Friday, April 29, 2016

Sasha's Braces Off

by Sasha

Friday the 29th I got my braces off.

It's fun to get them off and now I can have corn on the cob and sticky candy and stuff like that. It feels good to have my braces off and I got a little wire on the top of my mouth (read: permanent retainer).

I think my teeth look weird right now but then I'll get used to them and they'll be be not weird, they'll be normal.

Monday, April 25, 2016

And Then There were Nine

Two parents. Four kids. A cat. A dog. And now a puppy!!!

We are so very excited to introduce you to ChenXing Morningstar!

ChenXing is Chinese for Morningstar :) She's 6 weeks old. She's a boxer golden retriever mix. And she comes home Saturday!

For now we shall sustain ourselves on adorable photos...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Kid is Driving

My kid is driving.

Admittedly, I should have seen it coming. What with him turning 15, us paying for and transporting him to and from driver's ed, and him passing the written learner's permit test, the signs were all there.

But. Wow. There's truly nothing one can do to prepare oneself for the sight of one's child actually controlling a vehicle.

Sam's going to be a great driver. He's keen to learn. He's committed to practicing. He has perfected the art of elevating the seat up high enough so he can see over the steering wheel.

But. Holy crap. My kid is driving.

Friday, April 22, 2016

my play

by Ben

i was in a play. The play was A Midsummer Nights Dream I played flute witch if you've seen before you know that flute is in his own play. In witch he plays a woman. So by extenuation makes me play a woman so umm yea that was ...interesting to say the least so heres a picture of me in a dress.
(i'm the one who's not the wall)

     honestly it was i little bit hard to understand what was going on seeing as i'm not a master in Shakespearean english so the plot was strange to me it took like five practices for me to figure out when the person got turned into a donkey and it was in one of my scenes

      the practices them selfs weren't so bad they were only two hours twice a week until the month of the play that was hard because it was four hours long almost everyday

      i mostly did the play to see if i wanted to be an actor but the only way i would do this agin is if it was in the summer because it took up a lot of my free time 

however if i could do it again if there were a few less practices or even if there were the same number just spaced differently like not a huge crunch time at the end and it started earlier so that if feels less demanding witch would feel nice 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Jamie

I admit it, I was nervous about this year's trip to Colima.

This is my fourth year leading the CenterPoint team to serve at Hogar de Amor, but this is the first time that we've traveled completely solo without our sister team from North Carolina. As excited as I was to see the caregivers and kids I have grown so attached to, I was anxious about going it alone. Would we get lost or have trouble driving in Mexico? Would the team grow tired of me nagging?Would the strain of organizing without my co-leaders suck the joy out of the trip?

And did I miss our sister team? Did it get stressful navigating Colima? Did I have moments of exhaustion? You betcha. 

But you know what? The differences I was dreading ended up just being nice changes - not necessarily better than previous trips, but sweetly different.

I got to rely on the team and my co-leader from Utah more, and they amazed me every day with their willingness to do whatever it took to serve each other and the kids and caregivers of Hogar de Amor. We got to explore Colima in a new way, finding our way around the city and visiting the places that we wanted to go. We got to know Pastor Pablo from Grupo Amor and work more closely with the amazing caregivers as we worked directly with them on the projects that would make the biggest difference in their everyday lives.

Change is scary. Especially change that involves taking fourteen people to another country for a week. 

And the 2016 Mexico Mission Trip was beautiful. It was beautiful to see the transformation in the team that came from hard work borne of love. It was beautiful to see smiles light up the kids faces when they saw us return for another year - coming back year after year speaks volumes to these kids about their worth and our (and Jesus') love for them. It was beautiful to see the caregivers open up so readily to our presence, inviting us to meals and welcoming us into their lives and work with open arms.

I love how God took my nervous worry and used it to teach me a new lesson in trust and transformation. For me, our 2016 Mexico Mission Trip was one big experience of Ephesians 3:20
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Sam

Hogar de Amor is the best place in the world. Its amazing to watch the kids play so happily, despite the turmoil they left at home to come to the orphanage. What I mean is that the situation has to be really bad at home for the kids to come to Hogar de Amor. In Mexico, family is everything. The kids only go to the hogar if nobody else in the extended family is able take them.

Adoption is also very difficult in Mexico as well, bordering on impossible. So that leaves the kids in the orphanage until adulthood. And yet, despite it all, these kids are happier than a lot of people in America, where people have a lot more going for them than these kids.

I truly find this beautiful and inspiring, and gives me something happy to think about when I'm feeling down. I am so glad that we found Hogar de Amor, and that I get to serve the kids and caregivers, and help this wonderful place do its wonderful work. I hope Hogar de Amor can do this for years and years to come.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Our Week in Mexico

For the last 4 years, the boys, Mom, and I have traveled for a week to Colima, Mexico on an orphanage work trip. It's always a transformative week, and this year's trip was no exception.  It was a week that touched the hearts of every member of the team, produced countless smiles on little faces, and contributed about 400 hours of labor to jobs around the orphanage (for even more pics and stories, check out our team blog at!

Check out the projects that Ben, Sam, Mom, and I worked on to make the homes of Hogar de Amor even more functional and beautiful for the kids and caregivers:

Casa Leonel used to be brown and a team earlier this year painted it a cheerful new green. But the casita (the little home for the houseparents) was still brown and it looked so dingy next to the rest of Casa Leonel. So it was time to spruce it up to match!

