Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Good News

We met Ermando in SR (our 2nd work) almost four years ago. We knew he was searching. He faithfully attended our Bible study each week. Sometimes his mom and dad came, but Mando and his sister Vilma were always there! 
{Mando receiving his Bible in '09, he was 17}
We were so thankful when we got to start working with him again in San Pancho. He's encouraging to be around because he's just real. He has always been honest about where he was at and what he thought about the Bible and God. 
{Vilma receiving her Bible for faithful attendance 2 years ago}
There are several guys who have been attending our Bible studies for years and now attend the mission in San Pancho who say they are not Christians. Each week Jimmy asks them if they are ready to get saved and they say, "Not yet." Well this past Sunday morning Rosalino said, "I'm not but Mando is." What?! Jimmy was thrilled to hear that because not only was it simply good news, but it meant they talk about it together outside of church. 

Sunday night after the service Mando himself told Jimmy that he was ready to accept Christ. What had recently been holding him back was what many of our people struggle with, they are afraid of disappointing God. It is very real to them and the thought of letting God down should bother all of us. While we are slaves to sin though we have no help from the Lord. Not until we become a son can we receive any of the power, the power to overcome sin and allow God to start making us more like Christ. God wants us to become more like Him to display His glory. Mando realized that Sunday night. He no longer wanted to be on the outside of the family, so he became a son!
{Taken last Sunday evening after church}
I think he looks kind of happy!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Together Again!

Two Sundays ago I looked out over the people in our evening service and I saw our story. All of our last 5+ years in Petén were represented in that building. 

When we started the church plant in San Pancho we intended it for just the people of San Pancho. First last April the people in SR (the 2nd ex-guerrilla community where we were kicked out of) started coming headed up by Marcos. Then people in NH heard about it and Lico organized them together and last week they started coming as well (that's the 1st ex-guerrilla community we were kicked out of). 
I wish I would have taken another pic after everyone who was outside talking came inside, but you can get a pretty good idea. This was two Sundays ago. I really couldn't believe it, that's why I didn't post it. But, they came back this past Sunday too. 

27 people loaded up a pickup from NH and came. It was people we hadn't seen in years. God is still at work in their lives! I took a couple photos afterwards. 
Alquilino and his family came (Alquilino was outside talking with Jimmy). 
Here is Elda and Lico's new baby girl!
Rosa Olivia was there. At the time we left I was praying with her that God would give her a child. She and her husband had been trying to have a child for years. Well I found out that He did give her a daughter since then, but she passed away at 8 months of age. I was crying when I heard. Elda kept telling Rosa, "Shelley prayed for years for her children and now she has 3, don't give up hope."This just makes me sick. I wish someone would have called us when her baby got sick and we could have kept it out of the government hospitals. I cannot imagine her pain. My children are such a gift. 
Mercedes was there too! She is from SR but lives somewhere else now, so she is going to start trying to go there on Sunday nights to catch the micro. This was her first time meeting Eden! Unfortunately Eden didn't meet Mercedes! Sundays exhaust my children. 
Believe it or not, Quincho was even there. He is living in the capital now and was just back for a short time. Please pray for him. I want him to keep growing and he doesn't live close where we can encourage him. 
Hector, his brother is a Christian now too if you remember. He is really trying to grow in His walk with God. He came both weeks so far. Seriously... Eden is so charming in all of these photos! My riveting kids' time must have knocked her out.

