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?


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

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

Memorials for Memorial Weekend

Not a big fan of cemeteries.

I know… really, who is?

Every year at this time I go and clean up around the cemetery plots of my family.  I cut back the overgrowth around the marker, sweep, pick up the leaves…. and yes I plant a flower or two.  Every year I think at this time that I will be sure to come back weekly throughout spring summer and fall – and I will keep the flowers watered, and I will continue to clean…. but in all reality…. life just does not always allow for me to do this.

So this year, I took my sister Tara’s old wagon out of storage.  I put a  layer of rock in the bottom, filled it with soil and miracle grow and planted literally a wagon load of her favorite flower, pansies.  I then took an old wash bucket, prepped it the same and filled it with zinnias for my mom.  I incorporated my dad in all this by digging through his old tool box and finding plane that I used to prop up the wash bucket so it sits at a tilt.

I put both of these items in my front yard with one of the Adirondack chairs near by.  This is in remembrance of my family.  This I can see each day, care for each day and water as needed.  This… I love.

The cemetery I will continue to care for… but I know they are not there.  I wait for the day that I will see them again.

May 25, 2009 Posted by | Life thoughts | 1 Comment

Waking up in Narnia

This morning, April 1, 2009… I woke to a gorgeous bedroom window view of deeply frosted trees.  Immediately as I breathed in the scene I whispered the word, “Narnia”.

Grabbing my camera before I even thought of changing out of pj’s, I slipped into my shoes and started capturing the scene from my back deck.  Breathtaking.

Not a fan of snow, winter, cold, or anything that comes with it – this is a rare moment for me.  Honestly, I could not shake the visions of curling up with a cup of hot cocoa with a big dollap of cool whip, and a great book in front of a warm fireplace.

I… am almost giddy.

April 1, 2009 Posted by | Life thoughts | 2 Comments

February Honduras Trip 2009

What do a Sales Representative, Retired Business Owner, Psychologist, Mechanic Shop Owner, Office Manager, Waiter, and High School Student have in common?

They are the group that made up our Honduras Missions Team that returned back to the States on Saturday February 28th after ten days.

So here I go, in my typical “note taking, journaling” way…. I give you the Honduras 8:

Tim Lake, Al and Julie Steiff, Steve Lanham, Justin DeChantal, Kacee Kruse, Laura Shipman (who stayed at the main Mission House helping out) and myself.

We left Wednesday February 18th and stayed over night in Houston Texas.  From Texas, we caught our flight the morning of the 19th to Tegucigalpa Honduras.

We were picked up at the airport by the Manuelito Project bus and went directly out to the Mission which is about 2 hours from the airport in Talanga.  I was able to catch some great pics on the bus of Justin talking to Antonio, an incredible man we had met before who was catching a ride with us.

Once at Manuelito the kids surrounded us.  The younger boys, Carlo (10), Christian (9) had pictures of Justin and Kacee from last year.  We had time to reacquaint with the kids before dinner.

Dinner was a hamburger, bean dish with tortilla chips, water melon and musk melon.  It was kind of like a thick chili.

Friday February (Febrero) 20th…

Up at 5:45 a.m.  Had a good nights sleep thanks to Ambien.  It is Friday so it is time to take our Malaria pill (“Malaria Friday!”)  Breakfast is scrambled eggs, cereal, musk melon and watermelon.

At 7:30 a.m. we are on the job.  We are working on an administrative building for the project.  Our job today is shoveling dirt, and lots of it.  The dirt is hard and rocky.  The temperature is about 80 degrees.

Lunch was a chicken tortilla hotdish that was SO GOOD!  Also an incredible salad made out of lettuce, peas, hard boiled eggs and a good dressing (I may have to duplicate that one here!), water melon and brownies (good brownies…. really good brownies…)

Then back to the job site where we continues to shovel until 4:30 pm.

Supper was:  meat, salsa, refried beans, musk melon, fried plantains, and oatmeal cookies.

After supper we discussed as a team the possibility of painting the interior of the main building that we stayed in.  The walls were a lighter color and the paint was wearing away and from all the kids and teams the lower parts were dirty and worn.  Jeremy (our Interpreter and Team Coordinator) told us the supplies to do all the rooms would run about $300 in US dollars.  We agreed.

