Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Haiti Update #11: Jumping rope proves a universal pastime

My highlight of yesterday was definitely jumping rope with the girls. It’s amazing that I have been here two and a half weeks and I have not taken the time to do one of my favorite pastimes in Haiti. My role this summer has been a lot of managing the house, cooking the meals, organizing the teams and ministry. I enjoy doing these tasks and using my gifts in these areas but I was reminded yesterday that my real joy comes in just being with and loving on the children.

After Story Time we brought out jump ropes, soccer balls and some of the other games the team brought from the United States. I asked Bev and Dana on the team if they could be in charge of dinner. Meanwhile, Ericlee watched Giada and Meilani and I just played with the Haitian kids. Probably more than 100 kids gathered in the yard of this “free play time.”

I spent most of my time jumping rope with various groups of girls. Even one Haitian mom came to turn the rope and join in the fun. Jump rope is one of those universal games that transcend the language barrier and any other cultural clash of organization. Haitian girls young and old can participate. Some of them have this amazing sense of rhythm and its fun to see them go at it. Some girls jump double dutch style and I hear the slap-slap, slap-slap, slap-slap of their baer feet on the dust floor. Others play a game where they jump together and then twist and switch positions.

Nathan Freeland and I actually jumped rope together for about 20 rounds and the Haitian girls thought that was hilarious to watch these two “blancs” jump together. Today I’m feeling the calf workout from jumping in my flip flops. I guess I’m getting in a creative “Go, Mama Workout” after all.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Haiti Update #10: Construction Team makes progress on Orphanage project

There’s a new kind of music in the air here in Haiti. It’s the music of the generator humming, drills whirring and paint rollers squishing paint onto concrete walls. The Bridge Construction team is working hard to help complete the Orphanage project.

Yesterday was a big learning curve for our team of four married couples, two ladies and 10-year-old Tiana Freeland plus the four of us Gilmores. Besides the language barrier, the new environment and new schedule the team had to adjust to the stark difference between the way construction is done in the U.S. versus construction here in Haiti. We are all learning to flexible.

We put the ladies to work organizing one of the storage closets in the house and sorting items for use inside the orphanage. Meanwhile, a few of the guys worked on pulling wire and connecting the electricity for the Orphanage. Some of the Haitian men from the church are also helping, teaching and learning.

In the afternoons, the ladies on the team are hosting a Story and Play Time for the children. The kids are so full of delight and joy as they play with Legos for the first time or try out American games like Candyland and Memory.

For the Story Time, Anne Brant read a Haitian picture book called “Circles of Hope” and Peter’s daughter Stacy translated. At the end of the story, Stacie Gudgel asked questions and gave out prizes to the kids who could answer the questions about the story correctly. After the story, we served the kids lemonade and animal crackers and taught them the game “Red light, Green light.” Stacie and Tiana Freeland were mobbed by the kids who quickly learned the game.

After dinner out team spent time with Roro (Roosevelt) and his wife, Moseline, and three of his children. They are to be the new directors of the orphanage when it is completed. We brought them gifts and prayed with them.
Peter and Gerby have chosen 16 of the neediest children to live in the orphanage, which will be called “The Bridge Christian Children’s Home.” Peter was pleased to announce this new name for the orphanage and explained that it not only speaks to the money The Bridge church in Fresno raised for the project but also that this home will be a bridge for these children (ages 6-10) from a world of poverty and despair to a home filled with hope.

We completed our day with some time around the table sharing highlights about the day and grappling with some of the tough questions and injustices we had seen here in Haiti. For me, it is both difficult and comforting to work through some of these tough questions with my brothers and sisters from The Bridge. Our perspectives, of course, are shaped by an American lens and our Christian lens. We ask ourselves how we are to respond in a culturally sensitive way when we see a child being beaten or we witness a woman being disrespected.

I continue to wonder about how the Gilmores are to be used and continue to be used here in Haiti. I really feel God is leading Ericlee and me to be involved in the Children’s Home in a more serious way. We are praying about what that would look like. We are also thinking about what it would take to adopt a Haitian child through this home.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Haiti Update #9: “Offroading” in rural Haiti with Team Three

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The wind swirls outside our bedroom window and thunder booms in the distance, announcing an afternoon rain storm. On this Sunday, our third and final mission team from The Bridge church pauses for a siesta (cabicha in Kreyol). The team arrived early yesterday morning with all their bags in tow. What a blessing! (Unfortunately, the Music Team missed their flight because the small charter plane arrived late and they had to spend the night in Port Au Prince.)

