We’re Still Alive!

Wow.  Pretty sure I forgot I had a blog.

We moved, and we’ve been living in our house since around the end of May.  We love it here!  It has been wonderful space for us, and we’ve been blessed to host SO MUCH since moving here.  It feels right.  

On Facebook we mentioned semi-recently that our landlady had fallen (well…not all of a sudden) into quite a bit of debt, and she came to us basically saying she needed to sell the house and was asking our permission to do so.  I think Justin and I were shocked really when we first talked to her.  We had just hung up all of our wall decor the day before.  Awesome.  I might have been a bit vocal in our meeting with her (not sinful, just vocal), and it was certainly an issue I had to remind myself not to get angry over for the next several weeks.  When we talked again, we asked her to wait until September to talk more to us about it, because we were hosting the AFC group that was coming to help our team here in Peru through the beginning of August, and then both our boys were celebrating their birthdays that month.  We didn’t want to do anything until September.  She (sort of) respected that, and we only heard from her one more time before the beginning of September.

Then,  in the last day or so of August, I went to Justin and sort of told him I was eager to begin talking through what our plan might be…you know, just thinking it out together.  Needless to say, my brain had been running for those 2 months that we were waiting, and I had ideas I needed to share.  He, on the other hand, was playing it cool and I guess thought of the situation very little (or at least that’s how I saw it after we argued talked), and he was clear he needed about a week to gather his thoughts and pray before we talked at all.  He’s good for me like that.🙂  So we prayed.  Some more.

Before we got to talk again, our landlady came to us one night recently saying she had found a man interested in buying a home (the jury is still out on whether he wants this home or not) but did not want to occupy the home for another 2-4 years or so.  He would be happy to rent it out.  What?  God knew all along that neither of us desired to move.  We wished this entire situation had never occurred.  We really wanted to live here until we move back to the US some day.  That would have been our ideal.

So, if nothing else, it feels God is saying that He knows our desires.  Although the man and his wife have seen the home twice now, we don’t know what the future will be.  They have assured us that if they buy the home, they don’t have intentions of moving in right away, but obviously all we can hang our confidence on is that we know God knows our needs and desires.  We are hopeful this might turn out exactly as we wanted.  Sometimes it’s fun to see God do that, right?  But, as I was reminded tonight in a Bible study (for another time already this month…and it’s only the 10th!), we will still be saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty…” even if we have to move.

SO…on to other updates.  Picture ones.  Those are better, anyway, right?

Cailyn started 1st grade!  She also turned 6 in June.  Wow.  Time is flying!  We’re still homeschooling.  Thought I’d put the “STILL” in there in case anyone was wondering if maybe I’d come to my senses and sent her back to her old school (haha).  She and I get along most moments, unless she’s asked to do 1 too many handwriting activities.🙂  I’ll post about our experience with this in a separate post some time. (maybe in 3 more months with my Christmas post…hah!)

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Corban and Carter had pictures this day, too.  Although Corban is in the middle of his last year of Spanish preschool here (he ends in December), I am starting to do some more specific things with him in the afternoons.  So, he’s officially a Pre-K kid.🙂  And Carter…he’s just doing LIFE.

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The boys both turned another year this past month, as I mentioned above.  Corban is 4 now (wow), and Carter is ONE!  It feels like time is flying by.  Carter’s birthday was a bit different because Justin had to be gone for ministry stuff, but the kids and I enjoyed a day at the mall for lunch and we played at this padded kids play area.  Carter loved it.🙂  Then the kids had ice cream in his honor…haha, and we went home.  We celebrated as a family that next Monday with daddy, and it was certainly more fun having him with us! 

We made a chocolate cake for Carter…per Cailyn’s request.🙂

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But then we had to make another (vanilla) cake due to Corban thinking it was vital he add the REST of my huge bottle of vegetable oil while I was off doing who knows what.  After tons of tears from all (mine were dry, but believe me…I wasn’t too pumped about a wasted box cake since they cost an arm and a leg here), we decided the vanilla cake would be fine.

 

 

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Carter got several cute little gifts, but he really enjoyed his new walker/ride-on toy.  His face pretty much looked the same in every picture.  He wasn’t too excited to sit still for a picture…haha…

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So we left him be so he could RIDE ON!

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I will post some more pictures on Facebook, and maybe some video.  It was quite a scene watching this kid enjoy his new toy.

As for Corban, there was much celebrating as well for him.  He had quite the spread due to wonderful family members who sent packages for him!

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On the day of his birthday we took donuts up to his class for a fun treat to celebrate since his birthday party only consisted of church friends/teammates/other great missionary friends/friends we’re thankful to have because we live in Peru-friends.🙂 He loves his school, and he loves his classmates.🙂

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The day after Corban’s birthday we had the boys’ party.  It was fun, and we are so thankful for our friends here!  I will post more pictures on facebook of the party, but here’s the boys after blowing out candles.  Not sure what Carter was thinking.🙂

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It’s been a busy few months for us, but it’s been fun.  Ministry is going well, and we’re excited to be connecting a bit more in new ways with our supporting church.  Hoping to keep updates a bit closer together these next few months!

 

God Provides

We managed to stay put in one house here in Peru for 3 years, and after those 3 years we made a big move to a new neighborhood and a MUCH smaller apartment.  This past year in our apartment has been full of good learning experiences.  It’s given us more intimate experiences as a family, caused some frustrations for sure, given me perspective on what I need vs. what I want, and provided a good atmosphere for God to remind us of all of his blessings in our life. 

