Monday, December 7, 2009

A New Quote from Patience

Joe:  "Do you know I will always love you no matter what?"
Patience: "That´s why it´s called love.  Duh!"

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Feeling and Filling Needs

We stopped watching regular TV almost 15 years ago and we are probably one of the few families who have never had cable TV.  Since we´ve been in Bolivia we buy copies of TV shows (at least one season behind) on DVDs.  So we do know and watch some of the shows that are on and some blasts from the past like I Love Lucy, The Cosby Show, The Pretender, and MacGyver.  When we stopped it´s not like we had been watching tons of TV.  Our oldest kids were small and they watched an hour or so of kids´ programs in the afternoon and Joe and I watched an hour or two a few nights a weeks.  At first not watching TV was an experiment, but we liked not having it so much we never went back.  Even after we turned off the TV for good we still rented movies, so I guess we were kinda ahead of the Ti-Vo curve.  We still watched movies, just no commercials.

Anyway something unexpected happened that first Christmas after we unplugged our TV.  When we asked our three young children what they wanted for Christmas they could not think of a single thing they wanted.  This was so different from years past when they had long lists of toys.  Finally one of them came up with the idea that he wanted a sucker that spun around like he had seen in the checkout line at K-Mart.  WOW!  We couldn´t believe it.  They couldn´t think of any toys they wanted.  To get away from all the advertising and marketing is not why we stopped watching TV, but it sure was a nice side benefit.  That´s when we realized the impact that all the commercials had on our kiddos and on us too.  We didn´t want or need the newest gadgets or toys or cars or even the newest cleaners.  We didn´t even know what they were.  When we felt a need we went looking for something to fill that need.  We didn´t feel needs created by ads on TV anymore. 

I was thinking about that this morning.  What a powerful impact advertisers have over us.  They make us feel needs that we didn´t feel before.  Needs that aren´t even natural.  Otherwise how can you explain how Americans spend millions or even billions of dollars on things like spray on hair, pocket fishermen, and knives that can cut through cans.  How often do you need to cut a can, really?  Why do feel like our old cars without the GPS, without DVD players and butt-warmers on every seat just aren´t good enough anymore?  Why do we think we need the newest smells, the newest frozen food, the newest clothes?  Because we are made to feel discontent with our old ones like they just aren´t good enough anymore.  Someone else has created something better and other people are getting it.  I need it too!  For instance, before I had been perfectly content with my old pen, but now there is one that writes even better.  I must have that one.  I have a need for a new pen that just a few moments ago I didn´t even know existed.  But these advertisers aren´t finished with me yet.  I must buy it now because for a few days only it is ´on-sale´ and if I want it later I will have to pay more money for it and that would just be stupid to wait.  So I rush down to the store to buy the latest thing in writing, and also newest toothbrush that technology has invented so my teeth will be cleaner and while I am there I buy the newest detergent to make my clothes cleaner because that will make me happier.  How shrewd these advertiser guys are.  No wonder they make so much money.  They CREATE needs.  They make us feel needs that we didn´t have before and they make us feel as if we must get these needs met TODAY. 

Now to spiritualize this principle for a moment.  Why as Christians can we not do that with REAL needs?  Why aren´t we as shrewd at discerning and showing people their real needs and pointing out the ´lack of fullfillment´ with their old way of life?  We have the REAL answer to REAL needs...not imagined ones.  A restored relationship with God through the work of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit really does FILL a need.  A real need.  I know that many people are afraid of or even opposed to ´marketing´ Jesus.  But I am not talking about trying to sell people something or even trying to convert them to a certain kind of life.  I am not talking about trying to get them to attend a certain church or buy a certain Bible or a particular Bible study book or sell them on my way of life.   I don´t want to have people feel needs that aren´t there I only want them to realize the need that they do have.  I don´t want to ´sell´ them anything.  I just want them to consider if all the things they are cramming into their lives really are meeting their needs or are they still feeling like something is missing.  I just want them to know that there is Someone who can meet all their needs.  I want them to know that there is a realationship that they can have that will exceed any need they´ve ever felt.  I think most people, even sadly many Christians feel like if they just had more time, more patience, more energy, more money, more power, more organization, more (fill-in-th-blank) they would be more content.  They feel like something is missing and they spend their lives trying to fill that need.  As Christians we have the answer, yet many times as I said our lives don´t look that much different from anyone elses.  We are not content either.  We are looking for something else to make us feel fulfilled.  We don´t find our contentment in God and following His plan for our lives. 

