Sixty Semillitas

Loreto is a woman I hardly know and yet I feel I have read her autobiography ten times over. Having been introduced to her through a mutual friend, I soon fell in love with this woman and how she came to start a school for the disabled called Casa Loreto.

Loreto’s story begins over 40 years ago with the birth of not one but two children with severe physical and mental disabilities. As she shares the story she inserts details of joyous days seeing her children learn to do basic movements like walking, learning how to get on a bus, how to eat, how to hold a pen to write.  She shares difficult times, where there was no money to send them to schools that would accept children with severe learning disabilities, where there was not enough money for food, where days were difficult due to the hard work required to teach, feed, bath, clean and look after her children with her beloved husband.

A generous woman entered her life over 25 years ago, offering to cover the cost to send her to a special training program in Philadelphia which she gladly accepted. She returned not only with a strong desire to implement what she had learned for her own children, but to open a free school for other families who needed this type of help but could not afford it. Her father’s death presented not just loss, but opportunity, for she saw that his house could be converted to a small school, and that she could move closer to her dream to see that no child of autism, down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy or other disability would be told that they were not worth anything, a mistake, meant to be discarded or worse. Her idea was to inspire the world to see that each little child, no matter his or her abilities or disabilities, is made in the image of God Himself.

This is a woman of faith of radical proportion.

Twenty-five years later, her small school includes a tiny room nestled in the heart, where she and her husband live with the most minimal creature comforts. Their home is surrounded by room upon room of sensory treasures for the nominally-paid therapists who come daily to help the students advance their learning programs. One room looks like a jungle gym replete with monkey bars, another looks like a pilates studio with excercise balls and soft floor mats for physical therapy.  Upstairs we see miniature arts and crafts studios, smattered in books and colors and feathers and fanciful things to touch and experience. Her dedicated therapists follow her teaching methods using sights, sounds, touch,  and taste-based therapy. Even the lunch hour is a special time, learning how to cook and clean a simple lunch together, washing hands, preparing the table, eating a sandwich or a bowl of rice and beans. Loerto´s  husband provides daily driving and meal preparation for the students so that their mothers can make a living cleaning homes, selling tortillas, repairing hamacas. His role in the school has been integral from day one, not only as Loreto´s rock, but also as a crucial cog in the wheel of daily work. She admits that by the world´s standards they are poor, but scoffs as she says this is hardly true.

The director of the school where my children attend asked a group of parents last fall to kick-off a school-wide social outreach initiative. After much work and sweat by a small group of border-line maniacal moms wanting to make ¨Be the Change¨ more than a t-shirt slogan, we have had the great fortune to open doors between students and the needy in our community. Yesterday, we brought three groups of students to Casa Loreto for an interactive field trip and introduction to the project. These fortunate chosen, seated on the floor of Loreto´s humble patio, felt her words jump through their veins … words of passion, commitment, love, work ethic, drive and humility. They heard first-hand from a woman who has given every ounce of her life to serve not only her own family of special needs, but to others in similar circumstances. To call Loreto courageous would be an understatement.

Seated in the back row, I listened intently for an undertone to her message of grand inspiration and perspiration. Those of us on the organizing team were aware of something else going on in the background, a great sadness, a large stone on the road as she would put it, in Loreto’s life. On Wednesday her husband was admitted to the hospital with an advanced form of stomach cancer. His treatment was scheduled to begin imminently. I listened carefully to her remarks, combing her words for any signs of strain and stress, despair, guilt or fear for what lay ahead. I expected to hear a story punctuated by a message of coping through storms, dealing with grief, handling fear of loss. Instead what I heard over and over was the simple message of hope and joy. Joy through the suffering, joy through the struggle, joy through the journey, joy through the giving. I could detect hardly a flicker of sadness in her wildly enthusiastic and inspirational message to dozens of teenagers looking for answers in a broken world.

It is with heavy heart that I draw this post to a close by sharing that Loreto’s husband died this morning, in her arms.

