live more simply and embrace whatever God put in our path.
In January, Ericlee started a crazy schedule piecemealing several jobs together to help us pay our bills. Some of his spring jobs included substitute teaching in Fresno Unified, personal training, coaching at Velocity Sports Performance, teaching a class at DeVry Institute and Fresno Pacific University and then coaching track one final year at Fresno Christian High School. Each one of these jobs was a surprising blessing for us as God provided the exact amount of money we needed each month. We were blessed by so many job opportunities in a tough job market and sometimes even by pure miracles like a check in the mail or a gift card from someone anonymous.
To everything there is a season under heaven - a time to be born and a time to die. Dorina's Grandpa Frank Lazo passed away in March 2009. This was a time of reflection and sadness for our family but even more for celebration that Grandpa had a new body and would joining his bride Cora in heaven. Grandpa lived with us in Fresno for a year when we were first married and both of us were close to him. His life reminded us to laugh, dream and embrace the blessing of family and opportunity.
trip to Haiti in July. We took our girls and we were also blessed to bring Dorina's parents, Doug & Maria Lazo, for two of the weeks. We led three teams of people from our church for a sports camp, a music camp and a construction trip to help finish building and orphanage there. Unfortunately, Ericlee's mom (who usually is our connector and translator) was unable to go on these trips. We were surprised at how God helped us survive in Haiti without her and how the teams connected so well with our Haitian friends. Giada and Meilani jumped right into Haitian culture and quickly made friends with the children in our camps and church. Today, the orphanage is complete and 15 children are fully sponsored and living there. A new church building is almost finished in St. Raphael, Haiti, and we are already making plans to return this summer with more teams. Our trip this summer also prompted us to move forward in pursuing adoption from Haiti. We hope to adopt a Haitian child in the next few years. Now we are waiting as the Haitian law requires a couple be married 10 years before they adopt. (We have three more to go!)
Bubble Bonanza in our yard/pool. Dorina started a home preschool curriculum with Meilani this fall as a fun way to help stimulate our eager learner. The Gilmore girls also enjoyed lots of fun field trips and time with mama since Dorina stays home with them full time. Meilani loves to read stories, play with her babies, do art projects, dance and perform. She is a big helper as Mama not only cares for little sister Giada but also for two other friends' children throughout the week. Giada is now 10 months old and about to take off walking. Her personality is very smiley and spunky. She loves to wiggle and climb (much to Mama's chagrin and Daddy's delight).
We just celebrated our 6th Cooking Club Christmas with a "Green" theme. We meet monthly with a (growing group of friends) to cook new recipes, eat fabulous food and fellowship together. This year's themes have included "Deceptively Delicous," "French Cuisine Inspired by Julia," "Ethiopian Food," and "Fall Flavors," to name a few.
For several years now, Ericlee and I have been praying that God would surround us with a group of people who would challenge us in our faith, support us in our marriage and parenting and spur us on to live, give and grow in community. We thought this summer that we might have to move out of Fresno to find a job. This helped us to realize what a wonderful community we have been blessed with right in our own backyard. Our Fresno family is very important to us and we recognize this year has been a gift as God has allowed us to stay rooted in this community.