Mission Update Honduras–La Chica Con Los Zapatos Rojos/Honduras

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Dear friends, family, supporters, and prayer warriors,

That’s all of you! It’s hard to believe it happened and that I am sitting here again at our kitchen table where it all began: writing support letters, organizing notes from meetings, prepping for the next meeting, and so much more that goes into a trip such as this. Your prayers and support carried me through the stressful times when I was balancing home responsibilities and the Honduras trip ones too. I hope I can convey just a little bit of the success of the trip to you all. It meant more to me and the people of Honduras than I could ever dare pray it would.

The entire team met in Miami Florida at a hotel quite close to the airport. As it was, we all flew in the day before and flew out less than twelve hours later, so our trip leaders made the accommodations with travel in mind. I was the last team member to arrive so when I walked in with Señora Kelly, I was pleasantly overwhelmed with an onslaught of names and hugs. I looked around for the person who invited me to join the team, who helped me pursue my passion for language, and who graded every Spanish word I said and put on paper. “Señor Poortenga, you’re famous,” I said and gave my online, High School, Spanish teacher a big hug. I had waited for the day that I would meet him and be able to share in person just how big a part he played in my long term mission pursuits. I anticipate many other students from the Potter School in that hotel room felt the same way.

Our evening before departure included worship, Bible study, and meeting logistics. Señora Kelly and Pastor Chris headed up those details and Señor Poortenga led worship (whose name I had to relearn from Spanish class…POOR-din-ga…NOT Poor-TEN-ga). Looking back now, I see how instrumental each leader was to equipping our group. From spiritual nourishment to trip details to praising God, the Lord provided for all of our needs in the people he brought from different parts of the country to that tiny meeting room.

Travel was as expected to Tegucigalpa. It included a landing on the world’s most difficult airport landing strip (which I did not know until everyone on the plane started clapping and applauding the pilot). I looked out the window and our plane stopped moving at the very end of the runway. Mission Predisan met us right outside customs and loaded our bags for us. Little did I realize just how closely we would be working with Predisan. At our hotel for the night, Señora Kelly gave us our rooms keys and room assignments. Charlotte, my children’s trip assistant, and I found a note from Predisan group Director Hellen. She left each of us with a small box of Honduran sweets. Nibbling on a fig, I suggested to Charlotte that we share our goals for the trip. I said 1) I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to speak Spanish and 2) I wanted confirmation from God that He is calling me to missions. I was asking God for some pretty big things there, and let me tell you that He heard me and responded.

That evening before our first Honduran meal, we made the blessings bags for the children with all the supplies people donated. We set up tables and started organizing all the supplies: the crayons, washcloths, stickers, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, notepads, gospel tracks, and ziplocs. Many of these items came from people like you. YOU blessed the little children in Honduras and gave us the opportunity to tell them that Christ had given them an even greater gift—the gift of life!

The next morning with bags in hand, Predisan staff started rolling in. Every few minutes a land rover would pull up until we had three or four lined up outside the hotel. I think I just sort of took it all in half stunned, partly just observing, always praying. That morning had been an intense morning getting to know the mission Predisan a bit better but also spending time at one of their outreach centers for drug rehabilitation in Cerepa. Mixed among the patients, our TPS group heard one of the most powerful volunteered testimonies from a young man on the mend. In brief, a life of drugs and alcohol had led him to a surgery that he could not pay for nor was there hope for survival even had he had the money. At the end of his testimony, he lifted his shirt and showed us a scar that ran from his solar plexus to his lower belly. He was alive and not without a daily reminder that God is the master physician, life-giver, and transformer. After the time of sharing, we initiated conversation with different patients and even started a game of pick-up soccer. After thirty minutes in the hot sun on their small cement courtyard I hopped off to keep from burning. I hadn’t seen him before but Carlos, the man who gave the testimony, was sitting on the side watching us play. I jumped over and sat down, introduced myself, and thanked him for sharing his story. It was all a time of mutual encouragement to share life and stories with one another.

Back at the hotel, we divided up into our groups and hopped in the rovers for another long drive into the mountains where we would be serving. Gerson, one of our interpreters, and actually Ashley too, the other interpreter, rode in our vehicle. This group became inseparable in the days ahead. Our first day in Cedeco was spent in San Antonio getting to know the people. They hosted Las Flores and TPS group to celebrate the ten years that TPS has been serving them. It was in that moment, when I saw all the little children holding signs and the streams of banners and balloons, that I realized the shoes I had put on. I was taking part in something so much bigger than I realized. There was a history here that I was blessed to take part in. I was humbled. That afternoon I went through all the gear bags to organize what I needed for props and materials. It took me all afternoon and all evening. I started to fear. At eleven o’clock I was zonked but still needed to pack for the next day. Would every night be like this? Morning after morning consisted of rising early, eating, and leaving by 7:30. We would sing with the children, do a puppet show, and then break into 1-3 and 4-6 grade for Bible and English classes. As a team, both the TPS and Predisan staff members (drivers and translators) would eat the food that Cedeco prepared for us and then afternoons were spent chasing soccer balls, loving kids, braiding hair, coloring the Bible verse banner, and acting out the drama for the day.

