Saturday, May 26, 2012



Hi my friends!   I hope you are all doing well!

So, I know that you have been just itching to know what happened on the mission trip.   And even if you are not,  I am so ready to tell you :)  And just in short, let me say that it was amazing.

At the airport, ready for our flight to open :)
On the airplane :D
OF course, the one I uploaded Dad is making a funny face....
View of water form the plane
Looking straight down into Coral reefs from the plane
Over the Grand Bahamas Island (not the island we stayed on)
This is the lovely Madison and awesome sign we were greeted with at the airport :)
 I have never seen kinder people than in the Bahamas.  We literally walked in the door of the house we were eating at that night and the people start singing, "A common love for each other, a common gift to the savior....." and hugging us as though they had known us for a long time.  When we asked when church that (sunday night) would start,  they said (in their GORGEOUS bahamian accent :) "We will start church whenever we finish eating and are ready to start."  So, when it was "time" we pulled chairs around the living room and sat and sang and prayed and bonded.  It was amazing.  When we left, we still had time before the sun set, so we went down to the beach and watched one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.

The beautiful flowers we were greeted by at the hotel
Our view from the hotel *sigh*

Playing on the beach on Sunday evening.
beautiful bahamian sunset

On monday, we went to the Children's hostel, which is an orphanage.  The kids housed there are form ages 2-12, but is supposed to be only 4-12.  They had overflow at the younger orphanage.  These kids were out of school Monday for Bahamian elections (which, by the way, is a very big deal), and that was great because we got to play with them all day.  They bonded with us immediately.  We played and played and talked and played.  One moment I will (hopefully) always remember is sitting in the shade under a slide playing with a little boy.  He sat in my lap, playing and naming colors of different things around him.  His attention was drawn to my large birthmark on my neck, and he asked what it was and how it happened and who gave it to me or something like that.  I told him that God gave it to me.  He sat quietly, playing with a small toy in his hand.  I slowly asked, "Do you know who God is?".  He answered, still playing and without any care, "Nope!"  I swallowed.  I thought,"This is what we were here for, right?  And how am I supposed to explain God to him in words that he can understand?" And, you see, it is hard to keep a 3 year old's attention very long, so I simply said, "He made you."  He gave no reply.  I do not think that he remembered that moment 3 minutes later, or that he will ever have any acknowledgment of it.  I just hope he heard me, and that that moment will be etched in my mind forever.

The kids constantly wanted to take pictures and see themselves in pictures on cameras, and absolutely loved it!  They would say "Watch this!' and would run and do a backflip!  It was great!  They would constantly show me tricks on different pieces of playground equipment.  They hugged us when we left, and I knew I was in love with all of them.

Elizabeth with her new friend ;)

Flipping off of Mr Duane's hands!
These kids, especially this one, loved to flip.  Here is what it looked like as he went through the air:

These kids loved piggyback rides.  Can you tell at all?  ;)

I can still hear him: I itchy! I itchy!  (he had been rolling around in the grass, so Dad was scratching his back :)

Washing hands before lunch

A massive piggyback ride attempt/attack on Sam
Jumping off the swing 

The "jungle" we tried to clean off by hand for the kids to make a garden and grow plants.  We had to call in a small tractor to move it all out the next day.
Here is what we found in our jungle.... YUCK!!

That afternoon on the beach....

Yes, all of these things were on the beach across the street from where we were staying.  It was great seeing all of these things in person!  I was blessed to have an underwater camera (Thank you, MImi!), so I used it!

We came up with some ideas of things that could be done at the Children's Hostel, and the next morning arrived, picked up around the hostel, and played with the kids while some of the adults went to get paint from the store.  Or, at least, that is what I hear they did.  I (of course) got sick that morning and had to nap in the car while they did this stuff.  Luckily, that bug did not stay around for long, and only struck once, so I was very thankful indeed :)  By the way, that nap in the car was probably one of the best I have ever had.  We were parked in the shade, under a pretty palm tree with a sweet breeze blowing.  It was wonderful :)   Anyways..... my dad arrived with the paint and we set out to paint the playground equipment.  We figured a new coat of paint would brighten the place up, make it look newer, and make the place look more fun to kids who were coming to live there.  We also painted the picnic tables, and made plans to fix up the ones that were falling apart.  We also fixed and painted a bench.   After painting and lunch the place looked a lot better, besides the fact that more coats would have to be added tomorrow.  We played with the kids after they got home from school, and then left to shower up and go to dinner.  We ate at "Oh Andros" which was great!  We got to try some traditional Bahamian food, and literally taste their culture.  It was lots of fun!

