Monday, October 27, 2008


A whole month since we last to sum it up?

I'll mention a few notable changes we are adjusting to: First, I (Kristi) got another job! I am now working part-time for World Vision in their microfinance division. WV has an office just 10 minutes from Pasadena, so I get the privilege of continuing to work in microfinance along with others who are passionate about serving the poor--and I get to work in 'cubicle-land'. I continue to work part-time with World Relief's microfinance program in Burundi, Turame, and will visit Burundi in November. So, now I have TWO part-time jobs, equaling one full-time job, which is an adjustment. :P (I'm not complaining, mind you, but it IS an adjustment!)

The second major change this month is that Kristi's grandmother passed away this week. A harder adjustment than the job, needless to say. I'm thankful that I got to see her just days before she died, and also thankful that she is free from pain now. At least I have the confidence that I will see her again in heaven, but it is still hard missing her now. Bob and I visited Illinois in June, and she showed us her flower garden and picked strawberries with us in the yard. She is one of the few people I know who lived her whole life in a very small town...a town that I always loved to visit because of that wonderful friendly small-town feel. The town and our family will not be the same without her!

Another new thing this fall is Bob's new internship at Christ Presbyterian Church. We have truly enjoyed getting to know this wonderful group of people and worshipping with them. Bob is leading the Sunday prayer meeting this week and preaching next definitely keeps him busy!

Some good news we received this week--Bob passed his last ordination exam! We are very grateful for he can focus on his internship and upcoming chaplaincy internship. One step at a time...

So, we have a lot to be grateful for. A fitting perspective, perhaps, for Thanksgiving season? :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

our event-ful week

If I can start the week with last Friday, I wanted to post a few pictures from our community baseball game event. We thought it would be a fun outing for our apartment complex to go to a Dodgers game, so we found a date when we could get super-cheap tickets on one of their group nights. There were at least 6 people who attended their first-ever baseball game that night (one Chinese family and one Kenyan)!
Grete and Krissy, a few of our neighbors
Our view - we get to watch the fans AND the game! :)
The view of downtown is excellent from the Top Deck parking lot - one of the rewards of climbing all those steps!!

Then, we had a going-away party for a good friend at Fuller, Lara. We played games and barbequed at a park, and got to catch up with several people we don't get to see very often--all in the process of saying goodbye to Lara. She will definitely be missed!

Then, Wednesday I (Kristi) took the opportunity to attend a taping of Dancing with the Stars in Hollywood with my friend Lisa! It was somewhat of a surreal experience to me--getting dressed up, standing in line for a few hours, going through security, and being told when to clap, scream, stand, and sit! :) It was amazing to watch the whole production aspect, especially since we had heard recently from Bob's friend Mark about some of the complexities of operating their high-tech cameras. Definitely a fun experience, but I was surprised at how tired I was afterward!

I think that caps off the most noteworthy events of this past week. Now we gear up for tomorrow - Christ Church's annual picnic and Bob preaching at a retirement center in the afternoon. Should be fun! :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Two are better than one...

"because they have a good return for their work." (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

Two of the goals that Bob and I set for this year are 1) to go jogging consistently (e.g. 2-3x/week) and 2) to memorize passages from the Bible regularly. This week we started memorizing Psalm 145 together, and decided that it might work well to work on it while we are jogging.

On Saturday as we were jogging for the third time in a week, I was reflecting on all the benefits of this system. First, since we jog together, I tend to push myself a little more than I would if I was jogging alone. And Bob goes jogging more frequently than he would otherwise. Also, since we work on memorizing the psalm while we jog, we get a concentrated patch of time to learn new verses, and since we are both hearing and speaking I think it might even sink in a little more! To top it all off, we get to speak about God's glory in creation ("They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.") while we are enjoying the trees, sun, and creation of God. What more could you ask for?? :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Celebrating 40 years!

Bob and I took a tour of California in the past week, that included a weekend at Lake Tahoe with all of Bob's family, celebrating his parents' 40th wedding anniversary! I have so many pictures that show all the fun we had, but I'll try to pick out a few to show you some of our adventures.

