Monday, May 28, 2012

These Last 6 Days

Saturday morning Jimmy called me and I could tell from his voice something had happened but he wouldn't tell me over the phone. My parents had called him and told him that my Dad's mom went home to be with Jesus earlier that morning.

Jimmy insisted that I fly to Florida to be with my parents. I am an only child. I was very close to that extra special lady God had made and I did very much want to be with my Dad. I also just had a baby girl who hadn't gotten to meet her Papa yet, so I could bring a little joy with me.

I am so thankful that Jimmy encouraged me and E to go. These last 6 days have been so special to me, I will remember them vividly forever. I have so many good memories with Grandmommy C and I loved hearing everyone share theirs. I hope one day my kids will love me as much as her 4 kids love her. 
Jimmy and the boys survived 6 days without me. I think you could put a "barely" in there, but Jimmy didn't complain. We all skyped every night.

Eden was perfect on all 4 plane rides.  
All buckled in on her first plane ride
Eden loved meeting her Papa!
The first time Papa held E
I think she remembered her Kiki!
Among several other family members Eden got to meet my Mom's mom, where she gets her middle name. 
Eden at her Great Grandmommy's house
A very special thanks to Becca for dropping everything and picking me up in Miami on Monday at the last minute. You are a true friend and have proven that many times over! Thank you as well to my parents for driving me back. That is a long trip! Thank you to Jimmy's parents who helped us get the return flights just moments after we found out. We wouldn't have been able to swing a trip like this at the end of a month without you. 
Eden Chillin with Becca!

Friday, May 18, 2012

When God Changes Your Future

We made one last trip to the capital this week for paperwork that I will share more about later. While we were there this time we got to meet up with an old friend. 
She was a teen that came to our Bible study very faithfully when we worked in NH, our first ex-guerrilla community. At the time we were kicked out she still had not accepted Christ. We knew she was in a very bad home situation but there was nothing we could do to help her until she turned 18. About a year and a half ago she called Jimmy and asked if there was some place she could go if she left home. Jimmy immediately got her on a bus and in contact with a wonderful Christian women and children's shelter in Guatemala City. 

A while back she messaged us that she had accepted Christ. This day was the first time we had seen her since the day she left Petén. Just looking at her I knew she was different. There was so much joy and peace. She was one of us, a sister in Christ. What a change! She spoke of a discipleship class she had just completed at her church and how she goes on visitation to share Christ with others. It just blew my mind. NH was such a dark place. I cannot believe she was able to come out of that. She said that she thought it would take leaving there for someone to be able to believe the truth. She doesn't even like visiting there anymore because she can sense Satan's stronghold on that place. 

This is a testimony of God's work in someone's life. The time we had with her was such a blessing to us. I loved seeing the hope that God had given her. She was so happy and had purpose. She also has a big burden for her mom. Please pray for her and her mom.  She is sending a Bible back for her. It is not safe for us to go back inside NH, but her mom will be coming over to our house to pick it up.

I hope you are rejoicing with us over the new life God has given her. We knew what her future was going to be, and to see what her life is now, makes you want to shout! It is because of stories like this that we love our life here. We seriously have the best seats in the house!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sweat Equity

Domigo called Jimmy the other day to tell him that all the Kekchi pastors in Petén were getting together to pour the roof of the new pastors' building in Sayaxche. Sayaxché is the headquarters for the Kekchi Baptist pastors association. 

