Saturday, October 5, 2013

Tech Support

I'm going to start this blog by saying that your phone is not a storage device. It's not meant to be. It's a conveyance to other more permanent storage. 
If you have a couple hundred photos on your phone and you don't back them up and your phone crashes or needs reset you have lost all of it. 

So my story starts out last night when I decided to reset Linda's phone because it was not acting properly. 
I reset the thing and it came up with a weird error. It said that Lins phone wasn't set up for activation on the "developer account". 
Today I goy up and went right to verizon. 
They had zero clue as to what to do so they sent me home with a number to call. 

I called that number at 2:10 and it took 8 minutes shy of 10 hours to get things fixed. 

Here is the thing about Apple techs they don't really listen. They only hear certain words and some words just throw them off. 

I would get about an hour into a phone call the first couple times when I mentioned the developer part. That shut the tech down. They immediately stopped trying to help and pawned me off onto the developer techs. 
Who then realized it wasn't their jurisdiction and sent me back to the regular tech or "accidentally" disconnected me. 

So I'd call again and a machine would say according to their records I just called, am I calling about the same problem?
That was my mistake a couple times too. 

The next guy had me do a recovery mode restore. This took almost an hour and he took my info and said he'd call back. Apple did call back (but not the same tech) after about an hour and fifteen minutes. 
The recovery/restore didn't work and the new guy asked me to do another recovery/restore on the phone only this time on Linda's PC rather than my Mac. 
Again this took a little over an hour and yet another tech called me back. 

He asked what the problem was and I explained, making sure to avoid the red flag words that I had learned so far. 
The new tech, a senior tech decided a recovery/restore would fix my problem. I tried to explain I did it twice already. Phew didn't care and said this time he would like to monitor my screen via screenshare.  So ge can see basically how I'm screwing up the process. 
47 minutes later he saw that it wasn't working and had me cancel the restore. 

He said he'd have to talk to some people and he'd call me back with an answer. 

His answer an hour later was that a month or so ago I had decided to join the developer program and although I never finished the process apple thought I had and their computers have me down as a developer. 
I asked how to get off from being a developer and he told me he would look into it. Or I could pay the developer fee and fix it right away. 

After another hour with no call back I decided to pay the fee. This was at 7pm. I paid it got the phone running again and was happy. 

Unfortunately Lin doesn't back up her photos and she lost a bunch from her trip to Lawrence KS and Branson the last couple weekends. 

She got real down and mopey so I tried to get them back with a "restore from back up". This was a huge mistake because the back up was the old version that was giving me problems. 

However this time the error message was different. This time the message said to call apple to activate my phone. 
I called and was on hold for 35 minutes when I got accidentally disconnected. 
So I called back and after another 30 minutes I got a hold of another senior tech. 

She asked what was going on and I told her I couldn't get my wife's phone to activate. She wanted me to do a recovery/restore. I told her that it wasn't that. I had already done it a few times. 
During my explanation I unfortunately said "we got the developer problem worked out". 
She got real curious about that. 
Next thing I know she's transferring me to the developer tech whom can't help me and puts me back again to the regular techs. 

So there I sat at my desk at 10 pm almost in tears. Ok, actually in tears. 

I started googling the problem knowing now that it wasn't a developer problem anymore. 

I eventually found the fix but it took another 2 hours to set up dummy accounts and get the iPhone working. 

It was a nightmare. Fortunately now, it's working. Lin just has to re-set it up. She did lose her photos and contacts. 
I feel bad about that but I can't help it. Maybe she will back it up properly now, or at very least I'll remember to do it weekly for her. 

Ok, it's finally time to sleep. 


Friday, October 4, 2013

Sketch cards

I love drawing sketch cards but I pretty much hate everyone I draw. 
The reason being that I have to scan them in and upon seeing them on my screen I am always depressed by my mistakes and inaccuracies. 
The way my markers occasionally bleed over the line art. The blurriness of my lines. 
I don't think that anyone who received my sketch cards would notice. Shoot I don't notice til I scan them in. Still it made me love drawing them but hate looking at them. 
I used to keep an album of my sketch cards. Now I either give them away or trash them. 

Anyway, I got a new set this week. I'm pretty anxious to start and I know it will lead to more opportunities. 
In order to get the job I had to draw a couple samples featuring women. I was extremely careful to make them as flawless as I could. I took at least twice as long as usual. I drew them one day and let the ink set until the next day. That way my prisms color markers wouldn't re-wet & smear my line art. When they were done. I scanned them in and sure enough. There're were still the myriad issues of my regular cards. 

I  scanned in a card from a professional and friend of mine.  A card I admire on a daily basis and I saw very similar flaws.  
It's all about how close you look. 

Hopefully the people that receive my cards are happy to receive an original hand drawn piece with all it's imperfections. 

I have so much fun working on them & I pray it shows. 

At your service
Alan

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

You ARE a Role Model



This ad although from the 90’s always irritated me. Mainly because you don’t have to claim to be or even want to be a role model. Like it or not you probably already are. and in a case like Mr Barkley above, he definitely is. He was at the time a very popular and noteworthy Basketball star. He had a shoe line, and like it or not someone doesn’t buy your shoe if they don’t look up to you in some way. That is exactly how basketball sneakers sell. There are at any given time a dozen shoes on the market with different players names attached and you wear the shoe of the player you like best. The one you admire.  They are then one of your role models.

