Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Family Traditions #10 : Valentine's Day 2012

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

This was our first holiday of the year. My goal last year was to just lay a foundation for our family traditions and build upon them each year. As far as decorations go, I wanted a wreath on the door and bunting over our table for each holiday that we wanted to celebrate together.

1. Decorations up by Feb 1st: My heart wreath from last year was too big for our storage boxes and that last rat that wouldn't die and tormented me for months did unspeakable things to it. So I had to make another one this year. My sweet friend Sandra bought me a wreath form (she knows me well) to have fun with, so I used it for Valentine's Day.
The best part about our original apartment here in the city was that it was red... perfect for Valentine's Day! (Jimmy was sweet and let me bring all my decorations with me.)
To build upon my decorations, this year I wanted to make pillow cases for each holiday for our living room. I made 4 pillow forms, but only got around to 2 cases, so that may be a more reasonable goal with all the baby projects going on this year.
They are burlap with red ribbon woven through them. Jimmy thinks burlap is about the dumbest thing to make a pillow out of and he is probably right, but I like them because they match the bunting.
We told the boys what the initials stood for, so they liked pointing at the letters and saying, "Mama... Dada!"

2. Valentines for Their Grandmas: This year the boys sent hugs! It's a Pinterest idea. They laid on top of my fabric cutting board and I traced around the top half of them with their arms spread out. Silas loved it, Jonah thought I was nuts. Now they both like tracing around their hands and Silas flops down on my cutting board each time I have it out.
They colored them...
wrote a little note and mailed them to their grandmas.
Then they got to skype with their grandmas once they had them. They actually got to see their Grandma KS open hers. I think they are catching on!

3.Valentine's Mistletoe: We hung our smooch sign this year in the hallway between our bedrooms.

4. Heart-Shaped Chocolate Chip Pancakes for Breakfast:
Silas applauded just like last year!

5. A Chocolate Chip Valentine Cookie: This is Jimmy's Grandma's recipe.
I just found a heart shape baking dish in the city for next year!
I brought a tube of icing from the States to make it easy. I told them what their cookies said and they kept pointing at it as I would say it! Then they would say "Daddy?..." and I would say, "No, they are from Mommy!" Daddy wasn't there that day... haha! We had these cookies the day after Valentine's Day because Jimmy had so many things planned for us (Mommy and Daddy) the day before.
When Daddy got home I think he was a little jealous that he didn't get one, so next year I will have to make him one too!

6. Hidden Messages: When the boys got older, on separate pieces of paper we will all write down one thing that we love about each person in our family, nothing long, just one liners. Then we hide everyone's notes in places we know they will go during the day. For now, just Jimmy and I do it. Ours are more than one liners though...
This was waiting for me in the dining room (there is a message written on the mirror if you can't see it... hopefully you can't read it!) Glad our boys can't read yet... it was racy! Jimmy got a hidden note too. The Calla Lily is from Jonah!

7. Evaluate our Mommy/Daddy Time: Last year we decided that we wanted to start doing a Bible study together. Before we had just shared things with each other from our personal studies, but we wanted to try going through some devotionals together at night after we put the boys down. We weren't sure if we would like it that much, but it turned into something we really looked forward to. We started reading out loud Night Lights by James Dobson. This was perfect because there are questions to ask each other at the end of most of them. The next couples' devo book we found we ended up not really liking... they can be sort of cheesy sometimes, so we decided to try something different. Now we have been going through John Phillips' Commentaries.
I would highly recommend them. Genesis is probably the best one, right now we are in Daniel. I know "commentary" sound dull, but these are written in a way where you can just read through them like a regular book and really enjoy it. I love the dialogue it has started between us throughout the day.

Other Goodies from our Day:
Among other things Jimmy got me all kind of yummies covered in dark chocolate. A couple weeks ago he brought me home flowers. Ever since then Jonah and Silas think that is what God put flowers on this earth for, to take to Mommy!
If they see flowers, they pick one to bring to Mommy... melt my heart cute!
So Jimmy got them flowers to give me that I can plant at our forever house. Jonah gave me the Calla Lily pictured above
and Silas gave me daisies. They were really proud!