We discussed paying for two of Natividad’s grand kids to go to school.  Natividad is the “Jefe” (pronounced hefey) boss of the work team jobs and a Pastor of a small church.  He is 70 years old.  His grandsons work on the projects too and the ones we were referring to we had worked with in past years.  School for the two boys would cost $200 US dollars.  We agreed to do this as well.

We needed rakes for the project and as a team we decided to purchase two.

Our Friday night devotion was on Matthew 5:14 – 16.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Jeremy read this in Spanish.  We talked about being the light and how we are to run into the darkness of the world.  Be the Light.

Saturday February (Febrero) 21…

5:00 a.m. … The geese must die.  (They start their honking at about 5 a.m. directly outside our window.

Up at 6:20 a.m.  Eat at 7:00 a.m.  Breakfast:  Scrambled eggs with bacon in it, sausage, watermelon, Cafe (coffee).

7:30 a.m. back to the work site, day two of shoveling. The weather is cooler today and a bit drizzly on again and off again.  The guys now on cement love the coolness… I miss the heat.  This is unusual weather for us when we come here it is usually HOT HOT HOT.

Lunch is a great spaghetti, watermelon, and cake.

Back to shoveling (need to work off all that pasta!)  We stop working early today because it is Saturday.  We had free time to play with the kids and get cleaned up.  We had time to use the internet in the new computer building, and then late afternoon we went hiking up a near by hill to take pictures.  Many of the kids came with us as well as Maria from Denmark who is a t Manuelito for 6 months as a helper.  She is really nice and has been at Manuelito Project for 3 1/2 weeks.

In the evening we discussed how the kids are so used to teams coming in and out of their lives.  When a team comes back again and again the kids feel loved.

Our devotion this evening was on Ephesians and we discussed how it is important to settle differences, be at peace withe veryone, and always do your best.

This evening Julie Steiff joined our group (she flew in later due to a work commitment).  Now we are a full team!  By 9:18 I was shot and in bed.  I am working on reading our book club read for March, Firefly Lane.  This is the third book since we left Brainerd.

Sunday February (Febrero) 22…

6:38 a.m….. after the “Goose Musical” at 5 a.m., I fell back asleep.  It is Sunday and we are having Eva’s 15th birthday celebration today.  In Honduras turning 15 is a big deal, a point of growing up from being a child, to a young woman.  There will be a big party this evening and because of this we will not go into town for Church as we are helping with preparations.

The kitchen is busy with additional help today.  They will be grilling tonight and there are large tubs of meat that they are seasoning with garlic and large limes.

This morning I study in Matthew 25… (one of my favorites)

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[f] you were doing it to me!’

The least of these…. this really gets me when we are here.   I love living out this scripture by serving in Honduras.  This led me then to Isaiah 58:7:

7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

Since we did not have church, the team gathered by the tree (my favorite tree!0 and did a little devotion together on letting your yes be yes, and your no be no. We talked about the importance of telling the truth when we speak.

We spent the rest of the morning cleaning the building that was going to be “party central” later.  We picked up garbage, swept, mopped, mowed, and helped with prep.

Late afternoon we had time to get cleaned up and relax a bit.

Eva’s ceremony was incredible.  She had a beautiful dress and close to 80 people attended this event.  Wow!  Different people would get up and speak and each one would give her something.  A necklace, a tiarra, exchanging her shoes from slippers to high heels, and Tim was the one asked to represent her father and give her a ring.

Afterwards it was a celebration with music and food and cake.  We were able to get great pictures of this event.  This went on until late.

This evening we sat in the yard with Wonka and talked about his invisible (ha ha) girlfriend, the one we hear about but never see… Wonka shares a few stories about Manuelito and how he has been involved in one way or another from the start from playing basketball at the Transition house to painting the very first building on the property.

Monday February (Febrero) 23…

Up at 5:00 a.m. but not due to geese but the guys (Jeremy, Wonka, and Steve) who ambushed the kids and forced them into the showers as a prank this morning.

Time for Cafe!!!!  Woo hoo!!!

I do a devotion on Matthew 5:38-42… (this is part of a Honduras Mission book we each receive)

38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’[a] 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,[b] carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.

