Thursday, January 31, 2008


Since the day I stepped foot in this country God has continually redefined that word for me....humble. He unceasingly places something in my path that reminds me of just how blind I really am about the cushy life I lead. He opens my eyes to the way the world really looks. I'm often left dumbfounded. You know the mouth agape, tears staining your cheeks, pain in your heart kind of dumbfounded. Wednesday night and Thursday were filled with moments like that. Jen and I took our workers into the city for a "night on the town" of sorts. We had reserved two rooms at the Marriott for the evening and planned to pamper the heck out of them. What I thought would simply be a fun filled evening for all of us ended up being one of the most humbling 24 hours I've ever spent. Even the moments leading up to our night out were humbling. The girls were giddy and as excited as the kids on Christmas. They danced around Casa humming and counting down the hours until we left. As they asked questions about what to expect and discussed their excitement Dilcia said "I've always ridden by and seen it from the outside but I've always dreamed of being able to walk in the front doors." She didn't even dream of staying there for a night because that dream would seem no just walking in the front doors would have been good enough for her. Then as we prepared to load our stuff into the car I realized that I was totting along a suitecase on wheels while they all simply had purse size bags. When I asked if they had anything else they each responded in much the same way...they had brought another shirt to wear the next day but they would wear the same jeans. Of course they would...most people here only have one or two sets of nice clothing. Here I was with a bag full of options just in case I got cold...or hot...or needed a different pair of shoes.

We set out and finally the grand adventure was beginning. I wish I could have adequately captured their expressions as they stood in awe of the place. They stared around them as if they were in another world...and in many ways I guess they were. We got checked in and headed up to the 8th floor to our rooms. The excitement and wonder of the place only grew as we walked into the room. They couldn’t believe that the entire room (which is probably the size of most houses around here) was all for them. There were questions of whether they were allowed to use the soap, shampoo, etc. that were sitting on the counter. They thought someone had forgotten it there or that they would have to pay for it if they used it. They had to be shown how to work the thermostat (which they thought was an alarm system) since none of them have ever spent the night in air-conditioning before. In all honesty they were most excited to watch t.v. and get to sleep in the next morning! It was in those first few moments in the room that one of them asked what time we would be leaving the next day. When we said 1:00 ish they spazed. They said they would have to get up early the next morning and take a bus back out to Casa because they were supposed to work. It took a few minutes of us reassuring them that it was known by all that they wouldn’t be arriving for work because they had the day off to spend with us.

We had arranged for a lady to come into their hotel room to give them manicures and pedicures so as soon as we arrived and got the girls settled in we left them to be pampered. By the time they were done it was time to eat so we headed back downstairs to the beautiful restaurant for dinner. We giggled and talked our way through dinner until every last one of us was stuffed. We had to explain that the sugar packets on the table weren’t salt, reassure them that it really was ok for them to order a fruit drink and still get a water, and convince them that they didn’t really need to clean up after themselves when they were done. It was during our dinner discussion that I came to find out that not only had they never stayed at the Marriott before but all but one of them had never even been in any other hotel. After dinner found us exploring ….we visited the pool, the gym, the sauna, the shops, and every other little thing there was to see. They remained wide eyed through it all. When we made it back to our rooms to settle in for the evening we ordered drinks for them and had them delivered to their room. They enjoyed them while lounging in their room or taking a bath. (none of them had ever had or used a bathtub before…heavens I can’t imagine!)

The next morning they slept in and then we all went back downstairs for the famous Marriott breakfast buffet! It is absolutely amazing. Once again they made over every detail. It was during breakfast that Dilcia mentioned that the bill had been slipped under the door. They had seen the total and were shocked at the cost. They were worried that they were costing too much. We reassured them that it was fine. That they spoil us daily and this was the least we could do. Believe me it was worth every penny! THEY are worth every penny. With tears in her eyes Dilcia reached over to hug me and whisper her thanks. Once breakfast was over the girls headed upstairs to the spa to have their hair done before we checked out.

