I am a jumper. A leaper.
Logic doesn't often pull me, but my intuition does. More like a yank than a pull.
And I have learned to listen closely.
I felt strongly my daughter and I were supposed to go on a youth mission trip to the Bahamas this summer.
It wasn't with our church. And my daughter did not want to go. Everyone else knew each other. And we both knew just a few people. Like three. Out of 32.
At the airport, my daughter was wondering what she was doing there. We were all wearing matching tee-shirts with a bible verse on our back.
I was wondering what I was doing there too.
I kept thinking. 'This is not my tribe."
By the end of the week, they were more than my tribe. We were family.
We worked side by side building walls, scrapping and painting houses and giving local children so much love and attention.
I love this photo below. The boy on the right is painting his house. We worked on four properties in a village. And in two of them, the people whose home we were working on worked with us.
Life as I knew it stopped. No cell phones, no emails, no TV. But we had so much more with less.
Art classes set up under the shade of a bus.
Or on the hood of a deserted car.
There were so many cars just left about. Many were used for spare parts for another.
I wanted to pile them all on top of each other and make an installation. Make something beautiful from the trash.
But just being here was enough. Sharing my beloved camera. Letting my guard down. Realizing checking my email and Instagram doesn't matter all that much.
They didn't matter at all here. But having my picture taken through the eyes of this child meant tons. To both of us.
I like the person she saw. Simple. Happy. Living with less. Feeling completely full of love.
And she liked who she saw through my camera too. Upside down. Her beautiful resilient self.
We were also building bridges.
I meet people I would not have meet.
In the past, I did a drive by through neighborhoods like these on the way to some resort. This week, the bus stopped here. And we all stayed.
We learned about other people. Listened closely and close up.
Slowed down. And colored pages and conversations.
They were so grateful for the work we did on their houses. And the children were so happy to have us and our attention.
I don't know if I can ever remember seeing my daughter look more joyful.
Right behind this village was the most beautiful beach. Filled with treasures.
I love this photo of us below walking with children on the beach while this beautiful girl looks out at the sea knowing there is more for her. Life beyond this village. Life as a hair stylist. That is what she dreams of being.
We would eventually leave the beach and all walk back to the village with children on our back and in our arms.
Prior to coming here, I had taught summer art camp for three weeks. I had really wanted to step outside myself and put up drywall and hammer.
But paint and creativity found me. It always does.
There was a shanty that was all completed. The youth pastor (adore him) asked me if I would work with the kids to paint a mural. It was a one room home.
The woman who was going to live there said she prayed every night for a home of her own. Sometimes the days were so hard she didn't want to live. She had thought of throwing herself in front of a moving vehicle. And we were the answers to her prayers.
This was the very last day and our art supplies were now reduced and messy from creating all week.
So with five tubes of used paint (black, white, blue, yellow, red and some light green wall house paint) and kid paint brushes and crayons, we made frames on the wall to add "art" to the house.
The best part was giving a group of teens permission to mark up the walls.....explaining there were no mistakes. It was okay. They were so very okay. They were artistic. They were enough. We are all enough.
They painted picture frames, mini paintings and bible verses. They mixed colors.
The woman who said we answered her prayers loved the framed art.
And I was so happy to work beside them.
I used little bits of paper that the village children used during the week to make my ocean. I loved this part; finding a way to reuse materials to make art. I had a drop of glue I mixed with water and I was off. See the crayon wrapper below?
I needed this trip so much.
I needed the quiet in the early morning on the beach running.
I needed the coffee that I made when we returned from the worksite each day that I drank beside the sea.
I need every bit of honestly and spirituality from everyone around me. Especially the teens. They are so brave.
I needed all the people who hugged me so tightly in a magical Bahamian church that first Sunday.
I needed to hear them sing happy birthday as loudly as a church hymn.
I needed to hear a sermon that said "knowing when to go and do and when to sit and reflect is spiritual". I really needed to hear that.
I needed to give up control. I ate when I was feed and all lights were out at 11p.
I needed to play silly games, like fly swatter hockey and dizzy bat among many others.
I needed to be uncomfortable to grow.
I needed to depend on people I had never met before.
I needed to feel gratitude to the very bottom of my being for all that I have and am.
I needed to watch my daughter shine so brightly with compassion, spirituality and humor.
I have so much more to say here. And I may write more later. But I need to say thank you.
Thank you to my sweet husband for always letting me follow my intuition.
Thank you to Karen H., one of my very best friends for suggesting we come on this trip. Not just Paige but both of us. And for saving my life with her Ziplock floaty (another post). I love her even more now. I didn't think I could.
Thank you Matt and Darice for all the generous art supplies I brought and shared. Big hugs for reaching out to me and bringing them to my studio.
Thank you Jess for creating a community that supports me and for introducing me to Matt and Darice.
Thank you Woodside Church for having an amazing youth ministry and letting Paige and I in. A huge hug to Dan. S. who put this together and knows how much I hate paperwork, but will let me go back again next year despite that.
Thank you Karazim Ministries for putting us in the right place to make a difference in peoples' lives.
Thank you to the friends who purchased my art and words to support this trip. And to family and friends who handed me money they saved and told me they felt so good about this, that it was the right thing to do. Oh, thank you so much.
ps. I am trying to re-enter life as I know it. If you are able to leave your comfort zone and go on a mission trip to help lift others up, do it. If you can bring your family, even better. Have you done this already? Please share it with me here. xo