FIGHTING BACK – HURRICANE HARVEY

wHi there everyone.  So strange to be writing a report about Hurricane Harvey relief when I have loved ones hunkering down in Florida for the next hurricane Irma. At the same time to read about an earthquake in Mexico, with possible tsunami waves headed to Nicaragua, where my daughter and her family live by the beach and loved ones by the coast.  Then to open my Facebook and read the sorrow expressed from the fires in the northwest.   Let’s see, what was I writing about again?

But I am going to do it anyway. Maybe my report can help encourage someone out there or maybe it can educate some that will be soon going through an aftermath of a storm themselves.

We put out the word on FaceBook on Thursday, Aug. 31 that we wanted to go search for the smaller towns that need help and ‘are not on the media radar yet.” A young man, Chris Leos, whom I had met a couple times a few years ago spoke up.  He gathered a great crew from his friends and I had a friend of mine volunteer also, Alex George.  Here is the crew:

The first MOG Harvey Crew-smaller size

We left San Antonio about 6 am.  We had three vehicles loaded with donations. Where would we go?  What would we find?   I was on Social Media during the 3-hour drive south, asking people what they knew, any suggestions, any contacts.  We needed gas!  ‘Nope, that station is closed,  no, that station is out of gas’…but behold!  A truck stop with trucks, trailers, jeeps, cars everywhere and all loaded with donations or a barbeque rig!  It gave me chills, honestly, to see so many concerned, loving people – all going to ‘help’, not even knowing exactly what that will mean.

We found gas!

We had been told that towns south of Victoria, about 30 miles from the coast had been hard hit.  It was not easy to really know – so much information was coming in. ‘This town needs help, no no they got it, it is this town,  go over there…

We ended up first in Bayside.  So very sad – so much destruction. But in Bayside, as every town we traveled to, donations were overflowing.  People from so many places want to help.  But this is the thing:  Most people were not back in their houses yet.  They will need those clothes, but right now they are thinking of how to get back home.  This is what Bayside looked like:

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At this point, we were thinking in terms of all the donations we had in our vehicles and it seemed to us to be the first order of business – find who needs it!  Bayside did not have many hands on helpers, but lots of stuff.  So we drove on.

We ended up in Austwell. This is a charming small bayside community. We spent the rest of the day clearing debris there – talk about hot, sweaty work!! But the locals were very grateful.  We also visited with the leaders at the community center. They actually asked us to please not leave our donations with them. They were overflowing and had no place to store anymore.  This is what they finally had to do:

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This is their Pavilion for community events, parties, etc.

Here are a few photos of us in action.  I know that clearing brush is such a small thing, but small things that give hope are mighty big, actually.

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And To wrap up this #Harvey Report, I want to give a couple shout-outs.

The so important elec crews

So much depends on these workers, repairing the electricity.  Every time we passed a crew, they had smiles and a tip of the hat for us – but they sure looked tired.

AND A GREAT BIG SHOUT OUT TO ALL THE TEXANS WHO CAME FROM EVERYWHERE PULLING THEIR BARBQUE RIGS, READY TO FEED US ALL.   I LOVE TEXAS!!

Texas Barbque Come and Get it

This is Danny and Sharlene Tate from Robstown, Tx.  They were such a blessing – not only their great sausage and fixings but that cold watermelon slice on such a hot day.

Thank you, Danny and Sharlene, thank you Texans for caring and coming, thank you community leaders in all these towns – working and giving and directing, while they themselves were suffering.  Thank you MOG crew – you dudes were awesome!

Stay tuned for the next segment – we are going to Port O’Connor Sunday.  Planning on repairing a roof of a community leader, clear debris and most importantly – identify a few families to adopt to help them rebuild.

Any contributions to this cause will go 100% to Hurricane Harvey MOG Relief fund.  We do not pay salaries and have little overhead and great big hearts.

