Thursday, July 22, 2010

Living vicariously and loving it

I have had my share of life adventures. Some of these adventures I can tell my family and future grandbabies, others aren't exactly edifying and need to remain hidden. Oh well! But I am not finished with having exciting stories before the Lord brings me home one day. This summer, I haven't really been anywhere especially incredible but I've been truly content with staying close to home, taking care of my family doing what the world would say is "boring stuff" although I don't personally think so.   

But about 18 months ago, I went to El Salvador on a mission trip and something I never expected has happened as a result. This short-term mission trip was the second time I had gone out of the country to serve the Lord. In no way could you was it a vacation yet I experienced many incredible, anointed, beautiful, positive adjective-filled moments. 

Inside the prison
The one moment that will forever shine in my heart, however was when we spent time in the girls' prison just outside San Salvador. Tucked in the hustle and bustle of El Salvador's capital, the girls' prison is next to an orphanage. As we approached the compound, little boys crowded around our van, some with dirty t-shirts and threadbare tennis shoes so worn we could see their overgrown toes sticking out. We greeted them but directly checked in with the prison guards to begin our work. The guards escorted us to a room full of teenage girls who didn't really look as if they had committed any serious crimes. I felt comfortable and at ease among them even though I knew several of them had done very bad things. 

The girls at the prison warmly greeted us with hugs and complimented me on the blue-tinged highlights in my hair. Then we began to share with them. My friend and former work colleague, Beth Anne told her story of redemption and the girls were deeply moved. A beautiful El Salvadoran young woman named Lu  translated for us and allowed us to boldly speak of Christ's unending love for all of us sinners. 

Beth Anne and Lu crammed into the car
I had grown quite fond of Lu in the car ride to the prison. Her English was exceptional and she was at ease with us gringos. While cramped in the car, Lu inquired about our lives. I began to speak about my family and told her about my children. 

When I began to talk about Nathan, my oldest OS, as is my custom, I began to cry. Just the thought of my boy filled me with love and pride. But no sooner had I started crying, then I noticed that Lu had tears in her eyes also. Casually I mentioned that she and Nate would like each other and suggested that they be facebook friends. 

In the back of my mind, I thought to myself that Nate would find both Lu and her friend Tatiana quite beautiful. I was certain my OS would be more than willing to be kind to these girls.

Tatiana and Lu during my mission trip to El Salvador
Um, that is an understatement.

Because now fast forward 18 months and you'll never guess who is in El Salvador.

Yes, my oldest OS Nathan is in El Salvador.

And I wouldn't exactly say he's on a mission trip but he is on a mission and in my estimation one of the coolest and sweetest missions a young man will ever undertake.

Since leaving El Salvador, Nathan has been talking to Lu. For countless hours, the two have been chatting till the wee hours of the morning and have become wildly crazy about each other. 

On Monday, after weeks of anticipation and planning, immediately upon completing his Beast detail at WP, my OS flew to meet Lu for the very first time face to face. It was a surreal experience to go from the rigors of West Point to a tropical land in Central America. And wow, it was even wilder when Nate boarded the plane from Miami to San Salvador and discovered that he actually knew the pilot taking him there! It turns out that the pilot is the father of a high school classmate and friend. Here's the pic of Nate in the cockpit! We received a phone call from the dad telling us he had flown Nate to see Lu! 

Nate and the pilot - we actually personally know this guy and weren't expecting him to personally fly Nate to El Salvador. I guess Nate is a pretty big deal after all! HA!
The beautiful young lady I spent two and half days with in prison is now my son's girlfriend. The translator who helped us share the love of Christ in a girls' prison now occupies a great deal of space in my son's heart. There were moments in prison when the spirit of the Lord was so intense, we were again moved to weep. Beth Anne, Lu, the girls, me and even the prison guards were reduced to tears. Speaking of God's love and forgiveness and what He has done in our lives, how utterly humbling to be in that place. In so many ways, I am happy I made this trip. Now I am even happier. 

I am deeply blessed to say that I love both of them. While on the mission trip, I saw firsthand Lu's heart for the Lord, 
her compassion and kindness, not to mention her outward gorgeousness (if that's a word!) It made me fall in love with her before my son did. Until Monday, I was the only person who had ever occupied the same physical space with both of them. As of Monday, that changed.

Only the Lord knows where this story goes from here. We are all praying and depending on our Heavenly Father to order the steps for this relationship. I need permission to tell more about things but trust me, I want to tell you as it would give us all hope and inspiration. 

Until then, I'm living vicariously and loving it! Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Adventures - Vicarious in Nature

Today seems like a good day to blog. I didn't realize it had been nearly two months since my fingers had tapped out an entry. My health has been relatively good and my exercise regime is consistent. It seems to take longer to burn off the calories from a Heath bar than I can remember but I'm not complaining. This summer I am living vicariously. No big adventures planned for me but plenty for my family. Some adventures I am cleared to mention, others need "approval" but I hope to speak of them soon!

