Monthly Archives: May 2013

A Sister for Every Occasion

I have five living sisters and one that is deceased.  These gals are and have been my best friends through out my life. We love to hang out together, spend time talking on the phone, walking, shopping or just visiting. For the past three years we have had a sisters’ retreat at Don and Cindy’s cabin, where we can all be together for a weekend.  Due to physical limitations Jeannine can’t make it to the retreat, but we try to include her in someway.  This year we used a devotional she prepared.
In my 2nd book, A Wish Called Wanda,(to be released later this year) I write letters home to my Mom and sisters when I was living it up in Hawaii in my early 20’s.  So in a nod to the bygone era of letter writing, I thought I would make this blog a letter to my sisters.
Dear Sisters five,
Thank you so much for putting aside your busy life to spend time together this past weekend.  The stunning drive over Route 74 is the closest thing to a roller coaster ride in a car I can think of, but the scenery is beautiful. Viewing Pennsylvania farmland from the top of the rolling Pennsylvania hills is a great way to spend a warm, sunny morning.

I love how Crooked Oak Camp is tucked away in the woods, and invites us to get out for a walk,

just as soon as we get the pictures.

And please thank your neighbor Dawn for inviting us to after noon tea.  We were all delighted with the magnificent chocolate cake with peanut butter icing.

Seeing the beautiful deer on the farm is an added bonus and is definitely a shutter bug event.

Mealtime is fun and it is great that everyone wants to help, but you have to wonder just how many butts can you squeeze into a one butt kitchen.  From Chicken Pizza, to pulled pork and potato salad, we enjoyed so

many good meals together. I say bring on the bacon and let’s eat again.

Which sister is it that always insists on exercise because she can’t sit still?  Oh, is that me?  Nah, I think it’s Linda.  Well a little movement after all that food is a good thing.

What a treat to go out to that little Amish Restaurant for breakfast!  I’m so glad we finally got a picture with all of us, and that after two hours of driving around seeing

stately old barns,
a quaint and quiet covered bridge,
 and the 1700’s Tuscarora field stone college, that the owners of the restaurant didn’t mind us returning to flush the copious amounts of breakfast beverages we consumed.

Aren’t we lucky that the near by town has a large flea market the same Saturday we are there?  Remember last year, I bought a jar of Vicks for 75 cents.  Someone does not know its true value.

It is always a precious time to gather around God’s Word and have a concentrated time of prayer for our families.  God has blessed us in many ways and it is good to praise Him for these wonderful times together.

 Thanks, Jeannine
 Thanks, Pat
 Thanks, Linda
 Thanks, Brenda
 Thanks, Cindy.
Each of you bring something special into my life, thanks for the pictures, and the memories.  Love, Wanda
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Kids around the world

The thing I love about children around the world is that they always seem happy, no matter what their circumstances.

 Our first stop on a children’s tour around the world is Belize, a small country in Central America, and home to a dear friend of mine who provides love and security for girls at risk.  Here I had a chance to visit some of them at school and share my Lions in the Moonlight book with them. This little book, with illustrations drawn by my grandchildren, has found its way into 18 different countries, and into the hearts of many children and adults alike.

 Heading farthur south now, Dick and I venture into the center of Peru traveling with our friends, Harry and Linda and Tom and Kay.  In this picture I have just received a hug and a Mother’s Day card from a delightful little girl in one of the classes we visited.  Our Tom, Dick and Harry contingent brought some school supplies, toys and health kits to share with the students, and it was a joy to spend some time in their everyday setting.

Next stop in Peru was seeing the llamas and how people work and make a living.  I asked this little girl if I could borrow her hat.  She giggled and giggled when she saw how funny I looked in it.

Her father and baby sister were close by making beautiful colors to sell to the tourists.  We saw the llamas and watched them dye the wool that is woven into these splashes of reds, blues and yellows.

Moving on to Senegal, West Africa, on our trip around the world, we encounter the Taliban boys who spend their day begging on the street. The boys have an hour around noon to find a short time of refuge in this center that provides some learning, playtime and a small loaf of bread, called a baget, with butter.  We provided the playtime for these few days and cherished seeing their beautiful smiles even in the toughest of circumstances.

And this is a picture of a working mother in Senegal.  Always a baby on her back and making lovely jewlery day after day.  It’s not easy to sell, sell, sell to these tourists who come their way.  There are many sellers and  the choices are wide and varied.  It took a long time for me, who wears very little jewlery, to decide to buy.  With much persistance from the one who had singled me out, I finally bought a colorful neckace made from parts of a coconut, that I now absolutely love wearing.

