Wednesday, July 24, 2013

El Faro >> Punta de Palma, Guatemala

I have many stories to share from a little coastal town in the jungle of Guatemala. I'll type them soon, but for now I'm still processing this trip that only happened two weeks ago. My heart came alive in Guatemala in a new way. Teaching art and empowering children with creativity is something I was meant to do. I couldn't stop smiling and excitedly speaking spanish, a language I thought I had forgotten.

 I am so grateful for the staff at El Faro, and for the opportunity to serve and love another nation. Yet another piece of my heart is sown into another place. For 2012 I've left a piece in Haiti, Mexico, Uganda and now I add Guatemala to the list.

Quien es el rey de la selva? Se llama, J-e-s-ú-s. 

Mirna and I met in a trash dump where she lives in Guatemala.
She gave me a new perspective on Hope. Vultures are behind us in the trash, where Mirna
calls home. She ran into my arms and the first words she said were "Te Quiero" I love you.
She put her arms around my neck and kissed my cheek. She looked deep into my eyes, both of our brown
eyes gazing into one another with just so much love and joy at finding a new friend. I then put her
on my back, the sweet shoeless girl in a wool christmas sweater vest in the middle of July,
in the middle of  the jungle. Later that day we gave her a new summer sundress and bright old navy flipflops.
These are the moments I want to live every day. I am praying for this trash dump and hope that I can help
empower the people here in tangible ways.

The Trash Dump. The place where Trash and Ashes are made into Beautiful things.
Mirna, the mariposa (butterfly) This was an art therapy project. Video to come.

Un aguila de Dios! Another very inspirational art therapy project.

My sweet group of 5 year olds painting their "homes" on mini Blick canvases. 

Fun with bubbles! 

I love how this kids face is amazed at what he can create just with soap and water. 

This sweet girl painted a flower so delicately and gently on my hand, after I had
painted their nails and painted flowers on their hands and faces. Such sweet moments.

The sweet girls at Punta de Palma school in the village. Nothing I love more than
adorable little girls speaking spanish and playing with me like I'm one of them.

This sweet little girl Madi Rosa, in the pink dress with her pink bear took my words away.
She was beautiful and the way she looked at me (like in this photo) broke my heart every time.
This was our first day of working in the village at Sarita school, and I fell in love with the children
and their warm and loving and inviting smiles. 

Teaching an art lesson drawing El Faro, the Lighthouse on the beach.
Even a little 4 year old bello is so excited to draw, and I love his sister smiling
at him with such encouragement!!

Melt my heart. ¡¡Ojos preciosos!! So much joy being able to make art with these niños. 

After painting heart treasure boxes, the teachers allowed the kids to leave their mark.
The kids put their hands in their paint so excitedly and then ran to the wall, to leave a little
piece of their legacy. 

Mission el Faro. Beauty unparalleled, a beach paradise next door to poverty. 

Sandra and Marta and their sweet heart boxes. The girls put them up to their hearts and asked
if I would take this photo. So so precious. 

My girlies have fun painting their "Where your treasure there your heart is also" Boxes. 


Love my sweet girls in my group. I felt 8 years old again.

A girl with a heart and beauty that displays God's masterpiece.

Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them. - Mother Teresa

Friday, July 5, 2013


 excerpt from my Journal from Uganda Spring 2013

someday my writings in journals will be in a book. Here's a new story for the blog ! 

It was a day we had been planning for a few weeks and this special day had finally arrived. A team from Norway was visiting that had their hearts and minds in a rooted connection to the Adina Foundation - a rehabilitation and physical therapy center in Northern Uganda. The leaders of the team helped create, fund and grow this special place that serves the broken. On one of their last days in Lira, they honored the children of Children of Peace, Ngeta girl's home and Adina foundation, by mixing the three different programs and schools of children in and outside of Lira town. It was a meeting of the broken. The real awakening to me though, was the brokenness I encountered by watching "the weak, say I have strength" (Joel 3:10)  - 

- I walk into the compound in my ugandan formal attire, my bright blue chiffon skirt from the states skimming the dirt ground. The wind was welcomed as it blew my gold tiered triangle earrings back and forth on this hot February morning. I had just hopped off the back of a moto bike and handed the boda driver a couple of crumbled up shillings (dollars) from my bag. The iron gate of the compound opened and I wasn't prepared for what I was about to see. My heart was changed that day and my perspective renewed in a redemptive way. 

Adina Foundation in Lira Uganda 
(Most of these photos were taken by the sweet children from Lira Integrated, I gave them my camera for the day and let them be the ones to document. I think they did an amazing job!) 

Watched all the kids performances sitting next to my girlies Jenn and Caro

I walked into this new space and felt a presence of Peace invade my mind. My eyes and heart were enlightened immediately. The first scene I saw was children scatted all over the lawn: children who were disabled, missing limbs or living with disfigurements, but they walk tall, hopping around the land as if they were perfectly normal physically abled children. And you know what, they are. These children at Adina foundation are touched by God's hand. With feet that are twisted sideways, so a child walks strongly on the side of his foot not with the soul of his foot . But now he's walking towards me, hobbling forward with his good foot firmly on the ground and his other foot making progress.  He greets me with a giant smile. He dances. He sings. He runs and plays soccer. He is perfectly normal. A "lame" kid who is ABLE. His burden is not a physical problem but more of an emotional one. Some neighbors view these children as an outcast, as disabled, I only see Able. I see innocence and I see a child of God who rejoices in suffering. These children become and embody Joy. I walk further into the spacious compound to greet these children that look more like angels than humans. A child in a wheelchair with two white casts gets wheeled over to me by his friend. Another giant smile appears, and with inquisitive deep brown eyes, he invites me to see something new. This child pulls me into his world of "ENOUGH". Let the Weak say I have strength.

