Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mike's Mission Trip

Mike left last Friday morning with a group of 6 other people from our church to go minister at an orphanage in Haiti. The orphanage is about 20 miles from Port-au-Prince, where the majority of the damage from the 2010 earthquake occurred. He got home last night and had a great trip. He had so many stories. Some funny, some sad, some uplifting. Let me give you a little background on how he ended up on this mission trip.

Back in October of 2010, a group from our church went to Haiti on a Mission Trip. The trip was going to include working in an orphanage and just ministering to the people in the area. They went not knowing that the trip would become something huge for our church. When this group went to the orphanage and saw 94 children living in some of the worst conditions you can imagine, (or maybe can't imagine because we, in America, have no clue was it is to "need" anything), they knew something had to be done. We couldn't go there, see the things we saw and walk away from it. They came home with an almost overwhelming report. Something needed to be done, but how? Where do you begin? It was determined that these kids were starving to death and to walk away and not do something was not an option. Our church decided that we would take a large portion of our Harvest Day Offering and feed these children for a year. But, knowing that you can't just mail money down there and expect it to get in the right hands, monthly trips had to be organized. Each month, a team of people (usually around 6-10) will go to Haiti, purchase food for a month, do work that needs to be done, and love on these kids.

Mike knew immediately that he wanted to be involved. He signed up to go on the 2nd trip down there. The first group went in January and consisted of mostly builders from our church that set up and built a kitchen area so that they could cook the food we would supply for them. Mike's group bought food to last them for a month and also did some construction work that the group prior didn't have time to finish.

He came home last night full of stories. I wish I had time to sit and write each one down.

He said that it is unlike anything he's ever seen or experienced. Imagine a city with nearly 4 million people in it and the unemployment rate being 95%! That's what it is in Port-au-Prince. People literally walk the streets and sleep wherever they can find a place. That might be a tent set up in the middle of town - or just on the street somewhere. 4 million people and NO traffic laws, or if there are any, no one follows them. Mike said that if they decide that a 2 lane road should be 6 lanes, they do it. If they decide that they want around you, they go around, even if it means driving in on-coming traffic. You want to run into another car and keep on driving, go right ahead. You want to take a box truck and fill it with as many people as can fit in the back, do it. You want to stop in the middle of traffic to buy toilet paper from someone in the street, yep, that's ok, too. He saw not one single stop sign in the 21 miles from PAP to the area they stayed and only 1 stop light. Which you could stop at if wanted or you could blow right through it if you decided that was the better option.

In America, all we know is structure and laws. Structure is a good thing. But, imagine not knowing any different. This is their life. It is unimaginable to me. We are no different than them, we were just blessed to be born in America. Looking at Mike's pictures makes me so thankful that God chose me to be born in this country. And yet I get upset when Walmart is too busy for my liking. Or when they are out of something I want to buy. How annoying to have to drive to ANOTHER nicely organized, well lit, clean grocery store. They drive or walk to a "produce" market in which the lettuce is mounded on the ground! And it's not trash, they eat that. We are so spoiled here. We have everything we could ever need or want at our fingertips, and we still gripe and complain that we don't have enough. Our houses are never big enough, our cars are never new enough, our bank accounts are never full enough. Maybe it would do us some good to actually need something every once in a while to really appreciate everything we have and how blessed we are.

I'll share more on his trip tomorrow. Lots of neat stories about the orphanage and the kids. This blog post could be miles long if I tried to share it all now. Here are a few pictures of life in Port-au-Prince. Now, go thank the Lord that you can run to Walmart to buy your sanitary food and that you don't have to sleep in a tent and bathe in whatever water source you can find that particular day.

Produce Market

Their Homes

Near the Grocery Store

Thursday, February 10, 2011

10 Years!

I tried writing this once already today and right at the end of the post, my computer did something weird and didn't save it! So disappointing!

I can't believe that 10 years have already gone by since Mike and I got married. I was thinking about our wedding day this morning and how awesome it was! I was a 24 year old girl just so excited and ready to be married to the guy I had been dating/engaged to for 5 1/2 years. Our wedding day was perfect. I wasn't the "bridezilla" that some girls are - HA! I was very calm and go-with-the-flow through the whole planning process and also through the whole wedding day. We had fun and laughed a lot! Just how I wanted the day to be!

Mike was still in school when we got married and graduated in May of 2001. He began the job search and of course we were just looking for jobs in St. Louis. That's where we lived and that's where we wanted to stay - forever! But, God had different plans for us! Mike got his first job out of college and that job moved us to Joplin, MO. We knew not a soul there. We went from living in a town filled with family, friends, our church, and everything we knew and loved to a town where we needed Mapquest to find anything! We quickly found a church and got in a great SS class. We met some great friends and really liked living there. The summer of 2002 we got some wonderful news - We were pregnant with our first baby! Everyone was so excited! We celebrated our 2 year anniversary in February and our sweet Macie was born on March 20, 2003. What a sweet baby she was! So content and happy! She still is to this day. Such a wonderful blessing to us!

When Macie was 10 months old, Mike got a new job and we packed up and headed north to Lawrence, KS. We still look back on that time and kind of laugh. We only lived there a year and it was a weird year. We were perfectly happy, but it wasn't home. It was a college town and with that brought some weirdness. HA! I guess that's true of any big college town, huh?

