Thursday, December 31, 2009

Learning to wait

I know I haven't blogged in a couple of months. It's not like I don't have anything to talk's the opposite. I don't know where to start!

By now you probably know that our hearts have already left midwest suburbia and are ready for the adventure that lies ahead in Honduras. I'm so excited and so terrified of 2010. Right now, I feel our family in limbo...just waiting for things to happen. For an over-planner, this is a painful exercise in patience and faith...also for the over-planner's family! It's the waiting and wondering that gets me so keyed up and stressed. Lately, I've had less and less patient with everyone and everything, but this morning I took a deep breath and attempted to regain some calm and peace. It's not an easy thing to do when you're over-planning brain is spinning out of control. That's the real problem with our current control. I feel a little like a hamster trying to drive the Barbie Corvette down the stairs...I don't have the remote control, it's a bumpy ride and I'm a little nauseous. Chaotic waiting around...that's exactly what it is.

Well, it may feel chaotic, but we are progressing little by little. We've listed the house for rent and thank goodness the rental manager thinks we can get enough to make the mortgage payment every month while we're gone. That's assuming, of course, that we can get a renter to stay for an entire year or more...but I'm trying really heard not to think about that. Anyway, we have several potential renters coming to see the house on Saturday, so we'll be spending our holiday weekend scrubbing and packing things away to make the house look as nice as possible. Then, we'll just be waiting to see the results.

Meanwhile, we're getting very close to meeting our financial support goal. But we still don't have any savings to live on when we get back...see, I'm already planning for coming back and we haven't left yet! PK is also concerned about this, but we're not really sure what to do about it...except wait, of course. We've received all of Nick's homeschool materials that we'll need to take with us and I've started the process of getting all our paperwork in order to apply for residency, but since we're all born in different states, I'm waiting for the birth certificates to be certified by three different state agencies. I can't deal with the health or car insurance until we have a departure I'm waiting.

How can a person be so exhausted just from waiting? I'm tired and cranky and ready for it all to be over with. It feels like the final push after 10 months of labor. It' kinda hard to enjoy, but you know the result will be worth the struggle. But, for now, I'll just have to learn to wait.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wandering the Wilderness

I can get wound up pretty tight when I feel stressed. Most people who know me would say that that's an understatement. That's how I had been feeling lately. Over the past few weeks the tension has continued to mount and the to-do list continued to grow. I started to feel out of control and I was miserable. I finally found relief this weekend at the Moms & Sons retreat.

I had been in CA all week for work and flew back in on Friday. I had intended to take the earliest flight out and arrive home early enough in the afternoon to finish packing and wait for CT to arrive home from school before driving the 5 hours to camp. But my flight was delayed and I spent an extra hour at the Orange County airport and another 45 minutes circling the MSP airport waiting for permission to land. My taxi hit rush hour traffic and construction zones. So I was frantic when I finally arrived home at 5:00. I dumped my suitcase on the floor and replaced the contents with whatever I could grab. We didn't hit the road until 5:45. In addition to my hectic day, my mind was racing with tasks that need to be accomplished prior to our departure to Honduras...not the least of which is to come up with another $4000 of support! So you can imagine my state of mind when we arrived at camp...harried, short-tempered and exhausted from travel and worry. That's not to mention that it was my birthday and I was feeling considerably older and more decrepit by the minute. What I didn't think I needed was a weekend "wasted" playing games and roasting marshmallows in the cold, wet outdoors. But I guess we're not always the best judge of what our soul's need in order to sustain us.

I think speaker's topics were intended for me. We talked about wandering the desert for 40 years and trusting God to provide. Wow. Maybe I'm lost in my own wilderness and I just need to give up the control to get to the promised land. Maybe I need to focus more on collecting the manna and less on trying to make the full turkey, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie all by myself. After I made this connection, I was able to relax and enjoy the time spent with my favorite person, CT. I realized how much I'm missing by being so frazzled all the time. We finally had the opportunity to talk about how we're feeling about the move and the mission. And, probably more importantly, we found the time to be silly and goof off together. I came back more refreshed, renewed and happy. I also came home with some "cool" new dance moves (I've been driving the bus all week!).

