Thursday, March 9, 2017

Our Jun kab’al

We are constantly learning more and more about Kekchi culture. I think we will always be learning. One of the reasons is, it is difficult to recognize and articulate your own culture because you don’t know anything different. How do you describe normal until you aren’t in your normal anymore. So, it isn’t as though you can go up and ask someone to describe what it is to be Kekchi exactly.

Part of being a female for me is a strong God-given desire to create a sense of community, community that gives identity and a sense of belonging. I try to do that in our home, in our church, and at the institute. That’s my circle of ministry. Being a part of a community allows you to share common values and offers a support system that can’t be duplicated by anyone outside of that community. That sums up family to me. That’s why we refer to our community at the institute/farm as our “farm family”.

What’s really neat is that we recently found out about the kekchi word "Jun kab’al". The literal translation is close to “one house.” In Kekchi world your Jun kab’al doesn’t have to be blood related. It isn’t only for privileges but it carries responsibilities. You can belong to more than one at the same time, but it is based on shared experiences and shared responsibilities.

Your school isn’t normally considered to be one of your Jun kab’als, but ours can be. This means that they aren’t just here for 3 years and then leave. They become part of our family and we are all part of this farm family from now on.
Balloon foosball
We do many things to build this sense of family so I thought I would share these a little at a time. One is celebrating life events. Each month we have a big birthday party to celebrate everyone’s birthday. Birthdays are a big deal in your Jun kab’al. If there is a party, it’s huge and everyone is invited. It’s impossible to crash a party in Kekchi world because no one would ever not be expected to come. It’s kind of funny to me what a big deal the celebrating is because the age and the actual date of birth are usually forgotten. I regularly have to check people’s legal paperwork and remind them of their day.
Celebrating Jimmy, Paul, Mari, and Gerson's birthday last month
The first year it started off as just cake. Now, we have a whole game night. Here are some photos from the first 2 months of this school year:

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What Happens When You Play Football In the Living Room!

I was just thinking the other day, "We're lucky with how rough our kids play that we haven't had any broken bones!" Well the other night while I was fixing supper, Jimmy, Jonah, and Silas were playing football in the living room. There aren't too many breakable things left in our house, which is good with these jokers. Jimmy threw the football to Silas, and Jonah intercepted it, falling down on the concrete floor with Silas still fighting him for it. Jonah held onto the ball, but as he was about to get up he saw his finger bent sideways and started yelling with great concern!
 Jonah does not cry over pain. Injustices between siblings, yes; pain, no. His reaction made me worried. I'm so glad Jimmy was home because I do not like looking at stuff like this... it's right up there with looking in a bloody mouth to find the damage. Yuck! Jimmy told Jonah to go get in the car because they were going to the doctor. Then he starts saying very worriedly, "They are going to cut it off and I won't be able to play football!" I ran over to him to comfort him and tell him that his finger would be fine and that he would probably get to wear a cool cast and have no problem playing football. Sweet Jonah held his hand behind his back so that I didn't have to see it while I gave him his pep talk, haha! Poor kid.
 On the drive to the public hospital, which is about 20 minutes, Jonah tells Jimmy, "I'm not letting anybody mess with my finger, I'm just going to wait and let GOD fix it!" (While this is a great model for most things in life, broken fingers are an exception...)
 He got an x-ray at the hospital and they said that they were going to put a pin in it. There is NO WAY Jimmy would ever let that happen since bacteria could be introduced and then we would have an even bigger set of problems. (There is actually a really sad story of that happening recently). If there is anything I have learned (I'm sure we all have in life) is that a bad situation can get much worse so just be thankful and look out! So they left and texted our pediatrician (likely the awesomest kid doctor in the world) who gave him the number to a trauma surgeon. 

I know this part was painful for Jimmy because he knew this was going to cost more money than he was hoping. I have already maxed out the medical budget this month with my ongoing teeth saga. And why do things like this always happen at night?!

 The trauma surgeon opened his office just for Jonah. He even offered to put him out for the popping it back into place part. Jonah said he rather be awake. He did get a shot in the pinkie to help with the pain. Jimmy held him and Jonah turned his head away while the doctor popped it back into its socket. 
This doctor was excellent! That's all God's provision! It cost $80 to have a surgeon come open up his office after dark and fix your kid's finger. I thought that was pretty good!

The doctor had 3 design options for casts and look what one of them was! 
Jonah has to wear it for 2 weeks, get an x-ray and then maybe one more week. 3 weeks is to the day exactly before we leave for a month long furlough. He was worried about having it in the snow. We are very much enjoying teasing him about the part where they SAW off the cast!

