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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Adventures of an Affiliate...

Phew! I didn't know that being an affiliate was going to be such hard work!  It's not what people think that I simply sign up to be an affiliate and I put a picture of a product then someone will click on it and I get cash. I have actually spent the last day or so renovating both my sites for maximum effectiveness. This is for your benefit as well as mine. There are so many resources, and products and tools I have on hand to use and the biggest challenge of all is endorsing the product without seeming like I am preaching or pushing. So I have had to be really strategic in where I am putting the advertising and what form of advertising and images that I plan to use.

You are probably noticing alot of these changes as you click on to the website. I have made every attempt to be tasteful in how I am promoting and presenting the language learning products. My favorite part of this was being able to now offer a free spanish lesson to visitors that click on. There is one free spanish lesson video up above near where the gallery of photos are. And there is another one that you can go to if you go to the very top of the site there is now a link that says "free spanish lesson".  There not only is there another video but a testimonial from me personally on how Rocket Spanish truly impacted me as a language learner.  It is definitely worth a read.  Visitors are also notified via a popup on my toolbar when they click on to the site that there is a free spanish lesson available.

But I would say one of the biggest changes that has happened as a result of this new direction in my blogsite has been to my other blogsite "Tango 2 the Moon".  Before, this website was just my own personal website for self expression and some entertaining odds and ends. I realized in the last little while that if I did a little bit of "house cleaning" and streamlined things just a little bit, I could actually make this a great support site for language learners. So that is exactly what I did!

If you head over to the site right now Tango 2 the Moon, you'll see a bunch of changes that I have made. I have changed the list of blogs that I am following to a some really interesting blogs that would be interesting to people who like travel and languages. And when I mean "blogs", I am not talking about mediocre blogs of someone talking about their day. These are good blogs that actually have won awards for their content and design.

Also, I have also arranged it so that there is direct streaming from that website to the Rocket Languages YouTube Channel. This is going to be really awesome because you will now have access to free lessons on video not only of spanish but of other language and products that the company offers. There you'll be able to get plenty of support for your needs as a language learner.   And I would really love to see "Tango 2 the Moon"  possibly become a site for language learners who are seeking interactive support with the challenges of learning a foreign language. I have great hopes and dreams for all my blogsites and can't help but feel like the skies the limit....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rocket Launch!

The weekend is almost here! I think that weekends should be filled with fun and freebies. Lucky for you, that's what we're all about here at "Making the Same Difference". I gotta admit that I'm feeling rather uplifted at this moment as I announce an exciting new partnership between "Making the Same Difference" and "Rocket Languages". As of this afternoon, we have officially become an affiliate with Rocket Languages to promote their excellent products and services on this site.

What does that mean for all of you out there? Well now that I'm an affiliate with their company, they've given me all kinds of tools to help broaden their exposure on this website. If you look at the bottom of the site, you can see that I have now set it up so that anyone can take their 6 day free sample course of Rocket Spanish as well there are other banners on the site that you can click on to access their website. I can do this not just for Rocket Spanish but for any language that they offer. This morning I wrote a blog on my "Tango 2 the Moon" website about my next language endeavor, Japanese. And if you click onto that post that I wrote, you can see that I now have set up some of their promotional banners as well as arranged it so that people can try the 6 day free course of "Rocket Japanese" that I am doing.

For a long time now, I've known that I can not only use my blogsites for financial gain but with the right partnership, there would be a benefit for my audience as well and it would be a win-win situation. But I just had to find the right affiliate who's products I would want to promote and sell on the site. I kept finding myself talking about Rocket Spanish again and again and again in my blogsites so one day, I thought that if I love it so much, why not become an official affiliate. It is a product that I have use personally and would fit perfectly with the theme of this blogsite. I can easily endorse this product in a way that would feel natural and without pressure.

Right now, I am just ecstatic with all the goodies that I now have to add to my websites since becoming an affiliate. As of this moment, there are three language products of theirs that I have experience with. Spanish, French, and Japanese. Here on "Making the Same Difference", I'm going to be promoting only Rocket Spanish because it ties in with the theme of Argentina. But on my other blogsite, "Tango 2 the Moon", you'll be able to find banners and resources for the other two languages either on a blog post on the site itself.

I simply cannot wait to show you all the goodies that I get to share with you now that I'm an affiliate. To start, I'm going to leave you with a free spanish lesson video that I now have use of. I hope you enjoy your free lesson and don't forget to visit check back soon for more goodies and treats. This is gonna be the start of something beautiful.....

