Tuesday, December 30, 2008

REFLECTION

Over the past few months, I have taken some on-line photography courses to help improve my publication skills for ministry. One course, in particular, dealt with the use of reflectors in natural light so as not to need a flash unit to increase light quality.

Sine the completion of that course, I have been thinking about the use and need for reflectors of God's light in the world today---reflectors that will make it possible for the neglected, hidden corners of the world to shine brightly, reflectors that will redirect the light so that it will be enhanced (not having to use something artificial in the process) with a genuine quality.

Okay, so you are wondering where all of this "philosophizing" is going??

This year especially, I have seen my daughter, Amy, exemplify the spirit of being a "reflector" in all that she does -----




----Helping others to see the great needs of the underprivileged, poor, hungry and marginalized people from Jasper (where she lives) around the world, literally.






----Being a reflector of love to her family, church and community.







----Finding ways to make an impact on the environment.




----Doing her part to stand for justice and equality wherever she is.





----Being passionate and compassionate about changing the world for the better.




So now, you know where I am going with this writing:

Tomorrow is Amy's birthday. It was a cold and snowy New Year's Eve in Columbia, Missouri, the day Amy was born. That was 33 years ago --- SO very hard to believe. She was a survivor from the first moment. She was premature and barely 5 pounds, had to stay in an incubator for 4 days, and was jaundiced, but after those 4 days, she began to flourish.


There is a bit of me in Amy -- because once she makes up her mind to do something -- there is hardly any stopping her. HA! And she does everything in "high gear". But she also has her father's personality because she is very patient, slow to anger and very compassionate for other people -- always trying to find a way to make life better for others. Maybe she just got the best of both of us--and not the other stuff. HA!

We wish you a very Happy Birthday (on this New Year's Eve), Amy!!
We love you and are so very proud to call you our daughter,


Mom & Dad

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What Does Gratitude Look Like?



So if ever I have wondered what "gratitude" looks like, I won't again. I KNOW NOW!! It is the look on the face of someone who did not know how in the world they would provide warmth and food for their family this winter --- unexpectedly receiving a truckload of wood!!!




This is the only means of warming their homes, cooking their food, and surviving a winter that these families have. And here are pictures of one of the best days I have spent this year~~~

Arville and Agim made all the arrangements and found a very benevolent man that gave us such a good price (when he found out why we wanted so many loads of wood) that we were able to supply 12 families, instead of the ten we had the money for, with enough wood to last this winter.

Arville and Agim Paying for the Last Load of Wood



Cutting the wood and loading it on the truck














And then we take off-----





The Neigborhood Where Most of the Families Live








On the days of the deliveries, I (not having done the work beforehand) came along and visited with the families while Arville and Agim unloaded the wood. I used the excuse that I had to take pictures --- well, it worked!



The children were at the kindergarten when we delivered the wood so as not to have any discussions at school about which families got wood delivered and which didn't. We did not have the money to provide wood for all 40 families (not all of them were as in great a need - without any other recourse either), and we did not want the families who received wood to feel ashamed about it. Here is a photo of one of the older children who had come home from school while we were there.




At one point, we got on the wrong street (more like alleyway) and so we stopped to ask where the family lived.





As it turned out, Agim had to call Habibe to find out which way to go. He says that he has had to do that alot in his lifetime (ask her which way to go, that is). HA!





I was invited into every home we went to --- and treated royally. What a humbling experience! But what a joyous experience, as well. In every home, I was offered tea, coffee, or juice. I learned (from Habibe) a long time ago, not to refuse -- even though I knew it might be a sacrifice for them to offer.


The drink was made even more delicious by the conversation about their children and what the "Future of the Family" kindergarten had meant to them this year, how excited their children were about learning, and about how they wanted to go to school NO MATTER WHAT!!




In most homes, several generations live together. Four of the women in this picture live and work together (2 of them were cousins who were visiting). These women share all the responsibilities for the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. This was the room where they eat, visit, and one family (of the 4) sleeps. There were 2 other small rooms - divided out by curtains - where the rest of the families sleep. So this truckload of wood actually supplied 4 families for the winter.



In two of the homes (probably the 2 poorest, in fact), I was given a gift (a crocheted doily in one and a towel that had handmade lace added to the bottom of it). Now you are talking about humbling!! I wish that each of you could have seen the joy on their faces when they gave these gifts to me.

I was invited back to visit longer after the holidays are over. I assured each of them that Habibe and I would be happy to come back when we had more time to visit.






These families know where the money comes from for the kindergarten and the wood -- and so they all told me to say, "thank you" to all the churches in America who have helped them this year. So here is your "thanks" from them, as well as, from us.





THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO TO MAKE THIS MINISTRY SO MEANINGFUL TO SO MANY FAMILIES!!!

Shelia and Arville

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM ARVILLE




Reflection from the Castle Hill
December 2, 2008
Arville

“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood---
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
The Word became flesh and came to live alongside us,
Filled with God’s truth and grace.”
(John 1: 5, 9, 14) Translation is mine.



Shine, light of God,

With truth,
In a world darkened by ignorance and mistrust.
********

Shine, light of God,



With love,
In a world blinded by bigotry and hatred.

********

Shine, light of God,


With humility,
In a world engulfed by selfishness and greed.





********


Shine, light of God,


With compassion,
In a world enshrouded by oppression and inhumanity.



*******

Shine, light of God,



With hope,
In a world dimmed by poverty and despair.


********


Shine, light of God,




With gentle radiance,

In the lives of those called to be witnesses to
The Light.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Grandchildren in 2008

2008 began with a wonderful addition to our family:
Nathan Mussie Breedlove

Here are a few photos of Nathan before we got to hug him in person:



Here is the family together (throughout the year):




There was snow on the ground when Amy, Christopher and Elijah brought Nathan home.






And Nathan joined in the fun. He loved the snow!!



Summertime Photos




Nathan




Sophie






Anna






Anna is a Peepaw's girl for sure. That is why I have so many photos of the two of them together.


Elijah


Elijah loves sports - and played football on his school team this year!!



Fall and Winter Pictures








This photo was taken at a once-in-a-lifetime event & one the children will never forget: President O'Bama's Rally in St. Louis








Anna recently bravely lost a tooth BUT Nathan found LOTS (even his back molars have come in already)!!



Amy and I found another mutual creative activity that we can enjoy together: photography!! We might even make it a family business someday.





The children call me Baba (which is Macedonian for Grandmother) - and easy to say. So you will have to excuse this Baba for showing off her family -- but surely it is written somewhere that grandmothers have earned the right to do that.

Merry Christmas, Elijah, Anna, Sophie and Nathan


With Love from your Baba