Sunday, August 20, 2017

Our Ministry Overview Video

Last December/January a very talented couple from our home church in Wichita, KS came to Petén to put a ministry video together for us.
This was unexpected and such a beautiful gift! We are more than thrilled with how they told our story and what we believe God put in our hearts for the work here.
We were saving it to share with churches on our furlough back in March, but then I forgot to post it on here once we got back in April. So now it has its own page and you can watch it here if you would like!
We enjoyed having Jonah and Grace here and celebrating New Years with them! We had our traditional fondue/game night for New Years Eve, so they will forever be a part of our family memories. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Favorite Things About Titus

The poor 4th kid gets no memories. I have so many moments recorded of Jonah and Silas and Eden's baby milestones. I think this is Titus' first since his birth story. 
I want to post about his first 15 months and all of my favorite things about this sweet little wonderful surprise God blessed us with!  

I love Titus' personality. He is very hard headed and knows exactly what he wants, yet extremely affectionate. I like the strong personality with the gentle side. When he was little he only wanted to be held, then he went through several months where he wouldn't let you hold him at all. Now, he wants to snuggle again and gives lots of kisses. I just adore it!
 Our homeschool year during his first year was VERY difficult. He was pretty horrible at homeschool, haha! 
He wants to use all the pencils and books the kiddos do, but in a dangerously destructive way. We hide all the colored pencils but somehow he finds them.
 Now he goes down for a nearly 3 hour nap right as we are starting which gives us the perfect amount of time to do school.

He has probably been the most difficult of all of our babies as far as sleeping or taking him anywhere (he doesn't just sit, he wants to RUN!), but since I'm guessing he is the last, I cherish all of our time together more, so it's alright.
Now he is super easy and really good at nap time. 

He started walking really well around his first birthday but this is a memorable moment from when he was just 8 months. He started trying to walk earlier than any of our other kiddos. 

It is a lot of fun having a 4th baby (really he is more like our 3rd) because you don't stress as much as you did with the first. I get to enjoy him more.
Jonah, Silas, and E had so many boundaries. Titus just gets to roam free in whatever part of the house we are in. Like most boys, he looks for the naughtiest most dangerous thing he can do in any situation!   

He loves the kitchen drawers. Several times a day he unloads the sippy cup drawer, all over the house!
 The beaters for my mixer are another favorite of his.
 I regularly have to hunt the house for them. My kitchen timer has been missing for 3 months. Usually we find things in other drawers but there are a couple items that we are waiting until he can talk to find, haha!
He really hasn't had very many booboos. This incident was probably the only big one but it was scary. He was just walking around the living room while I cooked supper and fell into the edge of the stump table. 
 We drove to Santa Elena for that one to make sure he was ok. (Actually a very nice missionary friend drove us, thank you Jim if you are reading this!) Titus healed up perfectly.
He is just now getting old enough to interact with the other little boys at church. It is super cute!
 He gets so much love. I really like that about this culture. No one in our church is afraid to just come and pick up your baby. With the twins that was hard for me, but now I really value that. Titus loves our church!
I'm an only child, so sibling interactions fascinate me.
 It has to be one of the best things ever to be born into a family of kids who celebrate every thing you do!

Morning hugs!
Titus thinks his siblings are hilarious!
He is very interested in helping daddy with things, but he is terrified of the hammer drill. He trembles. I have to pick him up and hold him before Jimmy turns it on.
His favorite little hideout spot is under the counter next to or inside the stools.
His favorite foods are fresh cooked beans (red beans, chick peas and lentils) and buttermilk biscuits! He thinks he needs a biscuit for each hand. We try to hide them from him for the beginning of the meal so he will eat some vegetables first. Once he sees the biscuits, he's done with everything else!

I think he looks more like Jimmy than any of the others. Here is one of Jimmy's baby photos:
I'm obviously Titus' favorite (haha!) but he is very much attached to Jimmy.
 I already knew Jimmy was a wonderful Daddy, but 4 kids take a lot of time to build a strong relationship with each!
 Our family regularly has large nerf wars. Titus started off watching from his high chair while eating a snack. Now I think he is ready to participate!
 Every morning when Jimmy leaves for class, Titus stands right here for his daddy to say goodbye one last time and then he watches him drive off.
Titus loved Lucha. She was so gentle with him. Now Titus loves dogs because of her. (He detests cats.) Our sweet Lucha died right after Titus' 1st birthday, she was 10.5 years old.
 Jimmy often plays football with Titus. He got a little one easy for him to grab for Christmas. He started throwing balls before he could walk and it remains one of his favorite things. 
That's why we picked that for his cake for his birthday.
 While we were squatting down there for the photo, he gave us a smooch without us asking.
He is the most affectionate child!
Somehow over the last year during our Peek a Boo games Titus started thinking that the point was to hold your hands over your ears, since that's where you hold them when you have a blanket in your hands to cover up your face... except he missed the blanket part. Still, even now, when he plays Peek a Boo with us he puts his hands over his ears and waits for us to say "Where's Titus?!" Unfortunately while Titus was eating his smash cake, Daddy yells, "Where's Titus?!" 
And we ended up with lots of cake in the ears!
 To celebrate his birthday we decided to have a little worship service with the students to thank God for all that He had done in Titus' life. We have not had a single breakthrough (tachycardia) since his first month of life. If you don't know, Titus has WPW syndrome and gets medicine to keep his heart rate down 6 times a day.
They don't sell pediatric doses here, but the heart hospital in the capital taught Jimmy how to mix it and adjust it to his weight. This keeps us from traveling to the capital once a month. That is a big praise in itself! God really protected Titus when he was born and before we knew that he had a heart condition. You can read that story here.
The fire was WAY too big at first. No one could get close enough to cook their hot dog, haha!
 We invited all of the students to a cookout. Afterwards we sang to God and shared testimonies of His faithfulness. It was beautiful! 
We are SO thankful to God for this Sweetheart of a blessing He chose to give to our family. He brightens every day!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Piglet Story

The other day someone from the neighboring village showed up at the farm, at the dean of students' house (Pastor Ely), claiming that he had run over their piglet with the farm truck while he was out on an errand. This dead piglet had no signs of being run over, but Ely was gracious and paid the man Q250, just to keep the peace. I honestly believe this person was taking advantage of his kindness to make up for his sick pig that he lost. This made me angry to hear, that's a lot of money to us, so I'm sure it is to him. Why didn't he stand up for himself? 

