Thursday, May 29

Don't Drink the Water

OK, rule number one is just that: Don't drink the water. I didn't, but apparently my body thought I had. And Nate's body thought the same. Oh, and Steve's wasn't far behind.

So, now that we're back in the land of those who can happily consume food and liquid again (yes! A cracker never tasted so good!), I thought I'd share the last few days.

Steve has been busy (understatement) getting ready for the Pathways team coming. He had literally 12 pages of notes he'd taken during a meeting, and everything in those notes had to be done. Miraculously, they are getting done. He's also been responsible for overseeing and actually helping with repairs and improvements to the hotel the church has leased. He's done so well, and since I am writing this entry, I'll just take the time to brag on his Spanish. Everyone has complimented him on how well he speaks and understands, and he is quick to give the credit to God for refreshing his mind, since he hasn't taken classes since high school! (And we won't even mention how long ago THAT was.)

There are many ministries for me to get involved in, too, but I am really praying and waiting for God to lead before I jump in, since my time is so limited. Just keeping the house running, doing school, etc., has kept me hoppin, and now I'll be adding Spanish classes. Woa. Pour me an extra shot of espresso, please. I really want the ministries I choose to be things I am passionate about, not just time-wasters and energy-drainers. Been there.

We're planning a fun family day for tomorrow, so pictures ARE coming, but I had to close with this thought from Jackson. It was pretty profound to my oh-so-unbiased ears.

He was playing with an Evange-Cube (like a Rubix Cube, with pictures showing the story of Jesus' death and resurrection), and as he sat, staring at the picture of Jesus on the cross, he said (insert a little four year old voice here), "God doesn't bewong on the cross. He doesn't live der. He lives in our hearts."

I think he just said it all.

Sunday, May 25


The following is an actual transcript of a recent interview with Shelby Otto, age 7.

What do you like about Guatemala?
I like about Guatemala that we have a good neighborhood and we're having a great time.

What do you miss?
I miss everyone.

What do you like to see when we're walking around?
I like to see horses pulling carriages, and I like to see chicken buses.

How do you like our dates?
Very good, they're the best dates I ever had down here.
*Editor's note: Our dates are mostly to go to the bagel wifi cafe and play Webkins.

Anything else you'd like to say?
I miss my friends in Florida, but I'm having a great time down here because we get to spend family time and my mom loves me. And that's it. Bye.

Friday, May 23


Habakkuk 3:19 (Amplified Bible)

19The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

I need more than my own bravery today. Oh. I guess that would be any day.
Bravery not to run back to my oh-so-comfortable life.
Bravery not to fall apart when my kids get sick (like this week).
Bravery not to simply react to things, but to be full of the Spirit and act out of His flowing.
Bravery not to be crushed when people disappoint and don't help the way I'd like. (It IS all about me, isn't it??)

I want to be brave. He is brave enough for me.
Oh, yes, and I guess Jackson needs to be brave, because he told me this week, as I was mopping, that I scared him when I cleaned. Wow. Guess I'd better never try that one again!

Thursday, May 15


There are times when I don't get the answers to prayer that I want. The difference in my heart now (and I know this is only because of the Holy Spirit's kneading and tendering my heart) is that I trust Him more. If He says no, I can believe He has a reason, or as I learned from Beth Moore, "a greater yes." Even if it's not the yes I wanted, I have seen enough miracles happen in my life to know that, if I am patient (sort-of!) and surrendered, I may eventually see the reason. Not always, but sometimes. And the reasons I don't see now, I will see one day.

I imagine it like this: I am looking at a huge painting, only it is covered by a screen or cloth of some kind. One day, when I know as I am known, I picture Jesus pulling back the screen, and I will say, "Oh." Nothing will need to be explained. I will know, and every unanswered question will make perfect sense.

