Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Growing Our Team!

I guess it is more like "starting" our team. Juan shared with us a while back that he believed that God had called him to work in Petén. We were very excited to hear this. One because we believe a calling is necessary. The other is that we really liked Juan's heart for ministry! We spent a lot of time with him and his brother when I was in language school in Xela back in 2006. He was in seminary then. 

He arrived in Petén Saturday! Moving here is a big step of faith for him. He does not have the resources  and support behind him like we do. His testimony is a big encouragement to Jimmy and I. 
{Lico, Rosalino, Noé, & Juan}
Jimmy and some of the men from our church had a welcome lunch with him on Saturday. Jimmy presented him to the church Sunday! He has already started making friends and building relationships. He will be preaching this Thursday night. 
Please pray for Juan as he adjusts to his new home. Yes it is in the same country, but Petén is very different from his hometown. Please pray for him especially over the next month that God will send him encouragement as he gets settled. He is looking around for a place to rent, but like we found out, there are not many options. He might just buy a small piece of land and build himself a house over time. He definitely has a pioneering spirit, which is kind of a necessity here. He said he knows how to cook... tortillar and everything! He will be supplementing his missions support with part time jobs. He is a motorcycle mechanic and a computer technician, so it shouldn't be too difficult for him to find work when he needs it. 

Please also pray as we all begin to work together, that God will bless and lead our partnership! It will be great to have help with our church plant and he is passionate about the Kekchi seminary too. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Heard Around the House #4

Daddy was singing at the breakfast table from one of their Hermie videos,
Daddy - "I'm nuts for nuts, no if's or and's or but's."
Silas - "Daddy, no 'butt', 'POPO'!"
(The boys aren't allowed to say butt, only popo.)

We were at the checkout at the grocery store. 
Worker - (looking at Jonah in broken English) "What is your name?"
Jonah - "Jooonah"
Worker - (looking at Silas) "What is your name?"
Silas - (with a straight face) "Elmo"
(Mommy cracks up laughing!)

After yet another time our bad water pump drained the cistern.
Mommy - "The water is all gone, but Daddy is going to come home and fix it for us."
Jonah - "Aww... Daddy's a nice boy!"

Late one night we heard Jonah crying. He had awoken and was calling for Daddy. He had a bad dream.
Jonah - "Dada, don't leave! Dada, stay here!"
Daddy - "I'm not going anywhere. Don't worry I'm going to eat breakfast with you tomorrow."
Jonah - "Ok, Dada, eat eggs me."
(Jonah dreamed Daddy was flying on a plane. They often talk about eating eggs together the next morning to make sure Daddy isn't leaving before they wake up.)

I was reviewing some of the boys' Spanish words with them. I would give them the English and wait for them to tell me the Spanish. I got to "handsome" and Silas' answer was "ME!" The boy is not short on self-esteem.

I smushed my thumb and yelled - "OOOUUUCH!"
From the other room Silas yells - "Me coming Mama!
Both boys run and find me and say - "Ok, Mama?!" "Sorry, Mama."
Then they both kissed my boo boo and made everything better!

Jimmy cut several inches off of my hair and then I fixed it.
Mommy (to Daddy) - "Do you like my hair?"
Daddy -"Yes!"
Jonah - "Me like your hair, Mama! Mama pretty!"

We were all in Santa Elena together and Jimmy got back in our truck after going to an ATM.
Jonah - "Did you go to the ABC, Dada?"
Daddy - "Yes"
Silas - "Did you buy some money?"



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Growing in Many Ways!

It has been as low as 58 degrees in the last week. Since moving to Petén 6 years ago I do not remember a time when it was ever this cold. We dug out a couple long sleeve shirts from our furlough bin. It is kind of nice, although we were not too prepared for it. My boys have been sporting socks and crocs! Silas LOVES wearing a hoodie! Jonah would rather freeze than wear socks or put on a jacket (just like his Papa)... we've had a couples battles. We along with the rest of Petén have been really sick. I think Jimmy and Silas had the worst of it. Eden had pink eye to go with hers. Jimmy even turned on a space heater one night that we used in Guatemala City... a space heater in Petén! It is really strange. 
Our church is doing great! We have been praying for a new place to rent. Please pray with us! The sound is just awful. It is very difficult to hear in the kids time with the service going on next-door. I have tried it on the patio and in one of the little rooms. You just can't hear a thing. The metal roof with walls that don't go all the way to the ceiling is the problem. Rats destroy a lot of things during the week too. I would really like to find something with sealed rooms, but there isn't much available in a small town like this. 
Domingo encouraged Jimmy to get more people involved in leading the service. Here is a group that led the singing this past Sunday night! Noé is there too, in the middle, you just can't see him in this shot. 
Mateo led the Bible reading. I was really impressed with how well he read. If he had been allowed to stay in school by his parents, I think he would have gone really far. He still will, just might be a little harder for him. No one here likes to read out loud. This is a big deal!
That is Mando in the plaid shirt leading the offering. Jimmy was handing money to Silas to put in the plate, so that's why he's in the photo. 

