Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: EEME Project Genius Light Kit

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Last summer we planned to do an electrical project for the county fair, but it never quite worked out. I looked over the projects available, and I really doubted I could teach this to my children. Then the opportunity to review a project from EEME, called the Project Genius Light Kit. . . who wouldn't want to complete a project that entitles you to be a Genius!?!?

 photo project-lights-mr_zpsd5336475.jpgDesigned for ages 7-12, this electronic project kit pairs with a video curriculum, to "spark" your child's curiosity and critical thinking. This monthly subscription program sends you the parts you need and the information essential to using them to teach electronics. At $18.95 a month, it is cheaper than many educational kits out there, and comes with the video instructions to boot!
EEME's monthly hands-on project kits teach kids about electronics. Each project kit is paired with online curricula to not only teach kids how to assemble projects like lights, buzzers, and more, but to also teach them how the electronics works. -from the website.
When we received our kit in the mail, the kids could hardly wait. It was such a small box, but it had everything we needed: a breadboard, resistors, circuits, LEDs, battery. We borrowed my sister's lap-top so we could all gather around the dining table to do this project together. After a simple log in the the website, we began watching the 45 minutes of short videos (about 15 of them, averaging 3 minutes each) and questions. All of my kids, ages 6 to 12, participated!

The videos are well arranged so that as you go through the instructional videos, you also have learning videos explaining WHY this works. Between these are questions with multiple choice answers. These help you discuss with your kids and make sure they understand each part before proceeding. We used the "slideshow" type set up video breaks as a natural way for the kids to take turns doing the activities. When it was done, they had all tried some step of the process and were discussing it together. OK, maybe the bigger kids were directing the younger, but that's how we learn, right?

Each step explained a different component of the kit and how and why it works. The best part of EEME is that you can sign up for a free tour, and you can even watch the Project Genius Light Kit videos for free. You can see how it goes together and how well it is taught, before you buy. Obviously, to try it out, hands on, you will need the kit. I personally felt the hands on experience was completely worth the subscription fee. Be sure you sign up for the free preview, details at the end of this review.

I compared this to the project requirements for the kids to turn in an electrical project for our local 4-H fair, and I felt that this kit was a perfect way to help them understand the basic principles required for them to put together their own electrical project for the fair next year, and the know-how to explain it to the fair judge. I really can't wait for them to put this information into practice!

Bottom Line:
We really enjoyed the kit we received and felt that the 45 minute course and supplies were well worth the investment if you're looking to interest your kids in electricity. The videos were easy to follow and understand, and the information was well presented and re-enforced with questions.

Sign up for FREE at to preview EEME's video curricula. If you think EEME is the right fit for your family, email for the latest promotional offer towards their monthly subscription. Just let them know you came from my blog.

Here's a preview of the introduction:

Be sure to read all of the reviews of this program, over on the Crew blog, by clicking the link below:


©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

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*Prices and links are accurate at the time this is published, and are subject to change

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Daily Battle

The past few weeks we've had an irregular schedule, company in and out, hubby working overtime, a new job for me... so we've struggled to make it to Sunday school. Sometimes when we're running late for the Sunday school hour at our church, Ben and I send the kids to their classes and take that time to pray alone together in the sanctuary until the services begin. Before you go thinking that's so spiritual sounding, I admit that most weeks it's the only alone-together prayer time we get. We need SO much more. Thankful for grace.

So last week, Ben had to work, I was able to slip into a class that I'd not been able to attend for a while, our doctrines class. It just so happened this week they were discussing the devil, and his influence in this world and our lives particularly. I have often heard it said that when things are going wrong, the devil is attacking us. The class leader pointed out that the devil being a being that is not omnipresent, unlike God, he is likely not personally attacking us, but the realms of demons he commands, are doing battle in our lives daily.

This week as I struggle with emotions and changes, lack of sleep, and turmoil of many kinds, I realize my defenses against such attacks are down. My walls are crumbled and the divine power I should be claiming had been forgotten. Last night I lay awake for hours worrying over an issue that was of little consequence. I felt the warfare. I wanted to rebuke the devil, but I knew this battle was already won as  far as God was concerned. I needed to take every thought captive.
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
There is no power given to my adversaries, but what I have surrendered. I feel battle worn, but encouraged. Praying until sleep overtook me, I awoke still struggling through the day. I'd like to finish this post saying I've got it all worked out in my head, but I don't. I seek to have the authority to "demolish" arguments and pretensions.

