Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hershey Wall Builders

October 31, Halloween, is a time of an abundance of Hershey's Chocolate products in the stores, homes, and stomachs of many Americans. It is a reminder to me of my visit to Hershey, Pennsylvania (written about in a previous blog), and the eye-opening (not to mention "mouth-opening") experience it was for me. That is because it was not until that visit that I realized what a truly remarkable human being it was who founded Hershey Chocolates---Milton S. Hershey. He was a man of the Christian faith (a Mennonite) and he demonstrated his Christian love by the way he cared for the employees that worked for him, and his incredible philanthropy. He founded and FUNDED a school for orphaned children that is still in existence. Its mission now has been expanded to cover not only orphaned children, but other at-risk youngsters. In Hershey, you can tour the school, where the students live, study, eat and work, with all of their expenses covered, including their medical care. If they choose to go to college after high school graduation, that cost is also covered. You might wonder how all this is paid for. The answer is that 100 percent of the profits from the sale of Hershey's Products goes to the non-profit Milton Hershey School Trust and the M.S. Hershey Foundation. So when I titled this blog post as "Hershey Wall Builders", I was referring in part to the walls of buildings throughout Hershey, Pennsylvania, that have been built because of the generosity of Milton Hershey. But another reason I called it "Hershey Wall Builders" is because many of us use those Hershey candies (as well as any other candies that come across our paths) to build a wall of fat around our bodies, subconsciously thinking this will insulate us from life's troubles. We may use the temporary high we get from sweets to numb us to what is really going on in our lives that we would rather not face. I first learned of this type of wall when doing a First Place 4 Health Bible study called "Healthy Boundaries" that was based on the book of Nehemiah. Of all the Bible Studies I have ever done, the "Healthy Boundaries" one has been the most insightful to help me understand my own behavior, as well as the behavior of others.

It was while I was touring Hershey Park (an amusement park originally built by Milton Hershey for his employees and their families), that I stumbled into a big event being held there in Hershey Arena (yet another example of some GOOD walls Mr Hershey is responsible for). It was a rally of thousands of people that was being sponsored by an organization called "Wall Builders". Since I had just completed the Healthy Boundaries Bible study, I had a suspicion that this might be a Christian organization, and this was confirmed by a visit to their website ( There they explain that their name is based on the Old Testament book of Nehemiah that recounts the story of how the nation of Israel rallied together in a grassroots movement to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. WallBuilders uses this history lesson to represent allegorically, the call for citizen involvement in rebuilding our nation's foundations. Their number one goal is to educate the nation regarding the Godly foundation of the United States of America. They state their mission as presenting America's forgotten history and heroes with an emphasis on our moral, religious, and constitution heritage.
The guest speaker that day was Rick Green. Rick Green has his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law, and has served as a Texas State Representative. His bio states that much of the uniqueness of WallBuilders message stems from its massive collection of original documents from early American history, affirming George Washington's declaration that "Of all the habits and dispositions which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports." Studying these historical documents, as well as the First Amendment of the Constitution (which says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THERE OF, ....) has given me a greater appreciation for the Christian founding fathers, and a renewed commitment to protect those freedoms spelled out for us in our Constitution.
So this day of "Hershey saturation" is a time for each of us to examine the kind of walls we are building. It is a time to ponder the words of Psalm 11:3 that says "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Will the walls we build be a legacy that benefits future generations, or will we only build the kind of wall that isolates and insulates us from the surrounding world? Wishing you miles of BENEFICIAL wall building! TriciaPosted by Picasa

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The recent publicity about Chicago's bid for the site of an upcoming Olympics, increased my excitement and anticipation of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. That is because I have made arrangements to attend the games which run from February 12 - 28, in various sites located in this beautiful area of British Columbia. I am using a travel company for these games that I have never used before, Cartan Travel ( ) because they were recommended to me by a friend who used them for her travel to the recent summer Olympics in China. ( I will keep you posted on how things go with Cartan as the time grows closer for my departure and throughout the games. ) The photo shows my first souvenir for the 2010 games---a collector's pin with the official logo for the Vancouver Olympics, topped by a Canadian-logo ice skate. It is appropriate that my first souvenir have an ice skate on it because the events I have tickets for (ice hockey and curling) both call for the athletes to wear ice skates. Although I requested tickets for speed skating and figure skating events, the official lottery system used to meet ticket requests ( came up with a different itinerary for me. Since I am not an aficionado of any particular winter sport, I was not "devastated" by the lottery results. Based on my experiences attending the Olympic games in Calgary, Canada, in 1988, and those in Atlanta in 1996, ANY Olympic competition one goes to is very worthwhile and enjoyable.

