Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cockroach Guts and Other Gifts

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Sometimes I am so disappointing.

Sometimes I am a safe harbor for negative thoughts. Sometimes these cute kids drive me crazy and I raise my voice. (I think you call it yelling.) Sometimes people here, who I’m working on projects with, don’t feel like working and I get bitter. Sometimes I am email and “skyped” out and want face to face conversations. Sometimes when I’m in the kitchen trying to kill every cockroach, I want to be home, at my parents’ house, where things don’t creep and crawl. Sometimes I just want predictable electricity.

But something happens when you don’t get to predict the little details of your day. Something happens when the fa├žade of control is even more exposed. You become more grateful.

Sometimes the limited capacity of my mind starts to wrap itself around these abundant blessings. Sometimes after a night’s sleep I wake up to angelic little voices laughing and singing. Sometimes, when I’m not worried about building my resume, I work on building relationships. Sometimes when I’m on skype it means I’m listening and not looking at my phone.  Sometimes when I can’t see out, I look up. At His sky and His stars. And how often do we forget to just “look up”.  In these moments, realizing how big the world is and how small I am, I am thankful.

Thankful for the timing in my life that allows me to be flexible enough to take this opportunity, His hand over my health, His persistence and patience with me.  I’m not entitled to any of it. And something happens when you realize you’re not entitled to everything, anything can become a gift. The endless knocking on my door. The cockroach crunch under my nice sandals. The predictable fried chicken dinner.  An unexpected gift from a childhood friend. Electricity.

It means He is using me. I have food to eat. I have clothes to wear. I am loved. There is Light.

It’s going to take a lifetime of practice. Too many times it takes too long for me to know I’ve received a gift.  But if I could give more gratitude, more love and think a little less about myself, I wouldn’t worry so much about myself.
I get wrapped up in details of my life. What I want. I want a lot. But I am beginning to really grasp how much I have.

Returning home for my Christmas visit is just a few days away. I know I will have gifts to unwrap. I know I will have cherished times with loved ones. I also know I need to remember to be a grateful as I receive the present of His Presence.

Last Friday

The events of last Friday began to unfold as I got on my computer around 10 a.m. to check my email. Like America and most of the world, my heart was broken and I couldn’t believe something like this had happened. I don’t know what to say and I’m not going to continue typing and prove it.

Here are two posts that I appreciated reading:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Grown-Up Christmas List + Updates

Kids are entertaining. They do and say the funniest things. Because of this, most of my posts have been about daily kid related amusements. I certainly don’t want to overlook the other important projects happening…so here is an update!

This is EXCITING! Peterson Brun, our first entrepreneur to receive a loan through Zafen, has successfully completed his loan repayments. Peterson has a drink stand and received funding for expansion last October. He worked hard and was responsible with his personal finances allowing him to repay his loan in full before the deadline. Anyone can appreciate the discipline and perseverance it takes to pay off a loan. Way to go Peterson! Peterson will also be getting married in December so it’s an exciting time in his life! Please pray that God continues to bless this amazing leader in the community.

Our block making business is also charging full steam ahead. Reformation Hope, the non-profit in Georgia that supports Souls Winning Ministries, will be purchasing blocks from the business to begin constructing a medical clinic. We’re excited to get things started and there will be many more updates to follow.

The first 6 weeks I have been observing the dynamics of the school. The model is very different from the United States. For next steps, I will be having a meeting with the staff and teachers at the school. Together we will have a brainstorming session and do a SWOT analysis. The meeting will be a crucial time to put agreed upon expectations in place as well as create a collaborative, supportive environment. In the coming months, I hope to have the teachers share lesson plans, progress reports and best practices.


Other stuff:
Growing up, I was a sucker for Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List” song. I sang it at the top of my lungs in the living room…on repeat (sorry family). Now that I’m a bit older, the song’s lyrics have even more meaning. Here’s a taste;

 “No more lives torn apart, that wars would never start, and time would heal all hearts. Everyone would have a friend, and right would always win and love would never end. This is my grown up Christmas List.”

