Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Friends!

We met Nick several months ago, back before furlough. He was living in Chisec at the time, which is in the department below Petén. He met Norma there. They were married in June and decided to start their lives together here in San Pancho. Nick celebrated his one year anniversary in Guatemala 2 weeks ago. It is good to have more mature Christians in our church. Norma is Kekchi, but it is more of a "city Kekchi" culture that she is from, which we really don't know much about. Nick has been picking up Spanish on his own since he moved to Guatemala, but hasn't ever been to a language school or anything. Right now he preaches one Thursday a month at our church. He graduated from John Piper's school before coming to Guatemala. His passion is street preaching. Norma will be working as the secretary for the institute which is great since she speaks Kekchi and Spanish fluently.  
{Eden loves Norma!}
Nick and Norma rent the other side of the building where Juan lives, so they are duplex buddies! I am enjoying getting to know Norma! It is really nice having a Christian Guatemalan friend here. Nick and Norma haven't made a specific time commitment for how long they plan on being in Petén, but they are committed to following God's will for their lives. They are still getting settled obviously. Surviving here can sometimes be a full time job, haha! They have both been through a lot of life changes lately (like marriage, moving, a new ministry) and all the while navigating a new culture and fixing up a Guatemalan rental (which is it's own animal BELIEVE me!) 

So that's who those people are that show up in our pictures from time to time. Who knows where this will go. Maybe they will be here till they are old and gray. Please pray for Nick and Norma as they serve the Lord in Petén! 
Jimmy did already get them to put a chicken tractor in their front yard. The man likes chicken tractors!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Sunday we left our home in Petén at 5:30 to make our 7 hour drive to Guatemala City. In the words of Jonah, we were going to Guate so that "God could help a doctor fix Daddy because he's broken and has rocks in his tummy." Our mission agency graciously advanced us the money right away for Jimmy's surgery just trusting that we would be able to repay them. Each day leading up to Sunday, Jimmy made the drive to Santa Elena to withdraw the maximum daily amount allowed in order to be able to pay our hospital bill. Jimmy's pastor, Mark Hoover, spoke with him on Friday to let him know that Newspring was praying for him. It was so kind of him to reach out to us like that. We have also had several notes from others about how they were praying, many from the group that was just down here. I want to say thank you to everyone.  

We made it to our hotel about 1:30. As we pulled up Silas said, "I am SO happy." He was excited about his grandparents coming to Guatemala! We were able to ride the shuttle to pick up MaG and G from the airport. 
 Before Jimmy and I left for the hospital, they all got settled... and the big rumpus started! 
Eden gave me a big hug goodbye, like she didn't want to let go, but I'm not sure if the boys even noticed we were gone.

Jimmy and I went and got one last meal and I picked up some snacks to take with me. I had learned from our friends to not eat the hospital food because it is too expensive. Jimmy had to since you're not allowed to bring patients food. 
We got him checked in. We thought it was kind of silly that they make you show up the day before your surgery, but I guess culturally they want to have control over what people eat or drink right before their surgeries and control over people showing up on time. From that perspective I thought it was pretty responsible. 

We payed an extra $5 to get an air conditioned room this time... since it is July. This is what Jimmy slept in for the 3 nights he spent with me in the hospital: 
No one told us before that with the air unit you also get a seating upgrade:
I got to sleep on a couch! Now we know.

Jimmy's doctor ordered more tests to make sure none of the stones had moved into places that would complicate the surgery and he wanted to see how inflamed his gallbladder was. If it is too large it makes it difficult to take out. Well, the sonogram guy said that all the rocks were sitting in a pile, so he couldn't measure them because they were indistinguishable. Then Jimmy's doctor came in at 10:30 that night to say that he didn't think that we should have the surgery with his gallbladder that inflamed. Well that got us unnerved for sure. He wanted to put Jimmy on some antibiotics and then come back in 6 to 8 weeks. We had burned through a lot of cash just checking in and with all the tests and driving all the way to Guate. Plus Jimmy parents were here NOW, not later. Was it all for nothing?

