Thursday, November 29, 2012

Family Traditions #15: Thanksgiving 2012

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

We celebrate Thanksgiving all month long! This is my favorite holiday because it hasn't been cluttered up as much as the others. Now that the boys are old enough for conversations it makes it even more meaningful. We talk about what we value most and the One who has blessed us with it all. I really cherish this time that we have to shape our children's view of God.
The boys remind me now to light our memory candle every morning. We have so many good conversations at the breakfast table! I think anything that matters so far, they have learned there, ha! 

We talked about the Pilgrim's first Thanksgiving in 1621 and then the first official one in 1623. I think they both have valuable lessons we ought to remember. I made them props to go with the story. (Here is a great kid's version one that we read with them a couple times.) 
{Jonah wanted to be the pilgrim}
{This is me wondering why in the world I would give Silas a long sharp stick!!!}
They told me they wanted to make there OWN props! So they did!
 They painted the Mayflower!

... ok well we didn't get past the ocean and clouds since they do have the attention span of normal 3 year olds, but they had a lot of fun with that!!!

 We have been working on numbers lately, so we played a numbers game with the candy corn Daddy brought back from the States!
 They snuck several pieces during our game!
This year we did this over a couple of days, but next year I think it will be better to start Nov 1st and have each one of us list one thing we want to thank God for each day. Here is our list:
Our thankful wall will be on a chalkboard wall between the archway and my pantry, 
so picture this poster board there!

We made cookies for Daddy out of Fall shapes. Anytime we make cookies the boys always say they are "for Daddy!'
These boys are expert cookie makers!
I think Silas likes shaking out the flour as much as the sprinkles!
Look at that perfect pumpkin! Jonah is very meticulous about pealing the dough off around the cookie cutter. (There's a piece of dough stuck to his mouth... love it!)

Jimmy grew our pumpkins again this year! I shared before that our masons at our forever house decided to weed our pumpkin patch which killed our pumpkins, but my mom and Rob Hall both sent down more seeds, and they grew just in time for Thanksgiving! We had 4 pies already and there's more puree in the freezer!
{Pretty sugar pie sweet pumpkin}
 Silas is a little pumpkin pie eating monster (a la cookie monster) like his daddy!
 Jonah likes pie too, but Silas will fight his Daddy for the last piece!
We didn't get a family photo this year on Thanksgiving Day, but I did snap one real quick of Jimmy and me before we left that morning!
We are so blessed to have so many great people to share Thanksgiving with this year. Thursday we were invited over to Jim and Bonnie's. We have only shared a meal with them once before at Pizza Hut. They live in San Benito and are the directors here for the ministry, Go To Nations. Bonnie had a beautiful table set that I forgot to snap of photo of. Everything was just lovely. We had a wonderful time spending the day with them! 

I have to share a tradition that Bonnie and Jim have. They had printed place cards for all of us and on the back Jim chose a verse for each one of us... Jonah, Silas, and E too. We read them aloud at the table. Mine was III John 4 -
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
The perfect verse for me, motherly wise and ministry wise!
Sara and Jessie are new in the country. They will be here for at least 2 years, so we are looking forward to getting to know them better too!
Chris is the children's outreach director, he left before I took the photo. He was so sweet to play football with Jonah and Silas that day. They loved it!

On Saturday, Keturah invited all the English speakers in Petén over for a Thanksgiving meal!
We love spending time with Arlen and Keturah. They are moving to Orlando in March, so this was bittersweet. 
{The guys under the almond trees}
We had a great time of fellowship with everyone! We were laughing because the guys were talking about ministry and the ladies were talking about babies. There were 2 babies there, Anita is a midwife, and Sara is pregnant, so we had babies on the brain. 
{Chatting on the porch!}
{My kids with Jeffrey, Stephen and Brenda's oldest}
 Keturah made hats for all the kids. This time Silas picked the indian hat and Silas the pilgrim! My kids had as much fun that day as we did! Here is the evidence on our ride home:
 Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Raising the roofs

Boarding up student houses is a great project for teams from the States. You come down to a few posts in the ground and after a few days of measuring, cutting and hammering you leave with a few houses finished...except the roof. We haven't found anybody in the groups that come down that know how to put on a thatched roof! In fact, it is somewhat difficult to find a Guatemalan who knows how to do it right. And doing it right is important. A thatched roof made of large guano palm leaves will last from 12-30 years depending on whether or not it is done right.

