Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tune Tuesday - modern folk music

If you are a fan of The Lumineers like I am you can't help but like Delta Rae.  They are a little less folksy at times but are very similar in sound.  This clip is a medley of parts of a few of their more popular songs - all of which I really like.

Enjoy and Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Dominican family

I need some DR in my day today so I want to share the most exciting thing to come from my trip. 

One of the biggest surprises about The DR was how much I fell in love with the people.  I expected to find a beautiful country and I did.  I expected to meet some people who were friendly and I did.  But across the board I fell in love with the spirit of the people who live there as well.  I was watching a video a client sent me today about a Puerto Rican man who is doing significant work in The DR with disabled people and advancing their support services - including expanding a Special Olympics type program in a big way in Santo Domingo.  As I watched the people interact I couldn't help but smile and think it was EXACTLY what I would expect to see from Dominican people.  They are always in motion, always smiling, always joyous and pretty loud.

I guess that's why I ended up completely blowing my one commitment out of the water while I was down there.  I knew when I went to The DR that there would be the possibility of meeting and sponsoring kids in the program but I made the decision I wouldn't sponsor any kids.  As I've told others and maybe even said on here, I decided my time and the money I spent to make the trip down there was going to be sufficient.

Well, God did different things in my heart.  I ended up deciding to sponsor three boys in the ILB program who I met and created relationships with.  Then, when I got home God nudged at me some more and I became convinced that I needed to sponsor my "here batta batta" girl from Los Robles.  So my Dominican family consists of three boys and a girl.

That's about right.

The first boy I decided to sponsor was Andry.  Andry just found me on Facebook and his message was so sweet.  He said he has been looking all over for me and was so happy to finally have found me.  I told him recently that I'll be back to visit again in October and his excitement was very evident in the message.  He made the picture of us his profile picture and for those of you who are my friends on Facebook you know there were numerous comments from his friends.  To answer the question from many of you - no, I have no idea what any of it meant. haha

Each of "my kids" had a moment for me.  Andry's was during the baseball game on Wednesday.  He was sitting on his motorcycle with his nephew whom he was taking care of that day because his brother in law had been in a bad motorcycle accident and I said my head was on fire (in Spanish - yup, one phrase I do know in Spanish is on fire) because I was an idiot and didn't take any hats down there with me.  My scalp was the only part of my body that got burned while I was there.  Without a second of hesitation, Andry took his hat off and put it on my head.  It seems like such a little gesture but to me it said more about who Andry is than any grand gesture would have.  He was willing to give me clothing off of his own back to make me more comfortable, without thinking about his own comfort.  I adore Andry.  He's seventeen and wants to be a lawyer if he doesn't make it in baseball - a fact I learned after I decided to sponsor him.  I can't wait to support him as he continues to grow up.  He is going to be a good man.

Andry, Carlos and "Shaq," Andry's nephew.  Andry is the one with no hat on - because it's on my head.
The second boy I decided to sponsor was Dionny.  Dionny, I've come to find out, is not actually old enough for ILB so while I still consider him one of my boys, I can't actually sponsor him yet.  Once he is thirteen years old though I'll be waiting. 

Dionny was just starting to get to know the boys and was always kind of on the outskirts of the ruckus.  When the guys and I were talking at the end of the baseball game and I told them I wanted to take some pictures he ran in from the side and jumped into the pictures, including getting in front with me and pushing his face against mine so hard I could hardly keep my head in the picture.  I knew I would sponsor him when that happened. 

He also earned the unfortunate nickname of "Shmooshface".

The third boy I decided to sponsor was Carlos.  During the time I was hanging out with the boys during the baseball game I could tell he was being teased in a typical good natured boy way but I couldn't tell what the boys were teasing him about.  I finally called Francis over and asked him to interpret for me.  Francis informed me that they were teasing Carlos because of his big lips.  Of course I was going to stand up for Carlos at that point so I told Francis to tell the boys for me that in America women would find that extremely attractive.  I might have used the phrase extremely sexy but I have no idea how Francis interpreted that.  The boys burst out in loud laughter and Carlos got very shy, ducking his head and blushing in a way that only a dark face can blush but from that moment on Carlos was always close by my side. 

