Sunday, February 21, 2016

Washing Off the Ugly

For a couple years, while the main construction was happening at the institute and the infrastructure was being planned and built, I made fun of how UGLY it was. It was functional for quite a while, while maintaining this sad case of the "uglies". It went from being something we joked about to where I was really concerned that 10 years from now this farm was going to still be an eyesore. I kept asking Jimmy if we could do something about it, but when you feel like there are a million things more practical in line to get on the budget before aesthetics, it just isn't possible. It seemed like as fast as we cleaned something up, some other construction project ruined it.  
My main argument was that aesthetics would lift morale and really encourage everyone to take care of things and have some respect for the facilities. Still Jimmy is one of the most practical persons you could meet, and I was wasting my breath. Then all of a sudden Jimmy came home one day and said he contracted a flagstone guy to build a porch on the front of the classrooms building. I couldn't believe it! (You can see them working on it in the photo above.) 
Here it is finished before the roof was installed. One of the students was drying their corn in the parking lot... it is so normal here to block roads to dry your corn. That made us laugh. Just another cultural difference, nothing wrong with that!  
Jimmy welded the beams for the roof on the regular classrooms and then our missionary pilot friend, Paul helped engineer and build the beams on the large room (salón) on the end. 
Now all the rooms have a roof and doors. All that's left are some bars on some windows and one room still doesn't have a floor. We use it for storage right now. 

The students cut log planters out of the jungle and found these beautiful vines to replant in front of the posts. 
Filling all the log planters was a lot of fun!
We hung a couple plants too.   
The students also cut some boards from the jungle for me to make signs for the doors.
I think these are super cute and rustic. We also bought some brass numbers for the doors... gettin' fancy!
I love it! It is so homey now and has a beautiful, charmingly rustic ambiance to it.    
Jimmy made some lovely key chains to hang in the office, with my grandfather's wood burning tool. They correspond to the brass numbers. Now we aren't constantly looking for someone with a key.  
 Jimmy also ordered a time card machine that came down with his parents on their last trip. This is super helpful. It stopped some of the arguments between guys on who worked when and also I think Jimmy is getting more real quality work hours out of them since there is a more definite start and stop time with this.
We were laughing because the tallest person at the farm hung it on the wall and they didn't want any kids messing with it, but none of the rest of us could reach it without a stool! It has since been fixed. 
 Jimmy also asked the students to build some students mail boxes. This has saved some time as well.
 We are getting so efficient, haha! Little by little this place is turning into a well oiled machine!
 I will have to remember to take more pictures to show the other things that have been done to spruce up the place and help it run more efficient. It's a fun process, now that it isn't just flat out ugly anymore. The farm is really beautiful now! I'm so thankful!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Family Traditions #32: New Year's Eve 2015

"Family traditions give identity and belonging to each member." - James Dobson
I love traditions! My family had lots growing up. I always try to encourage our students to think of fun traditions they can start with their future church family to celebrate and look back on the different moments where God has worked in their lives. God instructs us to do that many times in the Bible.
{We pop a balloon every hour starting at 1PM}
New Year's Eve has turned out to be one of my favorite days. Maybe because that evening doesn't involve anyone or anything outside of our house, no presents, no pressure, no guests, no deep cleaning, just us. It is a great opportunity to reflect on the past year, to be grateful, to pause and look at God and even to look at yourself to make sure you are growing!
 We always have a fondue night in 3 rounds. We start off with beef fondue. I cook all the potatoes in the pot at one time first so that we don't have to wait on those. We eat an embarrassing amount of meat... but it's a holiday and there are 3 boys in this house (soon to be 4!)
Last year we had movie night and watched Disney classics. This year we decided to have a game night instead! 
It is so much better than movie night!
{Sleeping Queens is our favorite game right now. My kids (and I) play this nearly every single day!}
This year's party seemed to go by a lot faster though. We will have to start earlier next year. 
 The next round was cheese fondue! Somehow we never get full on New Year's Eve.
Each year we add to our Yearbook. I posted our questionnaire here. Each person gets a page to fill out.
 It is fun to look back at the answers from the past years, especially now that the boys really understand the questions. Eden's answers this year were hilarious! I won't post them all since they are pretty personal, but she did say that the thing she was most thankful for was the new baby! 
Everybody's answers were pretty personal. I'm really proud of the things my kids value and want to record. We also thought of things we want to get better at and new things we want to learn. It is a fun process, filling out this yearbook!
Now truthfully, our third round - chocolate fondue, was after midnight! It didn't seem like anyone was losing steam. We had a wonderful night together! We are so thankful for God's protection and blessings this past year!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Sweet Wedding at the Farm!

The first group of students who came to the institute are beginning their 3rd and final year. All 3 guys were single when they came. That first year was difficult. They were pioneers! They joke about it now, but they didn't have power and a lot of the times no water. Now there is both! It would have been a difficult place for a female. Last December Pedro got married. God sent him a jewel! This December Rigoberto got married. 

His wife was one of the teens that started coming to our church plant. She put her faith in Christ early on and began to attend faithfully. Honestly we were a little worried about this engagement at first just because she was young, but Rigo has definitely found a good thing! Both of these soon to be pastor's wives (Pedro's and Rigo's) are sharp! They attend the institute as well. I am very impressed with their hard work ethic and how well they apply themselves in their classes. I am just SO thankful that God sent them both such wonderful wives to work along side them! Both couples went through our sweet friends, Jim and Bonnie's marriage and family class last year and Rigo and Juana are currently taking a premarital class with Jimmy. (Not really "pre" anymore, but still helpful.)   

Rigo and Juana had a legal ceremony back in November. They didn't consider themselves married though until they had their church wedding in December. 
Rigo and Juana
 They had a party at Juana's house afterwards to celebrate. They served turkey caldo with a whole bunch of cabbage... SO good!
Juana and Rigo wanted Jimmy to officiate their church wedding and they wanted to have it at the farm. I was excited about helping Juana decorate. From what I had seen of Kekchi weddings before is that they use lots of white crepe paper! Juana's favorite color is purple, so I asked if it would be ok if we incorporated some of that.
 It was fun! I made some crepe paper flowers and asked her what she thought. She liked them, yay! Then the 4 of us, Jimmy, Rigo, Juana, and I, spent the Saturday before decorating everything. 

Here is their wedding table:
 They wanted a backdrop behind them at the altar. For most of the ceremony the bride and groom sit in 2 chairs in the front.
 The wedding party sits behind them on either side.
 Then we had all the tables we could fit along the sides for the meal afterwards.
 The day of the wedding, Juana changed at her parents house and then walked for 40 minutes to the farm/church with this crowd behind her! Evidently that is a tradition. It was really important to her mom.
 Here is Rigo with his mom and his family right before the wedding. His dad left when he was little.
 Here are the beautiful rings they picked out!
 The place was packed. The kids and I stood up the whole time. 
 Jonah and Silas were the ring bearers and Eden was the flower girl!
 I thought Jimmy did a beautiful job with the short sermon before the ceremony. It was very similar to the devotional that was shared at our wedding, so many rich Biblical truths!
 Everyone passed by their table afterwards giving them presents.
 We are so happy for them! They are truly adorable together!
This is just a side note, but I think these are the luckiest Kekchi ladies in all of Petén. Jimmy treats me so well all the time. He makes me feel so valued, loved, safe, and even spoiled. He has spent so much one-on-one time with them talking about being a good husband and God's plan for marriage. These ladies will be cherished and treated very well! 
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