When I received the news my heart was broken for a woman who, less than twenty-four hours prior, had once again laid down her life for the life of another, in this case, not for the students in her so-called ¨impoverished¨school, but for the dozens of students from a school of ¨great resources¨ by the world´s standards. She placed importance and intention on these young people, lovingly calling them little semillitas, or little seeds, and challenging them to the call for a life lived out in faith and love for others. She spent her day with them because she sees them the same as she sees her own students, little reflections of God Himself.

Loreto gave to our students this gift while at the same time giving her husband her undying love until the end.  May the remainder of her life be a living testimony of a life worth living, and may these sixty little seeds fall on tender ground and plant deep roots of change in this world.

 

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Fruit & Fruition

The following post is shared with permission. Tanya MacIntosh is one of the group leaders for this year’s Fluevog Aid Trip.

The first thing I learned on this trip is how to choose a Yucatan banana that’s perfectly ripe, a banana from Darcy’s garden.  At home, a banana is ready when it’s yellow not green, firm yet easy to peel. You know what I’m talking about – that perfect banana.  Here, it’s not enough that the banana is yellow. Here, it has to start splitting down the seam, ready to share its flavour with you. These little bananas are so good!  So sweet! Plus, knowing they’re from your friend’s garden makes them taste even better. Think of eating tomatoes from your grandmother’s garden – these tomatoes always taste better than what you’d buy at the supermarket.  It’s like this produce has more love in it or something.

Going into our fourth Fluevog Aid Trip, there are so many aspects that have changed, paired with so many projects and people that are known to those of us returning.  It’s been a real gift to have three years of experience in our back pocket that we pulled out and built on to develop this trip to make it even more of a Fluevog experience.  There has been an organic, natural evolution to this year’s planning, from tailoring the schedule to make sure our team gets the full flavour of the Yucatan to tailoring our service projects to best serve the people and communities we’re here to help.  This year, the trip is fresh but still familiar.

Eating another banana this morning, I wondered about what other weird and unexpected things we’d learn this week: weird and unexpected like the right way to eat a banana.  Who knew that was a thing, right? The best part is knowing that these weird and unexpected things will be shared, experienced together, and will be part of this tapestry that we’re weaving as a team as we do a little good.  And, it’s cool that we’ll be sharing it with you. We’re all in this together.

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Words of Wisdom

Granted, there might be a bit of google in this next love letter from Jacqueline, but I had to share it anyway as one never knows when the mail will abruptly stop coming.  She has a way of getting in deep with her letters to me.  To the original author, I apologize and ask that he or she refer to point #2.

October 15, 2018

From Jacqueline

1 Be thankful for what you have youl end up having more. if you 
concentrate on what you don't have you will never ever have enough.

2 forgiveness is a virtue of the brave

3 ther are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history 
yet to be made

4 It is impossible to live with out faling at something unless you 
live so cautiously than you might as well not have lived at all in 
with case you fail by default

love you mom

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Love Notes from Children

September 16, 2018

Upon returning home

Mom

Thank you for ol of the things you have done for me. I can’t bolive howe much you have done for me. 1 you reisd me. 2 you fed me. 3 you holded me. 4 you drive me to scool every day. 5 you reed with me. 6 you alwais toce me in. thank you for everything. you are the best. I mised you so so much. my hart will never be done whith you. alwase with you you are never alone.

From Jacqueline

 

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Blind but Not Alone

A person who cannot see or hear must feel a profound sense of loneliness. To be abandoned by one’s own family would only deepen the pain and despair. Martes was shut out of the world for eleven years, unable to communciate, trapped in the abyss of silence. Until now.

Martes* is a grandparent living at La Casa de los Abuelos along with 50 other elderly.  These fragile and wounded souls and bodies arrive weekly to the loving arms of Estela who brings them across the threshold with no questions asked.  Their stories are varied and their physical and mental health needs are severe.  Restricted to wheelchairs and walkers they spend their days in a simple abode, not the kind of place you might fancy for your own, but a home all the same, provided by a mother called to care for her elderly children.

Martes was dropped at the doorstep one Tuesday morning eleven years ago.   There was no note, no information, no goodbye hug, no talk about seeing him soon. He was left alone on the street with no money and no one.  What made his situation more tragic is that he is blind and deaf. He was given the name Martes, meaning Tuesday, as there was no way to even know his real name, much less to understand anything about his life.

