Straight on Through

Things in my head and now …. not

AFE Mission: Honduras November 2009

Friday, October 30th, 2009

I left with a team on October 30th, 2009 to begin our journey to Honduras.  There were 6 of us:  Lance Mudgett, Al and Julie Steiff, Ruth Hallin, Colleen Duffney, and myself.  We would be meeting Marilyn Knapp who was coming in from Michigan on the 31st and meeting us on our plane that would take us into Honduras.

As we checked in through Minneapolis with our passports, Ruth called out that she could not find hers.  We kind of all froze on the spot and started digging through her carry on making sure it had not slipped out of its holder.  After a couple phone calls we found it had been left in the copier at Church when she went to make a copy earlier that day.  A call to Ruth’s husband put him in route for a 2 1/2 hour drive to us with her passport.  It sounded like our plane was going to be significantly delayed so we all waited in a restaurant.  Sharing our team dinner together that we had planned.  We thought we would be ok until they moved us into another plane that was leaving soon.  We had to leave Ruth at the Minneapolis airport and that was hard to do.  I knew we had to move the team on and pray that she would catch a flight yet that night and catch up with us in Texas where we were staying until our Honduras flight the next morning.

I have to break here and tell you how wonderful Continental Airlines is.  Through out all of this they were very supportive, giving us advice, offering to put Ruth on a later flight, taking care of us when a flight did come in to make sure we caught it.  As we left for the plane Ruth had sent me a text message saying that they may even put her on a Delta flight to get her to us.  I reluctantly had to shut off my phone as we taxied to the runway – hoping and praying that she would be with us soon.

In Texas when I was able to turn my phone on I found out she was on a plane that was coming in at about 1:00 am in Texas.  It had 4 people on it, basically just bringing Pilots in to Texas and Ruth was able to join us at the hotel where Colleen and I got up to meet her at 1:45 am.

The team was reunited.

God is so good.


Saturday October 31, 2009

On Saturday, we caught our 9 am flight to Honduras.  We knew Marilyn’s flights were close – she was coming in at 8:15 on another plane and joining us on this flight.  We had not met Marilyn before.  She was a woman who had been prepped to go on another mission and that one had been canceled.  She connected with me asking to join our team and we had been conversing through email and the phone for the past 5 weeks.  Marilyn is 78 years old.

As we stepped into our plane, we still had not seen Marilyn.  She had mailed me some pictures so I knew what she looked like.  She called me as our plane was taxiing to tell me that they had just landed and she would catch up with us tomorrow as their is only one flight a day into Honduras from this airport.  She was calm and collected and I was excited to meet this woman.

Off we flew into Tegucigalpa Honduras.

Once in Honduras (and made the amazing landing on one of the worlds shortest runways), we went through security and met Mark Miller who would be our “go to” person for the week.  Mark took us to the guest house where we would be staying.  We were able to get our rooms and get settled.  After a lunch, we made our way as a team up to the Americano Expresso coffee shop where we sat outside and learned more about Mark and his family and what exciting things were happening at AFE.

Walking back to the guest house I think is when the rhyming of Lances name began…. I want to say Mark’s kids started it but I am not sure if that is true….  it went from Lance to Pants.  Then we called him Pants for most of the trip.  At some point we added ants…. and I believe there was a prance…. (these work teams really bring you close to people and this is my third trip with Lance, my 6th trip with Al and Julie, and my first time with Ruth and Colleen).

Back at the guest house I made a dish washing chart for the team and after dinner and devotion time together in the great screened porch area, we had an early night to bed.

Sunday, November 1

Up at 5:30 am.  We eat at 7 am each day and I think most of us had taken Ambien the night before (a prescription sleep aid that I use in Honduras as many times the noise of the dogs, the horns, and other street noise can keep you awake).  At breakfast we always have fresh fruit – I love that!  No Dole sticker here – these are fresh from the market!  Pineapple, papaya, bananas and more!

Today is our day we go to Jeoneys Church.  Jeoney is the man who started AFE, the school that helps get kids out of the dump.  He is an incredible man, a man who really is hearing Gods call and using this call to make a hige difference in the lives of many children and their families.

It is always interesting going to a Honduras Church.  The language is Spanish and Julie has a fair grasp of it but the rest of us are pretty much clueless.  This day was our first time they had an interpreter for the service, Reys wife, who did a wonderful job and it was a great experience.

