Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Always an Eagle

Some of the boys watching the slide show of Ryne and T.

David Jones, one of our quarterbacks, sitting behind me and Ash during the service.

Donald Johnson, a coach, speaking during the service.

Todd Oliver, a player and also Ryne's roommate and T's roommate last year, hugging T's dad.

"Even young youths shall faint away and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Isaiah 40:30-31

This verse, for obvious reasons, has always been the team verse for Faulkner Football (for anyone who doesn't know, we are the Faulkner Eagles). Friday during Ryne's funeral in Mississippi and yesterday during the memorial service here on campus we heard a lot of different verses used that are supposed to make you feel better at things like that. I'm sure that I will hear some more Friday at T's funeral. But, yesterday after everyone had left I was sitting in the locker room in one of the lockers and I pulled my feet up and kind of hid myself in there. When I looked at the back of the locker that verse was hanging up and as I read it the most amazing thing happened. It made me feel better.

I thought of County Fair (for all of you x GCSers this is like a three week "Gut week" for anyone else, you should be getting a pretty clear picture by now) and Spring practice and watching these boys work SO HARD. I would see them just fall down from being so tired and exhausted and August seemed so far away even to me and I was nice and warm and comfortable, certainly not running until I threw up! That memory is what jumped into my head and, for maybe the first time I really smiled when I thought about them. I just love the thought of them flying around like Eagles all full of life and looking down.

Anyways, Friday morning, after a VERY long week me, Ashley, all the coaches, and some of the players loaded a bus for the five hour trip from Montgomery to New Albany, Mississippi. We arrived at the church building for lunch and got to spend some time with the family. The people from the congregation there were just amazing and there was so much wonderful food. Even with all the football boys there, there was still food leftover! Next we went into the sanctuary where the service was going to be and spent an hour sitting there watching the family have their last moments with Ryne and watching a slide show. It was a very emotional hour and we were already pretty exhausted by the time the funeral finally started. The service was very nice and then we all loaded the bus again and we followed a police car to the cemetery. After the graveside service we went back to the building and they fed us again before we got back on the road. i just can't say enough about how nice they all were.

Skip ahead to Sunday night (after what, at best, would be described as a horrible weekend) and I went out to eat with Ashley (our trainer), Doug (our asst. AD), and Ryne's mom, step dad, brother, aunt, uncle, and cousin. We had already met his dad, step mom, brother and sister, and the Hollis family at the hotel, but none of them were feeling up to going out to eat. It was a wonderful dinner but I was so tired and emotionally drained that I just couldn't go to work and make it through all that had to be done the next day. Sunday was about the hardest day so far.

Monday morning was so busy, I didn't even have time to think about anything or be sad. By the time I had arranged everything and met up with the families in the President's Dining Room for lunch with the coaches, I was already exhausted and hadn't had A SECOND to think about anything else. Lunch was very nice and then we took the families over to the gym. It really looked so good, if I do say so myself, and it was nice for the families to have a little while in there by themselves.

There were about 600 players, coaches, students, faculty/staff, media, and people from the community that filed in the gym. First, President Hilyer got up and spoke and said a prayer, then Cornerstone sang "I'll Fly Away", then Aaron Greenwood, the SGA president spoke, and then four football players spoke. I am SO PROUD of Sean Thom, Bobby Britton, Todd Oliver, and Paul Adams that I can't even put it into words. They did incredible and I know how hard it was for them. I honestly don't know if I have ever been more proud of anyone ever. Next Cornerstone sang "It Is Well With My Soul" before Coach Baker got up and spoke and my pride (and tears) continued. He did so good and had even written a poem for it!

Remember Us
To the living, we are gone.
To the sorrowful, we will never return.
To the angry, we were cheated.
To the happy, we are at peace.
To the faithful, we never left.
We cannot be seen, but we can be heard.
So as you push through the tough times, remember us.
As you celebrate life's victories, remember us.
As you cheer our Eagles, remember us.
Remember us, in your heart, your thoughts, and your memories.
The times we've shared, the times we've cried, the times we've laughed.
For if you always think of us, we will have never gone.
Ryne and T, We will never forget you.

After Coach Baker spoke, Heath Stripling, another coach led the entire group in "Amazing Grace" before Donald Johnson, another coach, led us in a closing prayer. All the parents were presented with a honorary degrees for the boys, their jerseys, and footballs signed by the entire team and staff. It was just an amazing day. The links I posted at the bottom take you to a recording of the entire service, a clip from the newspaper, and local news links. The story did make it on ESPN, FOX News, and many other major news outlets, but it was all pretty much the same.

Please, please keep these families, friends, and this team in your prayers. There is an unbelievable amount of hurt to fit in such a small field house. There is so much healing that needs to be done that only God can do it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The post I never wanted to make

Terison "T" Hollis 11/07/88- 04/21/09

Ryne Wilhite 08/26/89- 04/21/09

Last year, not too long after I started working at Faulkner for the football team, a player died from Huntingdon College, our rival school here in town. I remember thinking how awful it was and actually praying that nothing like that would ever happen here. Today, with tears flowing down my face, I have to report that it has happened twice.

