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[31 for 21] ~ Here’s me, Leaping!!…

Hope.

Today’s word is hope.

Yesterday I wrote this post about something near and dear to my heart: a tiny little school, deep in rural Guatemala, dedicated to providing an education to children with special needs, children who have been deemed unworthy by a large part of Guatemalan society.

I desperately want them to have hope. Hope in a future that has potential. The kind of hope that I have for Jake.

The amazing family that I wrote about in yesterday’s post has ideas. They have brilliant ideas of ways to help this school. And not only do they have ideas, but they have a plan. It’s amazing ~ I’ve seen it! They have it all worked out, what could be done, what could be upgraded, what could be purchased, and learned, and taught, and provided, in order to realize this dream of hope.

The objectives that they’ve written down (and I am taking this straight from their proposal!) are:

1. Expose students to different vocational opportunities
2. Teach some of the basic principles of micro-enterprise
3. Help develop physical, intellectual and social skills
4. Cultivate dignity and self-esteem
5. Generate a small amount of revenue to reinvest in the projects and/or other school programs

Ummmm, yes please! This is something I want to get behind. This is something that will provide that elusive hope for the future for these children. This. Is. Good. Stuff. People.

So here is what I am going to do about it. Here is my small part. Hopefully it will amount to something bigger in the future, but you gotta start small, right?

I am opening an Etsy shop. It is called “321Joy” (more on that later…). You can look it up on Etsy, or follow this link to find it.
I have been planning this for a long time, and I am really excited! This is a great way for me to be creative, and have a much-needed outlet.

It will have more items in it as I continue building it. But so far all there is in my store is a line of shirts in my shop entitled “321”. These shirts serve a dual purpose. They are about Down syndrome awareness, which I am all about! But 47% of the proceeds from this “321” line of shirts will go directly towards the project for this Special Needs School in Guatemala.

Why 47%, you ask? Well, because individuals with Down syndrome possess 47 chromosomes, instead of the typical 46. So again, Down syndrome awareness, plus doing something to raise money for these students who have captured my heart.

This could flop. I am well aware of it. I mean, I think the shirts are adorbs, but come on, I made them for heaven’s sake, so I am a wee bit biased!
Regardless of the outcome, however, I really felt as though this was something I needed to do, to step out of my comfort zone and take a leap of faith. So, here’s me, leaping!!

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**If you are interested in ordering a shirt and live near me, let me know and I can just get it to you without shipping! Also, so far I’ve just got baby and toddler sizes on my Etsy shop, but if you’d like a shirt in a bigger size, leave me a comment, shoot me an email, or get in touch with me some other way, and I will be sure to make that happen too:)**

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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[31 for 21] ~ Begging For Dignity…

Heartache.

Today’s word is heartache.

This is a two-part blog.

Today, part one, I want to tell you a story. I want to give you a glimpse into a reality that is far removed from the one we are living with Jake. I want you to experience just a tiny glimpse into an achingly tragic tale. I want your heart to break as you listen to this story of injustice.

………………..

“It was a moment unlike any I have ever experienced. These beautiful children, these precious souls, were clamoring for love. You could see it in their eyes, you could feel it in their stares, you could sense it in their presence. And as they looked up at me, begging to be accepted and treated with dignity, I couldn’t help but weep.”

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It was about 18 months ago that I had the opportunity to travel, along with a few other people from my church community, to rural Guatemala. We experienced first-hand what true poverty looks like, and it was devastating. It is a vicious beast, attacking individuals in many ways, stripping them of opportunities, of dignity, and of respect. It is a destroyer of hope, a degrader of persons.

In rural Guatemala, few are more prone to degradation than those with disabilities. For me as a mother of an amazing little boy with a disability, this was heartbreaking.

One of the days that I was in Guatemala, we spent the day at a school for children with special needs.
As we walked into the school and watched as the children poured out of their classrooms and congregated around us, I wept. It was, as I quoted above, a moment unlike any I had ever experienced.

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I cried with and for the teachers as I listened to them share their hearts. The teachers at this school want desperately to help their students succeed, but often feel they are swimming upstream. Between the lack of resources, their lack of training, and political tensions between the government policies and life “on the ground”, they often find themselves discouraged.

I ached as I listened to story after story of hardship, of hopelessness, of sorrow, and of pain. Stories of children who can only make it to school once a week because their families do not have the bus fare to be able to send them more often. Stories of children who are mistreated or abused at home. Stories of children who’s only disability is their inability to hear, but are placed in a special school because there is no one who can help them function and thrive within the regular school system.

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I left Guatemala with a heavy heart as I contemplated the future of these beautiful children.
I haven’t stopped thinking about them ever since. I haven’t stopped considering how I can help, even in a small way.

Tomorrow I want to share with you the way I desire to do something to play a part, albeit small, in this story.

Also, if this story resonates with you at all, READ THIS BLOG!! It was written by my wonderful friend Natalie. Her and her husband Shawn and their three children are living in Guatemala, working with this school (and doing about a million other things at the same time). This blog entry has haunted me since the day I read it. She is a phenomenal writer and shares my passion for this school and for these precious souls (okay, probably more accurately I share her passion!).