The church looked amazing.  Two years ago they were meeting in the community center in this area, but they now had there own building with a beautiful floor.  A bus brings kids from the dump to church.  While there are adults from the area that attend, the congregation is mostly children.

After church we are taken to a restaurant for lunch.  The name was Pasteo Laraversahero.  The food was delicious, but I am a huge fan of Honduras style food, so I may be bias.  Actually the whole team really enjoyed this experience and we were able to spend time with Mark, his wife Melanie, and their three children, Madeline, Marya, and Breylon.  You will see a picture of the food below.

This is where Marilyn caught up with us.  Her flight had come in and Colleen and Terry Hawk who care for the Guest House brought her to us.  She is a petite little woman who would we would soon learn had experiences that far surpassed what most people would ever do.  What an incredible addition to our team!

After eating we had the opportunity to go and see El Picacho National Park, which is known for its large stutue of Christ that overlooks the city of Tegucigalpa.  You can see this statue all over the city, but I had never had the opportunity to go up the mountain and into the park and actually see it up close.  This was a huge treat for the team!

We then made our way back to the guest house in time to change and be ready for dinner.  This was a great day and a busy one so afterwards we were pretty tired out,  we had our devotion time with marilyn at 7 pm and then had the evening to relax and recap the day on our own.  I always encourage the team to journal their thoughts and the day to day activities because things happen so quickly and can blend together by the time we get back to the states.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Up and ready to go to AFE today!  We take the van to AFE which is about 40 minutes away from the guest house.  We pack a team lunch each day.  When we arrived we started out in the new dining hall where all the kids had gathered.  This is so great as up until this point the cooks worked on a hot flame outside cooking beans for the kids and a tortilla which the kids would then take and go find a place to eat on the ground.  Now they have tables and chairs.

Note about the kids from the dump:  These children up until the AFE School (AFE stands for Love, Hope, and Faith) knew nothing of eating at a table or even how to use a toilet.  Think about this a minute.  Many were born in the dump and they scronge for food in the garbage bags or for something they can sell.  many of the yound girls will sell themselves as they get into their teen years to have money to eat.  What AFE is doig is giving these kids hope, skills to do more, earn a living, and get out of there current situations.  AFE is a miracle in action.

Two years ago when I was working with an AFE team we were mixing cement and building a wall out of bricks.  The cement was hauled in wheel barrows and a couple of the kids of AFE and I would take turns writing our names in the wet cement in the wheel barrow.  The kids were Fernando and Samir.  These kids have clung to my heart through the past years and I was delighted to find myself in the dining room sitting next to Samir.  Even more delighted when he took one look at me and said, “Cheala”  (The “Sh” sound is hard for them, so I am usually referred to as Cheala there or Chili as Julie usually calls me.)

Is it possible for a young boy I met two years ago for a week to still have that hold on my heart?

Absolutely.

After we had introductions and Rey spoke a bit we were given our assignments.  Part of the team – Julie, Colleen, Marilyn, and the two girls who were joining us for a couple days – Erika and Sarah, would be painting the kindergarten room.  Al, Lance, Ruth, myself and Tyler (boy who was helping us for a couple days) would be working on an addition on to a house in the community.  This was the first time they were doing this so it was exciting to be the team that was able to do it.  We were building on a room to Salena’s Aunts home (Maria Matilda).  Salena was in need of housing and a safe place to be.  Maria’s home was too small to take another child in having three of her own, so our job was to build on a small room in the back of the home.

This project meant we had to take apart Maria’s “kitchen” which was a 50 gallon barrel in back of the house filled with rock wood, and ashes with a screen on top to cook on.  We had to empty the barrel and then take it out of the space.  In the pictures you will see a narrow walkway – hardly 2 feet between buildings, that was where we had to bring the supplies through and work in the back of those buildings.

Day one half the team finished painting the kindergarten room and staining the shelf and the other half worked to clear out the space where we would be digging post holes and putting a cement floor in on Tuesday.

At lunch we gathered back together and afterward Lance and I prepped a large container of chinese food that was delivered by motorcycle to AFE to take into the dump.  We would be going in and handing our food and water to the people in the dump.

