Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Goodbye to the Adventure

The adventure is over, but the relationships aren't. That is what I realized as I packed up the rest of their room today. The precious time we had with Victor Chongkon Yusuf and Dennis Daudi Lengishon in our home is over for now. But the fact that they will always be a part of our family will never be over.

They could not take everything with them back to Nigeria and Tanzania. They had to make some hard decisions. Victor left his trade mark plaid coat since it didn't fit him anymore, a reminder that he grew 4 inches and gained 30 pounds of muscle while he was here. I will hang it in the closet and the next time he comes to visit, I will make it into a vest!

Dennis left his beloved "cowboys boots" and his hat, which reminds us of his love for Walker, Texas Ranger and for anything western. He had to choose between the boots and a heavy Chemistry book so we were not surprised that he chose the book. I told him we would keep them here for him to wear when he comes back.

Also in the closet will be the slippers. There's just something comforting about having some of their possessions remain with us- just like my other kids who went off to live their lives but left some of their "stuff" at home.

Today I'm thanking God that, although the adventure is over, the relationships are not.

This is the last post I will write for this blog. Thank you, loyal readers and those who occasionally stopped in. It has been a pleasure to share our year with you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hellos from Africa and Honduras Part III

We have heard from both Dennis and Victor- it was so great to hear their voices. Dennis surprised me so much that I couldn't think of anything to talk about until he hung up! But how wonderful to know that they are with their families and friends once again. We miss them so much. We are home from Honduras now and I will have one more post to finish off this interesting year with our African sons. But for now, one last look at Honduras----

We went to the dump. Well- very close to it. The first picture shows one of the side businesses of the dump area. In Honduras, they do their recycling backwards. All trash is deposited in one huge dump that is hidden behind a gigantic terrace. Then the poorest of the people (including children) who live nearby sustain themselves by sorting through the trash. First they are looking for food. Secondly, they are looking for anything that can be sold: plastic, metal, paper, etc. You can imagine the stench, the filth, and the hopelessness. But in the middle of this horrible place God has blessed a small ministry called Love, Faith, and Hope (Amor, Fe, Esperanza). They offer education, showers, and food along with their love, faith, and hope. The pastor's wife was so thankful to receive our gifts of school supplies, nursery supplies, musical instruments, and clothing. We got to see the facility but not the children because the only day Caroline could take us was on Saturday. God is working mightily through this ministry to what the culture considers the "least of these." It was a very humbling experience.

We went to the orphanage. When we entered, Caroline was greeted by name and surrounded by children who vied for her attention. This is one of the places that she had taken her students on the mission trip last March. Boredom is a real problem in these places, so the arrival of visitors was a welcome bright spot in the day and we were bombarded with kids wanting hugs and attention and the opportunity to show off!

The last place we visited was the home of one of Caroline's wealthy students, where we had been invited for coffee. This beautiful home was by far the nicest place we visited while we were in Honduras. The mom asked us where all Caroline had taken us, and was appalled that we had not seen much beyond the school where Caroline works except for places where God is reaching the poor through His people. But that is the way we wanted it.

We will be processing our trip to Honduras for a long time.

We will be missing our African sons forever.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two Feeding Centers in Two Days

Here are pictures from Manos Extendidas from yesterday. We were there when the pre-school children were eating, and we were able to give some new shoes to the teacher and helper who works there. They were very appreciative!

Today we went with Caroline's Spanish tutor Lourdes. She and her husband run a feeding center from their church (he is the pastor) where they have an outreach to the poor kids in the neighborhood. We helped prepare the meal for 43 (pancakes and fruit), serve it, play with the kids, listen to the Bible lesson, and helped them take baths and pick out new clothes.

We were very impressed with this ministry and know that God is doing wonderful things through Lourdes' loving leadership.

Then we came back to Caroline's school and hosted an American Barbeque for the 11th graders who wanted to come! What a great day!

I did hear from IRIS that my African sons are at least in their own countries. Now hopefully they will send their American mom a facebook message!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Honduras Hiatus

Well, I've been thinking about and praying for Dennis and Victor as they headed home. I have asked them to let me know (typical mom fashion) via facebook as soon as they can when they get home but have heard nothing yet. As soon as I hear from them and get some pictures at home, I will write a final entry in this blog that has been dedicated to our year together. But right now, I want to use this blog to post some pictures of our time in Honduras so far. It has been......awesome. Hard to describe in words. Maybe pictures will be more effective.

Bullet highlights (ps- pictures are backwards- sorry)
* Sunday- Micah House. (discipleship ministry to street boys) True sacrificial ministry in the name of Jesus. Rescuing lost boys and putting them on the road to service to God and a practical skill. They have 12 young boys and 20 older ones. We attended their church service (in Spanish) and experienced true worship.
* Monday- Academia los Pinares with Caroline. We hung out in her office, met lots of students with obligatory kisses on one cheek, took a walking tour, met her favorite people. After school, we went to see the statue of Christ that overlooks the city from a National Park.
*Tuesday- we met Erick (our Compassion child that we sponsor) and his family. We were invited to his home, where we shared the gifts we had brought for him and he lovingly shared some momentos with us that he had made. I'm still processing this. What a humbling, precious experience. In the picture, Erick is seated in front of me with green shirt.
*Wednesday- we went to the Manos Extendidas Feeding Center. Still processing this too. Oh my. We were able to bless the workers and the children with donated items that our church sent (as at Micah House). One of the poorest areas of the city, these homes were built after Hurricane Mitch by the people that lost everything in that disaster. Many are single mom families that struggle just to survive. The food that these children get is many times their only meal of the day.
*Tomorrow- we will help a friend of Caroline's who is setting up a new feeding center and host a North American Barbecue for her 11th graders.
*Friday- we will come to school for the 1/2 day (the student's last). Caroline and I are the scheduled special music at the end of the year staff devotions. (!!!?!!) Then we have a trip to a tourist spot in the afternoon.
*Saturday- Love, Faith, and Hope Ministry to the kids at the dump.

