Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Goodbye is hard

It was so hard to say goodbye to our friends in Mexico. The night before we were to leave, Sierra was up half the night, just crying her heart out over missing Mexico and her friends, her little babies at the pre-school and her little hamster Oliver. Everyone wanted to know when we'd be back and we didn't know what to say. Only the Lord knows!

The girls in my English class at the orphanage were all getting downcast about a week before it was time to go. Carmela stopped coming until the last day, and I knew it was because she was so sad. My heart was heavy and it was so sad to say goodbye.

When we went to say goodbye to Mari (Jasmine's mom), she just burst out sobbing and clung to me for several minutes crying and crying. It was so hard! Goodbyes are so hard!

By the time morning rolled around, it was time to go. Head 'em up, move 'em more tears, just march. Little old Ramon came out to help us load up, and so did Javier. I've really grown to love Ramon and was sad to say goodbye to him.

So, we loaded up the truck and moved on to Beverly...Hills, that is...haha. We had told Ramon we'd help him bring a few bags to the US since we were stopping over in Anaheim for a few days and that's where his family lives and he wanted to have some of his stuff taken there. Boy...that one falls into the category of not knowing what you are agreeing to!! He loaded us up with 5 (count 'em...1,2,3,4,5) big, huge bags - each about 60-75 pounds! Two of them were actually those giant yard waste bags. He was certain there would be porters to help us through....but no...not a porter to be found the entire time!! I was so exhausted trying to lug those 5 bags, PLUS our own stuff!!

We got to the bus station to take a bus to the Guadalajara airport...the bus was supposed to leave at 4:30 am. We got there at 4:15 am and everything was closed up. I was a little worried because our flight was at 7:20 am. We didn't have one minute of spare time to be late. I was also worried that all the extra luggage would arouse suspicions and we would be pulled aside for additional checking.

There were two men there who were very friendly - one of them lives in California and he was very chatty. They'd been there since 2:30 am and were also waiting for the bus to Guadalajara. Finally, about 4:25 am the guy came to sell us our tickets. The bus was late - it didn't get there until 4:40...and I was feeling anxious!! I kept worrying about it and worrying about it and Sierra kept saying "Mom - you need to leave that to the Lord!" I was thankful for her words, but also a little bugged! Haha...I got over it quick enough. She had to tell me several times because I'd give up the worry for about a minute and then pick it up again - you know...that worrying just might make the bus go faster! I suppose not.

At any rate, Sierra's new friend - the guy from the bus station - gave her $5 for Disneyland and she was just pleased as punch about that. American dollars looked so strange!! We finally pulled into the airport about 6:15 hour until our flight left. I sent Sierra off to find a porter while I got the bags off the bus. She did find a guy with a handtruck and he helped us get into line for our flight, but then left us there with all of our bags! There were about 40 people ahead of us, so I had quite a ways to drag our stuff...first one bag, then back for another, and then another...and so on and so forth until they were all pulled forward - just about the time the line started to move again! Sierra ran off to use the bathroom and the people behind me were trying to cut in front because of my luggage moving issues and the lady was coming by to look at our documents and I was feeling pretty darn frazzled!!!

We finally got up toward the front of the line. They were checking everyone's bags and unzipping them and searching through...they were opening boxes that were taped and tied shut and I was anticipating some issues with our many bags. When we were about 3rd in line, a guy at the counter pointed to me and asked if we were traveling together (me and Sierra) and I said yes and he motioned me to the counter! I didn't get my bags checked! We just went right up and plopped them on the bag counter! I was so thankful and so relieved. We were pretty significantly over-limit with the bags, but he only charged us $51! I was feeling really good. We got our tickets with 45 minutes to take off, and then went to go through the line to get checked. We got through pretty quickly and with no problems...we headed to our gate and they loaded us up the bus that would take us to our airplane - we didn't get checked there, either! The Lord was really with us, because we ended up not getting checked anywhere! So, we loaded up and that was that - we were on our way.