When we got back, we all sat down with a big piece of birthday cake and made three lists. (1) Things we have to offer Escuela El Sembrador (2) Things Escuela El Sembrador has to offer us and (3) Things we're afraid of or worried about. You can imagine that my 3rd list was the longest by far. But we took a hard look at the list and discussed how there's nothing on that list that God can't take care of. So, I'm working on letting go of list #3...still working on it...

Anyway, I'm a happier more relaxed mom this week and I'm going to try to stay that way for a while. So, when I start to feel out of control again, I'm going to break out my sprinkler and robot dance moves (much to CT's embarrassment, I'm sure) and remember that we will eventually find our way out of the wilderness...even if it takes 40 years.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Patience is a virtue

I'm an over-planner in recovery. My natural tendency to plan things down to the millisecond. I'll admit I have actually refused to make a rest stop on the side of the road because the rigorous family vacation schedule did not allow time (I guess I forget that others are not as fortunate to have a very trained and obedient bladder as myself). So far, I haven't been able to locate a support group for those afflicted with this disorder, but I am learning my...slowly.

Recently, I had a lesson in the value of patience and allowing time for God's plan, not my own. Our original plan was to leave for our mission Honduras in August. Of course, I was really disappointed when the combination of my surgery and lack of financial support made that impossible. I guess "disappointed" is a little bit of an understatement. Once I make up my mind to do something, I hate waiting...for anything. It sort of feels like putting life on hold and the hold music is an awful remake of an '80s rock ballad (since when is Bon Jovi classic rock, anyway?). For Labor Day we went to visit PK's parents up north - about a 6-hr. drive. We left after work for the familiar road trip and we laughed and talked and sang with the radio (yes, I do recall some Bon Jovi). We arrived shortly after midnight. PK's parents were waiting up for us, along with his brother and nephew. After saying our hellos, my well-trained bladder and I headed for the restroom. As I stood to pull up my pants, I looked down to see blood gushing from the scar on my stomach...a lot of blood. It wasn't painful, but very messy and soaking through the rug and every piece of clothing. I screamed for PK. The look of horror on his face confirmed that something was seriously wrong. PK's parents live about 20 minutes out of town, so I wrapped a towel around myself and scurried past the gawking family to the car. I don't think I've ever seen PK drive so fast. He even swerved around the "Road Closed" signs in order to take the quickest route to the hospital. We didn't talk much on the drive. We were both too scared, I think. What would you say anyway? It's important to note that my surgery was more than six months ago and I had fully recovered. So, this was quite unexpected and terrifying. As it turned out, I had managed to tear a suture and there was a small hole in the incision. It was a minor complication that didn't even require a stitch. I just had to keep it covered for a few days while it healed. Nevertheless, as we waited in the ER, it occurred to us both that we could have been in Honduras. In fact, in our minds, we should have been in Honduras. How much scarier would this episode have been in a foreign country miles from the nearest hospital, in the middle of the night, where no one would speak English? Sure, the wound would still have been minor, but the fear would have been devastating.

Since then, I've been thinking about our mission and my growing frustration at the delays. I'm reminded that we've been called to do God's work and we are blessed to be on His schedule. I am humbled and grateful for this valuable lesson in patience.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Home Sweet Home

The past two weeks have been exhausting for us. Last weekend we drove to Branson and back and this weekend we drove to Fort Smith and back. That's a lot of miles...and two flat tires! We had two reasons for our southern odyssey. First, we wanted to visit Mom, my grandma (PL for pink lady) and PM (for Pig's mom). Second, we had the opportunity to speak at PL's church and my home church about our mission work in Honduras. The bonus was that we left CT down in Branson for the week in between the visits. He had a great vacation (and so did we). The talks went really well and got a great response. We're still a really long way from reaching our goal, but the love and support has been amazing. I hope we can keep up this momentum.