Both Grandmas sent Valentines for the boys too!
These monkey and doggie boxes of cookies came from Kiki!
This is Silas saying "thank you" in sign language.
Grandma KS sent a puzzle that makes animal sounds
and magnetic books. One was trains and one was bugs, so...
Silas had to go get his shoes to kill the bugs of course!
We really had a wonderful day together on Valentine's Day. Because we are in the city, Jimmy was able to set aside the whole day for us to just all be together. I love quality time with my family!!!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Valentine's Day as well!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Our Friend Tutor #4

We met Tutor #4 one year ago when Domingo and José introduced us to him as a Kekchi pastor who let them sleep on his couch when they didn't have anywhere else to stay. We found out he lived only 30 minutes away from us and we discussed then the possibility of him teaching us Kekchi.
Tutor #4 was made by his father to drop out of school after the 3rd grade so that he could work in the fields. As a young man he surrendered to preach. Soon after getting married and taking his first church, he went back to school (starting with the 4th grade) and completed everything necessary to become an elementary teacher in the public schools here. That is an amazing accomplishment.

After pastoring a Kekchi church for 7 years, he was asked to take a failing Spanish speaking church in the town of Dolores. He was asked to do this because the church could not support a pastor and he was receiving a salary as a teacher. He had a big learning curve to change to the Spanish culture, but the church grew and he then turned it over to a local pastor. He was then asked by another church in the same town but on the other side to be their pastor, and after 2 years this church was also large enough to turn over to a local pastor. When we met he was just attending this church and waiting for God to open a new ministry opportunity.

Through our classes we became good friends with him and his family. We began the discussion of starting a Kekchi church in San Pancho and the possibility of Tutor #4 and his family helping us start that church. We did not know that at this same time he was being offered a job to go and work for a new Christian radio station that wanted to start having some Kekchi aspects, and he was also approved for a work visa to go to the States for 10 months.

He was at a crossroad in his life not knowing what God wanted him to do. Also, agreeing to go to San Pancho meant he would have to go through a lot of red tape to have his teaching job transferred. Basically he would have to find a teacher in San Pancho to switch jobs with him in Dolores (almost an hour away).

After praying with his family he knew God was leading him to go to San Pancho with us and start a church there. Last november within a week of telling us, he decided to move. The school year was out, but he had not been approved for the transfer yet. He knew God would take care of it.

He had to do a lot of running around, but the very first thing God had taken care of was that there was a teacher in San Pancho who wanted to move to Dolores to be close to his ailing parents. Just so you know, NOBODY wants to move to Dolores, so this was in itself a miracle and reaffirmation. (Dolores literally means "pains"... haha!)

The whole transfer process was not resolved until the day before classes started. Once it was finally resolved however, he found out that the Minister of Education in San Pancho was looking for somebody to teach Kekchi in all three schools in San Pancho. This would mean that Tutor #4 could teach what he loved to teach, and he would also meet all of the families from all parts of San Pancho. This has proven to be extremely valuable as we begin a Kekchi speaking church.

Tutor #4 has been a good friend to us and a hard working blessing to our ministry. Not only is he helping us start the church in San Pancho, he has identified several other villages in the areas that he would also like to start churches with us at the same time. 

Oh, and those other options? He later found out that the radio station ran out of money and closed down, and the job in the States would have kept him from his family for 10 months, and after taxes and US living expenses, he would have made the same amount of money as his teaching job. I love the times you get to look back and see how specifically God led you through things.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Roosters, Grammar, & Yummy Food

Our new place is beautiful! It has just as many non-functional issues as the other, but I think it is better since it is cheaper, there is a lot more room for all of us, and tons of spots for my boys to run around in.

{Silas & Jonah our first morning there, on the porch outside of our rooms.}

The house comes with a pet rooster! Jonah and Silas noticed him right away!

