Monday, December 31, 2012

Not to be forgotten 2012

NYE decorations from here

  • Playing cards with Grandma, Grandpa, and Levi in their basement apartment.
  • Being so excited for my first day of work at The Sweet Tooth that I couldn't sleep.
  • Frosting cupcakes, decorating cake pops, and helping people choose a cupcake (or 12) to take home.
  • Our tax refund was exactly how much I needed to pay for the plane ticket to Jamaica.  
  • Cutting hearts out of pepperoni's for a "romantic" themed pizza dinner on Valentine's Day
  • Mexican themed Dinner for Eight at our house.
    • Gallons of cherry limeades spilled all over the kitchen and the inside of the refrigerator.
  • Levi spent the night, we talked him into fixing our vacuum (because we didn't know how) and then he volunteered to vacuum the house.  
  • Easter with the Corn side of the family.  So many cousins!
  • Getting crazy obsessed with the pedometer and seeing how many steps I could take in one day.  
  • Closing my eyes tight and letting the hairdresser chop all my hair off into an inverted bob. 
  • Sweet baby Adelynn was welcomed into the world on her daddy's birthday.  
  • Emery's sky high rainbow birthday cake.
  • Selling cupcakes at the city wide garage sale and having people come back for seconds.
  • Camping with the family on Memorial Day in temps hot enough to boil water.
  • Family Camp!
  • Troy - the nerd - confessing his love for me - the sunshine girl - at Family Camp
  • Watching the kids ride horses at a carnival at an Independence church.
  • Mission Trip to Jamaica!
  • Sitting around the fire at Brian's house telling stories, laughing, eating too many pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
  • Dancing the night away with Troy at the Bradley wedding.
  • Taking Levi and all his biological siblings to the water park.
  • A day spent volunteering at Harvesters.  It was hard work, but it actually felt like we accomplished a lot while we were there.  
  • Saying yes when asked if we would be Sunday school teachers
  • Painting our classroom at church
  • Taking Emery and Levi to the zoo.
  • Circle prayers with our Sunday school kids
    • Praying with imPACT
  • Sharing about Jamaica at our Mission Center conference
  • Halloween party at church
  • Creating the red sea out of balloons so the kids at church could "part the red sea"
  • Operation Thanksgiving with Della Lamb.  It's more rewarding when you leave a little sore.
  • Taking Levi with us to ring the Salvation Army bell.  
  • Christmas shopping with Levi.  
  • Saying goodbye to Grandpa and all his tractors.
  • Teaching our Sunday school kids a song in sign language.  
  • Welcoming our new niece Elyssa.
  • Watching Brylly run around the church showing everyone a picture of HIS new baby.
  • Andy Grammer concert (a thank you from the Salvation Army)
  • Operation Santa with Della Lamb.
  • A 4 hour drive into work (with 2 hours of that being parked on the interstate waiting for an accident to be cleared up)
  • Getting my own representation on my mother-in-law's Christmas tree with a cupcake ornament she marked as "Misty's cupcake".  

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Par 3 - it takes the average person three strokes to get the ball in the hole.  Some will do it in less time and some will take longer.  Don't expect a hole-in-one, this game takes time. 

It seems as though when we do things for others we want a hole-in-one.  We want to put forth as little effort as possible and get the greatest reward.  What is the least amount of effort I can put into helping you and still come out looking like the good guy?  

I am guilty of constantly searching for the hole-in-one, the fast and easy way to help others.  What fits into my time schedule?  Which activity keeps me inside my comfort zone?  How can I help you without inconveniencing myself?  

Sometimes helping others is hard and we try to take shortcuts.  Stop aiming for a hole-in-one when God has put a par 3 course in front of you.  You never know what you will learn about yourself along the way.  

As we start our season of RACK'ing others I am going to attempt to post each day.  There will not be a common theme to these posts like there was last year, but I hope that by coming here and reading what has been encouraging/motivating me it will serve as a reminder to you to find those moments in your own life that motivate you to do for others.  

Click here to print your own RACK cards (Thank you TSJ for sharing!)
Click here to read RACK Day 1
Click here to read RACK Day 2

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday 09-20-12

It was a long day.  It felt as though everywhere I looked the world was falling apart.  So many angry people taking their frustrations out on others.  I wondered what God's plan was, and what the end purpose would be at the end of all this pain.  I was being weighed down by all the negative I saw in the world. 
If the almost-accident had not happened I might have missed it.  If I hadn't slowed down at each one of the cars we passed with a flat tire I might have missed it.  If Subway had not been out of bread I might have missed it.  Thankfully, there were a lot of obstacles on my way home and I did not miss it.  Troy noticed the sky turning a bright orange and without thinking we took off.  We raced to the highest point in our town, hoping to get a picture of the sunset before it was over.  We arrived at the top of the hill just in time to take it all in before the sun slipped below the horizon. 
In the distance I see crosses and my worries melt away. My life is in His hands. Just like that I am renewed, the negative is forgotten, and all I see is beauty.

