Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gray Hair and Babies

Recently, and for obvious reasons, I've been thinking a lot about the women in the Bible that had babies 'out of season' like Sarah and Elizabeth. I'm not quite as old as they were (at least not Sarah) and obviously I haven't been barren, but I do think that age gives a new perspective to having children.

Each pregnancy gets more and more precious to me since I now realize that in spite of what I thought in my 20s and 30s that I won't be able to have babies for the rest of my life. Each pregnancy I now realize could be the last. And I also realize that not all pregnancies lead to the birth of children. I am not taking anything for granted this time around. I am choosing to enjoy each day. It might be all the time I have with this baby. It might be the last time I ever have the awesome privilege of feeling a life growing inside of me (and kicking and squirming and tossing and turning).

However, this appreciation for the blessing God is giving doesn't mean that I can't complain and belly ache about all the various complications and pains associated with said blessing. Having a baby is hard work...and not just the birthing process. People often say to me that I must have wonderful pregnancies since we have allowed God to freely bestow His blessings on our family. Welp, those of you who've been around me for my pregnancies know way better than that!! As my dear friend Pam told me 20 years ago "Denise, you have thrown up in every restaurant in Arlington!" (Arlington, Texas that is....where Pam and I went out often for lunch and dinner.) Indeed any of you reading this who are my closest friends have memories of pregnant me throwing up in your presence (or your bathroom). :>) I owe you all for your encouragement and your support!!

Anyway back to my main point, I am so grateful for this opportunity to have a baby. I thank God that He saw fit to give my one more 'check'....after all the Bible says that children are the reward of the Lord and the word that is translated reward means wages or salary...babies are the way that God pays us and I'm getting a raise! Hallelujah!!

People ask me how I feel about having a baby ‘at this age’ or ‘at this point in my life’. I’ll tell you how I feel. I feel honored. Truly honored. And incredibly thankful. Thank you, God.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Estoy Embarazada!!!

For all you non-Spanish speakers....that is a false cognate. It doesn't mean I'm embarrassed. It means I'm pregnant. Yep. I am. We are thrilled of course. I found out on the Wednesday before I got sick on Friday a week ago. That's one reason I've been slower to heal I believe. Joe could take meds that I couldn't. I guess this means that I have a parasite I want to get rid of and a parasite I want to keep....for nine months anyway. :>) Our house is full of rejoicing!! It was fun to tell the kids and see them genuinely excited. Some even cried tears of joy. How cool is that?

The futbol team is growing!!

Check out Joe's blog (link at right) for his point of view!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How Come Everytime I'm in the Hospital I Feel So Bad?

A week and a half ago I got really sick like a sickness unto death....or so it felt. Lots of vomiting and diarrhea . YUCK! It's the sickest I've ever been in my life. All my friends here say "Welcome to the mission field." I started feeling sick on Friday a week ago and by Monday I was in the hospital from dehydration. I came home the next day thankfully. They hadn't treated me yet, just hydrated me with IV fluids but they let me go home to my own bathroom to be sick in. I had one light moment in the hospital when I asked Joe "How come every time I'm in the hospital I feel so bad?" We both got a quick giggle before we went back to our groaning. The doc said I have ameba, parasites and an infection.

Joe's been sick too with the same stuff. The doc also said that it's probably a contamination of our water supply. He said he's seen a lot of it lately. We told him we have a water filter, but he said it doesn't catch everything. Joe has felt better since Wednesday or so. I'm so grateful that he went to the hospital and stayed there with me even in spite of his being sick. Jake and Caleb are REALLY grateful as they were next on the list to stay with me in the hospital.

