Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Preparations Have Begun . . .

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I forgot to take a photo of the Christmas clothing prep but here is the beginning stages of assembling gift bags for 34 little boys who are so excited!  The first trick is remembering where I hid everything two months ago when I left for the US!  I also had someone staying in my house that I wanted to make room for so my usual hiding spots were taken up with my personal things I moved out of I predict the biggest hit will be the sunglasses!!!

What’s not on the bed?  For their bags, a soft drink, a packet of biscuits and a bag of chips.  For the dorm – a DVD player!  And a Tonka truck and some cool lego-like sets and a couple movies.  They will be excited as our current DVD player only works about 1/2 the time, not a fun way to watch a movie!

 

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Thought I’d show you my major decorating endeavors!  Yep, that’s it, a snowman towel!  And let me say, that towel makes me very happy every time I look at it!

I DO have a couple other decorations, I think three or four items, but again, when I packed away to make room for Garrett, I don’t remember where I put those!  And it’s been a bit full on since being back so finding those things hasn’t been a priority.

Merry Christmas preparations everyone!  I hope your homes and hearts are not too harried and that you have time to enjoy this wonderful time focusing on Christ and family and friends!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I’ve got gas! Cooking gas that is!

IMG_0272So there has been a shortage of cooking gas in Mozambique for the last month or so.  Some of the missionaries bar-b-qued their turkeys for Thanksgiving!  My friend Becky very thoughtfully emailed me before I returned to warn me because she knows I always stock up on perishables in South Africa on my way home for the US.  I was grateful for the warning!

Because of the warning, and the heat, and trying to undo some of the damage done by my ridiculous eating habits while in the US, I was able to stock up on things that didn’t need cooking like salads and fruit and such.  And, I had some chili frozen in the freezer that just needed the microwave.  So I’ve been just fine this past week without a stove or oven.

But, it was really nice to get gas back in the house today. The first thing I did was put a pot of 36 eggs on to boil for the boys!  And now I know for sure I can cook my Christmas ham!

Since we’re on the subject, I thought I’d show you my gas replacing process:

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Here’s the space where the gas bottle fits into, and the handy dandy tube that connects the gas to my stove.IMG_0274

Here’s the cupboard that needs to be emptied because the cupboard doors are nailed into the shelf unit and the whole thing needs to come out to put new gas in!  Yikes!!!  Good chance to clean after being gone two months!

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Here is the finished product, snug as a bug in a rug!  I hope it lasts for awhile AND that Maputo doesn’t run out of gas any time soon!

 

 

 

 

IMG_0249 (2)And here’s the best finished product – the pot of eggs, oh how the boys love em! 

See ya later!  I’m off to go hand them out!

 

 

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PS:  since I’m showing you pots and pans and cupboards and funky things, thought I’d show you my resourcefulness!  The handle broke while someone else was using the lid and they didn’t save the handle for me, so I had to get clever.  I remembered a piece of wire I had and – voila!  Good as new.  Well, almost!  Anyway, I was pretty proud of myself!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Maybe I should have been a nurse??

February 2010 059Good thing I'm not upset by blood - perhaps I should have been a nurse?  Antonio (in an old photo at the beach)just came with huge amounts of blood pouring thru his hands, both of them!, from what ended up being a smallish cut on one finger joint.  There’s blood everywhere, inside, outside, in the sinks, on the floor, on the clothes - I had thought for sure whatever was under all that blood was going to need stitches!  Glad for his sake(and mine!) that we don't have to hop in the car to the hospital an hour away! 

And I thank God for our CLINIC!!!!  Some of you might remember that several months ago, the government came in and shut our clinic down (shut as in padlocked and nailed shut!).  We were still able to have a treatment room elsewhere that allowed us to meet basic needs.  But sometime while I was in the States, our clinic re-opened, praise God!

I didn’t even know it, I was heading with Antonio and the Tia to the  treatment room, saying “I don’t think anyone’s there!” and Tia Marta responded, “no, Mana Laura, the clinic is open again!” 

After seeing that Antonio had in fact a smallish cut and wouldn’t need stitched, I returned to the dorm to help clean up and also finish my dinner.  All the other boys were gathered on our storage boxes, waiting for a clean floor before watching their summer-night movie.  So we decided to pray for Antonio to not hurt and the cut to close up and no infection or problems!  Such heartfelt little prayers for their friend!

Thank you to those who prayed for our clinic to be re-opened!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Night Sleepovers Commence Anew!