  • A man feeding his wife a bite to eat as she serves food to others. 
  • Stopping in the middle of the work day to listen to a coworker as she shares stories from her childhood.  What amazing things we can learn when we take the time to really listen.
  • Beautiful sunsets
  • Sitting around the fire on a cool night
  • Fall has finally arrived!
  • Crafting gifts for others.  It was more exciting to give than receive. 
  • Teaching a song from Jamaica to my Sunday school class at home.
  • Treasures found for cheap at a yard sale.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sacred Creation

At Family Camp earlier this summer we talked about Sacred Creations.  When asked to name a sacred creation, or a sacred place most people went straight to nature.  It makes sense.  You think of things God created and your mind automatically goes to your favorite places...outside. 

My most sacred creation: my marriage.  Do you ever just get overwhelmed by how amazing your life is?  It all just comes rushing over you at once and you don't know what to do with all the awesomeness surrounding you?  I have those moments...a lot. 

God created our marriage.  We have to work to keep it going strong, but it's no accident that we ended up together.  I think of all the things that had to happen for us to end up together, and I feel it.  I reflect on my day and remember something Troy did - something that is just the way he is, but is perfect for me, and I feel it.  I lay in bed at night and think about all the amazing moments we had during the day and I feel it.  I get overwhelmed by this amazing gift I have been given in Troy. 

I feel it.  I feel that there is something between us that is stronger than either one of us alone.  I feel that we are both at our best when we are together.  I feel that no one could ever know/understand me better than he does.  I feel that there is a greater purpose for us, than just to make each other happy.  I feel that our marriage is setting the foundation for bigger plans God has for each of us. 

My most sacred creation, the thing I am so grateful to God for creating, is my marriage. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday 08-02-12

The carnival is in town!  It's hard not to smile when you see a bright merry-go-round!

  • Singing “Sanctuary” in the car and realizing Levi is singing along with me.  
  • “Thank you” repeated over and over from that same 10 year old.  He thanked me for spending my own money to buy water park tickets for him and his siblings.  He thanked me for spending the day with them.  He thanked me for being a good sister.  He thanked me with sincerity, and with a gracious heart that made him appear much older than he is.  
  • Watching the American swimmer win bronze at the Olympics.  As we watch people get disappointed for not winning gold, it was refreshing to see someone so excited to earn a medal.  Getting a medal at the Olympics is a big deal and I smiled as I watched her face light up looking at that score board after the race.  
  • Emery asking Uncle Troy to go outside and play.
  • People I rarely see or talk to thanking me for writing a blog.  Others want to hear our stories.  
  • Back to school supplies.  I have a hard time going into stores at this time of year because I want to purchase colorful post-it notes and brand new sharpies.  It’s hard to not fill my cart up with boxes of brand new colored pencils and notebooks full of blank pages just waiting to be filled up.  I am drawn to school supplies and was giddy with excitement as I purchased new folders, pencils, glue, and more to send to Jamaica.  I wish shipping wasn’t so expensive because I would love to use my couponing skills to score amazing deals and stock the Jamaican churches with craft supplies.
  • My husband who let me complain for 45 minutes about all the stupid people in the world and why I'm the only person left that is using their brain to think for themselves...and he just smiled at me (ok, he laughed at me).  Sometimes you just have to get it out! 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Jamaica Mission Trip - wrapping things up

Interesting tidbit: it is very common for families to have two homes on their land.  They will start with a wood home, some more elaborate than others.  As they save money they will purchase the supplies to build a cement home.  You will see stacks of cement blocks sitting in yards everywhere.  I imagine it takes some familes a very long time to purchase those supplies, just a few at a time.  The ultimate goal is to have a cement home with a bathroom and kitchen inside it.  Becaue of this all the homes in one neighborhood will be in different stages.  Some are living in wood houses and have started a cement pile.  Some cement block stacks are quite large, while others are only stacked a few feet tall.  Some cement homes are started and you can see people working on them all day long.  It appears as though other families have hit hard times as the weeds grow taller than the short walls they were able to start building in their new cement home.  And then there are the beautiful finished homes...sitting right next to the family still living in a small wood house.  It's a different way of living than I am used to.  In the United States you drive through a neighborhood and the homes are all of similar value.  As we save money and when we want/need something larger/nicer we typically sell the old house and buy a new one.  How rewarding it must feel to finally move into a finished home after stacking cement blocks in your front yard for years and years. 

