Sunday, January 27, 2013

Love d'Haiti

This is the second post in a series reflecting on my short vision trip to Haiti with the Global Orphan Project. Find the first post of observations here.

Exactly one week ago I was sitting in Haiti taking part in a time of sharing and reflection with a group of people that I had just met three days earlier. It's amazing how much God can move and unite people when we come together with one common purpose, spend three short but very eventful days together, and experience life so very outside the norm. This group of people I had just met were already folks that meant so much to me, encouraged me greatly, and inspired me to be more. Each night while in Haiti we shared memories and honored each other for exhibiting leadership, service, risk, and compassion. Each of our evening reflection times were filled with laughter and tears as we truly united as a big family.

This week as I've been enjoying viewing the numerous pictures that friends have shared and trying to process through my own thoughts. I keep coming back to one word: Love. Love knows no boundaries, needs no words, and is given to us unconditionally. I can't stop thinking about the first village we visited. As we filed off the bus the children were standing in great assembly singing beautiful songs to greet us. They sang several amazing songs and then were finished. The moment they stopped singing, every single one of them immediately rushed out to greet us. Many jumped into arms and clang tight to a new friend they had never met before. Many of us described the scene as if they had already picked out exactly who they wanted to spend time with, who they wanted to bless with their love. These kids loved us before they had any idea who we were. Their trust in us to love them back was instantaneous. This event happened over and over as we interacted with different children wherever we went. The children had so much love to give and all they wanted was love in return.

As I sit here now reflecting on the love that was exchanged in Haiti I am so very thankful. I learned a lot from the undeserved, unconditional love of Haitian children. It is just a beautiful description of the love that God lavishes on us. We are undeserving and do not earn it, yet God graciously loves us despite all our shortcomings. He loves us so that we may love others.

John 15:12-13 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

I've been challenged to live each day loving God and loving others with that same reckless abandon. Praise God for smiles, high fives, hugs, tears, laughter, and the opportunities to experience a piece of the Kingdom of God in Haiti.

Receiving a little encouragement and love along the way.

Yes, we are that cool.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Observations d'Haiti

This will be the first of a two part series reflecting on my recent time spent in Haiti.

I had the amazing opportunity to travel with the Global Orphan Project on a GO Adventure trip taking part in a 20K trail run while there. I was first introduced to this organization this past year while traveling with my good friend, Barrett on his walk across America. While raising support and awareness for the realities that orphaned and abandoned children across our world face extreme poverty with little to no chance of escaping the cycle. This organization provides orphan care, establishing villages including orphanages, schools, care-givers, sewing centers, chicken farms and generally giving a whole lot of love. It really is beautiful to see such a group of folks working to address systemic reasons why poverty exists and assist in breaking that cycle through orphan care, education, and job creation.

I traveled to Haiti with a group of approximately 30 folks, some had already been numerous times and others, like myself, were experiencing it for the first time. It was a life-changing experience to say the least. I want to start out by simply recording some of my favorite memories or observations of the trip and then later I will expand on my reflections and processing.

  • Poverty is everywhere yet people are happy. What they don't have, they don't know about and thus don't miss. 
  • People are clean even though the streets are filled with trash. 
  • 98% unemployment rate yet the people I observed in the street were certainly busy doing something.
  • A particular man sitting between two piles of stones with a small hatchet breaking large stones into smaller stones. 
  • Gorgeous scenery
  • Running through the countryside finding cows, chickens, goats a plenty. Most of them tied to random sticks or bushes.
  • People laughing at crazy white people running through their lives, villages, country.
  • A mom trying to hand off her baby to us as we run past.
  • Children asking for hats, shoes, water bottles as we run.
  • Children running with us.
  • Listening to orphans sing the most beautiful songs. 
  • Rice and beans with chicken legs for dinner each night.
  • Dogs bark until 2 am while the chickens start crowing at 4 am. Earplugs are my friends.
  • Broken bottles line the top of a cinder-block wall serving as security. 
  • Worship in a church building with tattered tarp ceilings and makeshift walls filled with Haitians deeply in love with God.
  • The extra body heat of children that won't let go is no burden but a heart-warming gift.
  • Really long eyelashes that go everywhere on small children.
  • Amazing soccer players. 
  • Taking time to enter the window of others.
  • Doing a morning workout with a crowd of small children watching and joining the actions from afar.
  • Running past locals bathing in the stream, washing clothes in the stream, and watering their cattle in the stream.
  • Gorgeous stream flowing out of the mountains.
  • Children playing a card game so seriously. Really wishing I knew what the heck they were playing.
  • Man using a hatchet to cut off a tree limb. 
  • Women kneading bread dough in large bowl on the side of the street. Messy dough covered her hands.
  • School desks made of very sturdy 2x8" boards.
  • Little boy wearing a necklace like none other. A power outlet box tied on a string.
  • The pastor during church gets up to start speaking and in his prayer appears to be crying. 
  • Did I mention Haitians are strong people?
  • Holding a little girl and being held by her as she falls asleep on my chest.
  • Being fought over by small children.
  • Got my nails painted for the first time in several years. 
  • Coloring pictures needs no talking to connect.
  • Singing back and forth with young ladies I started to sing Amazing Grace and they joined with me in Creole. 
  • God is good. His love is unconditional, just like the Haitian children.

