Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Outreach 2010

We wanted to try something new this year for our Christmas outreach in Santa Rita, something that would give our people a chance to reach out to their neighbors.
We went caroling! It is actually a popular thing here. The Catholic churches usually do it to raise money around Christmas time. We checked and no one was planning on doing it inside Santa Rita, so we thought this would be fun! We wouldn't be collecting money though, instead we put together a little gift to hand out to each family in Santa Rita.
In October we started learning Christmas carols in Spanish. They didn't know them yet, but by December they started hearing those same songs on the radio and were excited when they recognized them and could sing along. We even learned Feliz Navidad together. Since there is English in it, that turned out to be their favorite.
A week ago we all got together and made these angel ornaments out of coffee filters. It had Luke 2:10-11 attached to it.
We ordered 1,000 cookies from the bakery in our town and wrapped up 10 for each family in cellophane.
Most of the guys were in charge of wrapping the cookies. They had never seen how you can curl ribbon with a pair of scissors. They said it was "magical"!
Along with an angel ornament, each package of cookies had an invitation to the Bible study attached to it. The group decorated the invitations too and cut them out with pretty scissors.
Jimmy had made some hot punch that is a Christmas time tradition here that we all enjoyed while we worked together.
In the end there were 85 packages of cookies, one for each house in Santa Rita. We really had a blast with this project!
On the 23rd we all got together again to go door to door caroling and pass out our little gifts.
We were concerned because so many of the families that attend our Bible study were going out of town for Christmas. Also, when you identify yourself with the Bible study (are seen with us) you suffer repercussions. There is no way you can walk around the entire village with us singing about God without everyone knowing you attend the Bible studies.
We ended up having a very good turnout. We were excited to see all the people who were not ashamed to be identified with Christ.
We walked around the entire village together carrying candles and our songbooks. I played the guitar and my dad even accompanied us with his clarinet!
Bertina was bashful for the photo, Maria thinks I'm silly to take so many picures and Erginia always smiles!
We stopped in front of each house to sing and give them their gift.
Everyone was very friendly and seemed pleasantly surprised with their little gift!
Here are José and Elmer carrying all the cookies.
It was pretty cold that night. Jonah and Silas were so sweet, like perfect little missionary boys. They didn't fuss at all, even when it was past their bedtime. They loved being around everyone and I even heard them singing a couple times!
We did disturb the sheep a little!
All in all I think it was a successful outreach, both for the fellowship that our people enjoyed and it was a great way for them to reach out to the rest of the village.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

PaPa & KiKi for Christmas

My parents arrived Tuesday evening to spend Christmas with us... well really with their grandsons, but us too!
The boys are usually a little cautious around gringos. They weren't really sure what to think of them at the airport, but there were no tears, so that was good. They were really tired by that time too, so I was thankful that they had a good introduction, it set the stage to a really great week so far. My dad hadn't seen them in exactly a year, so they are completely different now. They have 2 personalities and are very mobile now!
Our parents start setting things aside to bring down for us months ahead of time I would guess. They use every ounce of weight the airlines allow to bring down goodies for us. You cannot ship boxes here for under $100, so other than bubble envelopes this is the only way to get things down here. They pack food we miss like cornmeal and Chees-its. I usually have some type of kitchen gadget and sewing supplies. Jimmy usually asks for books and of course there are tons of toys and clothes for the boys. It is also impossible to find underoos here, so there are usually t-shirts, socks, and fun necessities like that for all of us too.
There are always other surprises too. This time my absolute favorite thing was a wooden bowl that my grandma sent me. It was my grandfather's grandmother's bowl that she made biscuits in each morning. I will treasure this always!
Yesterday we got to take them to our forever house. Our doors were up and our house has been roped off and all the trenches dug for the walls, so you could really see it. My dad also got to meet Lico, our mason and first convert here, for the first time.
Then we went to Flores to eat lunch.
The boys are completely comfortable with them now and love them already. They are constaly giggling.
We got all the presents wrapped last night, so they boys saw them for the first time this morning under the tree. I'm not sure if they know what they are, but they look like fun!
My parents come over for breakfast each morning. The boys wave at them as they come in the door. Jonah even reached out to hug them goodbye last night before they left and he usually isn't the affectionate one.
So we are having tons of fun here already and we still have a week left to enjoy them!
Here my dad and Jimmy are pealing our coffee plant berries.
I am really thankful that both sets of the boys' grandparents make it a priority and are able to keep in touch with and visit their grandsons. It is a big deal to travel all the way to Guatemala this often. Not all missionary kids have that. Our family is very blessed.

