Sunday, November 29, 2009

Be Thankful

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing....

I am thankful for our home. For tables and chairs, for heat and hot water, for soft beds and washing machines and for electricity.

I am thankful for food to eat. For stoves and microwave ovens, for my refrigerator and my dishwasher. For cold drinks and ice cubes and ice cream.

I am thankful for the abundance with which we have been blessed. For enough food, enough clothes, and enough room to be comfortable. For the opportunity to travel, to receive an education, and to celebrate milestones together.

I am thankful for my family. For my husband, our parents, our children, and our grandchildren. For our extended family and for friends who are part of our family. We bless one another with patience, with wisdom, with shared laughter, and tears, and with unconditional love.

I am thankful for the ability to choose. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, our course of study, our point of view. For the gifts that make us strong and unique. For the ability to give and receive love in a variety of ways.

I am thankful for those gathered at our table, and for loved ones near and far. For the love we've shared, and the lessons we've learned, and the strength we've gained on the bumpy and winding journey we call life. May we always try to give more than we receive, to learn from our mistakes, to discover strength in our weakness, and like that old mule in the well, to turn obstacles into opportunities.

And Matthew says, "God bless us, every one!"

Pink is the Word

It was a pretty fall day for the drive to Lafayette to attend another shower in honor of Darci and baby Haleigh. Becky's home was beautifully decorated for Christmas, with an awesome freshly cut 9 foot tall tree.

The boys felt it was no place for them, so they headed out to watch Purdue chalk up another victory at Mackey Arena. Here are Matthew and Andrew ready to go. Boiler Up!

The tables were decorated with M & Ms and darling wrapped "lollipops" that were actually onesies for the baby to wear. She is well supplied!

We were greeted with a refreshing mimosa to start our brunch festivities. Becky learned that the secret to a perfect mimosa is to put a sugar cube in the bottom of the glass. Yummy!

After a delicious brunch, Darci was ready to open her many gifts. I must say, pink is the theme of the day. Tiny pink crocs! So much fun!!

Clara was very eager to help her Aunt Darci. It won't be long before Clara becomes the big sister to a new little one in her family. I am sure she will enjoy her new role.

Aunt Shylah brought a great bib for Haleigh. Uncle David helped pick it out. Never too early to start showing her Boiler pride.

A girly smocked dress from Granny Susan,

and a sassy little dress from Grandma Leslie.

A cute pink hoodie with bunny ears.

Lollipop brownies for dessert. Girls need their chocolate. :)

Nana made the trip too. Her pink cast went well with the theme of the day.

Our amazing hostesses in front of the Christmas tree. Katie, Becky, and Erin. We missed Sarah, who had to work. It was so much fun to see old friends and share the excitement of a new baby!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Shower the people you love with love...

Sunday afternoon we had a beautiful day to drive to Louisville after church for a baby shower to celebrate the upcoming arrival of Andrew and Darci's little girl. The shower was at the home of Shelly Leach, with help from Shelly's mother-in-law Nancy, and of course lots of help from Abbi and Makenna. It was a fun afternoon for the girls, while the guys spent the time at BBC watching football. (The girls kept an eye on the football as well, but we are, after all, much better at multi-tasking than the guys.)

Aunt Betsy and Clara are ready to start the party.

Darci displays a beautiful quilt for the baby. Love that pink! Speaking of baby.... we played a game where you were not to say "baby", and if caught, had to give up your pacifier necklace to the one who caught you. Darci's friend Morgan was the winner of that one. It was a challenge!

Darci models her nursing shawl while Makenna watches.

Of course, baby girls need Purdue gear. I'm sure she will be saying "Boiler Up" in no time.

Hats from Nana who is still sporting her pink cast and decided not to make the trip to Louisville. Nana always likes for the baby to have a hat on. Haleigh will be looking cute in these.

Abbi and Makenna show off the ice cream cake. Delicious. The other game we played was one where we were to identify baby food in jars with labels removed. It was pretty tough, and as predicted, Molly was the winner of that one. She has had the most recent experience with baby food. Thankfully, we weren't asked to taste it. :)

The Robison girls. Clara, Molly, Leslie, Darci, and Betsy. Just missing Leigh since it was a little too far for her to come from California.

Aunt Fer helps Darci show off her belly.

We had a fun day enjoying the company and helping Darci get ready for the arrival of baby Haleigh. We ask God's blessing on Andrew and Darci as they prepare to welcome a new little one to their family. Carol gave me a framed print when Adam was born that says, "Each time the world needs an extra touch of love God creates a little baby." I know I am anxious to have one more person to love.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Goodbye Fondwa

We finished up the school pictures on Thursday, and got to watch another soccer match in the schoolyard during their recess. Jamalyn thinks we took almost every student's picture, and I worked in the evening to print them and package them to give to the teachers to distribute.

Here is a picture of Jennifer and me taking a photo break on the walk up from school. It is a climb in the noonday sun. I carry my camera so that I have a reason to stop and rest.

