Two Great Speakers

We hadn’t known this before we booked our cruise, but one of the speakers for the week was our own former U.S. Senator Al Simpson.  We were thrilled to know he would be speaking throughout the week.  In addition, his close friend, Norman Mineta would be sharing the speaker’s platform.  Norman was the U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush, the only Democrat to hold office on his cabinet.  He was in this position on 9/11 and was the man who issued an order to ground all U.S. civilian aircraft, something that had never happened before.  He also worked on the implementation of the Transportation Security Administration department for airline safety. Here is an excellent video of Norman’s recollections of the events on 9/11.

We listened to all their speeches throughout the week and they were fascinating, funny at times and entertaining.

The story of how the two became best friends is amazing, and they took turns sharing the story with us.  Norman’s family had been detained at Heart Mountain–near Cody, Wyoming–one of the Japanese internment camps during World War II.  Al’s Boy Scout leader decided to take his troop of young boys out to the camp to play competitive games and camp-out together.  They ended up in the same tent and became fast friends for life, though one joined the Democratic party and the other joined the Republicans.  Maybe this is why Al was always so good at crossing party lines and working to compromise rather than hating the other side, something that is badly needed now.

We had met Al several times before, and he invited us to have lunch with them in the Palm Court; it was a special treat to sit with these two giants of the political world–men with integrity, kindness, intelligence and openness.  Their wives, Ann and Deni, are also about as kind and caring as anyone you could meet.

We asked a lot of questions about Washington and about 9/11, of course, and they willingly answered them all.  What an honor and privilege to dine with these special people!

Here are some photos from breakfast and from our dinner that evening.




Awesome Staff

The staff members on Crystal Cruises are truly wonderful.  I loved meeting them and learning where they came from.  One special event that I attended was the “Mozart Tea.”  It was really special–the music, food and costumes.

I had seen the man on the right previously–he’s from Peru, where I have been to visit sponsored children.

This man at the piano was dressed like Mozart and played beautifully.

The snacks were incredible.

Here are many of the other staff members we met–all were so nice and special in various ways.  This man kept the decks clean and is from the Philippines, another country I’ve visited.

Our personal maid is also from Peru and she was great.

We just couldn’t thank them enough for the wonderful service they offered!


Sponsors: Nick Vujicic

Here is another compelling visit of a Compassion sponsor — Nick Vujicic.  In this film he visits a child in Colombia (not his own sponsored child, but one with a story of hardship).  You will not soon forget this video!

Sponsors: Jared Hall

This week I’m featuring Compassion sponsors. These people are making a huge difference in the life of a child. You can too! Click here to sponsor a child!  Here is Jared Hall, Illusionist!

A Question

Today’s video features West Stafford, President Emeritus of Compassion International and a specific question.  It’s a heartbreaking story to hear of the abuse he endured as a child, and how his experiences caused him to be who he is today.  He became a strong advocate for children who don’t have a voice against such abuse, and against a world of poverty and hardship.  Please listen to this story carefully and you will understand what Compassion is all about and how you, too, can be a voice for children. Watch to the end and you’ll hear what the specific question is.

One Word: Worship

My Word of the Year has been “Worship,” as you may recall.  I’ve certainly been learning to worship God in any and every situation, not only at church services, and not only when things are going well.

Today’s quote says it all — these lyrics of a song by Danny Oertli, a dear Compassion friend.  He certainly learned to worship God through his tears when his first wife died of cancer.  His music has always been a huge encouragement to me.  This is truly what worship is all about — trusting God in all situations; knowing He’s still on the throne, and certain that He can be trusted fully.  This is why we worship Him.

You know when I rise

You know when I sleep

You know that I need you desperately.

I pour out my soul, O Lord,

I worship You with tears.

I am broken.

I have nothing to give.

I fall at your feet

And worship You will tears.

I worship You will tears.

–Danny Oertli


Muuo’s Dream

We had just arrived at Muuo’s project in Kenya, and now we had a chance to learn more about their ministry, and to meet the very people who support Muuo and over 300 more children through their tireless work.  Here is the Project Director, Julia.


This is the Pastor, Allen, with an intern, Regina.  2016-07-06-09-36-55_500

We also met social workers and the accountant, as well as other leaders employed locally by Compassion for this particular child development center.

Meanwhile, Sarah and Muuo were having fun with her phone; they were taking selfies and she was showing him some photos from her work at NASA, which he was thrilled to see.



They showed me Muuo’s file and I was allowed to look at information about his activities at the project, health and academic reports, etc.  Then the funniest thing happened.  There was a standard form in his file that told about his sponsor and correspondent (me).  Some of the blanks were empty and Muuo asked me to fill in the information, since he’d always wondered.  It was my delight to complete the paperwork in person!


Next they showed me the notebooks where Muuo has been composing his letters to me.  They were almost exactly what I had been receiving from Compassion (obviously, teachers helped with grammar corrections later, but there were few errors).



They pointed out that they had lots of notebooks, since we have been writing so much, and that this has made Muuo very happy!  It’s been a blessing for me, too, to receive regular correspondences from all my kids.


I couldn’t have been more pleased, than to think that my short letters to him have been so important in his life.

Now it was time to go to his home and meet his family!  We were all so excited.  This is Muuo’s home and family.

2016-07-06-12-24-54_500First we gave them the food we had purchased at the grocery store.


We also had small gifts for everyone.


Muuo’s mother gave me a lovely purse.


Then she showed me her cooking area, and I asked if she minded having her photo taken.  She was very gracious and willing to pose for me.


I fell in love with Muuo’s sweet, loving parents — Kalalya and Anna, of the Kamba tribe.


As with Jerica’s family, we freely hugged everyone, not realizing it might have been against normal cultural customs.  But they were very loving towards us, too, just like before.  There’s something special about knowing you have been praying for each other for years, and knowing that you each share concerns and dreams for your own children, and for each others’ families as well.

The kids were adorable!



We’ll never forget the wonderful opportunity to meet this amazing family.  Their faith is strong; they are loving and generous.  Just like the previous day’s visit, we sensed that they work hard and provide in every way possible for their children. Life is not easy,  but I’m pretty sure they’ve never complained.  They’ve provided a good life for themselves, but through the sponsorship Muuo now has the opportunity to attend school, stay healthy, and realize his dreams of becoming, not a pilot, as he thought in his early years, but a pastor, like his older brother.  This is his greatest dream and motivation now, he tells me, and I’m so very grateful for his faithful sponsor and for the opportunity she’s given me to be his correspondent.  I’ll tell more about the home and project visit in the next post.