Sunday, March 24, 2013

Update on Me

Hello All,

I apologize for my lack in posting lately!  Things have been busy and I've had other things grabbing my moments of spare time lately.

I would like to give you all a brief update on what is happening in my life currently.  Since graduating high school last June I have found that the Lord's ways are indeed so much higher then ours and His thoughts beyond anything we could ask, think, or imagine.  I am so grateful for the freedom I have currently to truly follow the Lord wherever He leads.
Currently the job part of my life is taking care of a little girl at my church who has Downs Syndrome.  She's precious and has opened my heart for children with special needs.  I go to her house 2-3 times per week and enjoy watching her play, cleaning up her messes :), feeding her, and doing general housework.  It is a job made in heaven just for me! :)  I'm also busy teaching piano to 7 consistent students every Friday.

After much prayer and silent interest, I stepped out in January and began training to serve as a volunteer counselor at our local Pregnancy Resource Center.  I go once a week for my training and I've learned so much already.  I am eager to begin ministering to young ladies who truly just need to know Jesus.  I love everything about babies and I love young women so it seemed like a perfect fit!

Also in January I finally did what the Lord had been leading me to do for about 8 months...I started a B.R.I.G.H.T. Lights group for some local girls!  We meet twice a month and I've been thoroughly enjoying it. I encourage any of you who have thought and prayed about starting one to take that first step.  It will bless and challenge you in more ways then you can imagine.  This is definitely not to be taken lightly, but if God is calling let Him lead and you won't go wrong!

I'm also staying pretty busy at home and am enjoying spending time with my siblings when I can!  Mamma is only 2 weeks away from her due-date and I'm so excited to meet this new little blessing from heaven!
I've been studying essential oils and am thoroughly enjoying my research in this other natural healing method.  It's amazing to me how the Lord has hidden everything we need to live life to the fullest in His awesome creation!  What an amazing God we serve!

Well, I think that about sums it up.  I will continue to attempt to post at least once a week or every two weeks.
May you all be blessed in this new week!
Learning to delight in Jesus,
Hannah :)   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Colombia: Day 3 and 4

~Day 3~
Wednesday morning dawned bright early.  After a similar routine of waking up, eating breakfast, getting dressed, etc. we headed down to the hotel lobby to await the arrival of Paula and her Project Director.  

Paula is from Medellin (about 290 miles south of Cartagena) so she flew in the night before and had stayed the night at a local hotel.  This was the first time she had been in an airplane or away from her family (although, I must say it didn't really effect her she was sooo excited!).  She had never seen the beach or played in a pool so we were looking forward to spending a relaxing day together at the hotel.

As soon as she hopped out of the taxi she enveloped us all in one of her huge bear hugs!  Her face was lit with smiles as she handed us a box.  Inside was a beautiful, hand-made sunflower clock.  We have it hanging on our wall in the living room and it matches perfectly!

    After "hello's" were said all around we headed up to our room to discuss the day's activities.  We finally decided to head down to the pool and beach until lunch time and then shop around the local market afterwards.

We all got dressed and Paula led the way down to the water's edge.  She did really good in the water, even though it was her first time.  Her smiles and laughter filled the air!  We enjoyed "riding the waves" and found it humorous that she decided to dive under every wave even if it wasn't that big! 
After an hour or so we headed up to the hotel's pools to "swim".  Unfortunately Paula wasn't able to swim but we still had fun floating around in the shallower pool.

 Frequently she would try to ask us questions or comments only to realize our knowledge of her beautiful language was extremely limited.  We were very blessed to have Darwin, our translator, nearby to help us out!

After about 2 hours in the sun, and a great game of water "monkey-in-the-middle", we decided we were done with the outdoors and ready to wash-up in preparation for lunch.  The men took showers in the outside public showers while we ladies took turns in the shower in our room :).  Everyone was soon clean and we took the elevator down to Level 2, where the hotel's restaurant was located.  It was a buffet syle meal with plenty of delicious choices.

I am ashamed to say it, but I did have an American styled meal in Colombia (I guess I was just missing some of our foods :-) ).
During lunch is when we discovered how much Paula LOVED food!  I have never seen a girl eat that much in my life!!  I'm so glad it was buffet style :-)!
 Paula and her project director, Monica, in the background!
 Paula and her dessert....and her smiles!
 She kept getting plate after plate but as she neared the end of her meal she begin to gather food to take home to her familia.  The waiters were kind enough to get her a box and allow her to take some home.  I don't know how good they tasted after an airplane ride and hotel stay but I'm sure the thought was still appreciated :).
Darwin and Paula both got a strawberry smoothie that was incredibly sour.  Paula would pour 3 or 4 packets of sugar in her cup, taste it, make a puckered-up face and add 3 to 4 more.  I think she ended up putting 10+ in her drink before it suited her taste.  It was a very humorous affair as her project director continually was saying "Paula, Paula!" with a look of astonishment and fun!  Paula would simply laugh and add some more!

