from Kosovo = good. No offense to our missionary friends there though.

Maybe we'll train to Germany today. Who knows. More later. Cappucino on boat!!!



It's time to leave Kosovo. I'm not sad about it, probably because not having water or power for the past two days hasn't exactly endeared me to this place.

Will be backpacking/training across Europe the next two weeks. YES - ME!!!! WITH JUST ONE PAIR OF SHOES!

I'll blog from internet cafes along the way!

the Pastor likes my new look

Me, after visiting Kosovian beauty salon and letting them make me up like a whore, I mean bride.

Hey, it supported the local economy and let us hang out with a potential convert for a couple of hours. Plus it killed time. Anything that kills time here is a good thing.

Sadly, this is what my contribution to world missions looks like.

check out the do

pics don't do it justice - red sparkles in the hair!

Hair 10 euros
Makeup 5 euros
Shirt 6 Euros

getting to look like a common prostitute, all in the name of Christ,


at the Kosovo version of Wal-Mart

the town where we are staying


A "before" picture of the cow.

If you want to know what the people of Kosovo need, what YOU can do to help, please send non-scary mannequins.

But of course, I am shopping.

one of our views in Kosovo

the house where we are staying

This is the exact moment, captured on film, when culture shock began to set in.


1. The aeropuerto in Prague.
2. When I was still pretty, even after a whole bunch of plane traveling. When my hair was still flat ironed.
3. My Victoria's Secret Pink hoodie. The Pink line is a popular airport outfit. I saw several other travelers sporting the look.

OK, last pic of New York. I promise. We ate authentic New York pizza. Oh, if we had only known that in Kosovo pizza is one of the four main food groups, we probably would have chosen another food for our last meal.

mirror, mirror on the wall

The Pastor took this pic in a reflection, from the top of the Empire State Building.

don't I look pretty with my rucksack?

I'm just like "Wilderness Barbie", complete with backpack!

Empire State building.

The ultimate American experience, right before the ultimate un-American experience . . .

Oh, I forgot to tell you, on the way here the Pastor and I had an 8 hour layover in Newark. We decided not to stay at the Newark airport, if you can imagine, and instead hopped on a train and headed to New York City!

And I found the Starbucks in Times Square.

"She got dizzy. It's very hot up here. Her dress is tight -- as you could see it was beaded and heavy. She passed out."

I'm just a girl who cain't say no . . .

I ate dinner in a chicken coop last night. Well, it wasn't technically a chicken coop anymore. But it used to be.

We went to eat dinner with a family last night. Their house was bombed during the war in Kosovo, and they are still repairing their main home (six years later). Presently, they are living where their chickens used to live, before the war. I'm sure the chickens were ticked they had to relocate.

I did not feel good. Let's just say I have a common traveler's stomach ailment. And don't forget, I'm a vegetarian. I told the Pastor before we left, ok, I'll go, but seriously I cannot eat anything. Seriously. Apparently telling these people 1. that you are a vegetarian and 2. that you have explosive diarrhea doesn't make much of an impact.

Hospitality is HUGE here. Everywhere you go, people are trying to push food and drink on you, and they will seriously not take no for an answer. (This would not be a good place to start a Weight Watchers.) Especially when they know you are a foreigner. It's a big deal for them to think you would go back to your homeland and say you weren't treated well. And you know it's not like I want to offend anyone or hurt their feelings! That's not my style. I just do what I need to do, then I can always just blog about it later ; ) It's cathartic.

So we go to this dinner. And even though the hosts had been informed in advance of my adversion to meat and my delicate condition, I was served soup that was both beef and chicken as a starter, and then a plate overflowing with meat and chicken. In fact, I think they gave me even MORE food than the others, because I was sick. You know, to make me better. The healing power of food. Between the missionary on my left and the Pastor on my right sneaking bites from my plate, we managed to make it look like my food had a dent put in it. I picked at the rice and a roll. Ironically, the only thing I was not served was the SALAD. I told the Pastor maybe forewarning them I was a vegetarian was confusing. They may have interpreted that to mean that I DON'T eat vegetables.

I also got to drink some hooch. Being married to the Pastor and all, you just don't get a lot of opportunities to drink. In the same way that they push the meat/chicken on you, the hosts were trying to get us to drink last night too. And again, SAYING NO DOES NO GOOD. I sipped the Pastor's wine for him, so he didn't have to touch the stuff. It was the least I could do since he was eating my meat. I'm no conniseur, but this wine was by far the worst stuff I have ever had in my whole life. Kosovonian wine. But again, sometimes you just have to be gracious, and complain about it later on your blog.

I felt kind of bad that these people cooked all day long and went to such great effort to prepare a meal for us. In part, because we are Americans. The chicken was very fresh, they killed it earlier in the day. I don't even want to know where the beef came from.

