Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Story Writing

In 16 days I will be leaving Mexico and moving back to the United States of America.  A lot of people have asked how I will possibly be able to leave this little boy, my baby Angel, Angelito, guapito, and all the other little nicknames he has.  It's going to be hard, I know that.  I've had the last 3 months to pray and process and ask God what in the world he's up to with this.  I ended up stepping into a role very much like his mother, so having to leave him doesn't make sense to me.  2 weeks ago I was working with a wonderful group from LifePoint Vineyard who spoke some truth and light into the situation.  God, the great story weaver, is writing Angel's story.  From 11 months to 2 and a half, I got to be a big part of his story, and I believe what I invested in him will change his future.  But his story does not end when I leave.  I am not the great healer, the great counselor, or the great father.  I am not what is going to save Angel, God is.  God is just beginning to reveal the story of Angel's life.  Maybe I'll re-enter the story later, maybe I won't.  Maybe I'll get to see where it leads, maybe this will be the last I ever hear or see of him.  But I know God is writing a great story for him, and only in Eternity will I get to know the scope of my role in his story  God is also writing my story, and this is a big and important part of it, but not the end of it.  It's a chapter, a part of the story, that will form and influence another chapter.

Practically, I know he lives in a children's home that takes good care of him.  I know he has a sponsor through Back2Back's child sponsorship program who is invested in him and praying for him.  I know that David, another B2B staff member, really loves him and his brother Ramiro and will look out for them just like I have.  It's still hard, but when I think about the potential of his story, and the knowledge that people are looking out for him, it's okay.  Sometimes I am even excited because I can imagine some pretty big and exciting this for his future.  That being said, I'm still processing it and I'm guessing that I'm not going to feel like discussing it right when I move back to the States.  So if I don't answer your questions about him, you'll know why.  And you can pray for him, and for me, and for every other person who is going to be a party of his story.  

Friday, February 17, 2012


This week in Monterrey we had an awesome group of doctors and dentists come and spend an entire week with us.  Besides a dentist and dental assistant we were armed with a pediatrician, ER doctor, family practice doctor, paramedic, nurses, and some medical students who graduate in May.  I spent most of the week acting as a translator for one of the doctors and a medical student, which was a fantastic learning experience.  They taught me and then let me practice some myofascial release techniques that I'm anxious to try out on willing friends who want a back rub.  

But the thing that is sticking with me from the week is Rosa.  She is 7 years old and lives at Del Norte.  She spent two whole afternoons with the dentist.  At 7 years old her teeth were bad enough that she needed 7 teeth extracted because they were so far gone, 4 fillings, and then sealants on the ones that were left.  Rosa is probably the bravest little 7 year old girl I know.  I talked with her about what the dentist needed to do, and she didn't protest one bit.  She grabbed hold of my hand, said okay, and squeezed her little eyes shut.  She didn't cry with the 15 injections to numb her mouth, or the first 6 teeth that came out.  I know it hurt, she was squeezing the heck out of my hand and sometimes her little legs would shake.  Only on the 7th tooth did she start to cry.  By that point, I was crying too much to try and reassure her that it was almost done.  Some of our male staff had joined us in the dental clinic, and they were crying too.  I'll let them stay anonymous to protect their manly-man image.  After the teeth came out and her mouth was packed with gauze I scooped little Rosa up and went to an empty exam room.  We sat there in the dark for almost 45 minutes, snuggled up together, until she fell asleep.  I'm pretty sure I just kept crying.  But Rosa is a tough girl.  The next day she marched in to see the dentist and greeted him with a big, gap-filled, smile to get her fillings and sealants.  3 days later, she says that her mouth doesn't hurt one bit and she feels great.  Thankfully Rosa is still young and those were all baby teeth.  With regular dental care and some good teeth-brushing she should be good to go!

A post-dental visit smile
Some fun with big sister Debanhi 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Christmas 2011

After staying in Mexico for Christmas 2010, it was time to spend a Christmas with the family.  I'm fortunate to have a wonderful grandma who lives by the beach in Florida, so we like to spend Christmas at her house.  Christmas with my family is just a little bit different than most.  I believe it was referred to as "training camp" this year, and 80% of our conversations revolve around exercise.  See, my dad is a pretty avid cyclist and is looking to do a 100 mile race for the third year in a row.  My brother is a triathlete and cyclist, cycling for the GE Flyers.  Mom and I are triathlete's and runners.  This family is serious about endurance sports.  I am the late sleeper in the bunch, and I am usually up by 8 on vacation.  One day mom and I wanted a Diet Coke, so we had to sneak away without the boys to get one.  My family is definitely unique!  
We look so normal here, out to dinner at our favorite fish house.  Only a really observant person would notice that Clayton and I are both wearing running shirts out to dinner.  The reflective strips give us away.  
We do normal things, like walking on the beach early in the morning to find shells
The antlers are a must for Christmas eve/day
 I got a great Camelbak so that I can run in the mountains for hours without needing to stop for water.  And a gift certificate for new running shoes.
 Clayton got a new soccer jersey, some compression socks, and new running shoes.  
 Clayton and I posing with santa.  Except this is totally fake Santa, it was an inflatable thing in someone's front yard.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Christmas at Del Norte

