Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Pregnant Lady's Love Language

Jimmy makes s'mores for me nearly every night over the open flame of our gas stove! My other latest craving is ham and mashed potatoes. I makes those for him about twice a week now.
Our little Eden is 24 weeks!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our New Church Planting Team!

We met Tutor #4 when Domingo introduced him to us suggesting that we hire him as our Kekchi tutor. We did, almost 6 months ago. We have since become good friends with his family. Tutor #4 speaks Kekchi and Spanish. He has pastored before in several churches that were struggling. He helps them get back on their feet and then hands it off to a permanent pastor. The majority of the time he is an elementary school teacher. That is how he provides for his family. He was living in Dolores which is about 40 minutes from our house. Once we started telling him about wanting to start a Kekchi work in San Pancho, our soon to be new home town, he became very interested in helping. In a matter of months, he got a transfer with the ministry of education for the following school year (begins in Jan '12) to San Pancho and made plans to move his family.

The plan was that we would be living in San Pancho first, but he beat us! He already found a house. Jimmy helped him look. They looked together for a house that would be in a good location and large enough to start having meetings on the patio.
This house is perfect! They moved in about 2 weeks ago. Tutor #4 likes to tease me that he made it to San Pancho before I did! It really isn't that funny to me;)
This is what our visitation looks like! It is the outskirts of San Pancho... where most of the Kekchi people live. It is where we live too... the nice quiet part (where we will live... one day). The first family we visited was a contact we had made from New Horizon. They have family members there. They were very friendly, but unfortunately they will be moving to another town in a couple weeks. I was disappointed, but I know it is very slow at first when you start from scratch. Well, a couple days later, the wife visited Tutor #4 and his wife in their home. She told them about other family members and friends she had all around San Pancho and how she wanted them to go and find them to get them to visit this new church. What a great contact after all!

We do not have a start date yet. We are still looking around trying to find and meet all the Kekchi people scattered around. Please pray for our team!
We also want to work together in a town on the other side of SR in La Libertad that has called into the Kekchi radio station asking for someone to come to their area to start a church. It has both Kekchi and Spanish speaking people. We were supposed to have our first outreach in that village yesterday, but there was a manifestation by the micro (bus) drivers and all the roads were blocked.

CRAZY ITEM OF THE DAY: Out of our 3 dogs, Lucha is the best with the boys. Fije avoids them as much as possible, Atzi is a spaz and knocks them over all the time, but Lucha is very gentle and just lets them pet her. Lately we have been letting her come into the hallway so the boys can be around just her. For some reason they just started noticing her nub... you know the funny looking chopped off Boxer tail. They think it is hilarious. They point and giggle when she wags it while they pet her.
Lucha doesn't mind. She loves the attention!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Family Traditions #8: Thanksgiving 2011

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

1. A Month of Thanksgiving: I think Thanksgiving just might be our favorite holiday. We celebrate it all month long! I love how it is a chance to look back and be reminded of God's faithfulness. I used to think Christmas overshadowed Thanksgiving, but now I think it gets lost in the midst of Halloween decorations and Black Friday advertisements. Here it is a lot easier to tune those things out.
{Real fall leafs are better, but in Petén these will do}
November is a chance to really get a heart of worship before we celebrate Christ's birth in December. So no decorating or Christmas music until after we celebrate Thanksgiving!
This is my same corn husk wreath from last year. I decided to embrace the effects of humidity. It curls the husks nicely. I just rotate it clockwise a little each morning to keep it even all the way around. Wish that worked for my hair.

2. Memory Candle: For the month of November we start off each morning with our memory candle on the breakfast table.
It smells like pumpkin and thankfulness! I shared about our candle here and how it reminds us of a very special Thanksgiving and God's faithfulness to us at that time. Over breakfast we reminisce over the year and share the things we are thankful for. Lots of times during stages in life you get to the end of a story, but never go back to look at how God work all through it. This gives us a chance to reflect and do that. It really grounds us in our faith and helps us renew our perspective for the next 12 months.

