July 22, 2009

Be still?

Think back for a minute...when was the last time that you were completely still, felt wholly at peace? There was a song I used to sing in Sunday school called "Be still and know that I am God"...infact that one line was the song- slowly we would sit and sing that line again and again until our teacher believed that we'd found a point of focus and a sense of calmness and swept over the classroom. It is so hard for me to quiet my heart. It is so hard to try and live, even just a day, without it shaped by a schedule or commitments, outings, or dependent on things to do.

As a child my most relaxing memories are those that I can fondly look back upon at our cottage by the Lower Beverly Lakes- separated from the ringing of the phone, the computers, t.v, and days cluttered with activities and school that always kept us too busy. The cottage was such a serene haven of escape from all of it.

Yesterday, my day off with Angela took me back to those last 2 weeks of the summer- where everything was so peaceful, the days were free, and all my family had around us was the lake and each other. I couldn't think of a more perfect day off. We've shared so many days off together, and with other friends from the team and were recounting some of our favourites the other day...exploring the French Quarter of New Orleans, 6th Street in Austin, listening to live music, great restaurants, but more often now as I am beginning to feel more tired I find myself needing these kinds of peaceful days to really relax. Ang and I swam across the lake that a host home overlooked near Indianapolis- it reminded me of swimming black Jack Lake at the cottage. As we swam across we stopped halfway to just lie on our backs and let the warmth of the mid day sun wash over us. With my ears covered by the water I could hear nothing, and only see a seemingly endless vast expanse of blue sky overhead. For just a couple minutes the worries, stresses, tension, and exhaustion seemed to float away from me...It is easy to become discouraged sometimes, know how to show love to people, push aside your selfish thoughts, be genuine, be a true servant, or even in everyday details loose sight of the big picture of why I am here. I always find myself wishing that I could capture a feeling better through my words but I can't. Maybe that is why I have never much enjoyed journaling. I always feel like what I write has to be perfect and articulate...but the truth is I don't think you can capture that kind of peace in words.

Marci (our choir manager) was down visiting us for this past week- she is a good source of encouragement and I hope that her visit can help to bind us together more as a team. She lead out staff devotions for us on the weekend and spoke of having a heart of worship. She asked us where we felt most worshipful in our actions, and at the time I couldn't exactly answer. I love worshiping through music, but often I get distracted. I believe that yesterday though was my answer to her question- in absolute quietness and stillness. Where I can be floating right in the middle of everything around me and have no question that this is our God.

July 17, 2009


The more we travel the more I believe that the story of one life is really made up many other people's stories and how they intertwine, come together, and cross paths with the own roads we're on. Lately I have stayed with so many wonderful hosts with such unique stories to share. Last week I stayed up late every evening visiting with my hosts- a couple whose husband was from Whales, and his wife from Indiana. On the second night they wanted to take a picture of us to put on their "International wall"- a wall in their home in which to hang memories of many visitors from all around the world. They welcomed in a young man from Brazil to be part of their family and home for a year when he needed a place to stay after being stranded in an airport and brought home by their son with no advance notice! At one point they were telling me that there was one Christmas day in which Eileen, the wife was the only American around the table full of company! Luckily, with a British background, we made pot after pot of tea together as I listened to their stories. They told me that if they couldn't travel to every country- live in every culture- then the best way to come to learn and know a different culture was to make your home open to people from different places. I thought that was a neat way of looking at it. We'll never get to see the world- let alone all the places we'd like to in this lifetime- but what a wonderful way of learning about them...really, I guess that's what our hosts do upon meeting us right? I should also add that my host proposed to his wife within 24 hours of meeting her and they have been happily married and totally in love for almost 30 years now since then. Isn't that incredible? A love so instant but yet so strong?

