Tuesday, July 29, 2008
2: something that attracts
I am a magnet. Which means I could say that I am attractive. Unfortunately what I'm about to share isn't the attractiveness I desire.
I am a magnet for poor customer service. When it comes to dating I am a huge freak magnet, but that is a post for another time. For now I'm going to talk about how I draw horrendous service to myself and whatever party may have the misfortune of being with me.
Allow me to offer a few examples. Several years ago I was shopping with my dear friend Jef. She needed a black skirt for a recital. After searching for hours she found a skirt that was perfect. Unfortunately it had a button missing. The button was covered in the same fabric as the skirt so she was going to have to replace all the buttons. The young sales girl offered a discount on the skirt for the inconvenience. This young lady was truly amazing with her service.
As Jef was looking for a skirt I happened upon two white blouses I simply had to have. The shirts had just been stocked and neither had any pricing. The same sales girl (she was a teen) looked up the price for me (asking the manager about one of the items) and told me the shirts were $25 each. I decided to get both of them.
When Jennifer and I approached the register the manager was behind the counter and took over the sale, no doubt because she wanted the commission. She rang up Jef’s skirt for the full price. When we explained about the buttons she didn't seem to care and didn't want to give the discount promised. Knowing Jef needed the skirt for the recital a couple of hours away we persisted. The manager reluctantly gave in and told us that she would give in to the discount but that the sale would be final and could not be returned. I found that ironic considering the large sign above her head that said, "No sale ever final." The same sign said, “Ask about our lay-away program.” But when we asked to put something on lay-away the manager told us that the lay-away program had been suspended.
Then it was my turn. When the manager rang up my shirts the total was WELL over $50 plus tax. I asked about the discrepancy and she told me that only one of the shirts was $25 but the other was much higher. She said they had made a mistake in quoting that price to me. (It was in fact the manager that quoted the price to the sales girl.) She asked if I wanted to purchase the shirt at the much higher price and I declined. She then proceeded to tell us that she thought we were bad people trying get something for nothing. She also told us she believed we were acting the same as thieves.
As we walked through the mall I told Jef that I was angry by what had happened and wanted to go back to the department store. She just smiled and turned around.
We returned and I told the manager that I didn't appreciate her words or attitude that afternoon. I went on to explain that it was wrong, if not illegal, to quote a price on an item and then change that price at the register. I got the second shirt for $25 and I still have it today.
Another example would be my relationship with a certain restaurant chain. On five back-to-back occasions this chain has abused me. Yes, abused is a strong word. But when it happens five times I think you can choose to call it as such.
And before anyone asks why I was pathetic enough to keep returning to the same establishment I hope to redeem myself. You see, the first two times I could chalk up to coincidence. The 3rd and 4th times I stopped by to join friends already on location. The 5th time was sheer stupidity.
The first couple of times at this eatery (no longer in business at that location) I was served the wrong dish. If I ordered chicken I received steak. The 3rd time I placed an order but it was never delivered. Thankfully my two friends shared their food. We mentioned my lack of a dish several times to no avail. And the best part! Our server gave me a check anyway! We just stared at her and told her that the joke wasn't funny. We paid for my two friends and started to leave. Then our server told me she needed me to stay until she got my ticket handled. Um, excuse me? We explained that we needed to get to our movie. She was not happy we left before she could talk to the manager. Sadly that wasn't the last time I would order at a restaurant and not have my dish delivered. It has happened three times.
The 4th occurrence was as simple as me ordering a steak medium well and it being delivered rare. So you see, it isn't that I'm being unusual with my orders.
Several months passed and I tried the restaurant one last time. I ordered a salad to go. My mistake was not checking the salad before I left. When I got home there was an ingredient spread all over the salad that I did not like. Since that ingredient isn't supposed to be on the salad I wondered if I had been given someone else’s order. Nonetheless I wasn't going to eat it.
So I called and spoke to the manager. I explained I was too far away to drive back and asked for my debit card to be reimbursed for the mistake. He agreed and asked if he could do anything else. I told him there wasn't and then explained my five visits to his establishment. He offered 2 free meals to make up for the poor service. It was a nice gesture, but I declined. He continued to insist and I finally gave in and gave him my address so he could mail the coupons. When I got the coupons a week later they were not for two free meals as he had stated. Instead, I received two coupons for a free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees. And the two coupons couldn't be used on the same visit. Wow.
A few years ago my Sunday School class went out to eat after class for my birthday. While we were eating one of my friends told our server it was my birthday and asked for a piece of cake to be delivered to me. Five of us ate the cake. When our checks were delivered I noticed that I had been charged for the birthday cake that I hadn’t requested. How nice.