First, we had a short retreat at a monastery in the desert near Palmdale. It felt great to review our goals, set a plan for the next year, and be able to pray together in such a peaceful place. Here is a picture of us sitting by the pond there.
Then, we headed up north up 395 along the Sierra Mountains. We stopped to see my cousin Cara, who also lives in this beautiful but desolate desert. We camped for the night at the base of the mountains--our first time camping together! It was our first time using our new tent, so it was somewhat of an experiment...we didn't sleep to well on the hard ground, but it was still fun to be outside and have such a great view. We didn't bring supplies to make a fire, so we huddled in the tent and read Severe Mercy with our small flashlight till we were tired enough to go to bed. :)
As we headed north again the next day, we took the June Lake Loop and stopped to see Mono Lake along the way. We also stopped at a mysteriously famous restaurant at the road that goes into Yosemite from the East. The Mobile gas station restaurant. Their menu includes things like "Legendary Lobster Taquitos" and "Kansas City Steak Ceaser Salad", and it truly smelled delicious. Too bad it was only 10am when we went through!
We made it up to Lake Tahoe Friday afternoon to join Bob's family. We took in the beautiful views, played tennis, cooked together, watched The Man from Snowy River, and played Taboo...just to name a few things. :)
Walking across Fanny Bridge
We took a beautiful hike together on Sunday morning--The Rubicon Trail. The views of the lake, the trees, and the mountains were spectacular. Here are a few pictures from that:
We could walk down to the lake from where we stayed, and there was a long pier for enjoying the views of the lake. People use rocks in the shallow water to write names and messages...a challenging task given how cold the water is!
Sunday night we had a barbeque to celebrate Bob's parents' anniversary. A scrumptious meal and an even better reason to celebrate. :)
On Monday we celebrated our 1st anniversary--how did a year go by already?? We went to beach with Tiffany and Jon and Bob's parents...Bob swam, but the water was a little cold for me.
Look how blue and beautiful the water is!
We began our journey home then, with a stop near Sacramento to spend the night with a friend. We felt like we received the royal treatment--a swim in her pool, then a delicious dinner on the deck...a wonderful bed and breakfast. :)
So--that was our big road trip for the year! We were very grateful that our car made it the 1000+ miles without any trouble, and that we got to spend time with people that we don't see very often. Now we are catching up on things like laundry and paying bills, and glad to be home again. :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Visit from Mom and Dad Rice

Bob's parents just came for a few days, and we were excited about getting to reconnect with them in person. We also got the chance to do some of the fun touristy things in LA that we don't get to do very often! Our first stop was Forest Lawn, which we recommend to everyone but is a little-known treasure in LA.

While they were here, Bob's parents helped us with one of the things parents do best...projects around the house. :) We've been wanting to hang pictures in our bedroom all year, but never had the right inspiration and motivation--Bob's parents helped us finally get that done. Now we really feel domesticated!

Our next stop was the Getty, an incredible and beautiful art museum. One of my favorite parts was their garden, which was in full bloom despite it being the end of summer! I really appreciate that you can balance the indoor art with the outside beauty of the garden and the architecture--helps to delay the museum fatigue.
The garden, with the hedge-maze behind the flowers
A beautiful and creative version of a dahlia

The entrance to the Getty--impressive, eh?
Getting to do things like this is one of the wonderful things about summer--and about visits from family. :) Now we look forward to seeing Bob's family again in a few weeks at Lake Tahoe!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Enjoying Summer

This summer has been a good change of pace for us. Bob says that his favorite thing about summer is baseball, and this year we have been able to go to several games...almost making a baseball fan out of Kristi! So, here a couple pictures from the ballpark...
Yes, we are high, but we have a great view!
And, we've been able to do some reconnecting with friends we don't see often, which is always fun! Kristi got to visit San Juan Capistrano with Lisa last week--Lisa's blog entry about the visit is amazing, but since you can't see that, I'll give you just a couple pictures of the beautiful scenery we saw:
tie-dyed lily pads!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Learning Korean!