I guess I am answering my own question here.  I was wondering why we aren´t showing people their real need for God and the fulfillment that only He can give.  Why aren´t we ´hipper´ in finding ways to reveal to people their needs and better at showing them the way to the One who can meet those needs?  Why can´t we see people´s needs, point them out, and direct them to the Answer?  I guess maybe it´s because even we don´t truly believe that we have the answer.  Maybe we don´t believe in our own ´product´.  We feel unfulfilled ourselves.  We are trying to meet our needs elsewhere too.  What is wrong with us?  How are we so easily influence by others and their ideas when we should be the influencers?  We have been sucked in.  I guess the answer is that first we as Christians must see that in Christ we have all we need.  We have all we need to be content to be fulfilled.  Once we figure that out for ourselves and live our lives according to that knowledge, maybe then we can convince others of it. 

It´s Official!

We just got permission from our mission to go on home assignment next June. May will be our 3 year anniversary in Bolivia and we have decided to take our home assignment (what used to be called furlough) after that mark. That means if things go according to plan...which is a big assumption at this point with as many variables as we have in our lives...our entire family will be in the States in June of 2010. It is an exciting thought and a scary one too. The task of moving our family internationally again is daunting, but it will be fun to reintroduce them to the US and to see their excitement at seeing some of their old favorite places and people.

It is our plan to visit all of our supporting churches while we are in the States and as many of our supporters as we possibly can and it goes without saying that we will enjoy spending lots of time with family. We will be in the Virginia area for a while and then we´ll make our way to Charlotte, North Carolina to our mission´s headquarters to debrief, some medical checks, and some assistance in how to handle our re-entry. Then on to the northeast to go to Home School Week at Sandy Cove, then visiting other friends and supporting churches. Later we will work our way to the St. Louis and the Denver areas. We also will hit Texas for a while with a stopover in Tennessee. Then we might settle for a while in Florida before we head back to Bolivia. We hope to work some relaxation and rejuvenation in there as well. Of course as I said this is a very tentative schedule and open to change. The thought of all this travel is exciting and intimidating all at the same time. We are after all a small army and like an army we travel on our stomachs. We will put lots of miles on a vehicle and lots of fast food in our bellies I´m sure. I know we´ll have lots of fun stories to share if we survive.

Any of you missionaries who have done this furlough thing, we are open to your tips. Any of you we will be visiting, we are open to any help you can give us as well. To our family and friends....we are so looking forward to spending some ´face to face´ time with you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

La Cancha

I realized that I talk a lot on my facebook page and also on my blog about going to La Cancha, but I haven´t posted picture of it in a while.  So this is my attempt remedy to that.  La Cancha is our version of Wal-Mart.  It is supposedly the largest outdoor market in South America.  It goes on for acres and acres.  You can get just about anything you need there (unless you need Starbucks coffee, Reese´s Peanut Butter Cups, the Little House on the Prairie series in English, a clean environment, a toy that lasts more than a couple of days, or a day free of smells of urine mixed with rotting veggies and meat that has been hanging out in the hot sun for hours).  Seriously, if we need it we go to La Cancha to buy it whether it´s a computer, furniture, fruit, artwork, paper, dead llama fetuses....we don´t actually need those, but the witches do to perform their rituals and there is a whole section of witches´ supplies.  You can also pick up pigs heads, plastic chairs, exercise equipment, donkey jaws...a whole wheelbarrow full of them, car parts, candy, bushels of coca leaves (used to make cocaine, tea, or just to chew to keep you awake...the Bolivian version of Red Bull).  Did I mention that they have tires, appliances, clothes, blankets, beauty supplies, toys, dishes, birthday supplies, tarot card readings?  Yep, it´s all there and more.  You can have your vegetable oil pumped from a 55 gallon barrel directly into whatever container you bring to hold it.  Didn´t bring anything?  They have extra 2 liter bottles that they find on the street they´ll fill for ya.  In the middle of all this madness there are dentists´ and doctors´ offices.  In fact the doc that delivered Mercy has here office there.  There is also an entire section (think blocks and blocks) of used clothing.  It´s the stuff that doesn´t sell at thrift stores in the States.  It gets shipped down here and that´s where we buy the majority of our clothing.  Just yesterday my mom (who is here for a visit...YEA!) and I went because most of my kids´ jeans have a viewing spot for their knees and they needed some ´new´ ones.  The section I usually go to buy used clothing is the section that all the pictures in this entry are from.  I will post other pics of us Christmas shopping in another section on another day.

See the piles to dig through?  Actually this is relaxing for me and I enjoy going to yard sales. 
Joe on the other hand thinks it is torture.

Want a bootleg DVD?  CD?  MP3? (Just no Little House ones!)