You can see the beginnings of a cement home going up behind this wood house.  That's the church in the background! 

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Today was our first "free day".  We slept in and then went to breakfast on the cliffs, where we had the most amazing view of the ocean. 

"Swim at your own risk"...risk of being completely giddy :)

Everone took their time this morning.  There was no rush to get through breakfast so we could get to Peace Camp on time.  There was not much of a schedule at all today, and I was just counting down the hours until Shelly's group would arrive and I could hear about her experience.

I'm just looking for excuses to add more pictures of the ocean!

  I could not take my eyes off this ocean.  There is beauty to be found in all parts of the world, but I'm having a hard time remembering what makes Missouri so special when I'm surrounded by this....

This afternoon we spent a few hours on 7 mile beach.   Shelly and I walked down to the craft market where we each bought a small item.  They knew we were sisters and we were called "Sister" the whole way through.  Seven Mile Beach is very pretty, and it's nice to have such easy access to so many restaurants, but the amount of people trying to sell us something made me uncomfortable.  I don't mind if they ask, but after I tell them no I wish they would leave me alone...not just follow us down the beach. 

This nice man at the craft market was respectful of us and our space.  Shelly bought a little dress for her baby girl who will be arriving later this year. 

Getting a refill on your drink at a restaurant in Jamaica is next to impossible.  There are rarely free refills on drinks, and even a refill on water is sometimes hard to come by.  After walking up and down the beach in the scorching sun Shelly and I were ready for a tall glass of water with plenty of quick refills.  I mentioned to our waitress that we were really thirsty after being out on the beach so I don't know if it was that or the fact that she could see the steam rolling off our bright red faces, but she never let our glasses get empty, and we drank a lot! 

Shelly on 7 mile beach
Closing ceremony tonight.  Carlene asked me if I was going to cry and I told her "yes!!!".  No use pretending it won't happen.  She told me not to sit by her because she didn't want to cry.  Too funny!  I did not share in the large group, but I did enjoy hearing what everyone else had to say.  We were all on the same trip, and for the most part we did the same things, yet we each have a different story to tell.  We are different people and each experience affects us in different ways.  I enjoyed hearing what people were going to take away from this trip, because it was different for everyone. 

A few of my favorite people  These three are touching lives every day, and it was a joy to be on this trip with them. 

What surprised me the most about this trip?  It hit me right at that moment that I was glad Troy didn't get to go.  (Sorry honey!)  I wanted him there, and I want to do it again and take him with me, but as I looked back on my week I realized it would have been a different trip if he had been there.  I would have spent our time together wrapped up in "us".  My sister was there with me, but it's not the same as having my husband-my best friend-the person that makes me feel complete.  I would have spent our time apart wondering what he was doing and what experiences he was having.  I would not have been as focused as I should have been.  Because he was not there I was able to put more of myself into this trip...but I'm not doing it again without him!  For my first mission trip though, it worked out well. 

Breakfast: Omelett - lesson learned, don't assume an omelett has cheese in it
Lunch: chicken club wrap, french fries, lots of water!
Dinner: brown fish stew, rice-n-peas, fruit salad

Our last night together. 
Dear Lord, thank you for this group of people.  They have so many things alike, and yet are so different.  What strong, caring people you have blessed me with this week.  Thank you for bringing them into my life.  I learned so much from them.  When this all began I told you I would give up my spot on this trip if it meant Shelly could go, and you not only found room for both of us, but you helped us find the funds to get here.  Thank you for bringing us here together.  As we sat at lunch today and I listened to her tell me stories from this week, I was so proud to be her sister.  From before we even landed in Jamaica and then all the way through this week she has amazed me.  Thank you for the opportunity to be here to share in all these moments beside her.  You didn't have to send both of us, but I'm so glad you did.  It would not have been the same without her.  It would not have been the same trip if even one of these people had not been here.  You have amazing people working hard for you, and I am humbled by the opportunity to have spent a week with them.  Thank you for all you do.  Amen. 

Ready to move to the beach!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Another free day.  I missed Troy like crazy today because this felt like a vacation day, and I don't want to be on vacation without him.  With that being said, I had a great day with Shelly.  It was so nice to not have a schedule today, and to not feel any guilt about spending the day on ourselves.  We went shopping (and bought gifts for our loved ones) and it was so nice to just wander in and out of stores at our own pace.  Since it was just the two of us we didn't have to worry about waiting for someone else, or worrying that we are making someone wait for us.  We even got brave and ventured back into the craft market.  We get stronger each time we walk into that chaos!  We worked our way all the way down Hip Strip taking our own sweet time.