We have a couple staying with us right now. The Yoders, James and Marietta, called us up several months ago and offered to come down for a couple weeks when we had time to tutor us in Kekchi. Why? Because they love Kekchi people. They were missionaries in Belize for many years and actually lived in a Kekchi village. James has been down here before to teach a KBI module. The Kekchi pastors still go on and on about how good Brother James' Kekchi is and how it is pure Kekchi and even better than theirs since he doesn't mix in any Spanish words.
Their offer to come help us learn this language is a wonderful gift! We were very excited to hear about their willingness to do this. We feel like there have been so many setbacks, especially trying to find accurate grammar books and dictionaries that use the new alphabet. The more books we find and people we ask questions, the more different answers we get. I feel like we are constantly learning and then relearning things that were written down incorrectly.

Yesterday we all went to the country's headquarters for indigenous languages. They are supposed to have all of the textbooks that are used in the schools. It was kind of disorganized.

We had to rummage through piles of books in all the Mayan languages to find Kekchi textbooks. We bought 2 of everything they had that included the Spanish in it.
{Some of the books we found}

Once we got home we were pretty disappointed. It looks like they must have started with a Spanish textbook and then had that one translated to all the Mayan languages to use as a grammar book for those languages whether the languages were similar or not. Lots of words don't exist I guess in all of the languages or the thoughts weren't clear to the ones translating, because the books are kind of a mess. The sentences don't even make sense. The charts are off. I feel bad for the Kekchi children who are using these textbooks to learn how to write their own tongue. They have a beautiful language, but these books might make them doubt that.

So our plan now is to continue with James over skype and Tutor #4 in person, writing down as much as we can get and organizing it in a usable fashion. Please pray for us, we need this language to move on with our Kekchi work.

Beyond the language, the Yoders know so much about Kekchi culture. We are constantly learning valuable things from them just in casual conversation. Jimmy has already made several adjustments to the seminary just from discussions with James. Beyond language and culture, we really enjoy their friendship. We come from such different backgrounds, but there is just such good fellowship there. They have had so many experiences, and we get to reap wisdom from all of them.
They are great with our boys. Jonah and Silas are fascinated with James' iPad, so he won them over quick!
Marietta is a great cook, so I have really enjoyed being around her in the kitchen. I am writing down all kinds of new recipes.

We are having the best time with them!

Marietta took pregnancy photos for us yesterday, so I will try and post them soon. Eden is staying put for now. Jimmy went out and bought newborn diapers today and a pack n play, so I'd say we are officially ready... as ready as you can be! I probably should pack a hospital bag I guess.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Our Life Is Bananas... B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

It is looking like Eden may be here soon. I am 35w4d, and as of 2am tonight I will have had the steroids in me to help her lungs develop for 24 hours, so that is good news. I am on a couple of meds to help my uterus calm down, but I think if she comes now she will be just fine. The doctor said it looks like she is measuring at 37 weeks now anyway, so we will probably get to take her home with us! My doctor is absolutely wonderful, so that brings a lot of comfort as well. He was looking at her the other day and asked me, "Is your family as big as your husband?" I laughed out loud! He thinks she will be very tall.
{My boys in the waiting room eating pretzels}

Jonah and Silas go to every appointment with us so that Jimmy can be there too since we don't know anyone in Guate to watch them. Jimmy doesn't get to participate much, but I like him seeing the baby with me on the monitor. He is a good sport about it since it is a lot of work on his part to keep the boys entertained with snacks (and sometimes maybe a little bit of candy). My doctor thinks our boys are angels, haha! We have friends coming tonight, so today was our last appointment with them in tow.

The place we have been staying for the last 19 days decided to up the price by over $600 a month. We just found that out this morning. There have been lots of other issues as well... tons! It is a beautiful, completely non-functional facade of a place. None of the issues were worth moving over, until the price change though.

