Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top Ten of 2008

1. Richards Family celebrated a decade of married bliss

2. Mama Richards traveled around the world to Africa. Daddy Richards played stay-at-home-dad/working Dad for 11 days.
3. Richards Family Four joined the Y
4. Mama and Papa Richards jetted off to San Fransisco to visit Animation Mentor

5. birth of two sweet girls - Emery Joy and Abigayle Lucille

6.Mama Richards began writing curriculum for ages birth through 5 at the church
7. Girls got a big girl bed, no more babies!
8. Momma Richards got a new ride
9. Ben sold his old bike and got a new "better" bike for his birthday
10. Ben role-played Wild Hogs with friends, Stephen, Trevor & Robert to Big Bend

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 Kevin

These pics are from Kevin's collection. I am so thankful, he was there to take pics for our team. I got my CD's last night and there were 1,900 pics on them! You just thought I was a shutter bug...

Monday, December 29, 2008

she's here

I got the phone call last night at 2 a.m. that I have been waiting 7 years for! My cousin, maid-of-honor, life-long friend, Anna (Deanna) and her husband Marcus gave birth to their 1st child. You have to go to their blog for all the details. If you are one of the many praying for them, please leave them a comment. I know they will all appreciate it. Thank you Abby Lu for waiting till I got back to come into this world. I know your Mommy wanted you here sooner, but glad you waited for ME!

day on the safari

People ask me daily what my favorite part of the trip was and I wish I could be more missionary-like and not say - the animal park. This was indeed one of the coolest parts of our trip. I love taking the girls to the zoo, so getting to do a wild game park in Africa just cannot be topped. The only way it could have been better was had the girls and Ben been with me. Although I am not sure I would have opted for an open jeep ride with the girls and lions as close as they were.
I did not sleep the night we stayed at the park. One I was incredibly hot in blue jeans, bandanna wrapped around my head, long-sleeved t-shirt and no a.c. See, you get really freaked out when planning a trip to Africa and the nurse administering your meds tells you that you can die within 24 hours if you are stung by a mosquito infected with malaria. So, I was covered from head to toe b/c our cabana was opened at the top where the thatch roof was connected. I loved being here, I loved the noises. I could hear the lionesses after a kill. I could hear the hippos early morning grunting and wrestling. I could hear the birds chirping. I was just enjoying nature at its best. I just did not want to miss a thing. One thing I discovered this morning was the sun rises at 4:30 a.m. so I got to sort of see an African sunrise (very tall grasses, so not really official sun rise)
These animals were this close, no editing. The pic of Kevin is taken as he is discovering he is standing in front of a croc-filled lake. The tree pic is of African Honey Bees, there were so many you could hear them as we were getting out of the truck.
The guide told us we were very lucky - I say blessed, to see the giraffes. Everything was very green and lush, so we did not see many animals, but the giraffes are the hardest to spot.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hlane Big Game Park

After our 2nd party, we took the night off and headed to the Hlane Big Game Park in Swaziland. There was no electricity or cell service here. For dinner, we had impala stew, wildebeest sausage and roasted veggies. We ate by the light of lanterns. It was such a fun, relaxing evening.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

day #25

All of this said for this entire challenge comes down to this --- find something you enjoy doing, something you are talented at and use it to enhance the lives of others.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

day #24

Charity Navigator None of my giving ideas your cup of tea. Check out this website to get ideas of how you can make a difference. I was so shocked when I read up on some of the charities I intended to include. I know these charities are still good at heart, but I could not recommend a charity that pays it CEO $600,000 salary. So, check it out and make a decision to do something.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

day #23

If you know Mama Richards at all you know I am passionate about children. It is my heart's desire to foster children and to adopt children out of the foster care system in Texas or a third world country. A new foundation I keep hearing about is Raise Me Up. After some research I found a local foundation that has peeked my interest - Partnerships for Children. On their website you can view ways you can get involved. One is to equip the case worker with items to give a child when they are removed from thier home - pajamas, toothbrush, clothing & a teddy bear. You can view their wish list and contact info at

Monday, December 22, 2008

Upside Down from Pace Hartfield on Vimeo.