The hospital I stayed in was very nice by Bolivian standards. I didn't even have to take my own TP they supplied it...another thing I was grateful for since I didn't take any! The 'air conditioning' was opening the window and it was a bit warm and extremely noisy outside. Joe nor I slept very well or very much at all. At one point at about 3:00 a.m. we heard a truck load of dogs going by....barking like crazy. I said I don't know where they are taking them, but I hope they kill them all. This is something you can't understand until you've been in Coch. I love dogs. I don't like cruelty to animals and the killing of a truck load of dogs isn't probably something any of you thought you would ever hear me say I desire. But you have to understand the situation here. There are literally hundreds of thousands of dogs running in packs all over the city. Outbreaks of rabies are not uncommon. Every time we walk to school, the store or to church we have to watch out for mangy, wild, barking dogs who also bite. There is one especially mean one just one street over from us who we saw attack a small boy. It's scary. I'd be happy if someone killed it too. Anyway I digress. We heard and saw all sorts of commotion during my night in the hospital and am so thankful to do my recovering at home. It's the first time I've been admitted to the hospital without being in labor and bringing home a baby. Joe said he was going to ask for one, but they probably wouldn't have understood us anyway. That's another resolution I made during my sleepless night in the hospital. I vowed to help every Spanish speaking person I can who is having trouble communicating with someone when we come back to the States for home assignment. :>)

One thing we found universal though. When they asked how many children we had and we said ten the ER doc said “That’s a futbol team”. The same answer we get in the States. The only difference is he meant a different kind of futbol. :>)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Christmas in Coch or Buying Swimsuits and Christmas Presents at the Same Time

Here's a pic of the kiddos in front of our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. I guess some of you probably read my blog back in November when I said I cried one night over missing my Christmas tree in Virginia. Silly, I know, after all it's only a thing and not a great thing at that. I suppose that it was just because it was something that was in lots of my great memories. Anyway, the night after I cried about it, my loving hubby went out and bought me the biggest tree he could find in La Cancha. What a sweetie!!

As most of you know here in the southern hemisphere the seasons are the exact opposite of those in the States. So that means that December 21 was the first day of summer here. It's quite different to have Christmas in the summer. Strange to be buying swimming suits and Christmas presents at the same time.

Speaking of Christmas presents, my parents sent us money to buy the kids' presents so we were able to buy them bicycles. What was really cool about this is that we were able to go out on Christmas Day and ride them since it's summer. Joe even wore shorts and I got a tad sunburned.

Here's one more interesting fact about our first Christmas here. As per tradition, I had bought the girls new dresses for our Christmas Eve dinner. Well, since it is summer here all the dresses looked like Easter dresses...all springy things, sleeveless with flowers in pink, yellow and orange along with Easterish bonnets to match. I was telling my friend Glenda about them saying that it didn't quite seem like Christmas what with the weather, these dresses, and other such summery things. So one day I got a call from Glenda telling me that she had found Christmassy dresses down in the used clothing part of La Cancha complete with velveteen, tule, and all things girly. So that afternoon I made my way through the ever-growing crowd in La Cancha (another time I'll tell you about the riot down there between toy vendors) to find some 'real' Christmas dresses. I found and purchased the dresses you see in the picture above. (Thanks again, Glenda.) Here's the funny part, I paid more for the used dressed than I did for their new springy ones. In fact I probably paid more for the one from Wal-Mart than it cost when it was new. Good ole supply and demand at work. The good news is that we know have dresses for Easter. :>)

We also bought the kids 2 birds and a guinea pig which well hid out in Jake's room until Christmas. Jake thought he was living in a zoo and is glad his "roommates" have moved out and now he can get a good night's rest.

We were grateful to carry on some traditions that we could and also start some new ones. Christmas on the mission field is different from Christmas in the States, but we loved it just the same.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

An Update on Joy, Jake and Seth

Several people have been asking about these 3 of our kiddos so I thought I'd take this opportunity to update you all. Joy is alive and well. She has totally recovered. We are trying to get a nebulizer sent down from the States because the doc said this is likely to happen again. In the States she usually got pneumonia once a year or so. I'm not sure if this is because she had RSV when she was not quite a year old or if she got RSV because she is susceptible to this kind of respiratory/chest infections. Anyway, right now she is her old happy self. Of all of our kids she is probably the best named. I told her the other day that she is so full of joy that she even was smiling in her sleep.

