One of the jobs I do on the assembly line at work is to place a cardboard palate in a machine. The palate will sit under the bottom of a range and it will become part of the cardboard boxing. All through the day we do different model runs of ranges. A typical run would contain 96.
We have to do a countdown starting with 24 on each run. We simply write it with a marker on the cardboard palate. This is easy and fun. Sometimes I can only write a few numbers and then I must do other things to keep the line moving. To remember I play a little game. For instance, say, I ended needing to write 17 so I try to remember something that happened to me during that age. By using this process I have learned something about myself. I remember things better when there is an emotional attachment. Over time I have acquired memories for most of the ages down to 3. Since I am not in a hurry right now I have been able to add more details. Not all of these are the big events of my life but just what I can currently think of. Do you think you could remember a memory from each of these years?
Here's my list:
24-- I married Danny in May
23-- Danny came to my house for the first time on a cold winter's day after I gave him poor directions.
22-- I graduated from Rogers State College with an Associates. I took a humanities class I enjoyed. I locked my keys in my car and Danny spent about an hour patiently getting my little pickup unlocked.
21-- Went back to college to get a Bachelor's in teaching after breaking up with a former fiance' (who tore my heart in half!)
20-- former fiance' and I carved our initials in the freshly poured concrete in the carport at my home.
19-- Went to Falls Creek rededicated my life and then went to work at Name Brand Clothing in Bartlesville.
18-- Went to Rogers State College and paid for it all myself
17-- Went stag to the Prom with my friends Debbie and Leigh-Layne
16-- Got my driver's license on my birthday in the tiny town of Collinsville, OK
15-- My brother Perry took me to get my first real hair style on my birthday. It cost $15 in 1981.
14-- I got lice from my friend. This was embarrassing but I don't think anyone really knew why I had been gone for 2 weeks. (I told them I was sick, since I was some of the time.)
13-- I tried my hardest ever to make straight A's. I made one B.
12-- Started Jr. High, met my best friend Christine Calvert and all her family. Became a Christian
11-- Moved to a new school, Threw up in front of my 6th grade class, most excruciatingly embarrassing moment of my life.
10-- I had Mrs. Murphy for a teacher. She showed Betty Bentley (as I watched) how to pull a snag in polyester clothing through to the inside so it would look nice again.
9-- I was in a program at school celebrating the Bicentenial. Mom made me a long white dress that had blue clovers all over it and a red calico pinafore to wear over it.
8-- I had a small thin blonde lady named Ms. Nichols as my third grade teacher. I don't think she liked me.
7-- My best friend Christie Morris and I would finish our schoolwork and sit at a back table and make "charm booklets"
6-- I went to school all day and was terrified to ask Mrs. Mannford if I could go to the bathroom.
5-- Mrs. Sullivan was my teacher. She would play the piano and sing a song when someone turned "the big 6". At the end of the year when she sang to everyone who would turn 6 in the summer she forgot to say my name.
4-- I moved with my family to a new house in Oakhurst.
3-- I burnt my hand on an iron and got a big blister on the palm.
Samuel mowed lawns on Friday. He was gone about 3 hours. He came back dirty, tired and sweaty. He showed me the money he had collected. It was $22. That's the best he's ever done. He's gonna use the money to go to a Christian teenager camp called Falls Creek I went there when I was young.
On one of the $5 Samuel received was a bill with a website stamped on it. It said, "Wheresgeorge.com". My husband and Samuel went to the site and typed in the serial number of the bill. It had been in Texas and Oklahoma. They showed another example of a bill that had been travelling around for 3 years. It had went from Ohio to Kansas to Missouri to Virginia. They would comment on the bill as it started wearing out. It had mostly been received in convenient stores. Two of them were QuikTrip.
Hey, you know what would add interest to our bill? If we sent it with my sister Penny when she goes back to Russia. Hopefully, we'll get to see her again before she goes back at the end of the summer.
It's a workday morning at 5:15. I'm in my Ford Taurus getting ready to leave home. As I drive away, I look to the east over the patch of trees across the road. Yeah, there it is. The sky has a hint of orange. That means the sun will make its appearance real soon for anyone who wants to see.
I'll be picking up Stacy in about 7 minutes. She lives just down the road. It's fun to go to Stacy's house. She's a God-send. We've been carpooling for around a year now. She's nice. She has a welcoming personality and I enjoy being around her. I'm glad I didn't end up carpooling with someone I had nothing in common with.
