Friday, December 25, 2009

This Blog Ends

It's Christmas 2009. We left Baxter Institute in Tegucigalpa, Honduras almost 7 months ago. It's hard to believe it's been that long. I had planned to do a final post with photos of our last day on campus. I did post photos on Facebook of the students seeing us off at the airport. But then I got a new computer when I returned to the U.S. and somehow lost all of the pictures from that day. I was so sad. I kept thinking they would somehow magically appear or that they were in some hidden file on the computer that would eventually show up. But they didn't.

So, I put off writing my final blog post and wish I hadn't. You know...those feelings you have right after an event don't ever go away but they kinda fade in intensity. The following will have to do.

June 1, 2009...Steve and I attended the daily devotional at Baxter with those precious students, faculty and staff. The students dedicated part of the devotional to us and sang several songs they knew we loved. It was very touching...sweet...sad...

Then there were lots of hugs, "God Bless You"s, tears and talk of hopefully seeing one another again...of what we had meant to one another. We left that devotional knowing that God was alive and well and lived on the campus of Baxter!

Classes were dismissed for the afternoon and one of the Baxter buses took the students, their families, faculty and staff to the airport to see us off! We felt proud, humbled, sad, happy and very blessed...

Words can't really express what the 5 years at Baxter meant to us. I've said this before, but those who do mission work understand that most of the time they feel they are the ones who are blessed. Steve and I felt we received more than we gave.

Every day we were there we got to see students studying hard to learn how to be better teachers, preachers, leaders in the church. We saw husbands and wives taking classes side by side. We saw students who spent their weekends working with people in local congregations, youth groups, preaching, teaching Bible classes, etc. We saw students' children growing up together on campus and missing the place they called "home" for 4 years after their parents graduated.

Living in an apartment in the single men's dorm, we heard guys singing, praying, yelling, playing, laughing....We heard lots and lots of Spanish! :) We even learned to speak the language (well...I'm sure we butchered it many times, but we tried)!

Every day we were on campus, we were blessed. We felt loved by the student body, faculty and staff. And we loved them, as well as the many, many other wonderful people we met during our 5 years.

So, that last day at the airport...Saying goodbye was difficult. There were lots more hugs, kisses, tears, goodbyes...Then we finally had to go upstairs. Going into the secured area several minutes later, I looked down through the big windows of Toncontin Airport and there were about 10 students grouped together looking up, waiting to see us...waving. I blew kisses to my boys one last time and then we were gone.

We haven't seen these precious students or the faculty members or the staff from Baxter and the JMA Clinic since this time and I do miss their faces!

May God bless those dear ones...
...working for good in Honduras
...teaching eager students how to strengthen the Lord's church in Latin America
...sacrificing much to study for 4 years, many times in a foreign country, so that they might teach Jesus Christ to the lost
...giving of their time and money to mission work in Latin America

May God continue to bless all those at Baxter Institute and JMA Clinic. We love you and miss you and we hope we see you again on this earth. But if not...then in Heaven. You gave us more than you will ever know and we will never, ever forget our Latin American family...


Note: Steve and I are now living in Kentucky, within 1 hour of our 3 children and 5 grandchildren. We will always love and support the people and the work at Baxter and the Clinic. Our life now continues with our family here. I will continue to write on my other blog. This one ends but our love continues.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Trust

Tonight Steve and I went to Melanie and Jared’s house to celebrate Independence Day a day early.  We all sat outside in the gloriously cool night air as the children retreated inside to play.  Well…all except for Jack, who was catching fireflies.

He was finally able to hold on to one…maybe because it could no longer fly after being in a small boy’s loving hands for so long.  He even named it…He told stories about it…He really wanted to keep it as a pet.

But then he decided to go inside to play with the other kids.  Mommy told him he couldn’t take it inside…  “No, not even in your pocket.”  What to do?  There were 8 of us adults outside and he came to me, his Dani, and asked in that sweet Jack voice that I cannot resist, “Dani, would you hold my lightening bug for me?”  Of course, I said “Yes”.  I took it and he looked up at me and asked, “Dani, you won’t let it go, will you?”  “No, Jack, I promise that I will not let go.”  And I didn’t.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Despedidas #2, 3 & 4

No Borders

Week before last, during our Baxter Seminar, the guys from the Baxter sextet, 'No Borders', came up to me and one of the members, Elmer Huertes from Guatemala, asked (in Spanish, of course), "Sister Jeanne, do you speak Spanish?" I laughed and said, "Sometimes...some days I do and some days I don't!" Then, he asked (and I think he was serious), "Do you today?" I smiled and said, "Yes. Yes, today I speak Spanish." So he continued then with his request. The guys who make up this awesome singing group wanted to know if they could come to our apartment and sing for us...Just for Us! I managed to get out a "Yes! Of course! We would love that!" and so we set it up for Wednesday, May 20.