Missions of Grace Donate here

Read more here and sign up to volunteer:   Missions of Grace

 

 

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NICARAGUA DISASTER RELIEF

These precious boys lost the walls of their home

These precious boys lost the walls of their home

This morning my heart is so very heavy and to be honest, a bit scared.  The what ifs are screaming – I hate what-ifs.  What if we cannot help everyone?  What if we fail?

This is always where I have no choice but to reach down deep in my soul and grab hold of my faith that there IS a God – there is Someone Else who cares even more than I do, than we do about the victims of the flooding that happened in my very own communities in Tola, Nicaragua a month ago.   So many affected families!!  I woke this morning with my neck in knots and my stomach also.  But I also was grateful that I know a remedy – it just takes some effort and taking a bit of time alone.  I grabbed my yoga mat and my Bluetooth speaker and headed out to the sun.  I first chose music that pulled and tugged at the pain in my heart – that made it come to the surface and also caused the tears to flow.  I bent and bowed and reached to the sky.  I cried loud, from my gut.  Nobody was around – I could do this without inhibitions.  It hurt but my heart was thankful that I acknowledged the pain, that I unburied it.  Strangely, it felt right.

Then I chose a song called “It is going to be worth it all”.  I sang it loud.  Then the old one “It is well with my soul”.  Some Yanni, a bit of Cello with the Piano Guys.  30 minutes later, I paused.  I laid down.  I rested.  My heart rested and was grateful.  This feat of helping so many is not up to me.  It is even not up to all the amazing volunteers who are giving of themselves.  We are the hands and the feet, even more than that, we are Love, we are Hope.  WE SEE YOU.  Someone cares.  We are in this together.

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Valentina was very thrilled with her gifts. #Ilovedonors

Today I am moving my suitcases out of the comfortable, warm loving home of my daughter and going into the pueblo.  I will enjoy the many meals of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) with my pueblo friends, I might fight off some monster mosquitos, I might not sleep with A/C, but I will be there.  I will see and hug and cry and Know.  I am honored to be an expat here because I have access to resources that my pueblo friends do not.  I have access to the internet and caring people flung across many places.  I am not alone.  We are not alone.

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It seems so strange to me but it is true, that when I allow my heart to hurt, I become more resolved and stronger for the fight.   Some families have lost their entire homes but even more have lost walls, as the photo above.  The Wells are contaminated and no clean drinking water.  I will share in next posts encouraging stories of all the hearts and hands that are helping and also stories as I visit the people and take photos and interviews.  Come along with me on this journey!

 

 

100 Mile River Journey with an Ultra Purpose – Rio San Juan, Nicaragua

Taking Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) down the full length of the Rio San Juan! Along with a motor boat with a guide.  I have had this trip in my heart for a very long time now.
Five years ago the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health requested that MOG Missions of Grace take our Ultrasound Program to the remote areas of the Rio San Juan River, which runs along the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. This was not possible until now.
We will be visiting the remote villages along the river and tributaries seeking out the needs of the local people.  We love pregnant mamas and babies and want to be there for them!
We are delighted that Tony Smith of Jarvis Boards will be joining us with two of his amazing wood SUPs (Stand Up Paddleboards.) We have hired a guide with a boat but the paddle boards will be crucial to navigate the tributaries that the boat cannot access.  Watch out Alligators!   20170322_190911-02 (1)
David Wells of D&D Media Collective  will be filming the entire journey, creating a documentary for Jarvis Boards and one for MOG!
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Our small team will consist of myself (Cheri), my son Johnny Mauldin, Tony Smith and David Wells. We are planning to travel all the way to the Caribbean Coast, ending at San Juan de Nicaragua.
We are taking hammocks and gear generously donated by Kammock and will be roughing it all the way. We will utilize the guide, ride the stand up paddleboards and sometimes take the public panga bus boat. The Tributaries are drawing me because I think that there will be small villages along the banks.
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I will have such a smile on my face as I climb out of the water and say “Hola!!! May we hang our hammocks here for the night??”
This is one of the activities that I thrive on.  Adventure to remote places, coupled with reaching out and helping people.  I love love love it.  Not sure how much we will be able to send updates while on the river, but I will do my best and certainly when we complete our journey, a blog post will be sent asap.
Please follow my blog.    I have moved out of my home in Texas and will be traveling or living in Nicaragua except when I get to be with my kids and grandkids.  So many exciting adventures planned.  You will be glad you did!

