Friday, August 11, 2017

Guadalajara 2017

Thirty-five beautiful girls, age 6 to 17.   Twenty precious boys, age 3 to 17.  These ninos all live in Guadalajara, Mexico at an orphanage called Emanuel Foundation.  My church has been involved in this orphanage for about 15 years.  Our youth group goes every summer.  Our new youth director, Chris, asked me several months ago if I would think about going along.  I went with some teams 15-20 years ago - we went to Tijuana with the YWAM program - I think I went 4 or 5 times.  At first I didn't think I wanted to go, but then God convicted me with a couple different things.  I said yes.  I am so glad I did!
Our group plus the ninos!
We stay right on campus at the orphanage.  It is run by Hilario and Melanie, who just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.  They have huge hearts for these homeless kids.  Hilario also has a huge heart for prison ministry because he himself was in prison many years ago  He became a Christian in prison and now works hard bringing the gospel to several prisons.

The first several days we stayed at the orphanage and basically hung out with the kids.  We ate with them, played with them, ran a VBS a couple of days for them and entertained them.  We joined them at their church services each Sunday.  Hilario also has a weekly service for the neighboring community and then hands out food to these people.  That was a pretty cool evening!  We also spent one evening downtown and handed out food to some homeless people.  We performed our dramas there and a few of our kids gave their testimonies.  We visited three prisons and did the same format - our dramas and a couple of kids giving their testimonies.  No pictures since we couldn't bring our cameras in, but we had some great experiences in those prisons.   Several different evenings, some of the older ninos gave us their testimonies.  It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear what some of those precious children have endured.   They were so brave, and now they can say they have hope in Jesus Christ.

Performing a drama at church service
The beach after the Chapala prison
 We also did a few work projects around the campus  My group of five girls painted some brick walls.  A group painted a mural, and other groups did miscellaneous repairs.

Feeding the ninos "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."  Matthew 10:42
We got to take part in a pinata birthday and a quinceanera for a girl who turned 15.  That was so much fun!  So much dancing!!
Pinata party
Pastor Chris crowning her!
Our two translators were Miguel and Salomen.  They are nephews of Melanie, who runs the orphanage.  They live in a different city, but every year for the past 5 years they come while Sonlight is at the orphanage.  This week would not have been the same without these two young men.  They have such a strong love for Jesus, a love for this orphanage, and a love for the Sonlight community.  We will miss these two so so much.

LOVE these two!
It's hard to put into words my feelings after this trip.  It was difficult - no doubt about that.  We had only cold water.  Twice the girls dorm had NO water for a day.  We had clogged toilets.  SO MANY MOSQUITOES.   We needed lots of patience to deal with "Hilario time."  When he would say we were leaving at 9, that ended up being 9:30 or 10.  He kept changing the schedule - every day.  So many unknowns.  But our kids were troopers.  I never heard ANY complaints from these teenagers.  They were so great spending time with the ninos - just loving on them.  Our team got along the entire trip - no drama!!!  Some awesome moments:  the worship at one of the men's prison with a handful of Christian prisoners.  A couple of women prisoners who were crying after our presentation.  The joy in the nino's faces the entire 10 days - all the tears and hugs when we had to say good bye.  There were so many great memories.   These teens were the hands and feet of Jesus!!

I came home to the news that Kris and Hannah had had to put Les' dog Hank down.  I feel so bad that they had to do that themselves, and yet I am relieved that I wasn't there.  Hank had moved to Kris and Hannah's when Les was sick because he got too stressed out over everything going on here.  Hank was so good with baby Dallas, and my two grandsons.  So patient with them!  Dallas told me Tuesday night that Hank was with Jesus and "Pa", in heaven.  You will be missed, Hank!
Final resting place

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Family!! and a prayer request...

The last week of June and over the 4th of July, lots of my family were here.  The gathering was partly for my dad's 80th in May, and partly because that's when we could get together!  As always, we had lots of fun.  Lots of yummy food.....  We had four of five siblings, 3 in-laws, 10 of 16 grandchildren, and 6 of 22 great grands.  Because we had so much family here, we hosted a shower for Marina, who will be the bride of my nephew Derek in October.  The shower was so fun - and we can't wait to officially welcome her to our family!!

