Saturday, June 30, 2012

Forever House #11: Our Garden

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

A plus side of taking this long to build a house is that we will have a very mature yard when we move in. No muddy swamp for us!

We have been looking forward to having a large garden on our forever house land. A couple weeks ago this is what our yard looked like:
Now it looks like this:
Rainy season started so everything took off!

In the boxes we have watermelon, green beens, yellow squash, brussels sprouts, pumpkins, okra, peas, collards, basil, and jalapeños. 

Here is one of our pumpkins: 

Jonah and Silas planted several seeds with Daddy. This is them seeing their sprouted seeds for the first time!
They were thrilled! They talk about our garden and how God makes the seeds grow. This is very educational for them. 
{Silas with a green bean}
They are very proud of the veggies they grow!

We haven't ever found yellow squash here. Our plants have really started producing! We have had squash casserole twice already and even took a bag full to a friend. It's "all you can eat"! I'm so thankful, I have really missed it. 

This is Silas' go to face when I tell him to smile for a photo:
"What... Mommy wants a picture?!"
"We think we are hilarious!"
So far Jimmy and the boys have 5 boxes this size going. The 4 above sit right outside our school room/playroom.
{This one is right outside my laundry room}
The 2 trees in the photo at the top are mandarine orange trees. If you remember we planted them on our wedding anniversary 2 years ago along with some avocado trees. Unfortunately the avocado trees didn't make it, but we already have some mandarin oranges growing!

Now before you see the rest of these photos, I have to tell you that Jimmy worked very hard landscaping around our entire wall. He laid river rock in a curved, organic looking border along the wall, planted some small plants out of the jungle randomly inside the border, and then laid down newspaper around the plants to keep weeds from growing. This took a lot of time. After he was finished he asked a worker to wheelbarrow in the white gravel and dump on top of the newspaper. After getting him started Jimmy left our house and headed to the institute land to work on stuff, not to return until the next day. Well, the wheelbarrow guy decided to move every single river rock that Jimmy laid closer to the wall and then dump the gravel all over them and the grass in front. Why he would do more work of moving river rock that no one asked him to do we don't know. Anyway now there is a nice dead pack of grass along our border where the rocks used to be and gravel everywhere. Jimmy will have to move them all again. He is looking forward to having everyone out of his yard! Anyway, so that is why these rocks look messy. 
{Cocoa tree}
Jimmy just recently planted a Cocoa tree... you know, where chocolate comes from! This might be fun to experiment with. We just happen to live in the very small region of the world where these actually grow. 

 We also have 2 Mango trees! They are Tommy Mangos, so they produce large almost volleyball size mangos.   
{Mango tree}
This was that same spot above back in February:
 Domingo gave us some sugar cane! It is in the photo below, on the right.
{Sugar Cane}
{Dwarf Coconut tree}
We have 2 Dwarf Coconut trees! We love smoothies made with coconut water, so this will be very beneficial soon. We also have one banana tree, but those spread out pretty quickly. 
{Coffee plant}

This is our Coffee plant from Huehuetenango that we have had for several years. It is slowly coming back after being replanted. It's full of berries!

Growing your own food gives you common ground with the people around here. It's an instant way for them to be able to relate. Giving away something you have grown yourself is a sign of friendship. We often get gifts from friends' harvest, now we have gifts we can give them! 

Beyond gardening here are some other yard updates. 
Jimmy planted these palms back in September:
This is what they look like now:
Not ready for hammocks to be hung yet, but getting there!
My old potted plants are filling in fast now that they are in the ground. Here are some Birds of Paradise. 
We have lots of flowering plants that will soon be cascading over our wall.
These below are Bugambilias. It is a very popular plant here. We have about 7 or 8 of them scattered around. Jimmy hates them... probably one of the few people on the planet who does, so I had to fight for them. They are gorgeous when they get big if you groom them properly. We have white, burgundy, yellow, and orange. You buy them when they're small, so sometimes you can't tell what color they are right away. 
Not bad considering we started off with an okra field!
{Photo from  July 2011}
We have good dirt!

Tonight for supper our homegrown sides are fried okra and french cut green beans!

We are very thankful for our yard and for the time we have already enjoyed together there as a family!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Forever House #10

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

Before Christmas 1/3 of our roof went up, now only 8 months later the rest of it has been poured! (That was meant sarcastically.) We had a very adorable unexpected expense somewhere in there:
{I love her serious face!}
So that is why.

This is a photo of our front door BEFORE:

{with just the insulated roof panels}
{with concrete on the panels}
We have to keep the logs holding the roof up for about a month while the concrete dries.

