Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Grateful for the Hodgepodge and a Grown-Up Guy

'Twas the day before Thanksgiving, and all through the internet, 
folks are baking and shopping, making sure all is set. 
I won't go on, but thus begins the busy season leading up to Christmas. In fact, the Christmas season is already here in many places. Decorations, music, shopping, catalogs in the mailbox, and lists dancing in our heads.

Let's take a break from the hustle and bustle and relax here at the Hodgepodge for a few minutes. We are grateful each week for our friend Joyce, who provides us with questions so that we can share our little corner of the world wide web with friends and family near and far! Be sure to click on the button below to visit Joyce and the others.

Here are her questions and my answers. Enjoy, and may you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving!
1. Besides U.S. Thanksgiving, it's also National Game and Puzzle Week...what game have you played most recently, and who were you with? Have you worked a puzzle of any kind in the past week?

We played several games of Heads Up while we were in Haiti. If you don't know about it, it's a game on the iPhone that is based on the game that Ellen plays with the guests on her show. It's fun, and funny, with several categories from which to choose. When it's your turn, you choose a category, then hold the phone on your forehead while your team gives you clues in an attempt to get you to say the word. Of course, when you play with a team, and several folks are shouting at you all at once, it can get quite lively. Jamalyn posted this one on Instagram and tagged Ellen in it, letting her know that we were playing her game on our last night in Port au Prince.

As for puzzles, I spent yesterday with Noah, and we worked several of his puzzles in the course of the day. Of course, for a one-year-old, 'working' puzzles mostly means 'dumping.' :)

2. What is one place you were thankful for this year?

I'm always thankful for this place. Home.
Home where my thoughts escaping,
Home where my music's playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.

(Photo is from several years ago. We don't have snow right now, and I won't put my Christmas decorations up until after we have celebrated Thanksgiving.)

3. Take a nap, watch football, go for an after dinner walk, or hit the stores...which ONE is on your must-do list for Thanksgiving day? For those of you playing along who aren't in the US, answer as it relates to any big holiday meal.

Watch football. And some family members will sneak in a nap at the same time. Nothing like football and napping. And I know that's two things, but I'm counting as one since they can be done simultaneously.

4. Besides Thanksgiving, what's your favorite home cooked meal?

Anything that someone else has cooked. :) I have said before that I know how to make about 3 meals, and after that they are just repeats. And these days, we don't cook that many meals at home.

5. What product from an infomercial would you most like to own?

I don't really watch infomercials, so I can't think of anything I would want to own. I did, however, recently see a segment on the Meredith Vieira Show in which they were guessing whether a product was real or not real. There was one made for golfers called the UroClub, which apparently is real. I'll let you look it up yourself. It helps eliminate, um, anxiety on the golf course. Maybe it would be ap-pee-ling to the golfers in the family. Ha!

6. Christmas shopping? Have you begun? Finished? Will you shop on Black Friday? How do you feel about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day? What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done online?

Sure, I have a few things, and I've been thinking about it, at least. I'm never finished until the actual day arrives, so no, not finished. You won't catch me anywhere near a mall on Black Friday. Just. Say. No. No parking. No sleep. No space. No thank you. I think I would rather have a root canal.

Two words. Online shopping.
It's the only way.

7. What are you most grateful for that adds beauty to your everyday life?

Music. So many beautiful songs and styles and stories to be shared through music. And in case I haven't mentioned it before, one of my favorites is Sandi Patty.

This song, an oldie but goodie, has a message for all of us who are sad about what's happening in Ferguson, Missouri. Pray for peace.

"What man is greater than his brother, 
when in Jesus' eyes we're all the same."

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Black Friday has already been mentioned in question #6, and I know that many folks look forward to the day as a chance to spend time with friends and family and to get all their shopping done in one fell swoop. I'm just not one of them. :) But Black Friday is not the only 'special' day we have coming up in the next week.

Saturday is Small Business Saturday, and provides a great chance to support small businesses in our towns and communities. I hope to do some shopping and dining at a few of my favorite small businesses on Saturday here in our little burg.