My son and I are pictured at some of the venues for the Olympic games in Canada in 1988. I was a complete novice in Olympic arrangements at the time, and made choices that called for us to attend a downhill skiing event, located several hours travel time outside Calgary, on the SAME day we had tickets to a night time figure skating event. It would have been a logistical impossibility, short of our own personal helicopter, but we got very lucky---the downhill skiing event had to be cancelled and rescheduled because there was not enough snow; so we got a complete refund on those tickets! I say I was a novice because it was not until a friend who lived in Harrison, Arkansas, told me about visiting Olympic venues in New York ( he was wearing a winter scarf with the logo from the games) that I realized mere mortals could actually attend Olympic activities. Up until then, I didn't know that attending such a famous event was an attainable goal! So thanks----JAH !

One of the inescapable aspects of the Olympics is SOUVENIRS---what to buy to help you remember your experience. The collector's lapel pins are always a crowd favorite, and I got one of those (upper left photo) when I toured the Coca Cola pavilion at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. I have always been a fan of purchasing embroidered patches as souvenirs, as they can be sewn onto a variety of items when one gets home, which is what I did with the Calgary patch (lower left) that I sewed onto a neck scarf. Although I did not actually attend the games in Utah or Sydney, Australia, I WAS able to visit some of the venues used during those games, and had the opportunity to buy souvenirs there. Based on my experience trying to buy souvenirs at the Olympic games in Atlanta, I will probably purchase any large or especially meaningful Vancouver 2010 souvenirs at the official website for those games ( ) That is because the lines to the cashiers at all of the souvenir stores in Atlanta were so incredibly long, one spent more time in line to pay for your itmes, than you spent shopping for your souvenirs!

The other contributing factor to my current diagnosis of Olympic fever, is the memory verse for our First Place 4 Health class this week. It is from I Corinthians 9:24 and says "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." One thing this verse shows is that, although it was written over two thousand years ago, sports analogies were just as useful then as they are now to encourage us in our life's journey. So let's get out there and get MILES OF SMILES!! Tricia
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Grouper Groupie

You have heard the term "groupie" used for someone who follows around famous entertainers, so I guess you could call me a "grouper groupie" in this photo, because I was definitely following this entertaining fish! Fred took the photo of me back in the nineties, when we were diving the azure waters off the coast of Cozumel. It was during a time when divemasters carried special "fish treats" in their BCD's that were particularly delicious to the gigantic grouper fish that could be seen back in those days. The grouper I am pictured behind was quite a bit larger than I was, but it was so gentle and slow-moving, I never felt threatened by it. If you are only used to seeing the smaller size groupers, you may think this is trick photography---but it's not. The fish was every bit as big as it looks in the photo. We only saw those "big uns" the first year we dove Cozumel. In subsequent years, divemasters were no longer allowed to try to attract fish by luring them with treats, so I don't know if those larger groupers were captured by fishermen, or they no longer felt it was worth their time to see what the divemaster was doing, since they learned the divemasters no longer had goodies for them. I am just thankful I had the opportunity to swim with what I would call a leviathan! That word "leviathan" is used several times in the Bible, but the verse that best fits this photo is in Job 41:1 "Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook, or tie down his tongue with a rope?" The answer is "NO!", and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to swim along side this beautiful creation of God. Miles of smiles! Tricia
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009


The first-ever "Women's Outdoor Weekend" held at Bull Shoals/White River State Park occurred October 2-4, and was, in this writer's opinion, an outstanding experience, in becoming familiar with many of the possible activities one can do when they are outside enjoying God's amazing creation here in the Ozarks. Ladies started arriving from the north, south, east and west on Friday afternoon, eagerly anticipating the opportunity to try their hand at some new outdoor experiences, with the help of those who were more adept at such things, and who were ready to share their knowledge with a group of willing students. The top photo shows the entire group, while the two lower photos highlight the two sets of sisters that made up our group. On the lower left are Trieneke and Della from nearby Lakeview, and the lower right photo shows the Hodges sisters from Little Rock. Park Interpreter Julie Lovett, along with her well-trained helpers, had the tents already set up for us when we arrived. All we had to do was unroll our sleeping bags, and make ourselves comfortable in the spacious Eureka Tents placed strategically throughout the group camp section of the park. (if you want to see what it is like to sleep on a bedroll on the ground, BEFORE next year's outdoor weekend, simply go to the "Step Into Africa" experience at Baxter County Fairgrounds, October 18 - 25)