Thursday afternoon, we met with the women's group again, and some of the older girls from the orphanage and the community. The women made ribbon barrettes, and the girls made knotted floss bracelets. It is a bit like chaos trying to teach crafts when only Jamalyn can understand everyone there. She has the challenge of translating back and forth, and she does a great job.

After we finished with the women, we headed down to the orphanage with 40 pairs of new flip flops for the kids. We tied fabric strips to decorate them and also tied some on elastic hair ties. The kids also got glow bracelets, which were fun for them in the dark of the orphanage. We hiked back up in the dark, and we were glad we had our head lamps! Not sure how those kids do it in the dark.

This morning, it was time to pack up and leave Fondwa. Jennifer had a last hug with her buddy Jed.

Before getting in the van, we took a minute for a group picture. Since some of us were struggling with a bit of a "bug" it was truly the picture of "here we go, a-laughin' and a scratchin'."

In the picture, you can see Marjory and Dick, Jamalyn, Susan, Karen, Jennifer, Lois, and Jim and Sophie Snapper. He is a doctor from North Carolina, and Sophie is his daughter. They were fun to have as part of our group.

The trip to Port au Prince is just a lot of work, with hot winding roads, fumes, and queasy tummies. At this point in the trip, our thoughts turn to home, and how blessed we are to be able to return to the many comforts we take for granted every day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Friends of my friends are my friends."

Here is Jennifer with some of her new friends. The little one right in front of her is Jed, who has become her little shadow. We had a good day at the school yesterday, and took about 350 school pictures, so we are more than halfway done! In the afternoon, Lois and Karen met with the women's group and made some jewelry to take back to sell at home. Jennifer had the opportunity to talk with a veterinarian, and that was very interesting for her. Late yesterday afternoon, Jamalyn, Jennifer, Dick, and I went down to the orphanage and made beaded necklaces with the kids.

Today is a national holiday, so there is no school. After breakfast, we went for coffee at Madame Chery's, and then went down to school to meet with the kids in the sponsorship program. Jamalyn asked that they come to school to make bookmarks for their sponsors, and we had around 130 kids there in 5 classrooms. It is very interesting to be in charge of a project when no one in the class can understand you! We managed, though, and will be sending the bookmarks out when we return to the states.

We came back to the guest house for lunch, and will meet with the women's group again this afternoon. After that, we are invited to Jezula's house for an afternoon snack. She is Jamalyn's good friend who lives just across from the guest house with her 5 children. When we are finished there, we will go to the orphanage with new flip flops for the kids which we plan to decorate with fabric strips and pipe cleaners and beads. Busy days here in Haiti! Oh, and yesterday, I also managed to print the 350 school pictures that we have taken so far. We will give them to the teachers so that each child will have a picture to keep. We will also print photos for the 4 classes that will take the national exam to go on their test.

Jennifer is enjoying the kids, and is trying to remember some of her high school french to help with communication. She even joined in the soccer game in the school yard this morning. Earplugs helped us sleep a little better last night, as the roosters, donkeys, dogs, etc. were at least muffled a bit!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mountains Beyond Mountains

We left Port au Prince this morning in the van to head for the mountains and fresh air of Fondwa. Uploading pictures is a bit slow, so I just included a few from our afternoon. On the way to Fondwa, we stopped at the new clinic for women and children in Leogane and picked up Megan, a Terre Haute girl living here and working for Family Health Ministries.

Nana Lois (Jamalyn's mom) and Aunt Karen did fine on the ride through the mountains, although Lois had to spend some time with her eyes shut because she is, as Jamalyn put it, "the world's worst backseat driver." I thought that title was already held by our Nana. :)

We got settled in at the guest house, and Jamalyn took some of us to meet Madame Chery, a neighbor. This is Lois and Jamalyn posing with Madame Chery. The group will go to her house for coffee on Wednesday.

After lunch, we made the hike down to the orphanage. This is Jennifer with Widlene.

Lois had help from the boy she has sponsored for several years to make it to the orphanage. This was her reaction when she was finally almost there. She did not think Jamalyn had shared an accurate description of the "walk" to the orphanage. Today may be her only trip down. :)

Here is Jamalyn being greeted by the kids at the orphanage. They are always so glad to see her. Many of the older girls enjoyed speaking English with Jennifer. She plans to take her ipod down with her tomorrow so they can listen to some music together.

Jed is a little boy who lived with the sisters at the guest house on my first trip, and now lives at the orphanage. He and Jennifer decided to run up the mountain on the way back to the guest house. Jennifer said she was getting her workout for the day. I say they were just showing off.