One of the things I have struggled with most is insecurity. Feeling like I don't measure up to what God, or anyone else expects of me. I fret over my errors, and worry over the details of each interaction, each moment. I think deep down it comes from the idea that I must earn this grace. This extravagant love God has for me must be misplaced. Doesn't He know? Can He not see how imperfect I am? My unworthiness overwhelms me.

I can nearly hear Beth Moore speaking in my head. "You are over here!" [under the law]. I was immensely blessed by my sister, who attended the Living Proof Live Simulcast 2013 event in September, sharing the video of the simulcast with me. (It was available for a limited time afterward). I was impressed with the idea that when we try so hard to deserve God's love, we are living under the law, instead of grace. I know this is my constant struggle. I am dragging up the old flesh nature, and carrying it around with me. Instead I need to let it die, let Christ live through me.
Phil. 3:7-14
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
The commissioning she spoke at the end of the simulcast is shared on Beth's blog. Here is a small part:

In Christ you are highly favored
And wildly empowered
Forever loved
Completely made clean
Sin no longer has dominion over you
Trade all your anxieties
For the peace of Jesus Christ
You have been justified freely
By His death and resurrection

Listen hard, Girlfriend:
Yes, I can have peace, I can rest in His grace. I am redeemed. (click the title to hear the song, by Big Daddy Weave) This has been stuck in my head all night:

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me "son
Stop fighting a fight it's already been won"

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I'm redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, "Child lift up your head"
I remember, oh God, You're not done with me yet

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I'm not who I used to be

Because I don't have to be the old man inside of me
'Cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I've got a new name, a new life, I'm not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, 'cause I'm not who I used to be

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, yeah, I'm not who I used to be
Oh, God, I'm not who I used to be
Jesus, I'm not who I used to be
'Cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed

I apologize, this post is not so well put together, just a heart dump of sorts. Sometimes I just need to work it all out in words. ~L

©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Want to join the TOS Review Crew?

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I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the TOS Review Crew in 2013. We had the opportunity to review free samples of over $2,000 in curriculum and educational products. It has been a huge blessing to our family, as our curriculum budget is tight (ok, non-existent) every year.

I had no idea how much I would love:

  • being exposed to products and companies I had never even heard of!
  • being surrounded by a group of Christian bloggers who support and pray for one another!
  • being encouraged to blog more regularly and with greater attention to detail and content!
  • being a part of the TOS Review Crew!

It was totally worth the effort and dedication! Are you a blogging homeschool mom? Are you considering joining the Crew? They have just posted the application for the 2014 Crew Year. Click HERE  to see all the requirements and see if you should apply. I strongly encourage you to consider it. :)

©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WW: Hobo Party

Pumpkin Chunkin


Wordless Wednesday on Only Passionate Curiosity

The Jenny Evolution

©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Bridgeway Academy, English 1 and 2 and Teacher Answer Key

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Over the past 8 weeks we have been thoroughly reviewing Bridgeway Academy's English curriculum. We received:

While these books are geared to grades 7th through 12th as a remedial course, we used them with our 5th and 6th grade students as a general English program and were very pleased. I made this decision based on the list of skills covered, knowing these were exactly where we were in our studies.

The books are divided up into units called PAKs. Each PAK covers specific objectives, over 3 Sections, and then finishes with an extensive self test. Each section is about 7-9 pages long including a 2-3 page review of that topic. The PAKs (units) are about 35 to 45 pages each, and there are 6 PAKs in each book. For our own school schedule, we found that 2 pages a day was a good pace to go through the book.

Book one, Focus on Grammar, covers:
Bridgeway 1 Focus on Grammar photo Bridgeway1FocusonGrammar_zpscf9f1c84.jpgSubject and Predicate
Four Types of Sentences
Sentence Fragments
Run-on Sentences
Compound Sentences
Noun Functions
Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

Bridgeway 2 Focus on Writing photo Bridgeway2FocusonWriting_zps35184e8b.jpgBooks two, Focus on Writing, covers:
Sentence Variety
Subject/Verb Agreement
Grammar and Mechanics
Writing Skills
Rules of Capitalization
Rules of Punctuation
Letter Writing
Business Writing
Study Skills
Critical Thinking and Reasoning
Fact vs. Fiction

How we used this:

After looking at samples of the pages (sorry, not available to link!) I knew that this was very similar to what Tyler and Emma had been studying in English/Language Arts up until now. I gave Tyler, 6th grade, the Focus on Writing, and I gave Emma, 5th grade, the Focus on Grammar.