Homemade Lotion Bar

My sister and I made some lovely homemade lotion bars as Christmas presents this year. They were so simple that I simply had to share our success. Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on a typical bottle of lotion? That crazy long list of chemicals and additives can't possibly be healthful for the skin and body so in an attempt to create something all natural we went with a really easy recipe. I even think that it is appropriate for male and females.

Our formula included:

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup cocoa butter
  • 1 cup beeswax
Simply melt it all together on low and then pour into muffin cups or other mold device and allow to cool. This particular formula made about 9 little bars in our muffin cups. I was a little worried they would be difficult to get out of the tin, but they just popped right out. You could even adjust the butter and use shea butter if you wanted but I appreciated the slight cocoa smell and it was a bit cheaper than the shea butter. The beeswax creates a bit of a shield on the skin holding in moisture. They can be altered with essential oils of any scent to create something fancier but this is super basic. That's three ingredients folks and I can pronounce all of them. Score.

Posted at Family Table.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rainbow Bean Dip

Yesterday I made this lovely rainbow bean dip for an evening of appetizers and some friends from high school. It was delightful, the colorful salad and the company.
Into the salad went:

  • 1/2 cup dry black beans, properly soaked and cooked
  • 1/2 cup dry garbanzo beans, properly soaked and cooked
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large avocado, sliced into chunks
  • 1/4 cup dried tomatoes, I rehydrated them in the following vinegar for about an hour before adding
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped roasted chili peppers, these I had in the freezer
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

I was following somewhat of recipe that I found in a magazine but then altered it drastically to reflect the ingredients that I had on hand. If I was making this during the summer I would obviously use fresh tomatoes, but in the wintertime I refuse to purchase disgusting hothouse tomatoes from the store so instead I used some dried tomatoes that I dehydrated this summer. They added a nice flavor when they re-hydrated a bit in the vinegar. If you don't have roasted chili peppers, a nice fresh jalepeno would be good as well during the growing season.

Make sure to put this salad or dip to eat with tortilla chips together at least 3 hours before you plan to enjoy it. At it sits the flavors meld and create a very tasty salad or dip. It's even better the next day!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Homemade Stock Delight

After just one overnight in the crock-pot my homemade stock is a nice deep golden color and ready for my drinking delight. Typically I would let it go for a longer period of time and then freeze for use in soups and stews but I've decided that it's health benefits need to go into my body right now so I'm going to start drinking it with my breakfast. It is simply delightful with an excellent flavor. After I removed my cup from the pot I filled it up again with fresh water and will leave it to continue extracting beneficial vitamins, minerals, and powerful immune boosting properties from the contents.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Homemade stock

I'm pretty pumped to start sipping on my very own homemade bone broth stock. I've been quite inspired by many posts reflecting on the health benefits of homemade stock and I hope to cash in on some of those benefits. Do you know why chicken noodle soup can be so healing during the common cold? It's the bone broth in the soup that is literally healing to the body. Using free-range healthy animal bones increases the healthful effects gained by slow simmering them with veggie scraps. I've put mine into the crockpot and intend to let it simmer on low for the week. I'll take out my broth and simply add additional water and let it keep going. The slow simmer releases gelatin from the bones as well as all those immunity boosting properties.

In my slow cooker are six pasture raised chicken feet, two chicken necks, one pork-chop bone and my quart size freezer bag of onion peels and celery ends that I keep in the freezer. I added several whole peppercorns and some salt and let it go! Homemade stock can be made with any variety of bones, chicken carcasses, and veggie scraps. Give it a try and feel the health benefits soaking in!