Monday is Cyber Monday, with many merchants offering online deals to shoppers/clickers. I'm likely to take advantage of a few of these deals, although some have already been offered up and utilized for some of my holiday purchases.

In case you don't know, if you like to shop at Amazon, you can take advantage of Amazon Smile. Select a charity from almost a million eligible public charitable organizations, and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the charity of your choice. It's a win win, and so easy. Once you have signed up, your charity is selected, and you are even prompted to click over to Amazon Smile if you forget to start there. Easy as pie, and every little bit helps.

Speaking of giving, Tuesday has been designated as Giving Tuesday. So after we have given thanks, and scored some deals, we can celebrate generosity by coming together to give as we are able.

One option provided by The Advance Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church is in support of the Leogane Family Surgical Center in Leogane, Haiti. It is being built as a result of the work of Family Health Ministries, and will be primarily Haitian run. It will provide much needed services, including health care and education to the Haitian community. While we were in Haiti, we saw the building site, and ground was broken to start the project just a week after our visit.
I hope you will plan to join me, as you are able, by giving in a way that is meaningful to you.

And finally, I want to wish a very happy 32nd birthday to our first born, David. Not sure how he can be 32 when it seems like I'm only about 30 myself. :)

The G on his sweater stands for Greensburg, and in David's case it also stands for Great, Generous, Gifted, Good, Gracious, Gentlemanly, and all Grown up. We are Grateful to God for the Gift with which we were blessed on the day he was born.
Stay cool, David, and may God bless your day!
Happy, happy birthday!
I love you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Haiti on the Hodgepodge

Since I have recently returned from a week-long trip to Haiti, and since I still have a few (hundred) photos to share from our trip, I'm making today's Wednesday Hodgepodge a 'Haiti Edition.' Thanks to Joyce, for asking the questions, and for allowing me to put my own 'twist' on the answers today. Enjoy my answers, then click on the button to visit Joyce and the others.

Here are Joyce's questions and my 'Haiti themed' answers:

1. What's something you take for granted, that when you stop and think about it you feel truly grateful for?

Oh, I don't know….a hot shower? electricity? Nothing like a trip to Haiti to remind you to be grateful. So grateful.

On my last trip to Haiti, in 2012, we stayed in this building.
This time, we stayed here, in an old building which has been newly renovated. Screens in the windows, flush toilets, cold showers, and electricity all night.
Happy and grateful.

2. The color brown-love it or no? What's your favorite shade of brown? Most loved something in your home or closet in a shade of brown?

I love these beautiful faces!
As for a favorite 'something brown' in my house, I love this bowl that I purchased in Haiti several years ago. It's lovely, for sure, but can't compare to those sweet faces!

3. What's something you're looking forward to today?

Tonight, I will get to direct choir practice with these sweet children. A few weeks ago they made shirts for me to take with me to the kids at the orphanage in Haiti.
And they loved them!!

4. The word 'feminism' is not new, but it has been generating all kinds of headlines in recent days and months. What do you think/feel when you hear the word? If you're a woman, do you want to be described as a feminist? Why or why not?

I'm guessing there isn't a word in Kreyol that means 'feminism,' but I do know the women in Haiti spend their days working. Hard. To feed their families. Do the laundry. Carry the water. Clean their homes.
Which takes me back to question #1 about taking things for granted. And being grateful.
Paulette lives on the side of a mountain with many children. Her husband is a farmer. She does her laundry in a trickle of a river down in the valley. That's her kitchen in the background.
Another woman in her kitchen.
Bath time.
This is our friend Jesula making a Hatian pate (pot-ay) for her American guests.
With the hands of a strong, tender, loving woman. Who knows nothing about feminism. Amen.

