Thursday, August 4, 2016

The New Dean of Students at the Instittute!

I just want to share with everyone the big blessing that God sent our ministry and family! We have been praying for some nationals to come along side and help at the institute. No one knows the culture and language like another Kekchi. I didn't understand how this would be possible since we really wanted someone who had a strong Biblical education. Obviously that is a need in our area or else Jimmy wouldn't have started the institute. 
Well God sent a wonderful couple! Pastor Ely decided when he was 10 that he wanted to learn to read. He didn't speak any Spanish. He started just hanging out in the back of a school classroom (Spanish speaking), helping with chores, like hauling water. Soon the teacher asked if he wanted to study and let him join their class. When he was almost 20 he decided he wanted to prepare for ministry and traveled to Guatemala City and studied in a Nazarene seminary. He lived on campus and studied for 3 years (kind of like the institute here;).

At that seminary he met his Spanish speaking wife, Cristy. They were married and later returned to Petén with a heart to reach his own people. Once someone works their way to Guatemala City they rarely do not return to rural Petén. He has a visa and has traveled to the States for pastor's conferences and even was offered a full time pastorate position in Missouri. He turned it down because his burden for his own people is so strong.
{Pastor Ely traveling with some of the students}
We haven't ever met a couple like Pastor Ely and Cristy. We love them dearly and are so thankful that they have accepted the position as Dean of students at the farm. They live on campus now and he teaches several of the classes. They just recently turned over a Kekchi church that they planted to another national, so they know about church planting!

This is a huge blessing to the farm and the men there, being trained for ministry! Please pray for Pastor Ely and Cristy as they are transitioning to the farm and their new job. They have a newborn too, name Moises.
That's Spanish, for Moses, for those of you who remember that I wanted to name Titus that! God brought us a Moses after all, he will probably be Titus' best friend one day!
God is so good to our family and ministry. He ALWAYS provides. Today is our 10 year anniversary in Guatemala. I am so thankful for all that God has taught us through this journey of Who He is, His power, and how much He loves us! I pray that He allows us to spend the rest of our lives here, finishing the job that He gave us to do!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Welcome to the Dinsmore Homeschool: Year 2

 After K-4 Jonah and Silas did not know a summer break was coming, so for 3 months they told me, "I really miss my mommy who used to do school with me!" We started our second year of homeschool on August 17th and the first 2 months of K-5 were wonderful! 
Pointing at Papa's birthday.
We didn't skip anything or have any interruptions. Then Mommy got pregnant and we hit a rough patch. We may have done a couple days weeks in my bedroom... on the bed... with the air on! But we moved back into our school room by January. 
An activity they liked so much they had to show Daddy when he got home!
We switched curricula this year. We used ABeka for K-4. My boys learned how to read just fine, so it works. Different things work for different families, but I didn't feel it was a good fit for us. There were 3 reasons I started looking for something else: 1. I wanted activity ideas... they're boys, we need to move! I had to supplement games and activities each day. We continued using some this year too.
Our fishing pond of word families
2. The worksheets were super repetitive. I like review and even worksheets, but present the material in different ways and ask different types of questions. 
3. My boys didn't like the readers. I dreaded reading and really struggled with it in kindergarten and early elementary, so I am pretty sensitive to this. The readers to me have vocab that isn't very common and stories that are unrewarding to read. The font used isn't the font that is taught, so often times my boys would struggle with letter recognition for letters like g's ts' and a's when it wasn't their fault.
I really wanted a curriculum that offers all subjects and that we can stick with through high school. This year we chose Bob Jones. While we were on furlough 2 years ago I actually met with a consultant and looked inside the books. It is about 30% more expensive, but I felt I got more than 30% more worth of resources. In the photo above, Bob Jones is on the left, Abeka is on the right. I realize that K-5 should be more meatier than K-4 anyway, but it is a much richer curriculum all around.
We covered science and history topics even though they are not stand alone subjects yet. 
Our volcano
Water Cycle
The reading comprehension exercises are excellent! My boys are kind of opposite in the way that they learn and it worked for them both. In the photo below, an Abeka reader is on the left and BJUPress is on the right. My boys loved reading time this year! This may be a maturity level issue too, but the readers are more interesting.
There are lots of reproducible activities in the back of the teacher's manuals, so Eden was able to do many things with us!  
Statues of Liberty
 My mom was here during the summer last year and even this year! She helped me organize, laminate and decorate my school room. We made a Superman (although I never went back and added his fists) and a Bible timeline.
Jonah was SO sad when we took the Superman down to set up for 1st grade.