Taking it all in...

We met up with some more people from our group at Margaritaville for lunch.  Here's is something I have not told you yet - meals take FOREVER in Jamaica.  When you go to a restaurant you better plan on being there for a couple hours.  A storm rolled in while we were at Margaritaville and people started rushing inside looking for a dry place to wait out the storm.  It got busy fast which made the service take a little longer.  When it was all said and done we were there for about 3 eat a sandwich and fries. 

This souvenir glass was Troy's favorite thing I brought home!  I'd be happy to go back and get him another one!!

I love that we took 3 hours for lunch.  I don't know that I have ever done that before.  There is always something to be done, places to go, things to take care of.  At home I would feel guilty for taking so much time to just sit around and visit with friends (while I watched the rain hit the ocean).  Even when I go on vacation I may not rush through things as quick as I do at home, but I've never taken that much time to just hang out and enjoy the meal (and the company). 

Waiting for food.....pose for more pictures!

I worried that this trip would not live up to my expectations.  Afters years of praying and talking about taking a trip like this there was quite a bit of concern that reality would be a let down next to my daydreams.  I'm happy to tell you there was no let down.  This was an amazing opportunity that I will always be thankful for, and something I can cross off my bucket list! 

Leaving a little bit of Odessa in Jamaica.  FYI: this is Pastor Chambers from the Egypt Garden Congregation

Dear Lord, I'm heading home to my husband!  This week has pushed me in so many directions.  I have cried tears of frustration and tears of joy, but as I went to bed each night I felt nothing but happiness and gratitude for this journey.  The hard moments were momentarily forgotten as new, exciting events took place.  Thank you for those hard moments, for I know that I as continue to reflect on them I will grow and learn more about myself.  Thank you for everyone that played a part in making this trip possible.  I hope they are able to see what a difference it made for so many people.  Lord, as I finish up this trip and head back home I ask that you will guide me as I share my story with others.  Help me find the words to properly reflect what this trip has meant without being boastful, or arrogant.  Be with the members of this trip, may they be blessed for giving so much of themselves.  Be with the people of Jamaica who have taught me to slow down and appreciate life more.  I will forever cherish the memory of walking through the neighborhood meeting children and families on that rainy afternoon.  My heart is overflowing with love for these people and I only wish I had more time to spend with them, to learn from them, and to share even more of their hugs.  My mind is full of acitivities I would like to share with these people, but my time has run out.  Help me find experiences at home to fill the void I will have when this trip has officially come to an end.  My story does not end with Jamaica, it is just one chapter in my life.  I have more to give.  I put my life in your hands and have complete faith that you will lead me where I need to be.  Thank you for my amazing life.  Amen. 

As Troy and I have talked about future mission trips and what that might look like for us, we both came to an easy and quick decision that we would like to be leaders/mentors for a younger group (either young adults or older youth) next time.  While this experience was amazing, and something we would love to repeat (only together next time), we both feel as though we are being called to take on a different role in the future. 


Thanks for taking this journey with me!  There is so much I didn't get a chance to tell you about, but I hope you got an idea of what it was like to be on a mission trip.  Like I said before, each story is different, and I hope you get the opportunity to hear other stories.  Thank you for letting me tell my story.

Let's end with the kids!  Here is the video of our kids doing the Peace Pledge....


Friday, July 27, 2012

Jamaica Mission Trip day 6

Note: I broke down and got on the internet early this morning.  I was just too happy to not share this moment with Troy.  I emailed him and told how amazing this trip has been, and asked him to sell the house, purchase a plane ticket, and meet me down here.  He said he would be on the next plane!

I have tried to keep Troy out of my mind during this trip, because I did not want my mind to be distracted.  This is a short trip and I wanted to stay focused on what I came to do.  I also tried not to think about Shelly and what she was doing with her group.  This morning they were both on my mind.  I emailed Troy and then (not knowing anything) Mark gave me an update on Shelly.  I let myself think about these two amazing people in my life and what they have been doing this week, and then it was back to work.  I have one more day of Peace Camp to focus on!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I wanted to bring this little girl home - she would not hug me, but she would give me all the kissed I wanted.  Her mom kept handing her to me and taking pictures of us with her phone.  This was the only time someone from Jamaica took a picture of me with their own camera. 

The last day of Peace Camp.  Today it felt like the kids were finally starting to get into the routine.  They understood that there would be stations, and that they would get to visit every station eventually.  We have just started building real relationships with the kids, recognizing them, and getting to know their personalities, but now we are leaving.  Three days was not enough time. 

Listing things we learned about peace this week.