Tyler and Emma jumped right in and had no trouble completing 2 pages a day. The first few pages in each section include a story or interesting narrative. After that, the book introduces the goal concepts for that unit, with examples, in a gray box generally covering half a page. They immediately have questions about what was just read, which can easily be answered by looking at the top of the page. I worried this would be too easy, but it really re-enforced the information. After this there is another gray box with more information, and more fill-in-the-blank-type questions following. The next two or more pages consist of practical application, for example, correcting run-on sentences.

At the end of the section was a self test / review where they would look back only when needed. They would then grade it with the answer key provided (while I watched) and then we would discuss the errors and fix them, giving a half score for the correction.

When they reached the end of the first PAK, we slowed it down to one page a day so they could do their best on the Unit Test, which is done closed book. I graded these myself and I was thrilled when Emma scored a 66 out of a possible 72, or 92%! About 80% is considered acceptable for mastery.

Tyler has had a real struggle with writing, as I've mentioned before. I knew he was worried about the title of the second book "Focus on Writing." It begins with basic mechanics of writing, like parts of speech, and identifying independent and dependent clauses. He was thrilled that a lot of the questions at that point were fill-in-the blank and underline the answer type questions.

As a side note, I've been researching the troubles with boys of his age and writing and had heard that with kids with dysgraphia do better if they do all of their writing in cursive. We hadn't pushed the cursive with him (aside from his actual handwriting curriculum) because of how much trouble he was already having. But we switched him to writing all of his work in this book using cursive, and have seen considerable improvement.

Back to the English. Both of my students are VERY different learners, but the mastery style appealed to both of them. This is amazing, as they can rarely use the same style of books. Tyler is a very auditory learner, so we did take a moment to discuss the gray box material before moving on. This helped him a lot. But aside from that, they really could do this work quite independent of me.

The self-instructed style worked very well for them, and the two page a day pace took us about 30-40 minutes a day to complete. We took our time, checked the work, and made sure we understood it before moving on. I could see their confidence build each day as they moved through it. The gray "teaching" sections were very well explained and gave good illustrations of the concepts. The questions, self tests, and unit reviews all brought the lesson home to them.

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The non-consumable Teacher's Answer Key has a single page of usage instructions, explaining the philosophy and use of the curriculum. The rest of the key contains all of the pages of the workbooks, with the answers filled in. There aren't any further instructions in it, but the information is well covered in the workbook. For this reason, I only needed to refer to it when grading the self tests and unit reviews.

Bottom Line:
This is a very straightforward and well presented English Grammar curriculum. It methodically covers the concepts, and tests well before moving on. It isn't a replacement for the other Language Arts, such as spelling and literature. Even though it is marketed as remedial, I'd call it a lower level. It would be best suited for an advanced 5th-6th grader, or for a 7th or 8th grader who needs "caught up" on basic grammar. We really enjoyed using it, and found it well paced. At only $23.33 each, these consumable workbooks are a good value.

Be sure you read all the other reviews of this, and other Bridgeway products and classes over on the crew blog:


©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

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*Prices and links are accurate at the time this is published, and are subject to change

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review: God's World News, World and News Current (magazines)

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We were more than excited to have the opportunity to review News Current (for grades 5-6), from God's World News. We had no idea we would be surprised with a copy of World news magazine(for adults) Magazine as well. You can subscribe to News Current for $28 a year, and that includes:

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  • 10 issues (monthly, but for Dec. and May) You can also get a "school year" subscription, $21 for 7 issues!
  • 32 pages each
  • Access to the kids' website:
  • Biographies, extras, quizzes, and lessons to print, as well as answer keys... all on the website!
  • 20x30" map, sent out with the Sept. issue, so you can find each news story on it. There are a handy co-ordinates provided to do just that!
  • Lessons on Civics, Geography, Politics, and even a little History!
  • Vocabulary exercises in every issue, I'll share more about that in our "How We Used This"!
  • Editorials and Graphics
  • Postage included
How we used this:
When we received our magazines we immediately put the map on our school wall. It was a handy tool for understanding where these news stories took place. The kids got right into reading them, and I had to go looking for them when I wanted to read too. I found the articles to be right at the 5th-6th grade reading level. With some running a quarter page, and some spanning 4 pages, there was something for every attention span. The articles covered current events from a wonderfully Christian perspective. There were also human interest stories about individuals from the past and present.