We got home late last night and CT got his first look at his school supplies that I purchased while he was gone. Today he spent the day packing them away, but there was a small catch. He couldn't put an item away until he looked up and wrote down the Spanish work for the item. We thought it would be a good way to add to his vocabulary. He did a pretty good job and didn't whine too much, which is quite a victory these days.

We also arrived home to a letter from Luis at Escuela El Sembrador. We were so happy to hear from him. He told us that he had to leave the school and return home for a week following the coupe in Honduras. Luckily his family lives in the town near the school (Catacamas) so he didn't have to travel very far. He is so sweet. He reminded us to pray for the country and told us that he loved his American padrinos (parents). I can hardly wait to see him again. His letter really lifted our spirits and reminded us that our exhaustion is worthwhile.

Well, we're home now and hopefully things will get back to normal...which is pretty draining on a regular basis, so there'll be no rest.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Travel Journal Entry #3 - Part 1

The following is an excerpt from my travel journal from our first mission to El Sembrador, Honduras.

January 26, 2009 - 96 degrees; humid
Malaria Medication Night

Today we spent most of the day on our projects, but we did take a short tour to see the boys cutting grass with their machetes. It looks like gruelling work. PK gave it a try, but he was tired after just a few minutes. The boys do it for eight hours straight. It seems mean, but it's how they teach the boys work ethic. It's also a way for the boys to help earn their education and become invested in succeeding. Some boys leave the school because they are not willing to work. Others are chosen for leadership positions because of their good work. If they can stick it out for the first two weeks, the workload is significantly lessened when school starts.

We also saw the farm's herd of water buffalo. They are very protective and formed a tight-knit herd when our van approached. They tried to look menacing. but their very silly hair made it difficult to take them too seriously.

After our tour, we were put to work. PK went with a demolition team to tear down a decaying ceiling in preparation of replacement. The method seemed a little dangerous, but I guess it worked. PK was filthy from head to toe and completely exhausted. He also managed to break a window - which he was extremely embarrassed about. He apologized profusely. Once I went over to check out their progress and met Victor. Victor is a boy working with the demolition team and is shy, but a very hard worker. I treated him to a Pepsi at the store, but we were confused about the break time and went too early. I hope I didn't get him in trouble. Victor is 16 and this is his first year at El Sembrador. He is in the woodworking program.

I was put on the painting crew. It's not painting up to American standards though. So, I think I did ok. Here, the walls are crumbling and decayed. They are just happy to slap some paint on to cover all the dirt. I think I must have painted at least 20 spiders right into wall! The home is in disrepair and filthy. It's hard to see how some paint will just make it livable, but I just did what I was asked. Apparently, we are preparing the house for the Bible School teacher and his family to move into. While we painted, a group of masonry students were busy building a new wall to separate a large room into two smaller rooms.

To be continued....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fortune Cookie

Yesterday I went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. Below is the text from my fortune cookie.

"You will travel far and wide"

It's a little thing, but sometimes a little things can offer a lot of encouragement and hope.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some things you don't see every day...and you should be glad

Last Friday, I came home from work to have lunch with CT. We had a nice, pleasant lunch, but I was reluctant to go back to work (no surprise). So, I wasn't really all that broken up when I go stopped in traffic by the train. There I was sitting there minding my own business. Of course, I wasn't alone. I was surrounded by other commuters mindlessly fiddling with their radios and munching on fast food. There were families riding their bikes on the sidewalk and a jogger pacing at the crosswalk. We all waited...and waited to go on with our day. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a large man on a much-too-small motorized scooter slowly making his way up the block. Now, you would think that this sight would be a little entertaining to watch in our collective boredom. Well, you don't know how right you'd be. The entire traffic jam united in simultaneous double-take. The puttering middle-aged man was wearing nothing bu his tighty-whities. That's right, nothing but his Hanes. I cringed, but could not look away. He tarried along at 5 miles per hour with his captive audience staring after him in shock. Before you ask, no I did not think to grab my camera phone and I have no proof of this oddity. But these are things that I can't possibly make up. It wasn't a pleasant site, but it definitely made the day interesting.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Nerves and Hugs

