Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lipstick on a pig

A couple of weeks ago I had to do an extended session on the bike trainer (2:45), due to a cold and rainy day and no options to reschedule; so I moved my setup into the living room and watched a movie and some TV shows on the Tivo. As with putting lipstick on a pig, that only makes things marginally better... and made me think that riding outside in the rain might have been less painful.

But you have to love my fancy stand there on the left that I constructed using a  green plastic kid's chair and a pillow : )  It worked, though; as I could get to the remote and phone without traipsing around in bike cleats.

As much as I complain about it... I do love the training that I get out of the CompuTrainer. I've seen some solid improvements in my biking, which I'll be putting to the test later in April at a half ironman tri. After that, I have no major races planned - which is just really weird for me. I'm beyond ready, though, to just spend some time training on a more relaxed schedule, and getting back to just enjoying the swimbikerun for the fun of it.

Help the kids!

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation: to find a cure for childhood cancer for kids like Ishani ... Please help them by donating HERE

Hope For Kidz: program to help educate children in Haiti


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Trip report from Piedras Negras

The previous weekend I went down to Piedras Negras, Mexico again with some folks from a couple of the local churches. The trip was tiring, but very rewarding as usual. There were a lot of things going on, as there were close to 100 people that ended up going; but I'll just try to capture a couple of the highlights.

The main project that I worked on was the "church on the tracks" that we started building back in December (some pics and info in this blog post). Here's the interior of the church as it was when we arrived (lots of good progress since the last visit!):

And here's the interior/ceiling after a couple days of work:

Some of the other people were working on the outside to get it finished up and painted:

At the same time many of us were working on that church, there was yet another new church project underway. The church team that goes to Piedras Negras has worked with Pastor Francisco and his wife Alma for many years, and for most of that time Francisco and Alma have run their church in a little 14x14 single room. They had recently grown out of that room and are currently meeting in the blue tent you can see in this picture:

What you also see in the picture above are people tearing down that building to the left, in order to make way for the new church building. They were able to close on the land the first day we were there, and start the process for Francisco and Alma to finally have an actual church building. Here's the foundation trenches starting to be built (digging by hand/shovel, of course...):

In addition to all that construction work, there were also a couple people that did some work at the handicapped orphanage, in order to fix some minor building code issues that had cropped up. And many of the youth went over there with some adults to play with the children (young and old) at the orphanage.

Every trip that I go on, there seems to be one special moment that reminds me of why we go. This time, it was Sunday morning at a church service at the "church on the tracks". There is a retired firefighter with construction experience (Jim) who goes on these trips, and he really takes the lead on all the building projects. During these last few visits to work on the Soup Kitchen and the church, he has worked with a young man named Alfredo, or Freddy as we call him. Freddy is the son of Irma, who runs the soup kitchen. Freddy doesn't speak a word of English, and Jim doesn't really speak any Spanish; but they've worked side by side, with Jim teaching him much about construction; and even helping Freddy with some tools and a vehicle to help him get started with a carpentry business.

So, at the church service; Freddy gets up and starts talking about how much Jim has taught him and helped him, and how much that has meant to him. He told everyone that he never really had a father growing up, nobody to teach him these things or tell him right from wrong, etc. He thanked God for bringing Jim into his life as a father figure, and then thanked his mother (Irma) for all that she had done for him and all that she had had to put up with as he grew up. Irma came up with Freddy and Jim, and hugged them both with tears in her eyes. Here's a picture with the pastor of the church, Joe; and Irma, Freddy, and Jim.

And I think that highlights the true value of these trips. The projects, donations, construction, etc. are all terrific and wonderful things to do; but the most meaningful results are always the lives that are changed and the relationships that are built. Jim got a lot of satisfaction out of the Soup Kitchen improvements and building that church - but I'd bet that Freddy's heartfelt thanks for Jim being the father that he never had means more to Jim than any of those construction projects.

Nos vemos,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Terrific news for Ishani!!!

The results are back from Ishani's MRI and PET scan, and everything is clear! Hopefully the family can breathe a huge sigh of relief, at least for a while. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!

In other news, I'll be heading down to Piedras Negras, Mexico tomorrow. I'll post a recap and a few photos when I return next week.

Hasta luego...

Help the kids!

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation: to find a cure for childhood cancer for kids like Ishani ... Please help them by donating HERE

Hope For Kidz: program to help educate children in Haiti


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sunny Days! - and the value of a LBS

Looks like we may have turned the corner weather-wise here in TX, and the last couple days have been just fantastic... mid 70's and sunny, with a good breeze. Not that you can tell temperature from a picture, but here's the nice sunny, blue skies:

Even got to break out my new ALSF tank top:

Big Daddy Diesel - this is where you need to be training! (BDD is a fellow blogger that lives in the frozen tundra and was so excited to have it warm up into the 30's so he could ride his bike outside...)

By the way, still waiting to hear about today's test results for Ishani, but the MRI from Monday came out clean... hooray for that!

In other news, took a trip to Jack and Adam's triathlon shop the other day with two new triathletes that I am coaching. I was really impressed with the time that Jack took with each of them, understanding their situation, taking good fit measurements, explaining the options, etc. For one of them, he even talked her into just making some adjusments to her existing bike instead of buying a new one! Smart decisions were made, and there are now two very happy triathletes... It's that kind of service that builds you loyal customers.

Next post I will hopefully have news on the test results for Ishani, and talk a bit about the trip this weekend to Piedras Negras, Mexico (good stuff happening there).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Prayers for Ishani needed this week

Please keep Ishani in your thoughts and prayers this week. She has an MRI of her leg scheduled today, and a PET scan on Wednesday; checking to make sure her cancer is still in remission. I'm not sure how this seven year old girl and her family have found the strength to fight cancer twice already - so I can only imagine the anxiety as they go through these tests and await the results. If you'd like to provide any words of encouragement for Ishani and her family, post them here and I'll make sure they seem them. Thank you!!!

Help the kids!

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation: to find a cure for childhood cancer for kids like Ishani ... Please help them by donating HERE

Hope For Kidz: program to help educate children in Haiti