Fresh squeezed orange juice...smells sooo good and helps cover up some of the other
not so good smells.  Notice that she just has 4 glasses? 
After you drink yours she just dumps them
 in the dirty water in that red bucket and voila she´s ready for the next customer.
I wonder why we get so much typhoid and hepatitis here.

This little lady like so many more has had a really hard life. 
Note the ice cream ´truck´ in the background (a cooler on wheels).

Close up of the ice cream ´truck´.

Need some pantyhose?

Socks?  or an empanada or local drink in the background?

Other local drinks...I´ve never been brave enough (or stupid enough...I´m not sure which)  to try these.

In amongst the clothes are some veggies, but the biggest section of produce is in another place. 
I´ll post those pics another time.

You can take a break and eat some lunch at this lady´s ´restaurant´.

Lots of garlic (yum!) and delicious tomatoes too.

Need some spices?  Now that´s what I call bulk...Costco has nothing on us.

I wish these pics were scratch ´n sniff so you could smell the aromas surrounding these scenes.

Need a watch?  Guaranteed to last until you walk, not really that long. 
But seriously, it will probably last a good couple of days.

Me and Jake looking for a dress shirt for him.

Jake checking out the candy.

Yet Another...

This morning Joe told the little girls they could have the last they excitedly came running up the stairs...."Dad said we can share a bikini!!"  I don´t think so.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nomadic Lifestyle

One thing I have been forced to get used to living on the mission field is a nomadic lifestyle.  That hasn´t necessarily been an easy thing for me.  When we built our "dream house" in Purcellville, Virginia we imagined that it would be the house where our grandchildren would come visit us.  We had no idea God would call us to Bolivia and a life spent moving.  We have lived in four different houses in our little more than 2 years on the mission field.  We hope we are in this house until we come back to the States on home assignment, but then that will entail moving our entire caravan back to the States to live for a few months before packing up once again and coming back to Bolivia.  No easy task with any sized family, much less our herd.

We aren´t the only ones that endure such trials.  Missionary life is a life spent moving...a bit like the military.  We are after all in God´s army and He has troops all over the world.  ;^)  Two of the orphanages here in town are moving in the next few months.  Can you imagine what it is like to move a bunch of kids who already have attachment disorders from being abandoned and all sorts of other challenges?  Please pray for these kiddos that their transisitions would be as smooth as possible.  Our church´s orphange will have moved twice in as many years.  Almost 30 kiddos call the House of Dreams their home and they will be moving on the 28th of this month.  One of the problems with housing here in Bolivia is uncertainty of the political future.  People who own more than one house and renting one out are selling the ´extra´ one and liquidating their funds.

Recently I went to the airport to see my friend Krista off as she and her family moved back to the States after 7 years as missionaries in Coch.  Let me tell you that I didn´t envy her.  Even though her 3 boys and her baby girl were extremely well behaved and as calm as could be there in the airport I couldn´t help but think of the long journey they had ahead of them.  It wore me out thinking of it.  Then last week my friend Kim moved back to the States with her family.  Actually she and the kiddos went ahead of her hubby so he could finish up some things here.  So, she took 3 kids 4 years old and below, 6 suitcases packed full, 3 carry-ons, a couple of backpacks, a double stroller and two carseats....BY HERSELF on a plane bound for Miami.  I think she is superwoman...but I also think..."What was she thinking!?"  I don´t even want to think about our going back to the States on home assignment with 9 kiddos, 22 suitcases, 10 carry-ons, etc, etc. etc.

But the nomadic lifestyle isn´t all bad.  What has been good for me is realizing that this world is not my home, that stuff just weighs you down, and that looking after ´things´ is not why I was put on this earth.  As I am getting ready for spring cleaning and clearing things out and paring down once again I am reminded how easily and quickly I can accumulate treasures here on earth and just how much of my time and energy the stuff can take...storing it, cleaning it, caring for it.  How much do we really NEED?  I once again vow to lay aside every weight that so easily besets me and push toward the goal.  I want to carry people to the goal with me...NOT STUFF.  I don´t wanna spend (waste) my life looking after stuff.  I want to invest it in people.

I remember when we lived in Denver going to a museum and hearing about the pioneers as they moved west in wagon trains.  When they left the East they took only what they thought were the essentials.  Yet, many times along the way they might have to leave some of their ´necessities´ behind in order to move ahead.  Their wagon might be too heavy and their animals too weak to pull it.  It might bog them down fording a river or crossing a muddy prairie, so they would leave their treasures there by the river or on the plain.  There were places at the banks of some of the larger rivers that were ridden with beautiful antique furniture that had been in families for generations, expensive clothing, rare China dishes, precious books and all sorts of other material possessions.  Things that in another life held so much meaning to them, but now they were just things holding them back from reaching their goal.   Sometimes they even had to leave real essentials like food behind.  If they were to reach their destination they really did have to lay aside the ´extra´ weight.  It was more important to save the people and leave the stuff behind...even things that they had considered essential or things they had treasured.  What a great lesson for me.  Leave the stuff.  Save the people.  Leave the stuff.  Love the people.  Use the stuff.  Treasure the people.  Get rid of the stuff so I have time for the people. 