There was one time that we had to set up the props for the drama. Gerson, wanted to put palm tree branches up for the display. We just had to figure out how to make them stay. I offered my services to tie them to the beams above our heads. Climbing up on his shoulders he slowly stood up. I grabbed the beam, swung up, and tied the branches with my hair ribbon and some twine that Dennis our driver threw up to me. Unfortunately, we were a major distraction for the 1-3 graders and it took a little bit for me to help Lauren get the kids to focus again.

Every afternoon at around 2:30 the rains would pour down. At that point, it was of utmost importance to load and leave in order to get back to Cedeco. We had to ford 9 brooks or quebradas as they called them. Once we left a little too late and the water sloshed up into the back of the rover. Every time we crossed a brook and landed on solid earth again, our car full of girls would applause and cheer for Denis. He caught on pretty quickly that we appreciated him and would chuckle. It had stopped raining but when we returned it poured harder than I had ever seen it pour in my life. We scattered from the vehicles but when I felt the rain hit my especially sweaty body I stopped and stood there as the rain came down. My feet were planted. If I were a tree, I would have grown five inches. The pure power of the rain purified me. It was no surprise the next day Sarah and I got sick from standing in the rain for an hour. Eventually, half our team would fall sick but somehow we all recovered enough to make up for the next person to not feel well. We worked as a team, played as a team, slept hard as a team, and quite quickly became family.

It seemed the worst day of my sickness, I had the biggest bag to unpack. As the children’s team leader, I grabbed the material bag that weighed probably fifty-sixty pounds depending on the day and unpacked it. I had showered and eaten and just had to unpack and repack before bed. It was still late, but it had to be done so we could leave on time. I unzipped and started digging out stray crayons and markers. Papers were crinkled in a million crevices and my lungs and temples throbbed. Every time I took something out and put it where it belonged, it seemed a new item would jump in. I stopped probably looking utterly dejected and just looked at the bag. Señora Kelly came in and laughed. She started to help me. She asked me for the markers to put on the table. I grabbed the bag and a flood of markers poured out in every conceivable direction. If things couldn’t get any worse…they did. That was it. We died laughing. I ended in a fit of coughs, but it was enough to get me to the finish.

The night I no longer had to pack it with materials, I celebrated. Zipping myself up inside of it, I rolled like a big black potato up onto my feet and started hopping out the door where the drivers and team were hanging out on the porch. I hopped down the ramp and started hopping across the driveway totally concealed. The next thing I knew was two of the drivers had grabbed the straps and were rocking me like a baby higher and higher until I shrieked. They laughed and put me down only to pick me up again at my request and put me on a chair. I asked Peter, one of the Predisan leaders, to tell his testimony which impacted me tremendously. Our team really was family we could go from bouncing for joy in gear bags to crying together about how God redeems.

Late nights that brought me to the end of my candle were not uncommon . Late nights for this early riser most often meant nights where I slept five hours instead of eight or nine. It was a sacrifice I gladly made, for every morning God blessed me with a sunrise like no other. It was July 23rd my Father´s birthday. I wished I could have wished him so in person. I wished that all was well at home. I wished I could have shared this adventure God had given me with him and you all. I looked up on this first morning in Cedeco and saw a mountain that looked like Camel’s Hump (a mountain here at home). It was as if God transplanted my mountains at home and plopped it in front of my backdoor in Catacamas.

In each community before leaving, we would gather the children in a classroom and pass out the blessing bags. They waited expectantly with big eyes and eager hands. It was hard to say no to several women who came up to us afterwards asking for more. We still had San Antonio children, so we couldn’t pass out extras.

The last three days we spent in San Antonio. While my Bible and English leaders taught class, I met a little girl named Maneli. I knelt down and asked if she liked to read. Her big eyes and little puckered lips said yes. I grabbed the sheet for the puppet shows, snatched up Ferdinand the Bull and laid out our reading spot outside our meeting room. We started reading and minute after minute news got round that a twenty year old gringa was reading Spanish children’s books. Several other little boys peeked around the corner of the building but gave themselves away in fits of giggles when I exclaimed in Spanish that Ferdinand the Bull had sat down on a bumblebee! From that day on Maneli (along with many other little three year olds) was my partner in crime. We played tag, colored, read, and played hide n’ seek, and every morning I braided her hair. She was glued to my hip.