Jimmy's message this past Sunday night was about how to have a successful life. You have to grow in Christ and you can't grow without reading God's Word for yourself. Rosalino came up after church and bought a Bible! Yay! He has been attending faithfully since we were in Santa Rita and very openly says that he has not put his faith in Christ yet. We had given him a Bible several years ago, but I guess he misplaced it or Petén happened (rats and humidity). Anyway he spent $3 on another one which is a good sign he's still searching. Please pray for him! He's in his 30's. 
{Our little thermometer for our goal of sending Lico to Huehue}
Our church is giving money to send Lico on a missions trip! He is going to Huehuetenango in February. Jimmy will go with him. They will meet up with Larry Boggs, Pastor Tim and Dan Darby to help Pastor Luis Batz build a church building for the mission they have started out of their church in the village of Capellania. It is the village where we took our first ever missions team and held a medical clinic outreach back in May 2007. Pastor Luis and his church in Huehue are such great examples of a healthy reproducing church! Jimmy, Lico and our church are very excited about getting to participate. 
I send my kids home every week with devotional sheets to work on daily and weekly memory verses. I had 23 kids who participated and earned points towards a reward party. That's 23 kids who hid God's Word in their hearts and many read their Bible's every day. It's a good start! This was their rewards party. They bought toppings and candy with their points. I would have photos from the party, but I was yelling over Jimmy's preaching, while serving ice cream, keeping an eye on 2 naughty twins, and holding E! Haha!

INTERESTING ITEM OF THE DAY:
2 points to who can guess what this is?!
Two deluxe toilet seats! They have a nice decorative graphic on them too... fancy. They were for sale on the side of the road in our town. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Family Traditions #17: New Year's 2013

"Family traditions give identity and belonging to each member." - James Dobson


In the past we haven't done anything special for New Year's. This year was very different! I built it up for a couple days, starting on the day I took the Christmas tree down. There were actual tears during the protest of the tree coming down. The boys just knew that when Daddy came home to find that Mommy had taken the "pretty tree" down he would be just as disgusted as they were. Well Daddy came home and joined their side (he thinks he's funny!) It was 3 against 1, so I declared that we HAD to take the tree down in order for us to have room for a BIG party in a couple days. That worked!
I love it when the boys wake up to something new. They saw all the balloons and were certain that it was someones birthday! There was one balloon for each hour counting down to midnight. It was a good review of our numbers! They were supposed to pop them with a pin. 
Jonah has a thing about loud noises. He loves speakers being really loud, but fusses at me constantly about being too loud, like when I have the meat tenderizer or am running the food processor. So he tried, but he could never make himself actually pop one. The rest of us popped them all. 
We live in Guatemala, so there were lots of loud noises that night!
We were excited about starting some New Year's Eve traditions. We decided to go with fondue! The boys were picking up the sticks and explaining to me all day long that they were going to cook their own meal that night. I love talking to my boys. Our conversations are hilarious!
We had parmesan chicken, onions, and potatoes. The boys tried the onions but I think they only had one a piece.
Our first apartment in Guatemala had a little fondue restaurant across the street... I loved that place. Jimmy bought me this fondue pot after that. 3 year olds with hot oil... a little tricky! We didn't have any problems though. 
Can you tell it was a hit! We all loved this tradition, it's a keeper!