Bob and I are in the middle of a 2-week intensive class about how to learn a language. Every student has to choose a language to practice learning during the course and find people to practice with. We chose Korean, since we have several Korean neighbors that we can practice with. It is an adventure! Phonetically, it is more challenging than any language I've studied--there are many vowels and consonants that we don't have in English and are hard to say correctly. But we are trying, and are amazed at what we can say after just one week!

I'll post a few pictures from a trip to Illinois we took a few weeks ago. We had lots of fun reconnecting with friends and family and doing things that we can't do in California--like see fireflies. :)
At the Shakespeare festival with my family The Bertolet family tree, with the tag below.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Congratulations, friends!

Saturday was Fuller's graduation. Since this is Bob's 4th year here, he had several friends graduating. We went to the ceremony in the morning (with 500 graduates!!), then celebrated by going to 4 graduation parties for the rest of the day. Here are a few of the memories:
with Paul and Peter after the ceremony
Partying with Narcissis and friends

with Joy, in her traditional Korean dress

Vijay and Laura--celebrating graduation AND engagement!

One more year, and Bob gets to celebrate too! It was wonderful to celebrate this milestone with our friends, but always hard when people transition farther away, too... c'est la vie. :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Remembering Africa

We try as often as possible to reconnect with Africa even though we are here in Pasadena. There were a few opportunities this past week that we were excited about. The first was a luncheon with African Enterprise where Songe Chibambo shared some of his stories of what God is doing in different parts of Africa. Bob knew Songe from the big mission that they did in Rwanda, so it was a fun reunion and fun for me to get to meet him.

Then, Saturday night we had a gathering of people at our apartment that we are calling "Passion for Africa". We want to meet with others who have a love for Africa and share and pray together for how God could use us on that great continent. It was a wonderful and encouraging time, and we look forward to doing it again next month!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

We ran a 5K!

The last few weeks we have had the rare pleasure of experiencing a diverse range of forms of entertainment. I'll start with today's big accomplishment--Bob and I ran our first 5K! A first for both of us, and the fulfillment of a goal that we've had for nearly a year. Here's a picture from after the race:
There were over 100 runners and it was an interesting cross-country course that looks and feels like a course for dirt-bikes. We did better than I expected with a time of about 27:30, including some steep hills that we weren't used to. The run was a fundraiser for Project Cuddle, an organization that rescues abandoned babies, and we were very impressed with the amount of community support they have!

Our adventure last weekend was our first Dodger game of the season. We enjoyed the game until it started pouring in the bottom of the 9th inning and they stopped the game. We went home and were sitting in our living room with hot chocolate at 11:30 pm when they resumed the game.

And, to finish off our spectrum of activities, 2 weeks ago we got to go see the California Philharmonic Symphony! I don't think I've heard a symphony orchestra live since before I went to Rwanda 5 years ago, and thought the music was absolutely amazing. They played Holst's "The Planets", and since JPL is in Pasadena, we were also treated to some amazing photos of the planets while we listened! :) Here's a photo from the lobby:

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I love arboretums. My lunch-breaks at the arboretum in Chicago helped keep me sane during stressful periods. I love the variety of the trees and plants--seeing the uniqueness of each species with amazing features that I never could have dreamed up. The LA arboretum is just about 10 minutes away (without traffic), and I always find it refreshing to go there. Here are a few pictures of some of the 'unique' trees I found on my last trip--many with unique names, as well.
A Smoke Tree, from S. Asia and Europe

A Flax-leaf Paperbark tree, from Australia
An Indian Horse Chestnut Tree, from the Himalayas
A close-up of the flowers of the Indian Horse-Chestnut
A shrimp plant. Creative, eh?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Catalina Island!

I'm a week late posting these pictures--very sorry. Last weekend we had a much-needed getaway to the famous Catalina Island. It was a wonderful place for resting and getting a change of scenery,m and we are grateful to the person who advised us several months ago to take such a weekend away, and also supported us with the funds to do so.

