Weekly Nutshell

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Today in Sacrament meeting (the family hour of my church), one of the speakers, a lovely mother who is new to our ward (congregation), shared a quote by C.S. Lewis that really stood out to me. She was talking about adversity and how our trials can challenge us, strengthen us, and lead to personal growth.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Isn’t that lovely? Backing up… this was Marcus’ and my first week back to Arizona after spending most of the summer in Utah. Friends and family keep asking us if the temps are cooling down here. If cooling down means the upper 80’s to lower 90’s than I guess the answer is yes? To those of you who are enjoying temps in the 70’s and upper 60’s, and especially those of you seeing signs of fall, you are so lucky!

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The highlight of our week was three days of impromptu service, which of course pushed off our formal homeschooling in the best of ways. This service involved a lot of elbow grease, child care, and friendship. The only picture I took was a trailer I helped fill with potted plants!

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It was also Marissa’s first week as a college student. She sent me these pictures that she took of the horticulture gardens and the Rexburg temple (which she took at a distance once she realized she was walking the wrong direction!). She loves her courses and has already made friends with her roommates. She even has a calling in her new singles ward, as a family home evening leader. She called and sent me texts several times each day, asking me for advice or to proof-read an essay or just sharing her day with me. I am still enjoying weekly calls and texts from my oldest college kids, sometimes as often as daily or an every-other-day basis. I’m so thankful we are a close family and nothing touches my heart more than to hear my sweet 18-year old baby girl call me, “Mommy”. ♥

And that was our week in a nutshell.

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My 1st Visit to Westfalia

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On Friday, Marcus and I joined Darcie and her friend, Laura, on one of their regular visits to Westfalia Orphanage. Darcie has been volunteering there for several months now, every Wednesday and Friday. You can read about her experiences HERE.

When we arrived we were greeted by Alejandro. First he gave Darcie a hug and then he asked who I was and gave me a hug. He should be in school, but I guess his paperwork is not yet completed so he just sticks around the orphanage all day long. Marcus and Alejandro played together.
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Darcie showed me around. I got to see their animals.
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They have one pig, two bunnies (one was hiding), a rooster or two, chickens and geese and guinea pigs. Did you know Peruvians eat guinea pigs? They are a delicacy here.

After visiting the animal pens, we visited the Kindergarten. It’s like a little daycare center. Most of the kids live at the orphanage, but others walk in from the surrounding area and stay while their parents work. We interacted with these little cuties and also served them a lunch which Darcie and Laura provided. Laura made the sandwiches and Darcie brought chocolate milk boxes and tangerines. This was more food than they usually eat for lunch, which is their main meal.

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The little girl playing with Darcie’s camera was 6 and too old for Kindergarten, but for whatever reason, she had stayed back from school that day. Darcie gave her a chocolate milk box and a tangerine which made her happy. We also gave out milk boxes and tangerines to the older kids who were hanging around. The children wished me a Happy Mother’s Day which was sweet. Before we left, I got a tour of one of their casas (houses where the children live in groups of 12 I think).
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Darcie has seen other casas and she said this one is the nicest because it’s recently been remodeled. She said some aren’t as nice. But you can see that their couches are made of stone with a thin foam seat and their beds are just a thin foam mattress which can’t be very supportive. I guess this is one of the better orphanages here, and it does get public support so these kids are lucky. But these kids cannot be adopted. Ever. Their parents still retain their rights.

Darcie is going back to the states at the end of this month and these children are really going to miss her. I could see how much she loves them and how much they love her. Marcus and I plan to take her place this summer, and Laura plans to continue visiting with us, which is good because Laura speaks Spanish.
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The last picture I took was of this sweet little guy, who wanted to see the picture of himself. Darcie and Laura are currently putting together hygiene kits for each child. Please visit Darcie’s beautiful blog to see more pictures of Westfalia and the special children who live there.