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One of the fun things I’ve done for years with the boys is Saturday Night Sleepovers!  If I’m home and free on a Saturday night, I invite 4-6 boys in and they get to watch a special film that the rest of the boys haven’t seen yet.  Usually I make them some popcorn but there is a shortage of cooking gas here in Maputo and I have none so I can’t make them the popcorn.  Anyway, they usually have that and a juice or a soda.  Then they pull their mattresses in to the living room and play themselves to sleep.  They love it and I enjoy it too!

The current movie I just brought back with me is Night at the Museum.  It’s a bit scary for the little ones so I will choose another film for the rest of the group.  But these big boys have enjoyed all the action!

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Have a great weekend!

Thank you Garrett!

DSC_0226 (2)When I made plans to head home for Thanksgiving (and a few weeks on either end!), I wasn’t sure who would look after my boys while I was gone.  My wonderful co-worker in the dorm for the last year, Natalie, left just before I did and sadly, she won’t be back with us any time soon as God has her traveling thru South America with an Iris team.

But a young man named Garrett was just applying to come for a year’s time after graduating high school and before starting college.  So the directors asked if he would be willing to oversee my dorm and he said yes!

I want to say a big Thank You to Garrett for accepting this challenge and taking it on with what I have heard is his whole heart!  It’s a big work to jump into being responsible for 31 boys and work with the Tias when you don’t speak the language, and you don’t know the culture.

Good thing Garrett is fluent in at least one language other than English – boy wrestling language!  Garrett is a wrestler and I’m sure the boys just loved playing with him every day.  Mana Laura does not wrestle!  She tickles but she doesn’t wrestle!

It’s been great having a guy to be with the boys and I hope Garrett is able to carry on working with us for the rest of his time here as well!  It sure looks like Lucas, in the photo above, will be happy to keep him!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Two great books calling me onward!

Someone once said “you are what you read.”  I do find it true that what I read about, I think about and what I am thinking about, I am more likely to be acting on.  So while I love a good fiction book, I love to be challenged and inspired by non-fiction as well.

While on my many shopping trips at local thrift stores, I am always drawn to the book section.  Even though my mom and her partner Larry bought me a Kindle so I wouldn’t have to lug a ton of books around (Larry always says I am packing anvils!), I can’t resist the .50 cents or 1.00 books and the treasures they contain!

I bought two winners recently and I wanted to share a little about them.  They are both similar enough in nature that they complement one another.  However, one was written in 1975 and one in 2009!

Open Heart, Open Home: The Hospitable Way to Make Others Feel Welcome & WantedThe first, written in 1975, is called Open Hearts, Open Homes by Karen Burton Mains. (sorry, you can’t click and look inside, I got this cover photo from Amazon!) Her subject is biblical Hospitality.  Not matching plates and the latest impressive recipe, not a spotless house with cool new decorations.  But a home that says, “Come in world, you are welcome here, spots and wrinkles and all!”  The book is all about the biblical call that our lives, our hearts and homes would be used to share with people around us who are in need of help or encouragement or prayer or just friendship.  I loved the broad vision of this book mixed with the practical ideas as well.

Although Hospitality has often been relegated to the realm of women who like to entertain, this book broadens that application to include the biblical charge for men to participate in this as well. It isn’t only women, or excellent cooks, who can use their lives at home to change the world around them!

ref=sib_dp_ptThe second book is called The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns.  I am not finished with it yet but it has already brought me to tears more than once.  It begins with the story of his journey of surrender of his position of CEO of Lenox, a fine china and porcelain manufacturer, that provided him with a Jaguar, a ten room home on 200 acres and every luxury money could buy.  He left that position to become the president of World Vision, attempting to help the poor all over the world – what a radical departure!

He writes about how often and how easily many Christians neglect the portion of the Bible– the huge portion of the Bible– that calls followers of Christ to minister to the poor, the needy, the widows, the orphans, the abandoned, the captives, the “least of these.”  He does it more eloquently than I can!  (He calls it the hole in our GOSPEL, which I take some exception to, but I agree that this focus on the poor, so prominent in Scripture is largely missing in most teaching on discipleship.)

While neither book is perfect, if you read either of these books, you will be challenged to ask God what He would have you do with your time, your finances, your heart and your home.  Not that you aren’t already doing that, but we all could use the inspiration to ask that daily and with an open heart, ready and willing to obey what we hear in response!

Have any good books to recommend in return?  On any subject!  Please feel free to share in the comments, I love recommendations!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Back in the saddle again! I mean , back in the airplane again!

DSC_0041Hello from London’s Heathrow airport, on the way home to Mozambique, via a flight into Johannesburg and a shuttle journey to Nelspruit and a car to Zimpeto!  Whew!  I’m tired just thinking about it!

