Louisiana Clan

It happens about once a year when I visit my family in Louisiana. My sister Jo has lived there for over 45 years. Her boys are now grown men with families and directions of their own.

I love this part of our country, the scent of the gulf, the air that has it’s own personality and the slur in the tongue to it’s natives.

When you visit it is required to have a Po-Boy of either shrimp or roast beef and don’t forget to say “dressed” or else your sandwich will not be oozing in mayo and the lettuce and tomatoes will not fall out when taking a bite. We ate at Parkway in New Orleans, (voted the best in town) and my Po-Boy sandwich had endless fired shrimp with the crustiest bread, my inconsiderate appetite did not leave even one morsel for the birds.

I wanted to visit Baton Rouge but Jo would not hear of it. I also wanted coffee and beignet’s at Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter’s but that too was not going to happen. I was not going be denied my picture with the back drop of the Mississippi, it took some coaxing but finally Jo and her son Nick drove to the Harvey Locks. I stepped down the deep levy and took in the scenery, a crane looked as if it was wading in the water and tug boat helped a bigger vessel navigate it’s way through the narrow path and the city was staring at us from a distance.

At first the photo shoot was a disaster, for some reason, probably because wearing white gives a distorted appearance, all my pictures were displeasing and unattractive. Nick was my photographer and as much as he attempted the worst the situation got. I had a great idea to move closer to the water’s edge, Nick warned me that the rock’s were unsteady, I insisted on sitting, the unsteady rock brought me down. It was not so bad but it was at an awkward angle that I needed assistance in getting up. Nick was laughing so hard that his arms were like over cooked spaghetti and had to collect himself before he could help!  With the loud announcement of the fall I made a scene with the others enjoying the view sitting on the park benches above me.img_3119img_3102

Jake, Lynda, Jo, Julia Stacie Torie and Tyson
Nick, me and Jo

We had dinner with Jo’s son Torie and his family. Stacie, Torie’s wife and their children Julia, and the twins Tyson and Jake and Myra, Stacie’s mother. After dinner a Bible study that with all the distraction turned out to be great. Jo’s oldest son Frank and Lindy were busy with their boys so our visit was short and sweet. Nick and Michele and their daughter Sophie had dinner with us the following day and another short Bible study.

The following day was an adventure of eating at The Mint, a trendy restaurant in the Uptown District. New Orleans infrastructure is still suffering the aftermath of Katrina. Almost every street is under construction and to find this restaurant even with navigation was an adventure of many wrong turns. Rocky, Jo’s youngest son beat us to restaurant  and kept calling wondering where we were. I was lost in the beauty of the stately mansions, each with its own charm and character some of which were at one time plantations. From across the broad streets the old oak trees seems to greet each other with a friendly hug, I could not tell where a branch started and where the ended.

Everyone still blames Katrina for everything, they speak in terms of pre Katrina and post Katrina. Katrina, the category 5 Hurricane that sweep the city clean and then drowned it in salt water brought it’s citizens to it’s knees but also bonded them as one. No hurricane will ever destroy the the hearts of it’s people and New Orleans stands proof of this.

As Jo sweeps the floors of her business she listening to the Italian singer, Edith Piaf, sing  “Non, Jo No Regrette Reim,” the only thing she understands of the lyrics is “no regrets.”  My sister Jo is about to make a big transition in her life, downsizing from her empty nest to a smaller more quaint home. The move is exasperating and she need to organize and get ready for this new faze in her life. Since I can remember from our childhood she was always the one doing all the chores, running the errands for our family. The only change is now she is doing it for her family. She visits her ex-husband’s grave on a regular basis, reminding him how much he is missed and what he has missed out on. Her attitude is upbeat and within her family is known as the woman who can do whatever she put her mind to, to me she is just fascinating.img_3003



Continue Reading

Don’t Sit Next To Me On A Plane

Fourteen hours is a long time to be on a plane. I wanted to be sure to ask for an isle seat at check in but my luggage was too heavy (this was on the way up). So in a crazy rush I’m putting some of my stuff in another team member’s suitcase, I forgot to ask the for the isle seat. As usual I was stuck in the middle, to my left was Quinn, a young man traveling to the Ukraine and I did not get the name of the friendly man from Latvia. I introduce myself as a missionary and Quinn introduces himself as an agnostic. I tell Quinn, “Oh, you should not sit next to me.” Witnessing comes natural and this day was no different; Quinn was polite as I shared my stories and photos of past missionary trips. He was on his way to visit an orphanage and to teach the children to play the ukulele; I tell Quinn, “Oh, you are already doing God’s work but don’t realize it.” What an example of a wonderful young man and a beautiful heart.

He was tired and wanted to get some sleep so he purchased a option opposite of Red Bull this product is called Dream Water. imageI hated to be the one to break the news to him that perhaps this was a placebo, he agreed but drank it anyway.

