As church staff, we have been trying to watch, listen and support the West family as today turned out to be not at all how they anticipated it would be when they woke up. In short, Haileigh has been having a lot of headaches, which lead to an MRI yesterday, which led to the Doctor calling today telling the West's to take Haileigh to Duke immediately.
They have been at Duke all day to develop a plan of action. The MRI shows a tumor on her brain stem. You can read more about it on Jonathan's blog. In short, this is serious, the surgeries are serious, and have risks.
In the meantime, after you read, take the time to pray for Haileigh, her siblings, her parents, the doctors, and everyone else involved. I can't imagine how rocked their world must be.
We have this gift and we were able to witness a piece of it today. We live in freedom. We live in a country where elections take place without violence or extreme corruption. We live in a land where the winner is allowed to take office without riots, looting, murder, and other such nonsense.
As much as some people might not like the fact that Obama is president, the fact exists that we live in a land, that has a system, and although it is not perfect, we live in a land where the system is used, and people will allow it to work.
I know most of the world took note that an African American took office today, I also hope they took note that we allowed the election process to work, and that although some were not happy with the outcome, we were still able to be united and look toward the future.
I spent the weekend in Michigan where 12 inches of snow fell. I already grumbled about that. Well this is the view from my apartment in Cary this morning. So far we have 3 inches of snow and the city is paralyzed! It cracks me up. In Michigan, with 12 inches, people were still out driving, churches were meeting, schools might have been delayed, but from previous experience I doubt they would have been cancelled.
But in Cary, people get nervous at the mention of snow, and in fact, last night, before a snow flake fell, when the temperature was about 40 degrees, schools were closing. It really cracks me up. The hype, is classic as we are warned to not drive but rather to stay in.
That doesn't mean I won't take advantage. I will work from home and watch the inauguration with the fireplace on and hot chocolate in hand. And since I don't have anywhere to be, I will say, let it snow...the kids are lovin' it!
American Airlines calls to tell me that my 9am flight to Grand Rapids is cancelled. They have rebooked me on a flight at 4pm. Not too bad, just a later night on Friday than originally planned.
-9...is SO COLD!
But I arrived, quite late, actually 9 hours later than I originally intended to arrive...and really only 1 hour late based on my new flight schedule. Either way it was midnight and at 1am I arrived at the house I am staying at this evening. Not without incident. And yes, I give you full permission to laugh as you read through my events...
Arrive at RDU, only to find Kristy Daughtery in the same terminal. That wasn’t the funny part, although she is quite funny. :) We board, and I was somehow awarded elite status (not sure how this happened) but I got to board with the pre-boarding folks. It was kinda fun, until I realized that meant I really just got to sit on the plane longer!
Arrive in Chicago, and snow is EVERYWHERE. We were a small plane, so that meant a deplaning on a jetway. No JOKE, there was ice on the jet way and wouldn’t you know it. I found it, in just the right way that I should have, the way that makes you crash to the ground. (this is where you can laugh, although I will be honest, I was tired, and didn’t, I grumbled.)
Find my next gate. Flight is delayed. I eventually board and soon realize that we haven’t taken off yet and I should have already landed in Grand Rapids. Nice. We arrive, safely, and I am thrilled to find the rental car place is still open (it was 11:30 at this point). I get my car and then run back to the baggage claim to get my bag. I roll my bag out to my car, which involves walking through cold powdery white stuff that I would prefer didn’t exist. I get to the car spot, but the car is mis-parked of course. I mean, really, it is –9 degrees, don’t you want to search for your car? I find it, and the locks are frozen. Yes go ahead and laugh again, and then make a promise to yourself to never travel with me, cause these types of things happen. Again I didn’t laugh, instead I resorted to acting like a four year old (still working on getting that out of my system.) So I stomp. I wine. I beg. Something along the lines “God, I hate cold, I hate the snow, but I am here, all because of you, could you please help me out a little?” little tear of frustration, and another foot stomp...which at this point I should say you shouldn’t foot stomp on snow, because there is likely ice underneath, and you guessed it...you might slip and fall like I did. Apparently my fall shook the iced locks loose though, as the next time I inserted the key it went right in.
8 inches of snow have fallen. I drive to my hotel room, it takes an hour instead of 15 mintues. I fishtail at several intersections...but I arrive safely. Tired I drop everything and crawl under the warm blankets...chat a few minutes with friends, order some food and turn on the TV.
Take a look outside...12 inches of snow. I debate about church for a while but have longed to visit Mars Hill so around 10am I decide that I can make it. I used to drive in this weather all the time...should be like riding a bike right? I dig out the car, load up and head to the church.