But, I’m energized too!  I can’t wait to get back to see my boys and enjoy life with them!  I imagine their shouts of joy and “Mana Laura! Mana Laura!” and I get so excited.  I miss them when I am gone.  I miss my home and my co-workers and friends and my work and routines.  I miss knowing where my my tape and scissors and nail file are!  I do not however, miss the heat and the mosquitos and the humidity and the dirt!  This photo is Shelton acting like a Mozambican Mama – just one of the cutie pies who await me!

At the same time, I will for sure miss being in the United States with friends and family and the conveniences of home.  It’s always hard to say goodbye and jet off half a world away, literally. 

I am so blessed for both the time I am able to spend in the US and the home I have in Mozambique.  I am deeply grateful to the Lord and the people he uses who help make it possible for me to be in Mozambique, loving on these boys and watching God work amazing miracles of transformation in them.  I’m so privileged to be a part of that process. 

(On a totally unrelated note except that I am in London, why does London insist on warm soda?  Has all of England never discovered the joy of a cold soda?  The cases they are in in the airport are not even refrigerated, they just are meant to look like they are, they’re just lighted cases.  More Englanders need to travel to South Africa whose name for soda tells us how it should be drank – they call all soda “cool drinks” or “cold drinks!”  Sounds perfect to me!  Enough of a tangent for you?)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My smart boys!

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My boys ended the school year at the end of October and the best kids in class are always awarded little prizes, for first, second and third place.

This here is Jose’ and he is BRIGHT!  He takes after his older brother, Lito, who used to be in my dorm but has moved up with the older boys.  These boys are, I believe, the smartest kids their age in our whole center!

I’m praying they can be reunited someday with the people they inherited their smarts from!DSC_0054 (2)

 

This here is Pai, affectionately known as “Piece of Pie” Pai by me every time I say his name.  Lots of the boys copy me now.

One question Pai:  where are your shoes???

 

 

 

 

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It is no surprise that Shelton B. Belton is one of the smartest kids in his class.  Oooorrrrr, is he so cute that his teachers just give him good grades?  I might not blame them if they did!

Please keep our kids in school in your prayers, the education system in Mozambique needs a lot of support and restructuring which is a slow process in a developing country.  They are getting better. With my boys, 31 of them don’t go home to their individual supportive parents to help them with their homework and try to create a learning environment.  That’s up to me and my Tias and as you can imagine, with 31 of them, I can’t really do that like I’d like to. 

Educators – any ideas welcome!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

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What a wonderful holiday we have here in the United States every third Thursday in November!  I try to cultivate a grateful heart all through the year but it is nice to have a special day set aside every year to give thanks.  This year, I am thankful for:

1.  My mom's health has stabilized and she is doing quite well with chemo only once every other month.

2.  Although my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer this year, he has done quite well overall and right now is feeling better than he has all year.  We're praying the clinical trial he is approved for will help him.

3.  A new car!  Wahoo!  So blessed that my dad and Judi gave me a car.  It is so much easier to have a car when I am here in the US for visits.

4.  A check off the Bucket List - because I got a new car, I had to drive it cross-country, something I have always wanted to do.

5.  My cousin Maureen who is the most wonderful cousin and friend a person could have!  So blessed she helps me all year with the practical side of things that allow me to be in Mozambique and also that she went Road-Trippin with me!

6.  My three wonderful nephews and my sister - wish I could see them more often but grateful I got to see Randy while on the Road Trip.

7.  My Pedro - although he has been gone over a year now, I remain grateful every single day that God blessed me with him in my life.  I am also grateful that God has met me in my sorrow and helped the pain to subside.

8.  My darling boys - I am so blessed to be able to work with my little munchkins in Mozambique.  It's always a challenge but always a delight!

9.  Wonderful friends who partner with me in this adventure I am on, financially, in prayer and in encouragement. 

10.  God's provision in every area of my life.  He has been faithful to provide for us financially during tough economic times, he has provided me with his love and presence and his most wonderful gift of my salvation!  I love this life he has given me!

I have a rich life!!

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Missing these cutie pies right about now!

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They are so gorgeous!  I really enjoy my time in the States every year with family and friends (and all the luxuries of my other home!) but I sure do miss these little pumpkins and all the joy and love they bring to my life!  In this Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for them!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My new car!!!


Here's my cute new car!!!! Thanks to my dad and Judi, I'm the prooud new owner of a 2004 Hyundai Sante Fe (which I'm still learning to spell!). I love my new car and am so blessed.

And, it's caramel color - not gold!!









Friday, October 28, 2011

Boys, Boys, Boys!

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Here they are, my latest group shot of my darling boys!  And three of my ladies who work with them too.  Aren't they gorgeous? 

