Easter Egg Deep Thoughts

So it's Easter Sunday and I am sitting at the Atlanta Airport at noon.  Usually I am home, back in Ohio already with an 8:40 flight that arrives at 10am.  Thanks to Covid and the backlash it seems there aren't enough pilots or maybe enough fliers for that flight and they cancelled it a while back.  So here I am for my 1:40pm flight that is now delayed. 

On to the point....

My family for quite a few years has done Easter on Saturday. It is easier for us to get to my parents house in Opelika, doesn't stress anyone out after Easter service, and gives us plenty of time to eat and hang out.  So my suggestion to you all- Easter Saturday is the bomb. Ryan

My Bobbie decided awhile back to divide up the billion easter eggs into colors for each specific child. Then the folks hiding know where to hide the eggs (hard or easy). What I discovered yesterday in the hiding and the finding is quite the parallel to the story of Jesus. 

Rachel

No matter if the eggs are hidden "easy" or "hard"it sometimes is still quite the chore to find them.  Some of the kids didn't really want help finding their eggs.  Until they had made their rounds and realized they still had some missing they couldn't find.  Typically the hider steps in to assist the finder with discovering where the leftover eggs were.  Matt and Lucy Ansley

Isn't that how it is so often with us? We think we can do things on our own... don't want help. But then we realize we need it. Without asking we realize that there He is... the one with the answer. Leading us and guiding us.  Sometimes even making it obvious by pointing directly to the spot to say "it's right HERE." In the salvation journey we often even have others that lead us and show us... but ultimately it is the one who "put the gift" there if you will, who shows us. What a gift to say it really is all Him! 

Funny thing is we can live in shame thinking "I should have been able to do it on my own and not needing help" or we can take our gift and be thankful and grateful we have someone so willing to show us the way.  Not one kid yesterday was mad or upset that they needed help.  A couple said "yeah, I had to have help! Those were hard!" with a laugh.  Like kids so often do.  Thankfully they haven't jumped into the realm of "I can do EVERYTHING on my own" yet.  

May we be like children not only as we come to Him with our need.  May we exercise gratitude like kids.  Finding Joy in the morning for a new day full of possibilities. 

Easter Morning makes that possible. 

Because Jesus kicked death in the teeth...we do not have to fear.  He wins. We will be with Him.  There is nothing that can come between Him and us.  

Love well this week. and enjoy the chocolate. 

Be His. 


My Friend Linda

Settle in folks, the bloggy blog revival post is gonna take a minute.

This morning I got a text that my friend Linda had died (Tuesday morning). We knew it was coming. She found out she had cancer last year and fought like only she could. I anticipated the text for the last 4 days… but it still has hit me hard. The hard only comes because of the good. Here is the story of Linda in my life.

When I moved to Opelika in 2002 I started attending a church called Cornerstone and worked at the hospital. I was assigned as one of my units the oncology units. The girl who had covered it told me how great a doctor she was, I remember being so intimidated by her. She had it together and knew what she wanted. As I got to know her as a physician I knew she cared about her patients. She wasn’t afraid to tell them the truth and make a referral for hospice when it was time.

We monthly had what they called Cancer Conference- a free lunch and discussion of interesting and difficult cases. Linda always spoke of her patients as people and you could tell when caring and finding a course of action seemed difficult. She spoke of research and drugs listing reasons why they may or may not work. She would mention upcoming interventions that she had read about. She studied and worked to know everything she could about the diseases she helped people fight. Linda always wanted the best for them. Not only for physical well being, but for their emotions, mind and home life. The life outside of the disease.

I ended up in Life Group with Linda and Kermit. I remember when I got my house them coming one day with a beautiful lovely chicken sandwich in hand. The braves games in the insufferable heat. Lunch at random places Kermit had found in Atlanta. Kermit and Linda’s routine of an imaginary grenade He would throw out the car window. He would hold up his hand, she would pull the imaginary pin, he would throw it out the window at the target in view. They would both do their smirky smiles. Her laughter, eye rolls, and stories about whatever thing Kermit was doing she thought ridiculous, but we knew she absolutely loved.

