Wednesday, April 30

Water, Water Everywhere! (Almost!)

Steve and I both came to the same conclusion today. Instead of wondering, will something happen today, we are asking, "WHAT will today's adventure be?"

In a nutshell, here's what today's adventures were:

I'll start with one from Monday. The pharmacy gave me Shelby's meds in powdered form. I've never mixed antibiotics myself! God blessed us with kind neighbors who are eye doctors and they explained the whole thing to us! Thank the Lord!

I went on a 5 mile run with Nancy and her friend, Tammy. The combination of the altitude and the hills about killed me, but I felt great afterwards!

We sprung a leak in the kitchen, and for the entire day have had a hole in the wall with water coming out (at a pretty decent rate). At least it is running into the drain in the laundry "room" (I use this term loosely!)The plumber has to come back tomorrow, because the shut-off valve to our house is the only one in the complex that doesn't work!!

We have not caught the mouse yet. Perhaps the water scared him away.

The roofers were all pounding at one time on our heads. This made school....interesting. I've never YELLED MATH QUESTIONS BEFORE.

Because of the roofing, we now have skylights in some of our bedrooms. Nate was resting on our bed and got a nice shower from the worker's water bottles being dumped! Shelby and Jack weren't too keen on the rocks, dirt and dead bugs falling on their beds!

Steve has been assisting in a lot of church stuff.

Mama needs a little break, so she is headed into Guatemala City with the other ladies manana!

Last but not least, we were brought to tears (mostly me crying!) due to a suitcase full of amazing gifts from my parents and the Palm family. You guys are too good to us!

Sunday, April 27

Setting Up Shop

Last night was the first night where we actually took an hour and forced ourselves to sit, read, and watch part of a DVD together. As Jessica wrote in an entry a few days ago, the logistics of every day life are much more complicated, slower, and require extreme flexibility, and we are forced to focus more on relationships and less on tasks. A second round of physical exhaustion hit last night as we wrapped up another day of lifting, climbing, and painting. Week two is drawing to an end, and the list of tasks to set up shop here at the house is finally shifting from major items to decorating details.

Yet, even with the shift of focus, the tasks are limitless. Now that the applicances are in, the paint is on the walls, and the 20+ suitcases have been unpacked and put away, the to-do list isn't any shorter. Instead, the mind races to the next "thing" that will really make the place feel like home. Curtains, patching rusted-out holes in the doors (had a mouse in the house last night), etc.

In the middle of the exhaustion, our son Nate broke down last night and started sobbing. He wanted to go back to America. Sorry we had ever moved here. We held him and let him get it all out, prayed together, and shared some stories. We spent a lot of time teaching him that he is now a threat to Satan's kingdom, because he has been used powerfully in the last two weeks to encourage the rest of the family as we have each hit our own emotional brick walls. He has graduated from child to warrior, private first class, and he drew blood. He got it. We shared a few stories about my days at the Air Force Academy (he really liked these), how for 6 weeks the upper class cadets make it their full-time job to get the weak ones to quit. Those who survive the last "hell week" which ends with a difficult march into the hills, are rewarded a ceremony and the prized "prop and wings", a pin which symbolizes authentic cadet status. Quitting in week one, two, or three erases the opportunity to go on. Even making it half-way up the hill with the rest of your comrades still is worthless. Finishing strong is everything. And yet, this only prepares and propells the cadet into another full year of oppression by the upperclass cadets, followed by three more years of difficult academic loads. But at the end, the reward of being an officer, a leader, and a warrior for our country.

It was with this mindset that I woke up this morning. Exhausted and drained from the hauling, lifting, and fighting for our family.

I had been reading Erwin McManus' book The Barbarian Way over the last several months, and I picked it up again. Here is what God had in store as I read:

"Jesus leads us into the heart of the dark kingdom, into the soul of what is most evil. He takes us where mankind has chosen to live. He calls us to where the darkness has made those who wander there desparate for light. He leads us as warriors of light to risk our lives for the deliverance of others. Again, our own weapons are love, hope, and faith, and they are our only defense. Yet we above all know that they and only they liberate us and fulfill the deepest longings of our souls."