Now this type of service happens to me on a regular basis. My friends can attest to this fact. One evening, when going out to eat with several friends someone piped up and said, "Who wants to guess how Tauna’s order will be messed up." To which another friend added, "That's if she even gets any food."
And a story from Miami. When we were at the bakery my friend Kim and I took numbers and got in line. She was #60 and I was #61. They called her number and assisted her. Then my number popped up on the board. A lady behind the counter turned, looked at #61 then said, "Number 62." I held up my 61 and said, "Ma'am, I'm #61," but the lady with #62 stepped up next to me and she was taken ahead of me. So I waited. Then another bakery lady walked up and said, "Number 63." Mind you my number was still on the board. Again I showed my number to the lady and asked for assistance. She didn't acknowledge me but Instead helped #63. I finally found someone to sell me a pastry.
Just last Sunday I decided I wanted nachos from a place near home. I walked into an empty lobby with another lady and we waited for the host. When the host arrived I explained that I wanted an order to go. I didn't mind when he asked me to wait while he seated the other lady. However, I began to mind when he kept seating everyone that walked in after me and never took my order. He also didn't call anyone else over to take my order.
I stood for 10 minutes as he seated five more parties. When I asked about my order he told me to wait until he was finished seating the rest of the lobby and he would then go get someone to take my order. I said, "No thank you," and left.
I found another restaurant, placed my order and took it home. It was the wrong order.
Monday, July 28, 2008
We were up at 4am on Saturday, July 5th. We loaded the buses and headed out a little after 5. I tried to capture the sunrise out of the bus window as we bumped down the dirt road away from the mission. Too bad the pictures were all blurry. I can't imagine how that happened. Here's a blurry shot anyway. The color alone makes it worth posting a terrible picture.
(The blurring makes this one looks like an impressionist painting.)
We made it to the airport with no issues and were off to Miami. Along the way we saw some of the most beautiful cloud formations, and the water between Cuba and the Keys was beautiful.
Once in Miami we had a 10 hour layover. Kim & Colby MacDonald and I hopped in a taxi and went to lunch at a local restaurant. There was a bakery on site and we grabbed some pastries for our long wait at the airport.
Oh, and did I mention that I was almost beaten up by an eight year old? I'll explain.
We played cards as we waited. While we were playing a young girl was watching us. Colby asked if she wanted to join our game. Chichina was born in Miami but raised in Jamaica. She and her teenage brother were flying from Jamaica to Texas to see their dad. As we played cards with Chichina she asked if we could guess her age. We all said 11 -13 (she was 5'1" and about 130 lbs). She laughed and told us she was only eight. Her brother confirmed her age and we all sat in astonishment. So remember that name because we are sure she will be in the WNBA someday.
Being eight years old she started wrestling with me. It was fun until this child (who is the SAME size as I) began to get rough. Chichina grabbed my arms behind my back and began shoving me. Unfortunately she didn't know when to stop. I was afraid she and I were going to end up in a heap on the ground. I could have broken her grip but I didn't want to hurt a child. I finally spoke to her in a tone of voice that made her let go. It was obvious she wasn't accustomed to obeying adults, and it it took a moment for her to respond.
Still, Chichina begged me to take her with us as we walked down the hall in search of food. I explained that she had to stay with her brother in case they announced her flight. They had already missed one connection. I don't understand why anyone would allow a 15 and 8 year old to travel without an adult. I hope they made it to Texas.
We arrived in Nashville around 11:30 that night. When we got off the plane there were several parents waiting to collect their children. One of the parents laughed and told me I looked like I was returning from the Peace Corps. I had to agree. I had a backpack, was wearing cut-off khakis, and had a do-rag over twisted hair. Quite the look for me. By the time I got home and checked email it was after 1:00 when I got into bed. I think I was asleep before the sheet sank down around me.
What a blessed life I have. God has so gifted me with amazing opportunities. I am so thankful for the relationships I have in Haiti. I pray I get to return soon. If anyone reading my journal has been touched by what they've seen or read and would like to help please contact me. If you are interested in sponsoring a child through New Missions PLEASE contact me. I promise you have no idea the impact it would have on the life of a child.
Thank you for all your prayers and support regarding this trip. I am humbled and loved by you.
Monday, July 21, 2008
A little while later we loaded a bus and a truck and headed to the beach. The nice beach an hour and a half away. The beach at the mission is black sand with lots of rocks, thorns, and pollution.
We camped ourselves at the beach in the distance at the right of the background. Kim MacDonald, Lauren Hurst and I walked up the beach and around the point (on the far right). We collected shells for various friends back home. Then Kim pointed out a treasure to me, tiny seashells near the tide line. There were tons of these precious little gems. No one was looking for small shells so there were plenty to find. I grabbed about 20 and hope to make necklaces with them. A couple of the shells are so small you could fit 7 of them on a dime. Thank you Kim!