Marco and Adriana were so happy with the finished product!

The plastic mattress covers at Casa Cuna had definitely seen better days, so we purchased new material and made 18 new covers for the toddler beds.

Team Sewing!
This is us hard at work at hundreds of meters of plastic-coated fabric and elastic!
Ben brings another delivery of bedcovers to Casa Cuna
The new covers look great!
Here are the boys' mattress covers

And we also made curtains for the Matriz corner where the kids do their homework to shade them from the afternoon sun

Casa Matriz has an upstairs volunteer room that was a rather ghastly green. After seeing the repainted room, the house dad, Joel, said, "this room has never been a nice place and now it's beautiful!"
Ben's skills were in high demand in this low-ceiling room!
The finished room
The fence in Esperanza wasn't secured at the bottom and armadillos - yes, armadillos! - kept pushing through the fence and getting into the yard. After several rounds of plans and ideas, the team finally landed on lowering the fence and securing it to the concrete base so that the armadillos can't push through.

We secured it with bolts and washers after lowering the fence
No armadillos getting through this fence!

We had such a blessed week making new friends, greeting old friends, and loving on the kids and caregivers of Hogar de Amor.

It's such a privilege to serve in this place that takes the hardest, most broken kids from the roughest situations and showers them with God's love.

Please join us in prayer for this amazing place and people:
  • Pray for the caregivers. These men and women work so hard, all for the love of Jesus and these kids! Pray for their energy, fortitude, and patience - that they would be continually filled with the Spirit that they so readily pour into every child here.
  • Pray for the kids. Pray that their healing would be complete from all of the hurts they've received in their young lives. Pray that they would know God as their perfect Father and that he would prosper their education, relationships, and future, all for his glory.
  • Pray for the Hogar. Pray that the facilities would last long and would provide a safe, comfortable environment for each kid. Pray that the finances of Grupo Amor would overflow. Pray that Adonai would continue to be able to provide each kid with an education that prepares them for a bright future.
  • Pray for the leadership and members of Grupo Amor. Pray for Pastors Nahun and Pablo, that they would be healthy in body and spirit. Pray that this healthy, vital church continues to grow and mature. Pray for each member of Grupo Amor, that they would grow in wisdom and grace and that each church member would feel the importance of their work with the kids of Hogar de Amor.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Happy Birthday to Sasha!

Guess who just turned nine?!?

That's right, this week the ever-spicy, always-adorable, hardworking, superbly-affectionate, and never-boring Alexandra Grace Morningstar celebrated her ninth birthday!

And in true Sasha fashion, the party lasted all week :)

One of the coolest things about Sasha's birthday is that it's Grammy's birthday, too! Double the party!

Now Sasha can show off her Kaz spirit on the bike!
This year, Sasha's annual Kazakhstan gift included two books in Russian, Kazakh, and English
The birthday girls share a supercool candle and mini-cake

And of course a mere family party would never suffice for our social girl, so today we headed to The Chocolate for a girls-and-dolls teaparty.

There were crowns, dolls, glitter crayons, and a whole lot of desserts - the perfect recipe for a nine-year-old's celebration.

We are so grateful that this spunky, tenacious, giggly girl was born nine years ago in snowy Timertau, Kazakhstan. We sure can't imagine our lives without her :)

Happy Birthday Sasha!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Feliz Cumpleaños a Mi!

I had the good fortune of celebrating my birthday in Mexico this year and, I'm telling you what, there is no better place to celebrate! Although there were the obvious downsides of being thousands of miles away from half my family and not being able to redeem any of those sweet free birthday meal coupons... but, never fear, I persevered through the challenges.

If you're interested in more pictures and stories from our Mexico Mission Trip, check out our team blog!

The festivities began when I woke up to a very cheerily decorated room, and it just got better from there!

Mom got me surprise birthday donuts
The team let me take a mini afternoon nap
And the team gave me a whole basket full of super sweet gifts!
A few of the señoritas who recently entered university and got their own place invited us over show off their awesome new house and surprised me with a birthday dessert.
It was such a happy day that even Happy Taco bus wished me a happy birthday!

But the very best part was my fancy Mexican birthday party! Ok, technically the party wasn't really for me, but it was the day after my birthday, there were balloons, and it was a ton of fun, so we'll assume that it was secretly for me.

Here's where it got interesting...

After games and dinner, Naty, the Casa Famosa housemom very sweetly brought out a birthday cake for me! At this point, about 40 kids and houseparents started yelling for me to take a bite out of the cake and "promising" that they wouldn't push my head into the cake. Yeah. You can see where this is going.

Long story short, I ended up with a nosefull of icing, a patio full of kids howling with laughter, and a big smile.

I also had the fabulous presence of mind to treat Naty to an eskimo kiss with my icing-covered face, which both she and the kids thought was completely hilarious.

Here's the video proof:

It was a wonderful birthday in a special place with very special people.

Thanks to the my family for making the Mexico trip possible, the CenterPoint team for making my birthday so special, and the kids and caregivers of Hogar de Amor for being so darn thoughtful!


Related Posts with Thumbnails