The Team goes into the Dump

Thanks to Duncan, we have pictures of this.  (Duncan is very involved in AFE and is familiar with many of the people who live and work there so he has no problem getting in with a camera).  We do not take photos in the dump as it is unsafe to take a camera in as well as it is a hard thing to do when you see people who are living here.  I know I will stumble with the words in this part so please hang with me here.  It is a hard experience and it is hard to write about. I have been in the dump about 6 times and it never gets easier. This is where people live and work so to speak to find food in the garbage or things they can sell.  In this place, the kids all want to grown up to be the dump truck driver.  The dump truck drivers pick through the garbage after they pick it up so by the time it gets to the dump it has been:

1.  What people have thrown away

2.  Picked through by the dump truck drivers

3.  Gets to dump and is picked through again.

Food leftovers, chicken parts, etc… are a part of everyday survival in the dump.  It is a vision that never leaves me.

A note about the babies:  Babies in the dump had been being left in cardboard boxes while their moms searched the dump for food and items of use.  Many times, the babies would die due to the exposure of the sun as they were left in the box for hours.  Now AFE has a nursery where the babies can stay during the day and melonie walks with other women from AFE through the dump looking for babies.

The food line worked like this:  Serve five children, one woman, one man, and then back to 5 children.  We do this until we run out of food.  And yes, we ran out of food.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Up and on our way again by 7:30 am to AFE.  We seen that the paint job of the kindergarten room looked wonderful!  Now that half of the team moved on to sheet rock – in the far building that was being used for the older kids of AFE.  The other half of the team made their way up the hill from AFE to go back to the project in the community.  I have to say – this was an exciting project.  Being in a  small community where people knew we were a team from AFE was a good thing for AFE.

We worked a long day on the projects and then headed back to the Guest House to get cleaned up for dinner and then we were being picked up by Jeoney at 7 pm to go out on the streets to offer food and water to kids who lived on the street.

Street children are defined by different organisations as children who live on the streets, children who work on the streets and children who spend the majority of their time on the streets. The children who live on the streets have either been forced to leave their home or a children’s home or have made their own decision to live on the streets rather than at home. Sadly, some children are born on the streets and grow up knowing the street as their only home. A street kid is any child or young person under the age of 18 years who sleeps regularly on the street as a street child. Their are also many more children at ‘high risk’ of becoming street children and these include children who work on the streets, children begging on the streets and children who spend most of their time in the streets because of their family situation or culture.  There are about 20,000 street kids currently in Honduras.  I have seen them as young as 5 years old.  Many of the girls you see on the street are pregnant.

The Street experience is another tough one.  It is one that I think is important when we are there to do, but it is also hard.  Most of the people on the streets huff  glue which is a glue that we would make model airplanes with.  This glue is cheep and takes away their hunger.  Of course, it also kills their brain cells.  We always see kids huffing on the streets.  Colleen and Ruth seen a man on the streets who looked fairly well dressed who came up for food then went and sat on a curb and just held his head in his hands.  It is a picture that will not soon leave them.  Many questions come to mind on the streets.  As you look at all these kids – many look older than their years.  The streets are not kind.  The pictures you see here of the street kids are all taken with permission from each one.  many of them ask for their picture to be taken.

 

 

Wednesday, November 4

By this day, we have a pretty good rhythm to what we are doing at AFE.  As soon as we are there we split into our two work areas.  Now Al has joined the sheet rockers as they need peices cut and so it is not Lance, Ruth, and I from the team who head up into the community project.

Today the community team is mixing the cement.  We do this by hand mixing sand, rock and the cement mix on the ground.  I call this building relationships around the mix.  There is not a lot else to do during this process.  It is slow work, mixing and then hauling it to the area we have prepared behind the two buildings through the narrow walk way.

After lunch we finished the cement floor and left it to dry.  We came down and met up with the rest of the team and headed back to the guest house.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Last work day and we have much to do!  We first make a pit stop at Dunkin Donuts (I know, right?) to purchase donuts for the kids up in the community.  The two girls there are twins and it is their 8th birthday.  I purchase 3 dozen donuts at 179 limperos a dozen.  100 limperos is about $5.00 American so the donuts are about $8.00 for the dozen.  I have no idea how that compares in the states as I can not remember the last time I bought a dozen donuts.  Back at AFE we get right back on the jobs, Sheetrock for half the team and now we are doing walls for the other half of the team.