CRAZY ITEM OF THE DAY: Smoke! We live in the middle of a bonfire half the time. Our neighbors, who are the only ones around with a truck, rather burn their trash in their yard than take it to the dump. They burn plastic bottles, bags, leaves, and old tires. Our house fills with smoke each time because we are down wind of them. The boys' room window is about 5 feet from where they like to burn piles. It is pretty dangerous because their room could fill up with smoke during their nap times without us even knowing. We have talked to them several times and asked if they could not do that, but they say they "have rights." We checked and it is illegal, but if we call the police we are worried they will poison our dogs or something. We talked to the landlord and she said that she thought that they would probably retaliate some way like that too. They had 3 piles going the first morning my parents came over to our house. Oh well, soon we will live inside a very tall wall that should cut down on most of this problem, and our new neighbors are nicer too!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Rest of Their Trip pt.2

Saturday night Mike and I got to go with Domingo to a village where he started a mission 2.5 years ago. Nuevo Canaán has a population of 60 families. Domingo arrived when Manuel (80 years old) and his son called the radio station asking for a missionary to come and show them how to be saved. Right away Manuel became involved and he and his son built the church building.
Now, 15 families have accepted Christ, Manuel is the pastor, and his son goes to a another unreached village every two weeks holding services. Their only training has been Domingo's visits every 2 weeks and the last two modules of our Pastors Institute.
{Manuel & his son}
Domingo now only visits every 6 weeks. They planned a special service for him (not the gringos as we only knew we would be going the day before.) Several singing groups in the church stood up to lead everybody in song. I couldn't hear what we were singing because the speakers were so loud, but before each song they made a point to welcome Domingo and express their love for him. You could really see how much he and his investment in their lives meant to them.
That night they also commissioned three groups of young people. These are musical groups that the church is sending off into three new areas where there are no churches to start holding concerts. The church asked us to lay our hands on them and pray and afterwards presented each group with a set of guitar strings.
Mike and I each gave testimonies although I tried to read my Bible verse in Kekchi, but since I can't read Kekchi and got my reference mixed up, I didn't figure out I was reading the wrong verse until I was halfway through and read something about a Jew. Not my usual testimony verse but when I looked it up later I realized it was not too bad... it could have been a lot worse.

At the end of the service a couple brought their baby forward to Domingo for a baby dedication. Again we were asked to pray for this couple.
It reinforced the need for a full-time Pastors Institute here. This church is so far along, even holding services 5 times a week, but I can't help but wonder how a 2.5 yr. old Christian who can barely read finds the material he needs to preach 5 times a week. Right now there is no other option, but how much better if there was a trained pastor already in place or a place where Manuel could go to get the training he needs more frequently than 4 times a year.
I told Mike and Rick about the phenomenon that is cell phone usage in these villages where there is no electricity. I told them that I never have a free outlet on the generator when we show movies because everybody wants to charge their cell phone. They assumed I was exaggerating until Mike saw for himself a surge protector wholly devoted to cell phone chargers and the only other socket in the church similarly occupied.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Unexpected Fun Date!

Jimmy had a meeting scheduled for today with a kekchi national pastor. He had to rearrange his schedule to be home for when the man came over. I'm not sure what happened, but he never showed up. So the four of us ended up spending the entire day together! It was nice!

One of the guys Jimmy plays basketball with owns a lumber yard. Jimmy found it the other day and wanted to take me to go see it. It is close to our house, so we went while we were waiting for the man (he was suppose to call when he got close for directions).

I love rustic wood that still has all its character. Jimmy knew I would really enjoy this place... because he's thoughtful like that.
It is huge. The man who owns it has a tree farm, so that is where the wood comes from. He told Jimmy that he uses responsible techniques so that he doesn't run out of trees and that his son will still have a job later.
We had this oddly shaped scrap piece of wood, but didn't want to throw it away.
The man that runs the place, Oscar, is very talented with a chain saw!
The piece wasn't very big, but he got 4 beautiful planks out of it.
The boys liked watching him work... it was loud!
I already have plans for these in our forever house!
Not bad for $1.75!

Now to the fun date part. Jimmy had a project in mind. He looked around and found the perfect tree.
Here it is on the wall in our bedroom.
Look a little closer...
So sweet!
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