Monday, December 8, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
"So, how was your trip to Peru?" I've gotten this question an uncountable amount of times from everyone I know, but I'm always at a loss of how to answer it. How do you sum up an unbelievable ten day trip in a few sentences? I can't do it. I can't convey what it was like seeing the destruction following a disaster that most of us in America never even heard about. I can't tell you what it was like working with children who own nothing but still love to share what they have and to give acceptance and love freely. I can't describe what it was like to see first hand how blessed my life is or what it felt like being surrounded by literally hundreds of beautiful, starving children who wait for their turn to receive a meager meal that was to last them for the whole day. Not to mention the extremely fun parts of the trip, like taking a harrowing ride through the city in three-wheeled "beetles", or flying through the desert in a dune buggy, or speedboating in the Pacific! I look back on that extended week and I can hardly believe it happened. Just two weeks ago I was in the desert, shoveling dirt, longing for a warm shower, and spending time with some of the most loving people I have ever met. It seems very surreal.
In order to keep this update from becoming a short novel, I will summarize the main points quickly. Our church sent 54 people to Peru (a mix of adult leaders and teens from our youth group) to help with post-earthquake relief efforts. We spent most of our time building houses in Ica, and then went to Lima to help with a feeding program there for a day. By the end of the trip we had built three houses, started two more, raised money for another, moved rubble from the streets, and got to experience the amazing program (started by one man) that feeds almost 12,000 children everyday! We went to two of the feeding sites that day and helped pass out meals to the children. We also visited the school this man also started that offers opportunities for the poorest of the poor to recieve an education. Everyone at the school was unbelievably welcoming, the children lined the sidewalks and wanted to shake our hands, give us hugs, and practice the few English words they knew. Someone from our group said, "Wow, I feel like we're celebrities or something!" This made me sad because it was true, they were treating us like celebrities when really I respected them so much more than they should ever respect me. The faith of some of the people we met blew me away. There are so many stories that I could share! I don't have the space to run through them all, but I simply have to tell you about a little girl named Melissa that we met in the village we were working in...
Towards the end of the week, a small group of us were shoveling a pile of rubble off the street in front of the school. We were taking a break when a tiny, dark skinned girl waddled over to us and handed me a letter. A friend and I were trying to read it, but our Spanish only extended so far, luckily one of our translators was standing nearby and told us that the letter basically introduced the girl as Melissa and she was 2 years old. It went on to say that she was cold at night and had become sick because her family didn't have the money to finish her house. It asked if we could please help her. We found Melissa's mother who told us that she suffered from bronchitis and the medicines she needed had absorbed most of the family's funds and as a result they were unable to build anything better than a thin-walled shack to live in. Because we were short on time, there simply wasn't any way for us to build this family a house. We prayed for them, but most of us longed to do more. The next day, Steve (our missionary leader) "happened" to meet up with three bricklayers looking for a job, and by collecting $5 from every member of our group we were able to pay them for their labor! When we left the village, the house was progressing quickly. It's almost impossible not to look at a situation like this and not see the hand of God. It's just so amazing.
Undoubtedly, the hardest part of the trip was saying goodbye to the children of the village. During the week they loved to help us at the worksite and play with us. Many times they would run over, grab our hands and lead us to a game of volleyball or soccer. They loved to tease us, teach us, and learn new things from us. Though most of us couldn't speak Spanish and none of them spoke more than a few English words, we felt like there wasn't even a language barrier. As one of my friends said, "Love truly is the universal language." The day we left i think I received more hugs then than I ever have in my entire life! I was such a mess. I didn't want to leave these sweet angels. I wasn't the only one. One of my friends was crying so hard that one of the village boys asked her why she was so sad, she answered it was because we were leaving, to which he promptly replied, "don't be sad, i'll see you in heaven!" They were so different from any children I have ever known, it was unbelievably hard to say goodbye.
Being home now for a little while has allowed me to process the trip a little more and to really acknowledge all I have been blessed with. I realized that I have not had to really depend on God for a whole lot in my lifetime. I wondered how strong my faith would stand if I was in a situation like many of the people we met. I also really wanted to make others in this country understand how good they have it. America disgusted me for a few days immediately after I got back, but then I realized something...it's not what we have, but what we do with what we have. So I stopped viewing my comfy life as a curse, but as what it is, a blessing that I should learn to use for God's glory.
I'd love to tell you more and show you pictures and such, don't hesitate to ask : ).
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Yesterday, I was being all studious and working on a perfectly procrastinated-til-the-last-minute paper when I heard strange noises coming from outside my window. Imagine the sound of a sword hitting a tree repeatedly...anyway, I look out my window and right below me Chad is attacking the ground with a shovel. Not too weird-except the "ground" was moving. Yeah, it wasn't dirt, it was a snake. Not just any snake, a copperhead! As in poisonous! And it wasn't just one, there were three! THREE! So, as you may imagine, being the hater of all things legless I had a mini freak-out moment. After that I just let my brothers be all manly and kill the nest of slitherers. How many people can say that a nest of copperheads made residence in the garden next to their house? I wish I couldn't say that....eww.
