'shine your eyes’ is a phrase that I picked up in liberia, west africa. it means to open your eyes and see the Truth. this is my hope for people everywhere, myself included, that we will continually be transformed to see and be the ideals God has set forth as the Kingdom. the book of isaiah says it this way:

'see, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. the mind of the rash will understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear.’ isaiah 32:1-4

currently this is taking shape in my life working with bahamas habitat. we are working to provide aviation support to bahamas methodist habitat, a hurricane relief/sub-standard housing repair organization based in the bahamas. know that we would love for you to come spend some time with us as we take part in all the beautiful ways that God is loving His creation.

in the words of mother teresa, “pray for me that i not loosen my grip on the hands of Jesus even under the guise of ministering to the poor.” and i pray that in all that you do, whether coming to the bahamas, serving in haiti or celebrating life in your part of the world that you will simply love and come and see all that God has for us. let this place be a place of celebration and conversation for us to greater understand life with one another.

‘and because of our faith, He has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand. and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has in mind for us to be.’ –romans 5:2



castles made of sand

friday was a good day.  we got to crash the primary school's Christmas party at the beach.  About 25 kids splashing around was a lot of fun...and having Christmas parties at the beach is a little bit of a novelty to us volunteers from the States.  

Mrs. Pinder is the 1st and 2nd Grade teacher.  She told me that she literally hasn't swam in decades because of inner ear surgery.  This day she proudly wore her bathing suit and swam like a fish!  All the kids LOVED it!  She raced them and play all the games.  It was really fun watching her.

I stayed until time to go fly to Nassau to pick up Abe and KP.  It was a fun flight as storms were building up.  We're learning that weather forecasting is a luxury.  All turned out well and we came back with the plane at max gross weight with food for the team next week and donated paint.  There was so much paint that we actually had to leave 3 5 gal buckets in Nassau to bring back another time!

Today was spent cleaning and getting the camp really ready for the team to come tomorrow.  Lisa is a girl from down the street and in 5th grade.  She's really cute and came over today and helped me put up Christmas lights on our tiki merchandise hut...then! she told me that she wanted to bake a cake.  That's how the afternoon was spent:  chocolate cake with dr. suess-like icing, it was lime green.  She was really fun and that girl can seriously eat..a lot.  She had 1/2 bag of popcorn mixed with cheese puffs, a small bowl of ice cream, chocolate covered peanut butter cracker, and a piece of cake all in the time that we were baking.  Almost impressive.

This week's team is on their way here.  11 girls and 3 guys, Millsaps College.

The epiphany I had this week is that I honestly think I could listen to blues music everyday of my eternal life and never love it any less.  honest.  and, hence this post's title.


Bench-pressing Camels, Willy Wonka, 3000 Santa Clauses and The Flying Begins (Pt. 2)

I met Thursday with a plan.  Matt, the other Bahamas Habitat pilot, would arrive in Nashville in our Cherokee 6 at 6 a.m. sharp.  We would fly to Albany, GA and meet Mark Grimaldi to pick up Abe’s bike, fly to Ft. Pierce, FL to refuel and complete the last bit of paperwork before leaving the country, cross the water and arrive on Eleuthera before Customs closes at 5 pm. There were major issues with this plan.  I arrived at 6 am sharp at the airport, as did Matt. Two problems:  bad weather and a failed audio panel.  A full day of problem solving left with us staying over for the night and tracking down a new audio panel from Georgia.  It was installed the next morning and we were on our way to Albany where we met Mark. 

Mark is by far one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.  His connection to Bahamas Methodist Habitat (BMH) is he helps the family serving here with me as their transportation back to the States when they need to go.  A rough childhood brought him to the day after graduating high school when he sent his bicycle from Pennsylvania to California and rode it to Canada to get in touch with some of his family.  Then he rode it back to Pennsylvania.  In 26 days.  He has done this twice.  The second time was after defeating a struggle with cancer from working with a chemical engineering company.  As a result of the cancer, the company moved him to NYC for 2 years, all expenses paid.  He was then transferred to Albany, GA continuing with this company and bought a chemistry set on ebay.  The chemistry set grew to the company he now owns and operates and is doing very well.

Mark met Matt and I at Albany’s airport and after looking at the weather, we decided that it was best to wait until the following day because of storms in Albany and all of Florida.  This weather stayed until Saturday night, so we stayed until Sunday morning with the Grimaldis. Mark took us to his office.  I was excited, no doubt, and he gave us a tour.  It was like a Willy Wonka factory!  Mark’s company produces artificial pineapple flavoring and that’s the smell through the whole factory.  Huge vats of gases and water and condensation are producing the flavoring.  This company also produces mint flavoring in toothpaste, chemical to detect explosive elements on people’s hands, a dry cleaning chemical so safe you can practically drink it and the whole state of California is required to use it, and more things!  We also got some dry ice from a huge container to help preserve the 120 lbs. of ham and turkey that we have on board for KP’s wedding on the 19th.  That was fun too.

