A peek into my life…

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “So, what does a normal day look like for you?”

And I generally laugh.

First of all, I don’t even know what normal is.  Second, I have learned that anything can happen on any given day.

So if you would like, step into my world for a moment and I’ll share a recent day with you.

As usual, the American staff meets at 8:00 to discuss current projects, groups and events.  Immediately after, I had to meet up with the group that I was hosting that week and help get them started on their work project.

Hm, let’s see, rakes, shovels, hoes…check.  Work gloves…work gloves?  Where are they when you need them?!  I personally think they end up in the Land of Lost Socks.  Find the work gloves and bring the tools and the workers up to the upper campground to do some landscaping.  Back down to the middle campground to check on the women from the group who are prepping a craft project for later that afternoon.

Walkie talkie goes off and someone needs more shovels. Find the keys to the tool shed…got it.  No keys to any orphanage vehicle.  Hm, I guess I’ll have to walk back up again with the shovels.  Oh well, exercise is good for me, right?

Hike back down to watch another group trimming trees and a third building fences. Oh, a drop-by visitor just brought some donations.  Wonderful!  We can always use diapers, food, and soap!  I have a little while before I need to help with lunch prep, so I may as well bring everything to the supply room.

Ick.  A bottle of shampoo leaked.  All over the shelves….Clean it up and organize while I’m at it.  That reminds me, we have a lot of people on site today, I should check the visitor’s bathroom to make sure there is toilet paper .  Trek through the kitchen and realize the group is ready to start making lunch for our kids.

Uh, hang on just a second; let me bring this toilet paper and soap to the bathroom and I’ll be right back to help get you guys started.

Ew.  The wastebasket is overflowing.  (remember, no flushing toilet paper in Mexico!)  There’s a massive pile around the bucket and all over the floor.  And the sink is grimy.  Kind of embarrassing to have for visitors.  Okay, I’ll clean that up after lunch prep gets under way.

Knives are here, cutting boards here. Pots, pans, trays, silverware and plates.  Be right back to answer any more questions…

Okay, rubber gloves, Comet, sponge, toilet bowl cleaner….ready.  Back through the kitchen to the bathroom…

Stopped by 4 kids with something in their hands.  “Here, Melody this is for you. It’s a baby bird!  We found it on the ground.  It fell out of the nest.  You can keep it in your house!”

“Um.  No, I can’t do that because I don’t have any food that a baby bird would eat.”

“That’s okay…we can just feed it…soup!  And tortillas!”

“Guys, it’ll be okay.  We just need to put it outside in a tree and its mom will find it.”

“No!  We can’t because they’re cutting down ALL of our trees! And it doesn’t know how to fly yet.”

Immediately following this statement the bird flutters out of their hands and starts half flying, half flopping around the kitchen.  Amid shrieks and shouts, the terrified critter is finally recaptured and released on the edge of the property.  With much reassurance that it will be fine and its mom will find it and the cats won’t eat it (sorry, Lord, I don’t know if that is true or not!), I herd the children back to the playground.

Back to the kitchen to grab the supplies I left. “Melody, how many plates are we making and how do we serve it?”….seating chart and numbers explained…Be right back, still need to clean the bathroom.

Trash emptied; give the sink, floor, and toilet a once over – done.

Uh oh, we’re out of water?  Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll get that taken care of soon.  Wait, now there’s no electricity for half the property?

Now the flood is plated and on tables, lunch bell rung, and normal children noise fill the dining hall.  Dishes and kitchen clean up completed.

Next it’s time to give a tour of the orphanage to the group who fixed lunch.  It’s always fun to watch the faces of visitors as we show them the fun colors and unique touches to each house.

Walkie talkie goes off – help!  Due to the road construction, a tour bus can’t get in and deliver another group of people who are staying for the weekend.  Various people drive trucks and vans out to the end of the road and return piled high with luggage and people.

Okay, now let’s set up for the craft projects they want to do with the kids. Wait, two groups want to do crafts at the same time?  Okay, some can do it outside with the children, and others can come in the dining hall.  (after all, we have more than enough kids to go around!)  Organized chaos is a good goal to shoot for.  Here’s your paper plate with your paint.  No, don’t use your fingers, use the brushes.  Don’t wipe it on your shirt! Oh, you want me to draw the design on your rock first? And so do you?  And you?  Hang on and wait just a minute, I’ll help you.  Wait, your rock is still wet, don’t set it on the table; keep it on the plastic.  Um, okay, that’s enough paint, no more mixing!

Walkie talkie – “Is anyone available to open the gift shop?”