As a postscript to this blog entry I recommend that you check out the book Material World.  It is an awesome book that takes a statistically average families from countries all over the world.  A photographer takes their picture with all their possessions outside of their house.  Very eye opening. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Cultural Difference

The other day as I was teaching my kiddos I had the younger ones doing an educational game on the computer by me.  I overheard one of the questions...."Who helps keep your neighborhood safe?"  My ears perked up as I knew this could be interesting.  My little girls started blurting out answers:  "The dog."  "The guard."  "The walls."  Then the answer came on the computer..."The policeman".  My kids looked at each other dumbfounded and said..."Huh?".  Guess that software was made for the USA. 

The Rainy Season is Upon Us

The rains have begun.  Yea! (and not).  I have mixed feelings about the rainy season.  I love the rain, I always have.  I love big ole Texas thunderstorms.  Even as a child I loved them.  They never scared me, but always comforted me.  Here in Coch we go for months and months without seeing any rain at all, so it is wonderful to have it again and see all the brown start to turn green.  But it all comes at once; it´s not spread out throughout the year.  From now until February it will rain about 4 out of 5 days, and the rest of the year it doesn´t rain at all.  The rainy season also happens to be our summer time which is the bummer part for me.  I happen to love the feel of the sun warming our city, our house and our bodies.  At 8500 feet, it really cools off at night and so the sun is so nice in the daytime.  Cochabamba is called the City of Eternal Spring so I don´t really have any room to complain about our weather.  It gets up to around 80 degrees year round, but with varying degrees of coolness at night.  We don´t have the luxury of heating or airconditioning so this weather is simply wonderful.  However, I have just gotten used to not having to take a sweater or jacket with me when we go out at night and I was enjoying that, now I have to go back to keeping one near me all the time.  Sunday morning was our first ´big´ rain of the year and as I sat in church (a bit chilly) thinking about it, I realized how much I enjoy the sun, but then I thought how much I love the Son more. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

3 More Quotes

On the way to church...
Joy:  "I´m gonna sit behind Mommy because she smells so good."
Patience:  "I´m gonna sit behind Daddy so I can rub his head."

At church:
Hope:  "I´m not going to Sunday School.  I am going to sit beside Grandma in church, because I told her I would tarantulate the sermon for her."

Yesterday afternoon:
Patience:  "Mommy, I love you and you are so beautiful.  Do you know why I tell you that all the time?  So you won´t forget it."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New Unmentionable Quote from Hope

Perhaps I need to tell Hope to not share her new saying….

“My name is Hope…that’s short for Hoper, and long for Ho.”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Still Small Whisper

My life has been busy this year. I started off the year without Joe as he was in the States for a missions conference. When he came home he brought a nice surprise with him… parents for a visit. While they were here I lost our sweet baby Jordan. As they were heading for the airport and their trip home my mom broke a tooth that held a bridge for her front teeth. She ended up staying for an additional 4 weeks to have her teeth repaired. In April we moved houses (yet again). In late June Joe, Mercy and I headed to Sandy Cove in Maryland to speak at a conference. We were so happy to get home and return to a ‘normal’ life. Then two weeks later Joe’s dad passed away on our 25th wedding anniversary. We scrambled together a quick trip for Joe, Mercy and I and headed to Texas for the memorial service. We got back, had a short respite from crises other than the normal crises of ministry opportunities and sick kiddos. However too soon we began preparations for Jake’s return to the US to begin his life there. I just got back from that trip and I miss him so much already. I brought my mom back with me for a visit and for her to be able to finish her dental work here. She will be here until December 5. We are glad she will be here to celebrate American Thanksgiving with us. Then I suppose we’ll start planning Christmas in full force. I almost feel like a North American with all we’ve had going this year. It’s been crazy busy. At this moment I don’t care if I EVER get on another airplane. I know that will change as I have too many people special to me too far away, but that’s my feeling right now.

Add to all of the above our regular lives full of ministry opportunities….