We are here, not to set up shop, but to set up God's kindgom in the darkness. We must travel light, and be prepared to move on. Watching our son choose to turn agony and tears from oppression into laughter and another day of encouragement drove the point home for me.

Jesus describes it as "the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it" (Matt 11:12) underscores the battle. Jesus was referring to the message that John the Baptist brought, that the physical kingdom was replaced by a spiritual one. That the weapons of the Isrealites had been traded in for the weapons of faith, hope, and love.

In God's kindom, location, status, and age are irrelevant. A pastor's counseling session, talking to a neighbor, mission field, or business boardroom are all encompassed by the battlefield. Church members fight alongside their pastor. And a child can wield these weapons with the most educated seminary graduate.

Pray for more faith, that we will raise the shield together for our King!

Friday, April 25

In Which I Become Well Acquainted With the Guatemalan Medical System...

Well, then. O.K. I give. I thought I'd learned before that my expectations were just that, mine. But apparently, I'm holding onto them much more tightly than I thought.

We made our plans for yesterday and had quite the to-do list. However, we realized that Shelby needed a trip to the doctor (something minor but that just wouldn't go away) so I thought, OK, we can do this, no big deal. Ahem. Wrong. Around 8 in the morning, we drove to the doctor's (recommended by another missionary). I found out that their hours for the day were 11-12 and then 4-6, so we'd have to come back, and there would be a line waiting. Here's how the rest of the day went:

1. Shelby and I went back at 10 a.m. to wait.
2. The doctor saw us at 11. He was very, very nice, spoke beautiful English, and wanted to run several tests. No problem. Except we'd have to go to the lab.
3. Shelby and I walked a few blocks to find the lab. It was #15A, but there were several #15A's. We found the right one, but I seriously felt like I was in a movie, because it looked like it was someone's house.We communicated in some Spanish, and the nice lady asked us to come back at 2 p.m. No problem.
4. Shelby and I walked (and got lost) and walked and found the Bagel Barn (the cafe and wifi spot I'm at now). We had a sweet time eating bagels with cream cheese and nutella, chatting, playing Webkins, having girl time.
5. Shelby and I walked (and got lost some more) and found the lab again. The nice lady did the necessary tests and sent us away with a request for a stool sample.
6. Shelby and I walked (far) to the Bodegona (grocery) where the boys picked us up. She was such a little trooper and never complained.
7. At 5 p.m., I dropped off the sample. On Saturday morning, I'm supposed to go back to the lab, pick up the results, and take them to the doctor at 4 on Monday for his diagnosis.

Whew. I started to feel sorry for myself and this "wasted" day, until I realized that maybe, just maybe, God had His own expectations for my day, and maybe they were less about doing and more about the gift of time with my girl. Amazing how that changed my perspective!

But wait, there's more....Steve and I took Matt and Ale Watkins and Amber Watkins to dinner to thank them for their help. We had a great time and great food, and headed home around 8. When we got home, we found a very concerned Nancy, because no one had seen or heard from Mike for 2 hours, and he was very late getting home. When she finally reached him, he told her he'd been in an accident on his Moto, but he hung up before giving her the address. Steve, Amber, Nancy,and I jumped into the car and began looking for him. Finally, Nancy got ahold of him, and he was in an ambulance being taken to the hospital. He'd been hit by another moto (someone ran a stop sign) and had broken his ankle in a few places. He had surgery today and will need lots of prayer during his recovery. Pray for Steve, too, as this means he'll be jumping into things sooner!

We had a huge gift today....a team from YWAM had an open afternoon, and so all 8 of them came and started painting our house! It's amazing what a little color will do. They got the downstairs mostly done and started on the upstairs, and saved us so much time. What a blessing God gave us.

