Sunday, June 19, 2011

No one comes for us, the teachers...

A week ago today, Dutch and I were resting from an action packed 4 day trip to Honduras. We had the opportunity to visit Plan Escalon which was in full swing as compared to my trip there in January. This time around we had some ground to cover with their teachers and staff as well as trying to work in a service trip into the mountains (food supplies and teeth pulling, ouch!).

Ever since the girls got to go to China to help us get F, and I took them on a mission trip to Guatemala, D has been like that little dog jumping up and down and nipping at your heels wanting to go on a trip out of the country. Honduras was a great opportunity for his first trip oversees and for some missions related activity. He was our de facto videographer and photographer for the trip. A long time friend from my doctoral program at Pepperdine who currently resides outside of Boston joined us. (this is a post in and of itself on how God brought us back together and his endeavor into this Gospel oriented outreach as a devoted Roman Catholic) We left on Wednesday and were back home Saturday night.

The main purpose this time was to work with a core group of the teachers at Plan Escalon (they teach about 550 students who live there full time) and begin the process of developing a plan and vision for utilizing their newly installed learning labs in their core curriculum. This was a major flashback for me as it is exactly what I used to do for public schools as a technology specialist and eventually director of technology for a school district. It's like God has taken everything I've been doing since I started a career in Education 18 years ago as a middle school teacher and all of my formal education up through my doctorate in Educational Technology and put it into a ministry context. It's hard to put into words other than to say, it's an amazing feeling to be in phase with God's frequency. And mind you when I say to be in phase, I'm not suggesting I worked hard myself to make it happen. I simply became open to God's urgings, prompts, external variables, and have found myself in a position where everything He's had me doing the last 18 or 20 years is pouring out in missional opportunities.

On many levels this was a hugely successful trip from the outward facing teacher aspect to exposing D to something much larger than the context he's used to and being shaped by in Vestopia, as well as my buddy Eric and God's pulling at his and his family's heart. The depths of how God works in 2 1/2 days is amazing! I've been summing up the trip by the following scene we found ourselves in the last night there.

Eric and I were enjoying watching all 500+ kids going nutty for their Honduran national soccer team put a beat down on Grenada (in a big revival looking tent used as the Church) and visiting with a few of the teachers and faculty when we started into a somewhat serious conversation in Spanglish with one of the teachers we'd been working with for the previous 2 days. He finally began telling us thank you and how much it meant to him for us to come work with them. He then started telling us how most people coming to visit them come one time and do a service trip; fix a wall, work on the soccer field, repair a bunk room, stairs, etc... And then he said the one line that caused Eric and I to pause, catch a quick glimpse of each other, and know it without saying it, we're committed my friend, there's no turning back now. Our new friend Ever said, "...and when they are finished with their service trip, we never see them again, no one ever comes to work with us (the teachers) and on the education of the children, you two can be our mentors." Eric and I of course smiled and thanked him for his kind words and assured him we would be willing to continue on this relationship and helping them as much as we can. Upon returning to our bunks shortly after I simply said to Eric, that's a heavy burden, are you ready? Without hesitation he said, I'm in! I don't know what this will look like moving forward, but I'm confident God knows and has an amazing plan that will blow my mind and heart out of the water! I can't wait for it unfold.

Here are some images courtesy of my son...

Short video from the mountain village we went into. Required some serious 4 wheel driving plus a hike to get into and out of.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

We are officially way over the white trash line!

There is a radio personality here in Birmingham who has a large family and is always cracking jokes about his non-environmentally friendly passenger van, the never ending "handles" a plethora of children can get you into, as well as the Lord's ultimate blessings through them. One thing he has always joked about is that once you hit 5 children, you are now white trash. To note however, there is absolutely no financial or socioeconomic consideration in this designation according to him. Once you have 5 kids, you've crossed over the white trash line, no matter how big your house is, the size of your 401k, or disposable income. It's of course all in fun and tends to go hand in hand with the discussion around what kind of defensive scheme does mom and dad have to play depending on the number of children.

So we've obviously already crossed over this line into white trash territory with our 5 kids and now that we live in a house with no garage, more often than not it looks like a toy box has exploded into the front yard adding to the WT moniker.  We are fairly old school and "kick" the kids (especially the boys) out of the house on a regular basis. I just know there have to be people who drive by and think, that's sweet that family lets their maid's kids come over and play when cleaning, until they realize we must have a maid over a lot after they continually see two ethnic children roaming around all the time.

We are now officially sprinting across the WT boundary and not looking back when it comes to kids in the Freeman household! It's sort of like that scene in Forest Gump where he's running the kickoff back for the University of Alabama and he just keeps running past the endzone and keeps sprinting into the tunnel of the stadium; run Forest run!
Yes indeed, those are adoption papers for the agency we work with here in Birmingham. We have submitted our initial papers to add number 6 to the quiver! I had told Melissa under no circumstances could we do this until she had completed the re-adoption paper work for both E and F with the state of Alabama. Melissa is a pro at getting the kids home, not so much on the follow up details after they get here. I guess that's what makes us a great team! (or something like that) She finally held to her end of the bargain and now I have held to mine. This had become such a running joke with our friends at Villa Hope that every worker there had a directive to not let us turn in new paperwork until we "proved" we had submitted re-adoption papers to the state for E and F, they love us!

Psalm 127 tells us, blessed is the man who fills his quiver with children, so I'm guessing we should be getting some serious blessing sometime, right? I like to think we are simply increasing our odds of a great retirement plan, or at least enough kids to share responsibility in taking care of what for sure will be two seriously ornery people in our old age. More details to come as we progress down this path with God again.