It was a good day, and so nice to be in the mountains. Of course, I have several more pictures to share, but this will do for now. The internet access seems to be pretty good, although I have been told that it goes off later in the evening. Tomorrow we will be at the school by 7:30 to get ready for a busy day of picture taking. We will have to work fast, because we learned that Wednesday is a national holiday, and they don't have school.
For lunch we had goat, beans and rice, sweet potatoes, oranges, and tomatoes. It is almost time for supper, then to bed to try to get some rest. The roosters get up pretty early here! Bonswa!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Welcome to Haiti

Our journey to Haiti began bright and early.... well it was early, but not quite bright when we left home about 4:15 a.m. Picked up Jamalyn and the bags in Milroy, and we were on our way. Dick and Marjory, Jamalyn, Jennifer and I, 10 big duffle bags, and our own backpacks left Indy at 7:20. Here is our fearless leader waiting at the gate before our first flight. To Chicago, Miami, and on to Port au Prince, where we landed about 4:30 p.m.

Just as the plane landed, I turned my cell phone back on and got a text from Jon saying that the Saints had won! So excited for them to be 9-0!!

After a bumpy van ride through the streets of Port au Prince, we arrived at the guest house in Petionville where we will stay tonight. We will leave in the morning to head to the mountains and Fondwa.

We were greeted by Father Joseph, Sister Simone, and Sister Carmelle at the guest house and offered refreshments and an update on the political situation in Haiti from Father Joseph. Here is Jennifer trying the local beverage.

Father Joseph toasts his guests and welcomes us to Haiti.

We had a delicious Haitian dinner including turkey, pasta, fried plantains (my favorite), rice and beans, fresh avocado, and a dessert soup made with sweet potatoes.

We have nine in our group, including Jim and Sophie (a doctor and his daughter from Durham, NC), Jamalyn's mom, Lois, and her aunt Karen, Dick, Marjory, Jennifer, and me. We will have a 2 hour ride tomorrow to Fondwa, and plan to leave here around 7 a.m. We've had a long, but good day, and are ready for a little rest before our adventure continues. Stay tuned. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who Dat! Drew Dat!

The highlight of our trip to New Orleans was, of course, the Saints game. Just a warning, this post includes a ridiculous amount of pictures. If you would like to see the other 200 not posted here, just ask. :)
After a pre-game brunch at Emeril's, we were off to the Superdome. I can't look at it without thinking of the citizens of New Orleans who took refuge there during Hurricane Katrina.

We were the first regular ticket holders in line at our entrance when the doors opened at 1:00. This is the view from our seats.

It was fun to be able to watch the pre-game warmups. Here is Drew Brees chatting with Carolina's quarterback, Jake Delhomme.

Drew Brees going through his pre-game warmup routine.

Practicing a handoff to Reggie Bush. Don't you like Reggie's shoes?

Heading to the locker room.

Stopping to sign autographs. What a great guy. Everyone we visited with in New Orleans agreed with me on that.

Back on the field to finish warming up. Sharing a light moment with the coach.

Coach Sean Payton walks through the warmup.

The pre-game intros are quite impressive. It was neat to see them inflate the tunnel.

On the sidelines during the National Anthem.

Marques Colston, ready to go.

The captains meet midfield for the coin toss. Jonathan Vilma escorts the coin toss kid.

Carolina won the toss....

and the players are ready to get to work. Unfortunately, the Panthers got going a little more quickly than the Saints, and the home team found themselves behind early.

Jeremy, Reggie and the offense watch and wait for their chance to get back on the field.

This is the face you see after a fumble. Things weren't looking good for the home team. Some of us have seen this face before, right before a touchdown pass to Seth Morales to beat the Buckeyes. You gotta believe.

Sean Payton goes back to the playbook.

The defense gets instruction and waits for their chance to get out there and make some stops.

Coming back out after halftime. Drew runs the length of the field, touches the goal line, and comes back to the sidelines.

It's third down for the Panthers, and Drew gets ready.

As loud as it gets in the Superdome when Carolina has the ball, the fans get quiet when Drew and the offense get to work. It was a great atmosphere, with lots of friendly fans. Of course, we WERE cheering for the home team.

Here, Sean Payton has just thrown the challenge flag. The Saints lost the challenge and a time out.

One of my favorite images of Drew Brees through the years. Calling a play in the huddle.

Shockey and Brees on the sidelines. A seemingly unlikely pair that has come to be a vital part of the offense. Drew always has loved a good tight end. At one of the stores where we were shopping, they were out of Shockey jerseys. The clerk laughed and said they couldn't give them away last year, but this year they are selling out.

Drew's back up congratulates him as the clock winds down.

Running out to take a knee to end the game.

Final score: Carolina Panthers 20 New Orleans Saints 30. Who Dat! 8-0!

Players from both teams kneel in prayer after the game.

Big smiles after the game. A nice couple from Ohio was sitting in the stands and took our picture for us. They were in New Orleans to celebrate their anniversary and see the game. The man had been a Saints fan since his mom gave him an Archie Manning uniform when he was a little kid. It seems to me he's spent a long time waiting for a special season like this. It was great to be there to watch them make history by getting their 8th win in a row. Who Dat!