This morning we attended pieces of three church services in rural Haiti. We were introduced here at the Pignon church where we were staying. Then we all piled in a large truck and headed for the hills. Most of the team tackled this *very* bumpy ride from the bed of the truck where they braced themselves on top of wooden benches. The kids, Brandy and I piled inside the truck with the driver.

The view included rolling green hills, cactus fences, naked children running down dirt roads next to pigs bathing in the mud and donkeys stumbling over rocks. We all drank in this time together for laughter (or screaming with joy in Dana’s case), good conversation and reflection. I especially enjoyed my time in the truck with Brandy Freeland – someone I’ve wanted to spend more quality time with but it took something like a mission trip to bring us together.

Our first stop was the Savanette Church to visit Pastor Mele and his little congregation of about 100. They welcomed our new team with their signature music. Nathan Freeland and Ericlee shared some greetings and then we jumped back in the truck and continued on our way to the St. Raphael church.

St. Raphael is a small mountain town where Grandma and Grandpa Bell first built a house and started a small church. Today, the church boasts several hundred. Our church in California raised the funds to build a new church building for St. Raphael. We introduced our Construction Team to the congregation. Brian Gudgel, who is part of the team, delivered a great message about 2 Corinthians 4 with translation by our friend Gerby. Actually, Gerby preached his own mini-sermon at the end.

After church, we snapped a few photos and some video of the progress on the building and then headed back home by the “back road” way. The highlight of the journey was a point when soft mud and water covered our path. Surely, the truck would get stuck so all 15 of us had to get out of the truck and walk. Our driver put the pedal in motion and after a few tries sailed over the muddy patch.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Haiti Update # 8: Music culminates with community performance & outreach

This has been a week ripe with blessings. Sure, we have experienced trials and hardships. Ericlee and I have been battling diarrhea. Jeff and my dad have struggled to sleep at night with the spiritual warfare and noises in the night. A girl on one of the teams was stirring up trouble and stole Marcy’s pictures for the craft and then tried to ruin them in water. But these setbacks are small in comparison to the growth and real progress we have seen in the campers.

We shared a few snapshots of God’s work here around the table last night before bed. Dad mentioned how much fun it was to teach Tai Chi (to the girls!) during the afternoon exercise and game time. (The rest of us loved watching this crazy spectacle too! Eve said just watching was her highlight!) Lisa was blessed by the beautiful view from the orphanage and the joy of seeing the diligence of her Music Theory students. Marcy was thrilled to see the Haitians responding to her husband’s teaching in the Drama class and watching the reactions of the Haitians to the drama performed last night in the evening service. Maria saw a snapshot of God’s work in the mural Jeremy and the other young men are making in the orphanage bedrooms. Mom also mentioned how fun it was to teach another dance class and see the young people really get the steps and have fun doing it. Jeff noted the enthusiasm of the Haitians singing and the feeling of being united with the Haitians singing worship songs in two languages.

Part of the reason blessings abound is because we know we are covered in prayer and also because these Haitian teens have never experienced a music camp like this before. We continue to hear about how much they are learning. Even now I hear someone rehearsing a song in the distance, a trumpet playing and the children dashing through the yard. I think the personal attention is even more important that the music notes or dance steps they may remember later. So many of these young people come from broken homes. They may have finished high school but now are jobless. Others are trying to raise a family on a very meager income or growing food on their own small plot of land. The camp has provided a kind of hope for them in the midst of their daily darkness.

Tonight is the regular Friday night service for the church here in Pignon. Our Music Team decided to make this a performance night to share with the church and community some of what the campers have been working on. We started with a performance by the Orange Team who won Doug’s Marching Formation competition. Our team was so proud to see the balance of discipline and precision they had mastered in just one week. Next came the Blue Team led us all in the singing of “This is The Day,” one of the songs they had learn to read in Music Theory class.