Thanks to Erica for providing this on her website. This was a special at church yesterday and was wishing I could share it with all. Watch the whole video before becoming offended!

day #22

Habitat for Humanity We have all heard of it and some of us have helped build a home in our local community, but just wanted to remind you about this awesome organization. They take monetary contributions, but love it when you donate your time too. Take a case of water to a home going up in your area, that is always appreciated, a bag of oranges too!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

day #21

The A21 Campaign Today you can make a difference. This is a great new charity I have recently discovered by one of my fave authors and speakers. You can get the details on her blog (chris caine) or at her website. She is trying to rid the world of human trafficking and today you can do one simple thing - fast and pray. She asks on the 21st of each month you just take the day to fast and pray for the work of the campaign. She of course takes monetary donations too.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

party #2 - Mapheveni

We packed up our rooms and headed to church on Sunday morning.  Our next party was smaller and in the community of Mapheveni which is surrounded by sugar fields.  Positioned in the middle of a sugar field is a church and soccer field.  As we were pulling into the parking lot I could hear children singing.  I asked Patrick if I could watch the children's church, so I could come home and share with our children's ministry.  The teacher was a doll, Tootie.  She asked if she could introduce me to the children and of course, I agreed.  She taught a very formal lecture on what is a Christian.  This was info that I had learned in my Bible class I took earlier this year.  It was out of the King James Bible and tough for even me to grasp.  Yet, when she asked the children questions at the end of the lesson, they answered every one - Where is the birthplace of Christianity?  Anyone - Antioch, yeah a 10 year old answered that one!
When she was finished she asked if I wanted to say something, uh YEAH!  So, I taught them the girls favorite song - My God is so Big.  Then, they taught me a song.  They do speak English in Swaziland, but it was still hard to understand, Patrick got it on video tape for me.  The "adult" church was still not out, so I took her lesson and made it into kid friendly terms.  The scripture was We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20.  I asked them if they had friends who lived near by who did not go to church and love Jesus.  They all said yes, so I explained that the scripture said we are Jesus' friends and we are supposed to tell other's about him, so they can know Jesus as their friend too.  It was so much fun and the highlight of my trip.  I could have easily flown half way around the world for that moment. 
***Please excuse the layout of my blogs, fonts etc.  Whatever updates blogger has done has me totally baffled and I cannot move text, add pics so forth after I have tryped.  It is quite annoying to the OCD part of me.

day #20

Another foundation that holds a special place in the RFF hearts is the Dell Children's Hospital. When Bella was two weeks old she became ill with salmonella poisoning possibly due to exposure to raw poultry over the Thanksgiving holidays. We spent 48 hours in the hospital with her and thankfully all was well. There are so many ways to volunteer at the hospital including bringing your pet to visit the patients. You can also go to their website to make a monetary donation.

Friday, December 19, 2008

the big one

The morning of our first party my friend, John led our devotion. He said we had to view this experience as a mosaic, we cannot see all of what the Lord is doing, but we each had a specific role in the big picture. I have thought back and referenced his point many times since that morning.

When you are dealing with 4,000 children it tends to feel like you are just herding cattle. I personally had 30-50 3-6 year olds at any given time during the day. It was fun, but I quickly learned having that many children did not constitute a normal game of net ball. So, I had them taking free throws one at a time. It worked. John later encouraged me - "Had I not been there, who would have filled in that role?" My favorite part of the day was getting to distribute the Christmas presents to the children. I got to say Merry Christmas 4,000 times.

I did not take my camera to this party. I knew it was going to be busy and I went to Africa to play with kiddos. I was so thankful the Lord blessed our team with people was passionate about photography as me. Kevin Moon took his camera and took over 1300 photos, today's photos are all part of his collection.