The way they build the tresses that hold up the concrete is really neat. It is all wrapped together with wire.
Jonah and Silas are going to be disappointed when we finally move in and they realize that their new house isn't going to always be full of rocks, tools, and scrap pieces of wood.

Hopefully by next month Jimmy can order our PEX tubing and install our plumbing. Then they have to put the smooth coat on the walls and pour our floor. After that Lico will build the concrete surround that will eventually hold my kitchen drawers and we're in! We are shooting to be in before Christmas... for real this time. It will take us several years to finish everything, but unfinished it will still be the nicest place we have lived in this country. Clean water, electricity that is wired correctly, plumbing that doesn't backup into my shower, no mold, no ceiling full of bugs, windows that let in a breeze, a safe yard for my boys... I'm so thankful!

The steps that lead into our backyard are almost the width of our porch. 
They were going to be bare concrete, but Jimmy thought of using some of the travertine scraps we bought for $10 from the quarry here in town. We were both picturing something sort of rustic looking, but Lico must have been ready for some more intricate work, because he cut them down to perfect rectangles for the sides of each stair. It is really beautiful. We weren't ready to start the next phase of construction yet anyway, so it has mostly just been Lico working on projects like this one, this month.

Lico also fixed the door off of our soon to be carport. He cut out part of the column to widen it. That wasn't his mistake, for some reason in the final printout of our house plans several doors were narrowed without us being told. Lico follows those plan exactly!

We have a breeze that will go through our house from the back door to the front, but we also will have a cross breeze. Our house has a great room in the center with 2 rectangles on either side of it. Where the rectangles are connected to the great room there are archways. These are the only arches in our house.

Arches are Lico's specialty. First he built a mold: 

 Then he propped it up and poured the concrete:
Here it is awaiting the smooth coat:

You are looking into my laundry room in this shot. It is all windows! I line dry my laundry, so this will be super nice during the rainy season.

This entry is getting long, so tomorrow I will shares pics of our garden in a separate post.

CRAZY ITEM OF THE DAY: Since this side of the roof was larger it was cheaper to rent a cement truck this time than to pay workers to mix it by hand (or by shovel I guess). It went great other than them showing up about 5 hours after the workers we had hired for the day got there and then when they left...

Oops! They knocked a hole in our wall!!!!

Lico told them to use the garage door, but they insisted on using the front door. This is the lovely patch job.

And it messed up my pretty ivy that had been growing for the last 2 years! Grrr. A discount would make me feel better, so we will see how that pans out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Help KBI Become Self Sustaining

Many of you know about our Kekchi Bible Institute plans and the ways we want to teach the pastors to be self-sustaining so they can provide for their families and still have time to be pastors and start new works in unreached villages. During their three years of study, each one of the students will be working 2 acres of the Institute farm in agricultural projects we will be teaching them. These projects should produce enough to feed and support the students while they are studying so they can do so tuition free.

What you probably don't know about yet are the plans for the Institute itself to become self sustaining. There are a lot of expenses besides supporting the students' needs such as teacher reimbursement, paper, books, electricity etc. We have 30 acres of land that will be used for various long-term projects that will take a few years before they start producing, but should produce a fairly reliable income for the Institute, so that if all of our fish die (and I've heard from some reliable fish farmers that fish die all the time for no reason) or ants or pigs eat all of our corn before we can stop them, or just normal weather problems every farmer faces destroys everything, we won't be responsible for 50 students and their families starving to death (ok, I know that's a little dramatic).

We are going to diversify and plant a little of each item.

Two acres will be used to plant 600 lime trees. These are big limes that are very popular here and take about 4 years to produce to full potential. The benefit to this variety is that they can be harvested every month, giving some stability. The total yearly income after 4 years (for a 20 year production cycle) is around $10,000. Each tree can be bought and planted for $4. For $4 you can help lay the foundation for the Institute to be on its own.

Two more acres will be used to plant black pepper. Black pepper is easy to grow with almost no insect predators and this is the perfect climate for it. We can plant around 2,500 black pepper plants on two acres and the project should yield around $20,000 per year after four years for the Institute. You can help by buying a pepper plant for $2.

One other project that we have already paid for is two acres for 2,300 Guano palm trees. The leaves from these trees are harvested to make thatched roofs here. A benefit is that these trees are endangered, so we will have one of the first legal farms for harvesting them. We will be able to use the leaves to replace the roofs on the student houses, but if we sell them all, it's another $12,000/year for the Institute.

Combining these long-term projects with the individual student projects you can see that in just a few years' time the Institute will be able to stand on its own feet. That's our goal - independence and self-sufficiency.

