Thursday, October 30, 2008

Haircuts with Jay the Barber

Two nights ago, our chaperone, Ashley, called us from the host family she was staying in with Gift and Lincoln.  She informed us that Gift had decided while he was taking his shower that it would be a good idea to shave his head (with a razor!) in a couple of places.  When he showed up the next morning, it was so hard not to die laughing...he had a big chunk that he shaved out of the top of his hairline in the very front, and then a chunk out of the very back!  He looked ridiculous!  We were already planning on giving the boys haircuts that day with Jay's clippers, so we decided we would have to shave it all off.  

Before we did Gift's though, Jimmy wanted to go first.  Jay tried it with the guard on, but we couldn't tell that any had been cut at all.  So naturally, Jay took the guard off and decided to start at the very middle of his forehead and go back...I had no idea it would shave him completely bald!  It looked like a landing strip going down the middle of his head!  I was so upset.  Jay and I apologized to Jimmy over and over again and told him we'd have to shave it all (which he wasn't happy about).  After we'd done his and Gift's, the boys decided it was the new cool thing and they all wanted their hair "removed."  Here are a few pictures of the adventure: 
Our new bald boys:

Before we finished, we gave Isaac a new 'do: 

Hill Country on Horseback

Earlier this week, my sweet husband surprised me with a morning of horseback riding!  We were in Kerrville, Texas, which is in Texas Hill Country on the Guadelupe River.  I'd never been that far west before, and it was absolutely stunning.  It was a little chilly that day, but we had a great's been my favorite part of Texas so far!  Four days later, I'm still in pain every time I sit down or take even the tiniest step, but it was definitely worth it.  I had a blast!

My horse's name was Joe and Jay's horse was Blue.  Joe and I didn't exactly click...he wanted to do the opposite of everything I asked.  If we needed to stop for a picture, he wanted to trot away.  And when I needed him to get up and move, he would stand absolutely still, refusing to move a muscle.  But my favorite bonding moment was when we were going down a really steep hill (I was terrified!) and good ol' Joe decides it would be a great time to go off the trail and have me decapitated by a tree branch.  Good times...
Don't I look so natural??  I'm a real live cowgirl now.

It was such a beautiful day!  Thank you, Jay!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Upcoming Schedule

Here's where we'll be for the next few months...let me know if you (or a friend) will be in the area!

Nov. 2 Muskogee, Oklahoma
Nov. 5 Clarksville, Arkansas
Nov. 6 Jackson, Mississippi
Nov. 11 Fayette, Alabama
Nov. 14 Jackson, Tennessee (Getting to see family- YEA!!!)
Nov. 16 Memphis, Tennessee
Nov. 16 Falkner, Mississippi
Nov. 19 Beebe, Arkansas
Nov. 20 Hernando, Mississippi
Nov. 23 Cullman, Alabama
Nov. 23 Anniston, Alabama
Nov. 24-28 Thanksgiving in Georgia (Getting to see family-YEA)!!!
Nov. 28-Dec. 4 Dothan, Alabama (Getting to see friends- YEA!!!)

Dec. 7 Gulfport, Mississippi
Dec. 7 Daphne, Alabama
Dec. 10 Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Dec. 14 Montgomery, Texas
Dec. 17 Holliday, Texas
Dec. 20 Corinth, Texas
Dec. 21-26 Christmas break with the kids in Texas!
Dec. 28 Cypress, Texas
Dec. 29-Jan. 4 Christmas in Kentucky (Getting to see family- YEA!!!)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Words that will make your heart break

The other day, Yeshoda asked, "Auntie, may I call you 'Mommy'?"

"Well..." I started to respond.

"Because I don't have a mommy.  I want you to be my mommy," she said, smiling up at me.  

Sometimes it's so hard not to want to just bottle them up and keep them safe and protected their entire lives.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Are you with that slew of kids??"

This past weekend, we were in Dallas for performing at a conference.  On Friday after a very early morning concert, we looked for a place to eat lunch close to the hotel.  We found a really cute place called JG's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers and thought it would be perfect.  It was a beautiful day, and there was a nice outdoor area for us to sit down, which is perfect for us because we don't have to worry about the kids being too loud.  I went ahead and sat the kids down and then Jay and I went inside to order for everyone.  It was the kind of restaurant where you just order at the counter right inside the door and then they bring it to your table.  It was very crowded, so Jay waited just inside the door.  There was a man behind the counter who appeared to be running the show (most likely the owner) and I approached him.  And this is the conversation I found myself in:

Me: Excuse me, sir, do you have a children's menu?