It is completely doable living here with our 5 person family, although there are moments when it does feel like if we ever don’t put something up immediately after using it (which we always do…wink, wink) then we are literally stepping all over each other just trying to move around in the apartment.  I have really enjoyed living here for a few reasons, and I have also been prone to seasons of complaining about how small it feels at times.  The great thing is that we are closer to some of our church members, which we love.  We enjoy being within walking distance of some of our peruvian friends, and we’re glad we moved out of our comfort zone in our old neighborhood and into something that was new for us.

When Carter was born we realized we had an issue with mold in our bedroom closet, and we think he might have had some reactions to the high levels of humidity in our rooms during the winter time here.  He was sick from about 2 months old to close to 5 months old with a chest cough and allergies.  We knew that we needed to at least consider whether we should find a different place to live for his sake if nothing else, but we weren’t prepared to make any decisions until after we returned from being gone for 2 months in the States.

While we were in the States, Justin and I came to the realization that we really were not prepared to go through another move so close to the last move we’d had (a year can FLY by!), but we just weren’t sure yet if we were supposed to be moving or not.  We also knew that this year was a year that each family on our team would be taking some furlough time, and we would be down 2 families in the months of May and June.  As it so happens, our team had our yearly medical campaign scheduled for June 6-12th of this year, and Justin and I would be one of 2 couples on our team in charge of it all.  Since our contract on our apartment ends June 1st, we would be moving right in the middle of all of that, and that was just not possible for us.  I prayed a few times while in the Sates that if God did want us to move that He would drop something in our laps because of our lack of time and energy to go out looking for a new home.  Justin and I decided a couple of weeks after coming back to Peru that while we did have a desire to have a bit more space, it was not the right time for us to move.  We would stay here another year.

Two days after making that final decision (that we felt peace about), we got an email from our landlord saying he wanted nearly double what we were currently paying for rent.  Hold on.  What?

It was ridiculous.  The apartment, while new and clean, is NOT worth the amount of money he wanted, and we thought it a bit absurd that he wanted such an increase in one year of us being here.  Justin wrote a tactful email back saying that while we appreciated what the apartment offered, we knew it was not right to be paying that amount and we needed him to come to a conclusion with us by the end of the week about how much our new contract would be for.  After coming down only just a little bit of money a month, we decided to sit on it and pray a bit for a few days about what we needed to do.  If we were going to have to pay the amount he was asking, we certainly wanted a bit more space to go along with it.  We just weren’t sure.

I had mentioned to a church friend who lives near us about the change in our rent and how ridiculous it was, and after talking to him and his wife they said they agreed it was not right to pay that much for our apartment.  A few days later this friend called us saying he had seen a sign for a house that was for rent just near where we are now.  Apparently it was a 4 bedroom house that they wanted just $40 more a month for than the last price our current landlord had quoted us for our apartment!  We decided we might as well go look at the house to see if it was really all it seemed it might be, but we couldn’t get in touch with our friend at all that day.  Around 4pm that day we got the kids in the stroller and went out walking toward where our friend had said he had seen this house.  After walking around for a bit, we thought it was a lost cause since we hadn’t seen any houses with signs on them, and just as we were thinking we’d turn back I saw a small piece of notebook paper taped to a telephone pole with a sign written in sharpie that was the exact info. our friend had given us.  Except that God wanted me to see this sign, I have no idea how I even noticed it!  So we called.

Since this story has already become a long one, I’ll end by saying we could not have asked for a better home to be “dropped into our laps”!  It is still near where we currently live, it has room for us to have overnight visitors again, we have a small yard again (!!!), and there is a roof where we can store things we aren’t currently using (right now our friends have let us put some of our boxes and things on their roof…i’m sure they will be glad to have that space back).

We got the keys this past Tuesday, and we are presently painting and cleaning it up a bit.  Not only did God just lay this right in front of us, but He has also opened the door for it to be a smooth and stress free move.  While we are very sad to say that we have decided to cancel our team’s medical campaign this year, it does mean that our focus will not have to be divided between moving and preparing for that.  Sidenote: For those unaware, our teammate Lee Fletcher got Malaria after visiting the Jungle in Peru and was in the hospital for a couple of weeks plus some days.  It was very stressful on their family, and helping to care for our teammates also took time and love on our parts seeing as we are like their family here in Peru.  About a week ago, Lee and Justin made the difficult decision to cancel the med. campaign due to not knowing the future of Lee’s recovery.  Lee is doing much better, but he still has a bit of a road ahead of him to gain his strength back.  We appreciate continued prayers on their behalf!

So there you have it.  We are moving.  We are excited and ready, although I know it might get harder before it gets easier.  We do of course have to move all of our stuff!  I don’t really have pictures now, but I will try and post some in the coming weeks.  Thanks ahead of time for your prayers for us in the next couple of months as we make this transition.  Even though God has made a smooth path for us, I know Satan can use this time as a way of trying to stress us out or give us reasons to argue.  We, of course, want to stay strong through anything that comes our way!  I will end with a sweet picture of our kids on Easter Sunday.🙂

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The Way of Love

Well, we’ve nearly come to the end of our furlough time in the States.  Some of you might not even know we’ve even been here.  We got to TX on Dec. 19th, and here we are in February!  Incredible how time flies.  Furlough is always a great time for reflection.  It’s a good time to get caught up on my blog reading, too!  I’ve been blessed to have a couple of months that were kind of  like they aren’t even a part of my real life in Peru, and to be honest, it’s nice.  It’s fun to dream about what we’ll do and new goals we have for when we get back to Peru.  It’s awesome to have so much time as a family as well.  These past nearly 3 weeks have been spent with mostly complete strangers in Colorado, although God is blessing us to be leaving with new friends!  I guess we’ve not formally announced this publicly, but the Littleton Church of Christ in Colorado has taken us on as their foreign missionaries!  We really could not be any more grateful for that, and it has been amazing to get to know so many new and wonderful people.