Ryne Wilhite and T Hollis were killed in a car crash on Hwy 82, returning to campus from a friends house in Tuscaloosa. According to troopers, it appears that they fell asleep and veered into an oncoming eighteen wheeler. Both were killed instantly.

I knew Ryne pretty well because he just transferred in in January from Mississippi, where he played for a junior college there, and I did a lot of talking to him and his parents on the phone and during visits. I didn't know T as well but he is one of only a handful of players that has been here since our inaugural season. Both kids were great kids with great hearts. T was a leader on this team and everyone had already grown to love Ryne.

I beg you to please keep their friends and families in your prayers and also the football team and coaches. These kids and coaches have to spend so much time together that they become each others family. The reaction of these kids when they were told this morning will go down as one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever seen.

We are swamped with media today, coming in and out of the office and calling. I really wanted to post more and tell you about how great these kids were but, it will have to be later. Just please keep them all in your prayers.

****terrible time but today is my dad's birthday and there will be a 53 things post about him, just not today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DADDY! I love you!****

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Orange and White Game 2009

Here comes Lane, Smokey, and the Vols!

The boys that accompanied me. From left to right, Uncle Ted, Dev, Braden, and Dad.

Me and Dad

Me and Dev

Me and Dev waiting on the Vol Walk

So, it has become a father/daughter tradition for me and Dad to go to the Orange and White game (every team has their own version of a Spring game....Faulkner's is the Blue and White game, Alabama's and Auburn's in "A" Day, ect., ect.) in Knoxville every year. We have gone the last four years, one year the whole fam went, two years Dev went with us, and this year Uncle Ted (Mom's brother) and his stepson, Braden, went with us. We got there in time to walk around on the practice field (usually it's done on the real field but, due to construction, that was impossible this year), where all the players and coaches were taking pictures and signing autographs. I really wanted to meet Coach Ed Orgeron and see if he really talks like that (search him on YouTube, it's hilarious!) and get my picture taken with him for the guys (they love him too...the only person the wanted me to get my picture taken with more was Layla Kiffin, just google her and you'll see why pretty quick) but it was hot and Dev was hungry so we didn't stick around to wait in VERY long lines.
We went and met Uncle Ted and Braden, who were already waiting on a hill for the Vol Walk and got a pizza. We also met up with Michael Rainey and his girlfriend Anne Marie, who goes to UT and is a huge Vols fan too! I really hope he keeps her around (he's a Auburn fan)! It was fun just getting to hang out and visit with friends and family right outside Neyland stadium. Finally it was time for the Vol Walk, where the Vols and the coaches (and during the Spring game, recruits) walk from their field house to the field and THOUSANDS line the street to cheer them on, bump chests, and high five them on their way.
To give you an idea, last year there were about 30,000 there. This year there were over 50,000 (due to the construction, the fire marshall would only let 50,000 in and there were some very unhappy fans outside the stadium when the game started) people there! Before the game they honored Coach Phillip Fulmer with the Neyland award and I am happy to say that he got about a five minute standing ovation from the crowd. I was so glad, I still don't love the way his "retirement" went down and I am glad that he and the University and him and Coach Kiffin are all getting along. I hope he never speaks to Hamilton again. Dirty old butt deserves it.
Once the game started we saw REALLY excited and spirited coaches and players, some better than expected Offense and some AWESOME Defense! Lane doesn't play around and Coach O and "Dad" Monty REALLY get into it! It was real hot and we all definitely got some sun but it was a GREAT day! It is just enough football to help you get through to Fall. It was great to spend time with Dad and Dev and it feels SO good to have a renewed hope about Tennessee Vols football! After the start the Braves are having (losing five in a row, with the last two being shutouts!), and the way the Vols and the Lady Vols ended their MORE than just disappointing basketball seasons, I need some renewed hope for one of my teams!
Thanks Dad and, IT'S GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL!!!!!!

Taxed Enough Already! (FOR THE LOVE!)

Me, Dirt, Louise and Leigh in the back of the T.E.A. party, Montgomery, AL edition!

I LOVE people getting their kids involved! And their signs were SO cute!!!

University Church of Christ representing!

Again, I LOVE the kid signs!

If that didn't make you laugh out loud.............

Dirt and some of his patriotic co-workers!

Yeah! Party like it's 1773!

Just hanging out with a couple thousand of my most patriotic friends!