I really try to live this way.  I try not to be negative, to fuel rumors, or respond negatively to someone elses negetive attitude.  I work at staying positive and for the most part, I believe I succeed.

Breakfast at 7:00 a.m.  Omelets with refried beans and cheese, watermelon.

Julie and I start the day by painting the bathrooms in the main house with oil base white paint.  It really brightened things up.  We chose a color for the rest of the walls, terracotta.  It looks pretty good, a rich, warm color.

We paint until lunch time while the rest of the team is on cement and dirt work.  Lunch was:  meat, vegies, fruit and green salad.

At this point in the mission, Tim, Al, and Julie are all not feeling well.  All three had felt a bit under the weather before they arrived in Honduras and it just hasn’t let go.

The weather is cool again today and a bit windy.  Great to be working outside in and to dry paint.  After lunch, Al comes in to help Julie with the paint and I go outside to help with shoveling.  We continue through the afternoon.

Supper is a spaghetti hot dish that is so good.  We really do eat well here and most of us work up a pretty good appetite.  I have two helpings.  I probably shouldn’t have but it was so good!  We also had fruit and cake.

We discussed as a team going to Natividad’s church on Tuesday evening.  Natividad wanted us to do the service instead of him.  Julie thought we should theme our talk around grace and each of us could speak a couple minutes on God’s grace in our life.

In the evening we played with the kids and Al handed out Spanish Bibles that he brought to the kids.

Tuesday February (Febrero) 24…

6:00 a.m. – Up!

This is Eva’s actual birthday today and tradition is that if it is your birthday you go into the pilla (where the kids wash their clothes).

The washer has been broke all week so many of us have been wearing the same clothes.  I try the pilla today for washing my clothes too…

Breakfast at 7:00 a.m. – burrito wrap with egg, refried bean, fruit.

Last of the shoveling dirt is completed today throughout the morning and afternoon.  The painting is also completed today in the main area and our bedroom.

Lunch is corn on the cob, watermelon, lots of vegies, baked chicken and chocolate cake.

The team is pretty shot today.  The work has started to take its toll and we are all tired and a bit sore.  After lunch it was hard to get us moving again!

I went out and took a picture of Gexon and Christians mom’s memorial marker.  She died of aids at the age of 23 three years ago.  She lived behind the Manuelito project with the kids in a small wood and cardboard shack for lack of a better word.  As she became really sick she gave the kids up to Manuelito Project to raise.  Julie and I had a chance to pray with her that year that she gave the kids up.  Our team was actually at Manuelito when all this took place.

Tuesday evening we went to Natividad’s church and I seen Freddy, a little boy that I had met 4 years ago.  Every year I have looked for him and this was the first time that I had seen him since that first time!

We all spoke at church about Grace in our lives.  When we arrived back at the Project I was shot (not literally) and went to bed.

Wednesday February (Febrero) 25…

5:58 a.m. – Up….

Breakfast is french toast with honey instead of syrup, scrambled eggs, watermelon and sausage.

40 Days of prayer is starting at church back at The Journey North so Al leads us in the devotion book for this.  Today we are praying for:

  • God and His people
  • Our Country
  • Teenagers to make decisions for Christ

We are traveling to Tegucigalpa today.  We leave at 7:30 a.m. and our first stop is at AFE to see this mission and how it is doing.  This is where the November 2009 Team is going to work.

We are all amazed at how much the project (AFE) has changed since last year!  They have a man Rey, and his wife that have started working with this project last April and what a difference this help has made!  There is 2 more building up than last year, they are putting on a kitchen area and dining room, they have plans to put in housing for mission teams and for the older kids to stay in once they need to move on to further their schooling…. it is INCREDIBLE!  They have 15 people on staff now compared to last years 3 or 4….  I am really excited to work there this November!  (People interested give the church office a call 824-5617).

We go into the mall in Tegucigalpa to pick up a new washing machine for Manuelito.  As a team we decided to purchase one with the money we brought with us from the mission account.  This is a good purchase as the mission needs it to wash bedding and the large amounts of laundry they have between teams coming in and all the kids.  We get a chance here to stop at a coffee shop where we get a Honduras favorite for me, Kacee, and Justin – the cafe granida (I think thats what it is).  Kind of an iced mocha flavored coffee… takes almost like a milk shake.  It is so good!!!

