Jamaica

I’m trying to decide how I want to do this. I’m wondering if it’s even worth it to try to describe the amazing amount of fun and sunshine and memories that were made on this trip. I’m even wondering if this is going to be a 2-part session or if I should cram it all in one. You see, about 2 weeks ago, (well, now it’s almost 3 weeks) me and several of my friends flew to Jamaica to meet another friend and spend some time touring, enjoying sunshine, and getting away from it all. So, when you put all of those together into one week, and then try to fit in one blog post, it seems almost impossible. I’ll try, but just know that if you weren’t there, it may get kinda boring scrolling through all of the pictures, so if that happens, kindly exit your browser and just forget the fact that you wasted the last 5-10 minutes reading something that you felt wasted your time.  🙂

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Airport selfie

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This was a ‘plane train’ (I think is what they called it.) We ended up at the very last stop that this train made and realized it wasn’t the one we wanted. So we hopped across the aisle and went back the way we had come from. We didn’t mind. We had time plenty of time, and the rides were fun!

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This was a typical sight this week. 😉

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We all react to boredom in our own separate ways.

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Reading by the airplane window…

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Remember what I said about reacting to boredom differently?? 🙂

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We got to our gate with about 5 hours to waste. So we claimed a row of seats by the window and it was actually quite entertaining. I was trying to get people to wave at me from down below as they would come and go . Needless to say, I got one individual to, and then that individual was working below in pretty much that same spot for almost the entire remaining 3.5-4 hours. OOOPPSSS!! 🙂

Also, I feel I should inject about right in here, that I am an avid people watcher. I love to watch people, and listen to the conversations going on around me. I’m also a bit of a number-lover (good thing, as I spend most of my time in an office) 🙂 Anyway, I found myself very intrigued with all the different forms of job titles that are being performed in an airport, the languages that must be known, and how they handle payroll for everyone. (I do it for about 10-15 guys, and that’s enough for me! I’m sure they do it an easier way than we do) I also found myself very curious about the pay rate for these jobs. Some of them are very demanding, and must include some pretty good people skills. I never did ask anyone what they got paid, but I was curious! 🙂 (nerd alert!)

Also, on another note, Atlanta airport, you had one of the louder TVs blaring political news that I didn’t care to know about. Oh well, comes with the traveling, I guess.

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Sometimes boredom makes people do strange things. Like play games. *shudder* 🙂

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Because when all your food gets through customs and because some of us got close to an interrogation, and some of us slipped right through, what better way to celebrate than to open the suitcases and share all the loot!? (even if it seems really late, and you’re pretty weary from the travel) While going through customs (as mentioned above, some of us got through with no problems, others had question after question asked). One of us got sent to the declarations line, and was asked to see a few things in the suitcase that we were taking over. He asked whether we were Amish, and he got the reply that we’re Mennonites. A puzzled look crossed his face, so a further explanation was given that “We’re kinda like the Amish, but we drive cars.” He got a chuckle out of this, and we got to keep all our food, so that’s a good thing, right?!

We took a picture the first morning we were there and the morning we left. I think the sunshine did something for us…at least a little. 🙂

The first day we were there was a Sunday. We went to church, and then came back and had a relaxing afternoon, just doing a bunch of relaxing things, and catching up with Marie. As you can (and will) see, smoothies were a highlight of this trip. And, we almost always had to taste each others to see if they were any good. 🙂 We also experienced a Jamaican grocery store. Very much like America’s stores, very modernized an all.

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Monday didn’t really go according as planned. We were planning to go with Marie and some others from the orphanage to a school that they help out in every week. It ended up, Marie got a new baby brought in to be placed in her care right before we were planning to leave, so she didn’t go along. We had done some cleaning in the morning, we made some food to take to the school, and folded laundry to help out. We still went, and we had lots of fun helping the children color, playing with them, and just showing love. We came back and ended up going out for smoothies and I had my first experience driving in Jamaica. The gasps coming from the passenger side as we traveled up the road on the last stretch of their road were enough that it was scaring me as well. (I wasn’t that sure about the whole ordeal to start with, so this didn’t help any!) 🙂 We made it safely.

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I think this was an attempt at scared faces for my driving??