So, this is a little late but on April 15th Leigh, Louise, Dustin, and myself all went to the T.E.A. party on the front steps of the State House in downtown Montgomery. I have recently decided that all the things that I hate about what America has become is my fault and probably yours too. I HATE most of the decisions that our congress, house, and presidents have made in the past few years. So, what can I say that I have done about it? Let's see... well, I voted. Yeah, that's it. I haven't written, e-mailed, or called my congressman, my senator, or my president. I haven't ever demonstrated or in any way shown my displeasure for the decisions our lawmakers have made. Persecute me for believing in and worshiping my God and what will I do? I'll vote! That'll get them.
I'm not downplaying the importance of voting at all. I have only missed one vote since I turned 18 and I DO consider it very unpatriotic NOT to participate in that right. However, that is not enough! One of the speakers said at the T.E.A. party said, "I keep hearing people say, 'How did we let all of this happen?' Well, the answer is pretty simple. 'WE' were at work!" Pretty true. I can honestly say that I feel like between my two jobs, church activities, ect. I don't feel like I have time to be a political activist and I'm sure you feel the same way. But, the truth is, that it's going to take, those of us who "don't have time" to get up and start getting involved before it's too late!
50 years ago who would have thought that killing babies, killing the elderly, getting pregnant just to use the stem cells that are grown during pregnancy and then "disposing" of the fetus, and gays marriage would be legal? And, who would have thought, 50 years ago, that praying before a ballgame and carrying a Bible in school would be ILlegal? What, then, will be legal and illegal fifty years from now? Who is OK with paying FORTY-TWO PERCENT in taxes, while over FIFTY PERCENT of the country DOESN'T even pay taxes?!?
What is going to be the last straw for you? I kind of had a few straws fall at one time, so it was hard to tell which one was the actual last. One of the straws was when I sat down and figured out that I paid more in taxes in 2008 than I MADE at my THIRTY HOUR A WEEK part time job! That means, I am working a entire SECOND job just to START paying my taxes!!! Another "straw" was when president Obama lifted the ban on spending OUR taxpayer money on abortions, OVERSEAS(http://www.foxnews.com/politics/first100days/2009/01/23/obama-lift-ban-overseas-abortion-funding/)! Does that even sound remotely right to ANYone? The last proverbial straw was when he went over to Europe and APOLOGIZED for America. I wanted to shout on TV all over the world, HE ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ME!!!
So, (I'm getting ready to step off of my soapbox) I am announcing that I AM not standing by and being persecuted any more! I AM getting involved more and I really urge you to do the same! This T.E.A. party was just the beginning for me. I HATE the response to this by the main media (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6G3fvNhdoc0 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IeRxVMpyDg if you haven't seen these, you REALLY have to) who blames Fox News but for anyone who is interested in the truth, this is where it actually started (on CNBC, how funny is that!) you can watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEZB4taSEoA
Last but not least, the TEA party was so fun and SO refreshing! Sometimes when you are surrounded by stuff you see on TV, read on the internet and in newspapers/magazines, you think that you are pretty much by yourself in your beliefs but I was assured on Wednesday that I wasn't! And, I LOVED the signs!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

These guys!

No real reason to post except to say how funny these guys are I work with! I am about to be laid off for three months and yesterday and today these guys have had me rolling! Being around boys on a regular basis is such a different experience. Their point of view is SO different from mine and, might I add, usually so misguided!

Lately our conversation has revolved around one of the guys that is getting married in June. It is HILARIOUS to listen to his expectations from marriage! I can see why so many marriages fail....because boys are CRAZY in what they expect! It's a good thing he is marrying such a good girl!

The other thing that has occupied most of their/our time has been some kids stole some of our golf carts and took them for "joy rides", wrecking them, and tearing them up. Well, we have a camera out there but since it was dark, it was real hard to make out the kids. So, for two days the guys and the security guys were all crowded around my computer, watching the video feed. My little regular detectives :^) I wish I had been able to take a picture or better, a video, so ya'll could have heard them figuring it out. Which, I am proud to say, they did.

I really love this job and wish that it was a more permanent thing. Now.....I am off to create memories for my next blog.....The TEA Party!!!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Kristen working hard dying the eggs!

Our supplies are prepared!!

It's hard to believe that just one week ago I was telling Magiboo and all of my friends in the Philippines goodbye. Yesterday, as I was walking through Target looking at the Easter stuff I saw a small little Easter toy that just unexpectedly brought tears to my eyes. The thought came to mind that Magiboo has never had a Easter basket and most likely never will. The tears came with a smile though, just thinking about how much he would love all that candy :^)
Yesterday I went Easter shopping at Wal Mart as soon as I got up. I also picked up my pictures and 127 pictures later and hour had past with me just standing there looking at them. I then came home and went to bed so I could get up early. I got up about 5 and me and Kristen, who is my only family member in town this weekend, went to the salon to get pedicures. How it needed mine was from those weeks walking all over Luzon in flip flops! Then we cam home and dyed eggs! It was SO fun!
When I got to work last night, my secret sister had left me an Easter basket with some of my favorite things inside! I'm am ABSOLUTELY embarrassed to tell you that I ate an ENTIRE bag of mini Snickers! On top of that we had Easter dinner there and I had two helpings of lasagna and of course only one small one of lasagna! Either I am totally glutenous or I REALLY missed good old American dishes (please ignore the fact that lasagna is Italian!)
This morning I came home and made Kristen, Leigh, Louise, and Dirt Easter baskets. Fun stuff. Now I am about to get ready and go to early service with Kristen and then we are going out to eat for Easter dinner! I hope that all of you have as wonderful an Easter as I already have with your friends and family!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Well, as of about 1:30 this morning I am officially home. Started off my first day back by oversleeping, running late for the Dr, finding out the hard way that someone left the shower on so when I turned on the water I got sprayed with freezing water, getting in the car and finding it on empty and a bad case of road rage with a VERY rude driver! Have I mentioned that my stomach decided that the 12 hour plane ride where I was in the THIRD of FIVE seats would be a great time to start acting up. Yeah, you gotta love multiple trips to a plane bathroom, crawling over people who are sleeping and eating to even get to the aisle!