Joe’s teaching at the Seminary, the John Maxwell training classes, preaching at least 10 times in different churches this year, a couple of seminars, leading a parenting conference and a marriage conference…just to name a few. As for me I am still homeschooling 6 kiddos and taking Spanish lessons three times a week….yes, I still stink at it, but I’m trying! I also prepare meals without convenience foods, make it a priority to meet with other missionary gals for mutual encouragement, clean up vomit way more often than I’d like, pass out needed meds, try to keep our family running as smoothly as possible, spend way too much time packing and unpacking and moving our nomadic family, change a few diapers, return emails (eventually), keep up with friends on facebook, look for ministry opportunities as I sit, stand, walk, and buy my veggies in the market, am working on training our brood to have at least a modest smattering of manners, I also try to work a bath or shower in there….just to name a few.

If any of you are still with me, my the point of this blog is not to tell you what all we do….many of you do much more than I do. My point is that in doing all that we do I often wonder if I am doing the One thing that God has called me to. Am I so busy doing all that is necessary that I neglect what is essential? Often I hear the still small Voice whisper to me. The Voice of God that is not in the crises, not in the earthquake, not in the fire, not in the busy distractions of life.  He reminds me in the midst of all I have going to remember why I am on this earth. That Voice reminds me to examine why I do what I do, what I should let go of and what I should reach for in order to further His kingdom. That’s what I am about….what Jesus was about….revealing and furthering God’s kingdom here on earth until He comes again. I’m not just here to pass time. I am here to accomplish a purpose. His purpose. And if I don’t join Him in that purpose He will choose someone else who will. I don’t want to be passed over. I want to be a part. A part of His story. Of His eternal plan. My story is only important in the part that it intersects with His work. All my work will burn up. His work is eternal. 

God, help me listen to your still, small Voice and connect to Your plan for this world….reaching people with the good news of what You have done for them, caring for the poor, the widows, the orphans, helping to bring health to the sick both physically and spiritually, discipling believers, building up Your church, reaching out to those in need, loving people and showing them Your love. This are the things You care about. This is what matters. May my life be one that matters….not for me, but for You.  May my life be one of purpose like that of your Son.  May I not get distracted or bogged down with busy-ness.  Keep on whispering your plan to me and give me the strength to follow that Voice.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Quick Quote

I have a whole list of new blog articles I am going to write....hopefully starting tonight or tomorrow, but in the mean time I wanted to let you know that I am still alive.  I am back from the States dropping off yet another grown son (sniff, sniff).  I will write about that and much more later.  For´s a quick quote...

Patience to David as she is on the computer:  Could you barely push this button for me cuz I don´t even know what barely means?!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Living in a Broken World and Needing to Feel Loved and Accepted

Lately I´ve been thinking a lot about the results of the sin of Adam and Eve aka ´The Fall´.  It was no small thing that.  Because they thought that their way would be better than the way God had laid out for them, because they thought they should be the ones in control of their lives, because they wanted to be the ones to call the shots we now live in a broken world.  We each are born into broken relationship with God who created us and loves us more than we could ever comprehend.  Sin entering our world affected us more than I think we realize.  It affected our thinking.  It affected our being.  It affected everything we know and even things that we don´t know or realize.

I recently read a book that talks about our ´life-boat´ mentality.  The phrase comes from a discussion that many kids have in schools these days.  Maybe in school you had some of these discussions about people´s worth.  It goes something like this:  Suppose there is a lifeboat that only had room for 5 people and there were six people in it...a little 6 year old boy, a stay at home mom, a female doctor, a male lawyer, a male teacher, a 25 year old woman with Downs Syndrome or some such group as that.  If one was not thrown overboard then all would die.  Who would you choose to be thrown overboard?  The idea that all people are equal because they are made in God´s image rarely if ever comes up.  Usually the class has no problem picking people that have value and those who do not.   Even if they struggle a bit with it they end up picking someone to throw overboard.  That is because this is how we live our everyday lives.  We live as though some people are more valuable than others and of course we want to be the ones with more value.  Therefore we need to prove we are worth something.  We want to show that we deserve to be in the lifeboat.  We go about comparing ourselves to one another.  If someone says or thinks they are better than me it can make me frustrated or angry or even sad because in my ´lifeboat mentality´ they might take my place.  I have to prove I deserve to stay in the lifeboat.

But, what if we are valuable just because God made us and because He loves us?  What kind of world would it be if we all got our sense of worth from God?  What if we didn´t need to compare to one another?  What if I didn´t need to show myself to be better than you?  I could just love you for who you are without judgment.  I could do my best to meet your needs and help you because you aren´t a threat to me.  My desire would be to do whatever I could to build you up.  Sounds like paradise to me.  Sounds like the kingdom of heaven that Jesus talked about. 