Rude Man: Yes, but is it for that slew of kids out there?

Me: Excuse me??

Rude Man: Are you with that slew of kids?

Me: Yes.

Rude Man: (Shaking his head)  Can't do it.

Me: Can't do what??

Rude Man: I don't make enough money off kids.  Where are their parents?

Me: We ARE their parents.

Rude Man: Unless you have a parent for each one of those kids, I'm not going to serve you.

Me: Are you serious?!  We are their legal guardians.  WE are their parents.

This kept going until I could feel steam coming out of my ears.  There was a line forming behind me and I knew people were staring.  Finally I just said, "I can't believe this.  You know what...just forget it."  And marched out of there.  Jay followed me out and asked what was going on.  As I was telling him, the owner poked his head out the door and said, "Ok, ok.  Come back in."  To which Jay quickly said, "Forget it.  We wouldn't eat here if you paid US,"  (or something to that effect).  

We were just shocked!  Most restaurant employees think the kids are so cute...sometimes they ask them to sing, sometimes they offer free ice cream, but almost everyone is happy to have us (or at least curious enough to put up with us).  I have never been refused service before, and it made me feel like dirt.  Not to mention, extremely angry.  

In conclusion: Don't you worry Rude Man, we will NEVER be bothering you again.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Weekend with Gift

We decided that over the next few months, we would try to take a couple of days each week to let a child stay with us in the RV.  We want to be able to get some alone time with them, and for each child to receive some one-on-one attention from us.  We were in San Antonio this past weekend, and we had a great time keeping Gift with us.  He is our quietest child...very well-behaved, smart and extremely witty.  On Saturday, we went to breakfast and then ventured downtown to the infamous Riverwalk (which I LOVED), where we explored the area on a boat ride and had a wonderful lunch.

At breakfast:

At the Riverwalk:
On the boat ride:
My handsome hubby and me:

Picture Update!

Here are a couple of pictures of the kids' first trip to the beach when we were in Beaufort, South Carolina.  We had mixed reactions: they either loved it, were very scared or hated it ("Auntie, so salty!").  It was not the prettiest day either, and very cold, but hopefully we'll get a chance to take them again when it's nicer.

This next one is a recent example of the boys wanting to be just like Uncle Jay!  Suresh stole Jay's sunglasses and started attempting to spike his hair.  So cute!
More to come!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mouse Kisses

When we were in training camp, many of the other team leaders would comment on how affectionate our team is.  Apparently, most kids in the choirs are "huggers," but our kids LOVE to kiss their aunties on the cheek.  Almost every hug I receive is accompanied by a sweet little kiss-something I love but, from the beginning, was informed that it was not normal.  Just go ahead and put it down in the books, Central Team COTW is a big 'ol love fest!

Soon after they started giving their little love pecks, a couple of my boys started questioning, "Auntie, why may we not kiss on the mouse?" (a.k.a. "mouth."  Their pronunciation is a little off.)  I quickly responded that in America, you do not kiss aunties and uncles on the mouth.  "Do you kiss Uncle Jay on the mouse?"  "Well, yes.  But he's my husband!"  They just won't drop it though.  They will try to physically turn your face to get to your mouth.  And when I refuse them, they'll say, "But Auntie!  That's just silly!"

In Uganda and Nepal, men and women are not physically affectionate in public at all.  And since the kids live in children's homes, they are not used to being around anyone in a romantic relationship.  They go crazy whenever Jay and I even get close to each other.  If I reach over to hold Jay's hand in the bus, it's only a matter of time before cheering erupts and all the kids start clapping for us.  They are also fascinated by our wedding pictures, particularly any of them where we are "mouse" kissing.    

One night, we were in the kids' dressing room before a concert and several boys were saying they wanted kisses when Jay walked in.  I said, "You know that's not allowed.  Talk to Uncle Jay."  They asked him, "Uncle Jay, why may we not kiss Auntie?"  To which he responded, "Because only I get to do that!"  They thought this was the most entertaining idea they'd ever heard, and when Jay leaned over and kissed me in front of the kids, you would have thought they'd been given a trip to Disney World.  They went nuts!  I've never heard them screaming so loud before.  They jumped on top of us, hugging and squealing and laughing hysterically.  Now it's turned into a reward for them.  They will ask, "Auntie, if we do our best concert ever, will you mouse kiss Uncle Jay?"  It's a difficult task, but somebody's got to keep the kiddos happy.  


