Wednesday, July 30, 2008 the ends of the Earth

So, the internet (obviously!) has not worked well for us!
But, that is (literally!) the least of our concerns.
Our luggage truck had been over turned in a, though our luggage DID finally arrive, it had been sitting in the rain...everything in my suitcase was soaked as if it had just come out of the washer. Including my shoes. And my pop tarts. And my Bible.
The shower is cold and trickles. The bed is hard and the pillow flat. There are spiders in the toilets. Big ones.
It is very cold and has rained--HARD--every single day.
I miss Diet Coke. My laptop and my iPod. I miss coffee and flushing toilets and deodorant-wearing people. I miss warmth. And comfort.
But let me tell you...I am not complaining about any of these things. No way.
We are at the ends of the earth.
We have seen things that I am AMAZED exist in this world. I swear we have come back in time. We have washed street children. And fed them. And then had to put them back on the street. I have cried so deeply that it hurts. The sweet faces of the street children looking up AT ME as I was crying...wondering why I was so sad.
I have taken 2000 plus photos...and they will never be able to tell the stories.
We did a clinic in Pokot yesterday. We walked about a mile through a corn field in the pouring rain--mud up to our ankles-- and there were hundreds of people waiting for us. They patiently waited for hours--in the rain--to see the doctor and the dentist and the eye doctor. And then, I was in charge of giving out the reading glasses. Determining what they needed and helping them to adjust them. When they put them on (ok, think of when YOU put on glasses and could SEE for the first time!) they would say, "PRAISE THE LORD!" They would hug me and thank us for coming. I had tears in my eyes a hundred times.
These are people who own one item of clothing. And they wear them constantly. And they don't shower. And they don't have a washer. Oh...and no where to sleep. And nothing to eat.
So, I am wearing my clothes that have dried out. I am learning to enjoy a semi-warm shower and a cup of instant "Africafe" each morning. I am grateful for the bed and the pillow...
And for my beautiful daughter. Who has a heart as big as Africa.
I am over-whelmed...can you tell?
I am in another world.
And it's ok.
No, it's incredible.
Sad. Tragic. Disgusting.
But these people keep smiling.
They don't know what kind of house I live in. The bed I have. The HOT water and shower massager. They don't even know that warmth and comfort exist...
And yet, they smile. They want to hold your hand. They are happy to have visitors.
And they love Jesus and are grateful.
They are helping me...
I am grateful.
Cold and dirty...
But oh so grateful.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Jambo from Africa

One of my favorite lines from Planes, Trains and Automobiles is when Steve Martin says, "I've been wearing the same underwear since Tuesday..."
Yes. So have I. 
Good News: We have arrived. We are well! It is AMAZING... (and the food is great!)
Bad News: It's Friday night at 10:20 pm and our luggage has not yet arrived....

But we are all happy! And loving it! We are realizing exactly what you really need to get by. 
And we have laughed constantly! 

We have already done and seen INCREDIBLY FABULOUS things. 

We should have internet up and going tomorrow AND if our luggage arrives, my camera cord will be here too...
Just know...
it's incredible.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Sweetest Goodbye

We had a little impromptu "Going Away Dinner"
for Allison at Lucille's tonight...
Tim, Bethany, Jonathan, Ryanne and Zack
My mom and dad and Gina and Sunny joined the festivities and enjoyed a GREAT dinner too!
With our banana pudding...yummy!!
Allison and Ryanne have been friends since 8th grade.
There were a few tears...
Aunt Weenie!
Ron and Katie and Abby are the best! They helped Allison move all week...
And Katie has been Allison's best friend in the world...
since she was Allison's 6th grade camp counselor...
Hello Papa?
Well wishes all around...
Allison has SO many INCREDIBLE friends...
Bon Voyage!