I purchased a couple extra products for our school room this year.

We used this pocket chart for sight words, but I use it at the institute when I teach too.
The curriculum suggested unifix cubes.
We used them everyday. I thought seeing what they make with them after math class highlights their personalities! Silas made a Spiderman hand, Jonah made a gun and Eden made a doggie!
I also ordered this magnetic spinner. We used this metal door and our magnetic letters a lot! I would put blends in the spinner and they would have to make words.
There isn't anything more valuable than books. While we were on furlough last August we went to a used bookstore and brought lots of good ones back!
MaG sent us a workbook for Eden. She worked on that all year and loved it! She is so sweet while we have school!
I didn't care for the BJUPress Bible curriculum. I want a clear biblical applied truth for each lesson and more activities than what the workbook offered. It hasn't been updated in a long time and just isn't at the same level as their other subjects. Towards the middle of the year I started doing my own thing, then at the end of the year we tried a sample lesson from Picture Smart Bible and really liked it. We may go with that this next year or just do our own Bible study with the resources I already have. I haven't decided yet. 
Pillar of clouds by day / Pillar of fire by night... it all eventually turns into weapons.
 With the Phonics and reading curriculum we had a very fun year!
 All 3 of my kids bring stuff up we studied all the time. They keep asking me how many days till school starts again too. That makes me so thankful!
Weather charts
Studying the seasons

I thought this was funny. This would have been Jimmy and I if we had ever been in school together. Silas is finishing his paper about the time Jonah finishes organizing his crayons to start his! I see the practical side of Jimmy in Silas, so I value it.
 There was lots of Bible in the core subjects too. We built a Bible times town.
 Homeschooling twins is a hoot! Probably easier since they have a classmate.

Jonah and Silas are so different. We don't focus on competition, but we definitely don't eliminate it completely. We try to celebrate each other's strengths... learning how to both win and lose graciously. Neither struggle too much but are quick to encourage their brother if they miss something. Silas is extremely creative with an outside of the box personality. If I don't present the point of something he won't be interested. If I don't let Jonah get sufficiently prepared for an activity, he gets frustrated. Jonah is my inside the box little perfectionist. His box is going to be organized, alphabetized and the nicest box in the room, while Silas will have cut his box up to make it into a rocket ship! Both personalities are important in this world. Here I was teasing Jonah because we couldn't start this math activity until he sorted all his circles.
We made a Kindergarten Journal. It is a creative writing prompt encouraged by the curriculum. We plan on doing one every year. The boys wanted to re-read the entire book each time we added to it!
I love that after school as I move around the house the kiddos follow me, they just like for us all to be together! I've never even hung clothes on the line without tripping over one of them. Eden was sick one day and wanted to lay down in the room with us. From then on she called the blowup mattress her hospital bed! I think we are bonded, I hope it stays like that as long as possible!
We studied about community helpers. The boys ate this up!
Jonah was fire, not a person on fire...
I made lots of slideshows for their iPads of tools fireman, policeman, dentists and mailmen use. They loved it!

Our mailbox
There were snack suggestions too.
Our marshmallow teeth
Jimmy made some things for us this year, like geoboards

and a burning house that they got to put the fire out!