Before the fall Adam and Eve lived in total harmony with God.  The Bible tells us they were naked and unashamed, but this was lost after the fall.  After they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they became ashamed of who they were.  They no longer were in a perfect relationship with God receiving all they needed from Him.  They were separated from God.  Their relationship was broken.  Because of this they now felt the need to blame others in order to appear better than someone else (Eve in Adam´s case) or something else (the serpent in Eve´s case) and the comparisons and ´life boat´ mentality began.

What if part of our being ´fallen´ means that we are going around trying to be loved and respected by other people instead of getting our love and acceptance from being in a perfect relationship with God?  The fall really messed us up.  We are missing the part (the perfect relationship with God) that made us know in the core of our being that we are valuable, so now we spend most of our time trying to prove to ourselves and to the world that we are good enough, smart enough, talented enough, worthy enough to be loved. 

I am so glad that Jesus came to restore us back to that perfect relationship with God.  He came so that we could once again know what it feels like to be loved unconditionally.  Real love.  Love not based on anything that I do.  How different is that kind of love that the kind that is offered to us in this world?  The Bible tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus.  NOTHING I can do can make Him stop loving me.  He loves us not because of anything we do, but just because He wants to.

So how come I still go around trying to prove myself worthy of that love?  How come so many people feel like they have to show God by their good works that He got a good deal when He chose them?  How come we set up laws and rules that look like those of every other religion?  Ways to be acceptable in God´s sight.  How come we think some people are holier than others?  Closer to God?  More important in the kingdom?  How come we base so much on people´s actions and judge them by what they do and what they don´t do?  Isn´t this what the Pharisees did?  We are not called to actions or works, we are called to a restored relationship with God.  

These days I find myself longing more and more for the old Garden of Eden or better yet for the New Kingdom.  Longing for a time with no lifeboats.  Where there is room for all.  Acceptance for all.  Isn´t that what Jesus taught?  For now while I still live in this fallen world I must focus on finding my acceptance in my Beloved so that I will be able to forget as best as I can about me.  Only then will I be able to really love and unconditionally accept those whom God has called me to serve. 

I realize this is a bit of a ramble and I hope that you are able to make some sense of it.  Just sharing a few things on my heart.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

More Quotes

This time from Hope (age 7 for a few more days)....

to her dad:  "I am so proud of myself."

Joe:  "Why is that?"

Hope:  "Because I haven´t been outside all day.  All I´ve been doing is watching movies.  Usually all we do is play outside and use our imaginations and I haven´t done that all day."

Disclaimer:  The reason they were watching so many movies is that we have several kiddos recovering from giardia. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our Second Day of Homeschooling This Year

Looks like I either wore someone out or bored them to sleep....or just ignored her until she took care of herself and took her nap right beside my desk. Whatever works I say.

Poor little 11th born

More Quotes

Last night Patience came in from playing outside and asked....

"Daddy, does gasoline stain?"

And then this morning I overheard this exclamation.....

"Oh no! Now the other one escaped!!"

A Life Changed

As I said in my last post we had to make an unexpected trip back to the States for Joe´s dad´s memorial service. The memorial service was beautiful and went on for around 2 hours of people sharing stories from Jack´s life. The best part was the clear picture of the difference of his life before Christ, and his life after he accepted Jesus as His Savior eight years ago. His was a life transformed by the Spirit living in him. A true testimony of the power of God. The pastors did a good job of showing the difference that a relationship with God can have. It was so great to be able to look at Jack´s life and see that there really was a difference in his life before he became a Christian and afterwards. Joe was able to share the story of when his dad and mom came up for a visit and his dad asked Joe to be the one to baptize him. What a sweet memory that is.

As we sat with the family and the pastors on the night before the service we heard two distinct kinds of stories ....ones from the years before he knew Christ when he was a hard working guy with a keen sense of humor, but was a bit rough and hard and never said the words ¨I love you¨, but then we heard stories from his later years after he knew Jesus personally. These were of a man changed. A man who had his hard heart replaced by a tender one. A man who forwarded every sappy email known to mankind. A man who continually told his family he loved them. A man who was know to all the kids at his church as ´the candy man´. A man whose greatest desire was to have his family experience the same relationship with God that he now enjoyed. Yes, Jack Holman was a life changed. Changed by his relationship with God. I am so blessed to have been able to see that transformation. What a testimony of God´s saving grace and His power to transform a life.