I decided after the Dr appt (no lice....YAY!) to start my day over. I went home and took a bath and visited with my new roommate (and cousin :^) Kristen for a little while before headed into work about 1:30. The guys were pretty happy to see me, I have to say. Now I have caught up on e mails, am working on our phone messages, and about to go to the chiropractor before Weds night service. I guess real life doesn't break for long in the USA. I must give a shout out to Leigh though, she did make up my bed and put fresh flowers on my nightstand, and even turned on my heater (knowing that I would be freezing!) for me.

I really miss my kids and friends and have teared up many times today talking and thinking about them but it is good to be home. I hope I can remember on long work days, days when I oversleep, and driving with the terribly rude Montgomery drivers, how good I really have it. Thanks so much to all of you who supported us and prayed for us. We couldn't have done it without any of you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The day of "konnichiwa" and "sayonara"

These buttons are on the side of the toilet! You can even control how loud you want a flushing sound (that can be used even when you're not flushing!). But, my favorite icon is the spray one!
These Japanese think of EVERYTHING!

There are electronic sidewalks all the way down the VERY long terminals. Also, there is NO sign of any trash or even dust for that matter!

This is the hand dryer. It is SUPER powerful and has a "blue light" that kills germs!

Another view of the toilet! Beware though: stay away from anything labeled "Japanese style toilet" Google it if you don't trust me.

Well, after what, at best, could be described as a rough nights sleep in Manila we headed for the airport at about 7am, local time. Our plane took off about five minutes late and arrived about 15 minutes early. Good thing there are no speed limits in the sky! We are now sitting in the very nice Narita airport waiting for our 5:35p.m. (local time) departure. We should arrive in Chicago about 3:25p.m. (local time) on the same day. It's pretty weird traveling backwards in time.

On the flight I watched 'Frost/Nixon' and it was pretty good. I only watched 'Marley and Me' on the way over here so I am aiming for being awake for two movies on the trip back :^) Here is a weird thing. Daddy had the window seat and me the middle of three seats on the plane ride here. The guy sitting in the isle seat was already there when we boarded. He is a older (like 70's) white guy and I was just happy it wasn't a kid. When we sat down he said, "Didn't I sit next to you last time?" What? Really he did! Last year when I was traveling home by myself he sat next to me! He is a Canadian married to a Filipino woman (half his age) and they have a 2 year old. I found out on this flight (the guy was a talker) that he also has a 50 year old, a 43 year old, and a 39 year old and a FIVE year old GREAT grandson! I don't know which is weirder, his family situation or the fact that out of all the millions of people who make that flight we have now sat by each other on the same flight twice!

Other than that there isn't much to report here beside how much I miss my friends and kids back at the compound. There was a little Asian baby boy sitting across the aisle from us and I spent a lot of time thinking about Magiboo. He is so enthralled by just riding in the PTC van, he would just die to ride an airplane! It's really weird how much I miss him and the other kids. Please keep us in your prayers.

P.S. April 6th marked two years since Adam was killed in action in Iraq. Please keep his family and all of people who have lost loved ones to protect our country in your prayers and also the ones who currently are deployed. We would be nothing without them.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Manila Day

Well, we were picked up at 9:20 this morning by Brother Roger, his wife Lisa, and Josie. It is about a six hour drive. In Tarlac (about half way between Dagupan and Manila) we stopped and ate at Pancake House (their version of Huddle House, IHOP, ect.) and I had a a really good club sandwich. For dessert we all split this thing that was vanilla ice cream, that had nuts and m and m's in it, it was then wrapped in a waffle and covered in chocolate syrup. It was really good and it was my first meal with no rice! Consequently, we had KFC for supper and they asked what side and I was so happy to answer "mashed potato's!" Joke was on me. They gave you an option of sides but that was in addition to your side of rice! The KFC is connected to our hotel, which is the airport hotel. We are just hanging out in the one room with NaNa and PaPa. We are watching Fox and Friends and I helped open NaNa and PaPa a facebook account! Me and NaNa have been having so much fun looking for people she knows! They will leave here about 9:30 and go across the parking lot (they will take a cab, not walk like we had to when we got here!) to airport, they fly out at midnight. Their route is Manila to Seoul, South Korea to Dallas-Fort Worth to Atlanta to Valdosta. They will arrive at 9:30p.m. local time, Tuesday, Lord willing. We will leave here at about 7a.m. local time tomorrow and fly out at 9a.m. Our route is from Manila to Tokyo to Chattanooga.We will arrive home Tuesday night at about 9p.m., local time Tuesday.
Not much to report today except that I really miss my kids. Magiboo would really love everything even the ride to Manila and especially, the Pancake King and KFC! Boy, that kid loves to eat! Please keep us in your prayers as we travel. I will try to update again from Tokyo.