Saturday, October 4, 2008

God's Amazing Plan

Most people who grew up in church have Jeremiah 29:11 forever ingrained in their memories.  "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  I have heard this verse my entire life.  I believe in this verse, but I really don't think about it much.

We had a concert tonight at a church in Oklahoma City.  It wasn't any different than any other performance.  It wasn't our best and it wasn't our worst.  It was very well-received.  But tonight, as the children were singing "How Great is Our God," I looked around at their beautiful faces and fully realized exactly how sovereign God is.  I was so acutely aware of God's unending love and His hand guiding my life.    

It was almost exactly two years ago when Jay and I saw Children of the World for the very first time.  Like many who have never seen the children perform, we were unprepared for how powerful the concert really is.  I have never seen or felt anything more convicting in my entire life.  It was as if God had taken a blindfold off of my eyes and I saw the world truly for the first time.  I saw the hurt and the devastation of children's lives.  But most of all, I understood and felt the responsibility of the words Jesus spoke when he said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these, you did for Me."  (Matthew 25:34-45)

We introduced ourselves to the team leaders afterward and spent a long time talking with them.  I just kept thinking, "This would be my dream.  I can't think of anything I would want to do more."  I saw God's hand on this ministry.  But Jay had just begun working at the church, and I was working in a marketing job.  It just wasn't the right time.  I had never even worked with children before.

Little did we know, God was preparing us.  I was asked to work with the children's ministry at our church, and that led me to feel so passionate about children, I could no longer ignore God's calling on my life.  I had to become a teacher.  I began teaching at an amazing Christian school and realized how fulfilling it was to know that I was doing what I was meant to do.  

Almost a year and a half after seeing Children of the World perform, God laid their ministry on my heart again.  I couldn't get those children out of my head.  I "confessed" to Jay that I wanted to contact World Help, and we agreed that I would email them.  The next day, we heard back from them saying that they had just begun taking applications for the next COTW tour.  But through the months of interviews and waiting and praying, I didn't want to hope too much.  I was so scared of what was to come, and of being let down.  

Looking back now, I see how God prepared our hearts for this ministry.  If I hadn't been asked to help with the children's ministry, I never would have felt called to become a teacher.  If Providence Christian School hadn't taken a chance on me and allowed me to teach, there's no way I would have felt capable of handling a job like this.  

Even when we can't see through the fog, God prepares the path for us to walk.  Two years ago, I would never have imagined that pipe dream of mine would come true.  I remember leaving the concert with Jay, walking hand in hand and telling him, "I have to do that.  That job was meant for me," but thinking the whole time, "It will never happen.  They are leaving and that will be the end of it."  

God's plan for my future is so much more than my expectations.  I only hope and pray that He will continue surprising me with twists and turns that I could never imagine.   

Friday, October 3, 2008

Funny stories

The first time we stayed in a hotel a few weeks ago, Jay and I had decided to get two adjoining rooms so that we could stay in one room with a couple of boys and then keep the door open to connecting room to keep an eye on four more boys.  (Needless to say, it was a very romantic getaway for us!)  The night we got there, we had dinner and watched some Disney Channel and then the boys got ready for bed.  I made sure they had all brushed their teeth and gone to the bathroom, then said goodnight and told them there was no more talking allowed.  They were so excited about the hotel though, that it was difficult to get them to settle down.  When it was finally quiet, I started getting ready to go to bed myself and took out my contacts and put my glasses on (which they had never seen me wear before).  Just as I was getting into bed, I heard voices next door and peeked in to see that a couple of them were up going to the bathroom again.  Isaac, our littlest boy, was coming out of the bathroom when I scolded him and said, "Isaac, I am not going to tell you again!  Get back in bed and stay there or you will be punished tomorrow!  You have already been to the restroom twice before bed!"  He walked toward me with this very curious look on his face, pointed to my glasses, and said in all seriousness, "Who is this one??"  I died laughing...I think my lecture was lost on him.  

We have a really long drive and I've spent most of the time answering the phone and talking with churches.  We stopped at McDonalds for lunch, and my phone kept ringing.  Sometimes, I get so tired of it...I feel like that phone follows me around everywhere.  I was sitting with the kids when it rang again and I said, "Oh my gosh, why can't they just leave me alone?"  Yeshoda, our little Nepali girl, quickly answered, "Because you're beautiful, Auntie."