Some of us hiked the Oyster Dome while here.  On Monday before the 4th, several car loads of us headed over the mountains to spend some time at my brother's on the east side.   We drove straight to the trail head of Colchuck Lake.  The parking lot was FULL, but while we were hiking it really wasn't overly busy.  Colchuck was a hard hike!  It's a nine mile hike, plus we parked about a mile down the road from the trail head.  I think there were 12 of us on that hike!
Oyster Dome!
Trailhead to Colchuck Lake.  Not all finished
Cousins at Colchuck

Siblings who hike together.........

On the 4th, my niece Dani and her husband Elliot hosted a family barbeque.  They have a wonderful pool and backyard.  We had a fun, relaxing day.

My dad has perked up a bit the past month or so, which we are so thankful for.  He has Parkinsons, and in May he was having some issues with falling and confusion.......  We got his meds figured out and he is doing better!  He made it to church with all of us - we filled up about 4 rows.  So fun!

I have a prayer request!  On this Saturday, July 29, I am heading to Guadalajara, Mexico with a youth group team from our church.  We have 20 students and 5 leaders going.  I went on several youth mission trips about 15-20 years ago, and I SO enjoyed those experiences.  I was convicted to go along again this year!  I've never been to this orphanage that we partner with in Guadalajara, so I'm pretty excited to check it all out.  Please pray for safety, for good health, that we may bless these kids, and that I CAN SLEEP!

Grandbaby #4 will be arriving in January, thanks to Kris and Hannah!  So much JOY.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Iowa Roots

Recently I traveled back to Iowa.  Les was born and raised there - most of his family live out there.  I went to college in Iowa - met Les there. We lived there for the first 10 years of our marriage. Our children were born there.  (In fact,  it's been 25 years since we moved here - during the Farmers Day Parade!)  We have some roots back in northwest Iowa.

Honestly, I was a little nervous about going back.  I guess it was another "first" - first time being back there without Les.  It had been 6 years since we visited. BUT besides the cold, cold rainy weather, I had a great time!!  So much visiting, so much food.

My sister Sharon picked me up.  When we drove from the airport in Omaha, I couldn't believe the miles and miles of farm land.  Most of it had been plowed and planted, little 2 inch corn plants coming up.  I had forgotten that there really is a beauty to that landscape!  I had flown the last little bit through thunder storms (a VERY bumpy ride!!!!) and apparently Sharon and I were driving through near tornado conditions.  We found out later that both Sioux Center and Orange City had sounded their tornado sirens that afternoon we were driving....whoops.........  Good 'ol midwest thunderstorms!!!
Barn "quilts" are popping up - so fun!
Orange City was celebrating their annual Tulip Festival, and wow that is a big deal!  Six parades over 3 days.  We made it to one parade, all dressed up in our Dutch dresses.  It was one of three parades that weren't cancelled because of rain.    Sharon and I went looking for a latte one day (it is much more of a hunt there than it is here!!)  and this new place had just opened up.  It is very cool!  If  you are ever in Orange City, I recommend it!!

I spent a morning with a college roommate, Kim.  She lost her husband to a heart attack 8 years ago, so we had lots to talk about.  We are connected through our loss. She is a dear soul.

I spent lots of time with my Iowa bestie, Nancy.  No matter how long it's been since we've we talked, when we talk or see each other again, it's like we had just been together the day before.   I spent an evening with our dear friends Steve and Rachel.  More good food and a great visit with these Iowa farmers.  This is the family that Dutch came from!
We had to walk at the indoor college track cuz of rain!

Several of  Les' family got together that cold rainy Saturday afternoon/evening.  We had yummy yummy food and lots of fun chatting and reminiscing.  FYI, the big guy, Phil, is a a great barbequer.  I also went back on Sunday to attend church with them and had coffee with some of Les' high school friends.  Like I said earlier, I had a really great time and there is always so much good food!  I didn't get to see all the people I wanted to, so I guess I will have to go back.  I'll just wait for some warmer weather next time.
LOVE my in-laws
These boys tho.....
My sister and her husband Denny were great hosts.  Denny is a good cook - asparagus omelettes, smoked brisket - so good.  It was nice to be waited on by him!  Sharon has been here MANY times the past four years, it was nice to be on her "turf" with her.  I'll see them again in a couple of weeks!!

