Wednesday, November 17, 2010


It has been a long couple of weeks, but we are now three days from our departure. The girls and I will join our team at the DFW airport on Saturday afternoon to begin the journey to Puerto Lempira. There may be a child we meet during that journey who is waiting for us. The pictures of the Familia Alastero children who will benefit from sponsors are up on the Reach Out Honduras site. There is a twelve year old girl whose face brings a smile to my face. I don't know Elena. She resembles Baticia who was the much quieter little friend tied to Rodrigo who we met on our last trip.


Baticia and Rodrigo have a history as something of a daring duo. My favorite story of the pair was a tale involving a jar of powdered milk stored protectively on a high shelf. A little monkey named Rodrigo climbed fearlessly to the height where he prized open the container to eat the powdered milk. Baticia did not climb up to gain the goodies like Rodrigo. She simply remained below where her friend could toss down a shower of the powdered milk for his hungry little counterpart to scoop up.

I wonder if Elena is quiet? Or silly? Bright? Would she scramble up to the heights like Rodrigo to gain the treat? Share the ill-gotten gain with her friends? Or would she wait for one of the two tias (aunts) caring for her to offer her a portion of food at the appropriate time? Does she have a deep, full laugh? I know nothing much about this young lady, but I so hope to meet her and discover the story behind the photo.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


In four days, the girls and I will climb on board a plane that will take us south on the first leg of our journey to Puerto Lempira, Honduras. I shift memories from Spring Break forward to imagine a familiar trip across the same miles. The flight will land in San Salvador where we will kill off an hour and a half layover before our connection to San Pedro Sula. The route retraces our journey in March precisely, but this time we will take the shuttle from the airport to the gated, guarded compound of the hotel and remain there until a private driver arrives Sunday to ferry us over land to La Ceiba. The remainder of Sunday will be spent on errands, snatching the last hot showers and familiar meals for a few days before crawling into bed early. Monday morning will find a sleepy team gathered in the hotel lobby before 4:00 a.m.

Runway in La Ceiba 6:00 a.m. 3/15/2010

Puerto Lempira Runway
The final flight will be aboard a small plane with Cyrillic characters on the interior signage indicating its origins. We will walk directly out onto the runway surrounded by mountain views to board the small plane and be seated in the cabin with constant visual contact with the two-person crew at around 6:00. The flight will be low enough for the pilot to have the small triangular windows popped open on either side of the plane, and for those aboard to stare out at the terrain below. There will be no question when we arrive because we will clearly see that red dirt (or perhaps mud in this rainy season?) runway coming up to guide us to our destination.

Once we disembark, all we have to do is wait to present our papers to the authorities before achieving the desired reunion with our friends. All the planning, travel arrangements, and preparations will become small things as those faces fill our eyes and friends fill our arms. I do not dare to imagine too clearly the faces of the children we will see again. That is a moment that will simply have to be savored in reality unimagined. Until then, it is enough to keep putting one foot in front of the other and knowing that time is plodding onward toward the anticipated moments.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I flipped through the images once more for good measure before shutting down the screen. The day before saw the same activity. This time it led to action without any sense of certainty. (Again with the tendency to stand on the edge of a cliff mesmerized by the view for an indeterminate time--- only to haul off and leap without warning.) Spinning the chair to launch across the study and through the doors to speed up the stairs only to stop and stand staring in the large mirror over the bathroom vanity. The cats cruised in to investigate, but the lack of motion as I considered the top of my face and head failed to hold their feline interest beyond a questioning meow from Bad Bella.
As the felines wandered away, all of my hair was pulled into a twisted rope that stretched toward the ceiling with one hand. The other hand dipped in clipping away an inch to refresh the usual choppy layers. Thus freed from the uncertainty over the next step, the renewed layers were quickly secured in an elastic loop. Well, almost all of the layers. A deep patch of hair at the very front that refused to hang forward after a decade of being swept back remained. Wetting the uncooperative strands, the patch was sorted into hair to protect from the scissor's predations with the pony tail, and hair flopping forward well below my chin. Finally giving up on the single-handed achievement of a straight part at the top, reinforcements were called in to help.
Middle Child was a bit incredulous. To prove my intent (after she straightened the desired part in the hair), the scissors flashed bringing the floppy front hair to lip level five inches of hair sheared away in an unspoken commitment to the course set. Wetting the hair over my face, I twisted the hair into sections again and clipped. Middle Child stared. The remaining hair was held between two fingers and the edge cut straight across. Erin joined her sister. They both stared at me. I stared at the reflection.
It is definitely a change, but Middle Child pointed out that I look very much like the old pictures she has seen that predate her. The girls also think there is something familiar, but they cannot figure out who it is that Mom looks like with this new hairdo. (Maybe... ah... Mom? Only with bangs.) It's possible that I look like the screen images of people with facial shapes and features similar enough to my own to convince me to take the leap to experiment a little despite the usual resistance to such change. Then again, probably not since I ended up with blunt bangs rather than the less-defined, longer fringe intended.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Picture Post: Peeking