That night we watched movies together too AND drank pop. (That's a big deal.) It was a long way to midnight, so we watched the mickey mouse version of The Three Musketeers and How to Train Your Dragon. 
Now Silas is constantly talking about dragons and Jonah about Donald Duck. In the mornings when Jonah walks into the kitchen we say, "Good morning, Jonah" and he says, "No Jonah, Me Donald Duck!"His grandpa "G" can talk exactly like Donald Duck, so the boys have been practicing... especially the sneeze. They think it is so funny:
video
We had chocolate fondue for dessert with cherries and marshmallows. My chocolate was a little runny, so I am going to have to practice this one. Luckly no imported dark chocolate was wasted in this attempt! 
At midnight we went outside for fireworks. After the video we made for Becca's birthday with firecrackers Jonah didn't want anything to do with loud fireworks. He said that he was going to wait for us in his room while we shot off fireworks. We promised no loud ones, just lots of lights so he was eventually persuaded outside. We set off a big one with no sound and then afterwards we did a couple sparklers. 
Jonah was happy!
Silas told me he was writing letters with his sparkler! 
Since we have been studying letters they make them out of everything: their tape measure, play dough, bite their pretzels into letters, draw letters in puddles on the table. They are pretty creative with it. They surprise me.
One time Jonah got a feisty sparkler and we asked him if it was burning his hand. He laughed and said, "No, it's burning my face!" Guatemalan sparklers really aren't that safe. 
We kept trying to get a picture with us all in the air, but it was pitch dark outside which made it really hard to balance. We kept falling!
We had a lot of fun!
Jonah and Silas made it all the way to midnight. They didn't even lose steam! There was no whining or fighting. I was really surprised. Usually you can tell when it's bedtime without looking at the clock. Then I thought back and realized... they were using marshmallows as fuel!
Here are some other New Year traditions we started:
Our Family Interview Book - I got the idea here and here and then photoshopped them together. 
On our next furlough I will pick up a nice leather scrapbooky something to bind them in so that we'll have a book to look at over the years. I'll print a photo of each person too. These were a hoot to fill out. I wrote down all of the boys' responses, but if I thought they were way off I'd put my own opinion in parenthesis next to it just for memories sake. When asked what their favorite Bible story was they both said David and Goliath. Jonah's favorite food was pears and Silas said pancakes! Silas' favorite animal was snakes and Jonah's was bears. I had each of them write their letter too for their name. I think they will enjoy looking at these through the years as much as mommy! There is a spot to say what you're thankful for, a spot to write down something you want to learn, and something you want to get better at. There was a lot to talk about!

Another tradition is our growth chart that Jimmy made for us! He used my Papa's old wood burning tool that my mom gave me. I showed Jimmy a picture of what I wanted and he came home and made it one night. 
It took another night to add our last name (since I was slow cutting the letters out as a guide). It is beautiful in person! It will be a treasure on our wall. 
{You can see our first markings in this photo!}
We didn't tell them one was taller than the other one, I'm sure they'll figure that out soon enough. I thought it was interesting though that for the first time since they were born Silas is taller than Jonah, but only by 1/4 of an inch. Maybe we'll get lucky and they will stay that close in size. 

I have been trying to remember after special days to get a video recap of us talking with the boys about their favorite moments. You can still see the effects of their marshmallow high in this one!
video
Our New Year's Eve was perfect! I love my family so much!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The End of Our 1st Chicken Tractor Trial

So around January 1st the eight week chicken tractor project trial run came to a close. The test was to try several different breeds of chickens with two different tractor designs. Besides analyzing that information, Jimmy also needed to test feed amounts and how much time was required, as well as analyze the profit margins. During the two months Jimmy had limited help, so it was mostly just him every day hauling water and feed and moving the pens. 
We started with 90 chickens and ended up with 72 after some losses. Only 35 of those were of the breed that we found was the easiest to sell at a standard price/lb. for meat. 

Some of the birds weighed 4.5 lbs at only 6 weeks! They were sold for $5-8 with an investment of less than $2 including initial purchase price and feed. The first bird Jimmy took to the agrovet to weigh was such a looker, someone bought it on the spot! Since culturally here people buy the chickens live, there was no need to butcher our own chickens, which is a huge benefit. The profits were enough to pay off the supplies of building the two chicken tractors, so a net gain of 0, but the pens of course can be reused, so not too bad. 

Time involvement was around 30 minutes per day including the 15 minute round trip drive time, so it looks very doable for our students to have enough time to study and still work their chickens.

If we double that and give every student 4 pens with 160 chickens total, their individual profit every two months will be at least $400. That may not sound like too much for somebody in the States, but here that equates to 62.5 quetzales per day. The "going rate" for a day laborer is Q50/day, so for an investment of one hour per day our students (future pastors) will be making 25% more than their neighbors who are working all day mixing concrete. 

