Friday, December 12, 2014

Family Triditions # 27: Thanksgiving 2014

Each year we start off at the beginning of November creating our Thankful Wall. As part of our night night routine we all put something we are thankful for on our giant chalkboard wall.
The boys are just learning to spell but Silas was determined to write "I love Mama and Dada" on our wall!
Our Christian character trait in school this month is Thankfulness. We are still using that Focus on the Family Canada curriculum. It suggested making thankfulness scarecrows.
They are so funny. We keep them in our desk and whenever we are sad or complain we take them out, hold them up and say something we are thankful for... you know, because thankfulness "scares" away an ungrateful heart.
Thanksgiving Day has kind of become our get together time with some of the missionaries we know all around Petén. I wish I could have invited more, but we wanted to keep it a little simpler this year.
 
Jimmy brought me some firewood from the farm and he and Silas made candle holders for our tables! I used the little pieces for place cards along with some rosemary from my herb garden.
 
Jimmy found butternut squash. I had never had it before. Wow, it is delicious!!! Before we consumed it, we used it as decorations. 
 
I cut out turkey parts with my paper cutting machine (I added that just so you don't think my 5 year olds can cut like that... they are normal) and Jonah, Silas, and Eden helped make candy turkeys for the kids' table.
Jonah really likes drawing. He did most of the eyeballs. The boys requested a 5 on theirs, since they are five... silly boys. 
We counted down the days to Thanksgiving on our calendar. The boys were as excited about everyone coming over as they are for Christmas day!
 Here is our spread of food! Of course we had turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, salads, rolls, pumpkin pie, and apple pie!
And here were the first 2 through the line... just kidding. They just look guilty in this picture! 
 With the help of the namecards we put all the ladies at one table 

  and all the men at the other.
And then nobody moved for hours, haha! I think the conversation and fellowship was good! 
 
 We had a lovely day.
 
 
  We liked it so much we decided to have another "Thanksgiving" with the students a week later. It was kind of our last hurrah before the second year students come in a couple weeks. 

When we said we were having turkey the students were thinking "street turkey in soup... why is that special?" We bought a whole frozen turkey from the store. It is actually cheaper than a street turkey and you get more meat. 

In their culture, men don't usually make their own plates, but we asked if they wanted to, so that I wouldn't give them something they weren't planning on eating. That is what they chose, haha... I understand! They ate everything on their plates though, and even asked to take some cornbread stuffing home. So... either they liked it or they are just really really polite! R and P played Risk after lunch with Jimmy and H played Old Maids with the kiddos!
I am so thankful for the life that God has blessed us with. Life with family, purpose, and friends. A life that includes fellowship with our Creator. It is really hard not to have a grateful heart where we live. There are moment when I get caught up in my first world problems and then I look around me and realize how foolish. Perspective and Thankfulness, a little does of those can change every situation. Let's just keep celebrate all year!
I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too!

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Love Story

Today Jimmy traveled with one of the students back to the capital of his area, 3 hours away. He was going home to get married. Here you usually have 2 ceremonies, a legal one and a church one. Today was the legal one and he asked Jimmy to be a witness. 

P is the oldest of the students, he is 27. All of the students came single and boy do they talk about getting married a lot. They are constantly talking to Jimmy about how much money they should save first, should they get married before they graduate, does he think they will ever find a wife, will they be able to support a wife, what is important when looking for a wife. They probably talk about that more than anything else. They know it is a big deal. If you are called to do something, the wrong mate can keep you from fulfilling that purpose.
{P in the blue dress shirt next to his wife in the peach along with their families}
P knew that. He hasn't talked to any girls since he has been at the institute. P had a girl picked out over a year before he came. He chose to get settled first at the institute and save up his money so that he could provide a good home for her. He is so tight. He won't spend as much as one centavo because he is saving it all for his life with his wife.

He chose the house farthest away from the other students, haha! He has been fixing it up. When the students came to the institute they were all given mattresses (not like a mattress you would picture, but a little more rustic). They are not fancy, but evidently they were better than what they were used to. P said that it took a while for his back to get used to it. He was commenting today that they usually just put fabric over the string they weave through the bed frame. He was thinking about making that available to his wife so that she wouldn't be uncomfortable. (That is what some of us gringos don't get. We think that if anyone is presented with "gringo" options or easier, more comfortable options in our minds, that they would obviously choose them. But, many times they don't because those options aren't familiar and in that way they are actually uncomfortable to them.)