At around 10:30 Mark drives the Sheetrock team up to the home we are working on so we can have a little birthday party with the donuts.  This is a lot of fun.  I had bought three dozen in case more kids showed up then we had planned on…. that is usually the case when we offer anything to the kids.

The kids loved the donuts and we had enough to give to the adults in the area as well as the team.  Al played with the kids and Marilyn sat down and had them singing Jesus Loves Me in Spanish.  Oh wow.

That evening we went to Jeoney’s home for dinner.  We had wonderful tacos with chicken or beef and a great spicy sauce that was made out of sour cream and diced chili’s.  YUM!  Jeoney told the story of how AFE began which you can see here.  Salena was there with Maria Matilda (aunt).  Salena thanked us for the work on her room.

 

Friday, November 6

What ever mission I am on, AFE or Manuelito, we always try to get a chance to see the other mission.  This was our Friday plan.  In the morning we went early to AFE so we could say good bye to the kids.  They had a little program for us and Salena gave us each a card that she had made thanking us again.  When this was done the kids all gave us hugs… this is like being mobbed by 150 little guys and gals that just hold on so tight.  Definately insert tears here.

At AFE I had a wonderful surprise.  There was a boy at Manuelito that I had met 5 years ago, my first time to Honduras.  His name is Aaron (pronounced Arone) and he had a special place in my heart.  A few years ago he had left Manuelito and was living in Tegucigalpa with the Pastor of Manuelito’s son, Jorjito.  We had head that a couple years ago he had fallen away from the church and we lost track of him.  So guess who shows up for our last day at AFE?  I seen him and instantly started to cry…. thinking the whole time he is wondering who this crazy white woman is who is hugging him… ( ha ha)  We learned that he is working for another project of street kids called macah Project.  he is doing well and in a good place.  Thank God.

We had been given an assignment on our first day at AFE.  It was to learn how to say “See you at the University” to the kids.  This is to really let the kids know they have a chance to do something with their lives.  They are worthy and smart and they can move on through school and into college (university).

At the end of our time there, Ruth and I approaches a group of kids playing ball.  Together we said our practiced sentence in Spanish, “See you at the University!”

The kids looked at us blankly.  Lucky for us, a woman who spoke english was with them and she asked us, “Are you trying to say, see you at the university?”

Uhhhh… yeah.

She said it in Spanish for us and then the kids laughed becuase we had butchered it so badly.  🙂

Our next stop:  Nathanials Church in Talanga.  Nathanial is an amazing Pastor we had met years ago.  Talanga is the town in which Manuelito is.  Talanga is a poor community and looks nothing like Tegucigalpa.  Here you see ox driven carts, roads that are more pot holes than road, and homes with no doors.  Our local church helps support Nathanials church so we stopped to see how he was doing.  He is such a great guy!

He showed us the sewing machines that women of the church use to make clothing – which was so cute, to give out in the community.  He also had some of the feed the children food that we had bagged here in Brainerd last year.  That is so exciting!  He had 30 boxes that they ahd cooked and fed the community.   He now had 5 boxes left.  We had a team picture of us all holding up the food.  That was a great moment.

Then:  Manuelito.  It was so great to see the kids we have known for years as well as meet a few new ones.  We toured the project and went out to my favorite tree in the world.  (Team Picture moment).  After that we had lunch at Manuelito which was a wonderful traditional Honduran meal…. rice and meat and really big yummy beets.

After lunch we left for Valley of The Angels which is our time to shop a little.  It was really raining by the time we got there.  It really is like a Honduras tourist trap.  This is where we pick up any t shirts, art work, or whatever.  We stopped and had a quick coffee break.  We hit the little shops and looked at the great wooden bracelets I really like and I finally settled on buying a ring for $2.95 American and a few little scrap metal children that were magnets.  I really liked these and they reminded me of the kids of AFE… taking a life that to some would look like scraps… and with Gods power making it something beautiful.

We ended this day with a restaurant stop in the Valley of  Angels.  This is a great restaurant and we laughed at Marilyns big plate of food as she eats so little.  The food was delicious and it was great to sit with Mark and Melonie and little Breylon and enjoy some more time with them.

 

Saturday, November 7

This morning we packed.  We leave for airport at 10 am to catch our 1 pm flight.  On this morning, the airport is closed and we are not sure if we are going to be able to fly out due to the effects of hurricane Ida.  We are experieincing low clouds and a light rain.