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This was the road to the mission. Supposedly a 2 lane road, we were told the first night we were there, that if you meet someone, the person who’s going up, is supposed to back down into a place that you can pass each other. This girl’s not good at backing! Just ask my family! 🙂 So this road was definitely not my favorite while driving. 🙂

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Pretty sure I was stopped at a light or something. 🙂

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I mean, come on! Can my driving be that bad??

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This is us with our rental. I wanted to name her Beatrice, but apparently, it was a ‘he’, so his name was Louie.

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Seriously, the roof was a favorite place to go. You could see so far, and it was away from most of the people. I think that Americans need to start building some more flat roofs, cause that would just be pretty cool.

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Tuesday, we went to a place called Blossom. It’s an orphanage/school that the mission goes to help out once a week. (I think it’s once a week, anyway) We weren’t supposed to take pictures so there will be no pictures of the children. The babies crying, and not enough arms/hands to go around. It was a day we all enjoyed, holding babies and just cuddling them, because usually once you put them down to go find another, they would start crying again. We fed the babies and a few helped with the toddlers lunch, and then we got to play with them at recess. There was a Norwegian work team there and it was so interesting to hear all their plans. They were a music team, and they were traveling around for a few weeks. Obviously, Jamaica was on their list, and Los Angeles I think was one. There were several stops yet. Before we talked with them, we heard the children singing and a few of the guys sang with them. Two of us noticed how beautiful their singing sounded, and then we found out they were with a music team and it made sense. We wanted to ask them to sing a song for us, but none of us were that brave. 🙂 We made it to the beach on this day, and there were a lot of people everywhere! It wasn’t just spring break for Melita, let’s just leave it at that. I drove Louie again, and the gasps from the passenger side were fewer and I felt a little better about it, so we survived again!

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I was told by someone before I left, to make sure to try their Jerk chicken. I did….. a couple times to be exact, and it was good!

Wednesday, we were just around the mission there. Marie had child care duty, so she had to be there. We played with the children there, and just hung out, and had fun. One of our group got sick and was down for a day. It was good we had no plans for the day, but still I’m sure she feels like she missed out on a day of fun.

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Isn’t it beautiful how God created us so uniquely different? You have brown skin, I have white. Yet, in God’s eyes, He calls it all good! It’s all beautiful!

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Their hair was just something you wanted to touch. Remember what I said above? Different, but both beautiful. This applies to hair as well.

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See this amazing view from the roof??!!

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I couldn’t quite decide whether I liked the night view or the daytime view better. I did have a sobering thought that went something along the lines of this…”Out of all those city lights, I’m just one of them.” (technically, though, this thought has several errors in it. I was the one looking at the lights, so I couldn’t have been one of them, and this was only a small part of the small island of Jamaica. Imagine what it looks like from God’s point of view and He sees all of the city lights from all over the world, and yet finds time to love each one of us infinitely!!) If that doesn’t humble you, I’m not sure what will.

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This mission had this cross on their roof, and in the dark, while driving through town, you could see it if you knew where to look.

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One evening, we had a fire on the roof. (yes, on purpose) 🙂 We didn’t stay too long though, and we went back down to our safe, private dwelling. 🙂 This was also one of the evenings we saw a helicopter flying around above, shining a spotlight around the city.