Monday, July 26, 2010

Here I Am Send Me

Niagara Falls extended exposureImage via Wikipedia

I once heard the story of someone who had been doing daring demonstrations of walking the tightrope over Niagara falls. The crowd was loving every minute of it.  At one point the man asked the crowd "Who thinks I can walk across the tightrope with a man on my back." Everyone cheered enthusiastically. Then the man asked next "Who would like to volunteer to be that person?" And there was dead silence in the crowd until one man raised his hand and volunteered to give himself over to fate by participating in this feat. The next few hours consisted of absolute silence as the stuntman inched bit by bit across the tightrope with a man on his back, with successful results :)

Every day since Sept 3, last year  when I quit my job and went on the journey of faith, I've felt exactly like the man on top of the other man as he inched his way across Niagara Falls.  Basically, God was saying to me "Angelina, hop on my back" I know it must be entertaining to watch, otherwise there wouldn't be so many of you out there tuning in and reading my blogs. But being the actual person who's taken the risk can be quite scary at times.

There are occasional moments where I can hear the sound of the angry waters churning hundreds of feet below me, hungry for it's next victim. Every so often I feel a spray of water against my face, as a reminder of the power of mother nature. Sometimes I feel myself wanting to close my eyes and tighten my grip, hoping that I might gain even a little ounce more of comfort by doing so.

But when I stop looking at my surroundings and close my eyes, there is another sound I hear. It is the sound of skilled body work of the person who is holding me on his back as we make our way across. And if I listen in just a little closer, i can hear his heartbeat. A heartbeat that whispers gently "Don't worry, I'm not going to let anything happen to you."

And upon hearing that gentle whisper, it is then that I can feel the palpitations of my heart beginning to slow. The sound of the water below that once sounded angry and vengeful now sounds powerful and magnificent. And the spray of water that hits me every so often feels rather refreshing as opposed to mocking and bullying.

Faith is all about holding your breath and taking the plunge. I absolutely have the highest respect and admiration for Abby Sunderland @abbywildeyes , a 16 year old girl wanting to make the record for being the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe. And honestly, it does require a certain level of vulnerability to step out into the unknown with the whole world watching.  It's also easy to criticize when someone does try to do something spectacular but things happen that cause them to fall short of their goal. But that doesn't mean that person is a failure, nobody who's chosen to rise above the status quo can ever been deemed a "failure" even if things work out differently than they wanted.

All these are things that are going thru my mind as I prepare to take my plunge. With the whole world watching me with eager anticipation, I feel like I can relate to the champion freediver Guillaume Nery in this spectacular video of him base jumping into Dean's blue hole in the bahamas. Who knows what will await me this time when I take the plunge? What will I gain and what will I lose?  I am taking one last breath and diving in, not really knowing when or if I'll ever come back to the surface again.....

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
 And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Isaiah 6:8


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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Flying, Fighting and Crowing 101

Cover of "Peter Pan (Widescreen Edition)&...Cover of Peter Pan (Widescreen Edition)

Last nite I treated myself to one of my favorite movies of all time.....Peter Pan.  This wasn't the cartoon version, it was the live action version which got adapted into a movie. I ended up watching the behind the scene featurettes instead of the actual movie itself. And amazingly enough, some of the stuff from those featurettes ended up becoming inspiration for a blog.

If you watch the movie, you'll notice that there is alot of eye candy. Anyone who knows the classic Peter Pan story knows that there is sword fighting, flying, pirates and all kinds of cool stuff.  In the story, Peter Pan has three distinct characteristics. He flies, he fights, and he crows. That may sound easy but realistically wanting to shoot a movie with all these things in it was extremely challenging (except for the crowing!) W.hat alot of people do now know is that the kids who were casted to be in the film had to go thru months of preparation before they actually started shooting.

Jeremy Sumpter, the guy casts as Peter Pan had to learn sword fighting about 3 hrs every single day for 4-5 months before they started filming. And for learning to fly, the kids had to adapt to being hoisted up by wires in the air and learning to maneuver and do flips. They said that it at times was painful and uncomfortable spending all those hours gaining the upper body strength to do some of the cool things you saw in the movie.

It was then that I suddenly understood abit better the reason why I have been going through some of the things that I have been going through here in Victoria. To tell you the truth, it has been really uncomfortable at moments, having little money, depending on other people, finding out who your true friends are. Don't get me wrong, I've had a lovely time but it has had it's really trying moments and some days the challenges seem like they will never end.

But I see now like those kids in the movie, I'm experiencing some discomfort only because God is preparing me to FLY and to FIGHT!  Just like Peter Pan and the lost boys LOL These months in Victoria have been to grill me and train me so that when it is time to execute all that I have learned, it looks magnificent and effortless. And I truly believe that is going to be what the next season in Buenos Aires will be like, fruitful and productive. It is going to look good on the outside because of all the months, days, and hours preparation that's been done on the inside here in Victoria.