unfolding nicaragua 2016 (Adri and Lilly)

Three amigasI had the extreme privilege of traveling to my beloved Nicaragua with my two oldest granddaughters.  My oldest daughter will be married on July 9th on the beach here and we came a few weeks earlier than the rest of the clan.  Adri (11yrs in the blue cap) lived here when she was younger, but Lilly (9 yrs- yellow cap) has only been here once when she was 2 years old.

I love to travel on buses, walk the dusty roads, eat fritanga on the curbside, stay with Bus Adventurefriends in tiny pueblos and even bathe out of a bucket if necessary.  I was curious how my girls would handle the extreme differences from their lives in San Antonio, Texas. So many differences, especially very limited access to the internet on their phones and Nana’s (that’s me) Nica lifestyle.  I was honored that both set of parents gave their blessings for my plans of adventure.  🙂

We stayed at a beach house without running water and the necessity of mosquito netting and thank God for FANS. We walked a long way on a beautiful empty beach (Guasacate) and discovered great shells for them to carry home.  I was most excited to take them to my dear friend, Martita Romero’s home in a tiny pueblo to spend the night.  The wonderful Nicaraguan hospitality reigned and the gallo pinto, queso and fresco was delicious.  Lilly saw Martita hand sewing a pillow when we arrived and whispered to me that she wanted to learn how to do that.  The next morning she managed to communicate this desire (even though she is just learning Spanish). Before I knew it, the ladies of the house cleared their entire day for us and even brought the sewing machine from next door.   Adri and Lilly will never forget that day, I promise.Lilly made this pillow herself

 

 

 

 

 

We went home, riding buses and taxis, dirty clothes and all, but tired and very happy.  My granddaughters passed the test and cannot wait for me to take them further remote next summer.  They pried many stories out of me during our adventure but no worries, I have plenty more!

If you ever have the desire to join us on our unique adventures, just let me know!

 

 

KILLING THE WHAT IFS

Around the table - my children

Around the table in Masatepe, Nicargua (Most of my children)

I was not afraid of moving my large family to a foreign country (Nicaragua) with no money and not even able to speak the language.

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6 days and many buses to travel to Texas from Nicaragua

I was not afraid to take my 9 children by myself to Texas, traveling by public buses and crossing 5 countries.

I remember when my kids were small and we were living in Texas, I was a homeschooling mom.  I discovered this great hands-on curriculum called Konos.  I was so excited and I talked about it to all my friends. This was going to make such a difference.  And then it sat and it sat.  Months went by.  What the heck!  I was intimidated.  I had no idea how to really use it, nor even how to begin.  I think the big issue was one of those Stupid What ifs.  Do you ever entertain those in your mind?? What if I fail?  What if it doesn’t work? What if it proves to be a waste of time….WHO CARES!!

Flash forward hmmm say 20 years.  I want to be a writer.  I have it all figured out in my head.  For years people have said to me, ‘you should be a writer’.  I would answer them, ‘not yet, I don’t have time.  But later…’  And now is the time.  But I have a few ‘KONOS’ in my life.  Like this blog – should I only write personal stuff?  Should it just be about my travels?  Maybe my family life?  But what about Missions of Grace (MOG) and the amazing projects I am involved in?  But can I mix the two?    UGHHH  WHO CARES?

