Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Burden for Desire

This summer I decided to take my 16 year old son, Jackson, on a trip that would possibly help reduce some of the materialism he struggles with.  We decided to join my sister, Pam and her family on a trip with their church to Haiti.  My amazing niece, Paige, asked for the trip for her senior trip!!!  We took a short 3 hour flight and stepped off of the plane to a completely different world.  I have been on mission trips before, to Russia and Mexico, but I have never experienced a place that was anything like Haiti.  Little did I know that not only would the goal I had for Jackson be accomplished, my own heart would be transformed.

Jackson and I in the airport, VERY early in the morning.  
My sister Pam and her amazing family.  This is on the beach in Haiti, hard to believe such poverty is literally steps away from this beauty.

Often we read in the Bible about helping widows and orphans, or feeding the needy, and we are at a bit of a loss as to how to accomplish that.  Well for the first time in my life I saw want and knew there was no question as to IF I would help, it was simply a question of "How do I start?".  Looking at the poverty in Haiti is overwhelming so I knew God would have to be very specific if He was calling me there, I knew I needed a place to connect to.  Well, that's exactly what he provided.  After a 3 hour drive from Port au Prince we arrived in a city name Gonaive.  We then drove another 30 minutes to a village named Desire, pronounced des-a-ray, and that is where I knew I would spend my efforts.  

Before we had left Gonaive that morning we picked up the local pastor, who pastors 3 churches and runs the orphanage in Desire, Jeannot.  He sat beside me on the bus and I began to learn about Desire and the great need there.  As we drove I was completely enchanted.  We crossed a river, not by bridge, we actually drove through it, villagers were bathing and washing clothes.  We then drove a few more miles, passing homes without the most basic necessities as children played partially dressed and adults busied themselves trying to keep their simple homes tidy and clothes washed, although soap is not generally available.  Most of these adults have no education and the children do not attend school at all.  I can't imagine the hopeless feeling these people may have when education is not possible for their children, and feeding them once a day is the most many can accomplish.

We arrived at the orphanage and immediately when I stepped off the bus a little boy raised his hands for me to pick him up.  I wished at that moment that I could hold him forever and part of me thought God was leading me to adopt him, more on that later.  I spent the hours holding him, observing what it must be like to live there, and praying to know what God was asking of me.  I knew that it was no mistake that I made this short trip and that I would never ever be the same.  I had a conversation with Pastor Jeannot that day and through the conversation he shared his vision with me.  It's an awesome thing when a local, who struggles himself, knows that God has called him to things that so exceed his financial capabilities.  Asking other Haitians to help is almost laughable when there is an 80% unemployment rate.  Yet he, along with his wife and children, are devoted to Desire.  I made a decision that day to find a way to partner with Pastor Jeannot and his family to help Desire.  I have started a GO Project, through Global Orphan Project, to assist in what I believe is the most sustainable way to help a group of people, education.  To read more about this project click here.  I also gave Jeannot information on Heifer, International, which is an organization that donates animals to people that live in poverty.  The pastor feels that goats would be a great sustainable way for the families in the village to make money.  So far Heifer has denied their request and I am praying that either they will change their mind or God would provide enough funds that the goats can be purchased.  I will go into further explanation of why goats or any animal make such a difference in a post at a later time, but would like to ask that you pray for that with me.

I am so excited that God has called me to Desire.  When I was young, a very long time ago ;), I desperately wanted to be a missionary.  I guess however, I didn't want it quite as bad as I wanted to marry and have children, which I have no regrets about.  That desire has stayed with me, if I attend a mission conference tears always flow, if I meet a missionary I am truly jealous, my heart is just on foreign land.  I am amazed at God's handiwork, He has shown me an opportunity where I can be a missionary, in a foreign land, and live here in the US, possibly making a bigger difference by doing so. There are many pastors and people in general that love God and are spreading the gospel in Haiti, they do not need me to do that, what they need is someone to help them carry the burden.  That is why I named the project "Burden for Desire", I believe God is calling my family to help carry that.  I hope you will consider joining us, the more people lifting the lighter the load will be.  

Oh and about adoption......from what I have researched Haiti does not allow adoptions by individuals who have biological children already. 

Please go like our face book page by clicking here.

Blessings,
Nicole

Here are a few pics from Desire.  They are filled with the beautiful orphans.  I didn't identify them because I'm sorry my memory is just not good enough to remember 73 names.  I hope to get to know them individually one day.  I tried to identify the people in our group from Baton Rouge but know there are a few missing.  Our leader was Darrin Badon and he did a great job!
My niece Paige and friends.

Pastor Jeannot and I

In the left rear of this picture are buckets and people lined up at the only water pump in the village.  Many walk long distances to retrieve water.

The little boy who stole my heart!!!

Jackson showing off his skills;)  I don't know if I have ever been more proud of my son.

This structure is the church and school.  Hard to imagine life without a/c especially somewhere that is incredibly hot, yet all are eager to learn and desire education tremendously.

A few faces of Desire, God bless them!

Dottie, a beautiful soul!

These are some of the sleeping bunks in Desire, there are also concrete buildings there that were recently built with funding from Istrouma Baptist through Global Orphan.  Progress!!!   Jay, Jordan, and Matt were so great to serve with.

Another Nichole, she along with Randi are elementary school teachers here in Baton Rouge.  I would be sick of kids by summer but they chose to give a part of their summer to serve orphans.  Amazing women!

Paige, Jackson, and Hannah.  Hannah and Paige both chose this trip as their senior trip, that is so cool.  Hannah was also baptized in the ocean on our way back to Port au Prince.  The most moving baptism I have ever witnessed.

This is Jordan and Dustin.  Jordan is in high school and destined to impact her world, what a heart.  Dustin is planning to be a doctor and watching this trip open his heart to helping the needy was such a blessing.