He left with everything up in the air, willing to come in the next morning to do another test to see if anything had changed. From us hearing about this doctor a couple hours before Jimmy found out that he would need the surgery to everyone helping us get the money in time, to Jimmy's parents being able to fly in and watch the kids, we just felt that we were right where God wanted us to be, He had orchestrated everything. After talking to each other a bit, Jimmy called the doctor a little after 11PM and  told him that we really wanted to go through with the surgery now. We couldn't come back and we didn't want to risk an emergency in Petén. The doctor very graciously agreed to do the surgery. 
They came and got Jimmy at 7:45. The doctor only expected the surgery to last about 20 minutes. I saw his doctor in the hall about 8:00, so I figured they didn't even get started until 8:15. Snacks and crochet entertained me for almost 2 hours.
I tried to not think too hard, just pray. Well 3 hours went by and I was up and pacing by that time,  looking down the hallway hoping the doctor would come around the corner at any moment. Finally he did. He looked so solemn during his long walk to our room. Come on, shoot someone a smile or something just to calm their fears! He got to the door still straight faced and very seriously said lets go inside. WHAT?! I walked in and sat down and then finally got a smile! He said that the surgery was complicated, but it went well. Thankfully he didn't have to open Jimmy up, just 2 extra scope holes. He said that Jimmy's gallbladder was rotten, completely rotten, so he was glad that we went ahead with the surgery.

So I just want to say God worked it out in a way that we would see that He wanted us there then. Parts of Jimmy's gallbladder had died. Gangrene was setting in and it was already affecting the organs around it. If we had not had the surgery monday it would have spread even more. I am so grateful, so so grateful that God protected Jimmy. 

A nurse called my room an hour later and said that I could come see Jimmy in recovery. I was so happy to see him! His eyes looked awful. I told him about what the doctor had said. Then I asked if he would even remember this conversation and he assured me, "Yes, I am completely lucid." He doesn't remember any of it!

I saw the nurses with his records and there was a bag taped too them. It was flopping around and the contents sounded heavy. I said, "Those aren't his rocks are they?" Well they were and they gave them to me as a souvenir. I almost posted a picture of the bag full of rocks, but it's gross. There were several over 3cm and probably a dozen more beyond that. 

Jimmy had to stay another night in the hospital due to it turning into such an extensive surgery. I was glad, just because I was afraid he would try and do too much if we left. You cannot leave the hospital until you pay your bill in full. Even with the extra tests and extra night in the hospital, we had enough money advanced from Global Faith (our agency) to cover the bill. Again, very grateful!  

Overall we had a very positive experience. All the doctors and nurses were so kind to us. So many things that happened were a testimony of God's grace and love. Jimmy is on the mends. Thank you to everyone of you who were praying for him!
The boys loved seeing Daddy's bag of rocks and the holes in his tummy with the cool staples.
His doctor told him that he didn't think there was anyone in Petén with the gadget to get the staples out, but that they need to come out in 10-12 days. Jimmy said that he was sure we have some wire cutters that would do the trick!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Some Medical Issues

So much for trying to be healthy, haha! Since being back from furlough Jimmy has lost 23+ pounds just from staying off pop and eating real food and less of it. Evidently due to a genetic predisposition, an extreme change in diet can cause problems with your gallbladder. 

He has been having pains and a fever off and on for about 2 weeks. Sharp pains actually started during the KBI board meeting last Wednesday. He has lost his appetite completely. I was really worried about him, especially after the fever started, so I asked him to go get a blood test. We ruled out some things, but then I asked him to go get an ultrasound just to be on the safe side. We found out yesterday that Jimmy's gallbladder is severely enlarged and that there are two stones, one 1.5cm and the other 3cm. After a call to two medical doctor friends we realized that this was pretty serious. 

I really feel God's loving arms around us because Sunday night after church we got to spend some time with our missionary friends Jim and Bonnie. Due to us being on furlough and then them being on furlough we hadn't seen them in several months. She shared with us that she just had a laparoscopy in Guatemala City to have her gallbladder removed... due to a stone. She had a very positive experience and was thankful for such a great doctor. Can you believe that! So less than 24 hours before we find out that Jimmy needs surgery right away God lets us know of the name of a wonderful doctor. It calms my heart! 

Jimmy spoke with this doctor in Gaute and after viewing Jimmy's sonogram and notes he said that Jimmy should come immediately. If either stone moves he is at risk of them blocking a duct and his gallbladder rupturing. The surgery costs about $6,000. No we do not have insurance. There was a rider anyway in our last insurance policy that wouldn't have covered any gastro work due to Jimmy's history with amoebas and parasites.  We have a tiny bit in our emergency medical fund and we are trying to get a loan from a couple different people for the rest. It takes a long time to work all that out, have money transferred, and then actually available to us here to have it ready for surgery. You pay in full here at hospitals, no payment plans. So there is no way Jimmy would be able to pay for the surgery before Monday. I am praying that God keeps those stones still until then!

