Sunday, September 21, 2008


The view from the top of Angel Falls ... basejump anyone?!

Erin hard at work cleaning up Curacao!

What a great team!

Another great team!!!

Look at all the trash in the back of that truck!
No, no, not the kids! The back of the white truck!

K-Pasa is the local activity guide of Curacao - keeping us informed of the week's concerts, happy hours, tours, and special events. Here is our own version of K-Pasa:

Tuesday, September 9th
Back to School Night at the International School. Erin and I got to meet many of our students' parents, and were so happy to discover such a supportive and appreciative bunch. School continues to go really well, and we've really enjoyed our first few weeks as coaches.

Wednesday, September 10th
The surf was up on Curacao and I headed for Playa Kanoa to catch a few waves while Erin joined some of the ladies from School for Aqua-Jogging.

Thursday, September 11th
We spent a few moments in silence to remember the people directly affected by the terrorist attacks of 7 years ago, and then went on with our exceptionally busy schedule. I went straight from basketball practice to IB Night - a night to introduce the International Baccalaureate program to interested students and parents, and got to share a little bit about Theory of Knowledge - the IB course that I teach. I really love the course, and the entire IB program, and gave the parents and teachers a good taste of what the class is all about - it was a big hit!

Sunday, September 14th
Brievengat 2.5/5/10K Race. The race began at 6:30 a.m. and I would have had pictures of Erin crossing the finish line except I somehow got suckered into running the 10K and finished well after Erin. I'm gonna catch her one of these days!

Saturday, September 20th
International School of Curacao partners with Maduro and Curiel's Bank to help clean up the road to Playa Kanoa. A huge group of volunteers came out to gather the tons of trash, bottles, plastics, and old tires that are often dumped alongside the somewhat isolated road. The island's waste management company, Selikor, and a new recycling operation on the island, Curaplast, helped drag off the massive amount of waste that was collected. The cleanup was a huge success - the road looks a lot better, and kids of all ages could be heard asking the question, "Why would people do this?" We've got to believe the seed was planted for at least a couple protectors of the environment!
After the cleanup we hit the beach to celebrate one of our new friend's 30th Birthday. Carrie turned 30 and a group of teachers enjoyed some snorkeling and volleyball on the beach. We spent the afternoon and early hours of the evening simply relaxing - it was fantastic.
Once we came home we checked in our football teams: SMU suffered a big loss to TCU, but Vandy came out on top of Ole Miss, and continued making a statement. Vandy is 4-0 overall, and 2-0 in the SEC!!! Could this be the year??? Is Vandy finally gonna be bowl bound?!

We have a lot of adventures coming up soon ... Dan has his first basketball practice with a local team from the island, we have another race coming up next weekend, and the International School just started a dive club and we should get to do our first Night Dive to see the coral spawning - that oughta be interesting. In a couple of weeks we'll enjoy our first full week off since being on the island, and are all signed up for Windsurfing lessons! Be sure to check in and check out the photos of all of our adventures.

Last time we talked about our summer plans and the hopes of a trip to Ecuador! We're still looking for family and friends who would be interested in exploring that beautiful country; but now we're making plans for a shorter trip to Venezuela's Angel Falls right before our Christmas visitors arrive in Curacao. It's the world's tallest water fall, and we're hoping to check out the view from the top!

Monday, September 8, 2008

What's On Our Minds?

A quick glimpse into our minds over the last week ...

When you live here ... you have lots of time to think ...

One of our favorite authors, Khaled Hosseini:
Read his stories, and then join the fight to HELP Afghanistan

You have got to read his to 2 novels!

Check the facts on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's RNC speech

Cotopaxi - Climb one of the world's largest active volcanoes

GO VANDY! First win at home versus ranked opponent since '92

June Jones ... raising SMU's offense from the dead!
GO SMU! First win of home opener since '82

YIKES! Here comes IKE - click here for a forecast

If there is a secret method to our madness there is no doubt what it is. The world we live in is rapidly becoming a world of extremes. More and more we look around and witness the polarization that defines the lifestyles and ideologies of our day. For Erin and I, our secret is simple: balance.

Throughout the school week we race through the days and our long lists of things to do, and when the weekend comes there is not much slowing down, not really. There is too much to explore, too many friends to make, and too much of a desire for adventure - and we want all of this together. Now don't get me wrong - relaxation is fantastic - and I have a hammock on the porch for a reason. Even if it's only a brief sliver of the day I try to find time for quiet and rest, and both Erin and I are racing to our dreams by the time the clock strikes 10 p.m.