Joel 3:10

I walk alongside of these two precious boys no older than 10 years old who are strong and able. The friend pushes his friend with the big smile in the wheel chair as his constant support. This is a friend that will never leave him with just his chair, you can just tell he wants him to experience a world of endless possibilities. But this friend too is limping and overcoming battles of his own. But standing next to a child with a disability, I realize I look weak, because despite all of the physical weakness, there is a strength that remains in these kids that is strengthening me even now. There's a joy that is overflowing onto the land of the compound. These children can teach us so much. They are teaching me how to embrace and run through life even with broken limbs. As long as our hearts and minds are set on higher heights, as long as our faith is stronger than our broken fragile bodies, as long as we believe we can overcome, We Can Be Healed. We Can Be Rescued. I marvel at these children all around the compound and can't help but feel I'm in a special place that is surrounded and watched over by angels.

A circle of children (Lira Integrated, Adina, Ngeta schools) united by brokenness and beauty.

After a few hours of playing games and getting to know these amazing children at Adina, our Children from Lira Integrated arrive and meet these able children with disabilities and I couldn't help but see images of God. Child Soldiers and war orphans and disabled children all started to play with each other. I watched these children start to fly and break free of chains that society places on them with stigma. Together this group of children was free, they accepted one another, and love was present. The meeting of the broken, but together they were gaining strength and joy was building.

Stig the Norwegian singer-songwriter and artist filming the children working together.

Rocking out with his "guitar" for the day :) 

After the children from Children of Peace became acquainted with children from Adina shaking hands and learning names you could tell a new family was forming. They were new friends laughing and playing soccer, running around, singing, dancing traditional dances together ("Kyri - a - Kyri" ) playing ball toss, horse shoes, throwing colorful parachutes in the air, and even created teams for volleyball matches. A great thanks to Hilde and the team from Norway that organized all the sports, equipments and fun activities for the children. Without that gracious team from Adina this day wouldn't have been possible.

Local celebrity in Lira - Musician Elia came and sang his song "Bandera Yesu" and
danced and performed with the children from Adina.
I love these children of war with all my heart! 

Lin from Norway bringing joy to the kids at Adina

Playing games with Samuel B. 
Playing with children of war is healing for all involved.

My favorite moment of the day was when I walked into the small back room on the compound where music was playing over a loud speaker. The song that was playing was the song was recently recorded in Lira and written by Denis Chris (a former child soldier, and a kid who I mentor). The song is called "Golden Jesus" the lyrics say "Oh golden Jesus your the goal, you're the goal of my life, you're the goal of my power, you're the goal of my life". The children were all dancing together! They were laughing and the joy was contagious and filling the room. Miracles were appearing and chains of disabilities were falling off.

Denis leading the children in dance with his song "Golden Jesus"

I of course had to join in on the dancing, to the movements that Denis had specifically choreographed to fit the lyrics! (This boy's music is going to change his country) I was dancing next to Lucky and little Jennifer laughing, and Watum Joseph had my small Canon black camera and was filming the whole thing. I am grateful for this boy's great storytelling ability and capturing this moment! Never underestimate what a child can do with a camera in their hands, it is true art. 

Lucky giving a ride to the little guy at Adina. Love love love.
Lira Celebrity Elia loving on the children at Adina.

This is Freedom.
Freedom. Free from the constraints of the world, from the 'normal'. All of these groups of children are not normal They are set a part for good works. They are set a part so that we can be changed through the way they live their lives. I am changed, watching a child dance with their arms out, that was just a few years ago abducted and made a soldier, forced to do evil, when their innocent bodies only want good. They only want peace. It is not normal for a child to be so malnourished they never walked and now their feet are bent with disfigurement. But I can tell you, I have watched these children dance! They are dancing with broken feet or dancing with brokenness from scars of war. They can dance because they are free. They dance because God loves them despite any disability. He loves them for their hearts. He loves their brave courageous hearts. I look at this compound of scatted children playing with one another, disabled and abled - and a new generation of children of the strongest children  in wartorn Uganda. 

All the children playing "snakebite" trying not to get caught by a snake or you'll get poison in you!
In order to get the poison out you need help from your friends. It's a great game for therapy and fun

Beautiful little daughter of the Lord who is getting rehabilitation at Adina for her
body and limbs that bend in a different directions. I loved laughing with her.

My beautiful director Jane Ekayu and I after a long blessed day at Adina Foundation.

Oh teach us, Children of War, Children of the brokenness, Children of Strength, children who walk in the light even in the darkest of days -  Teach us how to walk with purpose, dance with lame feet, teach us how to forgive, children, please - Teach us how to Live, truly live.