With lunch completed we decided to do some shopping as we wanted Paula to take something home with her as a reminder of our trip.  All the shops in the hotel were closed for lunch so we asked a local where we could find a shop with dresses.  He directed us to keep going down the street a little ways, turn left and walk a little more and then you should find it.  I have no idea how long we walked but it felt like 20-30 minutes in the hot 90degree sun, to get to the open market where they were selling everything you could think of!  I took an hour or so for Paula to pick out something for herself and...everyone in her familia before we left :).

Finally back in the hotel we took the elevator up to our room to get her things and say good-bye.  While up there we broke into some of our American chocolate and shared some with her.  She was ecstatic!  We even gave her a baggy full to...guess...take home to her familia :).

The time had arrived for them to go so after several hugs each we sadly said an official "good-bye" before the taxi drove off.
It was only about 3pm so Darwin, Kimber, and Daddy headed back to the open market to get some presents for our family members, while I rested and did some of my devotion time.  Not too long after that they arrived back at the hotel and soon Darwin had to leave also.  We enjoyed a little bit of rest time together watching Facing the Giants before going to get some dinner.

 Sorry for the face :).  They had some delicious chicken on a stick!  I think daddy ate about 10 or so! :)
And a view of our nightly amusements while we ate...the traffic :).  Kimber really just took this picture because of the caballo in the center of it (next to the side walk on the left).

Dinner done with we went back to our room and settled down to eat some snacks while we watched Iron Man.  Not long after that we all feel asleep, exhausted from the sun and business of the day.

~Day 4~
This was to be our last day in Colombia.  Thankfully our plane didn't leave until 2:30 we were able to enjoy a little more time down at the beach and pool until noon!  Kimber didn't take any pictures but we had a great time exploring the waters of Cartagena Bay especially since the water was quite warm and crystal clear.  The sand sparkled like gold and there were plenty of beautiful shells to collect.  But we couldn't stay forever.  We soon had to shower once again, pack up, and find a taxi willing to take us back to the airport.  Below are a couple of pictures Kimber got from the taxi on our way to el aeropuerto.

 One of the many buses around Cartagena.  You can see the beautiful Caribbean in the background.
 Another view of the field where Daddy and Luz played some futbol.
 This motorcyclist was weaving in and out of traffic (like they all do) when we noticed a gallon of something yellow attached to the side of his cycle (right next to his muffler).  Any guesses?  We were thinking gasoline...yea...not too smart :).
   Another view of the water next to the road.

We soon arrived in the airport, passed swiftly through security and sat down to wait about an hour until our departure.  We played some cards and read a little bit while we were waiting.  Finally we were able to load and soon we were up in the air saying good-bye to Colombia.
Only 3 hours later we were back in American territory.

 Fort Lauderdale.
  We were amazed with how swampy Florida was!  No wonder hurricanes are such a big deal down here!

We had a 3 1/2 hour layover in Ft. Lauderdale but we enjoyed our time playing on the ipad (thanks, Grandma), reading, and eating.  Around 10pm we were finally allowed on the plane to complete the final leg of our journey.  Two hours later we landed safely in Baltimore where Grandma picked us up.  We arrived back at her house about 2am and swiftly got in bed and immediately to sleep.

We thoroughly enjoyed our first international trip and are blessed with the many special memories we made while there.  Thank you, Mamma and Daddy, for your many sacrifices so we could go!  Words do not express how thankful we are!

The Lord was with us the whole time and really taught me about what true faith looks like in the lives of these brothers and sisters in Colombia.  I am so blessed to live here and I never want to take that for granted, but I also don't want to forget those of the Body who are in need.  I'm not sure exactly what the Lord wants me to do with this trip but I know He'll show me in His own good time.

May the Lord bless you all this week!
Learning to delight in Jesus,


Monday, March 4, 2013

Colombia: Day 2

~Day 2~
The alarm sounded bright and early Tuesday morning.  We did our devotions and began to dress.  I decided to take out my "adorable" braids as they were giving me a headache!  All who know me know that I have very curly, thick hair and let me just say that taking out little teeny braids all around my head did not help my case!

  Here is your evidence! :)

After I quickly washed my hair to calm it down, we headed up to the executive lounge for some breakfast.  Today we were going to meet the girl Kimber had been writing to for several years.  She lived right in Cartagena so supposedly someone from Compassion was going to come pick us up at the hotel and take us to her project to meet her.  Well, we had set a meeting time of 8:30am before we left the US but ever since we had arrived in Colombia we had been unable to make contact with them.  It was about 8:27am that morning before we received a confirmation call.  We quickly headed downstairs to wait out in the lobby for their arrival.  We were so relieved when about 8:45am a white van pulled up and out hopped the project director and the translator.  After everyone was introduced, we packed up and headed to the project.  It was about a 20 minute drive through the heart of Cartagena to the project.  On the way we chatted with our translator, who we soon learned had also been a sponsored child in Compassion's program.