I arrive, thankful that the drive wasn't too bad. I am about 1/2 an hour early but decide to go in and have a look around. I reach for my purse behind the drivers seat and as I am pulling it over the seat hear something clank...like plastic hitting plastic. Having grown accustomed to my chapstick falling out of my purse I make the assumption (and we all know what they say about assumptions) that I need to search for chapstick later. I lock the doors and start walking to the door. As I close the car door (you know where this is going) I go to put the key's in my purse...and I open my hand to see the rental car key chain...without a key! I realize at this moment that the clanking noise, was my key hitting the center console...not my chapstick. I try really hard to laugh. I go straight to the info desk and ask for help. They give me some numbers and I call the rental car company and they say they are sending roadside assistance. The helpful greeter asks if I still want to go to church. I figure I am stuck there and that's why I came so ask him to help me find a seat near a door so I can sneak out when I receive the call that they are on their way. About 10 minutes into church they call. Of course this is the one time when they are actually quick in responding and I actually don't mind waiting. I exit, and they say they are calling cause it will take 1/2 hour for them to arrive. I try to go back in, but there is a sign...entrance closed.
I hang out for a bit, the same greeter stops by again. I am frustrated...beyond frustrated...almost tearful. The only desire of my heart at this moment is to be somewhere warm and dry, home sounds so inviting...even though I know Raleigh isn't all that warm.
He sneaks me back in another door. The message sounds like one I needed to hear in its entirety. I hear the last 10 minutes. The car guy comes. Breaks into my car. I find the key...and yep, there it is...in the seat belt buckle contraption (only I could have such good aim!)
And then there was this meeting I participated in on saturday...but I can't even begin to think about posting on that yet. Too much to process. All in all, I am thankful. I am checked in. I am waiting for my flight to board...but wait there isn't a plane...hmmm...we are supposed to take off in 10 minutes...looks like another hitch might be in my giddy up.
In my mind I'm going to Carolina...and it couldn't be any sooner! A PJ day is in order for tomorrow...and movies...
I am in Grand Rapids, MI this weekend for the Special Ministries board meeting. Yesterday as we met I was able to watch snow fall from the window. At the end of the meeting we learned that a Winter Storm Advisory had been in effect all day.
After my 45 minute (which should have been 15) drive to my hotel room I ordered food in (nice perk that restaurants deliver for free) and went to bed.
This is the view from my hotel room this morning...the news says 12 inches fell in the last 24 hours:
And no I didn't run out to build a snow man or snow angel. Churches galore are cancelled so I am going to hole up in my bed and watch my flight status continually in hopes that my 4pm flight, remains a 4pm flight.
I have a meeting near Grand Rapids MI this weekend. I was supposed to fly to Grand Rapids tomorrow morning. I got a phone call tonight that my flight was cancelled.
I am rebooked. But, it took 17 calls to get it that way. Yes I counted, I kept getting a "busy" signal...go figure?
Which meant, 17 wonderful opportunities to walk through the voice automated service that AA insists on using to screen their calls.
I don't like AA's automated service. I actually don't care for anyone's automated services. When I have a problem, I just want to talk to a person, I actually don't mind being on hold, ok yes I do, but I would rather listen to music than have a computer mis-hear every other command I give her...err it. A computer can't be a she. These systems are inpersonal, and un-waivering in their responses and oh the voice is SO irritating. Just give me a human voice. Please.
And I always feel sorry for the person who eventually does answer my call. Because by then, I am frustrated, annoyed, and really wanting the situation to be resolved. That poor person gets the less patient, less understanding version of me. I am always able to rise above and be kind, but I could be so much kinder if I didn't have to go through the system.
I still get to go to my meeting, I am booked on a MUCH later flight, which means I arrive MUCH later. Oh, and that flight is over-booked, but they are CERTAIN I will have a seat...after all I am a gold star member. I will believe it when I get my ticket, which will be when I get to the airport since I can't check-in online with my lack of a seat status. Hopefully the rest of the weekend will go much better.
And yes, I promise to start blogging again, and it won't be a series of rants...I promise.
I know, my life does not compare to the life of Paul at all. But I had a Paul moment.
I received an email from Kenya today, in Swahili, from one of the kids in the Children's home. Sadly I had to think really hard to read and understand it fully. I got the main jist, but was frustrated with how hard I had to think.
So I wrote him back, in swahili of course! And my Paul moment came when I wrote the words:
"Thank you for praying for us. We long to return to you and be a blessing and encouragement to you. We had plans to come soon, but we had to change them. Please know that we are asking God to guide us and if He would like, we will return. We long to see you guys and encourage you again."
I remember reading words similar to these many times in Paul's writings, but I never got it. Part of me wanted to think it was his way of "fluffing" the letter. You know how you do when you are closing, just saying things that the people want to here...(no of course I don't do that!)
Anyhow, I got it, as I was writing it. I really did want to be there. I really have been asking God to reveal to us ways we can be of a greater encouragement to them. I really am praying for a way for this to happen. But yes, I am now praying those prayers in Swahili.
I used to go walking at night with these guys as I coordinated their street outreach program, trained their volunteers and served the role of case manager for the kids we met. I loved my night walks but during the months of October through March there was special attire required:
long john shirt
a mug of hot chocolate (well obviously I didn't wear this one!)
occasionally I would grab those lovely little handwarmers.
I loved my night walks in Indianapolis, mostly because of the people I met, but there was also something about walking at night while everyone was quiet and the world was peaceful.
