India, Day 3, again.

We spent time in the morning with the residents of the Agape Old Age Home.  The residents are being added to the NoChild sponsorship lists.  We are all privy to the fact that children all over the world are being thrown out, neglected, abused and just let to end for themselves, but rarely do we hear about what happens to the elderly around the world.  For the same reasons that the kids are left or brought to CEM, so are the elderly.  I did not expect that it would be so hard for me to hear about their stories.  The worn and wrinkled faces depicted a much harsher reality than most people can empathize with.  One cannot even begin to guess their ages.  Most are far younger than you would think.  And just like the children, they long to be seen, heard and loved.

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I am guessing its frowned upon to have favorites, but this one?  My favorite!!!!

 

Haiti, Day 5

Day 5 was a day of work.  We planted fruit trees, mostly cherry trees, at various homes among the village.  The provide fruit (obviously), shade and sometimes a commodity.  When we asked the homeowners how they would use the trees, they all said that they would feed themselves, but also their neighbors.  The Haitian community that I have been witness to are some of the most generous people I have ever met.  They have so little and yet live so largely and open handed compared to our country that has so much yet clenches their fists so tightly.

Our day was filled with a lot of digging in high temperatures.  I did not take a lot of pictures that day, as I was getting my hands dirty but here are a few:

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Haitian Sunrise

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It is still coming!

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Can you spot the horse?

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Stopping to pick up the trees.

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Derrinson (sp?), our gentle souled translator.

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Seriously, how do they do that?

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A bit blurry, but that is what happens when you try to take a picture of a crazy Tap-Tap!

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Tree lined road.

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We had to drive a hill to shovel good dirt into buckets and then take them back to the village to use to plant the trees.  Lots of digging.

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On our way back down the hill.

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People acting their age.

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Sweetness holding her own against the boys.

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Would Lyi, my heart.

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Day is done.

While many people can look at what we did was to simply plant trees, it was much more than that.  When we planted a tree we explained that the tree, while providing multiple things for them, it should also serve as a reminder that a tree cannot bear fruit unless it is firmly planted in the ground.  Just like ourselves and God.  If we are not firmly planted in God, we cannot bear the fruit of His love.  And like all trees and vines, we need to be pruned and watered and given much light.

Haiti, Day 4, Part 2

After lunch we headed back to the village for a kids camp.  It is basically like a one day VBS.  There is a lot of singing and dancing, a short skit and a quick talk about the skit and its meaning.  The kids then get a free meal and a craft.  We were in this small school room, with resembles more like a lean to, with 100 kids.  Here are some pictures of it all.

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Peter and his posse.

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Kelly.

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Rrrrrro Rrrrrrro one of our Village Champions!

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Katie getting her groove on.

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Dance off!

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Patty showing Ro Ro how it is done!

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“And that kids is how you take a selfie!”

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Because chicken.

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The grub!

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After the kids camp we went back to the compound and had some down time.  We ventured over to Madame Cheap Cheap’s market stall. Madame Cheap Cheap is actually a whole family that sells wares and souvenirs and they are all related. However, they each have their own section and they try to out sell each other.  It is quite comical.  There is the matriarch, the original Madame Cheap Cheap, seen here:

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Then there is her daughter, her son and all her grandchildren.

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Michael was given the name “Big Booty Cheap Cheap” . Here he is getting his braids that they promised would make him look like Justin Bieber…..

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The moon is creeping……

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Kelly, our worship leader and jam-master K, also known as the “preacher!”

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Stars.

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One of my favorite pictures, Port-Au-Prince at night.

Haiti, Day 4, Part 1

The morning of our 4th day in Haiti we were taken on a tour of the Mission of Hope complex.  Here are some photos of the complex, as well as a few of some more Strategic Village Time.

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The morning light.

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Souvenirs from nature.

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Basketball court that doubles as a movie theater on campus!

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All of these images are part of the orphanage.  Mission of Hope does not do international adoptions, as they want the children to be raised in Haiti to become leaders of the next generation.

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Toni!

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The next images are of some of the school buildings.

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Mike Two Two

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The interior of the church.

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Paula trying to wash clothes. I did say trying.  A for effort!

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After hearing about Michael’s broken washing machine, the locals gave him a lesson on doing it himself.  Not really, we all know Michael would just go buy new clothes.

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This family ran a small market out of their home and this little girl was taking care of the customers and taking their money.  I am thinking her math skills are superior to my own!

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Heading in for lunch!  The rest of our day was an adventure that will be continued in the next post!

Haiti, Day 2, Part 2

After lunch we ventured back to the village to continue our SVT.  Again, we encountered all different kinds of people, but ultimately there was a common denominator of struggles.  One women who had the most vacant looking eyes, has been married for 30 years and has only ever wanted a child.  She asked that we pray over her for God to grant her a child.  I’ve heard this story from many American women as well.  The irony of so many orphans wanting to be loved and a person who so desperately wants to love but cannot get beyond the giving life to a human being when they can give A life to a human being is not lost on me.  I have looked at that right here in the states.  I will not pretend to understand, because I cannot, the deep longing both have.  I just wish one could see how much they could give each other.  And on that somber note, find the goat.

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One of our team members sponsors a Mission of Hope student and had some gifts to bring to him and his brothers, so after we had visited some of the homes in the afternoon, we stopped at his home to deliver the gifts.  Of course the kids being done with school for the day, came out of the woodwork.  And if a camera was seen, photos were demanded.  Here are some of the kids and maybe a chicken.