Meals with Linda at Mandarian House back before Auburn got great and fabulous places like Acre and so many others. I think the last time we ate together at Mandarian was a weekend I worked, she and I both planning to meet up after our rounding and finishing up at the hospital. I remember her laugh and smile over my Chinese and her fancy food I knew nothing about that the cooks made with a smile on the sushi side of the restaurant.

I remember going to see Chronicles of Narnia at the movie theater with Kermit and Linda. As we walked out of the theater she said something along the lines of “I just don’t get it.” Meaning- I just don’t understand why everyone thinks that movie is so great and loved it. We discussed the parallel of Aslan and Christ, but in the end I didn’t have her convinced it was an amazing set of stories. LOTR and Star Wars has remained her movie jam. Haha

One fourth of July Kermit and Linda ended up at my parents for dinner before fireworks in Auburn. My parents had invited over someone from their church to join us, thinking maybe he might be someone I could be interested in. As we hung out in the living room before dinner we saw the gentleman coming down the drive and I remember Linda saying “oh Andi. No. no. no.” as she shook her head and we all laughed. He was not what we would say in my southern vernacular “a looker.” He was nice and quiet, not quite prepared for the crew of folks gathered around the dinner table. She was right. Nope. Haha

I was so grateful to get to watch the story of Spencer’s adoption play out.  All the myriad of paperwork required and the stress and time, but in the end arrived such a gift in Spencer. His party that first time with a packed house of people while he just did his thing . He did not seem to care about the people who really just wanted to pick him up and squeeze him, oblivious to how excited we all were that day to meet him.

There was a difficult time in Linda’s life when she was faced with a decision to possibly leave the community. I won’t speak of details in this space, but I remember reaching out to her, trying to find the words to encourage her how I KNEW that the Lord had her here and his plan wasn’t for her to move. Thankfully she let me come over and I remember sitting on the couch talking to her about it. I remember being sure that staying was the answer…selfishly I wanted it to be the answer. She let me pray for her- on that couch; Not knowing what to do but to take her to the Lord.

Thankfully she stayed. Her office was in the hospital, so I could swing down and say hey. To just harass her for a moment as she signed paperwork or again checked my ear for an ear infection. I remember when Kermit surprised her with a new lamp for her office- a home depot lamp repurposed with a homemade lampshade with photos of UNC basketball. I still think of that lamp, the way she loved UNC and Kermit loved her so creatively. Plus I just liked the lamp. 

There are so many things I could share about how she affected my life. When I think of Wednesday I always think of Linda. It was my day I prayed for her specially. It was her day off. Kermit always did what he could to guard that day and make sure she enjoyed it. I would see her come by CFA for lunch on Wed and I always smiled, knowing she got a small reprieve that day from the work she poured her life into. I always asked what she was up to that day- some trip to Atlanta or some other adventure with Kermit.

I think of how the Ugandan children’s choir performed at my church. I wasn’t there that night, but I heard so many talk about how wonderful it was. Kermit and I ran into each other at church later that week and he told me “We are going to go to Uganda and do a medical trip.” That statement was the beginning of conversation that lead to a partnership with a community in Buloba. Child sponsorship, a community well with fresh free water for the community, a church, a medical clinic at the now local Bible University down the street. All of that was not just our church, but part of a partnership we got to be a part of. Because Linda and Kermit had a passion for people and big vision and dreams.

I wish I could remember the last time I saw Linda. The last time I hugged her. I believe it was stopping by EAMC when the cancer center was still down at the end of the building. I had come in for some medical testing on leave from Honduras. I always made my way down that hall to see her smile and hug her neck. Added bonus was the other friends I had grown to know over my time at EAMC.

Since that day we have often texted about UNC basketball, Auburn football, or random things such as an adventure Kermit had been on or how Spencer has grown into a grown up. My last text to her was simply to tell her I loved her and I was praying for her.