However, with so many things in life to love and enjoy, there just isn't room for wasted time. Many people choose to dedicate themselves to a cause - a job, an ideology, a political party, a charity, and as we watch their dedication we recognize the draining effect it has on their lives - we see how desperately they have to run away (even if only for a weekend) from the things they have dedicated themselves to. Our thoughts this week made something very clear to me: both of us are very balanced. Church, education, family, friends, politics, nature, surfing, running, scuba diving, coaching, service - the secret to happiness and sanity for us is not in dedication to one thing, but in a dedication to many.

There is a certain danger in our "balance" as I've called it - it seems likely that in search of a great variety and breadth of experiences we may find ourselves in a shallow existence. We have considered this, and consciously decided that depth is something of great value in our lives. It is sometimes amazing, but I think that the wider your metaphorical lens to the world is, the further you can see. Perhaps happiness and genuine satisfaction are more easily achieved when more of life is brought into focus.

I think this is one reason why Erin and I have fallen in love with exploring. It doesn't always have to be to far off places, on other continents - it can often be just beyond the walls we've built around ourselves, just around the corner, or maybe even down the block.

A few more things before we go.

I hope that you enjoy following the links provided in this post and exploring your own thoughts about some of these issues. I am also so thankful for the millions of people who were spared by Gustav, but we are sending our thoughts and prayers to the millions who were not. Although New Orleans came away from the storm without much devastation there are still many who face the aftermath of Gustav with nothing but hope. On top of that, Ike is on its way into the Gulf of Mexico, and our prayers are the same as before - that love, compassion, and service will be the headlines in the aftermath of this next hurricane.

Speaking of love and compassion we have a wonderful story to share from our church, Curacao Christian Fellowship (CCF). Many of the regulars at CCF are stationed here in Curacao with the U.S. Air Force. This Sunday, as we look ahead to a week that will hold the 7th Anniversary of the attacks of 9/11/2001, a USAF Colonel came to the podium to share a message and light a memorial candle. This was his story: the attacks of 9/11 were not as much of a surprise to him as they were to most Americans - he had been in command of several responses to terrorist attacks around the world: U.S. Embassies, hotels, battleships. He knows the evil and hatred in the hearts of our 'enemies'. He wanted to be clear; they are our worst enemies. Then his eyes went watery, and he paused to gather himself as he obviously choked over his immense pain. He opened his Bible and through the tears that he could no longer hold back he read, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV) Not the words of a typical soldier, but words of faith, and words of balance. Do not hate your enemy - love him! In today's world, is it brilliance or naivete? Of course you're free to decide for yourself, but it was a beautiful moment.

We also needed to mention Khaled Hosseini for those who have not read his two masterfully written novels. Please read them, and let us know what you think. Also check out the link to his website, where you can find out more about him, the stories and Afghanistan - a country that these stories will bring close to your heart.

What are your thoughts on the GOP's Vice Presidential nominee? Erin and I watched Governor Palin's introduction speech at the RNC and have mixed feelings. This upcoming Presidential election presents a difficult choice, and with Mrs. Palin as the nominee for Republican V.P. it has not gotten any easier. If you're into politics, and want to be informed, be sure to check out to get the facts on the latest from both parties. I also strongly suggest looking at the interviews that Pastor Rick Warren held with Senators Obama and McCain. You can find the interview video and script here. Email us, or post a comment to the blog, and tell us who you're voting for and if the "Hockey Mom" makes your cut for the nation's next V.P..

Lastly, Erin and I have begun thinking about the adventures that next summer holds for us. On top of our list is a very beautiful country: Ecuador. You can see the picture of Cotopaxi above, which we would like to climb, and I also have friends working with Manna Project International (see link under 'Our Favorite Websites') just outside of Quito, the nation's capital. Ecuador contains some of the highest mountains of the Andes range, some of the wildest tropical rain forest of the Amazon Basin, and some of the most beautiful beaches (and best surfing) along the Pacific Coast of South America. The country also controls, and serves as the entry point for, the famous Galapagos Islands. So, we are inviting you to consider joining us - whether it's a week in the beautiful mountain capital, surfing and relaxing on the coast, canoeing through the remote corners of the rainforest, chasing Darwin's discoveries in the Galapagos, or all of the above - we want to know if you'd make the trip?!