A group of girls helped Mom, Eve and me perform two Israeli folk dances. They were proud to share a new kind of worship with their community. Then the Yellow Team shared a Christian drama they learned with Jeremy and Marcy in drama class. How exciting to see God work through their creativity and then JonJon, their translator, gave a mini-sermon unpacking the drama and giving an invitation to the audience to accept Christ.

The Red Team showed their skills playing new instruments taught to them by Jeff and Eve. And finally, the FanFan (Marching Band) performed two pieces they had worked on each afternoon during the week with Jeff. We were so proud to witness their progress, but even more their own sense of confidence and new value for music. This evening truly was the grand finale to a week of blessings.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Haiti Update #7: Dolls delight Haitian children

Thursday, July 23

A woman from our church in Fresno donated her doll collection to give to the Haitian kids. Today we had the chance to see this gift in action. Meilani helped me and we gave out several dozen little dolls to the girls in the street who often hang around the church. Each doll was carefully wrapped in a ziplock bag. These little dolls came with their own little outfits. There was a bride, a princess, a doctor, a scarecrow, a bunny costume, a Renaissance girl and more.

At first when we passed out the dolls, the Haitian girls just held them. None of them wanted to really take them out of their little Ziplocks. I urged Meilani to show them how to play with them. Meilani has an extensive world of imagination when she plays dolls at home. She sets up Story Time for her dolls and stuffed animals. She cooks them meals and hosts tea parties. I thought to myself, if only these precious Haitian girls had access to this imaginative play.

Admittedly, Meilani was a bit disappointed that none of the girls could really *play* with her. She grew frustrated the language barrier. We decided to come inside the house and take a rest.

Our real joy came later in the day when we took a walk to go do e-mail. About half a block down from the church we found a group of the girls sitting on a porch with their dolls. They were surrounded by strips of fabric they had ripped from old clothes. One of the older girls held a razor blade and was expertly slicing the fabric while the others were using thread and needle to sew tiny clothes. When they saw us, their smiles exploded as they showed what they were doing. Even a few boys had joined the party. I saw there a glimpse of how something out of our American excess became a treasure to these little ones.

Music Camp proves a Symphony of Joy

Wednesday, July 22

The Music Camp here in Haiti is underway! Today marks the halfway point of the camp and the missionary complex is bustling with excitement. The new team arrived on Saturday. We enjoyed a day of rest and visiting three of the ministry’s churches on Sunday. On Monday, the campers arrived. Some 75 young people ages 15-23 are staying here at the church for the week. Think Hume Lake Christian in a Haitian context. Jeff Loven is leading his group and the campers are learning about Music Theory, Beginning Instruments, Dance, Marching Band Formation, Drama and even Mural Painting.

Ericlee and my role is to watch the Puseys two kids and our two girls as well as to provide a cultural bridge for the team and the Haitian people. A committee of church members are preparing and feeding the campers three meals a day. The team opens each day with a devotion and drama and a time of worship through singing. Then the campers go to the various classes, rotating each hour. It’s been a true joy to walk around campus hearing the Haitian young people who are so thrilled about what they are learning. They have never experienced anything like this and they seem to be soaking up each moment.

Although my main role is here in the house watching the kids, I did have a chance yesterday to help teach a dance class with my mom. My mom has been a folk dance teacher for many years and I often would help her when I was younger. The dances she is sharing here are Israeli dances that come straight from the Bible – folk dances that worship God through movement. The Haitians were absolutely tickled to learn these simple dances. They worked and worked at the steps. We all collapsed and laughed breathlessly after an hour of learning together.

I have enjoyed watching the creativity and synergy of this team as they teach, act and encourage the Haitians. Throughout the day I hear snippets of conversation here and there from the young people about how much fun they had in drama class or how serious they are about marching band formation. Their smiles – bright white toothy grins from ear to ear – speak volumes about how they are blessed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Haiti Update #6: Missionary Mama?

Tuesday, July 21

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a missionary and a mother. I’m often torn between these two roles here in Haiti. While I am mothering I am feeling the pull to minister, to be a part of the team, to contribute in some way. Last week I was out on the field coaching and my girls were at home with my mom. I loved the chance to coach and spend time developing relationships with the Haitian kids. I also longed to be with my own children.

