Saturday, May 16, 2015

My Baby Girl is 3

Eden's birthday was March 13th. We needed to go to the US Embassy in Guatemala City to renew the boys' passports. There is a 2 week break between every 8 weeks of classes at the pastor's institute and that goes year round. (If you are adding up 52 weeks, there is another week off for Easter and one week for Independence Day.) So, we have 2 weeks every 8 weeks if we need to run any errands outside of Petén. Eden's birthday was during a break, but it was while we were in Guatemala City.
{Our 7 hour drive to the capital}
Guatemala City can be a fun place to celebrate a birthday. We didn't get to invite any of her friends, but with all the fun activities, I don't think she minded... plus she's 3! 
One of our stops the first day we were there was at MonkiBu. It is a really neat place for imaginative play. While we were there I took lots of photos of the back of Eden's head!
And pictures of my boys... sorry E! She basically just played babies the whole time. She LOVES babies!
We got to go to several play places while we were in the city for a couple days. Our kids talk about Guatemala City kind of like it's the States, minus grand parents. It is a little vacation for us really. There are lots of errands and long lines, but all of those are sprinkled with special treats for all of us like this:
 ICEE is in the capital now! I have no personal discipline when it come to a cherry cola ICEE, so thankfully there are no slushy machines in Petén. And they didn't get some off brand, they got ICEE. You couldn't ask for more. My kids call it "cold pop". We were all celebrating like a bunch of foreign weirdos when we found this.
And then this:
Yeah, I'll wait at the mess of a US embassy for several hours with 3 kids and no electronic devices if you give me Papa Johns afterwards!
There are lots of little play places that the kids love to stop at too (Except Eden is still afraid of this ball pit.).

 On the actual day of Eden's birthday we went to Chuck E Cheese. The boys had heard about this place before and were really excited. Eden had no idea what was going on! 
 We were almost the only ones there the whole time. The workers were super nice. I think the air was broken though (or they didn't turn it on to save money... probably the latter). We were sweating like we were in Petén. It was like 85 degrees inside there, but I couldn't get the boys to take their hoodies off, because they only get to wear them in the capital where it is cold and they LOVE shirts with hats.
I picked up some party hats and horns. We had a nice little party just the 5 of us!
The boys had gone to the dollar store with Dada to pick out little gifts to give Eden for themselves. 
Silas picked out a Princess Sofia doll for her and Jonah got her a Hello Kitty purse. I'm shocked to say that they were a pretty good quality and are still intact.

Jimmy and I got her a puzzle and some baby doll accessories.
Just about the time Eden got the hang of playing the games she walked past this!  
Eden had a violent reaction when she saw this guy. She doesn't care for large fake animals... like the Chik-fil-a cow or Chuck E Cheese, haha!
This is her keeping an eye on that shady mouse. 

Chuck E Cheese did come out and sing happy birthday to her. It was a little tense at first, but she handled it pretty well. 
video
She enjoyed the piece of cake they brought out to her too.
{Sweaty red Jonah still with the hoodie on, lol!}
 Jonah and Silas were hoping to see Chuck E Cheese, so they were thrilled!
They also worked hard to help Eden relax. They were sweet big brothers. 
I think Eden really did have a wonderful time. She knew we were all celebrating her, so she felt special!
This was Eden at TGI Friday's that night. 

The night we got back from Guatemala City we skyped with MaG and G. It was really late. Eden was so tired and chatty, it was a perfect time to get our traditional birthday interview.
{Eating pizza and opening her presents from MaG &G}
Here is Eden dancing in one of her new dresses from MaG and G:
video 
Birthday skype/interview pt.1:
video 
Birthday Interview pt.2:
video 
Birthday Interview pt. 3:
  video
Eden still hadn't gotten a cake other than the one slice of cake from Chuck E Cheese, so we decided to have one last birthday hurrah with a cake! The kiddos love picking out their cakes and planning them. Eden basically just wanted something pink and purple and girly!
Everyone likes to taste tests!
I have learned from other years that you can't put fondant cakes in the fridge here because they sweat like crazy when you take them out and bleed everywhere. You also can't leave them on the counter because a rat will find its way to them and destroy destroy destroy. So, I always put them in my room overnight so Petén can't get me.
 Eden was really happy when she woke up!
We had a couple more presents from Eden's great grandparents and also my parents for her to open too... I know, it's the never ending birthday.
Our kiddos love skyping with their grandparents!
 