There is nothing wrong with having a role model. We all have them and we are all very likely someone else's. Be it a friend or a younger sibling.
From when we are kids to adult we naturally imitate what we see most or traits we see in others that we admire.
The blessing of true Christian role models is immeasurable because it is a very effective way of passing on Gods truth and ways from generation to generation. There is that old saying that “You may be the only Bible that someone you meet ever reads”
That is why we worry about our witness. 
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23 

Paul says “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” Heb 13:7

Paul is encouraging us to look towards the Godly and be like them. To have role models not idols.
Not to put your faith in someone or worship them like an idol but to admire the things they do and the way they do them. 
This isn’t a blanket statement telling you its ok to emulate the un-Godly. The majority of Hollywood and Athletes are not good role models. They acknowledge God when they win an award or a game but then deny them by their lifestyle.
These people have set up a false god in their life. One that is ok with the way they want to live.
Paul says we should consider the fruit of someone before we even consider emulating them. There will be good long lasting fruit produced by someone the Holy Spirit is working in.

Paul went so far as to encourage people to use him as a role model as long as he was a faithful emulator of Christ. Knowing that its easier to imitate someone you can physically look to sometimes then someone you read about.
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1. 

As an artist I have several “role models” for that aspect of my life. While I admire the way they draw or paint, I have read enough thru interviews to not admire their lifestyle.

Be discerning in your selection and be mindful of those who might look up to you.
Your friends at school or work may not come to church. You may be the only Christian they know and your life may in fact be the only Bible they read. So lets make sure its a translation and not a paraphrase version. YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL!

At your service

Alan

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Shingles

When I was in Highschool my grandpa decided it was time to re-shingle the roof.
So everyday for 3 weeks after school, I would get home, change clothes eat and then climb the ladder to the roof.
I'm not afraid of heights but ladders make me nervous. I know how they are supposed to work. I've climbed them enough with no accidents that I should trust them implicitly.

My Grandpa did. I remember he would throw 1 sack of shingles on each shoulder and go up the ladder all the way up without using his hands. Didn't matter if the ladder was slaunch-wise or on weird ground. He still climbed it with the same confidence. I once saw him drive a nail in the facia and lean the lader at an angle against it and make trips up and down.

When I was going up or down the ladder I clutched onto the roof as soon as I could reach it. I would hold onto that roof until I made it to the top. If I was coming down I'd hold onto the roof until I just HAD to let go. I knew the ladder was safe but I couldn't let loose of the roof.

As a Christian I find myself still sometimes holding on to that roof. I know what God can do. I've seen it.  I know I should trust him implicitly but I still hold on mentally to something else "just in case"

I didn't get involved in church at Lifepoint for over a year.  I had been hurt by church and bruised by fellow Christians.  So I hid in the balcony and tried to get in and out without talking to anyone.

That hurt was my "Roof" for a long time.  I just wouldn't let go of it and trust God. It was the perfect excuse not to get involved.

Then after my rededication last Feb, I let go of the roof, put my whole weight in God and climbed down from the balcony and trusted Him.   There will always be hurt and struggles, life isn't perfect but God gave me the church family and support system to make it thru. 

You just have to Commit, and Continue.

COMMIT: Get involved WEEKLY. Find a place to plug in. 

There are dozens of places in your church to work. Some in front and some behind the scenes. All you have to do is ask and we will plug you in. Or fill a whole you see on your own. 

CONTINUE: Even when you are down, even if you don't feel appreciated or you are hurt you continue.
We are Christians, we are family but we are still human and we are going to get hurt by other Christians from time to time. That is no excuse, no reason to stop working.  You don't do the work for anyone but God so getting your feelings hurt by a person should not disengage your commitment to work for God.

Even the hardest of workers can get their feelings hurt when a new ministry pops up on the horizon and it's led by someone that has been with the church less time than them. Or one pops up and they aren't asked to participate.
It's happened to me, it gave me doubts, it hurt my feelings but it didn't keep me off the lot that Sunday and everyone since.

It's deliberate and its conscious and its required by your God so get used to it and get involved! 

Psalm 9:10 says "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD hast not forsaken them that seek thee. 

God has never and will never forsake those who earnestly seek him. To seek him takes faith AND work (James 2:14-26).  Your Christian walk is not passive, its active. 

Let go of the roof get out of the pew and get to work.

At Your Service
Alan



Saturday, August 31, 2013

Artistic Tedium or It Pays the Bills (barely)

I've had a busy month. Lots of work but its all been cruddy simple jobs but lots of them.
The thing is I don't feel like drawing for fun after 10-12 hours of drawing this stuff. Here is a sample from the last set of 30 I did








Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Husqvarna Again

Got another job for Husqvarna,. Finished and invoiced today. Nothing spectacular.









Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stumbling Blocks


We live in a world now where social media is a big part of everyday life and in the course of the day you might post all manner of statuses and pictures.  What I’d like to do today is make you more aware of what you post. Why you post it and How it may make others feel. Why we should put more thought into our digital life.
It seems odd to talk about social media in a Biblical framework. However this is what God placed on my heart tonight. For the first time in a long time I feel lead to teach tonight.

 I sat down with a friend at Applebee’s tonight.  My friend doesn’t attend church and I was curious to ask him a question. 

“Jason” I said, “What would you think if I ordered a beer?”

“I’d think something was wrong” he said.

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“Well” he said you just got out of church and you are a Christian.”   
“I’d think something went wrong”

“But why?” I asked again

“Because Christians don’t drink” was his reply.

Now the conversation went on from there. We talked about people who go to church and talk boldly of Christ in the church but go out and live a life devoid of God’s influence.
I got what I wanted from him however. I wanted to know from an unchurched person what they thought if a Christian was out drinking.

The idea is out there whether you like it or not that drinking is not seen as the action of a Christian. 

The Bible as may advocates of Christian drinking will tell you, doesn’t say you aren’t supposed to drink. It doesn’t say drinking is a sin. 
Frankly I don’t think it is a sin actually.  My issue comes with what others think it is.