It's weird to write about Christmas on Valentine's day, but I'm backtracking still so be patient.  Christmas at a children's home is an interesting thing.  There are a lot of local schools/churches/businesses who want to do something generous for the holiday season.  It's a great idea, but sometimes the reality of it gets a little bit crazy.  There is usually one or two groups coming to the children's home every day for a whole month.  And usually each group brings cake, soda, candy, and presents.  So for a whole month the kids are on a sugar/present high.  It can feel overwhelming and isn't healthy for the kids, but they love it.  What kid wouldn't want 30+ presents and cake and soda every day for a month!  Here are a few pictures from this Christmas. 
 Angel looks very handsome in his Christmas sweatshirt, which lights up and plays music.  
 Ricardo's shelter sponsor sent him Spiderman action figures.  Super cool.
And the sugar high begins... 
 I like Ximena's sneaky face, she totally got busted licking icing off of all the cupcake wrappers.
 Edgar's smile gets super cheesy after lots of sugar.
 It was Natanael's first Christmas at the children's home.  He loved all the treats.
 More cupcakes please!
 Rosa's shelter sponsor sent her a journal and barbies.
Alejandra had a friend send her crafts, coloring stuff, and fun hair accessories.  It was perfect timing, she got her present and then had to stay home from school sick for a few days so she had lots of new things to play with.
I made a Christmas ornament for every kid in the children's home with their picture in it.  But instead of putting them up in the children's home I saved them to give to the kid's families.  Every kid has some relative in their lives and went home for a week for Christmas.  So their family members got a little gift too, and for many of them it's the only picture they have of their child from the whole year.  One of the moms that I know well has 7 children at Del Norte.  I just happened to be there when she came to pick up her kids, so I got to give her all of the picture ornaments.  She was so excited to have new pictures of all of her kids!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Growing Up

I promised to back-track a little bit to catch you up on the last 3 months.  Here are some pictures to show you how big the "baby boys" are getting.  I guess I can't really call them babies anymore, they both just turned 2!  I'm enjoying their grown up versions, even though they are both definitely two.  Apparently the terrible 2's are multi-cultural.  These two can throw some pretty impressive fits to get their way.
Sometimes they wear funny clothes.  This day was really cold so Angel had 3 different outfits on.  He was not amused, he couldn't really move his arms enough to get his sippy cup to his mouth.
 Alexis got a superman outfit for Christmas.  What you can't see is that under the costume he has on khaki pants with a belt and a button-down shirt.  Very fancy.
 They are learning how to eat themselves.  It's very messy.
Alexis is huge.  He can usually eat two plates at lunch.
 Alexis is figuring out that blocks are for building, not for throwing.
Angel is learning how to play with play-doh and not eat it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Breaking the Silence

It's been 3 full months of silence on here.  Today is the day to break it.  I haven't written because I knew this post was the next one, and it scared me to write it so I just didn't.  I am very skilled at avoiding things I don't want to talk about.  But it is time.  7 weeks from today, or in 49 days, on March 30th, I am moving back to the United States.  Let me start by reassuring you that I am fine, my family is fine, and everyone here in Mexico is fine.

And now the hard part, explaining.  Ultimately, I was not able to raise all of the funding that I needed to stay in Mexico.  This is by no means a slight to my team of financial supporters, who gave generously above and beyond their means in support of what God is doing through Back2Back in Monterrey.  In August I did not have enough in my support account to be paid in September, and God moved in my team of supporters to provide the funds for me to stay in Mexico for an additional 7 months.  This winter I was faced with the decision of whether or not I wanted to return to the States to try and raise additional fundraising, or if it was time for me to return to the States for good.  I prayed, and then talked with my family, friends, and my bosses.  What initially looked like a frustrating and sad situation has turned in to an opportunity for me to return to the States and pursue my masters degree in social work.  And so that is what I am doing.

I will be staying with my parents in Cincinnati through the summer to re-adjust to life in the States and to save up money for school.  And in August I will be headed to graduate school, hopefully in Indianapolis.  Right now I'm waiting on acceptance letters from several schools and furiously searching for scholarships because graduate school is expensive and working as a missionary doesn't exactly have me rolling in all kinds of extra cash.

I have mixed feelings.  I am 100% confident in this decision, and I have full faith that God knows what he's doing with me.  There are many things I am excited about returning to in the States, and things I am sad about leaving in Mexico.  I have started to think about what it means to leave the children's home I work in, Del Norte, and especially little Angel, but that just results in tears so I am not thinking much about that yet.  And so for the next 7 weeks I will do my best to blog often.  To fill you in on all of the really cool things that have happened over the last 3 months, to process the transition of leaving full-time ministry, and to remember my last few weeks here in Mexico.  If you have more questions for me feel free to send me an email at or message me on facebook.