We had another opportunity for shops at the beach. This time I was ready. I asked God for wisdom on what to buy and the price to pay. As a result, I had a much smoother time this go around. I actually walked away with quite a few gifts and can't wait to distribute them when I get home.
And I can't forget our musicians. Last March we were impressed by a couple of guys and their ingenuity. One gentleman played a medley of songs on his kazoo as he tried to sell a few seashells. He played hymns and Christmas carols. And why is this memorable you ask? What makes it memorable and remarkable was that his kazoo was really a rolled-up leaf. Cool huh?
The second gentleman wasn't as musically talented but he gets high marks for creativity. As the resident guitarist he walked the beach showing everyone his guitar and singing. His playing wasn't good and his singing was worse. However, how well could you play a guitar made with tin cans and strummed with a plastic spoon?
On the way back to the mission it began to rain - HARD. Those of us in the back of the truck were soaked. Now I realize we just came from the beach but that was warm, beautiful water with a hot sun overhead. The rain was another story. It started as a sprinkle that no one minded. The sprinkle quickly became sharp, wet bullets as we traveled down the road at about 50mph. And in case you haven't ridden in the back of a truck in a while let me remind you how windy it can be. Even I got a little chilled and that is saying something since my friends have vote me as "Most Likely to Spontaneously Combust." All in all I have to say that I still enjoyed the ride.
When we returned to the mission it was time for the other activities we had signed up for during the week. Some folks were going on boat rides while others had manicures and got their hair braided. I chose hair braiding, or rather hair twisting. It took awhile to explain what I wanted, with the aid of an interpreter of course. Finally Carmen understood what I was looking for and set out to turn my head into a mop of tiny twists. Bless her heart because she was one of the only ladies that didn't have an assistant to help her. She was flying solo and I have A LOT of hair. So as soon as Lauren's hair was finished one her stylists came to help Carmen.
When it was over I had a funky, ever-so-slightly cute, quite a bit ghetto hairdo. I had 2 options. I could leave my hair as it was or I could don a do-rag. Hmmm. Ghetto or Pirate? I chose pirate. Unfortunately the only photo I have is blurry so you will have to make do with this one of Lauren and me at our silly best.
(I actually kept this "do" for a couple of days and went to church as a pirate. Everyone at home got such a kick.)
Since it's Friday we gathered after dark by the pavilion. Charlie, our missionary, has a Friday night tradition to end each mission week in Haiti. Fireworks. It's especially appropriate today. I'm always amused when we have the fireworks show. I wonder if the nearby villages are used to Charlie and his pyrotechnics or if they think he's crazy. Regardless, they have to enjoy the gorgeous explosions that fill the sky.
We headed to bed rather early since we have a 4am wake-up call. We have to be on the buses at 5:00 to leave for the airport.
I can't believe this week is over. I have so much to process. There are so many amazing memories for which God has allowed me to take part. "Thank you" seems so inadequate sometimes. I am so blessed. My heart has much to digest.
Beautiful people. Beautiful country. Beautiful faith.
Friday, July 18, 2008
(Scott & Kelly Mills with their son Wednell.)
(Schnieder is the son of Chad and Whitney King.)
Thursday, July 17, 2008
We completed Bible school without any issues. But then I didn't expect any.
(This is one of my beautiful, little church buddies.)
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Thank you to those who have expressed interest in seeing the photos and hearing the stories. And thank you for the notes you've left me. I am so encouraged by you my friends.
While half the children attended class the other half was in the Big Room playing games, singing, and learning the Chicken Dance and Macarena. The kids LOVED the Chicken Dance. It was SO much fun but my word, I think I sweated 3 gallons. I literally soaked through my clothes. It was gross but no one cared. In fact, we were sweating so much that when we linked arms to swing each other around I almost threw a little girl into the wall because we slipped right off one another. Oh, the fun! If only that sweating equaled pounds lost.
After all the relay races and dancing the pastor at ConCrab presented the gospel to the kids. What a great spirit in this man.
We returned to the mission to my FAVORITE meal from the March trip. I was so hoping to enjoy this dish again. It's beans and rice but what makes it so special is the stewed veggie topping. I don't know what all veggies are in the mix but it is cooked and cooked and cooked until everything melds together into a thick, delicious medley.
Following lunch we divided into several different teams. One team went back to ConCrab to hand out tickets for the rice feeding. Another went to LaSalle for door to door evangelism. My team went to Bord Mer LasSalle to host a medical clinic for the children.
Several things happened between the groups. The ConCrab team got mobbed by the people and things turned a little ugly. The pastor lead the Americans to the church and shut them inside. Once there they waited a little while until the crowd dispersed a bit, then they returned to the mission. They weren't able to hand out all the tickets because of the commotion. They related that it was slightly scary but mostly sad because of how hungry and desperate the people were.