I know that one day I will be able to get another one of his big bear hugs and again be able to tell him in person how much I love him, but until then I will miss him. I love you, Jack.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Una Vez Mas

That means ´one more time´ or ´again´. Since I last posted we have had LOTS going on. Joe, Mercy and I went back to the States...AGAIN! Twice in one month. Mercy is really racking up the frequent flier miles....almost 20,000 this month....if only we got credit for the miles of a lap child. ;^) Personally I think we should get double miles for having to hold her. No, really she was a great traveler. Here is a picture of her and Joe on our final leg back from Santa Cruz to Cochabamba.... It looks like she got her nap on the overnight flight from Miami, but Joe didn´t. She´s such an easy baby she was able to entertain herself with a plastic cup and an airsick empty one of course.

The reason for our 2nd visit was a sad one. Joe´s dad passed away. He had cancer in his lungs from working with asbestos for many years, yet we all thought he had some more time. He was in the hospital, but was scheduled to be going home. He passed in the early morning hours of July 21 which also happened to be mine and Joe´s 25th wedding anniversary. (More on that on another post.) It was good that we were able to go back to Texas and be with Joe´s brothers and sister at this time. It was good to see Joe´s family and also some great friends there in Texas. My parents drove down from West Virginia for the memorial service and so we got to spend some time with them as well. More spoiling for Mercy. Can she ever recover?

Jake and Caleb once again stepped up and took care of things here at home in our absence. We have great kids and are so blessed that they are trustworthy and can hold down the fort without us. We also have great friends who came over and brought meals. Other friends took the youngers to the park, a Patch the Pirate night, to visit the orphanage, and other such diversions to give both the younger kiddos and the older kiddos a break. Thank you all, friends for showing your love visibly in our absence. You truly blessed our family.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity, Jig

We got back to Bolivia last Tuesday and are so glad to be home. It was such a fast trip it almost seems like a dream. Our schedule was crazy, but we had such a great time. Here´s a quick breakdown of our journey. We arrived on Saturday (my birthday) and were greeted at the airport by Seth and my parents. It was wonderful to see them all. It was Seth´s first time to meet his newest sister and he wouldn´t put her down; they bonded and became buddies right away. On the way home we went out to eat at Cheesecake Factory (yum). After we arrived at my parents´ house I nursed Mercy, left her in the good care of my parents while Joe, Seth, and I went to Kohls for a few things we needed before the conference. Next stop Wal-Mart to pick up the rest of the stuff. By this time it was around 11:00 p.m. and Joe and I had been up for almost 40 hours. This is where I had my infamous break down. I was overwhelmed and couldn´t seem to find anything that I needed since there were just way too many choices. (See Joe´s blog for a longer version of this part of the story.) I headed for the car and asked Seth to pick me SOME kind of soda since I couldn´t make any more choices. Back at my parents´ house we crashed hard.
We just thought this signboard was an amusing taste of culture in Latin countries. This was taken at the Cochabamba airport. Here you can see that the American Airlines flight scheduled to arrive at 21:35 (9:35 p.m.) did not arrive until 22:05 (10:05 p.m.) which is actually 30 minutes late, but according to the right hand column here that is considered ¨on time¨.

Almost there....Here we are on our way to the States. We´re in the Miami airport waiting for our flight to DC. Joe is faking asleep....but Mercy is NOT.

My Dad grabbed Mercy right when we came off the plane.

Looking for a hug from my mom.

Here is my mom and Seth who is already holding his sissy.

Lots of kisses from a brother who has never held her before. So, now he´s making up for it by not letting go.

More Bubba kisses

My birthday lunch at Cheesecake Factory.

Joe enjoying his ´precious´...a real cup of Starbucks. His first on this trip, but certainly not his last.

We got up relatively early Sunday morning since Joe was preaching at our home church. It was sooooo good to be at Blue Ridge Bible Church and get to visit with so many of our friends there. There just wasn´t enough time (the reoccurring theme of our trip)! Joe preached (a great sermon I might add) and I gave a testimony about how in our early days here in Coch I learned to depend once again completely on God as I realized that He was indeed all I had, but truly all I needed. I had asked Tom to sing the song ¨Rescue Me¨ by Newsong to go along with what I had to say. He did an awesome job. Thanks, Tom. And thank you Jack for letting us speak especially when I know you would´ve loved to after so much time gone recently. It was so good to worship together with you all.

Mercy with my sweet friend Karen Gill.

More loving from Seth at church.