Kiki and Papa got her a pool set for her dollhouse. Eden's favorite part of it still is the umbrella!

Then we sang Happy Birthday over skype.
 I'm so thankful we get to share all these memories with our parents! Skype and ICEE's... we have an easy life.

Every time I look at E I just see God's love for our family. We really didn't think we could get pregnant again and then God said, "Here ya go, I'm giving you a delightful little surprise from Me." (Eden means delight.) There is no other way to explain it. I don't deserve such a gift, but God chose to bless us and I am so SO thankful He did. She is assertive, determined, always says "thank you", fearless, girly, and very mothering. I pray that as she grows up and learns more about God, she will allow Him to use all the character traits He gave her to bring glory to Him. Eden is a true delight!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Blessings Flowing at 30 Gallons Per Minute!

Just a couple weeks ago we were at a real low point in our ministry. We had a need for water at the pastor's institute/farm property and had no idea how this need would be met without God working a miracle. You can read of our water troubles here. This is just another beautiful story written by God that brings Him glory and gives us a little glimpse of who He is (Job 42:5). Experiences like these make us feel extra loved on by God and even more compelled to share His truth with others. 
We sent out our prayer letter for February asking people to pray for our water situation. Less than 24 hours later a Mennonite friend of ours called and said that on his way back from the capital he saw what he thought to be a well drilling rig (pictured above). 

He gave Jimmy the km marker number. It was about a 2 hour drive from our house. Jimmy left as soon as classes were over that week and headed off in search for this rig. He had no idea if they would still be there, but he left hoping this might be God's answer to our prayers. 

It was a horrible trip. Jimmy had a flat tire. Not knowing that the emergency brake wasn't working, the trucked rolled while Jimmy was under it, almost getting him. There was definitely a guardian angel involved! 

Well, when he arrived the rig was still there and Jimmy found some volunteer well drillers from the States working it. They were with an Adventist ministry called Water for Life. A couple days later, the man who heads up this ministry came to our house in San Pancho. Jimmy gave him a tour of the farm and explained the purpose of the institute and our water situation. He was so kind and encouraging. He told Jimmy that he believed that they would be able to dig our well. They work in seasons and would be able to fit us in the schedule maybe next January or February. 

This was the most promising option we had found. We had already been waiting over a year for the other, more expensive private company, with no hope of them coming anytime soon. We were really thankful for a January/February commitment. 

Then a new mayor was elected in the village next door to the institute (where the well we were using is located) and the threats of them turning our water back off returned. There are currently 3 families that live on the farm, plus 5 single guys, plus all the crops and animals. Jimmy made the commitment to provide water for them all before they moved here. These constant threats that had been actually realized before are very burdensome to live with on a daily basis.
Soon after the new mayor was elected, Jimmy got a call from Water for Life. They had a couple with a few days left in the country who wanted to come and get started on our well and asked us if that was ok... Well sure! 
{The sludge that came out}
It was a super nice Christian couple from the state of Washington name Jon and Chris Hansen who own their own well drilling company, along with Jon's brother. Can you imagine showing up in Petén from Washington?! That is a climate shock. Jon worked on the rig all alone every day, all day long in crazy heat with no shade, in the dry season for 8 days. He had a little help the last 2 days, but Jon was the only skilled laborer.
They stayed in our guest room during that time. I kept saying we couldn't have nicer strangers come and stay with us for a week. They aren't strangers anymore!
 
The kids loved it too! Ms Chris was so great with Jonah, Silas, and Eden. They loved all the artsy stuff she had them get into. And, I'm pretty sure Silas met his story telling match! I really enjoyed my time with Chris too. I hope they come through our town every year on the way to villages!
We figured they were just going to get started good before they had to leave, but on the last possible day for Jon to have enough time to hook up a pump, he was at 115 feet, with 12 feet of water in the hole. Jon was very cautious because sometimes there is water but it doesn't replenish itself. He measured and timed the water. For 45 minutes he took out 13 gallons a minute and couldn't get the water level to go down. 