The last day I picked her up in my arms for the presentation that San Antonio wanted to do for us. Little girls danced on stage with red and yellow ribbons tied to their wrists, the youth played their guitars and sang “Olancho,” and the community watched and applauded. I found Maneli behind a post watching me. I scooped her up in her fancy rose dress that she wore for the celebration. The sun beat down and the two of us started to sweat. Her head became heavy, and in no time, she fell asleep. I held her thinking about everything I wanted to be, where I wanted to be, the differences and similarities in our culture, the life that she lived, the life that I lived, and the fear of not seeing her again. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about her, cry a little bit, and long to return to Honduras. “Mi hermanita,” I whispered. God gave me two sisters and this little one too. Her Mother woke her up so she wouldn’t miss out on her blessing bag. I reluctantly let her go.

The next day we returned for a final celebration. Las Flores joined us in San Antonio. Just as soon as we arrived I realized I had forgotten an important bag that belonged to the community. Pastor Chris and I decided I would go back for them with Denis. On the way back I had one of the best conversations in Spanish that I have ever had. I asked Dennis about work and new Spanish Vocabulary. I asked what his dream job would be. He told me he wanted to be his own boss. I reflected on my own Father, and respected Denis a lot for that answer. He wanted to spend more time with his family, and being his own boss would enable him to do so. I shared with him that my own Father was self-employed and mentioned the challenges and joys of being such. One of my favorite memories from that conversation was about the snow vs the mud that Honduras and Vermont each has. Both make dangerous driving conditions. Denis was describing something that we use to keep from slipping. He was using vocabulary that I was not familiar with to describe the studs in tires. “Como dientes (like teeth)?” I asked him. “Sí sí sí,” he responded his eyes and face lighting up. I was pleased with myself. We had communicated the message. It may have taken longer, but it gave me confidence in myself and joy in the process of coming to a point of understanding. It was like playing twenty questions…just in Spanish.

Back at the village, after returning the bag, I found Maneli. I scooped her up, kissed her, and smiled. She squeezed something in her hand. I realized it was the washcloth that we put in her blessing bag. It was small, white, and soft…like a stuffed animal or small blanket. That day was hard. Hard to say good bye. Hard to realize that I could only pray to return. Hard to see myself anywhere else in the world but doing life with these people. The day ended with my presentation to both communities. I thought and thought and thought about what I wanted to say. I considered writing it all down, but at the end of the day I prayed. Before taking the mic I prayed. “Dear God, speak through me.”

Looking at these wonderful people I started, “Hola Buenos dias. Este es un nuevo día que el Señor ha hecho, no? Ayer pensé en lo que quiero decirles a uds hoy. Pero la verdad es que me faltan las palabras decir todo que me siento en mi corazon. Padres, gracias por compartir sus hijos con nosotros. Gracias por compartir sus vidas con nosotros. Ojalá que El Señor nos traiga juntos en el future.” I still remember what I said. It was simple. Short. Inspired by God. They nodded in agreement as I presented each community with a signed soccer ball from our team.

There is so much more to say, and not sufficient space to say it. In the same way that I long to write a novel to you all I conclude with sincere appreciation for your support. What I said to the community In San Antonio, I say to you all also.

Good day! This is a new day that the Lord has made. Yesterday, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to say to you all. But the truth is, words fail to describe the feelings I have in my heart. Thank you for sharing your lives with me. I can only hope that the Lord will allow me to visit with you all again soon.

As I conclude, I do want you all to know that the Lord has abundantly supplied my TPS trip fees. I do have a number of small personal expenses that cost me roughly 300 dollars. If you were not able to give financially, but would still like to support me financially I am praying that God would provide for those expenses.

I also want you to know that I am still processing the enormity of this trip. As I shared with Charlotte, God met my goals. He gave me the words to speak when I needed to, and He set in my heart a burning desire to serve in missions. I have needed to learn to be content with where God has me in life right now. It is a great gift to have been able to spend so much of this summer with family and a great joy to go back to school where I will continue studying Spanish and the Classical Education. I anticipate teaching as a career, Lord willing in Central America. Never before have I felt so focused or driven towards something. Thank you for joining me on this wild ride called life!

Sincerely,

Kathryn Bassette

 

 

Life is Like a Blackberry Pie

Most people agree that without some pain there are few gains. And even for those who don’t believe this, it ought to be a universal truth since everything from athletic success to scientific experiments support this statement. Many people know me for my analogies, so I suggest one that might convince the dubious, but if it does not, then hopefully at least it makes for a laugh.


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Life is like a berry patch. I came to this conclusion wading through the chest high pricker-bushes. I plunged from the trail into the thickets and wondered half way through if this was indeed the best possible way to collect the little blackberries in my pail. I concluded it was worth the pain or “valió la pena” as the Spanish would say.

