Posts filed under ‘Travel’

Reentry Sickness

No matter how much I wanted to, I didn’t wake up in El Salvador today. My week with Compassion International is over, and I’m grieving that.

I got home Friday night around 11pm and woke Orison (our then-4-year-old) and he greeted me very drowsily. In the morning he didn’t even remember it! But when he woke up Saturday morning, he was FIVE! That’s right, I got home just in time for his birthday.

We spent the day pretty quietly together as a family. But Abraham and I were so tired that by about 5pm we both knew we needed to get out of the house or we were going to be miserable until bedtime. In some random moment of insanity, Abraham suggested that we take Orison to ride a few rides at the Mall of America (something he’s only done a couple times and would be totally thrilled by).

So… it was Saturday night at the Mall of America. Not for the faint of heart, my friends. I don’t think we’d ever been there on a Saturday night before. It was so.stinkin’.busy. So full of people with waaaay too much.

As we were talking toward the amusement park area, I told Abraham, “I’m feeling a little sick to my stomach.”

“Literally?” He asks. (All too often I’m actually sick to my stomach, so he has to make sure….)

“No… more heartsick.”

“So, you’re sick to the stomach of your heart?”

“Exactly.”

I mean, the day before I was still seeing tin-roofed, dilapidated shacks that people call homes. The day before I was still in the thick of El Salvador and it’s poverty. And I was still there in my heart and mind. But somehow my body was travelling through the Mall of America.

Walking paradox, no?

I keep thinking about objects in space, and how they have to very carefully calculate how the object will reenter the earth’s atmosphere, or else any number of catastrophic ends will result (blowing up, exploding, catching on fire). Perhaps a trip to the Mall of America wasn’t the best reentry strategy.

I’ve already cried a few times today, my emotions just barely below the surface. I feel okay with that, though. If I were just pushing it all down and refusing to let it touch me, that would be unhealthy. My mentor tells me, “Don’t be afraid of tears. Tears are often a sign that the Holy Spirit’s at work.”

So that, for now, is my reentry strategy. Try to let the tears come as they need to. Remember what I saw. And try to avoid the Mall of America.

My El Salvador Posts

November 16, 2009 at 3:26 pm 37 comments

“This child deserves to know Jesus!” -Brother Guillermo

We all made it safely to El Salvador today (with all of our luggage)! Thanks to all of you who prayed for us and thought about us throughout the day.

First thing’s first: flooding. I mentioned that Hurricane Ida had passed through and substantial flooding had killed around 100 people. Many people have lost their homes, and some of the Compassion projects have incurred damage. Some of the Compassion-sponsored children have lost homes or been evacuated from their homes because they’re in areas at high risk for further landslides.

Thankfully none of the projects that we’re scheduled to visit were damaged. That makes things a lot easier, itinerary-wise, for our trip leaders (as you can imagine).

Today was a full day of travel and then meeting up with our tour guides. We drove through downtown San Salvador, had a wonderful lunch, and then went to the Compassion National Headquarters.

Compassion El Salvador office

They’ve been in this new building for about a year, having moved from a bunker with no windows for offices. It was a beautifully-maintained, well-run, organized office! What a blessing to this hardworking staff! I seriously have never seen an office of people so happy. We met every staff member and they just basically kept one-upping each other on the happiness scale.

We had a presentation by Brother Guillermo, the country director for Compassion El Salvador. And wow, what an awesome, Godly man!

Brother Guillermo

One thing that you should know about Compassion in El Salvador is that they have just added a new program, the Child Survival Program, this year. As Brother Guillermo was sharing about that and showing a couple stats and pictures, he said something that stopped my heart. He was showing a picture of a baby girl, probably about 3 months old, and he said in such a sincere, passionate voice:

“This child deserves to know Jesus!”

The tears filled my eyes as he said it again:

“This child deserves to know Jesus!”

And of course we, as sinners, have no rights to God. But that he loves us so much despite our sin that he still gives us access to Him is staggering. That we can share in his love, his grace, his joy, his peace, his wonderful plan of salvation… it’s amazing to me again today.