On Tuesday, summer began. It was the longest day of the year. And there was a full moon. Stacy said it was red. I didn't get to see it. But I saw the moon on this morning. It still looked full and was in the lower part of the southern sky. It was pretty. Stacy and I would watch it as a few light feathery clouds would drift in front of it. I told Stacy it looked like a Halloween moon. On the other side of the highway there were low patches of ground. I loved to look for and find these areas because the early morning fog would rest there. I don't know why this happens but I've seen it alot. It's so peaceful to look at. In all my life I've never been driving on a regular basis this early in the morning. This is a small reward for being an early riser. I like to look at it for awhile till we drive past. I start thinking like a kid and wish I could pull the car over and we could just go and walk through it.
Tomorrow will be the final workday of the week and I know the fog will be out again. I hope there's alot in the pasture areas. The moon will be less than full but I'll just pretend it's full when I look at it. It'll be fun to watch the sun slowly make it's mighty appearance. By the time we get to the plant, daytime will have arrived.
When I pulled into Stacy's driveway the garage door was closed. But she heard me. Then she got in the car she told me how she wrote a note to her friend David thanking him for fixing the light in her car. And since she always eats breakfast on the way she got out a container of dry cereal to munch on. Before I put the car in reverse to leave I grabbed a handful.
The color was a bright lemon/lime green. What dad would ever wear a tie that color? Koooooll. Okay, and we can match it with orange. Yeah, two flashy colors that will go great together. This would work good.
The lesson for our five year old Sunday school class was about the Prodigal Son told by Jesus from Luke 15:11-24. It was Father's Day. I had a good idea for the small art project I would do with the seven children in our class. Marsha the lead teacher liked it. After telling the story Marsha decorated a Father's Day card with them and I made a tie out of the bright green construction paper I already told you about. The tie was 11 inches long, a little short. It was wide too. But all this was just right. I wanted to make a mostly cheesy tie that was cute. It was cute because it would have the hand prints of our 5 year old students. I punched holes at the top and put orange yarn through them so hopefully the Daddys would wear their unreproducable little works of art.
When Whitley put the yarn through the top of his tie. I told him to hold it down. So his Dad wouldn't see and it would be a surprise. Dr. Barnes, Marsha's husband was at the next table playing Bible story games with a few of the other children. But right now he was watching his young son. Whitley realized he wanted to keep it a surprise so he held it down as he finished it.
When I put the ties out in the hall to take home I put Whitley's with his Dad's Bible. A little while later I noticed Dr. Barnes had his son's tie on. And then after most of the children were gone I noticed Andrew's Dad, Jeff, who is the teacher next door had his tie on also.
This was kindness in action. They were instilling a bit of confidence into their children. These two men had the mark of a good father. In fact, it was literally imprinted on the front of them as they went around displaying their childrens' artwork.
My husband was waking up from a nap. He would sleepily open and close his eyes. He then closed them for awhile so I put my fist close to his face so he would instantly see it when he finally opened his eyes again. I was hoping he would be startled. It didn't work. Darn! He just opened his eyes like it wasn't any big deal.
As I quietly studied his face awaiting his response. I noticed a hair on the top of his nose. This is icky. I wanted to make it go away. It reminded me of big hairs old men get in their eye brows and in their ears. My husband is 42 and I wish this wouldn't happen to him.
I remember a joke told by, Sam Cathey, an evangelist speaking at a revival meeting I attended 15 some-odd years ago. He was an older man and was thinning on the top. He had a solution to his problem he said he would just let his eyebrows grow out and comb them straight back.
I told my husband I wanted to pull the unruly strand out because people would see it in Sunday School class tomorrow. He said, "Yeah, I want 'em to see it." So when he closed his eyes again I pulled it out. It's a good thing it didn't hurt. He says I have no concept that other people can feel pain.
After I read this blog to Danny he said the reason why he wasn't startled awake by seeing my fist is because he knew it was there. He said my fist tickled the little hair on the top of his nose.
At the beginning of 2004, I prayed to God to show me His world. That summer at the age of 37 I took my first airplane flights and went to Nicaragua. I loved the experience and got to go again this year. God showed me a tiny bit of His world in Nicaragua as I encountered the people he made who lived there. This year when I went I got to sink my feet into the soft sand of His Pacific Ocean.