Family picture day is always painful. It's a day that begins in grumbling and griping over the dreaded "What to Wear". That is followed by the wheedling and threats of a mother desperate to preserve photographic evidence of this particular moment in the family's timeline. It's bewildering to look at my children and see the glimmers of the emerging adults peeking out with increasing frequency. I'd like to slow the process a bit, but will settle for freezing moments in pictures that I can hold onto as the process of letting my children go continues.
Walker's daughter is an artist. She reflects her Creator's infinite creativity in many different mediums including photography, so I asked if she would take our family pictures. She agreed, and we met at an urban center that combines a variety of architectural and landscaping goodies for gobs of great settings. We quickly discovered that my desired background was lost in shadow. A new site that was bathed in afternoon sun was selected instead. We turned ourselves over to the eye of our brilliant artist friend, and I cannot wait to see through her viewfinder.
We were quickly and painlessly posed. There was an ease to the process unheard of in past sessions. There was laughter. Seriously. People were happy. Artist had a friend along for our session who snapped away with my camera, and there was a shot offered up on Facebook as a sneak peek from Artist's cache of images so I'm not giving all that much away while still keeping the family pix a surprise!

The Painless Process

Sneak Peek of the family session!


The Wise and Foolish Builders
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  (Matthew 7:24-27, NASB)
We are builders. Builders of lives. Marriages. Families. Homes. Ministries. Relationships. Friendships. The foundation on which those are built is Christ. Should it be otherwise--- building based on affinity, blood relations, preferences, opinions, political affiliation, hobbies, business, sports, education... whatever... then such will be likely be subject to fickle circumstance. Change is our constant human state; yet, Christ is ever constant. Why try to find balance on shifting sand when I can stand secure on solid ground?

Monday, November 1, 2010


Teacher conferences are required for elementary school. Report cards are given to elementary parents at their conferences. This policy assures attendance. I have never attended a conference for middle or high school despite having students at all three levels for the second year in a row. In fact, I had no idea there were conferences for middle or high school. (There's been a question in my mind as to why the whole district took a day off when only the elementary schools held conferences for years.) It turns out that there are conferences available on all campuses.
This year, the middle school principal sent out e-mail blasts encouraging parents to attend student-led conferences. A couple of the high school instructors sent out e-mail inviting parents to schedule conferences as well. Eh? This being the first notice ever in our household that the middle and high schools were even open on this day to parents and students, it seemed like a good idea to at least check it out however painful the idea sounded to parent and student alike.
Wow. The ten minute required conference with Erin's teacher (the one with the great British accent?) stretched well past time to cover 40 minutes, and I was truly sorry to part company with her. (Yes, for those who know of my unfortunate tendency to unintentionally mirror speech and mannerisms, I did lapse into a reflection of Mrs. H's accent. Oops.) We have some strategies for encouraging Erin in the classroom, awareness of her strengths, and plans for building up areas of weakness. We have also been granted the opportunity to share Erin's upcoming trip to Honduras with her classmates. Erin will be crafting a slide show and developing her writing with prompts related to the trip since 4th grade is a big year for writing skills.

Evan and I drove together to the high school. His Latin teacher filled in the blanks on some extracurricular activities, the English instructor suggested that he begin "visiting" in a Pre-AP class in preparation for a transfer from his current less-stringent class at semester, and the AP history teacher shared his thoughts on AP classes vs Evan's capability to enroll at the local community college and earn concurrent high school and college credit next year. It was exciting to hear that Evan is seen as a bright kid with a strong work ethic by those who spend five days a week with him outside of our aegis.

Katie and I showed up at the middle school without a plan. We arrived to discover that the building was closed for a lunch hour. That lunch hour was published in the newsletter alerting this clueless parent to the optional parent/teacher conferences for middle and high school students. (Oops.) So. Katie and I will head back over to the school for a second attempt momentarily. The positive experiences with her siblings conferences have definitely kindled a desire to hear what the middle school teachers will have to say about our Middle Child. Plus, I am intrigued with the principal's suggested student-led conferences. Hearing from the kids themselves at those upper grade levels is a far cry from the usual "How was your day?" that is met with the chronic "fine," or the obligatory parental "What did you do today?" that rates a "nothing" response. That is absolutely worth a second trip to the middle school.