Jake is doing much better as well. He still has a slight limp. He is finished with physical therapy but is continuing to do the exercises at home they taught him. As a side note...on the day that Jake got his crutches he asked if he could go with Caleb and some friends and climb the Christo (the famous statue of Christ in Coch that is inches higher than the one in Rio de Janeiro). It has approximately 2000 steps that are of course not to code. (What code?) Me, being the mean mom that I am, said no. Anyway as you can see from this story the accident didn't slow him down much. As I type this he, Caleb and Ben are at La Palabra de Vida (the Word of Life) camp with approximately 700 other Bolivians. I'm sure they are having a great time.

Now, on to Seth. Seth is doing well in the US living with my parents. He has two jobs and is saving money for college and trying to decide where he'd like to go to school. My parents are thrilled to have him back there. We miss him terribly here, but I'm glad he is with them. I think it's good for all of them. Thanksgiving, Christmas and his 19th birthday (January 1) were all hard days to be so far from him. We are thankful to live in an age of computer information and Skype....with our webcam we are even able to see him. Yea for technology!!

I also wanted to one more time thank all of you who prayed for us during those trying and tiring days. God was faithful to answer your prayers and heal our kiddos. Also thank you to all who gave money to offset our extra medical costs. We are grateful for your generous hearts. Please continue to pray for us all including Seth back there in the States.

Here's a pic of SOME of the meds that Joy and Jake were on back in November. Joy had at five meds she was taking each day and Jake got a total of 18 shots. YUCK! We're all glad those days are behind us.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Firecracker Baseball AKA Things to Do in Bolivia When You are Bored

Here's a short video of our family playing our own made up game....Firecracker Baseball. Here's basically how it works: Someone (usually a teenager or a dad or some such person of very little brain) lights a firecracker and pitches it toward the batter who is standing with 2 x 2 in hand ready to belt the firecracker out of the park (or yard as the case may be) before it goes off. There are plenty of cheap entertainment options here in Coch, you see. Sorry it's poor quality, but we had to film in night vision since it was dark. I'm the batter on the video. Enjoy!


Bolivians don't celebrate Thanksgiving. But we did. We tried to make it as traditional as possible....minus the turkey and the Cowboy football game. Of course we couldn't watch the Cowboys play and we ended up not buying a turkey since it was a bit cost prohibitive. However I made some of our traditional favorites....chicken enchiladas, five cup salad, banana pudding, brocoli and rice casserole, etc. It was much harder than usual since we don't have any convenience foods here. When I say convenience foods I mean things like sour one told me this before we moved here or I might would've rethought it :>) We make our own. And as I've said before we can't get anything veggies, or pie crusts or anything 'ready to eat'. There is nothing in the frozen food section of the grocery store except ice and ice cream. Also we don't have cream cheese (although sometimes you can find this if you can beat the other gringos to it and pay the $3 or so that it costs). Another thing we have to make is brown sugar. Also there are no canned cream of chicken or cream of mushroom....nada. No instant rice. No Bisquick. No packaged mixes. These are all ingredients I used to use often...especially for holiday cooking. Now I've had to revise my recipes and make even the necessary ingredients. It's a bit harder, but it's worth it. The enchilada's were scrumptious!!

We have much to be thankful for: 10 wonderful children, a roof over our heads, food to eat, dear family, good friends, an awesome missions team, a new opportunity to serve our Savior in a new place and with a new language, and the awesome privilege to proclaim His name to those who haven't heard....just to name a few. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to reflect on all you have to be thankful for as well.

One more thing I'm grateful for: my new friend Glenda who tracked down a store with real Philadelphia Cream Cheese for me on Christmas Eve (no easy task) and who brought me a bag a brown sugar. I love ya, Glenda....and not just for these reasons! You are a dear sister.