Our classes began Friday evening with a lesson/demonstration/"hands-on" session on Dutch oven cooking (upper left photo shows Marty from Yellville and me, as we wait patiently for our broccoli/cheese casserole to get cooked in the Dutch oven). Other meals during the weekend gave us the opportunity to make omelets (each individually cooked in a plastic baggie, placed in a pot of boiling water set on the coals, as shown in upper right photo). Julie and her helpers also did a great job of grilling hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone (upper right photo). Nothing says "picnic' quite like a red-checked tablecloth, and that is exactly what the two ladies from Hot Springs were enjoying in lower left photo.
Other classes included fly fishing and bird watching (top two photos), kayaking (middle photo), and proper gear selection for backpacking and hiking (lower photo). All of our instructors were outstanding, and would be consistent with the "wonder woman" described in Proverbs 31:26 that says "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue."

Posted by PicasaNo outdoor weekend is complete without time spent sitting around the campfire, and that is exactly what all the lower photos show. I don't know what an all-men group talks about around the campfire, but this night the conversation of our diverse "hen party", covered just about every topic from A to Z! Sometimes when I comment about some fun activity I have participated in at one of Arkansas' wonderful state parks, people ask me, "How did you know about it?" The answer is easy---one can sign up for the free e-newsletter at the website for the state parks ; also, when you first see an activity you're interested in, make arrangements as soon as possible to participate, as most activities have a limit on the number of folks who can be on the outing or in the class. These are YOUR parks, so get out there and enjoy them! Miles of smiles! Tricia

"Step Into Africa" Expedition

Have you ever been curious about that far-away continent of Africa, but had neither the money or time, to actually travel to the other side of the planet to see it? Well, here is your opportunity to "Step Into Africa" for an authentic experience of the common population. It is not the "touristy" version of going on a high-priced luxury wildlife safari. No, this experience will show you the "other" side of Africa, seldom seen on the Travel Channel, or in the tourism brochures.

Mountain Home, Arkansas, is one of only forty locations in the United States, where World Vision is setting up their highly acclaimed project known as "Step Into Africa". It is designed to raise the consciousness of participants, about the seriousness of the AIDS crisis in Africa. You will be able to see if YOU could survive the journey of a child in that country, who has been orphaned by AIDS. You can actually lay down on a bedroll on the floor, similar to what this African child would do each night. You can lift the heavy container of water the child often has to carry a long distance, just to have water to drink or cook with. You can see why there is no need for "closet organizers" or "storage units" for these folks---a nail in the wall can hold all their earthly possessions.
It was five years ago, when I was first given the opportunity to broaden my horizons regarding what was going on in Africa. I was able to sign up to help one of these unfortunate children through a program run by World Vision. The photos outlined in blue show "my" little Stacy in Kenya. The first photo I received of Stacy was when she was three years old (lower middle photo) in 2004, and gave no clue if Stacy was a boy or a girl. I found out later that one reason for this was that a common myth in her village said that a man who was infected with AIDS could be cured if he would have sex with a young girl. So in an effort to protect the little girls, their hair was kept cropped and they did not wear dresses. As AIDS education and World Vision assistance has continued in her village, I can see an improvement in Stacy's appearance. The lower left photo shows her at age four with a lantern provided by World Vision. The dress she has on at age five (top right photo) is the same one she is wearing for the photo taken when she was six years old (lower right photo). But notice the difference in her countenance in the two photos. After she was able to start school (thanks to help from World Vision), she has a big smile on her face---the first one I had seen in all my photos of her. The most recent photo (upper left) also shows her smiling, as she is drawing water from a well/pump system made possible through the assistance of World Vision to her village.
Don't miss this FREE exhibit October 18-25, at the Baxter County Fairgrounds! Go to to find out exhibit hours and choose the time you want to visit. It is good to remember these words in James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..."
So take that first step that will open your eyes to a far-away place, and make you see how truly blessed we are, here in the USA---visit "Step Into Africa"!! See you there! TriciaPosted by Picasa