Give and you get back so much more

After the past few months, even I was a little over social media.  However, I am always reminded that social media can be FOR GOOD.  Not only was our business founded on and continues to run on social media, but it can also be used to build each other up and give words of encouragement and hope.

Mission Work in San Jose

My family just returned from a mission trip to San Jose, Costa Rica that has forever changed our hearts.  Myself, my 8 year old son Charles, and my 7 year old daughter Natalie Anne will never forget what we experienced on this mission trip. Sweet friends organized over 40 families to build 7 houses in 48 hours with Homes of Hope through Youth With A Mission.  Our team came together from several states to make this a reality.  Children from ages 5 and up came on this trip to serve The Lord and give aid to 7 wonderful families that live in circumstances many of us can’t even imagine.  Sewage in the streets, homes that have dirt floors and scrap tin for walls barely held together.  The most amazing part was that even amongst the poverty, JOY was in the hearts of this community.  Neighbors – both adults and children – gathered with our teams to help build homes for their fellow families.  The kids played soccer in the streets with empty plastic Pepsi bottles.  The day we drove in on our bus, one of the Costa Rican women had on her Sunday best outfit with a large hat. She stood there waving with the biggest smile on her face exuding JOY.

Our teams spent 48 hours carrying lumber, sawing it, nailing together the 2 x 4s for the walls, installing windows, laying roofs, and painting the insides and outsides of the homes.  My son Charles kept a journal while on the trip.  This is new for him, to be intent on writing.  He documented this trip like it was his job.  I took a picture of the first few lines and texted the photo to my family because it was so sweet.  I tried to peek at it as the days passed, but he didn’t want me to.  He said it wasn’t complete. 

Sunday night, we handed the keys to the new owners of the homes a little before 7pm. They wept.  We all cried, because it was amazing.  We received so much more than we gave. Our children left busting with pride because they just built a house with a whole lot of love and their own 2 hands among friends.

Final House for San Jose Family

Our specific sweet family that we built for had a new baby boy arrive in the world on Friday and was able to bring him home with his big sister to a brand new home.  I pray that this family has hope and knows how many people want good for them.  As I thought about the cycle of poverty – maybe just this one house and the 6 other new homes for the neighborhood sets a new standard. 

It is hard to leave a place where there is so much need.  We will be back.  If our team built 7 homes and YWAM builds at least 50 a year in San Jose, how fast can we transform this area?  We will do it one family at a time, one house at a time. Charles wants to go back to build his buddy Dylan a home and Natalie Anne wants to check on Tadry in her new home. No matter the age, anyone can service.

Nicole's Kids with New Friends

Most of this amazing experience is documented in my son’s journal.  As he said – it isn’t complete.  He got it out on the last leg of our Southwest flight today and set it in his seat pocket at some point during the flight.  The kids were delirious from the days of work and getting up at 5:30am to catch our first leg of the Southwest flight.  My sweet dad came to pick us up at Love Field right outside of bag claim.  We excitedly hopped into the car – ready to head to the comforts of home!  Before we hit the airport exit, I heard Charles frantically looking for something, and he immediately started saying “We have to go back.  My journal – it’s gone.  I left it in the seat pocket.”  As we sat through several stoplight changes, moving nowhere, he was in a full panic.  Even my hardass dad said we have to go back.  We flipped a U-turn and headed back into the airport.  I ran in trying to find anyone with Southwest that could call the gate to check for me.  It was a peak travel time and the baggage resolutions department had a line snaking out the door.  Using my time standing in line wisely, I filed my issue online and then tracked flight 34.  It was en route to Las Vegas.  The only good thing was that we were delayed getting to Dallas, so there wasn’t time for a deep clean on the plane.  They had to turn that baby around!  I made my way to the front of the line and made one more plea for help.  I wasn’t getting very far.  Knowing I had done what I could do for the moment, we headed home.  My dad said on the way home “Well, it will be a miracle if it is found now.”

Family Picture

I got the kids settled and headed back to Love Field to camp out and see what I could find.  After another unsuccessful attempt with the Dallas team, I reached out on Facebook. I even joined Twitter and started tweeting (probably not the correct way). And friends – you showed up in a BIG way.  Some of you are close friends and some are just acquaintances.  In that short amount of time, friends were tagging their friends that worked for Southwest and in 20 minutes almost 50 people were making some sort of connection with Southwest.  Many friends and friends of friends reached out directly to Southwest.  That journal became a sought after request!  So much so that one sweet angel reached out to the flight crew while they were en route and they found it!  When they landed at 5:20pm PST the journal was reported as found! I cried in front of my new besties in the Dallas baggage resolutions office and even hugged one – Kim, Yolanda, Jeffrey, Nicole and Kade (my SWA Twitter buddy) were excited for me – and probably more excited to see me leave! 

Friends – you reminded me how good it feels to have someone stick up for you and try to help in any way that they can.  I know many of you were in the middle of coming home from work, cooking dinner, picking up kids – and you came to my rescue!  I came off this trip on a high.  Doesn’t it feel good to help someone?  I have to say – it felt really good to get the help too.  Fifty people tonight tried to help me find an 8-year-old boy’s journal about his first mission trip.  Elizabeth Post said it best – “God has some plans for that journal.”  I don’t know if it is the words in the journal, the heart of the boy who wrote the words that was totally transformed by the things he saw and did, or the way you made one mama feel so lifted up that will be part of God’s plans for that journal – only He knows!  From the bottom of my heart – THANK YOU!

Southwest Flight

I looked up Southwest’s purpose tonight. It states “To connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”  Southwest saved the day at the beginning of our trip too – not just at the end.  I promise this isn’t a sponsored post for Southwest – but in a day when people go above and beyond to make it happen – I can’t let that go.  On Friday we had over 30 people from our building team have major delays getting out of Dallas due to weather.  They were going to miss the connection in Houston to get to San Jose.  There is only one flight a day from Houston to San Jose. If our team members missed it – it meant that they would not arrive until late Saturday night and would only be able to build one day.  And that is if there were actually open seats during the busy Thanksgiving travel season!  The Southwest flight pulled away from the gate in Houston to head on to San Jose – but when they learned that the delayed passengers were going for a mission trip, Southwest STOPPED the flight from leaving, pulled back to the gate and waited for the delayed groups.  Southwest empowered their team on the ground to make a decision for the good of our mission.  It meant that they get a d-merit for late departure and it meant that several other passengers and crew were going to be getting in much later than expected, but it meant that over 30 people were able to serve and build homes.  Southwest is one of those companies that cares about people.  It is evident in the way you helped me find a journal that it wasn’t your fault that my son lost.  Thank you for reminding us that people matter in your business.  It’s why I will choose to fly SWA any chance I have a choice – even if means I have to change planes.

This year we have so much to be joyful and thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!



Update: Charles' story was featured on FOX26 Houston and the Southwest Facebook page. Click the photo to watch the video news story!

Fox26 Houston Video