This was great I loved the idea of going to a real beach. In my book, a real beach is connected to a real ocean. As everyone stood in the gravelly parking lot looking out over the ocean I couldn't wait to get in the water. We didn't go swimming because of an accident on a recent past trip. But that's okay I really just wanted to get in the water. Jeff, our team captain was the first in. I quickly pulled off my tennis shoes and then peeled off my socks and went. It was great to feel the waves wash up. You never knew how far they would come in. When a wave would come in it would wash up a few sea shells. You had to get them quick before the next wave. They were fresh from the ocean. I gathered a few but this was slow. I walked over to another part of the beach. Since there were big boulder size rocks there they would catch the shells and there was a gazillion of them. A lot of them were broken. It took a bit of searching but you could find some nice ones if you looked.
I took pictures and looked for shells until Dr. Roop yelled that it was time for lunch. For lunch I had a Pimento cheese sandwich and potato salad and a chocolate moon pie kindly served by Emma Lou and her crew out of the back of pickup truck. Then I ate with Kristine and Mae as we gathered around a large aluminum paddle boat sitting in the parking lot.
All the while the sun was beating down on my light skin. I knew it wouldn't be long until I got a sunburn. Thankfully, Jane Dearman had some sunscreen and most were rubbing it all over their exposed skin except for Mae who easily tanned.
Well, I did get red anyway. In fact, by the end of the night it hurt enough that I knew it would peel. And it did, especially on the top of my right shoulder. That's okay, while my sunburn was so obvious I liked to tell how I got it wading through the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
The street in front of "the kitchen" house was being repaved. In fact, once while we were sitting on the porch eating our meal some huge machinery kept going by stirring up dust as it slowly smoothed out the new pavement. After they finished their work they left a small hill of dark paving material on the side of the road. The local kids loved to play on this. Disregarding any fear of getting dirty they would slide down the hill laughing and having fun. They were also curious about our kitchen and hungry too as they watched people eat there.
One evening as the kitchen crew cleaned up, Emma Lou realized she had a lot of leftover spaghetti. She had half a pan of noodles and half a pan of spaghetti sauce left. She considered it unusual to have so much. So she made plans to give it away. She told the children playing outside they could have a bowl of spaghetti if they would be good. She told them to line up along the front of the porch and then she fed them.
The children behaved themselves and Emma Lou was able to serve about 50 kids. The same thing happened the next night. Emma Lou didn't know why we had so much extra food but God knows. Maybe He used that instance to plant a seed in some young hearts and with the watering of other Christian influences along the way they will want to become a Christian someday.
Emma Lou is a talented woman. Around fifteen years ago when our church began traveling to Nicaragua she knew she was the person who would go and cook for everybody. She is also a very godly humble woman. In a church service Jesus told her directly she was to do this. Thus she began her ministry of serving others. Each year she is the head cook over about five people. Many times she goes to Nicaragua more than once during the year.
Over time she has continually refined her God-given talent. When she cooks a meal she prepares enough food for 125 people. When there are leftovers she usually gives the food to people who have traveled to the clinic by walking and may have not eaten anything all day. She knows how to pack all the ingredients for cooking. She prepares a variety of foods that are healthy. She knows what foods to buy in Nicaragua and what to bring from the U.S. Right before she went this year she baked ninety dozens of cookies which would last two weeks! On our trip she brought five extra pieces of luggage filled with bread and cookies. She even quietly and behind the scenes brings things on the trip that others may never think to bring but are helpful.
Emma Lou has thought of all the details it takes to prepare a meal without a kitchen already available. She does her cooking on a propane gas stove that she brings to the area. Since she plans for no sink or indoor plumbing to be available, she brings big tubs where the dishes will be washed. She never cooks with local water. She buys it bottled.
After Emma Lou and the kitchen team have finished all the detailed preparation and they are ready to serve there is one final touch to make the meal nice and that is, the friendliness of the kitchen team and Emma Lou's smile. Her smile shines brightly over other distractions around and it adds a pleasantness to the meal that you couldn't get even in a fine dining restaurant because Emma Lou's smile is a gift from God. Because of obedience to what Jesus told her to do many years ago and her faithful hard work God has given her that beautiful smile.
Jeff, our team leader, gave everyone the advice to not give money to the kids who are around but if they offer you a service, go ahead and encourage them by paying them after they have helped you.