I was amazed at how much of the world I’m used to is second nature. Things I’ve grown up around. We had to explain how to use the elevator, how to call the front desk for towels, how to use their key (card) to open their hotel room door, how to work the bath tub, and so much more. Things that you and I don’t even think about when we do them. We took them to the gym and showed them how to use the elliptical, treadmill, and other machines. They looked like fish out of water as they tried to walk at even the slowest pace on the treadmill.

It was an amazing 24 hours. We giggled our way through the entire thing and deepened a bond that already ran so deep. Our joke had been that they were princesses and got whatever they wanted for the entire time we were there. They took it to heart. I was struck over and over again how they had felt spoiled, pampered, and ritzy simply because they got to stay in a hotel, eat good food, and be babied a little bit. If that is the case then you and I should feel spoiled, pampered, and ritzy every day. When we take them out it is so we can “spoil them.” When we go out it is simply a get away. How is it that I got born into a family that took vacations? I saw sights and did things that our workers can only dream of. Heck I used to PAY to play volleyball. We would travel every weekend to a different tournament and a lot of the time would have to stay in a hotel for the weekend because the tournament was so far away. Hotels are second nature to me. They have long ago ceased to be a luxury and I would never consider one night in a hotel somewhere a family vacation. Yet these girls were THRILLED to be staying there and sad to leave. Their gratitude and joy will forever be embedded in the deepest places of my heart. I hope I never forget my time there with them and what it taught me about humility. Some of you may be reading this thinking what a spoiled brat I am…and you are right. I think sometimes God gives me moments like this to remind me to be thankful for what I have. When our attitudes are that of appreciation I believe God smiles down and has fun spoiling us. It was much the same way for us. Spoiling them was fun regardless but their gratitude made it all the more humbling.

My friend....

So this may be totally cheating and he'll probably give me a heck of a time for doing it....if not only because I failed to mention it before posting..... Blah who cares about any of that!:) I'm not sure how many of you take advantage of the links on the side of my blog or how many of you are faithful readers of JT's blog in general. However, I couldn't let this post go unnoticed. Not only is it well written it is full of a passion, emotion, and desire for a better society. I feel certain he could write three words on his blog that make no sense to anyone and I would still find it great, grand, and wonderful simply because I love him and our hearts resonate with one another in deep deep places. Yet this blog is far beyond deserves to be noticed. It deserves to be read, reread, and heavily contemplated over. It is food for digestion not only for your mind but your hearts and souls. I hope it fuels all of you today as much as it fueled me.

A Statistic
I would love to tell you more about my recent trip to Casa, but I am way too emotional to talk about that right now. Thanks Ashley. Anywho, here is another post."One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic."This quote is credited to Joseph Stalin, and I used to think that this wasn't true. Obviously people care more about a mass genocide compared to the death of a single person, right?Recently, the answer would be "no." As most, if not all of you know, the actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his apartment on Tuesday. I found out by a text. Others found out from their friends. Some found out from the news. However people found out, the point is that those who do not live under a rock found out about this happening by the end of that day. Multiple television stations were scrambling for new information, while others bid farewell to this actor through touching thirty second long slide shows. People who did not even know this man cried for him. Cried for his family. People who had never met the man or were even that great of fans, left flowers by his doors step in New York. Celebrities partook in a race to see who could produce a statement expressing their condolences to the Ledger family first. People actually cared that Heath Ledger had died.Do you know any of the names of those who were killed in Kenya today? How about Darfur? Why has no one texted me today to let me know that a little boy is now an orphan because his parents were killed? I didn't even hear the words "genocide" or "AIDS" or "ethnic cleansing" today. Why not? Where are the flowers on the doorsteps of the millions who have been killed over the past couple of weeks. Where was the touching slide show? The celebrity statements? The prayers? Where?I couldn't tell you the name of one person who was murdered today in Africa or Asia. Not one. And, I even researched it. The reason we spend so little brain time on this subject is because it makes us uncomfortable-- it makes us feel guilty for living so comfortably. I also believe we spend so little time remembering those who died for ridiculous reasons like practicing the wrong religion or being part of the wrong tribe is because our media speaks so little about it. The media has its agenda that it wants to cover in the day, and the dying of thousands is not on it.I just find it ironic that many hours are spent in mourning a person we have only seen in movies, and just few minutes is devoted to the struggles that people face everyday. I guess the death of a million really is just a statistic.JT