"I bless the rains down in Africa"

Knowing it was my last day before my big trip, people were coming by my desk yesterday afternoon to say goodbye. It was interesting that several of them sang words from Toto's Africa to me as they wished me a good trip to Kenya.
I looked up the lyrics when I got home.
The song is about a man who is in Africa, waiting for his girlfriend to join him there for a visit. He is 'blessing' the rains in Africa, because he gets to have a break from his working routine and, as he tells his love in the song, "gonna take some time to do the things I have never done."
I have never been to Africa. Actually, I never had any desire. Allison of course has been four times already and will be living there for an extended period. I am going 'along for the ride'...or so I thought.
Like I have mentioned in previous posts, I do know I am supposed to be there. Everything has fallen into place to make the trip happen (well, the packing still needs to be done, but I'm working on it!) It's also coming at a very crucial point in my life--alone for 3 1/2 years now, kids grown and independent, good job, beautiful home and enough money to live comfortably. All of that, mixed in with a grueling amount of free time, finds me OFTEN asking myself, "Is that all there is?"
Mid life crisis? Empty Nest Syndrome? Something like that perhaps. I guess I keep thinking if I find the love of my life, it might be the piece that's missing and that a relationship would help give me the new energy and new attitude I am so desperately seeking. Obviously, true love has eluded me. But I am starting to realize that it's not the answer anyway. I admit...I am truly confused about what the rest of my life holds. Yep, sitting in my beautiful home, working my fabulous job, surrounded by great friends and family...yet, deep inside my head and heart...I am screaming for something more.
As I read the rest of the lyrics to Africa, this line jumped out.
"I seek to cure whats deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become..."
Has a Toto song has given me the revelation I've been searching for? Cause I gotta tell ya, that line pretty much nails it. I AM frightened of what I have become: Someone who is not satisfied. Someone who thinks she'll be happy when...Someone who has become ungrateful.
I am definitely seeking to cure what's deep inside. Is it the heartache of really never having the one thing I have wanted most in my life? Or have I truly missed the bigger picture? I know I am searching for a way to fill the longing I have in my heart.
Of course I know that this trip is not just about ME and what it's gonna do for ME and how it's gonna help ME. I know that we will be working and helping people who couldn't even fathom having all I have. I know I can use my energy and God-given positive attitude to make a small contribution, a little bit of difference in that world. The thing is, it is going to affect me and I am actually hoping it's a huge kick in the butt.
Or, better yet, an immense softening of my heart. Along with a huge jolt of gratefulness.
I will be seeking throughout this next two weeks. I am seeking a total cleansing of my heart and soul and mind. I want to open my eyes to the bigger picture. Not only in MY world, but in THE world.
There's one more profound line in the he is waiting and anticipating this time to 'do the things he's never done', he seeks the counsel of an old man:
"I stopped an old man along the way, hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies. He turned to me as if to say, hurry boy, its waiting there for you.."
I am taking a break from my working routine. I am taking a break from my personal life. I am taking the time to do the things I've never done and, I am opening my heart up today. I am seeking to find a cure to what I have become. I'm taking the time to do some of the things I've never done...
I am seeking fresh perspective in my life.
I think I hear God this morning. He didn't use a Bible verse or an ancient melody. Nope, He spoke to me in the way I hear the way I listen: he used an old song from the 70s...
He is saying, "'s waiting there for you."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

No match for me

So my one month trial with is over. And I am so glad. No more match game for me. After 1311 views (people who have viewed me), 83 'winks', 47 emails, 6 phone calls and 2 meetings over coffee ...I am calling it quits. I just don't like it.
I don't like having to ignore people...I hate not answering their kind emails. And I feel like I am judging these men by their pictures--which, basically I guess, I am. I don't feel so bad deleting the ones who have their picture with their Ferraris or their five dogs or their picture on a boat at the river with three girls in bikinis! (Yes, really.) Yeah, those are out quickly. Or him with his three little kids? Yeah, out too. Sorry...And, can I be really honest? Unless you are Tom Selleck (or my dad) the moustache just has to go. No thanks. Delete. And then I feel bad.
But, what's when the ones I LIKE don't write back to ME. Ugh. How could they pass on me? I wink, and they don't wink back. That makes me feel even worse.
I can't stand the feeling of waiting for someone to 'choose' me...checking each day to see if anyone is interested. Between that and having to ignore the 'winkers''s been depressing! The phone calls were interesting, and even the coffee chats were ok.
Bottom line, "It's not you, it's me." I mean, it's not them. Really.
It's me.
I am not ready for this. Not at all.
I pulled my profile and canceled the membership. I'm done with the match game.
I feel better already.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sunny Delight!