I went through the deep and low ridges etched into the mountain. Waded by prickly and soft flora. Passed over loud and quiet undergrowth. I stepped over logs and…did NOT crawl on the ground, but I came close. I gathered for myself always reaching and dropping the small fruits of my labor into my bucket clutched so tightly in my hand. If a bear came at me, I would be braced to fight for my berries…or maybe I would just run, but the pie wafting like a dream in my mind mattered so keeping my berries from harm meant the sweet reward of pie afterwards.

In my efforts to cross one particular log, I lifted my leg high much like a peeing dog and stepped over. The snippet that followed showed a girl drowning in berry bushes and a gurgle that sounded like she said, “my berries.” I clutched my bucket to my chest after the close call of tripping over the log wedged between my shin and calf. Loosening my flip-flop I slipped my leg out, and slid my shoe back on if you can call a flip flop a shoe in this predicament.

Continuing on my way back to the trail somewhere in…I pause…that direction (little aha! of triumph), I know I will be one step closer to the kitchen. I stepped and then brought my trail leg around to squash some bushes in my way. I stepped forward and dragged my planted leg up ripping the pricker bush I squashed over my exposed foot. I yelped. Bright red blood began to drip. Yes, and then there are those moment when we go into the berry patch of life ill-equipped and sometimes, perhaps more often than not, we make those same painful mistakes ripping open our feet because we wear the wrong footwear, or as I should say more bluntly, make the wrong choices.

Okay here it is. Life is like a berry patch because like any hardworking go-getter, we labor for our returns. We get cut up on the process. We bleed from the thorns. We constantly make the same mistakes (if you are me). We run through the high and lows on the mountain passing into the valleys. We hurt. But for those like me who believe that life is like a berry patch sweetness lies at the end when you get home and you pull out some flour and a little sugar throw in a zesty lemon and pop it in the oven. For those who believe in hard-work, life becomes like a blackberry pie.

La Chica Con Los Zapatos Rojos-Honduras Day 1-2

Days 1-2:

If I started typing at the beginning…there would be no end. It is true, but even still you all deserve some introduction to the girl who feels like this is only the beginning of a story that will unfold in the years ahead in Central America. The real beginning began before I realized I wanted to be a missionary. It began in the hills of Vermont where I made mud pies with my siblings, threw said mud pies, and hosed off the mud patties from our bodies in obedience to Mother’s insistence. This passion for mission began playing church, singing to Jesus in the woods, and crying over the deer I had just shot before gutting it. The desire to serve rose from childhood to my now twenty years of life. My passion and desire rose like a well filling with water. That passion, fostered from childhood, finally flooded my heart and spilled over into Central America just a few short weeks ago. La chica con los zapatos rojos landed on her feet once again. This time she landed in Honduras.

Big hands looking big picture…pre-Honduras meeting 

The plane hit the runway and engines fired up from all sides. Intense change in velocity reminded me how fast we had traveled from Eastern Time to Honduran. From Miami to Tegucigalpa. After the plane stopped everyone started cheering and clapping. The commotion beckoned my curiosity. Peering outside my window I realized just how close we landed to the edge of the runway. Ten more feet and we would be yet another statistic supporting the claim that Tegucigalpa not only has the highest murder rate per capita, but that it also has the world’s most treacherous airport upon which to land 600 km per hour vessels of flight. Nonetheless, our pilot did marvelously.

awaiting customs inspection

Made it through customs…no problemo

Predisan staff greeted us warmly with a great big sign and hugs for everyone. We dragged our luggage to the waiting land rover and bus for loading. I reached to lift my 45-pound suitcase and received a look from one of the Honduran staff that said, “I got this.” I stepped back, smiled in thanks, and boarded the bus for the journey to Catacamas. Though we had landed, I had no idea the hours of travel before us as we left Tegucigalpa to travel to our hotel in Catacamas.

Bus trip and the traveling continues

I think back to that bus ride and realize how much that time together in close quarters mattered to overall team unity. While laughter and conversation bubbled up around me, I asked Pastor Chris’s sister Ms. Lauren to share her story. In that moment, God began to show me His constant desire to redeem. Her testimony revealed that theme. On that bus, we braided hair. We shared neck pillows. We told stories. Shared pictures. And created ties that would hold us up when we felt like falling down. At last we reached La Plaza María, unloaded, unzipped, refreshed, and brought together our items for the blessing bags. Digging through my suitcase, I pulled out my toothpastes remembering the kind donation and support from back home. Together, we would put together 150 blessing to give to the children in Las Flores and San Antonio. Cristian, a little boy whose father either owned or managed the hotel, willingly helped us make the bags. When Señor Poortenga started strumming his guitar, however, Cristian lost all desire for the bags, and clutching his sheet of stickers that we had given him, started singing with Señor. I tasted a little bit of pre-dinner worship before experiencing our first Honduran meal of (can you guess?) … beans, rice, and plantains. I loved the taste of it all—the Spanish phrases rolling off my tongue and the refried beans going down my throat.