Friday, January 25, 2008

The big picture

The other day as I was spending time on the porch journaling little Antonio wandered back and climbed up onto my lap. Of course he immediately wanted the pen so that he could scribble in my journal. Before too long he placed his hand in the middle of the paper and tried to trace his hand. After watching him struggle for a second I moved his hand to a clean spot on the page and began to trace it for him. The entire time I was tracing he kept trying to move his hand so he could see it. He didn't understand why I wouldn't hurry up and I couldn't seem to explain to him that it would come out better if we took our time. Finally, we managed to get it completely traced and as he pulled his hand away for the final time I couldn't help but think it would have turned out so much better if he had just waited until I was done to see the final product.
Then it hit often am I like that with God. How often do I try to take the pen in my own hand and do it myself. Only to find that even as I begin it is more of a struggle than I thought it would be. Then as God gently takes the pen out of my hand and places it back in His own I can't seem to find the patience to wait until He is done before I try and see the final picture. However, because He loves me God continues on writing my story...even as I wiggle, pull, push, and move all over the page. When the final mark has been made and the picture is complete I always stand back in awe of what God did despite all the moving on my part. Yet more than that I am hit with the realization that as I rushed Him on He had been gently trying to convince me that it would turn out better if we simply took more time.
After a year of being here I still am amazed at the things God teaches me even through the youngest of our kids. I pray that I never stop hearing His voice and seeing His lessons in them.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Park

A week or so ago I decided to take the kids on a walk ...have an adventure of sorts. When we got off the property the kids started telling me about this park they wanted to go to. I had heard of it before but had never been to it. So I gladly relented and followed them down the road toward the park. It was about 1/2 mile from the house and for being so close to the house I couldn't believe I had never been there. It is far from National Park standards and probably wouldn't be considered "beautiful" to most people who walk into it. However, to a homesick heart the tall pines, creek, and greenery all around allowed me to pretend...even if just for a second....that I was at home. There is a playground area for the kids, pavilions, basketball fields, soccer fields, and hiking paths everywhere you look. Needless to say the kids loved it. We didn' thave long to stay last week so I promised to take them again soon. So, good to my word Saturday we packed up a picnic lunch and headed off once again. We spread our blanket out and had sandwiches, chips, and juice. It was a definite "pinch me to see if I'm awake moment" as I looked around at their smiling faces. Their laughter and giggles made my smile all the bigger. After lunch we spent hours just playing and goofing off. We picked black berries, caught lizards, played tag, and did all the fun things kids should do at the park. It was a wonderful that I fully intend to repeat frequently from now on.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Growing up

