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Detours

Before I get into my post about detours (and this little story I’m about to tell is in fact a detour), I want to share that I set myself up for so much self-care this weekend I’ve come pretty darn close to overdoing it. And overdoing the activities of self-care to the point of anxiety and exhaustion is no longer self-care …is it? Leave it to me to find a way to overdo self-care with my overzealous ways. Don’t mind me, I get snarky and cranky when I’m tired.  However, by writing this post, I’m about to enter into my place of zen. I tend to get so caught up in writing that hours fly by without me realizing it. I hope that doesn’t happen tonight though because like I said, I’m tired. But my tiredness won’t stop me from sharing what I’ve been up to in the past week.

In the spirit of stepping out of our comfort zone, my husband, Bryan, signed us up as couple for a Lifegroup at our church, LifeAustin.  This is our first experience so I can’t tell you too much about the Lifegroup concept except it entails small weekly group meetings,  usually held in someone’s home for a period of time (ours is 6 weeks), which allows people to get together to discuss their faith. The topic of our group is Detours, which is very apropos to our life right now. I’ve been open on my site about Bryan and I’s challenges, particularly in the last 3 years regarding our health. My mom, passed away two years ago, 9 months after my breast cancer diagnosis. Over the years, there have been other detours in our lives individually and as a couple. We don’t always know the reason and it can be frustrating, but we know that God is in control.

Last week was another demanding work week and I was feeling weighed down. On Tuesday, I found myself looking forward to leaving work at 4:30 pm (I actually left at 4:40pm…rarely happens, but I’ll be doing it for the next 5 weeks) to participate in something new. I met Bryan at our home so we could drive together over to the hosts’ home. The neighborhood we’ve never been to was about 15 minutes away and truly something you see in the movies, and their house…even more so. I couldn’t remember our hosts name, so before we rang the door bell, we grabbed our phones to find the names from the previous emails sent. As we did that, the host opened the door and welcomed us in.  I didn’t get a chance to find her name in my email, but she reached out to me for a hug and I gave it. We introduced ourselves and met the other 3 couples in attendance…5 couples in total.

It was an enlightening experience. Once I let my guard down, I was ok. I go through a range of emotions when I struggle to find similarities with myself and others. I will be honest and say I was judging, which I shouldn’t have been. It’s my defense mechanism. It might surprise you that I was judging myself more harshly than others. It didn’t take me long to see that these were kind and loving people. I immensely appreciated all of the sharing that occurred. I shared and I cried in my sharing. It was cleansing.

At the end of the day, our faith is what we have in common and that is enough to see common ground.  I look forward to the next session. It’s all for growth and getting closer to God.

Here’s to new experiences and making meaningful connections. What new experiences are you trying that take you out of your comfort zone?

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Dominican Republic (DR) Chronicles 2019: Food

For my blog readers, my son, Caleb and I are finally on our mission trip in Santiago, DR. We arrived in the middle of the night to the Mission of Hope (MOH) Santiago Campus Sunday morning, June 2. I’ll be blogging about this experience while I can on the trip and for the next several weeks. I’ve shared pictures on my Facebook page, but I really want to unpack this experience through blogging. Update: This is the only blog post I’ve managed to type thus far. I intended to post more, but I think several things are at play: I’ve been more tired than usual, been getting settled into my normal routine, and still mentally and spiritually processing this trip.

This particular post is focused on the food. These almond butter packets I brought have saved me to a point.

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At the time that I posted this, I only had one left. So what have we been eating? Well, we’ve been roughing it, for sure, at least Caleb and I think so. MOH has many interns and most of them appear 19-25ish. They’re pretty thin and may not mind the food. Our mission group has a range of ages. I was worried about what the food would entail because I eat pretty healthy at home. We were allowed to bring our own snacks, so I brought a bunch of healthy items: Kashi cereal & cereal bars, kind bars, pistachios, organic applesauce, dried fruits, green energy packets & electrolytes, organic soups, peanut butter packets. I only ate a fraction of what I brought (electrolytes, pistachios, dried fruits, peanut butter packets) and ended up donating the remainder to the MOH interns and staff.

As a church group, we brought on the flight with us some items from the states since it would be cheaper: Peanut butter, jelly, cereal, powdered milk, condiments, etc. For every meal, there have been ample carbs. For example: white bread for sandwiches & macaroni salad. Dinner usually entailed rice and more bread. Neither Caleb nor I are particularly like sandwiches, but we’ve been making it work. Caleb was really hungry on the second or third day when he realized we would be eating the same foods and he said, “I’m going to have to make this work”. He made a macaroni salad SANDWICH!

Dinners were made by Haitian and Dominican cooks.

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Beef stew with rice/beans and cake

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Stewed chicken and peas with not just white rice, but also graten, which is a delicacy! Strawberry cake on the side.

Each night featured a different meal…all tasty. The pictures do not give the food justice. Although he acknowledged it was good, Caleb wasn’t too impressed because I make Haitian food at home along with many other types of food. I think he thought he was going to eat something he never had previously. I’m thankful that my mom taught me how to cook, even though I vividly remember not wanting to learn. I get to share that part of my heritage with my family.

One of the Haitian cooks has been working with MOH Haiti for a while. Her brother was sponsored by the organizer at our church for some years, then he was sponsored to attend college by someone else. He’s since graduated college. I introduced myself to her as she was serving our food, but hope to have a good conversation with her before I leave. Update: I didn’t get a chance to have a conversation with her with all of our activities. I hope we cross paths again one day….perhaps on another mission trip?

I didn’t eat much breakfast. I embraced my almond butter sandwiches for lunch, but I’ve especially looked forward to dinner. I’m surprised we’ve had fresh salads most evenings. I was told in Haiti there is rarely fresh greens so this is a treat. We’ve also had cake the last 2 nights. Our team lead managed to get us some avocados. They were huge. We also had mangos as there were several mango trees on the property where we stayed. It’s not everyday that I eat fruit that falls off a tree. I do remember growing up in Chicago, my aunt and uncle had a pear tree on their property. The pears never seemed to be ripe, even after they had fallen.

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Avocado

This trip isn’t about me having all the comfortable, familiar foods I want when I want it. It’s about sacrifice and service, so I can deal for a week. Speaking of service, each group was assigned dish duty, which we participated in as a group. Also, Friday was beach day and we got to eat some local food as noted in the cover photo: fried red snapper, rice, beans and plantains (not pictured). It was so good! My impression is that Dominican food is just about the same as Haitian food. Rice and beans, plantains, and protein. More stories to come from this experience.