We made PEACE letters and glued pictures of the kids all over them.  They turned out great!  Towards the end of camp today each child got a chance to sign their name on one of the peace letters.  By doing so they were pledging to live a peaceful life and to help others do the same.  Throughout this week we have talked about different ways to achieve peace.  What does peace mean for me?  What does peace mean for us?  What does peace mean for the planet?  Hopefully they have taken something away from that.  Maybe they will remember that peace means reading a book because it brings them joy.  Maybe they will remember that peace means not arguing with their parents.  Maybe they will remember that peace means picking up litter on the ground.  I hope that at some point they each remember to... Stop... Think... Peace!

Peace Pledge letters the kids signed

Making Peace flags

We made bracelets for each of the kids.  They had 4 colored beads on them and each color represented something different.  After the kids signed their name to the peace pledge they came over and got a bracelet.  As I tied a bracelet on each one of those tiny wrists I thanked them.  I got close to them and whispered "thank you for coming to Peace Camp".  There is something about's like a get's their attention, and because it's quiet enough for no one else to hear, it feels special.  I wanted those kids to know that I am grateful they came to Peace Camp.  My experience would not have been the same without each one of them. 

It took some persuading, and I had to give a few examples, but I finally got them to give me their "funny faces" for a picture. 

Saying goodbye at the end of camp. 

I have not told you about Sister Allen yet.  She is the financial officer for the Egypt Gardens congregation, but more importantly she was our contact, our cook, our worship leader, and a bright spot in our day.  It was clear from the very beginning that no one gets anything by Sister Allen, and when she has her mind made up on something she's not going to stop until everyone has agreed that her way is the best way. 

Me and Sister Allen.   

Sister Allen participating in the "funny faces" pictures

I mentioned that she was our cook for the week.  Her son Erlander came every day to help prepare our lunch, and together they worked in a HOT kitchen to provide a huge meal to us each afternoon.  As we entered the kitchen at lunch time to be handed our prepared plate each day I was in awe that someone would work in a room that hot just so I could have something to eat.  It was not necessary, but very much appreciated. 

The kitchen is behind the church. 

Inside the kitchen....where our hot lunch was prepared every day. 

Erlander doing the dishes. 

I'm a picky eater, and I knew going into this trip that I would be eating foods I did not like.  I was ok with that.  I can get through a week of chicken with lots of random bones in it.  I can eat rice for every meal.  Sure, I'll try that gooey looking orange fruit.  But when Sister Allen handed me a plate with a fish head on it I didn't know what to do.  My meal not only still had bones (something I really don't like), it had teeth and eyeballs, and even though I couldn't see it I knew that somewhere in there there was a brain.  I might have to draw the line at food that still has teeth.  I picked around the fish for as long as I could, trying to decide which pieces were safe to eat, and wondering how long it would be before everyone else finished their meal and I could attempt to hide my toothy fish under a rock somewhere.  I didn't want to be rude, really I didn't, but there was an eyeball on my plate.  Everyone else had sucked the bones clean and there were fish skeletons laying on their plates.  I thought fish skeletons only exisisted in Garfield cartoons, and here I was surrounded by them.  Eventually Sister Allen took pity on me and chopped the head off, leaving me with only a small section of fleshy fish stomach.  Much better! 

See those teeth?  Sister Allen ate them for me! 

Our closing activity with the kids, the members of the congregation, and the people of this community was a campfire we led this evening.  The ground is very wet, so we could not have a real campfire.  It's not the same without a fire to stare into, but we did our best.  We taught them some fun new songs and sang some favorites they already knew.  It's hard to believe, but I didn't cry!  I think my tears may have gone dry already this week. 

Elizabeth and I peeking out the window.

Once we were done the kids descended on us for hugs.  Lots and lots of hugs!  I tried to share a moment with each child and whisper something directly into their ear as I hugged them.  Some of the older kids got long hugs because I had a lot to tell them.  I told them how much I appreciated their help and how much the little kids look up to them.  I encouraged them to stay in school and graduate.  I reminded them that they are role models and that it was my hope that they would continue to be good examples and leaders in their community.  For the younger kids it was simpler: you have a beautiful smile, you are so smart, keep reading, I'm glad you're here.  Every kid I hugged got something whispered in their ear.  I'm sure most forgot about it right away, but I know there are some that will take that moment with them.  I want them to remember Peace Camp.  It doesn't matter if they remember me, but I want them to remember the feeling they got when they were inside this church and someone told them they were special.

Saying Goodbye

We went out for a late dinner tonight and enjoyed a meal that did not include rice-n-peas!  I actually like rice-n-peas, but I didn't complain about a meal without it.  We went to Margaritaville and sat on the beach.  Not near the beach, ON the beach.  I got to dig my toes into the sand while we ate! 