Oh, and in case you can't read Portuguese, the sign says "We love you!"

I currently have 29 boys, with two perhaps arriving in early November from the Baby House.  Please keep us in your prayers!June 2011 087 July 2011 048

Monday, October 24, 2011

My mom!

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I'm having a great time in New Jersey, visiting my mom and Larry for three weeks.  I've visited enough here that I have my little routines that I enjoy: the library every day, pilates on Mon and Thur nights with cousin Sally, church and the diner afterward with Sally and her family, the thrift shops on Monday and Thursday, yard sales on Saturday, Taco Bell and Costco hotdogs and lots of football and British comedies.  So relaxing!

This photo of my mom and Larry was taken on their porch before going to her high school reunion - she graduated in 1955 - class valedictorian! - but her school just has all the graduates together at the same time every few years of so.  They look great, don't they?!

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I went with her to the reunion, she loves to show me off.  It was fun to meet so many high school friends and hear old stories!  What a privilege.

Hi Mom!  it's been a great visit, thanks for everything you do for me and all your love for me!  I love you too! I'll miss you guys!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chefe Appreciation Lunch

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So all you lovely readers must realize that I don't raise my darling boys alone!  Not only do I have my Tias ("aunties" in Spanish, the Mozambican women who work in the dorm with me) but I also have young men who come and help, known as "Chefes."  They are sort of like Resident Assistants in college dorms.

Will you believe me when I tell you all of these young men used to live in my dorm?  Can you believe my darling boys dare to grow up into handsome young men???  I can't believe it!

Anyway, Natalie and I wanted to take these young men out for an appreciation lunch at a nearby restaurant.  Unfortunately, the servers neglected to mention that they weren't prepared to start cooking when the boys arrived and ordered so after 1 1/2 hours, when I asked if the food was almost ready, they said they hadn't started yet!  Crazy!  This restaurant, in the best of times, takes        1 1/2 hours to give you your food after your order so this meant we had waited 1 1/2 hours already and had at least another 1 1/2 hours to go! 

Sadly, Natalie and I both had other obligations so we couldn't stay but the boys opted to wait and eat their chicken and pork filets and french fries and salad and soft drinks.  People are patient in Mozambique!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Family Reunited

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This is my little Pedrito and his mom, left, and grandmother.  I've written about Pedrito moving home before here, along with several other places in this blog!  In August, he left us and went to live with his family.  We felt it wise to give him some time to adjust to living at home so I didn't visit until the very end of September.  It was SO good to see him looking so well cared for, in great conditions, with family that clearly enjoy him. And as the proud owner of a puppy!  Boy is he loving that dog!  He makes these little whispers to him constantly and was really gentle with him.  They haven't named the puppy yet but perhaps they will have by my next visit.

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September 2011 014 So we didn't get a great shot together but that's ok.  I just love having one with that precious face!  I sure miss this little guy and think about him and pray for him every day. 

The neat thing is, his mom is quite open to keeping up a relationship with us - the other day my phone rang and it was them.  She said Pedrito just wanted to say hi to me! Ahh, break my heart!  Please pray that Pedrito continues to adjust well to his new family, home, neighborhood and school.  Pray he flourishes!

Friday, October 14, 2011

All Africa Games held next door!

This is how close the stadium is - this photo was taken by one of my colleagues from her garden in our center!  This was part of the opening night extravaganza.  There have been fireworks there a cool time and the boys love running out to watch them.  Come to think of it, so do I - and my Tias!!

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So when I say "next-door" I mean it!  This is the new national stadium for Mozambique and it is in Zimpeto, the same neighborhood I live in.  In fact, it is walkable, as you will see in the photo below with my Tia Laura as we walk up to the stadium with a bunch of kids.  You can also see how rural it still is, even though we are 1 kilometers out of the heart of the city of Maputo.  Of course, this is the "side entrance!!!"

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Don't ask me where everyone else is - we had I think six adults and about 30 kids with us - where in the world are they???

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Just a smattering of the crowd that was with us.  We weren't actually in the stadium you see in the photo above, we were at the swimming venue right next door to it.  The boys had never seen a pool that big, nor a setting that big for that matter.  I'm not entirely sure they understood why we took them to watch OTHER people swim instead of them!  We actually didn't get to see a lot of races but we did get to see the para-olympians  warm up which was amazing and inspiring.  It was so cool for the boys (and Tias) to see people with one leg or no legs or one arm, on crutches, prosthetics, in wheelchairs, to see them swim was a once in a lifetime event for these kids.  It created a great talking point for faith and perseverance and hope and dedication and choice.  I hope they never forgot what they saw!

