Monday, December 28, 2009

So much for a guided tour...

Its been a fun few weeks at home so far! Last Wednesday I had a mini-party at my house and a bunch of people came over to hang out, eat pizza and play guitar hero!
Of course, whenever my friends and I hang out, we just HAVE to go on a midnight adventure somewhere. How nifty that my house is conveniently located 20 minutes from downtown Niagara Falls! We drove over there and couldn't find parking at all on Goat Island (the island nestled between American Falls and Horseshoe Falls) due to the icey conditions, and lord knows that parking is a scarcity in the city area.

I have a riddle for you. Where am I if I am 20 minutes from home, not in Canada, not in Mexico, and not on USA territory, but still in North America?

Answer: In an Indian Casino!

So someone recommended that we park in the Senaca Niagara Casino, as its right there near the falls and free! Of course, being the adventurous kids that we are, we wondered what it was like in the casino, so we walked right in! Then we realized that you have to be 21 to enter the floor. Sung-man, interested in seeing more, went back in and asked if we could have a tour, since we were all under 21, and the "bouncer" said yes! So Janelle, Casey, Kailey, Sung, and I patiently waited to the side as he called for a guide for us. An official looking lady finally called us over and lead us into the belly of the casino. As we were walking quickly and only around the outer edges, we gave each other questioning looks, as we expected some sort of mini guided tour, but all we got was a face paced escort to the other side! How disappointing. She dropped us off on the other side of the casino, opposite of the falls and our car! And you can just walk outside and go around the building, its so cold and huge... so after exploring all possible routes back and discovering no such way, we had to ask for another escort! It ended up being the same lady too. I'm sure we looked like crazy fools- hurriedly walking from one end to the other. Oh well.
  At this time its about 1:30am, and it was ridiculous to see the people who were in the casino. There were tons and tons of raggedy elderly folks who were just glued to the gaming machines, pulling the lever with a sad but hopeful look in their eyes. Two days before Christmas, and I'm asking myself, shouldn't these people be home with their families? Sleeping or wrapping gifts, or baking cookies or something? I just wanted to run up and hug them and talk to them! Downtown Casinos don't do any good for an area. Sure they offer some entertainment and tons of places to eat and shop but in the long run all they bring to a community is gambling addictions, poverty, high suicide rates, and a strain on the infrastructure. That's a fact (check it out here here and here).

Anyways, this isn't a post about Casinos and gambling. After getting escorted through the casino, we walked over to the Falls viewing area and just admired its beauty. (hard to see the pic because its taken in the middle of the night!) Sung said "I would love to live around here and be able to hear the loud noises from nature all the time." haha. Its true.

I love Niagara Falls. Maybe is it overrated to some people, and surely those who live around here hardly give it a second glance, but I think its pretty cool. I recommend seeing it once in your life (go on the Maid of the Mist!).

Thats all for now folks!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What Happened to Jingles?

This is a great article from WNYmediaabout what happened to the original Jingles cookies that used to be produced by Salerno, bought out by Keebler. (and how they destroyed the best taste of christmas)

Check it out here:
Salerno Jingles Cookies

Posted using ShareThis

Friday, December 25, 2009

Saint vs Saviour

I was reading about the history of Saint Nick, and its quite interesting. Santa seems like he was a God-fearing man. He was a 4th-century Greek bishop of Myra, in Turkey. He was famous for his generosity to the poor, and dedicated his life to Christianity. One story tells of him giving dowries to three impoverished daughters of a Christian man so that they would not have to become prostitutes. It seems as if we have clouded his story through the ages, as we have given him attributes that easily melt into differing cultures. But if he was in fact a devout God lover, then I don't mind celebrating his life.

I'm not all for random holiday's celebrating human achievement but if I have to pick a way to do it up, I think the Germans and other Europeans do it right. My roommate Kim, who has lived in Germany for many years, celebrates "Sinterklaas Day" every December 6th. On this day they celebrate the patron saint of children by traditionally putting small gifts in each others shoes and feasting. At least it takes Santa out of the Christmas equation.

For our Sunday service this past week, my pastor read through a card he received in the mail recently. I think it really gets at the point of what so many have done, making Santa into a saviour like figure, and practically making Jesus into a Santa like figure. My pastor expanded quite a bit, but I figured that most of you could do the same as you read it. I don't know who wrote it, but its pretty awesome and powerful.

The Difference between Christ and Santa Claus

Santa lives at the North Pole.
Jesus is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh.
Jesus rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year.
Jesus is ever present.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies.
Jesus supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited.
Jesus stands at your door, knocks, and then enters
your heart when invited.