Maybe it’s a bit sappy and Miss America-esque but it’s true. I think they’re beautiful lyrics. Some of you have asked if I want anything for the children or myself and since you asked…yes J. I have put together a list of “needs and wants.”  I entered the list into a google document so that we don’t receive too much of any single item. I will collect the items when I am in Indiana and Los Angeles before returning to Haiti. I can only have one additional suitcase for donations so please keep this in mind! If you purchase a donation item, please indicate it on the google document. If you require any explanation for an item you see on the list feel free to email me.

Click here for the link to my Grown Up Christmas List! **LINK FIXED SO YOU CAN EDIT**
Email me if you have items to drop off. I will be packing ZIonsville donations on Dec. 28th and L.A. donations on Jan. 6th. 

Thank you again for your giving hearts!

Friday, December 7, 2012

'Tis the Season!

I love Christmas.A LOT.

I love snow, givinggifts, hot chocolate, baking, watching Christmas movies, smiling (smiling is myfavorite), decorating and the feeling I still get on Christmas morning. I havebeen trying to keep that Christmas momentum going in 93 degree heat, with noHallmark Christmas channel and no oven to bake cookies. It has beenchallenging.

It started theweek of Thanksgiving. I gathered a few of the kids to make a classic chain linkpaper count down. We quickly learned that glue sticks and construction paperaren’t friends in the humidity. We enforced the chain link with some kind ofwhite tape. It doesn’t look flawless. Martha Stewart would be horrified. But itlooks like it was a labor of love.

Next, Idiscovered a new found passion for making paper snowflakes. I quickly sharedwith the kids the complicated art of paper folding. With a little imaginationand some stellar scissor skills, the kids started mastering this great art(they really are pretty). Without my supervision and during school, theystarted making more of them, out of ANYpaper. Pretty soon I was receiving school assignment snowflakes, bonbon wrappersnowflakes and trash snowflakes. I thanked them genuinely, letting them knowthat future flakes could be kept to decorate their own space. I decided it was time for a new craft. I started“collecting” toilet paper rolls pending a pinterest craft I would undoubtedlyfind. Three toilet paper rolls later and I am still looking.

I diverted myattention to party planning. The children receive a lot. They constantly haveteams coming down that shower them with candy, gifts and games. I decided itwas important to focus on the greatest gift ever given. I wanted to provide the kids with the opportunity to give this season. The idea hasculminated into a “Giving Gala” where each child gets to give a gift to anotherchild. The second party will be a surprise Christmas Celebration for the staff.The kids will be serving the staff for a change in a mock restaurant setting. Eachkid has volunteered for a role at the party. With details swirling in my head Irealized I had to think about my Christmas plans for my visit home too!

I startedmentally scheduling all the extended family and friends I want to see. Ibrainstormed ideas to make sure that Greg, who I will see in for the 1sttime in 112 days (but who’s counting), has the best time ever in my hometown. I started Christmasshopping via amazon for my family. Not to mention I still had to figure out howto make sure it snows.  With all theseplans pending, I realized I was getting a little stressed.

Oh Irony!

Far away fromBlack Friday, Christmas sales and ELF re-runs, with no Douglas Fir or EvergreenWreath in sight. No Christmas e-vites crowding my inbox. No elf on my shelf. Nocookie exchanges, secret Santa or Ugly Christmas Sweater parties to attend. Iwas still feeling overwhelmed. My Christmas was already becoming too much. Iwasn’t thinking about the “reason for the season,” I was wrapping myself up insome abstract form of people pleasing.

I would love tomaster every Christmas craft, become an expert gift giver and dominate everydelicious Christmas dessert. I think all of these things are great but they canquickly take the focus off of why Christmas is such an incredible holiday.

The First Noelgot off to a spectacularly simple start. Mary, Joseph and a manger that heldthe greatest gift ever given, Jesus. I think it’s important toremember that.