3. Growing Our Own Pumpkins: This was the first year Jimmy planted some on our land at our forever house. This is where we will be planting them in the future. Unfortunately when we got our grass plugs we asked the company not to mess with our pumpkins, but they thought they could move the vines. Well that killed our pumpkins.
{This was our pumpkin mound before the incident.}
Next year hopefully we will have a nice neat garden that no one will mess with! Thankfully we found 3 small imported pie pumpkins in Petén mid October. Then when we were in Guate we picked up a large one before they ran out. Yay! We have had 4 pies and have enough frozen pumpkin left to make 6 more!

4. The Food: We toasted pumpkin seeds again this year each time we pureed a pumpkin. The secret is sauteing them in butter, garlic, and salt before you bake them.
Our traditional Thanksgiving Day food like most is turkey, cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, rolls, and pumpkin pie. I wanted to add a cranberry something but still was unsuccessful at finding anything available. A friend of ours who owns a restaurant here made the most incredible cranberry sauce for us one year, but they won't tell me the recipe...

Evidently a tradition that Petén has is running out of sweet potatoes right before Thanksgiving. The same thing happened to me last year and I was able to scrounge up a bunch of tiny ones to make do. This year we ended up paying a taxi driver to drive around to all the markets he knew of around this area to find some... and he did. They were the largest sweet potatoes I have ever seen. Jimmy had to cut them for me.
I had enough pureed sweet potato for a 9x13 pan and that much extra to freeze.
Silas loves watching me use the food processor. He waits and mimics the noise each time I turn it on.

Jimmy made a delicious turkey again this year. We decided that we need to have turkey more than once a year! After all, Jimmy brings down Miracle Whip just for leftover turkey sandwiches.

We invited Holly and Benj over for Thanksgiving Dinner. They live in the same town as us AND are not planning on leaving Guatemala soon... haha! We really enjoy spending time with them. Having them over made the day extra special. They have a son a year older than the boys, a daughter who is within days of Jonah and Silas, and she is pregnant. I hope our kids will be lifelong friends!
My goal this year was a feast without stress and it really was. With Jimmy making the turkey (which he has down to a science) and me doing all my cooking the day before, we really had a relaxing day with family and friends. And we are still enjoying leftovers!

5. Our Thankful Wall: I cannot believe a year later and we still are not in our forever house and writing the things we are thankful for on our chalkboard wall. We used the same substitute as last year. The boys loved the magnetic letters. I don't let them play with them normally because I am afraid the magnets might fall off and they'll swallow one. Well... one magnet off the back of a letter is still missing. I guess that is better than two.
{So I guess you can see the first name we chose for our little girl}

We have so many things that we are thankful for. More than anything I am thankful for the family that God has blessed me with. I love all the moments we share together.
We hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving season as well!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Back to Esfuerzo 2

Pastor/Doctor Andy called a few months ago and wanted to plan his next trip to Petén. A baptismal service was already planned in Esfuerzo 2 (we visited this village in July for the first outreach there) so Andy decided he could also hold a short clinic on that day. It is so hard to get to that you want to accomplish as much as possible with each trip.
We we went back with the evangelistic team from the States at the end of July, the village had sent horses to carry our stuff, but on the way back made us all ride the horses out. It is a tough 1 hour hike up and down very muddy hills, so the horses are a good idea...if you have a saddle big enough for larger than average Gringo behind. Last time I rode about 15 minutes and decided it was more comfortable to walk instead. I told Shelley that next time I was going to buy my own saddle.