What an awesome blessing for God to give us the privilege to work with all of these people again! Please pray for all of us and we seek to know God more everyday and strive to become more like Him. Also, please pray for those who are still making decisions about becoming Christ followers. And Rejoice! No one can write a story like this but God!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Our Interesting Trip to the Doctor

Eden just turned 5 months old. So we took her in for a check-up. I am so thankful for our pediatrician here in Petén. I have no idea why he would want to work here since I know he could make lots more money somewhere more urban. I just count it as a big personal blessing from God to this mommy of 3! 
Well Eden got a great report. And she weighs 17.5 lbs! That is what the boys weighed at 8 months. I'm glad she has all this fat for her developing brain. You can't tell unless she is next to another baby, but she is kind of humungous! I think she could eat most other 5 month olds as a snack... and still want milk afterwards! I only have one more month of exclusively nursing her and then I will start to introduce solids. I'm so sad. I love all that snuggle time. Now food is going to come between us... boo. 
{Look at those chunky thighs... love!}
She is always chewing on her toes. We make the kissy sound to her, like we are blowing kisses and she has started to mimic us back when she wants to get our attention. She also likes to blow raspberries with her tongue, really loudly. She hasn't sat up yet without help, but when we hold her hands she sits up and rocks front to back on purpose. (I think that runs in the family or at least in all of my kids.)

While we were paying at the front desk of the doctor's office a little girl (maybe 4) was outside making eyes at Jonah and Silas through the glass door. Jonah does not like people looking at him, but Silas is a big ole' flirt. As soon as we open the door to leave that little girl planted one right on Silas... I mean right on the mouth! Silas acted like it happens all the time, like it was a normal day in the life of a little blue eyed boy that lives in Guatemala. 
I understand the girl's eagerness. I have a thing for someone with those same eyes! Still, I did not particularly appreciate it. Since that incidence we have reviewed with Silas several times: "What girls are you allowed to kiss?" He'll think for a little while and say, "Momma... baby... Kiki... MaG!" Hopefully we won't have another opportunity to see if he really understands this rule anytime soon. 
{These photos were conveniently from our family photo day outakes!}

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The First Tilapia Pond Trial Run

{Domingo and his daughter Candi in front of his fish pond}
Posted by Jimmy: One of the projects that our Institute students will be learning is how to raise Tilapia. I received several good books about raising Tilapia from a friend here in Petén, and I have read countless articles online, but so far my knowledge has just been book knowledge.
Tilapia is a well known fish here and has a good market with a pretty stable market price. 
Before starting 20,000 fish in 20 ponds at the Institute, I decided we needed to practice a little bit first. Shelley convinced me to dig a pond at Domingo's house for our trial run so that he would have some extra income... after all that is the purpose for the ponds.   

My first fish advice I received from a fish farmer in Arkansas was this quote, "Every day a fish wakes up and thinks to himself that this is a good day to die for no reason at all." Encouraging, right? Well, Domingo is a friend who won't think I'm an idiot if all the fish die the first time through. 
This is the lot Domingo owned next door to his house. It is right on a main road leading back to some other large villages. After measuring and staking everything out, I sent an acquaintance with a backhoe to dig it out. The acquaintance did not follow any of the instructions, so it is not the right dimensions for what we will have at the Institute, but the same principles will apply since it is a dirt pond. We basically used his entire lot and the backhoe dug a hole lot deeper than what I wanted, but oh well. Domingo lives 4 hours away from us, so I couldn't be there that day to supervise, but it won't affect our growth. It will just make it harder to harvest later on. 
Taiwan has a Tilapia project on the other side Lake Itzá to "save the white fish", so we can get 40 day old frye at a cheap price. This saves us from having to breed our own. On May 11, I bought 2000 frye and they threw in an extra 200. 
 They put them in these bags, which I put in the cab of my truck. I was told I had 5 hours give or take. the drive to Domingo's house from there is 4.5 hours... and you throw in a ferry ride that can cause great delay sometime. I think that was the most stressful part of the whole project, hoping I got to Domingo's without a bag bursting inside my truck and with the fish still alive. The Institute is only 2 hours from this place, so it won't be that bad in the future. 
 At Domingo's we put the bags in the water to let them acclimate and had prayer over his fish. 
 We are not using any commercial fish food or mechanical aeration. We are setting everything up so that it is sustainable in a village without access to a town or supplies. In my research however, I found that there are many common things people here burn as trash that makes great Tilapia food such as: banana leaves, yuca leaves, sweet potato leaves, and the rinds from all of those. We also put a few compost bins in the pond where all of the leftovers from their meals gets tossed. 
{Compost Bin}
I work with Domingo regularly and he keeps me updated on the fish, but on June 15th, about a month later, I went to go look at the fish myself.
Here is what the fish looked like:
 On July 24th I went back again.  This time they were 11cm long. We will have a scale next time but for now we are happy with the growth and I think we are right on track. 
 The closest fish farmer to Domingo is 2 hours away, and there is nobody on the road he lives on with fish, so he is in a really good market. Many families have already placed their order. Because the people are poor, it is not like selling to a restaurant that wants only one pound fish. From what I have been told, the hardest part is keeping the fish alive from 3/4 of a pound to 1 pound. We will start selling them once they reach 1/2 pound, which will hopefully be next month. 
Domingo's boys, Wendel and Samuel, are very excited about the fish and are the main ones in charge since their dad is traveling a lot to unreached villages. 
I don't want this to be a technical blog about how to raise Tilapia, but if you want to know more, you can write me. You might want to wait until the next update though to see if Domingo makes any money. If we sell all the fish at 5 months after starting, and he has no overhead except to buy the frye to stock the pond, he should net an amount equal to his monthly support as a missionary with the local churches here over that same period of time.  