I’ve seen and heard so much already about Compassion’s model for their programs worldwide. They focus on the development of 4 key areas: physical, cognitive, socio-emotional, and spiritual. They are deeply invested in meeting these needs for their children. They have project managers that are continually evaluating each project to make sure they’re addressing all of these areas and they operate a training department to help the churches and projects in their weaknesses to achieve their goals. It’s so cool!

I just want to encourage you today to think and pray about sponsoring a child from El Salvador. They deserve to know Jesus.

November 9, 2009 at 10:54 pm 22 comments

Hurricane in El Salvador: Please pray!

Just got a link from our trip leader, Shaun Groves, sharing the news that there was a hurricane in El Salvador last night, and that 91 people are believed to be dead.

Read the story here.

Of course we have no idea at this point how this will affect our trip. Almost certainly, children and families sponsored by Compassion have lost the little they had in the last 24 hours.

So pray for us. Pray that we can love people well in the midst of their disaster, if that’s what we come up against. Pray that we will trust God in ways that are beautiful and attractive to the people that we encounter, even as we proclaim that we trust in the God who controls the winds and waves.

November 8, 2009 at 8:02 pm 9 comments

Compassion Countdown: 4 days til El Salvador!

*Warning: this is a disjointed, brain-dump post as I try to organize my thoughts and life before my El Salvador trip*

In some ways, I’m totally in denial that I’m leaving the country and my family in four days.

In other ways, I’ve been anticipating and preparing. For example, I’ve been trying to make some freezer meals for Abraham and the kids to help them along the way. They should be well-stocked with spaghetti sauce and wild rice soup. I figure if I get one more meal made, that should be sufficient (taking leftovers into account). I mean, I’m only gone for five days. And if they get really desperate they can always order pizza or make scrambled eggs.

I’m going to meet our family’s sponsor child while I’m there! I’m so excited about that. I have yet to get gifts for him and his family. What I learned in our team meeting the other day is to think practically, and to think about the whole family. Toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, deoderant, and maybe some small items like photo albums and little toys for the kids.

I think I’ll get our little guy a soccer ball with a pump for a special gift. That way he can use it with his friends and siblings and everyone can enjoy it.

I had a good idea last night to bring some of my extra stashed yarn and needles along to give away to women/moms there who knit! And if they don’t know how to knit, maybe I’ll give a knitting lesson! Good thing I’ll have a translator! And some things can be done through demonstration, so how cool would that be???

And of course I chose yesterday to paint my laundry room. I am such a random weirdo. I mean, who does that? Apparently I do. I think I respond to stress by choosing to take on more stress. Actually, painting feels more like an accomplishment. So maybe it’s that I take on projects that I can control when there’s so many other things out of control.

And who psychoanalyzes their painting? Apparently, I do.

November 5, 2009 at 11:54 am 23 comments

One of the Reasons I’m Stoked for My Compassion Trip: Child Survival Program

As some of you know, I’m heading to El Salvador very soon (12 days!!!) as a blogger for Compassion International. As the trip draws closer, I’m getting really excited about the work I’ll be able to witness, and humbled that I get to catalogue it here.

Many of you know about Compassion’s work, and like many of you, I thought until a couple months ago that Compassion was exclusively a child sponsorship program.

Oh friends, we were sooooo wrong.

Turns out there are three unique programs targeting different stages of child development.

The youngest children served by Compassion are still in the womb! Compassion provides a beautiful ministry called the Child Survival Program. It offers:

  • csp-weighprenatal care and infant survival training for mothers and caregivers, as well as spiritual guidance and education, such as literacy and income-generation training
  • ongoing health screenings and immunizations for the children
  • child development training for mothers of children under 4

Awesome, huh?

This is a program that I’m very eager to see first-hand. Most of us here in the States take our childrearing skills and education for granted. Our mothers were educated and had resources to raise us. And now we are educated and have resources to raise our children. As huge as that is, conceptually, we take it for granted.

I hope you’ll read the post, Child Survival 101, and learn a little more as I start my journey. That way, when I’m actually in the country, you’ll be all caught up on what I’m talking about and we can focus on the stories, the people, and the lives that matter so much to God. Some of them are being knit together even now.

Thanks for being interested in my trip to El Salvador. And if you have questions about the Child Survival Program that you want me to ask when I’m there, post them in the comments! I want to go as an ambassador for all of you!!!

Can you tell I’m getting excited?

