Saturday, February 20, 2010


Plans, plans, so many plans! I will topple them all. What happens is what I want. There will come a time and I will put everything in its place.”

This was God’s message to me last Sunday, spoken through an old woman visiting our church.

I’m an analytical person, thinking, analyzing, evaluating. These words hit me hard. I do make many plans in my head, often traveling to distant lands, photographing, speaking at churches, writing articles or books in my thoughts. In my plans, my children are grown, I no longer homeschool, I don’t have to work any more, and I’m free to travel – and some Christian organization wants me to do so and pays my way so that I document their missions in photos and words. Sort of “work for food.” I’m off traveling in my thoughts frequently since I feel that I’m in home stretch of teaching and home stretch of my working life. Just three and a half more years of homeschooling, and a few more until I can retire – or perhaps resign?

Granted, my health has had its ups and downs, and sometimes I question whether I’ll be able to travel at all in the future. But the family joke is that when Mom is done homeschooling, she’ll send everyone a postcard from Africa.

But will I? According to this prophecy, perhaps not. Or could it be referring to something else? Maybe I’ll travel, but elsewhere? Or do something I haven’t even thought of yet?

So my analytical mind is churning out possibilities.

We were invited to dinner to a Ukrainian family’s home this week. The working mother so wants to go to Haiti with me and was disappointed to learn that the team is formed and there’s no chance of her coming. The Ukrainian churches don’t run many mission trips. They don’t have the connections to foreign lands (other than Ukraine) or the organizational experience. And there’s a language barrier for many of the new immigrants. I organized our church’s first ever mission trip last spring. (We went to Mexico.) With my experience in missions and travel, and my skills of organization, is organizing missions for this community what God had in mind? Only time will tell. But most likely, it's something I haven't even thought of yet...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Ten days ago, I got the call: I will be going to Haiti next month as part of a relief team! After the phone conversation, I fluttered through the house, giddy with excitement.

“I wish I could come with you,” lamented my daughter Alexandra. “Maybe you could book the same flight for me and I could just tag along and not be officially part of the mission team…”

The minimum age for this trip is 18, which disqualifies all my children. Jacob will turn 18 in April; the trip is in March. But he’s not the one interested in going; it’s my 16-year-old middle daughter who inherited the same love of going to the hard places. And from what I’ve been reading, Haiti may be the hardest of all places I’ve been to.

Before I travel to a foreign country, I read about it. So I logged on to the local library’s website and typed in “Haiti” for a keyword. That’s how I found Angels of a Lower Flight: One Woman’s Mission to Save a Country… One Child at a Time.

I finally forced myself to put it down at 1:30 AM. Between the horrific conditions described in the book and the heart-tugging poverty shown in this YouTube video, I’m wondering what I’ve gotten myself into.

But I still can’t wait to go. I just wish that Alexandra could come with me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Got carried away

“Do you have any assignments to turn in, like your vocabulary or American Government?” I asked Jacob. Every evening I devote a couple of hours to correcting the day’s assignments and creating the next day's schedule.

“No, I don’t have anything to turn in. I got carried away reading.”

“You what?”

“I got to a really interesting part. I must have read a hundred pages today.”

This was not like my son, who reads only what he has to and how long he has to. Jacob does not read for pleasure.

Sixteen-year-old Alexandra was as surprised as I was. “What are you reading?” she asked.


If he’s that captivated by this part of his Exploring Social Injustice through Literature curriculum, I made a good choice.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Disaster relief work. Not exactly everyone's cup of tea, but every time I hear of a tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake, my heart beats faster. I ache to go there, to reach out, to help somehow. I don't know how I'd help - I'm not a doctor - but I believe that through hugs and love, physical labor and prayer, through acts of kindness, and with my photographs and written words, I'd make a difference somehow.

I so want to go to Haiti!

I've wanted to go to Haiti ever since I read Mountains Beyond Mountains. I want to go to Haiti all the more because of the earthquake.

And I might get my chance!

Global Expeditions is running a mission trip to Haiti. I signed up immediately. But will I get chosen to go, to help to set up and serve in a refugee camp, rebuild an orphanage, and facilitate medical care for orphans? I can't think of a better way to spend my time. My only regret is that Alexandra can't come with me because she's not 18 yet, a requirement for this trip. She so wants to come with me. I think that there's a lot of me in Alexandra, and, like me, she enjoys going to the hard places. She was disappointed that we had to stay in a hotel during our mission trip to Honduras two years ago instead of in tents as originally planned. Turns out that the field where we were to set up these tents was flooded with over a foot of water after a deluge halfway through our trip. That certainly would have made for an exciting trip...

I'm sure that a trip to Haiti would be even more exciting. I'm praying that I get to find out.

Monday, February 1, 2010


“I’d like to volunteer at the Mission,” said Alexandra about a week after we came home from our Dallas mission trip.

Since working with homeless and inner city kids in Dallas during our Global Expeditions trip, both my daughters came home changed. They returned on fire from meeting other godly teens and young adults, people passionate to serve the Lord. And they were blessed by working with a church that not only reaches out to drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes, gang members, and prisoners, but also fills its church pews with ex-dealers, ex-addicts, former prostitutes and gang members, and ex-cons. What a place!

After getting a taste of what it’s like to serve in Dallas, Alexandra wanted to serve here at home. It was her initiative to volunteer at The Mission, a soup kitchen, but I made the call (she's still a bit timid) – and left my name and number on an answering machine. Twice. But my calls were not returned.

As I was putting away groceries around 5 o’clock Saturday evening, the phone rang. It was Candy from The Mission apologizing for not getting back to me. Could I serve there tonight? She’d had a cancellation and although she knew we hadn’t volunteered there before, could I fill in...? I told her that four of us would be glad to serve – my two daughters and I, and a special girl from our church youth group, the only girl from the youth group who had gone on the Mexico mission trip with us last spring. (Three guys had gone, but only one girl.) Helen and I had been corresponding via email since that time. Ours is a special relationship. She’s really my daughters’ friend; I consider myself her mentor and have a warm place in my heart for her.

“Now I know why our neighbors couldn’t come to dinner tonight,” observed Alexandra as we rushed to get ready to go to The Mission. We had tried to invite a widow neighbor to dinner tonight, but she turned us down, stating health reasons. So we invited a divorcee for dinner because, after all, we were baking a whole chicken. But she’s a nurse and had to work 3 to 11 PM. Had either of them come, we wouldn’t have been available to go to The Mission.

How can setting out 78 salads, setting tables, dishing out food, and carrying it out to the long tables of homeless men be an exciting way to spend the evening? Because it’s work done for the Lord. Captain, the chef at the soup kitchen, was an interesting guy with a sense of humor. As I suspected when I met him, he’s been on the streets himself. We heard his testimony as he showed us the room upstairs that houses 40 men in 20 bunk beds. He’d been one of those men until about six years ago. Oh, he’d had a 26-year career at General Motors, then worked as a painter and roofer, but drugs and alcohol ate up his pay and ruined his life. It was through the sermons given right there at The Mission night after night that eventually touched his heart. He had a powerful experience of coming to the Lord in the middle of the night right there at The Mission, where he now serves with all his heart.

I felt blessed to serve at The Mission, and delighted to share that experience with Helen and my daughters. I hope to have many more such evenings there and to introduce other girls from the youth group to the joys of serving.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. - James 2:26

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)