When you spend 3 weeks with nearly all new people to you, it can really teach you a lot about who you are, what you care about, and how you handle new situations.  Parts of that are nice.  Learning some of these things about myself is refreshing.  But, I have to say, with that also comes some ugliness that surfaces, and I’m sorry to say that some of that ugliness has affected my kids.

It’s very easy to catch myself barking orders at the kids as we drive up to a new home for dinner.  “Do NOT complain about what is served, and you WILL try everything on your plate.”  “If you argue EVEN once, there will be an immediate consequence.”…and other reactive (mostly to situations that have happened in the past) statements like these. After all, we’re trying to make a good impression, right?  I also sometimes catch myself snapping at them to just hush and listen instead of explaining to me “what really happened” or giving them the chance to share their side of the story.  I don’t really have time for long drawn out moments of discipline (aka: kid whines and cries about how the other one hit them first and they didn’t do anything as I’m just trying to diffuse the situation) when there are a couple of people standing and watching me, waiting for me to get back to telling them what it is we do in Peru.  I’ve also caught myself apologizing for the fact that my kid is acting “so impatiently” when I know good and well they’ve had a long, exhausting day.

I wish I could say I was describing this other, out of control mother I saw during my time in the States, but that wouldn’t be true.  Although, there are times when it’s almost like I am sitting there, outside of my own body, watching myself treat my kids in a less than respectful or kind way and screaming at myself (in my head and heart) to stop.  It never feels good to watch THAT mother.  And why have I gotten so upset anyway?  Why can’t I calmly lead these precious kids toward God instead of overreacting and taking us all to a place that God is probably not all that happy with?

Then, in the quietness of the evening (like now), I am reminded of the grace God has always given me.  I am reminded that He sees my heart and my deep desire to do it better the next time.  He even sends sweet people that say things like, “DON’T worry!  The kids are doing great!” in moments when I am possibly feeling overwhelmed at trying to be a godly mother while also being an informative missionary.

In addition to His mercies, I can’t deny that I also feel that conviction from Him.  Those tugs on my heart that God has called me to Love are so strong.  I might let Satan trick me into feeling guilty sometimes as well.  I can’t deny that.  But I know that God’s conviction isn’t one of guilt.  It is there to press me forward.  It is a conviction that helps me see how I can more glorify Him the next time we’re driving up to a strangers house for dinner and I see a need to review positive behavior with my kids.

I feel renewed energy and strength just thinking of the ways in which I can handle some parenting situations more positively.  I get excited about the chance to pick my life back up once we get to Peru with new goals for our family about the ways we interact with one another.  I’m thankful that God has given me these moments with strangers to teach me about my fears, insecurities, and areas in which He is working in my heart.  On top of all of this, I’ve been blessed as a mother to 3 little ones by the patient and loving people at the Littleton Church of Christ.

Yes, these lessons are hard.  I think that’s probably good, though.  I need a reminder every now and then that God’s opinion of how I Love my family is really the only one I need to be concerned with, and when that’s my priority, others around me will always have a healthier view of who He is.  That’s all I should be concerned about anyway.

1 Corinthians 13

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Way of Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, butrejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

*ahem* Anyone still out there?

Yes, I know.  The last time I posted about our family on this blog was about 3.5 months ago.  There have been numerous times when I’ve thought about sitting down to write, but it just hasn’t happened.  It’s not like I haven’t had a moment, but honestly it’s felt like it would take more energy than what I wanted to give each time I thought of it.  Newborns are great and all, but they sort of zap your energy.🙂

I have no specific plan for this post (scary thought, I know), so I guess I will begin with this.  Justin got me a Kindle this past Mother’s Day.  Because I’m just so sweet and sensitive, I gave him a bit of a hard time about it (wink, wink).  See…we’re not really big gift givers on days like Mother’s Day.  In fact, if I’m completely honest, we sometimes do a horrible job (both of us) of planning ahead for things like Christmas.  I know.  That’s horrible.  Not every Christmas…or every birthday…or every *insert big deal day of your choice* do we drop the ball, but there have been years that have come and gone when we’ve just given a card or maybe gone out on a date (which is obviously better than nothing!) for some of those bigger special occasions.  When it comes right down to it, neither of us is overly bothered by this, but I do think both of us would like to be a bit more consistent with our gift giving for those special days.  Just so I won’t totally embarrass myself, I feel the need to say that we DO give each other gifts…don’t get me wrong.  AND…I think we’re both actually pretty good gift givers (if I do say so myself).  If I think about it some more, I feel like living here in Peru has sort of taken us down this road.  Half the time, the gift that we both might want isn’t even available here.  The other half of the time, the gift we might want/want to give costs literally double the price due to it being an imported item or something like that.  So there…it’s not ALL our fault. (haha).  ANYWHOOOO…(just so you all know, none of that has anything to do with what I was intending to write).  Needless to say, I sort of made fun of Justin for getting me a Kindle (which I considered a big deal) for Mother’s Day when we had sort of not even given each other much last Christmas.  There.  I said it.

Don’t worry folks.  I’ve repented for the fact that I kind of thought a Kindle was a bad gift.  That Kindle (you know, the one I didn’t even think I needed) has become my best friend.  OH.MY.WORD.  So…EASY!  I have probably read like 6 or 7 books since this past Mother’s Day, which is equal to the amount of books I’ve probably read in the whole time I’ve been a mother.  That would be 5+ years.  I LOVE my Kindle!