Finding the rhythm for creating the blessing bags

Worship, Bible study, and prayer followed dinner. Pastor Chris talked about what giving and receiving looks like in service. “We, as a group…as a team,” he said, “were called together from all walks of life to this point in time. As a group, we must think like a group and hence work like a group.” One word stuck out to me. COMMUNICATION. I felt convicted over the many times I had failed to communicate with my own team back home—team Bassette. My homecoming after my freshman year of college could have been much easier had I communicated and gone the extra mile to make sure my plans fit into the family’s busy schedule. It meant I probably would have had to sacrifice some things, such as “limiting my autonomy for the benefit of the group…” Little did I know that God was convicting me to be the missionary at home that I desired to be in Honduras. When I would leave in a few short weeks, God would test me in church, at Grandma’s, at school, and with my siblings etc.

Cristian (center white shirt) looking quite pleased

As individual team member of TPS, Pastor Chris further pressed that “we as individuals are not THE team.” There is always someone so much bigger than I. We are part of God’s team. Each of us had to ask ourselves, “Is it what I have done…or what Christ has done?” “Is it what I will do…or what Christ is doing?” It became very clear that we can only serve purely when we are overflowing with Christ’s goodness.

We are fragile jars of clay as 2 Corinthians 4:7 says–jars that contain precious treasures (God’s glory in us). In that moment seated in a cool room, with glass doors to keep the bugs out, and tiled floors to lie on, I felt rested, strong, capable, and ready. God’s word reminded me the dangers of relying on my own strength. What I held to in strength, I would soon lack after a few days of work without Christ as my well-spring. In less than ten hours, I was headed into those flooded mountains where the little quebradas swell daily from the afternoon rains. With the pains of swelling waters, the wells filled and the livestock drank. On afternoons when we traveled back to base camp quickly because of the rising waters, I hung my head outside the land rover and looked to heaven. I let the rain slap my face clean from the sweaty days in the village.

On those weary days, I remembered God’s words. On those days when indeed my body failed me, the Lord renewed me from the inside out with water, sweat, and tears. Bumping along the dirt roads, my face rested on my arms as the afternoon rains came pouring down. Water fell from the heavens, water rose up from the earth, tears spilled from my eyes, sweat streamed from my neck. Never before this time had I felt so alive nor so in tune with my calling. Since that moment, I have eagerly accepted that I truly am an unfinished clay pot. The Potter is molding, shaping, smoothing, and spinning me to test me in the flames of the furnace. Though I feel my heart is breaking, I pray I am overflowing with His goodness. When the sun comes out, I become firm again, maybe stronger and more equipped than if  the heavy rains had never come to try to melt my unfinished, unbaked, body. That is the never-ending road to sanctification, my friends. Thank God for water, thank God for sun, thank God for “team” when life seems undone.

Mission Opportunity to Honduras!!!!!!!! La Chica Con Los Zapatos Rojos Continúa. . .

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Hello friends of this big world! Nearly, sixteen months have passed since my first missions trip to Mexico. Since those five days with these beautiful children in Una Salida (see below), I prayed God would give me another chance to share my story, my passions, my gifts, and the love of Christ abroad. AND HE HAS!

It is happening again! Through my online high school, The Potters School, where I learned to speak Spanish, God has given me another opportunity to love children in Honduras where I will prepare my team to lead Bible and English lessons. As I prepare by digging deep in the lessons, I cannot help but think about how God will use my love for children and Spanish for His eternal purposes.

I cannot do this alone. Would you be willing to partner with me? I am committed to this work God has graciously allowed me to take part in. I am praying for understanding of His will which it seems sometimes is only made clear as we are about to take the first step and even the second. Sometimes trusting God for provision feels like riding in an old Model T ford. I jolt as the engine lurches and stalls. It’s go. stop. go. stop. despite my concerns, I know God will be faithful to provide. As He has called me to a purpose, so He will finish it.

I am asking for your partnership financially and prayerfully. I have sixteen days on this fourth of July to raise nearly $2,000 while at the same time preparing to teach the children’s Bible and English lessons. Would you consider partnering with me financially and or prayerfully? If you would like to support me financially, CHECKS can be sent to:

The Potter’s School

Honduras Trip 2017

8279 Raindrop Way

Springfield, VA 22153

Or if you feel more comfortable sending your support directly to me, I can send either a check or cash to the Potter’s School on your behalf. If you choose to send support directly to the mission, please include my name so they know who the funds are sponsoring and your email address if you would like a receipt. Private message me or comment below with your email address, and I will send you my mailing address.