Our journey has now brought us to South Africa where we are enjoying a walk around Soweto and learning much of the sad history of this beautiful country.  Children need love and attention wherever they are, and we tried to give as much as could as we walked among them.

Our daughter, Gina, spent 3 years in South Africa, dedicating some of her time to orphanges with children born with AIDS.  On our last day there we got to meet some of the kids that had stolen her heart.  We have always refered to Gina as a “kid magnet.”  They seem to sense the love in her heart for them and flock to her whenever she enters a room with children.

This is a picture that Gina took in Mozambique, another country in Southern Africa.  It shows kids in their neighborhood through an open window, and although I know little about it, I just couldn’t let this stunning photograph out of my blog.

 If you are following along on a map, we are now moving north to Egypt, at the very top of Africa. I chose this picture because of the happy children getting out of school and following us.  Another reason is that the colors are so vivid it could resemble something that was planned rather than a random snapshot.

According to our guide, these boys, pictured above, are not in school, nor are they in forced labor.  They are learning a trade by working long hours in this carpet factory in Egypt.  This is their lot in life and where they go from here is anyones’ guess. Beautiful children, none the less.

Here in Israel we take a quick look at boys who have, perhaps, a better chance in life.
 As we pass by we take notice to these boys playing or just walking home from school in a street in Jerusalem. Governments and politics mean little to children. They seem to make the best of whatever comes their way and survive in spite of what goes on around them. It is the same all over the world.

A high privelidge for Dick and I when we visited Turkey was having the opportunity to teach these teens during a conference held for their parents.  In this lovely setting we learned a lot about TCK’s or Third Culture Kids. These are those whose parents are from America, but their children have grown up in another country.  We found these kids to be wise beyond their years with a broad world perspective.

Our trip this time ends in the slums of Thailand. These children spend time in this center learning English and life skills, along with sports and the Bible.  This young man standing in front of his class is proudly reciting several Bible verses in his native language.  The kids are also provided with a small meal because their parents are gone to work in the afternoon and evening and no one is at home to care for them.  So the Sports Center, with a mission to care for these, is staffed by volunteers and open those evening hours.

Today in America I am thinking of the many children who have lost their lives in several tragedies that have come our way in recent days.  I pray for their families and encourage others to pray for those who have lost so much.  Hold tight to your children, give them the gift of your time, and your unconditional love. Children all over the world are God’s gift to us.

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I should have been a cowgirl, not!

Interacting with animals is one of our favorite things to do on a trip.  When I’m away I am up for whatever is going down, a horseback ride in Turkey, an elephant ride in Zimbabwe or a camel ride in Australia, I’m there. 
Who wouldn’t want to take a horseback ride through the farmlands of Turkey on gentle Sultan who was very tolerant of his inexperienced rider. As we were going down a steep rocky bank, I just hung on, closed my eyes and let the horse do his job.

Even though I look as comfortable here in the saddle as Dale Evans, (ah hem) the riding wasn’t the problem. It was the mounting that I recall.  The first try to hoist myself to the horse’s back ended in sad defeat. The second try was not much better, and I pulled the saddle off to the side.  I glanced quickly at the guy who was holding Sultan, as if to say, “Hey buddy can’t you give me a boost”  He looked back at me with another glance that said, “I’m not touching you with a 10 foot pole.”  I remembered then, that in his culture, that would be his response and I knew I was on my own. It was do or die. This time he held the saddle in place and with a heave and all the jump I could muster my knee landed on the saddle and I managed to pull my self around to a seated position.

Dismounting was just as scary, It’s a long way down. This time he did give me some verbal instructions. I made it without incident and Sultan and I were still friends.  Sometimes you just got to do what you gotta do.

Mounting an elephant is much easier. The guide leads the gentle giant to the other side of a platform with steps. The easy climb leaves you standing level with the animal, so you just throw you leg across the broad back and fall into the seat.  Another plus is the guy in front, who doesn’t mind if you hang on to him, takes full charge of Sharu, and with Dick in the back, I feel tucked in, safe and able to enjoy the ride.  I must say going in the lake instead of around the lake was a bit of a surprise and adventurous as the baby elephant following us went under a few times but managed to get through the deepest part.

We were wondering if we were going to get wet as we went deeper and deeper and the water came up to just inches below our feet before we could feel the upward slope. All the while we kept our eye out for any movement from the hippos lounging on the other side. Out of the lake our safari took us through fields where we saw warthogs and colorful birds.