My point: I have recently been reading a short book called “Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess” by Brooke McGlothlin and Stacey Thacker.  Yes, friends, I have certainly found myself in moments/days/weeks of weariness.  Even before Carter was ever born.  Parenting is just a challenge, right?!  It is fun and rewarding, but to be honest, it’s also plain old tiring.  To top it off, I’m not perfect at, and sometimes I find myself REALLY messing things up.  And that’s hard to swallow in those times when I reflect on how a day has gone or how any one given moment of our day unfolded and it’s obvious that it didn’t play out well.  I am just so thankful that I know and have the support of a loving God.  I would be a complete mess with no hope if God wasn’t on my side.  Seriously, people.

In this book, one of the things one of the authors writes about is her experience with the hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour”.  It touched me, because one of my favorite songs is “Lord I Need You” by Chris Tomlin.  You can listen to it here if you’ve never heard it before: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESWGYf–tMw.  Obviously it’s a bit different than the hymn, but the idea is much the same.  In the book it mentions the history of this hymn and that it was written by a housewife, Annie Hawks, in 1872.  I looked it up some more, and I came across something that Annie Hawks wrote about the song:

“For myself, the hymn, at its writing, was prophetic rather than expressive of my own experiences, for it was

wafted out to the world on the wings of love and joy, instead of under the stress of great personal sorrow,
with which it has often been associated.At first I did not understand why the hymn so greatly touched the throbbing heart of humanity. Years later,
however, under the shadow of a great loss, I came to understand something of the comforting power of the
words I had been permitted to give out to others in my hours of sweet serenity and peace.”
Like Annie Hawks, I deeply desire to have this mindset about Christ in my life – even every hour of my life.  I don’t just want to be singing this song because I’m weary.  I want to be acknowledging my need for Him even when my cup is overflowing!  Another verse the authors point out is 2 Chronicles 16:9a, NASB:
“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth
that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
Sign.Me.Up!
I guess what I’m trying to say is just that I deeply desire the support from the Lord that 2 Chronicles talks about, but it is painfully obvious to me that if I’m not living to the tune of the song “I Need Thee Every Hour”, my heart cannot be completely His.  I’ve tried.  It’s impossible, and the mess isn’t just mine.  It affects my entire family.
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On a completely new note.  I am LOVING having a newborn in the house!  Carter is just literally precious, and he couldn’t be a better baby except for when we’re in the car (haha).  He pretty much doesn’t like his carseat unless he’s sleeping, and those days when he sleeps all the time are fading fast!  Here’s the little cutie at just about 4 months old (in his 9m old outfit…what?!)
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Here are a few things we’ve had happen since Carter’s birth (about the last time I posted)…
Both Cailyn and Corban fell on the same day a couple of months ago and both had to get stitches.  Cailyn fell from a hammock at a friend’s house and once Justin was back from the ER with her, Corban fell that late afternoon when Justin took him to ride his scooter outside.  It was a great day.
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We had a little Halloween shindig with our teammates, and I thought you all might get a kick out of a couple of pictures we got.
Our crazy crew…
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One of the first houses we went by for candy had this sign.  It basically says, “Don’t bother us.  Electric fence.”  Geez.
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For the last few years we’ve really gotten a kick out of how careful the people here are when they hand out candy.  Many people just crack their doors, hand candy out of the corner of their window, or put up signs like the one above.  It really is fairly funny, although we probably shouldn’t laugh too hard seeing as last year there really was an incident in front of our home that involved a guy with a gun on Halloween night.  Still, this next picture just makes me laugh.  The kids were too short to reach this tiny window (and what is this hole for normally anyway?!), and the lady inside just stuck her hand out and dropped candy on to them.  We adults were literally laughing our heads off.  It’s things like this that make great memories, right?
IMG_0398When it was all said and done, we probably found about 5 houses in numerous blocks walked that were even handing out candy, and we all agreed that it’s a good thing our kids have no clue what snickers, skittles, butterfingers, laffy taffy, etc. are, or they would be SORELY disappointed in Halloween here.🙂  It’s things like this that make you aware again that much of what you feel your kids are “missing out on” occasionally by living in another country is really only about what you were used to as a child as opposed to them actually knowing they have “missed out” on anything.  For all of these kids, their reality is Peru, and that includes all of the 80 different types of hard candy that get passed out at Halloween or put in party goodie bags.  They’re probably healthier for it anyway, right?
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We had a great Thanksgiving with our team and some new friends as well.  I have no pictures of that day.  Our camera has sort of gone nuts on us, and I’ve not been great at taking pictures – something I hope to change soon!  We had a ton of food, and we enjoyed spending nearly our entire day together being thankful for a lot!
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Another sweet photo of the tiny one in the house…
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This next picture cracks me up, because despite the attempts Corban makes to be really sweet, Carter is learning already that he needs to be on the watch for his busy, energetic big brother!  He’s showing his uncertainty well in this picture.🙂
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I had some good helpers at Thanksgiving to make all of our food…
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You can find pumpkins here, but they are not really common.  We chose to just paint ours this year since we don’t really have a great space to carve them now in our apartment.  The kids thought this was super fun, and it was certainly less messy!
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My other helper who was really more of a mess-maker.  But he’s cute, so I let it slide this year …
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We put up our Christmas decorations a couple of days after Thanksgiving, and with that comes all of our Christmas books!  My parents had Christmas books under our tree each year when I was growing up, so it’s fun to keep that tradition with our kids.  
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We stopped our decorating for a bit and dressed the kids up to get a quick festive photo…of course Carter smiled in between each flash.  I was a bit sad we didn’t grab one with his cute little grin, but I was happy with this one just the same…