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An Olympic size swimming pool in Zimpeto - who knew?  And who knows what they will do with it now?  Perhaps we can take the boys for a swim every so often!

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We arrived well before the races and got to see these men practice raising the flags, I kid you not, at least 30 times, if not more.  We were cracking up, but all that work paid off as they did great.

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This is two members of the South Africa team taking gold and silver, two of their Bazillion medals they took at the games.  They were the country who took home the most medals, lekker bru! 

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As we were leaving one of the events, Hyundai, one of the sponsors of the games, saw us and gave us all these shirts and hats and soccer balls.  The boys could care less that the shirts are a teensy bit big, they love them anyway.  We are so blessed!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meet the two new boys!! Garrett and James!

Garrett Mullett

This is Garrett!  Mano Garrett to the little boys.  His sister Aleya worked with us last year for six months, during which time he came to visit her and returned home with a vision to raise funds to build our nursery - so he did.  To the tune of about $25,000!!!  Oh, and he did this while he was still in high school!  So he graduated this year and has come to Zimpeto for a year or so.  His first duties?  To move into my home and look after my darling boys while I am in the US.  I love his courage!  You know what else I love?  In his blog, http://garrettmullett.wordpress.com/, he calls them "my boys!"  Not "the boys I'm looking after" - I love that!  Please pray for Garrett that he will learn the boys' names quickly, learn Portuguese quickly, that he will find some personal, private time and that he will have a wonderful time loving on his boys!  (Did I mention he's a wrestler?  How perfect is that for 4-8 year old boys?!?)  Thank you Lord for sending Garrett at the perfect time!

And this is James!  James is from South Africa and will be attending university in the US in January so he found himself with some free time.  James spent a year at a children's center near us and used to visit us a lot during that time.  That center closed and a few of the boys actually live in my dorm now.  He visited in September and spent a lot of time with my boys so I felt led to ask him if he would want to return for any portion of the time while I would be gone to work along with Garrett.  He prayed about it and agreed to come for the month of October.  That is so wonderful that he and Garrett can love on these boys together, giving them an example of Godly men who love the Lord.  James is teaching the boys rugby which I confess I find slightly frustrating since they don't know the world's greatest sport yet, American football!  But it's a small price to pay.  Please pray for James that he will continue learning Portuguese and that God will provide all he needs for school (and that he won't miss out on any financial income for taking this month to spend in Zimpeto!).  Thank you Lord for sending James at the perfect time!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Studying in Kiev - in which my brain gets crammed with too much great information in two weeks!

308682_10150364639563529_534723528_9830929_4352089_n    (PS: this post should have proceeded the last two posts with my photos of Kiev!!) 

In case anyone has not memorized the details of my exciting life, I'll give a little reminder - I'm studying for a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership at Azusa Pacific University (APU) in California. 

They created a rather unique external program 30 years ago in which students travel to a location in the world for 20 hours of classroom time per class, with the remainder of the course work being done in the following semester (readings and assignments). 

320309_10150364639233529_534723528_9830922_1169978_nI am taking four classes, two in the Fall and two in the Spring so I was there for two weeks.  Last year my classes were in London, this year they were in Kiev, Ukraine! 

So for two weeks, Mon-Fri, 8:30 to 6, we tried to learn as much as we could in a classroom context about our courses (Ethics, Research Methods, Building Trust in Orgs and Creativity and Collaboration in Orgs).  8:30-12:30 was one class and the afternoon was the second class.  The second week, the morning was the third class and the afternoon the fourth. 

So the bulk of the work is done at home thru the year but I love the classroom opportunity, the wisdom and experience of the professors and the context of discussion and connection with the other students with whom I'll be in touch throughout the year.  This year, we had students from Ukraine, Russia, Armenia, Philippines, Brazil, Portugal, China and the United States!           

294387_10150356894003529_534723528_9755731_1810645_nMy program is three years long if I continue the pace of two classes per semester.  That was a bit of a challenge last year but it seems the most reasonable given that I pay to fly to and stay at a location, it doesn't seem the best use of finances to take one course per semester. 

As for any student, balancing life, work and studies is a challenge.  Especially given my setting of living with my boys in the dorm.  it requires more than usual focus and organization!  But, I learned last year, it is do-able!

311302_10150356894248529_534723528_9755734_1502753_nI absolutely LOVE what I am learning and am so blessed to have the opportunity to study.  I love learning about how to be a better person, how to see and bring out the best in others, and how to be a more effective contributor to any organization of which I am a part!

The trick is - putting it into practice!

(the next couple blogs will be photos from my Kiev trip!)