But anyway, this reminded me of an instance a few months ago in the winter when another critter happened to call our house home.
To make a long story short, we ended up closing Caleb's doors and opening his window, then we turned all the lights off and Caleb slept in the parent's room. We all learned something that night. #1. Flying squirrels don't just live in Australia, and #2. If a family member complains of swooping rodents falling on them in the night...it might be a good idea to believe them.
So I'm off to encounter other strange animals (hopefully not the legless ones!). On saturday I'm waking up at the literal crack of dawn and truckin down to the Outer Banks, NC with my WHOLE family. Can't wait! We all decided to sell one of our kidneys to pay for the gas : ). Then thursday I'll be driving back early with a friend and we're packing up for PERU! So I'm going on a three week hiatus for now. Ciao! (or should I say Adios?)
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
After overcoming my fear of reaching into the unknown, I set to work scrubbing hardened cheese sauce from the refrigerator in the snack bar. Whoever invented nacho cheese needs to work in a snack bar some time. That orange, sticky artery clogger gets EVERYWHERE. After cleaning out my locker last year, I was not surprised to see it sticking to the hinges of my locker door. Yummy.
There will be another week or so of "reconstruction" work before the pool is ready for business. I promise you that by then the water will be clean, the animals corralled, the snack bar scrubbed, and the hot nacho cheese bubbling in it's full, cholesterol-ruining glory. Soon I get to sit on my raised gold and blue throne, surveying those under me as I soak up some rays and mentally practice my "Baywatch" run...oh, and protect your children of course! : )
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
It was funny how very different the graduations were though. Messiah had a graduating class of somewhere around 700, I had a graduating class of 4. We had to wait a good hour or two before Chad's name was called and even then I had to scope him out with the (extremely nifty) telephoto lens on his camera, which caught his esteemed capped, gowned, and hooded back as he walked across the stage. My family tried to convince me to wear his graduation garb to my own, but I declined. While his ceremony took about three hours until it was all said and done, mine lasted less than an hour. We had a couple speakers, some of which were previous alumni of our homeschool group (which was nice). Chris and I both sang a song, and it was just nice and personal. So even though I didn't go through the traditional senior year that most people do and I didn't graduate Magna Cum Laude as my brother did, and I still have some college classes to finish, it's the thought that counts. I'm looking forward to next year!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
"Can we define what "cheesy" means? Does cheesy mean the gift is over the top or oozing sentiment? Wouldn't that make the entire idea of Mother's Day cheesy?
A long time ago I spent an entire day drawing a picture for my mom. It wasn't one of those perfectly painted portraits that some budding artists manage to create for their mothers. No, I possess no artistic talent, not an ounce. For this project I gathered my crayons and colored paper and drew flowers, hearts, and whatever else I could accomplish with my favorite strawberry-red crayon. The card said something along the lines of "Dear Mom, you're great and you do lots of stuff. Thanks, I love you!" Is that cheesy? Yes, probably.
Not quite so long ago I tried to create a watercolor mother's day card in art class. Turns out that I used too much water so my picture smeared together. Since class was almost over I quickly turned the smear into an abstract work that Picasso himself would be very proud of. To make up for the cover, I wrote a decently long note inside that basically said the same thing all my cards said, "Mom, you've always been there for me. I love you." Would this be considered cheesy? Yep.
Last year, in true teenage form, I waited until the absolute last minute. My mom had to work evening shift during Mother's Day, which meant that she wouldn't get home until around midnight. I really wanted to do something for her so I consulted my trusty sidekick (Google) and began to print out random poems about mothers, inspirational maternal quotes, and a short segment from Little Women about mothers. I meticulously cleaned the kitchen (one of Mom's number one pet peeves is returning home to a dirty kitchen) and arranged the printed pages on the counter. This didn't look very snazzy, as you could imagine, so I added some candles. It still lacked something...ah, chocolate! I sorted through my desk drawers until I found the perfect piece of Guiradelli, added a few slices of apples (as I now think about the healthy factor) and viola! Mother's Day surprise! So was that random? Yes. Cheesy? Most definitely.
If the scale of cheesiness runs by measurements of cliched one-liners and sappy notes, then I've definitely failed as a daughter, I'm about as cheesy as an enchilada. However, whoever decided cheesy was bad? Perhaps people we love need to hear the cheesy stuff every now and then, no matter what you might think. Everyone needs to know that their work is appreciated and means something. Who works harder than our mothers? Shouldn't they deserve the same recognition?
So this Mother's Day, forget trying to avoid the "cheesy" gift ideas. Don't bypass Hallmark because all the cards are cliched. Don't skimp out altogether because you can't think of an idea that's not "good enough." Here's a cheesy thought for you, all gifts are great if they're given from the heart!
..and if this still doesn't help, chocolate is always good!"
Happy Mother's Day!