Jon and Chris have been coming to Guatemala for 6 years. They had been here this time since the beginning of March, working hard the whole time. They had 2 days planned at the end of their trip,  at a bed and breakfast just as a little rest before flying back to work in the States. Well, they gave up those days to help us.  

Usually when a pump gets hooked up to a well the first time they use a generator and then hook up electricity later. Well on the way to the hardware store the last morning Jimmy ran into the electrician who installed our transformer. (Jimmy had tried to call him, but his number had changed.) The electrician said that his client for the day canceled and he had the entire day free. So, while Jon was hooking up the pump the electrician ran the wires underground for the 220 to run the pump. Are you seeing that this is God's well?!

Here is the pump all wired up, the first time it's turned on:
video
 That is 30 gallons a minute! It's crazy! Only God could bring all of this together and provide this for the farm!
 The students were super happy! There is water every day now, with a lot more pressure, and no threats of it being taken away. It's pure water too!
 One of our second year students was laughing remembering last year when there was no water and they had to bathe in the ditch!
 Cute little Nacho got a bath first thing!
 So basically a Mennonite friend saw an Adventist ministry who ended up sending a Non-denominational couple to drill a well for some Baptists. Do what you want with that, I think it's real interesting. Many times that's how missions works!
 We love these guys! They are a beautiful testimony of God using people who follow Him!
I hope God blesses their socks off!

We want to thank Metro Baptist Church in Goodlettsville, TN who paid for the well (almost 2 years before it was drilled!), and Pastor Andy Schalchlin and his family in AR and Fellowship Baptist Church in Thonotosassa, FL for paying for the pump and the reservoir. I'd say this was a team effort!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Remebering the Day You Died

Ever since the angry water meetings, the people who attend the church at the farm have really been treated poorly in their village. All kinds of lies are being spread about them for being members. Some stopped coming, but others started coming more faithfully. Nearly all who come now have been saved and baptized. In our past Bible studies or services the curious people outnumbered the Christians. Now the majority are people who have defined themselves as Christians. Everyone knows it. They aren't trying something for a while, they are Christ Followers!
Our church family wanted to remember Good Friday in a way that would bring Glory to God and give us a chance to really reflect on what Christ did for us. We moved our midweek service to Friday. We put a huge cross in the front of the church and Rigo made a crown of thorns to hang from it. Jimmy announced that we were all going to follow Christ's example of serving others and also remember with this activity the beautiful visual it gives of how the King of Glory humbled himself and washed us of our filthy sins.
 Everyone kind of giggled at first, me included. This was something new for all of us! Jimmy had 6 basins of soapy water with wash clothes and towels and we all went down the row, one by one washing each others feet.
 It was as beautiful as Christ intended when He encouraged it.
No one was joking around, not even then kids, but they all had a big smile on their face!
{Eden washing Sandra's feet!}
{Sandra washing E's}
 It brought us all together as a church family.
And it was a beautiful reminder of Christ's love for us. 
Afterwards Henry (not the student Henry) read a passage about the Last Supper.
And then all who had been saved and baptized celebrated the Lord's Supper. 
 Rigo preach a message about Christ's suffering and all He went through for us.
 We all lit candles and turned off the lights while we listened. You could hear the reaction to how beautiful the room was when we turned the lights off.
 Kekchi kids are really good with candles. They grow up knowing how to use them and respect them. Little gringitos, not so much. I turned around about the time one of my boys was lighting his brother's hair on fire. Even if I don't give them candles, someone else does. Thankfully he wasn't harmed, he just has a nice burnt patch of hair about the size of the palm of my hand. I have no idea how my kids survive... maybe their grandmas' prayers.
 It was a wonderful service and a shared memory with our church family, remembering and thanking Christ for dying to give us new life!
Thank you to Newspring Church in Wichita, KS who gave us money to pour the floor in this room. This service would have been a muddy mess just a few weeks ago! 
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