Breakfast: pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes
Lunch: fish head!, coleslaw, rice-n-peas, mashed potatoes, salad
Dinner: Chicken and avocado sandwich with fries

Dear Lord, I came here to help facilitate Peace Camp and today that came to an end.  Thank you for the peace you have provided me the past 15 years as I prayed that this experience would someday happen.  I have grown so much in that time and this trip means even more to me now.  I view my life through new eyes after meeting these people.  Thank you for the excitement in their voices as they greeted me each day, and the plea's to have me return... it has given me hope that my time here was not in vain, that they got something from me, just as I got something from them.  These children, their parents, this community, and the Egypt Garden congregation will be in my future prayers, but right now I ask that you be with the children as they go back to their day to day lives and promote peace.  Give them the strength to be a voice of reason and to remind each other to stop, think, peace.  Lord, please be with me the next two days as we have free time, as I am not excited.  I am struggling with so much free time when I came here to do mission work, but I'm trying to find peace in what the days will bring.  Thank you so much for this trip - a dream come true.  Amen. 

What a cutie pie!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jamaica Mission Trip day 5

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

First to arrive (on time!) got to play with the beach balls. 

This morning's Peace Camp was a bit more crazy.  We had over 50 kids yesterday, and today there were over 70.  We went into this adventure expecting the numbers to grow every day, leading up to 50-ish on the last day.  We were not prepared to have over 70 kids today and with a large portion of them being under 6 years old, we had our hands full!  Everyone in my group is great with kids, but there just aren't enough of us.


Yesterday we had to cut activities because we were running out of time.  Somehow today we ended up getting done almost 30 minutes early.  You  just never know exactly how things will go.  The kids are starting to catch on to our theme song.  I noticed some recognition today.  We also did a few fun songs with them when we needed to fill some empty space between activities.  They love to sing, I love to sing, and so we sing together!

These older boys were a wonderful addition to our Peace Camp. 

We've been taking lots of pictures of the kids, and boy oh boy do they love to have their pictures taken.  They want to be in a picture with us, and then they want to use our cameras to take pictures of us with someone else.  I don't mind letting them use my camera, and it's always interesting to see what pictures I have on there when I get it back.  Most of the time the kids are in such a hurry that the photo's are blurry because they didn't hold the camera still for long enough.  That's ok though because they are having fun taking photo's.  After every picture you have to turn the camera around and show them the picture. 

Look how happy they are!

We took the afternoon off from service projects today because we have so much to work on for tomorrow.  As much as I want to do the service projects, it was a relief to have some down time today to just work on tomorrow.  We have some craft projects to prepare, a video to make, and a campfire to plan. 

Smart girls that I pray for...

Many girls will not graduate from high school, and the top reason is teen pregnancy.  Even though there are many girls that will not make it to graduation day, there are still more of them than boys.  Why don't the boys make it?  Is it because they are helping out with those teen pregnancies?  Nope.  It's just the culture they are raised in.  It's ok to drop out of school and just spend your time hanging out with friends.  I want to spend more time here talking to kids about school and the importance of graduating.  I want to help them find role models that will encourage them to stay in school.

Notice the girl in front posing?  Very typical of Jamaican children, especially the girls. 

This evening there was a worship service at the church for us.  Lots of the kids came, as well as some of the members of the congregation.  Carlene led us in praise music to start off, and as much as I tried to keep it in I just couldn't help it.  I cried.  I attended church in Jamaica tonight.  It was crazy hot, there were mosquito's biting me on every bit of skin they could find, and I couldn't have been any happier.  I've dreamed about this moment so many times, and tonight my dream came true.  I stopped fighting the tears and embraced them for the happiness they represented.  I sang praise music and let the salty tears run down my face.  I was at church in Jamaica.  Life is good.

She is reminding everyone to "think peace"

As soon as I got the tears under control they asked me to stand and tell the congregation a little about what this trip means to me.  Did they really think it was a good idea to have me, waterworks Misty, attempt to speak at a time like this?   I thougt maybe I could keep it under control, but we all know there was no chance.  This was too big of a moment in my life to not let the tears flow.  I don't remember what I said, but there are two things I will not forget - 1.someone taking a picture.  My team loved to take pictures of me when I cried.   and 2. the amount of love I got back from that congregation.  I was not crying because I was nervous, or scared.  I was crying because I could not keep the happiness inside anymore, I was bursting with joy. 

Members of the congregation

After the service was over so many people thanked me for my tears.  They thanked me and told me how much it meant to them to see me cry.  Jamaican's do not commonly express themselves through tears.  (I'm obviously not Jamaican!)  Seeing me moved to tears got their attention, and they thanked me for crying in front of them. 