This past weekend, PK, CT and I went to PK's hometown to visit his family's church. We spoke about our mission and asked for prayer and financial support. PK has trouble ordering at a drive-thru window, so I was the speaker. But after the service, PK stayed in the lobby to answer questions and show our DVD. I was very impressed. He wasn't nervous at all and everyone could tell how excited he is about El Sembrador. I, on the other hand, was shaking. I felt a lot of pressure not to embarrass PK or his family. Still, everyone said that I did a good job and that it wasn't noticeable. I'm pretty sure they're just being nice...or they're scared of me.

We didn't raise very much money, but the experience was priceless. It was friendly and positive all around. And we were able to give out our donation form, so maybe we'll get a few more contributions in the coming weeks. Most importantly, I think PK's parents were much more open and comfortable with the mission following the talk. PK's dad even gave me a hug afterward. And he does not hug. I mean, really, he does not hug. I think he'd rather have a root canal performed by an ape and his orangutan assistant than give a hug.

So, now we're looking for other churches to visit. We've asked a few friends and family members to connect us with their pastors. So far, we've been a little frustrated with the pace of support coming in. I guess this is where we learn to have a little faith and trust that everything will work out like it's supposed to.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Travel Journal Entry #2

The following is an excerpt from my travel journal from our first mission to El Sembrador, Honduras.

January 25, 2009

We had to get up early again this morning - 4:30 a.m. We had to leave the guesthouse by 5:00 in order to get to the school in time for church. It was hard to get up so early for the second day in a row. I didn't sleep well. The noise continued all night. Then I awoke to the sound of a crowing rooster. Convinced that we had overslept, I woke Steve up to ask if he had heard it. Of course, he had not. I checked the clock and it was only 2:00 a.m. I decided that I had been mistaken. At 2:10 a second rooster further away was also confused about the time. By 3:30 I realized that roosters in Honduras do not wear watches.

The drive from Teguc was pretty and mountainous, but not much different than NW Arkansas. People lined the route waiting on the primary transportation, the bus, to arrive. Drivers are pretty crazy here and show no fear. They also have a particular fondness for their horns. We stopped at a gas station along the way. It was relatively neat and had the usual variety of snacks and beverages. It was, of course, guarded by a large man with an even larger machine gun.

Immediately upon arriving at El Sembrador, which also hosts a working dairy and beef farm in its 2000 acres, we had to get ready for church. I wore one of the skirts PKBS sewed for me and got many compliments. At church, we saw the boys for the first time. There are about 90 boys enrolled so far, but school has not officially started yet and they expect 120 by next week. They began showing up last week, some all alone and some with their family members. They come from all over the country and all different stories. On boy arrived by foot and had travelled a great distance alone. He came with nothing, but he was welcomed at El Sembrador.

These first few weeks the boys are put to work. They cut the grass using machetes and perform other duties to prepare for classes in the coming weeks. Some of the boys work extra in order to earn their spot at the school. These boys either have little money or no family to support them. They wear uniforms to church and sit in the front pews. We sat at the back. More than 2/3 of the students are here for the first time. So they have never seen Americans and speak no English (except for some curse words!) Some had never been inside a church before. Since this was their first Sunday, some of the boys looked just as confused as us about what was going on.

The service was loud and everyone clapped and danced to every song. We did our best to participate when we could. I didn't understand a single word of the sermon. Except I did manage to hear the words "opportunity" and "El Sembrador" frequently. I think he was discussing what a great opportunity these boys have been given at El Sembrador. The pastor must have been Southern Baptist, because he spoke with his hands and yelled a lot. I think I heard he was from Guatemala.