Her support over the years has always been faithful. She didn’t say a whole lot, but I knew that she would do what she could to encourage me and help whatever crazy thing the Lord was leading me into next. Every trip I have ever been on and my living in Honduras she and Kermit were part of my  support team. She would say things about how great it was and I would always reply in the fashion of something along the lines of not as amazing as what you do every day. Somehow I even ended up with a North Carolina license plate to adorn my US map I have made. Her name will always be in the legend next to it that lists those who contributed license plates for their states.

A couple of years ago I went to the beach and woke up with my eyelid swollen. I reached out to my doc in Alabama about it. I thought I had a blocked tear duct. I found out he wasn’t in and the Nurse Practioner I knew in Ohio couldn’t call anything in to Florida. So I texted Linda. A little while later she asked for a photo. As soon as she saw it she said “You have shingles!” We had a discussion where I listed all the reasons why it wasn’t shingles. She called in a couple of things for me to Walgreens and I was on the mend.

Until the trip home a couple of days later. My head was itching, the side of my face hurt… putting everything together the next day I realized she was right. I had shingles. I should have known from symptoms that started almost a week and a half earlier. I didn’t know. But Linda Farmer, the smartest woman I have known in the medical field knew. Just from a photo of my swollen eyelid (the shingle spot was on the inside). She was always right.  She was just that smart. 

My first purchase after I post this today will be a UNC basketball shirt. I have always liked blue, but never owned anything legitimately Carolina blue. I will wear it and think of her waiting for us in Heaven. I will be reminded to love people well. To give and live like Linda. Thankful to know that today was not the end of Linda’s life. That she will be as Kermit said “waiting for us at Heaven’s gate.” I cannot wait to hug her and laugh with her again.

My prayers remain with those who she loved most- Kermit and Spencer. For the missing her that begins today. May the Holy Spirit speak to their hearts as only He can. As Kermit has said "Please don't be sad or sorry for us. Be sad for those that never knew her impact. Be sad for the patients that will never be touched or treated by her. We are all the special ones.  We knew her. We loved her. One person even got to marry her."  So we are thankful and we pray for Kermit and Spencer that the Holy Spirit would lead them.  

She was the biggest, fiercest, small South Korean woman I have ever met. I dare say that I will ever meet. She leaves a void in the world that is unique and I know I am not alone in saying I will miss her. I have been eternally changed because of her part of my life. I have been eternally challenged to live life differently because of her investment in my life and the lives of those she worked with and served.

I thank the Lord for the life of Linda. I will miss looking for her when I am back in Auburn. I am already anticipating seeing her in eternity. Thankful to know that day is coming. 

Hug your people today.

Love well.

Be like HiM.

 

And somehow this is the only photo I have with Linda.  She probably hated it. LOL 

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Friday yah (but not)

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Our last day at OE started with big circle (see previous post). Breakfast, personal devotions and squeezing in time with kids and staff. After the kids dinner we did water games with the little big boys. Packing dinner and team time. It’s been an emotionally full day. Not enough arms to hug all the kids we adore.

In the morning we leave OE at 7:30 (9:30ET) for the airport. From there 5 team members get on a plane back to Ohio via ATL. The other spend the night in Tegucigalpa.

Thank you so much for praying for us this week. It has meant so much to partner with you!

 

Final thoughts from team members tonight….

 

I was really frustrated this week with the Honduran school system because we had it all planned then no one knew about it so we went to the special needs yard and it was the greatest thing ever.

 

God moment for me is getting a letter from a girl, we bonded from the first moment and we have been getting letters back and forth and it has been great.  Also Something God has been teaching me is the freedom there is from bringing things into the light. It is a lot different confessing to God and telling a couple of people and telling a bunch of people I don’t have to live in shame or worry. There is so much freedom in that.

