Two Weeks Later

Two weeks later . . .

Life is back to “normal”.  Preparations for Holy Week, laundry, spending time with family, grocery shopping . . . all of the activities that I would have been doing no matter a trip to Guyana or not.  But has anything really changed?

When I come back from a mission trip – whether here or abroad – there’s a period of adjustment for me.  There are moments when I realize how “good I got it”, how we don’t appreciate our blessings, how thankful I am for clean running water . . the list goes on.  Yes, there’s also some frustration with the world around me when I see petty complaints and selfishness.  Then I realize that I can’t point any fingers.  I can be just as petty and selfish.

I have been changed.  I will not forget the faces I’ve seen, the experiences I’ve had, and the love we’ve shared.  I will remember WHY we go with notes like this one written to Jeff:

I am a boy.  I love to play.

I will miss you all the best.

I need you to come back again.

To play with you again.

I am playing football at home with the children.

I love you.


I will remember that Paul needs us to come back.  He needs to believe that teams will come back and play with him.  I will remember that his home is an orphanage – that “the children” are just like him – in need of love and attention.

And in remembering, I will continue to be changed.

Love, T-Shirts and Food

Our last full day in Guyana began with visiting the market and other local shops.   A fun adventure . . . I mean where else but the Guyana market can you buy a piranha? Or have your image drawn on a coconut head by a street artist? Thanks to the Butlers I will have one for my office. Looks just like me or at least it’s a woman!

We made one last visit to Joshua House in the afternoon, timing it after school so we could see more of the children. Basketball game between the children, Will and Miles, tattoos for the children, and lots of swinging ended our week.

“Miss, can you push me?”

“Miss, can you help me with the tattoo?”

“Sir, throw the ball to me!”

The children called all of us “Miss” or “Sir” – different for me but sweet words to my ear.

Oh! And more hugs and kisses than I could imagine! One little girl, who I met for the first time on Friday, continually kissed me on the cheek and the neck. She made sure that someone (an older child) was getting multiple pictures of her love. All she wanted was love – just like the other children’s desire. Catching it on film was an added bonus for them – and for me!

Soon it was time to say goodbye with a “promise” or a hope to visit again.

My eyes leaked.

From there we fed the homeless on the street. On 2 vans loaded with 2 pots of “cook-up”, grape drink, our t-shirts for the week, a few shoes, lots of sweets (candy), and toilet paper, we headed out, making stops along the way to offer food. I watched a man gladly receive my Wilma 5-K t-shirt and as soon as he turned it inside out, he wore it proudly. I mean it did have a woman running on the front!

I saw again my friend, Aubrey, who I met on Sunday.   With a big smile, he said, “You came back!” We prayed together and again the question: “you will come back next year?” I hope so, Aubrey.

Along the way, we saw a man wrapped only in a blanket from the waist down. We stopped and offered food as well as clothes. Take a look at the picture post from Friday. You will see him go from unclothed to shorts and a T-shirt (pictures a little blurry because shot from a distance as well as getting dark).  It was a powerful moment to see the smile on his face.

We ended the day with dinner at the Brazilian restaurant with many of our Guyanese friends who worked alongside us during the week. Delicious meal with great friends!

Tomorrow we fly home.

Beauty out of Trash

We finished the playground project at Joshua House on Thursday. It was strong-hands teamwork for the raising of the beam for the swings connecting it to the tower. As soon as the swings were up and the team stepped back (maybe before the team stepped back), the children were all over the playground set. They loved it!

After considering the mess of glue and tiles for the mosaic from yesterday, our wise leader, Jeff, purchased some cement to finish the project. Thank you!! Andy mixed the cement and together, supervised by the children, we finished the cross. It turned out nicely, I think! Derick added to the artwork by creating the words “Sweet Jesus” in the shape of a cross on the adjacent wall.

Gladys, the director of Joshua House, said she couldn’t believe that we could take “trash and make something beautiful out of it.” That’s redemption! God takes the trash of our lives and makes something beautiful whenever we surrender. We just need to give Him our trash and quit adding to the pile.