Next stop – Transition House above Jorge’s church.  This is where the kids go when they are brought off the streets.  This is where they stay for usually 6 months or more, learning, getting off the drugs (in most cases glue), and prepping to go to Manuelito.    Currently there are 11 kids in the Transition House – 8 kids, 3 babies (5 years old or less).  22 kids are at Manuelito.

We eat lunch at the Transition House and hang out with the kids a bit before we move on to Jeremy’s house.  Lunch is Fresca, Diet Coke, fried plantain, ham, vegies, refried beans, and rice.  So good!

At Jeremy’s we are picking up the fish and plants for the aquaponics at the Manuelito.  We have to empty the talapia out of the 50 gallon tubs and put them into another 50 gallon tub that we will take on the bus with us to Manuelito.  It is a pretty cool system…. the fish waste is what fertilizes the plants and you are able to grow vegies or whatever.  I don’t know a lot about this so I am probably getting the details all wrong…

We get a chance after this to stop at yes, yet another coffee shop – Coffee Americana and we load up again on caffeine – ha ha!  Another cafe granida for me please!

Back at Manuelito supper is ready when we return.  Tortillas fried with cheese and refried beans, watermelon and brownies.

After dinner we put together the fish pond thingy… then we did our devotion in the yard where we talked about going the extra mile (more Matthew 5…)

If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,[q] carry it two miles. 42Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.

We discussed how we go the extra mile in our lives and we gave examples of what we were currently doing on the project like seeing the need for painting, or a washing machine – we are not asked to do these things but we see the need … we discussed how we do it at home…. staying late on the job to finish, not only giving someone a ride when needed but fixing their car…

It started to rain so we finished our devotion inside.  We had a great discussion on friendships.  During our talk we lost power which is not unusual for this area.  We grabbed flashlights and our head lamps and talked on.

Thursday February (Febrero) 26…

5:00 a.m.   hear the kids

6:00 a.m.   Alarm

A cooler foggy morning… I actually wear a sweatshirt this morning.  Breakfast is pancakes w/ honey, scrambled eggs w/ bacon, musk melon.

40 Days of prayer this morning asks us to pray on:

  • Solid marriages
  • Christ calls many to Himself
  • Intercept our runaway Faith

This morning Tim, Al, Wonka, and I go to Nathanial’s church to talk with him.  I am the writer so I go to document the discussion.  Nathanial is a Pastor of a church in Talanga who we have partnered with and send financial help to through The Journey North.

Nathanial tells us that he has seen growth recently in his church.  He currently has 150 members but has seen a large growth spurt over the past month.  He wants us to pray that by the end of this year he will have 500 members.

They are preparing for a big event where they are inviting the community.  They will feed them, baptize those who wish, and offer membership.  He then took us to a home near by that has 7 kids that our support from TJN has allowed him to feed once a week, buy them school supplies and pay for their schooling.  Our financial help this past year has helped them do this for 20 kids.  This year he hopes to help 30.

On the may back to Manuelito Tim is pulled over by the police for making a u turn.  (Had to mention that…)

With the washing machine, Julie and I start working on the laundry.  We get the teams clothes all cleaned up and then help with the kids.  We do this until 11:30 when we lose power due to lines being hit by construction workers in town.  Time for lunch anyway….

Lunch is lasagna, salad with peas and hard boiled eggs, water melon.

After lunch a few of us (Julie, Justin, Kacee, me, and Wonka) walk into Talanga to grab a few things from the shops.  I like to buy hot sauce in Honduras and we were picking up soap for Karol, Kacee’s mom.  Hot sauce there is 10 Limperas each (about 55 cents) and we purchased pop for the team (bottles are also 10 Limperas each).

It was actually hot and sunny out by later afternoon!  The guys finished up with the cement work by 2:30 and part of the team worked on clothes until late afternoon.

We had a little internet time before supper so we were able to send emails out and catch up with friends and family back home.

Supper was:  Chicken, melon, sweet rolls (so good – I ate two), toast

We had short showers tonight as the water was just back on and we were told the water would be low.