This week our Music Camp is underway. Our good friends, Marcy and Jeremy Pusey, are here with their almost-2-year-old Corban and 3-month-old Hannah. Ericlee and I are committed to watching the two Pusey kids along with our own girls this week. We do not have such a huge role leading as we did last week for the Sports Camp. I’m getting a taste of what it is like to care for four children allowing Marcy and Jeremy time to use their talents in music, drama and art. Admittedly, four kids in the same room under the age of three is a challenge. I sometimes long to be on the other side helping with the camp instead; the ministry calls to me. Yet, there are so many glimpses of God even in these little ones and training them up as well. This morning I breathed a sigh of relief as I sat breastfeeding Giada, rocking Hannah in the stroller and watching Meilani and Corban color and play with stickers. Yes, this too was by the grace of God.

During this season of life, I know my first calling is to be a mother and I strive to do that well. Ericlee and I strongly desire to have me watching our girls full-time until they go to school. This is such a critical time of their young lives. We also feel it’s our calling to expose our family to ministry opportunities, and especially to share Haiti with our girls. It is certainly a delicate dance to balance both of these. I do really feel God is calling me to both for this short season of time this summer. I continue to ask for His grace during the times when I feel impatient with my children or when I am just longing for some family time away from the others.

Then there is the whole risk of raising little ones here in what some people call the “fourth world” or perhaps in a more politically correct way, a “developing country.” I know that children just outside the gate are dying of diseases. Am I crazy to risk my own kids’ health to minister here? If we are called by God to be here, won’t he cover us under the shadow of his wings. I read the stories from Ericlee’s grandma’s writings and marvel at the way she did so much with three children to raise and even more environmental hardships than what we face today.
Maybe God is teaching me a lesson or preparing me for a new lifestyle this fall. I continue to search for my purpose as a Christ-follower.

Ericlee has accepted a job at Fresno Pacific University. He will be teaching four classes this fall, which is a very full load for the college level. In addition, I will be providing childcare for a friend’s daughter two days a week, watching my own girls and teaching one night class at Fresno Pacific University. In a way, I feel overwhelmed by the season ahead but I know that God would not give me more than I can handle with His help. Now I can draw from my experiences here in Haiti as I enter this new season.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Haiti Update #5: Second Team arrives in Haiti

Saturday, July 18
What a blessing our second team arrived with no real glitches in their long travel from the United States. The most memorable “adventure” of the trip was the team leader, Jeff Loven, driving Peter’s truck from the Port Au Prince airport to the small airport. Since the truck was full, Peter offered to ride on the back of the truck and give directions. Apparently, as they were driving Peter fell off the truck but the team did not realize until about a mile later. Peter says he was spread eagle in the middle of the street with his nose to the dirt. When the team realized Peter was gone, they did a U-turn and went back to the Port Au Prince airport. Meanwhile, Peter took a taxi to the small airport. Eventually they connected. Peter, in his comical way, said this all happened so he would have a good story to tell about being left in the dust by the Americans. The team did not need to wait more than a half hour in the small airport and then they were on their way to Pignon. They arrived in Pignon safely with all their bags just a few hours before a beautiful rain storm.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Haiti Update #3: Sports Camp continues, Team explores Pignon

Wednesday, July 15

Tonight we were invited to Savanette to one of the small churches that is part of the ministry here. They do not usually meet on Wednesday nights but they pulled together a service to meet us and invited us to share our testimonies with the church people.

Of course, we, “the missionaries,” received the double blessing in this situation as we heard their incredible *acapella* singing and their spiritual faithfulness through scripture reciting. These Haitian Christians are like angels singing their wholehearted worship to the heavens. The language barrier did not matter to any of us when the music poured from their mouths to honor God.

Jenny, Cooper and Doug shared their testimonies. Ericlee encouraged the people with the story of Elijah. Phil shared his own personal connections to the ministry and the way he was privileged to give money to the ministry even when he was a little boy through Uncle Pete, the brother of Oran & Arshaloos Bell.

My personal highlight was the chance to share a few tuna sandwiches with some naked Haitian kids who were hanging out in the dark street. My heart swells at the chance to give just a little bit of food to these little orphans. I will always remember the one little boy who ran to take his sandwich and then strutted his bare bum down the street with pride that he had food to eat that night. Tears wet my eyes just thinking about these precious little ones. If only I could feed and clothe every hungry child in Haiti! God humbled me again as I was reminded of just how much my family has been given in the United States.