The association has at least one meeting a month where everyone gets together.  Many of the pastors come a pretty long distance, so they will spend the night. They have been using the Baptist church there, but decided they wanted to have a building just for the association and their supplies. The bottom floor (which is what this roof was going on) is for bunk rooms. The men will sleep there on bunk beds when they come in for meetings. The second floor will be for offices and a large meeting room. 
Domingo and Jimmy are really good friends since they have spent so much time together in ministry and I believe Domingo truly knows Jimmy's heart. He has taught Jimmy a lot about Kekchi people. He tells Jimmy what is expected and what matters most in this culture. I think of him kind of like Jimmy's self appointed PR person. He is our cultural translator! Domingo told Jimmy to "find the time" to be at this roof pouring, so Jimmy made it a priority to go. 
It was really neat the way God gave Jimmy several specific opportunities to help that day beyond just the physical labor part:

Something happened to the Kekchi guys that still happens to us unexpectedly on a regular basis... Guatemala has a holiday you weren't prepared for. Some holidays are nation-wide and some are just city-wide. We try to keep track, but some still catch us off guard. What little infrastructure there is on a good day, completely shuts down on a holiday. This particular day was Labor Day, so all the banks were closed. The guys needed cash to buy more bags of cement to finish the job, but no hardware store would take their check. Jimmy just happened to have cash on him that day, so he cashed their check!  
{Mixing concrete}
We have had so many problems with our own water pump, that Jimmy knew enough now to be able to fix the problem they were having with theirs. Still they ended up not having enough water in their well to mix all the concrete, but Jimmy happened to know someone with a water truck in Sayaxché. This was the very resourceful cistern they prepared for the water:
{Water truck}

Domingo was right. This day was very important. Jimmy has a lot of respect for these pastors. It can be tricky sometimes building rapport across cultural lines especially since he can't spend as much time with all of them as he does with Domingo. Beyond the extra opportunities God gave Jimmy to help, I still think working along side them went the farthest. He was covered in concrete like the rest of them! (BTW: Vinegar works wonders in removing concrete from clothes.)
{Jimmy did not appreciate me taking this picture!}
And the next day when Jimmy went back for the monthly meeting, all of his muscles were hurting in the same places theirs were!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Family Traditions #12 Mother's Day

May is kind of my month. Mother's day here is on the 10th, so I get 2 of those and then my birthday is about a week from now. My boys make me feel special year round. I am SO thankful to God for letting me be a mom, especially their mom!

On Guatemalan Mother's Day we actually got dressed up to take a family photo. We all detest posing for photos, but Jimmy's home church did a little spotlight of our ministry this week and asked for an up to date photo. It's a good thing, because I don't think we would have been motivated otherwise. While I LOVE having the photos afterwards, the trauma drama that is taking them prevents it from ever being a tradition! It only took us several hundred tries to get this ONE shot. 
Jimmy had a lot of things planned for today, but this one was my favorite. He surprised me with a tradition that I am going to enjoy for years to come. In our forever house, one wall in our master bath is basically all window. Jimmy built a "secret garden" for me attached to this bath using sheet metal. You cannot see into it from the outside. It is going to be our little spot that we can drink coffee in before the kids get up in the mornings. The bath is a narrow room and with this large window, it really feels like an outdoor bath... in a good way! And it will be the one spot where my dogs can't eat my flowers.
{Jimmy was one sheet short, so there will not always be that opening there on the left}
Each year the boys will get me a flower and plant it in my secret garden. Today after church we stopped by our forever house on the way home. They were so cute helping Daddy plant them. They were excited. How proud they were of it afterwards made it even more special. 
{Jonah planting the flowers he chose}
{Silas planting his flowers for Mommy}
So I guess my garden is really a memory garden. Maybe I can put the stones with their handprints in there too. I love my kids and had the best time with my family today. 

This was Eden's contribution:

Happy Mother's Day to our Moms. We are thankful for all the work and love they are still investing into our lives. Love you both!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Story of 2 Ducks