When P went to go ask his wife's parents' permission to marry her they thought he was going to just take her to shack up with her then. Sadly that is accepted and more common here than marriage even among Christians. Maybe the thought of paying for 2 weddings is overwhelming. The legal cost is about $40 and the church wedding is about $700 for a bare bone version of what is expected. Well P said for testimony sake, he had no desire to do that. He wants a marriage that God will bless.
{The legal ceremony with the Mayor}
He also told her parents that he wanted to marry her not just because she is pretty, but because she is a faithful worker in the work of God. He was telling Jimmy all about her as they traveled today. He said that he initially saw her in church, she teaches the kids. He noticed that she never missed. Their home church has started a mission that is a 2 hour walk away on foot, one way. She goes every single time to serve there. Well he found what he wanted, a wife that he could share his life with, one that would help him in his calling.

And did I say that he said goodbye to her today in his village. In P's eyes they are not really married until they get married before God a month from now on the 28th. So he returned to the farm alone today, but very happy! Poor guy, he has a lot of teasing to put up with from all of us for the next 27 days... the other students started ribbing him as soon as he got out of the truck! 

I'm so thankful that God provided a good godly wife for P. I pray that He will do the same for the other students and that they will be wise enough to realize it. Prov. 18:22!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Promoting the Institute

Today we went to a large youth meeting in Sayaxché. This is an annual meeting among all the Kekchi Baptist churches that are part of the association. These churches are scattered over the SW part of Petén.

This was the meeting where Jimmy met R (one of the students) last year. Now he got to go with us this year to share about what the institute is all about. The students have been very excited about this meeting. I think they are proud to be identified with KBI.

So we all loaded up in the Nissan and drove the 45 minutes + unpredictable time waiting on the ferry, to Sayaxché. 
{Here the ferry was already leaving, but the ramp was still down, so they told us to hurry and get on as the boat is moving... it kind of scared me.}
We have formed a praise band with the students in our church, so we planned a couple songs to share. H plays the drums, R is learning the keyboard and sings with Jimmy, P plays the rhythm thingy, who knows what that is in English, and I play the guitar. 

 Here we are singing in the car making sure we remembered all the words!
video
Can you tell what the song is? H is playing the rhythm thingy in the video, not P. 

When we got there, the service was in a building under construction, on the 2nd floor.
And that was the stairs/ramp we used to get up there... with 3 kids. Jimmy, Silas, and Eden are like mountain goats, but Jonah and I, who struggle with regular stairs, really struggled getting up this rickety steep ramp... like I was basically panicked, crawling on my hands and knees in my long skirt for the last part trying to keep Jonah and me alive. It was embarrassing for everyone. 
{Still not P holding the rhythm thingy}
All cultures are the same, none of them have any cellphone etiquette. Here's a sign I saw on stage, "TURN OFF YOUR PHONE".
We had 10 minutes to present KBI. We sang a song, then Jimmy spoke a bit. In the middle of what he was saying, the power went out!
I think that was strategically to our advantage since everyone immediately got quiet when the sound system wasn't blaring anymore.
 We played one more song after that. They asked us to play more, but we wanted to respect the leadership's request for just 10 minutes. I think the whole thing went well.

Here are some more photos I took before we left.
{The kitchen for the conference}
 Everyone is always so nice to our kids. Eden has gotten pretty used to it. A little girl walked by and gave her this popsicle. I think Eden secretly speaks Kekchi, because she is constantly ending up with people's food.
At least she shares with her brothers.
H's dad was there. He brought the young people from their church. This was the first time we got to meet him. I know they are close. H is the only son. They were excited to see each other, but they were playing it cool in front of so many people. I thought it was cute!
 We were thankful for this opportunity to promote the institute to so many young people at one time. Please pray that more men will be called and that more will come to be trained at the institute.

I'm very saddened to say that two weeks ago KBI had to ask one of the students to leave the institute. Jimmy and Domingo determined based on the code of conduct and the requirements for pastors in I Timothy, that due to moral failure this student was no longer fit to hold the office of pastor. The institute is to help train, disciple, and equip men to be a pastor and sadly sometimes even to weed them out for the sake of the church.

I think while losing one wounded us all, it ended up making those who remain even stronger. Each student reaffirmed how serious their callings are to them and how they want to protect themselves. As the culture here even in churches is not to take moral failures like this very seriously, we are able to start raising the bar and setting a new standard for these young pastors that will hopefully influence the generations to come.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Flyover

Before I finish sharing about our furlough I wanted to share some more currents things. I think I will try to do shorter more frequent post so that all the things I want our family to remember when we look back in the years to come actually get on here, instead being of lost in my head while I'm waiting for free time to write a big post full of photos. 

Yesterday Jimmy went up with our missionary pilot friend Paul to take some aerial photos of the farm, where the pastor institute is located (KBI). 
{Paul with the students}
 It is 180 acres. These photos will be used for a couple things, the first being to map off zones for the students to work. Each student will have their own land to farm which for now includes: crops, turkeys, pigs, and chickens. All the fish ponds will be towards the front of the property. Projects that belong to the institute will also be mapped off, like the lime trees and palm plantation.  It was nice to get an overall view to understand which parts are still dense jungle and which are somewhat cleared off.
None of the students had ever flown before, so it was a pretty exciting day!
{H telling R to "ssshhh" because he didn't know everyone could hear him now that he had his headset on, haha!}
Here is the farm. I didn't sort through all the photos Jimmy took, so these are not the very best ones but you know... I'm not spending a hour or two on a post anymore!
 
The property starts from the horizontal road up and then you can see the village of Zapotal on the left side of the vertical road. The property extends all the way past to the brief clearing on the right. 

 Things to find for fun. (You know this teacher loves worksheets!)
  1. The current students fields where they farm on the left. There is a diagonal waterpipe going through all 3 field. 
  2. There are 8 student houses (one is kind of shaded by trees), 4 on either side of the main concrete building that houses the classrooms. The classroom building only has a roof on two rooms right now, the last two on the right.
  3. The main entrance is to the right of those classrooms with the roofs.
  4. There are 4 fish ponds in the bottom left corner, only 2 have water in them with fish right now.
  5. There is a clearing at the very bottom of that bottom left corner that is for the future church building where all the people from Zapotal can attend that currently ride the bus to our church in San Pancho, yay!
Did you find everything?! Well if you were here I would give you a happy face stamp!

The photo above is taken from the opposite direction, so that is the back half of the property. It is not a perfect square or rectangle, it is inside that v.

Since our house is close by, Jimmy texted us during our class and told us to come outside. 
We ran out into the back yard to wave at Dada! Eden was very upset that he didn't yell "Hi" back. 
Jimmy took a photo of our house too. We live on an undeveloped outskirt of town.
    We hear all the howler monkeys that live in that dense jungle on the left from our back porch. There is a chicken farm on the left along with other stuff growing in those fields. Becca owns the property to our right and the property behind our house is for sale, FYI! We are standing in our back yard, but you can't really see us. I'm the speck to the right of the kids' yellow roofed swing set. (That was for my dad, because I'm sure he will ask!)

    For the record, this post took less than one nap time. I'm liking this new plan!

    Saturday, November 8, 2014

    Furlough Pt. 1: Time With G and MaG

    Yes, that is our kid at the bottom of a Target buggy and NO, sadly they have not built a Target in Guatemala yet! We were in the States for 18 days this past month. We were invited to a conference in LA. Not often do missionaries get called and invited to a church, usually the missionary does the calling, so that was really nice. We want to take a month furlough every year and a half. This one was 18 days, but it fit nicely into the break at the institute without us missing to many things here, so we decided to go with it.
    {I think this photo is perfect. If you tell the boys to smile, these are their "go to" faces! It makes me laugh.}
    For us to fly home, it is only one flight because we drive 8 hours to the capital and then usually fly to Miami and drive up to Jacksonville. This time, we flew into Ft Lauderdale and Jimmy's parents flew there from KS and we spent the week together. They say they used their Marriott points for all of us to stay in a really nice resort for a week, but I know they sacrificed a lot to make all of this come together. It was a wonderful, truly relaxing week. It was healthy for our family to have that break and we made so many memories with MaG and G!  
    There was lots of swimming, sand, legos, and princess dresses!
    It also was Jonah and Silas' 5th birthday!
    So what do you do when twin mk's turn 5 while on furlough? You go to Lego Land of course!
    {There were lots of car games being played with MaG!}
    It was a long drive.
    Jimmy had told the boys months ago that a place like this existed. They thought that was super cool! Then when they found out their G and MaG were going to take them there, I think their brains almost exploded. 


    Jonah, Silas, G, and Jimmy went on a roller coaster first thing. Eden really wanted to go, but she was too short. After that roller coaster Jonah was a little more cautious about agreeing to go on rides! Silas likes crazy rides, but if they spin too much there will be vomit. Then there is Eden... the scarier the better! I think their faces below tell it all:
     
    Jonah looks like he is holding on for his life!
    video
     The boys played a shooting game with Dada and MaG.
     
    Can you tell who won?
     
    They both got bears as a prize. They have joined the few treasures that stay on their pillow.  
     The boats were a hit!
     Well with everyone but E. It seemed like the hours in the park flew by, but I think it was the perfect amount of time for what they could handle in one day.
    Someone turned this ride into bumper boats!
    Out of all the exciting rides, I think possibly their favorite attraction was building race cars with everyone.  
    There were lots of neat tracks to try. 
    The last 30 minutes there was a mad dash to ride as many things as possible before the park closed. Everyone was the good kind of exhausted afterwards.
     
    Most of my pictures during that week are from Lego Land,
    maybe because all the rest of our moments were way too relaxing to mess up with photos.  
     Lots of memories were made. So thankful we all got to share that time together! And we are super thankful to G and MaG for coming all the way to FL and giving us such a wonderful week!
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