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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I Fell in Love…

I fell in love in Guatemala.

I have many stories to be shared from my time in Guatemala, but this one was the most profound, the most personal, the one that really hit home for me.  I spent a day in a school in a small town in Guatemala named San Cristobal.  The school was for children with special needs. And I fell in love.

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I fell in love with the children. There are close to 40 children in the school, with varying needs. Some have Cerebral Palsy.  Some are deaf.  Some have a Global Developmental Delay.  And three of these precious children have Down syndrome (sorry you can see my bias coming out here…I really did love them all, but I had a special place in my heart for these kids in particular!). These children want only to be loved, to be respected, to be HEARD. In the midst of a culture that doesn’t pay any attention to them and that dismisses them as less-than-human, they are desperate for love, they are desperate for worth.

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I fell in love with the teachers. There are 5 teachers in the school, plus a couple of students from the university who are doing their practicum placements there. These 5 teachers give everything to their students. The walls are decorated – they have purchased the supplies for decorations from their own salary. The students are working on crafts – they have paid for the craft supplies out of their own pockets. They are deviating from the government-sanctioned curriculum to try and teach their older students how to cook, how to bake, and how to do woodworking, so that they can be more independent and perhaps have a way to earn some income – they got some ingredients donated, and purchased others themselves. These teachers fight for their students. These teachers love their students. These teachers envision only the best for their students.

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I fell in love.

Me and the team I was a part of helped out with the school in the morning. We played games, we sang songs, we did crafts, and we interacted with the students. We learned their names, and a little bit of their personalities and stories. In the afternoon, I got to share some of my story with the teachers, and with the parents of the children with Down syndrome. I showed them pictures and videos of my precious Jake. I gave them some basics about Down syndrome, and some ideas of how best to teach little ones with Down syndrome. But what I wanted to impart to them the most was to encourage them for the job that they are doing. I don’t know whether or not I accomplished that, but I hope that my words of encouragement impacted them in even the smallest way.

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I fell in love in Guatemala.  And now I need to figure out what to do about it.  How to give back to these teachers, to these students, to this school.  How to bless them and allow their students to receive even a fraction of what we have been blessed with here in North America.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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20 More Days…

20 more days until I hop on a plane and head down to Guatemala for 12 days.

20 more days until I tearfully place a million kisses on my children’s faces, until I hug them tight and wonder if I can ever let go, until I wrap my arms around my husband and let him envelop me, breathing in the smell of him one last time before I walk away from my family for 12 days.

20 more days until I get the opportunity to use some of my gifts and abilities in ways that I haven’t been able to in the last couple of years, until my Spanish can once again be unleashed in a cross-cultural context, until I can participate once more in an international experience of serving others, something that I have always been very passionate about.

20 more days until I am able to give back, until I have the opportunity to serve a community of Internally Displaced People (IDP), until I am invited to speak to a school for children with special needs about just how amazing children with special needs are, until I am once again humbled by the amazing stories of those I will meet.

20 more days…

In the meantime, what would a post be without a few pics of my kids?!  These are just Instagram photos off my iPhone, so please excuse the poor quality!  Also, if you follow me on Instagram (@karynmslater if you want to follow me and don’t currently!!) these pics are probably repeats, so I do apologize in advance:)

Just a little shopping trip with my babes!

Just a little shopping trip with my babes!

Such a mischievous little grin!

Such a mischievous little grin!

Jake is signing the word "book" here.  He was looking for one specific book, which ended up not being on the shelf!

Jake is signing the word “book” here. He was looking for one specific book, which ended up not being on the shelf!

This picture melts my heart:)

This picture melts my heart:)

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Day 21 of 31 ~ A Little “Me Time” ~

I would sacrifice anything and everything for my family.

But I am also learning that a little “me time” is actually a good thing; and the furthest thing from selfish.

This morning I played the piano for a music team at our local church (North Point Community Church).  I had to be there early to do all of the set-up, so I left my husband Curtis at home, charged with getting the kids ready and out the door on time!  And to his credit, they were not only there on time, but the boys were dressed in the CUTEST outfits ever! (I was super choked that I forgot to take pictures…)

I have also rejoined a soccer league after a two year hiatus to have kids.  Our first game of the season was tonight, so once again, I got all bundled up in my soccer gear and sweats, and left Curtis at home to deal with bedtime.  And I came back to a sleeping Jake, a hungry Cole, and a clean house.  My husband is amazing.

Today was good.  It was healthy.  It was needed.  It was a great outlet for me.  Everyone, whether parenting a child with special needs or not, needs a little “me time”.  It restores clarity, sanity, and balance to life.  It is rejuvenating and refreshing.  It is not something to feel guilty about.  It makes us better at what we do.  Ironic as it sounds, taking time away from my kids actually makes me a better mother.

What “you time” have you taken recently?

Here are a couple of randoms from the last couple of days.  And I’m off to bed.  Enjoy:)

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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