I could go on and on and on about this subject but I'm not going to. Instead, I'm going to leave you with this magnficent music video with clips from the movie. There are plenty of scenes showing flying and swordfighting clips.  This amazing video inspires me as I myself get ready to fly, fight and crow!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

SpareRooms BA

Diagonal Sur, Ciudad Buenos Aires, Argentina.Image via Wikipedia

As start to travel more and more, I realize everyone has a different way of doing things. Some people are very independent and they prefer to do everything themselves without the help of a travel agent. While others love having someone take care of them while they are abroad. I would be the latter of the two. I literally love knowing that i can delegate any problems and issues to someone else. And after being a customer service agent myself, I can appreciate it when you find someone who is professional and passionate and can take care of any needs that may arise. Because of that, I will go out to different agencies and take the time to sit down and chat with people just to find the right person.

And I wanna tell you that one of the best days of my life is when I stumbled across SpareRooms BA. It is run by two wonderful ladies named Valeria and Marina. My primary contact was with Marina and she was just wonderful in trying to help me set up accomodations with Lucreicia, the lady I will be living with.  You see, I was going through some challenges in my personal life while planning my second trip and I kept having to go back and say "OK, something has come up and I need to change our arrangments." I didn't have to do this just once, I had to do it several times and truth be told, it was extremely challenging and frustrating at times for both parties.

They wanted to do everything possible to help me and make my trip possible. I don't think that any other company would have had the patience that I needed. They understood that I was going through some things that were affecting all my plans for the trip. It was really embarrassing for me to keep going back and saying "Can we change this...."  I almost wanted to give up several times.  But their company has a true Argentine spirit, patience, grace, friendliness, trust and openness. And I could see that they really wanted to help me and it touched me alot.

I feel really well taken care of having both a good travel agent and also knowing that SpareRoomsBA has such great customer service. They have tried to take care of me before my trip and I know that while I am in the country, they will take care of anything I need accomodation wise. I don't think that I would really want to deal with anyone else other than the team at SpareRoomsBA.

Just to let you know what SpareRoomsBA is, it is a company that arranges for you to stay with a host family or roommates. But they go the extra mile, they will interview you to find a perfect match for your personality, needs, and lifestyle. They want you to have the happiest experience possible on you trip to Buenos Aires and experience the true Argentine culture.

As all of you know, I will be in BA teaching English and working with the church so I have many responsibilities. So I already will have alot on my mind. It is really nice to know that I am in good hands with both the person I am living with, the company that arranged it all (SpareRoomsBA) as well as having a good travel agent on hand back home to take care of any one of my travel needs.

Anyone can experience Buenos Aires as tourist just by booking into any old hotel or hostel. But if you want an upclose and personal encounter with the Argentine culture and the people of Buenos Aires, I can't think of a better company that can make that happen other than SpareRoomsBA.  They will ensure that your visit to Buenos Aires won't just be any ordinary visit, it will be a close encounter of the third kind.....

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Seed

Fennel seed

Within the last little while, I've been pondering what being a "seed" means. The more I grow, the more that I realize that I'm not sowing a seeds in Latin America...I am the seed!  Let's look at the anatomy of a seed. It is hard, round, structured, well defined and smooth.  Once planted it's entire structure breaks apart underneath the dark, cold ground to release all the goodness inside. But the only way for that goodness to be released is for it to totally lose it's structure and everything that defines it.

As I do mental and spiritual preparation for the next step, I realize that this is what had to happen to me in order to release all that I had within me. Before Latin America, my life had structure, routine, was well defined and nice and smooth.  And I could have gone on that way the rest of my life if I wanted and never known my own potential.

A couple of months back, there was a great controversy in America when a cruise ship found a dead grey whale stuck to the ship. It was not know for the first little while if the ship had ran into it and killed it or if it was dead before. After a necropsy, they determined that the whale had indeed been dead a few days before the ship struck it. Although it was very sad to see the dead body of such a great creature, there is an interesting twist in this story.

Scientists decided to haul the body of the whale out into the middle of the ocean and just leave it there. There is a good reason for this. You see, the decomposing body of a grey whale is so nutrient rich that as it decomposes, it literally becomes an "island of life" for many years to come as it releases all it's goodness that the creature held inside it's body while it was still alive

These two analogies sum up my life right now in a nutshell. Saying "hello" to one life is also saying "goodbye" to another life and all the securities and benefits that life could have held for me. And I will kid you not that like a seed, it has not been easy being uprooted and planted in a place that is dark, cold, unfamiliar at times. And there in that place, you feel your entire structure being broken apart to release the content that is inside. This is a process that has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen.  It's been both painful and wonderful at the same time and at the end of the day, I would do it all over again. 

Diagram from the seed of an avocado where the ...