If my non Christian friends think Christians don’t drink and they see me doing it or loud and proud posting pictures of my various alcoholic beverages online it hurts my witness to the very people I need to be an example to the most.

Odds are while as a Christian drinker you have a prepared dogma to tell people (usually fellow Christians) whom confront you about it.
Most the time the person who sees you doesn’t confront you. Sometimes they are just like  my friend Jason and immediately either think you aren’t a Christian. Or worse they don’t see a difference in the way you live outwardly and how they do. 

After all they believe there is a God and he’s cool with what you want to do as long as you don’t hurt anyone and you believe in him.

What you have done is place a stumbling block in the way of someone else’s walk.

Inadvertently, you didn’t mean to. All you wanted was a margarita while you were at the mexican restaurant, a beer while you watch the game or post a picture of you unwinding after a days work. 

In Romans 14:13 Paul mentions being a stumbling block to others.   

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

Paul is talking about meat in this case. Meat that had been animal sacrifices to pagan Gods.
He’s telling us that nothing is wrong with the meat. It’s fine to eat. It’s not a sin.
However if it offends a fellow believer that you bought or ate that meat, then you shouldn’t do it.  You are causing another believer to look at what your doing and possibly have a crisis of faith.

You have the perfect liberty to eat and drink whatever you want there is no sin in the food. If what you are doing causes spiritual harm to another then give up your liberty for their good.

Note paul doesn’t get upset at the person whom is offended by the act. On the contrary. With a heart of Love he acts intentionally to not offend them any longer.

Choosing someone elses comfort over his.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 says “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

This should be considered in all we do. Constantly we should ask is what I’m doing Beneficial, Benign, or Harmful to myself and to others.

Ask yourself this when you go to make that facebook or social media post. Is posting your beer, bourbon or moonshine beneficial?  Is someone going to get something positive out of your post?
Is it benign? Will your post not say anything really about your life. How you live reflects Christ in your heart.  
Will your post cause damage? Will having 1 beer at Applebee’s cause damage?

I’m saying it can and like Paul, I believe that is enough reason to not “eat the meat
Likewise be aware of the language you use in your posts. We all know what swear words are. Those words may have different meanings elsewhere but here in your culture they are for lack of a better term “bad words”. The words themselves have no inherent “badness” to them. However they do have the stigma of being dirty words and we don’t say them because of that.

Is it a salvation issue? No, but what you say does come from whats in your heart and a foul mouthed Christian may need to look inward. 

“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Again just because something doesn’t offend you doesn’t mean it isn’t a stumbling block to others.  
I refer once more to Romans 14:13 “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

As Christians we are going to offend. For instance the biblical stance on homosexuality is going to offend a lot of people. 
Does that mean we should silence ourselves as to not be a stumbling block in a case like that?
Not at all. Somethings are black and white in the Bible and in those things there is no leeway. Drinking, and foul language grey.
We all know how those things appear to others still we know God doesn’t say a hard NO on them.  I add swearing in because while the bible is against foul language 

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Eph 4:29

People could and have made the argument that language evolves and what was foul at one time is no longer foul.

The problem with that is that as language evolves so does the appearance.

Curse words will always be known as curse words and for the foreseeable future drinking holds a non christian connotation. 

The Matthew Henry commentary puts it beautifully like this 
“Lawful things may be done unlawfully by giving offense to others.”

Some people I know will post something like that or make a comment just to start a debate. They enjoy the idea of being an evolved christian. They want to argue about it so they can tell you why you shouldn’t be offended and why they are essentially a better Christian. They post a random pic of their workspace or coffee table with a beer next to their computer or Bible just because they want the debate. They want to feel superior by  flaunting their open-mindedness and lack of what they call judgement.  
At some point by the way we lost the meaning of “judgement” didn’t we?
It went from discerning and condemning something to simply “not agreeing” with someone. Thats a blog for another day though.

Sometimes those posts as a friend put it one day, can be chalked up to spiritual immaturity. Which really helped me with the subject. Now when I see a post like that I can tell by the way its framed and how intentional the picture or post is if it’s just looking for a debate and I can schluff it off to immaturity.
 While I know the Bible doesn’t condemn it specifically. It causes me pause because it offends so many and the person that posts it  doesn’t see it as their problem.
To the person posting the pics and making the status updates. That think our offense is more a sign of our weakness in faith than their strength and freedom. I hope this makes you think differently about those you offend.
I urge you to examine your motives. I pray you ask yourself whether while not sinful if your actions might offend fellow Christians. Is it harmful, benign or helpful. What do you gain by making those posts? I’ve made you aware at least that it offends some people althoughI’m sure you already knew that. What do you lose by not posting them?
I’ll repeat myself here by quoting Romans 14:13 again
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

At your service
Alan

A special thanks to Terry a friend and inspiration. Thanks for the prayer brother 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to Church Sunday

So National Back to Church Sunday is Sept 15.  I got the idea to repurpose the Back to the Future logo. Then I couldn't stop myself from doing the poster while I was at it.

The idea  of Back to Church Sunday is that every Christian should bring one person to church that Sunday and let us share Gods love and message with them.

I think we can totally fill the house at Lifepoint if we all participate.  Understand that in order to bring someone you may have to ask more than one person.  You may get turned down a few times before you find someone that is open to it.  Worst case scenario you bring 2-3 people.

So lets get out there Lifepointers and show people how we love.



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Once Upon a Time, Six Months Ago

Its been 6 months tonight since I rededicated myself and my family to God.

If you don't know my story you can read it Here.  

C3 was the strike that lit the fuse.  It was honestly life changing.

The thing is, and what I want you to take away from this post is this.....