I also stayed with a family when I came back from vacation who were wonderful to get to know. Sometimes it surprises me just how much people open up and share with you when just a few hours ago you were complete strangers. I'm glad they do though and I believe it's teaching me and encouraging me to be more open as well. The husband as he drove me home started talking about how the children had changed him and moved him- and how when he looked at me doing what I'm doing at my age he started to look back to the place he was at in his twenties. He started to share about how many years he'd wasted away back then, and how selfish he'd been, and how it was too late to change that. Yes, it is too late to change the past. I was reading a book the other day that said if we continually let our minds wander back to the negatives of the past then we will always be living in a negative place, reliving those emotions and never coming out of them to face today. I told him that yes the past is gone- the chance at changing it gone. But the future? The today? It's not too late for that. He went on to say that he hoped he wouldn't loose the change in him brought about by the children once we'd moved on. And then he couldn't talk anymore- getting frustrated with himself for being so emotional and choked up infront of me he turned away and drove until he broke the silence by saying "Laura you're a cool girl. That's I can say."

I hope if you're reading this, and you know who you are, I've thought a lot about that stay- and you're pretty cool yourself."

"Never let the story die" were the words of the missions pastor from my home church when I met up with him for coffee on my vacation. May that be true for all of us.

July 6, 2009

The pics I promised!!

July 3, 2009


It doesn't seem to matter how tiring or discouraging of a day it can be- somehow these children- "the laugh of a child" as Goethe once said "can make it holier still". I write tonight- for the first time in awhile since being home on a vacation and I am tired from a long day and a concert this evening. After crossing from Kentucky to Indiana I now sit under a net of butterflies in the bedroom of a little girl who has given me her room for our night in Indianapolis. The night air is warm on my back, and I can hear fireworks outside my window for the second night in a row. (Downstairs there even waits a fourth of july coffee cake for breakfast!)

It is late but I can't seem to still my mind enough to sleep although my eyes are telling me that I should go to bed. I do want to share with you though since I've been back. It always seems that there is so much that happens in just one day spent here traveling this life on the road. It hardly seems like just 2 weeks ago that I stepped off a plane in Lexington Kentucky. Seeing the children again and my dear friends from this team was probably one of the warmest feelings one can ever experience. I had missed them so much when I was home- my mind just did not want to take a vacation from wondering about how they were doing- how their exams went, their concerts, their hosts, the news things they'd done...how they were doing.... I flew into Lexington just in time to sneak into one of the closets in a classroom the children had for the day. Steve was lining up the kids at the end of the day and told them since they had behaved so well that they deserved a surprise- and that the surprise was in the closet. He then opened the closet door to where I stepped out. That is the only instance where I can say that being nearly knocked over by the screams and hugs of 22 children is one of the greatest feelings you could ever experience. For the past week I have still been catching up with them- hearing their stories and reassuring them that I drank enough chai tea on my vacation for all of us!

I never took the time I had at home with my family and friends for granted, and I certainly am trying to live in the moments I have left to be with these children now and this team in person since being back.

The children have been counting down days until a surprise- and yesterday we took them to 6 flags in the Kentucky Kingdom! I heard many guesses of what the surprise could be- everything from swimming and the zoo to flying a giant goose together! None of them could have ever imagined to guess this though! I had a great time- Angela and I put our two groups of girls together and tried every roller coaster and ferris wheel we could manage to ride in a day! Oh I wish you could've sat beside these girls- eventually I was laughing so hard at their screams and "Auntie Auntie Auntie! God will help us! Oh my my my ca ca ca ca ca help me!" that my stomach hurt and tears streamed down my face. I was laughing so hard that it didn't even matter that a rollercoaster was making me go upside down, get whiplashed, or feel like I would fall off its tracks- the reaction from the girls was just too hysterical. I don't know who was louder- Peace and Scovia's screaming or my laughing- although Rachel can tell you she could hear Peace screaming from outside the entrance of the ride!

I will try and most pictures later- and I'll end with a couple quotes that I want to remember from the day:

Mo: "I can't wait, I can't wait I can't wait for the surprise today!"
Lillian: "yes you can"
Mo "No, I can't wait!"
Lillian: "Yes, you can wait"
Mo "No I can't wait! I am too excited!"
Lillian: "Please Mo- the bible tells us to be patient."

Immaculate: "I thought that ride was going to take me to heaven!"