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We took our first beach trip of the “summer” a couple of weeks ago, and we actually just went again today.  It’s beginning (NOT to look a lot like Christmas around these parts) to get really hot, and we wanted to get the kids to the beach at least once before we leave (THIS TUESDAY!!) for our furlough in the States.  They have been asking about the beach pretty much since last summer, and we’ll unfortunately be gone for most of beach season here while in the States.  It’s a little bittersweet.  Anyway, Carter really loved it, as you can tell.🙂
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Actually, it was a bit windy and slightly chilly that day unfortunately, so Carter  didn’t like the wind.  The kids had a blast despite it not being super sunny.  We were glad to get a day in at the beach nonetheless.
Carter is really into Praise Baby DVDs, which is huge for me since Cailyn officially started Kindergarten with me in our homeschooling venture back in October.  He enjoys sitting at the table with us, but  after a while there’s just so much I can do with him in my lap.  Anyway, he’s an angel baby, really, and he is very content to sit and watch/listen to the great praise songs they have on those DVDs.  It saves me on some days!
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Cailyn has done really well with homeschooling so far.  I know the year technically starts in August or so, but I was 10 days from having a baby when August hit.  So, I preplanned several weeks of lessons and activities that coincided with a K4 curriculum that I am sort of loosely using with Cailyn, and I made a goal of starting October 1st with her K year.  She actually just finished her PreK year at the school we had her enrolled in this year on Friday the 14th, and it could not have been a better experience.  There is a small part of my heart that is sad that she will no longer have the opportunity to be in a Spanish speaking environment in that capacity, but Justin and I agreed the other night that we do not regret in any way our decision to homeschool the kids. So, there is also an excitement that comes with knowing that from here on out, or at least until God changes our schooling path, we have adventures waiting for us with her (and the boys as well) as a homeschooling family.  Here is a picture of her with her 3 teachers on the last day along with the kids that had made it to school by the time we dropped her off.  Somehow when I said, “Una foto Cailyn!”, the other kids thought that meant all of them, too.🙂
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Santa came to the class Christmas party Cailyn’s class had.  I thought these pictures were hilarious.  The party was at a club near the beach, and the reflection of the sun off the ocean was SO BRIGHT!  So, Cailyn naturally needed her sunglasses.  Makes you really feel like Christmas.  Justin and I decided Santa was probably going to lose a few lbs. by the time the evening was over since it was so hot in his suit!
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Little brothers and sisters got presents, too (you know, if mom and dad brought them something), so Corban got his picture as well.  He wasn’t too sure about wanting to get too close.🙂
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Corban has his last day of classes at his Nido (preschool) on Monday, and we let him ride his scooter a few blocks to school as a “last week of school” treat.  Since we moved, it’s hard to do things like this (being so far now and all), and one of his classmates gets to ride his scooter every day.  After Corban asking and begging to do this for days, we thought we had a great opportunity to make a treat out of it as well as learn a little bit about not being jealous of our friends who “ALLLLLways get to ride their scooter to school EEEEEvery day!” (according to Corbs).
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Today we had a super time at the beach one last time before we head out.  Our teammates, Lee and Stephanie Fletcher, have a 7 year old daughter, Sofia, who has taken up surfing this year, and she is great at it!  She goes each Saturday for her lesson, and today many of our team joined her in the water.  Of course, we’re big enough in numbers that it also meant that many were on the shore enjoying watching them and playing in the sand!  Below is a picture of Derek Yoakum (4 years old – the blonde duh, right?) and Corban (3) playing together.  It is honestly one of the biggest blessings to see our kids growing together and developing relationships with one another as they get older.  Derek and Corban are becoming close, and I think it mostly has to do with the fact that they can both hold their own in a wrestling match as well as enjoy being a bit more rough and tumble than some of the others do.  They make a good pair.🙂  This little pool of ocean water on the rocks was their paradise for a while this morning.  It is certainly fun to live just 15 min. from this!
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The Fletcher family is contagiously fun, and Cailyn’s Tío Lee  (“uncle”) was awesome enough to take her out into the water on his surf board.  Cailyn has been saying she wants to learn how to surf, but this child typically is way not into the ocean water.  She is fine building sand castles BEHIND where we set up our chairs (hah!).  But, at the end of last summer and as this summer is approaching, she has shown some more nerve when it comes to getting wet!  Today it BLEW.MY.MIND that she let Lee take her out.  I saw him motion to her, and she jumped all over the opportunity to go.  It is fun to see your kids grow out of fears and learn and experience new things.  It was yet again a moment when I praised God for having other family-like adults in her life that will take moments to have fun with her and teach her something new.  Here’s a picture Justin got…a little hard to see, but she’s out there!  Looks like Parker D., her sweet friend, is either cheering her on or yelling that she wants to join them!  Parker’s another influence in Cailyn’s life when it comes to breaking out of her shy or timid shell.🙂
Well, I think I about covered the main events since about the time Carter was born (haha).  I know I’ve already said it, but we couldn’t be any more excited to be seeing family in a few days as well as getting to meet many of the new friends and supporters we have at the Littleton Church of Christ in Colorado who have begun to support our family just this year!  Leaving your home for a couple of months can be a little crazy, and there’s a part of me that fears I might come back to a few things having molded while I’m gone (haha…i’m not kidding), but there’s just something about our life as missionaries that allows for so much reflection and renewal when you leave and then come back again.  Leaving for 2 months and returning kind of gives you an opportunity to regroup, reprioritize, start new, make new goals, etc.  It is a fresh start in some ways, and I don’t know about the rest of you, but I need that sometimes!  So, the next time I post something, I plan for it to be accompanied by some pictures of us with friends and family in Texas!!  Thanks again to all of you who keep up with us here on the blog!