5. What's something you personally can't eat without making a mess?

These are the pates, made by Jesula (above), and served to us at the party she hosted at her home while we were visiting. The pate (pronounced pot-ay) is a filled fried pastry similar to a calzone. They are served with pikliz (picklese) on top, which is a spicy cole slaw served as a condiment. So good! And also messy when you're eating it out of a bag. :)
Here is the pate,
and the pikliz being added before they were passed out to the guests.
Speaking of food, this is one of the traditional Haitian meals we enjoyed during our visit. We ate well every day, and were grateful for the food, and for those who prepared it. On this day, the meal included (from the bottom going clockwise): goat, red beans and rice with spicy sauce, fried plantains with pikliz on top, and fresh avocado. Yum!
Of course, because of the goat, I have to share our goat joke (which I may have probably already shared, but bear with me). When Jonathan and Jennifer went to Haiti in the fall of 2010, they were served goat for lunch. Jon ate it and liked it. When dinnertime came, and didn't include meat, Jonathan's comment was, "shoulda had more goat." That phrase was later used in a sermon by our then-pastor, Jimmy, who was with them on that trip. It's become a funny (probably only to us) family phrase.

6. When did you last surprise someone with a little gift or when were you last surprised by someone with a little gift? What was it?

Sister Claudette is one of the Sisters who lives and works in the community of Fondwa. I try to take a little something for my friends there, like soaps and lotion, and I shared some with Sister Claudette.
I also took a few things for our friend Jesula. New dish towels, lotion, a mirror, and some gifts for her children.

7. Share a favorite quote, saying, song lyric or scripture relating to gratitude.

This is the blessing we sing before each meal, in Kreyol.
It means: This food you send to us Father, it is the food of life.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Hopefully, this video will load, and you will be able to view it.
This is a little girl who lives at the orphanage. She wasn't at all shy about singing for us.
Maybe in a few years we can bring her to The Voice!

Have a great day!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Home from Haiti

This time last week, I was attempting to recoup after a week in Haiti.
This morning, we woke up to this, and I'm trying to ready myself for cold days ahead. Not. Ready.

Our week in Haiti was a good one. With only 3 'rookies' in our 13 member group, it was a 'dream team' of sorts. The rookies fit easily into the group, and included a cancer survivor, a hair stylist (nicknamed 'cheve', which is pronounced 'chevay' and means 'hair' in Kreyol), and 'Ken', who came to Haiti with his 'Barbie' for the first time. Since most of us have made multiple trips to the mountain community of Fondwa, our leader, Jamalyn, was able to send us off in different directions each day, knowing we were comfortable and capable with our Haitian friends and our work. We were greeted and assisted by Chris and Natalie, who are newlyweds living in Fondwa for a year, much like Dave and Jamalyn did 10 years ago.
One of the rookies in our group compared coming home after Haiti to the time that astronauts 'decompress' after a space flight. It is certainly true that 'reentry' presents both emotional and physical challenges, and it takes some time to process. I hope to write in more detail about some of our projects and experiences during our week, but I wanted to give a little overview in the meantime.

It was awesome to see the new school, nearly finished and already in use by the students.
In the 4 years since the old school was destroyed by the earthquake, classes have been held in small wooden structures like the one on the left side of this photo. The new school provides larger classrooms. and a much more comfortable learning environment for the students.
There are only a few things that need finishing in the new school, and our group was able to help with that process by scraping and painting the concrete walls in 3 classrooms.
Of course, we spent time with the kids in the orphanage, including giving them the shirts made by the children and youth from our church here in Greensburg.
The older girls especially loved the tie-dyed shirts.
Our group enjoyed lots of good food at our meals each day.
We were able to treat the kids to a movie night, complete with jiffy pop and glow sticks. In the photo, some of them are also sporting the headlamps our church was able to provide for all of the kids in the orphanage.
The ladies on our team posed with Sister Claudette, who made sure we had everything we needed while we were there, including my morning tea. :) My family was blessed to have her visit us at the lakehouse last summer. She spent some time on the dock, but passed on a boat ride!
It's fun to visit with the neighbors, and we witnessed a serious game of dominoes. The guy with the clothespins on his face and arm is not winning, by the way. :)

Laundry on the 'line.'
Heading to market.
The beautiful road to Fondwa.
A misty morning in the mountains. One of our group members was not at all enthused about the rooster alarm clock by which we are awakened in Haiti. And in case you've never listened closely, a rooster actually says "I'm a roo-ster," not "cock-a-doodle-doo." True story.
Beautiful Haiti. Bondye beni ou.