Once again the vision and goals for our sustainability projects are working out better than we had planned in real life trials. 

Some of the lessons learned were: rat-proof better, buy smaller chicken wire, install handles on the pens, don't buy brown chickens, or black chickens, or anything called a "patio chicken." 

The leftover chickens are shown below. The white ones were sold the next day. One thing we found was that people usually bought one being skeptical, but then returned two days later to buy 2 more. The feedback from our chicken customers was that they had a better taste and less fat than the farm-raised chickens available, and they were juicier and more tender than the "street chickens".  In our personal taste tests we thought they tasted better too, but we thought we might be a little biased.
{Our Christmas Dinner Taste Test!}
One day Jimmy drove door to door with a plastic laundry hamper in the back of his pickup selling chickens. I would have PAID MONEY to see the looks on peoples faces when they looked out their front doors to find a gringo selling chickens. He only told me about it at the end of the day or I would have pictures! Our friends didn't even believe us when we told them we had chickens to sell. Gringo chicken farmers don't fit into the stereotype! 
All those brown chickens will be producing eggs in a couple more months, so we are copying some designs from Tony Thrasher, a member of one of our supporting churches in SC, for some pens for our laying hens. Until then they are living in this chicken coop next to our new house in San Pancho. The guy we bought our land from is letting us use these coops for free. It won't be long before we move them back out to pasture! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Noé

There are several people in our church that attend faithfully, but haven't put their faith in Christ yet. A Sunday night a couple weeks ago Noé, a young guy from San Pancho who attends our church, came up to Jimmy after the service and said that he wanted to accept Christ. Jimmy said, "Right now?!" He said, "Not now..." Jimmy then asked if he wanted him to come over to his house the next day to talk more. Noé said, "No..." (I think he was kind of nervous.) Jimmy said, "Well what about Thursday?" (That is our mid-week service.) He said yes and that he would come early. Well, that next Thursday Noé was there before anyone else and he put his faith in Christ that night! I think he is about 19, I keep forgetting to ask.
He is the only person in his family that comes, but he brings his girlfriend, Gloria. She wouldn't come if it weren't for him. He has been encouraging her to accept Christ, because he really cares about her. Please pray for Gloria that she will come to know the Lord very soon. 
{Noé & Gloria}
 Noé is real talkative one on one, but he does not like being in front of the church. Jimmy has asked him to share is testimony with everyone several times, but he's too shy. This past Thursday night he did do the offering... that was a big step! Please pray for Noé as he grows in the Lord. We hope to have another baptismal service very soon!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Family Traditions #16: Christmas 2012

"Family traditions give identity and belonging to each member." - James Dobson


This year was the best Christmas as a family yet. Jonah and Silas understood what was going on. They knew it was a month long birthday party and they knew whose birthday we were celebrating!
They could tell us the whole Christmas story with their flannel graph characters and the cardboard characters from the Christmas play. It was delightful hearing their versions!
{Celebrating the lights being on the tree}
One evening soon after Thanksgiving we dug out the Christmas tubs from the shed, made some hot chocolate, turned on the Christmas music and decorated our tree together. The boys called our tree, the "pretty tree", they came up with that on their own. 

Eden loved all the sparkly ornaments and a blue pacifier ornament especially that I got at the doctors office when I found out J and S were both boys! 
She went for that pacifier first thing each time she crawled into the living room. I'm not sure how much tensel she consumed this past month, but she survived! 
Jonah and Silas were fascinated with their "first Christmas" handprint ornaments. We made one for E this year too.  
 That night was a lot of fun! Next year I'm sure the boys will be begging us to put up the pretty tree before Thanksgivings! 
That was a fun night!
It's a tradition to take a family photo in front of our tree. It started so that we would have a Christmas photo for our December prayer letters, but once the boys were born we started framing them as ornaments, so we have one for each year on our tree.  
The ones that don't get framed are always my favorite though!
Somehow we always get a hug shot!
 Mamas usually don't make it into photos with their kids as often as they should, so while my kids were willing, we snapped a few!
We started our advent devotions December first. The boys call that tree, the "button tree"!
We put baby Jesus on the button tree on Christmas day right before nap time. 
Throughout December we played lots of Christmas themed games using different things that the boys have been learning, like our Gingerbread number game:
and Marshmallow Bingo. (I photoshopped out Santa and added more nativity scene characters to talk about)
My boys probably consumed an unhealthy amount of marshmallows this month!
We try to serve together as a family each year in some type of Christmas outreach. This year it was the Christmas presents for the children's shelter
Our water pump broke the night before Christmas Eve, so Jimmy and the boys fixed it Christmas Eve morning... and Christmas day... and the day after Christmas. The dumb thing broke a month before we are to move and the replacement is a dud that leaks our cistern dry. Instead of buying a third one we just  walk outside to turn it on and off when we need water. 
Jonah and Silas love helping Daddy with their tools!