While C3 lit the fuse its been my work in the church that has kept the fuse burning.  I've been to churches I've enjoyed the preaching at before and attended pretty steady but I never got involved.  

I never clicked in a church like I do Lifepoint and a big reason for that is that I plugged in.  I wasn't asked to start greeting, I just didn't know what else I could do to help out.  
So I just started. I haven't missed a Sunday now in 6 months. Greeting on Sunday mornings has become my favorite part of the week.

Going to church is more than filling a pew. It's community, its love, & its supposed to be fun. 
It IS fun. 
You don't need to go to a conference to find this out.  You just need to get up out of your pew and find a place to plug in. 
Even if you can't teach or lead there is a place for you in the church. We are the body of Christ and we are stronger when we are of one heart. A heart of service. 
Service is Love.  
Think of everyone you love. There isn't a single person I truly Love that I haven't done something for. Not one of those people christian or other that I haven't served in one way or another.
To do for them is to demonstrate my love.
Every Sunday a lot of people do the most for God they do all week. 
They do this just by coming to church and sitting on a bench & they feel like this is working for the kingdom. 
Doing the most by doing the least.  

Whether you are a Lifepointer or not, your pastor/church need your help & your God deserves your service.  

Jesus final act of love durring his time on earth was an act of service.


Thanks for Reading

Alan/Brother Whiskers



A couple post scripts here. Recently I went back and read a couple of my blogs from prior to my trip where you can really see my struggle and how I felt about church and my place in it. Blog 1 & Blog 2.

Reading those I remember the feelings but know how unfounded they were.  I have a piece of something now and I really want you to have it too.  

Secondly I've spent some time tonight thinking about those 3 days last Feb. I can't express how thankful I am that I got the chance.

I'm thankful to so many for their acceptance of me but one thing keeps coming to mind.
As we sat around after service those nights we would unpack all the things we learned. I talked a lot durring those sessions maybe too much. 
While i was talking though and even though i was there with them and they were all so nice and very accepting of me I still kept refering to Lifepoint as "your church". 
In my heart I still didn't feel good enough to consider myself a part of it and don't know if  I would have had that break through it it wasnt for  Ethan.   
I was talking about what made us stay at Lifepoint even when I didn't want to be there and I said it was "The kids program at your church"  Ethan stopped me and said "you keep saying our church, it's your church too, you are one of us". That was the exact moment that the other shoe dropped and the transformation was complete. 
From creepy guy in the balcony........... to creepy guy in the parking lot.

Ethan if you read this, you did a lot for me that night.  I know everyone treated me like part of the group but it wasn't til you voiced it that it clicked.

I love you Lifepointers and I am always at your service.









Thursday, July 18, 2013

Haiti Day 6

It's the last day in Haiti. We actually slept in again. If you call 8am sleeping in which I normally do not.

The tropical storm turned out to be a dud here in Haiti. We had some wind one night and it was a cool 90 but that and some rain was the extent of it.

We split up some of remaining snacks and stuff for Boss and Leslie to have. Basically anything we wanted to leave, snacks, clothes, bedding and the like.

It was nice to be able to say thanks to them for treating us so well and taking care of us on this trip.

Morning was basically packing and breakfast. I had a full size suitcase I wasn't going to use on the way back so Jeff and Kara will.  That way they don't have to cram their suitcases quite so full.

We all ran around trying to make sure we didn't forget anything and trying to pack plus ready ourselves for this last day.
The plan was to do a little sight seeing and then hit the worksite and be at the airport by 1.

First off was saying goodbye to Boss and the neighborhood kids that come around every morning. We a ll stood and played with them after a delicious breakfast of corn flakes.
We gave Wood our email addresses. Wood was this really nice guy that came around about day 2. He speaks pretty good english and he made a bracelet for Elaina that had her name on it. That got the rest of us interested and I think almost all of us ordered at least one from him.  I ordered one for Lin, Ash, my mom my 2 sisters and my niece.  Just seemed cooler to have something hand made there with their name than a generic cup or bowl. Although if i had had more money with me I probably would have bought a print or something like that for my office wall.

Anyway we talked to wood and the neighborhood kids and the bus eventually showed up.. We said our good byes to everyone and loaded up.

We drove to the capitol building, or rather the area where it was.  It was destroyed durring the earthquake a few years ago.
Some fellas came up to the van and wanted to sell some art prints.  We weren't really interested but then Elaina saw one that was just perfect for her so she bartered with the guy and eventually bought a really cool piece.
After that we tried to go to a big catholic cathedral but they wouldn't let us in the gate and while we were sitting there a bunch of people came up and were trying to get us to give them money.  Some had kids and they all looked sad but for the most part we were all out of money anyway.
Then you had to decide if it is better to not make eye contact with them at all and just ignore them or if its better to try and get them to understand you have nothing to give.
It was pretty terrible and we all wanted to get out of there as quick as possible but we ended up sitting for a good 10-15 minutes.

We made another stop and Kevin bought a really nice print for his really nice porch.

Finally we went to  the worksite where we were to meet Didi. Didi works for HRI who helped set up our visit.  We got there and he wasn't there so we looked at the kitchen which was finished. It was pretty incredible to see it done since we were there when it started and knew how rough it looked then.

We took some pictures and waited for Didi who ended up not being able to make it and it was getting pretty late so we ended up leaving and going to the airport.

We didn't stop and see our orphans.  At the time we all thought it would be better if we didn't. That was until a few of them walked over to the worksite and saw us. Then those of us who had really bonded with certain orphans started wishing ours would either show up or that we would stop. Kevin put it best  when he said "I'd rather see them and cry than not see them at all."
He and I kept peeking out the gate hoping the rest of the kids would make it before we left but they didn't.

