Sunday, November 21, 2010

Classes and visit

Hello, my friends,

Life has been quite busy for the past few months, with classes and work and everything.  I finally quit my job as a telephone interpreter because it took up too much of my time.  I'm still looking for another job to replace it, but one that will take up fewer hours per week.

Last Thursday I had an enjoyable visit from an old friend from college.  We spent pretty much the whole day driving around with my landlady (who's lived here her whole life, basically) seeing the sights.  And because Wednesday was his birthday, we had cake, etc.  It was a lot of fun.

My wife received a letter from the Consulate so we're really trying to get moving on the papers for her immigrant visa.  She's going to Peru this winter to take care of one major requirement.  Hopefully all this will work out really soon so she can come!

It's hard to believe that the semester is almost over!  Time sure does fly!

May your day be extraordinary!

Monday, August 02, 2010


Hey all!  I'm already getting lazy about updating this, but I'll try to keep at it, since I know some of you must be reading.  :)

Last week I finished my web-based training for my new interpreter job, plus two phone sessions with trainers.  This Tuesday I have my first phone meeting with my manager, who will give me my Interpreter ID as well as last-minute tips, etc., and Wednesday afternoon at 3:30, I go LIVE as a professional phone interpreter!  I also got around to calling AT&T and setting up my landline work phone.  I was worried because I called them on Wednesday and the earliest they could get it set up was Thursday.  That was the day I needed it by and they weren't sure what time it would be ready.  In any case, my church family came through for me (again) and loaned me a phone line for the two sessions that day.  Since my landlady said that the house has had several phone lines, I was also worried that the line they activated would be an inconvenient one.  But it turns out that at the moment it is the same line in the whole house, so I'm set.  Now to get a comfortable binaural headset that doesn't cost me an arm and a leg.

In other work news, last weekend I finally got a tutoring student!  It will only be three sessions tutoring a little kid in reading to prepare him for first grade, but at around $22/hr, it is definitely better than nothing!  My official rate is $38/hr ($2 less than average), but the site I get students through takes a cut of that.  Their cut gets smaller the more hours I tutor, but since this is my first job, their cut is still large.  The lady who's hiring me also gave me a few tips about being creative while tutoring a little kid like this, which is cool.  I got inspired and wrote out a whole plan and brainstormed a bunch of ideas to keep him busy and having fun.  Hopefully, it'll be as fun for me as it will be for him!  My measurable goal here is to get a review/testimonial that is exploding with compliments.  It is important to make them measurable so that you can tell if you've succeeded.  :-)

I'm still looking for a second job for this month.  Once August 23 rolls around, I won't have time for one, since student orientation is that week and classes start the following week, but for the three weeks until then, it would be nice to have more money coming in, since I have several expenses and my rent is around the low end of my interpreter income (which can vary depending on how busy one is).  To put it another way, if I only make the minimum from my interpreter job and don't find another source of income, I won't have any money for those other little expenses like, say, FOOD!  Fortunately, I have a very supportive family that is willing to loan me money (as they already have a few times), and my school loans will doubtless cover some living expenses, but it is still somewhat worrying.

On another note, I'm pretty much all settled in my new place.  My new rental agreement is month-to-month and includes a bedroom and a study.  Plus my new landlady said that she won't raise the rent when my wife comes if we decide to stay here.  Another plus: I'm right next to downtown (about half a block!), only about 7 minutes from school, and only a few blocks from the local church.

And I'm getting more involved in church activities.  It was good to be back at church after two Sabbaths of camp meeting.  I missed regular church.  And this Friday I'll be leading songs for vespers at the beach (they wanted me to play guitar, but I only really know one song, so I think I'll just be singing mostly) and Sabbath morning I'll be leading song service at church, too!  Plus they seem to want me to teach the SS lesson (again), though it wasn't perfectly clear.  I seem to teach the lesson just about every second Sabbath.  That's okay with me, but definitely wasn't what I was planning upon arrival, especially since I'm not an official SS teacher here!