Our flight is 1  1/2 hours late but we do leave and we do catch our next flight in Texas to Minneapolis.  We say our good byes quickly to Marilyn so we can catch our flight…. our good bye is way too quick.  We are coming home.

Wrap Up

I have been back in my home now for over a day.  Yesterday I pretty much hung around the house doing a few projects here and there but nothing really. Today will be about the same.  It usually takes me a week or so for me to come fully home.

I have been thinking a lot about the team that God had put together and I can see why each one was there and I am so thankful for them.  It takes a while to process through what we each have seen and then bring that back with the way we live here.  It can be a tough transition.  While I sit here at my computer my prayer is that each team member processes well and while they return to their normal life of work and home, friends and family… that a piece of AFE and those children are frever engraved on their hearts.

~ Sheila “Chili”


November 9, 2009 Posted by | Just me, Life thoughts | | 7 Comments

Tour of Saints This Sunday!

tour of saintsI am totally STOKED!  This coming Sunday is the Tour of Saints Bike Tour in St Joseph Minnesota.  I havent signed up because I wasn’t sure if I could make time to go… I’ve went back and forth on it, then my cousin Jarrid called today and he said we are going.  YEAH!  Guess I just needed a little push.  🙂


I love this bike tour and this will probably be the last one I get in before the September 175 mile.

Here is last years Tour of Saints

Here is the link to their website

July 9, 2009 Posted by | Just me, Working It | 4 Comments

Blogoversary Party Here on Wednesday – You are Invited!

Clipart Illustration of a Bunch Of Floating Party Balloons With

Wow…. it really is hard to believe I have been doing this for two years. I remember when Mark was trying to convince me to do this… I was so nervous about putting my words out there…. I have always wanted to be a writer, and this was a great mini fix for me but I just didn’t want to share things about me. Looking back, I have no idea why….

Originally I wanted my blog to be private and I would only let friends, family, and my book club of course into the sharing of what was on my mind. It took a while to go public where it would show up on search engines but eventually I took that leap.

It was in March of 2008 that I added the book blog and that was public, but more for me to record my thoughts on what I was reading.  It was kind of an afterthought, and as I finished a book I would blog my thoughts at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.  (If I only knew then, what I know now… that title would have been shorter!)  This was really my way of getting away from the years of journaling my books  in many three ring binders.

Then – even more recently, I found my way into a whole new world….  book blogs….  author sites…. publisher sites…. areas to sign up to review books before they come out to the public….  and I felt like… I had finally – finally, found my fit with this passion for books that I had since I was three.

So sum this all up – I am now able to share my book reviews with a much wider audience than I could have ever imagined.  That little blog that started out with maybe a person or two reading it a week now continuously has over 200 visitors a day and growing.  I love that I am able to share this passion!

So – in honor of this, my two year Blogoversary, be sure to stop by One Persons Journey Through a World of Books on Wednesday and sign up for the great giveaway that will take place on that day only.

Thank you to all of you who stop on by, for sharing in my life… nutty as it is at times… (and there are some nutty posts here…)

Here are some on my favorite moments over the past year…

Tattoo Day

Bookies (Book Club) Queen Event)

February 2009 Honduras Trip

Night at the Mansion

The odd McDonalds Story

The Last Installment of the Read Me Book

Kinship w/ Lakes Area Wheelers!

The Fairy Godmothers Guide to Mother’s Day

Graduation Day!

What would your name have been?

July 5, 2009 Posted by | Just me | 6 Comments

Monday Mind Dump

You may have noticed my Monday Mind Dump has gone to the draft land of where “few are brave DeChantal Ex stuff 009enough to travel”.  As much as I love dumping all this more than likely useless stuff in my head from the previous week, Summer has finally shed some “LIGHT” on our area (as opposed to the endless cold and rainy days) and with that comes many things in my little corner of the world:

  • Lawn Care (oh yeah – that’s all mine…)
  • Weeding my existing garden area
  • planting the patient hostas who have sat outside since memorial weekend waiting to sink into the ground that I have planned for them, but due to poor weather conditions and business… they wait
  • Yard projects, like staining the yard swing that sits now on my front deck sanded and waiting….. and waiting…
  • Low tree branches that I need to deal with… oh they will get theirs….  LOL

Oh and then there is the stuff that I just have going on:

  • filing invoices for our company (one of my least favorite tasks)
  • hiring for our company ( we had a late start up this year and now it feels like we are going full speed ahead and I feel a month behind…)
  • The spare room that has become the “oh I know, I’ll put this here until I have time to deal with it” space….  really, really needs a facelift…..  or maybe dynamite….
  • MANDATORY working out in some shape or form for a minimum of 20 minutes 5 times a week.  No exceptions…. unless, NO – No exceptions!!!
  • Invites need to go out STILL to the McKinney Cousin event August 1 here at my home that I just need to DO.
  • Book reviews that I love to do…  they are always going and this time of year the sun tends to call me outside to the deck to read…..  (see One Persons Journey Through a World of Books)
  • Cooking…. I don’t know when it happened, but now that the kids are gone… I really don’t enjoy planning meals.  Supper is another’ task each day that I never know what I am planning to make.  I wish I was more organized at that…

Anyway – enough of that.  Last week we had some decent weather for a few days there and I did get a few things done although I dont think I ever did fit a bike ride into it.

This week I am excited to start planning my Blogeversary event!  Yup…. if you look at the right of this page you will see a little count down and it is coming up next week!  I am actually going to plan a contest and giveaway for that event that will take place on both blogs, this one and One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.  Stay tuned… I hope to post that by this Thursday.

Anyway – got to run….  going to the gym, doing payroll, calling interviews, filing invoices, planning what to make for dinner and maybe a break late afternoon for a bit of reading.

Oh… and for fun, go and answer this question about your favorite indulgence book… there is a giveaway too 🙂

June 29, 2009 Posted by | Just me | Comments Off on Monday Mind Dump

Mid Week Adventures

My friend Adrienne would agree with me that when a plan comes together – even spur of the moment, Adrienne and Ione should take full advantage of it.  So when Adrienne called me this afternoon to see if I could go for a bike ride this afternoon to Nisswa, I excitedly agreed.

We met on the trail at 2:20 pm and while biking the 18 miles to Nisswa we discussed the Pat Bluth book talk that was going to happen at 5 pm.  Just so happens, that talk was taking place in Nisswa.  My original plan was to do the bike ride, then drive to Nisswa for the talk, but as Adrienne and I enjoyed catching up with each other… another idea developed – we would just stay in Nisswa, catch the talk, and then bike back to Brainerd.

Once in Nisswa we enjoyed watching minnow racing and a nice lady took a couple pictures for us on her camera and said she would email them to us.  (Adrienne and I are both bloggers and oddly enough, neither one of us had our camera for this adventure!)

We biked to the church the talk was being held at at enjoyed an incredible hour where Pat Bluth shared the tragedy of her daughter Tammy’s death in 1985 by a drunk driver.  It hit me personally as I went to school with Tammy and was there at Hasse’s and was one of the many witnesses to this tragedy.  I purchased Pat’s book after the talk, From Pain to Peace (see it on my book blog).

We then biked back to Brainerd as the sky darkened.  When we had a little over two miles left it started to rain but we really didnt mind.  We had such a great afternoon of talking and catching up that the 36 miles flew by.  I was sorry to see our time end together, if not for the fact my next stop was a late dinner with Justin and Chance.

Thank you Adrienne for a memorable afternoon!  Lets do this again soon – maybe further next time!  🙂

See Adrienne’s blog here for Whitely Creek Bed and Breakfast

** Photo Compliments of: (Thank you Donna!)  Looking at the Pine and Lakes.com I discovered that Adrienne and I were “spotted”  so there is another photo here:  check it out

Donna Evans
Online Director
www.pineandlakes.com
www.echolandshopper.com

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Just me | 1 Comment

MInk Lake Work Camp – Spring 2009

Spring has been a long time coming this year… yet finally, we are starting to see the signs of flowers popping up, lilac bushes bloomed late but are offering us a fragrant welcome whenever we pass near, and yes, Mink Lake Camp has once again had it’s prep week before they start taking in campers.

Last week Bob and Sandi Colbenson made their trek to the Gunflint Trail in Grand Marais, Minnesota where they will be for the next three months giving their hearts and time to Mink Lake Camp.  Shortly after their arrival, the people that had committed to help during this week started trickling in.