 

I realized Love has no language. While we were cleaning up today I was talking to a boy from the big boy house and he shared his testimony with him and I shared mine and my brother’s with him. Getting closer to him and he saying he was praying for me and some of the team was really cool.

 

God has been teaching me My plans are not your plans. My plan was to focus on the girls and as soon as I went to the medium boys they just came up to me and it was amazing. These kids truly wanted to hang out with me not just for my stuff. It was cool to see someone who doesn’t have a lot give me their bracelet. It was neat that God taught me his plans aren’t mine.

 

Coming to Honduras was nothing like I had planned. This time it wasn’t a disappointment. I feel like it is something I can take home. It was like opening a door to things that were there I didn’t know about. And to be a better listener. It’s hard with the language but I found myself getting more attached to the kids and more relatable as I got to know them. One of the girls I didn’t met til yesterday but she wrote me a whole letter today. I was glad I got to be such an example and be there for her with the little we could say to each other in person. I want to be more of a peaceful person so people can see God’s peace and joy.

 

Back home I work with special needs kids so I didn’t plan to go out of my way to meet them here. I spent a lot of time with kids on the farm and got to know one of the kids and found out he is in charge of the special needs boys so I spent a lot of time over there. It was neat to hear the dreams of the older in charge boys there.

 

This has been kind of a weird trip, we often thing about why are we here. During the week I was thinking that, and normally I don’t. Now at the end of the week God had not showed me and I was getting mad. God kind of slapped me in the face and said “you don’t need to know” it’s not about you… It was kind of weird for me not to know something… what I got out of this week was I feel like I got to translate a lot of conversations and letters and it made me feel useful. It was like little pieces of all the relationships. I like Spanish so much because of the people.

 

I feel like I was put here to also help our team out when they are feeling down. I got a letter from a girl who I didn’t think liked me much. I wasn’t expecting that.

I have been wanting to come to h for 3 years. It wasn’t until the week before I came I worried that I wouldn’t make any friends. What if they want me for my phone or my money and I don’t have much money. The first day in the dining room one of the girls called me over and she ended up being a key member of my friend group with the kids. I remembered yesterday that I met her the first day and she is still my friend!

 

I usually come into things thinking I am not special and thinking I am not going to be able to relate. So I came and got taken advantage of the girls first day. So I kind of stayed away from them and spent time with the boys. So it’s ok because they have stolen my heart. God has shown me I am enough for him and serve in his kingdom. His love has allowed me to love them in my own way for Him.

 

One thing that god has taught me, well coming into this week I have been talking to people who have come before= how do you know you are making a difference here. Tuesday’s devo one of the things in there was about the impact and it’s not always seen. Christ might reveal to you when He wants to, thinking you can go to a kid and make his day might not generate that feeling or longing for relationship for Christ but it’s cool how Christ can use you to teach you that in his timing he will bring forth that blessing in His timing.

 

About a month and a half ago I was content with not going this year and then God said here is the money and I am here. I was fully expecting God to do cool things, and I wasn’t thinking a couple days ago am I just here for the kids to beat up on me. And now I am seeing it’s ok that I don’t know how God is using me. I can go home and stay encouraged that He is in the process of still teaching me.

 

God has no boundaries. I knew that, but I didn’t believe that a couple of weeks ago. If someone had said that a couple of weeks ago I would have agreed with them but didn’t really believe it. It is a miracle that I am even here. Two weeks before I had to have money for it I decided I would hop in. Then I needed the money and the way I got it was selling freezer jam. Something so silly and simple I thought I would sell 5 and I sold 95. God is saying you think I can’t handle this and he is saying I can totally handle it. Chillax I got this.

 

I am kind of in the same boat as a couple of others. The previous years were shiny and happy and this year was great but felt different. I wasn’t sure why I was here. As a helper I need to be needed. And this week I kept waiting to be needed. The more I did devos and spent time the more I realize I didn’t need to be needed. God chose me to be here that is the cool thing that hit me, even when we think that god needs us to be here, god doesn’t need us. He just lets us hop in and love kids and staff and be here. I have noticed I have been reserved this week. I am not sure how to process this thing but I will as time goes on. And to see the relationships develop more.