Since 62 people went on the trip our main source of travel was a bus. It was Friday and we were going to the market. That's where everyone goes to buy their souveniers for their families. Jeff sat across the aisle from me in the front seat. I noticed his boots. They were plain and black and made in a simple style. I noticed they had cracks where you bend your toes as you walk. It seemed a little unsual to me that he would wear shoes old and worn like that. But then I thought it doesn't matter anyway because we're mostly just camping out.
I enjoyed shopping at the market. I went with my sweet friend Mae. We had an interpreter named Jimmy. He helped us talk to the workers in the shops. Usually he could talk them down to a lower price. I was satisfied with the things I found for my family.
When I got back on the bus it was fun to listen to the buzz of excitement around as other ladies would tell of the things they bought for their friends and family. When Jeff got back on the bus I observed he had new shoes on. They were black like the other hiking boots he had but they were shinier and had a fancy design on the sides.
After leaving the market I settled in for the hour and a half drive. When I got bored I looked at Jeff's shoes again. Wait a minute. Those aren't new they're the same ones he had on before. He had taken them to the market and had them mended. Some talented Nicaraguan shoe craftsman had thoroughly stitched over the cracked part of the boots. And then he must have had them shined. I asked him about the impressive boots and he told me how they sewed them on a sewing machine. In our discussion about the hiking boots Jeff told how when he was young he had to wear corrective shoes because his heels didn't land in the right way when he walked. They were sort of like the ones Forrest Gump wore in the movie except he didn't wear braces. Jeff also told how he found a shoe shine boy and he said the boy did a good job. Jeff said he paid him two dollars instead of just one. The boots reminded me of what a soldier would wear as he was standing in line for inspection.
It seems just like the young boy, many Nicaraguans have a desire to work hard. I wonder why the unemployment rate is astoundingly more than 50%! I think if they had the opportunity they could really make their nation a successful part of the world economy.
On Wednesday, June 1, I awoke about 5:30am. It had rained during the night so the clouds kept it dark whereas we had light to see on previous days. DeLaine and Jackie were still sleeping. I'm glad Jake, one of our teenagers had given me a flashlight but I would have to find it in the dark. I would especially need it to make an early morning visit to our crude bathroom facilities. I would visit the one labeled "Ninas" above the door. I could never fully keep the door shut as I pushed on it with my foot.
I liked the small pen light Jake had given me. He is a very godly young man solely fixed on knowing God's plan for his life. His Dad had gotten the flashlights from work. It was a bright royal blue and had a handy silver clip on it.
One night before dinner, I took my bright little flashlight and made my way to the bathroom again. Jackie was waiting outside. When I entered in I noticed that dark watery stuff was still on the floor just like before. I'm glad someone was kind enough to place a new white plastic cushiony seat over the place where every one does their necessary business. It was important to bring your own toilet paper because sometimes there wasn't a roll available. I'm glad DeLaine brought extra. I only had one roll in my luggage and hoped that would last.
I held my little flashlight then suddenly the handy clip fell to the floor beside me. I was annoyed then I thought, "There ain't no way I'm pickin' that thing up!" So I just left it there.
My favorite part of the Nicaraguan trip is taking pictures of the children. Danny and I own an older digital camera that has been very useful over the past five years. I would ask some cute little kid nearby if I could take their picture then I would show them their face on the camera and then they would smile. This usually caused a crowd to gather as more would want their picture also taken.
This year I took 485 pictures! The night I got home, Danny, our kids and I looked through the pictures. As Danny was quickly going through them I told him to stop and go back a couple. I wanted to look at a picture of a kid again. There it was. I didn't want to believe it. There was a young boy who had a silver clip in his mouth. It was the one I had dropped in the bathroom!! Ugh!
It was hot during our stay in Nicaragua. The Optometry Doctor held a thermometer in the direct sun. The highest temperature reading was 126 degrees Fahrenheit. When Emilio came to the Benevolence room he mentioned about the humidity. He said your not supposed to drink the water but the humidity is so high you can't avoid it! During devotion time in the morning we asked if we could get some more fans because there was a shortage of our old box fans. And we did. There were four and they were put together right in front of our room. They were tall oscillating fans and their mechanical breeze was cool when it hit us as we sweated under the aluminum roof of our school room.