So off to the airport. We got there and made it to the line about 2 hours before boarding but the line was crazy slow. We were in it 45 minutes and hadn't made it thru the first turn in the snake. There was no way we would have made our plane if we stayed in that line. Fortunately someone came and got us and processed us thru separate. It was an incredible blessing.

We got thru the various security lines of which there were several and made it to the waiting area with about 30 minutes to spare. Then our plane was late so that ended up being ok.
I was trying to get my phone charged because it was dead as a hammer and I thought maybe I'd get it at least partially charged before the plane got there. I was wrong again however.

The plane was a larger one than we had previously traveled on. This particular plane had 3 rows of seats instead of 2.  I lucked out and got to sit by Lance on this leg. Unfortunately I was tired and he was enthralled by the window seat so we didn't talk a whole lot.
Still it was way better than sitting by a stranger.

We landed in Miami and got off the plane. We were let out right at the gate which was weird and one guy in the line said it was because the president of Haiti was on our plane. This may or may not have been true but it was weird where they let us out.
We collected our bags for customs and rode the "skytrain" over to where we needed to be to get checked back into the United States.

Customs was simple. You filled out these papers on the plane then when you get to customs they ask you a few questions and go thru your stuff if they want to. Then if you havent done anything weird like try to bring in fruit, vegetables animals or drugs you pass on thru to the U.S.

That is normally what happens. What happened to me however was a "random" pat down and a skin test at one security stop and at the actual customs window I got completely ignored. The dude just mean mugged me and stamped my passport. No questions no welcome to the states, nothing.

After we all met up in the hall we headed towards our next gate. We had about an hour and a hlf before barding so we decided to eat dinner. Kevin and i were going to get pizza's for everyone and we thought we had got that point across but apparently we didn't because after ordering 4 pizzas and 14 drink we returned to find pretty much everyone had scattered to get their own dinner. Still we ate 3 of the 4 pizzas.
Kelly ate at Nathans which is where I would have eaten if I hadn't went in on the pizza.

Lance stayed and watched our stuff. I had my phone plugged in that whole time and it still didn't have enough of a charge to even turn on.
That was kind of a bummer because I couldn't talk to Lin or the kids at all that whole day and we were backmin the states around 5ish.

After we ate we all gathered to await boarding.  I had a window seat directly infront of Christina, Elaina and Kelly. I was sitting by 2 really nice South African ladies.  I didn't recognize their accent at first. Then it came to me. After that all I could think of was that last scene in Lethal Weapon 2 where the South African diplomat gets caught with drugs and tries to kill Riggs and Murtough.
He holds up his id and yells "Diplomatic immunity!" Then Danny Glover shoots thru his id, and says "It's just been revoked".
I didn't go thru all that with the ladies but I did desperately want to yell Diplomatic Immunity at then but figured they'd just think i was nuts.

Katrina from CLC had been picked on by Kevin all week so she decided to get him back. When the stewardess came by she told her that Kevin never fastens his seat belt on planes and so the stewardess caught Kevin with it undone and made sure everyone knew it. It was pretty funny. Kevin is a really good sport.

When I woke up we were about to land.
In StL we gathered our stuff said good bye to the great people of CLC that went with us. Pastor Eddie, Sarah, Tony and Katrina.

We took a quick shuttle to our vehicles, loaded our stuff and the gang waited on me to use the potty. They waited a while.

After that we drove home. Stopped once for Kevin to get gas however Diesel wasn't the easiest thing to find. We eventually did and we made it to Lebanon about 1:30ish.  Went to the church to get our vehicles. Talked for a few minutes then I walked the few blocks to my house dragging my rolling suitcase.

That was the trip.

All in all we had a great time. It was fun, sad, tiring and a host of other adjetives.
I think most of if not all of us plan on going back when we can.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Haiti Day 4

Day 4

We got up & running a little earlier this morning.
Because instead of work we were going to visit some orphanages besides the one we sponsor

While we were still in bed, Lance had the idea that maybe if we had any money left over of our personal money. Maybe we could afford a bag of rice for the kids at one particular orphanage that has nothing.
They are trying to get a sponsor and haven't yet.

We thought it was a good idea so I asked Pastor Kelly and Pastor Eddie if we could.
They said it was fine so I asked around and everyone put in some money. It ended up being enough to buy 2 bags of rice and some cookies.

We got up the first orphanage and the kids were just heart meltingly adorable.
We played with them. Gave them some love dove shirts and played some more Kelly and Eddie presented the rice to the lady in charge
I can't say enough about the state of affairs at that orphanage and please keep them in your prayers. They have nothing and they honestly don't know from day to day if they will eat from day to day.

I found a lovely young lady sitting alone and trying not to look at us. So I played with some kids near her and eventually made it over to her.
She would hardly look at me but I still teased and danced with her. She would look at me and grin then cover her mouth and turn her head almost all the way around.
It was beautiful.
I'd point to her and say beautiful and she just lit up.

When we were through there we went up a second orphanage just up the road.
They were sponsored by another church & it was pretty nice.

The kids were very playful.  We passed out some shirts and candy.
The kids sung to us as we all sat around on the foyer.
Then Elaina started singing one of our songs and we proceeded to alternate ours & theirs.
Leslie our translator got up and taught us a few Hatian songs and translated some of our songs to Hatian for them.
Everyone was blessed at that orphanage and honestly it lifted the heaviness of our hearts to hear the children after leaving the first orphanage where it was pretty awful.
I don't mean the orphanage was awful. I wouldn't book a stay there but it was a roof for the kids so in glad it was there.
I just wish wholeheartedly they would find a sponsor.

Next we drove to an orphanage that again is sponsored and sponsored well.
They had a pretty nice set up. I wish our children could afford it at le maison despuax.