You have to wait in line to see Santa.
Jesus is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap.
Jesus lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is,
"Hi, little one, what's your name?"
Jesus knew our name before we were born.
Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too.
He knows our history, future and how many hairs are on
our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly.
Jesus has a heart full of love

All Santa can offer is "HO HO HO"
Jesus offers help and hope.

Santa says, "You better not cry."
Jesus says, "Cast all your cares on me, for I care for

Santa's little helpers make toys.
Jesus makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs
broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle.
Jesus gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree.
Jesus became our gift and died on a tree - - - the cross.

I am so thankful for God and His redeeming love. I'm thankful that his presence is ever present, and not just once a year. I'm thankful that he doesn't just give us a stocking filled with crap every year, but hour by hour abundantly supplies us with all our real needs.  I am thankful for His amazing care and blessings, and the fact that He loved us so much that He sent Jesus to be born on this earth, knowing that His imminent pain and death would free us from the bondage of sin and allow us to have a direct relationship with His glorious self.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Prayer for Russia

This email came from Sally Hinzie in Houston who sends out a monthly prayer for Nizhny Novgorod in Russia. I thought y'all might find it interesting:

"Mike Haynes (in the middle) is preparing to move to Zavolzhe (near Nizhniy Novgorod) to start an English Club. They will use the Bible, Christian films and Christian articles to practice their English. Please pray for Mike as he finalizes his preparation and pray for those that will be attracted to this club – that their hearts will be receptive to the gospel!

Visit the virtual prayer walk at:

I will be working with Mike once I get there! Keep him in your prayers!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cookie Exchange!

Last night was my first ever Cookie Exchange! A bunch of people from Grace Harbor went over to Norm and Cheryls fun little log cabin and we exchanged some cookies. Basically. you bring as many as you want, and then you line up everyone's cookies on a table, and everyone walks around taking one cookie at a time until they are all gone. You end up with a plate that looks like this:

Holy Moly! Its filled with Kim's german cookies, Rachels crazy chocolate chineese cookies, typical choco chip, ginger snaps, maple flavored, random other delightful stuff, etc etc. I dont even know what Im going to do with all this!!
  I brought peanut butter chocolate graham cracker balls. Its a recipe inspired by something I remembered from a while ago, and it was an epic battle for me to make. I actually ended up wasting about a bag of perfectly good semi sweet chocolate chips because I apparently didnt know how to correctly melt chocolate! The first few batches ended up as a crusty ball of poo looking thing. I was also strapped for time. Needless to say, I do not enjoy the concept of the double boiler. But I got about 15 good ones, so that was good enough. Haha.
    I think the Cookie Exchange is going to become a much loved tradition in our "family"!!!!

Whats your favorite Christmas cookie? And does anyone know the easiest way to melt chocolate?

(pictures from Rachel)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Letters to Home: Thank You and Merry Christmas!

I stayed up pretty late last night, 4am to be exact. Maybe it had to do with the nap I took from 8pm-10pm, or maybe it had to do with all the thoughts running through my mind about school and going home, or the huge batch of support letters I had to put together and get sent out for Russia, or who I should send a christmas card too, or the fact that I spent about $20 on postage in the past week.

 In about one week I will be truckin back to Buffalo with my mom and grandparents. Its been about 10 months since I've been back there, the longest stretch away from my home. The time has gone pretty quick between spring practicum and Greece, working full time this summer, and the full load of activities/classes this past fall trimester. Ive missed it, and it will be good to be back.

For those that are here for the first time, possibly because you recieved my Russia letter: Thanks! I appreciate your support and I love you all to death! Praise God for my family back at Faith Tabernacle, you have all been such a blessing. Also to my family at CAWNY! Love you and miss you!

As of right now, I probably wont be saying too much on here in the next few weeks as I am home and spending much needed time with my family. Hopefully I will be able to touch base with most of you, as I plan on making some stops around WNY!  Feel free to stick around and just check out some of my more recent posts about Russia and whats going on with that.

God Bless!

The Haynes Black Bean Soup Recipe

So I was at a friends house recently when they served me this beauty of a meal. Im all for great tasting and cheap delicious eats. Let me tell you, this fits right into my budget and delights my taste buds. Ive made 2 pots in the past two weeks and both my roommate and I have taken  it to work for lunch  multiple times. It would also be a great main course for a family!