My 8 year old niece, Sunny, is in town for just a few more days. She called yesterday to see if I'd like to go see Mamma Mia with her! Would I?! I have seen the Mamma Mia play TWICE--once in LA and once in London--and SO loved it! I dug out the shirt I bought at the play when we were in London and Sunny was STOKED that I had it on for the movie. (I knew she would be!)
The movie is really well done! Love the music and the scenery...and, yes, I was crying through the whole thing--happy, sad, all makes me cry. I did leave the theater dancing and singing though...(YOU ARE THE DANCING QUEEN!) Anyway, after a little time taking pictures with The Hulk (she wanted SO badly to make bunny ears over his head), we headed over to Souplantation for a buffet delight! DELICIOUS!
Sunny will be flying back to Hawaii on Thursday and will start 3rd grade the following Monday! We have had SO much fun since she's been here...dinners, the Fair, the movies and more. Sunny is an absolute TREASURE to me and a very special person in my life.
I am going to have to find a way to get to Hawaii very soon.

Looks like I must be in the front row!

Here I am with my buddy, Jakob Dylan at the Wallflowers concert last night at Pacific Amphitheatre. SERIOUSLY--COULD I BE ANY HAPPIER??
Yes, we are in the front row. At the stage. And we didn't even buy tickets this time!!

Jakob and I actually "had a moment"--
he looked right at me, smiled and winked!
And did I get some GREAT pictures of him!!
Late yesterday afternoon my friend Carl and I decided we'd just head over to the Fairgrounds and see if we could get some tickets to the Wallflowers/Train concert. As he said, "If we don't get in, we can always just Funnel cake it." (It was a win-win for me!) As I walked toward the Amphitheatre, a man in the parking lot said, "Do you want a couple of tickets to the concert tonight?"
I said, "Sure! How much?"
He said, "No, I can't use them...they're YOURS if you want them!"
We actually never even went to those seats...and there was quite an 'evolution' of views leading up to the front row. I was having a great time and loving every minute from each of these seats. But...we decided to keep heading closer to the stage. To the point that we were climbing over chairs...and into the second row...And then we decided to go one more.
We were LITERALLY at the stage!
And to think....we didn't even buy tickets to the show...
Train opened up the show and were GREAT!
But, for some reason, I don't think their performance is what I am going to remember most about this night.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fairly Reliable

My friend Jaime and I made our 2nd annual trek to the Orange County Fair last night!
This time, Jaime's boyfriend, Todd joined us. I've known Todd for about 10 years...I worked with him and his mom at Saddleback. Yep, that's my ice cream she's holding. From the minute we walked into the fairgrounds, we just kept eating!
Well, we did stop to look at the large vegetables, the cows, pigs and sheep...and the arts and crafts booth! Have YOU ever seen a knitted hamburger? How about those onion rings?
We took our picture at EVERY SINGLE ONE of these things. Todd just loved it!

So, let's see...Jaime and Todd had a corn dog and I had a turkey sandwich. Then we had Australian potatoes (unbelievable!), chocolate-dipped ice cream cones and...AMAZING funnel cakes. (Jaime is holding Todd's--she and I split the one I am holding)--FABULOUS!
I will not be getting on the scale this morning...
Food, friends and favorite combination!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kenya believe we're a week out?

NEXT Wednesday Allison and I will begin our journey to Kenya. We are to meet at the church at 2am to board a bus to take us to LAX. From LAX we fly to Boston, from Boston to Amsterdam, and then from Amsterdam to Nairobi. We spend the night in Nairobi and board a bus next morning to Kitale, where I will spend the following 10 days and Allison will spend the next six months.
I have all my immunizations taken care of and even filled my malaria pill prescription. My suitcase is beginning to look like I'm going somewhere. My shifts are all covered at work, the mail and newspaper stopped, someone will be watering my plants and my bills will all be paid on time.
But that is all the easy part. Preparing myself mentally--more emotionally really--is what I am working on the most. I know what we will basically be doing when we are there. And the biggest part will be caring for these little children. Literally taking care of them...feeding them and giving them a bath and touching them and laughing with them and encouraging them...and loving them as the beautiful children of God that they are.
Tears are running down my face as I type this. I don't know that there is any way to prepare myself for this really. I went to Vienna and Prague for vacation last year. Venice and Paris the year before that. I'm admitting to you that this is WAY out of my comfort zone. I am afraid I will not be strong enough to do this...I am afraid I will cry for two weeks.
But I know I am supposed to be there. For some reason. I am asking for your thoughts, your prayers, your encouraging words. I know the time with Allison will be a GREAT joy...watching her in action will be incredible.
I am praying that I can be used. That I can fulfill a purpose. That I will come back in two weeks and tell you that I made a difference and that someone was blessed because I went to Kitale, Kenya for my vacation this year...instead of Italy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