Downtown Omaha is pretty fun!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dordt days

I was recently in California being an "auntie nanny" to my sweet niece Jenae.  While I was there,I visited with my college room mate, Jan.  She lives within an hour's drive from my sister.  It's been great to be able to keep in touch with her over the past "couple" years since we graduated from Dordt!!  I also visited with her parents, Charlie & Gert.  They are living on the same almond farm that I visited oh-so-many-years ago.  So great to see them.  FYI, they pronounce them "AMONDS".  They informed me of this years ago - because when the nuts are harvested, they shake the "L" out of them. True story.

Anyway, I've done some reminiscing since then and I thought I would share.

I went away to Dordt not knowing anyone, except a girl from my church, Jane.  Jane went to a different high school than me (she was a "Jackrabbit" of all things) but when I asked her about attending Dordt, she kind of sold me on it.  Jane and I drove off that fall in my blurple Vega - we drove straight through to Iowa.   One of my unknown 3 room mates was Jan.  In one of our earliest conversations, we realized we shared the same birthday!  We were best buddies the next four years.  I guess that's one of the fun things about Dordt College - you make life long friends from all over the United States AND Canada.

Jan and I both loved to travel.  Our freshman year spring break, 4 of us drove back to Seattle so those California girls I had met could experience a ferry ride, see the Space Needle and see our mountains.  They saw my family's alfalfa farm.  A fun trip.  The beginning of our sophomore year, Jan flew up from California and the two of us drove the blurple Vega back to Iowa, but we CAMPED along the way.  We went through Yellowstone.  We actually got kicked out of our campground there because bears were in the area.  **Please keep in mind we were 20 years old and we did not have cell phones in those days.  No phones with maps on them - just old fashioned paper maps.  Camping, just the two of us.  Craziness.**  For some reason, we always ate Captain Crunch. Always.

Our sophomore year of college a group of us drove (again, the blurple Vega) to Breckenridge, Colorado and went skiing.  So. Much. Fun.  It was a warm spring and we got FRIED while skiing.  Girls were wearing bikinis!!  Us nice Dordt girls wore ski pants and t-shirts.  My face got so sunburned I couldn't open my eyes one morning.

After that sophomore year, Jan and I drove to California.  Again, camping along the way.  We visited the Grand Canyon.  We ended up at my aunt's house in southern California.  I can't even imagine how terrible we smelled when we showed up in our overalls and cowboy hats. 

Junior year spring break I drove home to Washington with my sister Sharon (she was a freshman at Dordt and had been dating my friend Denny).  She was getting engaged while we were home - Denny came also - so I tagged along.  I think Jan went to Texas or something.  The last week of our junior year I met Les.  Since I was dating/engaged our senior year, I of course didn't spend as much time with Jan, but we decided to take one more trip that spring break.  We decided to drive to Washington D.C.  The blurple Vega had been sold (I needed money!) so we took Jan's mustard yellow Toyota .   Off we went.  I had a high school friend who was going to Med School at George Washington so we had arranged to stay with him in his apartment.  Jan and I had a great time in D.C.  I remember feeling so patriotic while visiting all those famous monuments.  We visited Dan one day at his school and he showed us some kind of room with every body part you can imagine jarred up in formaldehyde.  I had totally forgotten about visiting that room - Jan just reminded me of it last week!!!  That trip we also drove to New York City and Philadelphia.
Washington Monument in the background.  Great photo quality back then!

Graduation Day!! 1981
Jan was in my wedding along with my sisters.  She moved back to California, I stayed in Iowa.  Jan and I actually took another road trip when my son Kris was about 1.5.  Her brother had gotten married in Iowa and Les and I were living there.  Jan and I drove back to California together again after her brothers wedding!!  Many many miles we have spent together.
May, 1982
Later visits - 1987 and 1989
Last week, Jan and I talked about traveling again together.  I think the top of our (my) list is the Sante Fe area.  She has been there a couple of times so she will be a great tour guide.  I'll bring the Captain Crunch.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Fun

This month has a few names for us here in the great NorthWest - #snowmageddon2017, #snowpocalypse2017.  SO MUCH SNOW.  I won't post too many pictures of snow because I believe we have all seen enough snow.   I do want you to see what happens when my snow-loving Iowa-born golden doodle plays in the snow.  Only a warm bath would dissolve those ice balls in his fur.  Every single day, usually more than once!!