The novelty of the cast wore off about an hour after he got home! He is a lefty and a little impatient like his mommy so he struggled a bit at first having to wait on someone to help him with things. It's a good life lesson. Sometimes life is hard and you should be thankful when those seasons aren't permanent. 

I haven't been making him write in homeschool since he is left handed, but he insists sometimes. His personality can't leave things undone, even if we orally worked through a worksheet. He writes strangely well with his right hand.
 
Every Saturday evening the boys play soccer, football, kickball, or something with the students at the institute. Jonah was so sad that he was going to miss that. He lives and breaths sports! Well this first Saturday with his cast was his best friend's birthday party. I thought that was so neat. I talk all the time how gentle God is with us. That was God loving on Jonah! He didn't miss out on anything! 

 Each time my family, specifically my babies have a need, God has someone lined up ready to help them. I am SO thankful. God takes such good care of us!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A New Spanish School Year!

I have posted before how thankful I am for the opportunity my kids have to go to a Spanish school here in town. That school year ends in October, so I wanted to share photos of their kindergarten graduation and then photos from the beginning of the new school year that started January 16th. 
There were 22 kids in their K-4/K-5 classroom. These are the K-5 ones being promoted to 1st grade.
Silas thought we were tricking him and making him wear a dress to graduation. He missed the entire concept of a robe. It didn't help that Eden kept saying, "I can't wait to see you in your dress, Silas!" Silas deserves Eden in his life!
 Jonah and Silas are both equally book smart I would say. In homeschool that both excel, maybe Silas more in math and Jonah more in reading, but neither have had any struggles. Jonah, though, is a perfectionist. He has the type of personality that really shines in a traditional school setting. Even after not speaking much Spanish when the school year started, missing the first month of school and then a month when Titus was born, he came in second in his class. 
Can you guess which homework came home with which kid? I love their personalities!
Silas' personality came out when his teacher told him to write his letters over again a certain way one day and he said, "They are fine like that!" He definitely got in trouble when he got home. That's the kind of thing you laugh at with your spouse (specially when you know which gene pool that came from), but not in front of your kid. We are trying to instill in him a respect for authority without completely crushing that spirit. Sometimes my face looks like Silas' robe/dress face in the process! I know both of my boys' personalities were intricately designed by God for specific reasons. I can't wait to see what He has planned for them!
We were super proud of Jonah. He really is very diligent in doing his work. He got to carry the light of knowledge and then had to give a speech. Most kids who had to speak that night had someone behind them feeding them the words. Not Jonah! He is Mr. Stubborn. (That's from both gene pools... poor kid.)
Yes, one is taller than the other. We don't act like we don't notice. It's just how it is and we are all ok with it! We celebrate their differences!
 Here he is giving his speech!
video 
I was soooo nervous for him. He really didn't seem nervous at all. He told me not to worry!
Jonah
 It was so dark, I had a hard time getting any photos. 

We are super proud of both of them and thankful for the friendships they have made and how well they are doing with their Spanish. They had the best teacher!!! That was a blessing from God! They are so outgoing and quick to go up and talk to a new person. I hope they stay like that, in all cultures!
Silas
They were super excited to return this year for 1st grade. 
  Culturally 1st grade is a little harder for me to get past. There is a lot of copy work... like several hours some days. Writing the same line over and over again down a page makes my teacher's heart hurt. Especially on days when there are no songs or games or anything else to make learning meaningful or fun. We will see how this year goes.
  It's tough on a teacher starting the school year when all the students haven't shown up yet or purchased their books and materials. The second week has already been much better! I think kindergarten is the one grade where most everyone passes based on age and not on whether they can read or write yet. There is a big rang of ability levels in this 1st grade classroom. Their teacher IS very kind to them. I am thankful for that!

This year they will be studying Kekchi and English as well!  
My favorite mommy homework, covering all of these notebooks, haha!
Eden's situation is completely different. 
Look at these walls!!
The #1 thing I teach in my Art of Teaching class at the institute is preparation. Well this is what it looks like! I saw Eden's teacher, Cinthya, hanging these the week before school started. I told her how beautiful they were. (The boys' kindergarten teacher is about to give birth so Eden has 2 new teachers this year.)
Eden loves school! I wouldn't have put her in K-4 if it wasn't for the goal of learning Spanish. I'm so jealous of time with Eden right now. With the baby and the boys' longer homeschool days I feel like Eden gets lost in the mix sometimes. Those middle children...
Eden has 2 teachers this year. Both are just a sweet as can be. She comes home singing songs. She said yesterday very excited, "I have... what's that thing called again you do at home? Oh yeah... Homework!!!"

