Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!


I received two emails on my school account today that I was really impressed with. Both are regarding the death of Donny Frye that I posted about a couple of posts below this one.
The first one I got was forwarded on to our school from Donny's dad. This is what he wrote:
Friends and Family
Our God who made our magnificent universe as demonstrated in the attached link is the author of all. I believe it's even greater in scale than the link below shows. As visible matter is mostly space, I can in my mind believe we are in a spirit existence now because we really don't understand what matter really is. It (matter) fills a void with infinitesimal points of energy and force in a vastly large expanse. Our God is an Awesome God. I remember as a boy looking at the vastness of space and the stars one night and asked God to explain it all to me someday. I have been intrigued by our universe ever since. I believe God's majesty is infinite including what we see and perceive and what we can't see.
He continues to create. He takes tragedy and despair and if we let him he will raise up new life and spirit like a phoenix. In this realm that we are in we have free will and we are touched by the free will of others. Sometimes this causes pain even severe heartbreak and other times it results in joy penultimate. If we trust in him and turn all our fears and pain over to him we are promised peace. I believe with all my heart that he has taken my son to his home and that he is at peace in a special room in his mansion (maybe even the heavenly golf course). I will see him again. I pray that all may feel the joy I have knowing that my son is doing just fine and having a ball with Jesus our Father.
I am sure that Donny hurts for us as we mourn and cry. I have always known that all my children are blessings from God and are on loan, but it doesn't seem real that they can be called away until it really happens.
Our family and our friends have experienced what can only be described as miracles which confirm that Donny is safe in God's arms. This is particularly meaningful for us at Easter. As Karen so beautifully stated during Donny's service, " The tomb is empty". My son is with God. What more can an earthly father mother want for their child.
What I have learned through all the recent events ls that the living suffer the loss and the pain of death. God has a way of bringing us down to earth and reminding us to hold each of us dear while we are here. I only ask that you hug more and tell others that you love them. Talk to strangers and hold people's hands. Love conquers evil. We are not promised tomorrow. We ALL after all are on a voyage with many forks in a road that is strewn with sharp jagged rocks. Pray that ALL God's children choose the right path and that we all trust and believe in Jesus our Lord.
Forgive those that cause us pain. They have not experienced Jesus or the love of family or friends. We need to reach out to them.
Have a Blessed Easter
The second is from Donny's wife, Liz - my co-worker and friend. What amazing people!
My dear PFE family,
I don't know where to begin to thank you all for EVERTYTHING you have done. The reality of this tragedy is still unconceivable and I really can't imagine how we will go on, but I know that we will. We will because we have to. We will because God continues to lift us up by giving us absolutely incredible people like you! My heart aches for those who feel such pain but do not have the support of an entire community like we do.
Your prayers have been felt, your words have been heard. I feel God's loving hold through you and I just can't thank you enough. Many people have been asking how they can help and I must tell you, our cup over floweth. Humbly, I ask you to "pay it forward." What ever you were going to do for me and my family, I beg that you pass it on to someone else, anyone you meet who is hurting. Donny was so generous and really spread his happiness where ever he went. We all have the power to change the world, one kind act at a time. I KNOW this is true, because your outpouring of love and well wishes truly have changed our world. Each kind word fills this gaping hole in my heart.
I love you all,

Beach Camping

This last Easter weekend, I went camping at the beach with some friends.
We didn't have school on Thursday or Friday. Thursday I just took it easy, but I headed out on Friday in the early afternoon to Galveston. It took quite awhile to get over there because of traffic and waiting on the ferry.
Once we got out there, it got overcast. I liked it just because I didn't have to worry too much about getting sunburned. It was really nice weather - just a little windy. I like being able to see those oil rigs way out in the gulf.
It was so pretty with the little sandy hills out there.
There's been a drought around here so there was burn ban. Katherine purposefully didn't bring wood because of that, but the rangers said we could have a fire on the beach, so we gathered a bunch of driftwood. We had a pretty good fire.
Just a nice shot down the beach. A lot of that mossy stuff had washed up on the shore. There were jellyfish in there so we had to be careful where we walked.
There were a lot of seagulls around. Something I hadn't ever noticed was that there were Arctic Terns down there! Daniel Farmer is a bird buff and he spotted some. Cool beans!
Here he is feeding the birds. It was a great time. I only took pictures for a little bit, but we had some sun on Saturday. It was a beautiful day, just really windy. We found some dewberry bushes and had a nice little breakfast of them!

Fun Folks

I've had a few fun get-togethers lately.
One was for Stacie's birthday a day early. Her birthday is exactly a week before mine. We had dinner at the Cook's house and it was delicious as expected. She made this cake that was amazing to look at and to eat!
Megan was in town to move her stuff out of storage by house. She's moving to Hawaii this summer and will stay next school year so we had a big yard sale to get rid of her stuff. That yard sale was CRAZY! People were at my house grabbing stuff up before we'd even brought everything out!
Here's a close-up of this delicious cake! It was a 3 layer chocolate cake with strawberries and whipped cream between each of the layers.
Happy about cake . . . for good reason!
Here's a group picture. We'd had a few leave by this point, but didn't think of a picture until later! Great time with great people.
The next day we got together for dinner at Alisi's Hawaiian food place. It was kind of a good bye dinner for Jared who's going up to Alaska for work. He's leaving poor Kristin here until school's out, but he has to get up there because his job starts soon. The good part of all this is that Kristin gets to live with us for a little over a month.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Don Frye