The projects were to clean up camp by cleaning out the cabins that had remained unoccupied for most of the winter months, fix the dock, mow the lawn, clean up the wooded areas of downed trees, branches, shrubs, clean up the Prayer Garden area, paint the outhouses, burn the wood debris, clean out the kitchen cupboards, clean the kitchen, clean the main Lodge, refill the wood shed, and more.

While this may sound like a lot of work, it really is a good time.  You get a chance to hang with people that in many cases we just see in passing.  Working together on these projects builds a sort of unity for Mink Lake Camp and those of us who are pleased to be a part of this yearly event seem to become a sort of team… like we alls hare the same secret of what a wonderful place this is.

Mink Lake Camp is not all work and no play by a long shot.  The work team shuts down about 5 pm and after dinner there are opportunities to canoe, kayak, swim (for the brave!), sauna, walk, go for a bike ride, play boardgames in the main lodge, read, whatever!  One group took a ride up the Gunflint and observed moose and wolves earlier in the week.

There is much to love about Mink Lake Camp.  It becomes a part of you.  I for one have made that trip to work the camp four times now and each time, no matter how full my agenda is…. no matter how hard it is to get away and be part of camp set up… I get there, breathe it all in and am so thankful that I came.

Thanks to Tara Wenstrand, and Sarah and Haley Goodrow for the pictures in the slide show.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Just me, Life thoughts | Comments Off on MInk Lake Work Camp – Spring 2009

Tour of Lakes – June 6, 2009

The Tour of Lakes bike event took place yesterday morning – Key and I started at 6 am, meeting in the Forestview parking lot at a brisk 39 degrees (it is June right????)

There were many riders there dressed in different types of layered outerwear, from rain gear to sweat shirts, winter caps, face masks, gloves – and even some so brave they tackled this event in shorts.  BRRRRRRR!!!!!!

This was Key’s first bike tour event and I was thrilled to do this with her…. our goal was to do the 70 miles, the longer of the two routes, the shorter being 35 miles.

The route was awesome!  We enjoyed the roads that had been selected for this tour, a lot of scenery and little traffic.  At our first stop off of Lower Sullivan Road had great eats like the breakfast burrito, fresh fruit and plenty of it, as well as granola and candy bars you can could grab for the continued ride.  The volunteers running the stops were friendly and fun to talk with.

Back on the trail we continued through some “a little too cool” wind, around hwy 210 to around the Legacy golf course and back on great little roads with beautiful homes on the lake.  Key, who enjoys motorcycling made a note that she had to ride this area again as the roads were good and the scenery beautiful.

Our second stop was off of the Gull Dam Road and there we had a chance to walk a bit and warm our hands and feet.  They had cookies and fruit to enjoy.  A fellow “Tour of Laker” took a couple pictures of Key and I.  At this point we were right around 20 miles into the ride.

We hit the road again and found our way into Baxter off of Olivewood Drive (having no idea how the roads that we were on connected to this area – but we were pleasantly surprised!).  We traveled down by Whipple Beach and encountered a near miss for a car that was almost hit by a man taking down trees at his home and one went right across the road.  We were far enough away to be out of the danger area but it was still a bit freaky.  From here we went all the way down Clearwater road, up Inglewood and over to Cherrywood where we stopped in the driveway of a home that was purchased by Brett and Kate Richmond and had a picture taken just for them.

As we neared the end of the 35 miles we had made the decision, along with many of the other bikers we had chatted with, that the 35 was going to be our destination for this tour.  The clouds held back the rain but looked as though they were going to burst forth any minute.  While I was bummed that we didn’t complete the goal I had set…. I agreed the wind was a little cold to do the second part of the tour – even Key, being such a trooper said she would go as far as I wanted to.

We finished well….  grabbed out 20 year anniversary cups and headed to Coco Moon for a hot cup of coffee and conversation in a warm environment!

Kudos to all those involved in making yet another Tour of Lakes event a success.  I imagine it takes many hands to pull this off each year and pull it off as smoothly as it always is.  Thank you.

Paul Bunyan Cyclists (who I plan to be joining soon!)