Most of the days I found myself really enjoying our time together rather than just checking something off a list to complete. That's what kindergarten should be!
Sorting food groups
Who knew homeschooling by necessity would be such a blessing to our family! There are so many things I learn about them from our conversations, and values I get to share. These are many conversations I would miss otherwise.
We finished the school year the day before we left for the capital to wait on Titus' birth.
It was a school year we will cherish forever!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Titus' Birth Story Pt 3: Finding Out the Design

The earliest we could get into the cardiologist was Monday, the 16th. We were scheduled to fly back with Paul that afternoon. We had packed everything up and moved out of the apartment where we had been living for the last 3+ weeks.
 The heart hospital is located behind a wall with several other medical facilities. When we arrived there were families everywhere with sick children, coming for treatment. Honestly it was overwhelming. I didn't expect there to be so many children. How did we get here. I felt like I blinked and we went from looking forward to the arrival of our perfectly healthy baby to now we are in this strange place filled with sadness. We didn't belong there. Our baby was fat and healthy. I wanted to get the test, be told everything was fine and leave!
Checking into the heart clinic
       As Jimmy and I were sitting in the hallway waiting to go in for Titus’ echocardiogram, a stranger came up to us. I immediately thought he was going to ask us for money, but as I listened to his words, I started to cry. He said that before we went in he needed to share Romans 5:1-5 with us. Then he read it right there on the spot. There were so many hurting people around us. I never expected for God to send someone to reach out to us that day. I read the passage in English on my phone several times after he walked away. At that point I knew something was going to happen and I was going to need these words. God was preparing us for something.

Soon after, they called my name. We went inside a little dark room and I laid Titus on the table and took off his little polo shirt. When Titus' heart popped on the screen I saw it pulsating really fast. Then I saw the number 275. The letters were so tiny on the screen that I couldn't read them. The tech was completely silent. I said, “Jimmy that’s not his heart rate is it?” Then the number went to 300. (It should be down around 120-160) The tech still wouldn’t say anything. Then he rushed out of the room.

 The tech soon returned with 2 doctors. One was the boss of the heart hospital and the other was Dr. Herrera, the cardiologist we had come to see. They started to explain to us why this was dangerous. They were very clear, making sure we understood the urgency, yet very kind to focus on the big positive that his heart was structurally perfect. We then went for an ECG and then Titus was immediately admitted into the NICU. There he was given Amiodarone through an IV to shock his heart back into a slower rhythm. Then he was started on Propranolol to keep it there.

 I am so thankful that God had us there that day. That is the only hospital in Guatemala that has the medicine needed to shock his heart back into the right rhythm. I'm thankful that he was having tachycardia during the few moments they were looking at his heart. Tachycardia can come and go. It hadn’t showed up in the other NICU and if we had missed it, he could have died in Petén without us knowing any better. God protected our little boy!
Titus spent the next 2 days being observed in the NICU, to make sure the Propranolol would regulate his heart. It went back up after the first day, so he received another dose of the Amiodarone and then they upped the dosage of the Propranolol. That time it worked.