Thursday, July 16

How quickly our week has flown by! It’s been such a joy to watch as our team has fallen in love with the children and country of Haiti. Again I am blessed by the way God perfectly orchestrated this team. We represent many families and in five short days we have become a family to each other. Each team member is also very gifted and the synergy created by this group working together is exciting to see.

Ericlee brings his leadership, experience and love for the Haitians. Phil adds his humor and gift for making quick friends. Stacey brings her sarcasm and somehow encourages everyone she meets. Cooper has befriended many of the young teens and has the little kids mesmerized. Jeremy’s quiet spirit but hard work has helped him win the hearts of many of the campers and even a random baby girl who chased him all the way down the street to hug his tall “blanc” legs.

Jenny has taken over the job of photographing and filming the work we are doing. Debbi has persevered through some sickness and remains a constant encourager. Her heart of mercy has been so important as we serve the kids snacks and drinks each day. Maria has proved herself a dynamic storyteller each afternoon as the Haitian children continue to come day after day to listen to the stories. She has really played an important role watching the Gilmore girls while the rest of us are working at the camp in the mornings. Doug’s organization skills have been put to work as he coaches soccer, helps organize the final championship and even does the dishes each night.

We have now completed four days of the sports camp for the Haitian children. Admittedly, each day is tiring. Two hours in the hot Haitian sun wears on us Americans but we are so excited to go out and see the kids. Our coaching groups have each seen all four of the groups of campers twice and we all have our personal favorites.

Each day we open with a devotion and close with a devotion time. We are teaching the kids athletic values and spiritual values. Some of the devotion themes have been Perseverance, Passion, Humility, Discipline, Courage and Growth.

Our team experienced many highlights in the last few days. A few mentioned around the table this evening during our team time included:

Debbi was blessed by a walk around the town of Pignon, visiting the homes of our friends like Gerby, Walquis and their wives, as well as meeting Walquis’s parents and praying for a woman from the church who is sick. We also took time to pray with

Betsy, the little girl from our Sports Camp who broke her arm the other day. She’s wearing a cast and a smile so we hope she’s on the way to recovery.

Stacey has been blessed by watching her son, Cooper, on his first real mission trip and the way he quickly crosses the language barrier and wins over the young people. He has a gift for helping people understand him and making them feel loved.

Maria enjoyed witnessing how responsive the children have been during the afternoon story times. She had the opportunity to pray the salvation prayer with the 75-some children who attended.

Doug was thrilled to coach the teams in soccer and especially noted how this was the first time many of the girls had a chance to shine as athletes. He was so impressed watching the teams play and the girls sometimes beating the guys.
Phil mentioned his highlight was meeting with the laypreachers, a group of older men who gather every Thursday to study the Bible together. These leaders then travel to the outstations or smaller villages across the hills, sharing the gospel and encouraging Christians they know. They invited us to their meeting and encouraged us as we were able to encourage them.

Jenny was touched by the generosity of the Haitians. She mentioned to Peter that she would like to buy a coke somewhere. He promptly sent one of the Haitian boys down the road and he brought back a whole case of ice-cold bottles of soda to share with us.

Haiti Update #4: Championship Day at Sports Camp

Friday, July 17
This morning we had our final Championship Day for the Sports Camp. This is the day we have been anticipating all week. The four teams - red, blue, orange and green competed in four main events, including the Baseball Toss, Hurdles, Running relays and Soccer. Debbi started out the morning with a devotion about Passion. Then we marched to the field with the campers eagerly anticipating the competition.

Ericlee says the competition for the Baseball toss was a hit. The blue team was very proud of their win. The track events took a while so we didn’t have time for the finals before we had to move on to soccer. Once again the blue team took the gold. It was a joy to watch all the teams make up chants and cheers for their respective teams and encourage each other along.

We concluded our time in the church and gave out prizes to the winning teams and the individuals. The top prizes were for Best sportsmanship. Two girls and two boys were chosen for these. Our team enjoyed watching the kids play with their prizes (dolls, balls, etc.) and strut around with their new backpacks, hats, etc. During this time, we also reviewed all the devotions/spiritual values we had taught the kids throughout the week. It was a blessing to see how much they actually remembered. We pray this had an influence on them. The entire Championship Day lasted until 12:30 p.m. – 2 hours beyond what we planned. Needless to say, our team was exhausted and stinky but we were grateful for the work God did throughout the week!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Haiti Update #2: Sports Camp Commences

Today was our second day of Sports Camp for the Haitian kids in Pignon and we felt so blessed by God's presence here.