After the service, the boys filed by and shook our hands before leaving the chapel. We ate separately from the boys for lunch (BBQ chicken and baked potato). Then we all met at the baseball field. Some of the boys had never played baseball before, so it was fun to show them. The men especially bonded with the boys throughout the game. After a short break and a coconut-flavored soda (yummy!), we had a short orientation and were told how the school is run and what we can expect over the next few days. Then, PK and I got cleaned up and wandered around to make some new friends. I'm surprised that it's been difficult for me. The language barrier has made me shy. Everyone else seems to have taken well to the pointing and sign language method of communication, but it feel awkward to me. Even PK seems to be a little more friendly and outgoing. I hope I'll have the courage to be more open when I'm not so exhausted. I've been told the boys love to play Uno. I think that will be a good forum for me. In the meantime, I've made friends with MK (age 8) who seems to like to hear stories about CT and about snow.

After our break, we had dinner - good pizza. At every meal they serve fresh-squeezed limeade which I am guzzling by the gallon. After dinner was church. It was pretty much the same as the morning. Except tonight nine boys went down front for the invitation. ML said she didn't really count one boy because he re-dedicates on a regular basis - probably for attention, but who can say how the Lord works? The rest were all brand new students - and now brand new Christians!
After church, there was a brief, but stinky run-in with a skunk. The boys were very excited and chased it through the camp.

In general, I have a hard time remembering names, but Spanish names are going to be a real challenge! I'm going to try harder though. Lights out. Buenos Noches.

Names I'm trying to remember tonight:
  • Ceasar - speaks a tiny bit of English and loves to test it out on us.
  • Daniel - his name is embroidered on his uniform...should be easy.
  • Dennis
  • Miguel - quiet and played Uno at our table
  • James - speaks a tiny bit of English, but is shy about it
  • Abet - Abbott in English; very outgoing
  • Victor - helps Rueben the maintenance manager [turns out Rueben is Victor's uncle]
  • Luis - 17 years old and in the 6th grade; said a curse word at the Uno table and was completely embarrassed when he realized I understood it.
  • Darwin

Monday, May 18, 2009

Twinkle Toes

It's amazing what a cute new nail polish can do for your outlook. Last night I got a new bottle of cocoa colored nail polish with glitter. Spring has finally arrived and I can wear my open-toed heels to work. Every time I look down and see that little twinkle, I can't help but smile. Yep, glitter nail polish can work wonders on a Monday.b

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Licking Walls

We're trying to get our house ready to rent out. In order to get enough to cover the mortgage payment while we're in Honduras, we need to finally finish the downstairs bathroom. As some of you may know, the bathroom has been a blight on our marriage. After 8 years of fighting, we finally have incentive to kiss, make up and install a toilet. Anyway, this week PK is building walls. I'm not exactly sure what building walls entails, but apparently there's something to do with sanding. Lucky for us, the new bathroom is located right next to our ventilation, so there's a fine layer of dust on everything in our home. And when I say everything...I mean everything. PK resembles Casper more and more every hour. My hair is more gray than usual and I think I just sneezed a cloud. In short, I can now tell you what a wall tastes like....and it isn't as tasty as you might think.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Travel Journal Entry #1

The following is an excerpt from my travel journal from our first mission to El Sembrador, Honduras.

January 24, 2009

-16 degrees this morning.

Our trip to Honduras started out a little ominous. CT has been sick and I hated to leave him. At least he has Mom to take care of him.

We had to wake up at 3:40 this morning to get to the airport. I'm looking forward to warmer weather. At the airport, a member of our group had a passport problem and was not allowed to board to the flight [passports must be valid for at least 6 months after your planned return]. She's going to have to make an appointment with the passport office in Houston. Since today is Saturday, she'll have to wait until at least Monday to resolve the situation. I called Uncle Sonny and he agreed to met her at the airport and help get her where she needs to go. What a heartbreak to miss the first few days of the trip! She took it surprisingly well. Luckily, another one of our team members has had a similar experience in the past and he knew exactly what to do.