The theme of season 2 is in a way about life and death at the same time. As you follow me in this journey, you are literally watching someone who has become a "living seed". Every blog, you'll get to see me unravel and my structure come apart just a little bit more. But at the same time, you also get to see the birth of a vision.  My hope and prayer is that just like that grey whale carcass, in my "death" I would in turn become an "island of life."


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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Kentucky Fried Christianity

Colonel Sanders is the official face of KFC, a...Image via Wikipedia

Who ever thought that an inspiration for a blogposts could have been triggered off by something as simple as a chicken dinner?  Wild! Let's start at the beginning. I have a younger brother here in Victoria who has been helping me out tremendously. He will do anything he can to give me help when and if I need it. He brings me food, drink, gives me rides etc. Tonite upon request he brought me a BBQ  chicken dinner fresh from the grocery store.

Normally when I get one of these, I just dig into it with my bare hands and fingers. Tonite it was a little hot so I decided to for the very first time take a fork and knife and proceed to cut it into pieces and place it in my mouth in an orderly fashion.  It felt different but in a nice way to try a new method of devouring it. But you can be that as soon as that chicken cooled off, I reverted back to my old habits and attacked the thing tooth and nail like i was a hyena!

Table manners vary from culture to culture. You have the more anglo saxon cultures where there is a proper way to do things. Don't talk with your mouth full! You have the Japanese which have a delicate and ceremonious way of eating. I was very lucky to be born into the Chinese culture where I don't think that table manners is even a word in the dictionary. After all, why would there be a word in the dictionary for something that is next to non existent in our culture.

We Chinese are great multi-taskers, we can talk and eat at the same time!  And we are encouraged to go thru our plates of food with much speed.  And don't forget to use your hands and fingers to strip every last piece of meat from the bone of the chicken!  As well, you may want to polish off the last of poor dead creature's eyes, brains, tongue, name it. Also be sure to be shoving rice into your mouth at the very same time you are doing all of the above.

It is during this dinner time that a thought came to me and I realized that the way that religion treats society is alot like when people are trying to dine on something with way too much ceremony.  Understand that I'm not criticizing cultures with ceremony, I appreciate each culture for what it is. I'm trying to illustrate something here.

Just the same way that the point of true Christianity has always been and always will be people. But when people turn Christianity into a religion, they start adding pomp and ceremony. "Oh, you don't want to get your hands dirty with THOSE people". And it becomes all about form and formula. In the same way that when people add to much pomp and ceremony to dining, it loses it's point. At the end of the day, the point of dinner is the food.

Jesus said "I am the bread of life" He never said "I am the bread of life but you have to eat me a certain ceremonious way".  Can I tell you a secret? If you look at the life of Jesus, he was downright messy! He never was afraid to get his hands dirty. One of his miracles involved making mud out of spit and then smearing it over a blind man's eyes and then telling him to go wash and he will receive his site. I betcha that I won't find a church in Europe that has that story painted inside it's structure.

Religion loves form, tablemanners, and ceremony. But true Christianity isn't afraid to get messy in order to reach into people's lives and make a difference. This whole trip is gonna be messy! Even preparing for this trip, I've had to get my hands dirty. Probably 40 different times I thought that I was ready to go and I announced it and it turns out that I wasn't ready to go. Relationships are messy too, my best friend in Argentina Marisa is starting to feel the strain of being apart and she desperately wants to see me back in the country. Many times I told her, I'll be back soon and then I have to text her back to tell her that she'll have to wait a little longer.

And I can tell you right now that it will get messy getting back into the country and getting my hands dirty with local people as I join in the effort to make a difference.  Religion loves to paint the picture of serving God as offering a prayer or lighting a candle once a week and then going on with life. But true faith is a gutwrenching encounter with people where you are guaranteed to get sweaty palms! Religion does not recognize this as service to God because it doesn't look nice, clean, and compartmentalized.  That's not what God likes!

That's exactly what God likes! Many times I've been criticized by religious folk because I don't conform to "Christian culture" where I sit around with a bunch of Jesus people strumming a guitar and talking about the sun and the moon and the stars like it's the 1960's.  Instead, everything I do has to be with loving people and getting my hands dirty and my palms sweaty trying to make a difference.  And I'm amazed that people who lock themselves away in a church and actually are doing the exact opposite that Christ did when he was on earth, they will criticize me as not being "Christian enough" when they themselves have barely lifted a finger to make any kind of effort to help society.

My two favorite pastimes are getting messy with people and with food! Just like Jesus!  And in this next season, you're going to see me do alot of both :)  I have no doubt in my mind that if Jesus Christ got treated to a bucket of KFC , he wouldn't think twice about getting his fingers messy as the Christ literally brings a whole new meaning to the term "finger lickin' good"


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Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas