Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What Happens When You Play Football In the Living Room!

I was just thinking the other day, "We're lucky with how rough our kids play that we haven't had any broken bones!" Well the other night while I was fixing supper, Jimmy, Jonah, and Silas were playing football in the living room. There aren't too many breakable things left in our house, which is good with these jokers. Jimmy threw the football to Silas, and Jonah intercepted it, falling down on the concrete floor with Silas still fighting him for it. Jonah held onto the ball, but as he was about to get up he saw his finger bent sideways and started yelling with great concern!
 Jonah does not cry over pain. Injustices between siblings, yes; pain, no. His reaction made me worried. I'm so glad Jimmy was home because I do not like looking at stuff like this... it's right up there with looking in a bloody mouth to find the damage. Yuck! Jimmy told Jonah to go get in the car because they were going to the doctor. Then he starts saying very worriedly, "They are going to cut it off and I won't be able to play football!" I ran over to him to comfort him and tell him that his finger would be fine and that he would probably get to wear a cool cast and have no problem playing football. Sweet Jonah held his hand behind his back so that I didn't have to see it while I gave him his pep talk, haha! Poor kid.
 On the drive to the public hospital, which is about 20 minutes, Jonah tells Jimmy, "I'm not letting anybody mess with my finger, I'm just going to wait and let GOD fix it!" (While this is a great model for most things in life, broken fingers are an exception...)
 He got an x-ray at the hospital and they said that they were going to put a pin in it. There is NO WAY Jimmy would ever let that happen since bacteria could be introduced and then we would have an even bigger set of problems. (There is actually a really sad story of that happening recently). If there is anything I have learned (I'm sure we all have in life) is that a bad situation can get much worse so just be thankful and look out! So they left and texted our pediatrician (likely the awesomest kid doctor in the world) who gave him the number to a trauma surgeon. 

I know this part was painful for Jimmy because he knew this was going to cost more money than he was hoping. I have already maxed out the medical budget this month with my ongoing teeth saga. And why do things like this always happen at night?!

 The trauma surgeon opened his office just for Jonah. He even offered to put him out for the popping it back into place part. Jonah said he rather be awake. He did get a shot in the pinkie to help with the pain. Jimmy held him and Jonah turned his head away while the doctor popped it back into its socket. 
This doctor was excellent! That's all God's provision! It cost $80 to have a surgeon come open up his office after dark and fix your kid's finger. I thought that was pretty good!

The doctor had 3 design options for casts and look what one of them was! 
Jonah has to wear it for 2 weeks, get an x-ray and then maybe one more week. 3 weeks is to the day exactly before we leave for a month long furlough. He was worried about having it in the snow. We are very much enjoying teasing him about the part where they SAW off the cast!

The novelty of the cast wore off about an hour after he got home! He is a lefty and a little impatient like his mommy so he struggled a bit at first having to wait on someone to help him with things. It's a good life lesson. Sometimes life is hard and you should be thankful when those seasons aren't permanent. 

I haven't been making him write in homeschool since he is left handed, but he insists sometimes. His personality can't leave things undone, even if we orally worked through a worksheet. He writes strangely well with his right hand.
 
Every Saturday evening the boys play soccer, football, kickball, or something with the students at the institute. Jonah was so sad that he was going to miss that. He lives and breaths sports! Well this first Saturday with his cast was his best friend's birthday party. I thought that was so neat. I talk all the time how gentle God is with us. That was God loving on Jonah! He didn't miss out on anything! 

 Each time my family, specifically my babies have a need, God has someone lined up ready to help them. I am SO thankful. God takes such good care of us!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A New Spanish School Year!

I have posted before how thankful I am for the opportunity my kids have to go to a Spanish school here in town. That school year ends in October, so I wanted to share photos of their kindergarten graduation and then photos from the beginning of the new school year that started January 16th. 
There were 22 kids in their K-4/K-5 classroom. These are the K-5 ones being promoted to 1st grade.
Silas thought we were tricking him and making him wear a dress to graduation. He missed the entire concept of a robe. It didn't help that Eden kept saying, "I can't wait to see you in your dress, Silas!" Silas deserves Eden in his life!
 Jonah and Silas are both equally book smart I would say. In homeschool that both excel, maybe Silas more in math and Jonah more in reading, but neither have had any struggles. Jonah, though, is a perfectionist. He has the type of personality that really shines in a traditional school setting. Even after not speaking much Spanish when the school year started, missing the first month of school and then a month when Titus was born, he came in second in his class. 
Can you guess which homework came home with which kid? I love their personalities!
Silas' personality came out when his teacher told him to write his letters over again a certain way one day and he said, "They are fine like that!" He definitely got in trouble when he got home. That's the kind of thing you laugh at with your spouse (specially when you know which gene pool that came from), but not in front of your kid. We are trying to instill in him a respect for authority without completely crushing that spirit. Sometimes my face looks like Silas' robe/dress face in the process! I know both of my boys' personalities were intricately designed by God for specific reasons. I can't wait to see what He has planned for them!
We were super proud of Jonah. He really is very diligent in doing his work. He got to carry the light of knowledge and then had to give a speech. Most kids who had to speak that night had someone behind them feeding them the words. Not Jonah! He is Mr. Stubborn. (That's from both gene pools... poor kid.)
Yes, one is taller than the other. We don't act like we don't notice. It's just how it is and we are all ok with it! We celebrate their differences!
 Here he is giving his speech!
video 
I was soooo nervous for him. He really didn't seem nervous at all. He told me not to worry!
Jonah
 It was so dark, I had a hard time getting any photos. 

We are super proud of both of them and thankful for the friendships they have made and how well they are doing with their Spanish. They had the best teacher!!! That was a blessing from God! They are so outgoing and quick to go up and talk to a new person. I hope they stay like that, in all cultures!
Silas
They were super excited to return this year for 1st grade. 
  Culturally 1st grade is a little harder for me to get past. There is a lot of copy work... like several hours some days. Writing the same line over and over again down a page makes my teacher's heart hurt. Especially on days when there are no songs or games or anything else to make learning meaningful or fun. We will see how this year goes.
  It's tough on a teacher starting the school year when all the students haven't shown up yet or purchased their books and materials. The second week has already been much better! I think kindergarten is the one grade where most everyone passes based on age and not on whether they can read or write yet. There is a big rang of ability levels in this 1st grade classroom. Their teacher IS very kind to them. I am thankful for that!

This year they will be studying Kekchi and English as well!  
My favorite mommy homework, covering all of these notebooks, haha!
Eden's situation is completely different. 
Look at these walls!!
The #1 thing I teach in my Art of Teaching class at the institute is preparation. Well this is what it looks like! I saw Eden's teacher, Cinthya, hanging these the week before school started. I told her how beautiful they were. (The boys' kindergarten teacher is about to give birth so Eden has 2 new teachers this year.)
Eden loves school! I wouldn't have put her in K-4 if it wasn't for the goal of learning Spanish. I'm so jealous of time with Eden right now. With the baby and the boys' longer homeschool days I feel like Eden gets lost in the mix sometimes. Those middle children...
Eden has 2 teachers this year. Both are just a sweet as can be. She comes home singing songs. She said yesterday very excited, "I have... what's that thing called again you do at home? Oh yeah... Homework!!!"

She loves sitting at the counter doing her little activities like the boys used to do.
Like Silas, she is a little bit mischievous. Having other authority figures in her life besides her parents will be great for her. She hasn't gotten in too much trouble yet! 
Eden's uniforms are still being made. She has to wear the cutest little knee socks! Since sparkly shoes don't work with her uniform, we had to go on the hunt for plain old brown ones... that's crazy talk in Eden's world. Yesterday morning we did have a fun girls time just me and her shopping for school shoes in Santa Elena. Daddy even took care of Titus... good man. Of course we had to stop for ice cream!
 I love these children so much! I can't believe God chose to bless us with them!
Our little one more "last goodbye" tradition continues!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Students at the Institute

My husband gave me a laptop makeover yesterday. I have been battling storage space and a non functioning iPhoto for about 2 years. He emptied all of the photos from my laptop and put them on some hard drives. Then I emptied the 2,000+ photos on my phone to be able to start fresh organizing them all on my laptop that now has over 300 GB of free space. I'm sooo thankful! 

So... what do I catch up on first?! Let's talk about new students! 

First, starting a new school year in January is fiscally nuts. We only usually get about half of our monthly support in December due to work days being off at churches, at our agency, and at banks because of the holidays, and don't get the rest of that regular support until the end of January. So paying for graduation, helping students move, our kids' Christmas, church Christmas outreaches, our kids starting school, and then new student housing and materials on the farm, seems overwhelming at times. And no one believes that the gringo could ever be short on funds... ever.
But, God provides, ALWAYS. 

The number of students "coming" for the new school year is very fluid. This is for me personally one of my biggest struggles in the area of faith. We can work really hard, but only the Holy Spirit can call and compel men to prepare for ministry. During this time of year I find myself thinking, "What are we doing? Is this all for nothing?" There is lots of trust involved in this part.

 Jimmy had spent a lot of time and resources on traveling to do recruitment this year. He had 20 applications. Some even paid their application fee (Q500). Still, of the 10 new students we had, only 4 were in that 20, lol! That's the way it works here. Jimmy will call them on the phone, if there is reception in their village, and they will say "Yes, I am coming", then the next day, "No... I'm not coming." Then they will show up at the farm 2 days later! How are control freaks supposed to plan?!!! 

So here are the 8 men and 2 wives that took the step of faith, moved onto the farm, and started studying this year. 

Rodrigo:
Mari: 
They have a beautiful little 3 month old named Jackson. From what I have heard, I think he sleeps as well as Titus at night;) I wish I could convey culturally what it means to move to an unknown place, several hours away from your family, with your first child, who is only 3 months old. I have so much respect for them and this testimony of faith. 

Raul:
 Belén:
 Belén came seeking God. She put her faith in Christ at the end of the first week of classes. She gave birth to her son the next day... because we like to have as many life events as possible all at the same time!!! It really was a beautiful time for this family! She is doing very well, a lot better than I ever did after childbirth. Her mother AND her mother-in-law are staying in her house most days helping her. What man wouldn't want to live in that his first couple weeks at a new place?! Raul and Belén seem to have a close bond, I have seen Raul helping Belén around the farm since the birth. It is so sweet!

Here is baby Carlos with his dad:
I spend lots more time with the ladies so I can't speak much about these men, but I am so grateful for Mari and Belén's sweet spirit. They fit in great here. This is a gift! We have been around toxic situations before and I just see them thriving in ministry and setting a loving atmosphere for their churches. One gossiping lady can poison any group, a gracious one, creates a sense of community! 

The others are single men.
 Henry:
 He has started playing the keyboard in church with us!

Byron:
 He plays the drums!

Mauricio:
He is kind of quiet. He gets up super early to go work before classes.

Eric:
Erick did a couple of semesters last year, but he struggled because of his Spanish. Jimmy said it would be best for him to withdraw and go study Spanish a little more and then return. He did. Either he learned more, gained confidence, or is simply working harder, but he is doing so much better!

 Gerson:
 Gerson is a pastor's kid and brought his friend, Alfonso. Alfonso wasn't a Christian. At the end of the second week he put his faith in Christ! Both of these guys are super nice!

Alfonso:

So if you are keeping track, 20% of our students weren't even Christians when they came! What a great first step to being discipled though! If there wasn't a need, and already mature Christians who sat in churches with pastors who knew their Bibles, where they had the opportunity to grow. Why would we be doing this?

Please pray for these students as they prepare for ministry!

Monday, October 24, 2016

An Empty Building and a Long Walk that Ended With an Open Door

This map is the top 1/3 of Guatemala, know as the department of Petén. We live in and our institute/farm is locate in the dark blue region in Petén. It is called San Fransisco.
Source
We often talked about reaching Petén, but our focus is unreached Kekchi villages, so if any of those fall outside of the boundaries of Petén, that's ok too. Pastor Eli, the dean of students, heard about a village named Santa Maria. It is in the department of El Quiché. If you are keeping track, that is actually 2 departments below the Petén.
 Well Jimmy is really practical, so the thought of spending resources to travel that far drives him nuts. He'd rather have infrastructure and branch out over time. He knows though that the Holy Spirit doesn't always work in geographical order.

It's hard for me to know exactly how long it takes to travel to this village. In the States people describe distances by minutes or miles. Here it is by price in a microbus. I think it takes about 10 hours in a micro and then a 2 hour walk after that.

 A family member of someone from this village told Pastor Eli about it. He said that there was a man in the village that wants a church so bad that he built a building next to his house, but no one will come and start one. He and his sons go in the building once a week and pray. It's a hard place to get to. You could build a church there, but it isn't going to be a big fancy concrete one like the ones you see on the side of the main road. This pastor would be making a sacrifice. But there are at least 35 other villages after that 2 hour walk, just like this one, with no work at all in them.
About where it is on google maps
  This past Tuesday, since it was during our 2 week break in between semesters, Pastor Eli, Pedro (3rd year student), and Mateo (2nd year student) went to check it out. They had a guide that met them once they got off the micro. He walked with them half way but then got scared. It is dangerous to just show up in a closed Kekchi village without being invited. This guy wasn't from there, plus he was taking strangers there. He made up a story about hurting his knee so that he could turn turn around and go back. Later we found out that after he turned around he ended up really hurting his knee. He was in so much pain that he had to pay for an injection at a nearby clinic and then he ran out of money to be able to get back home... poor guy!
Mateo & Pastor Eli
On the way there, they would pass people along the road. When they would find out where they were going, they would tell them, "Make sure you take all your food and water with you, because that village isn't going to give you anything!" So I guess this village has a reputation. The 3 men were so muddy from the long walk, that when they got close, they bathed in the river and changed clothes to clean themselves up before arriving.

Once they arrived in the village, it was pretty late. The first house they came to, was Augustine's house, the man who had built the building for a church. Well we all know that was God! He gave them coffee. Everyone came out to see who they were and why they were there. There was a big town meeting with everyone and the town council. The people were very cautious because they had been exploited by different groups beforehand who were trying to steal land from them or promised them social projects and then never returned. They had a long meeting and asked lots of questions. Pastor Eli focused on the fact that they were not there to ask for anything or bring them anything other than the message of the Gospel. Pastor Eli told them about the institute. Thankfully he even had a business card stating he was the dean of Students at IBQ (KBI) to make his story sound more legit. (Business cards and ID cards are very important here.) The village decided together that it was ok and that they could come back and teach them more about God. (I would like to interject here that none of the angry meetings Jimmy and I have ever been in, ended with, you can come back, lol!)

          The next morning they went around to every single house and filled out a survey. It basically asks them what they believe about God. There are 80 families in the village and through the survey they found out that the only Christians in the village are Augustine's family.

  So basically there is a man in the middle of nowhere, seeking God and God is sending Him someone to help disciple him. The students have done survey trips before, but there was something different about this one. Jimmy spoke with Mateo to see if he wanted to go back and if he could see himself working there after he graduated. Mateo said, "It's definitely worth it because there are so many other villages around there too." Jimmy also asked if the people were really interested in knowing more about God or trying to get something from the farm. Mateo said, "No, there are people there who really want to learn more about God!" Mateo wanted to be the guy heading up the outreach into this village. It is neat to see God match up personalities and gifts the students have with the villages that He leads them to. He seems like a great fit. In some of these more closed villages it might be that someone like Mateo goes in, starts a work and then one of the young guys from that work comes to the institute for 3 years and returns to their own village and then Mateo can move on down the road. That way their pastor is eventually an insider. 

Some more good news is that they found out there is a new road into the village that they had not known about before and one truck leaves from there at 3AM every morning. It's going to cost us $200 a month for passage for two guys to go every 2 weeks. They will get there late on Saturday nights, teach all day on Sunday, leave at 3AM on Monday to get back for school on Tuesday at the Institute.