In the midst of our tiredness and temptation to yield to frustration (which, oh yes, we have done!), we are reminded that God is very near, is very good, is so trustworthy and gentle with us. This is so real to us now. Keep up the prayers, and we are praying for all of you, too!

Wednesday, April 23

To Quote a 4-Year Old, "Are We In The World?"

As the title suggests, Jackson is not sure where we are. Yesterday, his mommy and daddy weren't sure either. First of all, I have to give huge kudos to my amazingly brave hubby for driving to and through Guatemala City. Wow. I can't even count the times we were almost squished. (Dad, you might not want to read this part). We DID learn that if I stuck my hand out the window when we wanted over, it worked much, much better than a signal. Go figure. I'll try sticking my head out next time. This blond hair might as well be good for something!

We found the stores we needed and navigated them fairly well. Our list of things to get back when we're home is growing, especially when I saw my contact solution for over $10 a bottle! Gulp. When we bagged our stuff and headed back for Antigua, we learned our most valuable lesson yet. No matter what, don't ever, ever, ever miss your turn. Because, apparently, there is a law against left-hand turns or u-turns of any kind. Poor Steve. Our joke for our whole marriage has been that his middle name is u-turn, so he is in some serious withdrawal. Is there a Celebrate Recovery for that? After we drove through some, ah, interesting traffic and got a nice tour of the city (and ignored the powerful urge to drive our car across the tall concrete median!) we found the only, and I DO mean only left turnaround. You better believe we didn't miss a single turn after that!

When we made it down the winding roads to Antigua, it felt so much quieter and more peaceful! We decided, after such an exhausting 6 hour jaunt, we would splurge on the Dominoes' Tuesday night buy-one-get-one free pizza special, which I managed to order in Spanish! Yeah! Strangely, when we pulled into our compound, all was VERY peaceful....and VERY dark. Ah. Now we got introduced to the latest adventure, the rolling blackout. Apparently, Guatemala is suffering from the higher fuel costs just like everyone else, so we may be having a lot of these. Hence, we enjoyed a pizza dinner by candlelight and went to bed by flashlight. The blackout lasted about 5 hours, and everything kicked back on by 11. Praises.

Today's adventures were awesome! I was never so excited to do a load of laundry in my life, as Steve got our new washer and dryer to work, despite the fact that it took much translation and several trips to different hardwarish stores. My dials on the washer are in Spanish, but I am guessing pretty well so far! We learned how to make the kitchen functional, how to disinfect our fruits and veggies, and how to make our new house a home! The kids are doing awesome and are teaching us grown-ups a thing or two about adapting and adjusting. Guess our new middle name needs to change from u-turn to flexibility! We miss all of you!

Sunday, April 20

Once We Found the Church...

OK, so today was a good lesson in not making assumptions. I assumed that Steve knew where the church was. He assumed that he knew, too. I was proud of him for stopping to ask directions (in Espanol, no less...he's amazing!), but it turned out that we had our streets and avenues mixed up. Here, they run opposite of the US.
We did make it eventually, and the kiddos were so excited to be in their new classes. The teachers had even gotten vests ready for them (think AWANA), and made them feel at home. Steve and I could follow the service really well, since everything is bilingual, and we even paid attention. This could be because Mike made us sit on the FRONT ROW, and only slightly embarrassed us by announcing our (semi) late arrival.
I conquered the local ATM today, too. After you pass the guard with a machine gun (yikes!), you go into a booth (like a tiny room) which smells suspiciously like something I won't mention, and you seriously get like 10 seconds to make your selection. I had to go through the whole process 3-4 times because, of course, it was all in Spanish, and I kept guessing what each button meant. I guessed wrong. I got money out finally, though, and the guard didn't even make me leave!

We're out at our wi-fi spot checking emails and listening to the rain falling outside. We just want to thank all of you who have read our blog, emailed, posted comments, etc. It's impossible to even put into words how much it means that you all are thinking of us and praying for us. Hasta luego!