We didn't take too many pictures, but it was a beautiful place, so I have to post a few.
Our primary activity Saturday - sitting on the beachAn excellent seafood restaurant--right on the harbor
Narrow streets, narrow houses...and do you see the golf carts??
And, we got a little goofy while we were window shopping. Good look, right?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Burundi trip update

I’m home again! I didn’t take very many pictures, but fortunately the team I was with did, so I’ll post a few here and give a brief summary.

Burundi as a whole has not improved since I was there in 2006. There are the same huge potholes in all the roads, the same corruption and inefficiencies. (I found myself particularly frustrated at the inefficiency—why do you have to pass through 3 people to get a local check cashed at the bank??) The level of insecurity has increased as well as the poverty, unfortunately, and there continues to be political instability. In the midst of all that, a few Burundian church leaders told me there is revival in Burundi—many people are coming to Christ and Christians are getting more serious about their faith and in prayer. Praise the Lord that he works even in such adverse circumstances!

My role was to help connect the team from Mars Hill church to Turame, and be a cultural and language interpreter as needed. The team was very impressed with the work that Turame is doing, and there is great potential for this partnership. After the team left, I stayed an additional week to work on other issues with Turame. I really enjoyed the chance to reconnect with the staff of Turame and work “in-person” rather than by myself at home!

Me with the team from Mars Hill,
eating lunch near the shore of Lake Tanganyika

Ron showing some kids the picture he took of them on his camera

Outside of work at Turame, I got the chance to reconnect with several friends and colleagues. I had fun playing with kids when I spent the night with some missionary friends, and when I visited a few Burundian families. I visited some new churches, and enjoyed the African worship style (one hour is too short for a service! J) I was really encouraged by some of the things that are happening in Burundi on a small scale –spiritually and physically. And, I decided to seize the opportunity of having a jogging partner and dirt roads, and went jogging 5 times in my 2 weeks!

Another thing I did was read. I don’t read for fun very often, but traveling is one time when I do. I read 4 books on this trip, each of which was really excellent. Here they are, in the order that I read them:

  1. For What It’s Worth: a call to no-holds barred discipleship, by Simon Guillebaud. Simon is a missionary in Burundi, and the book is sprinkled with illustrations from ministry in Burundi. It is a challenging and inspiring book, and I recommend it. I even got to visit with Simon and his wife on this trip.
  2. With Justice for All, by John Perkins: This is mainly about the need and method of community development in America. I thought it was very insightful, and that many of his insights are applicable to Africa, as well. I never thought I would hear and African American speak about the negative effects of the American welfare system so vehemently!
  3. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo. A short novel that I read in one day at the beach, upon Trina’s recommendation. I was really glad I did! The story is amazing, and I think anyone would find it inspiring and intriguing.
  4. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. I had been somewhat-wanting to read this for awhile, but was scared of it (if you know how well I deal with any violence in movies, you will understand). A stirring, but very somber story. I’m glad I read it, but really hate the thought that such evil and pain do exist in our world.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Burundi pictures

The picture above is of the Turame managers and the Mars Hill team that was visiting Burundi. Their visit really went well, and I am really excited about the potential of this partnership. They were excited to interact with staff and clients, and asked some great questions about Turame's processes and how the work can be improved.
A client group that we visited in a rural area.
the building behind them is Turame's branch office.

Watch out--Kristi might come home with this baby! :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Weekend up north

I'm in Burundi now, but wanted to share a few pictures from last weekend when we had the chance to visit San Francisco. We had the rare opportunity to see all of Bob's family, and had fun catching up with each of them. Here's a picture of our nephew, Dylan, feeding the ducks and Grandma and Grandpa's.
We also had the blessing of meeting with our care team from Menlo Park. Everyone was able to attend, and the gathering was a real encouragement to us! Here's everyone at breakfast:

Those are just a few of the fun highlights. We're so glad to have loving friends and family to go home to! I'll post a few pictures from Burundi in a few days when I have a few more minutes...things are still busy here!