We finally pulled up in front of a small 2 story building crammed in between other houses.  We walked in and headed to the upper level.  The project director motioned for us to go into the room all the way at the end of the house.  It was dark but as soon as we opened the door 20 or so young girls shouted "welcome".  Once we all had entered the room the crowd parted and Luz (Kimber's girl) came forward and wrapped each of us in a hug I shall never forget.  We were all in tears and you could feel the love surrounding us.  Unfortunately we didn't get any pictures since Kimber had the camara on her neck during the embrace.

Soon they motioned for us to sit down in the plastic chairs they had set out.  One of the teachers then gave us a welcome speech.
Then some of Luz's classmates had prepared a dance for us to watch.  Luz even try to dance with them for a while :).
 Luz is the young lady in the back.

After the dance they did a skit.  Unfortunately it was all in spanish and our translator had a hard time translating fast enough for us to understand.  The main gist was that a mother and her two daughters had come to visit the doctor.  The 12 year old daughter was pregnant (we later learned that it is pretty common in Colombia for girls to have their first baby between the ages of 11-14)and they all were desperate.  A young man visitor came and sat down with them and soon began to explain to them that there was a Doctor who could heal their souls and their bodies.  He then proceeded to share the gospel with them.  In the end the whole family accepted Jesus as their Savior.  It was a touching story of how the gospel is shared in Colombia.

After the skit Luz's pastor came and said a couple of words of thanks and then proceeded to pray over us and thank the Lord for us.  It was another moving moment I shall never forget!

We next got a tour of the facility and brief outline of what a normal day at the project looks like.
 Kimber and Luz in the front!
 Isn't Luz just beautiful!?

The tour over we headed back into the project's van to go visit Luz's home (which was about 10 minutes away).
Our translator.  His smile was the best!  It lit up his whole face!  His love for the Lord and his faith was inspiring and such a blessing to us during the 2 days we got to spend with him.  By the end we felt as if we were leaving a close brother behind.  Amazing how the unity of the Spirit can do that, isn't it?
Kimber and Luz...again :).

We soon pulled up in front of Luz's house.  It was a single story dwelling and contained a small "garage", den/dining room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.  And it was pink :)! 

Here's a brief look into their kitchen...
I can't say that the poverty really surprised me but what did surprise me was how much this house was worth.  We asked our translator and he said that Luz had a very nice, big house that was worth about $200, American dollars!  Most Colombian's only have a one room dwelling so Luz's house was considered lavish...hard to believe.

After we said "hello" to her mother and looked at some of Luz's prize possessions, we headed to the mall to do some sight seeing and shopping.  The mall was HUGE!  It was 2 levels and looked in every way like an American mall (if not a little bit better).  That was pretty surprising to me.

We soon stopped for lunch.
 While we were eating Daddy tried to teach Luz a trick you can do with your pen or straw.

 She did finally figure it out and I think she had fun!

After lunch and some more shopping we decided to explore the city.  Our first stop was the ancient walls.  These walls were built around the entirety of the old city to protect from invasion on the sea front.  They were massive!
 From below...
 ...on top...
...and above.
 Daddy next to a cannon on the top battlements.
L-R: Hannah, Kimber, Luz, and Luz's project director.
 This is my favorite picture of the day!  It was quite windy up on top.
If you can read Spanish you can find out why this wall was built :).

We descended from the wall and then daddy challenged Luz to a game of "futbol" or soccer.  He borrowed a ball from a young boy playing there and they had a great time (even though it was 90 degrees out).

Now that we were done exploring the wall we decided to take a walk through the streets of Cartagena.  The streets were busy but there was plenty of people on the sidewalks as well.  The architecture in Cartagena is absolutely stunning!  A lot of is left over from when the Spanish ruled and you can definitely tell!
 La puerta.
La calle.

 La ventana.
 La edificio.

We soon came upon a flock of pigeons that had gathered around one of the many statues of a famous figure.  Our translator bought some corn so we could catch, feed, and play with some of them.

 They loved Kimber's blonde hair :).  Not really, they just loved the corn on top of her hair :).
 Daddy and Luz and our pigeon friend.
 This little girl just melts my heart!
 A very large cathedral with a clock on top!
Kimber loved the caballos clip-clopping around although they were extremely old and skinny.  We could have rode in the carriage behind it but decided we preferred walking (you would too if you saw the way they drove in Colombia!).

Well, our day couldn't last forever.  We finally headed back to the hotel and Kimber, Luz, and I went up to our room to grab something to drink while the adults signed all the last minute paper work.  While up there we decided to take down Kimber's braids as well.  She looked just like me so I didn't feel too lonely ;).

We had to go downstairs before too long and say our final goodbyes.  Hugs were mandatory all around :) and then we waved them away.

It was close to dinner time now so we decided to refresh ourselves a bit and then go get some food.
During dinner we enjoyed watching the evening traffic yet again.

  Dinner: empanadas (they had that at every meal), sausages, and some sort of cabbage/shrimp salad thingy (only dad tried that).

We closed the day with Thor and slept peacefully until the alarm went off for day 3 to begin.

Learning to delight in Jesus,