If you would like to support me in prayer I am currently swamped in lesson planning. I cherish going through these bilingual Spanish-English children’s stories imagining one day I will be writing stories for little Spanish and English boys and girls. Please also pray that the team will develop a unity. Ten years ago I realized the importance of team when I joined the middle school track team as a small fourth grader. Every year, especially this last year as a Collegiate Athlete, I have realized even more and more what team means. I pray for unity, commitment, energy, and the presence of God. I pray for a trusting heart and a walk of faith that leads me to a better understanding of our Lord and Savior. I think of the Psalmist. When he prays that the Lord lead him beside quiet waters, he is not praying for the absence of noise and earthly distractions, fears, doubts, and difficulties. He is praying that when these distractions, fears, doubts, and difficulties arise (and they will…that is life), he will be able to be at peace because Christ is the peace from within. I pray as the Psalmist. Will you please pray too?

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Life is like a Patchwork Quilt

Life is like a patchwork quilt in a dirty garden. It is messy, colorful, patched, and loved. It is memories, stories, livelihood, and time. It is turned and fluffed and hugged and clutched and drooled upon and soiled when thrown over dirt patches for picnics and nap time. Many of us children grew up with a patchwork quilt which we dragged places like Mother’s gardens to find a shady hiding spot beneath a large bush to consume spoonfuls of sugar or fists of melted chocolate from our pockets to eat in secret. We lived sticky, little, sinful lives seeing what we could get away with by wiping off what sugary remnants we could from our clothes especially the quilts before they hit the laundry baskets. Unfortunately, Mother often discovered we had been in the pantry again, and consequences would follow.

I’m nineteen now. Well, twenty in ten days. While some years have passed, some things do not pass with time. I still feel like that small, little, crouched-up thing burrowed in the bushes with my quilt, a book, and chocolate bar (purchased though). Towards the end of my freshman year, I found myself yet again beneath a tree with my nose in a book though my head swimming with memories of home. I longed for my Mother’s gardens, and hills, and woods that I knew, and I knew that it mattered to me and my family to return to the nest. Soon enough it happened.

Coming home from college was a purposeful, decisive, decision on my part for many reasons, but there were reasons to stay too. Reasons to stay at school included many benefits such as a fine work position. While reasons such as work persuaded me to stay, the reasons to come home far surpassed the reasons to stay: family, my church, and Vermont’s Green Mountains. Most of all, I wanted to realign myself to my upbringing. I knew I was not going to realign perfectly to the Kathryn that left last August. No one stays the same nor ought they to stay the same, for to stop changing is to stop growing. To stop growing is to stop loving. To stop loving is to stop living. (I might interject sometimes we need to love the same person over and over again and though we may not feel like we are living, the truth is we are still breathing just deeply and slowly). In coming home, I found the same structure of life. Like the pattern of a quilt—a house of eleven feels like a pattern of chaos but somehow order follows. This excellent structure by which my parents raised me allowed me to develop into a better version of myself. They raised me, and I chose to return to my roots—to that structure—to remember and once again go forth into the world to create my story upon a rich legacy in which I am proud to take part.

All that is to say, summer sprouted up from the ground announced by the flowers, but they have not all been daisies and lilies. The flowers I see are more like the pieced-together patch-work quilt and less like the quilts one finds on display in JcPenny’s. On my walks, I pick through wildflowers sprouting up among the thorns. I stumble over the rotting logs that I imagined away in my memory. I continuously trip over big boulders that I thought I removed from my backyard, and I fell once from our swing that I trusted all my years growing up tied secure on the branch above my head by my own hands. I have pricked my loved ones becoming the cause of grief like the rose bush that draws blood when the only intention of its care taker is to nourish it and cause it to blossom. I have in many ways forgotten my rightful place as daughter. Parents will be parents. Sons will be sons. Daughters will be daughters. I write about these skewed misconceptions towards work and life and rejoining the established family order. I write to uncover the overgrown garden paths once more. I pull out the weeds to sew my seeds. On top of these, I let seep my tears. Maybe in my expectations I thought the roses and daisies would just spring up into place. Coming home has required intentionality and work. Adjusting has not been easy despite the prep talks, the current talks, and the apologies, but I am already beginning to see my projects such as my garden and my quilt come together and come to life.

My struggles include finding out how I can be the humble rose bush that accepts the care of its caretaker so that it blossoms in its time and causes delight not pain.

Life is like a patchwork quilt. I start with some various pieces of fabric. I paw through my patterns, colors, and textures choosing intentionally reds like the poppies, yellows for summer sun, blues for family by the ocean, and greens for Vermont’s mountains. I organize as best I can despite the chaos around me, sorting, piling, and snipping. I have help. A sibling critiques. I sigh and say thank you. My mother aligns and realigns my squares like she helped edit and reedit my writing in High School that stretched across paper page after page. Then I start sewing. At first all I can see are the details of my work. Soon enough colors begin popping out of the fabric; the machine begins whirring; and my fingers and mind come together to finish the top spread. I see my mistakes. Not perfect, no, but a good reminder of my human nature. I remember that my life like my quilt is not perfect, but it is beautiful because it is excellent. May those who wrap themselves in the quilt realize too that life is not going to be perfect, but it can be beautiful if we let go of expectations, preconceived notions, and perfection.