This has been a dark couple weeks and with each phone call or knock at the door I expect more bad news. Last night at youth group Pastor Ely had a sack with something in it he was showing to Jimmy. I was afraid to even get close because I didn't want to hear some other sad, dark story. Well later I found out that someone had given him a baby pig. That's what was in the bag. It was a first fruits offering that God had put on their hear to give to Pastor Ely. God takes care of His servants. Oh, and Pastor Ely gave the piglet to the farm. Against the backdrop of so much ugly sin, mine included, we get to see God do beautiful things.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Another Stone

Each year there are 5 semesters of 12, 8 week classes with a 2 week break in between. That 2 week break is pretty vital. Jimmy always has big plans. It is when he can work on improving existing projects and starting new ones to get the farm self sustaining. He also uses this time to fix everything that has broken during those 8 weeks at the farm and at our house.

Friday evening after the last class of the semester, we were sitting at home talking about all the wonderful things that were going to be accomplished in the following weeks. I foolishly joked that something unexpected is probably going to happen that will eat up all of this precious time, since that really usually does happen! Well a couple minutes later Jimmy got a call that a huge storm came through the farm/institute and tore off half of the roof on the largest classroom. This is where we teach all of the first year classes and also where our church meets temporarily. It was sprinkling at our house, but nothing even close to a storm and our house is a less than a 10 minute drive down a dirt road from the farm. A tropical storm had come through... crazy.

I watched Jimmy's face. It always looks exactly the same whether happy, angry, or sad, but I still watched. He was processing and making plans. We had a mama pig that was about to give birth. We could sell the babies and pay for the roof repair... that's what was going on in his head. 

Then the phone rang again. The mama pig had died. No one knows why. You can't even eat a pig that dies for an unknown reason!!!

I looked at Jimmy's face waiting for anything. Still no change, but he did quietly say, "I am completely alone."

It feels like that sometimes. When the people you think will be helpful are more of a liability. That edge of the roof was the one part he had paid someone we thought would be a co-laborer to finish... but they obviously didn't care enough about it to do a good job. It feels like that sometimes when you come up with a solution to barely get by and then that solution falls through!

 A couple minutes after that, our 10 year old Boxer came over and laid on her pillow next to us. She had been sick. We knew she had cancer and there wasn't anything else we could do, but we thought we had a little bit more time with her. Well, she wasn't breathing very good and look uncomfortable. I made her some eggs since she wouldn't eat her dog food and she rejected those too. We knew it was time to put her down. Besides a necessary guard dog, she had been our first baby, before we had kids. I had gotten her for Jimmy our first Christmas here on the field. At this point who cares about the roof, our precious Lucha was going to leave us soon! 
This is how I will remember Lu. She was about 1 year old, when we lived in SE.
The next morning about 7:30, Jimmy was getting ready to take Lucha to the vet in Santa Elena to put her down, when he got a call from a church we had visited on furlough. I say a church, but it was from a friend who is one of the deacons. He said that they had had a meeting that morning and voted to send the money to cover the roof. Jimmy had posted some pictures on FB, not asking for help, just pictures of the craziness.

So basically less than 12 hours later, after we had come to the realization that we had no plans for a solution, God took care of it. Oh, and people don't call us here. We usually get a message that says to call them since we are long distance... and who knows our number?! 

I have a pile of stones, memory stones of when God has comforted us. This was one of those stones. It has nothing to do with money. We were just sad and God used a friend to reach out to us to tell us that He loves us and feels every single thing that happens to us... even our broken hearts about a dog!

When the church sent the check they said that they sent a little extra since sometimes repairs have unforeseen costs and that if we didn't need all of it for the roof, then to use the extra for a new dog. I tell you my God is specific. 

So now our roof is fixed and we found a puppy. She is a perfect fit for our family. I was worried about our other dog, Bags, since she was best friends with Lucha, but she had room in her heart for a new addition. Her name is Mu (long u), that's Kekchi for shadow. She actually has a weird howling bark that sounds like she is mooing! 
Bags and Mu, the new pack
A couple days later someone messaged Jimmy to call them. They were offering him a job in the States. It was a ministry job, a really good one, just not at all what God has put in our hearts. Jonah, our 7 year old, heard about it and I thought he was going to say something about why in the world we couldn't go live there and do that since he would be close to grandparents and he has some friends there. This is what he said, "Why would you ever do that! God has given you a job to do and He takes such good care of us here!" Then he went through and listed several bad things that had happened over the years and how God helped us through each thing and the specific ways He had blessed us through many of them. He said, "God always takes care of you when you are doing the job He gives you."

So that's why I'm sharing this. This is one of the memory stones that is part of our family's story of how God takes such gentle care of us. I want us to remember these stories always.

While our roof was being repaired we had our church service in our building that is still under construction. It needs a floor, wiring, and bars on the windows before we move in, but it does have a roof! It is a beautiful building, next to the village. Unfortunately it is also right in the middle of the goat project. There is nothing smellier than goats. That service made your nose burn! This one goat watched us the whole time. So I guess we will be moving the goats in the future!
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