Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sunshine & the Blues

In the second year of our marriage, Susie and I served at an orphanage in Mexico (1980-81). Our hearts went out to the kids there in such a big way. At one point we even looked into the process for adoption. In Mexico there are enormous hurdles, we soon learned.

Susie has always had a generous heart, especially when it comes to children. As a result, she was often touched by the pictures of children seeking mentors that appeared regularly in our local paper.

The Mentor Duluth Program is designed to match kids ages 5 to 17 with adults who are committed to building long-term friendships with young people. For years Susie had home schooled our two very cool kids, but as Micah headed off to college, she could see this experience would be coming to an end. And so, she took the first step.

The girl who became a part of our extended family was named Christiana.

Mentor Duluth believes that all young people have the need for a positive adult, outside of their family, to be a friend and a support. Most kids are from single parent families or two parent families with special needs.

According to the Mentor Duluth website, "Our mentors come from all walks of life. If you are dependable, enjoy working with youth and are willing to have some fun, we are looking for you! Mentoring takes place in the community and activities can be anything from sporting events or cooking dinner to hiking up the north shore or participating in activities organized by Mentor Duluth."

In addition to being big-hearted, Susie is also very creative. They painted together, they dressed up, they made masks or pottery, and did whatever spur of the moment thing seemed an adventure at the time. The hamming for the cam at the top of this page was pretty typical. But the story took an unexpected turn.

Christiana was the youngest of five siblings. Her father died unexpectedly a few years previous, hence the family's introduction to Mentor Duluth. Her mother, who was wheelchair-and-bed bound with MS, was a remarkable woman. Four boys and a girl would be a handful for even a healthy mom, so her spirit and strength were impressive. What a shock when she passed off this earth after becoming significant part of our family for a season. Again, unexpected.

Susie's story, Sunshine & the Blues, is a powerful read that captures the flavor of mentoring, the impact of allowing the flavors of one's own family to be intermixed with others. If you don't have time right now, click the link anyways and bookmark it, so you can find it later.

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