The LaSalle team led two people to Christ while going door to door. One gentleman converted from VooDoo. Mesi Jezi.
Finally, my team returned to Bord Mer LaSalle with Jenny for a clinic. I acted as the pharmacist for Jenny just as I did in March. However, this time the clinic wasn't as chaotic. Jenny said she is learning how to better run a field clinic and it definitely showed.
Jenny appointed Kelly to act as the check-in administrator. Kelly Mills (a bgm girl), with Nika to interpret, did a great job keeping things organized. Tim Jennings (from AZ) was in charge of crowd control. He was wonderful at keeping the flow moving with a constant smile on his face. Brent Madden (from SC) was equally as great in this endeavor. And we had several young ladies, Hallie, Mallory, Beth, and Laura Grace that played with the children who had gathered around to see what was going on. We also had several guys that played soccer on the beach with another group of kids. All in all there was plenty to keep the kids occupied so Jenny was able to treat her patients without a crush of curious bodies. It went well.
When the clinic was finished we sent our team back up the beach to the mission without Jenny, Nika, Kelly, TJ, and me. The five of us went to LaSalle to see the preemies we 1st met on Monday. The mama is still in the hospital but the babies were sent home.
We visited with the grandmother and her little girls. Jenny looked the infants over and asked Grandma lots of questions to ascertain the care they were receiving and what assistance was needed. We left lots of formula and bottles with preemie nipples for the belle tifis (beautiful little girls).
(Notice that Jenny's finger is bigger than the baby's leg.)
We were late for dinner by the time we returned to the mission. We ate yummy macaroni and cheese, broccoli salad, and sweet bread. I have to say that I am so glad we walk several miles each day or this food would be the death of me.
Later, while we were having devotion, a strong storm rolled through and soaked us. Devotion was in the screened dining room. However, with 40+ people it is quite crowded and warm so 5 or 6 us us sat outside and listened through the screens. Then the wind began to blow hard and the rain fell. It felt so good and cooled the air. We also had a fabulous lightning show.
God, thank you for this amazing day. Thank you for the unconventional approach to VBS. What a great reminder to think outside the box. Thank you for the opportunity to help so many children with a medical clinic out of a suitcase. Thank you for sustaining such tiny lives in such primitive surroundings. Thank you for bringing us comfort in the form of wind and rain. Thank you for the magnificent display you presented to my enjoyment. And Lord God, thank you for loving me. Thank you for the hope I see in Haiti.
I'm tired. Good night Lord.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
While we were painting a man named Sonny found Missy to tell her about a new mother that wanted our prayer. The bgm girls know Sonny so Missy told him we would go to the woman's house to pray for her as soon as we finished painting. We probably would have stopped painting and gone at that moment if we knew what awaited us.
When we got to the two room house (above) we found a young woman of 23 or 24 lying on her stomach facing right. She was lethargic and did little more than look at us. As Missy spoke to the woman, with the assistance of Sonny, I moved into the 2nd room. Lauren Hurst was standing by a bed with two tiny babies. Each little girl's head would fit into the palm of my hand.
When dinner was over we watched the new New Missions promo video and had a Haiti history lesson from Charlie.
Monday, July 14, 2008
It was a long walk today. We left late and the tide was much higher this time of year and there were a few places that were quite difficult to maneuver. We had to pick up the smaller children and carry them through the tide surges.
While we walked through LaSalle it began to rain. The rain was so cool and refreshing. The temperature dropped and the rain washed away the sweat. Unfortunately it also washed away bits of our path as well. Not only were we traipsing through mud (made of more than dirt and water), but my shirt was soaked. Note to self: thin cotton may be cool but it doesn't go well with the rainy season. So much for modesty.
Dinner was sub sandwiches and fresh squeezed lime-aid (yay). I tried picklese for the first time. Picklese is a relish but it looks like cole slaw. It is spicy and adds a kick to your sandwich or whatever else you add it to. I thought it was pretty good. It gets its heat from habanero peppers.
When dinner was over we had some free time. I went down to the beach to get a shot of the sunset in the storm. I wanted to get a photo of the lightning in the distance over the water but I never got a good shot. I'll share my photo and one from Brent Madden. Brent captured an amazing picture of a triple lightning strike.
Just standing on the beach watching the storm in the distance was beyond spectacular. Is there a better word than beautiful? If so I'd like to use it now.
Thus ends day one. Thank you Lord for this amazing opportunity. Wow. You must really love me.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I've only broken one bone in my body but this is the third time I've done so. I fear the toe is forever compromised and I will not be able to set it in place properly.
Bed seems like a beautiful idea at this moment. Alas, I must be at work.
I feel poopie. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated.
(Okay. Here's a sneak peak.)