Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Market Street Art Show

Hello, wonderful people - for those of you who live in my area, the Market Street Art Show is this Saturday!  Come on down and see us.  I'll have some of my paintings hanging in the Woodlands Art League area, and will also be working in the gallery, so ya'll come!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Missions Trip Part Eight - Ocho - Walking in Two Worlds

For those of you just joining me, you're now reading part EIGHT.  If you want to understand where I'm coming from, you may want to check out previous posts first.

Tonight - a poem.  I don't write a lot of poetry these days; but when I have really deep feelings about something, poetry wells out of me.  Here's the one I composed last night on my bike ride while I was contemplating the wide divide between my world and the one I just returned from; so near to each other, yet so very, very far apart.
Walking in Two Worlds
April 24, 2011

I'm walking in two worlds.
As I walk in my world,
I see you
Walking in yours.
Each day we walk
In two worlds,
yet... in one.

We're praying in two worlds.
As I pray for you in my world,
I feel you
     praying for me in yours.
Each day we pray
In two worlds,
  yet... in one.

We hope together in two worlds.
Although far apart,
     we hope together in Christ.
Knowing that someday
through Him,
Our two worlds will be One.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Missions Trip Part Seven - Siete - the Land

I am so taken by the people - I absolutely love them.  They are beautiful and giving and loving and sacrificial.  But today I'm going to attempt to sidestep these wonderful people just to allow you to look at the land.  It too is beautiful, in its own singular way.  Ready?
Trees!  What more can I say?

Couldn't get enough of these pleated fans.  These were in one of our hotels.
Got a lot of views from the autobus...
Plenty of fields...
We went to some really remote places.  As we drove, it got more and more remote.
And more and more beautiful.  The azure seas were amazing.

Wild and unspoiled.  On and on.
This isn't the greatest photograph as it's from the bus window, but it does show how unspoiled and wild everything is.
 When we finally could not take another moment in the bus, they let us out to walk a coral beach.  I've been all over the world, and have NEVER seen a beach like this!  Anywhere else, the coral would have been worn flat, but here, we felt as if no one had come before us!  Difficult, and fascinating walking!

By the way, you can double click on any of these pictures to zoom in...

A good lesson in texture for all my art students.
 We were standing at the edge of a cliff.  It was quite a ways down from here.

 As usual, Oelber taking a picture of me while I'm taking a picture of him.

 Really beautiful coral.  Nice toes, too!  Oops!  It was seriously bright - I couldn't even tell what my pictures looked like until I looked at them later.
Whatever this little plant is, it's definitely tenacious!

We found beauty in the tiniest of places.

I'll have to stop with the pictures here.  After this, we began an unusual drive up into the mountains.  I'll save that for a later time.

Even though everywhere we looked we saw beauty, that beauty is greatly usurped by the beauty of the people.  I had a hard time choosing out only natural things as I tried to NOT include people in this entry.

They are poor.  They are very lacking in 'things,' even necessities.  But I found them ever so rich. They are rich in family.  Extremely close family ties.  They are rich in love.  Even if they have almost nothing, they will give sacrificially of themselves.  Wow.  Very humbling.  They are very rich in their faith in Christ.  Strong, strong believers.  They know their Bibles and know where they stand, and they WILL stand.

Even as I state that, I have to step back and clarify one key point:  the BELIEVERS are rich.  I'm a person that can get just about anyone to smile, even just walking down the street.  When walking down these streets, I noticed that many of the peoples' faces were simply dead.  Blank.  Without hope.  And really, they have precious little hope.  It's having a personal relationship with Christ that gives us all hope.  When all else blows away, this is what it comes down to.  The beauty of Christ, and the work He did for us all.

The last time we went down, I remember flying back into the States.  I remember flying over all the gorgeous, rich homes with swimming pools and reflecting on how much 'stuff' we have here in America.  I remember checking into a hotel room with SEVEN towels - just for me - soap, AND toilet paper - necessities that these people don't even have.  And at that point, through my tears, I realized that they are still richer by far than we are.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Missions Trip Part Six

I like to think that flutes are the most beautiful instrument, but when I look at this... goodness, they're beautiful!  This is my friend, Helen and her compatriates.