My kids love to read the newspaper, so I knew if I set these out they would jump right it. They did look them over some, but didn't really get excited right away. I noticed the magazine had a secondary cover of advertisements, and I suspect it looked a bit more like advertising mail at first glance. So I removed the cover and let the magazines shine with their inviting cover photos, and then they were all the rage around here. There weren't any advertisements within the kids magazines themselves.

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We used them a few different ways:

1. Excellent reading material: We receive lots of kids stuff in the mail, but most of it requires a bit of proofing from mom before it is kid material. This was a refreshing change, to know it was from a Christian viewpoint and geared for their ages. They really enjoyed reading these casually.

2. Geography: Because of the global nature of the magazines, we coupled it with our geography studies. After studying a country, I handed the kids the three issues we received and asked  them to find an article about that country. It really brought the 3rd dimension to an otherwise very 2 dimensional school subject. The map they sent also helped a LOT with this.

3. Vocabulary: One of the kids' first projects were to do the vocabulary quiz, Weeding Words, in the back of the magazine. Throughout the articles there were vocabulary words printed in blue type, so they would stand out. Twelve of those words are featured with multiple choice answers for their meanings. Finding them in the articles gave them context and helped the kids define them.

5. The kids also answered the quiz questions on the articles to see how much they learned or retained. We didn't get to do them all, but the answer keys are located on the website.

4. Online content: using our customer number we were able to log into the God's World News website and access more features such as: biographies or topical articles to read or print, often expanding on the topics in the issues. Answer keys to the quizzes and Weeding Words pages. We also enjoyed digital versions of the other age levels of the magazine. This was particularly helpful since the content is similar, but the reading level was different. I was able to pull up a younger "version" of an article that my 7 year old had seen in her sister's magazine.

5. Access to a Kids' website where kids can browse articles from the magazine and more, all well illustrated with graphics and photos, arranged under 6 tabs:
  • MySci: all of the science articles
  • Creation: all of the animal and earth articles
  • Time Machine: all of the history or artifact articles
  • People/Places: human interest pieces
  • Know Me? : biography articles
  • Fun Stuff: comics!
There are also Teen, Radio, and Video parts of that website, but each is a separate subscription. Since we were only subscribed to News Current, the kids page was our main area of exploration. You can see a sample of News Current here

It was an extra special blessing to receive World magazine as a bonus, which sells for $47.88 annually, or $23.88 for the digital edition subscription only. I have often read other (secular) bi-weekly news magazines, so this was a refreshing change. The articles were well done, relevant to the day, and from a Christian worldview. I loved it! I have received two issues now, since it is a bi-weekly magazine. Like other bi-weekly news magazines, it covers all the headlines of the day, and issues that are the top of everyone's list. It's not a flimsy magazine (or 26 issues a year) either! The one I received today weighed in at 72 pages. These issues covered topics like:

  • Benghazi
  • Terrorism
  • Online Addictions
  • Death Penalty
  • Gov’t Shutdown
  • Common Core
  • Abortion
  • Marriage Longevity
  • Christian Persecution
  • News, Quick Takes, and Quotables
  • Reviews of Movies, Books, and Music
  • Lifestyle, Sports, Technology, and Science
  • Houses of Worship and Religion
  • Editorials from: Joel Belz, Janie B. Cheaney, Mindy Belz, Andree Seu Peterson, and Marvin Olasky

The articles were well done, and the photos were the cream on top, not a distraction. While there were several full page advertisements in the World magazine, they weren't too many or too distracting. World also came with an online log-in for reading the web versions of the articles and more. There were also podcasts, videos, and extra features there. 