As is her daily practice, Estela opened her home and found him a place of refuge. She cared for him : bathing, feeding, comforting and providing for his needs. For eleven years, her ability to communicate with this homeless man has been almost impossible for lack of a language between the seeing and the non-seeing, the speaking and the non-speaking.

Until Tuesday, March 13th.

What follows is the miraculous story of a woman named Debi Brady who was introduced to Martes through an interesting turn of events.

“My husband, Johnny and I are here in Merida because we watched one too many International House Hunter shows that made us feel we were being called to a better climate, far away from Oklahoma with its tornados, earthquakes and ice storms. On our quest for the perfect place, we heard Merida is a safe colonial city and my all-time dream was to live in an old colonial style home with indoor/outdoor living. So we came down twice to visit then made the decision to retire the following year. My vision coming here was to simply relax, enjoy the sights and make new friends and lots of memories.

Shortly after my arrival to Merida, I began to read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It made me question what my real purpose was here and as a Christian, what I should be doing with all my spare time. It made me look outside of myself to how I could contribute to someone else’s needs. About that time someone on my Facebook page posted some needs of the Casa de los Abuelos. The fact it was a rescue and not a nursing home intrigued me. I started researching the Casa and opened dialogue with Cori Baumann who pointed me to their website, Yucatán Blessing House which gave details about each grandparent and how to adopt them or to volunteer to help them. The minute I read about this man, that he was blind and deaf, I knew I needed to visit to see if I could assist him. In the 80’s I had met a couple … he was deaf and she was an interpreter for the state of Oklahoma. I was enamored by sign language and set a goal to learn it and become certified within a year.

My experience with the Casa from the very beginning has been enlightening. Although their funding depends on compassionate people and is sometimes very strained, Estela has faith each day that God will provide for tomorrow and continues to take in people who are in need of her assistance. Her love is always overflowing for the Abuelos and God answers her prayers because she is faithful to her calling. The things I have noticed most that intrigued me was the residents are happy, clean and engaged. They are out of bed, dressed and talking and helping each other. It’s different than any senior facility I have ever visited. It’s not a sad place in any way and the minute I get out of the car, I’m filled with real joy.

He’s come a very long way since I first met him and started signing with him. I don’t think he attended school because he can’t finger spell and his vocabulary is limited.  I grab words from here and there. He doesn’t sign actual sentences.  That limits me on questioning him. If I sign How are you? He doesn’t understand. If I sign You good? He understands. I’m learning through trial and error how to communicate with him.

From what I’m told, he had never tried to communicate to anyone at the Casa. They would walk him to eat then walk him back. No one knew how to talk to him. Cori said she had never seen him smile, that he just existed from day to day.

Surprisingly from the beginning he was open to me. Each time I visit I learn something new about him. My first encounter he was sitting slumped, head down. He really didn’t know what to think as this was his first time that someone was communicating with him but he was open to me. He fiercely protects his belongings which he always carries in a bag on his shoulder.  He has a hard time trusting anyone, not even me after all this time. I use the things I bring to create trust, like the soap you saw on the video. I’ve noticed now he sits up straighter in his chair and often times before he even knows I’m there, he’s signing. I’ve been told he never did that before meeting me. Maybe I helped wake his memory of signing, not sure. Now he is starting to communicate with others like telling Cori he was hungry and his back hurt. The best thing is he smiles a lot now. I think he is happy because he knows I genuinely care for him and his happiness. And he knows I’ll be back with something else, and for sure those cookies. He proudly wears the hat, cross and friendship band I gave him on my second visit.

Every time I see him he tells me he prays for me. I want to believe he has family out there somewhere that misses him. I don’t want to believe he was dumped by family. I often wonder if he wondered off and someone found him and dropped him off because he couldn’t communicate.

He has a child-like sweetness about him. Like when I touch him, he smiles and sort of rocks back and forth. I love the moment he knows who I am and then he rocks and smiles. He lifts his hands like, I’m thankful to God for you.

How could I not love him?”