Manila Day

Well, we were picked up at 9:20 this morning by Brother Roger, his wife Lisa, and Josie. It is about a six hour drive. In Tarlac (about half way between Dagupan and Manila) we stopped and ate at Pancake House (their version of Huddle House, IHOP, ect.) and I had a a really good club sandwich. For dessert we all split this thing that was vanilla ice cream, that had nuts and m and m's in it, it was then wrapped in a waffle and covered in chocolate syrup. It was really good and it was my first meal with no rice! Consequently, we had KFC for supper and they asked what side and I was so happy to answer "mashed potato's!" Joke was on me. They gave you an option of sides but that was in addition to your side of rice! The KFC is connected to our hotel, which is the airport hotel. We are just hanging out in the one room with NaNa and PaPa. We are watching Fox and Friends and I helped open NaNa and PaPa a facebook account! Me and NaNa have been having so much fun looking for people she knows! They will leave here about 9:30 and go across the parking lot (they will take a cab, not walk like we had to when we got here!) to airport, they fly out at midnight. Their route is Manila to Seoul, South Korea to Dallas-Fort Worth to Atlanta to Valdosta. They will arrive at 9:30p.m. local time, Tuesday, Lord willing. We will leave here at about 7a.m. local time tomorrow and fly out at 9a.m. Our route is from Manila to Tokyo to Chattanooga.We will arrive home Tuesday night at about 9p.m., local time Tuesday.
Not much to report today except that I really miss my kids. Magiboo would really love everything even the ride to Manila and especially, the Pancake King and KFC! Boy, that kid loves to eat! Please keep us in your prayers as we travel. I will try to update again from Tokyo.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Sad, Last Day

My last Bible class at the campus of this campaign.

Magiboo and a friend in our "classroom" coloring a picture of Daniel.

Daddy preaching to the "congregation" this morning.

One of the most precious and pathetic kids in San Fabien and definitely one of the happiest!

Magiboo, Sandra, their grandmother, and aunt and uncle's two room "house", yesterday when we drove by he was inside washing his own clothes.

Our final "class" in our back porch "classroom"

Magiboo giving Ate Laurie a little much needed love before we left.

Magiboo trying out his photography skills!

Could I bring him back and pass him as mine? Yes? (That's how I have to ask him everything...."Want something to eat, yes?" He always answers "Yes", he doesn't know what I'm saying but he understands voice inflection and when I say yes, he answers yes, no matter what!

Well, it's all over but the travel now. More than a few tears have been shed and I don't see them ending anytime soon. I am so grateful to have been able to come, as I know that so many are not. I love these people, they are truly my family and I miss them as much when we are apart.
Today started off with me and Daddy being picked up by Indios and Daniel. We went to a new congregation that only has three members and two of them were out of town today :^) There were five of us total including the four of us! She is a school teacher and they meet in the local high school. After that we went back to the campus. I got to spend some time with just Jomar 1 and 2 and Magiboo. Magiboo had skanked a balloon from a wedding being celebrated in the compound and was throwing it up and catching, just squealing with delight. One time it went down and he went down full force for it and smacked his head, right at the eyebrow and stared wailing. Usually he just needs a little attention and TLC from Ate Laurie but even that wasn't enough this time. I went and washed his face off and Julie even gave him a orange (which proved he was really hurting because he didn't even eat it!), and put a cold cloth on his head. Finally I picked him up and we went out to the new hammock and we both laid down and both took a little siesta. The kid has to wash his own clothes, I know there isn't anyone to give him TLC when he normally gets a boo boo. It just breaks my heart, literally. Later Julie called him inside and gave him a bath. I guess he is in charge of giving himself one so they keep a change of clothes at the campus and give him regular baths. I know I leave him in good hands with them but I would still prefer to take him with me.

