26 February 2008

My kids in India.

In January 2005, I took a beautiful, difficult journey to India that changed my life. There, I got to meet Pastor Samson and his wife Prabhukumari and his sons, Wesley and Hudson, and I became part of their family. Pastor Samson runs Peace Gospel Ministries on the India side, and my former boss and friend runs it on the U.S. side.

While I was there, the favorite part of my days was spending time with the orphans at Hadassah Orphanage in Peace City, an area in a meadow outside a small town in South India. Peace City also has some huts and a church with a concrete floor, and it lives up to its name in every way. What a peaceful place it was. I begged Pastor Samson to take me back there each day, even though the road there was so bumpy that I had to hold on for dear life or fall out the window. But I had a smile on my face the whole time, because when I arrived, I got to see this sight: the children flocking to the window to welcome me.

On my last day in India, I returned to Peace City to play with the children and ask them to do an art project where they each drew what "Jesus Loves Me" meant to them. This little boy, Jayaraju, who Jenni sponsors, is a brilliant artist.

His picture says, "God loves all kind of people."

Then, they lined up quietly and eagerly, and one-by-one, they came to me and I prayed over each of them. Most of them probably didn't have any idea what I was saying, but that's okay.

I still keep in close touch with Pastor Samson and his family. Then last week, I heard some heartbreaking news, and I can't get it off my mind. A 7-year-old girl who was a classmate of the orphans at Hadassah Orphanage was kidnapped on her way home from school, raped and killed. This particular little girl doesn't live at the orphanage, but still, it hit me to the core. I saw the road they walk. I played with many of the children who were her classmates. The man who did this awful thing was brought to justice, but sadly, there are many more Dalit "untouchable" children in India whom no one cares about. No one fights for them. Obviously, the children at the orphanage have been scared...

"All of our children at the orphanage have been going through an extremely difficult time thinking about what happened to their classmate. We have been in intense prayer for them and have had our native staff spending extra time counseling and comforting them."

Now that this has happened, Peace Gospel immediately needs to raise $7500 to build a wall around Peace City to secure the children. I wanted to let all of you know about this, because maybe you have something you could contribute. As little as $10 goes very far in India, so even a little would help. All I want to do is fly back there now, as if my going back would do anything to bring back that little girl. It would probably comfort the children a little bit though, to be reminded again that people across the world care about them.

25 February 2008

Spring is coming...

I took a small break from work today to sit on the front porch in the 86 degrees wonderfulness. Spring is coming to Texas. The fresh smell of mulch (perhaps cedar) propelled a sweetness into the air as I peered over the porch railing to check on the flower beds Steven and I have been busy preparing. Our new Blaze of Glory climbing rose has rooted in, and I can't wait to see its tangerine orange blooms twisting around the rails.

The buds on the Bradford pear are gray and fuzzy and preparing themselves to fully emerge into white blossoms, and the hyacinth peeks its head tentatively through the leaves.

It's going to be a beautiful spring, I can feel it.

14 February 2008


[I've had a bit of writer's block lately. So I decided I'm not going to think so much about what to write and just write. And since my blog is called Dreams of Simple Life, I think it’s only appropriate that I talk a bit more about simple life and what exactly that means to me...]

When you grow up in a small town, I think the desire for the simple life always lives in you. It certainly does inside me. And there isn't much I can do to shake it.

This is the home that held the first 17 years of my life. This is where I lived amongst the Italian immigrants in my neighborhood, waking up to the sound of a bat hitting a baseball 9 out of 10 days in the spring, a sprinkler head click-click-clicking in the summer, rainbows of leaves falling to the ground in the fall, the sound of a snow shovel scraping the driveway on a wintry Saturday morning.

It's a home with window-unit AC and radiators because that's all you really need to stay cool or warm in a small cottage. After playing in the snow, we layered our wet mittens and scarves on the radiator until they were dry and toasty warm.

It just occurred to me while writing this that I'm close to having lived more of my life outside of that house than inside of it. I don’t get many chances these days to visit this adorable house on Myrtle, although my parents still live there as if nothing has changed. And you know, not much has. My Cabbage Patch Kid, Carrie, is still perched atop the pink pillows on my bed, waiting for me.

Madison is the picture-perfect-small-town, whose locals gather at the Nautilus Diner every Saturday morning and talk about who’s marrying whom, the new addition that so-and-so put on his house, and how the CJ's Deli team did in Little League last weekend. There's no rush-hour traffic unless you count the long line of cars and vans stacked outside the elementary school at 3:15pm.

Madison is a town that you don't appreciate growing up because it's so small and not much happens and so you go away to college far away, vowing never to return. And then four years later, you can't wait to return to settle down and before you know it, you've been a teacher at the elementary school for 20 years. It's a unique place where I can't imagine my parents not living, and I hope they never move away.

So many memories are hidden in this hometown of mine...

~ Creeping inside my mom’s closet at age 2 and emerging with her high-heels on the wrong feet and a mischievous grin on my face.

~ Watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade every year with my grandfather, “Poppy” and listening to his stories of working in classy New York City in the 1920s.

~ Futile attempts to tackle my (9 1⁄2 years older) brother while he watched WWF, only for him to bust out the Figure 4 Leg-lock or Flying Jimmy Snuka and effortlessly pin me to the floor.

~ My poor parents wrestling with me during one of my many temper tantrums as a child, including the famous time I stuck a piece of chalk up my nose.

~ Many late-night snacks of Entemann’s donuts and milk and toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the island in the kitchen with my Daddy.

~ My friend Debbie and I spending endless hours building a miniature suspension bridge out of balsa wood for 12th grade Physics, complete with a mini bungie jumper hanging from a rubber band.

~ Mom and I planning our exotic mother-daughter trips during one of our brisk bike rides through the neighborhood.

~ Mourning when our pets Dutchess, Topaze, Chelsea, and Oreo went to animal heaven.

~ Facing my first breakup as I cried on the floor of my bedroom closet.

~ Receiving my acceptance letter to Belmont University.

~ Playing in the driveway many a summer evening - hopscotch, chalk drawings, and my bike with training wheels and streamers.

"You can never go home again,
but the truth is you can never leave home, so it's all right."
~Maya Angelou

More memoirs about my small town here and here.