Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The latest from Texas....

[Just posted some photos below...]

Sometimes Texas feels like a foreign country, for some reason. The landscape is so unlike what I’m used to—but it’s usually quite gorgeous. The people are friendly, though some have been very….unique. A man passed me at church the other day and said, “Howdy.” I didn’t know people actually did that!? Also, the houses are vastly different from the East coast. I love staying in a variety of homes….I’ve learned that many Texan homes are one story (more land here, so they can build out rather than up…) Anyway, it’s been quite an experience living in TX for several weeks. We’ll be heading back to Oklahoma in several days.

I spent the past two days staying with an older couple along with two of our boys: Gift and Lincoln. It was relaxing and enjoyable, and yesterday I made a trip to a used bookstore where I hit gold: I bought 9 books for $20! Five of which are Nicholas Sparks novels….everyone has a guilty pleasure, right? : )

Random, humorous story from this morning: I was peacefully sleeping when all of a sudden I woke up, half scared to death as I heard music BLARING in my room across the intercom system. Not just any music…..that might have been bearable. But this was heinous music similar to the Gaithers. (Sorry if I just offended anyone.) And after a few minutes of music, I heard the husband’s voice come across the intercom system and say, “Wake up everyone….it’s 7 o’clock. Wake up!” I stumbled out of bed quite quickly, for fear of what may happen next if I didn’t get out of bed ;) Then we got ready quickly and headed out the door to meet the team at the church. (Tuesdays are travel days.) //End of story

This past weekend was oh-so-lovely. I had my first day off in 5 weeks—needless to say, it was much needed. Knowing I would have some time off, I had planned to find a Target and a Border’s Bookstore. Well, let’s just say when we pulled into this Texan town, I knew that wouldn’t be happening. It was a town in the middle of nowhere---they didn’t even have a Walmart or a Blockbuster. We made our own fun Friday night though: Alan, Kory, Prava, and I stayed at a hotel and we set up our projector and watched a movie.
Saturday, Taylor and Jay met up with us and we all ate breakfast at the Blue Bonnet café, which is apparently world-famous especially for their delicious pies. The café has been featured in many magazines, and famous people have come there including presidents, Willy Nelson, etc.

That night, I went to see High School Musical 3 with Taylor and Prava. I will admit that I loved it….sure, it was cheesy, but I smiled practically the whole way through as I watched the energetic dancing and enjoyed the songs. We’re taking the kids to see it in the near future, and they will LOVE it! It was fun spending some time with just the staff and getting to know them better.

Last week, I experienced downtown Ft Worth, Texas, with Gift, Lincoln, and our gracious host family. We stopped at “Central Market” which is a Texan thing---a huge, unique grocery store with a huge variety of specialty foods. I ate the best ice cream I’ve ever had (technically it was Italian gelati). The flavor was chocolate hazelnut, and it tasted JUST like Nutella. Yum!

That's the general re-cap of the last week and a half, since I last updated the blog. Thanks for stopping by. Miss you all! And I'd love to hear from you, whether that's email or phone.

Now on to some photos....

Photo post....

Here are some photos from the past week or so....

Above is the beautiful opera house in downtown Ft Worth, TX. It's rated in the top 3 opera houses in the world. 

With Gift and Lincoln, the boys I'm currently staying with in host family homes. It was a chilly morning, as you can see.

With sweet Rose! (I spontaneously dyed my hair....)

From the top of the tallest building in downtown Ft Worth, TX. 

Enjoying a day off.....Taylor, myself, Prava


Taylor had this on her blog, so she inspired me to copy/paste it onto mine. Here's our schedule for the next few months. Let me know if you'll be around and want to come see the kids sing and dance :) 

Nov. 2 Muskogee, Oklahoma
Nov. 5 Clarksville, Arkansas
Nov. 6 Jackson, Mississippi
Nov. 11 Fayette, Alabama
Nov. 14 Jackson, Tennessee 
Nov. 16 Memphis, Tennessee
Nov. 16 Falkner, Mississippi
Nov. 19 Beebe, Arkansas
Nov. 20 Hernando, Mississippi
Nov. 23 Cullman, Alabama
Nov. 23 Anniston, Alabama
Nov. 24-28 Thanksgiving in Georgia
Nov. 28-Dec. 4 Dothan, Alabama 