Thursday was a big day! The one who was sick, woke up happy and excessively cheerful in the morning. Not that I blame her, but just pointing that out. 🙂 We were going to head to Dunn’s River Falls, and so off we went. It ended up raining. Like, not just a drizzle, but a good, hard shower. So we went to do some touristy shopping instead. We ate at a fast food joint, had a jerk burger and french fries, and by the time we headed back to the falls, the rain had tapered off, and we were able to climb it. To be honest, I. don’t. like. water. But, I was determined to do this, because, honestly, how bad could it be? And, just to say I did it was an accomplishment in my book. About halfway up, we met up with a lady from England??, she was celebrating her 60th?? birthday, (sorry, some of the details are a little spotty for me) and her children had paid for her to come there, so of course she felt she should do it. We (or rather, most of the other members of my group) helped her up. I was just concerned about getting ‘me’ to the top safely. I obviously was shaking at one point, because they kept asking me if I’m ok, and noticed that I was shaking. Needless to say, I did accomplish it, thanks to some good old-fashioned Eash and Coblentz stubbornness, and the hands of those around me helping me out when it was about waist-deep, and I was getting a little more petrified (thankful for friends that I can count on like 4, 3, 2 😉 ) ……..but then I was done. I had done what I set out to do, and that was to climb to the top. The others wanted to go back in, and do it again, so I sat on the benches on the path, waiting for them to come back up and trying to catch my breath again. 🙂 (some of this might be slightly exaggerated, but if any of you don’t like water, you may understand this version better than others reading this) This was one of the highlights of the trip for the others. While I was glad I did it, I can’t say I loved it as much as they did. 🙂 We also had a good laugh at a rant that one of us gave when a kind young man tried to give us pointers on how to park at a restaurant. This rant was hilarious, and we were bursting with laughter in the car. The young man had a smirk on his face, and that made it even funnier!! (and it made the rant-ee a little more ranti-er.) We also ate supper in this cute, little, open-air restaurant with viney flowers as the roof. It was pretty cool!

The next pictures are just a conglomeration of a bunch of random times and places. (most of them were Thursday’s, I think!)

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Jamaican fast food

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You can’t see it really well, but this is the cute place I talked about.

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Here’s the nerd-y number part of me again. I was waiting for the others to complete their second time up the falls and happened to see this date carved there. I thought it fascinating, so I took a picture. 🙂

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This sign was a relief for me to see! 🙂

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Also, Thursday evening, after we got back, the game players played Rook. I held and fed a baby. So much cooler than Rook, in my book! 🙂

Friday was the beach day!! In the morning, we had a little more time to play with the children at the mission. Then we went to do some more shopping, and went to a fabric store as well. A story in the fabric store…I didn’t see it happen, but the store security guard got a kick out of it!! Marie had told us to watch our purses carefully. So, we did. One of the group went up to another one to try to get something out of her purse never knowing that it might cause a scare. The one being ‘stolen from’ 😉 reached down and grabbed the hand of the person who was reaching in and soon realized it was just her sister. The guard apparently saw all of this, and had a pretty big chuckle out of it. 🙂 I wasn’t involved, so I think it would’ve been funny to see as well! 🙂 We went to the beach, and it was hot. It was kinda cloudy, but still sunny, and pretty humid. Just as we were getting ready to leave, it started raining again. The place we were going to eat was called Pier 1 and it was out on a pier, open air, and you could look out over the ocean. Because of the rain, we got a corner room, that was hot an musty. We debated asking them to move because by now, the rain had slowed down, but didn’t. It ended up getting stormy, with lightning and thunder, so we kept the corner in the room. The food was great, even if it took a long time to come! 🙂 It poured rain most of the evening. We decided to run to the car, and some of the water was way past ankle deep, as we splashed to the car. Then the rain slowed traffic down, and when we got home, we had to start packing and cleaning. We had a few deep discussions, and some braids were done. Then, off to bed we went, cause traveling home was tomorrow!!

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This is grainy and blurred, but memories were being made.

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Because how can you eat at a restaurant without taking a picture of it??

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This is us with our happy faces.

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And this is us with our annoyed faces, because of the atmosphere, and the length of time it was taking to get our food to come to us.

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I discovered bubbles on a beach can make great pictures!!

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Friday we traveled home. I was really worried about driving to the airport. (thus the practice sessions earlier. I knew I wouldn’t want the airport ride to be my first driving experience) It was early enough on a Sat. to not be busy. So we fueled up, and dropped off 2 of them with the luggage and then 2 of us went to park the car. I parked it in the wrong place, so we had to go back to park it right, and then we went through security, checked in, and we were ready to fly!

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Chick-fil-a is a treat for us Northerners. 🙂

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They were so proud of these socks!!

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Ready to go home!!

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This trip was amazing!! Here are some things I learned.

*’You can count on me…..’ 🙂

*Jamaican culture is bright, happy, cheerful, easy-going, and l.a.i.d.b.a.c.k.

*Jamaicans will blast their music anywhere. We even went past a store that was blaring a song about Jesus. (I don’t remember the song anymore) And….No one seemed to be offended by it!