She loves sitting at the counter doing her little activities like the boys used to do.
Like Silas, she is a little bit mischievous. Having other authority figures in her life besides her parents will be great for her. She hasn't gotten in too much trouble yet! 
Eden's uniforms are still being made. She has to wear the cutest little knee socks! Since sparkly shoes don't work with her uniform, we had to go on the hunt for plain old brown ones... that's crazy talk in Eden's world. Yesterday morning we did have a fun girls time just me and her shopping for school shoes in Santa Elena. Daddy even took care of Titus... good man. Of course we had to stop for ice cream!
 I love these children so much! I can't believe God chose to bless us with them!
Our little one more "last goodbye" tradition continues!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Students at the Institute

My husband gave me a laptop makeover yesterday. I have been battling storage space and a non functioning iPhoto for about 2 years. He emptied all of the photos from my laptop and put them on some hard drives. Then I emptied the 2,000+ photos on my phone to be able to start fresh organizing them all on my laptop that now has over 300 GB of free space. I'm sooo thankful! 

So... what do I catch up on first?! Let's talk about new students! 

First, starting a new school year in January is fiscally nuts. We only usually get about half of our monthly support in December due to work days being off at churches, at our agency, and at banks because of the holidays, and don't get the rest of that regular support until the end of January. So paying for graduation, helping students move, our kids' Christmas, church Christmas outreaches, our kids starting school, and then new student housing and materials on the farm, seems overwhelming at times. And no one believes that the gringo could ever be short on funds... ever.
But, God provides, ALWAYS. 

The number of students "coming" for the new school year is very fluid. This is for me personally one of my biggest struggles in the area of faith. We can work really hard, but only the Holy Spirit can call and compel men to prepare for ministry. During this time of year I find myself thinking, "What are we doing? Is this all for nothing?" There is lots of trust involved in this part.

 Jimmy had spent a lot of time and resources on traveling to do recruitment this year. He had 20 applications. Some even paid their application fee (Q500). Still, of the 10 new students we had, only 4 were in that 20, lol! That's the way it works here. Jimmy will call them on the phone, if there is reception in their village, and they will say "Yes, I am coming", then the next day, "No... I'm not coming." Then they will show up at the farm 2 days later! How are control freaks supposed to plan?!!! 

So here are the 8 men and 2 wives that took the step of faith, moved onto the farm, and started studying this year. 

Rodrigo:
Mari: 
They have a beautiful little 3 month old named Jackson. From what I have heard, I think he sleeps as well as Titus at night;) I wish I could convey culturally what it means to move to an unknown place, several hours away from your family, with your first child, who is only 3 months old. I have so much respect for them and this testimony of faith. 

Raul:
 Belén:
 Belén came seeking God. She put her faith in Christ at the end of the first week of classes. She gave birth to her son the next day... because we like to have as many life events as possible all at the same time!!! It really was a beautiful time for this family! She is doing very well, a lot better than I ever did after childbirth. Her mother AND her mother-in-law are staying in her house most days helping her. What man wouldn't want to live in that his first couple weeks at a new place?! Raul and Belén seem to have a close bond, I have seen Raul helping Belén around the farm since the birth. It is so sweet!

Here is baby Carlos with his dad:
I spend lots more time with the ladies so I can't speak much about these men, but I am so grateful for Mari and Belén's sweet spirit. They fit in great here. This is a gift! We have been around toxic situations before and I just see them thriving in ministry and setting a loving atmosphere for their churches. One gossiping lady can poison any group, a gracious one, creates a sense of community! 

The others are single men.
 Henry:
 He has started playing the keyboard in church with us!

Byron:
 He plays the drums!

Mauricio:
He is kind of quiet. He gets up super early to go work before classes.

Eric:
Erick did a couple of semesters last year, but he struggled because of his Spanish. Jimmy said it would be best for him to withdraw and go study Spanish a little more and then return. He did. Either he learned more, gained confidence, or is simply working harder, but he is doing so much better!

 Gerson:
 Gerson is a pastor's kid and brought his friend, Alfonso. Alfonso wasn't a Christian. At the end of the second week he put his faith in Christ! Both of these guys are super nice!

Alfonso:

So if you are keeping track, 20% of our students weren't even Christians when they came! What a great first step to being discipled though! If there wasn't a need, and already mature Christians who sat in churches with pastors who knew their Bibles, where they had the opportunity to grow. Why would we be doing this?

Please pray for these students as they prepare for ministry!
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