The apartment complex's maid stole something the very first day. I didn't want a maid anyway, so that was fine, but we asked her to come by and change the trash while we were here in the morning each day... 2 weeks went by and no maid. (And we are the only ones staying in this place.) Since I have been having contractions and we have guests coming tonight AND there is no vent on the dryer so there is soggy lent all over the floors in this place that need to be mopped every day, I asked if she could come by today to do that while I had another doctor's appointment this morning. Our "free" daily maid service that we haven't been using turned into a $5 charge for her to come today. So I said fooy on that, I'm leaving the breakfast dishes for her too to get more of my "free for only $5 service" worth while I was at my appointment. Well $5 later there was still dirty breakfast dishes in my sink when I got home. It won't be hard to say goodbye to this place! Their rates and services manual is sitting on our coffee table. That was how I thought it was actually going to be. Naive optimistic me!
{This was the inside of their "pink" dryer the first day. They said they tried to clean it, so it wouldn't come off on my clothes, no worries. Well after a dozen or so of my laundry loads later, their dryer is clean! I had a dryer-phobia before this anyway, I miss my clothesline!}

Sooo, tomorrow, on Jimmy's birthday, while I am trying not to go into labor, and after our poor guests (whose bus has been broken down for several hours on the side of the road today) get here in the middle of the night, we are moving to a new place, that is significantly nicer and cheaper. We actually liked the new place better before choosing our current one, but the owner lives outside of the country and we couldn't get a hold of him until this morning. So we are really thankful for this newly available option.

It is owned by a gringo. That might cut back on some culture shock issues. Yes, when I don't live in my house that we have repaired and rigged I still... 6 years later... experience culture shock. I'm used to things here and probably prefer them now, just not INSIDE my home. The new place has a real kitchen too (and a clothesline!) No more cooking on a hot pad and toaster oven hooked up to a 20 amp breaker and tripping over extension cords!!! That will be really nice while I am in my "large (lbs)" state.

Another HUGE praise is that we got all of the money from the debit card cloning incident put back into our account. I am not sure how, since they used our pin number and were withdrawing cash so it wouldn't involve a merchant, but it is there, even the ATM fees. We are so thankful, especially since we will be using that to pay our hospital bills in a couple days. Thank you to everyone who prayed about this! God continually works everything out for us!

If you would pray for our friends that are currently on the side of the road somewhere between Belize and Guatemala City we and I am sure even more they would appreciate it! I will share more about this wonderful couple later.

Tomorrow Jimmy will be 29... haha! I can't wait for him to be 30. He has made so much fun of his viajita the last 2 years, he deserves to be 30 already. So I am off to make a German chocolate birthday cake, cooking it one layer at a time in my completely awesome toaster oven!

COOL ITEM OF THE DAY: It is only fair that I include in this post one of the many wonderful things about this country...
Pregnant Lady parking spaces!!! I have been taking advantage of these!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Her Story

I wanted to share the story of the teenage girl that accepted Christ the last night of the campaña. I won't share a photo of her or her name, so I think it's ok. You can still pray for her and God will know who you are talking about!

I shared a little of this story in our monthly newsletter, but many of you do not receive that and I wanted to share more of the story here as well.

We met a teenage girl on our first day of visitation for the new church plant. She and her sisters live with her mom; their dad left years ago. They get odd jobs here and there to survive, among those jobs being prostitution. She was the only one home when we went by. She lives in a little wood house with a dirt floor at the very end of town, close to our house. I remember her because she was surprisingly articulate for a teen and very kind to us.

A couple weeks ago we found out that she had become very ill. Witch doctors are a big part of Kekchi culture. If you are sick you would consult a witch doctor before ever going to a medical doctor. You see everything as spiritual, therefore you are sick for a spiritual reason. Either you made a god upset and he put a curse on you or another person did. If someone gets bad news from a witch doctor they often never see a medical doctor; one, because they don't have the money for medicine; and two, they truly believe the witch doctor.

Well, a witch doctor went by her house. He gave her some weeds to chew on to relieve the pain. His prognosis was that she was going to die and there was nothing that could be done. Her ailment was that someone had put a curse on her. Then the witch doctor told this story: A man came by and propositioned her, and she must have refused and that is why he put a curse on her. He then stated that this man must be found and killed.

Well she went with this story and actually gave this man a name... she accused one of our friends. He is a Christian who HAD been by there, but it was to take food to their family since he knew they were struggling. We were very saddened to hear this, especially because Jimmy was the one who had to tell our friend about the lies that were being spread about him since his life may be in danger.