I would like to think that when I walk away from this whole experience I will be a better person, whatever that is. But I'll probably be the same selfish me who wants to get laser hair removal. Sigh.

Today we hiked up some big mountain. We could see the entire town of Prizren from the top, including about 30 mosques. I'd blog more, but the Pastor is anxious for his turn on the computer. And the power will probably go out again soon!


fish out of water

I'm googling stuff about culture shock. It is somewhat ironic that I may not be able to finish my research and blog post on this topic before the electricity goes off.

Here is what I've found out. Culture shock is like a disease! There's a cause (duh!), symptoms (duh!) and finally, a cure. I'm not sure what the cure is though. Acceptance? Memory loss of your life back home? Going home?

The first phase is the "honeymoon phase"!!! Doesn't that sound exciting? Of course I'm always in the honeymoon phase with the sexy and handsome Pastor (today is our 14 month anniversary). So the honeymoon phase is fun, right? Actually, our honeymoon phase on this trip involved about 40 hours of travel. I guess once you survive that, much like surviving a wedding, it's easy to breathe a sigh of relief.

The 2nd phase is the REJECTION PHASE. The "everything is completely awful here" phase. Check! This is where you complain and whine about things and only notice the bad stuff. Check! That's easy enough, I do that at home! Hey, it's hard to notice the good stuff when you're in a freakin' third world country! One of the missionaries we are with described this place as "not even a third world country - it's more like a 2/3rds world country!" I'm still not sure if that means this is better or worse than your typical third world country. Hmmmm.

Then there is the regression phase. Everything about your home country is fondly remembered as fabulous. Duh! Duh! Duh! I'm an American in a 2/3rds world country! Of course everything back home seems fabulous! See how much fabulous stuff I can rattle off: 1. Mexican food! 2. Starbucks (like this wasn't going to make the list) 3. electricity, 24/7! 4. Water that comes out of the tap without dirt. 5. a closet full of stuff (they don't even have closets here!) 6. Mexican food! 7. Animals slaughtered in PRIVATE 8. Mexican food, mexican food, mexican food! Mexican food times infinity!

Blah, blah blah. I know! I am a big spoiled baby.

The next phase is the recovery phase. You are finally at peace with things like the constant blaring of Sitar music from across the street, strangers feeling free to lick you and people who exist without toilet paper.

The final phase is reverse culture shock when you get home. I will apparently go home and find it odd that none of my trashy neighbors butcher animals in their yards and will not understand why hymen repair is not the most popular surgical procedure around town.

We'll just see about that.


all cows go to heaven and swimming at Auschwitz

I'm sure you've been wondering about Bessie the Cow. I've been too traumatized to blog.

For a whole day, everytime I stepped outside, I took a quick look around to make sure the cow was still there. Then I would exhale with relief. As the day went on and it got later and later, I thought good, they are not going to kill the cow today.

Then, I was in our room, reading and minding my own business, when the Pastor called out to me (why oh why does he do stuff like this). I went to where the Pastor was and glanced out the window just in time to see Bessie get clunked in the head and slashed in the throat.

And that lovely memory will be filed away under the category of "things you just cannot un-see."

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to observe animal slaughter from a few yards away, the whole kill-a-cow process takes mere seconds. I wonder just how many living things you have to kill before you are able to kill without any hesitation whatsoever. And then, as your victim lies bleeding in the grass, go smoke a cigarette as you wait for the final breath. Needless to say, I wasn't comfortable until the butcher had left the premises.

And the poor stray puppy. I watched stray puppy out the window, imagining his stray puppy thoughts. Like:
Oh, I think I'll go see my friend Cow!
Is Cow sleeping?
But I guess stray puppy really wasn't all that bothered by the whole thing as he had no trouble eating Bessie.

I have been a vegetarian for years. I stopped eating red meat 16 years ago, and chicken and pork came later. I'm pretty sure this isn't going to change anytime soon.

The Pastor has opined that when we backpack/train across Europa we don't need to stop and eat! I've not been very receptive towards the thought of just grabbing a baguette to nosh on, but right now I'm pretty sure I don't want anything in my mouth. In fact, my stomach is growling as I type this.

But a Snickers sure would be nice.

now for a much needed change of subject:

Today we went to the local swimming pool, a.k.a. the only form of entertainment. Apparently, it is acceptable to swim here in your skivvies. Seeing a great deal of pre-teen boys swimming in their tidy-white-ies is a bit shocking. I'm sure it would be a pedophile's dream. No wonder Michael Jackson is feeling so comfortable in a foreign country.

The whole experience was what I would imagine it would have looked like had Auschwitz had a swim day.