*Apparently ‘you all have one husband’ can have 2 meanings. It can mean you all share one husband, or you all have only one husband each. P.S.–I took the question the wrong way, and the ladies asking were horrified until I finally understood. 🙂

*For some reason (and I’m not sure why, or if we’re the only ones), you feel more free to share about your Christianity and why you have a veil on your head in another country.

*We are ‘USA-ans’ 🙂

*Prayer really works!! I knew this before, but we prayed several times over there for specific things and God answered!! One of the biggest was Marie’s boy was not sleeping well. One evening, he woke up around 4 times or so. (he’s right around 2 yrs. old) We prayed for him the night before we had a big day planned so that he would sleep good, and Marie would be rested up for the next day. One of the girls talked to Marie just recently, and she said he hasn’t woken up during the night since then!! Praise the Lord!! Another was for healing for the one who got sick. The next morning, she felt better. Overly cheerful, but better!! 🙂 Praise the Lord!!

*On a side note, I had no episodes while I was there. Even with the stresses of traveling, etc. 🙂 It’s been super long since I had one, and you all can keep praying that the health continues!! 🙂

*Security officers are not as scary as they seem. They are just doing their job, and if you are friendly and open to them, they can be friendly as well.

*There are people from all over the world, and we only see a part of them. We met (and at least a couple of our group did some talking!!) to people from Norway, Jamaica (no, duh!), Canada (2 groups), England, and I’m thinking there was one from Israel??

*Apparently Ohio and Hawaii sound kinda alike. One person asked us, “So you say ‘hello’, or …….’aloha’?? Then we realized what the confusion was.

*Friends, trips, and making memories are great!! But, there’s a time when this girls has got to get back to normal life, or the grouchiness sets in….To my shame! And we all said, AMEN!! 🙂 🙂

*Singing in the car with friends is like pretty cool.

*Sharing time with friends, giggling in the dark about the Big Dipper, and sharing hard things we struggle with, laughing at hilarious moments, being touristy…..These all make for great memories!

I honestly don’t feel like I’ve shared it all. I feel like there are important memorable experiences I left out. Hopefully, this was not boring, and hopefully, it gave you a bit of a view into our trip. It was great to go and get a week off of work, and great to come home, and get back to work. 🙂

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A Bunch of Nothing

20170315_203318Have you ever heard of writer’s block? I have, and never before the last couple of days did I realize how real it can be. Imagine the blockiest block, and that’s how blocked my writing brain has felt.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve tried to get myself to write something, and I’m just stuck! (Who knows if I will actually ever get this one published?) If you could only see the number of drafts I’ve started and haven’t finished… :/

I feel like my life is literally on hold right now. It feels like I go to work, finish one job, go the next, eat, sleep, and begin a new day. I don’t feel like my life is accomplishing much and I feel like I have nothing worthwhile to say to the world, so I just shut down completely.

I could tell you all about how my Dr. recommended I wear compression socks to raise my blood pressure (I HATE socks!!) But, because I’m trying to be good, I wear them..even if it does almost drive me nuts at times!

I could tell you that yes, I still miss school, and the kiddos in it, but those of you who truly know me, know that fact already.

I could complain and whine about the fact that it’s literally been months since I did any vacation or traveling to speak of…just for fun, just for the harry of it. But really, that’s what life is, A constant battle between work and vacation, so we all face that at times.

Somedays, it feels like nothing goes right….ever!! and mornings when you step inside your shoes, only to realize, after 15 years of putting shoes on…by yourself…every single day!!…you’ve slid them on the wrong foot. (how does that even happen??)

I could tell you about the time I got many, many, many papers ready to send out to different cities for the city income taxes. What’s frustrating is when you have to write out small $1 checks to individual cities…AND the total cost to send all this paperwork almost blows your mind away.

You know, when you work with people every day, you truly begin to find your true self/character. I’m discovering more and more what an introvert I am….The way to recharge my batteries is just some alone, quiet time at home with nothing but the hum of the refrigerators and the buzz of the furnace to keep me company. Have you ever taken a personality test before?? I highly encourage it, if you’ve ever thought you’re the only one who thinks a certain way…try this right here. You’ll be amazed.