By the 3:30 time for the Campus CoC service there were about 40 kids for class. It was hot and I was pretty emotional but it was very good anyways. I told the story of Daniel and at then end when I asked how we could be like Daniel and go to Heaven (do what God says or pray would have been an acceptable answer) and one girl raised her hand and answered "We could all die" Well, that is one step in the getting to Heaven process :^) After the tears and the goodbyes at the campus, we went to San Fabien and had a short service before thunderstorms set in. Those kids are so precious and so pathetic at the same time. You can't imagine their poverty. We did get some antibiotic ointment and peroxide to the little girl with the "rotting" fingers. They were starting to turn black. Brother Roger will be keeping an eye on them every Sunday.
As I sit here watching Fox News about a father shooting and killing all five of his own children, someone trapping and ambushing police officers, killing three of them, North Korea launching a missile and it is freezing, literally across most of the US, it's hard for me to stop crying about leaving. If I stayed, I would cry, missing my friends and family but right now it is hard to look past leaving all the ones I love here. PaPa did take me and most of the boys to McDonalds for one last coke float and as we pulled up to the hotel the boys sang "Never Say Goodbye." You can imagine how much that helped!
I now have to pack and do a lice treatment (not sure if I need it or not but we always do one when we leave since all the kids have it) and get really for the long trip home. I'm not sure who was more upset when I left, me or Magiboo, but since he is 5, he will probably get over it more quickly. I wish I would be able to get it through my heart that he, and all of them, are ok without me. My head knows it is really me who needs them more than vise versa.
Josie still has not have had Matt and we really have no further word on her. Please keep her and us in your prayers and we will leave for Manilla in the morning. Hopefully I will be able to blog from there.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Jolibee Day!

From L to R (Jomar 1, Rolly, Sandra, Beverly, Sara, Jender, Jomar 2, Jereme, Magiboo, me, Daddy, Josie)

How priceless are those smiles???

This morning we slept in for the first time since we arrived! We weren't picked up until 8:30, whoo! After breakfast we rode out to the campus and there were only 6 kids at the campus. At about 10:30 me, Daddy, and Beverly took Jomar 1, Jomar 2, Ralli, Jereme, Sara, Sandra, Jender, and (of course) Magiboo to Jolibee!
I wish I could explain to ya'll what that was like for these kids. The best analogy that I have heard is someone that has heard of Disney World, seen commercials about it, and heard others talk about and have always dreamed of going....and the moment when they first get to go. Daddy had taken a couple of the others earlier in the week but he didn't know they had never been before and didn't get them anything to eat, just let them play for a few minutes. Insert: Usually I bring Louise, Leigh, Momma, ect something home from the Philippines. I can't even remember what I brought them last time. This time instead of bringing them presents, we sponsored this day. I didn't have to ask to know that's what they would have wanted!
This time I let them each pick out their own kids meal. Three picked out a hamburger steak meal, three picked out hamburger meals. They LOVED it! Afterwards they wanted ice cream but the machine was down so I bought them Jolibees version of halo halo (I won't even go into detail about the grossness) and them let them play while we waited on the adults that had gone to the market. When the adults got there, they ate and when they ordered dessert (it had been about an hour since we ate), the machine was back up, and Daddy ordered them all ice cream cones! This is all Magiboo ate: a hamburger steak and rice, half of his sisters hamburger steak and rice, half of another kids hamburger, a order of french fries, then his halo-halo dessert, then a piece of one of the adults chicken, then his ice cream cone and half of another's! Before we left he asked one of the kids that was saving their hamburger if he could have it!!! Good grief, if there was any doubt he was mine!
By the time that we got back from Jollibee it was 1:00. We sang all the way home and then just sat around and reviewed our Bible stories and sang some more because it was SO hot! By now the boys were up (they had all been up before the sun this morning to see family off and clean up the campus from the party last night, so they had taken a siesta) and Kevin asked me (notice the quotation marks), "Do you want to play touch the body?" "WHAT?", I replied. And he repeated it, TWICE! I looked around, red in the face, and was thinking, "NO! And if I did it wouldn't be right here in the middle of the yard with 20 kids around!" I realized that I was the only one embarrassed and tickled so I said yes and for them to explain it to me. Thank goodness, it's a game very similar to dodge ball. Get it? Don't let the ball "touch the body" :^) I have laughed so hard I have cried over how shocked I was when he asked me that!
After that, Daddy came back from his Bible study and we went and baptized one of the staff members brother! Everyone was SO excited! He was our 43rd baptism of this campaign. Then we said goodbye to everyone and me, Daddy, NaNa, and PaPa ate sweet and sour pork at Cafe Feliz. I will be honest, I had tears in my eyes when we said goodbye to the kids and everyone tonight, just knowing that tomorrow will be our last day with them. Momma used to say that I was never able to fully enjoy the last half of camp, family reunions, ect because of dreading the end of them. That is definitely true today. I am just dreading it. I miss my family and friends but I would stay here in a hot second, if that was a viable option. Tomorrows blog will be written through many tears in my eyes.
We heard from Josie tonight and still no real progress in her labor. Please, please keep her, little Matt, and all of us in your prayers.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Graduation Day...take two!

Ed, Ronaldo, Kevin, me, Arnel, Jehn Ray, Fernando, and PaPa

Daddy, the VP of PTC, speaking at graduation

Magiboo taking in the construction while enjoying his Halo Halo!