They arrived in the evening and when I opened the door, I was so impressed...they all had on dress slacks, dress shirts and ties (and not the red ones that they wear as Baxter students! and, the smelled really good, too! It made us feel even more special that they had gone to the trouble of presenting their very best to us.



They sat down and explained that they'd like to have a little devotional with us. They had it all planned out who would be saying the prayers and who would be giving a short message and who would be introducing the songs, etc. The sweetest thing is that they told us, "We don't have silver and gold to give you, but we give you these songs from our heart."

They sang about 6 songs and each of the members (they picked up an extra for this night...so it was actually a "septet"??) said very kind words to us. One thanked me for being his "2nd mom", another was very emotional as he thanked Steve for helping him get home after graduation last year, as he was short funds and had to return home to Cuba or forfeit his visa. He was also emotional as he asked us to continue to pray that his wife and children would get to join him in his 3rd year at Baxter in 2010. So far, he has had to come without them because the Cuban government has not allowed them to leave the country.

This was quite touching to us and the guys even granted me my only request...that I get to sing with them! We sang"Thou O Lord" in English. They also sang (all in Spanish) "Amor Fiel" (our favorite!), "Love One Another", a version of "Auld Lang Syne".

Here they are singing "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" in Spanish.

video

If you would like to see some of the other songs as they performed them for us click below:

Auld Lang Syne (Spanish)

Amor Fiel (Faithful Love)

Love One Another (Spanish)


Students

Then the next day, Thursday, May 21...The Baxter students had a very special "Despedida" (farewell) for us! We were invited up to the devotional room and when we got there, everyone applauded and on the video screen was a collage of photos of Steve & me.

(DSC02371Who is that young guy bottom center???) I think Allan has been taking photos from my Facebook album! :)

I don't know who all, but several students also worked very hard to get a slide show together with lots of photos of us throughout our years at Baxter. They brought many memories and also tears...

Many of the students spoke of memories or how they would miss us, etc. This was mixed with video messages from just about every Baxter employee/teacher, along with more of the students AND the CHILDREN! It was so precious!

I will never, ever forget these precious students and the children and all the wonderful people we've been blessed to know in our 5 years on this campus!!!

I Love All of You, Baxter Students and Children!


JMA Clinic

Last Saturday, the employees of the JMA Clinic had a great "Despedida" for us out of the city at the home of Maria Vasquez, the receptionist at the Clinic. Maria lives in a nice, peaceful place and she is quite a gardener! Lots of beautiful flowers at her place...

Maria and her mother, along with so many others from the Clinic, worked so hard to give us this party! They cooked chicken, beef and chorizo (sausage) on the grill and we had a very typical Honduran meal with the meat, rice, beans, hand-made corn tortillas and chismol.

We were given a beautiful plaque and some words of appreciation and love were given to us as the greatest gift by some Clinic employees, including Dra. Xiomara Erazo. Dra. Xiomara and Steve have worked closely together to get the Clinic where it is today and we're going to miss her, as well as all who are dear to our hearts.

This is Maria's House--what a view!

Maria's house

This is me walking to Maria's house (always looking down so I won't fall...again...)

We parked and walked for about a mile to get to her house.

Walking with Mercedes

Some of the Women Cooking (Zonia, Arely, Yadira)

The Women Cooking

Steve Talking After Receiving Our Plaque (that's Dra. Xiomara Erazo on the left)

Steve Talking - Plaque

Sweet Ladies Listening to Steve

(Zonia de Rosas, Social Worker; Mercedes Pacheco, Sewing Teacher; Dra. Fatima Nuñez, Pharmacist; and Maria Vasquez, Receptionist

Zonia de Rosas, Mercedes de Pacheco, Dra. Fatima Nunez, Maria Vasquez

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Packing - Part III "Memories"

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was pacing myself where the packing is concerned.  Every day I go through another closet or drawer or space in our apartment and make a decision.  Will I take this with me?  Will I leave this in the apartment? Will I give this away?  Will I throw this away? 