Eating at Oh Andros
Painting, painting, painting

Wednesday we put another coat on the tables and some of the playground stuff.  We, of course, played with the kiddos, and sang songs with them.  Just for the record, when you sing the ABC's, don't forget to leave the 'A-b-c-d-e-f-g-lelelelelelela p..... :)  I also watched silly little boys dance to the music we were singing, and trample and tackle each other afterwards.  That afternoon handed out flyers for the VBS our group is doing when they come in June/July.  That night, we got to go to church at the church we were there helping: Southwestern Church of Christ.  We sang and listened to a wonderful lesson, then, when over, were handed refreshments as we visited with the group.  By the way, I had an awesome group to go with.  We had wonderful college students and parents and people (or a person) that paints your leg when you are innocently lying on the ground :)  We had awesome kids and siblings and card games at night.  Thank you to my wonderful team, who helped and loved and served like we are meant to for the glory of God.

The church!
The church building
Thursday, we fixed the picnic tables and, of course, played with the kids.  We had a group of local kids that came to help us paint a warehouse and clean up the garden area.  They helped get a lot done, and we really appreciate them coming :)  The kids were so tired from the week, that some of them fell asleep on the benches outside :)  They had had a big week, and were TIRED.  Really the ones that played with the kids the most were my brothers and our friends who were both boys and the same age.  They played, and played and played together with the kids,  and were bonded with those kids like they were siblings.  They even chose some they wanted to bring home with them :)  It was so sweet, and I think it is amazing how God uses even the youngest of us to fulfill his will.  I am so thankful for these boys, because they made such a difference not only in the children's life, but also in those that noticed them and were around them.

Me and Tario (this is the little boy who asked me about my birthmark :)

The 3 amigos: Shavago, Tario, and Amelia

The picnic tables :D

Me and Tario
My artwork

Amelia :)

The finished product!

Our wondermous group!!

We also had church members over to the hotel to swim, eat, and play games together.  It was a wonderful way to bond and learn more about our friends.

Playing games Thursday night
Friday was free-day, and we got to really experience the touristy parts of Nassau.  We were able to visit the straw market, which is filled with vendors selling handmade bahamian things.  It was interesting and a little overwhelming, because every time you turn around, someone is trying to sell you something.  It gets to where I walk around a store now, I feel like someone is going to try to sell me something and haggle for a price.  We were able to eat some more bahamian food, and head to the beach.  Also, when we were at the straw market, we stepped outside to the port where the cruise ships dock.  They. are. humongous.  It was ridiculous to see the extravagant luxury that was here, and then remember the little kids at the orphanage.  To remember the kindness and hospitality that the people show, and for people to come there and visit what they call paradise.  When most people think of the Bahamas, they think of luxury, relaxation, and paradise.  Walk several blocks away from the touristy parts and you see the pitiful poverty of tiny, half-finished houses and government signs every where.  (Not that the poverty is that great down there, as in comparison to Africa.  It is different from here, though.)  It makes me feel sorry for the people that they live on a tourist infested island, with people coming and going and taking photo shoots on the beach and going to casinos and fancy places and "living large" and "enjoying/making the most of life".   We also saw this Saturday, when (after our group left that morning and we stayed because the plane was full) we visited Atlantis, which is a (in my opinion) way overdone beach resort.  I saw all of this ridiculous fantasy-land, and I just was in awe.  It was HUGE, and had a huge casino and waterpark and mall and food and .......  It was almost sad.  **This is meant in no offense to those that go to Atlantis.  It would be a very fun resort to stay at :)  These were just my impressions of it especially after just coming off a mission trip.**  Seeing these people, you know that they have no idea about the kids in the orphanage right across the water.  Even if some of them did, they probably wouldn't care.

Sunday was our final full day in Nassau.  We went to church, and it was wonderful.  I really enjoyed the singing and the lesson.  It was wonderful to spend time with these people before we left.  We were even invited to lunch afterwards at a family's house, and enjoyed some traditional bahamian food.  After that we headed back to the hotel, had some of our friends from the church come swim with us, and we finished the day off by going out to eat together.  It was sad seeing them go, but knowing that they were our brothers and sisters in Christ and were only and email away, we were able to leave with smiles on our sleepy faces.

CAroline and her "twin sister form the Bahamas" (madison)
Caroline and Madison
(left to right): Madison, Angelica, Chandler, Caroline, Me
So, we left monday, flew back to the states, and (after getting lost in the Atlanta airport about 3 times) picked up our car and drove home.
Last day.....

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, after a very long post, you know about the trip and everything wonderful in it.

Playing Bahamian drums

CAroline with/in her Bahamas get-up