You'll never find a Spanish speaking person who knows how to put on a thatch roof. To get the experts you need to go off into the sticks of Petén, off the beaten path. Thankfully, those are our people! 7 guys from the Domingo's home village of Se' Tul and 12 guys from Esfuerzo 2 got up early one morning to take a bus 4 hours from their villages to come to the Institute to help us put on the roofs of two student houses. This was a bigger deal for the 12 guys from Esfuerzo because they had to walk an hour in the mud before they got to the road where the bus was. 8am they arrived, had a quick breakfast and got to work. 

I had ordered the 4,000 palm leaves (2,000 per house) to be ready by the week before, but come that morning only half were there, so I followed the farmer's instructions on how to get to the pasture where the leaves were waiting for me. Here are pictures of the landmarks I was told to look for:

First, take a left at the palm tree:
 Then take a right by the field of beans:
There are no beans in this field, but thankfully Domingo could look at the field and know that there probably used to be beans there. 

Then follow the "road" until you can't go any further. 
Once there we started loading up the bundles. Each bundle is 50 leaves and weighed around 100 pounds. 
We could fit 10 bundles in my truck and then everybody would jump on and hope I didn't accelerate too much. 
The guys putting the roofs on had a great system and by lunch time had already put on 3,000 leaves. 
Even Domingo was working hard carrying the bundles. 
The guys took some sticks and put a nail through one end so the guy on the scaffolding could grab a leaf from the guy below and pull it up.
The top is a very tricky part, so it took a little more time, but by 3pm, everything was done.
Some of you have been to Esfuerzo 2 before. If you look at the picture below you might recognize some of the guys as one that led your horse to the village, or sang a hymn for you, or if you are Amy Williams you were there when several of them accepted Christ. It was very special to have these men who we first met as unsaved families merely interested in our God, now travel for hours to help the Institute that will train their future pastor. 
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for this project and supporting it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


For the past 2 weekends in a row we have had visitors! This last Sunday Pastor Tim and our friend and  missions trip regular, Dan, came to see how things were coming along with the institute. They both are always encouraging to us. Their church as well as them personally are a very large part of our work here. We are thankful for all that they do!
 I asked Jimmy if he remembered to take pictures while he was traveling around with them.  He laughed and said, "Yeah..." This was the best photo and it isn't even of them looking at the fish pond, they're looking at Domingo's turkeys! 

They spent a lot of time talking about the administration side of all the projects and throwing around different ideas on how to improve the current projects and which ones to start working on next. It was all very helpful in this planning stage. 

The Sunday before last we had a single missionary from Chisec come for a visit. His name is Nick and he has been in the country for about 4 months. 
It was great to get to know him a little bit. We seem to be pretty like minded. He and Jimmy talked of different ministry opportunities here in Petén. He is still looking for where and what God has for him in Guatemala. He is coming again this saturday to celebrate Thanksgiving! Maybe our paths will cross several more times in the future. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Heard Around the House #2

I was talking to Jonah about something he had gotten in trouble for earlier, making sure he knew why it was wrong. As I am having this serious conversation Silas starts doing something he KNOWS is wrong. 
Mommy - (looking at Silas with frustration) "Really...?!" 
Jonah - (looking up just as disgusted) "Really, Mani?!" (Mani is Jonah's nickname for Silas.)

Silas walked into the office while I was laminating some SS visuals he had seen me coloring.
Silas - (giving me the thumbs up) "Good job Mamma!"

Mommy - "Did you know that I prayed and asked God for something for Kiki and he answered my prayer with a yes and did it for her."
Silas - "Cool, Mama!"

Silas usually makes coffee with Daddy to bring to me as soon as he wakes up, but someone was moving slow the other morning.
Silas - (shaking his finger at Daddy sitting at the kitchen table) "No Dada... no iPad... Mama coffee!"

We still have a pig on our table for anyone who does something inappropriate during mealtime. That is what Silas is referring to in this video:

I was reading an email on my phone after supper. (I know, I got the pig.) I didn't hear Jonah ask if he could get down front he table. 
Jonah - (After asking politely several times he yells) "Mama, talk!!" 