Monday was slightly chaotic when 150-some kids showed up for camp and we were only prepared with shirts for 120. We experienced many challenges because of the language barrier with the kids. We also faced extreme humidity/heat in Haiti with not enough water to serve the kids on the field. Kids were pushing and stealing water from each other and we had to split up some arguments started by bystanders. We have come to expect these kinds of challenges but they are never fun.

Each day we are splitting the 120 kids into four teams and the teams rotate each hour. Each team rotates between Soccer (taught by Doug Lazo & Jeremy Schmidt), Baseball (taught by Phil & Cooper Belmont), Hurdles (taught by Debbi Ball and myself), and Relay Races (taught by Ericlee and Jenny Schmidt). Mom Lazo is in charge of the Gilmore girls and Stacey Belmont is graciously delivering drinks to all the campers and coaches (A HUGE job!)

Today many of the details that discouraged us on Day One were ironed out. In fact, we had extra time that we had to be creative and make up more acitivities. The prayers of friends and family all over the United States are certainly working because we can feel the peace in the midst of it all.

In the afternoons, we are hosting a Story Hour for the youngest kids in the neighborhood who cannot participate in the Sports Camp. Many of them are seven and under. Mom/Maria Lazo brought a story set in Haiti from Child Evangelism Fellowship to share Christ with these kids. Debbi helped with props and pictures. Peter's oldest daughter, Stacy, served as the translator.

Maria shared the story in the yard next to the church and the kids were absolutely quiet and enraptured by the details of the story and her expressions. It is clear that storytelling is highly valued in this culture which has not yet been polluted by television, video games and other distractions. They were so hungry for more. We look forward to sharing with them each afternoon this week as the 5-part story continues.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Haiti Update #1: Travel & Sunday Memories

Sunday, July 11

This morning we awoke to the familiar noises of rural Haiti: roosters crowing, donkeys braying, the church bell ringing, a random saxophone whining in the distance, a Sunday School class reciting Bible verses, children giggling in the yard, the sizzle of eggs frying in the pan and even the scratching of mice. After a grueling day of travel with many hours of waiting in airports and on buses in between, we are finally here.

Our trip from Fresno to Los Angeles to Miami to Port Au Prince was thankfully uneventful. When we arrived in Port Au Prince, Pastor Peter met us and drove and our 23 bags plus carry-ons (minus one lost en route) to the smaller airport. We waited almost five hours in the small airport for our flight to our final destination - Pignon. We were blessed by fellowship with many other missionary teams also preparing to travel to remote parts of the country to serve the people. We felt a strange brotherhood with them.

The highlight of our travels was the airplane ride from the capital city of Port-Au-Prince to the rural town of Pignon. After hours of waiting in the heat, we boarded a 12-seater plane – complete with a Dominican pilot and co-pilot and two seats per row. Those in the group, including myself, who get motion sickness or who dislike flying, were nervous to say the least.

Honestly, I can say this was the most memorable airplane flight I have taken inland to Pignon. I was seated behind the pilot, clutching my 4-month-old Giada in one hand and my tiny Ziplock “barf bag” in the other. I was prepared for the worst. God met me in my fear. The whir of the engine commenced a thrilling ride over the mountains.

I "lifted my eyes up to the mountains" and meditated on Psalms as we hovered so close to the tops of trees and over the curve of hills and across streams. I was overwhelmed by God’s creation and the reality that we were nearing the place I have come to know as a home away from home. In the end, I did not need my barf bag – none of us did – and we were all breathless at the beauty.

We boarded a bus and headed for the mission complex and house built by Ericlee’s parents some 60 years ago. I was bursting with excitement for the chance to share this place with my friends from The Bridge, my parents and my two little girls. We were greeted by dozens of friends at the house. A Haitian meal was served as we waited for the second flight with our baggage to arrive. We were thankful all the bags arrived - except for my Dad's carry-on. Sadly, that bag contained all his clothes, shoes and personal items. (He's learning a lesson of patience already.)