September 29, 2008

I have cozied up to write from a cozy home in Freeport Illinois with brownie and apple cider close at hand. This weekend the choir did four concerts within the past 2 days and we were greatly rewarded by Sunday afternoon off! It is what I have always wished Sundays could be like- just taking the afternoon after church to relax and then later have everyone together for dinner. After singing in the 2 morning services the church had booked the pool at the YMCA for us and the kids got to experience their first swimming pool & I quickly gave up taking pictures to just jump in and play with them. Afterwards, we went to the apple orchard to play in the hay bails and mazes- and for the best part really- to eat the warm freshly made apple doughnuts. Mmmmm....speaking of which I believe there are still some in this house left over...maybe for breakfast tomorrow morning?? (here's hoping) The family I am with has tried to bless the boys with many 'first experiences'- and apple orchard and pool aside we have been to a park that has a castle playground and have been to McDonalds for happy meals and much fun in the place place. During the day we have continued to rehearse, and tomorrow we start school! I am teaching P2 English...which is the same as our grade 2, and really looking forward to it. The kids are eager to start school again after weeks of rehearsing in both the mornings and afternoons. It has been really interesting for me to watch their individual personalities shine through more in rehersals, and it will be neat for me to continue to get to know them in a different light again during school. Rehersals have been going well though- it is a privelage to work with the children and have a hand in ensuring the musical concerts are at their best. That being said, I must be off to plan some things for tomorrow!

p.s- one funny note- the novely of blonde hair and white skin has not worn off- today I was told "Auntie! Your forehead is very good." Not a day goes by where I haven't laughed with every coming hour.

September 25, 2008

A note from the mansion...

Right now I am writing to you from a mansion sized house in the suburbs of Chicago. I'm not kidding when I say this house is huge- I fear that with my sense of direction (or lack there of) that I may be at risk of getting lost in all these rooms! Right now this is my third stay with a host family- I was looking forward to this aspect of tour so much, and am so happy to be meeting all of these different families! Myself and the children I have stayed with have been richly blessed with such warm hospitality. These two pictures are from my second stay with a host family- their kids taught Galdys and Immaculate (in the far right picture) how to ride the tire swing, and later that day the whole family took us to Indian caves and walking trails behind their home. The mother sent me off with a bag full of my favourite kind of cookies freshly baked from the morning- and when we opened our lunches myself and the girls all found goodbye cards tucked in between our sandwiches. It has been such a joy to experience so many firsts with these children as they visit different homes- everything from learning what a laundry machine to seeing a garbage disposal in action- it is all exciting. Pooh Bear once told Piglet "My very favourite things are the smallest things", and although Pooh wasn't the brightest stuffy I must agree with him on this one. The everyday activities like sidewalk chalk, or going through a DQ drive thru have become all exciting treats. At my first host family I enjoyed the evening just talking with the husband and wife out on their patio- and some of the neighbours joined us and we just sat and talked for a couple hours. It was so nice to have the chance in the day to just have good conversation together. They were very curious about the work of the choir and I was able to share a lot about my time in Africa. As I travel I am even more grateful for my time there with the children. I am able to better understand where they are coming from and relate and try to understand and work with our cultural differences. I also believe it validates my position in working with these children and being their chaperone and parental figure, especially in the homes of different families. I can better understand why the children are shocked at the concept of a walk in closet, and am better able to understand how different parents and children act in their families and ours here in North America. I have been able to answer many questions so far on where they are from, and have been blessed to watch so many families be humbled by our stay with them. It has been so neat to watch kids patiently interact with our children, and encourage them in their dancing and singing by wanting to learn their favourtie songs and dance moves from the show. A couple days ago some of the neighbourhood girls came over to the house I was at for a dance party- pretty fun. I have been blessed by the praise of many adults for our work, and listened to them speak of how this experience of hosting these children- if only for a mere couple days- has changed their faith and humbled them as they become more aware of how we are so richly blessed by all we have. I have heard many testimonies of how after seeing the concert and meeting the kids parents have wanted to complain less as they see, in comparison to the kids, just how much they have and how easy and peaceful and safe our lives are.

So I am loving the time with host families- the next couple days of our travels we will only be staying with people for one night stays, but once the weekend is over we will settle down again for a three night stay closer to the heart of Chicago. Art Gallery here I come! (oh dear...I feel my real motives for tour are beginning to show....just kidding!)

Our concerts have been going well- I have been proud of the kids for all their hard work and efforts to improve each concert- and that they have been. I look forward to continually reherasing and continuing to improve on the quality of this show so that it can better impact and touch the people we meet as we travel.
Dear friends,
After feeling overwhelmed in excitement with everything there is to share with you from my experience in Africa, and as we travel the America I have decided to create a blog to keep everyone more up to date on the everyday! I hadn't initially wanted to make a blog as I thought it would make our communication less personal, but I am discovering as we tour that one must grab hold of the moments to communicate whenever they come- as they are precious but few. So I believe that making a more regular account of my travels, and lessons learned in this space will allow me to be a more personal communicator in my e-mail if I can update you on the daily excitements here! I hope you will check in often- I wish you could be here if only for a short while to experience some of this along side me- but may these entries and pictures be a means of taking you there...