Drying Clothes During the Rainy Season

Welp, the rainy season is upon us. We went for a several months with no rain at it rains most days. They tell us this will continue through February. One complication of all the rain is how do we dry our laundry? Our washer does have a dryer setting but it takes several hours to dry a load and we have several loads a day. Normally we hang it outside on the line to dry, but now many days this isn't possible. Joe hung up an additional clothes line under a small overhang on our house but it's not nearly big enough for all of our laundry needs. So, we have to improvise. In other words we have laundry spread all over....anywhere we can where it is protected from the rain. Here's a pic of it drying on the handrail of our stairs:

I'm Baaaack!!

I'm sorry that I have been out of touch for so long. I hope I never go that far between bloggings again. It was just a busy time what with our first Thanksgiving and Christmas in Bolivia along with various birthdays, SIM celebrations and also my first oral exam in Spanish, but more on all of these later. First I wanted to add one more thing about my last post concerning toys, tools, and treasures several weeks back. This is a postscript to my last blog entry.

One more thing about toys, tools and treasures: What is money? Firstly, money is not a treasure. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. If money is my treasure I will live a life of greed and emptiness....always wanting more and never having enough because no matter how much more I get, I want just a bit more. We are not to set our affection on the amount of our bank accounts. I learned a long time ago that my security is not in how much money I have now or how much I'm saving for the future. My security comes from my Lord. No one can take that from me.

We have lived on the generosity of God's people for the last 20 years....first in the pastorate and now as missionaries. Because of the obedience to God of these people and their love for us, we have plenty. We have been well provided for. I am grateful for that. Yet, my gratitude is for the people, and above all for my God who prompted them to care for us, not in the dollars that they have given. Everything I have is a gift. It was given to me by the loving hand of my Father. As they say I came into this world with nothing. I will leave with only the things I have done for the kingdom of God. Nothing more.

Now before you say that doesn't apply to you because you have a 'real' job, let me tell you I felt the same way when Joe worked at General Motors or at the various jobs he had to meet our needs. Every dollar we had was a gift from God. It was provided by Him. Sure He used GM to do that just as now He uses His people to provide for us, but if he didn't use GM he would use something else. It was God who was meeting our needs then and God who is meeting our needs now. If all my money blows away tomorrow, if all our supporters stop giving, God is still my security. He will provide for my needs. If my bank account is overflowing, it's not what I trust in to take care of me. I trust in the Lord. If I mistakenly think that money is my treasure and my security, I will sacrifice what ever I have to in order to get more. This leads to a life of greed and envy. But if God is my treasure and my security, I will gladly sacrifice what ever He asks in order to serve the One who meets all my needs.

Secondly, money is not a toy. If I think that money is a toy to be used for my pleasure I will live a life of materialism and selfishness spending my money on whatever I want...whatever strikes my fancy. Sure I might occasionally give to someone else or some good cause, yet in my heart I desire to spend my money on what brings me the most pleasure. I will even become jealous of others who have things I'd like to have and develop bitterness for what I see as my lack. Money is not to be treated frivolously. It is to be taken seriously. The Bible teaching much about money and it's uses.

Money is simply a tool. Something I use. A means to an end. A way to invest in the lives of people and the kingdom of God. God is very interested in the way that we use this tool. I was just reading the story of the widow's mite. I saw something I've never seen before. In Mark it says that Jesus sat down opposite of the place that people were putting in their offerings WATCHING as they put in money. He was looking at what they were giving. Today especially in North American culture, I think we try to respect each other's privacy in what they give, but here it says that Jesus was watching what they gave and even commented on it to His disciples. God is very interested in what we do with our money. Not only is it a tool for us, it is a tool for Him as well. A way He can measure our devotion. Just something to think about.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth....but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven" Matt 6:19-20