So for now his surgery is scheduled for Monday. We will drive the 7 hours to Guatemala City this Sunday. Juan is covering the service for us. His surgery will be in the same hospital that Eden was born in... I'm telling you God loves us!

Another little hug from God is that Jimmy's dad already had vacation days scheduled for this upcoming week. But, instead of going on a vacation to CO, they are both (MaG and G) flying to Guatemala City to stay with the kiddos in the hotel, so that I can go to the hospital with Jimmy. EVERY LAST DETAIL.

So, please keep Jimmy in your prayers. We believe this is just the devil attacking because everything with the institute is coming together. Thank you to all of you who do pray for us on a regular basis. I am very thankful! And thank you to Victory Baptist Chapel in Conestee, SC who immediately sent $500 to help with the surgery. We are very grateful! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Handmade Home #11: Living Room Progress

I am very thankful for the amount of space in our living room. We knew we wanted to have big groups over on a regular basis, whether it be mission teams or groups from our church, so we drew up our great room to be pretty large. When we had that first team over there was plenty of room and plenty of air moving through so that it wasn't too uncomfortable! I cannot wait to have some ladies activities here very soon.

This is the way my living room is currently looking:
Wood for the false ceiling is way down on our list, so you can still see the peak of our roof and all of the wiring. Probably a good thing since we can see wet spots this way and know where to seal it better!  Our lights are from the market in zone 1 in Guatemala City. They were about $5 each... who needs a West Elm?!
{Those aren't wet spots, just different batches of concrete}
Without the ceiling it has a different feel than it will eventually. The false ceiling will be on top of that white beam, so you will still see it. Did you notice our ceiling fan?! I LOVE having ceiling fans. It changed our life!

Here is my thrifted hutch that Jimmy refinished for me! It has all of my serving dishes in it and all of our board games and puzzles in the cabinets below.
The wire roll table is from the Kekchi radio station! I saw it lying around and asked if I could have it. We still want to clean it up a bit. Jonah and Silas love stashing things down the hole that is in the center of it. Whenever I can't find something, that is the first place I look! 
The orange quilt was made by my great grandmother. She loved to sew and make things! I never knew her but I feel connected to her for sure. It doesn't have a backing on it, so I am going to finish it. I'm so thankful my mom let me bring that back with me!
We joke that the chair on the left is mine and the chair on the right belongs to an old man! If Eden ever sees me sit in the swinging chair she comes running. She likes swinging in it even better than the hammock. I want to make a foam cushion for the bottom of it, but I'm still looking for the right fabric. 

Jimmy came home with these one day!
We put one in the corner and stuck a plant in it. We probably need to seal it or something. 
And finish sealing our floor... one day! That pretty circle on the floor is from when there were a couple of the masons at our house working on the smooth coat on our walls, one of them went out to the wood shop, brought back a can of stain, opened it, and then left it there on the floor laying sideways and open. NO ONE needed stain for anything... I don't get it. It doesn't matter since I want our floors to have character, but seriously I was planning on my kids christening those floors with all kinds of character, not a curious mason!

I really tried not to buy fabric while I was in the States since it is cheaper here, but geometric prints are impossible to find, so I did by one yard of this zigzag home fabric. So far I only made one pillow, but I might have enough left for the chair cushion. My mom made us the furry blanket the first year we were married. It is perfect for windy evenings on the couch. 
Jonah wakes up like I do! One day I will introduce him to coffee and then all will be better!

On the other couch is another pillow from Ikea, but those granny squares are homemade. This was my first crochet project. I love crocheting, it is the perfect road trip activity! 
I originally made it to cover a changing pad for E's room, but since she will be out of diapers before she has a room I decided to keep it in the living room. I hope to add to it eventually. 
Eden is always in this rocking chair. She hasn't fallen yet. I move her out of it probably a dozen times a day, but she knows how to get down by herself just fine too. That spot on the couch is E's contribution to color in the room... it's a still wet grape popsicle smear! I love that crazy little girl!

Here is the other side of the room. Jimmy's parents bought him this tv for his 30th birthday. I new I wanted to kind of camouflage it. 
Jimmy has been making fun of me for months. I have been collecting paca (thrift store) frames just for this wall... hoarding them really. Most were between $2 and $4, except for the frilly one from Solola. 