October 28, 2009 at 12:52 am 14 comments

Blogs I Read: Elizabeth Esther

When Abraham and I were in California a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting one of my favorite bloggers—Elizabeth Esther!

I’ve been reading her blog for at least a year, which is a mix of articles and posts about life. You’ll find her writing about family, faith, politics—really whatever is on her mind and heart. And when she shares what’s on her heart, it’s always in a very real way, never with a polished facade.

She also writes occasionally about her experiences of getting out of an abusive fundamentalist church. I come from such a different background that these posts always fascinate me. And she was more than willing to answer my questions when we got together at her kitchen table.

She made us Greek food and chocolate chip cookies (my faves), let us hang out with her kids, and even talked her husband into taking a break during his work day to come hang out with us (thanks, Matt!).

I really hope you’ll visit her blog and poke around. She’s a great writer.

You know how there’s just some people you know you’re going to get along with? Well, she’s one of those for me.

elizabethesther

Other blogs I read:

September 29, 2009 at 10:17 pm 5 comments

Do pedicures come with guarantees?

When we were in Santa Barbara, California last week (a place that has recently been added to my mental list of “Favorite Places”), I got my first pedicure.

I know, I’m thirty years old and I’ve never had a pedicure. I honestly had no idea what the big fuss was about. But I’m happy to report that 45 minutes of pampering to my tired old feet was something spectacular that I wish could happen on a frequent and regular basis.

We strolled into this nail place around 7:30pm in the funky, fun shopping district of Santa Barbara (State Street, for those of you who know it). I was hesitant to spend the money (of course), but Abraham insisted. It wasn’t that it cost all that much, I just have issues with spending money on stuff like that. Anyway…

There were two Asian women working that night. One spoke decent English, but the other one spoke almost none. But she didn’t even need it—she was speaking some unknown foot love language that is kept secret from the population at large. She was the pedicure master.

I had a difficult time picking out what color I wanted, so picked a few finalists and had Abraham pick his favorite from those. He chose a deep burgundy red that I liked a lot. So I went with it.

The pedicure was nothing short of fantastic. There was lots of rubbing, snipping, filing, polishing… my toenails have never shone like that!

I was transfixed by the pretty color and how professional they looked. I never thought of my at-home toenail jobs as unprofessional, but I had now seen a whole new level of potential for my piggies, and I was diggin’ it! Imagine my sadness when I discovered a chip in my polish just two days later!

For all you pedicure veterans, is this normal? Obviously I can’t go back to Santa Barbara (as much as I’d like to) and get it fixed, but do pedicures usually have such a short life? Will nail salons fix it within a certain window of time?

I was definitely thinking it would last a week. Were my expectations totally overblown?

September 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm 48 comments

I’m a compulsive unpacker.

We arrived home in Minneapolis last night after what felt like a never-ending flight. A movie would’ve sped things along, but alas, no movie.

After we reconnected with the kiddos and got our suitcases into the house it was already 10:30pm. Most people would’ve just called it a night, but not a compulsive unpacker.

I don’t know, but there’s something about getting home and getting all that trip stuff out of my life. I want to be able to start the day fresh the next morning, focusing on being back at home.

It sometimes annoys Abraham, who would rather just let the suitcases lie until the next morning (or maybe the day after that, or until he realizes he no longer has any clean clothes). 🙂

But getting the dirty clothes out of the suitcases and into the washing machine, getting all those toiletries put back in their right place, etc. just makes the next day so much better.

What about you?

Are you like me—gotta do it right away? Or do you need a night to readjust and you’ll think about the suitcases tomorrow? Or are you like Abraham—you’ll unpack when you can’t scare up any more clean clothes?

September 18, 2009 at 3:48 pm 53 comments

Getting stung really hurts! Oh yeah, and California’s cool.

Right now, Abraham and I are enjoying the views of southern and central California to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. My awesome parents came from PA to be with our kids (thanks, Mom & Dad)!

Today we took on “The PCH” (see Abraham’s post for a funny discourse on CA highways), which stands for the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 1.

It’s the windy one that travels along the stunning west coast of America. One word for that experience: stunning. I said to Abraham, “Everyone should do this drive before they die.” It’s really that amazing (and I’m really that good at exaggerating).