This sweet lady showed up everyday and silently watched all the action.  

Elizabeth chose to sing a song instead of sharing about herself in English.  Her first language is Spanish, and while she does a great job speaking in English, she is still not comfortable with it.  I think it's important to mention that Elizabeth has a beautiful voice and sings in a band at home in the Dominican Republic, so this is her comfort zone.  As she started to sing she became overwhelmed by the moment and she started to cry.  I was not familiar with the song she was singing, but the congregation knew it and they sang it to her.  As she played the keyboard, and let the tears roll down her cheek, the people of Jamaica sang to her.  They sang until she was able to gain her composure again and then she returned the favor by singing back to them.  It was a beautiful moment, and I have goosebumps as I am writing about it now.  Towards the end of the trip someone asked me what my favorite moment of the week was, and this was it.  The congregation softly singing to Elizabeth, raising her up, and touching all of us in the process. 

Elizabeth singing

I attended church in Jamaica.  Not everyone gets an opportunity like this, and I will forever be grateful for the hour I spent singing praise music, crying, and shouting "Praise the Lord" with these people. 

A snack stand across from the church.  This one was closed while we were there, but the kids would sneak out of Peace Camp to go to another one nearby and then come back with popsicles. 

Along the side of the roads there are stands/stores/shops or whatever you want to call them.  They are about 10' x 10' wooden structures (similar to the one above).  Nothing fancy, just a basic room in most cases.  It's hard to tell what they sell as we drive by them each day, and many of them look empty during the day.  Tonight I realized why they looked so empty during the day.  This was our first time driving back to our hotel after dark and I saw a whole different side of Jamaica.  This place comes alive after the sun goes down, and temperature drops.  Unfortunately the reason so many of the shops looked empty during the day is because they are bars, and the bars get busy at night.  I wish there was less alcohol involved, but I do understand why they come out at night.  It's just so hot during the day! 

Breakfast on the beach.  Our food came about 10 minutes later and Mark gave us aprox 2 minutes to shove as much in as we could.  We were getting up from the table and still trying to put just one more bite in our mouths.  We were a little rushed...

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and pancakes.  We ate on the beach this morning!  What a way to start the day!!
Lunch: pork, rice-n-peas, coleslaw, salad, corn.
Dinner: Burger King!  Bacon cheeseburger and fries.  We were in a hurry to get back to the church for the evening service, so fast food was the best option for us tonight. 

Me and Mark...(Can you tell a kid took this picture?)...I have so much respect for this man.

Dear Lord, how do I even begin to thank you for all the gifts I was given today?  Thank you for my blessed life.  I saw children come to church tonight without parents.  Be with those kids and help them find someone who can be in their everyday lives that already knows you...someone who help them get to know you as well.    I pray that Peace Camp is not the end of church for them.  These children want to go to church and learn more about you, and so I pray for the members of this congregation to find a way to continue reaching out to this community.  Give them strength to reach out, and an unfailing faith to know that they are touching lives, even if it they don't see the immediate results.  Lord, my heart breaks for the girls who drop out of school because they are pregnant.  School is about more than what in you learn in the textbooks, and I am sad that they are missing out on the opportunity to be a kid, and to spend time with other kids their age.   Watch over these children who are having children of their own.  Everyday my eyes are opened to more stories and more experiences that make me want to be a better person.  Thank you for bringing these people into my life.  I can not wait to see what tomorrow brings.  Thank you for a wonderful day.  Amen. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jamaica Mission Trip day 4

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Interesting tidbit: The electric company runs electricity along the main road and it is up to each family to get it to their own house. 

Peace Camp started today! 

Cousins attending Peace Camp together. 

We needed to eat breakfast at 7 am in order to stay on schedule and arrive at the church early enough to get everything set up.  Bad news: we couldn't find a restaurant that opens at 7 am.  There is no 24 hour Ihop in Jamaica, and this island does not eat early.  I got frustrated at home a few weeks ago because Sonic didn't open until 6am and I needed breakfast at 5:30.  What a wake up call I had this morning when the only breakfast we could find at 7 am was at a gas station!

I did not pay any attention to the bathroom at the church yesterday, so I was in for a shock when I went to use it this morning. 

This is the bathroom.

Thankfully it had a toilet in it and not just a hole in the ground!  In the photo above you can see a shower that sticks out on the right side of the bathroom.  At least I think it was a shower...that's what it looked like to me.  I didn't even notice it until the last day when I was walking around looking for a quiet place to collect my thoughts.  There was not a door, or a ceiling on it, but I was in there for about 15 minutes and many people walked all around me, but no one noticied I was in there (except a bee and he was NOT welcome company), so maybe a door is not needed! Another interesting thing to note is that we had to turn the water on/off each day at the main road on our way in/out of the neighborhood. 