I was so thankful for UNICAR (Unidad de Cirugía Cardiovascular), the heart hospital where we were at. It was started by a Guatemalan doctor in the 70's and many hospitals in the States have donated equipment and training over time. The equipment in the children's ICU was specifically donated by the Ronald McDonald House. They also built a beautiful waiting room, where I slept for 2 days. We were paying, but most children are treated for free. We even met a family from Honduras who traveled to Guatemala just for this hospital. The care in this ICU and from DR. Herrera is excellent.
What Guatemala always provides is a big dose of perspective. After spending 2 days and nights with the mothers in that waiting room, I was thankful for what Titus' issues were compared to what the other children/mothers were facing. One of the mothers had been sleeping in that waiting room for over a month. Her daughter had received 3 surgeries and now had an infection. She was 6 months pregnant. I tell you, these ladies were some of the bravest people I have ever met. We laughed and cried together. That first night, before we turned off the lights, we all prayed together for our kiddos. I am so thankful for their sweet spirits and am still praying for their kiddos.
Jimmy kept bringing us goodies to eat! Dads were not allowed to stay past 6PM. With each nurse or doctor that came around the corner, we hoped/feared news of our little one or the chance to go and see them. Titus was so exhausted from his heart working so hard, that he barely opened his eyes at that point. It was hard to get him to eat. I was so happy each time they called me to go in. He would grunt like he was hungry, but then only nurse for about 2 minutes, we made it through though. This NICU was very supportive of mothers being with their babies. Incidentally Titus' right ventricle was slightly enlarged, but it repaired itself once his heart started beating normally for a couple days.
Titus in a regular room being monitored
All the mommies were hoping to get bumped up to a regular room upstairs, because that meant our babies were improving. The 3rd day, Titus got bumped up! While I was there all but 3 of the 10 families I met got bumped up. Upstairs is not as nice. Titus was to be observed (mainly by his mother) for another 24 hours. There is a big difference between those 2 floors. That's all I'm going to say about that.
Before Titus was discharged he had another ECG. At that point Dr. Herrera diagnosed him with Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome. Titus was born with 1 or 2 (based on the ECG's) extra electrical pathways in his heart. 
His last ECG
My musical dad describes Titus as being in cut time while the rest of us are in common time. Jimmy says he runs on 220. If WPW presents itself when you are an infant, it is possible for those pathways to snap as you grow, resolving the problem. Adults/older children with this syndrome learn how to shock themselves back into a regular rhythm when they sense they are too high, with a vagal maneuver. Once Titus is big enough (around 5 years old maybe) he can have a heart cath where they go in and attempt to burn or freeze the extra paths. Everything is dependent upon the severity and also how well you respond to meds.

We were able to fly back to Petén on my 36th birthday!

At that point he was receiving the Propranolol every 8 hours. 12 days later he started going up to 280 again about 6 hours into his meds each time. Dr. Herrera is wonderful and responded right away to Jimmy's texts. The vagal meneuvers we use are holding him upside down for 20 seconds or holding a frozen gel pack to his face for 20 seconds. About 45 min in, the upside down maneuver worked both times he had a breakthrough.
Checking his heart rate
We ended up flying back to Guatemala City. Jimmy's mom extended her trip (because she is that nice) a couple days and stayed with the kiddos in Petén (where she went without power and water most of the time). Titus was started on a new med in addition to the Propranolol, Propafenona. I'm thankful for the machines that were given to us where we can monitor him to know exactly where he is at. This allowed us to not have to admit him to the hospital again. We kept him hooked up all night long in the hotel. Once he responded well for 24 hrs to the new meds, we were able to return to Petén. We got to fly back with my mom who is spending the next month with us! Our moms take such good care of us and we appreciate our dads who are willing to rough it for a month+ without them!
On the way to go get Kiki from the airport
Titus meeting his Grandma Kiki!
 As he grows, his dosage has to be proportionally increased. I wish we were still just on the Propranolol because the new med really seams to upset his stomach. Right now he gets medicine 6 times a day. He does pretty good keeping it down and falling back to sleep when we wake him up to give it to him, other than the tummy aches with the second one. At our next appointment in 3 weeks, maybe we can make more adjustments.

Jimmy and I both have alarms set on our phones for the 6 times he gets medicine. I hook him up to the oximeter a couple times a day, just to double check. I take his pulse like a psycho mom! Basically what he has will be fine as long as we keep an eye on it and he takes his meds. We continue to pray that he responds to his meds and stays healthy. Fevers are what throw everything off. Dr. Herrera is a Christian and we could not have asked for a better doctor in any country. Because of UNICAR and Dr. Herrera, we can manage his condition from Petén. That wouldn't have been possible a couple years ago. I am SO thankful this did not affect our ministry here.
  I shared this in our update. I have learned a lot in the last month... lots of Spanish terms for things pertaining to the heart mostly. The most important thing though was what Jimmy shared with me. I remember being afraid in the hospital and Jimmy telling me that faith is a gift that God gives us. We get to trust Him for our future for our own benefit. We look back and clearly see God’s hand through all of this, so how can I choose fear? So that’s what I do when I start to panic, I look back and thank God. One day we will get to share that with Titus. We can tell him how he was intricately designed by God and how God used that design to show us his power and love for all of us!
Our long legged boy!

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