Winter finally hit us. My body is sooo not used to this cold, and I almost can’t stand it. When I get the heavy coats out, you know it’s got to be cold!! But, spring is coming, I can hold on that much longer….I hope.

Yes, life is good, it keeps going. I try to keep up, but sometimes I trip and need a little help. I realize there is more to life than the rituals people (including myself) go through, but by God’s grace I will see a little sunshine in every day.

This was my laugh for one of these past few days that sorta all run together: “I need a kleenex. My nose is coming off.” 🙂 Happy Wednesday, you all.

 

When You’re From Ohio….

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Overlooking the small town of Mt. Vernon

……You have an outstanding amount of state pride…….

 

……..When going anywhere in the summer, you plan for double the time due to all the traffic delays for construction……

…….You think your small town is perfect–even if it has only one stoplight…….

……..You know that Red, White, and BOOM is the annual 4th of July fireworks display, not just some person’s mis-spoken form of the colors of the USA flag……

…..You carry in your car at all times, year-round–a winter coat, flip-flops, an umbrella, and sunglasses……

……You can spot an out-of-stater by the way they drive. They just DO NOT pass buggies like we do!!……

…….You understand that anything with the word “buckeye” will be extremely delicious, be it a brownie, muffin, ice cream, milkshake, sundae, or just a plain buckeye…….

…..You feel loyalty to your state when you wear scarlet and gray, even when you don’t plan it…

…You know exactly how to spell it out with your arms–What other state can claim that??…….

….O-H……..You finished that. If not screaming it out loud, in your mind with a smile beginning at the edges of your mouth….

…..It’s not at all surprising to see a bustle of activity on the roads after a good snowstorm….

…..You give directions by landmarks and not by road names…..

…..You know there is a great variety of landscape, and whether it’s flat fields, or rolling hills covered in forests, or the winding, hilly roads to Amish Country, you believe it’s beautiful….

……You know you don’t have an accent. And you don’t say ‘seven’ and ‘eleven’ weird…..

…..You don’t have a clue what ‘soda’ is……

…..You know to avoid Amish Country if at all possible during the tourist season. *Shudder*…..

….Your Saturdays in the fall are spent watching football, working while wishing you were watching football, or listening to people talk about football….all while wearing clothes that are scarlet and gray….

….You are an absolute pro at dodging potholes. (either that, or it doesn’t bother you when you plunge into their deep, dark depths)….

…..You feel a sense of uniqueness when you see your state flag. It’s the only one that’s not a rectangle….

….You have ever seen or done this combination–a hoodie with shorts, or flip-flops/sandals with socks….

…..You probably have dipped fries in a frosty already…..

….No matter what anyone says, you’re proud of your state, and will gladly call it “home.”….

What are some Ohioan trademarks that you are proud to be a part of?

Of Teachers and Spring Break

For weeks we labor. With sweat and with tears. We settle arguments. We give medicine. We run raggedly in what seems like endless circles. We clean up spills. We stick on band-aids. We wipe up puke. We have a dozen pairs of eyes watching us every day. We spend our days teaching lessons, and when it seems they’re not getting it, we hope they can’t see us lose it. We wonder if they will ever grow up. We rejoice when the light seems to click. We wish for a longer weekend. And finally, when we are at our wit’s end, we hear the whispered words…”Spring break”….and all seems to right itself again. We see a light at the end of the tunnel, and can hardly contain our dancing “jibblies” (yes, I just made up a word 🙂 )

*Disclaimer: This is really not how I planned the beginning of this post, but please bear with me, I’ll get back on track.

It’s been my dream for quite a while to go to Mexico. I’m not sure why, but I’ve just been yearning to go. So when a friend is in service at a children’s home, what better reason than to go now? So plans were made and tickets were purchased, and one bright morning we flew away. Away from the land of cold and snow. Away from the daily rigors and responsibilities of teacher life.

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When it was FINALLY daylight, (many hours after our eyes were pried open) this was one of our morning sights 🙂

And even MORE hours later (can you tell it was a long day?) We arrived in San Diego, where the sun shone brightly and breezes blew freely, we were all smiles. They were tired smiles, but smiles none-the-less.