Just imagine a whole bunch of people who look like Nicole Richie, if she would just lose that last five pounds. I did not swim. How could I? Being morbidly obese and all. Really, I wasn't concerned about my fat-ness in comparison to the other sun gods and godesses, I was more concerned that people who throw trash in the river probably have no qualms about peeing in the pool.

There is one slide at the pool, and the boys think if they pull their undies up into their cracks, exposing their backsides, they will go down the slide faster. At this point I'll mention when I was packing for this trip, I tried to bring some thong panties to donate, but the Pastor wouldn't let me. He said they'd have no use for that kind of underwear here. If we'd only known. I may not have been able to save the world, or Bessie, but I could've made some boys slide faster.


The Missionary Position

The nights are the worst. I'm afraid I won't be able to sleep. So I lay there and worry about not sleeping which is probably the worst thing I could do. I go to my "happy place" in my mind, which stangely enough, looks like a Starbucks and usually involves some sort of food I like which makes me happy. Last night it was key lime pie.

Maybe I will somehow be able to use experiences like this to write a book or to do something to help teach people about culture shock. Perhaps I could write a book and call it something like "The Prettiest Missionary You Ever Saw", except 1. I'm not really pretty right now. I thought I was yesterday until I caught a glimpse of self in mirror and realized I look downright scary. 2. I'm not really a missionary, except I DID let strange people kiss and touch me yesterday which did seem missionary-like.

When we were walking around a nearby (1 hour away) village when we went shopping today, I thought I can just pretend to be all Rachel Weisz-like - in her "Constant Gardener" role. Yes, I can aspire to be like THAT. Then I remembered she died, so that was not very helpful.

I have adjusted to the 7 hour time difference - for the most part - but I have had a headache or two and the bags and dark circles under my eyes suggest I haven't adjusted so well.

The Pastor sleeps better than me which really makes me mad. Sometimes when I am awake and he isn't, it makes me mad and I want to poke him with things. I guess it makes up for the fact that when we are home I sleep really good, and he NEVER does.

If you like to have things like constant electricity, Kosovo is not the place for you. The electricity goes off usually twice a day for two hours at a time. If it goes off when I'm typing this blog post, I will be ticked.

Some additional thoughts on culture shock, aside from the sudden power outages -
1. People instinctively know you are American. Just by looking at you. You don't even have to open your mouth.
2. If you are the type of person who is used to bathing frequently (me) at least twice per day (me) - not getting to wash your hair for four consective days may seem shocking to you.
3. If you are also a person used to showering with actual water pressure, you may find it difficult to wash your long blonde hair under a trickle of water.
4. There are many, many differences. One example, road signs are different in different countries. In America, before you drive across a bridge, there will be a sign telling you the maximum weight for trucks on the bridge. In Kosovo, before you drive across a bridge, there will be a sign telling you the maximum weight for tanks on the bridge.
5. There are many things the same. According to the Pastor, people here are just like me. They eat, they drink and they poo. Only, the Pastor says, unlike me, they just don't get their water at Starbucks.

Pray for me. The Pastor drank his last Mountain Dew this morning.


the international language

I spoke the international language today - hair and makeup. Me & the missionary went to the beauty shop.

There are lots of beauty shops here, to make-up the hoochie brides. Bridal makeup involves red lipstick, and lots of black eyeliner. They don't do manicures here though, because fixed-up hands are a sign of laziness.


They were impressed by my high-lights. Wanted to know how I manage to keep them in for so long. When we came back to the house, I told the Pastor you don't need Bibles to reach these people, just lasting hair-color products.

I look young here. At the beauty shop, they said I look 23. I don't care if this is a third-world country, I like anyplace where I pass for 23.


There is a stray dog in the yard here. I feel sorry for the dog, sorrier for the dog than all the people I've seen, because the people KICK DOGS around here. That makes me mad. If I could take the dog home, I would.

Anywho, the doggie was just barking, and it hasn't really barked, so I went to go see what it was barking at...

and apparently the dog was barking because THERE IS A COW IN THE YARD. Yep, a cow, tied up. The neighbors are going to slaughter Bessie tomorrow, and then bar-b-q her. Unless I get up in the middle of the night and set Bessie free...


bread and cheese everywhere!


1. If you like bread, this is a good place for you. If you are staying away from carbs, probably not a good choice. I ate more bread yesterday than I had in the past three months combined.

2. Oh, and cheese.

3. Lots of Italian food. I mentioned to the Pastor today, as we were eating Pizza, that when I thought about Kosovo I never envisioned Pizza. He laughed at me, something about Italy being a stone's throw away. Yes, I understand that, but Pizza? In Kosovo?

4. Lots of hoochie shoes for not very many Euros. Which would be great if I wanted to schlep them across Europe in my backpack when I leave here. I don't want anything that bad.