Please pray for the village of Santa Maria!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Our Journey So Far in Raising 3rd Culture Kids


I have mentioned before about my fears involved in raising missionary kids. I pray constantly for God to help my kids thrive. Our largest hurdle for a while was my boys learning Spanish since all the kids their age around the institute and church speak Kekchi. I still was surprised they weren't picking it up. Other than us, they weren't really around other English speakers all that often. I had asked God to lead me to a solution. We were doing homeschool Spanish and were struggling trying to get private tutors to show up outside of that. Their 4th tutor was the one God used to lead us to that solution. She is a missionary kid who is currently attending college in the States. 
During the boys' first class with her, she shared that she picked up Spanish by her parents putting her in elementary school here for a while. I had thought about this option before, but I wasn't comfortable with it academically. I knew we would have to homeschool in order for my boys to be prepared for college in the States. I talked it over with Jimmy again. We hadn't considered them doing both before, English homeschool and Spanish regular school, all at the same time. There is actually an Assembly of God school in our town. They offer kindergarten for 3 hours each afternoon. The school year starts at the end of January, and it was only the beginning of February at the time. Could they do both? Would it burn them out? Was this the solution God was giving me?

Jimmy drove to the school when he finished classes at the institute that afternoon. He enrolled them.  Soon I had them at the school introducing them to their new teacher. 
They started Spanish kindergarten the very next day! They were excited and nervous... I was excited and nervous! These boys had been out of my presence very few times during their 6 years of life. I'm so glad they are twins, I don't think I could have dropped off one all by himself that day. 
Jonah sums it up perfectly here:
video
Look how little they look:
My boys are SO brave! God blessed them with a wonderful teacher. She is a Christian and has been so kind to our family. She texts us all the time and catches us as we are picking up the boys to keep us updated with how they are doing.
After their first day of class:
Their teacher told us the other day that they sound just like all the other kids. The students at the farm keep talking about how much they speak now. They say, "And they don't talk with accents either!" I love listening to their little Spanish voices.
This is one of the best decisions we have made for our family. They have some great friendships now with kids in our town, kids whose parents are really invested into their kids lives. 
They have school uniforms that a tailor in town made. They wear them every day but Tuesday, P.E. day. Jonah calls them "sweat pants"! 
 They also have ID badges that they wear. Do you know how excited they were when they came home with these!!!
Jonah developed this coping mechanism, where he asks us to wave one more time at one of the 2 gated fences, depending on which way we drive off. He is such a cutiepie! Now Silas runs there too, it's our little tradition!
 They are currently in Spanish kindergarten and English 1st grade. In January we will start Eden in Spanish kindergarten and they will promote to 1st. Eden is only in English K-4, on an American school year schedule. It is kind of tricky, getting everything done. We can't lollygag, because we have to finish before lunch, in order to get them dressed and to school, with their Spanish homework done by 2:00. It is really laid back though. Sometimes we get a text the day of, that school is canceled. (I love those texts, don't tell!) 
Spanish homework takes some time! I'm kind of embarrassed to admit how much I have learned from Spanish kindergarten... so much terminology for different ways to manipulate tissue paper haha!
I was kind of worried that Jonah and Silas would get confused learning to read in 2 languages with such similar alphabets. When we started 1st grade this year I asked them what were the 5 vowels. Jonah said, "Well... I can tell you in Spanish!" It all works out! 

They get to participate in activities, like field day:

They were in a Day of the Bible parade! 

They had an Independence Day parade. 
That one kind of got rained out!
They are going to have so many experiences that will help them relate to their peers here. We asked them the other day if they ever get called gringo. Silas said, "No, but Rodrigo calls me vos". That's an informal tense that you would only use with a close friend. That melted my heart!  
My truck has been in the shops since Titus' was born, so we take a lot of tuktuk's to school. We have been making this new adventure work for our family!
Jimmy usually picks them up... and sometimes choco bananos and licuados too! 
 So their childhood looks pretty different from Jimmy and mine's, but it's still an awesome one! That was an expectation that I didn't realize I had. It's changing. So that is where we are at on this journey of raising 3rd culture kids! My boys are currently fluent and thriving. I'm sure there will be lots of adjustments along the way, but God got us this far, so I will have to trust Him with the rest!
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