Please keep this project that should help national pastors support their families in your prayers!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Handmade Home #9: My Work Space

The only bathroom in our house is off of a bedroom for some reason. Since we didn't want anyone walking through one of our bedrooms to get to the bathroom, we made that room a shared office (rather than a guest room or a bedroom for Eden). We really have appreciated that room over the last 4 years. 

I enjoy creating things, things for my family and things for our ministry. Jimmy put together a beautiful space for me to work. I get lost there!
When we first moved in my space looked like this:
It was really impractical. I hid everything behind the screen because I thought my supplies looked cluttered. Since becoming a mom I sew mostly just during nap times. My projects are broken up over shorter periods of time. I needed something more efficient... to make all the little bits of free time I had count. Besides, I had a 3 walled cozy nook and I wasn't taking advantage of it.
For my 30th birthday, Jimmy hung shelves on all 3 walls. He also had a desk made for me. We wanted to try out a new carpenter to see if he would be a good one to build our kitchen drawers. 
Well... he messed up the dimensions of this desk and he evidently didn't let the wood dry out because it has warped and separated over time. I still adore my desk, but he won't be making our cabinets where precision is more important. 
A metal worker made the hairpin legs, which I love, and the drawer hardware. I think these are the drawer pulls I'll use in my kitchen... I can't decide. 
We found the fan in an antique store while we were on furlough in KS. Our office is the hottest room in the house. This fan saves the day! I only plug it in when my boys are sleeping so that we don't lose any fingers! The heart tin full of pins was a gift from my mother-in-law years ago. 

I found this 50lb piece of wonderful in a paca (thrift shop) here. It doesn't have a piece of plastic on it. 
I'm working on a patchwork upholstery job for it with the corduroy scraps from the boys' owls. 

Now for the colorful part of the tour. Sewing supplies are beautiful. They shouldn't be behind a screen! For my 32nd birthday. Jimmy built me this ribbon holder. 
It's a piece of art!
I never had much ribbon until we found out we were having a girl. Do little girls need this much ribbon? Absolutely! For all of their hair bows!
Ribbon is pretty cheap here, but to further feed my new hair bow obsession, my mother-in-law has sent me dozens and dozens of spools of ribbon... which I appreciate! 
I keep my embroidery floss in sections of PVC pipe that Jimmy cut for me. I have stock piles of things because I usually either pick things up on furlough or when we are in the capital. 