5. Lots of wedding shops. It's apparently a big deal to be a bride here. I thought maybe the Pastor and I should get married again, especially when I found out brides don't get one dress, they get like TEN. Granted, they are ugly, tacky prom dresses -what else would you expect to wear with the hoochie shoes??? - but then I found out the bride has to wear these ugly M. C. Hammer pants the day after the wedding. Forget that! People also bring the brides big baskets of crap. I like the whole "it's all about the bride thing", but if someone gave me a big basket of crap, I'd be mad. And the groom has to give the bride all sorts of presents, which is apparently the least he can do before he starts cheating on her, gets a mistress or wife #2 and starts leaving wife #1 home alone with the babies.

6. No hiking here, even though I have the appropriate ugly shoes. Something about land mines.



Greetings from Kosovo.

Kosovo? See, when the Pastor started talking about this trip I thought he said Kokomo. Big dif.

Took us about 40 hours to get here. About 36 hours into our trip, the Pastor (on our last flight) suddenly said I NEED YOU TO STOP TOUCHING ME.

Apparently, my arm was touching him, and it was bothering him.

I had no idea.


coulda, woulda, Paris

I could have stayed at home this summer and gotten impregnated.

Instead, I have selfishly decided to go to Europe and see Paris instead. Even if it means I will have to sleep on trains, carry a backpack and wear ugly shoes.


Snack Ribs and Bologna - they're magically delicious!

I think it's good to be home. Again.

I'm sick of packing and unpacking and repacking. I'd like to tell you that I'm becoming some sort of expert packer, but I'm not. Since we have the van, I'm becoming even worse, because there is room for everything. Twenty pairs of shoes for a week? Sure! Swim clothes! Workout clothes! The Pastor's 82 library books! The sandwich maker! Anything you want!

A good thing about me being sick of packing. We haven't even been on our "big" trip yet. We are going to Kosovo and England and the country where the book of Thessalonians was written and no doubt a bunch of other places I can neither pronounce nor spell. Since I am sick of packing and schlepping things around, and since the Pastor and I will be travelling without children (pack mules), I will probably take a teeny, tiny bag. This was probably some master plan or evil plot devised by the Pastor.

We went out of town this weekend so the Pastor could preach at a church. I have heard the sermon at least four times. Three of the times, I got mentioned in the sermon. It's about time, after two and a half years of knowing the Pastor I finally get worked into the material. The last time he preached it though, he left out the amusing anecdote involving me. I guess he felt like it hadn't gone over well enough with his test congregations.

Anyway, I could preach the thing by now. It's in the book of Jeremiah and it's all about how these people are in the temple and they think they are so safe because they are in the temple, and this guy tells them not so fast! Just because you are in the temple is not enough! God wants you to also do a bunch of stuff. And NOT do other stuff. So this guy tells the people you've gotta follow these rules, which sound a whole lot like the ten commandments. And you know who was really good at living the way we are suppossed to live? This other guy named Jesus!

This sermon also involves Snack Ribs and Bologna. Actually, it's Sennacherib and the Babylonians, but after I heard the sermon the first two times, Nate and I started making up our own little amusing anecdotes.

I have a need to live in a world where I can use a computer without having to wait for a child to log off of the "Lucky Charms" website (who needs to visit the Lucky Charms website anyway?????) or wrestle it away from the Pastor. He has a computer at his office, thank you very much! Yes, I know I am being spoiled and selfish, but I am sick of sharing. I want to be able to write and to blog and to use the internet and when I go back to school, put my school work all in one place. And it's not like I ask for much! OK, I did get a big diamond ring and sometimes I do ask for clothes, shoes, purses and makeup, but besides those things, I haven't asked for much!

These views were probably best not expressed to the Pastor during our 3.5 hour drive home today. But I have officially reached my limit.

One example, last week I was cooking for the Pastor. I was using a recipe from the internet, and had the computer on the island in the kitchen. Mind you, this was the only time all day long I had been able to use the computer, and I was using it for the purpose of cooking a meal consisting mainly of meat that I WOULDN'T EVEN GET TO EAT. While I am in the midst of food prep, the Pastor comes into the kitchen and starts looking at other sites and I have to ask him several times to let me see my recipe. Mind you, he had been at his office earlier that day, and had free reign of the computer, internet, printers, etc. Why now? Did the man not realize I was in close physical proximity to knives and sharp cooking utensils and I could easily make something look like a strange cooking accident?

Yes I may be acting completely selfish and spoiled about the whole thing, but sometimes I don't like other people to touch my stuff. It just freaks me out. I need my personal, private space. And if I can get used to the packing and the unpacking and the repacking and hearing the same sermon four times, then surely other people can get used to my little quirks.