Marlon and Alejandro.  No, Alejandro's not a musician, but he took videos of our orchestra all week.  That's my flute.  Marlon is an awesome trumpet, and plays trumpet in the symphonic orchestra in his city, along with singing, playing piano, guitar and quena, which is a traditional flute from Bolivia.

Here are some grumpy boys... too tired to smile for the camera.    Or maybe they're just trying to look cool.  However, it WAS after one of our LONG practices!

This is Leo, my son, again - he's really good on violin, and also plays bass and drums.  He and his father, Elio planned our entire itinerary.

Camp looks like he's thinking, 'Why did I even invite this flute along?'

Pedro and his wife.  What a cute pair.  Pedro's a flute teacher and brought a good number of his students to play with us in one city.  During one of our master classes, I had him help me lead the flutes as he's much better at, uh, Spanish than I am...

Here's part of the congregation during one of the services.  They were packed to the back and even out the doors.
A view of our orchestra during one of the services.  At one point in the service, a TRAIN went past outside!  It was really loud, and I reflected with interest about the close proximity to the church.
Later, some of us Americanos were discussing it, and the natives laughed at us.  It wasn't a train, it was a typical parade.  Turns out that people will get any type of drum they can put their hands on, and walk through the streets beating them.
They also told us that sometimes they'll stop in front of churches to harass the people because it's very hard to continue with all that noise.  This particular night, however, they had to compete with a 100-plus member orchestra.  No competition.  They continued on down the road.


Big string bases.  Gorgeous, huh?

This is the front of one of the churches we were stationed at.  It says, 'Come unto me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.    Jesus

Here's the entrance to another church; we played here Domingo por la manana, Sunday morning.  They have a very big congregation and it probably seats about 400 - not much in the way of walls.  The huge windows are open spaces and people will stand outside or lean in them.

The lady in black next to me with the flower on her head was one of our extraordinary cooks, a lovely, lovely lady, and she also has a really pretty voice and sang along with us in the choir.

And about the flower, one evening they passed out a flower to each person there, women AND men!  I don't remember what they called them, but we call them freesia - extremely fragrant.  Apparently they do this now and again.  I thought it was wonderful and the entire church was scented with freesia.
Some of our masculine team members were really excited about the flowers...

Every place we went to was packed to the max.  Many people became Christians and many, many people heard the gospel.  I'll give you specific totals when I get them all put together in a later post.

Praise God for working through us - what a privilege to be a part of this!  Amen!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Missions Trip Part Five

Unspoiled, pristine, undeveloped GORGEOUS shoreline.  Kind of speaks for itself.

Missions Trip Part Four - An Unusual Bible

For those of you just checking in, I'm presently writing part four.  You may want to scroll down and begin at part one so you have some idea of what I'm talking about!  And for the rest of you...
Today I must tell you about something wonderful.  The first day in, I met Maylene, a young lady whom I had befriended the last time we went down.  It was SO GOOD to see her!  We had enjoyed each other the last time, and simply picked up where we left off.  She’s a flutist as well, so we sat together.  Maylene is a strong Christian, and a beautiful young lady. 

During one of the practices, she told me that she had a friend who was going to the university to study German.  Maylene was hoping to be able to give her a Bible and asked if I had one for her.

While  preparing for the trip, I packed a bunch of Spanish Bibles to give away.  Then I considered which of my own to take, for my own personal use.  Well, I didn’t want my study Bible – too heavy.  I was already waaay over the airline’s weight limit.  Didn’t want my King James – much too precious.  So, I chose my Bible with three translations – English, Italian and German.  Didn’t know why I chose that particular one – I never travel with it; I like it in my own home, where it belongs.  It would have been too hard to replace.  But for THIS trip, that’s the one I chose.
When Maylene asked me for a Bible for her friend studying German, I was delighted!  I told her I ‘just happened to have…’ and we cried together in delight.  Because our eyes were swimming in tears, we missed practicing a good part of one song with the orchestra.  Our joy was overflowing!

No, it was no mistake that I ‘just happened to bring’ that particular Bible.  And for those of you who have been following the Lord for some time, not even a surprise, because you’ve all seen this happen as well.  No mistakes.  Simply joy in following Jesus, and delight in watching to see what He will do next!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Missions Trip Part Three - People

Tonight I'm simply going to show you some pictures of people I encountered on our trip.  These are a very beautiful people, both inside and out.  And we all know that INSIDE is the most important!