Dec. 7 Gulfport, Mississippi
Dec. 7 Daphne, Alabama
Dec. 10 Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Dec. 14 Montgomery, Texas
Dec. 17 Holliday, Texas
Dec. 20 Corinth, Texas
Dec. 21-26 Christmas break with the kids in Texas!
Dec. 28 Cypress, Texas
Dec. 29-Jan. 4 Christmas in Kentucky

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dallas, TX

During my high school years I developed a love for Lonestar's songs, especially their hits such as, "Not a Day Goes By," "Front Porch Lookin' In," and "I'm Already There." Several of Lonestar's songs hold many memories for me and reminders of goodbyes...others are just fun, toe-tapping tunes.

Those songs were written by Richie McDonald, who was the lead singer for Lonestar until last fall. (He's now pursuing a solo career.)

He wrote a song for the Children of the World choir, and it's titled "Blessed Are the Hands." Our kids had the opportunity to sing it with him today at a Christian conference in Dallas, TX. (I posted a video on a separate blog post...) Afterwards, Richie sang several of his songs (like the titles I named at the beginning) which was awesome to hear. Before we left, I was able to meet him and thank him for his music. I also mentioned the "I'm Already There" photography slideshow project I did for photography class at LU.

Our kids during soundcheck: singing with Richie McDonald, former lead singer of Lonestar

Richie McDonald and me

Random, fun times in Texas

I'm enjoying Texas and wouldn't mind living here, but I don't think I could handle the heat and humidity during the summertime....the people (for the most part) have been really hospitable and kind down here.

Last week in McKinney, TX, I had the pleasure of staying in the host family with Zurufah and Maria again. I walked into the family's house and saw a homemade "Welcome" sign with our names on it! Andrea and her three kids were so much fun, and they really made us feel welcome. Her girls loved playing with Maria and Zurufah; one night we made bead necklaces. Mine turned out ugly; I'm not gonna lie. Maria made a funky one for me, and I love it and will treasure it. Andrea bought us several movies for our long bus trips, including "The Parent Trap" (with Lindsay Lohan) and"Prince of Egypt." Thanks to kind host families, our team DVD collection is growing!

Random, cute story from our Walmart trip: I bought a neon green shower sponge. Maria and Zurufah seemed excited when I chose it, for some reason. A few minutes later I understood what was going on in their minds when they said to me, "Antie! You put in your hair....You wear it tonight to the concert," as they demonstrated. I laughed so hard as I realized they thought it was a hair accessory. I explained what they're used for, and the girls said passionately, "In Uganda, people wear [them] in their hair...." Well, if I ever go to Uganda, I'll know how to fit in ;)

Wednesday night the kids sang, and it was their best concert yet.....they had so much energy and really channeled it into their singing/dancing. We were proud of them! The church members and host families were so giving and had such servant's hearts, helping us in any way possible.

Yesterday we arrived in Dallas to sing at a conference today. Taylor and Jay thought it'd be fun to take the kids roller skating last night, and it was a blast! Besides swimming, that seems to be the kids' favorite activity thus far. Today, we woke up at 5:45am to go to soundcheck at the conference center. After singing in the morning, we were able to take some time to relax at our hotel's swimming pool. Taylor, Prava, and I sat out and watched though....the water was FREEZING. But that didn't keep the kids away. When they climbed out of the pool, they were little ice cubes.

Alrighty, enough of my rambling. Time for some photos.
(Oh, and I want to wish my wonderful brother a happy 14th birthday on Sunday. 14---how did that happen!!!? It seems like just yesterday that I brought him into my third grade classroom for show and tell. <---Yeah, I really did. ;) I love you, Chandler, and wish I could be there to celebrate with you. Miss ya!

Rollerskating! Gift, Prava, Zurufah, Taylor, and Sarah

This morning, when Prava and Suresh were BOTH wearing my suit jacket simultaneously.