We have been looking forward to starting this tradition with Jonah and Silas. It is from Jimmy's childhood. On Christmas Eve we open up one present, some type of game. The boys just started playing board games a couple months ago. They play UNO too. We love it!
{Ready to open the present!}
Jimmy had the idea to have a cookout at our forever house and open the present there. It was really special. 
 The game this year was Chutes and Ladders.
Eden played too... with the packaging!
Can you tell by this victory dance who one?!
 That night we skyped with Papa and Kiki. They had gotten some pool noodles to be able to have a battle via Skype... silly Papa and Kiki! 
We let J and S have the M&M filled candy canes that Kiki had sent them. It's funny because Silas woke up Christmas morning and before he looked at the tree or said anything to anyone he walked straight to the fridge to get his candy cane out to finish. 

Daddy and I had a blast wrapping the rest of the presents that night. Jimmy was in charge of the train!
 He set it up so it would be the first thing they would see as they turned the corner. I found this train 6 months ago at a thrift shop here. It was new, but the packaging was really beat up. It is hard to find good quality lasting toys here and if you do they are about 33% more than what they would be in the States, so I was thrilled to find this! All the rest of the presents came over in a suitcase, so we have to plan ahead... way ahead!
Here is our tree all ready for Christmas morning!
Here's our soccer sock stockings!
 Even Lucha and Fije had something under the tree! I labeled all the presents with just letters since Jonah and Silas can't read names yet, but they do know what letter all of our names start with. It was kind of like a game for them... easily delighted!
We didn't want to miss the boys' reactions, so we got up earlier just in case... too early, by over an hour!
Here's our sleepy faces!
We decided to do Eden's stocking with her without the boys.
 Daddy had found and bought these cupcakes all by himself and she LOVED them!
Finally.... Silas woke up! (Notice the candy cane in hand!)
He turned the corner and said, "Oh... broccoli!" He thought the mountain looked like a big green vegetable... and he was just as excited about a big toy vegetable! He's so crazy!
Jonah soon followed and as soon as he saw the train he turned and said, "Thank you, Mama!"
They played with the train for about an hour which included Facetiming Papa, their train buddy, to tell him about their cool train!
 They still don't get that the green thing is a mountain, Jonah calls it a "tree". 
We eventually moved on to stockings. Eden was napping by this time, so she missed it all. 
Jimmy helped the boys make me some pretty snowflake ornaments! They love using scissors. 
Jimmy said that our present for each other this year was a stick welder. I think it was clearly more for me although he wants my first project to be chicken tractors! (These are not the proper goggles by the way, I do have a helmet.) 
The googles were a hit though!

Jonah and Silas got several things they could play with together, but there were some toys that were very specific to each boy, like...
 Hulk hands for Silas!
 It didn't take long before this started:
And this is what Jonah kept telling us he wanted: 
a guitar! That was one happy little boy!
Silas was pretty thrilled with their walkie talkies too. 
We stopped mid morning to eat breakfast. 
That is when we had our birthday cake for Jesus. It is a tradition for it to be an Angel Food cake. The boys like that kind because we eat it with strawberries and whipped topping.
We also Facetimed with G and MaG and all their aunts and uncles. They had sent presents for the kids to open and we got to see them open theirs from us... fun!
Eden eventually woke up. She didn't really get the whole present thing. Jonah and Silas didn't mind helping her with her gifts. 
She ended up really liking her plates and cups!
She got some pots and pans too... the girl is ready to cook!
She especially likes that the pots make a very loud noise when clanged together!

We had two of Jimmy's chickens for Christmas dinner. They were delicious!
And then we just spent the rest of the day playing together. It was nice!
I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas as well!
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