I'm sure I'll be writing more and sending more pictures, but this gives you an idea what is happening. God is working! God is blessing! God is teaching! Please keep us in your prayers.

Now if I would just hear from those African sons of mine.............

Friday, June 4, 2010

Home from Michigan in Eight Phases OR Cars, Vehicles, and Automobiles

Phase One: 8:00 am-William volunteers (?) to take Victor and Dennis on a quick (?) driving tour of downtown Chicago via Interstate 94. Highlights according to V and D: (after much thought- not sure they were awake) seeing the White Sox Stadium and being able to say they saw Chicago. Okay...........

Phase Two: 9:00 am- Cindy, Dick, Christina, James leave Holland after a lovely breakfast at the Windmill restaurant where Sam and James got free military coffee (Memorial Day) and baby Natalie let Grandma spoil her some more.

Phase Three: 11:00 am- both cars meet up in Joliet for lunch (remember the time change before you judge how early we needed to stop for lunch). We try to ignore the incoming clouds, lightening, and rain as we eat our Steak and Shake.

Phase Four: 12:00 pm- Dick's car decides to throw a rod, burn up an engine, crack a head, or something else in "car-speak" that I didn't understand -- in the pouring rain-- RIGHT NEXT TO A REST STOP!!

Phase Five: 1:30 pm- After MUCH discussion and SEVERAL phone calls, and several, it was decided that Dick would wait for the one AAA tow truck that was working on Memorial Day and would tow him to Davenport. Too bad he only had room for one rider. Really really too bad. Picture (above) four adults sandwiched into the back seat of a Toyota Avalon. James got to drive (his car) and Victor got shotgun (longest legs). Moines. Comments overheard: "This is my favorite part of the trip." (Dennis) "My body is numb from the waist down." (William) "Dennis- are you as close to the door as you can get??" (William) "I'm feeling nauseous- can I please get up off of the floor?" (Christina)

Phase Six: 6:00 pm- Cindy and group arrive in Des Moines. Cindy gets in Christina's car and heads back to Davenport to pick up Dick. Sure wish I had known that she needed brake work done before I got in her car. But hey, at this point we were running low on options and beggars can't be choosers. Simultaneously, James and William take Victor (just shoot me, I hate long rides) and Dennis (I forgot my toothbrush and haven't brushed in 3 days) home and bring back my Honda to Christina's house. William goes home to Ames, James stays in Des Moines in preparation for his month at National Guard training which starts June 1.

Phase Seven: 9:00 pm- Cindy picks up Dick (who has had three hours to look around at a Toyota dealership- not good) in Davenport and heads back to Des Moines.

Phase Eight: 12:oo am- Cindy and Dick arrive in Des Moines, pick up Cindy's Honda and head for home. Yes, we both had to work the next day. Yes, we were very thankful to be home. No, we were not upset because.................Dick had purchased an extended warranty which was about to run out. He was the happiest owner of a broken down vehicle that you will ever see!

Bonus Phase: The next day, when he found out that the Toyota dealer would not honor his non-Toyota warranty, he hooked up to the car trailer, found an extra driver (thanks David), drove back to Davenport, brought home the broken car to our favorite mechanic Rick, and also brought home..................the car he picked out to buy while he was waiting on me!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


What a great weekend! I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves. Of course Natalie Renee was the star of the show and I'm sure we spoiled her with all of our attention. Dennis was up for holding her but Victor said "No, thanks."

The boys (all 5 of them) played a lot of lawn games- mostly this one with the corn bags. They played so much they wore holes in the grass with their feet!

The weather was perfect and the beach was cold but fun. This time it was Dennis who said "No, thanks."

The guys all LOVED the go-cart racing. Notice the look on William's face compared to the one on Dennis'! I'm sure he had no idea what was going to happen, but he sure had fun once he figured out what the gas pedal was for. He listened carefully to the rules and was quick to point out to the people that ran into him that they were not following them!

Next time- our 17 hour trip home from Michigan!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

African Teachers, African Students

I can't resist some bullet point highlights of our evening with the Nigerian and Tanzanian teachers that spent 2 days at Atlantic High School and are here to escort the 60 IRIS students home in two weeks. Here goes:

*Mr. Mpinga (TZ) was delighted to hear me say his name correctly. (Thanks for the lesson, Dennis!)
*Mr. Anyam (NG) amazed us with his grasp of American politics.
*Favorite picture- Dennis teaching Mr. Anyam computer basics. Loved it.
*Mr. Mpinga running from our overly friendly dog.
*Both teachers taking turns jabbing each other with friendly "digs" about this or that. We were all unsure at first if they were serious or teasing. Hopefully we didn't laugh in the wrong places!
*Mr. Mpinga sharing with us how he hoped to entice an American woman to be his second wife. (First one is still living, mind you!). Not entirely sure if this was serious or not.
*Mr. Anyam declared the meal delicious after he mixed everything together on his plate:spaghetti, lettuce salad with 2 kinds of dressing, and fresh fruit. Hmm- not exactly what I was expecting...
*Genuine friendliness and interest in our culture and our family. What a privilege to host them for just a few hours. They both are either working on or hold advanced degrees, made great sacrifices to be away from their classes for 3 weeks, and possess extra-ordinary intelligence. We enjoyed their visit very much.