A bit of space now with not too much going on.  This weekend the town founder’s day is happening.  After supper let’s take some of the little girls up to see the traditional dancing.  Big crowd there…uh, do a head count – do we have everybody?  Anybody want buñuelos? (traditional Mexican treat that is basically fried dough or tortillas covered in cinnamon and sugar or piloncillo syrup) The vendor wants to know how many we want. Hm, how about the entire stack?  Sticky fingered little girls, colorful skirts, stomping of boots, mariachi music….

Hurry back in time for movie night in the dining hall.  Pajama clad children, blankets on the floor, and attempts to keep the popcorn spillage to a minimum.  Who knew “Mary Poppins” was so interminably long?!  Sleepy children off to bed, kitchen swept and locked….

It’s 9:30 at night…are we finally done?

Whew…..the first time I’ve sat down all day…

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No, I did not exaggerate or make any of this up.  In fact, I probably forgot a few things that happened!  Often thrown into the mix are things like cake baking, campground cleaning, errands, multiple tours, lizard or sheep wrangling, doctor or dentist visits, homework help, etc.  Keep in mind that this was just a sample of my day – at the same time as all of this was happening, the rest of our amazing staff were also busy working and doing similar things.  We each have a part we play, and not one of us could do it without the others.

So in answer to the question, “What does a normal day look like for you?”….Well, you just never know!

Look at Them


Something in Acts recently stood out to me:

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.  Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.  When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.  Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’   So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

 Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’  Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”   Acts 3:1-8


A familiar passage.  One I have read time and again.  But the part I noticed in this instance was hidden right there in the middle.

“Peter looked straight at him, as did John.”

They looked at him. Straight at him.


The beggar was obviously not used to this.  They had to command him to look at them. He asked them for money, but didn’t expect them to actually pause there. He probably was accustomed to being passed by, ignored.  Or at the most having someone toss a few coins at his feet as they hurried on their way.  He kept his head and his gaze down.

Until one day, two men stopped.  And looked at him.

After this they reached out and took the hand of this beggar man.  Helped him up.

They touched him.

And in the name of Jesus Christ, a miracle occurred – a crippled man walked.  And he leaped.  He ran.  And he praised God.


But somehow I think for that beggar, the miracle began when someone stopped and took notice of him….were willing to physically reach out and touch this man.

How easy it is for us to avoid contact with people – especially the ones who make us uncomfortable.  The disabled or handicapped.  The homeless.  The beggars.  The ones who are loud or crude.  When they smell or are dirty.  Unpleasant.

We hurry by and turn away.  Avert our gaze.

The disciples followed the example Jesus had set for them and really looked at people and then showed them the love of Christ.

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Will you?  Will you take the time to really and truly look at people?  The ones you pass on the street.  Your neighbor.  The woman waiting in the check out line behind you.  The scruffy man standing at the corner.  The girl dressed like a prostitute.  These people.  Each one.

Every single person is a child of God, created in his image.

He loves them.

Will you?

Will you be His hands and feet?  Won’t you be Love to them?

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There’s a song by Mercy Me that captures this perfectly:

“When you fall asleep tonight
In your warm and cozy room
Know that I’m awake
And I’ve got no shelter and no food
I am not alone
My friends are broke and lost
Looking for someone to lead them to my cross
I need your help, I need your help

Won’t you be My voice calling
Won’t you be My hands healing
Won’t you be My feet walking into a broken world
Won’t you be My chain-breaker
Won’t you be My peacemaker
Won’t you be My hope and joy
Won’t you be My Love”


Mi Casita (My Little House)

Many of you have already seen these pictures, but I have had requests to see what my house looks like from those not on Facebook.

I live in a  120 square foot micro-house that has a tiny bathroom, kitchen, living area, and sleeping loft.  I think it’s perfect for one person – easy to keep clean!

My house

When I first moved in, all that was in the house was a bare mattress, a chair, and a blanket for a rug.  That’s it.  Slowly over the next few months I added to it and made it feel like home.  I had a lot of fun decorating and almost everything in here is either homemade or up-cycled.  Here are the before and after pictures…

The loft:


The kitchen has a toaster oven, two little propane burners, and a mini refrigerator.


The day after I arrived I went out and picked flowers and put them in cups and bowls to make it more cheerful.  Being an artist, I need lots of bright colors around me!


I picked out material online and sent Mom the measurements of my windows, and she made all the pretty curtains and pillows for me.


My end table is made up of two wooden crates I scavenged from the trash and then spray painted.  I bought the cheapest lamp I could find…and then painted it to match my color scheme!


Window decoration: rusty metal washers I collected from the road and covered with yarn.


One of the other volunteers, Kate, gave me a bunch of blank canvases, and I enjoyed creating this wall art.


I made the vases out of glass Coca Cola bottles and covered the logo with twine.




I loved this quote from Jim Elliot, so I painted it right where I can see it as a reminder every day.


Pictures of my beautiful nieces!