This picture is me leading flutes in one of our master class sessions.  We would break out into different instrument groups for some special work, then get back together for more full orchestra practice.  We had a lot of flutes in each place - I think 18 here.  One of the young ladies was one of the most famous flutists in the country - I'm not sure if I taught HER anything, but we did have fun!

Two more flautistas.  We met last year when I went on a previous trip.  It was great to see them again, and wonderful to have deepening relationships.

The young lady's name wearing green is Maylene.  She asked for a special Bible, about which I will tell you in another installment.

A very special circle of people.  I had to step out of the prayer circle to take a picture, as it meant a lot to me.  When we go in prayer, nothing can stop us.

Three good friends.  These two, Oelber and Alejandro, befriended me when I met them last time.  This time our relationships deepened (even if Oelber locked me in the bathroom on the bus - I FORGIVE YOU, OELBER, but I do remember!)  A big part of our missions trip was to encourage the believers.  These two encouraged me as much as I possibly could have encouraged them.

This was toward the end of one of our master classes.  We were sounding pretty good, so I decided to take them out into the street.  We gave a mini concert to workers, children and passersby.
Beautiful flutes.  I always wanted to play in a flute choir!  I had brought along a bunch of duets and trios that we enjoyed playing together.

In one town, a number of people that came to play with us were players in that city's concert band.  It was MUY ESPECIAL to be invited to go and hear THEM!

They had practiced with us and wanted to be in our concert, but theirs was also that night, so... we postponed our concert two hours, ran over to see them, and then they ran back to join us!  It was a seriously special evening.

These two pictures are their parking garage.  They even had valets to watch bikes during the concert.

It was an enclosed courtyard within the church where they parked bikes. You can see the crowd filing in on the right hand side of this one - and there was a BIG crowd!

I'm not exactly sure what would happen if the person who parked his bike first had to leave early...

Flutes.  I love my flutes.  Every one of them.  Actually, they are flautistas.

Now we've traveled to another town.  More musicians.

This is the drum kit I was able to take down, thanks to prayers and the help and donations of my friends.  It was GREATLY needed.  We took it all over the country as we played, and then left it in a very big church that didn't have drums and desperately needed them.  Oh, so satisfying.

The moment the drums came into the first church, there were five or six guys unpacking it, and it was well-used the entire time we were there.  It was continually surrounded with a waiting line of guys ready to play.  I'm pretty sure it's going to be one of the best-used kits anywhere.

Ahhh... Pedro.  He's a flute teacher.  He and quite a number of his students joined us in one town.  He gave me a theory book published in their country of which only 1,000 were printed.  His inscription to me is lovely.  I'm going to try to send him some theory books as well as they are begging for them.  The odds are against his receiving them, but the odds were against many things that happened on this trip.  When we walk within the Lord's will - it doesn't matter what the odds are.  HIS will WILL be accomplished!  Pedro and Antonio invited me to their music school (if we ever get back to that particular spot again.)

More flutes.  We had a pretty large number in this town, too.

The youngest one, Mariam, is a very special young lady to me.  We had a lot of fun together, and she traveled with us all week.  Antonio, in black, is a very polite young man who adopted me as his mother and took care of me.  After saying goodbye and leaving the service the last night we were with them, he came back about 15 minutes later because he was concerned that I might forget something.  He walked around with me and we talked as he helped me gather my things.  These people are seriously well mannered.

Filipe, in red, sat next to me and we took turns playing first flute.  We're musical equals and had a lot of fun. Filipe traveled with us all week.

Mairlis, here in pink, I met last year as well in another city.  How could I forget such a sweet girl!  The only thing I COULD forget is how to pronounce her name, which is pretty much unpronouncable to me.  I kept trying, and continually referred to her turtleshell necklace which had her name cut into.  When we left them, I gave her the bracelet I was wearing.  When I got my flute out at the next town, there was her tortoiseshell necklace with her name on it safely nestled in my case.  I will treasure it always.  Oh, Mairlis, I can't pronounce your name, but I love you!  Well, it's time for bed.  Check me out tomorrow and I'll do another column on these beautiful musicians.

By the way, as a whole, their musicians play at a very high level... higher than Americanos.  They love their music, and it is a JOY to play with them.

Buenas noches!