Tonight was the good bye program the kids put on on teams last night.  The kids sing and dance and this year for some reason it hit me a bit harder than past years.  At the end the kids sang a song about friendship and I lost it.  Jeremy ended the program with saying something really important.  He said that it is easy to come to Manuelito and see things that need to be worked on or point out flaws (as in anything)… but we need to look at these kids.  Kids that were once homeless, on the streets.  You see them now and you see Eva – who just had an incredible celebration for her birthday…. you know God’s hand is on this project.  God is working here.

This was our night for good byes.  The younger kids had school early in the morning so this was our last chance to hang out with them and it was an emotional one.

Friday February (Febrero) 27…

Up at 5:57 a.m.

It is “Malaria Friday!”  (Time to take our medicine….)

We clean up our room, start the sheets in the washer, pack up… Wonka, Julie, Tim, and Al take extra supplies we brought to Nathanial’s church in town.

We had breakfast, packed up the bus, and were off to the valley of the Angels at 8:30 a.m.  We had an opportunity to shop for an hour, grabbed coffee, and then drove into Tegucigalpa for lunch at Popeye’s.

We then went to the Mission House, set up our rooms for the night and relaxed for the afternoon.  I went with Laura and ladies from the mission house to the outdoor market for fruits and vegies.  We walked the streets of teguc… that was cool.

We left for supper at 5:00 p.m. to a nice restaurant where the portions are HUGE.  All leftovers went with us to our next stop – the streets.

We went out on the streets to give food and juice to the street kids.  We were able to go with all the older kids of Manuelito which is just amazing when you think that they were once street kids and now they are helping other street kids – in some cases, their friends.  This years group was… calmer.  It was a different feeling as it really is every year.  It is always so sad to see these kids strung out on glue.  We are told time and again that it is too late for these kids – we are here to see where the kids we just spent the week with came from.

We drove to another part and were able to see Heydi who was at Manuelito up through last year and is now with her mom.  It was good to see her.  Tim had a chance to talk to her with an interpreter.

A verse comes to mind…. “You will know we are Christians by our love…

Over all thoughts…  It was another different year.  It felt different and it of course, was.  I had moments where I would sit back and just observe what was happening.  The kids running… wrestling… laughing…. and then there are moments like with Christian who sits next to me on the grass and as I rub his back this tough little kid just melts into me… and I see a glimpse of the child under the strong front… the child who lost his mom to aids, who had an abusive father… and for a moment I am allowed to see that child before he runs and plays again with his new family of Manuelito.  I thank God for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing mission and I will be here as long as He says “Go.”

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Devotion in motion, Just me, Life thoughts | 9 Comments

Honduras Lift Off….




And excited.

And ready… (I think).

I think I do this every year.  I think I could have done more in the house… cleaned that closet I have been meaning to get too, made Al some extra dinners while I am away, more done in office, spent more time loving on the dogs…..   ARRRRGGGHHH… you get the drift.

Right now I think. “Oh I’ll miss my husband, Brad, and two weeks of Survivor, my dogs, and the rabbit, my computer (how will I live without my computer????), my studies, my friends, driving, movies, TV…

Bottom line is – once I get on my way…. wrapping my head around what I am doing in Honduras… all of my worries here and the “should have, could haves” melt away.  I see the kids that I have come to know so well over the years, old faces that light up with excitement as we recognize each other…  new faces that by the time I leave I will know and have stamped their name on my heart.

All the things that I think I’ll miss (with a few exceptions – like hubby Al), I don’t.  We are so busy that what seems normal here like computer time and TV, are not missed there.  We stay busy – we build relationships as well as walls to house relationships!  Night time comes and we are overjoyed and exhausted…. the days are so full.

So… this night before I leave I am thankful for all of you here that are a part of little piece of this world.  You really do complete me.  And there – is another piece of me that is found in Honduras.  Hard to explain but ever since that first time, I have known that as long as I am able, I will go.  As long as God says “yes”, I will be there.

See you all when I return on March 1st.  I know my blog posts will be full of stories and of pictures.

Take care everyone!



February 17, 2009 Posted by | Life thoughts | 1 Comment

A Journey Through Kinship

In September of 2002, after a speaker had come to Wal-Mart and talked to us about Kinship Partners… I made a decision to become involved.  I went in and picked up the information forms, filled them out and was soon on my way to becoming a Kinship Partner.

