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.

Valentina

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!

 

 

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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

 

 

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!

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??)

THE BIRDS AND THE BEES, WHY NOT ME?

My wonderful children

My wonderful children

I am moving in eight days, again.  When I had all my kids at home (all ten of them) they used to love to shock people by telling them we have moved 19 times over the years.  Am I military? you might ask.  No, not at all.  Then why would I move so many times, especially with such a large family.  Good question and one that is too complex for me to delve into today, maybe I do not even understand totally.

But all that moving certainly did produce well-rounded people, with not much need for the security that comes with a ‘permanent home’ (is that maybe a bit of an illusion, anyway?).  One of my comments used to be that I wanted my children to have their security inside of them, not in external circumstances.  most of my kids are in their own homes.  My youngest is at the stage that he has one foot in and the rest out, sort to speak.

40751a83-9290-46c4-9c60-675b8d140d8a_zpsxxhazwfqI have a dream that I have been chasing for many years – building up a non-profit to help empower people who are helping others.  Needless to say, this has created a lifestyle for me that is not too security-based.  I am now 60 and I continue to believe and give and live for my passion, for my dream.   I have to be out of my apartment in eight days and just found a place to sub-let yesterday.  I act like I eat stress for every meal and enjoy the flavor, but lots of times my insides churn and I fight that enemy, anxiety.

BUT, I have been living like this for 40 years now (40 years!) and it appears that the older I get and the more my kids are independent, the more I feel driven to shed my ‘stuff’ and be free to keep trying to fly.  One of the biggest struggles has been always, over the years, finances.  Even freedom costs money.  The lack thereof and the pressure produced by that lack tends to produce anxiety.  Sometimes big, bad, ugly anxiety.  How do I deal with this damaging enemy of mine??  I have faith in a higher being than myself.  I believe in God and that He is directing and guiding my life.

I have this impression these days, and I might be wrong, that it might be more accepted for me to make known that I am gay (though I am not) than for me to announce that I believe in God and that I hear His voice and that I try to follow Him with a passion.  My struggle with beginning to blog was this:  do I hide my faith in the closet?  I want to be accepted, I want to build my readership, I want people to read my words and I long to encourage people.  So, do I hide the very thing that sustains me?   I do not attend church but my faith and my belief that I am following divine direction keeps me a bit saner as I push through the brambles and thorns of life, to see people set free.

As I stated in the beginning, I am moving.  And it is all very precarious at this point.  I developed a migraine headache yesterday.  A bad one – I thought, uh-oh, I know these signs, that stupid stress monster is rearing its ugly head and making me sick.  I cannot sleep.  So this morning, I turned to my Bible.  I stopped.  I got on my yoga mat.  I stopped.  I got quiet.  I tuned in to something in me, yet so much bigger than me.  I was led to John 14:1.  “Let your heart not be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.”  Then I opened a very old devotional book I had on my shelf – have not opened it for a long time.  Opened to this:  “do not worry about your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you will put on…”  Matt. 6:25.     For years and years and years, when I find myself out on a ledge once again – needing to jump and needing to believe that ‘He’ will catch me, I always have to come back to this same question.  ‘Is my God real?  Or am I crazy?’   And time after time after time after time, He has proved to me, He is real (and yes, I am a bit crazy).

So, here is my story, here is my song.  The real one.  The continuing saga of a simple woman, with ten kids and now 8 grandchildren, still determined that my God is real and that He cares for us and that we really can make a difference.

VULNERABILITY – I HAVE CHEATED YOU

Ultrasound Project Las Salinas 6-28-130840-IMG_0135Giving Birth Kits way up in the mountains of NicaraguaI am writing this today to apologize.  Brene Brown says in her book ‘Daring Greatly’:  “Lord, give me the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”.   Yes, I have shown up, I am here.  But I have still been hiding a part of me and actually, I think it is pretty much the best part.  So, today, I am telling the whole truth.  I began this blog for me and for you, but also for the hurting, struggling people I have met and come to know and love.  I run a very small non-profit organization and it is what drives me in my life.  I live a bit on the edge for the sake of my work and I love it with a passion.  Do you ever have those stupid ‘what ifs’ run through your mind?  What if people get turned off by my blog because I talk about my projects?  (like what? Cheri???),  what if people….  whatever, my mind is so stupid sometime.So here I am with all my stuff hanging out – I hope you continue to follow my blog and to be really honest, I hope that some of you decide to get involved.   Wow, I said it.

The photos are of past experiences I have had with my mission – Missions of Grace.  And please know that I do have a very strong spiritual existence, but I respect and never push it on anyone.

Much more to come.  Exciting stories and introductions to some awesome ‘unsung heroes’.  Got to run.  Have a great day!