Friday, April 18

First 5 Days

Whew... we made it through a lot of changes this week! In a nutshell:

Monday: See last journal entry.

Tuesday: (click on any picture to make it larger)
Travelled 6 hours round-trip on Mike's Birthday to purchase a vehicle. Saw mountains, jungle, lakes, and a rainstorm (see pic). Felt great, just soaking everything in.

Had some freedom to explore Antigua with the vehicle, and got lunch together (kids had smiley-face pancakes which was a hit). Very tiring day, time-changes and all started to really catch up with us. Unpacked a lot of suitcases. Got a picture of the view from our!

Thursday: Spiritual battle in the morning as we started to feel overwhelmed. A lot of prayer, sitting around the table sharing high-lows (best & worst moments) each morning followed by each of us praying for each others' struggles paid off, since we stuck together as a family and didn't pretend we weren't all wrestling with at least something. Thanks to everyone praying for us also, because we cheered throughout the afternoon together how God helped us win the battle. Our kids (especially Nate) have been extremely positive, reminding us that God is testing us and we need to trust Him. So much insight this week into ourselves and our children as we rode the elation/exhaustion roller coaster. Talking to several of the families already here has also taken off a huge load. Not surprisingly, everyone could empathize and we got to laugh ourselves through their stories of their first week here. Picked up a stove/fridge which was another step in making the house feel like home.

Friday (today):
Went to the market with the kids this morning and had an enjoyable time looking at basics for the house and toys for the kids. We had someone watch our kiddos so we could go on a date, and we hit a local WiFi cafe and enjoyed mocha and a bagel together! We shopped together and stocked up our fridge (navigating the local grocery store was a huge triumph!) Today, we started to truly have some fun and feel more relaxed.

Please continue to pray. We know that each day will hold a new opportunity for good, and we claim that!!

P.S. Betty sent us a picture of our commissioning service at our church. Pastor Bill had our church pray over us, and sent us off with the church's full support - thank you!!!

Tuesday, April 15

Yep, We're Here

Ever have the feeling that you're walking around like you're underwater, like you are moving forward, but everything is moving v-e-r-r-r-r-y s-l-o-o-o-w-ly. That's us today. Yesterday was adrenaline-filled and exciting. The flights went well, the kids did great. ALL of our luggage made it....nothing broken that we can tell so far. So, so much to praise God for.
Last night, the time change/altitude change/early morning caught up with us, and I'm pretty sure I made not one intelligent comment all evening. Pastor Mike, Nancy, and Amber had made our new home look so clean, lovely, even putting out flowers, setting up our kitchen with essentials, leaving sweet name tags and cookies on the pillows, etc. We got everyone settled down for the night, and as I was sitting in bed, reading, my bed began to move back and forth. It took a minute to register that it was, indeed, an earthquake. I ran out into the hall by the kids' rooms (they slept through it), and the walls were moving. After everything stopped (including my heart!), Steve came running over to check on us (he'd been at Mike and Nancy's checking email). We thank the Lord that the kids didn't get hurt or scared, that the power stayed on, that everyone was ok. What an initiation to Guatemala!
Stay tuned for more adventures!!!

Saturday, April 12

Almost Adios

I'm typing this blog from my parents' home, where I sit surrounded by suitcases! There are really only a fraction of the whole here. Tomorrow, we're filling up a van with 18 more cases, pretty much all of our earthly possessions.
This week has been a rollercoaster of emotions, with the goodbyes beginning. There will be more tomorrow at church at our going-away party. And more again Monday. God has given us strength for these, and I am depending on that in the days to come. He will be strong for us. More to come....

Friday, April 4


This week marked quite a turning point on our journey to serving in Guatemala. We have gone from counting months, to weeks, to days (only 9) until we leave. So, this week we became truly mobile. Well, if you consider 21 suitcases mobile.

Quite an eventful week, as we moved out of the temporary home (courtesy of Jessica's brother and his family) and began a two-week transition, more packing, and traveling to see family and friends before we leave.