That night at the dinner with the boys at Casa Bethesda, Carlos found me and remembered my name.  In English, I could tell he worked on since the game, he asked me if I remembered him.  Thankfully, God put his name at the forefront of my mind and I was able to call him by name and tell him of course I remembered him.  Carlos is a good kid but I can tell he has insecurities that stem from something I don't know about.  Maybe it's just being a 16 year old boy, but unlike the other boys on the team who clearly have strong self esteems Carlos is a bit different.  He gets angry when he doesn't perform the way he wants to.  He hangs tightly to some of the "cooler" kids.  My heart beats for Carlos.  I worry about him more than any of my other kiddos.  I've prayed for him every day since being back, sometimes on multiple occasions.  He's the one I really want to hug for a long time when I go back in October.

Dinner at Casa Bethesda.  Carlos is on the left.
Last, but definitely not least, is Nicol.  Nicol is the girl I told you a bit about in my Glove Story post.  I had such a great time with her the first day we played baseball in Los Robles but when I heard her little voice holler "here batta batta, swing batta" the second day I was there I realized that the time spent with her meant something to her.  I don't know why it took coming home and for me to hear God prompting me to sponsor her but it did.  Sponsoring Nicol was the final piece I needed in my family.  I love my guys but I needed an eight year old girl too.  Nicol wants to be in the military when she grows up.  I plan to bring her some baseball equipment when I go next because I know she wants to play with the boys.  She's like me.  We fit each other.

Those are my kids.  My Dominican Family.  My heart.

October is without a doubt going to be a fun family reunion.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tune Tuesday - Mr. Airplane flashback

I was on the Olympic Peninsula this last week visiting some clients I have out there. As I was riding the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston I was unexpectedly flooded with memories of my time there with Mr. Airplane - from the romantic dinners in Kingston (yes, that is possible) to walks through Port Gamble and sunsets over the water to crazy nights out in Poulsbo (yes, that's also possible) finished with dinner by firelight, it was all there. It surprised me and I had to smile at the memories.

I was then reminded of the song that was "our" song at the time - well more like my song for us. I have hilarious memories of Mr. Airplane picking songs and deciding this one was going to be "our" song and then playing songs that were so not us with a huge smile on his face. But to me Cain and Able by Josh Kelley will always be my Mr. Airplane song. I listened to it a few times on my drive up to Port Angeles and enjoyed the memories. It's a great song. I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

What happened down there?? Day 5

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ 20“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” 27Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” 28Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” 

The highlight of the week for me was Wednesday.  By Wednesday some of the unfarmiliarity was gone and I had a bit of a routine going.  I figured out it made sense to take a lukewarm shower after a jump in the pool at the end of the day and not try to take one in the morning.  I learned two pairs of socks each day was a necessity; one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  I learned breakfast wasn't the best meal of the day but lunch was out of this world good so as long as I ate enough fruit in the morning and took a granola bar with me for a midmorning snack I would be fine.  I figured out it was important to get to the dining room as early as possible in the morning if I was going to enjoy a good couple cups of coffee.  I learned the coffee was well worth popping out of bed more quickly than I normally do at home.  The people on my team were more familiar and the COTN staff and ILB kids were familiar faces, although names were still escaping me much of the time.

I had also learned how frustrating it was that I don't speak Spanish.  In my journal that night one of the first things I wrote down was - "I'm learning Spanish before next time!"

That morning we went to a game between the ILB team and the boys from Los Robles.  Makalea, Joanna and I made signs for the boys with thier numbers on them.  Thankfully, someone had sent me down with some markers.  They came in very handy and I was thankful for the donation.  The boys made a big point of making fun of the signs I made.  I KNOW I'm not the best artist but sheesh - rough crowd.  I made Jonathan take a picture of me with his since he was giving me such a hard time about it.  He changed his tune then and told me how much he liked it. 

