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Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Monday, May 26, 2014
Dear Friends & Family,
This letter is long overdue. As life is full it’s hard to find time to pause for reflection and storytelling. We are eager to share with you some of the highlights of our last few months.
Over Spring Break, Ericlee traveled to Haiti with a group of men from Fresno to construct a playground in Pignon, Haiti. Our friend and board member, Tanner Munro, led the team of eight. We have been working on fundraising over the last three years for the Playground Project. This is one phase of helping improve the school there in Pignon as well as providing a place for the children in the orphanage to play. The team had an incredible time of bonding with each other and with the young Haitian men who worked with them daily. Ericlee was so moved by the joy and excitement of the children when they finally got to try out the slide, the swings and the pull-up bars. We are truly grateful for all the friends who have been a part of this project through fundraising, participating in the Remember Haiti Fitness series and those traveling to Haiti in April.
Ericlee celebrated his 40th birthday on April 2. To celebrate a vibrant 40 years of life, Ericlee decided to return to an athletic event he did 17 years ago. He trained for months and participated in the Wildflower Triathlon on May 3, swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 miles and running a half marathon. Our whole family, including his mom Christene, traveled to Lake Nacimiento (near Paso Robles) to cheer him on. The course was brutal but he survived! He finished in just over 7 hours.
On May 17, our Remember Haiti Cycling Team rode the California Classic. Ericlee was joined by Sarah White, Matthew Tuttle and six students from the Fresno Christian School’s Cycling Club who all rode to raise money and awareness about Christian Friendship Ministries and the needs in Haiti. We were excited about a new partnership with the Forward Advantage Foundation led by Brian Boudreau. Their team also sported our CFM logo on their jerseys. They matched dollar for dollar what was raised.
This time of year our mailbox fills with invitations for graduations, birthday parties, weddings. Our Facebook newsfeed crowds with photos from proms, end-of-school-year award programs, and celebration brunches. May also speaks of a closing season. May hints at the summer days to come. May is often a month of transition. This month Dorina finished her first course teaching Children’s Literature at California State University, Fresno. She was energized by this time back in the classroom, sharing some of her favorite children’s and young adult literature with “teachers in training.” The university has asked her to teach this same class again in the fall.
At the end of this month, we will also be hosting a Strategic Planning weekend with our board of directors for Christian Friendship Ministries here in Fresno with Peter Constantin coming to visit from Haiti to participate. Please join us in praying for vision, direction, inspiration and unity during this important time of planning and seeking God’s will for this non-profit.
Ericlee has chosen not to return to Fresno Christian Schools in the fall so he can focus more energy on the non-profit. We are grateful for God’s financial provision this past semester but we also realized he cannot maintain two full-time jobs long-term. This means another time of transition for us in our lifestyle and finances. We cling to these words: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” --Matthew 6:25-33.
Meilani turns 8 on May 28. It’s hard to believe our oldest will be finishing up second grade this next month! She has really thrived at Kepler Neighborhood School where their mission is “serving to learn and learning to serve.” We are grateful for the opportunity to transfer her there in January and join a community of wonderful families. She’s excited about her first performance in the school musical this week. Giada is finishing out two years of preschool with our Harvard Preschool Co-op group and will be starting kindergarten at Kepler in the fall. Our baby-girl Zayla is as joyful and daring as ever. She is starting to string words together into sentences, and she’s mastered the 2-year-old favorite refrain – “NO!”
Every summer our family heads to Haiti. This summer is no exception. We must say goodbye to our California friends and family on June 23. Yet, we have the unique opportunity to return to a place we also have built relationships. The girls look forward to their summer days – carefree and unbound by schedules – to jump rope and dig in the dirt with their Haitian friends from the orphanage next to our home in Pignon. We ask for your prayers over these next several weeks as we prepare our hearts and our suitcases for Haiti. This year we will host 6 different teams from Fresno traveling to work in Haiti. Our teams include a group from The Bridge Church helping host a retreat for the Haitian Bead Project, a medical team from Trinity Community Church, a team teaching Oceanography and taking the kids in the St. Raphael orphanage hiking and to the ocean, a team from The Well Church helping with a Vacation Bible School program in Fontaine, our friend Chris Schultz traveling with his daughter and speaking at the Men’s Retreat, and finally, a group of board members and donors who will come in early August to encourage leaders and visit different parts of the ministry.
We suspect this month brings transition for your families in some way. We pray for you as you navigate this time of change and anticipate a new season. We encourage you to carve out time for yourself and your family to adjust. Plan some down time to reminisce about the past season, to celebrate the highlights of the school year or that job you are leaving or even the relationships built. We join you on the journey! We would love to hear about what God is doing in you.
Embracing the Change together,
Dorina & Ericlee
Meilani, Giada & Zayla
Would you consider a one-time donation as we pay our bills and save money for our next travels to Haiti? Follow our summer adventures on Facebook with pictures and stories at Remember Haiti: www.AlohaGilmores.blogspot.com
**Please pray for financial provision for our family as Ericlee returns to full-time work directing Christian Friendship Ministries this year.
**Please pray for Ericlee’s leg. We recently discovered he has a torn lebrum muscle and a mass in his leg. He will go in for a biopsy this Friday. We are trusting God healing as Ericlee deals with a lot of pain right now.
**Please pray for the final details of selling our Alamos house. We are in escrow for the second time and are slated to close on the house before we depart for Haiti. We are excited about the opportunity to pay off our debts through the sale of this home.
**Please pray the Strategic Planning Weekend in Fresno on May 30-31. We will meet with our board of directors and Haitian Director Peter Constantin to cast vision for the future of the non-profit.
**Please pray over the travels of our six groups traveling to Haiti this summer to serve with Christian Friendship Ministries.
Monday, May 12, 2014
*I just finished a year of walking through the Psalms with a group of friends from all walks of life. We studied 5 Psalms a week, writing reflections on each and digging in deeper for select Psalms. I was so touched and challenged by the raw, honest, reflective, rejoicing, questioning, praising voice of David and the other writers of the Psalms. At the close of our journey, our leader Serena Isaak asked each of us to write our own Psalm and share it with the group. The following is my "Thanksgiving Psalm."
I give thanks, Father, for the way you hold me,
I offer thanks, Jesus, for the way you know me
I lift thanks, Holy Spirit, for the way you inspire me
I lay down thanks, Savior, for the way you
died for me.
You gift me joy in each sunrise
soaring from the darkness,
Joy abounding in little-girl giggles,
Joy blooming out of life’s hard soil,
Sweet joy rising from the ashes.
Your grace covers my imperfections, my fears, my frailties
Your mercy seeps into my thirsty margins,
Your grace binds my gaping wounds,
Your grace and mercy bless me,
inviting me to bless others.
I see your glory in the ribbons of color
chasing into the night sky.
I taste your glory in the sweet of a strawberry
dipping into a chocolate bath.
I hear your glory in the notes of a symphony
blending instrument voices into one.
I touch your glory in this baby-soft face
surrendering into deep sleep.
You whisper your glory to me in
these miracle-gifts -
And I am filled with
a song of thanksgiving.