Suresh rockin' out in my suit jacket....he was cold. Or so he said. I think he just liked my jacket, because he was asking to wear it throughout the day.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Richie McDonald (Lonestar) wrote a song for the Children of the World Choir. Our kids got to sing it with him at a conference this weekend in Dallas, TX.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Austin, TX

With my favorite Nepali girls, Yeshoda and Neha (well, besides Prava.) New UT hat! 
Austin, TX. Doing the Longhornes symbol (for University of TX sports)

For the time being, I'm staying in the host family homes with Maria (on left) and Zurufah (on right.) They are entertaining and precious. 

University of Texas (their famous tower building.) 

"Antie Prava" with Zurufaha. Austin, TX

The beautiful capitol building in Austin, TX

Hi everyone, I hope you all are having a wonderful day. It’s a rainy, cozy day in Texas (and humid!! It definitely doesn’t feel like Ocotber. I’m still wearing shorts and flip flops.)

Last weekend was spent in San Antonio, and it was a very long two days—due to the interesting family I stayed with. I felt like I was living in a zoo; they own 13 animals, and they all live indoors. I had to sleep in a room with snakes (snakes give me the heebiejeebies whenever I look at them. Cages don’t comfort me; snakes can escape!) They had 5 snakes, 3 dogs, and 5 cats (I found out I’m more allergic to cats than I thought :/ ) Finding cat fur on my bath towel, in the bathroom, on the floor, on the couch, etc made me shiver. Does anyone else find animal hair disgusting (Amy, I think Zach would have died ;)

So after escaping that situation, I was incredibly happy when we arrived in Austin, Texas, on Sunday evening. I stayed with Zurufah and Maria in the home of a sweet older couple who outdid themselves in order to make us feel welcome.  

Yesterday they took us into downtown Austin which was a treat. We watched the Grand Canyon movie at the Imax theater—in 3D. I loved it, but poor Zurufah was gripping on to me the entire time. She didn’t enjoy the 3D effects.
Next, we saw the gorgeous capitol building and then drove around the University of Texas campus. One word to describe it: massive. Quite unlike Liberty’s campus...it was like a town within the town. 70,000 students attend the University.

I’m officially a bandwagon jumper. I now have a new, lovely burnt orange baseball hat—for the UT Longhorns (the number one college football team in the nation, after beating Oklahoma last weekend.) So I think I’ll make friends quickly with other Texans in the next few weeks ;) haha

We’re on the bus, about to arrive in McKinney, TX which is near Dallas. The kids will be singing at a conference in Dallas over the weekend, which means we’ll be at a hotel (they are incredibly excited whenever they can swim!)

Friday, October 10, 2008

"A Child's Prayer"

Our kids sing this song during their concert, and it's a great reminder of who we are helping on this journey...and my purpose for being here.
[Everytime I hear the kids sing it, I think of the little boy I sponsor in Kenya and wish I could meet him someday....]

I was alone, I was hungry
Would someone come, does anyone care?
Days would go by, no one to hold me
Longing for love, does anyone care?

Just like a dream you came to my rescue
Glad you weren't too busy to hear this child's prayer

You brought me hope
You brought me healing
You brought a smile into my life
With your loving touch,
My heart is mending
Here in your arms I'm resting tonight

Not just existing, now I'm living
My life has a purpose, my heart has a song
Days full of joy, nights warm and cozy
Nothing to fear, I'm no longer alone...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Texas, here we come

I'll be a temporary Texan for the rest of October. Right now we're on the tour bus heading to Wichita Falls, TX. [We have a handy little Sprint wireless card which allows us to get internet on this computer even when we're driving. So the kids are watching Air Bud and I'm taking a few minutes to blog.] 

In the next few weeks, we'll have concerts in SanAntonio, Dallas, Denton, Livingston, Kingsland, and other Texas cities. I've only spent two days in Texas--El Paso-- (after a youth group missions trip to Mexico) so it'll be fun to spend time in TX. 

I thought I'd post my address incase anyone wants to send mail ;) <----yeah I'll admit, that was a strong hint! 

World Help
Attn: Ashley Gillman
PO Box 501
Forest, VA 24551

For things that aren't letters, like UPS/Fed Ex, it would be sent to:

World Help
Attn: Ashley Gillman
1148 Corporate Park Drive
Forest, VA 24551

It would pretty much be amazing to hear from y'all via mail, but I know it's a hassle!