During the game we started putting together the batting cage we would finish before we left and we cheered the boys on.  I spent some time observing and watching the game because I like watching baseball and because I couldn't really talk to the boys who were next to me in the dugout.  I found it a little awkard to try to communicate with the boys.  I felt rude that I couldn't understand them or speak their language and there wasn't always a translator around so I just sort of hung out with the guys and they kept a watchful eye on me.

Just because there is a game going on doesn't mean there isn't time for some homework

Eventually Francis, one of the interpreters, came over to where I was standing with the boys.  They started talking animatedly to him and he got a big grin on his face and started laughing and talking just as animatedly back to them.  He eventually looked at me with a Chesire grin and told me the boys were telling him they wanted to talk to me but they were being shy because they thought I was beautiful.  He informed them I wasn't scary and that I would love to talk to them and then he interpreted for a while until they got over their shyness and I did as well.  The change that took place at that point was awesome.  Really, I had about 10 Spanish words.  The boys were better at English than I was at Spanish so a lot of our communication was done via handmotions and gestures but the boys opened up to me and we laughed and joked with each other for a good 45 minutes.  The game was about done so we were just spending some time together. 

This is my favorite picture from the entire trip.  Emily snapped it when I wasn't paying attention and I love that the boys and I are all cracking up even though I know we probably had no idea what each of us was saying.  This moment changed my life and I will be forever grateful that Emily captured it for me.

Eventually, other boys realized what fun we were all having and a crowd gathered.  I told them I wanted to take some pictures and this hilarity ensued.

The game ended with an ILB win although that stopped mattering to me the moment Francis opened the communication channel for me with the boys.

Post game prayer - awesome
That afternoon we went back to Los Robles and played a scrimage with the boys we had just watched play against ILB.  It's a group of boys ILB can't afford to transport into Barahona so they have a team, coached by a former ILB boy Tony, and they play when they aren't in school.  I'm not a very good baseball player but I had fun playing right field and in between innings I spent time with some of the Los Robles kids.  I taught Nicol "Here bata, bata! Swing bata!" The field was on the outskirts of the sugar cane field where the kids' parents would work during harvest time.  We at time had to dodge goats and chickens and definitely had to look out for garbage.  There aren't any official bases but it didn't really matter.  We still laughed and enjoyed some good competition.  We lost 5-7 and probably wouldn't have been even that "in" the game had it not been for our Dominican ringers - Willy and Yuedy.

They have some really talented kids on the team.  It would be great if eventually ILB can bring boys in from bateys like Los Robles that are just a little far out of town.

Some graduates of ILB with one of the co-founders Ben

That night the ILB boys came over to Casa Bethesda for dinner.  We talked as best we could with no interpreters and just continued to get to know one another.  The boys all dressed in nice clothes and at the end of dinner we led a worship song.  Then one of the boys, Danilo, asked if he and the boys could lead one too.  The sound of all of those young male voices praising God was something I won't forget.  I didn't see a single boy not joining in.  They were joyous and happy to be there.  Grateful and humbled my heart was stolen. 100%.

A quick game of basketball

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Tune Tuesday - goodbye song

I've hesitated to put this song on here because I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea about where I am emotionally.  I love this song but it was extremely heartbreaking to me at one point not all that long ago.  When I was healing from my breakup with SHF this song played on Pandora and I knew within the first hearing that is said everything I needed it to.  I can listen to it now with no sorrow and it has new meaning for me.  In particular, on the album version of the song (part of which is missing on this youtube video) it ends with the spoken phrase "I'm done."  I think this is why I like it so much - it says goodbye and talks about what the person misses and then it moves on.  This is what I've had to do.  Not because I've wanted to but because you have to if you want to survive.  And if I'm anything it's a put one foot in front of the other survivor. 

So don't take my love of this song the wrong way.  I'm in a good spot but that doesn't mean I can't or don't love this song for what it is.