10 things I'd want with me on a desert island

  1. My iPod. (I'll need the 80 gig at this point)
  2. "Eat Love Pray" by Elizabeth Gilbert
  3. My camera (come on, you know I am gonna blog about it!)
  4. Corona Light (and a lime)
  5. "Sleepless in Seattle" And a DVD player. And I guess I need a TV.
  6. My laptop. (Can I get a 15 inch instead?)
  7. Granola (and a bowl and a spoon. And milk.)
  8. A beautiful man
  9. A good pillow
  10. The LA Times. Delivered daily.

and one more

Love this movie

Check it out!

Mine finally came today!

Monday, July 14, 2008

We are Family

My niece, Sunny, found that snapshot of herself and Allison.
Allison was 17, Sunny was 6 months was taken at my sister Leesa's wedding in 2000.
Sunny's mom is Sarah, my youngest sister.
Though there are 17 years between Sunny and Cousin Allison, Aunt Sarah was only SIX when Allison was born.
We always joke that Allison was just like the sixth DiLallo sister.
LOVE that she grew up with my family.
In eight days Allison will be moving to Kitale, Kenya.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What an honor!

This has been one MAGNIFICENT season for concerts...
In the last six months or so I have seen
John Mayer, Billy Joel, The Cure, X and The Tubes.
Now add to that list last night--the absolute ULTIMATE concert experience--a literally ONCE IN A LIFETIME chance to see The Who--from about 15 feet away!
It was SERIOUSLY just like a dream...
But wait!!!
Add to the dream--before The Who ever graced the stage--
Foo Fighters! Flaming Lips
Pearl Jam!!
...and Tenacious D singing Squeeze Box!
Oh yeah, to make the evening seem even more like a dream in between one amazing band after the other singing The Who classics...there was Sean Penn, David Duchovny, Rainn Wilson (as the Pinball Wizard) and Adam Sandler. Oh and Jeremy Piven walked in front of us on the way to his seat...
and then, we turn around to see Taylor Hawkins sitting two rows behind us!!
(Oh Lisa...this one is for you!)
And then...Roger Daltrey--freaking AMAZING!
I swear I was 16 year old last night.
Honestly, between The Who's incredible music and the amazing aroma in the air--I was taken back in time...
These guys are the same age as MY Dad!
And they ROCK!
It's like he was singing to US!
I was SO happy last night...I had one of those "Eiffel Tower Moments"...trying to 'hold on' to the INCREDIBLE feelings I had while I was standing 15 feet away from one of the greatest bands of ALL time! My face hurt from SMILING so much!! It was just FABULOUS....
And YOU can enjoy it too! The show will be aired Thursday, July 16 on Vh1. In between GREAT performances, you can watch for me in the audience...we started in the 17th row...and ended up in the third row. Yep...
Don't ask...just know that I don't think I will ever be able to SIT in a seat at a concert again!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My 1,000th post!

I am THRILLED to be attending "Vh1 Rock Honors The Who" tonight! Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Incubus, Flaming Lips and Tenacious D (!) will be performing along with The Who themselves! Incredible!! The concert is being taped and will be shown on Vh1 later this week. (Set your Tivo now!)
Will I be taking pictures? Will I blog about it? Hmmm....
Oh, did I mention that we have seats on the floor? Yeah...

PS Yep. This is my 1,000th post. Get a life, huh?
Oh, wait. I have one!!
And, it's pretty darn good.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Fair Lady

Sunny and I made our annual trek to the
Orange County Fair this afternoon...
Just a few shots of our fun-filled day!