I couldn't resist....how could you?? A little halo halo for Joselito!

GO EAGLES, Philippine style!

Today we arrived about fifteen minutes before chapel so I had a little time with the kids who were already there and waiting. We walked around the campus and greeted everyone . All the faculty, staff, and many of their family members were already busy preparing for our graduation meal. I got to the back just as they were, literally, loading the the goat to the slaughter. They wanted us to watch but it didn't take but one "Baaa" before me and NaNa took off literally running inside.
I need to explain about the difference between the American way of fixing animal meat and the Philippine way. When they serve fish here it looks JUST like it did when they pulled it out of the water, just not moving. Complete with head, eyes, scales, and fins, ect. I have told them many times that I just CANNOT eat something that is looking at me! Americans love meat but they like it NOT to look like it did when it was alive!
Last night me and Daddy went to this really nice bakery and bought three big cinnamon braids for us to have for Graduation Day breakfast. We had that after chapel and it was quite a treat to all of us! Next, I handed out about 25 Faulkner t shirts that Mr. Joey had given me, to the boys, the staff/faculty, and some of their family members. It was bitter sweet because the ones that got them were SO EXCITED, but there were so many that I didn't have one for. Next time my suitcase will be packed with t-shirts, and old kids clothes and kids flip flops! There is no way that I could bring enough for everyone who needs or wants them but everyone who gets one is SO grateful!
After breakfast I went out and had a GREAT Bible class! I was feeling better so I think that helped. We sang, colored, and went over our Bible stories for almost two hours. Then I came in for lunch before going back out with the kids. At 2:00 I tried to send them home to get ready for graduation but, no such luck. About 80 of my kids came to graduation and REALLY did great! They love these boys and cheered like crazy for them when they received their degrees and awards. Also, me, Daddy, NaNa, and PaPa all received an award and went PaPa went up they chanted, "LoLo, LoLo, LoLo!" (grandfather). And when NaNa went up it was, "LoLa, LoLa, Lola!" (Grandmother). When I went of there, of course, there was a roar of "Ate Laurie, Ate Laurie!" but the funniest was when Daddy went up there. Know what they chanted and cheered? "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" I wish that I had recorded it!
I do need to explain that today was the very first graduation for PTC. We had six graduate with their AA degrees and five are planning on returning for their Bachelors. You, along with I, can't imagine how much work these people have put into this and how appreciative they all are of it. That isn't a knock, but with the American mindset we just CAN'T understand! We dont work that hard for anything because we don't have to. When the idea of PTC took place they had $247 U.S. dollars to get it off the ground. It's just amazing and I am more blessed that I could ever describe to you to even be a part of it!
After the graduation there was a massive feast! They killed a pig and a goat and OF COURSE we had rice! they also had bought cokes, which is a major treat over here. They also fed the kids in the back which was such a treat for them but also was really helpful to us! They were told to stay in that kids area while our fiesta was taking place but, of course, little Magiboo made his way over to where me and Daddy were sitting. I had a full plate and told him to go sit behind my chair and I gave him the entire plate. Daddy said if I was going to spoil him I might as well not do it half way and he gave him his Coke :^) That kid is never full because then he went over and scammed another plate off of Josie!
After everyone pretty much went home and everything was pretty much settled down we sat around, what would be like their living room (where we have chapel), in a circle, and were just recapping the day. We decided to sing "I'm Going That Way", one off all of our favorites, before we broke up that night. When we started singing (we had already sent all the kids home), I saw a little movement across the floor and looked up and saw Magiboo standing there. I called him over and he crawled up on my lap and sat there and sang!!! I WISH I had that on video for all of you! The kids knows only the word "yes" and words he learns in Bible songs. He picked up on the chorus pretty quick and kind of just made up words to sing along the tune! It was SO sweet! I understand a little how God takes all the bad of the world with little snip bits of such pure, wonderfulness every now and then.
I am already dreading going home. We have one more full day before it is our last day here and we start the trek home. I just can't believe it, really. Still know word on Josie, please continue to keep her and us in your prayers.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The day with my kids!

I said, "Smile, like 'You're Happy and You Know It', big smile!" He delivered :^D

Today we went straight to the campus for chapel. It was Fernando's day to speak and he did a great job! He is so meek in real life and he becomes a different man behind the pulpit! After that everyone spilt up to go do evangelizing in different compounds but I stayed behind with "my kids" All the boys went evangelizing but we know each other well enough that we can communicate even though we don't speak the same language.

We learned some more books of the Bible, reviewed over our lessons and memory verses, colored, and, of course, sang our hearts out. Since I had so much time we were able to sing each song as many times as they liked :^) We did that for about three very long, hot, fun hours until it was time for our lunch. After lunch I went back out for an hour or so but Daddy played ball with them and we just sat around "talking", mainly about me, my family, America, and my features (my eyes and nose, the "meat" on my legs, my hair, ect). It was just so fun spending time with them. By then I was exhausted and went inside and slept for about 40 minutes before it was time to practice with our "choral group" performing during graduation tomorrow.