Jimmy was even more thrilled about my stockpile of frames when it was time to hang them all!
This is the frame from Solola:
Jonah and Silas made this painting for me the other day specifically for this frame. Silas painted the top half and Jonah the bottom. They are VERY proud of it! It makes me smile each time I look at it. 

Most of the frames looked or still look like this:
I have been refinishing them a little at a time. I am going to print photos for most of them. I picked up some mattes in the States, so that I could print 8x10'a in my home, but I will have to order a couple of 11x14's to come down with the next team. I haven't found a place here that can do it, there is probably a place in the capital.  

Our family has been studying a lot about gratefulness so that filled one of our frames. It is some linen and fabric scraps: 
Jimmy brought the boys back a huge starfish from the island of Livingston, so that was added to our wall. 
So I still have a lot left to refinish and fill. 
We picked up another chair that matches the boys' for Eden when we were in Solola. My cousin gave us this kids' table and the last team was nice enough to bring it down with them. Jonah and Silas love doing puzzles on it.  It is hard to find dry wood here that doesn't warp or have bugs in it, so a nice flat surface that I don't have to treat with toxic chemicals and then give to my kids was very welcomed in this house!
The dresser that sits below the tv is from the boys' old room. It has bugs in it even though we treated it. Unless you use arsenic, I haven't found anything else that works. We were going to get rid of it, because I was tired of having wood dust on all of their clothes, but it sits here for now. A credenza isn't on the list yet. It will probably sit there forever. I kind of like it. Somehow in our move we lost 2 nobs though... that's what happens when you move things in a cattle truck. Classy! Becca gave me the beautiful planter for my birthday. I love it! 

So that's where we are for now. The room needs a larger rug. I would love to make a bright colored braided rag rug. I saw this one on furlough:
The lady whose house it was in is coming down on a team soon and said that she would teach me! We will see. I don't have that much scrap fabric, so by the time I buy enough to make one this big it might be cheaper just to buy a finished rug. But the process would be lots fun and it would be an original!
Thanks for visiting our home!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

KBI Board of Directors Meeting

Today I (Jimmy) met with the other men that make up the Board of Directors for our future Kekchi Bible Institute. 
I have been working on a lot of the paperwork and plans that need to be done before we start classes. The first thing I did was put together a list of what 60 courses the guys would need to learn over the 3 years they are studying. 
{The 60 courses and their descriptions}
Then I had to prioritize those courses into which year they would be taken and then into which of the 5 sessions per year. Once I had that I made a calendar for the next three years including breaks for Christmas, Independence Day and Easter. Our first Graduation will be December 18, 2016 and I can tell you what I'll be teaching on any specific date for the next three years. In a world where having no schedule is a necessity, it is strange to have my weeks planned out this far in advance.

Our first day of class is January 7, 2014. Classes will held from Tuesday through Friday from 1pm-4pm with each day dedicated to only one class. For example, "The History of the Bible" will be taught every Tuesday for 8 weeks and "The Gospels" will be taught every Thursday for 8 weeks. There will be a two week break in between classes and the Students will live full time on campus year round. The two week breaks will be necessary for the students to get extra work done on their agricultural projects and to have time to report in to their home churches. We also hope to use that time to take them on excursions to far away villages where they can be involved in evangelism.

After the calendar was done I made a booklet for us to hand out to the Kekchi churches here with a complete overview of the Institute and its purposes with the course calendar included with our Doctrinal statement and admission requirements.
Here is the translation of our admission requirements:

  1. Over 18
  2. Able to express a testimony of true faith in Jesus Christ
  3. Be called to the ministry of a Pastor
  4. Have at least two years of experience working in the ministries of your local church
  5. Physically able to work in the agricultural projects of the Institute
  6. Able to read and write in Spanish (*this is only for this first group of students)
  7. Have a letter of recommendation from your Pastor
  8. Complete the admissions form and attach $1.25 application fee
  9. Submit your application before October 2, 2013.

Juan helped me greatly by putting together an application for our Students. It is 3 pages and will really help us find the best students for this first round of classes. There are already several who have expressed serious interest in attending.
{Application for Admissions}
I also presented today the financial plan for the Institute over the next three years and what that will look like when we expand to 50 students. We are going to need help during our first year, but after that the Institute should be fully self supporting.