The flight to Houston was uneventful, but the sunrise was incredible. I had a window seat. The colors reflected off the snow. I've never seen a sunrise from quite that perspective before. It was stunning.

I haven't decided what I think of our little group. They are all much older than us with grandkids. So far, I have found very little in common with any of them. It doesn't help that they all know eachother and are comfortable in eachother's company. I can't imagine becoming close friends with any of them, but they are friendly enough and they have good hearts. I may have to put a lid on my sarcastic humor though. It doesn't seem to go over well. [I was mistaken when I wrote this. We became very close with our group and we have shared a lot of laughter and tears together. We are blessed to have each of them in our lives.]

82 degrees this afternoon.

We arrived in Tegucigalpa this evening. Teguc has the shortest runway in the world. In fact, last year it was shut down because a plane ran off the end. So I was a little nervous about the landing. I knew about the short runway, but no one had told me about it being nestled in a valley between some very high mountains. It was a little scary, but the pilots must be very skilled because we didn't seem to have any trouble. It was actually quite a pretty view as we came in. The city is spread out and runs up and down the hillsides. The housed are very close together, but they are brightly colored and almost cheerful.

The guesthouse in Teguc is pleasant enough. We're not allowed to drink the water here, but they've provided plenty of bottled. The building is actually like several houses stacked on top of eachother and built into the hillside. We have a private room and even a bathroom to ourselves. Everyone else has to share. In Honduras, the people do not flush their toilet paper. Instead they drop it into a waste basket - ick! Lucky for us the guesthouse is American-ized and everyone is asked to flush their used tissue.

Tonight, the director of the school drove us around and took us to the mall. Only a few of us went along. PK has been so great. He went with us even though it was just girls. We were warned that it was dangerous to drive around at night. I think PK could tell that I was nervous, but I wanted to go. So he came along to guard the ladies. My knight in shining armour!

The mall was a lot like an American mall. It had a Radio Shack, Baskin Robbins, TGI Fridays and tons of cell phone stores. There are two noticeable differences: 1) the exorbitant prices here in Honduras and 2) the armed guards in each and every store.

We all gathered together at Pizza Hut for dinner. I was a little disappointed because I'm anxious to try local food. But it was a treat for the missionaries daughters. They rarely get to eat out - much less American food. Steve and I are such heathens! We started munching before the blessing. We'll have to be more careful in the future!

We're ready for bed now. We have to get up really early in order to get to the school in time for church. The air has cooled off a bit and there's a little breeze from our open window....and a lot of traffic noise! Goodnight.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Leave of Absence

My Blog's been on vacation for quite a while now...more like a leave of absence. I'd like to tell you that I've been relaxing on a beach somewhere remote with no internet access, but I don't think there's any such place anymore. Besides, the truth is that I've just been Blog lazy. It's not that my life hasn't been interesting. In fact, there's been more drama and excitement in my life than ever lately. And it's not that I haven't had plenty of time to Blog. I think it's fair to say that I've been a bit overwhelmed. Sometimes we go through a period in life where everything changes and everything happens at once. During these times it's very hard for me to write. When you'd think I'd have a lot to say, that's when I can't seem to put a sentence together. It's kinda like a profound writer's block. I just don't know where to start.

Well, eventually you'll get caught up on what's been happening in my life and in my heart. In the meantime, I want to thank whatever blog readers I have for checking back in. Rest assured I'm still alive and well.

Since you're already here, let me just fill you in a little. PK, CT and I have been appointed to the mission field in Honduras. We'll be going for an entire year as Missionary Volunteer Partners at Escuela El Sembrador. I'll be keeping the Blog world updated on God's plans and how they're shaping up for us. In the meantime, I'm taking a crash course in Spanish and trying to figure out how I'm going to survive with no air conditioning.

Buenos Noches and Beef Nachos!