So I have a lot of time to read while we're traveling, and I want you all to recommend your favorite book titles. I'm reading "True Believer" and "Nights of Rodanthe" by Nicholas Sparks, and then I want to read "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. But obviously I want to buy some more books...so recommend away! 

On a random note, I think this trip is making me never be tempted again by fast food. I'm sure Taylor, Jay, Prava, Alan, and Kory would agree. I've been to MickyDee's three times in the past week. I wish I had time to run (even though I don't enjoy running). I did, however, talk to my mom on the phone yesterday while walking a neighborhood for an hour. 

Everyone's healthy, so thanks for your prayers. Keep praying that God just opens peoples' hearts during the concert so we can keep giving hope to children around the world. 
Until next time...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Photo post :)

I just wrote an update about the past week, so be sure to check that out. But here are some photos as well!

Last night's Japanese Steakhouse experience with our awesome host family. (Owen and his dad watching in awe.)
Little Owen with his new friends: Rose, Zurufaha, and Isaac.

This is Isaac, from Uganda.

That's Kendra (who I mentioned in the last post), whose family I stayed with for the past 3 days. Neha and Maria, from the choir, were also with us. And then Kendra's three kids are in the picture as well. All so sweet! 
Suresh is my cuddle buddy. He has a hilarious personality and is alwwwwwwaaayyys smiling, especially during the concerts. Here, you can see the "birthday cake" (3 months late, but that's ok ;) he made me with playdough. 
Sedalia, Missouri. There's a beautiful mural of Scott Joplin (father of Ragtime music.) 

Some of you know how much I love cats (<---completely sarcastic.) I'm also allergic to them. Anyway, I stayed at a family's house, and they owned the breed of cat which is the world's largest domestic cat. *shudder* So this picture shows Yeshoda (Nepal) and Suresh (Nepal) with Fluffy. Or whatever its name was ;) 

Ooooooklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain....

Hello, all! :) Or maybe I should say "yeeehaw," as we are headed into the great land of Oklahoma. We'll be spending a few days in Tulsa, which I'm looking forward to. When I was 15, I went to Tulsa with my family to check out ORU for college. If I had not decided on Liberty, I probably would have ended up at ORU. My parents actually met at school there, so it'll be fun to be back in the town. 

It's hard to believe that nearly a week has passed since I last updated. There is very little time to go online, but I will update my blog every chance I have. It's wonderful knowing some of y'all read this and are praying for the team and for myself. Thank you! 

It has been a fantastic week, with several "fun days" which enabled us to catch our breath from the busy concert routine. (Last weekend, we had 5 concerts!) 
My host family in Sedalia, Missouri showed me around the town. Scott Joplin, the father of Ragtime music lived in Sedalia, so we saw some sites relating to him and to Ragtime. Pretty nifty. 

I also ate something that sounds absolutely nasty, but I loved it :) At a diner in Sedalia, they are famous for "Guber Burgers." And that consists of: a hamburger with melted peanut butter on top! Plus lettuce and a tomato. Mmmm. 

This past Tuesday night, we arrived in Overland Park, Kansas. It's an incredibly nice area a few miles from Kansas City. I want to shout out to my incredible host family, the Shaws :P I stayed at their house with Neha (Nepal) and Maria (Uganda). The Shaws have three beautiful children who are 2, 6, and 9. The whole family absolutely spoiled us :) Last night they treated us to a yummy meal at a Japanese Steakhouse (it was my first time experiencing that. So awesome.) When all the kids went to bed each night, I enjoyed having some downtime and getting to know Kendra and Dustin (the parents.) Kendra gave me a book that looks awesome. It's called "Crazy Love" and it's by Pastor Chan from CA. Has anyone read it? Thank you, Shaw family, for a wonderful stay. 

Please keep praying for us. Praise the Lord that many people have decided to sponsor children. To us, that is the most important part of what we're doing. We repeatedly tell our kids in the choir: "Because of you singing, dancing and worshiping Jesus, you are changing kids' lives all over the world. Now they can have food, medicine, schooling, etc." 

I wish you all could get to know our kids. Last weekend, during one of the concerts, I was hit with a wave of emotion while the kids sang "How Great is Our God" (by Chris Tomlin.) All I could think about was "This is what we'll be doing in Heaven..." Hearing young kids worship our Savior like that is an experience that money can't buy.
Till next time...