 

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* After years of using the name Martes for lack of being able to speak to him, and with the new ability he is showing to communciate with his hands, Estela recently gave him a piece of paper and a pencil to see if he could write. He wrote the letters M U E L. Debi has been able to confirm using sign language that he was trying to write his name. His name is Manuel.

Click here to see photos or watch videos of Debi and Manuel’s weekly conversations.

 

 

 

 

On the Web

A spider’s web is stronger than it looks. Although it is made of thin, delicate strands, the web is not easily broken.

Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch.

“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”  “You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

Quotes from Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Meeting people and making friends in a foreign country has been one of the most fulfilling parts of this life assignment.  The easy-going and friendly culture in Mexico allows ample access onto the intricate social web that connects Mexicans, Americans, Canadians, Europeans and others who have landed here either temporarily or longer term. After 4 years of living in Merida I find that navigating this web brings much joy and intrigue as I try to figure out why intersections exist between people from all over the world.

I have faith in the truth that God is both planning and spinning these intersections and at the same time allowing us to freely move about. I trust that He already knows what is going to happen which alleviates at least some of the stress by knowing that there are no accidental encounters. Being 100% human (and a highly imperfect version), I often fall victim to the strain of survival in a foreign land, a foreign language, a foreign culture.

What navigation is required on the web?  Taking a page from wiser ones who have gone before me like Joni Tada and Cori Ten Boom, I do what I can to walk each day with the objective and prayer that each encounter be meaningful and instructive.

To be allowed into other people’s lives has been a great gift.  The opening can come through sports, school, kids, marriage, neighbors, travels and the like. Many windows open because of the outreach work we are doing in Yucatán with abandoned grandparents and kids.  God sets up the unique crossings through which we pass into each other’s lives.  We just go.

Case in point, I hurt my right shoulder in January and have been going to physio ever since. I’m getting better day by day but the progress is slow. I’m able to play tennis again which has lifted my spirits tremendously and brought me back to the sport after a long hiatus. I played as a teenager growing up in Texas but once adulthood arrived and I moved to Canada in pursuit of a handsome man from Alberta (where racquets are melted down to make hockey sticks) the tennis career was long gone.  This injury has tested my patience not only physically but also emotionally as I had to sit on the sidelines at least in the sports category where I have made many friends in Merida.

Through this injury I learned that there is no such thing as a bench warmer when living on the web.

I was lying on the physio table for the umpteenth time, connected to a labyrinth of electrodes shooting some sort of low-level current through my shoulder. I pondered the scenario that if the therapist was having a bad day, he could increase the load and kill me and it not be classified as murder. Then I thought, how do I know this is electricity and not some toxic green fluid that is passing into my veins through those electrodes?  Cause of death, physiotherapy. That would make for an interesting obituary.

If you have experience with sports therapy, you can relate to the time spent lying on a table waiting for the magic of the machine to do its thing.  You reach a point where there’s not much more to talk about biomechanically, electrocurrently, muscularly, tendonly or rotatorcuffly and so the conversation just dies.

 
“Can I ask you a personal question Darcy?  Why are you all here in Mexico?” he asked.

It was the intersection I had honestly not expected to open but there it was. There could be time to get in before the murder scene would become obvious and the forensic team would arrive.

What came next was a blur, but suffice to say that a story was shared, a few questions were asked, and some honest exchange occurred about the meaning of life and the implications of suffering, pain and injury.

I won’t go into the details but I will leave it at this because it’s a funny detail. Right around 15 minutes into the discussion (with a bilingual assistant listening intently and chiming in for the bits requiring translation between us) the electricity / toxic injection timer went bing, I checked my pulse and realized that no murder had occurred. Simultaneously my bladder miraculously also went bing and it was time to hop up and visit the baño which my children think is my second home. As I wrapped up what I was saying, I smiled and said, ‘well there you go, something to think about’ or something to that effect, and jollied off to do my business. They stood up and smiled and then there was a brief silence as I closed the door and began eavesdropping (confession).  I could overhear them talking quietly.

It’s not clear to me how far the story settled into their hearts nor is it my desire to know those details (that’s for God to know) but from their hushed remarks I can tell it at least left a dent.