What I liked:

  • Of course, the Christian perspective is the main reason I love these magazines
  • Great photos and great journalism
  • Relevant online content
  • Maps and content from all over the world

What I didn't like:

  • In the News Current magazines, the page numbers are quite low, considering this isn't even a fully monthly magazine (10 issues a year), I wished the issues were larger. 
  • Also, the paper quality on the News Current Magazine was quite low, more like newsprint. I worried about the pages tearing easily. Neither of these issues were a problem with the World magazine, which was printed on standard glossy magazine paper.
Bottom Line:
I would wholeheartedly recommend the World magazine to any Christian family. I would also recommend the News Current magazine to homeschool families for a Christian global perspective. If I had to choose one OR the other, hands down the World magazine gives you more for your money. The online content is nice, but nothing quite replaces the benefit of real God-honoring news, right in your hands, and on your coffee table.

To read all the reviews of this magazine, as well as the other age level magazines offered, be sure to visit the crew blog by clicking the link below.

©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

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*Prices and links are accurate at the time this is published, and are subject to change

Friday, October 18, 2013

Photo Scavenger Hunt: Fall into Nature

This fall we decided to do a little photo scavenger hunt for the signs of fall. What a beautiful day it was. 

Dried up dead garden.

Even the kochia weed (my allergy nemesis) was pink and pretty

Corn ready for harvest.

Corn husks to mulch my flower beds.. provided by the Nebraska wind.



Freezing nights make my sedum turn red.


Kittens (although I suspect they are a sign of all seasons...)

Join us on a fall blog cruise? Goes live, Tuesday morning.


©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Short Term Missions: Guatemala 1997

Should a teen, or family, or anyone go on a short term mission?  Wouldn't the cost of the travel be better spent in a large donation to a mission that is already doing the work?

These are questions I've heard and wrestled with. I can't speak for anyone but my own experience. Last week, after the Armstrong family left our home, I took a  moment and read my journal from my one and only missions trip. I was 17. Feel free to do the math. It was a long time ago.

I remember when I was getting ready to go to Guatemala, I only chose to go because it was the opportunity that came up. We knew a family that served there frequently. They said they needed someone to fly down with a water purifier system checked in their baggage. My friend and I decided to go together. We wouldn't be alone that way.

We raised the support, and bought the tickets. When the other family brought the water purifier to my house, I remember their daughter asked me why I had Central America on my heart. I'm sure I gave her a very spiritual sounding answer.

Truthfully, in my mind I was thinking, "because this was a cheap and easy opportunity to do this missions trip my mom wanted me to do before I graduated."

Ugh. When I read my first journal entries I feel sick. Probably the same way God describes it:

"‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." -Rev. 3:15-17
I thought the orphans where were the poor, naked, the blind. But actually, it was me.

My mom was awesome. She packed me a journal, and asked that I please write in it every night. She wrote me a letter for nearly every day of my trip, and tucked them, sealed and dated, into the front pocket of the journal. It became my lifeline:

May 30th, 1997: Got here about 4:30pm yesterday. Guatemala is nothing like what I'd expected... Sarah and I were SO TIRED we were in bed by 8pm.... Today for lunch we had "I have no idea what's in it soup"

I was staying with a family of 11 (12 by the time I left) who were the directors of an orphanage outside of Guatemala City. Not an institution, but a place where abandoned and often abused children are assigned to houseparents and live in large family units. Those families were AMAZING in the sacrificial love they shared for those children. Half of the children in the director's family were also adopted.

May 31st.  Went with the director to the city to pick up the new baby [who had been abandoned]. They don't have carseats, so I rode along to hold the baby. His real name is very long and I can't pronounce it, so I call him Charlie.

June 1, Sarah will be staying at the orphanage, and I at the director's house. I must admit I'm a bit disappointed though. I thought the while idea of this trip was being together, not 1.5 hours apart...

My grumbling went on for half a page, about the mosquitoes, the food, the lack of sleep since the new baby was in my room... I was a self-centered mess. The typical American teen actually. And I got sick, a lot. And I had hormonal issues. And I was homesick, and the phones didn't work well. I had to pay to get an email at a cafe. And I was such a grouchy mess that the director actually offered to fly me home (just to be rid of me). It was that bad. Those poor people! I am ashamed of myself when I look back.

