In 2003, after years of hosting world travelers through our Red Bank Rotary International Exchange program, we daringly decided to go TO Haiti on a mission trip with business clients and founders of Aslan Youth Ministries, Craig and LynnAnn Bogard. I remember Craig saying "this trip will change your life" but I had no idea about the scope of change to which he was referring. The goal of our trip was simple: to make new friends. My immediate response was "but we can do so much more! What do they need the most now? How can we help them?". Craig smiled and said that we'd go to their homeland in the spirit of friendship and play it by ear, with some backround goals around the development of recently purchased land, as time permitted. Lets just say I didn't get it. I couldn't fathom why we werent being more focused and gift goal oriented, but  we proceeded to visit our first third world country with an open mind at the invitation of our hosts.

Well, even before devastating earthquakes to the region, let's just say that Haiti greeted us in the spirit of a fourth world country. It was shocking to see, hear, taste and feel the conditions of living endured by these gentle people. The kids were curious, happy, singing and dancing while the parents seemed to be at peace with their fate. At the end of the day, we did teach eager students how to build desks for their schools where we taught them English. Tom constructed a make shift basketball net and backboard for their after school play. We also left them with a pack of power tools and the skills to continue to build shelves for their thatched huts in between writing poetry and gazing at the biggest stars at night we'd ever seen. But most importantly, we made a lot of new friends. We stayed for a week but enlarged one another's lives for a lifetime. Accepting the 2012 Narnia Award from Aslan Youth Ministries was a humbling honor and reminder that daring adventures are our collective birthright and especially sweet when we help one another live more enriching lives.

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Honored to accept Narnia Award 2012 at Island Nights Aslan Ministries Celebration with founders Craig and Lynn Ann Bogard July 14 2012.