After the ride we were supposed to hand feed our elephant as a thank you, or sort of a “good boy” dogie treat.  I’m not too sure Sharu felt as though I was completely happy with him as I tried my best to pour food into his trunk.

Mounting a camel is a horse of a different color!  As you approach the camel, he is lying down and it seems nonthreatening. Cindy, my sister and traveling buddy to Egypt, was already on board. Now it is my turn to straddle the seemingly impatient beast. I hesitated slightly, trying to determine my strategy, when all of a sudden the helper picked me up and plopped me into the saddle, then immediately called “UP” to the camel. Evidently the rules for touching vary from a small farm in Turkey to a busy industry by the pyramids. As the camel rises you are thrust forward and then quickly jolted backward as the beast struggles to get on all fours. This is what you call rocking and rolling on the back of a camel. The pyramids were nearby, and it was basically a photo shoot of you on a camel with the world wonder behind you. The five minute ride with the camel sinking into the sand about 5 inches with every step was quite the ‘hang on for dear life,’ experience.  We appreciated the extended hand in a effort to steady the intense movement, but I don’t think it would have helped.
Riding camels in Australia was a much more relaxing and pleasant experience.  We arrive at the barn just before dawn, anticipating a sunrise over Uluru or Ayers Rock in the outback of Australia. Our first look at the camels were as they were lying down tethered to each other and I thought of how it looked like a Christmas card of the wise men. The same thrust forward and jolting backward motion was short lived, but the ride was an hour long, easy loping meander over the desert. The animals stayed tethered the whole time, and we witnessed camel activity with some cud chewing, spitting and weird noises, as our camel train experienced the ride of a lifetime. By the end of our high and breezy jaunt, we felt we had been up close and personal with Whamo, our camel.

Later on that same Australian trip we sailed down the Murray River in a houseboat (another post) and tied up at Big Bend.  Here we were met by a farmer who invites passengers to his farm for some sheep races and shearing demonstrations.  When he asked for a volunteer to feed the lambs, my hand went up, after all I had never done it before, so why not. My little guy was an eager beaver and the feeding took all of two minutes or less.  Later the friendly farmer took the four of us out on a small wagon to see fields full of kangaroos playing and lounging in his field.  They are protected, but destroy his crops, so he makes money by showing the roos to tourists.

In Senegal, West Africa, the owner of this place told us we could catch a ride on giant turtles that were supposedly roaming around the property.  We went off in search of them and found two of these elderly giants on a heap of garbage and branches.  They were not in the mood for moving.  She said if you sat on their backs they would give you a ride.  When I sat on this big fellows back he sank into the heap about two inches and groaned.  We opted for a photo shoot.

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I like to move it, move it!

 I always thought dancing was fun. I was never very graceful or good at dancing, but because it was fun I was up for participating.  In my younger years I had little opportunity to dance but that didn’t stop me from trying.  At home, with the radio up as loud as I could get away with, I would dance with the refridgerator by taking hold of the door handle and doing as many jitterbug moves as I could muster.  That would be the beginning and the end of any kind of dance lesson, unless you want to count me being a hulu school drop out.
So when the Zumbathon fundrasier for the local rescue mission was announced, my hand went up.  I raised the funds, got the t-shirt and showed up, not having a clue as to what I was doing.

I liked the Zumba immediately because it’s not about learning the dance, it’s about moving and I like to MOVE IT!  On the picture above I am the second in from the right, back row, in the blue.  You will note that I am facing the same direction as most of the others.  In the picture below I am on the far left and I have my left leg up in the air and hands up,(see instructor) so I feel like I am totally in the groove here.

I am grateful for these pictures because being in step was not always the case. I understood exactly what was supposed to be done, but as soon as it registered in my brain they were on to the next move.  I felt like the little kid in the Sunday School Choir who is always three motions behind the others.  The one everyone in the congregation is watching because he’s so cute.  I did feel like everybody was watching me, but I was positive that cute never entered their minds.  Long before the three hour marathon was over, I realized that everyone is absorbed in their own Zumba train of thought and were not the least bit concerned about me. In fact during the short breaks they would be talking about their own faults and encouraging you as you spoke of yours.

 I did have fun, tried to concentrated and do it right for a while, yielding to a move it, move it mind set later on.  When I turned right and everyone else turned left, I smiled and waved to the girl facing me and kept on moving.

 In this picture I would say we are all a little mixed up, but feeling fine. I did my three hours, ending with a stretch and a short walk.  By that time I was seeing motrin in my future. One dose, one nap and one good nights sleep was all I needed for recovery.  Oh, did I mention that I was as hungry as a horse?

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