 

I feel like I am going to repeat what others have said. I am administrative and hospitality and haven’t had those things to do. I just hung out with kids who didn’t speak English and we just sat and they said Spanish and it was ok. One of the things they gave me today said Jesus loves you more than you know.

 

If you would have told me 5 years go I would go on a mission trip I would have said no I am to sick to do anything like that. So to be here is a huge testament to God. There is nothing that god is not in control of. I have seen photos of the last 25 years or so of mission and trips and that looks great and everything. You have an idea until you go on one. It was overwhelming especially when you try to figure out how can I help all these kids. Your heart is so big and full but your arms are so big. I began wondering how can I help and he just said “just smile” it was really neat to be corrected many times in what I was trying to say and today was a big moment because I felt really sad all day because we were leaving and I didn’t feel like I had done much to help. I keep thinking what will happen in the days to come with the kids. I just thought the collective body can do much. God told me to focus on being happy with where they are and where you are. I went down to the kids and we just had a great time laughing. One of the kids who I have been spending time with asked if I would come back and I told her I was praying about it.   This week I really just see that Missions isn’t just putting Money in a basket but being willing to go.

 

One of the girls on my heart the whole year you look through the blog and see photos of people with 5 kids or however many kids and how man y letters others get from kids. I realized there are really only 2 kids that really I felt like have my heart. I always feel guilty about that. God told me it doesn’t matter if I brought you here for only two and it’s a reminder that it doesn’t matter how little or how big my purpose is, it matters what God’s purpose is. And why he puts you were you are. It relived my pressure and was an ah ha moment for me which was nice.

 

This week has been crazy and god has been showing me a lot of things about myself I need to be working on. I kind of felt like a lot of kids were using me for the store, but three of the girls just wouldn’t let me go. And were saying I want you to stay. Those were the kids that never asked me for anything. It made me realize they were not just using me. It made me feel like god used me in that way that I was a friend for them and they could talk to me and be loved.

 

Since the first time I came to Emmanuel I felt a calling. A few nights into the trip I was up late and felt God saying “this is home” and coming this year and the excitement of the trip and coming wore off and it just felt like life. It was the first year that I really connected with specific kids and not groups of kids. The biggest thing I took from this trip was the calling and pulling on my heart and wanting to come back. I don’t know what that will look like yet, but God will show me.

 

It’s been a blessing to lead you guys because you are easy to lead. Each time I come I just build on the relationships with kids and this time get to bring friends with me.

 

It’s hard to say bye when you have love for someone. When you feel close to people, it’s hard to say bye. Thank you for your devotions in the morning with the kids and the bracelets and the drama. I know your family is waiting for you, but I wish you could stay. It will be a little bit hard for me to wait for you to come back next year. Thank you for all you did for the kids and remember me in your hearts. Thank you for all you do for the orphanage.

 

This week has been really a blessing just to see the team serve well. To come here and be willing to listen to God and do what He says- praying for kids and staff and each other. Willing to stand up and speak their stories. I love to see God at work in the body of Christ and to see that this week has just brought joy to my heart.

 

This year has been weird for me. Like someone else said the magic has left and you see kids are a lot like kids in the US. I still love them but the best thing is that I love the team. I love to listen to them and what problems they may have and see what God wants to do this week. Something God has been teaching me is to expect that god will always teach us in something but to walk in the works he has prepared for me to do.

 

 

 


Thursday- the beginning of the end

This morning was a great last morning with circle times.  We have had a lot of feedback from staff that they have really enjoyed it.  There are 4 lessons and each and there are 2 groups of team members for each story so we go to different houses each day.  The plastic bracelets we had out at the end of each circle have been a big hit- So today each kid, jr staff and staff have all 4.  