I also made a new friend a few weeks ago who is turning into one of my best.  He is from China and arrived recently to start the same graduate program that I'm in, but with Chinese instead of Spanish.  Naturally, he loves languages, which is something we share.  He is also recently baptized, so we spend lots of time studying the Bible together and discussing theology.  That's fun, too!

Well, that's most of what's going on right now.  I hope you all have a great day!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Telephone interpreting...soon?

Well, I finally had two phone interviews with a telephone interpreting company.  The first one was a bit more informal, but also included a practice interpreting session.  The lady who I was talking to, Elizabeth, said I could schedule my proficiency test for another time or do it right then.  But she said she felt I would do fine, even if I did it right then.  So I said I wanted to go ahead and do it at that time.  I passed, as she had said.  :)  We talked about scheduling some, and I explained about Sabbath and classes: I need a schedule that will not include Friday night or Saturday, and also one that will accommodate my classes, since you can't change your schedule in the first three months, and my classes will be starting in two months.  Elizabeth finally mentioned one schedule that would work fine for me, from 5 AM to 9 AM, Sunday through Thursday, but she also said that it wasn't reserved until I talked to another woman, Bo, in my formal interview, which we scheduled for the next day at 10:15.

The next day, Bo called and she asked me about my background, etc.  I told her my experience, and then we started talking about scheduling.  That's where the difficulty occurred.  The schedule that Elizabeth had mentioned was not available.  In fact, there were no schedules available that didn't either go over Sabbath or conflict with my classes.  She mentioned that they had requested some new schedules from the scheduler recently, and said that they would let me know (send me the official offer, etc.) as soon as the new schedules became available.  And that was that.

So now it's a waiting game, as far as that job is concerned.  In the meantime, I'm looking into other options, such as online translation work, more security work, and professional tutoring.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stuff going on

Here's my most recent news:

My first security guard job is coming to an end, because so is the US Open.  Fortunately, as I might have mentioned before, I now have a guard card, so I can work anywhere in the state as a security guard.  So that's something to fall back on in case of emergency.  I'm applying to work for a large phone interpretation company.  I hope that works out, since I think it and my Masters program will be mutually beneficial.

One of my supervisors on the job is a neat guy who has quite a few connections and is willing to share his information, so hopefully that will also be helpful in Job Search Part 2.

I'll be helping out this week with VBS at my local church.  That should be fun, and will fill up my evenings.

I hope all y'all have an extraordinary day!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Work, Money, and Love

I've gotten a few hard shifts at work recently, and I'm low on sleep, but overall I'm doing okay.  For the rest of this week (which is all there is to the job), I'll be on the 6 AM to 1 PM shift, so at least I won't be working nights or every other shift or anything like that (like I have been doing the last day or so).  I'm also starting to get ready some more permanent work options, including getting set up to be a professional tutor and going through the application process to be a telephone interpreter.  I'm a little worried about that, since they said you can't change your schedule for three months, and by then I'll be in school, so I want to make sure that my schedule with them doesn't clash with my classes.  Oh, and I heard that I can do the rest of my security guard training (8 hours this month, 16 more within six months, and a total of 40 within a year) online!  That should make things easier.

I finally opened a bank account a few days ago, which has really made a lot of things easier.  For now I've been getting money out of my Mexican bank account at the ATM and putting some of it into my American one.

Just a day or two ago, my wife called me, and we chatted for a while on the phone, and then I got her set up with Skype, so we switched to video chat through that.  It was wonderful to see my wife again, not to mention hear her voice!  I've missed her a lot.  She told me that her police certificate that she needs for her immigrant visa will take about three months to get.  So it looks like it will take longer than that before she can be with me.  It's a very long time to wait, but it definitely gives me something to look forward to!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Work, etc.

I've been working about three or four days already for a security company.  It is only a short-term job (most likely), but I'm already looking at other possibilities.  I hope to be able to work as an interpreter very soon, since it is related to the Masters that I want to get.

Working in security isn't a very fun job, but it's a job.  In fact, I already received about eight hours of training, and with a little more, I could work as a security guard anywhere in the state.  I'm not trying to say that it's what I want to do for the rest of my life, but in this economy, it's good to have something as backup and/or to have options.