The intersection promptly closed after thanks and hugs were exchanged.  It was time to stretch and pay and be on my way to the next adventure.

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Midnight Chimuela

We have a tradition of hosting family sleepovers when Kary is out of town. Last week Kary had meetings in Calgary and so each night I invited one or two of the kids to have a slumber party.  On the last night before his return, Jacqueline and Ryan were on deck, Ryan taking the bed with me and Jacqueline starting off in the bed but later moving to the hammock. Our kids have become accustomed to hammock sleeping which requires one to assume the posture of a under-ripe banana lying caddywhompus to the central line.  It’s very comfortable if you follow Mayan best practices.

Before I share what happened that night I must tell you that a dental miracle has occurred in our household. A late bloomer in the tooth losing category has now stepped up and lost not one, not two, not three, not four but FIVE teeth in the last two weeks. In our house the term hat-trick is common for something that comes in threes (such as three goals scored in hockey) but I had to look up the term for a fiver. According to the Football Ramble on Twitter: “For reference: 2 = brace, 3 = hat-trick, 4 = haul, 5 = glut, 6 = double hat-trick, 7 = haul-trick.”

With the exquisite accomplishment of achieving a “glut”, Jacqueline’s mug shot now looks more peculiar, more hockey player, especially with the two front uppers out of commission. To my eye she looks like a cute Yucatecan bat. My father says shark. Marta  calls her chimuela which is the Maya word meaning ‘no teeth’, as in, that old lady over there, she has no teeth.

Financial rewards aside (even with some embarasing logistical failures on the part of the TF), the funny thing about this stage as I’m sure you remember is that a) you talk funny, b) you look funny and c) you eat funny.

So what happened in the hammock on Wednesday night is equally funny to me although my dentist friends will shudder and recoil.

At 3am I awoke to the sound of chomping.  More like grinding. You know that sound, when your child is sleeping and gently wiggles his jaw back and forth and makes that little noise that the orthodontists and dental appliance people love because it is the sound of money. My friend Claudia has financed her future home and a small yacht on the back of the small plastic and wire pieces that my children enjoy using and losing on a regular occasion.

That’s the sound I heard.

It was loud enough to wake me up. I lay in bed listening and thinking, should I wake her up and make her stop? Should I observe and record data for Claudia and tell her to super-size her yacht selection? Should I download a seismometer app on my phone to measure the P and S wave emissions and use this as a teachable moment at breakfast? Should I ignore it and blame the TF for delinquent payments?

Then the sound stopped. And started again. Then stopped. Then started. I got out of bed. Mysteriously, the sound stopped abruptly as soon as I stood up.

As I approached the small tamale lying in the hammock, suddenly it flipped from face up to face down. Strange. I thought she was asleep.

I could see by the curvature of her spine that she was trying to become as small as a frijol negro. It’s not easy to hide in your hammock when your mother is standing directly over you at 3am.

Jacqueline, are you awake?

Small rotation reveals big eyes, wide open, panicked expression.

No response.

Jacqueline, are you awake?

Umm hum.

I now see the minor swelling on the left side of her face.

What are you doing? Are you EATING?

silence.

WHAT are you eating?

silencio.

Jacqueline, answer me, are you eating something?

Um, well yes, I think so.

At this moment I realize that she is hiding something in her mouth. Obviously it is something hard on two accounts : hard in material and hard to hide from the Wrath.

Jacqueline, let me see what is in your mouth.

Her rotation was not quick enough for my quick finger swipe.

And there it was. An Almond Roca chocolate covered butter toffee delight.

I paused, looked at her big nervous eyes, sighed, took it out of her mouth and said goodnight.

The next morning when we made eye contact at the breakfast table, there was a knowing look between us, and a little chimuela smile.

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Moments in Mayapán

It’s the beginning of a new year and a good day to reflect on the soil trod over the past year.