When I look at each item, a flood of emotion comes over me.  Sometimes the memory makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes I cry and sometimes I just have to sit down because all of these emotions hit at once.

Remember those "things" I talked about in Part I of "Packing"?  Here are some of those that are "kinda" special to me:

My beautiful painting.

Painting - Jars

I actually have two.  Once I took them off the wall, it just didn't seem the same because I bought those the very first year we were here.  I purchased them with money a dear friend gave me right before we left Bowling Green, KY.  She said, "Buy something for your home."  I always think of her when I see those paintings...

My pot, etc. collection.     

Copy (2) of Kitchen cabinets DSC02348DSC02353  

The first pot is one of a set of 3 in different sizes, plus the bowl that's the same style...It is just a terra cotta pot that has been decoupaged with torn pieces of cement bags and then shellacked.  Neat, huh?  Another dear friend bought these pots for me at Valley of the Angels the week of graduation 2004.  Then there's another pot I found on my way to Valley of the Angels.  There are many more pots!  That was sort of my "theme" in decorating in the kitchen.  But you'll be glad to know I'm not posting photos of all of them!

Copy (3) of Kitchen cabinets

This plate holds a sweet memory of David & Maggie's wedding.  They gave it to us the night of their rehearsal dinner.  Their wedding was 1 week before we left to go to Guatemala for language school and then on to Honduras.  The plate says:  "pero yo y mi casa serviremos a Jehová" Joshua 24:15  (but as me and my household, we will serve the Lord).  I've had it displayed, along with my pots and a very sweet plate that another friend sent my first month here that she painted herself.  It says, "Friends are God's Way of Taking Care of Us."  Isn't that sweet?

Keepsakes/Cards:

Our students have brought us many gifts from their countries over the years:  dolls, more pots!, small table cloths, coffee cups, key chains, etc., etc.  I have already packed these so I can't show you.  But each of these items hold memories and special feelings for those students.

And the cards!  Oh, the cards!  Our student wives have made me so many beautiful cards.  Some of them must have taken literally hours to make.  Intricate scrolled flowers (see bookmark example below) and shadow painting, etc.  I will treasure each one!  Many of these I've already packed or taken home on previous trips, but above are a couple of pictures.

DSC02355

I'm not nearly finished packing...but I think this is the end of my "Packing" posts.  However, never fear...I still have a few posts in me before we leave in 12 days!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Despedida

In Spanish, the word "Despedida" is used to describe a "going away party". The word actually means "goodbye", "farewell", "sending off"...

On Saturday night, we had one here on campus and it was attended by all of our students, as well as most of the faculty and staff from Baxter and the JMA Clinic. Bob Young, chairman of the board of directors of Association Amicus was there also and presented us individually with beautiful plaques. We each said a few words of thanks, which surprised me that I could actually do that.

Most of the students stood and gave us words of thanks, encouragement, etc. That was extremely emotional for us. Afterwards, there were lots of hugs and kisses and tears. One student said he would miss Steve's jokes and my cakes! :)

I was going to post a couple of pictures but the only ones we actually took were of us each receiving our plaques. Those were just too pitiful so I'm not going to post them.

"No Borders" performed and, of course, that was so wonderful, yet emotional.

When I get sad about leaving these people here who I love so dearly, I remember 5 little faces...Madeline, Noah, Jack, Luke and Georgia Grace. Those faces, along with God's help, will get me through this tough time.

Friday, May 15, 2009

What I Will Miss -- What I Will *Not* Miss...

I was going to put pictures on this post of the things/people I would miss. But if you don't have high speed internet, it takes forever to load, so... If you want to see some photos of what I will miss, go to this page.

More than one person has asked me recently what I will miss most about being at Baxter. I've also been questioned as to what I will "not" miss.

The answer in a nutshell follows (these aren't in any particular order of importance and I KNOW I will leave out tons of things I will miss.) But here goes.

I Will Miss...