After church we went out to Cracker Barrel (being a missionary you realize that trips back home are all about the food) with Seth and my parents. Then Joe, Mercy and I headed up to Sandy Cove Conference Center where Joe and I were the speakers for this year´s homeschool week. It was great to be back there in a place so dear to our hearts and see so many good friends. The week was amazing. The worship was as awesome as ever and Joe did a great job speaking (of course). It was fun to co-teach with him and it was a great opportunity for us to reconnect with so many good friends. As we opened the door to our room on Sunday night we were overwhelmed with what we saw. The Jacob family had filled our room with all manner of goodies....a variety of kinds of soda (none of which we have in Coch), a coffee pot equipped with Starbucks and Duncan Donuts coffees, ice cold Frapuccinos, pounds of our favorite candies, everything we needed for Mercy, and a bag full of Bath and Body Works stuff for me. What great friends we have!! The week was a high light for us. I haven´t had that much fun seeing old buds and making new ones in a long time....if ever. My parents got to come up midweek and stay with us which made it even more special. We got by on very little sleep, but just couldn´t justify spending time sleeping when there were so many people we wanted to visit with. (Again, just not enough time!) Thank you, Mark, Brad and J.J. for having us. Thank you to all our friends who treated us like royalty by spoiling us with all manner of gifts and compliments. More than anything we just liked hanging out with you and seeing how God has been working in each of your lives. Thanks for sharing your week with us. Thank you, Stephen (Sandy Cove´s new program director) for letting a couple of ¨nobodies¨ speak for the week. I guess we didn´t do too bad since he asked us to come back in 2011 when our whole family will be on furlough and able to attend. (I can hear my kids rejoicing now!)

Mercy with her new friend Sarah....the Jacobs´ newest daughter.

Worshipping together was great!!

What a wonderful group of people...all in one amazing place. (Can ya tell I like it there with them?)

It was so good to be there with you.

Sadly Friday came too soon and we had to pack up and head out. With left with our hearts full...overflowing even, but wanting just a little more time with our friends at Sandy Cove. On the way home that afternoon we went to Jimmy Buffet´s Cheeseburger in Paradise (more good food!) and then we stopped in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a fun show of music through the years. Mercy danced and clapped away in my lap and my parents had more fun watching her than the production. It was another late night and we got in bed around 2:oo a.m. The next day my mom and I went shopping in order to fill my suitcase with all kinds of goodies from the States and Joe flew to St. Louis to preach at the one of our supporting churches that just happens to be the church of some of our favorite friends, Ron and Debi (or however she is spelling it now ;^)) Cathcart. (Love ya, Debi and wish I could have seen you too....only 2 more years). Joe had a good time spending the 4th of July weekend with their family. Mom, Mercy, and I heard the Fourth of July fireworks in Leesburg from inside the local Target. ;^) I figure I see plenty of fireworks in Bolivia and there aren´t any Targets there so I had to make a choice. I choose wisely. I am thankful for my mom´s help and stamina and Mercy´s I´m-just-happy-to-be-here attitude through 2 full days of shopping.

Here is Mercy sporting one of her many 4th of July outfits that her spoiling Grandparents bought for her.

Joe was supposed to fly back on Sunday afternoon, but his flight was cancelled. The good people of American Airlines told him they had re-booked him on the same flight the next afternoon around 4:00. He promptly told them that wouldn´t work since we were supposed to be on yet another flight back to Bolivia at that time. Thankfully they got him on a later flight into another airport, but at least he made it back. My dad picked him up and they got home around 2:00 a.m. where I was still packing all the treasures I had bought the last two days. We went to bed around 4:00 a.m., got up the next morning and stumbled to the airport to have a farewell lunch with my Seth and my parents. A few final hugs and kisses and we were off to Bolivia.

A final nap in my mom´s arms

At the airport saying least for a while

We ate more good food at the DC International Airport at Friday´s...the real deal....not the Cochabamba imitation version known as ¨Tuesdays¨. Joe laughed at me because I was already trying to plan and see if we had enough time to eat at Chili´s in the Miami airport.

Mercy sucking her toes in the Miami airport waiting for our overbooked flight. Yes, every seat was taken. No sleeping on the way home, either. At least not for me or Joe. Mercy slept fine in my lap.

Here she is sucking the other one. Joe and I got our last taste of the States from Pizza Hut in the Miami airport....we didn´t make it to Chili´s. Don´t tell, but we brought home a few extra parmesean cheese packets which caused quite a celebration with our teens.

Mercy was a great traveler. She didn´t cry one bit on the entire more than 8,000 mile round trip journey. I didn´t either, but she was much happier overall than I was.

It all was way too fast and we wish we would´ve had more time with everyone, but we are so thankful that we got to come. We just wanted/needed to get back to our kiddos as quickly as possible. They did an awesome job of taking care of themselves and each other. Mercy was glad to be home to her ´peeps´ as were.

Here I am back at home reading the kiddos a book I brought back with me...¨The Monster at the End of This Book¨. It was a favorite of my older kids when they were little. Everyone sat around and listened while I read it 3 times that day.