Early in 2017 we made the decision to plant longer-term roots, stay in Mérida, and set up Mission Yucatán. The idea was to continue to provide support to the five projects we have grown to love over our past three years of service : Casa de los Abuelos, a home for 50 abandoned grandparents, Emanuel Fundación, a home for 12 children who have been rescued from abusive families, Camp John 3:16, a sports camp for children in the pueblos near Baca, and two small developing churches, one in the city of Mérida and one in the rural community of Hunucmá.  Our hope is to share hope. It sounds trite but I think that actually sums it up.  We see ourselves as ordinary people living out extra-ordinary lives only because of the Hope that lives within our hearts. We focus on going about life one day at a time and planting seeds. God does all the rest.

Along the way, we learn and grow up too.  It’s clear that each of us in the Cuthill clan is a work-in-progress, or ‘under-baked’ as it were.  It’s not always easy living this way but there is reward in the effort and the scrapes offer only light and temporary affliction.   Our kids are now fluent beyond imagination in Spanish and we are all picking up a bit of Mayan here and there via the family that lives with us from the pueblo of Mayapán. Marta and Andres and three of their five children are living with us in our new home in Merida. Their eldest two, Victor and Raymundo, are bucking the trend and have completed their engineering degrees. We provide them free room and board while they work to get their careers started in Mérida-based companies. The chiquitita is named Andrea and you will see her prominently in our photos as our ‘fourth child’. She is now repeating phrases in English, counting to 10, reciting colors and speaking My Little Pony like any four year old. She calls Kary ‘daddy’ which is awfully cute, not because she is confused by who her father is, but simply because she hears this name said so often in our house.

Kary and I are doing well and spending more time together than ever. I’m sure he regrets that on the odd day when I clearly have no one else to talk to. We have a healthy morning routine including exercise and breakfast for two. Then it’s off to work for the both of us and we meet up along the way to troubleshoot and brainstorm. Or to accomplish the more glamorous job of taxi service for three kids going eighteen directions. Our Spanish is coming along but there are still moments when I wonder how it is that we ever order tacos de cochinita without inadvertently calling someone a piglet.  All it takes is a simple slip of verb conjugation, trust me.  With time comes more awareness of my ignorance on a whole range of topics. Rarely do I feel much smarter than when I arrived.

In our outreach effort we are encountering a lot of poverty. I’m sure you are not surprised to know that the old adage about Mexico still stands, that there really isn’t much of a middle class, only the wealthy and the poor. Last week we traveled to Mayapán to visit Andres’ and Marta’s extended family. We were reminded of the basics that we take for granted.  Living in poverty means that toilets are luxuries afforded by few. Septic systems are not prevalent. Open air fires for cooking cause a great deal of smoke in most homes. Garbage service is either non-existent or not-valued and trash is left on the ground.

Add to these uncomfortable realities those of illiteracy, truancy and school dropout. Marta and Andres’ family is the exception in their pueblo, with five out of five kids still studying or working in a career. The vast majority of kids will drop out by the time they reach middle school. Many girls are pregnant by the age of 15, living at home or with the in-laws (if they are in the picture).  The majority of parents don’t see the value in education, fearing that their children will eventually leave them without any one to take care of them in their later years.  Alcoholism is rampant and along with it comes not only a lack of funds at home, but the common story of physical abuse.

Marta broke down in tears this week as she explained that from the age of 12 and onward she had to defend her mother against her alcoholic father. She looks for a different life for her children. She and Andres are bought into the idea that education, in the home, in school, in church, is the foundation that is missing in their pueblo. They stand apart from the majority who would rather their kids drop out and get jobs instead of finishing middle school. They themselves did not finish secondary school and I’m pretty sure that Andres can’t read.  I’m inspired by their work ethic and the value they place on helping their kids to break the cycle. In addition to helping them with steady employment, we want to help a few kids along the way, like Victor, Raymundo and Andrea.   Victor is my student right now, learning English in the evenings after work.  We gave Andrea an old iPad for Christmas loaded up with reading and math apps in English. She will no doubt in turn teach her brother Raymundo although I’m not sure how valuable it is to know vocabulary associated with Pinkie Pie in his role in industrial engineering. You never know.

Kary, the ever practical and intelligent one in the family, sees the value in helping the helpers to help others.  The chain reaction model works well in our house and it works well in outreach too.  We work alongside our partners to help them to help families in their respective pueblos. It’s the tried and true model … listen carefully to local leaders, give support where you can, then get out of the way and see what happens. And don’t forget that your neighbor or the guy standing on the sideline of the soccer field on Saturday morning are all part of the bigger picture too.