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Traveling was done (for now), no more sitting in the airport waiting to board, and no more sitting in the plane waiting for air movement to flow. Our ride picked us up, and we headed off to Mexico, after a couple other stops to pick up a few “American” things for the mission. We headed across the border, and soon we were there. (I could tell because I could no longer understand anything I was trying to read) Let me tell you though, we were tourists to a T. Gawking at all the sights, as we sat and reveled in the comfortable seats of a car with the windows open to let in the fresh air.

The next day, we headed to Tecate, Tijuana, the beach, the border, the fabric stores (of course) and all things touristy. 🙂 Here are a few highlights of the day.

*If you click on the pictures, it should give you a short description*

We went to a cool little bakery that had a little bit of everything.. Rows and rows or baked goods, and even some chocolates! 🙂

The next few days were spent helping out at the home, relaxing, playing with the kids, and just doing odds and ends. Seriously, these kids wormed their way into our hearts so quickly. It was a little difficult with the language barrier, but smiles, love, gestures and laughter are the same in every language.

Yes these pictures explain themselves pretty well 🙂

 

Give a boy a glow stick, and he’ll be your friend for life. (It wasn’t these boys, but another group that also got glow sticks, then took them to their room, broke them open, and flung it ALL ACROSS their room…..ceiling, walls, clothes…EVERYWHERE!! The kid in me thought this was super cool….*It really was* and the small adult part in me thought about all the anger I would have if these were my kids 🙂 )

This little girl was my precious shadow the last couple days. She stuck with me Wed. night after church and came running to me Thurs. when we took snack down to school. Talk about melting your heart with preciousness! She was the type that was content to just sit and not have to be bouncing around all the time, which suits me just fine!

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This little girl was one of the younger ones there..She’s  eating a chili powdered orange. For some reason that I cannot understand, these kids go crazy over chili powdered fruit, juice, anything chili! I sit there, my tongue burning, just from watching them gulp it down.!

This little guy had it in for me… 🙂 The first night we got there, he and some other little guys were blocking the door, giggling, and wrapped in blankets. The other girls started just stepping over them, so I just simply followed them. He grabbed onto my flip-flop, and me, stubborn lass that I am, was determined not to let him have it. I jerked my foot up, and caught him in the face with my foot. For several days after that, he would give me a sheepish, mischievous glare whenever he’d see me. He was super mischievous and reminded me a lot of my students at home 😉 Toward the end of our stay, he seemed to have partially forgiven me, and didn’t seem to be scared of me anymore 🙂

The children’s home was about a 30 min. walk to the US border. This section of the border was not well-patrolled so we walked back one day, and crossed for a minute or 2 just to say we did. 🙂

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Look Mom, I’m back in the US!

 

 

The night before we left to go home, we went to a rock look-out and had a picnic and campfire, followed by rabbit hunting. That was an experience in itself! On the back of a truck, up and down hills, sudden stopping and starting, dead rabbits inching toward you with the inertia of the moment….Yeah, I watched them closely to make sure they didn’t inch too close!

These little guys loved fires. They had 3..or was it 4? fires going at once. It kept us warm so why complain?

The day before we flew out, we spent the day in San Diego…coffee shop, beach, chick-fil-a, the bays around San Diego, driving around trying to find places we wanted, and then before we knew it, it was time to say good-bye. Time to go through security and face the real world again. Time to face jet-lag (yes, it IS real) time to fly back to our homeland, where people speak a language we understand, where we eat things that don’t burn our tastebuds 🙂 and where life has continued on without us, but is waiting for us to jump back in the driver’s seat, ready or not.

Mexico, you have treated us well, and I’m so glad you allowed us to be a part of your country for a short little while. My dream come true, and to top it off, we had sunshine and warmth. Made new friends, cooked new foods,( and also tried new foods.), survived rabbit hunting, and communicated without many words. I was reminded that in another language, a smile goes so far. Laughter goes even farther, and before you know it, you have broken down the stranger barrier without even speaking a dozen words!

*I know it’s lengthy, but this is really about half as wordy as I could have made it. So many memories packed into so few days. Ohio, it’s good to be back!*