This last week was a crazy one - very sad. Many of you readers who are in the Houston area may have heard about a murder that happened in Atascocita on Monday evening. The man who was shot and killed in his driveway was the husband of my co-worker Liz and the father of my student Dylan.
This is a picture of Don that I took from another co-worker's Facebook page.
Don was a father of 3 - the youngest is the one in my class. He's on the right. I found this picture of him and his kids on his daughter's Facebook page.
I had only met Don a few times, but have really gotten to know and love his wife Liz. I borrowed this photo from Janelle's Facebook photos too.
As of last Thursday night, detectives had no suspects and no leads, so Don's friends, family and neighbors decided to hold a candlelight vigil where they'd pass out flyers about it asking for any information. The did notify the press to get the word out. I got this picture of the channel 12 news van. HERE'S what they had to say about it.
The turn out was incredible. Of the three news stations, it was stated that there were between 200 and 300 people there. Fox news had THIS to say.
I had my friend and co-worker hold up my candle while I took a picture of the scene. HERE'S what the local CBS station had to say about the vigil.
These signs were put up all over the community. To everyone's relief, an arrest was made on Friday morning. I hope it had something to do with people's efforts in getting the word out about what happened. HERE'S the article about the suspect who's being charged. Please keep Liz and her family in your prayers!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ice Hockey

Last weekend I met a group of friends to go downtown for my first ice hockey game.
We went to see the Houston Aeros take on the team from Oklahoma City. I liked the actual hockey part, but did NOT like the fighting. I don't mind the "checking" against the glass, but there were several instances where gloves were thrown down and it was an old fashioned fist fight. The refs just stood there while the crowd jumped to its feet shouting "Fight! Fight!" I don't think I was the only one in our group who wasn't too happy about it. People were using smart phones to find out some info. I guess where "real" hockey is played, in the northeast US, Canada, and Europe, they don't put up with it. Google also told us that many "not for real" teams recruit fighters instead of hockey players to promote the fighting. Ridiculous! I was particularly disturbed because we were there because Kim's school choir was singing at it. Several other schools were there too. The kids were in on the "fight" shouting which really disturbed me. Am I the only one?
It was still a fun night with fun people, though.
Needless to say, hockey probably won't be on my list of things to do in the Houston area anymore!

New Zealand

Several weeks ago I got a new student. She was from New Zealand. Her family was from Christchurch and they moved here after the earthquake because they didn't have power, water, or other things. They also started offering cheap flights to leave, so they came to visit family here in TX for a little while.
Here she is with her dad the day they left. I thought I'd post their story as written by her dad in an email to me.
Isabelle and I were both in downtown Christchurch at her school when the earthquake hit. The feeling was one of utter helplessness as I watched children, furniture, and my own body just hurled about the room as though a giant had picked up our school and shaken it like a baby's rattle. But as bad as the quake itself was, the aftermath was in some ways worse. We had to evacuate the children immediately out of the building and into the streets of Christchurch with basically no preparation or warning. Many of the children had no shoes on, most had only shorts and t-shirts and we had to walk for miles through the destroyed landscape of our once beautiful city past the rubble of collapsed cathedrals and 18th century buildings and the shattered plate glass of still standing but smashed modern structures. By the time we reached Hagley Park (a bit like New York's Central Park), the weather was turning overcast and cool and chaos reigned supreme - with little sign of any kind of organized effort to shelter or transport our children out of the city center. As the afternoon turned darker and cooler our teacher advised that those of us that thought we could get out should get out while it was still daylight. So Isa and myself and another 5 year old boy Jarrod (who I had taken in with our carpool that day) started walking out. We walked past 6 inch wide, meter deep cracks in the earth along the banks of the Avon river, trying to find an undamaged bridge over the swollen silt filled water. At one point a particularly strong aftershock hit which just knocked the streams of walking refugees flat onto the ground. We decided to try first for my workplace to see if anyone there could help us. When we arrived at the 3 story glass and steel office building we saw a small crowd milling outside who told us the building had been evacuated (with no serious injuries, fortunately) and I looked up to see the smashed glass of my own office window I used to look out and the apparent destruction within. At this point I really realized the gravity of the situation and the very heavy responsibility of making sure Jarrod was safely returned to his Mother and hoped that I had made the right decision in choosing to leave the group assembled in the park. Knowing that Isa and Jarrod could not walk much farther I flagged down a random car and asked for help - the woman let us in and told us she was going to Southshore which - as one of the amazing blessings and miracles of the day - is where we live. We then spent the next 7 hours and 3/4 tank of fuel to travel a distance of only 15 km - through gridlock, detours, flooded roads, even cars sticking up vertically from the road where they had fallen into sinkholes, to eventually arrive home safe to our (another blessing) lightly damaged house. Unfortunately, although safe, we had no water, power, or sewer services and the interior of our house was a big mess - particularly Isa's bedroom. Interestingly, she had not cried or acted scared the entire day, but she saw her own home and bedroom in such shambles she broke down and told me she was frightened.

There is of course more to the story of how one week later we eventually made it to Humble, but I just wanted to share a bit about what Isa and I have been through so you might understand how grateful we are to be here at Isa's grandparents house and at your lovely school. Perhaps this will also help you to understand why I need to be near Isa and she needs to know that I am close and that her world is 100% safe right now.