After practice, the Americans called it a day and headed back to the hotel. The four of us had a really nice supper in the hotel restaurant, Cafe Feliz. It was just a really nice time. I am SO blessed to be able to come here. Not just for getting to meet the people and witness all that I do but for getting to spend the quality time with Daddy, NaNa, and PaPa.

The picture I am posting today is of Dan Dan. I LOVE him! He has the quickest smile of any human being I have ever seen! SO CUTE! I have decided that he has to come home with me too. Two might be to much for me but, luckily, Rayla has said she wants me to bring her one too. If there was any way, Tucker would have a new big brother next week! I am already starting to really dread leaving! Also, the video is of us singing the PTC alma mater, which one of the teachers, Ruben wrote. The other is of Daddy playing ball with Magiboo, Jomar, DanDan, and maybe one or two others. They kept yelling, "Daddy!" for him to throw it to them :^)

Still no word on Josie and little Matt, please continue to keep them and us in your prayers.
**The YouTube videos won't post.....I'll put them on here as soon as I can get them uploaded**

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Sick Day!

I woke up very early this morning (while it was still dark) freezing cold and on top of my bed where I had fallen asleep in my clothes and shoes! It was so unusual because I can and do go so often exhausted and just keep going! I took off my shoes and jumped under the covers but never got comfortable or warm really. When I woke this morning with the roof of my mouth swollen and really just feeling bad. I thought I was feeling bad because I hadn't slept well. I wasn't hungry and kept falling asleep while I would be sitting straight up! During chapel it hit me that I was running fever and had a ear infection! That whole side of my face hurts to the touch, my throat and that side of my mouth are swollen and I am running a pretty good fever. Unfortunately, there is no rest for the weary here. I poured some alcohol in my ear, gargled salt water, and took some Echennacia and Tylenol. I still don't feel really great but, what can you do? The biggest thing is that I am just pooped!
We left at 7 to go to another baptism at the beach at 8am. So stinking beautiful! Even feeling bad, it's hard to have a bad day when you start it out that way! Today was Kevins day to speak in chapel and he was GREAT! I don't mean for a Filipino student, I mean just GREAT! What a amazing thing how these boys are growing as preachers! I had to get up after I did the alcohol thing in my ear, after chapel to go outside and do the Bible class. You just can't NOT do it, those kids show up literally at daybreak asking for me and waiting to sing Bible songs and learn Bible facts. Seeing Magiboo and the other kids makes me feel better anyways! I had missed Magiboo because I hadn't seen him at all yesterday! I just love that kid!

Since chapel was late because of the baptisms (the beach is about a 25 minute drive from the campus. During the rainy season there is a river in the compound that we use to baptize, it is stagnant during the dry season) I had Bible class for about an hour and half and then it was time for lunch. After lunch we went to San Fabien, which is where I taught the other day in the goat alley. That was my same class room today and let's just say, although the kids are more than precious, I was kind of miserable in that awful heat with no shade. Arnel was an amazing amount of help and we were out there for about 2 1/2 hours while PaPa and Roger were in a Bible study. It was well worth it though because 2 girls decided to become Christians out of that Bible study! We loaded up the van and ran to another beautiful beach and baptized them! It was kind of funny because Arnel lost one of them under the water!
One of the little girls, probably about 4 or 5, had the worst looking fingers ever! I started to take a picture but it was too gross to show anyone. I had the boys ask her what was wrong and she said that it was an allergy. That's no allergy, I can almost see bone on most of the tips of her fingers! I then had them ask if her mother put medicine on it and she told them that she boils some kind of leaves and puts that salve on it it. I am certainly all for herbal medicine but that's not working! Even to my untrained eye, I can diagnose that, that little girl is in danger of being deformed at best, losing her fingers or even life due to infection, at worst. I got Daddy and Roger to come see and I am sending her family some peroxide and triple antibiotic ointment. Her family are members of our small congregation there so Roger and his wife Lisa will be monitoring the situation. It brings tears to my eyes and makes me sick to my stomach even now, just thinking about it.
Anyway, after that, we had to run to CSI, the Wal Mart like store in the mall to get more candy for the kids. While we were checking out I told the boys to pick out candy bars. They all picked out KitKat's and it was the first time Arnel had ever had one! We also checked on Josie Dos (we have two Josie's), who is in labor. Please keep her in your prayers as she is having trouble birthing this child. Our other staff members asked if they could have their salaries early (they normally get paid on the 5th) because they are all giving 1,000 pesos a piece (appx $20, between 8%-15% of each of their respective salaries). These people have nothing but they are dividing their schedules because the hospital will not admit anyone here without full payment first. I have never felt like I am more selfish with my money. These people are truly the salt of the earth and I am a much luckier person for having them in my life.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers and, especially our sister Josie.