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I got to ride in a military Chinook to take disaster relief aid to remote Nicaragua

Did I fight fear of success or failure when I was invited to ride in the jump seat and deliver Hurricane Mitch relief supplies to the Rio Coco area of Nicaragua??  NO WAY!  I jumped in without hesitation.  It was amazing!

The other KONOS in my life is the ‘marketing’ or ‘public relations’ or ‘relationship building’ for MOG.  I see it in my mind – I know I want it to be build on relationships.  Amanda Palmer’s book “The Art of Asking” was such an inspiration to me.  BUT, what if people don’t respond?  What if people don’t take the time to even read my letters”  What if I fail.   ohhhh, there it is.  What if I fail…

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Javier Baldovinos and Great dog Shaka

What about you?  Do you fight those awful ‘What ifs’ in your mind? Do you ever fret about success vs failure?

How about if we encourage each other??

 

JUST GET IN THE WATER!!

Have a great day!

TOUCHING THE SKY – LEAPING OVER FIRE

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It is not often that I feel like I might actually be able to reach high enough to touch the sky, or jump carefully enough to not get burned over the fire.  So when this does come, I say, GRAB IT, EMBRACE IT and RUN WITH IT!!

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I have been traveling and sleeping on couches, floors and foreign beds for 2 1/2 months now.  I have a dream, I have a vision, but my heart has a limp, therefore chasing my passions bring on pain, discomfort and in-my-face struggles.  Today, I am in my beloved Nicaragua and yes, today, my fingers are close to those clouds and my feet are not burned, just very hot.

Please let me encourage you to keep on, follow your passions. So what if it requires sacrifice and loneliness and the same clothes forever and hand me down things.  Life is so much more than the normal – Live!  Jump!  Reach! Take Risks.

Each human being must keep alight within him the sacred flame of madness.

And must behave like a normal person.                           Paulo Coehlo

                                      

WHY DID I GIVE UP MY HOME?

My heart is driving me. If giving up comforts can possibly equal helping even one precious family…

La Paz de Cristo - Rebuilding homes

La Paz de Cristo – Rebuilding homes

I have skills, I have energy, I have desire and I want to believe in myself.  I was born in the 50’s, I grew up in the 60’s, so it was natural to question the ‘status quo’.  Did I want that?  Will that give me satisfaction?

Then in the 90’s I became a missionary.  Did that give me satisfaction?  I discovered that I did not fit that mold either.

But where I did find satisfaction was ‘with the people’. Riding my horse, carrying medicine into the hills, helping rebuild homes after a devastating hurricane in Nicaragua (see photo above).  The days I was ‘out there’, involved, bringing hope and love, that is where I fit.  Have I changed the world?  Not much, but I think I have helped change some lives, helped people begin to believe in themselves again, improved their quality of life at least a bit, and that is better than the remote control of my big TV, even better than a nice comfortable big bed (oh, but that is sooooo nice and I love it).

Sometimes when I am sitting in my Wagon, wondering where to go to work on my laptop, or wondering where to get a good cup of coffee without paying five dollars, or hesitating to humbly ask one of my kids for a space on their couch, again..I pause and think maybe I am just crazy.  But I believe.  Not yet enough in myself, but I believe that there is a God and He has called me, He has trained me and that I have work to do, work set aside for me.  If I do not step out and jump off this cliff of faith, the work will get done, but I will miss out, greatly.

I believe in people.  I very hesitantly believe that when I ask, the resources will be given and I can GO and DO and maybe some others will come with me and then they will begin to believe in themselves and they too will bring hope and they too will bring along others…

Just like when I used to have all my babies born at home – when people asked me about it, I always tried to be quick to say, ‘it is not for everyone’.  This too, is not for everyone.  But sometimes I get lonely, doing my thing, and maybe by writing about my journey, I can encourage you and then maybe you can encourage me!  I would love to receive feedback, I would love to hear what gives you satisfaction and i would even invite questions about what the heck I am doing….maybe this is a new way to have pen pals! (oh, did that show my age??)