Over the last month Jimmy has been working on setting up a tilapia pond at Domingo's house. It will be one of the projects for the seminary students to learn in order for them to support themselves as church planters. This is a trial run. I will post about the fish later. Today it's about ducks!
{Silas playing with Candi}
We love Domingo's family! Candelaria and Domingo have such a great relationship with their kids. I enjoy seeing them all together and in their home setting. 
Candelaria fixed us some delicious chicken caldo. After the meal we all just sat and talked. Zoila speaks Spanish and Kekchi, so she helps Candelaria and me communicate.
Candi is just a couple months older than Eden. I hope they will be the best of friends. Her middle name is Xela, after my name. Domingo jokingly referred to her as the "fat Xela"... I laughed! It is a compliment here to the mother if your baby is fat. She is pretty big for her age. I think she is beautiful and I am jealous of her thick head of hair... my babies are so bald! I know Eden's little bit of hair is going to fall out any day.
{Domingo & Jimmy with each other's new daughter}
Samuel is so sweet to our boys. He always runs around with them and they adore him, especially Jonah. 
Their family raises turkeys and ducks to sell. My boys enjoyed chasing around the baby ducks. Candelaria thought it was cute and wanted to send a duck home for the boys as a pet. 
I had never thought about a duck as a pet before. A goose yes, because they eat snakes. Now that's a skill I appreciate. A duck?... It sounded cute, plus I had the picture of a little duckling in my head.  

She handed us a box that was tied shut when we left. I was concerned about our dogs eating the boys' new little pet, so we stopped by our forever house on the way home thinking he could live there until we figured this out.  

Jimmy untied the box and what pops out... a big full-grown duck. Still cute. Then we realized there was something else in the box... another duck!
I was glad he had a friend, but that meant soon we would have even more ducks. Candelaria never mentioned the other duck when we were talking about this. 
Jimmy went to talk to our vet the next day. Jimmy asked, "What do you have for ducks?" He said, "There are pressure cookers around the corner. You have to cook those things for a long time for them to taste good." Who has a duck as a pet? Still, Jimmy ended up coming home with duck paraphernalia. We have to be the only crazies in all of Petén who would ever buy something for their duck. Silly gringo ducks. They had a tub to swim in and then a separate bowl to drink out of... ridiculous! 

Well you can guess what happened. Less then a week later our dogs actually ate a duck. There were feathers and pieces all over our yard. Thankfully it wasn't the boys' ducks since they were safe at the forever house, but still our dogs have a taste for ducks. Also, these ducks decided to make Jimmy's wood shop their hang out spot. There was duck poo EVERYWHERE in just a matter of a couple days. We are going to have to pressure wash that space. We quickly admitted this wasn't going to work. 
The boys did like their ducks. They would chase them around and feed them. They're 2-yr-olds though, so all it took was Daddy saying he didn't like ducks and the boys agreed with him. 

So we had to find someone who wouldn't eat these ducks. You cannot eat a duck once it is given a name... it's just wrong. (Their names were Nemo and Baloo by the way.) Lico wanted to raise ducks and after promising that Nemo and Baloo would die of old age, we gave them to him. So, no more ducks for us... or our dogs! The boys have only asked about them once since then. We told them that they live with Lico now. They were ok with that. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What Have I Gotten Us Into?!

For the last 2 and a half years Jimmy has had reoccurring stomach ulcers and acid reflux so bad that often he is up pacing and vomiting all night long. A life changing event happened 2 and a half years ago. Now I'm not saying twins cause ulcers, but there was a lot going on in our lives at that time... medical bills, being dropped by our insurance, going into labor 2 months early, being kicked out of our first work... and so on. He tested positive twice for the H. pylori bacteria here in Petén and was able to get the medication to treat it both times. He also found some medication that has made a big difference with the acid reflux, but I wanted him to get things checked out anyway just to be sure everything was ok and there wasn't some more serious underlying problem. 

Finally Jimmy made an appointment to get an endoscopy while we were in the capital getting Eden's paperwork. It worked out great because Jimmy's parents were here, so we spent the last 4 days with them in the city. They were able to watch the boys, so Eden and I went with Jimmy to his appointment. 