Each team had their own room in the school and the people would line up crowded all around the center courtyard. Our room, Benevolence, was the last they would come to. Over 3000 people came to our 3 day clinic. Some elderly came. A few grown men, but most were women with children and babies. Sometimes one mother would have a baby and several children. For hours they would stand in line to visit the Doctor, get medicine, see the Dentist, get a free pair of glasses, get a photo of their family and then receive a gift from Benevolence. The sun's rays would beat down heavily. Larry would hand out water to the people in big white plastic cups. The little ones would get irritable. The Mommas would try to calm their fussy babies but it seemed like an endless chore.
When possible DeLaine would take a fussy baby and bring it in our room. Then Jackie would place the crying baby under the new fan. She would hold the baby up to the fan and then it would calm down. The baby would lie very still as if sleeping except its eyes were wide open as the warm breeze cooled its tiny body. Since the lines were long, after a few minutes DeLaine would return the quieted baby to its momma. The mother took back her little one with a grateful smile.
I will never forget the little babies as they were instantly calmed when we would hold them under the fan. And I consider it a God given privilege that I got to go on the trip.
While in Nicaragua our mission team helped the people in Rancheria in many different ways. We camped out in a school and offered medical, dental, pharmaceutical, optometry, photography, veterinary, and benevolence. I worked in benevolence with DeLaine and Jackie. We would hand out clothes and hygiene kits for each person.
We worked for three days handing out 1 pound ziplock bags full of a few items to benefit the person. There were items for every age. For example, in the little girl packs there would be one or two pieces of clothing, a toy or two, a ribbon, soap and a toothbrush. DeLaine and Jackie spend time once a week all through the year thoughtfully preparing each individual pack. Although I haven't got to help them pack the items, I did donate our old clothes to be used. We gave away alot of Ginny's clothes. Even some she wanted to keep even though they were too small.
It was fun to find one of Ginny's dresses in a pack and then go hand it to a dark curly headed little girl who currently had on a dirt ladened short set and a pair of old flipflops. As she looked up to me with innocent dark brown eyes I would stuff it in her plastic bag and then say something like "Adios Amiga" and smile.
I kept wanting to get a picture of one of these little girls holding a ziplock bag containing some of Ginny's clothes but wasn't able to.
On Saturday night our plane landed at the Tulsa International Airport. It was good to be home. I was full of a lot of good memories and ready to see my family. When I saw them we had a happy reunion. Benjamin was the first to come to me. He told me he had missed me. My sister Deena and my two neices Hannah and Ada Lyn added some extra sweetness to seeing my family again.
When we were in the parking lot getting ready to leave. Deena pulls a big white trash bag, rounded and full, out of her trunk. She told it was clothes for Ginny from her cousin Ellen. When we got home Ginny got the clothes and had fun digging through them. She liked them. She said now she could dress pretty now like her little nextdoor friend Ellen.
I told Ginny that God had blessed her. She had given her too small dress to little girls who didn't have very many clothes and right after I get off the plane from Nicaragua God had given her some fun new clothes. I hope Ginny will remember this and always have a heart attitude to give to others and know God will provide for her.
I just came back from Nicaragua in Central America. A country that is the size of Rhode Island. This is my second year to go. Last year I told an engineer at work where I was going. I told him how I would be roughing it with a medical team. He then asked me a practical question, "Why would you want to go to Nicaragua and camp out?" He and his wife had travelled to Europe and saw many great amazing sites. He had shown me the pictures. I couldn't give him a solid good answer. But I knew that taking the trip would fill an emptiness inside. I wanted to make a difference in other lives, more than just my family. This trip was a start.
Although I was glad to go this year I started my week by asking myself why did I come. I was feeling guilty because of our budget. My husband told me to quit worrying,that we were making it okay. Towards the end of the week I was so glad I went. I kept thanking God for the privilege and opportunity.
When I was 12 years old I went to a small Christian Kids Camp. There I learned about a missionary from Argentina. He taught us a song in Spanish that told how we have a friend in Jesus. I'm glad to say I never forgot the words to that song. Last year when I was in Nicaragua I heard it again. The band played it everyday for the service. It was a sweet surprise to hear it again. This year while we waited on the bus after shopping at the market. DeLaine had two Nicaraguan dolls that Jeff had bought for his daughters. For fun she playfully bounced the dolls and sang the old song from my childhood again.
My intentions are to go again next year. It's like Nikita, who goes every year, says, "It gets in your blood." I agree.
I'm back from Nicaragua. I'll be writing to you very soon, within the next few days. I have pictures from Nicaragua on our main website. They're found at the bottom of the Danny Carlton.net website.