As the time goes on I write about loneliness. About the only English speaking people in my environment being gone all the time, and me taking care of the children alone, with the housekeeper. I did laundry and bathed all the kids each day. I took the bigger kids to lessons on the public bus, where I was a foot taller than everyone. I wrote about looking forward to Sarah coming up on the weekends (since Sundays were my "day off") so we could eat out and go shopping together. I wrote about nighttime bottles with Charlie, and burning myself while sterilizing his bottles, and I even started keeping a count of my mosquito bites in my journal. (In hindsight they were probably bed bugs, eek!) Still nothing but complaining.

The second weekend I was there I attended a wedding at my host family's church. It ran late and caused me to miss out on my lunch plans/shopping, but I didn't seem to mind. My perspective shift had begun. I began seeing people as relationships, not projects, and situations as opportunities, not sacrifices.

June 8,  The evening service at [the orphanage] was fun. We're starting to make friends here. I met this cute little boy named Henry who speaks English. He is so funny! He has a gift of facial expression and a sense of humor to match. 

June 9th, Today I was happy. I can't explain it, but God sent me His joy and contentment. 

June 11th, [I found out] there are people who want to adopt Charlie, but that it will take at least 2 years for him to just get through the legal system. The Holy Spirit was heavy on my heart for Charlie and I agreed to sponsor him until he gets a home.... I've learned so much, I love you Charlie! 

June 12th was a the halfway point. I began to write about how I was SO glad the director family could utilize me to get a bit of a break while I was there. There was just so much work to do and they were so very worn out, physically and emotionally. In my journal I see that this is the point where I stopped complaining, and started praising. Is this the same Laura?

From that point on in my journal, my only complaints were about a group of kids from Michigan who came on a group mission trip to "help" and they ate like kings and queens while the other staff went without. I had packed the children's lunches, I knew they often shared a single slice of bologna between two sandwiches. These missions trip kids were rowdy and ungrateful and I referred to them as "the gringos" . I no longed identified myself with them. Never-mind that I had been them just 2 weeks before.

I grew so lonely for someone who understood where I was (heart-wise), but my friend was still not posted anywhere near me. In the night times, when I was up with Charlie, I felt the most lost and alone, as the rain beat down on our tin roof. It was then that I realized that I wasn't alone after all. I clung to the words of the Psalms:
Psalm 139
1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and [b]when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
5 You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
June 13th, I'm so glad no one can take Him [Christ] away!

June 16th, When I first got here I was counting the days until I could go home. Now I wonder if I could stay longer. There's SO much I was want to do!

The next two weeks are a log of laundry, diapers, chores, and baths. The work was no less, and I continued to be sick for weeks after returning home, losing 20 lbs in all. But my tone in my journal changed. I was feeling comfortable with getting around in this country. Thankful for meals of hot dogs or half-a-slice of bologna sandwiches. I began taking detailed notes about the individual children and their needs and personalities.

They weren't just some people, some place... they were my heart and soul. I LOVED them. I loved serving them. When it was time to pack I found I was missing a couple pairs of socks, and found them on the little boys' feet. :) I was part of their family too.By the time I left Mr. Director was joking he wished I would "marriage with" one of his sons. It was a tearful parting for all of us. I was just sure I'd be back soon.

I'm certain of it, I'm the one who benefited the most from that trip. David Armstrong, a missionary friend of ours called it: "being stripped of our perspective." How true that is. I had to lose my familiar view of the world to gain a fresh one. The one where the world doesn't revolve around me, and God has a purpose and plan for everything.

The last of the "pre-sent" notes from my mom, June 26th, 1997
"You are probably really busy today. Is today sort of bittersweet? Hard to leave; anxious to come home? Wel, I probably didn't sleep well last night because I am excited to get you back - and a little worried about you and Sarah getting through customs by yourselves.
What did you think? Was this worth doing? Would you recommend this type of trip to other teens you know? I'll love to hear your thoughts.
James 2:14-20 'In as much as you have done it unto the least of these... you have done it unto me.'
Hug those babies for me one last time, O.K.? I will be praying for you all the way home. I love you, Laura.
I'm so glad my parents required this of me. This week our church commissioned a young high school senior to go to Haiti for a short term trip. I hugged her and told her I'd be praying. She has no idea what her Father wants to show her there. But I think I might know. A new perspective on life.

For more about how you can become involved in short term missions, visit Mission Data International. 


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