Then we went to their house!  The property is 10 acres of pecan trees and a swamp with a walkway leading to a gazebo in the middle and a beautiful house.  Mark’s wife and two girls were great and they took care of us completely.  We spent Saturday at the Riverquarium and couldn’t miss the amazing display of 3000 Santa Clauses.  It was ridiculous and, the Santas were a little overrated.  They were just someone’s giant collection of Santa dolls and figurines all in one small room.  It was a lot of Santa.

Sunday we were finally able to leave without the worry of icing.  We made it to Ft. Pierce where our path intersected with Paul Zdybel (pronounced Zy-bell) on his way back from Eleuthera to Myrtle Beach.  Paul came down the first time for the Fly-In and Help Out event in October.  We are thankful for the time and service he donated when he came back down last week to provide transportation services for BMH.  They flew to 4 different islands in a week to finish a roof and see other projects that we will be working on this summer.  We finally got to Eleuthera at 3 p.m. after 4 days of traveling.

We didn’t stay down long as Abe was in Nassau and Manex was still on Andros where Paul took them and the roof project was.  We left with KP and LaDonna on Monday morning and went to Nassau.  We exchanged KP for Abe and continued to Andros, about 25 miles southwest of Nassau.  Andros is the largest and least populated island in the Bahamas and where Manex is from originally.  Here we planned to meet a group who flew in Christmas presents to the community who they met when they came to serve through BMH last summer.  It was exciting to see the long-term commitment of the church to the community.  I got to ride around town with Manex and LaDonna seeing what he calls home.  His family is incredibly warm and loving.

Later that afternoon we flew back to Nassau where we stayed for the night.  As we were getting in line to land, another pilot declared an emergency that one of the engines was overheating. We literally got directed out into the wild blue yonder until the plane landed safely.  Everything turned out fine and we got to land.

The evening was spent at KFC and slight culture shock as we went to see Atlantis on Paradise Island.  One of my favorite parts was seeing a shop at the resort who sells hand woven baskets made by women on Current Island, the island with the future children’s home.  We stayed the night with a large happy family.  It was incredibly fun meeting them, especially having a special place in my heart for Liberia.  This family includes 9 children (I think) and 3 of them are adopted from Liberia.  The husband/wife lived in Liberia for a handful of years and adopted the kids during their time there.  They still travel back fairly regularly.  The environment at this house is calm, organized chaos.  One of the kids was 4 years old, biologically their son, named Tymen.  I met him as he literally jumped on a mattress nonstop for a whole conversation.  He really wants to be a dad and asked if I was a mom.  Midsentence he does a flip in the air.  My head bobbed to keep up with the conversation with every up and down he went.  Tymen said good morning to me this morning wearing a lion costume.

We flew back this morning to Eleuthera and are home for the week until we go pick Abe and KP up in Nassau on Friday.  The airplane is here and is wasting no time at all.  We stopped at Mrs. Lee’s cafĂ© on the way back to camp for some lunch at the same time as lunch break for the school, which is just across the street.  It didn’t take 5 minutes after getting out of the car to have kids running up and hugging everyone as they go get food from Mrs. Lee, a baby’s in my arms and Charlie is being sweet 70-year-old Charlie saying hello.

We have a team of about 15 college students coming on Sunday.  

Bench-pressing Camels, Willy Wonka, 3000 Santa Clauses and The Flying Begins (Pt. 1)

On the 25th I left Eleuthera for the States for Thanksgiving in Knoxville.  The airliners delivered me to Knoxville in 16 hours stretched over 4 legs.  No, it should not have taken that long.  But a 4 hour delay in Nassau proved to me that there really is such thing as a free lunch.  (Maybe that’s just a thing in America)  The holiday brought good times with family and unfortunately, the first year in the long-standing King tradition that the Thanksgiving football game was not played.  Football unfortunately was not played and my grandparents sadly weren’t able to make it.  But, my brother’s 3 Guatemalan friends and cousin’s English chap were able to make it!  David, from England, is the new worship leader at Jay’s church.  He’s apparently toured with Sheryl Crow and Ray LaMontagne keeps contacting him on MySpace, but you wouldn’t know that unless you do some background checking, not that I did that...  He threw his first football on Thanksgiving day, as should anyone who learns American football later in life.  Juan, Juan Carlos and Juan’s wife do not speak much English at all.  I think they enjoyed the meal though because all they said after the meal was: “siesta”.

The weekend rolled on with helping a church in the neighborhood set up the nativity that cannot be missed if you drive on Tazewell Pk. in Fountain City.  I was told that I could bench press the camel figurines that were about 25% taller than me.  I never tested it but did get to wrap lots of sticks in lights.  Sunday came and after a stop at the Soccer Taco to celebrate the match between Chelsea and Barcelona, Allie, my sister-in-law/love, and I drove to Nashville to help decorate my mom’s house for Christmas.  This went on for a few days and with my mom’s food and love, the days were filled well.