A missionary friend spoke at church Sunday and gave one of the best illustrations I've heard about how we don't "get" God. Picture an ant looking at a person. All he can see is the human's shoe, and he keeps saying, "Wow! You are big. You are REALLY huge!" The human says, "Well, yes, I'm big, but there's a lot more than that! I'm more than just a big foot." That is how I look at God...I know He's big, but I don't get HOW big, and how much more there is to Him, how complex and amazing He is.

But another wonderful thing I've learned about God is this: He is so gentle with me. Even though He doesn't have to, He answers little and big prayers for me. This happened several times this week, and it built my faith at a time when I sorely needed it! Our new (new to us!) car died in the middle of Parque Central, and I was sitting in it, alone, with three kiddos. Only God gave me the Spirit-filling to thank Him, aloud, and mean it. We did. Then we told the enemy that it was a nice try, but it wasn't going to work on us! We wanted to learn whatever God had for us. After an interesting interval that included the police coming, telling us to MOVE! ("Mi carro es muerte!"), Steve and bystanders pushing it, more bystanders giving advice, interesting bystanders asking for money, and Nancy very kindly getting the kids and me home, Steve and Antonio (he works at the church) towed the carro muerte (translation: dead car) home. The next day, Steve was able to replace the battery, and the dead was raised to life! Praise for a simple fix!

The very next day, God provided a sweet, romantic evening for Steve and I...much needed. We walked around town, explored, found some cool shops, and stumbled upon a lovely restaurant. It was part cafe, part French bakery, and Steve even got me to admit, without choking on my croissant, that their cafe mochas blew Starbucks away. Not to mention the fact that our little table, complete with flowers and candles, was directly under a photo of Scarlett and Rhett! Go figure! A Guatemalan/French/Southern date. God is too good to me!

The last answers came today. Some things pressing on my heart, things I had been praying hard for were answered almost before I finished praying, literally more than I could ask or imagine. Way more. I could almost cry thinking about it. I just might.

John 14:13-15 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

*And just to show God's sense of humor, the photo shows the back of the van that stopped to help jump our car. It's for a funeral home. Too much!

Sunday, May 11

Mom's Day

Happy Mother's Day

In honor of Mother's Day, I'm posting pictures my kids have taken. Before we left Florida, a kind neighbor gave our kids a nice digital camera that they've used to take movies and photos. Here is their perspective of Guatemala.

Sunday, May 4

The Comforter

Warning: Honesty ahead.

Today was hard.
I've known hard before, but this is a new hard, a different hard.

It started last night, when we were picking up a few things at the Bodegona (grocery). This came at the end of a long shopping trip to the market, which is completely overwhelming for me. Picture an open-air market like you've seen in a movie, and you've got it. Throw in a language you don't know well, the challenge of price-haggling, live pigs and chickens for sale and some interesting smells, and you have my version of Publix. Thankfully, Dayle was with me to guide and help, but it is still exhausting. Anyway, there were other things to get, and the Bode is small, crowded, and hard to navigate. Plus I have to translate every box and bottle I pick up. So, when I realized that I had set our freshly-purchased ice cream somewhere and couldn't find it, I started to cry. About ice cream. Only it wasn't about ice cream.

Today started very early with a robbery at the church. Everyone has handled the news well, and everyone banded together for the service to go forwards. It was just another hard thing to hear, to feel.

Just before we left the U.S., I bought a book called "Walking With God, " by John Eldredge. I know it was exactly what God wanted me to hear at this time, and today, I was reminded of a passage in it: "Once we are in the kingdom that is yet to come, once the world has been restored to all it was meant to be, then we will be able to live without interruption, without assault. Then we can drop our guard. But not until then. Not even in moments of tenderness and sorrow; I know it seems unfair, but the enemy does not play fair. He is an opportunist. Knowing this will help."

It did help to know that I had a choice: I could lie down and have a pity party,let the enemy's tactics work, be miserable for days and take my family on the trip with me, or I could feel the pain, the hurt, the tiredness, and beg God to heal my heart. No one else can do it, not my husband, not my friends. I need all of them, we need each other, but only God can change my heart.