So I showed up with all of my information in an organized, linear fashion ready to talk point by point with the guys, but knowing you can't hold a meeting like that here. So what we really did was contextualize everything and instead of thinking A, B, C we talked about what a day in the life of a student would look like. Then as questions arose I could point the guys to where that information was located in their books. It can be fun to merge cultures this way if you expect it going in. We made several adjustments to my original plan, but overall everything was readily accepted and the guys are really excited.
 We don't announce these plans formally until August 7th when there is already a big pastors meeting planned. I will have the final draft of the books with the changes we made today included with applications for each of the pastors to present to his church. Pray that we will be able to effectively communicate so that God will bring the exact students He wants to attend. Pray for wisdom as we go over the applications and pray that we get the last remaining funds needed to finish the Institute in time for these students.

UPDATE: Our dear friend, pastor Andy, is also on the board of directors. We found out that he had heart surgery yesterday (Wednesday). As far as we know all went well. Please pray for him and his family as he recovers. Thank you!

The other morning the boys decided that they wanted to go to work with daddy. They came home a little bit after lunch looking like this!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Family Traditions #20: July the 4th 2013

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

This was our first holiday in our new house. Jimmy hung some hooks on the wall behind our dining room table. These will be great to hang decorations from on special days, but during regular days we will be choosing a family verse to go on the wall.

The boys were excited to wake up one morning and see their country's flag. It gets confusing sometimes for them, I'm sure. We try to teach them about both Guatemala and the States. I hope somehow both can feel like home to them. Here Jimmy was teaching them about the Pledge of Allegiance:
Leading up to the 4th we did some activities to celebrate our country's birthday! We made some firework hats:
The process was more exciting than the actual hats, but that's good.

I had already made a hat with Eden while the boys were napping, but she still wanted to be in the middle of everything. She is so mischievous right now!

She looks for naughty things to do to get big reactions out of us. Hmm... kind of like a little boy named Silas! We love her personality!

We also made some star cookies:
I LOVE my countertop. We just rolled the cookies out on the concrete. Lico made the beautiful bench that the boys are standing on for us from wood off of the institute land. It is for our porch, but eventually we will make some stools for our counter. Anyway, the boys often pull chairs up to stand there and talk to me while I'm cooking. I enjoy all of our little conversations! 

We tried a new icing recipe that you paint onto the cookie. 
The boys liked it and it turned out ok, but for some reason anything with food coloring in it never really dries in Petén. The white icing hardened nicely, but the blue and red ones never dried enough to stack the cookies. I will have to mess with the recipe some more. 
For the first time since we have lived here, I found blueish fruit at the grocery store close to July the 4th! I haven't ever seen blueberries here, but blackberries are just as good. What a gift I had been given, haha! So what to do with them? Thanks to Pinterest I found something super easy... fruit on a stick! It's pretty funny too because this 5 minute flag was a HUGE hit with my boys. 
Except they want their strawberries on a stick every time now! 

We invited Juan, Nick, and Norma over for lunch. Nick and Norma just got married and moved to Petén less than a month ago. I will share more about them later. July the 4th happens to be Norma's birthday, so we celebrated that too! We had hamburgers, potato salad and baked beans for our American meal!
We have our midweek service on Thursdays. After church they all came back over for fireworks and apple pie! For the 4th we like to have little fireworks like they would have in the States along with the big ones you can get here. Jonah and Silas liked the sparklers, tanks, and flowers. 
They like the big fireworks too though!
They are both brave about different things. Jonah likes big slides and Silas likes loud fireworks!
Roman candles were a hit!
But do you notice anything particularly dumb about this photo?:
We hand our kid a roman candle and then point him in the direction of their blow up pool! Thankfully it survived! 

Of course Eden wanted in on the action!
I borrowed one of her bows for my hair so that I would have some red in my outfit. When she saw it that morning she smiled real big and pointed at my hair and said, "Bow!"
During our apple pie we played some games. 
Jonah and Silas really like games right now. They are constantly asking me to play a game with them. 
Somehow we all ended the day in their room playing Hungry Hippo!
Juan, Nick, and Norma were nice to participate!
We are so thankful for our country. With the resources that God has blessed our nation with it makes it possible for us to be missionaries sent from there. That is one thing that we celebrated that day, our gratefulness to God for the opportunity to be missionaries and for our Christian heritage. 
We hope that all of you had a Happy 4th of July! Our family sure did!
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