Quinn and I are facebook friends and he is being used of God in a loving outreach to these young orphans.

The gentleman to my right was desperately trying to explain that the dream vacation on the Greyhound bus was a disaster. So bad the experience that he had to rent a car half way through the trip. He said, in broken English that the bus was dirty and old and that no one should get on this bus. I had no idea that Greyhound offered excursions to people from Latvia. I shared with him that most people drive to see the Grand Canyon. He was sadly disappointed and I almost offered to write a letter of complaint to Greyhound but quickly came to my senses.

On the way back we had a short layover in Istanbul, of all the millions of people I noticed a young man in a green shirt without arms.

I asked for a isle seat and was granted the request. The doors to the boeing 777 were locked and I looked over at my friend Jane with a smirky smile, “I have the whole roll to myself.” Just as I settled in comes the armless man with a companion. “We will sit here,” they tell me.  I answer with a smile, “okay but you just ruined my trip home.” They sit and we have a wonder conversation about missionary work.

The young man without arm is a refugee from Afghanistan and is being escorted by a representative from the United Nations to Oregon. Instantly the young armless man and I hug with our eyes, he was so friendly and sweet. I ask him if he lost his arms in the war and he smiles and said that he was born that way. His companion was unaware of this and was surprised to find out. When the food cart was about ready to come down the isle the guy from the UN asked me in a kind way if I could sit at the window. No, no, I just want to be here, then he says that there is an isle seat just a few seats back. I look back and see this really good looking man with his equally beautiful girlfriend and say that guy is too big and no, that is not going to work for me. Then it hits me like a ton of bricks this guy eats with his feet and he is going to knee me not elbow me. I looked over as his big toe was changing the the monitor and said “I will move back.” They were both happy.

I go to sit next to the god with his goddess girlfriend  and explain the situation to them, then the witnessing. I tell them about the meeting with the demon possessed girl and this gets their attention. The young man’s name was Joe and he said that his parents were devout Catholics that attended daily Mass. He on the other hand was angry at the Catholics and stated that he would never return. I bravely told him that his parents are praying for him and that God will answer their prayers. He and his girlfriend were gracious and I probably put them to sleep.

I know that everyone I met I planted a seed. To Quinn the seed of servanthood for God, to the armless man, a seed of welcome to America, to his companion a seed of love. To the Joe and his girlfriend a seed that just needed watering.

Continue Reading

Kathmandu, Nepal

November 3, 2012

Our driver came to pick us up in a midsize van with seating for maybe eight persons, we are eleven. Through some miracle there was room for all of us plus Brian, our host pastor, Simon the interpreter, the driver and two of his friends (sixteen total). I wanted to turn around to see how we all fit but my arms were locked next to my roommate, we were the biggest can of sardines. Taking the window seat was both a blessing and curse; my arms were restricted like those of T-Rex and taking pictures not only with my iphone but with everyone else’s devices was a hazardous task.

The van that multiplied with extra seating
The van that multiplied with extra passengers

We made our way through the streets of Kathmandu, the dust was thick with the movement of every vehicles around us, it was a constance powdery cloud. The infrastructure was nonexistent, as you are driving and it appeared that all roads are one way until you encounter a bus filled with passages coming head on toward you; many times I wanted to scream but I just closed my eyes and said a prayer.  To add to this mayhem there are hundreds of thousand motor bikes everywhere you turn. There are few stop signs and fewer traffic signals but I did notice a police officer attempting to direct traffic; what a dangerous occupation I thought to myself.

Our job was to minister and after a ride across town we finally arrived at the first church. As we walked up the steps to the upper meeting room the smell of curry filled the air. We met with eager converts; some of them traveling for days on foot to make this assembly. For over four hours we praise the Lord and these beautiful people listened intently, taking notes and experiencing spiritual growth at different levels. Nepal is a country made up of  86% Hindu and the rest are Buddhist. Accepting Christ as your Savior comes with a price starting by being ostracized by your family. These precious gentle people formed a line for prayer and each one of them was encouraged to continue with their walk in believing God to supply their every need. Little did we know of the great 7.9 earthquake that struck  in April of 2015 that these teachings would be a small part of helping them endure all the hardships to come. My Nepali family still have so much more to recover but they remain steadfast in their love for Christ.

There were so many stray dogs and chickens and cows along the road. The cows are scared and are like demi gods, they have the run of the streets. Kathmandu has over 1,000,000 residence and is a bustling metropolis with merchants selling their goods on every inch of the street; bold colored thick heavy blankets everywhere., The ominous Himalayan mountains surround this valley and stand in awe for us American gawkers.

We return to the comforts of our hotel and eat in our room; a cup of soup, still adjusting to the native flavors.


Continue Reading