We got to LAX and were heading out to get our luggage. Some lady in the customs department was waving to us that it was fine to cut through the line so we did and went over to get our luggage. I started thinking that it was strange that we didn't get our passports checked and verified so I went and asked another official looking guy - turns out we misunderstood and were supposed to get in line to do that, but they just took us up to another guy who looked over our passports and stamped us through. We got our luggage and loaded it up on two of those handcarts, but everything kept falling off because there was so much and those black plastic bags don't exactly sit squarely. That was frustrating and I was sweating and frazzled and I'm sure the people behind us were thinking some unfriendly things about us! Oh well...we finally got through, got out to the curb and picked up a van to Disneyland within minutes! Our driver was hilarious and was really complaining about our bags, but in a good natured way, and I really liked him.

We ended up sitting next to a woman on her way to a convention for psychologist's and she was also a Christian, and her daughter was getting ready to leave and go to Costa Rica with her family for 6 months to do missions so it was really cool to sit with her and talk. She was from Chico, which is our next step toward going to missions (more on that next time).

We finally got to our hotel and got checked in - the guy at the front desk was so nice. We called Ramon's family and they came and got his stuff, so we were down to just our two backpacks (Praise the Lord!). We went to Disneyland, but within two hours came back because we were so tired and we went to bed! Our first American meal??? Taco Bell!!! HAHA! What goobers, huh?

So, back in the USA....still thinking it's pretty strange to put the TP into the toilet and US Dollars are looking pretty strange. It's weird to speak English and have everyone around us understanding what we are saying...guess we'll speak Spanish when we want to talk in "code"...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Big Surprises

Well, you may have noticed that I haven't been blogging much in the past few weeks...that's because we had a big surprise coming up and I didn't want to ruin it!

Oh gosh, where to begin? Well...a few months ago I started to realize that I was doing quite a bit to help the people of Mexico and I loved it - I can definitely see that this is part of the calling on my life. Both Sierra and I feel like we thrive in these conditions and we love the people we've come to know. We love the culture, and we love being servants.

I began to realize, however, that something was missing. We were providing people with food, clothing, money, toys....many things that they needed for TODAY. But what about TOMORROW? What happens when we leave? What hope will these people hold onto for their futures and the futures of their children and families?

I also was beginning to see some of the side effects of giving, giving, giving to people. It was robbing them of their dignity to provide for themselves, of the pride that comes in working hard. It was causing greediness and jealousy to come out in the children, along with a demanding spirit. In other words, it was not always bringing out the best in people!

Now, believe me...I still love to give to people. I want to serve them and bring joy, hope and happiness into the hearts of people who don't have a lot of that. I will never forget how excited Jasmine was to receive that barbie doll. It is my privelege to serve others and I find a deep joy in doing so.

What I realized, however, is that I want to give them more...something everlasting, that will continue to provide hope and joy - the true kind that comes from deep within our spirit. I realized that people need more than food and clothes and shelter - for certainly these are the basics and we all need them...but people need their spirits nurtured in addition to their physical needs. I began to realize that I was ready to take my own faith walk deeper and that I was desiring to share with them the hope I have, the hope in Christ Jesus - a hope that is everlasting and will endure beyond this life.

I started to look into missionary programs and decided to pursue an opportunity with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). When I first became a Christian 15 years ago, I was on fire to go do missions, and I started applying to YWAM at that time. It ended up not working out at that time. So anyway, I started the application process to YWAM for a school that starts January 15, 2006. I realized that I would want to spend the holidays with my family before leaving for the 6 month mission and so began to make preparations to come home a bit earlier than expected.

As you may guess...this is where the "big surprise" comes in (hehe). I changed my flight and my parents knew about what was going on...but not my sister. My parents had just come home from Israel and so they invited my sister and her family over to see the pictures and visit....after they were here for a little bit, Sierra and I came running out of the bedroom yelling "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!" was SO great! My niece Allie was jumping up and down and my sister was jumping up and down and everyone was so excited! It was awesome! They couldn't even believe that we were home! We had lots of fun visiting that night.

The next day we went to church and it was fun to see everyone again. Afterward, we went "GEOCASHING" with my sister and some other people in the church - have you tried this? It is SO MUCH fun! It's basically like a scavenger hunt using GPS machines to find locations and you have to try to figure out clues and stuff. We did it as a race with 5 teams and then pizza afterward....what a blast. I definitely want to do it again.

So, we've been home for 6 days now and have been having a great time relaxing and visiting and having a cup of (good) coffee here and there. It's been a huge blessing to be here with my family...they are so, so, so special to me!