One of the benefits of walking tonight, I didn't have to put on any extra layers. I LOVE IT! I wore pants and a long sleeve shirt, walked about 3 miles, had great conversation, enjoyed the quiet of town and my teeth didn't chatter and I didn't shiver once. I didn't see a single homeless person, mostly because of where I was walking, but it was still awesome.
I love nightwalks in North Carolina! Where else can you walk at 9pm in a t-shirt and running pants in January!
This morning was our first staff meeting of the new year, and I couldn't help but reflect on 2008. As we laughed and talked as a staff I was overwhelmed with shock and awe by the fact that I was a part of this team... er... I mean family.
It is amazing to think through all that has taken place in a year. A year ago I was "visiting" the USA. I had come home for Christmas and informed CMF of my intent to resign and return to the States when I returned for my already scheduled furlough in March 2008. When the new year turned it was determined that instead of resigning in March, January would be a good start. I had just spent time visiting family, a guy I was communicating with overseas, spent more time with family, seen many friends, nearly freaked out in Wal-mart, hyperventilated in Marsh, eaten real pizza for the first time in two years, and had some wonderful chats with grandma. And a year ago at this time, I was FREAKING OUT!
I had no idea what was coming. None. All I knew was that Arusha was not the healthiest place for me at the time and I was not the healthiest person to be in Arusha. I also knew that I felt God was up to something new, that would still involve the poor around the world, but also involve the poor in the USA. And there was one other part...I kept hearing this phrase..."renew your mind." This I assumed meant graduate school. So I applied. And was accepted, and instead of heading to CO, headed to NC to join this amazing community who have loved me through all of my freak out moments. All of them. Without question. And I feel like there were several.
And I am learning that renew your mind, may have literally meant just that. Renew. My. Mind. In my unhealth I finally succumbed to seeing a counselor. I knew my heart was broken and my spirit weary and well most people in the USA refer to it as Depression. In the last couple of months I have been challenged in my appointments to change my thinking (sound familiar). I believe some very unhealthy things about myself. I also tend to take the blame for things I have very little control over, and also assume responsibility for others in an unhealthy manner. Renew my mind. Hmmm. Go figure.
As I read through my blog entries for January 2008, I become a little sappy.
It was a very confusing, scary, uncertain time, and all I knew was that I was returning to the USA. I didn't know what for, what to do, what it all meant, just that I was returning.
As I read through my blog entries for January 2008 I become a little weepy. Here I am. I have the privilege of working with some of the most amazing people I know. We share a similar passion for people and we all bring our unique strategies and creative thinking to the mix. (Ok, I know I don't bring THAT much creativity...that's not where I jive!) I weep recognizing the grief I felt a year ago today. I weep recognizing the joy I feel today.
They said it would take nearly a year for this place to feel like home, and I am relieved to know that a month from now I will be that much closer. Some say it is a year from the time where you actually settled ground which means April. I don't know much, but I know there isn't a magic button and I know a part of me will always be in a slum at the foot of Mount Meru, but I also know that with each passing day this place too becomes more like home.
I arrived back in Raleigh last night. I had a blast with Matt, Jennifer, Connor and their friends. I will go on record saying that Connor is the most adorable guy on the planet, even when he is sick! The little dude had a terrible cold and was still smiley and full of laughs and chatter. I had a lot of fun being aunt Pam, and find myself amazed by how much I love that little guy.
And I will say again, I feel so incredibly blessed that my brother and his wife are not just "relatives" but that we are friends. I am thankful that we can talk about anything, enjoy each others' company, or lounge without pressure of being something we are not.
As you can tell, my week of fun and "rest" has me on the wrong time schedule, completely. I am wide awake at 1:30am. That won't jive so well come Sunday when I get back to the grind.
To humor you and maybe induce some sleep...a list I borrowed from a friend:
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Went to Haiti.
2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions and will you make some for next year? I traditionally don't make resolutions, but I have decided that this year will be all about health. I am getting unhealthy.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Duh...Connor is here!
4. What Countries did you visit? Tanzania, Kenya, London Airport (which doesn't count) and Haiti.
5. Did anyone close to you die? My cousin died a few months back.
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A rhythm.
7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory? Feb 6. The day I left Tanzania.
8. What was your biggest achievement for the year? um. I don't know.
9. What was your biggest failure? A few broken relationships still need work. I have neglected them.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? The Celiacs-non-celiacs diagnosis.
11. What was the best thing you bought? The Thanksgiving memory book.
12. Where did most of your money go? Sadly...I don't know. I will know this year though.
13. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Connor. New ministry. Living in the same country as my family.
14. What song will always remind you of 2008? I haven't a clue.
15. What do you wish you had done more of? Hiking and camping.
16. Which do you wish you had done less of? Complaining.
17. How did you spend Christmas? With my brother.
18. What was your favorite TV program? The Office.
19. What was the best book you read? The Kite Runner. Sold.
20. What did you do on your birthday? I flew on a plane.
21. What kept you sane? Grace.
22. Who did you miss? Tedi. Mama Diwani. Mary. William.
23. What do you hope for this year? Restored relationships. New Traditions to take root.
24. What do you fear for this year? Being the same person I was last year.
25. What do you look forward to this year? More opportunities to help change lives around the world.