Looking back – I am still amazed that here we are 7 years later and that once funny little 7 year old I had met on a fall afternoon, has become such an amazing part of our life, and now a teenager that we still love to hang out with and be a part of his life.

So how did it all begin?  What did we do then?  What do we do now?  It began with saying “yes” to being a mentor in a child’s life.  Our own boys were 11 and 13 at the time, and we were already doing the sports events anyway – why not bring someone along who may enjoy getting out and doing just that?  And with that decision the door opened to Chance.

After the initial interview, I was mailed a list of possible kids who fit into the area we lived in and the types of activities we were involved in.  Chance was actually chosen off that list because of his name.  It spoke to me.  I wanted to do just that – give this boy who I had never met before, a chance.

I remember the day I met him, and hoping he would like me… and of course that I would like him.  I don’t know what I was worried about.  This cute little red headed boy came out of the house and my heart knew this was a match.  I had no idea that decision to become a partner was going to be a decision that brought this young man into all of our lives as almost one of our own family.

In the past 7 years we have:

went to Warrior football games watched movies biked snow angels played board games made homemade pizzas video games cookies cleaned ditched for Sertomas Cub Scouts had sleep overs made smores car races mastered Bomberman on Wii gone swimming kayaking corn maze sledding fishing shoveled snow together cleaning up at Mink Lake going to do bids with Al attending family gatherings outdoor concerts rollerblading (well… Chance attempted) talking on the phone birthdays miniature golf Valley Fair grilling on the deck school plays Harry Potter (all of them!) Playing “Pass Master” for an hour and a half in the car until our voices gave out weekends at the cabin raking leaves at Camp Jim hanging out with Justin (Chance calls him his brother) listening to IPOD Bowling making popcorn with m & m’s in it Halloween parties School Plays watching Pearl Harbor (again…. and again) helping at the Soup Kitchen Kinship Events picnics Ice fishing “hunting wabbits” years of Knex talking a lot Monopoly on Wii and also the old school board game hanging out camp fires going to movies Four wheeling Skate boarding Watching LOST reading the same book laughing at fortune cookies

I have recently become a Kinship Ambassador.  Mainly because I know first hand that this is an incredible program that is extremely important to our community.

There are a few things  I hear often as a Kinship Partner of why people are unable to commit and I would like to respond to those  here:

  1. I am too busy with my own kids. (That is great! As a Mentor you can bring your Kinship Partner along with what you are already doing with your family – sports events, picnics, going to the park, hanging around the house, watching a movie…)
  2. I don’t have any extra money to be a mentor. (Kinship discourages  Mentors spending much money on the kids. You are suppose to bring them into your every day life. Working on cleaning out the garage? Have them come over… renting a movie, working in your garden, going to the library, walking  in the park, sitting and talking, going to the fair or outdoor event, it fits well). Make times like going out for ice cream, to a movie, or out to eat, a special occasion.)
  3. I just don’t have time to take on one more commitment. (Kinship asks that you try to spend an hour a week with the child. Does that always happen for me? No. Some weeks I barely get to talk to him, and other weeks we spend several hours together. You can at least call them on the phone and talk to them about their week for a few minutes the times you are unavailable. And again, don’t make the Kinship relationship a burden. It isn’t. You do not need to plan special projects and outings for your time out. Simply make them a part of what you are already doing.)

7 years ago Chance came into our lives.  I had no idea that he would come to be such an important part of our family.  I look forward to many more years with Chance and we do not regret for a minute making the decision to be Kinship Partners.

This is an update to a blog I posted about a year and a half ago (previous post).

February 5, 2009 Posted by | Just me, Life thoughts | 2 Comments

Night at The Mansion (Linden Hills, Little Falls)

Our Mansion tradition started 4 years ago when at an Authors Tea at the Linden Hills Conference Center I discovered we could actually stay over night in either of the two mansions we had toured.

The price was right – at that time, less than what you would pay for a hotel stay… and we got the whole mansion to ourselves!  4 floors of beautiful antiques, gorgeous bedrooms with all the original furniture in them, the main sitting area looked as though at one time it could hold ballroom dancing….  it was a true find.

So my friends Heidi, Sara, Cindy, and Ruth all went that first year with the brilliant idea to dress the time…. in other words.. formal gowns.   That first year we were probably there five minutes when we all giggled our way to our designated rooms to change.  We were like little girls playing dress up and we loved it.