Jimmy immediately got in contact with a private hospital telling them he would cover all her bills if they would take her. Tutor #4 drove her and her mom there. She was in the hospital for 2 days and after a series of antibiotics, she completely recovered… so much for the witch doctor’s claims.

Helping this girl was honestly a struggle for me as we were helping someone whose lies were hurting our friend. That might sound cold, but that is how I felt. Yet, God was clearly directing Jimmy to help. I just sat back and watched. I wanted to see how the story would end. I knew it would help me understand more about His grace... He knows I am a visual learner!

She ended up attending all 3 of our weekend services and on the last night she accepted Christ! Her mom thanked us and said that no one has ever helped them like that before. Please pray for this girl and her family, that they will ALL come to know Him and that they will grow in their relationship with the Heavenly Father!

God loves even those who hurt his own.

Grace Laced Mondays

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Handmade Home #8: A Temporary Nursery for Eden

Before I started posting baby stuff I wanted to share the sewing corner in our office that Jimmy set up for me almost 2 years ago. It is so efficient, I can get a lot accomplished during naptimes and after the boys go to sleep since I can leave my projects strewn about and my materials are so easy to get to. But because we left for the capital a little frazzled, I didn't get any photos of my space, so I will have to share it once we get back. Jimmy was sweet and let me bring my sewing machine with me here even though we were pressed for room in our vehicle. He knows I am a nesting fool right now! I miss my organized work space though.

Here is a current pic of Eden's room:

Well that won't do for a newborn, so she gets a corner of our room in our rental house for now.

I really ended up enjoying putting together this little space for her even though it wasn't what I originally planned on. (We are shooting for moving into our Forever House around the end of May or June now... yeah right!) I think we all enjoyed putting together a space for her...
{Jonah went and got his hammer to help!}
{Silas thinks swords are machetes. Of course you need a machete for any project in this country!}

The boys very kindly let us use one of their cribs Daddy built for them, for their sister.
I did decide to make her some new sheets though. I wanted plum! I used this tutorial and they fit great.

There is a little dolly in there that is waiting for a name...
I used this tutorial and this inspiration along with some leftover fabrics from other projects. Maybe one day Eden will have a yellow gingham dress to match! We will definitely have to add to this dolly's wardrobe over time.

Jimmy brought me some twigs from the KBI land to use for star bunting. We probably won't have the string lights on all the time, but they do make fore a beautiful ambiance!
{We really have to move soon, there is an outlet right above her crib!}

Remember this pile of wood?
Jimmy bought a piece of firewood for about 4o cents and made Eden a hair bow holder!

He used a wire brush to clean up the bark a little and then stained it.
We wrapped some rope around it and hung it on the wall!

The metal bucket was what my Grandma sent me flowers in my first day of college. It now holds all of Eden's headbands.

Jimmy had 2 stands welded and put a branch on them for Eden's closet. (Inspiration found here.)
I really like it. It's a lot cuter than our closet area in the storage room! The three frames on top were ones we found in antique/thrift stores on our last furlough. I just love oval frames for some reason. The 2 outer ones are waiting for family photos with Eden and the center one holds a handkerchief that my grandma (where Eden will get her middle name) gave me that her mom tatted the edges of... it is just lovely and something I cherish.

So that is what we left in Petén, at least sort of put together and waiting for her. Jimmy still thinks he can get one of the recliners in there from the boys' nursery... that would be nice for middle of the night feedings... we will see. I should've taken a photo of the entire room, it is tight! We have jammed our toes more than a few times trying to get around in there. It's definitely cozy!

My next Been Greens will be clothes for Eden and all the other homemade nursery paraphernalia that wouldn't fit into this space. I was really worried about having a girl, but a couple months of nesting and anticipation has really sold me on it. It is so much fun making stuff for a little girl!

CUTE ITEM OF THE DAY: The boys have a book with baby animals in it that you have to put into their "beds", like a chick in a nest. The last page is a baby that you are supposed to put in its crib. This is where I keep finding that baby:

in Eden's crib since that is where I told them their baby sister will sleep!
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