At the small boys house today we did the story of when Jesus walked on the water.  We read it, then the kids told us piece by piece what happened in the story, then they acted it out then we asked application questions.  During the questions we asked the children if they thought that Jesus was mad when Peter sank in the waves and wind and he was asking "you of little faith, why did you doubt?"  Most of the children said yes. One boy said No.  When we asked him why he said no he said "Because Jesus is Merciful."  We explained that it is easier to stay in the boat scared than get out when Jesus says to. We then asked if they need help have their in charge people ever been mad when they go ask for help- No was the reply.  We reminded them that Jesus is just like that.  He wants us to come to Him.  And He is always the one that has what we need and He is always enough.  

The team is busy writing notes and letters to kids this morning while they are in school and this afternoon off with kids... tomorrow is the last day and we can all feel it. So the urgency is to spend time while we can.  

Lisa and Arianna shared at the big girls bible study this afternoon.  Both of their testimonies were very good and applied to a lot of the kids.  The staff member who tied up the end of bible study explained to the girls that they are blessed to live in a place where the word is taught daily and the problems they have are not because they live here at OE or because they live in Honduras.  That God will work in their lives like the lives of Arianna and Lisa if they will let him. 

Staff and volunteers came up tonight.  We had a table of things we wanted to bless them with- each lady got a little bag with facial scrub and homemade loofas as well as 2 bottles of bath and body wash or lotion.  The rest was for them to take as they needed- the staff were very appreciative and everything was gone off the table with the exception of one item. It is so encouraging to get to bless the staff in a small way like dinner at the team house and some small gifts.  

Sorry for the lack of photos, It has been tried numerous times of the day and even posting one at a time, the connection just won't stay long enough to upload them. Will upload the extras we had planned to post when back in the states. Also several videos from circle times and other things. (I found out tonight the internet is bad in the office and everywhere around here... soooo we shall see tomorrow). 

Thoughts from team members today:

WE got to pray for 2 kids today- one in the yard was so upset so I prayed with him. Then I ran into Wendy and she wasn’t feeling good so I prayed with them.

We got to play with the special needs boys and do the catapults with them today because we couldn’t go to the school and they really loved it.

I got to see Karlita today, I knew here when I was 11 and I got to see her when I went up to the special needs girls but when I went to leave I found out Karlita was over at the house the whole time and I got to see her and spend time with her. They had been telling her I was here and she didn’t believe them.

I was hanging out with Jesus most of the time today and I went down to drama and the main character wasn’t there because she didn’t want to do it. But Jesus knew all the parts from practice the other night so he caught on really quickly and he could do it.

Today was the first time taking anyone to the snack shop. I was watching her yesterday and I just sat with her on the steps and talked to her. So I decided to take her to the store and used my translate and it worked so we could talk to each other. She wished she had met me earlier in the week so we can be friends. She asked if I would come next year. I said I didn’t know and she typed in my translate I will pray you will come if God sends you so now I am wondering if that is the first thing for God to be telling me to come next year.

I was nervous about sharing and after lunch we prayed and while sharing I looked over and saw 4 girls crying and I knew that it meant something.

I had one of the kids tell me they loved me…not because I took them to the store, but it was genuine and it meant a lot.

I got to translate for one of the boys yesterday and then today he came and found me today and wanted me to translate again. And it was encouraging that my Spanish is useful for more than just “ask them to sponsor me.” But really meant something.

Today was special for the drama practice and sharing but also because I have made friends with 3 of the girls especially. Some of the kids have lost interest because I keep saying no I am not taking them to the store. I told them later in the day I would come play with them after I went to the toddler house and I found them and they saw photos of my children and they asked me a very personal question. They asked if I loved them and I said yes and I said yes I missed them. Their faces brightened. I just told them that they are not forgotten. They laid their heads on my legs and I just keeping that I am only here for a week… and it is in those moments that I realize we do what we can with the moments that we have.   It was really cool to see when we share our lives with them, they share their lives with us.