In the past few days I've come to the realization that my babies are growing up. I'm assuming it is perfectly normal to want to keep your babies but this is ridiculous. Antonio asked to say prayer the other day so I happily obliged thinking that I would simply need to help him through it. So I walked around to his chair and stooped down beside him. Just as I got down eye level with him he looks at me with this matter of fact look on his face and says "no mommy I want to do it alone." Since when did my 2 year old know how to pray. Then to my amazement he says two hands on the table...two hands on your head...two hands on your feet...and so on. It is a trick I learned to use when I wanted them to get quiet before a meal. I was floored. He wasn't only praying but mimicking the normal pre-meal routine. When he was finished and felt they were all quiet he proceeded to tell them to shut their eyes and then in the sweetest voice around talked to God with an innocence like no other! Talk about bringing tears to my eyes! whew! However, I could handle that one incident if that were the only one...but its not. Just this morning I needed things from the pulperia. The kids and I were planning to go on a picnic and we needed chips and drinks. I mentioned running out to get them when Rudy and Yovani chime in that they would love to go get them for me. I told them I would love their which they quickly responded with a comment that sounded too much like "aww mom I'ld rather go alone for fear of being seen with you." !!! For starters when did being in my presence become embarrassing and second of all when the heck did they start going to the pulperia alone? They quickly explained that while I had been in the states they had been allowed to run to the pulperia when something was needed. What the heck! I vaguely remember handing over the money and explaining what purchases needed to be made. Then probably more for my benefit then theirs I told them to be careful as I watched Marvin, Yovani, Pamela, Rudy, and Brayan march out the gate and disappear around the corner. Are they really old enough to be doing that! Yea yea...I know that most Honduran kids run around wherever they want from the moment they can walk. I even realize that most of our kids lived on the street at one point or another. Yet it didn't stop that sinking "they are getting so big" feeling! It is a big step for the house. Another major change/improvement in the house would be the fact that Katty and Maryuri are completely potty trained now. They don't even wear diapers at night and hardly EVER have accidents! Can I get a woot woot! That part of the growing up makes my heart happy while also still reminding me of just how quickly they are changing. Even Antonio wears undies during the day and knows to use the "potty." Today I took him in to use the restroom and he promptly turned around and said "don't look mommy." I mean REALLY! He used to want my help and now he is telling me not to even stand there and wait on him. AND as if THAT isn't enough in 3 weeks little Francisco will be heading off to Kinder! I got all the school uniforms out yesterday to see who had what and what would need to be bought. Pour little Francisco couldn't find anything small enough to fit him. Which isn't really a problem since we have 3 weeks to get something and that was the point of having him try stuff on. However, try explaining all that to a 4 year old little boy who can't wait to go to school. He got all pouty and looked up at me with these tear filled eyes and said "mommy I want to go to school." It took me forever to explain to him that just because he didn't have a uniform right now didn't mean he couldn't go when school started. To him 3 weeks means nothing. He thinks he is going tomorrow and he thinks he won't get to go if someone doesn't hurry up and get him some stinkin pants! So yes...those are just a few examples of how things are changing in this house! It seems like every day they each get a little more independent or change in some way. I know I'm supposed to be happy about probably means that something we are trying to do here is working. Yet all I can think quickly they grow up!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