Randi, Paige, and Pam




My nephew Lawson 





The whole group, kids, orphan workers, and us


Our group



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Complete Home Remodel before and after

My hubby and I have built 5 houses together and, after this one, remodeled two.  This house has been the project of a life time.  I hope you will read a few posts back about our acquisition of this home, it really was miraculous for us.  For years we have wanted a camp on a lake, to get out of debt, and to move to Baton Rouge since our kids are in school here.  This house has fulfilled every desire we had, I am beyond thankful!  

If you live in our area please come have a cup of coffee on the porch with me.  I completely feel like God blessed us with this house to bless others so you are welcome to our Casa any time!


Kitchen before
Kitchen after demo 
Kitchen after
Kitchen after.  This was probably the biggest transformation.  Ceilings are low so it was very important to me to have a bright airy space.  
Kitchen after.  We added some old wood left from our last house to the walls around the window and painted white.  I do not like sheetrock anywhere near sinks or stoves, this did the trick and I love the warmth it adds.
Kitchen after.  This wall caused more nights of lost sleep than anything else.  So happy with the butcher block up the wall, possibly my favorite detail in the house.
Breakfast area before
Breakfast area after.  The paintings above the butcher block are done by none other than my 10 year old, which were done in the art class of the artist who painted the one on the other side of the window.  
Little writing corner in the breakfast area.  Painting by Marita Gentry.
Breakfast table.  After seeing a few zinc tables in catalogs I knew it was a must but the $800 price tag was a mustn't.  My solution....called local sheet metal shop and asked for a zinc table top with a 2 inch lip.  When I picked it up I was a bit disappointed because it looked like galvanized metal without the patina I had seen in catalogs.  Solution was....acid, honestly I can't remember if it was muratic or sulfuric.  My friend Seth and I spent the day getting it just right.  We have the brilliant idea to one day produce furniture like this and name the biz "Hobo Mansion".  Seth, feel free to comment if you remember which acid we used.
Entrance by kitchen door.  I love pineapples at entryways, especially in the kitchen.  They represent hospitality.  Marita taught me to paint pineapples years ago and it is still one of my favorite things to paint.  
Area off the kitchen.  The plan for this was to be my dogs little home.  Didn't work, she hated it so now it has fabric behind the wire and I use it for storage.  The chalkboard was a leftover cabinet panel that we didn't use in my bathroom.  Amazing what can be done using what you have!
Wet bar before
Wet bar after.  This is the only cabinet in the house that I kept.  I had cabinet guy make doors.  The insides were too cool to lose.  
Wet bar after
Wet bar after
Half bath before
Half bath after.  Only area we left wallpaper.  It was a really cool grass cloth with lots of texture so we just painted over.  Sink is amazing, literally a big rock carved out.  Counter top is a piece of old wood that came off a barge.  Hard to find a plank of wood that wide but if you keep your eyes peeled and meet the right people anything can be found, well almost anything.
Living room before.  This room is what sold me that this house was worth the trouble.  High vaulted ceilings, amazing 1.5 inch thick wood running on the diagonal, lots of natural light.  


Living room during.  Luckily demo was during a time that weather was pretty good and it's in a pretty secure neighborhood because it was wide open for a while.
Living room after
Living room after.  A word about the floors....I would never have had the nerve to run these amazing wood planks diagonally, or hubster would not have let me.  Thankful the original builder was brave enough to do it.  These floors required hours of pulling old filler out of cracks with a putty knife and without making you totally sick the filler was full of not so nice stuff.  Keep in mind previous owners REALLY loved their animals.  Gag!!!!  After cleaning they were sanded down and refinished and turned out to be truly amazing.
Living room after.
Entertainment wall before.  I actually tried to figure out a way to utilize these crazy built ins but in the end I was glad they were gone.
Entertainment wall after demo.
Entertainment wall after.  I need a painting over record player and haven't yet decided what I want it to be, after that it will be complete.  A word about the coffee table.  This was my previous dining table made from very old cypress given to us by a dear friend who has since passed away.  I knew I never wanted to part with that table top but wanted something smaller for my breakfast room.  The solution was to take the top and place it atop what was the mantle in the below picture.  We cut it in half and used it as runners under the table top.  It is too heavy to remotely budge without two strong men and it is big enough for both couches to use to prop feet up.  Love that it is empty and always available for eating, propping, grand babies to climb on or crawl under ( there is a tunnel of sorts underneath).  Seth helped with this table too. 
Fireplace wall before.
Fireplace wall after.  Yes that is a fire in March because it is stinking freezing outside.  South Louisiana has the craziest weather ever!

Sun room before
Sun room after.  

Sun room after.  Also my art space.  I love it for the light but look forward to having a room specified for painting so I can make a mess and leave it that way.
Dining room before.
Dining room after.  This room is huge for a dining room so I knew I needed a big table.  Also my children begged me for years for a ping pong table.  Solution, I had a cypress table built the same size as a ping pong table.  We have a net that clips on and voila.  I ran across a man that builds cypress tables at an estate sale and asked if he would build it for me.  He agreed and I sent him the specs.  Although a bit put off by the size he agreed to do it for $900, yes I'm serious.  The other price I was quoted was $5,000!!!!  Only problem was when I went to pick it up it took 4 people to inch onto a trailer and he said "NEVER AGAIN".  I tipped him don't worry.
There are still a few spaces that are not totally done.  I'm waiting on a piece of artwork that a friend is doing for my foyer and we have not decorated the apartment above the garage.  Maybe this blog will help me get it finished.  Now that my house is close to complete I can get back to blogging the important stuff like food;).  Corbin, my 10 year old, and I are planning to do a cooking (V)log this summer so stay tuned.