We arrived at our appointment only to find the office door locked. We waited awhile and then some guy in jeans and a collared shirt showed up... he was the doctor. Have I mentioned before that I really like my medical professionals to be wearing scrubs, or at least a white coat, it just makes me feel better! Anyway the secretary was sick that day, so he was a little disheveled. He walked us back to his desk which was on the other side of the shelf in the photo below. He was a very nice doctor and explained what he was looking for very clearly to us beforehand. The procedure had already been scheduled a week before this, but the anesthesiologist was still over an hour late.

I had to use the restroom, but no one could find the key since the secretary was gone, so I used the doctors' personal bathroom. I saw something hanging on the filing cabinet next to the toilet and I thought, "man, I hope that's not the scope going down Jimmy's throat."
Once the anesthesiologist arrived it seemed like only seconds before Jimmy was out, or at least I couldn't hear him talking anymore from my seat in the waiting room. Then the doctor came and asked if Eden and I wanted to come back and watch the procedure. I thought it was only fair since Jimmy had watched my first cesarian, so I eagerly said yes. I walked back to where Jimmy was and sure enough it WAS the scope that was down his throat! (I'm sure it was sterile... pretty sure.) The procedure was very interesting especially since he explained to me what we were looking at while we both watched the little television playing scenes from the inside of Jimmy's stomach! I was a little distracted though because soon after the procedure began Jimmy started flopping around. Maybe it was post traumatic stress from my recently botched epidural, but I started to get kind of panicky. The anesthesiologist told me when I went back there that Jimmy was completely out and wouldn't be able to feel a thing. But the more that big man flopped around on that itty bitty table, the more concerned I guess I started to look because the anesthesiologist started telling me, "this is normal". Then he gave Jimmy more drugs. 
Soon Jimmy began to flop around even more than before. It was like he was trying to cough. Then he would try to pull the tube out of his mouth. They both held him down at times. The anesthesiologist reassured me again, "this is normal... does he do this at night in his sleep?" Noooo he doesn't do this at night and WHY are you asking me that if this is "normal"?! He kept propping Jimmy's head back too, like he was having a hard time breathing. His face was all red. At that point I thought, "We don't know anything about this doctor or anyone who has used him before... what are we doing?!! What if Jimmy CAN feel this tube down his throat, what if it hurts and he is trying to tell me that... what if he can't breath... I cannot believe we survived all the craziness that goes on in Petén only to have Jimmy die right here on this abnormally small table during some exploratory procedure that I wanted him to have done... dumb!" Meanwhile they are asking me all about our life in Petén. STOP asking me questions and make sure my husband survives!!!

Finally it was over! Jimmy was still out, but I could see him breathing. Once he woke up the doctor explained to us what he had found. I didn't google the English for any of the medical terms, but this is what I took away from it:
 The valve on Jimmy's esophagus that is supposed to be closed unless you are swallowing food doesn't ever fully close, thus the acid is coming back up into his throat. You can have surgery to close it, but I don't think it is all that successful. Anyway this can lead to some bad things if you don't stay on top of it. Jimmy has to take some medications temporarily and change his diet, especially what he eats for supper. On the list of things he is not supposed to eat is greasy caldo. He was served 2 lunches of Kekchi caldo just yesterday. (Everyone wants to feed that man!) He also was diagnosed with gastritis, which is what we have sort of joked around about for years, since during the medical clinics everyone who comes claims to have gastritis. That's what we get for making fun of it! Jimmy also had some biopsies done and there is no longer a trace of the H. pylori bacteria, yay!

So we are both very thankful that it is nothing too serious. I'm very glad he went ahead and got the procedure done so that he knows what the problem is and can stay on top of it so that it will not lead to other things. Supposedly if you have this valve issue you need to get an endoscopy done every year to make sure it hasn't caused other more serious problems, but we probably won't be doing that unless he doesn't obey his doctor and the symptoms get worse. (I'm the cook, so that helps!)

Both the doctor and the anesthesiologist were very nice, maybe a little more laid back than I'd prefer. And I might not recommend this as your first experience with a medical procedure outside your home country, but it got the job done.

Now do I ever want to watch any medical procedures ever again?    NO!
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