My camera is a really crappy point & shoot, so it won’t do justice to the awesomeness of what we saw today, but I’ll attempt to include you in it anyway.

elephantsealsAt a beach near Cambria, CA where we watched elephant seals!

waitingareaA very cool restaurant called Nepenthe in Big Sur. This was their waiting area!

lunchspot-1-1

One of our stops along the PCH was at this state park where you could hike along a mountainside trail for 1/4 of a mile or so. I got to the end and started reading one of the state park plaques and felt this horrible feeling in my right hip. It kind of felt like a sting, but I couldn’t be sure.

You see, I’d only been stung by a bee one time in my life. It was when I was probably 14 years old, and I was walking and talking to a friend. And a bee flew into my mouth and stung me on the tongue. My mouth, people!!! It was horrible. And since it was my first sting, I had no idea whether I was going to be fine or if my tongue was going to swell up and choke me to death.

Anyway, back to the horrible stinging feeling in California. I thought for sure it was just my point & shoot camera in my pocket (you know, the crappy one) digging into my leg or something. So I tried to ignore it.

But it would not be ignored. It just kept getting worse and worse. The pain was shooting down my leg. “Surely this is not my camera,” clueless Molly finally concludes.

I started digging for the source of the horrible pain I was experiencing and finally found a bee in the pocket of my capris, stinging the heck out of my leg. And then he was sure to get me on the hand on his way out, just for good measure.

I know I probably sound like a total wuss, but it’d been so many years since I’d been properly stung that I just want to remind all of you…

Bee stings really hurt. Just go ahead and avoid them. Thankfully I was able to recover enough to still enjoy lots more of these:

beachA beautiful beach view, taken immediately before the sting.

September 16, 2009 at 1:15 am 27 comments

A Chance to Trust: Traveling to El Salvador in November with Compassion International

So there was a little buzz around the Twittersphere this morning when it was announced that I’m joining Compassion International‘s next blogger trip to El Salvador in November.

Most of this so-called buzz was from my good friends, who sent me messages saying things to the effect of, “What???”

So to save myself the effort of having to write back to each of you—Yeah, so… Lord willing, I’m going to El Salvador in November.

el salvador

Okay, the story goes…

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Shaun Groves, who is the Blogger Relationship Manager of Compassion’s blogger trips, asking if I’d be interested in joining this trip to El Salvador in November. I’d followed a couple of their trips through other blogger friends, and been fascinated by the stories I’ve read.

I also thought it was really cool and innovative on Compassion’s part to use bloggers and their influence in this way.

Anyway, back to the story (by the way, this is what it’s like to have a real conversation with me—rabbit trails, rabbit trails)… so that night I mentioned the email to Abraham and our good friend Wes, and they were both really encouraging about my going. I was really nervous, mostly feeling like I don’t have a good enough blog to do something like this. But they persisted, and the thoughts of the trip persisted in my head and heart.

I’ve always felt really intimidated to start traveling down the road of greater global poverty awareness, social justice issues, etc.—mostly because I felt insecure. I’ll be honest about my insecurities and failings. Ready?

  • There’s too much information. I wouldn’t know where to start.
  • There’s always people who know more than me and I’m gonna look like an idiot if I try to join this effort.
  • I don’t have time.
  • I have way too much of my own pain right now.
  • I’m forgetful when I have food and clean water and money for groceries.
  • I might actually have to change if I know more.
  • What if I’m a flash-in-the-pan kind of person? What if I get all gung-ho and then lose steam? (Again, pride telling me I’ll look like an idiot, and me listening to that, instead of to God’s voice.)

But back in the fall, right after Felicity’s first birthday, I was treated by my dear friend Jenna (lovingly known for her quirky online alterego, jennapants) to a concert by Sara Groves, Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, and others to highlight some ministries doing work with poverty, slavery, and childhood prostitution. I was shaken by it. I remember coming home and asking Abraham random things like, “Do you want to become an abolitionist with me?”

I remember wanting so deeply to get outside of myself for a little while and remember the plight of those around the world who have it so much worse than me.

But it’s been hard. To be honest, year #2 without Felicity has felt so much harder on many levels. A good friend of mine (whose 24-year-old son died a few weeks before Felicity) told me recently, “Year One is the year of shock. Year Two is the year of feeling.” How true that’s been for me.