In January of 2005, Mike got a call from a recruiter asking him if he'd be interested in interviewing for a job in Arkansas. Mike jumped at the chance! I, on the other hand, jumped with some hesitation. In my defense, the only thing I knew about Arkansas was all the bad stuff you hear when you aren't from the state. You know, stuff like: Everyone marries their cousin, their favorite form of entertainment is cow tipping, etc. I wasn't so sure about it. I'm laughing just thinking about our first drive down. We were on Hwy. 71 crossing from Missouri into Arkansas and I was looking in every car trying to see what people "down here" looked like! HAHA!!! Mike finally said, "Chris, stop staring at people!" I don't know what I was looking for - people with 2 heads or something??!! Who knows! We finally got into Fort Smith and somehow we ended up on the wrong side of town. It wasn't a good first impression. I cried. Yes, just like I cried the first time we drove around every new town we moved to! But, just imagine, you are in a place where you don't know anyone, don't know where anything is, and you are going to have to start all over again. I think I deserve a few tears, right? We circled the city and ended up on Rogers Ave. We ate dinner at Red Lobster and I saw many things that I liked. Lots of good restaurants, a nice hospital, shopping, etc. I was starting to get on board with "this" Arkansas. Mike went on his interview the next morning and it went well. As we were eating lunch and getting ready to leave town, we got a call from the company asking us to come back because they had a job offer. We went back over there, got the offer, signed the contract and headed back to Lawrence to pack and move - for the 3rd time! This time, we knew we were putting some roots down. We bought our first home and one of the first days there I saw this church on TV that interested me. I asked Mike if he'd ever heard of a town called Lavaca? He said no, but looked it up online and found that it wasn't far from our house. The next Sunday, we loaded up 2 year old Macie, and made the drive to FBC-Lavaca. Five minutes into the sermon, Mike asked for my pen and wrote "We're joining here" on my bulletin. I agreed. We loved it! We joined the church the very next week and started getting involved. That summer, we got more great news - we were pregnant again and expecting our 2nd baby! Little Miss Maddie came roaring into our lives on February 20, 2006! She's such a sweet kid. A little spit fire, but sweet as can be, too! Her personality is more introverted than Macie, but she can make us laugh so hard with her silly side. She's an awesome blessing - we are so thankful God gave her to us!

Our lives this past 6 years in Fort Smith have been so great. We have grown as a couple, grown as individuals, became parents a third time to sweet Mabrie on September 3, 2010 and made some of the best friends any couple could ask for. God has blessed us more than we ever imagined. We aren't the same people we were 10 years ago. We've changed so much and I hope it's for the better. We love each other more now than we did on that cold February Saturday back in 2001. We are closer to the Lord than we were on that day, too. We've moved, laughed, cried, had babies, bought a house, tried to sell that same house - 3 times (HA!), made new friends, served in our church, gone on vacations, dates, visited family, put more miles on our cars than we could possibly count, but through it all, we wouldn't change a single thing. Each step in our journey has led us right where we are and right where we are is awesome! We want to continue to grow as a couple, grow in the Lord and grow as parents. We are blessed beyond anything we ever dreamed. So thankful that God made us for each other. I can't wait to see what our next 10, 20, 30, + years will be like. This is forever - just like we promised back on Feb. 10, 2001!

Happy Anniversary, Mike! I love you!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Surgery for Maddie & Mabrie is 5 Months - All on the same day!

Well, today was quite the day! It started at 5:00 a.m. when our alarm clock went off to get Maddie up and out the door for her outpatient surgery. She was born with a preauricular ear pit/cyst that had to be surgically removed. Normally, this type of surgery wouldn't be too worrisome, but because of the size of the cyst and it's proximity to her facial nerves, we were a little concerned. Thankfully, the surgery went very well and as far as we can tell, there aren't any issues with nerve damage! She seems to be feeling pretty good and hasn't complained too much about pain. She's one tough cookie! :) We prayed so much for a successful surgery and praise God for watching over and protecting her!

Another big thing happened today - Mabrie hit the 5 month mark! Amazing how fast those months have gone! I was just thinking that in one more month, she's already 1/2 way to 1 year old. Where do the months go? I think it goes faster with each child because you get busier and just lose track of time. I can honestly say that I don't even feel like we ever dealt with the typical "newborn" stage. She was born right at the beginning of the school year, my mom came and stayed that first week and after that, we were back in full swing! And that poor child has been hanging on for dear life ever since! HA! She is a pretty easy baby and deals fairly well with all the running around. Some days she's not too thrilled with me waking her from a great nap to go pick up one of the girls from school, but she rolls with the punches pretty well. She's eating about 4 times a day now. She does rice cereal in the morning and then veggies in the afternoon, with a bottle at each feeding. I stopped nursing her at 4 months old and she took to the bottle with no problems at all. It's funny to watch her when she sees me fixing it now because she knows exactly what it is and will reach for it and sometimes will even try to lunge out of my arms towards it! She's kind of a fighter - and has a temper that she'll gladly show you when something isn't going her way. She's rolling all over the place and even getting up on her knees and trying to crawl, but hasn't quite figured out the art just yet! She's been sleeping like a CHAMP since birth basically and through the night since 5 1/2 weeks old. She doesn't like her pacifier - but loves her first 2 fingers! She occasionally sucks on her thumb, but it's usually her fingers that she prefers. We have been so blessed by her! Macie and Maddie love her so much and they are great helpers. They do so much for me and it's been great having 2 older kids that are capable of helping with her. I look forward to watching her grow. I pray she grows up to love and serve the Lord! That's the most important thing and what I hope for all 3 of them more than anything!