I almost did, but then decided against it at the last minute because Domingo was supposed to be arranging for larger horses from a different town for me and Andy with larger saddles. We arrived to find the pack saddle I was still sore from 3 months later and one regular sized saddle, with no extra large horses. I decided to let Andy ride as he has been having some foot problems for over a year now. The joke was on him because neither of our feet could fit in the stirrups anyways, so he was at the mercy of the bouncing horse ride.
The church from El Pato sent their band with their sound system, who carried their stuff themselves. I still maintain that I was carrying just as much extra weight as them, but mine was around my middle...
Everybody else was spending the night there, so they had no specific time table. We were heading home that afternoon though and knew we didn't want to make that hike (horses or otherwise) in the dark, so we got right to work under the new roof we purchased for this mission. Elías had agreed to come with us too to help Andy translate.
The ladies waited patiently for their turn as Andy saw around 35 adults and 50 children in just a couple hours.
Pastor Carlos also came, as his church is considering supporting Esfuerzo 2 as one of their missions. He plays the concertina and is very good at it.
Two men were baptized this day. So far since the beginning of July, 13 families have accepted Christ in this village. The book that's open in the picture below is a Kekchi hymnal. During the baptisms Domingo was leading everybody on the bank in song.
When we reached the river I joked and asked if there were any crocodiles around. One of the men said seriously that there could be and we should all keep a look out!

For the ride out of the village, from somewhere they had found a second riding saddle and sent me, Andy and Elías out on horseback. Please keep praying for this village and for Domingo who visits every two weeks to hold services.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Forever House #8

...our journey to rent free living, all the entertainment minus the headaches.

We were supposed to be in this house before the boys' birthday (mid October), but so is life. Then it was before Christmas. Now I hope it is before our little girl gets here in March. A couple days ago we found out that some very dear friends decided to give us $2,000 to help finish our house sooner. Wow! People give sacrificially to our ministry all the time and it is always a blessing because they believe in what God has given us to do here. When someone gives you something personally it is a little bit different, really it is overwhelming. We are just so thankful and really touched that someone would want to do that. This will help us be able to hire more workers to finish our home sooner!

It is so exciting to have our own yard! Jimmy has been moving a lot of our potted plants over to our land and planting them in the ground. The most important plants to me were my Jom trees. I planted them from seeds back around Thanksgiving '08 when our first baby would have been due. They are sort of my memory trees. It may sound silly, but they are very sentimental to me. I had 4, but 2 didn't survive in pots. 2 were moved to our land which I thought was fitting, since we now have 2 little ones to meet in Heaven. This is what the larger one looked like about 2 days after the move:
Almost all of its leaves had fallen off. I was very worried. But this is what it looks like now:
It survived, along with the other one! Our coffee plant from Huehue that we have had since January '07 made it too!
I didn't realize we had so many potted plants. Our yard doesn't look bare anymore.
Jimmy scattered them all over our yard. I wanted it to look natural, like a tidy jungle!
We also had a man down the street offer us some plants he dug up out of the jungle. This is what the average Guatemalan does. Only upper class folks and silly gringos actually buy stuff from a nursery! (We do it all the time.) We hope to replant some things from the KBI land soon too.

We ordered St Augustine grass plugs several months ago. It was supposed to be done before the boys' birthday so that they could play on their new swing set without traipsing through mud... but that's not how things work around here.
This is what it looked like after they finished planting the little plugs:
This is what it looked like 2 weeks later:
It is filling in quickly. This is one job that came in significantly lower than its original estimate, so that was nice! It has been planted along the sides of our house and the backyard. We are waiting until more of the construction is completed before we do the front yard.

All of the razor wire has been completed along the top of our wall. Remember there is broken glass cemented along the top of the wall as well. We have been broken into more than once, so we hope this will be a deterrent.
Jimmy spent a lot of time cementing down a travertine path from our storage room in the back (which will eventually be a wood shop) to our back porch. We will have a couple of these paths around our yard.
One of our construction workers was helping him mix concrete. Jimmy got him started filling in between the stones and along the edges. Jimmy was using boards so that it would look neat.
Jimmy left and the worker decided to just slap on the concrete to get the job done faster. He covered up a lot of the stones and quit using boards along the side. We came back the next day and it looked horrible!!!! It made me sick to look at, since Jimmy had spent to much time on it. I didn't take a photo because I was disgusted. You can see part of it in the bottom corner of the second grass photo above. So frustrating when you have to be there 24/7 to make sure people are taking pride in their work. So now the worker has to go back and break up the sides and use a wire brush to uncover the stones he concreted over. Jimmy decided to give him one more chance. I don't want anyone trying to provide for their family to lose their job, but I don't like paying them to fix the job they didn't do right the first time. We have other workers who do take pride in their work. Wish they were all like that.