  • Friends we have made at Baxter and the JMA Clinic
  • Friends who are also missionaries in Tegucigalpa, Honduras
  • Working with all the Las Damas de Baxter groups
  • Going grocery shopping (and pretty much everywhere) with Steve
  • Living on campus -- I love our little apartment!
  • Walking to church (well, except for the time I broke my foot walking to church!)
  • Hearing the guys singing as they pass by my door on the way to class
  • Getting hugs and kisses from the students' children
  • Baking cakes with the student wives
  • Playing funny games at baby showers
  • Fresh, tree-ripened mangos
  • Hugs and encouraging words from the students
  • Sitting in my living room and listening to the hard rain outside (it's doing it right now!)
  • BIG hugs from Pacheco
  • Devotionals with the women on Wednesdays
  • Having Thanksgiving Dinner at our apartment
  • Cheap Celebrex
  • Hearing Maria singing praise songs while she works
  • Almost perfect weather
  • Listening to the Baxter Chorus sing
  • Our huge shower
  • Having the VCOM med. students over for dinner
  • $200 crowns and root canals (I know...I can't believe I said I'd miss root canals either!)
  • Long talks through my office window with Gloria
  • Everything about Graduation!
  • Having the 4th year students over for dinner at our apartment
  • Going to El Patio with groups
  • Having a special "Despedida" (saying goodbye) luncheon with the graduating women
  • Hearing stories of how students came to be at Baxter
  • Hermana Chon's fried chicken
  • Watching a single Baxter student holding a married couple's baby during devotional
  • Flipping over to a local t.v. channel and seeing one of our guys preaching!
  • The gorgeous orange flowered trees and purple bougainvillea all over campus
  • Hearing the guys yell, "Futbol!" after classes on Friday
  • Going for an occasional dinner at La Cumbre, the beautiful restaurant on top of the mountain outside of Tegucigalpa
  • I already miss my friend, Rudis, who moved away from Tegucigalpa 2 years ago
  • Baleadas!
  • One of our student's children running up to me saying, "Hermana! Hermana!"

I Will Not Miss...
  • Missing birthdays of my children and grandchildren
  • That crazy bird outside our living room window that sounds like an alien invasion taking place
  • Looking at pictures of little Jack when he was a baby and realizing I didn't know him at that stage
  • Traffic in Tegucigalpa on Friday night!
  • Traffic in Tegucigalpa any time or day of the week!
  • Leaving Bowling Green at 3:00 a.m. to get to the airport
  • Arriving at the Nashville airport at midnight and not getting home until 2 a.m. or later
  • Saying goodbye to family and friends in the U.S.
  • Saying goodbye to family and friends in Honduras
  • All the uneven surfaces you have to walk on
  • Extremely loud music in the stores and restaurants
  • The many, many, many steps on Baxter campus!
  • Rarely getting a straight answer from a store employee when you ask about a product
  • Watered-down paint
  • Those loud buses going up the hill by the apartment

Packing - Part II "Aging Gracefully?"

Well, I don't know how "gracefully" I'm doing it, but I'm definitely aging.  I decided to pack a crate of things, mostly souvenirs and gifts people have given us from their countries over these 5 years...but also some clothes, with LOTS of bubble wrap! 

I have hurt ever since!

I figured out pretty quickly that I need to *pace myself*.  I'm like that with almost anything I really want or need to do.  I just jump in and go all obsessive over it!  I do it with quilting or reading or making a budget (Steve, I put that one in for you!)  But, really...this packing thing is hard.  Actually, it's not so much the actual "packing" as the being on my feet for long periods of time.

Leaving the subject of packing...I have never minded growing older.  Never cared who knew my age.  Still don't!  (I'm 58, in case you wanted to know)  I have always loved older people and wanted to grow old gracefully and be a sweet "old lady". :)  I kinda like my gray hair (truthfully, I only highlight it to give it more body...honest!) and I love the respect you get when you're older, like people helping you get your carryon out of the overhead bin on the plane.  I love that!  I usually don't even have to ask...I just start to get it and some nice gentleman says, "Here, let me help you".  Nice. 

I loved my 40's, am absolutely adoring my 50's and look forward to my 60's.  The thing is:  My Body Is NOT Cooperating!

So, packing reminds me not only of the fact that I have too much stuff, but also that I'm not getting any younger.  One of Steve's favorite sayings is "Getting old ain't for sissies!"  Oh, how true...But, I wouldn't go back to my 20's for a million dollars...maybe for a day or two just to play with my kiddos, but not permanently.  So, I'm stuck with this body and I do plan to get it into better shape when I get settled.  Yep, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!