a year

Even as I type that title the words seem foreign and out of place when talking about this place. I sat staring at those two small words for minutes before I could even begin typing this....and even now I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to say. How do I sum up in one blog the emotional, spiritual, and sensual journey of these past 365 days? I have official passed the one year anniversary of my travels to this beautiful country and am now beginning into my second year here. In some ways time has flown and yet in other moments I feel like I have been here for my entire life. Either way one thing has remained the passion for this place and these children that I call my own. It seems surreal to think a year ago I walked in here thinking I would be in and out after just 3 1/2 months. Yet here I am. As I allow my brain to take a walk down memory lane snippets of the past year play before as if being displayed on a movie screen. I can see the airport that first day I walked off the plane. I hadn't heard back from anyone at Casa for about a week so was uncertain if anyone would be there waiting for me or not. I had assured my mom that someone would certainly be there and if not I would figure SOMETHING out. Yet as I walked out into the sea of tan faces I was not to be let down, there was Jen and Kay Grose ready to greet me with a smile and a hug. From there my memory takes me to the drive home where we ran into two boys on the street working for money. I thought Jen was going to send me through the windshield as she slammed on her breaks in order to introduce me to her two friends Brayan and Rudy. They were the first two Honduran children I had the privilege of meeting and will always hold a special spot in my heart. I remember driving down the lane and seeing Casa for the very first time. I remember the swarm of kids that greeted me even before I could set my first foot on the ground. From there I remember countless nights of being awaken by soft cries or little bodies being pressed up against mine in search of a safe haven from their countless nightmares. To this day I still hold to my belief that it was that first month I spent living in the room with the girls that bonded my heart to theirs so much more than the boys. Don't get me wrong I LOVE my boys and every second I am with them but if I'm being completely honest it was the girls that first stole my heart. I remember struggling with the language barrier. So many nights would find me snuggled in my bed crying out to God why the heck he brought me to a country where I couldn't understand them and where my gift for gab seemed absolutely pointless. That slowly began to fade as the kids started teaching me more of their language. I'm no where near being fluent...I'm convinced that when I can go a whole day without hearing "no mommy it is said like this......" that I will be quite content with my abilities to communicate. In the mean time my spanish continues to improve and is actually more spanish than spanglish. I'm rambling....all about things most of you already know. So allow me to speed this along and share just a few more highlights of the past year. In March I received one of the greatest blessings I could have ever asked for when my dad stepped off the plane and spent a week with me here. At Easter time the Belpre Church group came down and I had my first experience working with a team and I LOVED it. I built my first house with Jody, handed out food bags, went to the Blind School and Hospital Escuela, visited the Jesus Statue and so much more. During that week I met and adopted myself into the Laughery family and wonders of all wonders they welcomed me in with open arms. While that group was here in April we ran into Brayan at the state orphanage and found out that he and Rudy (who had been sent to another center) weren't on the streets anymore. From there it was an uphill battle that we would eventually win to be able to bring them home to Casa once and for all. Which brings me to my next snippet...the addition of 6 more children. Some how in the process of getting Brayan and Rudy we were convinced to take 4 more. I will never forget Jen turning to look at me when the Judge brought in some of the saddest faces and stories I had heard. I knew that there was no way we were walking out of that office without those new faces...and we didn't. In the weeks to come we may have doubted our decision and I feel certain other people doubted us but I'm happy to say that today things are running smoothly and those sad stories have been given a happier ending. In May my best friend Colby came down to stay with me for a whole month. Talk about spoiled I was on cloud nine the entire 4 weeks! It was in those 4 weeks that we met 2 boys who came down expecting to build a garden and instead built friendships with us that have only grown stronger with the passing weeks since then. Right after that summer really hit and we began seeing group after group come in. It was during those months that I met and fell in love with some of the best people God has ever placed on this earth. Sam, Anna, JT, Donna, Jeff, Erica, Karen, Devon, and the list goes worked your way into the deepest places of my heart and I thank God for you daily. In June my momma came to visit and continued with the spoiling affect that having my worlds collide seemed to have on me. At the end of the summer I had a chance to return home and do a a TON of fundraising. While home Gina and her .....correction...our Mommy came to visit for 2 weeks! After my long break away I returned to my kiddos and life here. December brought the Malone team and Christmas. I know I skipped lots and could never hit it all. I purposely left out the Luvin parts and promise to sit down and devote time to a separate blog just for that. Adding it in the midst of all this doesn't seem to do it justice. There are other memories that fall somewhere in the jumble as well ....Monica breaking her leg, the first time one of the kiddos vomited and I had to clean it, the time Katty vomited during Colby's first few days here and watching Colby deal with that so beautifully, (oh how fun it is to remember that!) Santos's death, and the list goes on. However, I couldn't sum up the year if I didn't dedicate a section of this simply to the sisterhood I have found here. Jen didn't let me down that first day in the airport and she hasn't since that day either. It didn't take us long to realize that our hearts were cut from the same mold. She is my I need to talk and I am her I'm here to listen. God knew that we would need each other...not just in this place but in life. He decided not to just give me a new friend but a sister. Then as if that wasn't enough he completed the sisterhood by giving us Gina. We are the weirdest set of 3 amigos I've ever seen....but it is what makes us work. We are friends and above that we are family. They are home for me when home in every other sense of the word is thousands of miles away. They are my safe place, my haven, and my comfort. So yea....a year. I'm not sure I've done it justice. Yet I feel certain that I never truly could with simple words and imagery. Thank you to each of you that have played a part in my being here this past year. No matter if you gave money, prayed, offered kind words of encouragement, visited, sent letters/packages/emails, etc. your efforts did not go unnoticed and were the very thing that gave me strength to continue on here. I love you all.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Last week Casa became the owners of a trampoline. It was a late Christmas present from people in the states. The kids love it....we moms cringe. Every time they get on it I start praying and my prayers don't stop until their feet hit the ground again. So far it has been great exercise for them and for me. It leaves them exhausted at the end of the day which is always nice. Let's just all continue to pray for no broken bones or major injuries that this momma heart and weak stomach can't handle!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