And for the following two years, thats what it was – a time to get together and celebrate our friendship, and Christmas.  We loved to explore the rooms… admire the beauty of the furnishings and reminess about what it must have been like to actually live in these homes.  We would play board games and bring tons of food and eat in the formal dining room, (and eat and eat) and take tons of pictures in our gowns.  We have so many great pictures and memories from each of the years!

It was after our second year at the mansion that we had learned that we would be the last to stay in it as Little Falls was deciding to close it due to the expense of running it and it broke our hearts.  I cried that year, feeling that it was the last time I would sit by the fireplace, or sleep in one of the amazing rooms filled with memories of another time.  We were the last group to stay in the homes.

Then, after a year of its closing a rumor was circulating that the homes would reopen to the public.  I quickly got on the phone and connected with the new manager who knew of our dressing up (we had left a picture or two behind…) and loved that we wanted to come back.  We booked in January of 2008 and we were the first group back in the mansions.  It was like coming home.  That year, we each brought a friend to share this amazing experience and 10 of us this time dressed up and shared a great evening of laughter.

Now, this past Friday was our stay for 2009.   Four of the original five stayed in the mansion this year… but now, after being reopened for a year, things had changed.  The rooms now all had locks on them except the ones that we were staying in.  We no longer could explore the rooms and admire the beauty of the furniture, and read the journals of all who had stayed there before us.  The fourth floor was locked so you could not even have access to it.  To someone who had never stayed before, they would not know of the beautiful pictures on that floor… or that there were more bedrooms up there.  From the hallway you would probably just think it was a door to the attic.

When we inquired about these changes we were told that the board had made a decision to not give people full access of the mansion.  Things apparently were getting moved around and we heard that the heating of the mansion was incredibly expensive and having all those rooms open really added to that.

So, we understood… but having been there so many times before – we knew we were missing a piece of what we loved so much about staying at the mansion.  We discussed either we had to bring more people with us to open up more rooms, or maybe… just maybe… our season at the mansions had passed.

We enjoyed our evening – don’t get me wrong.  We still did what we loved to do – hang out, catch up, laugh, and eat.  Yet when the night was over, we had started discussing that maybe we change venues… look into a bed and breakfast, or change our theme and do something else entirely.

This time… I did not cry.  I feel so blessed to have been in the homes when they were open to explore.  I know you can tour the homes almost any time for $10, and that is always an option… but not the same as sitting in one of the rooms and taking it in with your friends.

So I am unsure what our future holds with the Mansions…. maybe it has run its course with us, and oddly, I am at peace with that.  Not saddened… but almost a little excited to see what adventure we will come up with next.

November 2009 update:  Alex Ames left some wonderful information here for you to understand more about the changes in the beautiful homes in Little Falls:

“I would like to take a moment to assure everyone who reads these entries that the volunteers at the non-profit Linden Hill will do everything in our power to make sure that your visit to the estate is everything that it can be. We devote ourselves to maintaining the beauty of the homes so important to the history of Little Falls and Minnesota and to guaranteeing that your stay is as pleasant as possible. We changed the way we handle some bookings so that we can actually hope to make a profit and thus keep the mansions open to the public for years to come. The volunteers and staff at Linden Hill are 100% devoted to preserving the historic integrity of the mansions and to working with guests to make sure that they enjoy their use of the homes. As a public organization, our commitment is to the communities we serve. Please feel free to reply to this comment with questions or concerns, and I will happily do my best to explain the reasoning behind Linden Hill’s operations guidelines”.

– You can see Alex’s full comments below in the comment section.  Thank you Alex for this information.

January 13, 2009 Posted by | Just me, Life thoughts | 8 Comments

Karen’s Crossing

karen-and-iLate this afternoon my friend Karen passed away from her two year battle with cancer.  I have mentioned her in recent blog posts, about the visits with her and my amazement in her strength.

Yesterday morning Angie Simmonds had called me to let me know that Karen had just a short time left and asked if I would like to come and see her and say good bye.  I went and was witness to Angie saying her good bye to Karen – her long time friend… and it broke my heart.  Angie has been such an amazing friend to Karen, organizing monthly dinners at Karens home and making her a “red hatter” for her birthday as she always wanted to be one.  I know Angie’s friendship was such a gift to Karen during her battle.