The bathroom was also the tool shed. 

Peace Camp went well.  It was not as organized as I would have liked for it to have been, but I am constantly reminding myself that not everything has to be perfectly planned out in order to be a success.  The kids had fun and so I'm calling it a success.  Elizabeth and I took on the youngest group of children, which should have been 6-7 year olds, but we had a lot of little brothers/sisters show up and we had kids as young as 2 in our group.  There were over 50 kids at Peace Camp today, and almost half of them were 7 and under.  That's a young group! 

That's me looking crazy in the background.  I guess happy and hot turns into CRAZY in photos!

I sang a lot of songs with them to fill in time while we waited for othe other groups to finish up their projects.  I also taught them how to a do a "peace cheer" where we all put our hands in the circle together and on the count of three threw our hands in the air and yelled "PEACE" all at once.  They loved it. 

Doing a Peace cheer. 

I have a hard time understanding the kids talk.  We are both speaking English, and they do not have any trouble understanding me, but I had a hard time with them.  I think it is a combination of the young age of many of them, the quiet voices they use, and the slight accent. 

Drawing pictures about what makes them unique.
We sing songs, do crafts, play games, have snacks, and talk about peace during Peace Camp.  It's like vacation bible school.  At home we have activities for children all the time.  I know that in my town there are lots of bible schools all summer long and kids are welcome at any of them.  There are also programs through the local library, and other free activities nearby if you can drive a short distance.  The families in Jamaica are so grateful for the three days of activites we have planned for the children because they don't have a summer filled with various bible schools, reading programs, etc. 

Eager to see what's going to happen next. 
I would love to spend a summer here and have the church open every day for a few hours where the kids could come and have a safe, happy place to hang out and play.  I would have some organized activities/games/etc that are low budget (or even free) in the morning and then spend the afternoons visiting with families.  I can see myself spending a summer here and loving it. 

Here is the song we sang with the kids every day....


At the end of camp today we did a "shower line".  The kids form two lines, standing shoulder to shoulder with the two lines facing each other.  One person at a time walks through the middle of the two lines with his/her eyes closed.  Each person whispers something nice about the person as they walk by.  You have a great smile.  Thank you for being a good friend.  God loves you.  I'm glad you're here today.  I loved looking at the pictures once it was all done and seeing the huge smiles on their faces.  It feels good to be showered with compliments!
Getting "showered" with compliments and kind words. 

After we ate lunch, provided by Sister Allen and her son Erlander, it was time to start on our service project: painting the inside of the church.  We got a coat of primer on today and will add paint later this week. 

Some of the kids that stuck around to help. 

We had lots of kids stick around to help out.  They didn't just come to play, they actually worked.  There was one little boy (2 or 3 years old) that was so excited that we let him have a paint roller.  Eventually he somehow ended up with one that actually had paint on it....but it was ok because the church is still a work in progress and while we did the best job we could, there was no need for perfection, especially for primer. 

I wonder what his mom said when he got home covered in paint!?!?

Mark took us to the Rock House for dinner.  What a beautiful view!  It was cloudy so we didn't get a perfect sunset, but it did peek out for just a little bit to give us a few good pictures.  During dinner I found myself tuning everyone else out and just watching the sky change colors as the sun sank below the horizon. 

I didn't hear a word anyone said while this was going on. 

Enjoying the sunset with Carlene. 

Breakfast: pastry and apple juice from the gas station :)
Lunch: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, salad (1 piece lettuce, 2 tomato slices, 2 cucumber slices), corn, fruit punch.  Fruit punch is very common in Jamaica and it is very sweet.  It is also important to note that Sister Allen and Erlander tried to provide us with more "american" meals, which was kind of them. 
Dinner: jerk chicken fajita's (Sooooooo Good!)

The group eating lunch at the church. 

Dear Lord, I worked hard today and it felt good.  Thank you for this day.  These children are such a joy to be around, and I find myself smiling at them and their eagerness to do anything we present before them.  Children are a great reminder to spend more time enjoying life and less time stressing out.  I miss my husband, but I can already tell that I will not have enough time here.   There is so much I want to do and see and experience.  I want to really get to know these kids and see where they live.  I want to meet their parents and eat dinner with their families.  Help me find peace in the short amount of time I have here.  Lord, today I started painting a church and it felt great.  Thank you for the opportunity to do something for this congreagation in return for all they have done for us.   Give us all the strength to continue working throughout this week.  Thank you for this splendid opportunity.  Amen.