It appears that the local church is going to get me involved in music now, I imagine as a song leader.  I've been missing that.

Happy Sabbath, everyone!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

God is good (all the time!)

I am so blessed.  Besides it being my birthday today (well, technically yesterday), I received two great birthday presents: a place to live and a job!  I spent basically the whole day today in training to be a security guard.  I will be working security for the US Open Golf Tournament.  It is short-term, but at least it is something.  And I finally moved into the house where I'll be living.  I've only got a room, but it's enough, and for a pretty good price, too.  I also have wireless internet, etc., so hopefully I'll be able to be more in touch than before.  I'm working on a couple other work leads as well.

I'll be starting work tomorrow for the Pre-Championship.  Oh, and while I'm off-duty, I get into the US Open for free!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Moving forward

Well, now I have a student ID card, a possible place to live for the next few months (I'll find out for sure this evening), and a possible short-term, part-time job (during the US Open). I still can't use the school's wireless internet (so I spend a lot of time at the public library). I'm still working on other job options, opening a bank account, etc. Church yesterday was great. So was potluck. And then yesterday evening some new friends and I went to an AY/sundown worship, with some fun social games afterward. Great times! I hope I can get these housing and job things figured out. They're what have me the most stressed.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Back in the USA

Well, I am finally back in the US, after driving all the way from southern Mexico to California. It was quite the trip, and I was worried that my car would break down part way, but it made it. Though it was due for an oil change, neither Wal-Mart nor Pep Boys would touch it because the oil pan was damaged in the accident I had two weeks ago, and since it was Sunday and then Memorial Day, they couldn't replace the oil pan for me. Pep Boys did tell me that the oil still looked okay for now. They also told me that my catalytic converter was having problems, which is why my check engine light has been on. So as soon as I get the chance, I'm going to have to get my oil pan and my catalytic converter replaced, not to mention the oil changed.

Yesterday I finally got in touch with the local pastor and he is letting me stay in the church for a few days and took me to the local supermarket and bought me food! Really nice guy. Then today I stopped by the local hostel to see how that works (since my search for a place might extend through the weekend) and someone who works there explained it to me. He said it was about $27 counting tax and that six days was the longest you could stay in a 30-day period. I was under the impression at the time that that the $27 was per night, but on reflection I've decided that that was probably the total cost (though I'm going to check that). Then I went to school where I want to get my masters, to the Admissions office. They gave me my acceptance letter and scholarship letter (I got two: a $10,000 Merit Scholarship and a $2,000 Dean's Scholarship, both divided between the two semesters, with the merit scholarship renewable). Then we talked about something on an email I received about weaknesses in my Spanish. The lady told me that the on-campus summer courses are much too low-level for a student in my major, and that I should join the group going to Ecuador for the summer. That was not what I was expecting. Anyway, she told me to go talk to my enrollment manager to find out more. My enrollment manager explained that I had done quite well overall, but that I was lacking in one or two specific areas, and that the person who graded my diagnostic test wanted to just give me some ways to improve my Spanish over the summer, so I should contact her, but that I didn't really need to be in any actual Spanish course(s). She also explained that after I paid my $500 non-refundable tuition deposit, the internal housing database, on-campus job info, etc., would all be opened up to me. Also, yesterday another person who belongs to my church and is in the same program got in touch with me and I asked her for help with my situation. She gave me several pieces of good advice and it looks like she'll help me find a place to live, too! That's great news, since I spent most of the morning looking a classified ads, etc., and trying to plan how I was going to find an apartment and getting really stressed out about it all. Since I was living near/in and working at a private school in Mexico, I wasn't really exposed to the real world completely. Getting here and realizing I had no job, no place to stay, no car insurance, etc., and almost no money was a rather jarring experience: naive young man meets the Big Bad World. And to get a place to stay, you have to prove your income (or at least get a co-signer or something), but to get a job (especially the phone interpreter job I want), I have to have an address and phone # to even be considered. Catch-22. But it looks like things are starting to work out for me. I'm sure God is the one working it out. :)

My wife is still in southern Mexico. We're working on her immigrant visa papers, but we felt it was better that I go ahead of time and get established first. It's rough being apart, but hopefully it won't be for long.