I close imploring each of us to reflect on the following. What is beauty? How many millions of ways does our culture say that true beauty is perfection? How depressing would that be to live a life chasing after the wind? How miserable did I make my first few days back from college because I believed everything would be perfect at home?

Right now I still live trying to content myself with the fabric pieces handed to me. Sometimes we do not get to pick the piece—we just have to make do with what we have. Excellence is using what we have and making it beautiful. I have my days where I must humble myself and allow mothers to be mothers and daughters to be daughters. I must communicate often, and it is exhausting. My story may differ from others’. Someone else might work three part time jobs from six a.m. to ten p.m. They might be single parents raising three children. Another might be a post college graduate struggling to find their dream job. They might be a current college students absorbed in grades. They might be adults who want a better job, a happier home, a_________(fill in the blank). It’s all the same. Reasons for dissatisfaction with life are endless. Life is messy. It’s not perfect. It will never be perfect. But can be beautiful, and it can be excellent. Life is a never ending road of trial and error to a glorious finish. Redemption is Christ transplanting us from the dry desert to the fertile garden. Sanctification is letting Him pluck off our dead leaves to make way for sweet fruit.

Making Home Where I Roam

We pushed rocks and scooped sand, hauled logs and built walls. Water flowed gurgling like a happy baby. It churned free from the ice and snow. In its swirling midst, my sister and I stood knee deep in its barely tolerable temperature and slowly watched a scraggly piece of earth by the brook become our home as we pushed and rearranged “our land” to become a “civilized place.” Whatever we were making, it was becoming our very own pirate’s cove from which we set sail our bark shaped boats on the tumultuous spring waters. Those boats would have to battle “large, fierce fish” and stay afloat over the rock dam we had created.

I sat on the sand bar we created and realized how much I had been thinking about and subconsciously defining the term ‘home.’ Reflecting on my most recent travels, I wondered why traveling brought me such joy. Could it be because I found myself at ease in so many places? Could it be that my family’s place in Vermont taught me how to make a home in so many others? I moved a rock to a better resting place to prop my feet up on and watched Icky, my little sister who we have called by that name since birth, walk a rotting log. Knowing with each step she challenged the laws of physics, I did not scold or warn. Her steps took her closer to the center and as expected the tree snapped. As nimbly as a cat she pounced into the water below only to land on her feet and search out another dead tree to walk across.

Yes, this was the way in which we passed time. I have never been to the emergency room, broken a bone, or set foot in a hospital more than once a year and even then it was always for Christmas caroling. We live not behind tv screens but in the outdoors. Though my body may be marred by and scarred from playing hard, I suffer no worse side effects…(perhaps I ought to knock on wood right now, but I’ve climbed too many trees to need anymore). In some ways, it’s not the bravest of children but the bravest of parents to allow one’s children to experiment with gravity, fire, and physics because those forces always win when the variables all align right (or wrong for when the variables are all right, things go terribly wrong). I thank them wholeheartedly for letting us children take those risks. Kids have more smarts than we grant them, and they learn quickly from the good and the bad, the successes and the failures of life. This is why I looked at my youngest sister and allowed her to face the forces alone. Yes she broke trees sometimes, but more often than not she climbed into the topmost branches of big ol’ pines and rested securely in the arm of a tree. Her own arms embrace the sky, and the arms of the tree embrace her.

This was our paradise, and any child granted the freedom to explore and build their space (no matter how messy or imperfect it may be) knows it. We passed summers in the brooks fishing, picking flowers, killing time, and digging holes because as smiling, teasing friends told us, “we could dig to China.” At nights with all the siblings, we caught fireflies and then spent hours looking up at the stars above while surrounded by the little flickering stars below. Lying between two worlds we told stories. Years later, though my siblings explore in other places, those of us still at home play just like before. Just today I was neglecting my books and pushing rocks around in the brook like a stone mason. Just today I was breaking old trees and hurling them over my head to build walls. Just today I was competing with Buddy and Icky on our make-shift high bar showing off what a pole vaulter could do and they could not…and I admit vice versa. Even now my body feels a soreness that promises deep sleep.

Must I even mention the summer blackberry picking? These almost always ended with stomach aches or at least a spilled bucket of berries because someone tried to climb a maple sapling berry pail in hand. Summer workouts consisted of racing up and down the Big Hill until we dropped to our knees. Each of us bore the brunt of some stupid dare such as biking down the hill with no breaks, but we are all alive and well and all the stronger for it. We cheer each other on when a sibling does the incredible. On April 22, 2016 Joshua broke the West Point obstacle course record. Those of us still using the great outdoors for a gym train together in the same way that James and Josh pushed each other towards that record at West Point. Even though James was never given the chance to demonstrate his readiness to shatter it, he left the responsibility up to Josh. We coach each other and cheer louder than anybody else when our own surpasses us. Every day friends come into our lives and give richly to us. We do not write our legacy. It writes us. A great part of our successes came from coaches, mentors, and individuals who walked into our lives. Our legacy is written by the people we meet, the schools we attend, and the choices we make. Our legacy began with a mother who didn’t plan on having nine kids and a father who did.