Fighting for their lives

I know I’ve never really deviated from writing about my family and our ministry here on my blog, but I was recently approached by some of our good friends, Chris and Stacey Field about helping them and their nonprofit organization spread the word about the sweet souls of the children in Ghana who are slaves in the fishing industry there.  Justin and I have been incredibly blessed by our friendship with the Fields, and we have continued to be amazed at the way God is using them to save His children in Ghana.  The following message is not something that I have personally written, but I do 100% agree with and support every word of it!  I am honored to be spreading the word about the injustice that this nonprofit, Mercy Project, is trying to battle against, which is why I have jumped on board with several other mommy bloggers today in an effort to help support Mercy Project – and ultimately the lives of God’s little children in Ghana.  As a mother (especially as a mother of {young} children), I cannot even imagine my 5 year old living the kind of life that these little ones in Ghana do as slaves.  That is why this first statement captures my attention and heart so much.  I pray you can read the following with an open heart and mind as to how God might use you in the lives of these young ones.

There’s an estimated 7,000 children who work in the Ghana fishing industry. Some of
these children are as young as 5 and 6 years old. All of these children are slaves.
–Mercy Project

Today many in our country will take a day off from our jobs to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers. No matter if we’re celebrating at home or at the beach, we’re entering into a tradition that has largely been shaped by Labor Unions – organizations that are dedicated to protecting workers’ interests and improving their wages, hours, and working conditions. Today as we lounge around or hang out with friends and family, we’re not only celebrating hard work, we’re honoring fair, ethical working practices and the laws that prevent discrimination, abuse, and child labor in our country. Without these laws in place (and enforced), the most vulnerable members of society suffer. Who are the most vulnerable? Children.

Today as we’re celebrating the systems in our own country that strive to prevent injustices like child trafficking and child labor, we’re mindful of the many child slaves around the world who are unprotected and the organizations, like Mercy Project, who are working to free them.

As a mother, it’s difficult for me to imagine my children working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’m unable to wrap my brain around the thought of my children engaged in long, hard days of physical labor, eating one meal a day, and then falling asleep at night on a dirt floor filled with other slave children. Yet this is the daily reality for kids who have been trafficked into the fishing industry in Ghana, Africa. As with much of Africa, there is a great deal of poverty in Ghana. Unfortunately, this leaves many mothers in an unimaginable position: sell their children to someone who can take better care of them or watch them starve to death. Most of the mothers are told their children will be given food, housing, and an education. Instead, the kids are often taken to Lake Volta where they become child slaves and their mothers never see them again. Thankfully, Mercy Project is working to break the cycles of trafficking around Lake Volta by providing alternate, more efficient, sustainable, fishing methods for villagers – ultimately eliminating the need for child slaves. Because of the work Mercy Project is doing in Ghana, the first group of children will be freed this month from Lake Volta.

We invite you to watch this moving, 10 minute documentary about the issues surrounding child labor and trafficking in Ghana and most importantly the hope Mercy Project is bringing to children and entire communities in Africa. Mercy Project is the only NGO working on Lake Volta addressing the injustice of child labor and child trafficking at its root – by strengthening the Ghanaian economy and eliminating the structures that cause the demand for trafficked children.

Whether these ideas of child labor, child trafficking, and modern-day slavery are new to you or you’re aware of these injustices, but need to hear some good news every once in awhile, we invite you to become a part of what Mercy Project is doing in Ghana. When Mercy Project frees their first group of children this month, we can all celebrate together.

Learn more and get involved by –

• Watching Mercy Project’s short documentary. (video above)

• Following Mercy Project on Facebook.

• Connecting with Mercy Project via Twitter.

• Spending some time on Mercy Project’s website.

• Sharing about Mercy Project’s work in Ghana with your friends.

Although child trafficking, child labor, and the unstable economies that result in these injustices are a tragedy, we’re grateful for what Mercy Project is doing to protect the vulnerable and for allowing us to be a part of this story. While we’re commemorating labor laws and ethical work in our own country today, we invite you to follow along on this journey with Mercy Project to protect and free children in Ghana.

We had a BaBy!! **3 wks ago**

I laughed with my mom the other day about the fact that I had not even announced here on our blog that Carter was born!  I think once I made a photo album of our pictures on facebook that I just equated that with “it’s been announced”, so here I am to finally change that!

Carter was born!

He was born August 10, 2012 (10 days early…praise God), he weighed 8 lbs. 3 (maybe 4?) oz. (i know…terrible that I’m not sure on that), and he was 20.5″ long.  Just perfect in every way!

Justin happened to have gotten up super early on Thursday morning (aug. 9th), and he went to bed that night at like 8:30pm.  Before he went to bed he joked with me that he would really appreciate it if I didn’t have our baby that night since he needed like a good 9 hours of sleep to recover.  We both chuckled at the thought, and I was nearly certain we were still days from seeing our newborn.

Once Friday morning hit, we were both out of bed by about 6am trying to get showered and ready to take the two older ones to school and then get to my 38+ week appointment with my Dr. by 9:30am.  I am SO glad I had an appointment that day, because otherwise I would have been looking pretty rough (in exercise clothes most likely) when I showed up to have my baby.  But, God is good, and since I had my appointment I was all showered, shaved, and smelling nice instead (haha).