Jimmy put metal rods through all of my shelf brackets that hold rope and twine.
Before Jonah and Silas started potty training we always kept the office door shut. Now it is the most interesting room in the house to them. They love to play with anything on this shelf.
For storage containers I use old cans, PB jars, an old kitchen utensil basket that Claire passed on to me, metal buckets, mason jars, old bicycle baskets, and big clear plastic floor cleaner bottles that I cut the top off. 
 Jimmy gave me those test tubes for my 31st birthday. I taught Chemistry before we were married, so I think they are kind of cool. They hold interesting buttons or earrings I find here that I use for the center of E's hair bows.

This is Eden's favorite part of the nook:
 She loves staring at that stack of felt! More PVC for yarn day I'll fork out money for the wide pipe for the bigger yarn.

I found this wood box in Guate. Jimmy stained it for me. 
It holds ALL of my thread (which they don't sell in Petén, so I kind of hoard it) and sewing notions. 
My inspiration board is a vintage frame my mom found for me. She knows I never saw an oval frame I didn't love. Thanks Mom! Jimmy went on a long search to find the cork for this frame. 
All of my cutting tools are hung on a nail next to my sewing machine and serger. All of my small bolts of fabric are stored below on a thrifted bookshelf. The wrapping paper is for pattern tracing. 
My larger pieces of fabric are wrapped around pieces of plywood Jimmy cut for me and stored behind my dress form. 
 The crates below the back shelf are old fruit crates from the market. They hold current projects. FYI: old dirty produce crates from the market are filled with scorpions! Don't bring them into your house unless you like surprises.

That green shirt has been on my dress form for 2 years. Since having this space I have been able to finish things much faster, like my brown knit skirt I made during a nap time last week:

I'm so thankful for my sewing nook. It's somewhere to relax, create, and lose track of time. My husband knows me well. He was so sweet to set this space up for me!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A New Generation of Christians

The Daytona Team visited two other villages while they were here and I wanted to share about both of those places.
{Eating lunch at Maya International}
The village of Tesuluclan Dos heard the Gospel for the first time on the Kekchi radio station and called in to have a missionary come visit their village. Domingo and Santiago teamed up to start a work in this unreached area. 
{Santiago in in the pink shirt and Domingo in the white}
On May 20 the first family put their faith in Christ. Now there is a total of 12 families of believers in Tesuluclan. They have a very young mission now and need a pastor. (Again, shows the need for the pastors institute.)
The area in the above photo is the land they purchased and cleared for their church building. The team took up an offering to supply them with gas and oil to be able to take their chain saws into the jungle and get wood for the walls and the Kekchi pastors association supplied the sheet metal for the roof.
The team sang, shared a skit, and a puppet show. 
One of the men said that this was the first time they had ever seen "white people" before!
Please pray for the village of Tesuluclan Dos!

This is what the team found on the way to the next village:
We had plans to go to Livingston, but there was a hurricane that caused all the boats to stop running for the day. Instead we made a trip back to San Miguel Alto Uno!
They served us lunch! We left an offering to cover the meat we ate and hopefully to help their church. 
We went down to the church building to pray over it. (Forgot my camera on that hike.) When this team came 2 years ago they went to this village as a White Field, no church. 
{Where they made our lunch}
 I love the gourds they served their tortillas in. (You can see one in the photo below.) I have tried to make them before. I hollowed some out and boiled them like they told me. Mine did not turn out like theirs!
 Here is my family eating lunch!
 The lady nursing the baby in the right side of the photo below was the first Christian in this village. She is the grandmother of most of the kids you see in these photos. Can you imagine being the only Christian in your whole town? She was faithful and one day her husband put his faith in Christ as well. They were the founding members of the church where dozens of families of Christians attend. We ate in her home. 
For some reason I was really inspired by her testimony. She started a generation of Christians. It is very similar to Jimmy's Grandmother's testimony. 

Thank you to the Daytona team for coming down and investing in our ministry. You will forever have a part in the institute, and these 3 villages' stories. 
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