But in all of that pain, I’ve still felt a tugging and longing to be part of this global effort outside of myself to see change in God’s big world.

I know things like poverty, prostitution, and slavery matter to God. Jesus told us that a cup of cold water matters to him.

So I’m trusting God that none of these experiences and longings have been accidental, that he is indeed doing something in my heart to bring greater measures of healing, bring me to a place of deeper dependence on him, show himself to me in new ways… I’m eager.

I’m trusting him that these non-accidents are going to set a tone for Year #3, the theme of which is yet to be experienced.

I really hope you’ll stay tuned through November and pray me through the trip to El Salvador. I’m really excited to share with you all what God is doing in that little country in His great big world.

August 25, 2009 at 11:24 pm 51 comments

We used to be happy people… I even have proof.

In early September 2007, Abraham and I traveled to Wheaton, IL for “one last hurrah” before our second child would be born.

We left our 2-year-old with my mother-in-law and hit the road in a sporty-looking rental—a highly impractical red Pontiac. I remember we stopped for a leisurely lunch on our way there, and I kept my feet up on the dash for a good portion of the six hour trip to prevent swelling.

While in Wheaton, we distributed books to the college students, compliments of Desiring God (the company my husband works for). We also went out to eat, talked with students, visited with Abraham’s brother and his family and other good friends. We were footloose and fancy-free.

And I was 36 weeks pregnant.

We took this picture of us to email to Orison so that he’d know we were thinking about him and missing him.

We Love Orison

What strikes me most about this picture is how happy we look.

One of the things I’ve been grieving this last year is simply that I used to be a happy person. It used to be that my days were primarily happy, with the occasional interruption of melancholy or difficulty. For the last 22 months, the opposite has been mainly true.

One of my good friends uses the phrase “secondary losses.” I think that’s what this year has been—a whole bunch of secondary losses. The loss of innocence. The loss of happiness. The loss of youth.The loss of simplicity. And when you experience those secondary losses, you grieve.

I look at those two people and truly wonder if that is the same person I see in the mirror each day. I feel like I’ve aged something like 10 years since then.

Today, memories like this one make me cry—hard. We had no idea that we were a few weeks away from one of the worst tragedies we’ll ever face.

So if you’re a mom like me, living without one (or more) of your children, take heart that this is indeed one of the hardest things you will ever live through. But that also means that you lived.

The lines around your eyes will deepen. But that also means you’ve seen. You’ve seen the chaos of pain. Your eyes have and will shed tears for people in their pain that you could’ve never understood before. This is a blessed gift.

Hold on with me. We’re gonna make it. We might not be the happy-go-lucky gals we used to be, but our lives here will tell stories of indescribable loss and the love of a God who made us to be exactly who we are—every line, every gray hair. None of it is wasted.

July 23, 2009 at 12:15 am 111 comments

More From Palm Springs

So far we’ve survived the heat!

Here’s a picture of the mist machines all over the place.

We’ve had some pretty good food here. We went to a burger joint on the strip, and I thought this one would amuse a few people:

This was some of the best chips and salsa I’ve ever had.

And this is the view from our room. There’s a little balcony to sit on, but you can only bear it in the morning. It’s 7pm and it’s still 108 degrees, so there’s not a lot of outside time unless it’s in the pool.


June 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm 11 comments

I Lost My Coat(?) in Louisville

Not exactly the country croon I’d expect to hear, but it’s what I’m singing today.

I have this really great short trenchcoat in tan that goes with absolutely everything. Yesterday, when I was at the Band of Bloggers thingy, I lost it. I definitely wore it into the building, but when I left, it was nowhere to be found.

It was not at that hotel’s lost & found. My last hope is that someone from Together for the Gospel picked it up and brought it over to the T4G lost & found. I’ll check there this morning.

So if you are reading this post and have any information on my tan coat, PLEASE let me know. I was so disappointed with myself yesterday for losing it.

Update 2:15pm, Wednesday–THEY FOUND IT!!! I’m so excited.

April 16, 2008 at 6:53 am 8 comments


We're the Pipers!

Sponsor a Child!

Sponsor a Child with Compassion!

On Browsing and Commenting

You may be a stranger,
but you're not a stalker.

Categories

What the Tweet?!?