Black Bean Soup

3 Tbsp olive oil
½ c. chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
¾ c. chopped celery
¾ c. chopped carrot
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
3 (15.5 oz. each) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
juice from 1 lime
1 T. tomato paste

In large stockpot heat oil, onion, and garlic. Cook until tender. Stir in cumin and cook 1 minute. Add celery, carrots, stock, and beans. Heat to boiling. Cook on low, covered for 15-20 minutes. Stir in lime juice and tomato paste. To thicken, puree beans and return to pot. (I used a potato masher and just mashed the beans in the soup while still in the stockpot).

Variations on how you can enjoy this dish:
  • with cheese and sour cream on top
  • with smooth guacamole, sour cream, and cheese mixed in
  • over a bed of rice
  • next to or mixed with seasoned diced tomatoes 
  • add diced tomatoes and create a dip for tortilla chips   
  • all of the above? haha 

Note: At first I had no idea what Cumin was, and didnt even have any. But I found it at my local market and as soon as I smelled it I knew exactly what it was! I recommend buying this spice for future dishes. Its very popular in many ethnic cuisines and makes beans, rice, and meat stand out. Dont be afraid of picking some up!

I already had all of the ingredients, but per serving I would say about $1.50. 


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Like a Bull in a China Shop

This week I was blessed to go over to a good friends house and help her decorate for Christmas. Its such a blessing how I met her! She is the Connecticut admissions representative for JWU, and she was one of the adult leaders on my trip to Greece last spring! We got along really well, and it turns out that she is a Christian and is really awesome! This summer we got together a few times, and her son and I went to the same conferences in Utica NY at Zion! So funny. Well anyways, her kids didnt want to help her decorate the tree, so a bunch of us girls from the Greece trip went over and had a blasting good time!  She is the most hospitable person I have ever met, and I pretty much want her to come and decorate my house someday. I adore her "traditional new england cottage" feel, with no gaudy decorationg, but each seems to have a purpose and memory.  Maybe Christmas decorating will become a tradition while we are all still in Providence!

It was fun, and really great to hang out with people I havent really seen that much since last spring!!

Stephanie, Me, Chimene, Yuan!
This is her beautiful white Christmas tree in front of the fire place.
Me underneath the real tree, trying to get it sturdy and uncrooked!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Difficult Truth

Here is a little tidbit of difficult thought that I have been challenged with lately.

"How do you know that you are saved? Because you believe? How do you know you believe? Everyone believes. How do you know you are not like them? Do you know how the bible teaches you are saved? You know you have been saved because your life is in the process of being changed, and your style of life is one of walking in the paths of Gods truth, and when you step off the path of those paths in disobedience like we all do, God comes for you and puts you back on the path. God will make a difference in your life."
-Paul Washer, Shocking Youth Message.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Preserving age-old handicraft at Matryoshka’s birthplace

This is a really cool little news clip about a small historical city called Gorodets, Russia. It is located about an hour away from where I will be living in Zavolzhye, just across the Volga river (an hour from Ninzhny Novgorod). During last years trip we were able to visit this town, and actually saw everything that is featured here such as the teapot museum and the bread museum. So cool to be reunited with its beauty. It is virtually impossible to find info or news about Gorodets from the USA. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

URL Change

So, maybe you noticed the URL change, maybe you didnt. But, I bought my blog a nice little web address,! Go ahead, type it right in.

I did this for a few reasons. Partly because people were having trouble finding my blog when I told them the long blogger name. Partly because Ive been thinking about getting this for a while, and might as well do it now. Partly because I dont want anyone else to have my name as a url EVER, so I figured I should pick it up while I still can.

I thought the process was going to be five hundred times more complicated than it really is. But actually Blogger sells the domain to you directly, instead of going through a third party yourself. You simply go to your blog admin options: click on settings, and the publishing, and then set custom url. You have to go through some pages of setting up info, but its really quick and easy. Not to mention cheap- $10 for one year.

Why I recommend getting a custom url:
  • Those with a readership who arent exactly tech savvy will be able to easily finding your blog. Now instead of you just tell them!
  • It cements your online presence. This could be good or bad, depending on what kind of things you write on your blog, so consider that first. Imagine someone searching your name online, and coming up with terrible nasty content. This is what happens when my sister searches her name online. Its because someone else with her name is making terrible choices online, but how would a future employer or ministry leader know that at first? Buying your name or atleast a custom url will give you peace of mind that no one else could unintentionally misrepresenting you.
  • Its dang fun!
Ok thats all for now =)