We have been talking about the "a man that hath friends must show himself friendly" verse, but we use the word "nice", since they know that word.  Jonah chose a pear for lunch and Silas a peach, but Jonah asked Silas for a slice of his peach. Silas kept saying "ummmm... no!"
Mommy - "If you want friends what do you have to be?"
Jonah - "Me peach, Mani, please?"
(Silas hands him a slice.)
Silas - (looking at Jonah) "Me nice!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Getting Ready for Christmas!

We have a Christmas drama planned again for this year. We really missed being a part of a church plant last Christmas, so I was really looking forward to this holiday season. Church projects like this aren't just an outreach into the community, but they build camaraderie amongst our church family. I enjoy working with everyone during the weeks leading up to the event.
{One of the angels and one of the shepherds}
The week I brought the script to church, I had to kind of make up more roles because there were so many that wanted to be involved. Many of those people were a part of the dramas we did in NH and SR and that's why they knew for sure they wanted to participate again... I love that! 
{King Herod}
This year instead of fabric costumes we are making cardboard cutouts. Everyone has gotten a kick out of them so far. I know we will have lots of photo ops with these after the service, so that will be fun!
{Baby Jesus}
Jonah and Silas will be sheep. They have been practicing their lines ("Bah Bah")! They're excited about it too! 

Please pray as we continue to prepare for our outreach, pray that God will use it! Thanks!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Coldest Day In Petén

God has blessed me with a great gringa friend over the last year. Her name is Holly! Holly and Benj live in our current town and serve with the Mennonite mission. My boys have become great friends with their 3 kids. I am very thankful for this family! 
{A couple of weeks ago at Holly's daughter Sue's birthday party}
Jimmy and Benj just recently started working on a trial project for the institute together. Holly and Benj have some farm land in our town and agreed to try out the institute's first 2 chicken tractors. It is very convenient for us to have the chickens so close to be able to monitor themeach day. We still live about 40 minutes away from the institute (we will move in Dec probably) so this saves Jimmy gas on the days he isn't in San Pancho.
This chicken tractor is based on Joel Salatin's. It has been adapted slightly for Petén. 

After Jimmy and Benj got the first one built Holly and I brought all the kids to fill it with baby chicks! 
There are 2 unfortunate things that happened. First, Jimmy and Benj had it right next to a live electric fence. We had to walk in high grass on a rocky uneven path right next to it with 6 children to get there! (Only one person got zapped... and it wasn't a kid!)
{Electric fence}
The second unfortunate thing is that as soon as we arrived it started pouring down rain. Petén is hot... always hot. You get muggy rain sometimes or a little breeze that makes your sweat feel nice, but it is ALWAYS hot. Well that day was freezing. It was like there was icy rain coming down on top of us.
{Eden and me, in the rain}
 Probably not bad for people use to cold, but for people acclimated to the Petén, we were shivering! 
Jonah's little teeth were chattering! What we were worried about though, was the baby chicks. 
Thankfully they had put the coup down before it started raining, so the grass under the roofed part was still dry. 
Holly let us put 2 of her hens in there to help keep them warm and to teach them to forage. 
The foraging part is important because it aerates and weeds the field. As you move the tractor each day it gives the birds fresh grass and allows them to be free range yet still contained. This gives you healthier chickens with a 30% less cost of feed. It also fertilizers your field to either help the trees/plants that are already there or prep it for a new crop. It also saves you from ever having to clean a chicken coup! I'm sure Jimmy or Joel could explain it better, but that's the gist. 
All of the chicks survived that first uncharacteristically cold night! 
4 ended up later being eaten by a rat, but Jimmy has since heightened the security, so it hasn't happened again. 
{My husband, the chicken farmer!}
This is the first of 2 chicken tractors that will be part of the trial. They will each hold about 50 chickens. Now is a good time, because they will be ready to sell by Christmas, when everyone will be shopping for them. Jimmy is also testing what type of chicken will work best and prove to be most profitable. 
{Farmer Silas}
 The boys love checking on the chickens with daddy! (When there's no freezing rain!)
{Farmer Jonah}
 This is very educational for them as well!
This will be one of the projects the students will learn while in school that they will be able to reproduce in their village to help provide for their family. 
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