Another update of our creepy hallway that leads to our master bedroom!
Here is an "oops" we found. Our architect changed the the width of the outside door that goes to our carport... the door where we will be carrying armfuls of things like groceries through. We didn't realize it on the plans and then we walked passed it the other day. It is .75 meters, which is a little less than 2.5 feet. The column is already there, but we are going to have to fix this somehow. Not a big deal, but a time eater.
This is our master bedroom. That door leads to our bathroom. This is the side of the house that will get the roof first. We have two roof lines and this is the smaller one. It is a little taller now than this picture... "almost ready for the roof"! (I hear that every day.)
This is the back of our house. The large windows are our master bedroom. One will look out onto the porch and the other to our backyard. I hope we won't have to run our window unit as often at night since we will have large windows we can open.
These are our roofing panels, just chilling on our back porch... waiting... and waiting, hoping to one day be installed.
One thing we will not be waiting before we can move in is power. We have it! This is the main breaker for or entire house. We put in another request for 220 so hopefully that means we will eventually have our own transformer. We have a lot of brown outs right now at our rental house and have to turn off everything to use our shower head water heater. We don't want to have the same types of problems. (My ivy is doing so good!)
We were dreading the end of November coming and honestly were planing on moving into the side of our house that will have a roof first since our lease agreement was up. I know the owners of our rental are ready to move into their home... I can completely relate to that! We had been looking around San Pancho trying to find a temporary rental. The thought of moving a couple months before you have to move again is just yucky, but there were no other options. The owner came over Tuesday evening. She hadn't seen the inside of her house in over 2 years. I really thought she was going to tell us this was it, we had to be out. But... it turns out that her husband was in an accident and out of work. (This is very sad and I truly wish it was not the case. He will heal, no permanent injuries, but still sad.) Right now she needs money more than her house back. Jimmy offered her a little bit more rent money and we can stay for 3 more months!! This was a specific answer to prayer.

A bird flew into our house right before the owner got there, so the whole time we are talking about being able to stay longer there is this bird flying around our heads. It would follow us from room to room. At one point he got stuck in between the light and the ceiling and started to panic. He ended up being inside our house for about 3 hours. We weren't sure how to get him out. I was afraid a broom would hurt him.
He was a very active little guy. He would sort of dive bomb Jimmy and the boys. Jonah and Silas would duck and giggle. It was great entertainment. Finally we turned off all the lights and Jimmy held a lantern on the porch. He flew towards the light and left. It was fun while it lasted. He was really a beautiful bird.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Medical Clinic in Mojarra 28

*Please excuse the cell phone photos. My point and click camera bit the dust a couple days ago. I must have worked it too hard!

I shared about how we got the invitation to come into this village here. Andrés, a leader in the village, invited us because he noticed a change in his friend from the village of San Miguel who had become a Christian. This was our first outreach in this white field, a community that has no Gospel witness.

The clinic was held in the school.
The children are learning Spanish and English! You can see the phonetic spelling of the English words written below them. That is what my Kekchi notes look like!
There are 25 families in the village and Doctor Andy was able to see about 120 people that day, so I'd say that was about everyone!
Tutor #4 (orange shirt), our Kekchi tutor, came with us and translated from Kekchi to Spanish for Andy. We really like working with Tutor #4!
We are so thankful that Pastor/Doctor Andy was willing to come down and do this clinic. They are always helpful in building relationships with these villages... plus we like the fellowship too!

Please continue to pray for the village of Mojarra 28. Pray that people will come to know the Lord and that soon a mission will be started. Thanks!
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