Miguel, Ricardo, Gama, Lupita and Estela, our five primary partners, all share one thing in common.  They help kids, families, even abandoned grandparents to pour down the educational foundation, academically, emotionally and spiritually.  In the midst of giving the gift of a foundation, they simply love others through their trials and suffering.  And they smile through the joys and triumphs of living a life in good company.  We get to be part of that. It’s good ground to trod.

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Light

Two friends in my women’s group have recently gone through eye surgeries.  This morning as I pour through the weekly prayer requests and bits of news I read of improving conditions, healing corneas and fewer aches and pains. The relief they describe is shared by the rest of us who have anxiously traveled alongside via daily reports and notes of thanks for doctors, nurses and friends who have been by their side through the slow and difficult recovery.

What would it be like to not see?

Like most young girls I devoured the Hellen Keller story. To know that a girl my age was blind piqued my curiosity immensely.  Her emotional outbursts made sense to me. How did she get from the bed to the bathroom without hitting a wall? How did she figure out all of the ice cream flavors? What did it feel like when the sun was shining?

What did it look like inside her mind?

Our curiosity with lightness and darkness begins early.  To celebrate Rachel’s 12th birthday last week we dug out dozens of new baby videos for the kids to see. Thanks to the miracle of iPhones in those golden moments just after birth, today we can relive the exact moment when they opened their eyes for the first time in a bright new world.  I see something I didn’t see before. I see their eyes. The way they blink and stare.  There’s something curious about the way they look at friendly faces and foreign places. I’m seeing them, seeing light, for the first time.

Hellen Keller, my recovering friends, and newborn babies. All yearning to see the light, basking in the light, knowing the light, wanting the light.

How I love to see the light too.

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To Learn Something

Here again I write with a heavy heart. This horrible tragedy in Las Vegas continues to hurt my heart. My Christian friends are helping by reminding me of God’s plan for how this world is turning and burning, and how it will all end.  I am grateful for this reminder.  Still, I have the same question that many have, including those who believe in God, those who are unsure if He exists or not, and those who are sure He doesn’t.

How do you explain the existence of evil amongst humanity?

For the believer or the unsure, you can certainly pick up a Bible, read for yourself and see what you come up with for explanation. The non-believers might try explain it in some other way, maybe a natural death and decay of relative morality or something else with more explanatory power.

We need to ask this question no matter on which rock we stand.

If you have been reading my blog for a while you know where I place my bets, to use Vegas terms.  There are three themes to which I am drawn as I read the scriptures and reflect on this horrific crime.  First, the common refrain of  “Fear not” which gives comfort if you believe this is the word of God. Fear not for I am victorious in the end. Second, I calm down when I read verses that talk about judgement (not by man but by God). I feel my anger rise when I read the news or watch the videos, and I feel my anger subside when I remember who is the true Judge, and that He does not rule from a Nevada courtroom.  And lastly, this one is tough, but there are lots of teachings about forgiveness in this book.  Most people aren’t ready to talk about that yet.

And honestly, all that said about the comfort I find in these teachings, I still feel sick to my stomach as I read the stories of the victims, of lives taken in a senseless and cowardly crime of enormous proportion.  Sandy Hook, 911, Orlando, France, Columbine, ok even Hitler and the Third Reich … the emotions are stirred up all over again for me.  I know there were different motives and circumstances in each of those but I get the same feeling in the pit of my stomach as I think about what evil is capable of.   Las Vegas (nor the world) doesn’t feel very fabulous right now as the welcome sign would suggest.

Ryan and I have a nightly routine where I lay down on his bed with the lights off and he lays in his hammock next to the window and we ask each other “God questions”. He always asks me hard ones. I ask him hard ones too.

Last night I asked him, “Ryan why do you think God allows evil things to happen and evil people to do what they do?” I didn’t want him to know why I was asking, I just wanted to see what he would say.

I thought this question would be a tough one, but it wasn’t.

He thought for a few seconds and then replied, “I guess it’s because He wants us to learn something.”

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