After my shower I noticed some not normal amounts of fluids going on (trying not to be overly informational here), and after a couple of those experiences I came out from getting ready and told Justin I thought we better pick up a tad around the house as well as take a hospital bag with us.  I have an awesome husband, because by the time we left our house at 7:30am, the entire place was nearly spotless, and our bags were packed!  I was a happy woman minus the fact that I felt like I was peeing my pants with every step (hah!).  **as a sidenote, I had also just gone 2 days before (wednesday) for a pedicure hoping it would last until the baby’s birth and the day before (thursday) had been completely dedicated to purchasing most of the rest of the birthday party supplies I needed for the kids’ party I was hoping to have on August 18th (assuming I wasn’t having a baby).  God was very gracious to me.  I not only got my errands done, but we even got to have the kids’ party on the date that seemed the only realistic date to have it seeing as I had waited so long to throw it!

After leaving the house I told Justin I was nearly 100% sure the baby was going to be born that day, but since I was still not in any pain I told him we should just go ahead and make the hour long trip it takes us (yes, you read that right) to drop both kids off at their 2 different schools.  We told them that probably one of their Tíos or Tías (uncles/aunts…our teammates here) would pick them up from school because it looked like the baby was going to be born that day, and they were both cool with that.  After a couple of questions, they both seemed to think that it was about time to see some action after all of those months!

We finished dropping them off by 8:50am, and since my appointment was not till 9:30am, we chose to park in the parking lot and walk a couple of stores down to the Starbucks so Justin could get some coffee.  I was still feeling fairly normal, but I did find myself having to take shorter strides for fear I might completely soak my clothes.  That would not have been cool.

We ordered his coffee and a fruit cup for me (why did I not think to eat anything more?!  like a couple of huge starbucks muffins or something?), and we sat down for a bit.  Justin called his mom (I had called my parents already as well), and we also tried to inform our teammates so that we would in fact have someone to pick up our kids from school like we’d told them.  After about 20 minutes I told Justin that I had to use the restroom, but I was certainly not keen on having my entire water break in the Starbucks bathroom, so he suggested we walk back over to the Clinic.  That was probably his best idea of the day, because once we’d walked there and told them I was in labor, gotten to the 3rd floor, and been shown to a room my pants were…how do I say this?…SOAKED.  You know how you might see in the movies a woman’s water break and it goes all over.  Well, that happened to me.  They even offered for me to sit down in the waiting area so they could get our room ready, but I knew we didn’t have the money to add “new couch for the waiting area” to our bill once the baby was born…so I opted to just stand there awkwardly until I could change into a gown.  The gown was certainly a welcomed clothing change!

The rest of the day really pretty much went smoothly.  They monitored me, we caught some of the Olympics (Justin more than me seeing as I was breathing through contractions), and then at 3pm I was being wheeled to the delivery room.  I type it as if it were all a breeze, but of course it wasn’t QUITE that easy.🙂

The way they do epidurals here is that they inject some of the anesthetic into you, but you are not hooked to a drip with it in there, so it eventually wears off.  This is what I did not realize when I had Corban, which is why my delivery with him was such a surprise (aka…I was BAWLing my eyes out from the intensity of the experience of the actual delivery…both joy-filled and shocking).  This time I was more mentally prepared for the intensity of it all as I actually delivered Carter (like I did with Corban) without any drugs.  The entire experience was a bit more familiar.  The fact that I was pushed in my bed through the lobby where anyone and everyone comes for their appointments (not super private…haha), the fact that Justin was sent another direction to get his scrubs on leaving me semi-alone as my body shook and as I breathed and prayed through my pain in those last moments, and the fact that the doctors only bring Justin in at the last minute (leaving me to think I might deliver without him there!) was all something I had done once before.  This time I knew what was coming, I knew the differences I would experience here as opposed to my delivery of Cailyn in the U.S., and I knew what prayers I would say over and over as my body snapped into “it’s time to deliver the baby mode”.  I was ready this time, and I praise God for that.

To be honest, I thought we would have a girl (well, more like I wanted a girl…it wasn’t like my instincts were telling me it was a girl or anything).  And to be even more honest, my very first thought when they said, “Varón!!” (which really means “man”, but they were telling me it was a boy) was “well…so much for using all of those adorable little girl clothes we have”.  Now, really.  Why would that be my first thought?  It’s so *not* what you’d think a mother who’s just given birth would think.  BUT…then they let me hold him, and of course the girl clothes were the farthest thing from my mind.🙂

Even though mom didn’t fly in until Saturday night, our teammates were amazing to us and we had so much help.  They did everything from take our kids for us, feed them, and give them naps to things like sleep in our home with the kids for 2 days, make us meals, and bring me yummy treats in the hospital.  We could not do things like have babies (small things, you know…haha) in this country if it weren’t for our wonderful team.

Here are a few pictures of our days at the hospital…

This is me humoring Justin and his camera…

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Skyping with daddyO once we came home from the hospital…

 

 

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Final weeks as a family of 4…

Well, we’re about 2 weeks or less from becoming a family of 5.  My mom flies here on Saturday, so we’re busy doing things like making sure the shower she’s going to use has hot water.  You know…{insert sarcastic tone} normal stuff.  We also have someone coming tomorrow to paint all of our rooms.  What?  Yes…we’re trying to get that done before the baby (and mom, apparently) gets here.  I am so terribly bad at decorating and all of that, that I plan to have my talented teammate, Tara, come and basically tell me help me decide what color we should paint our living/dining area.  But, that will have to wait till…maybe next week. (hah)