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Insane Moments, Just me | Comments Off on Tour of Lakes – June 6, 2009

Monday Mind Dump

  • I feel…. spent.  Overwhelmed.  Tired.  Stretched.
  • between office work, yard work, working out, and the house stuff…. life has just sped up faster.
  • I can not even think back now to what went on each night last week but I know I was always busy.
  • Saturday had Farrah’s baby shower which was a lot of fun – went out to dinner with Al and Justin to China Garden, Dairy Queen after (yeah…. I was pretty bad….) then Chance came and stayed over night.
  • Sunday – Chance and I went and seen the movie Star Trek (SO GOOD!)  In fact, seen it again later with Al .  See review here
  • Monday – worked out in the am…. started the 30 days SHMILY event (will blog my way through this event).  Finished the book Between the Tides (see review here), worked in yard on flower beds, then dinner with Julie, Sandi, and Key
  • We are 6 days from the Brainerd Tour of Lakes Bike event…. 70 miles!  I am excited to do this!  Praying for good weather!

June 1, 2009 Posted by | Just me | Comments Off on Monday Mind Dump

Monday Mind Dump….

I am totally procrastinating on  this post…. mainly just because I am tired.  With the onset of nice weather comes a list a mile long of outdoor “to do’s” and my ambitious overactive mind has clicked into high gear and I am now in the process of creating a patio, garden spots on the front and back yards, sanding and restaining all our wood lawn furniture, purchasing perennials for long term and annuals for a fre eye catching ideas I have and today I built a compost bin.  (No wonder I am tired!)

Anyway – here is last week…

Tuesday was book club and out review of Water for Elephants was even better than expected.  We reall had some great insight on this book and I personally enjoyed the whole reference to the 1930’s and the circus.  My review here

Wednesday seems like I am almost consistently hitting overload each week now.  As our business picks up, the yard needs attention, trying to keep up on my work out schedule, run the office, volunteer and do my study weekly… I am again hitting the breaks and saying “enough”.  By the time evening rolls around I am shot.

Thursday worked late and trained in a new volunteer at church.  Watched Survivor with Al and could have screamed “YEAH!!!!” when Coach was voted out.  (The man drive me nuts…)

Friday garage saled in the morning with Suzette and have no great treasures to report.  Lots of sales but nothing that we hit that was fantastic.  Took Group Power at noon, went home and did clean up and then AL and I went out with Chad, Amy, Andy and Laura for Laura’s birthday.  We ate at Half Moon and then went to the late movie of Angels and Demons.  Great fun!  My review of the movie here

Saturday was incredibly COLD.  Stayed in house and did house tasks until noon then bundled up and started the lawn mowing process –  3 hours and did not finish.  Later went to Applebees for Sara’s birthday with Cindy.  Then we drove around and looked at garden centers like Mennards…. picked out the patio pavers I want for the patio.

Sunday was church and then came home and finished the lawn.  I picked Chance up and we went biking for 10 miles.  Stopped at Menards and picked up some Hostas, mulch, stain for my outdoor furniture, a sander, a garage broom, and Juicy Fruit gum to attack the yard gopher with…. really.  Worked in yard until 7 and then watched Survivor Finale – yeah J.T.!  This ends our tv watching now until September.  We watch Survivor, Biggest Loser, and Amazing Race and all 3 are not done for the summer.

Today I did Group Power this morning and then rollerbladed 4 miles on the trail.  I made a few comitments to Kia this week to work out with her.  I came home and prepped a few things for tonights AFE meeting and then went outside and created a compost pile.  Im sure at some point I’ll blog about this and how it is working….  I have pictures.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | Just me | Comments Off on Monday Mind Dump….

Monday Mind Dump

  • Extremely tired the first part of the week… couldn’t shake it.  Slept and slept….
  • Went to dinner Monday night with Sandi, Key, and Julie….  good time
  • Monday afternoon found my new road bike in S.t Cloud at Erik’s bike shop – (Thanks Cuz and Cuzette for all your help!)
  • Thursday night went to the movie Seventeen Again (again) with Karol.  It was great to hang with her and just laugh.  Movie review here
  • Friday morning went garage saleing with Suzette…. we had a great time – we found a few deals
  • Saturday – Justins 19th birthday!!!  AND I finally got my tattoo.  Yes – you read that right.  Pictures here
  • Saturday evening AL and I took Justin out to eat at Grizzley’s.  Brad had to work so couldnt come too.  😦
  • Sunday Church and then roller bladed 6 miles on the Paul Bunyan Trail
  • Monday worked in our office with Al and enjoyed a bit of the sunny day from the deck

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Just me | Comments Off on Monday Mind Dump