The problem was the ride there. Several things of note happened on this ride.
First Christina was sitting by me and had been all day. She's quite funny and it was a blast....... Then she choked & spurted about half a cup of water on my leg.
We were teasing Elaina and Christina took a drink of water. Someone said something funny and Christina didn't know what to do with the mouthful of water she had.
She said later that she didn't want to spit on Travis so instead she deposited that mouthful of water on my shorts.

Then she started to choke for real and Tony did the heimlich maneuver on her. Successfully clearing her pathway.

So after that bit of drama and the long car ride we were starting to get wiped out.
That and the fact that there is a tropical storm brewing and the Hatian street vendors were all locking down their stuff.

That kinda gives you the Hebbie Jeebies cuz you gotta figure they know what it looks like before one of these things.

So we drove the rest of the way to the orphanage. However the road leading to the orphanage was too muddy to drive so we had to walk.

Kevin was the first to fall in the mud that at times was ankle deep.
In his defense he was carrying the duffle filled with stuff for the kids so his balance was off. I was wearing my "toe shoes" and the mud started packing between my toes and spreading them out like a fan so I had to wash them off.

The kids were gorgeous. The property was great. Water pumps and shelters for the kids that was rated to withstand an earthquake and a hurricane.
I don't think they mean at the same time. That would be the apocalypse.

Anyway, we quickly handed out the stuff and walked back to the van.
We did play for a few minutes and I scared the tar out of a kid on complete accident.
Amusing the other kids a  great deal but making me feel awful.
It was this adorable baby girl. Probably between 2-3 years old.
I walked up and winked at her while an older girl was holding her. Then she came unglued.
So after a couple minutes I peeked in the rent from what I assumed was a safe distance.
It in fact wasn't a safe distance.
She caught a glimpse of me and went full meltdown.
The girl she was with had to take her away.

Next we drive an hour to get pizza in the city at a place called Muncheez.
There were some gastrointestinal hijinx there which I'd rather not cover here.
We ate world class pizza and drank cokes.
While we were waiting for the pizza someone discovered the place had wifi and conversation stopped. We all proceeded to text, check email, FaceTime and, Facebook for a good 10 minutes.
After the meal, Kelly, Eddie, Didi, Travis and chad sat in the restaurant and talked. The rest of us went outside to wait. Assuming that they would be along shortly. It however was about an hour.
While they were doing that. I was outside trying to coax our translator to arrange for me to take a motorcycle ride with one of the Haitian cycle/taxis.  They are mind boggling!
Weaving thru traffic inches from cars. Hopping curbs on sidewalks. Dodging people on said sidewalk.
It just looked like fun.
I had joked about it last night with Pastor Kelly and he said there was around a 70% chance of a wreck. I lined those odds. So I said to Leslie "Alright, let's get serious. How much would it cost just to go around the block with one. "
He said less than a buck and I was Sold.
Unfortunately the guy he tried to get me a ride with was working for Muncheez so he couldn't leave.
I tried desperately to get Leslie to acquiesce to a different driver but he said "no, I uh, I afraid for you. Some time they go & kidnapped."
Well if you've seen me you know that is highly unlikely.
However on this Leslie would not budge.
Seeing as I do not know French I was incapable of securing my own ride.

After the meal of pizza and disappointment we went back to the mission.

Christina and tony washed a local dog.  Because I suspect Christina misses her dog.

We ate some fruit, talked a bit and now I'm here in bed writing this while the others sleep around me.
I'm trying to give them a head start before I start to snore.

I didn't make it to the revival tonight. My feet were pruned from wading in mud and water in my vibram "toe shoes".
Instead we just passed the time til the few who did go made it back.

That seems to sum up today. Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Haiti Day 5

Day 5

Today we actually got to sleep in a little bit.
Normally our bus time is about 8am but today we got to sleep til 9.
Which isn't really saying much because even when they set the time late you still can't sleep.
The windows are always open so you hear all kinds of stuff.
The issues were many. Dogs, rasta music, heat, bugs, an increasingly wobbly bunk bed and GUNSHOTS!

Not to mention Travis and Eddie. I'm sure if they had a list I'd be on it too. However I fell asleep before them and so they made mine.
I think Eddie fell asleep on the 6ft drop to the mattress cuz he slept beneath our window and it was stunning. Not sure the screen door clicked before he started. Unless that was his warm up except sizes for a night of growling.
Travis, I thought was joking when I first heard him. Turns out he either wasn't joking or he was dedicated enough to the "prank" to keep it up 5 or so hours a night for six nights.

Personally I don't mind a snorer. I saw plenty of logs myself so I never ever complain about it.
Actually took my mind off the dance club or cock fight at the bottom of the hill.
So even on days like today when breakfast was at 9 I was still awake between five thirty and six. Then I kinda lay there like I do at home and drift back and forth lightly til more people are milling around.

Today we got up and the breakfast was in my opinion the best we had. I'm not a big breakfast person anyway so the bacon and eggs everyday this week haven't really been impressing me. I mean they are good but still I prefer the American basics.  For instance we had just good old fashioned corn flakes today. Plain coat meal or cornflakes with raw cane sugar.
The milk was a delight. Pastor Kelly and Pastor Eddie went the first day and looked at milk. It was $22 a gallon where they were. Last night they found it for the low price of $11 a gallon. That is in American dollars too.

So breakfast was great.
After that we went out and played with some neighborhood kids while we waited on Kelly, Eddie and Jeff to figure out the day.

The kids that live by the mission are pretty sweet.  I took quite a few pictures with and of them.

They loved having their picture taken. Most the kids we met did.
There were a few shy ones but for the most part they hamed it up or even better, tried to look older.