In the meantime, the kids had their middle of the year 2 week vacation from their schools, and we had a great time…sleeping in, not rushing around to get them to and from school, doing fun activities in our school room, going to the zoo, etc.  It was 100% what I needed.  I was feeling a bit run down from having to wake up so early every morning and get the kids off to school, and besides that, our mornings that we have to take the kids to school are typically stressful and not full of much peace.  Cailyn is S…L…O…W at, well…life, basically.  So the fact that we have to wake her up and get her to go quickly enough at getting ready for school and eating breakfast to catch a bus with Justin is just plain impossible sometimes.  Corban, on the other hand, pops right out of bed at the first sign of life in the house.  He’s generally easy when it comes to getting ready to go anywhere.  Our family NEEDED those 2 weeks of rest.  But, as of yesterday, it’s back to the daily groove of traffic to school, a rushed lunch time when they get out, and straight off to a nap/quiet time once they’ve eaten. .  I just keep telling myself.  Mom gets here Saturday, Mom gets here Saturday, Mom gets here Saturday.🙂

In all honesty, we love both of their schools, and so do they.  If we didn’t, it would be very hard to keep up the schedule we have.  And, since I’m sort of going on and on right now about things that apparently get to me…another one of those things is that NOTHING HERE OPENS TILL LIKE 11am…why?!?!?!?!  By the time I get to a store or go and run errands, it’s time to pick the kids up again.  That’s why I loved our 2 week vacation.  Sometimes we didn’t get out to do anything till 11am, but we didn’t have to rush around trying to get our errands run in an hour.  Lord help us all.

ANYWAY.  I’m going to move on.  This post is really supposed to just be about some of the random things we’ve been up to.  I have lots of pictures, so get ready!

Just a random sister/brother picture…

Justin and the kids went to Cusco for a Missionary Retreat a few weeks ago.  I stayed home due to being fairly big pregnant and not wanting to push it too much (or have a baby in Cusco for that matter).  They had a great time seeing other missionary friends we have in Cusco and some from Arequipa, Peru.  The Aggies for Christ from College Station came as well for a month to help our team out here in Lima, and their first week in Peru consisted of them putting on a VBS for all of our missionary kids while the adults enjoyed some great adult time together at the retreat.  I hated to miss out on all of that, but I was super thankful that my awesome husband offered to fly there and take both kids with him so they wouldn’t miss out, too!

Here are a couple of Cusco pics.  Those designs on Cailyn’s face aren’t traditional face paintings from Cusco or anything, they’re just stickers she chose to put all over her face out of her Melissa and Doug sticker set.  Just in case you were wondering.🙂

As I mentioned before, the kids were off of school for a couple of weeks.  This vacation time comes around the time of the Peruvian Independence Day, so Corban’s school had a small dance performance with some Peruvian dances.  He was seriously into it, and we got such a kick out of watching him.  We were supposed to send him in a button-down shirt, and for some reason I understood it needed to be white (since white and red are Peru’s colors and all).  Well, when we showed up to watch him, he had this other button-down on, it was huge on him, and it was like half tucked in.  Apparently I wasn’t supposed to send him in white…it just had to be a cute button-down.  So, he borrowed one from a school friend who has a bit more meat on his bones than Corban does. :)  One of my teammates laughed with me later and said, “Doesn’t it seem like it’s always us Americans who seem to get the wrong memo about what our kids need to wear, what snack to send, or what day the party is?”  Honestly…that is so true.

Anyway, you can see below that he was super pumped about being in his show, and I added a short video after the pictures that is from the middle of the show.  He looks unsure at first, but that’s just because he didn’t have a partner to twirl with.  Wait for it, and you’ll see just how much he got into it…

Proud mom!

The rest of our vacation was full of fun, relaxing stuff.  In case you’re wondering, our kids did enjoy a little extra “screen” time as well…they were only slightly drawn in by some of their favorite cartoons and a few new movies…

Then, we went to the Zoo as well.  Now, I know I have a ton of pictures from the zoo, but I just couldn’t help but share all of the many poses that our Cailyn comes up with…in all seriousness.

Corban is in LOVE with animals and the Zoo…

The sea lion was amazing.  It swam all around for us, and the kids loved it.   I think Justin and I did, too…nearly as much as the kids!

Of course we had to stop for some popcorn…

At these next two pictures, this was our family conversation that went on:

Cailyn: “Mommy, didn’t you ride one of these big turtles when you were little?!”

Me: “Yes, I did.  I guess you remember your Honey telling you about that, huh?!” (I did feel a little cool getting to say I had done that…haha)

Upon stopping at the next animal, little brother, Corban, in true Corban fashion (has to talk about the same things, ask the same things, do the same things as Cailyn, etc…always) asks Justin,

Corban: “Daddy!  Didn’t you, when you was a little boy, ride one of these and play with one of these animals?!”

**he apparently does not realize the differences in speed and danger between a turtle and a bear, and I was consequently feeling a lot less cool. 🙂

we just laughed.

The next several pictures are just an example of how much Cailyn loves having her picture taken.

Just before we left, we told the kids they could each have a cotton candy (they only cost like $0.30 cents!).  This was Corban’s first taste of this puff of sugar they call candy.  He was very unsure of how he felt about it…

Cailyn, on the other hand, was very sure she loved it, and she was ready {once again} to strike a pose for us.  Corban kept saying, “It has a hair on it!”  The humidity outside made the outside of the cotton candy extremely stringy…it was hilarious watching him try to eat it…

Finally, we tried to put our minds around how many days we had till Honey came, till the baby would be born, and finally (hopefully in this order!) when Corban would turn 3 (aug. 23rd) by making a count down chain.

The full chain…

(note to the reader: Cailyn is very into choosing her own outfits still.  I might not be great at decorating my home, but I do try and provide her with clothes that match…it’s just not extremely effective some days!)

Happy to both have knocked a day off our chain!