Adventure #1 

My orange-haired, freckle face OS Isaac had a visit to UNC Children's Hospital, more specifically their operating room. He had an abdominal hernia repaired. An uneventful surgery, praise the Lord but still a big deal for a 13 year old guy. I had a proud parenting moment when the surgery was deemed worthwhile since we didn't know going in if they were going to find a weakness in his abdominal wall. The Hubs was questioning the surgery, I was the one pushing for it. I love the moments in our marriage where we synch and rely on each other's instincts. It was a necessary operation and I was happy that Ike hadn't gone
through all that for nothing. He was exceptionally stoic aside from being worried someone might see his "privates" during the surgery. To Isaac's chagrin, I mentioned his concern to the doctors who smiled and assured us they would do their best to avoid any sight of that "area" during the procedure. We left the hospital with our pain-ridden child and the skies opened up with sheets of rain pummeling our car. We called Aaron to meet us outside with an umbrella so we could get Ike into the house thus avoiding the rain. As the Hubs and I were gingerly walked our ginger upstairs to bed, I asked Aaron to get the mail. In hindsight, this was a really dumb idea considering what happened next. 

Aaron ran outside with the umbrella when suddenly a huge bolt of lightning pierced the sky. It sounded so close that I felt the bolt down in my feet. A horrible feeling entered my mind, "Did Aaron just get hit by lightning?" I mused. Nah, the idea was just too perposterous.  It was just too far-fetched to imagine that one son could have been struck by lightning just as we were taking another son upstairs following surgery. Since we're such loving parents, we kept taking Ike upstairs but seconds later Aaron leapt into the house. His eyes wild with fear, his voice octaves higher. While outside retrieving the mail, umbrella in hand, Aaron saw a giant bolt of lightning strike two houses a street behind ours. Soon we heard sirens and fire trucks filling the area. He truly did almost get hit by lightning! Thankfully none of our neighbors were hurt but extensive damage occurred in both of the houses.
Adventure #2

Our oldest OS began his summer with travel. Nate begins his Cow year (third year) at West Point and following exams swiftly boarded a plane bound for  Eastern Europe. A group of 10 students some ROTC others WP cadets, visited the Baltic States and studied its economic conditions, its role in international relations along with its culture and history. He even found himself in the Latvian news. Click here to see pics! He's the cutie patootie with the white shirt and headphones! Gaa! My OS looks so diplomatic with the headphones on listening to translators. Sometimes I chuckle when I think of how this young man is MY boy. Others see him as a leader and as an adult, yet I can still see his toe-headed face in Barney overalls and I still get to call him silly nicknames! I just close my eyes and can see him bravely wielding his plastic knife on a mountain in North Carolina despite the fact that he is growing up and building a life of his own. (That is a good thing I must keep telling myself.)

Here is the YouTube video documenting some of their time in Latvia. My OS is shown in :26, :39, :49, :57 and in 2:01 you will notice him playing with his pen. That's from his father's side of the family. ;) Nate is the one who says, "How are you doing, Ma'am." Gaa again! I was impressed when MP and former Foreign Minister of Latvia, Artis Pabriks stated that the United States and Lativa are "brothers in arms." Thank you Saiema Chancellery for allowing me to use these images.

Nate saw the Hill of Crosses, the Museum of Genocide Victims which was set up in the former KGB headquarters and is the only one of its kind in the former Soviet Union.

He even got his picture taken with a "torturer" who was handing out brochures in Estonia and that's some-
thing most of us have never done!

Other notable events included going to the General Jonas Zemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania, and attending a briefing at the US Embassy in Estonia. I found myself having to check the globe to figure out where my OS was since my knowledge of that part of the world is quite limited. It never occurred to me that other countries have military academies. I think we all can be very myopic in our worldview and travel expands our minds in many ways. My oldest OS brought me home a CD of Latvian folk music and although I don't understand a single word, I love listening to it and transporting myself to that faraway place my son visited. In total, Nate went to four countries in less than two weeks. Yes, he is having an "epic" summer. More to follow on that note...

Adventure #3 

This will only seem an adventure if you are a bibliophile. I have read over 1,000 pages this summer! That's a very big deal for me. One of my greatest passions is reading and sadly I don't do enough of it. This summer, however; I am returning to my love of books and I want to share with you what I have read thus far...

River Town - a fascinating book about an American Peace Corps volunteer who taught American literature in the heart of China's Sichuan province.

I Am Hutterite - This non-fiction book chronicles the life of a woman who spent her childhood in a Hutterite colony in southern Manitoba, Canada. I enjoyed hearing about how she transitioned living in popular culture while still treasuring the life she left behind.

The Good Earth - this is the second time I've read Pearl Buck's classic about Wang Lung, a peasant. There are so many striking moments in this timeless book. The first time I read The Good Earth I wasn't a Christian. Now I have found so many Biblical parallels, it gave me much to ponder. My family hears about Wang Lung, O-Lan and the poor fool all the time. You must read this if you haven't!

The Good, Good Pig - Ike and I read this together. Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The Christian Science Monitor, The Good, Good Pig was a charming true story about a 750 pound pet pig. Ike and I looked up new words and expanded our vocabulary while discussing this sweet novel. I cried a little bit at the end.

Belong to Me - a fiction book recommended to me by my mom. It was an intriguing story about women and friendships.

I'm now reading Isaac's Storm for my personal pleasure and Fever 1793 with Ike as we work on his comprehension.

My adventures are being found in the lives of those I love and in the pages I turn. It might not sound like fun but I am loving this perspective.

More soon, I promise. It feels good to share!

Tikšanās ar ASV Vestpointas militārās akadēmijas kadetu delegāciju