It was also pretty amazing to let one take your phone.
Because they would set beside you or run off and when you got your phone back it would have 50-100 pictures they took of complete random objects.
I never got worried about my phone. For one, they were basically fenced in wherever we were.
Secondly they were pretty polite kids, at least to us. To each other is a different story. Thirdly I have an upgrade available on July 20th and so I'm not too worried about my iPhone 4S.

Basically anything you had was fair game as soon as they could grab it.
They always gave it back. The lady day most of us let them keep some things.
For instance several of us gave our hats to the kids at our orphanage. Plus bandannas, shoes, extra clothes just anything you had that you didn't need for the trip home.
I did keep my sunglasses. Several kids wanted them but I kept a close eye on them.
It is my first pair of Oakley's. (I kinda always wanted a pair) but I never understood how people spend extra money on sunglasses til I had a pair.
There is a world of difference in vision when wearing Oakley's as compared to my regular $5 aviators.
Not to mention a strange boost in confidence.

Our first stop today was the orphanage we sponsor.  The kids were happy as always to see us. We loved on them there and gave them some gifts. Then we grabbed our bags and all walked the few minutes to the worksite where we helped this week.
The plan was to see the progress on the kitchen and then to have a VBS.

Originally we had planned to take the kids to the beach.
However the threat of a tropical storm had our handler from HRI nervous. So we had to scrap that idea, roll with it and course correct.

We decided to have the VBS at the worksite which is also the children's new orphanage.

First thing when we got to the site was ball. Tony, Chad & Jeff taught the kids kick ball.
Some kids opted out & flew kites or played frisbee.
Others were content to stay in the building and play or just sit and talk.

There is a lot of just sitting and talking happening there. That and hair braiding.
My beard got French braided which was a first.
My face & neck are both kinda sore from the kids pulling my beard so much.
It was full on braided 6 times this week.

Kevin took the logo for our bible school theme and drew it in chalk on the wall. It was pretty impressive and I'm sure there are pictures of it somewhere.

After some playtime Jeff said it was time to start so we got everyone corralled into the building for VBS.

We handed out Love Dove shirts. Lance kinda spearheaded that particular portion. It didn't take too long.

Elaina & Jeff started VBS with songs and Leslie, God bless him translated them.

While that was going on we realized we had forgotten the crayons for art time at the orphanage. So Kara, Estella, Tony and I walked back to retrieve them.

We got the crayons and hoofed it back to the worksite.
It was at that point the kids were all handed paper and asked to write their names. Then they came up
In front if Kevin's gotta move art one by one and then got their picture taken by Jeff and Kara.

It was at this point that time begins to fly by.
I started drawing comic book characters for kids and next thing you know they were swarming me.
The rest of the time there was just me drawing while the rest of the team did whatever it is they did.

Finally some of us walked the children back to the orphanage to say good bye.

Then we drove over to pick up those that stayed behind.

After all that. The Pastors Eddie & Kelly took us to the beach.

It was the most picturesque thing I've seen in real life.
Just gorgeous.
Most of us got in the ocean while others waded and looked for shells or interesting rocks.

After some ocean time we showered, those of us who wanted to at least.
That us the pint in time that I lost my Oakley's.

The ride home was interesting. It was the first time any of us had been out after dark.

When we did arrive at the mission, Boss Michelle had dinner ready. Tonight was whole fish and French fries.
The fish was good, I think Kelly said it was sod but I can't remember for sure.
I guess I could ask him cuz he's 4 feet away but we will jus go ahead & call it sod.

When we finished eating Cheistina presented her devotion and I went upstairs to bed to write.
Jeff had asked us all to prepare a little devotion to share with the group. We usually did this at breakfast and dinner.

Now it's 10:51 and I'm heading to sleep cuz the generator is off and frankly there is nothing left to do. M
Thanks for reading.

Haiti Day 3

Day 3

Today was my favorite day so far.
We knew that we wouldn't be working the whole day because their were so many Hatian workers on the kitchen project we could just kinda clean up for them
Well most of us. Kevin has basically been accepted as a day laborer for the Hatian construction team.

Travis and Chad were pretty close too and by that I mean unlike myself they weren't physically stopped by a Hatian when they tried to help.

I seemed to not mesh well with them and I'm pretty sure they think I'm a lady.

So we worked for half the day. I picked up trash for the most part. I found a trashed alley, Christina and Kara helped start it but they were each called away for something or other and I ended up finishing it.
Which was fine with me. I got pretty filthy but it was completely shaded and that was well worth it.
Not to mention I actually felt like I carried my weight today.

After the alley was cleaned I found another little room and cleaned it.

When I was finished pretty much everyone was standing by Leslie's truck having a water.

So I grabbed the hackey sack I brought and proceeded to try and play with the kids.
Tony from Christian Life Center was first to join us.
 Us being the 4 or five boys that had come around the worksite from the neighborhood.
They didn't seem to really like the game but then someone brought out the kick ball. Might have been Tony but I can't remember exactly who. My apologies.

Anyway the kids LOVED it.
They played this game which was for all intents and purposes "monkey in the middle."
Five or six people with one in the middle.
The ones on the outside of the circle kicked the ball past the one in the middle. If he intercepted it then whoever kicked it was in the middle.

Let me tell you, you do not want to be in the middle.
Hatian children are quick. Scary quick. They distract you with trickery and fancy footwork and then kick it away and laugh.
If you get in the middle it is only the grace of God that gets you out of that nightmare.
The taunts of half a dozen adorable Hatians will haunt my dreams.

Your best and really only hope was to pray an American got it. Then you hung back and awaited his inevitable lob that would free you from your tiny prison.

After the game we were called to move some bricks and we all made a line.
The ladies of ClC & Lifepoint really shined here.
They toted bricks with the best of em'.