My good bye was just holding her hand and while she could not respond, I believe she could hear me as I told her how much I had cherished our recent talks and how I knew she was ready to go on.  I hated to see her like that and at the same time felt what a precious gift it was to have these moments before she left our world to once again tell her I love her.

Karen has crossed out of this world and I know she is in a better one.  She is no longer sick, bed ridden, tired, or in pain.  She is whole again – more complete than she has ever been.  I will see her again someday .

We love you Karen.

(See Angies Blog Post here)

January 3, 2009 Posted by | Devotion in motion, Life thoughts | 2 Comments

2008… in reflection

I have been so busy lately I have hardly had time to reflect on 2008.  Today, as I finish up a bit of paperwork and am heading home – I decided to breathe in what was 2008… and then exhale it into the wind…letting go.

So what was 2008?

It was the year of going back to the Mansions in Little Falls and celebrating in January with my friends and great pictures…

It was amazingly new as Justin said “yes” to Honduras and changed his world forever!

It was Choltecha, and Las Vegas, it was crazy times of feeling GOD bigger in my life than ever before….

It was the year of the second blog (Journey through Books) and then a third (DeChantal at the Movies)….

It was the miracle of Feed the Children event in an April snowstorm where hundreds of people in the community showed up to bag food…

It was weekends at the cabin… 4 wheeling with friends, hanging with girlfriends…

It was the year of Brad’s Honda, and Justin’s graduation….

It was Mink Lake Camp in June… and Jarrod and Farrah’s wedding…

It was completing the Tour of Saints 50 mile bike tour in July…

It was the year of the four wheel event with Kinship and Chance…

It was the second Queen selection for book club in Prom dresses in Kiwanis Park and laughter until we cried!

It was they year I kayaked with the staff…

It was the 4th Missions Banquet where we sold more tickets and brought in another year of record money to support missions!

It was saying “no” to things I knew I had to let go of… and learning every day that it is ok to say “no,”.

It was a year of great books like Three Cups of Tea and Safely Home by Randy Alcorn…. the 7th year for Bookies!

It was the year of Justin moving out… and Justin moving in…. the year of Brad moving out to Adam’s…

It was the year that Jorge came to Brainerd…. (Holy smokes… still blows me away!)

It was the year the Robin sat on my foot…

It was the year I took back a piece of me I had lost and put myself back on track with fitness and better decisions (and now 25 pounds lighter!)…

It was a year of laughter.. and a year of tears.  It was a year of rejoicing a new birth… and mourning the loss of a neighbor, and a friend.

It was the year the desire came back in me write my book…

It was a year of learning lessons from grandparents and soaking in sweet words that I will carry in my heart forever…

It was a year of taking in great wisdom from someone who has cancer, and learning how to be brave in the face of certain death and embracing God through it all.

It was a year for me of learning a bit more what is truly – TRULY important and what needs to be let go of.

I box it all up and tie it with a bright red bow.  2008 goes into the memory vault.  A shiny new empty box is presented to fill for 2009.

I want to end with this visual I picked up out of a book I read this past year called Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  She is describing a New Year’s Eve experience in India as she stands out side with a large group of people singing…

As the minutes pass, it feels to me like we are collectively pulling the year toward us. Like we have roped it with our music, and now we are hauling it across the night sky like it’s a massive fishing net, brimming with all our unknown destinies. And what a heavy net it is, indeed, carrying as it does all the births, deaths, tragedies, wars, love stories, inventions, transformations and calamities that are destined for all of us this year. We keep singing and we keep hauling, hand-over-hand, minute-by-minute, voice after voice, closer and closer. The seconds drop down to midnight and we sing with our biggest effort yet and in this last brave exertion we finally pull the net of the New Year over us, covering both the sky and ourselves with it. God only knows what the year might contain, but now it is here, and we are all beneath it.

Wow… Happy New Year to all!  May 2009 be a year to reflect on – to capture moments in journals, in blogs, in our hearts and know above all else – that God is so good.

January 1, 2009 Posted by | Devotion in motion, Insane Moments, Just me, Life thoughts | Comments Off on 2008… in reflection