My Iowa sister visited the beginning of the month.  We blame her for bringing us that week of continuous snow.  Her flight home was delayed a day - I guess that was her punishment.  (But a good thing for me!!)  We couldn't get out and about too much because of the weather, but we still had fun.  We had a "girls night out" with some of my friends.  We ate lots of good food.  Sharon was able to spend some time with Mom and Dad, which is always a blessing!  Come back soon, Sharon, but do not bring us snow next time!!

Next to visit were my California nephews.  They have not been here for a couple years.  Mitch is a college senior at CalPoly and Sean has been out of college for two years - he is working in the real world.  Again, the weather didn't cooperate too much.  We did get in a hike with Rick and Pam - it was muddy but oh, so pretty!!  We had some quality family time with these two young men!
Cousin love

January was a blur to me - lots of work!  I was glad when it was over.  I was anxious to GET OUT OF TOWN and tried earlier in the month, but the messy pass over the mountain didn't allow it.  I finally headed over this past weekend.  There was much more snow on the ground over there (why didn't I go somewhere warm????)  but the people I hung out with made up for it!  I stayed with my niece Dani and her family - she has two little girls.  This family wakes up EARLY - the girls usually visited my room around 6:30. Dani would bring me a latte in bed - I was very thankful for that!  My younger brother Don and his family also live there, so I was able to spend time with them.  I went to a couple of 7th grade basketball games, had coffee with my sweet niece Gretta and my sister-in-law Sue, saw where my brother was laying tile in a very large new home, spent time shopping with Dani.  I had the privilege of watching little Miss Natalie get her white belt in karate.  I met a high school friend for dinner and I met up with my friend Kim (we cheered on the Tigers!!!) at the church that she and my brother's family attend.  Lots of fun with some special people!  I am ready to go back!

I truly am ready for warmer weather.  I feel myself disliking the dark days lately.  I need some sun to motivate me and encourage my bones!   I am about half way through my second year without Les.  The loneliness settled in this winter.  (It's not really very fun having a snow storm when your other half isn't around to sit by the fire with - I missed him!)  I've probably said this before - I stay very busy, but it is still lonely.  The grief has settled down, and maybe that's why I notice the loneliness more.  BUT I am still so very thankful for what I have, the people I get to "do" life with, and mostly for the peace in knowing that God is always with me.  Life does still bring me great joy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Happy New Year!

 My high school friend Terri sent this to me last week.  I really like it!  I feel like like it totally applies to me.  I had to laugh at the "go to bed early and wake up early" part - Terri likes to sleep in.  Back in the day, she would sleep until NOON.  Me being a farm girl - that was unheard of!!!  Last summer when I stayed with Terri I was curious if she still slept late - yep she does!  (not noon, but later than what I'm used to!  Love you Terri!!!)  I have found that this message is true - I have to get up and go out.  It would be easy to keep my butt on the couch!  AND I am trying to clean up some clutter.  My boys helped a Saturday in December and we got a good start in the garage.

The day after New Years Day I got off the couch and went snow shoeing.  It would have been easy to say no - it was cold and windy.  A group of us went up the mountain and the day was stunning.  When we left the trucks, it was 18 degrees.  As long as we kept moving we stayed warm.  The skies were SO BLUE.  A great day.

A lot of you ask how my holidays were, and I appreciate that!   Christmas has not been a super difficult time for me.  I think that since Les was a UPS driver, I was used to him not being around the whole month of December.  We didn't have lots of "traditions" for the season because he was working so much and we don't have extended family here.  I HAVE found that the week after Christmas is more difficult.  Everything slows down, it's winter, and it's a lot lonelier.

Now it's January, and my busiest work month.  That's a good thing - it keeps me very busy.  It also stresses me out a bit - my office is a disaster.  It's time to change all the files - out with the old, in with the new for 2017.  This weather we have had doesn't help the mood - I'm over the wind and the ice.  I miss walking my dog every day.

My son, my son-in-law and my niece recently went on a mission trip to Guatemala.  I was super excited for them.  Brett and Emily have gone before, Kris has not.  It's warm where they went and they were in a beautiful area.  They were doing some work at an orphanage.  I was cleaning some cupboards the other day (see - I am un-cluttering!!!) and I found a book with pictures from my first mission trip to Tijuana with our church youth group.  This was 20 or so years ago, and I went on several trips after that.  I loved being a part of the YWAM program and seeing God work in the kids' lives.  Those trips were an important part of my life.  I made several life long friends!!
So......Happy New Year.  Let's all get up and go out!!!