That is until a really heavy one would come down the chain and Leslie would either say "no" or "heavy" to Elaina and pas the block to me.
I have no doubt she could have handled it but Leslie was adamant.

After we nicely stacked the bricks we rested. Played some more ball and finally met Pastor Boliere.
The 84 year old founder of the orphanage we support.

He was awesome and inspiring. It was an absolute pleasure to be around him.
However he didn't stick around too long because he had just arrived back in Port Au Prince and obviously wanted to check on the kids and rest.

After he left we moved more brick. Then removed the first bricks because we stacked them in the wrong place.

Next we packed up and headed to the  market.
Eddie the Pastor of CLC was serious about us walking around in small groups and experiencing the market.
It was nuts. Packed beyond common sense and alive with smells, textures & color
Walking single file most places and keeping an eye behind us Elaina and I were on the search for mangos.
Mangos if you were unaware are delicious bits of sweet tangy heaven.
They have a slight sting of acidity mixed with their fruitiness that makes it feel almost like eating a carbonated fruit.

We found some and was looking at other fruits when we were passed by a wheel barrow of butchered goat.
It smells exactly like you are imagining by the way.

We stopped and bought some coke in glass bottles. It was really good. Coke always tastes better in glass.

Then we picked up a few other things. Elaina bought some cherries & mango.
Katrina bought a watermelon, I bought 2 melons of undetermined origin. As I write this only one has been devoured this far and it turned out to be a stunningly ripe cantaloupe. It was just so big we didn't know what it was. I offered the lady an American dollar bill and she asked for 2 and I bought it.
Of course I picked up some mango too. I really dug the mango.
Hatian currency is gourdes and there is roughly 42 gourdes to an American dollar.
We exchanged some money the first day, which at the time seemed cool. However, it got confusing when you ran low and were trying to pay in gourdes and in dollars.


After the market we went to the orphanage  and played with the kids. They are so loving and so precious it's almost painful.

Chad and l lifted kids up to look over the fence. Gave piggy back rides and woolered kids.
Everyone of us had a little group around us.
They love to take your stuff. Hats phones sunglasses and cameras. Then they run around giggle and play.

I played a couple really fun games with them which were lower impact than soccer.
One was laying on my stomach and sticking my hands √ľnder the gate. Where waiting children would try to smack it.
This was fine until one tried to take my ring. In there defense they probably just wanted to see it.
Secondly one stomped my hand in play and that worried me so I quit.

The second game was the best. I laid down on my back and pretended to be asleep. Then they gathered around and tried to wake me.
I would spri g awake and tickle anyone remotely in reach.
This went on for quite a while til pasto Boulielle thought I might be hurt or about to get hurt and we stopped.

Two little girls tiny tight braided my beard.
This was painful but fun.
The subsequent 3 other times were only matched in their pain by the tiny fingers unbraiding it & combing it out so they could braid it again.
Several kids learned my name and would run up and tag me then yell "Ah-lahn" giggle and run off.
Closest thing to the joy I feel when my kids yell daddy when I come home from going somewhere.
Real close to that. Your heart sings when they say your name.
It's mesmerizing.

So while I was getting my beard assaulted. Kevin, Katrina, Elaina and Kevin again got their hair played with styled and messed with in general.

Then the kids had pizza and soda. They sang to us and pastor Boulielle talked a bit.
I cried and hid around the van.

Then after that we said our goodbyes.
Hugged cuddled and loved the tar out of them and loaded back on the bus.

Carlo our bus driver is a daredevil with a heart of gold. He maneuvers inexplicably around traffic. It was crazy.
Travis sat in the front and said we didn't know the half if it.

Kevin and I desperately want to take a "taxi bike" back to the mission but it is unlikely Kelly will let us.
This remains to be seen. As of this writing we've joked about it. Just planting the seed. Now to see if it falls on fertile or stony ground.

Back at the mission I had decided to skip the revival. I was tired and I wanted to emerita this and prepare my devotion.

That was my plan at least until after dinner.
Tonight dinner was salad, however the ingredients were separate. It was a ring of tomatoes, with sliced onion surrounding lettuce.
There was also fried chicken, pasta and rice.
I ate a lot of pasta. It was the best thing so far to me. The Hatians know how to fry things, as I told Lance but they don't know how to stop frying.
So the meat the last two nights were pretty crispy. I could only half eat the chicken.

After dinner I retired to my bunk to study when Elaina mentioned taking her tambourine to the revival.
I was trying to get her to join them and I have no doubt she would have been not only welcomed but encouraged.
Still I told her I'd go to if she'd play. I thought she would and even if she didn't volunteer I was going to volunteer her.
Elaina however is a clever devil and took a different entrance so I didn't get the chance.

The revival was fun. Great music and the kids started coming and sitting with us.
Chad was first. The kids loved him. Then one came and sat by Elaina.
Finally I got  one and Christina was swarmed.
She put 2 to sleep on her lap by the end of church.

The revivalists asked if we'd like to come up and help pray for people so Elaina, Kevin and I did.
It was pretty intense.
 Afterwords we played with some kids and I carried one on my shoulders up the hill to her house.

It was pretty late but when we got back to the mission we had cantaloupe, watermelon and MANGO.

Sorted the stuff for tomorrow which consisted of shirts, hygiene products and toys for the kids.
We are visiting several orphanages tomorrow weather permitting.

Think we will end the day at ours though.

After sorting I came up to write this. Talked guns with Travis and Tony. Talked random nonsense with everyone as they came up and eventually started to drop off one at a time.

Then we heard gunshots and a few of them woke up. Not everyone which was a little concerning. Lance was wearing earplugs so he missed it.

That sums up day 3