7.19.2016

Staycation Twenty Sixteen…

Last weekend we had a little staycation in the St. Louis area.  St. Louis is great because so many attractions are free.  Trent’s sister Naomi and her three kids, plus Trent’s parents and his youngest sister Kirsten made the trek to Greenville for the weekend for a vacation of their own. 

We started the weekend out with pizza and fishing at Patriot’s Park.  Landry loves to fish.  Or at least he likes the idea of fishing.  He has a little trouble watching his lure and those darn fish steal his bate.  Thankfully they didn’t all get away and they were able to reel in 5 fish!

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A teeny, tiny catfish…

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We hiked to the other side of the lake…

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Then we played at the park for a little bit…

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Bright and early Saturday morning we headed into St. Louis for a trip to the zoo…

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Aren’t those sunglasses absolutely adorable?  In case you can’t tell, they’re pineapples…

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These monkeys had lots of fun…

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After the zoo we went to Fitz’s to cool off with ice cream floats.  These are seriously the biggest floats you have ever seen.  Andof course I ate every last bite of mine…

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Finally we hit up a new splash pad in Edwardsville on the way home.  Who needs a swimming suit?  Not these kiddos!  It was the perfect was to cap off a long and hot day outside.

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After a busy, busy day out we headed back to our place to grill some burgers for dinner.  Our big grill went out of commission after a big gust of wind took it last winter.  We’ve been getting by this summer with a mini charcoal grill from Dollar General.  Unfortunately, the grill has seen better days.  Eight burgers plus three hotdogs was just too much for it.  As Trent carefully went to remove the food the entire grill collapsed sending every last piece of food on to the pavement below.   Immediately I was thinking that it was time to go order pizza.  The entire site was quite humorous as every adult stood around unable to do anything but laugh.  Laughing way beyond the five second rule, the burgers were eventually scooped up one by one, placed on a plate and later consumed by eight of the nine people.  Landry got a fresh cooked hotdog in the microwave.  Making memories every step of the way.

It was a jam packed, exhausting and fun weekend.

Tonight, as I am writing this and preparing for yet another road trip I am panicking a little as I have not picked any snacks up yet.  Snacks are a must in any road trip I take.  Storms moved through tonight so it was either go without, or rush out into the pouring rain and lightning to pick up a few necessary snacks.  For now I am going to hold off.  I might regret it after ten minutes on the road tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

Florida or bust…

{The Launes}

7.18.2016

Summer Lovin…

Summer has been in full swing at the Laune household for over a month now.  Summer schedules (aka Trent) are a little more flexible so we have to cram all of our travels for the year into about six weeks. 

After sticking around Greenville last year, we decided to head back to Nebraska for the Fourth of July this year.  Time with family is never a bad thing!  It was a whirlwind of a trip as we also made a quick trip up to Okoboji with Trent’s family.  We basically had a vacation in our vacation. 

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We arrived in Ashland and hit the ground running.  First stop was Ellie’s t-ball game.  Bright and early Friday morning Jamie, Audrey and I headed out to my mom’s house for some quality time.  And coffee. 

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Landry now matches Uncle Trent with his belated birthday Greenville Pampers (Panthers) hat…

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Paco and Audrey celebrated the 4th in style at Jamie and Brian’s annual party.  I was sad to miss it, but sure enjoyed the pictures…

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Okoboji is perfect for boat rides, long walks, swimming, laying in the hammock and fishing…

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Visiting Grandma Mason…

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Jamie and I also took Audrey on her first splash park adventure.  She was a little hesitant at first, but warmed up to it. 

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She loved filling her cup with water and trying to dump it on our toes…

Like I said, it was kind of a whirlwind of a trip.  I got to see lots of family and a few friends.  After about 24 total hours in the car roundtrip we were back in Greenville and back to our regular routines….for a little while. 

Until our next adventure…

{The Launes}

 

6.19.2016

6.12.16…Love Never Fails…

In my first trip to Sierra Leone I was overcome with many first impressions.  Each trip has brought new experiences, new memories and new friends.  Each time I leave I am left with lasting impressions.  It never gets easier to say goodbye.

Today was short, but exhausting.  We started with church at the center.  Pastor Daniel shared 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 - Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Often times this verse is romanticized, but it goes so much deeper.  We live in a time with so much evil surrounding us.  God is the one who can truly move mountains to show us His love.  The sermon and verse were very appropriate as part of my heart stays in Sierra Leone each time we leave.  There may be a lot of poverty in Africa, but God is certainly present.  No place is perfect, but while America has a lot of wealth, there is an incredible amount of spiritual poverty.  (Thank you Ronnie for that insight)  Often times we rely on our money and our things, not God.  However, here, especially at the center there are not a lot of things to bring hope.  They solely rely on Jesus and prayer...an absolute beautiful approach.  It really challenges me to step back and reconsider myself and my own spirituality.  So simple.  So powerful.

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Isha sang a solo at church…

After church we moved right into the goodbye ceremony.  I sat through it listening to the aunties, uncles and children bid us farewell with a huge lump in my throat, most likely fighting off a very ugly cry.  After the goodbye ceremony we had a few minutes to say goodbye to the kids before we headed back to the hotel to gather the rest of our things.

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Today was one of the prettiest days I remember in Sierra Leone.  Clear blue skies for miles and miles…

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Our one and only full team picture.  We came from Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Colorado…

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Now, as hard as it is to say goodbye, we have begun our 30+ hour journey home.  The Lord continues to be at work in Sierra Leone whether we are there or not, but I am oh so thankful for the time we got to spend there.  Sierra Leone has faced hardship after hardship, most recently Ebola, but it continues to come back stronger than ever.

As someone mentioned in the goodbye ceremony, it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.

Until then...

 

{The Launes}

6.11.16…Choosing Joy

There has been an underlying theme of joy over the past two days and week as a whole.  Joy: a feeling of great happiness.  There has been so much joy present, whether it is in the kids, the staff, our team, or a random person on the street.  It is hard to walk more than a few blocks without receiving a warm greeting from a passerby.

Today we had the opportunity to take our sponsored kids to the beach.  It is a beautiful beach just a little bit outside of Freetown.  In all we had something in the ballpark of 25 kids and 25 adults, all of which were transported in two podas and one SUV.  We spent plenty of time in the water.  I even got to teach Kandeh how to make sand angels.  There are definitely no snow angels in Sierra Leone.  By the end of the day I think most of the kids (and adults) were exhausted.  I managed to escape without a sunburn, but others were not so lucky.

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It is difficult to see from the picture, but this is what it looks like to pile more than 20 people in one poda…warm and cozy.

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So thankful for this friend.  She planted the seed for our first trip to Sierra Leone about five years ago…

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We ate lunch right on the beach…

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Arm wrestling was a must…

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We ended the night with outdoor devotions.  At the beach we bought Kandeh, Zainab, Isha and Memunatu each a bracelet from the market.  It was nice to give them something to commemorate our day together.   It may not have been much, but seeing their faces light up as I slipped it on each of their wrists brought me so much joy.

It is hard to believe this is our last night in Sierra Leone.  Our last devotions, our last trek from the center to the hotel, our last good nights.

{The Launes}