My problem?  I put trash in a pile and then just move it to another place – just like what we did at Joshua House.  God says give me the pile!  I can get rid of it completely!

Our last visit of the day was to Holy Family Home, a residential center for elderly women. Again, we went to bring love and gifts to others and instead God blessed US by their smiles, songs and love.

Dinner on Thursday night was a special treat. Tessa, Derick’s daughter, had arranged a traditional Guyanese feast at the home of her friend, Pinkie. Wow! It was like Thanksgiving Day. Delicious food – brand new tastes for me!

It’s hard to believe we only have one more day in Guyana.  The week has flown by!  It will be hard to say goodbye to the children tomorrow.

Messy Cross, Preaching and Music

On Wednesday, we continued our work at Joshua House. The children – our helpers – were becoming more comfortable with us and showed us in the hugs they gave and in the gradual conversations. “Miss” and “Sir” were our names and slowly I learned a few names – Paul, Ezekiel, Ram . . .

Tony’s mosaic idea from Tuesday became my project.  Off I went to the hardware store with Andy, our driver, an essential member of our team.  I needed something to adhere the tile to the concrete wall – I mean, how hard could it be to find what we needed?

The task was easy – buy the adhesive, get some chain for the swing sets – 4 eight foot pieces. Well in case you’re wondering, metric is the measurement system used in Guyana.  I was just thankful that I had taught this system when I was a science teacher.  I was so thankful for Andy who made the purchases happen!  I love a good hardware store and let me just say, in Guyana, it’s an experience!

When we got back to the House, I started using the adhesive to put the pieces on the wall to make a cross. I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like but the adhesive was not cooperating. Several children walked over and honestly said that the cross did not look good. Adhesive was running everywhere, glue getting all over me and soon the children deciding it would be fun to put it in others’ hair. I was wishing that my friend Gela was there. She can make art out of anything!

Soon it was time to stop for the day.  I knew that I had started something that I had to finish but I also knew we were leaving Saturday! It was going to take me forever. Project to be continued tomorrow.

Wednesday night, we worshiped at Victoria Methodist Church again. Clemente, our Guyanese team member, arranged the “Gospel Encounter” – a time of music and testimony with my honor to be the preacher. Tony and Pat both gave a witness along with a local Victoria church member. A young woman led the music for about 40 minutes – no words, no plan – just from the heart singing with the keyboard player figuring out what key she was in as she sang. I couldn’t believe how the Holy Spirit took over and worked all of the music together in harmony. I started preaching about 8:00 – service started at 6:30 (or 6:50 local time).

My dear Pine Valley UMC, an hour may not be enough time for us on Sunday!  Just saying.

Another great day!

Thank you, Lord, that even though we may be different, we are really all the same.

Love A Child

On Tuesday, we started our main construction project for the week – a playground set for Joshua House, an orphanage for 40 children. Operating as a true team, each person did their particular part in the construction process. Some cut the wood, some drilled the holes, some drilled in the screws and some put it all together.

We noticed when we got there that there was huge pile of tile in the corner of the playground area. We knew that it would be a hazard for the children so we started moving it. Then Tony had the idea of making a mosaic cross using the tiles on the concrete walls near the play area. Great idea!

Most of the children at Joshua House were in school during the day but there were a few children who had not gone to school. They were “helpers” in the construction process – well, sort of. Helpers or not, they seemed to love having us there and loved the opportunity to be included. At lunchtime, the children who had gone to school walked back to the house for their lunch. Some of them joined in the “helping” before they headed back to school.

In the afternoon, we visited the Red Cross Center, an orphanage for 28 children ages birth-five years. We got there as the children were walking up from their naps and as soon as we walked in the room, their arms went up. They wanted to be held!  Every team member had at least one baby in his or her arms at all times. You can see that in the few group shots that I was able to take (stricter rules for photography).

It was so difficult to walk away from that center knowing that all of those babies just wanted someone to love them.   We could only do it for a short time.  I will, however, hold those babies’ faces in my mind and pray for them.

Lord Jesus, so many children who need love . . . May we never forget to hold a child whenever we can. May we share Your love to all of Your children.