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There is more from this day, but you will just have to wait until tomorrow!

Haiti 2015, Day 1

Last week I embarked on an adventure out of my comfort zone.  I’ve always thought I was the adventurous sort, but with limitations.  I decided to go to Haiti on a mission trip.  People said it would “wreck you”, it would “change” you, “transform” you.  But I believe all travel changes you.  If it doesn’t, you are not doing it right.  I was prepared for poverty, poverty unlike I have ever seen before.  I expected people to want things from me, my time, my money, my possessions.  But what I hoped for was a connection. And I made more than one.

I cannot express my gratitude enough to all of those that helped to support this trip, either through prayer or financial support. Each of you were on this trip with me.  And I thank you for your sacrifice.

I will be posting daily my days in Haiti.  Our fearless leader posted daily while we were there and you can get an overview of the trip from his blog:  http://haitioct2015.blogspot.com/   And of course, mine will include lots of pictures!

Our first day was spent mostly in the air and then getting acquainted with our accommodations for the week.

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Summer Synopsis, I

Hello out there!!!!  Oh my goodness, I had no idea how long it has been since I was actually posting.  What happened to me?  Oh yes, I remember, life.  Not an overwhelmingly exciting full of exotic adventure, but just rather life.

I hope everyone was able to squeeze out all the joy of summer and then can some for mid January.  This is the first back to school year where I really was not super organized.  I made up for it in a weeks time, but I guess my heart was not in it.  However, the last two weeks of summer, with my kids staring at me,  with an occasional wide eyed blink, made me realize that perhaps they needed to be at school.  Or somewhere else.

Our summer did not have a grand vacation, but rather a couple of adventures.  I had a couple of my own, as well.  We had too many to just sum up in one post, so I will inundate you, repeatedly, with antics of our summer.  Aren’t you lucky???

School’s out and Rowen has a birthday and a piano recital. We have a neighborhood pool party and India wraps up her gymnastics career.

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Say hello to Enderman.  enderman, say hello to everyone!

 

 

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Not sure if he looks more like Mozart or Beethoven….

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This guy, or girl, hung around most of the summer in one of our flower beds.  The one right next to the driveway, where I park my car and when I would get out in the evening  he would scamper around inside the leaves and scare the crap out of me.  I am pretty sure he was giving just what he was getting.  Touche, little turtle.

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Olympic hopefuls can now relax, Miss India is opting to head back to horseback riding.

 

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Stay tuned for when the excitement never ends……

Soothing My Soul…..

It has been a bit of a hiatus for me from blogging.  Not because I have not had any thoughts to share, just not enough time to do it.  But I witnessed something on Monday that I keep coming back to.  Something that soothed my soul in a fantastical way.

I was at LuLu’s swim lesson, sitting in the designated viewing room when I noticed a gentleman swimming around in the pool.  Normally this is not odd, however he was in the area where one does not swim laps.  In any case, I began to watch him swim about.  There was no rhyme or reason to the patterns that he created with his body.   He kind of reminded me of an otter.  He would periodically stop and lift an arm and stare at the water running off his hand, down his fingers and fall into the water.  He was in awe.  Mesmerized by the magic of gravity, or the spectacle the rivulets made coursing down his skin.  Mesmerized.  And I was mesmerized by him.

I was abruptly jerked out of my haze by Lulu’s need to use the bathroom.  When I returned her to the pool, I discovered that the man was not alone.  He was with a caregiver.  The caregiver was obstructed from my view by a slide.  Since there was only a few minutes left of the lesson I decided to stay in the pool area and resume my observations.   What I then witnessed was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.  If you had seen this caregiver on the street you would never have guessed that this was his profession.  He had long, dark, wavy hair similar to a heavy metal guitarist.  His face hosted a goatee of admirable length and he wore combat style boots with his black t-shirt and work shorts.  He was small in stature, but that was just the confines of his skeletal frame.  He was much bigger than my life.

I watched the man swim to him and they splashed a bit at each other and the man turned his back to him and the caregiver scooped up water and let it run over the mans head.  The mans face was of pure serenity and then pure joy and laughter as the caregiver rubbed his head.  It was like watching a baptism of sorts and I was just as mesmerized with the whole scene as the man was with the water itself.  And I told him so.  I also told him, the caregiver, that they were lucky to have each other and he replied that he was way more lucky than his friend.

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Sometimes God creates opportunities, well always, but sometimes we actually act on those opportunities.  I met an incredible pair of people.  Incredible because of their life stories and the story they are now writing together.  Their paths in life were not the same, but they held one thing in common, hurt.  Whether it neglectfulness, physical and emotional abuse, or self inflicted, they had it.  When you hit the bottom of the barrel, there is no way but up. They both found themselves, and God, at Grace Center’s of Hope.  A place to rehabilitate your mind, body and soul.  A place where you are given a new lease on life and supported all they way through it and thereafter.  After they both had graduated from the program, they found each other.  Fell in love. Got married.  Through all the chaos of planning the wedding,they ditched it, eloped, but never had photographs to celebrate their love and their new lives.  So three years later, I was honored to spend time documenting all of that and more.  They adore each other and it is so obvious.Light shines brightly, life breathes life and love expands the soul.  Thank you Victoria and Dana!