Monday, March 08, 2010

New news

Since my last post here, a lot has happened. I'll just mention a few of the most recent or important things. Last summer, we taught our first group in the Course in English Teaching, as planned. There were only three students, but it's a start. As far as I know, all of them plan to come back, and we already have a few students who said they want to be part of our second group. This means, of course, that we'll need twice as many teachers this summer to give the classes, and this will increase again for each of the next two summers. Plus the teachers (from here or missionaries) for the diploma course. At the moment, we're not sure where the new teachers will come from. Administration has promised to help us find two, but that's not going to be enough. We'll just have to hope that God will provide.

I said "we" a lot in the above paragraph, but I should mention that I am not planning on being here for this summer. My wife and I are planning on moving to the US as soon as we can get her papers figured out. Right now, we're on the step in preparation for her immigrant visa appointment in Ciudad Juarez. One of the things we need is my tax returns for the last few years, which I'm trying to get done now. The IRS reserves the right to keep any that are not e-filed for up to 16 weeks before answering (and if there's a problem, of course, you don't know it until they answer, which means it could end up taking much longer). Only my 2009 return will be e-filed, so we may have to wait for a while, unfortunately. My wife has also told me that she'd prefer that I go to the US soon to find a job and all that, even if it slows the immigration process some, because she's afraid of us both going to the US after all that is over and me having trouble finding a job.

My wife's birthday was this last Sabbath, so we celebrated at some friends' house (our neighbors') and then the cafeteria staff also had a celebration in the evening. I got her flowers and made her a certificate of recognition for being an excellent wife (which she really liked). I would've gotten her something nicer if I'd had the chance to go to Villahermosa on Friday like I was supposed to, but I couldn't. Either way, creativity and making something myself was a good thing.

Recently, Maranatha has sent three groups of people to build churches, have evangelistic campaigns, hold medical clinics, etc. in different towns near the school. They asked us to provide interpreters for them in each one. This means that we've been trying to do this in addition to our classes we teach. Basically, two of us go to interpret one day while the other two teach everyone's classes. Then we switch. It is heavy and complicated, but fun, especially (for me) the interpreting. In fact, the second group was the first time I interpreted for any of them, and I helped with the VBS in the evenings of the second week. It was the highlight of my day. I think I may have found my calling. In any case, the third group just arrived on Friday night, so today I taught lots of classes. That goes for tomorrow and Thursday, too. Wednesday and Friday I'll be interpreting. But this week is even more interesting because it is Week of Prayer here, which means there are two services each day in the church and all the classes are shorter and moved (mostly up but in some cases down). So that makes it rather chaotic, especially since some people don't check to find out their schedule for this week, so they come late or at the regular times and miss class. The third thing (yep, there's one more) that makes this week, uh, special is that the Adventist Accrediting Association is making their visit from Wednesday to Friday. This is a visit they make only once every five years or so. Last time there were some observations on things to improve, so this time, besides the regular checkup, they'll be looking to see if we did what they recommended.

An ophthalmologist recently offered a big discount to the teachers here for glasses and even came out one day to check us, so my wife got glasses and I got new glasses and contacts. I haven't used the contacts yet (mostly force of habit, I'd guess), but I really like the glasses. They're anti-glare and Transitions, meaning they get darker when the sun is bright.

We recently changed the way our English lesson study works on Sabbath mornings. Previously, trying to get people more interested in English and all, we said that anyone could come and we did a lot of translating for people who don't know much/any English. But we discovered that many people, especially high school students, didn't come to actually study, but only to get out of the regular lesson study in the sanctuary. We also discovered that serious study couldn't happen very well in a situation like that and with all the translation. So we changed it and told everyone that the lesson study in English is now only for people who can actually participate. There have been fewer since then, but it is going a lot better in terms of study. We've also thrown around the idea of having an entire Sabbath School in English, but decided it would be more trouble and work than it's worth.

Well, that's most of the important or recent stuff. Have a good day, all.