and the blogging continues........ We covet your prayers right now. Dorian and Karen are both gone on a much deserved break to visit their families. So for the next few weeks Jen and I are on our own. No big deal except today as I was helping the boys get dressed Fitto walks in and says "Mom, I itch." Looking over I noticed that his chest was covered with these little red spots that much resembled the chicken pox I had as a girl. By the time the clinic opened Fitto was standing waiting. Sure enough we have a case of chicken pox on our hands. So this is where the prayer part comes in. We have a house full of 15 kids. For those of you that had children with chicken pox you will sympathize when I say having a house full of 15 kids with chicken pox is something I don't want to experience. Not to mention that the chicken pox I had hardly qualify as chicken there is a chance that I could even end up with them. So yes...please be praying for our potential epidemic!

momma powers

With each passing day I've come to realize that with the title of momma comes a list of powers that we never realized we had. We have the power to make or break their worlds with a simple yes or no answer to questions. Never before did I realize just how much I did as a child relied on the say so of my parents. We have the power to heal hurts with a simple kiss. It never ceases to amaze me how the second I kiss the boo boo the tears instantly stop as though I just administered a wonder drug. We have the power to sense when something is wrong. Our deep sleeps become sleepless nights as we jump at ever noise that could be our kids. When we do manage to sleep we wake from the deepest of sleeps wondering what woke us ....only to realize there is a crying child waiting to be held. We have the power to chase monsters away with a simple hug. The little ones can wake terrified and cry out in their sleep because of the monsters that are lurking in the bedroom. Yet the second you enter and wrap them the warmth of your arms brings a security like nothing else. The list could go on.....all I know is with each kiss, hug, or tender moment I fall more and more in love with this title that I once thought was so simple - Mom.

Monday, January 7, 2008

My Honduran Family

So when I moved to this country I never imagined that God would bless me with my very own Honduran family. However, that is exactly what He did. Gina and her family have a adopted me in every sense of the word. I'm as much a part of their family as if Mommy had birthed herself. I love each of them in every way I know how to say it. I truly am blessed to be a part of this family ....especially when my own is so far away. Since we are the "daughters" we were of course expected to attend Christmas at their home. Things are done quite different here. EVERYONE celebrates Christmas on the evening of the 24th instead of the 25th. Most people spend the early evening with family then they eat a HUGE dinner around 11 or midnight and open their presents right after. Weird...I know. :) Not to mention that at exactly midnight people kiss one another and sing a Merry Christmas song. All the while hundreds of fireworks are filling the sky with so much smoke it looks like a heavy fog has rolled in and it sounds like you are standing in the midst of a war scene! It was a wonderful evening filled with laughter, jokes, and lots of love.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I promise to get back into this blogging thing very soon. Things here have been insanely busy. However, for now I thought I would post some pics from Christmas. Being away from home was rough. It is the first time I haven't gotten to enjoy Christmas with my family and with our traditions. However, if I was missing Christmas for any reason those 15 little faces are the best one I could come up with. Watching them each walk down the hall and stand in awe as they first caught glimpse of the presents around the tree is an imagine I will never forget. Their awe was quickly replaced with sheer joy as they began talking, screaming, and cheering all at once. There may even have been a little dancing going on....that may have just been me though out of excitement for them. :) We went youngest to oldest and watched as each person opened their presents. Thank you to all of you that donated money, sent presents, or helped make Christmas special for my kiddos. A special thanks goes to Jess and Austin. Both were members of my team from Malone and stayed for an extra 8 days. In an act of true sacrifice they both gave up Christmas with their own families in order to stay and celebrate with me and my family here. All in all it was a wonderful day. One that left me longing for home yet content to be exactly where I am.