Eldredge's book was, for me, a lesson in learning to hear God's voice, learning to trust what He says and obey it. I feel like I was rarely taught about the Holy Spirit for most of my life, because many of the churches I went to were afraid to teach Him. It was all or nothing, and they chose nothing. This is a new thing for me, these last few years, listening to God, and I usually long for my safety zone of just doing what I logically think is right. Unfortunately, I end up choosing the path of my flesh, trying to protect myself from hurt, or from looking foolish, or from being disappointed. I can't protect myself from those things anyway, but I sure do try, and I end up with a hardened, cynical heart.

Right after I finished Eldredge's book, I "happened" to come across "Fresh Power" by Jim Cymbala. Same conviction. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Realize that His power is life, breath, everything. It's not programs, it's not even instruments...some of which we were lacking this morning at church. And yet we worshiped.

I need to hear from Him, to be comforted and guided. I love how Eldredge put it:
"...I'm not encouraging a senseless approach to life. I'm not saying you should follow every thought that passes through your head. There is wisdom, and there is revelation. They go together, hand in hand. 'I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better' (Eph. 1:17)." We need both, a balance. Not just a longing for revelation, but wisdom as well.

John 14:26 (Amplified)
But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.
27Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

Saturday, May 3

Motos and Mayhem

You know your life is adventurous when even the other missionaries around you are shaking their heads and listing all the things that have happened in your three week tenure on the mission field!

On my last post, I mentioned that I was going to Guatemala City with the other ladies to get away. We did. It was full of fun, laughs and shopping for the church and our homes at Price Smart (like Sam's) and Hieper Paiz (like Wal-Mart). We headed back to Antigua loaded down with stuff (mostly a plethora of toilet paper... who knew a church needed so much??), and everything was just peachy, until what I am starting to think of as my "jinx effect" kicked in. One lady, Tammy, asked, "What is that smell, and is it US?" No sooner had the prophetic words left her mouth then all the dashboard lights went on and the van went off. Praise the Lord, we were near a shoulder, which isn't always available around here.

So, here we were, 7 ladies (one pregnant...not me) on the side of the road with a van full of stuff (did I mention the t.p.?). Amazingly, some very nice people stopped and tried to help. They couldn't, but we thanked them and invited them to church on Sunday. Then, a car of 3 men pulled over...and "coincidentally," they were mechanics with plenty of tools! They started working on the van while we waited for some men from the church who were on the way!

In the meantime, we waited, snacked on some of our goodies, and one brave woman (Tonja) even chased away some stray dogs with a wrench.

We made it back safely, albeit exhausted. So, Friday, I decided to try a getaway again. This time, Amber went with me to negotiate furniture prices, and we got some beautiful, inexpensive things that make our house so much homier. This went so well that Amber mentioned that I hadn't had any adventures that day. She shouldn't have said that. We went together to get haircuts, and I was brave (foolish) enough to get my roots done. Well, they're done. Sort of a grayish done. The foiling was just like I'm used to, but when the girl rinsed my hair and then ran out of the room to get something, I started to panic. When she began RUBBING some foul, bleachy smelling stuff into my hair, I felt like I could go into that hysterical laughing, crying thing. I didn't. Until later.

Amber kept saying, "It looks really dark, " and that was putting it very, very kindly. Let me just say I am missing my good friend Betty Klepacki.

Since that didn't go so well, we decided to try a movie. At a cool place we found, the movie is free if you buy food, and 27 Dresses was playing. Well, I can honestly say I have SEEN the movie, but HEARING it was not to be. Apparently, a school program/awards ceremony was taking place literally on the other side of the wall, and it was on surround sound instead of the movie. Amber and I could do nothing but laugh. Oh well. The moto ride there and back was enough fun for the night!!