I can’t leave dishes unwashed for very long in the kitchen – there’s no place to let them pile up!





Looking into the bathroom, the toilet is on the left and the shower is on the right.


It was fun painting a more modern feel for the artwork in my house.




I can’t stand up straight in the loft, but I don’t hit my head when I’m sitting on the bed.




This is what you do when you have no tools or hardware to create a shelf.  A piece of scavenged wood, grosgrain ribbon, and thumbtacks!


Closer view of the artwork above the bed.  I was trying to mimic the style and colors of the curtains.



So there you have it!  I love the cheerful colors and having a place to come back to and relax at the end of a busy day.


New Homes


One of my favorite parts about working at Door of Faith is their strong focus on outreach.  Hundreds of visitors come and stay with us and then serve in our community.  In the last two weeks some of the groups built five houses for local residents!


Unloading materials…


10374873_10152478904879609_2893353707810359636_n  I wasn’t there for the building process, so I don’t have photos to document all the work that went into them, but I was able to take part in the dedication ceremony when everything was completed.


At each place, the team prayed for the families and then gave them house warming gifts and the keys to their brand new home.


This man asked to pray for us, and his wife brought us to tears as she shared, “We prayed for years for a house, and it seemed like we would never have an answer.  But we knew God heard and was faithful.  Then you came….and now we have the answer to our prayers and the years of waiting are over!”


A matching dog house for “Bruce”.




“You have made my life-long dream come true – I have a house for my family!”




“Our family has grown…because we now have you.”





Cake Creations

      One aspect of my job that I have been thoroughly enjoying is cake decorating.  Every one of our kids has a special celebration on (or close to) their birthday.  One of the other volunteers, Kate, brought a wide variety of decorating supplies, tools, pans, and books with her when she came to work at Door of Faith.  We have had a wonderful time collaborating our ideas and creating fun treats for people here.

On Mother’s Day we baked individual cakes for all of the dorm moms on our staff.



The flower and octopus cupcakes for a school event were a lot of fun to make!Image




One weekend we had 4 cakes to make in one day – needless to say, we’re kept busy.


Baby shower cake for a lady who lives in another part of the canyon…



This cake was for a Mother’s Day party hosted by our director, DJ, and his wife, Lynette.


One of the best part of making these treats is the reaction of the kids – to watch their faces light up and hear, “WOW!”




Kate and I have had a wonderful time together creating edible art!


Easter Sunday

On Easter Sunday our church had a baptismal service at the local pools, followed by a cookout. Originally, the kids weren’t supposed to get in the water before the baptisms happened. They lined up in anticipation…




Somehow this shoe was “accidentally” dropped in the pool, and of course it had to be retrieved!



It wasn’t long before “just sitting on the edge and splashing with our feet”…


…became “everybody in”!


Praying over those being baptized…




I thought for sure this little dog was going to join in the fun and end up getting dunked!



Say “cheese”!




Proof that I’m actually here! Usually I’m behind the camera lens, so this is the first time I’ve been in a picture.



Some of our guys manning the grill. I should have gotten pictures of all the food that day; everybody just went from table to table sampling the various things. I was so stuffed by the time we left!


A time of worship…


A lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon!


A treat for everyone is when groups bring hotdogs and hamburgers for our kids and we have a big cookout.

Lots of meat to grill!


This group also donated large quantities of this popcorn and it was a huge hit. I’m not usually a popcorn fan, but this stuff was amazing and terribly addictive!


Diego waiting for the inevitable dropped food…








This particular day we also had a couple of pinatas full of candy.





The group also had an Easter story to tell the kids.


They mostly sat in rapt attention…Okay, with some goofy grins that appeared as soon as the camera came out!


What a fun day!

La Biblioteca

At home, I spent a lot of time in the library. It’s only fitting that a large portions of my afternoons here are also spent in the library.


As soon as the kids see me after they get out of school, the first thing they ask is for me to open the library!


When I took these pictures, it was actually a pretty quiet day in the library. Yesterday I counted 15 kids sprawled everywhere, but we have a lot of American groups staying here right now, and most of the kids were outdoors playing with them today.



Quite a few children have a required number of books or a certain amount of time they have to read each day as part of their homework. They come to the library so that I can make sure they get it done and sign my name to their homework. Usually they read aloud which can make it quite noisy!



Games are another favorite activity here in the library. Top of the list are “Guess Who” and “Operation”. I’ve had to learn new Spanish words in order to get the kids to pick up the games when they’re finished and put them back on the shelves.



I love the fact that I am starting to fit in here. I’m no longer just one of the “Americana”s who play on the playground with them for a week and then leave. I am “Melodia” (or once in a while “Pelo Amarillo” – Blond Hair – if they can’t remember my name!), and I hold the keys to a wonderful place … La Biblioteca!

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