We have created a little Google store if you would like to help. You can find the store below on this post, or on the right hand side bar of this blog if you lose this post. 

You need a Google account (i.e. a google email address) to use it, but you can give with your debit or credit card.

For a tax-deductible receipt, you need to mail a check to:

Global Faith Mission Agency
PO Box 3326
Chattanooga, TN 37404

Make sure to mark it for "Kekchi Bible Institute". You can email us what you want to purchase with your donation.

Thank you for getting involved and helping us make what God put in our hearts a reality. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Student Housing

The team in early June came down primarily to help build some of the student houses for the Institute. Here is what they started with:
They all worked really hard all week long. We got our boards from trees on the property, and the team cut them to size and nailed them up. 

After the walls, they hauled gravel and leveled out the floors, mixed concrete and poured the floor, and built and hung the doors. 
It is hard work to mix concrete floors by hand...especially in this heat! 
I still haven't met anybody from KS proficient in building a thatched roof, so we let the experts here handle that part. 
With the ministry days during their week, they only had 4 full work days and managed to finish 2.5 houses. I think that even beats the home makeover people! We are so thankful for this church's heart and passion to help the Bible Institute.
We are praying that we will be able to start holding classes next June with 20 students. That will make it more manageable as we are starting out and then we will eventually grow to 50. As you can see below, the roof needs to be changed on the first house (the guys here assumed I wanted sheet metal instead of thatch). One exciting development is that we have commitments from the churches here in Petén to finish the rest of our roofs once we have the bases ready. They will come one day each with 30-40 men and 2500 palm leaves and can finish at least 2 houses in a day. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Father's Day 2012

The boys are old enough this year to really understand this special day, a day to celebrate Daddy! Their daddy is their hero! They love listening to his bear stories. They are absolutely certain that the shag rug in their room is the skin from a bear Daddy wrestled and killed! 

They know what he does and love to pretend like they are doing the same thing. They get on their bikes with their play cell phones and keys and tell me "bye" because they are going to work! I regularly see them preaching and leading singing in the hallway.

Here is a video of us asking them what their daddy does: 

It is very important for MK's to know why they live in another country. I'm glad that they are already starting to understand that and wanting to participate in it!

The boys love working with tools too, just like Daddy! So they used their hammers and made him something to hang in his wood shop for Father's Day. 
They were so excited about this project! We worked on it in the afternoons while Daddy was gone and kept it a secret. 
There were a lot of nails to be straightened, but definitely worth it!
I picked Jimmy up some bluetooth headphones while I was in the States for his Father's Day present, this was something extra. Well, he said that he liked this even more than the headphones... that's a pretty big deal! I thought it was sweet.
CRAZY ITEM OF THE DAY: Next time I ask Jimmy for a scrap piece of wood for a secret project I need to specify "not pressure treated". 386 nails in pressure treated wood is CRAZY! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Clearwater Evangelism Day 1

*NOTE: Jimmy typed this blog post up on the day that he was experiencing both amebas and food poisoning. That was a result of drinking river water in villages and eating at questionable restaurants in rural places. In other words, it has been highly edited by me in hopes of making more sense. After some pills and 24 hours of misery, he is doing much better!

This group from First Baptist Church in Clearwater, KS came to Petén to focus on construction of student houses at the Pastor's Institute, but we wanted them to also have the experience of doing some evangelism in a few unreached villages. Because they were so committed to the construction work, they decided to split up into two groups of 5 so that a group could continue working while the other was visiting villages. 
 Our first group returned to the village of Mojarra 28. There are still no Christians in this village, but the people are very open to hearing the Gospel.
{Watching the team do their wordless skit}
The kids love seeing pictures of themselves.
{Villagers looking at pictures of Pastor Kelley's family}

Next we headed down the road to the village of Río San Pedro. There is one Christian here who has been continually calling and begging us to come. One reason is that her husband is not a Christian. This is our third visit, and the people are very interested. The only problem is how far away it is from everybody, so it would be hard to visit every week and start a church. One young man who will be one of our first Institute students was there for this outreach as well. 
It had started raining, so they put a tarp down so that Jesus wouldn't be all covered in mud when he rose!
 It was the time that ladies grind their corn, so as they were walking home from the mill they all stopped by to watch the presentation. 
It was a very productive day for both villages. 175 families total, with only 1 Christian between them. Please pray that more will accept Christ and grow in a relationship with Him.

We have killed 3 of these in our house this past week, one was next to Eden's crib. If these were any bigger they'd be called lobsters!
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