When I write, I am transported and invited to be someone else. I think of myself less in my writing as my own person but as “that girl on the street.” I merely translate what she does, thinks, and says. What she says now is “Life is beautiful and people make it better.”

Written April 22, 2016

My Easter Sunday….and pole vaulting

At last I have something to write about. For the first time in a long time, my cursor flies across the page trying to keep up with my thoughts. For the first time in many weeks, I feel the natural joy that usually spills from my personality but that which in the last weeks has felt forced from the stress of life. Today I write freely. For the first time in nineteen years, I celebrate Easter away from home. Despite my low expectations for this day, God made this day beautiful by wiping away all my pitiful expectations. He turned my sorrow into dancing into a hopeful expectation of time with the Lord. He has not disappointed me.

My day begins where I am now. “Be still and know that I am God.

I do not know why I chose to come here to the cemetery behind our school. Somehow sitting among the rows of marble stones lifts me up when I feel burdened. Even though an overwhelming emotion swelled inside of me as I looked out over a lifeless expanse marked by graves, I knew death did not have the final say. I found myself wandering. I walked over the blades of grass that had just popped their spiky heads up through the earth. Pushed and pulled by the swirling wind, the expanse moved in a unified glittering ocean of silver-green tide. Just before coming here, I watched the sun rise up from its bed beneath the horizon. Everything rose up before me in resurrection.

Early this morning we gathered together as a church to read the story of The Risen One. As we neared the end of our readings, the sun began to fill the sky with its glory. It seemed to say, “though you finish proclaiming the Truth of His victory with your mouth, I the Sun show you what that story looks like in glory…though just a small taste of my glory for my power will blind you in full force.” We drove away from the sunrise service before gathering together again in the church. Some would nap before church. I began to yawn in happy agreement with the idea, but a small boy running down the street stopped the yawn. He ran like Forest Gump. Legs and arms pumped wildly in anything but good form, yet that hardly mattered in that he was running somewhere urgently—somewhere important. At the red light, we slowed to a stop. He waited on the curb for the light to change. I could tell by his tapping feet that he longed to run again. As soon as our light changed, he bolted. As our car gathered speed, we raced parallel. His gangly stride matched our accelerating vehicle. Up the steps of the church he bounced disappearing into the large doors of the cathedral like a rabbit racing into its hole.

This boy ran to God with all his might. I knew many times my heart did just the opposite of running to God. I ran from Him. Why did I ignore the very God who wants to hear my voice and earnest childlike prayers? Why did I flee from Him who answers all prayers in their proper time? Why do we delight to give fate the glory when good things happen?

Today I felt none of those questions gnawing on me because today I ran to God like that little boy. Maybe God came to me. Maybe he caught me in my vulnerability. Through the light of the sun he found me. Then he held my face in his intimate stare. Last he embraced me though I fought Him in days past twisting from his embrace. I stopped fighting and started seeing. Spring came alive before my eyes.

Yesterday I pushed a pole towards the windows behind the pole vault pits in an attempt to smash through them to freedom. Every time I pounded down the runway, I started out running toward my goal. Every time in the last second before leaping into the air, I leaned back from taking control of the beast in my fists. Rather than being the hunter, I was the prey. I felt the weight of the pole whip me about like a tigress shakes a beast before tearing it apart. I was supposed to be the lioness. My red hair gathered like a mane around my shoulders before I tied it back for vault. The results of that day ended in dismal failure. I no heighted. NH. No mark. No score. No clearance. “No faith,” I scolded myself. “What the heck?” I said coming off the mat. How could I start running with such fervor and such energy and at the last stride lose sight of everything?

This morning I take my brokenness and dried spirit and lay it at the cross of Christ. If He can resurrect the bodies buried beneath this ground, the blades of grass hidden in the dirt, the leaves on the tree branches, the sun now above the horizon, my pole vaulting, and most of all the Son of God, I can hope. Though I spend this Easter morning “among the dead,” I am actually among the living. For here He reminds me a thousand times on every tombstone the promise of redemption. Though life on earth is not guaranteed, through His death and resurrection, life with Him in heaven is.

This week I vault again. I will rise up on the wings of an eagle in Isaiah. I will go to war like the horse in Job. I will attack the pole in my grip like a lioness tearing up her prey. I will run to God like that little boy on Easter morning. I will hope in Christ alone. My name is Kathryn Grace Bassette. My name means Pure Grace Little Person, and I am a daughter of the King. Are you?